I heard from a friend that Roland DeVries died last Saturday, supposedly at 4:00 am when he got up to meditate. If so, I’m happy for Roland. Nice way to go.
Roland is the reason I’m now churchless. For he got me churched back in 1971 when he initiated me into Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), a branch of Sant Mat. If I’d never been a true believer, I wouldn’t have been able to evolve into an I’ll believe when I’ve got proof’er.
Roland is a good example of how respect and affection for a person can (and should) be separate from whether you agree with them on matters philosophical, political, religious, or whatever.
Over the years I gradually drew away from sharing Roland’s fervent commitment to Sant Mat and the guru, Charan Singh, to whom we both were connected. But I always enjoyed spending time with Roland and his charming wife, Barbara.
Roland was a speaker at most of the large RSSB gatherings (a.k.a. “bhandaras”). For many years he served as the Western U.S.A. representative for Radha Soami Satsang Beas. I’m pretty sure that he used to be a Christian preacher. He had a unique speaking style that betrayed his sermonizing origins.
One of his favorite lines was, “Satsangis are just run of the mill people” (satsangis are RSSB initiates). Inwardly I’d applaud when Roland would say this. It was a welcome counterpoint to the “We’re special” attitude that pervaded the talks other people would give at bhandaras.
However, it always was difficult for me to reconcile my run-of-the-millness with another favorite theme of Roland’s: the power and glory of the guru, who in Sant Mat is considered to be virtually co-equal with God, if not God incarnate.
If the guru is God in human form, and the guru has chosen to initiate me into his flock, then doesn’t this mean that I am a special favorite of the ultimate divinity? This is the traditional Sant Mat party line, which Roland would eloquently echo whenever he spoke.
For example, in the November and December 2006 issues of “Spiritual Link,” the RSSB magazine, I read:
We are on this Path because our time has come. We have been recalled. We are on the list and nobody is going to erase our names. And remember, according to the Sant Mat books, those whom the Master is meant to initiate carry an invisible mark on the forehead—a mark that only a Master can see.
The souls for whom a Master comes are allotted by the Supreme Father. And each and every one of them will come to their Master, by one route or another. And the Master has no choice in the matter, because he comes to do God’s will, not his own will.
…Jesus explains in Saint John of the Bible: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives his life to his sheep.” Jesus points out that the Master is our loving shepherd who will look after us in this life and lead us to salvation in our eternal home of God’s kingdom.
Now we can understand the hidden meaning in the first line of this psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” – the Lord in his human form is our shepherd or Master.
Well, maybe. As a confirmed agnostic, I’m not going to rule out any spiritual or mystical possibility. But intuitively my heart says, “No.”
I don’t feel special any more. I don’t see myself as superior to my wife, who hasn’t become part of a guru’s flock. I don’t see evidence that RSSB initiates are any more spiritual, compassionate, or loving than non-initiates.
In short, I agree with Roland: satsangis are run of the mill people. I have to say, though, that Roland himself didn’t seem run of the mill to me. He was marvelously unique. I’m pleased that he was part of my spiritual life.
Wherever or whatever you are now, Roland, thank you. For being you.
(P.S. If the rumor of Roland's passing was wrong, I hope someone will pass this post on to him. He'd get a kick out of it, for sure.)
I was initiated by Roland in early '70's
in Riverside. I also read David Lane's stuff
om RS Studies. Just read where he saw Roland's children in Wild Oats in Long Beach.
Oddly enough one of my banks, Indy Mac Bank,
is next door to it. If he ever sees a bright red Corvette outside, he will know
I am in the bank. I live by Huntington Harbour and it is very odd how similar our lives have been.
I graduated from Calif. State University
with a B.S. in Business Accounting where
he is a professor now. We both went to Catholic school and lived very close to each other. Both went to Boddhi Tree
and knew all the same gurus. Read the same books. We both have identical opinions
on why Radhasoami is a scam, although we
disagree on why we agree . Radha Soami
Tradition was my favorite book. Faqir Chand
was astonishing. I am also agnostic.
By the way, Suzuki has had some of the worst scandals. Read Dark Zen website.
He was very much like Rajneesh, even to the
similar yoga. Try quoting Ramesh Balsekar,
he has very few scandals. Alan Watts was good, even though a wino.
"Give a savage a watch ...... and
he believes it has a soul."
Regarding 'good men'. It reminds me of the documentary Civil War. A confederate woman writes in her diary, about Robert E. Lee,
"He was a good and noble man. But ....
it seems good men do the most harm to this world."
Posted by: Napoleon | December 14, 2006 at 08:47 AM
You will find your greatest disapointment
in exsatsangis. They may be smarter,
but they will resent you for having
taken away their cherished delusions.
A good cult buster knows he will be
crusified by the satsangis. But, even worse
by the exsatsangis.
Posted by: Napoleon | December 14, 2006 at 10:40 AM
Dear Brian, Dear Brian,
One of my most shocking moments was
when I was talking to Rick Ross. The
major cult buster on the internet.
I realized he was not in this game for the same reasons as you and I. His motives were
extremely self motivated. Yet, no doubt he
will help thousands of people. For the same reason, Dave has helped thousands.
Yet, you and I are different. We were 'true seakers'. We are after truth, no matter how
bad the truth hurts.
We have the same sickness. TRUTH. We are
so crazy, we will tell the truth even if they burn us alive. Even if people piss
on our graves. Even if people defame us.
Since we are both in the same boat
and nobody could possibly like us,
would you mind if I buy you a shot
of Jack Daniels in the next world,
(should we be so lucky that it exists)
Posted by: Napoleon | December 14, 2006 at 11:03 AM
May I echo your sentiment? - "Roland, Thank you for being you"
Posted by: Pam Holten | December 17, 2006 at 05:26 PM
Brian wrote: "I heard from a friend that Roland DeVries died last Saturday, supposedly at 4:00 am when he got up to meditate."
I never buy these apochryphal stories about satangis having deaths with spiritual overtones. Mr. De Vries had been suffering from alzheimers for years so there is a good chance he no longer even knew how to tell time let alone remember to meditate.
In the RSSB books it states that Tulsi Sahid had to be carried around on a disciple's shoulders because his attention would no longer go below the waist. Reality is he probably had a stroke.
Mr. Babani, who used to give satsang for Charan Singh for many years started to show signs of faltering ablities when he gave satsang and did not know how to finish sentences he had started. He was diagnosed with alzheimers. In the old days they would have simply said his attention was so absorbed in the shabd that it interfered with his ability to speak.
Once while I was at Dera Gurinder said that he once asked Charan Singh about all the miracle stories that he had heard. Charan Singh told him that the disciples had made them all up. The laws of nature apply to everyone, and Gurinder and Charan Singh would both agree with this. So, I doubt this is how Roland died. His death was probably not so glamourous. I hope he ended up where he wanted to be.
Posted by: Howard | December 17, 2006 at 10:49 PM
Roland Devries. Glorious among men.
I wish all among you who knew him and are writing about him here could have seen him with your third eye opened. Your words would be the opposite of what I read on this site.
If anyone has real knowledge, the truth about his last days in human form, please post. I have heard no news.
Posted by: Yvette | February 05, 2007 at 09:14 PM
Hines- you are right. You are not special. You are a douchebag.
Posted by: Uncle Bernie | December 09, 2017 at 02:12 PM
Uncle Bernie, thanks for the compliment. This is the nicest thing anyone has said about me today. Well, actually your comment is the ONLY thing anyone has said about me today, so you win my thanks by default.
Posted by: Brian Hines | December 09, 2017 at 02:30 PM