« On deciding for oneself | Main | Filtering reality »

July 12, 2005


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Like yourself, I had been closely associated with the RSSB group for many years, since 1970 to be exact. As an initiate, I practiced the meditation (simran and bhajan) and the principles for many years. As you know, the whole purpose was to focus the unruly mind, and tame it. Like yourself, I felt, after many years, that little progress was being made from this practice. But now, I am glad that I did this practice, as it prepared me for what was to come.

I began to explore other spiritual teachings in 1983, notably Advaita, the teachings of nonduality. The emphasis here is to "Know Thyself", to find out who the "I" is, and to discover our true nature and thereby abide as eternal peace.

You said: "For me, the essence of reality is what I call “God.” What it is, I don’t know."

Brian, God is your very own Self. That is why Self Knowledge is the only REAL Knowledge. All other knowledge is not Self Knowledge.
The Self is Being/Consciousness/Bliss.
Self Inquiry is the most direct path to Self Knowledge. When one quiets the mind from Self Inquiry, the Self shines. God and Self are ONE. Our essence, our natural state is pure consciousness. We are to worship pure consciousness, and that alone. That Self is not apart from God. There is no separation.

You said: "How to realize it clearly is the mystery of all mysteries, the task of all tasks. If God can be known, and the testimony of mystics points to this conclusion, then opening oneself to a realization of the divine nature is the job of a lifetime."

Absolutely, Brian. We must open ourselves to our own Divine Nature, the Supreme Self. To know God is to know our very own Self. This is our sacred duty.

As for human spiritual organizations, I fully agree with you. Dealing with them opens a pandoras' box to difficulties and obstacles. It is best to first find out who YOU are, then all questions will be answered.

Yours in Truth

Samadhi Ma
Northern California

Brian, I have to disagree with much of what you have said here. I am also a little disappointed. I too thought many of those same thoughts about who is manifesting more spirituality than whom and I came to the conclusion it was I who was not manifesting. The lesson was to be a sound beating for my ego (I am not saying this is true for you) but that was my lesson.

I took time off and did not meditate for two years and even went back on vegetarianism and thought "hmmm my life is no different." But I was wrong. Whatever has manifested in my life or in your own is chalked up to destiny karmas that we cannot escape. The dealings you have with the higher ups in RSSB are because you had dealings with them of a dishonest or whatever type in past life and you are here reaping it and are not being grateful. Shame on you Brian.

It's all there for you to see when you are ready to see it. It is as plain as the nose on your face.

Spiritual progress is a myth. All time is enclosed in the NOW, past, present and future are all in the NOW. That is not a platitude. Thus you are experiencing the same thing with RSSB as you did in the past right now. And so was I.

That is not to be ignored but embraced and as Kabir or somebody said (paraphrase) "heap that slander on me and my mother" as it washes me clean with no charge. That is so damn true. I learned this as a teacher. He also said to keep the slander close to you. Geez, it is hard to bear but it cleans up that ego like nothing else. Pride IS really the last to go.


Netemara, you may be correct: perhaps when people act badly towards us it is because of bad karma that we incurred because of our own past bad actions.

I used to hold a similar opinion myself. I don't mean to imply that now I've seen the light and you haven't. I just want to share a few ideas for your consideration.

(1) If karma theory is correct--that this is an overarching law of cause and effect that guides everything in existence--then we can't "one up" karma. I mean, we can't stand outside of karma and say "this is karma and this isn't karma," because that very saying necessarily is part of karma.

Do you see what I mean? There isn't any end to the thread of karma where you can start disentangling it. Let's assume you're correct, and karma is assuring that I am getting what I deserve from RSSB leaders.

Then it follows that my reaction to what I've gotten also is karmically inspired. And your reaction to my reaction, as described in my post, also is karmically inspired. So we're all being controlled by destiny--just playing out a game that none of us can comprehend from the outside, because you can't stop playing the game.

I used to get annoying phone calls from a satsangi who would want to berate me about my failings as sangat secretary. She'd say, "Brian, we've got some karma to work out, so let's talk." I'd reply: "Well, I feel that my karma is not to talk, so I'm hanging up the phone." Click. That really annoyed her, so she'd call back. And then I'd hang up again. How powerful could karma be if I can override it so easily?

(2) Thus I've come to hold the view that karma is like gravity: it's just there, and we live with it unconsciously. I don't think about gravity when I pick up my feet and walk. Gravity simply constrains my actions naturally.

Similarly, I now have a Taoist perspective about living and acting in the world. I'm just going to try to act as naturally and spontaneously as possible, and not worry about whether it is my ego, my karma, my guru, my god, my free will, or my whatever that is doing the doing.

KISS: keep it simple, stupid. That's my motto. And I'm the stupid one, I want to emphasize, not you. I don't know myself and I certainly don't know the reasons for what happens with myself.

The simplest approach, I've found, is that if it feels to me like I'm being treated badly by someone, then I'll just leave at that: feeling like I'm being treated badly. Conversely, if I feel like I've treated someone else badly, I'll also leave it at that: feeling like I've acted badly.

This is honest. It's direct. And it's all I know how to do. If other people have a more enlightened view of me and the cosmos then I do, god bless them. I'm happy for them. I wish I could know what they know.

But until I do, I don't. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I honor it, though I can't share it given my current level of understanding or misunderstanding.

Hi Brian,

Did you go to Petaluma on Saturday? I got call that Babaji is there today.

You wrote:

"(2) Thus I've come to hold the view that karma is like gravity: it's just there, and we live with it unconsciously. I don't think about gravity when I pick up my feet and walk. Gravity simply constrains my actions naturally."

True, gravity is a law of nature and so is rebirth. And that people live in it and with it without knowledge of it is also true. I am working to change that.

In my intense study of karma which I actually call "a redoing" in that sense there is no need to think or worry about it, it takes care of itself--again true. But to go to the next level I wanted to know everything. All past lives and the karma contained therein.

What I've concluded is that we cannot even have a conversation with someone unless it is karmically ordained...meaning simply done before--deja vu. When we come full circle the truth gets extremely complex, for a while, but ends in an extremely simple conclusion--we already are that.

As for your reactions as I said it means that you've reacted to whomever the same way before and likely for the same reasons. Now some things do change from life to life, or seem to, but the similarities are so scary that it seems we have never changed! Thus I took that premise as the basis of my work. That's why I don't believe in psychotherapy or that people are crazy.

Everything is rooted in the past and most of it really most problems seat themselves in the physical body. It acts as a receptical of karmas--it recalls the diseases we've had in past lives and brings those too back for us to go through again--all karma means (the other bodies are also recepticals).

Thus my simple point: there is no spiritual advancement nor mystical enlightenment. It is already period. If we are the drop then we have all the qualities of the ocean.

I have also examined Advaita and even met with Maharshi on the inner planes. I went in as far as you can using their recommended method I achieved it in about a month. But it felt like total annhilation--didn't like it so I came right back -- So been there and done that too.



"Well, I feel that my karma is not to talk, so I'm hanging up the phone."

Can I use this line? It's priceless!

Yes, Dawn, you certainly can use the “my karma is not to talk” line—unlimited usage is hereby granted to you and anyone else. I did indeed enjoy using that line myself.

You asked, “Is it the Sant Mat teachings you object to, or do you think the growth of RSSB is causing 'organization' to occur, and people to lose sight of the teachings?” Well, I didn’t write the message that comprised this post, but I agree with most of what was said.

It’s a little of both now, Dawn. I used to uncritically accept virtually all of the teachings, but over the years I came to see that this is an unscientific attitude—and this is supposedly the Science of the Soul. So now I try to leave aside conjecture and focus on direct experience. My experience, because that’s the only experience I can have.

My observation is that long-time satsangis are heading in one of two directions. Most have had little direct experience of the hypothesized Sant Mat truths, like me. So the choice seems to be to either (1) believe even more strongly in them, becoming Sant Mat fundamentalists akin to true believers of any other religion.

Or, (2) you can back off, become a bit more skeptical, a bit more scientific, a bit more inclusive of teachings from other faiths (in my case, it’s probably better to say “a lot more” rather than "a bit more").

I didn’t sign up with RSSB to join a religion. Yet it appears to me that this is the way the organization is heading. I still heartily agree that meditation is key—the only way to directly experience higher realities. That should be the focus, not all the other stuff that many satsangis pay a lot more attention to (like “When is the Master coming next?!”)


Thanks for your quite rational and sensible comment.

You wrote: "I didn’t sign up with RSSB to join a religion." - and - "...meditation is key—the only way to directly experience higher realities. That should be the focus, not all the other stuff that many satsangis pay a lot more attention to..."

My sentiments as well. I take a very pragmatic approach to spiritual growth and work. The simple reason that I became involved with RSSB in the first place, was because I was only interested in the particular form of meditation, and what results it would produce. I did not even want any "master" or guru. I had been associated with a few quite genuine and spiritually enlightened gurus, and I was not interested in another guru, or all the rest of the cultish baggage which most satsangis seem to give a lot of attention to. Such as: the elevation of the master to near God status, dogmatic authoritarian dictates, self-imposed narrow-mindedness and tunnel-vision, excessive attention and attachment to the physical form, personality, and proximity of the master, and a very pervasive and sanctimonious attitude of: "we satsangis are a very special elect group, and we are on a higher spiritual path than non-satsangis".

And yes, a very few satsangis drop out and seek true enlightenment elsewhere, but most become more rigid and defensive in their adherence to dogma and belief, and in denial about the fact that they have achieved no real progress after many years of practice. This fact is further ignored and avoided by the admonition of the master that "one is not to question, but just keep meditating". This sort of denial is a formula for blind faith, but not for true spiritual growth. Spiritual growth requires real Self-examination, and conscious understanding, leading to spiritual awakening and true knowledge. Most satsangis, by and large, are just repetitively going through the motions, and are not any more awakened or spiritually enlightened than they were when they started. In my opinion, it is extremely sad and unfortunate for such satsangis to remain spiritually stagnant for an entire life.

On the other hand, with the application of a proper spiritual teaching, the guidance of a true and genuine Sage, and a moderate conscious effort and focus, one can certainly achieve the highest perfection in life - Self-realization, in a relatively short time.

It seems that a Master is important when there is nothing, seemingly, happening within the eye focus. Yes, many here are anticipating the sound of Babaji visiting here if only for an hour. It makes no difference to me because I am actively engaged in the eye focus.

The outer physical master is really a temporary crutch. When one finds the master within, and he is lurking there waiting, then everything changes and the outer master is not only redundant but virtually nonexistent.

The definition of a cult includes that a group of people follow an individual who is charming and magnetic and powerful, for whatever reason, and those who follow this cult figure will gladly do his/her bidding. In this world of duality it is nearly impossible to not follow some damn body or want to be with somebody. Show me where there is no cultism and I'll show you a recluse...


No one is talking the talk and walking the walk, the strong ones are the ones who can see how weak they actually are but concede it and accept it, that is faith. I think the more we can accept our, and everyone elses weaknesses, the better we become.
I don't look at weather the followers of organized religions are walkign the walk, I look at whether the relgious teachings challenge me to grow - not mine to judge if others are making the grade or not, but they're all up for the challenge = organised religion.

Kahil Gibran, a spiritual genius, probably one of the most observant people of the last while, only found one man who he said he could deem as truly spiritual, Abdu'l-Baha, (the Master). We have to find beauty in both our strengths and weaknesses - we're both.


Spirituality, religion, dogmas, all words are made to show the blind. I mean to those who live a life of majority who are totally ignorant to innerself. The word 'god' is also criticised. It is very difficult to select a word to call the blind group of people who are eating drinking and making merriment.

The awaken donot need these words. They are born with a quest to search something they are ignorant and unable to give a meaning or word to that. OK we call that God. So mojority criticise this word 'god'.
The awaken want to experience it. Just as we experience many worldly things throughout our journey on this earth. It is not bad to experience the innerself. This is also a journey. A step forward makes a complete change.

Better we mind our own business. Afterall, we are living in our body and we have to leave it on death of this body and if we donot experience the inner worlds through this human body, we will lose the chance to know greater things after death of this body.

Surinder Singh Khabria

I do believe in unorganized religion, and that any spiritual path can better a person. I do however, see that to know the truth must be beneficial over to not in some sense.

The Bahai leaders were not perfect in such matters, and did not see themselves that way.

Wonderful post, Brian. I find myself agreeing with you on so many levels, and I appreciate hearing the perspective of someone with much Eastern-based spiritual experience, as that hasn't been mine.

I do have a couple of questions, one of which I'll ask here:

"When people fall into the trap of saying “I’m a Christian,” “I’m a Muslim,” or “I’m a satsangi” (in the case of RSSB), they enclose themselves in one more layer of illusion."

I find it difficult to work with labels, but sometimes for simplicity's sake I find myself having to use them. Even my currently prefferred "agnostic" still has to be qualified, as some will assume I'm much closer to atheism than I am.

Do you think it's possible to use labels in a "light" fashion, saying something like "for simplicity's sake, I'm a muslim, but I don't really fit with much of that faith any more". ?

Jonathan, "light" labels are impossible to avoid. Nothing wrong with them. I was probably over-stating the down side of "I'm a ..." in the quote you cited in your comment.

After all, if somebody asks me what I believe in, currently I'll say something like "I guess you could call me a Scientific Taoist." But that doesn't really encompass, or describe very well, what actually transpires inside my head when I ponder the meaning of my life.

It's just a couple of words that gesture vaguely in a certain philosophical direction, which I guess is better than saying nothing at all -- which doesn't foster communication or a conversation.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.