I’ve gotten several email messages recently from people who said they appreciate what I’m doing here on the Church of the Churchless. Well, I appreciate the appreciation.
We churchless still feel a need to belong. But it’s a lot more difficult to share a sense of camaraderie with those who aren’t a part of organized spirituality because, obviously, we’re not organized. Nor do we want to be.
So I get a lot of satisfaction from cyberspace pats on the back. I also enjoy, in a different fashion, the occasional missives from true believers asking me to please, please, just shut up!
When I get a request like that I usually think, “if only I could.” For I aspire to being the Taoist sage who wanders silently along deserted mountain trails, his foolish grin saying all that needs to be said.
Not there yet, that’s for sure.
Back in my public speaking days (as contrasted with my current blog speaking days), I’d frequently give talks, a.k.a. satsangs, to fairly large gatherings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) members, a.k.a. satsangis.
Then, as now, my message would stress the need to be scientific, skeptical, sincere, and un-sanctimonious. I’d stress that an ounce of direct spiritual experience is worth a pound of theoretical belief in some supposedly holy book or person.
And I’d do my best to laugh at our ridiculous pretensions to knowing anything about God and ultimate reality, starting with my own. (Standard line: “The easiest RSSB vow for me to keep is the one that prohibits revealing our inner mystical experiences.”)
Usually I’d get about halfway into my 45-minute talk and start noticing a lot of quizzical faces. Frowns too. Not surprising. I was skirting the edge of what many devotees considered heresy. To me it seemed like honesty.
I’d be mildly concerned about how I was coming across until I noticed some other faces with a different demeanor here and there in the audience. Foolish grins beaming at me. I’d foolishly grin right back. A connection!
After the talk sometimes a grin would walk its body up to me and say, “Thank you so much. I thought that I was the only satsangi who felt that way. Now I know I’m not alone.”
I’d reply, “No, there’s at least two of us. Of course, we both may be crazy and wrong. But it’s nice to meet you, fellow deluded heretic.”
As it is still nice.