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January 22, 2007


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Well done post Brian. Candid and humorous.

In God Do We Pee.

I boil your thoughts down to the following basic idea:
"I can do what I WANT when I WANT and sod how IT AFFECTS ANYONE ELSE".

Mystic bumwipe, try this experiment and find out how amazingly wrong you are: regarding your own selfish, egotistic bathroom habits, don't do what you want when you want to for the next 48 hours.

Even better, a full week. Hold it! Don't pee. Don't poop. Pretend that God or the Guru has commanded you to set aside your self-centeredness. Then tell me how well you do.

I have this eensy-weensy suspicion that your body will do what it wants to do without your consent, because urinating and defecating are natural processes essential for survival.

Even better, why don't you also stop breathing? How do you know that when you're in a very quiet place, you aren't bothering someone who has extremely sensitive ears with all your inhaling and exhaling?

So just stop doing what you want when you want, and stop breathing. After all, you seem to believe that other natural processes like urinating are under your control. Let's see you go one process further.

You're so far off about my "basic idea," it's astounding. Do you have this much trouble communicating with other people? I get the sense that you haven't understood a thing I've said about this issue.

Hi Brian.

Yes. Maybe I am completely wrong.

I accept that. I am not yey convinced though.

Y'see, I don't think this has much to do with religious groups or natural processes, nor how compassionate any religious leader is or is not.

Thus we seem to see this issue very differently.

Here was my original response which I don't think you addressed or adequately represented in this latest blog entry:

- - - - - - -
Lets see now,....
If I want to follow my desires AND my gurus orders
and rough someone up who doesn't respect my gurus orders
then I can and anyone who quibbles with my understanding
of right and wrong on this is deluded and almost certainly
a victim of the universal mind (unlike me).

If I want to follow my desires and get up
and disturb everyone around me in the middle
of a satsang by going to take a leak
after being expressly asked BEFORE the satsang
NOT to disturb everyone by leaving before the end of the talk,
then I can, and anyone who quibbles with my understanding
of right and wrong on this is deluded and probably a victim
of a cult mentality (unlike me).

If I - or anyone else wants - to follow our desires and
take anyone's photo in a public place then we can,
and anyone who quibbles with my understanding
of right and wrong on this is deluded and probably a victim
of a cult mentality (unlike me ...er, although I was once.
But I'm alright now).


I think I am starting to see a pattern emerging here ;-)

Can anyone else see it?

Chris (MBW)

Mystic bumwipe... wouldn't it be more distracting at satsang to put up with the stench of a fresh turd than to allow the person to get up and dispose of it elsewhere than their underwear? Simply questioning unreasonable directives is natural (like a bowel movement) and not necessarily self-indulgence and egocentrism.

Chris (MBW), I did indeed respond to your original response to my original post with my own original response. At the risk of going around in circles (which I think we're already doing), here's what I said to what you said above:
Chris/MBW, let me try to guess what the pattern is. I should be able to, since the "here" you seem to be referring to is what I've written on this blog.

The pattern I've been trying to follow is a preference for naturalness and common sense.

If you feel like roughing someone up just because they're not following a guru's orders, this isn't a good thing to do (especially if that someone hasn't agreed to follow the orders).

If you feel like you need to quietly get up and walk to the bathroom during a talk, rather than pee in your pants, this is a good thing to do.

If you feel like you want to take a distant photo of someone standing in a public place, this is a good thing to do.

If that someone you've taken a photo of objects to being photographed, it's a good thing to listen to the objection. It's also a good thing to then do whatever you want: keep the photograph or destroy/delete it. It's your choice, because there's nothing unnatural or against common sense about taking unobtrusive photos in public places.

So if you're suggesting that I have a bias toward naturalness and common sense, I proudly plead "guilty as charged."
I sort of understand your fondness for playing by the rules and obeying religious dictates no matter how absurd they may be. I used to sort of feel that way myself.

However, your way isn't the only way. Especially when it comes to eating, breathing, urinating, defecating, and other natural processes that we only can control to a limited extent.

I'd like to suggest that you consider what price you (and all of us) pay for splitting ourselves off from natural ways of living and being.

I've never understood why, if religiously minded people believe that God created the natural world, they are so opposed to living naturally.

You are misreading me. And misunderstanding my message to you.
Ermm... very badly in fact.
So you may well be correct and I must be really bad at communicating, as you said. :-(

Let me try to set that right with the little time at my disposal right now.

Again, for me this has very little (I hesitate to write 'nothing' though I do lean that way) to do with natural processes, compassion-criteria of gurus, religiously minded people, playing by the rules, obeying religious dictates, pissing, pooping, photographing gurus, roughing-people up, etc., etc.

Nor am I "suggesting that [you] have a bias toward naturalness and common sense".

My original response posted above was NEVER a support for following guru's orders, nor for roughing people up to force others to do likewise, nor denying or allowing photographic access, nor bladder control, etc., etc.

No, no, no, no, no.

It was about a pattern I was seeing in your blogs about these things. Your attitude to these subjects.
And what that possibly reveals.

You really didn't get that?

I am slightly incredulous! :-o

Even though you appear to have done a u-turn
on some things,
in actual fact you are displaying (to my mind) the same pattern of thinking.

Now. Is that any clearer?

You could try re-reading my responses to your blog with this understanding of where I am trying to come from.
Best wishes


Dear Brian,

I found an ostensible picture of "Maharaj Gurinder Singh Ji" about 3/4 of the way down the page of/at:
http://www.sikh-heritage.co.uk/movements/radhasoamis/The%20radhasoamis.htm. Perhaps you - or others who might know - might confirm (or deny) that this is what the man looks like.

Robert Paul Howard


Its exceedingly clear that your denying of a persons imperative need to leave a group gathering to relieve themselves, is itself ridiculously ego-centric and self-indulgent and disrespectful in the extreme. You've basically made a complete fool of yourself.

If you don't want to kneel, don't go to church. You are ostensibly a mature person, capable of understanding your own choices. Shirt and shoes required. Please, no food or drink.
I was at a string quartet recital at Hofstra once and my companion warned me not to cough during the hour-long performance. I was surprised by the restriction, but he made clear: if you can not or will not refrain from coughing, do not enter the auditorium. It is a matter of sonics, not ego or demands.

Pee first, wear a diaper, don't go into the hall - not because you have or haven't any "rights" or biological "imperatives". As Dad says, "Dem's da rules."

Edward, I'm trying to get my blog mind off of peeing (though might post on my other blog about my Avodart experience today). Can't resist commenting on your comment though.

I pretty much agree with you that if a venue has posted rules about expected behavior, you should abide by them or not go to the place. For example, our community theater says "Latecomers will not be seated until intermission."

OK. I know that I should be on time if I want to see the first act.

But at the bhandaras in India, the situation is different. No one says, "You need to be able to sit for X hours without getting up to pee." The talk given by the guru lasts for an unknown length of time. Could be an hour; could be several hours.

Plus, bladders are similarly indeterminate. You may do everything possible to become pee-free (or rather, delayed): abstain from coffee and tea, go right before you leave for the talk, and so on.

But pee pressures happen. The talk may not start on time. Your bladder might decide to do unexpected things. Whatever. Life is unpredictable. Allowances need to be made for peeing emergencies.

At least, that's the way I see it. It's a different thing from requiring that cell phones be turned off before the concert starts. Bladders don't have an on-off switch.


I'm with definitely Brian on this one. I've been to the very same situations in India that Brian is referring to, and what Brian said is true. There are no explict or implict "rules". In fact, in India people get up and go out to pee all the time. And they don't always go to a restroom either. They think nothing of it.

It's only the uptight people who can't simply mind their own business and want to control others and who cannot just live and let live, who are the ones who are annoyed and have a problem with people needing to go out of the assembly to urinate or whatever they need to do.

And maybe they just have to leave for some other reason too. It's not a matter of someone standing up and shouting and causing commotion, its only a matter of someone slipping out as quietly as possible.

I find it rather funny how some people just don't get how simple and common sense this all is. They want to frown and place some taboo on an otherwise very natural human thing. Sometimes people do cough in auditoriums as well. Thats just life. Get over it.

In this case, its not a matter of "if you don't want to kneel, don't go to church", nor is it a matter of making some "choice". It's just some people are intolerant of other people who have to pee... that is until the day they themselves are in the same situation. And it was never a matter of 'rules' anyway, as no such rules were ever stipulated.

I have a better picture of the environment now, thanks Brian and tao. So really, the inconsistency is that peeing is natural, no more or less than talking or gathering in groups or seeking spiritual truth. All of these are normal human behaviors.

This is the ideal example for discussing control.

Refreshing shift in consciousness...

I have to say, Edward, I attend mass and have been told by monsignor several times NOT to kneel in light of my arthritis -- and though I choose to try to kneel anyhow for my own reasons I think I would be fairly upset if someone ordered me to leave because I chose not to struggle on any particular day.

Although I understand that chamber musicians are touchy about acoustics, as a musician I find it the HEIGHT of arrogance to demand that no one have a tickle in their throat (especially knowing the amount of pollen on Long Island!) but your comment made me grin. :) I think I will ask the local gym to institute a "no sweating" policy as the materials on the floor tend to absorb odors...

Look, living in NY has advantages. I don't know how much the gurus charge, but you can plunk down $250 easy for a pair of seats to a Broadway show, and if you need to use the restroom an hour in that is IT: No returning to your seat, nevermind your date. It had never occurred to me to let go right in my chair but well I guess my ego is still dominating some of my choices. With that in mind, I do not attend Broadway shows, simple as that.

I also know of people who insist that you remove your shoes when you enter their home. Ha! I comply and make a mental note to remember in the future that not shampooing their carpet is far more important to the person than my comfort. If I employ your "fridge friend" criteria that either makes me so important that my friend assumes I will refuse if I don't feel like removing my shoes or that means I am so unimportant that I barely rate as an acquaintance.

In the end, I find the expectation that I must choose between needing to use the powder room or keep my feet warm a sign of arrogance on the part of my "host" --- and I carefully reconsider the value I place on the relationship or in the case of your guru the value of the information. While it is perfectly acceptable to place restrictions on guests or students it is a tasteless display of power and probably works quite well as a subconscious control. Bravo for seeing the ego trip for what it is, but don't get mad, just thank them for sharing their true agenda.



One thing about your comment:

At my home, we ask our friends and visitors to remove their shoes when entering our space.

We don't do it because we have any problem shampooing the rug. (Actually we have wood floors and oriental carpets, so we don't do any shampooing.) And as it turns out, no one ever has any problem being asked to take off their shoes. Its a custom that most people appreciate and are comfortable with.

Nor are we so inflexible that we mind whenever the occasional person comes in for such a brief time, that it would make no sense for them to have to remove their shoes and then put them on again five minutes later.

Taking off one's outdoor shoes is not the same as frowning on people beacuse they need to go the restroom. For one thing, people are asked to remove their shoes right when they enter. They are not forced to, nor are the frowned upon if they don't. It is never forced upon them, and there is no offense if they would rather not take their shoes off.

The reason that we ask that our friends, visitors, and guests to remove their shoes, is that THEY themselves will feel more comfortable, and because it is a nice custom that we feel engenders a feeling of more sacredness, spirituality, and purity in the home. And in case you didn't know, it is something which is practiced by billions of people around the world.

Shoes (including our own) are used to walk out in the streets and sidewalks which is where dogs defecate & urinate and other people spit, so they may not be very clean.

Removing one's shoes preserves the purity of the house, and it also makes for a softer feel when people walk around.

No one ever seems to mind, and in fact many of our friends do the same, and others have taken up the practice as well. And no one is ever frowned upon if they don't.

So removing shoes upon entering a home or a temple or a mosque etc. is a very different matter than intolerantly griping about and frowning upon people simply because they have a sudden need to leave a public meeting or spiritual gathering in order to go to use the restroom.

I don't mind if anyone thinks I have made "a complete fool" of myself. Fair enough. But I do find it mildly troublesome to be so badly misinterpreted.
My observation was a very simple one:
I don't believe Brian's post is really about peeing
or Jesus' views on it.
I see this as being about how Brian consistently sees his own presently-held views as superior to anyone who doesn't share his views.

The following attitude:
"I can do what I think is best regardless of what others around me think because I have a superior understanding of right and wrong" is what I am seeing as the consistent factor in these three narratives of his.

Here is the pattern I am seeing:

1. when he LOOKS BACK on being the rebel pisser at the bhandara(?) satsang he writes from the belief TODAY that his values and his understanding of correct behaviour in the circumstances are superior to anyone who doesn't share that same understanding.

2. when he LOOKS BACK on being one of those officious and physically aggressive sevadars at the satsang roughing up a photographer, he writes from the belief that his values and his understanding TODAY of correct behaviour in the circumstances are superior to anyone who doesn't share that same understanding.

3. when Brian WAS the sevadar physically 'controlling' a photographer, he was acting from a belief that his values and understanding of correct behaviour in the circumstances was superior to anyone who didn't share his own understanding. (Even to the extent he condoned/took part in illegally roughing up another person in a public place.)

His behaviour may have changed. His viewpoint and understanding may have radically changed. But the belief in his OWN rectitude and moral superiority remains consistent throughout these changes.

i.e the basic idea regardless of the action is and was and STILL remains:
"I can do what I WANT when I WANT and sod how IT AFFECTS ANYONE ELSE because I know best".


MBW, I can't help but observe that, in your words, you are a guy who also has a "belief in his OWN rectitude and moral superiority."

If you didn't, why would you bother to point out the flaws in my own outlook?

You seem to be objecting to the notion that a preference is expressed for one way of behaving over another. Yet you have no problem expressing your preferred way of behaving.

Huh? It seems to me that if we are to be anything other than vegetables stolidly doing nothing, life entails making choices about what to do.

I make my choices, you make your choices, the guru makes his choices, everybody else makes their own choices. Then we sit around and gab about which are better and which are worse.

What's wrong with that? Isn't this a big part of being human? Do you know anyone who doesn't say, implicitly or explicitly, that this is better than that?

I think you're mistaking my expressing a preference for one way of behaving over another for an egotistical attitude of "I'm right and you're wrong!" No, I'm just saying how I see things, which is all any of us can do.

Ah-huh. A "You're doing it too" kind of answer?
Well, I am a pompous opinionated egotist too. Thats for sure. :-( No denying that unfortunately.) But...I thought I had just made an observation and asked if anyone else was seeing the same thing.

All the resulting posts of mine have been clarifying that original impressionand understanding in the face of lenghthy discussion about bladder control, gurus and Jesus.

You finally seem to be addressing my original point after three or four posts of badly misunderstanding it. And all you can say is "You are just as bad"?

Great defense/rationale/expalanation Brian...er, ...not.

Sorry MWB, but I think alot of us missed your "original point" too, including myself(and I completly agree with it now that it's been fully explained) Whether or not you agree with Brian he's very smart so if he doesnt 'get it' you might want to reword your post so that it's more comprehensible.

MBW I've been observing the back and forth and tried to better understand your position - I spent quite a bit of time this morning, reading your responses aloud to myself to hopefully understand them.

I see the seeming inconsistency that you are pointing to in Brian's blog -- but we arrive at very different conclusions about Brian's character as a result of those inconsistencies. You seem to view them as a sign of a flaw while I see them as a virtue.

From everything I've read about the human psyche, we are riddled with ideas and biases that contradict one another. The human being who acknowledges the inner workings of his mind and heart is, to me, a human being who is practicing great self-awareness.

What you point to in your posts about Brian's various experiences (and experiences of those experiences) is to me not so much a failing of his intellect as a glorious triumph of his soul. Brian is willing to ask aloud the questions that I pose within myself from time, which is why I love this blog... to be willing to be so transparent about one's own foibles is an astounding gift Brian gives to anyone who cares to read his words.

I do not cull from his writing a superior tone so much as a questioning tone. I agree that his essays often do not end in a neatly wrapped ideology - he has chosen, I think deliberately, to leave the larger questions about our consciousness unanswered, appropriate for what is the unknowable.

You asked if others share your view - I do not, sir. However the inconsistency of Brian's thoughts and experiences might frustrate me, I never feel he is coming from a place of superiority but rather a place of kinship.


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