Back in the days when I followed an Indian guru, Charan Singh, the guru business was a lot more appealing than it is now.
Charan Singh almost cerainly wasn't "god in human form" as devotees of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) mystical teachings believed.
But undeniably he was a fine human being: humble, compassionate, intelligent, and utterly determined to keep RSSB's form of spirituality as untainted by materialism as possible.
Charan Singh was scrupulous about keeping his family business separate from his duties as guru. He also said that RSSB shouldn't have overseas centers, as this would distract from the true duty of the disciple to meditate and realize divine reality.
After Charan Singh's death, his nephew, Gurinder Singh, became guru. A lot has changed with Radha Soami Satsang Beas since. Gurinder Singh has no problem with making hundreds of millions of dollars while serving as guru. (See here, here, here, and here.)
Understand: I have no problem with a guru, or anyone else, becoming rich.
I'm just pointing out that back in the 1970's and 80's when the guru who initiated me, Charan Singh, was head of RSSB, this organization had a vibe that was considerably more spiritual and less materialistic than it is now.
Below is some info that recently was pointed out to me. Since quite a few readers of this blog are interested in RSSB goings-on, I wanted to share -- without much comment -- links that can be read directly if anyone wants to learn more.
Religare Health Trust buys RSSB hospital property. Religare, an Indian company with close ties to guru Gurinder Singh and his family, has paid $43 million for hospital property owned by Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
Religare Health Trust, a Singapore-listed business trust housing physical assets and some businesses of healthcare services firm Fortis, is buying the Mohali hospital property from religious trust Radha Soami Satsang Beas for Rs 270 crore ($43.2 million), as per a stock market disclosure. It is also buying the clinical establishment unit of the hospital from Fortis Healthcare for Rs 15 crore ($2.3 million), as part of a larger deal.
Gurpreet Singh Dhillon, the guru's son, was named CEO of Religare Health Trust. A few months after the above-mentioned purchase by Religare of RSSB hospital property, the guru's son got a promotion from being Religare Health Trust's chief operating officer to become chief executive officer.
Religare Health Trust (RHT), a wholly owned subsidiary of Delhi-based Religare Enterprise Ltd (REL), has named Gurpreet Dhillon as CEO of the company. Earlier, Dhillon was working as the executive director and COO of RHT.
...Gurpreet Dhillon is also a second cousin of the billionaire brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh who are the promoters of Religare and Fortis Group. Moreover, Gurpreet is one of the two sons of Gurinder Singh Dhillon, leader of the spiritual group Radha Soami Satsang Beas. The Singh brothers are followers of the spiritual group and their maternal grandfather had previously served as one of the gurus of the group.
RSSB Australia wants to build a large center in a "green wedge" agricultural zone. Some people in Melbourne aren't thrilled about part of the city's green space being turned into a RSSB religious center where the cars of up to 2,000 people may be parked if a waiver to planning/zoning rules is granted. Some excerpts from comments on this story:
Green wedges are our city's "lungs" to protect us from the heat island effect, and over-development. Trees and vegetation absorb heat, water and cool our city when it's needed, and allows birds to feed and nest. Once the green wedges are gone, our city will be a concrete, sprawling, hotbed of wall to wall houses and infrastructure. The green wedges have a purpose and should be left alone.
...This cannot be allowed. This is green wedge land and no organisation should be allowed to build here.
...NO. Are they really suggesting that a group of up to 2000 people is 'unlikely to cause any disturbance to the surrounding community'?
Just how will they ensure that "that a practitioner be at least 24-years-old, lead a moral life, abstain from alcohol and mind-altering drugs, maintain a lacto-vegetarian diet, and give time to daily spiritual practice?
Who gains financially from this proposal? I sincerely hope the council is not looking at this as revenue.
No, a green wedge is for all.
...This is an encroachment on a green wedge that's meant to be kept "green" and safe from any developments. This is taking over by stealth, then it will be open slather "vacant" land for open-ended usage! The Green wedges were preserved by the forward-thinking Hamer government, to protect Melbourne from becoming a sprawling mono-lith of concrete, infrastructure and housing! Once this is opened, for worship even if only on Sundays, it will mean car parking and then set a precedent for more developments!
Using medical marijuana is a no-no, even when legal. The Australia RSSB newsletter explains that no initiate, or applicant for initiation, should use medical marijuana even if it is legal where they live (as it is in Oregon, where I am, along with many other states).
Download Australian Sept 2014 No 015 Newsletter
However, the newsletter says that sometimes medicines have to be taken for pain, and these will affect the mind and ability to concentrate. Also, "if we are serious in our resolve, we will seek out the medicines that have the least effect in this regard and do our best to use them for the shortest duration possible."
Well, it's a fact that medical marijuana is much less addictive or harmful than other pain relievers such as opiates. And a research study found that the opiates are more effective when used on conjunction with marijuana.
So if the goal is to "feel better fast" and reduce dependency on opiates, using medical marijuana arguably is the way to go. Here again, an irrational religious dogma supplants science. RSSB devotees are supposed to follow whatever rules are handed down by the guru, even when they don't make sense.