Currently I’ve got a heretical reputation in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) branch of Sant Mat, which means “teachings of the saints.” Earlier though, I wrote a couple of books under RSSB auspices, one published directly by the organization and one that was published commercially, then bought and resold.
My Church of the Churchless blogging led to me being fired as a RSSB speaker. And regularly I get emails from other RSSB initiates who take me to task for supposedly having strayed from the core Sant Mat teachings.
In my own mind, though, I consider myself a true Sant Mat disciple. For the foundation of my spiritual practice is this hypothesis: that unity is the ultimate nature of the cosmos, not multiplicity.
This also happens to be a eminently scientific hypothesis, which is why I embrace it.
Physicists are seeking a theory of everything, not multiple theories. The big bang that brought the universe into being started as a unitary “superforce,” which later manifested as the four forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, plus the strong and weak nuclear forces).
I was reminded of what a true disciple I am when I picked up the January 2007 issue of Spiritual Link, a magazine published by RSSB. I read one of the articles, “Reliance on the Master,” and found myself thinking: “Whoever wrote this is a heretical satsangi (initiate), not me.”
Here’s why the article is wrong, along with countless other misguided RSSB initiates, and I’m right. The goal of Sant Mat meditation, and its other supportive spiritual practices, is to merge with a universal power called shabd. Universal, not personal.
The guru who initiated me, Charan Singh, said:
This Power pervades everywhere and therefore it has been sometimes described as Universal Consciousness.
But the article I read points the reader in a wrong direction: toward the individual physical form of the guru. The anonymous author says that we should “develop a mental stance where we consciously rely on the Master when embarking on any act, whether meditation or anything else.”
It’s evident from this article excerpt that “Master” means a person, not an all-pervading power.
One can never achieve the attitude of being carefree without worry without also achieving a degree of reliance on the Lord and his manifestation, the Master. Constantly remembering how our Master cares more about our welfare than we do ourselves helps us gradually give up worry. Masters urge us to rely on their grace for our needs, spiritual and worldly, and not on our own devices.
Heresy! I reject this twisting of my guru’s teachings. I turn to Charan Singh’s own words for proof that anyone who relies upon a person for support, spiritual or otherwise, is far from understanding what Sant Mat is all about.
Surrender implies surrender to Shabd, which is the Real Master or Guru, and not to any physical form. We should, by constant practice, not only contact the Sound [Shabd] but merge ourselves into It so that It will take care of us entirely, in every situation and in every respect.
Shabd is the same as Tao is the same as Spirit is the same as any other name given to the universal power that lies at the heart of reality. This is the essence of every deep mystical teaching: that only One is really real.
Of course, there are degrees of realizing this unity. So long as we’re alive, it isn’t going to be possible to leave aside dualities: male/female, right/wrong, virtue/sin, all that divisive stuff.
But spirituality is about moving beyond separateness, not embracing it.
When the universal power of the cosmos is considered to reside in a particular person, the ugly side of religion is given a reason for being. My way is considered to be the only way, because my guru, prophet, or savior is God and yours isn’t. Nyah, nyah.
I like to call the One, “Tao.” Yet if you prefer another name, great. Just don’t claim that you have a special relationship with an all-pervading reality. That’s non-sensical. And also, non-spiritual.
Another good reason to have the authors of those articles sign them. Then you could consider the source.
Posted by: R Blog | January 15, 2007 at 09:23 AM
Yeah, the habit of not signing their Spiritual Link articles ... well thats pretty evasive and chicken-shit. Still, its what the RSSB authorizes and publishes, so the responsibility rests upon RSSB. I guess they want to keep the individual authors anonymous so that it sounds more RS "official", and protects the author from personal criticism. In any case, it's all just more of their cult propaganda anyway.
Posted by: tao | January 15, 2007 at 12:45 PM
This is a good observation and one which I have noticed repeatedly. It is natural for human beings to anthropomorphize the spiritiual. People forget that the master as mentioned by mystics is a spiritual power, a metaphysical presence, the shabd and not a human being. People want to make the shabd cuddly and cute and like a father who looks after our worldly needs. Pretty soon it will be on a throne holding staff. Mystic come to expose to use that we really are, not who we think we are, and that God is not concerned with our worldly efforts. It is so easy to do this as evidenced by all the religions. RSSB is becoming more and more like this. As far as I can tell a master/mystic like Charan Singh teaches us how to go in and contact the Real. It is for us to do the rest. I think this may be why so few people who actually live near the physical master seem to have the most basic spiritual qulities. Any master would say he is a finger that points to the light, not the light itself. It was interesting how early on Gurinder used to answer practically every question with the answer "How is this going to help you with your meditation?" In other words, the mytic practic is the only thing we should be concerned with. Now he talks about pet food, relationships, whatever, because I think he has simply given up on people really focuing on the mystic path. Maybe he will find someone who wants to hear about cathcing the shabd. I still believe in the possibility of overwhelming mystical experience and it appears you do to. These articles are like the questions about pet food. Not relevant and not worth reading.
Posted by: Howard | January 15, 2007 at 04:34 PM
Ah, the "nyah, nyah" proof. I think it was put forward best by Augustinian. But you are in good company. Watts uses it in "Taboo:..." tho it is well hidden. The Chinese Logician Mung Tze presents it well in when he avers that, "a white horse is not a horse."
Just like on video games, I can see the shabd counter go from green to yellow whenever anyone shouts, "Heresy!"
You don't get unlimited power to judge, you have to eat a pomegranate or something to heal, or you will get too close to red. Then you aren't a heretic or a believer.
Then you become "too busy."
Posted by: Edward | January 15, 2007 at 04:40 PM
Is there any use for a teacher or a guide in the attempt to find/connect with that universal power?
Posted by: Pam | January 16, 2007 at 09:30 AM
That is a good question. I think the need for a teacher becomes more important once one leaves the physical world. I guess, and I think the R.S. gurus would second this, that the physical master is there to say "Go beyond this world and when you do I will meet you there and take you further beyond the physical. Until then I can only teach you how to meditate." Otherwise, I don't see a need for the teacher or guide from a rational point of view. For RSSB it is simply part of their theology that you need a living master that needs to be in the world at the same time that one is initiated. But this is theology and we have no way on knowing if this is true or not. I don't quite see the difference between being intiated by a dead master via a proxy and a master you never see, or by a book for that matter. As you may have read in a previous post, I also do not see how a guide or teacher that you have no actual contact can be much help. We either accept this based on revelation that it is true becasue "the master says it is and he would not lie" or don't accept it. I am not quite sure why this matters to you.
I was fascinated to read how Brian got fired from giving satsang. From what I know of Gurinder he would not have done this. He keeps telling us to quit having faith in our concepts and it sounds like Brian was doing just that. Funny how the RSSB group is shaping into the fundamentalists on one side who embrace the party line and comforting concepts and the people willing to be honest and say "concepts and beliefs are just that, nothing more". From what I have heard and seen of Gurinder he belongs to the latter group. It is not comfortable to be in this group, but at least it is honest.
Posted by: Howard | January 16, 2007 at 11:46 AM
I would give 5:1 odds that Gurinder knew very well about Brian's firing. It seems inconceivable to me that he would not have given the final OK.
Posted by: Bob | January 16, 2007 at 12:12 PM
You wrote (enclosed in quotations):
Howard: "I think the need for a teacher becomes more important once one leaves the physical world."
tao: Are you kidding? You really believe that? That particular belief is some of the most unintelligent bullcrap and manipulative bait to have ever been put forth as spirituality. The christians leaders and congregations have certainly fallen for it and have used it to their advantage.
H: "...the physical master is there to say "Go beyond this world and when you do I will meet you there and take you further beyond the physical."
tao: Oh yeah...just like I said, this kind of disgusting bullcrap is nothing but mindless nonsense that used to manipulate and deceive poor ignorant spiritual seekers and followers.
H: "you need a living master that needs to be in the world at the same time that one is initiated."
tao: More bullcrap.
H: "But this is theology and we have no way on knowing if this is true or not."
tao: Maybe you don't that it it is not true.... but some of the rest of us have no doubts that it's all garbage theology.
"I don't quite see the difference between being intiated by a dead master via a proxy and a master you never see,"
tao: Why any need for "initiation" at all? The sant mat type of initiation is just another manipulative ploy used to gain, to exploit, and to keep disciples.
H: "We either accept this based on revelation that it is true becasue "the master says it is and he would not lie" or don't accept it."
tao: And that ploy is precisely how they lure and trick gullible seekers into becoming disciples and joining the cult.
H: "I am not quite sure why this matters to you."
tao: I can't speak for Brian, but I myself would say that it matters simply because it's feeding naive and undiscerning people a load of dishonest and manipulative bullcrap.
H: "...how Brian got fired from giving satsang. From what I know of Gurinder he would not have done this."
tao: That is also a load of rubbish. Are you really that naive? Gurinder is a leader of a cult who demands that followers (especially satsang lecturers) strictly adhere to the narrow sant mat dogma. Rebels are not tolerated in any area of RSSB. If you had ever been to the Dera, you would know that.
H: "He keeps telling us to quit having faith in our concepts..."
tao: That's just another typical cult ploy used to get you to not think for yourself, but instead surrender your mind to the master.
H: "Funny how the RSSB group is shaping into the fundamentalists on one side who embrace the party line..."
tao: That's the ONLY side, and that's the way it has always been... so there is really nothing new about that. There are no two sides in R.S.
H: "...and the people willing to be honest and say "concepts and beliefs are just that, nothing more". From what I have heard and seen of Gurinder he belongs to the latter group."
tao: That is absolute bullcrap. Gurinder is merely the (appointed) authoritarian leader of a quasi religious cult. He is certainly not a sat-guru, and is merely pretending as if he is slightly liberal to gain acceptance, but nevertheless he is still nothing more than a manipulator and a outright fraud.
H: "...at least it is honest."
tao: That's so ridiculous. How do you see that this guy who is fraudulently pretending to be spiritual guru, and deceiving and misleading people into a false reliance upon himself as being a sat-guru and a unique embodiment of the divine, as being in any way "honest"???
tao: In any case, come on dude, wake up and smell the bullcrap, and then free yourself from all this nonsense. You CAN be free of spiritual dogma and cultism... but only if you want to.
Posted by: tao | January 16, 2007 at 03:10 PM
I haven't attended a RSSB satsang in many years, but I would pay to see Tao give a talk at one of the big RSSB gatherings (bandaras)..."This is a bunch of bullcrap!"
RSSB says, "Only if you are initiated by the perfect Master, sent by God for this purpose, can you return home." This is Christianity revisited. Why not follow Jesus? It's alot easier. You don't have to meditate 2.5 hrs. per day and you can eat and drink what you want. RSSB masters want you to do alot of really, really boring work. Jesus has the best deal. All you have to do is believe, and you're in there.
By the way. How can anyone be initiated into what they already are?
Posted by: Bob AL, Tucson, USA | January 17, 2007 at 09:20 AM
Except for Brian, who is a professional writer, i don't see how people can write so long of comments. Or why. Of course most every one skips over tao's rants.
I quit going to sat sang because the unending , unmitigated guru worship, and it's all faked up, trumped up acting by the liberals fanatics that dominate those places.
oh the dust on the guru's boots, it's so beautiful !!!
I want to know REAL TRUTH.. and I want RATIONAL EXPLAINATIONS.. not evasions and "oh it's complicated" or "oh it's doesn't matter" IF IT DOESN'T MATTER THAN WHY DID THE GURU'S BRING IT UP !!! LiKE 8.4 MILLION SPECIES, GOLDEN AGE, 5 LITTLE BLUE BOYS AND ON AND ON ...
Posted by: James | January 17, 2007 at 11:30 AM
Thanks Bob, I could sure use the money. Why shucks, there's nothing better than givin that ole bull-dogma a lickin. ... And I think you're right, the christians do have a better deal...and besides, Jesus heals the sick, raises the dead, and turns water into wine (which could really come in handy when you get to heaven).
Posted by: tao | January 17, 2007 at 12:34 PM
Since you apparently have an aversion and such a difficulty with reading concise comments and understanding critical thinking, I'll make this "rant" short and sour...
Its real good that you woke up to the boot-licking santmat guru-goonies, but most of those people are not really "liberals" at all, they are a bunch of disempowered conservative suck-ups to the pretense of spiritual power and authority. They are almost identical to narrow-minded and judgemental conservative christians.
In any case, if you "want to know REAL TRUTH" as you say, then try starting with your Self. Now if you had been a bit smarter and more mature, you would have already read between the lines of my "rants", and would have easily understood that. However, it's not over till its over, so I'm still pullin for you buddy. I think you've got some real kick-ass potential.
Posted by: tao | January 17, 2007 at 12:59 PM
Multiverse or omniverse, the point seems to be that more than one perspective coexists and is supposed to coexist.
Put another way, to make good gumbo you have to sautee the onions, then add the garlic, then brown the sausages, then add your tomatoes and peppers if you want, then layer in the seafood with the most delicate, like the shrimp, on top. The peppers are there in each bite... wait! sausage, mmm... now halibut? noooo, monkfish!! each spoonful a delight, each unique to itself.
Now my mom would throw every ingredient into the pot and in six hours call it done. Everything she made tasted the same: mushy, grey ick. Well intentioned mushy grey ick but ...well, ick. Homogenization is not the same as unification. And the monkfish does not have to accept the capsaicin of the peppers, either. That would be rude. And taste sort of grey and icky. I like your pepper-bite acerbicity, Brian (acerbicness? acerbication?...) Its a nice counterpoint to the sometimes syrupy sweetness of the taoists' arguments. And I like them together, as the Divine Chef of Everything concoted us.
Now forgive me, I have a plantation of pomegranates to buy. Lord knows how many seeds I have to eat before my meter climbs out of the yellow zone.
Posted by: benandante | January 19, 2007 at 04:57 AM
Your post allowed me an opportunity to internet explore some info:
Pomegranates are not only delicious and beautiful, they’re also one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat.
High in vitamin C and potassium, a good source of fiber and low in calories.
Pomegranate juice is high in three different types of polyphenols, a potent form of antioxidants. The three types - tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid - are present in many fruits, but pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three. As antioxidants, they are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
So, whether you crunch fresh pomegranate seeds or drink the juice, feel guilt-free as you enjoy each delicious mouthful- you're doing your body a favor!
The above came from a website, "Health and Nutrition."
Posted by: Roger | January 20, 2007 at 09:04 AM
In one of your above comments, I noticed the question:
"How is this going to help you with your meditation?"
Sounds like a question that has been passed down through the ages.
I wonder if the word, "meditation" could be replaced with, "self knowledge," or "self enlightenment?"
I think I need to spend more time asking my guffy brain that question.
Posted by: Roger | January 20, 2007 at 09:29 AM