Over on this post "unknown" has left several interesting comments about an Indian mystical-spiritual organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) that I, and quite other Church of the Churchless regulars, have been associated with.
Being thoughtful and well-written, I didn't want the comments to be submerged within a post on another subject. So I've copied them in below (with some mild editing to correct some typos and clarify formatting).
I'm a believer in open discussion of any and all topics relating to religion, spirituality, mysticism, meditation, philosophy ... whatever.
Some will disagree with these ideas. Some will say "right on." Others will have no opinion or be disinterested in the whole subject.
The important thing is to share, discuss, debate, question. Shining a light on a corner of reality ends up making it more visible. Truth has a way of winning out, though sorting fact from fiction can be difficult.
Here's a compilation of what "unknown" has shared so far.
After 20 years of wasting time in a dark room with my thumb in my ear seeking self induced sounds and sights as proof of spiritual progress, a series of events revealed the obvious for me. Debating unverifiable abstractions as a way to test the authenticity of the so called ‘Masters’ and their doctrines is a circular waste of time.
One need go no further than ‘follow the money’. The Dera is structured as feudal work farms where the serfs, the impoverished underclass of India, provide legions of labor, including child labor, for example the ongoing construction projects, the vast agricultural enterprises etc in exchange for the Darshan [sight] of the Master and a few bare necessities in abject poverty.
There was a Radhasoami Satsang Beas book ‘Origin and Growth’ (that Gurinder asked to have removed from circulation). [In] there is a hidden principle which states “it is the basic principle of Sant Mat and especially of the Radhasoami faith, that the Satguru, being God Incarnate, has absolute authority and power to deal with His Parmarthi (religious) property of every kind in whatever way He likes. All Bhaints (offerings) made to Him by His followers and all properties inherited by Him from his Satguru become His personal properties and His power to use such properties is not restricted in any way.”
In reality, beneath the charade of modesty and simple tastes these ‘Masters’ have built billionaire fortunes largely at the expense of those most desperate and vulnerable and by perpetuating a cynical fraud that has been especially exploitative toward India’s underclass and harmful to many in other walks of life.
As for the meditation, an ex representative explained it best: ‘I think it is heartless to delude people into imagining that a neural show represents the experience of God. The emphasis in the Indian spiritual tradition is finding out who you are at the core, not getting caught up in specific experiences. Zen clearly advises against the mental hallucinations during meditation.
RSSB has a good marketing program going.
Promise what is tantalizing but unattainable. As long as people are caught in tantalizing images, there will be no dearth of customers.
Not only does the RS Guru play upon the natural human fear of death but also entices blatantly by promising company on the ‘inner spiritual journey’. When the seeker is hooked and enters the fold, he or she finds innumerable qualifications which make the experience of ‘the inner spiritual journey’ with ‘the Master always with them’ almost unattainable. Then starts the push to alternative group highs in ritual meeting and project activities”.
To further clarify on a few points re. RSSB deceit: The Radha Soami ‘Masters’ are very skilled at avoiding the public relations pitfalls of many Gurus who publicly indulge themselves which has made the scam/charade much more deceptive.
As with any cult, when the mind is trained to gymnastically avoid rational critique it always lays the groundwork for abuse and crimes against humanity and creation. Cognitive dissonance makes mankind a dangerous animal and religion, with its subversive power agendas, is always cultivating that fatal human flaw in addition to primary primordial motivators of the human psyche…the need for meaning and security. If nothing else, a careful reading of history documents mankind’s horrific tradeoffs and abdication of personal responsibility in exchange for a sense of ‘meaning and security’.
Specifically, in supporting RSSB, or ‘looking the other way’ in choosing not to address the feudal system impacting many thousands of India’s underclass and other gross exploitations, one is choosing a feel good panacea to prop up a superficial spiritual self image instead of honestly addressing the obvious.
Earlier posts regarding the utter self absorption and counter productiveness of this kind of ‘spiritual progress’ caught my attention. It is so true. Consider the hierarchical nature of Sant Mat, specifically RSSB. The more Seva you do, the more exposure to intimate audiences with ‘God Incarnate’ you are eligible for which feeds your ego….hence ‘I am special, I’ve had a semi private audience….etc’ It becomes a game of ego gratification masked as spiritual progress, climbing the ladder and politics in direct correlation with how much work you do or how much you donate. I have a great deal of personal experience on this subject, it is not speculation. But if one is observant and not disconnecting rational critique, it is easy to see.
A very high ranking ex-representative intimately connected with Charan Singh made this account:
About a year ago, I was reading a report on the Net from a newspaper in Pakistan.
The report said that a NGO (non-governmental organization) engaged in teaching good health habits to women and children encountered a lot of difficulty in a particular village when they tried to speak with the women in their home. The women were afraid and did not wish to have anything to do with them.
When the NGO women persisted and tried to find out the reason for this unusual behavior, they learnt that the families lived in homes which were on land belonging to a Feudal Landlord. They labored in his fields and houses, but if they displeased him, they would be forced to leave their homes but they had nowhere to go. So although they would like to learn good health habits, they were afraid that by talking to outsiders they might incur their Lord’s wrath and be out of hearth and home.
They said that when their families first started working for the Landlord, he had told them that they could build their homes to live there but if they left the place or were forced to leave, they would have to leave their houses behind but could take only their portable belongings with them.
Then it struck me.
Had I not seen similar rules somewhere else? And I remembered the booklet, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Origin And Growth. I looked it up and saw in the copy of Great Master’s Will, 1937:
“A number of satsangis have built houses in the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh with my permission and on land belonging to me and in my possession on the condition that they and their descendants can reside in the Dera only as long they have faith in the Master…and are considered to be suitable persons for residing in the Dera, otherwise they have no rights to live at the Dera and I or my successor shall be authorized to eject them any time we liked In the event of their ejectment, the satsangis concerned or their assignees will have no right of any sort to the land or materials of the building.
I am the sole owner of the Dera and all properties connected therewith…”
Sd. Sawan Singh reference: ex-representative, intimate of Charan Singh
For anyone who had not been to Dera or heard first hand accounts; it is vast almost beyond description….it is now a city with hundreds of thousands of acres agricultural lands, railroads transporting legions of indentured servants (who have built their impoverished huts on Dera lands and have nowhere else to go or are slaves for Darshan) to agricultural and construction projects…..all profitably benefiting a hierarchy of astronomical wealth. Gurinder’s investments are now worldwide including large commercial projects in Mumbai (Bombay).
In order to understand these points, one must abandon insistence on a quaint version of the humble Guru and energetically scrutinize, logically evaluate. It is interesting that the seeker and initiate is assigned to be at war with and to disregard his own mind, when in reality one is completely ensnared in charade once bereft of our mental faculties.
After 20 years with RSSB and shortly after Gurinder was appointed myself and spouse left the path in disgust after a series of events revealed the crass deception of it all. The arrival at ‘eureka’ also enabled us to finally articulate what had become a subliminal discomfort with the whole Sant Mat agenda and nagging inconsistencies which ultimately take a toll on one’s ‘life force’.
Because if the integrity doesn’t resonate with you on a deep level, then you are simply going thru the motions or trying to keep yourself psyched up and enthused with group highs (Bandaras, pep rallys and the like) which provide temporary elation produced by group psycho dynamics only and all charlatans/illusionists know the simple tricks of orchestrating group highs and ‘sleight of mind’ which are powerful temporary deceptive techniques.
Or worse than constantly trying to keep oneself motivated and enthused by trekking to group highs and work camps, many blame themselves for the lack of ‘inner experiences’ during meditation….the promised Shangri-La accompanied by your ethereal guide bla, bla, and fall into depression, despondency and harsh self criticism.
My spouse and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have left RSSB undamaged after such a length of time because we know a good number of people whose lives have deteriorated at great deal in attempting to climb the ladder in a corrupt cult organization.
And some people who were merely eccentric in early years, with this predisposition have become totally dysfunctional in mainstream or the world at large in their later years with the cult.
Tragically, we have seen much worse than that too. A number of individuals have taken their own life as a direct result of Sant Mat influence and despondency over lack of attainment. The specifics of the cases and the suicides are very dramatic, and well known to a large Sangat, involving individuals who were pillars and long established, but due to privacy of surviving relatives, it’s best not to be more descriptive.
Suffice to say, it is recklessly irresponsible and in fact criminal to advocate for anyone susceptible to disorders such as clinical depression or schizophrenia to practice a 2.5 hour daily assignment of sitting in the dark internalizing and trying to conjure inner lights and sound, hallucinations and delusions. It is criminal to prescribe that and especially unsupervised.
Does anyone really think that Gurinder or any of these ‘Masters’ could pick out their initiate from a supermarket check out line?? Much less be supervising them on the inner planes as an inner guide and directing their karma??? It’s all a delusional fantasy, like ‘my imaginary friend’ of childhood. And yet with those who are prone to mental instability, promoting these delusions can be deadly.
We have a folder of accounts from a very high profile representative in the 80’s (anonymous), an Indian who is also the son in law of an individual, now deceased, who was one of highest ranking within the organization and was known to all and who disavowed RSSB prior to his death.
As this site is exploring the subjects in intelligent fashion, I’d be glad to email more of the documents to Brian to be offered for discussion because the ex-representative’s writing style, knowledge of Indian spiritual culture and ability to get to the essence is so compelling and would be possibly productive for those trying to evaluate Sant Mat.
He did post briefly years ago at the ex-satsangi site under the name ‘Waking Now’ but later requested his posts be deleted. Here is one of his posts addressing the Guru delusion.
Gurudom, the feudal kingdom of the Guru in which his subjects (mass-initiated disciples) have a real teaching relationship with him is fundamentally dishonest. The relationship is one of power but the marketing words suggest a real (fantasy) spiritual one (love, they say).
Gurudom has appropriated the benefits extolled in poetry of the wonderful Indian tradition of learning in which a small number of students (chelas) have the intimate company of their teacher (Guru) for a number of years and learn ways of being to allow them authentic expression, and converted that hallowed tradition into a Mass movement.
The masses are inducted into the Gurudom through a psychologically stressful initiation ceremony and encouraged to develop fantasy relationships with the Guru Emperor to project specific mental states touted to be godly ones with little or no real formation of character other than that of slaves.(I will write about this later)
And what do the masses need to be kept in line, bread and circus as the French say, for which ample opportunity is provided in food services, construction projects coming to fruition and choreographed mass meetings for continued indoctrination.
Hi Roger, et al,
Gurinder requested 'Origin and Growth' be removed from circulation but as public record it came up on google and addresses some specifics of RSSB administration and Great Master's will.
It is notable that through the documents it makes it clear that all religious and ancestral properties is owned by him. It also references that certain activities be conducted for the benefit of the Sangat. The context is it is a religious family business (hence no non-family member is appointed Godman). Any board or committees serve entirely at the pleasure of the Master and a dissenter can be dismissed at any time.
I may have some information on the arrangement by which homes are built on Dera lands Primarily it is a life estate (it the occupant continues to serve and have faith in the Master) and the property reverts to the Dera. As for the impoverished shanty towns built on Dera Lands to serve agricultural and construction needs and other tenants....they are basically indentured servants and vulnerable often with nowhere else to go.