On first reading, I didn't like the advice that came to me in an email from a Church of the Churchless visitor. After a second and third reading I came to see what the person was trying to tell me.
Sort of. It's hard enough for me to understand me. Translating understandings from one mind to another is considerably more difficult.
I particularly like the third and fourth paragraphs (see message below). This person is right. When I was a Radha Soami Satsang Beas true believer I did become preoccupied with rights and wrongs, do's and don'ts, rites and rituals.
Most initiates did. That was what was expected of the guru's disciples: obedience, sticking to the straight and narrow, following the initiatory vows.
But my advisor is right. Brainwashing almost always requires a willing brain (with rare exceptions). I was indeed looking for something to fill a void in my life. Heck, I still am. Who can say that they're totally fulfilled, with no empty spots in their larder of happiness?
The search for meaning, though, is undertaken by each and every individual – voluntarily. Just as we shouldn't say "the devil made me do it," an equally lame excuse is "god/guru made me do it."
I don't feel abused by Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Just as my first marriage was marked by more pleasant years than unpleasant years, so my "divorce" from this India-based organization has left me with a preponderance of enjoyable memories.
Separations often are healthy for both parties. There's a time to be together, then there's a time to be apart. The growth I feel taking place in me now wouldn't have happened within the confines of a religious organization like Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
[Note: I wasn't the one who added a link to this blog in the "Controversies" section of the Wikipedia entry for RSSB. However, after someone told me that this entry kept getting deleted, I copied the code so I could replace it myself.
Controversy is positive. It isn't something to cover up, as the Wikipedia deleter (who likely is a fervent RSSB devotee) wants to do. So I'll keep putting that section back whenever I notice it's gone – a small step for open minded spiritual discussion.]
Here's the message I got, mildly edited for clarity:
Good day Brian,
I spotted your website when I read about RSSB. I just wanted to let you know that being an initiate isn't always about the rules; it is about the love and devotion that is in your heart. In order to love something you have to know what it is you love, what you hate, what you fear, what you need, what you don't need, what is real and what is an illusion.
Ultimately, the self-realization kicks in and if it hasn't it is because you choose to listen to your 'negative thoughts'. No one says being an initiate is easy, never mind even being a non initiate. Life is full of surprises no doubt but how much did you really love...to learn about love is not easy, nor is it to control your mind and it's way of thinking. But once you do, you understand what the teachings really meant. You become that what you seek.
I believe the (Your) problem was you became too preoccupied with the dogma of rites/rituals/practices of what you should or shouldn't do. The meaning of "brain washed" is when you have no choice; you have been brought up a certain way and you have been taught a certain way to think - or did you really have the choice and you chose to sway the way of the majority?
Or was life that empty that you had to 'hang' off every balance or word that was being said as if it was the truth and when it didn't make sense to you or your mind you just quit. Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened....we literally don't understand these simple rules yet we make a mockery of them because they didn't make sense to US and wow they should have.
Brian, if you were an initiate for 30 years, believe me those years did not go to waste - I mean you have a website that branches off. You are still trying to find "yourself" and most of all you still have love in your heart. I don't even know why I am writing to you...I thought you had a "hurt child" in your writing and maybe if you can heal that you will see what the world has to offer you.
Lifetimes....my friend...many lifetimes, but if we can be positive and love and see that we are all one...we might be on the right track...remember you didn't go beyond yet...because if you did you wouldn't "write" this way.
Take care on your journey.