I want to share some thoughts from a woman who emailed me from Europe. Like me, she’s a Sant Mat initiate (satsangi) in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas line. Also like me, she’s gone through some intense soul-searching.
I’ve mildly edited her words for clarity, but left her English style intact. (Believe me, she writes infinitely better in my language than I can write in hers). Here’s her first message:
Hello, I just found your site and have lovely laugh when I was reading some of your stories. I am your spiritual sister, a so called satsangi. A year ago I would consider you as an idiot, but not now. I had a breaking point, a meeting with a nasty truth, naked and rough.
I hardly survived this losing of self hypnotic state. For a few months I have been confused, because I WAS an example of a perfect disciple, and then, everything was over. All my dreams of this parallel reality in which I believed so much.
But look!! I haven’t lost anything, except my dreams, and I got freedom. Freedom to choose how will I live.
I realised that if I meditate of any other reason then for myself, because I want it, it’s wrong. If I believe in something is because I want to believe. It doesn’t matter am I on the right side or the wrong one. It’s just me here, and no one else.
And this was a most unexpected and glorious experience in contrary of everything I had in mind about Sant Mat. I can say that Master gave me this, because he believed I can handle it. So in the background of all these doubts there is his Love. Its impossible to say what I want to say, but just to tell you, you are great!
Love from _______
I wrote back to her, saying:
“Thank you for sharing your experience. Very interesting. You did well, trying to explain what can't be explained. Still, I would love to hear more about your ‘nasty truth, naked and rough.’ Can you speak more about what this truth is? I think I understand, from what you said in your message, but would like to know more. Like you said, you are my spiritual sister. It seems that we have come to similar conclusions about this Path.”
Here’s her reply.
Brian, you are right. We came to similar conclusions, just we are dealing with them a little bit different. I surrendered to the fact I know nothing about it. I don’t blame anyone for this because going to the Sant Mat was my decision and I take responsibility for it.
And if I’m honest, Sant Mat helped me to survive in the very difficult phase of my life. Relationship I built with Baba Ji gave me strength and hope. I had a great experience of His love and Grace, so I think I became too dependent on Him. I don’t say this has an absolute value. It has value for me. It could be just mental trick to find a spiritual friend and surrender to Him. I don’t care. The importance is that it helped me.
So when the time was ready, I just realised that we know nothing about God, about Master, about Sach Khand. These are just empty words, which give to people some confidence and hope for the future. We repeat these words and think we KNOW! And the nasty truth is, we don’t! We just believe.
I was very shocked to know this and of course completely confused. I realised my own helplessness in this matter. No meditation will save me, not even my morality and my effort will save me. We are actually too weak and too ignorant to do anything. So I just gave up in the sense to achieve a goal.
Now I’m thinking that maybe there is no goal in the sense of separation from us, that WE are the goal, and this life is just a means to realise that. Now I meditate because it gives me peace of mind, because there, inside of me exists a lonely warm space where I can feel alone, but not lonely, in peace with myself and the world.
Does God exist? I don’t know. I don’t care. I have responsibility to myself. Master is only a guide, nothing more and nothing less. We still need to love ourselves. We still need to take the action.
In my new position I feel good, knowing that things are not in my hands. Just for the record, last November I stopped going to satsangs and stopped giving speeches. I was glad to receive your mail, so I hope it was not the last one.
Love from _______
Wise thoughts. We think we know. But we really just believe. It can feel nasty to realize this truth. Yet what a gift it is.
If you believe you’re at your destination, but you aren’t, you’re much worse off than if you understood where you actually stand on the spiritual path. A mirage can look an awful lot like a pool of water. Sand can’t quench thirst, though.
It’s better to keep walking across the desert than to mistakenly consider that an oasis is real.
Did she really mean "a lonely worm space," or should it be "a lonely *warm* space"? I much prefer it as you have it, but fear it might be merely a typo - inadvertent poetry. (Which is waht life is all about, BTW. Remember, you heard it here first.)
Posted by: Dave | May 22, 2006 at 04:45 PM
Your correspondent's messages were honest, sincere, and ever so sober ... She said it all so simply. ... Like the gentle approach of dawn.
Posted by: tao | May 22, 2006 at 06:44 PM
Dave, somewhat strangely I thought that "worm" made sense. But now that you point it out, "warm" makes even more sense. I've changed the post accordingly. I'll ask my correspondent about this.
Posted by: Brian | May 22, 2006 at 10:02 PM
I was very moved by the account from this lady, sharing her honest thoughts and feelings around the path of Sant Mat.
It is refreshing how honesty and ones inner sense of gnosis allow the mind/heart to push though thick conditioning crusts of dogma, belief and acceptance. This ‘conditioning’ is affirmed by ones own desires for ‘spirituality’ and by external organisations and belief structures, such as the Sant Mat / Radhasoami teachings.
I now meditate for similar reasons as this lady mentions for herself, and not to please the ‘Master’ or because it says so in any books, or because I’ll end up in transmigration if I don’t, or any of that theologically burdensome baggage.
In my experience it seems that the more one can relax from the stress caused by playing the ‘seeker’ role or the ‘good disciple’ role and from the stress of trying to live up to teachings and belief structures, then the more one can simply relax and enjoy Being. The more one can then enjoy engaging with meditation practice, without having to feel one is achieving something or reaching so and so state of consciousness.
Amen. Find ones own reasons to engage in spiritual research. Find out what it means within ones being, not what one has been told it does or should mean.
Brian, it is for moments of honest sharing from yourself and this lady that, I guess, some of us hang out here to get that 'cyber' satsang of association with 'spiritual friends' that perhaps we don't always get in our 'physical' life.
Tao, I felt your comment about the approach of dawn, was quite beautiful.
Posted by: Nick | May 23, 2006 at 02:10 AM
A nasty truth, naked and rough. Let's change the word; Nasty to Painful. Let's change the word; Naked to Exposed. Let's change the word Rough to Unpleasant. The Painful and Unpleasant Truth Exposed. At that transition point that she was refering to.....when the truth is exposed, wow it can be painful and unpleasant. It is good that the transition only lasts for a short period of time. Many best wishes to her.
Posted by: Roger | May 23, 2006 at 07:17 AM
Perhaps it's just because of the internet but it seems as if there is a veritable epidemic of one form of apostasy or another. Guest House theory might pose the hyposthesis that the master is pushing certain people away from the core group to do their own thing in their own way. The ultimate in grace, perhaps—whatever grace is. It certainly seems a strange coincidence to me that many satsangis I know have almost simultaneously reached our European sister's conclusion. I commend her for not joining the angry ex-satsangi group.
Posted by: R Blog | May 23, 2006 at 08:39 AM
Amen to what that lady said...
"the God that comes after scepticism is more beautiful than the one before"
Posted by: Stephen | May 24, 2006 at 11:15 AM
I don't believe there is destiny or karma, not in the way sant mat lays it down.. believing that way caused me to destory my happiness more than it help relieve pain.
I've been meditating for 30 years and enjoy it more now that my mind is clear of FEAR and dogma.
Posted by: Stephen | May 24, 2006 at 11:18 AM
Okay, now here's the thing. I've been reading your blog Brian since the beginning of this year and I have to say that up until recently, I not only embraced your logic and your good humour, but also your declining faith in the dogmas that surround Sant Mat.
So much so, that I completely lost faith in all of it. I no longer wished to do Satsang and frankly my immersion in the 'Satsangi' community was beginning to suffocate me a little. I am an educated scientist, with a broad exposure to formal logic and mathematics, and I guess that it is this side of me that welcomed your blog's unravelling of my belief-based convictions. I attended Babaji's European satsang programme recently and I was so put off by the whole organisational structure that I was at the point of just walking away from the whole thing.
Then the Master came home to visit. He came home and had lunch with us. He came to inspect our new centre, but before he did that, we exchanged words and ideas for the better part of an hour.
Brian, I cannot begin to describe the experience of this one-to-one with the Guru. He put each and every one of my doubts to bed and there is no way that he did so using pure intellect. What I felt being with him and in his company easily transcends any confusion I have ever felt towards the Path or Satsangs or Satsangi's or the so-called teachings.
Throughout that entire conversation, I couldn't help remembering what drew me to the Path in the first place. It was him, it always was. It was never the teachings, the Seva or the organization. Just him. His personality, his smile, his eyes.
I know what I'm saying goes against everything you've been talking about in your blogs and while I'm still a more than a little unsure about the whole belief-system, I am in absolutely no doubt as to the Master's credentials!
Whether or not he is God-in-human-form, whether or not he will guide us back to Sach Khand, whether or not he will meet us inside in a radiant form, one thing is for sure and that is that he possesses a power, a force, an energy if you wish, the likes of which I have never been able to compare with anything else I have ever felt before.
I have never been a fantasist, or an idealist, always believing that the path was a practical way to achieve focus and concentration. My participation has always been reasonably devoid of public displays of emotion and outward devotion of any kind.
Yet during his visit and for long after he left, I was so stunned by what transpired between us (and I'm not talking about the conversation, but something else, something quite indescribable), that I don't know what to make of myself anymore.
Is it a trick of the mind? I'm not so sure...
Posted by: Confused_Satsangi | May 28, 2006 at 02:09 PM
Confused_Satsangi... it appears that you really are a "confused satsangi". It also appears that your were never seeking the God-realization or the highest spiriual truth. You were only buying into an intellectual spiritual dogma. You then realized that, and got disillusioned and lost faith in the dogma. It's obvious that you were never seeking spiritual enlightenment in the first place, because you got enchanted simply by your own fantasy and notions of some "guru" poseur's supposed spiritual charm, aura, and "power"....In other words, you fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. Who really gives a damn if some guy is particularly charming?... So are some celebrity movie and music stars. That is no measure of genuine spiritual wisdom or realization. How sad. You started waking-up, but then you got suckered into the dream again. Who cares if G.S. has charm. In fact, in my 40 plus years of extensive personal experience with esoteric spirituality, Sant Mat, and gurus of all persuations, I personally don't find G.S. to have any such charm or power at all. (either in person, or otherwise) To me, he is a a poseur, and a real light-weight spiritually. I urge you to look beyond the glamour and your feelings and fantasies.
Posted by: tao | May 29, 2006 at 04:37 PM
To the Confused Satsangi: It is unfortunate that you could not describe your one-on-one experience with the Guru. I wonder how the Guru exactly put your doubts to rest? I'm not judging you. I'm more interested in the details. I'm am fasinated with your story.
Posted by: Roger | May 30, 2006 at 07:57 AM
I do believe you when you say that "G.S." is not charming. I don't find him particularly charming. I still don't.
But I did feel something quite profound during our conversation, and I was and still am in awe of it, specifically because my outlook on spirituality and on the Master is pragmatic and somewhat doubtful. Call me a dreamer if you wish... it's your opinion and your quite entitled to it.
And Roger, it was a rather personal conversation, but it revolved around my growing disillusionment with Sant Mat and with giving Satsang. His approach was simply give up whatever you want, but don't let go of your daily practice. A lot of what he offered was common sense and practical advice, yet it was not the conversation itself that blew me away, but what I felt stirring inside of me that literally floored me!
This is one of many conversations that I have had with the Master, but it is the first time that I have reacted so strongly.
Again, it's just my very own personal experience, but it has made a great difference to me. After all, aren't we told time and time again not to base our faith on someone else's experience?
Posted by: Confused_Satsangi | May 30, 2006 at 12:49 PM
Dear Confused satsangi and Tao
Is it possible to be a satsangi (at least an educated Western one) and not be confused to some degree?
RS Beas cosmology and theology are so thick with mythological and bhakti cult religiosity that it must necessarily create confusion to the western intellect in particular.
I am fortunate to have experienced various non dual teachings before discovering sant mat, and even then I have fallen prey to the glamour of some of the cultic dogmatic stances within the RSSB.
Regarding the status of a given 'guru'. Brian it you are listening in; this would be a great topic for a post! I respect Tao's opinion, based as it is on 40 years of spiritual researching that began as I was born! I also respect the feelings generated from confused satsangi's interview with the guru.
In my experience, whether one encounters a truly genuine realiser or a figurehead 'guru', one is still left as the Buddha said, 'To work out ones own salvation'. The vibrations from a genuine non dual realiser are undoubtedly helpful in this regard, but they cannot be relied upon as these sages move on (geographically and through death).
I feel through experience and the testimony of others (that I take as a good working hypothesis) that ultimately all dogma and beliefs about teachings or any guru figure have to be let go of if one wants a taste of the unconditioned.
A good example of this seems to be swami abhishiktananda, who struggled to reconcile his catholic faith with his developing non dual realisations after his encounter with Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Check out the website if interested.
Posted by: Nick | May 31, 2006 at 01:17 AM
Seems to be this is the essence of "If you meet the Buddha, kill him". Ultimately, the death of what we think we know, even our hopes and dreams doesn't have to kill our Faith. It's like having our hearts broken in a romantic relationship. Eventually we still want to have someone to love, but we're a little less naive about it.
RSSB brother in CT
Posted by: jim bruton | November 22, 2011 at 05:03 AM