Yesterday I got an email from a nineteen year old girl, Rajni, who had found this weblog. Her message made my day.
Not just because she was complimentary about the Church of the Churchless—I also felt good that there are young people in this country (and elsewhere) who are wise beyond their years regarding the difference between genuine spirituality and spurious religion. And I liked how she expresses herself.
When I read Rajni’s message to my wife, Laurel said “She sounds just like me!” Yes, I agree. Rajni raised questions about some of the same aspects of the spiritual group (Radha Soami Satsang Beas) that I’ve been associated with for a long time which also make Laurel say “Whaaaaaaaat?”
I asked Rajni if I could post her message, and she replied with a “Sure.” I’ve edited it mildly to take out a few personal references and change her all-caps emphasis style to italics. I’ve left in her emoticons and acronyms, though I’m not a user of them myself. (Note: if emoticons are a foreign language to you, as they largely are to me, this site has a handy translator/search feature).
Thanks, Rajni, for sharing your thoughts. Whatever spiritual path you end up pursuing, I’ve got no doubt about this: you won’t traverse it blindly, but with an open and inquiring mind. So should we all. Rajni writes about a particular religious, or quasi-religious, group. However, she also conveys a universal message about all religions and spiritual groups. I'd summarize this truism as, savor the wheat but discard the chaff.
Hi Mr. Hines!! :) I stumbled across your site via Google when I entered in the phrase, "radha soami cult." Haha, I'll explain.
My parents have been satsangis for as long as I can remember. Just over the weekend, we went to a bhandara [spiritual gathering]. I'm not old enough to be initiated yet, have quite a few years to go, but I have sat in on the meetings numerous times and have gone down to Fayetteville every time Master has come down. As I'm growing older, I find myself becoming highly critical of most major organized religions.
Unfortunately for me, my parents are into practically all of them, taking me to temples, gurdwaras, churches, etc. I honestly feel as if organized religions are cop-outs for real spirituality and that too many people use it to condone their negativity. So I feel as though, if I were to be affiliated with any kind of “religion,” it would probably be Radha Soami (RS), as it isn't a religion per se. But my only problem is that, sometimes, I feel as though it's some kind of cult:
-- You have a living guru, who is supposed to be “perfect” and God incarnate. I have trouble accepting the fact that God, who is to be completely supreme, would inhabit an ordinary man's body. I think of God as a force, not a person. And you call him Master. I know that's just a formality, a salutation, buuut . . . like you said in one of your posts, shouldn't he be most humble of all?
--You are the “chosen ones.” (Gah. Possibly the most repeated line ever in any holy scripture.)
--There's repetition [of a mantra] involved (although I won't know the names until/if I get initiated).
--At the bhandara yesterday, one of the speakers was talking about liberation. She mentioned that as long as you were initiated, you would definitely, at the very least, be born again and be liberated eventually. It troubles me that the only way to be liberated would be to go through RS. That's what all other religions say about themselves, and I was banking on RS to be not like a religion. Equal opportunity, people! (::bangs fist on table::)
These things would ordinarily be indicative of a cult, or at least resemble one. I'm definitely not trying to prove that it is; in fact, I am just looking for ways to see that it's not, because I'm practically desperate to find a faith and stand firmly with it. I mean, of course I see the ways in how it isn't, but there are just too many of those other factors that keep nagging me. And just other random things, like how Master Charan Singh favors creationism over evolution. That left a very bitter taste in my mouth, lol. And couldn't the [inner sacred] Sound just be tinnitus or something? (Okay, now I'm starting to feel almost sacrilegious here. :X)
So, I was just wondering on what your thoughts are of RS being a cult. I've asked my mother about it, but that didn't help me much as she's entirely convinced that this is The Path and, moreover, Definitely Not a Cult. I think my father just has a, “You're only nineteen, go to the movies with your friends,” approach. You seem to be a lot more objective in your posts, so I was just wondering what your opinion was on the subject. I realize that spirituality is a very “intra” thing, and I'm not coming to you for answers, just your thoughts. Maybe they could help me see things in a different light and all that jazz.
On a lighter note, Church of the Churchless is so bookmarked. :) I love it. I could only read a few posts before I rushed off to e-mail you, lol. It's enlightening, it's funny, it's real, it's a thousand other lovely adjectives and I'm so glad I found you! Three cheers to you. :)
Thanks for your time,
PS - I totally relate to your “God’s here, but I’ve got to go” post! In Fayetteville, while Master was talking, I was seriously about to burst. I just got up and went to the bathroom, though, thankfully without a hitch. Whew.