It strikes me as strange that ardent religious devotees often act in ways that are less humane, caring, and loving than a regular person you’d meet on the street. The Mohammed cartoon riots are a good example of this, since normally people don’t kill or pillage if someone offends them.
So if an action wouldn’t be acceptable in everyday life, it certainly shouldn’t be acceptable in the name of religion. Spirituality should make us better human beings, not worse. Unfortunately, often the reverse is true.
I heartily agree with these comments by Valerie about a religion I’m well acquainted with, Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB). Valerie and I were initiated into RSSB at the same time way back in 1971. She and I have arrived at a similar skepticism about whether years or decades of spiritual practice as instructed by the RSSB gurus lead initiates to become more humane humans.
Which includes the guru himself. Valerie points out how ridiculous are the unannounced visits by the present RSSB master, Gurinder Singh Dhillon. Initiates living a thousand miles away from a center where Gurinder Singh is to speak the next morning will get word of his visit the day before.
How humane is that? Normally, would anyone consider that putting people through so much last-minute inconvenience is a courteous thing to do? Yet when a guru does it, devotees say among themselves, “Ah, how mysterious are the master’s ways.” Well, another word to describe those ways would be “rude.”
Even when I used to attend talks by the guru, I didn’t like many of the rigid rules attendees were supposed to abide by. Be in your seat half an hour early. No talking while you’re waiting. No photographs of the guru allowed. Can’t take notes while the guru is talking. No cell phones allowed in the meeting room.
When I was still an approved RSSB speaker, before I was fired, I spoke to a large gathering at the center in Petaluma, California. Even at this guru-less meeting they were collecting cell phones at the door. The first day I dutifully surrendered my cell phone. The next day I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’ll just turn it off and keep it.”
No lightning bolts hit me. I felt fine. No moral qualms. Manmade rules are just manmade rules. They have no spiritual significance. I’m confident that whatever higher realities may exist apart from our sensible space and time don’t require that cell phones be checked at the door and note pads be kept in the pocket.
Today neuralsurfer addressed this subject. He’s talking about Gurinder Singh’s edict about not discussing the RSSB teachings on the Internet.
If George Bush sent out a memo saying that all Americans should not talk about his policies on the net, nor should they discuss the government on the net, I would imagine that he would be regarded not only as a control freak par excellence but a nutcase.
Why is it that we expect MORE from our politicians than our spiritual leaders?
More precisely, why is it that our critical faculties melt when it comes to gurus and their weird missives?
Excellent questions. I’d love to hear some possible answers.