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April 23, 2006

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1. When exactly do you mean when you talk about repairment of the soul? What do you think should happen or what do you think you should feel? If you don't know that, how can you say that your soul is in no better shape than it was 30 years ago?

2. A spiritual guru, esp a RSSB guru, never says that HE would repair/liberate/free your soul. All he does and can do is show you the way (surat shabad yoga). It's up to the initiate now to actually follow it. From what I remember, Gurinder Singh or Charan Singh never claimed themselves to be God-incarnate. They always say that the real guru is shabad. The real healer is medicine, not the doctor, but you need the doctor to tell you what medicine to take.

3. It would be unfair to lump RSSB together with other sects or religions. No one at RSSB would ask you for money or donations etc. In fact, one of the main characteristics of a guru as defined by sant mat is that a true guru should never accept anything from his followers. So RSSB is the one doing the charity, not the other way around.

4. One of the principles of sant mat is that you should never be dependent on the physical form of the guru. The physical (human) form is there just to help you concentrate (in the beginning). In what way do you think RSSB is making you dependent or not letting you go free?

i personally find it fascinating that someone with all your dedication and meditation are in the place you are. At the very least it makes those who cannot attest to as much cushion-time feel a lot better (not that it should).

It is hilarious that satsangis judge your position - if they practiced their faith wouldn't it be up to Master to with one glance capture your heart the way he has theirs... to reward you with inner experiences after all that meditation... and if he chooses not to and after all this time your doubts arise, as they have, would't THIS according to their belief also be in His hands.

One of MaharaJi's sayings was that one requires both the hunger and the food. And having those also is not in your hands.
a)So if they did believe that, then i guess they'd be back at feeling grateful for being so special that they're not doubting their path.
but
b)Between practicing one's belief and feeling judgmental and superior i guess the latter is the easiest.
however
Between a and b one can't win for losing. Except if
c)we become accepting and loving.

Your heart and mind is full of doubts.

When you elvaluate your daily gains and losses of doing bhajan and simran your mind thorws you in the path of doubts and all your efforts come to a zilch.

Question why am I sitting in bhajan, but dont question what did I get out of it today or in 30 years.

I hope that someday you are able to go and meet Babaji and clarify your doubts.

Manish, what I mean by "repair of the soul" is spelled out explicitly in the RSSB literature. The soul supposedly is under the dictates of the mind. The soul is pure consciousness, so thoughts, emotions, perceptions and such are undesirable add-ons.

RSSB teaches that this repairing or cleansing process can't be done on one's own. "No one comes to the Father but through me," say the gurus, echoing the Bible. It isn't just a matter of being told, "you need to cleanse your consciousness" because lots of books from many spiritual traditions say just that.

No, RSSB says that at initiation the guru places his radiant form in the disciple's innermost self and from that point on manages the disciple's spiritual progress. So if the repair job isn't going well, it's ultimately the guru's fault.

Why else does RSSB say that in a maximum of four lifetimes the repair job will be complete? Even if the disciple does nothing, the promise is that the cleansing process will occur. The guru will manage the disciple's karma and clear the way for inner progress.

So here's my problem: for thirty years, from about age 22 to age 52 I did virtually everything right. Meditation, diet, devotion, satsang, seva--all that stuff. I was a model disciple, by and large. One would think that I'd have gotten some positive results from this spiritual experiment.

Yet, I didn't. Not the results predicted by RSSB. So I'm continuing to be a good RSSB disciple, in my unhumble opinion, because I'm taking to heart the basic injunction: "What you experience before death, you'll experience after death; nothing new will take place; if you don't enjoy enlightenment now, you won't enjoy it after death."

I've spent thirty years on one spiritual track. Projecting out where I'll end up in another thirty years (age 82 or so), I saw that if I'd realized essentially nothing in thirty years I'd realize essentially nothing in sixty years.

That would suck. Big time. I want to know the truth about ultimate reality. Maybe the truth is really Nothing. If so, I'm well on the way to knowing the truth. But my intuition tells me that there is More that I haven't realized. So I'm exploring another track.

With due respect, your point #2 is flat wrong. RSSB does indeed promise that the guru will liberate the soul. If this wasn't the case, why would initiation be necessary? Yes, it is said that grace and effort go together, but RSSB also teaches that the effort is entirely God's grace. And the guru is God.

I don't see how you can see that the gurus don't claim that they are God. They write books that say this. They sit on podiums and allow disciples to say that. The entire Sant Mat philosophy is founded on the notion that the guru is God in human form. Sant Mat v. 1.0 at least. Maybe you're speaking of v. 2.0, which means that understanding of the truth evolves. Which is just my point.

Regarding charity, I've been the treasurer of the Salem sangat for several years. Every quarter I would send a check off to RSSB central that represented the donations put in the seva box. We then would get money back to support the sangat, but money flowed both ways. When you say "RSSB is the one doing the charity," where do you think those charitable monies come from? From the disciples, by and large.

Lastly, I didn't say that RSSB was making me dependent. Now. I did feel that in the past. So do lots of other satsangis. I hear from them frequently. Often they don't want to be identified, because they're afraid of being ostracized by RSSB disciples who they still want to be friends with. I call that dependency.

Meaning, RSSB doesn't allow people to speak freely about their doubts and questioning. By "RSSB" I mean the organization as a whole: everybody in it. Yes, the guru will let people criticize him in meetings, but the overall institution is set up to limit dissent and stifle opposing opinions. I know this, because I've been involved with the organization for so long.

Yogaschmoga, good points. And I'll leave them at that.

Geetika, I've met Baba Ji. I've still got doubts. Why shouldn't I have doubts? As I said above, I haven't experienced what RSSB teaches should and can be experienced during the soul repair process. My doubts are a symptom that something hasn't gone as predicted.

I did the experiment of meditation correctly, so far as I was able. If I was the only longstanding disciple who failed to get results, I'd feel differently. But overf the decades I've talked with countless people who have the same complaints as me. And I continue to hear from people who sing the same song.

I'm just trying to regard this Science of the Soul as a true science. You have a hypothesis; you conduct an experiment; you examine the results; and then you modify your hypothesis as needed.

From your message, I can tell that the guru of the bike shop supplied spiritual adjustment as well as physical. IMO the Manichean heresy is solved in the story of Job: Jehovah doesn't say a thing to Job until he insists on cursing his birth. Jehovah is the creator, (he goes on at length about that,) and Job may say what he wants, until he denies that Jehovah's creation is sacred. So the material and spiritual are valued the same, simultaneously, in Jehovah's eyes.

You come away from a competent and kind kung fu master with a spiritual insight, no less valuable than this or that kind of meditation.

So you can get your soul's temperature taken if you pay attention to where it is no longer confined to being only "your' soul; where the anima mundi dances among the ten thousand things. You can read the balance and drag and pressure by finding where you are not alone, in the world of others that play in this soul.

Jung considered that the best source of information about others is within, and the best source of information about ourselves is without.

Seems trite, but what's a guru to ya? Obviously in Sisters, (and probably in Bachelor,) they do not confine themselves to one robe.

You should download and read the Yogic Philosophy of the Saints, it might give you some insight as to why you're not attaining any inner experiences, in fact the book states that even with these inner experiences you still won't be free from this illusion if at the time of death you have some desire.

Go here http://www.babafaqirchand.com/download.html
and download where it says BOOK 2 Yogic Philosophy Of the Saint. Seems like you want to know the truth and it seems to me like that book is the one book that talks from personal experience all the regions and what they are and how to attain this ultimate reality, and attain it not even having to work your whole lifetime.

"The soul supposedly is under the dictates of the mind."

If you understand this, you should also know that judgement also comes from the mind. So if you are judging your spiritual progress or judging Guru's powers, you are still under the dictates of the mind. No wonder your soul is not free.

"Even if the disciple does nothing, the promise is that the cleansing process will occur. The guru will manage the disciple's karma and clear the way for inner progress."

There is no such guarantee given anywhere in sant mat as far as I know. What is given to you is a promise - you do your part and as long as you do that, Guru would take care of you. So one of the things that you have to do as part of this deal is to sit in bhajan-simran without being judgemental. This is important. This is not a weight-loss program where the results are concrete and can be measured by us.

"I saw that if I'd realized essentially nothing in thirty years I'd realize essentially nothing in sixty years."

Patience is a saint's biggest virtue (and of a hunter). If you believe that it might take upto 4 lives to attain enlightenment, why are you worried about it now itself? Again, how do you know you are not making progress? How can you understand something which is beyond human mind with this human mind? You can weigh a scale with itself.

"I don't see how you can see that the gurus don't claim that they are God. Maybe you're speaking of v. 2.0."

Not Gurinder Singh or Charan Singh. They never claimed that they were God or God-incarnate. They don't ask people to lie prostrate in front of them or to worship them. Some lay persons (found typically in India) might consider them to be God out of their innocense. But it doesn't matter what people say. What is important is what Guru says. I agree with your version 2.0 theory. That's the real point. But it is very difficult to explain this to a lay person so Gurus have to resort to version 1.0.

"Meaning, RSSB doesn't allow people to speak freely about their doubts and questioning. By "RSSB" I mean the organization as a whole: everybody in it. Yes, the guru will let people criticize him in meetings, but the overall institution is set up to limit dissent and stifle opposing opinions."

The RSSB as an institution is a necessary evil, if you wish. But I am surprised that even after 30 years of meditation, you still pay attention to RSSB as an institution. you shouldn't even be aware that it exists. It is just a medium to spread Guru's teachings. Once you get Guru's message, RSSB doesn't exist anymore. It's just you and Guru now. You've got the diamond. Forget the quality of the pouch.

Maybe I have put it in a wrong way. It is very healthy to have doubts, one should have doubts and get them clarified.

That is why Babaji holds so many ques and ans meetings.

We are lucky to have some one encouraging us to question, normally I dont find anybody (esp in India) entertaining any questions as far as relegion is concerned.

All I was saying was trust in Lord, dont measure the success of your bhajan. You cant do it alone. Success comes in bhajan only by his grace and our submission.

I quiet understand your concern as you have spent 30 patient years in doing so but, not yet been able to see the ultimate.

I am not yet initiated yet, so I am of little help but, when I attend question and answers, I hear lot of people saying that they saw light, they heard sound. I think people do achive spritual growth by following surat shabad path and I hope that you too are successful one day.

Manish, the RSSB literture, which is approved by the RS gurus, DO ClAIM that the Guru is God, All-knowing, etc. So, although Gurinder or Charan may not say or have said, "hey folks, look here, I'm God incarnate", they support this claim through the literature, through bhajans sung at bhandaras, and alternate speakers giving satsang in their presence.

And, how can one ignore the institution; come on! It's the institution, through the guru's directive, that banned satsangis from communicating over the net as you are doing today, taking notes at Gurinder's satsangs, and onced ordered satsangis to turn in their satsang notes from Gurinder's satsangs into their local secretaries.

IMO, you're twisting things around and spinning the FACTS!

Hi Brian and Bob, I admire you guys for sticking with sant mat for so long with such devotion. I just feel bad that you have got your doubts now. All I am saying is that you really shouldn't bother about RSSB as institution or Guru in human form etc. The real guru is inside and all you need (and you have is) surat shabad yoga to be one with him. Just because you don't like the college rules or the principal doesn't mean that you shouldn't get your degree. It's your career after all.

Manish, your comment about not judging is intriguing. Let's consider it a bit. You say, or at least strongly imply, that critically examining the claims of a religion or spiritual leader is wrong. I don't agree.

But then, you'd probably reply, "There you go again, Brian, judging again. You should simply agree with me and not judge." Well, I guess we could also say that I shouldn't judge the 9/11 terrorists because they sincerely believed in their version of Islam, and who are we to judge someone's faith?

It seems to be that the difference between religion and science is precisely judgement. Religions demand blind faith; science doesn't. I believe in science, not religion. I believe that it is possible to know ultimate reality, not just have faith in one or another conception about it.

When I say that I have no proof that the guru is genuine, this isn't a conception. It isn't a thought. It is a reflection of my direct experience. After thirty-five years of spiritual practice, this is the result of my experiment with meditation, vegetarianism, abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and all that.

Now, you can say that it takes more than thirty-five years for the experiment to show results. That might be true. But science isn't based on "mights." It is based on facts. These have to be my facts, not your facts, because spirituality is individual, not collective.

I simply write about the facts as I know them and have experienced them. If people have different experiences, they're free to relate them via a comment or email to me. We all have difference experiences. That's why I believe in spiritual independence: our relationship with the divine is individual, not collective.

I'm not trying to compare myself with anyone else, but this thought comes to mind: If a group of people is on a hike to see a lake that no one in the group has visited before, who can be said to have the most devotion for the lake?

(1) Those who say, several hours after they should have reached the lake on the path they're on, "let's keep going the way we're going; it's still possible that this is the right way."

(2) Or those who say: "guys, let's think about what we're doing; it's getting dark; we're probably on the wrong path; if we turn around now we can still find the way to the lake today."

I say, #2, because these people care more about finding the lake than staying on the same path. After all, the path isn't the destination: the lake is.

This analogy is akin to RSSB and Sant Mat. You can believe that the guru knows where the Lake of God is, but you have no proof of this. It's just a belief. The map of dogma could be wrong. You might very well need to find another way.

To my mind that doesn't reflect a lack of devotion; it's a sign of devotion--a fervent desire to find what you're looking for, as opposed to just looking without finding.

or (3) those who say/ask: "where the heck is our Guide?!"

I say, #3 because a devoted person would notice what (or who) was missing given the original bhakti recipe.

Getting somewhere is a very science-oriented requirement, experiencing the path is a very religion-oriented requirement. Wanting to get to the lake is a fine desire, but how do you know you want to go to the lake?

The semi-detachment of changing your mind about the path, or the trust you put in the putative guide, is a healthy perspective, as long as the lake and the path are BOTH inessential to the state of your soul.

But YIKES! "Spirituality is individual, not collective"? In the face of 99% of established spiritual ritual, I think you might be broad-brushing a bit here. You say in the next paragraph that "our relationship with the divine is individual, not collective," and there's an absolute intelligent universe of difference between the two assertions. I don't know what your individual relationship is to the divine. However, if spirituality were not collective, then all the Islamic martyrs in the world couldn't move you to seek.

Brian,
This is another one of your best articles (and also your subsequent comments) to date. It is straight-forward, succinct, and gets right to the heart of the issue. In as much as we both (and quite a few other long time (ex)satsangis) have already come to virtually the very same conclusion, I won't belabor the point.

There were some several and lengthy comments which I don't need to remark upon, other than the rather typical mechanical responses which came from Manish and Geetika.

I am not going to address each and every detail and flaw, because Brian you've already done a good job at that.

What I do wish to say is the I find comments such as those coming from Manish, and from Geetika, to be rather pathetic, and lacking in accuracy, veracity, and pragmatism.

It is total foolishness to defend such unproven dogmatic presumptions and guru worship cultism, on the basis of mere blind faith.

It is the same tired and stale old formula: "Just blindly follow the instructions, don't think or question, and believe in the divinity of the so-called "master"."

It is a receipe for spiritual stagnation, stupidity, and dis-empowerment. It is an insult to basic common sense, and it just goes to show how some people can presume and talk a lot of unsubstantiated non-experiential nonsense, simply on the basis of unexamined spiritual beliefs, tenets, and dogma.

To Tao,
There are two ways of looking at spiritualism. You say "See and you shall believe" and I say "Believe and you shall see". You need to knock on the door to see whether it will open or not. You can not say that give me the guarantee that it will open and only then I'll knock.
Anyway, I am just curious to know what do you plan to do now to pursue your spiritual interests?

Brian
Very interesting discussion. I take the points on science and as a trained scientist I resonate with your views. However, even cutting edge science can take many long years of struggle to gain 'results'. I saw a programme on British TV recently about some physics bods who have literally spent about 20 years down a coalmine searching for evidence of some wacky named sub atomic particle. So far they have found diddly squat, but keep pressing on regardless as the said 'thing' is theoretically said to exist.
This paralells to some degree the inner search. Many paths have apparent degrees of 'attainment' such as kensho's, satori's, kingdom of heavens and Sach Khands. Probably the highest non 'teaching' is that there is no path or seeker, so who knows?
What any seeker has to decide is whether they want to press on regardless of no 'results' to try and find the elusive 'particle' of their own path.
I think you and other commentators are spot on that this needs must involve shedding the baggage of theologies, beliefs and dogma's. Even buried under loads of accumulated belief and dogma within RSSB, lurks the purer experiential sant mat of the original itinerant and dogma busting mystics such as Kabir.
I can only guess that some of us sceptics who maintain a relationship with sant mat as experiential science are doing so on this basis?

Nick,

I am not sure that we can know exactly where Kabir was really coming from, but your last two sentences make a very important point.

---------------------------------------------

Manish,

Manish stated: "Believe and you shall see".

Blind belief will never lead to truth. Your statement is the essence of dogmatic presumption. Beliefs are completely unnecessary. The truth is revealed when the veil of belief is removed. Awakening is the removal of that veil.

Manish also stated: "You need to knock on the door to see whether it will open or not."

You simply do not know what, if anything, that I "need". You do not know anything about me. Furthermore, there is no such "door", nor do I need to "see" or "knock" upon a non-existant "door". I do not need any such "guarantee" either. That is only your own view. Your entire comment is simply nothing more than standard belief rhetoric, and is built totally upon unfounded presumption, not upon true understanding.

Tao
Comment about Kabir well received. Of course you are correct that we don't truly know where he was coming from. I think the same is true for many of the Indian medieval poet mystics in the 'sant' tradition. I am currently reading a translation of Mirabai that suggests quite strongly that she was a Krishna devotee, and not the surat shabd yogini that RSSB would have her be.
I guess we sometimes point to these people as iconic representations of what we collectively think or believe them to have been.
Thus we paint St Francis as all kindness and goodness to animals, Gandhi as the non violent role model par excellence etc etc. All these assumptions/images/representations are open to question however.

I was told long ago, when I was very young. Avoid getting into an argument regarding religion and politics. The debate above kinda proves that.

Roger, I sort of understand where you're coming from. But why should religion and politics be off limits to arguing? Is it because people feel so strongly about their stand in these areas? Is it because there are no absolute answers in these areas?

To my mind, there are shades of gray between discussing, debating, arguing, fighting, and so on. I'd hate to give up conversing about important subjects just because it might evolve into an argument. Sort of like not going for a walk because you might trip and break a leg.

Brian........your point is correct. I guess when there is nothing new learned or gained.........then maybe some avoidance.

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