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February 22, 2006


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Hi Brian

There must be something up with that 1971 vintage. I also entered RSSB that year. Like you I was a speaker but packed it in by 1995. The cult-like controls on freedom of expression just got too much for me. When I was criticised for quoting from the Book of Mirdad I realised my number was up. Satsang has certainly suffered as a result of restrictions - boring is an understatement.

My scientific background also mitigated against the "faith" you must now profess in order to "advance". I quetioned this in Dera in the late 90's and was informed that even science is built on basic premises that you take on an act of faith. Not my kind of science - no wonder this Science of the Soul is suspect. Jagat must be spinning on his pyre.

So with RSSB, control is the name of the game - guru politics. When the guru pitches up unannounced it's front row seats for the self-serving self-selected. Petty egos dominate the various sangats and the stench of stagnation is common in the west. But it does do well as an Indian religion, as the Dera initiation numbers will indicate. Nothing like a good dose of suspicion and a liberal lashing of fear to fan on the embers of faith.

Come to think of it, this 1971 vintage is a good drop. Good to be part of the unbeliever diaspora.

Keep up your informative commentaries.

Thank you

I'm not so sure that the RSSB guru's visits should or could be construed as 'rude'. It might just as well be that he is on a very tight and limited schedule and so to inform all and sundry of his arrival is just plain impractical. It might also have something to do with focussing on local visits to allow those local satsangi's only to attend, rather than have the meeting hall swamped with visitors from far and wide. In other words, just plain logistics. Brian, I think that you are reading far too much into what probably amounts to much more mundane and prosaic logistical reasons for the masters travels. In any case I am playing devils advocate to the view you have highlighted. At the very least we ought to advocate an agnostic stance towards his comings and goings, just as we would when trying to second guess anyone elses motivations!
I equally am not sure that the whole mobile phone issue is an authoritarian thing. It might just be the fact that mobile phones are a major 21st century pain in the backside noise intrusion into otherwise quiet environments.
Brian, I also think that the critique offered by another site vendor is suspect in its own right. It totally presumes that constant criticism and debunking is necessarilly the way to get at spiritual truth. It may just as well be that the guru discourages internet questioning partly because it gets one precisely nowhere! No measurable increase in inner peace, no rest from mental overactivity and intellectual thirst! Fine if you are college professors and intellectuals inclined that way to carry on endlessly analysing and dissecting theological and metaphysical questions that ultimately have no answers. For others it is equally fine to cease asking the big questions as Buddha did and focus on the inner rest and cessation of suffering (which necessarilly includes constant question begging).
Fine also to constantly dissect and criticise the secular doings of spiritual leaders of whatever tradition. This assumes that one then knows best and would do better in their postition, or else would do something noble like Krishnamurti and dissolve any such 'burdensome organisations'. This is of course unlikely and that those who offer the keenest critique are also those who would benefit most from taking their own advice.
I am not at all sure that peoples critical faculties do not apply to their chosen spiritual 'path', its just that at some point, in the interests of inner rest and stillness the sheer uslessness of endless critique becomes plainly apparent, and drives one inwards with full force to seek that 'peace that passes all understanding'. Yes blind faith is going to land you in the ditch, but so is endless critique.

Nikos, I hear what you're saying about not-judging, not-criticizing, not-dissecting, not-thinking, and all that. But here's the way I see things.

I actually feel more at rest and more still, the goal you alluded to, now that I'm not engaging in a dualistic inner dialogue. For example:

Me#1: "It's ridiculous that I can't take notes while the guru is speaking."
Me#2: "Bad Brian! Stop thinking that way. You should be a good satsangi and accept the master's rules."
Me#1: "OK. I'll try. But it still seems ridiculous."
Me#2: "There you go again!"

And so the inner conversation would go. Now, there's just one person speaking:

Me: "This is ridiculous"
End of story.

Do you see what I'm getting at? There's a natural, simple, human way of responding to a situation, and there also is an unnatural, complex, and less human way of responding.

My criticism of rigid rule-based religious practices is that they are founded on the second way. Instead of letting people be who they are, unnecessary rules force people into one-size-fits-all molds.

What Valerie was talking about, and which I've observed many times myself, is that satsangis often end up playing a role rather than being authentically who they are. I don't see how this furthers the spiritual pursuit, since we're told that "self-realization" comes first.

When you're acting outwardly at odds with who you genuinely are inwardly, this creates a split, a tension, that manifests as a veneer or falsity that is quite evident to others, but usually is kept hidden from oneself.

If we're a thinker and criticizer, that's who we are. If we're a feeler and accepter, that's who we are. It's a great relief to come out of the closet, so to speak, and realize that you don't have to play the role of a "good satsangi" or "guru bhakti."

I agree with you that satsangis can always excuse seeming slights, uncourtesies, rudeness, and such. My basic point is that if something seems inhumane to you, then it is inhumane to you, because each of us is the judge of that.

Pretty simple.


This is an important consideration. The conversation you exampled is one of several things that renders an organization a harmful cult. It is dangerous when there is a felt NEED to have such conversation in ones head.

On another note-- I am not so sure that people know who they "genuinely are inwardly". There are reactions to this and that, not so sure that these reactions define us.

regards - Steven

To Steven
Brian's internal dialogue has no implications as to whether the organisation in question is a 'harmful cult'. It is Brian's own internal reaction to a particular set of cicumstances. Might just as well brand a particular movie we don't like as a 'harmful cult'.
Many people have such internal diaglogues in their heads all the time, and most are about secular and mundane day to day affairs. Do they therefore belong to the 'harmful cult' of 21st century consumerism? There is far too much willingness on the part of some bloggers to blame religious organisations for their neuroses and inhibitions etc. This is simple psychological transference and blame. Can we really in the final analysis say that an organisation such as RSSB is to blame for Brian's internal conflict? May just be that Brian simply wanted to move on to pastures new and try new experiences free from the particular theology he had become accustomed to.
Playing the blame game and describing organisations such as RSSB as cults is psychologically denial of ones own responsibility as a grown adult and the fact that ones own desires and neuroses can be projected onto 'groups' who are then perceived as being responsible for ones own narcissistic state of unhappiness.

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