Most disciples of a guru believe that if they could have more intimate face-time with him, their faith would be strengthened. Plus, their spiritual progress would soar.
But belief isn't reality.
Here's the story of Phil, a Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) initiate who got to hang out with Gurinder Singh, current RSSB guru, when Phil lived in the Caribbean.
Phil said it'd be fine to share his thoughts via a blog post. I've mildly edited a couple of his email messages, fixing some typos and adding a few explanations in bracketed italics.
It's interesting reading, providing a rare behind-the-scenes perspective on time spent with a guru who is considered by the faithful to be GIHF, God in Human Form.
You can either download the PDF file, or click on the continuation to this post.
Download Phil message 2
Messages from Phil, February 2009
I do not have a problem with sharing my experiences with you, you may use any of the material on your blog, My experiences are genuine and honest, albeit only my personal experiences, recounted within the limitations of my memory.
I was initiated in 1989 in Florida. I never met Charan Singh [RSSB guru at that time], but of course heard his satsang tapes and read the books. It all made sense to me, and given that the principles are presented as scientific, able to be verified through experiment, there was most definitely an appeal.
It was with great enthusiasm that I set about meditation, devoting 3 hours of early mornings every day for several years. I was willing to take on any seva [volunteer work] I was offered, and never expected or asked for seva. I became secretary for Puerto Rico, and devoted more and more time to traveling with the Caribbean representative.
As I 'progressed' in the physical organization, (but remained at the bottom of the spiritual ladder) I became more and more aware of the details of the organization. I very much recall the day that I discovered that all the travel of the Rep was paid for out of central funds, whereas I paid for all my many trips made at request of the Rep.
(I was asked to give regular satsangs on many of the islands in Caribbean, so traveling from Jamaica, St Martin, Grenada, St Lucia, Aruba, even Surinam was part of my normal seva as 'international speaker', and trips away from home would last up to 2 weeks).
I remember asking the representative on one of the trips when staying in a hotel in Surinam, why I was personally paying for all expenses, and he was not. His reply was quick: he could not afford all his travel so seva funds paid for it. (Of note, I had my own business, and my expenses represented a significant hardship to my family).
One day, the representative informed me that it was time for my wife to be initiated. He made her application for her, and although she went along with it, she was initiated because I was married to her, not because she requested initiation. This also sowed a seed of concern, but remember, I was still very indoctrinated with RSSB.
I met with Gurinder [Singh, current RSSB guru] first time in St Martin during his visit. The satsang ghar [meeting hall] had not even been talked about, and I was a sevadar [volunteer]. At the end of one of the satsangs many satsangis had collected in the hallway to get a glimpse of him. I was upstairs with his group when he commented so all could hear that he did not want to pass by the rabble, but slip quietly out the back to his waiting car.
While my memory may not serve me absolutely correctly, and it may not have been “rabble” that he used, it was not loving and certainly surprised me!
I think it was about 2005 that I made my first and only trip to Dera [RSSB headquarters in India]. I was able to meet with Gurinder a couple of times, but the one event that really surprised me was the treatment of a swarm of bees that had settled in a tree near the computer block (I was doing some seva in the computer building).
Under instructions from Gurinder, these bees were sprayed with DDT (still used in India) and the swarm was killed. I could not relate this to the story of the saint who even took a straying ant back to its tree! Certainly there seemed no need to kill the swarm, which could have been safely moved elsewhere. A minor incident, but major in my mind.
I asked several people about this, and was given the standard reply: masters move in mysterious ways which we may not be able to understand. Convenient.
Back in the Caribbean, I put aside my concerns and settled back into the task in hand, continue with the experiment. I really want to know if there is a realm of consciousness, without or apart from the physical realm. (I am still researching this, but not under the guidance of Sant Mat. This may be a topic of another e-mail; I suspect you might be interested in the work of our very small group of scientists and engineers, mostly atheists.)
My seva duties continued and I was asked to oversee work on Curacao Satsangar, and then later with St Martin satsang ghar construction. I met with Gurinder on several occasions, and spent many hours with him.
Any semblance to the image created by the story of Charan Singh traveling in the train with his disciples was very very difficult to discern. The use of expensive fast cars, private planes and the most luxurious of homes for his entire stay was the norm.
I flew with him and Rep in private plane (belonging to a satsangi on Florida) and stayed as part of his group (this time at sangat’s expense) in exclusive hotels in St Martin. (a sort of whirlwind trip of private planes and expensive hotels) and although I ate breakfast and dinner with him I do not recall even one moment of spiritual insight.
I do remember jokes at the expense of women, talk of relieving back pain, construction discussions, stories of humorous nature, and generally quite light talks, with the perfume of awe still present in my senses (illusions I suspect).
Close to the point where I started to move away from the cult, I was asked to visit a number of satsangis to get them to do seva. The satsang ghar was built in St Martin, but sevadars were needed to maintain, run it, stay on premises for security on 24 hour basis, etc. I was asked to 'recruit' sevadars, there were not enough. Visiting people who were clearly not wanting to do seva, but, due to their belief and love of Master, they made sacrifices to their family and businesses because they felt they could not say no. I was truly very uncomfortable with this visit task. It was my last seva.
I am now living back in England, and not one of the satsangis with whom I spent so much time had made any communication with me. I suspect I have been excommunicated, possibly because when the representative came to see me shortly after I moved back to England, he came to stay with me and my wife, spending a week here, eating our food, staying self-invited in our home.
At the end of a week, not knowing how long he intended to stay, I asked if he would be willing to contribute, at least a little, to the fuel costs of driving him around, and ideally towards the food expenses. He left the next day.
It is said that one cannot judge a religion by the actions of its members, and I accept this is probably true. Members may include the group’s appointed representatives, so I can exclude the actions of the Caribbean representative also.
But, in my experience, and after 16 years of devoted effort, I have no result from the experiment that indicates the foundations of RSSB are true or false, and my respect for Gurinder has diminished, not increased as I would also have expected.
The above is a hasty jumble of words in an attempt to outline many years of RSSB indoctrination, is inevitably incomplete, and badly written, so if you have any questions, would like me to expand on any topic, just let me know.
[I took Phil up on his offer and asked him how he felt now, after leaving the Radha Soami Satsang Beas fold.]
How I feel now, well that is a tough one to answer in any meaningful way. There are so many factors that contribute to the way I feel from day to day, moment to moment.
Uppermost, I feel a little sad in that I had hoped that the search for the path was over, and I could just get on with traveling the path. More than anything else, I want to really know if consciousness existed before creation or as the result of creation. If before, then the case for God is proven, if the result of, then consciousness would be little more than an highly evolved state of matter.
So, firstly, I feel as if I am a little bit back at square one. I want to believe in the teachings found in Sant Mat. I would love to find that the Master was perfect, although even if I did find such a master, I suspect I would still remain somewhat unconvinced that the only way to know God is through another human being.
I do not view my time being part of the Sant Mat group as a waste of time, or regret expending so much time, effort and resources. I have learnt that my mind is easily pulled towards and convinced of things I want to believe. My mind was convinced that RSSB was THE path, but this was in part because it had all the hall marks of what I was seeking.
I think we all see the world at least partly coloured by desires; to what extent is difficult to determine. I feel all the more committed to searching for whatever Ultimate Truth there may be.
It is as difficult for me to comprehend consciousness just ending when we die as the concept of God. An all-powerful omnipresent, omnipotent being is not easy to conceive, but neither is non-existence, for death would be the ultimate nothing, or void. Its not easy to imagine pure nothing, time not existing, except for one brief flash of consciousness for some 70 to 80 years preceded and followed by infinite timelessness.
Do I still meditate? No, not really. Well, not in the same way. I do not sit and repeat the five names [a mantra]. But I find that there is an inner space, reached by some calming of the mind, when thoughts slow and drift into nothingness.
I don’t know what is this state, but am happy not knowing. Not knowing seems to be almost a pleasure. I used to give satsang, often. I would talk about things I had not experienced, but only dreamt of experiencing. It felt hypocritical. I am happy not knowing, because I suspect that I really do not know anything.
Everything is built on faith, taking the reductionist view, what truth can I say I really know? Mathematics is founded on axioms, self evident truths, but consider Godel's incompleteness theorem, there will always be something that cannot be proven.
Sant Mat brought me close to thinking I knew something about God, and now, in hindsight, I think I have come to terms with the ridiculousness of wanting to know about something that perhaps cannot be known.
If on a train to some destination, does it matter if we know in advance about that destination? We will arrive, but what of the other travelers, some worried, some happy, some sad? What we can do is be a good traveler, a good companion. Its in our power. But to know the destination, that’s possibly not in our power.
Looking back on my experience, and seeing how easy it is to become swayed by a way of thinking, by a philosophy, by a science, or by a group of others, I am perhaps more understanding of others, more tolerant, and more accepting. These are positive outcomes of my RSSB time. No, I do not feel negative, perhaps a little stronger, less susceptible.
I do not see any value in exposing a falsity, for to expose something false is to inadvertently claim something else is not false, or else we are left with the statement that everything is false, its all illusion.
Unless we can point to something and say, this is truth, this is Truth, Ultimate truth, then we are in no position to expose false paths. I may be missing some point here, but for me, your blog has had huge value by inspiring me to think, not to accept anything, but to question, and to find that one starting point, where I can say, this, this is something I know to be True.
Basically I think this is true for all religions. The closer you get to the leadership, to the administration, the more you realize it's not spiritual at all and the people don't behave better than those who are less 'spiritual' when it comes down to day to day interactions in their organizations.
Posted by: Rain | February 11, 2009 at 02:17 PM
Lucky Phil !! I am so worried that when my relative will be out of this cult, he might be heart broken and devastated.
Best wishes Phil! Be a nice human being. Pay attention to your family and health. Enjoy each and every moment..right here and right now..!
Thanks a lot for sharing your story.
Posted by: www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkvjTVEFD-y5LRY4FRLqsMj0vxdvMcsH8M | February 11, 2009 at 02:45 PM
One time Charan Singh was traveling by car in India to give a satsang. He was in the back seat. They stopped on a hill behind a truck loaded with heavy wooden posts. When the truck accelerated one of the posts slid off the truck and went through the windshield of Charan's car into the back seat narrowly missing him by inches.
Charan was at a satsangi's house in the USA for a social gathering. There was a sliding glass door leading outdoors which was closed. There was a dog in the yard. As Charan passed close to the sliding doors the dog charged against the glass barking. Charan flinched and recoiled away from the dog.
I personally saw him pick his nose and flick the booger to the ground.
God in Human Form certainly had his human side.
One time satsangis were walking with Charan across a muddy area. It was noticed that while the satsangis shoes were muddy afterwards, Charan's were not.
They took this as an indication of his divinity.
Posted by: tucson | February 11, 2009 at 02:56 PM
I have to say that I am very skeptical of these skeptics. :)
I'm so glad you said: "...My experiences are genuine and honest, albeit only my personal experiences, recounted within the limitations of my memory".
We all have our own personal experiences with the Master and each person should rely only on their own personal experiences and insights.
You also say of your wife: "...she was initiated because I was married to her, not because she requested initiation".
I was initiated over 40 years ago and have lived in three different countries and attended many different satsangs and I find this so very strange. Why did you both let the rep talk you into this?
You say that Gurinder said: "...he commented so all could hear that he did not want to pass by the rabble, but slip quietly out the back to his waiting car".
I find this comment very unnerving (if true)! Once again, I will only believe what I actually hear and see, so this is still hearsay imo.
You say: "Under instructions from Gurinder, these bees were sprayed with DDT".
Man, what is wrong with you people! This makes me really angry ... I am semi-Buddhist after all! If I had been at the Dera I would have stood up and asked him about this. Why do you just hear these things and not do anything about it?
Also: "I do remember jokes at the expense of women ..."
Wish I had been there I would have sorted you lot out! :)
Let the people who enjoy the organizational side of RSSB do their own thing. I prefer to stay out of the whole hierarchy thing.
I seem to have such a different perspective of this "god" thing and I hope you don't mind if I try to explain my own personal perception.
I don't understand why so many satsangis and ex-ers put so much emphasis on the Master being "God in Human Form" as you call it. My understanding is that the creator is a power, and an impersonal power, which has expressed itself into the creation that we are a part of. Then, if we are all made from that very essence are we not also so called "god in human form"? The only difference is that we are not self-realized or "god" realized like the Master and other enlightened beings. He is simply a teacher and a guide and it is up to each one of us to find the 'truth'.
Posted by: zenjen | February 12, 2009 at 04:21 AM
The emphasis on "God in Human Form" cannot be underemphasized because it is a core belief within RSSB and a primary factor why folks get initiated in the first place.
If that fact is diminished, so is the path.
Posted by: Bob | February 12, 2009 at 06:44 AM
"Why did you both let the rep talk you into this?"
yes, it was most unusual, and not the norm, but it is what happened. Reason, well, I suspect same reason as we did sewa, went to satsang, and all the rest!
"I find this comment very unnerving (if true)! Once again, I will only believe what I actually hear and see, so this is still hearsay imo"
I suspect that if initiates were to only believe what they actually hear and see, there would be no RSSB followers !!!
"If I had been at the Dera I would have stood up and asked him about this."
Easier said than done, you try going to see Master when you want to discuss or complain!
Posted by: Phil | February 12, 2009 at 06:49 AM
Astonishing, but not surprising, at the same time. "Seek and keep seeking" until the True Sant Sat Guru is found! There is absolutely no way to turn the outward bound current within and penetrate the many folds of Maya without a bona fide (genuine) Sat Guru. One can intellectually pontificate, argue, calumniate and babble until pigs fly...to no avail. It is a waste of time and amounts to churning water. Again, I say: Seek intensely until the True Sat Guru is found! Do not lose hope and waste not another moment!
Posted by: albert | February 12, 2009 at 08:19 AM
go suck an egg............
Posted by: Roger | February 12, 2009 at 08:42 AM
Bob and Phil, great replies to Zenjen -- whose view of Sant Mat/RSSB is akin to a Christian saying, "My religion has nothing to do with Jesus."
Like Phil said, if you take belief out of RSSB, or any religion, you've taken everything away.
Albert...listen to yourself. Substitute "Jesus," "Allah," or some other religious divinity in your comment for "Sat Guru" and you'll hear fundamentalism.
It's fine if that's what you want. Just know it for what it is. Blind faith, which makes you no different from any other true believer.
Posted by: Brian | February 12, 2009 at 09:46 AM
"I don't understand why so many satsangis and ex-ers put so much emphasis on the Master being "God in Human Form" as you call it."
--As Bob said, this is the central theme of Sant Mat. Only the Perfect Sant Sat Guru (GIHF) is endowed with the supernatural powers to administer the karmas of the ensnared jivas (souls), manifest his radiant form within each of his millions of initiates and usher them according to His Grace through vast inner regions, layer upon layer, to the lap of Sat Purush in an infinite region of incomprehensible light, purity, and bliss. Thus, it becomes a bit unsettling when such a Grand Being picks his nose and is scared by dogs.
"My understanding is that the creator is a power, and an impersonal power, which has expressed itself into the creation that we are a part of. Then, if we are all made from that very essence are we not also so called "god in human form"?"
--Maybe we are human form in "God"?
"The only difference is that we are not self-realized or "god" realized like the Master and other enlightened beings."
--How can we know the Master is enlightened or that anyone has ever been enlightened? Perhaps the "state" of enlightenment, in the sense that it can be possesed, is but a myth?
"He is simply a teacher and a guide and it is up to each one of us to find the 'truth'."
--Incorrect. In Sant Mat it is up to the disciple to FOLLOW the guru's orders. It is the guru's duty to deliver the lost soul to its eternal home. In Sant Mat, the master is more than a teacher, he is literally a "savior" without whom the soul is doomed to wander through countless incarnations of illusion and suffering due to separation from the Father.
Posted by: tucson | February 12, 2009 at 10:27 AM
Phil sent me a follow-up email message that deserves sharing. Nicely said, Phil.
While I am not at all sure that my recollections of experiences will have much constructive value to anyone, I am sure there will be an interest factor for others. I do not feel I have anything to hide nor protect. My experience is my experience, and I entered the path with nothing but honest and pure intention to seek ultimate purpose for my human life.
There are a few phrases that I came across while active in Sant Mat, phrases that may or may not be attributable to that path, but are certainly relevant for anyone; no need to be following a particular path for the impact to be valid.
For example, if one does not spend at least one moment each day in awe, in wonderment of the world around us, then one is not truly alive. I do not mean wonderment of God's work, that is a statement without meaning, for we do not know if God exists, and so cannot state it is God's work.
But we can agree that surrounding us is an observable physical universe that we all experience, and is so immense, so intricate, so interwoven, and so mysterious as to create a sense of awe.
Yesterday, while driving to work in slow traffic, I observed an old man, well in his 80's, thin, frail, struggling against the cold and winter wind. The harsh frost on the ground had not thawed yet.
He was carrying a bunch of roses, and was about to turn in through a small metal gate into the churchyard, when he dropped a rose at the gate. He bent to pick it up, but in the process dropped more. He struggled like this for a short while, shaking with cold, and trying hard to hold all the roses, presumably to place on a grave of someone he loved.
I found this scene so incredibly moving, so terribly sad, so much life driving this frail old man into the cold to place a few flowers on a grave. What is it that drives this old man to hold on to memories in this way and entered my consciousness with such strength of emotion for a moment?
Is it the outcome of the 'survival of the fittest' law that evolutionist atheists consider the underlying principles that have resulted in consciousness springing our of matter?
I don't really know what love is, but some power does exist that opens the tap on the spring of emotion that is far from dried up within me. It may be just the result of chemicals rushing within my blood, triggered by certain patterns of sensory input and interpreted by mental conditioning?
Maybe science will be able to trace compassion back to chemical stimulus and our sense of awe is no more than the inability of our mind to encode and encompass the limits of extrapolation of the observed universe.
But science, by definition, is limited to the physical universe, and excludes whatever may exist outside or along with the physical and assumes that there is no rationale behind such an assumption that I can find in any definition of science.
The goal of science is to seek understanding of this observable creation, how it all works, what it's all made of, when it all started and where it is all going. Spirituality attempts to find meaning and purpose to it all, and so to our lives. The effects of gravity on the old man's roses is understood, but would science ever be able to uncover the emotions transmitted to my mind by the actions of that old man?
Both science and spirituality have a place, side by side, hand in hand, and neither can afford to ignore the other
Posted by: Brian | February 12, 2009 at 11:37 AM
Regarding Phil's comment, I resonate with what he said. More and more, I feel that my "spirituality" (whatever that word means; I have no clue) starts, and maybe ends, with awe at the mystery of the cosmos.
A couple of books on this theme, that I like a lot, are:
"The Way of Wonder"
"Ways in Mystery"
Posted by: Brian | February 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM
Hello, i have been reading these blogs and comments with interest and i am struck by the apparent discrepancy between persons that seem to experience things in meditation and other people that experience very little, or certainly not fireworks. Is there any explanation for this?
I am also struck by the lack of commentary specifically on the meditational experiences of light and sound and going into detail on why some people have them and other people don't. This seems to me to be the real debate around here, notwithstanding tAo's beliefs in some sort of advaita teachings and his dismissal of light and sound experiences.
If i experienced specific lights and sounds in meditation (which i never have) it would be a definite confirmation that something really spiritual was going on.
Posted by: David | February 12, 2009 at 11:57 AM
"If i experienced specific lights and sounds in meditation (which i never have) it would be a definite confirmation that something really spiritual was going on."
---Do you know why you are making that statement? That is, were you trained by someone, to think in that manner?
Posted by: Roger | February 12, 2009 at 12:10 PM
We have all been ‘trained’ to think and behave in a certain manner. Right from the moment we enter into the human form we are pulled out into the world and trained on how to exist in this world and all our thoughts, emotions, understandings and reactions are conditioned by our deep seated memories which come from our subconscious, or reptilian brain, the cerebellum (the most ancient part of the brain). We only use our conscious brain (the frontal lobe) 5% of the time and we are functioning 95% of the time from our subconscious. This is why meditation and bringing one’s conscious mind into the moment whilst observing the workings of one’s mind, watching the patterns of one’s own behaviour gradually starts to bring light into the conscious mind.
I think the western mind is probably far too intellectual, critical and analytical and driven by instant results and that is why so many are disappointed when they don’t get results. Much has been said about beliefs and concepts on this forum and maybe a very rigid and negative concept of the non-existence of inner spiritual experiences is probably blocking those very experiences.
If we are living in the moment and just experiencing whatever is before us and within us and being as honest and true as we can possibly be, then serendipity does happen. The universe is truly awesome and magical. Why do we have to put this belief of “God’s work” into the whole equation?
You say: “I suspect that if initiates were to only believe what they actually hear and see, there would be no RSSB followers”.
I don’t know, there are probably many followers who have had amazing inner experiences but they don’t talk about them and are probably living India.
We change brother. Constantly. I originally thought of the Master as being my saviour and now I am beginning to understand that I don’t really know anything. All I do now is question my own beliefs and concepts and what I am doing at this moment is throwing out into cyberspace my own understanding of things and looking objectively at these very opinions that I am expressing. The Masters are dealing with all sorts of people on different levels of understanding and we are simply given very basic guidelines. Each person according to their own mindset then interprets these guidelines. Probably the more simple or ‘open minded’ the person is the quicker the inner results will be. You see ‘orders’ and ‘duty’ in following the Master and I don’t, I see love and compassion. Just reflections maybe?
I intend to take ‘belief’ out but still leave faith and awe. If I totally lose faith and awe I lose the magic of life. I think one can have faith without being ‘religious’.
I think there is a sort of satsangi collective mindset according to which country they live in and maybe in your country people talk about “God in Human Form” a lot. I think I really react to this “God” word, it just sounds so biblical and religious. Perhaps I would prefer “The Great Spirit in Human Form” … oh no … so out there and new-agey! :)
Posted by: zenjen | February 12, 2009 at 03:55 PM
"The Masters are dealing with all sorts of people on different levels of understanding and we are simply given very basic guidelines. Each person according to their own mindset then interprets these guidelines."
--I see what you're getting at...that since people from many different backgrounds and levels of sophistication are attracted to Sant Mat, the masters sort of "water down" the teachings to suit the masses...a type of generic pablum. However, I disagree. Throughout the teachings as prsented in the books and satsangs there are many specifics and dogmas given such as the absolute need for a "perfect" living master, blind (my word) obedience to his dictates, doctrines and initiation vows, etc.
Zenjen wrote: "Probably the more simple or ‘open minded’ the person is the quicker the inner results will be."
--This is something satsangis often hear, that restless intellectualism is a barrier to spiritual progress. That may or may not be, but it is also a way for the masters to escape logical scrutiny by making mind the enemy and an agent of the evil, deceptive "Kal" or "Negative Power" who desires to keep souls trapped in his domain of the lower regions under the sway of Maya.
It is said that "hill people" from northern India have more rapid spiritual progress due to their simple, uncomplicated minds. Where is the evidence of this except heresay? What about the simple minded hill people that don't make rapid spiritual progress?
Frankly, I was rather naive and unsophisticated when I was initiated about 39 years ago and certainly not intellectually inclined. I was an ex-doper surfer with a 10th grade education. Spicoli (Sean Penn's mindless stoned surfer character) was a genius compared to me. Yet I did not ascend rapidly to regions immortal despite periods of intense meditation. I actually had more profound insights and visions prior to initiation.
Zenjen wrote: "You see ‘orders’ and ‘duty’ in following the Master and I don’t, I see love and compassion. Just reflections maybe?"
--Maybe, but the words 'orders' and 'duty' are scattered throughout the literature. Hence the compulsion I have observed in some satsangis.
At dera there was a young american doctor who was behind in his meditation due to his heavy workload. He had calculated that he "owed" the master a certain number of hours of meditation according to the 2.5 hrs. of meditation daily vow. He did not come out of his guesthouse room except for meals until he had made up the deficit.
Posted by: tucson | February 12, 2009 at 05:58 PM
My "spiritual" experiences were precursors to initiation and included both light and sound along with all the mental noise. Mostly these experiences were uninteresting until seeing the tistra til which was a clearly defined form. For me, it was interesting but dim and difficult to "reach" and was unsustainable. The physical and mental conditions under which this was "achieved" were rather dismal. I was alone and in relatively isolated darkened conditions with very little mental or physical stimulation. Literally a practiceless practice with effortless effort. That is, you have to sit very very still and be mentally very very quiet. It isn't complicated. My best guess is that some people are better able to simply stop the thinking or are naturally more serene.
There was a brief moment in my practices when this quiet state was a "ritual" ability and I got in the "groove" of meditation but the worldly demands are so incredibly noisy that this state seems impossible for me now. Initiation into RSSB did not help with the meditation experiences. When I was in the quiet state of mind, even wind chimes or supposedly soothing music were an irritating distraction away from stillness (no TV, no radio, minimal social life, and low lights). When out in the world during the day, not surprisingly, the simplest things were much more beautiful and "alive." A breeze, a swaying bush, the sound of the shoes on the ground, even thoughts. It seemed like a confused state of joyful-sorrow, bitter-sweetness. I'm not sure how to say it.
I was concerned about opening up the tisra til (third eye) without a guide. I had read enough of the RSSB literature to believe I needed a Master to guide me. I don't know if this is true. As I said, the experiences were before initiation and (unlike Charin) Gurinder discouraged meditation before initiation. I wasn't an initiate so I went with the literature and meditated anyway since I had already started. The commentary within these blogs indicates that there may be possible exaggeration of mental problems through these "deeper" mental states. I don't know but this tells me that one really should have a Master who knows these "spiritual" states. I don't know if the RSSB master is such a person.
Who knows why some are more capable of inner peace than others? DNA is probably one factor, environment the other. In the end it is all "just this" according to what all those peaceful "enlightened" dudes tell us.
I'm not a legalist in matters of meditation. I spend the time I can honestly feel devoted to the darkness and I try to be attentive to the moment. I have stuck to the vegetarian diet, which may be why I feel worn down. Perhaps Roger has a good idea about egg sucking... I'll have to try that one... if I don't chew, is it still considered eating? I'll have to check the bylaws. :)
Posted by: Jayme | February 12, 2009 at 08:08 PM
Greetings again to all... to my old friends as well as new folks.
I feel rather appreciative to be part of this forum. I tend to think that this site and these particular discussions are unique... I doubt that anyone is discussing any of these issues anywhere else on the net, or elsewhere. RS satsangis are certainly not doing so. So that makes our little discussion group here kinda special. So special thanks again to Brian for hosting, and also to all who participate. We are alive, we are here together, and we are talking with each other about what is really real. And thats pretty unique, actually.
So in that respect, I would like to offer my sincerity and fellowhip to all, and that includes those who still are, or who desire to remain stuck within RS and its myths and its guru-cult mentality.
That all being said, here are my comments to some who posted above:
"Seek and keep seeking until the True Sant Sat Guru is found! There is absolutely no way to turn the outward bound current within and penetrate the many folds of Maya without a bona fide (genuine) Sat Guru."
-- That is absolutely incorrect. It is both untrue, and also you do not know that. It is a known fact that there have been a number of those throughout history, and even to the present day, who have turned deeply within (and have even achieved detachment, profund wisdom, samadhi, and even mukti/liberation) without having any such so-called "bona fide (genuine) Sat Guru".
So for Albert to say: "There is absolutely no way to turn the outward bound current within and penetrate the many folds of Maya without a bona fide Sat Guru", is just blatant avidya, or IGNORANCE. If Albet had any real insight, he would never say such nonsense.
Albert also said: "I say: Seek intensely until the True Sat Guru is found! Do not lose hope and waste not another moment!"
-- The "True Sat Guru" is simply none other than your own true nature, your own primordial awareness. It is NOT some external person, some outward human individual.
My deepest thanks and respect to you dear brother... for your sincere heart, your honesty and candidness, your openeess and willingness to share your story, your fine style of writing, and especially your continued search for truth... wherever it may take you. I am deeply glad that you are here with us, and I am sure Brian and others are too.
Thank you brother.
"I am also struck by the lack of commentary specifically on the meditational experiences of light and sound and going into detail on why some people have them and other people don't. This seems to me to be the real debate"
-- Fyi, RS satsangis are admonished NOT to share any info whatsoever about their meditation experiences.
"tAo's beliefs in some sort of advaita teachings and his dismissal of light and sound experiences."
-- That is incorrect. I have no such "beliefs". I do not subscribe to any such "advaita teachings". And I have not and do not have any so-called "dismissal pf light and sound experiences. Period. If you wish to know my views, then you are quite welcome ask me. But what you have said about me above, is flat out incorrect.
"If i experienced specific lights and sounds in meditation [...] it would be a definite confirmation that something really spiritual was going on."
-- A confirmation of something really spiritual going on, you say? No, it would not. It would not be evidence of any such thing. It would simply be just another phenomena. And btw, what is "spiritual" anyway? Thats really a very undetermined unanswered question. Its also quite relative.
"all our thoughts, emotions, understandings and reactions are conditioned by our deep seated memories which come from our subconscious"
-- Not so. Not "all" are conditioned... and not "all" derive from the subconscious.
"we are functioning 95% of the time from our subconscious."
-- Not so, not so true.
"This is why meditation and bringing one’s conscious mind into the [...] gradually starts to bring light into the conscious mind."
-- No, it is the subconscious that the light of the conscious enters into and illuminates. The light is the light of consciousness, not of the subconcious. The subconscious is the sanskaras and vasanas. It is the light of the consious that dissolves releases the subconcious sanskaras and vasanas.
"I think the western mind is probably far too intellectual, critical and analytical"
-- That is not necerssarily a detriment.
"so many are disappointed when they don’t get results. Much has been said about beliefs and concepts on this forum and maybe a very rigid and negative concept of the non-existence of inner spiritual experiences is probably blocking those very experiences."
-- Hardly. I disagree. First of all, there is no such "very rigid and negative concept of the non-existence of inner spiritual experiences" apparent here. And second, the notion that clear or critical thinking and inquiry is somehow "blocking those very experiences" is absurd. Experiences in meditation all depend upon sanskaras. Thus an absence of experiences is not caused by, and does not indicate any such detrimental "rigid and negative concept".
When I was young, I had a great procession and profusion of very profound inner mystical experiences. But (after a few years) those eventually diminished and subsided, and I was left with a vast and pristine awareness and clarity of mind.
So "experiences" are not any measure of spiritual advancement or achievement. They are actually somehwat indicative of the opposite.
"Masters are dealing with all sorts of people on different levels of understanding"
-- That is based merely upon a presumption of so-called "masters". Such is a myth.
"Probably the more simple or ‘open minded’ the person is the quicker the inner results will be."
-- This is nothing but a false rumor, and a kind of folklore. It is unfounded and baseless. It is nonsense. It is used to brow beat educated and intellectually developed people. To put it bluntly, it is bullshit.
"You see ‘orders’ and ‘duty’ in following the Master and I don’t, I see love and compassion."
-- That is not "love and compassion". None of these followers has any sufficient association with the guru to be able to develop any genuine mature love. It is merely a kind of romatic enchantment based upon fantasy.
"I think one can have faith without being ‘religious’."
-- But faith in what?
"maybe in your country people talk about “God in Human Form” a lot. I think I really react to this “God” word, it just sounds so biblical and religious."
-- It was RS that has put forth and advanced that notion, not us. It is RS that makes that claim, not us.
Posted by: tAo | February 12, 2009 at 08:50 PM
You say: “Throughout the teachings as presented in the books and satsangs there are many specifics and dogmas given such as the absolute need for a "perfect" living master, blind (my word) obedience to his dictates, doctrines and initiation vows, etc.”
I understand what you are saying and I guess this is why I am now becoming more aware of these sorts of dogmas and blind beliefs. Having said that, if that is what others want to believe then that’s their business.
I have been whittling away at my beliefs, but then found I was going through a sort of ‘crisis of faith’, which was very disturbing. So to help myself through this process of ‘unlearning’ I decided that I will now only have faith in my own individual, personal experiences.
About the mind and being told about the ‘negative power’ within, I’ve often wondered during meditation, which mind is fighting with the mind that is thinking all the time? I prefer to no longer fight with the mind and just be with things as they are.
Posted by: zenjen | February 12, 2009 at 09:07 PM
I think you're on to something. Find out what that mind is that is fighting with the mind that is thinking all the time. What is the origin of that mind? Where is it? Go deep into that.
Posted by: tucson | February 12, 2009 at 09:51 PM
You said: "I have stuck to the vegetarian diet, which may be why I feel worn down. Perhaps Roger has a good idea about egg sucking..."
--I think your intuition is telling you something. Have you tried introducing eggs in your diet? Excellent source of protein for the protein starved vegetarian, and no chicken needs to be harmed in obtaining them.
There was a man suffering from dementia in a retirement home. He refused to eat anything but eggs, and he ate a lot of them. More than a dozen per day. They were worried about his cholesterol and had it tested. It was normal.
Posted by: tucson | February 12, 2009 at 10:09 PM
You say: “…it is the subconscious that the light of the conscious enters into and illuminates. The light is the light of consciousness, not of the subconscious. The subconscious is the sanskaras and vasanas. It is the light of the conscious that dissolves releases the subconscious sanskaras and vasanas”
I really like that, makes a lot of sense. The light of the consciousness illuminates the subconscious. I have only read one book about the brain and how it functions and I got it mixed up (oops).
Also I see now that I have bought into the belief of what I was told about the simple and open-minded people of the east going ‘within’ more quickly than the more intellectual type of person. All the stories I have listened to!
About the love and compassion. Yep, I guess I do identify with that romantic enchantment based on fantasy.
About faith … perhaps have more faith in (as you said to Albert) “… your own true nature, your own primordial awareness”.
Thank you for the insights.
I will seek the origin of ‘that mind’. Thanks. :)
Posted by: zenjen | February 13, 2009 at 12:33 AM
tAo, what are your spiritual experiences? Is that the right way to put it? What is your spiritual experience? WHat spiritual experiences did you have before when you said you got many when you were younger?
Sorry, i don't know a word better than "spiritual" here.
As far as phenomena go i don't personally think that seeing light and hearing sound would be spiritually worthless. I am not advanced in any way spiritually so i know next to nothing about self-inquiry and what the experience of that actually is. As far as i know from reading Ramana Maharshi, he taught a meditation technique of asking "who am i?". I don't see any difference between this and mantra meditation. People were constantly asking him how to do self inquiry and his answers were rather vague because he didn't seem to give any tangible method. So how is self-inquiry "performed"?
Posted by: David | February 13, 2009 at 12:40 AM
David, you asked:
"tAo, what are your spiritual experiences? WHat spiritual experiences did you have before when you said you got many when you were younger?"
-- I could not even begin to tell you even one iota of that plethora, that vast labyrinth of the macrocosm, that multi-dimensional universe of consciousness.
Question: Have you ever had any experience in 'non-ordinary reality'? If you haven't, then you will not really understand what I said above.
"i don't personally think that seeing light and hearing sound would be spiritually worthless."
-- Thats your opinion... but an illusion nevertheless.
"i know next to nothing about self-inquiry and what the experience of that actually is."
-- Then why make any assumptions or premature conclusions like you have? Inquiry is simply inquiry, not an "experience". Just simply inquire... not seek some experience, some concept, some method. Inquiry IS the method... but who is doing the method?
There is a saying:
"Even before one barely even begins to understand and realize what inquiry really is, and what it is actally leading towards, it is ALREADY TOO LATE... your head is already inside OF the tiger's mouth."
Which means that, for you, its already too late. Its now only just a matter of a relatively short time before IT happens. You've already gotten too close. Its more or less a done deal. You're soon to be gone-er.
Sorry about that.
"i know from reading Ramana Maharshi, he taught a meditation technique of asking "who am i?". I don't see any difference between this and mantra meditation."
-- Incorrect. Self Inquiry (atma-vichara) is NOT "mantra meditation" at all. There is similarity whatsoever. You have misunderstood. But don't worry, that will all resolve itself naturally and effortlessly... through inquiry.
"People were constantly asking him how to do self inquiry and his answers were rather vague because he didn't seem to give any tangible method."
-- No, not true. He was not "vague" at all. He gave the absolute most direct pointing.
You are missing because you are lookimg for some "method", a concept. You are not really listening, not hearing, not understanding. You are making it all too complicated.
You are only to simply look and try to find your self. Simply try to find your own self. That is what "Who Am I" means. It is not some mantra.
"how is self-inquiry performed?"
-- NOT by simply repeating "Who am I".
Just try to find out who you are. Where are you? Who is going to "perform" this inquiry? Can you actually locate your self? Is there really any "you", any "me", any "I"... to be found? What do you find when you go looking for your self?
Posted by: tAo | February 13, 2009 at 02:09 AM
thank you all very much for the interesting discussion above, very interesting, nice divergence of opinions, very pleasently discussed.
Thank you *all*.
Posted by: manjit | February 13, 2009 at 07:10 AM
YOu asked if i had experienced a non-ordinary reality. The answer is "i suppose so" but not with meditation. I have experienced altered states of consciousness with drugs before but nothing like some kind of cosmic vision of God. More like a feeling of expansion into everything.
-- Then why make any assumptions or premature conclusions like you have? Inquiry is simply inquiry, not an "experience". Just simply inquire... not seek some experience, some concept, some method. Inquiry IS the method... but who is doing the method?
There is a saying:
"Even before one barely even begins to understand and realize what inquiry really is, and what it is actally leading towards, it is ALREADY TOO LATE... your head is already inside OF the tiger's mouth."
Which means that, for you, its already too late. Its now only just a matter of a relatively short time before IT happens. You've already gotten too close. Its more or less a done deal. You're soon to be gone-er.
Sorry about that."
Forgive my ignorance but i don't understand what you mean by this. Are you saying that i am nearly dead or something? :) that makes me chuckle.
If realising the Self is non-experiential is there any point to self realisation? Without vague language can you explain what is meant by Self Realisation? If it isn't an experience what can it be?
If self inquiry is a means to finding out who i am as opposed to my conceptions of who i am (my ego) i would like to know what exactly that IS. As far as i am concerned i already know who i am and it isn't something i need to be told by someone else. Everyone knows they exist don't they? So why do they need more than that? I am failing to understand the difference between this sense of self that everyone has and some kind of cosmic ground of being Self.
I don't believe in the idea that if a person were to just somehow accept that they are the Self that they would magically become self realised in a puff of smoke. There is nothing to indicate that this kind of reality can exist.
If you wanted to ask me how i would test the experience of a self realised person it wouldn't be by watching their behaviour or hearing their words. It would be by a demonstration of power. Knowledge is power. Anyone can be a vegetarian and harm no living beings, be celibate etc but that doesn't prove self realisation at all. Words are pretty empty. Actions speak louder than words. I would have to see a demonstration of omnipotence and omniscience. Anything other than that is not self realisation to me.
If you are sitting there still and asking yourself "who am i?" that is no different to mantra meditation. If this isn't the method that Ramana Maharshi gave then can you explain in concrete and specific terms what his method actually is other than things like, "who are you? Does you exist? Who is asking the question?" and so on. For me, these questions have absolutely nothing to do with "God", the existence of a soul and afterlife, the answer to existence or anything like that.
I don't want to beat about the bush here but the thing that seems most obvious to me in life is the lack of answers to the most important questions that face us. If there is a God i want to know exactly what this thing is, the nature of it, its qualities, ANYTHING. If there is an afterlife i want to know whether it exists. It just seems like a waste of time sitting there trying to find out who i am and who is asking the question who am i? in some infinite regression when i have absolutely no confusion about who i actually am in the first place. It doesn't tell me anything.
Ramana Maharshi told people that japa on the names of God, so long as the concentration was perfect, would lead to the experience of the self. The mind becomes still and then "melts" into the self somehow. But what does this "melting"? He spoke of surrendering to God and obtaining grace. He was not an atheist by any means. Do you think i read about these things and come to the conclusion that the type of concentration this involves is somehow perfectly attained simply by asking yourself who are you etc? That really does just seem dumb to me.
I am not an initiate of RSS nor do i want to be. I don't believe a guru is necessary at all. At the same time i do think that God's grace in the form of any spiritual experience like light or sound or the Self is definitely something that should be open to investigation. Why do some people get these experiences and others don't? I can't see any difference between light and sound experiences and Self experiences, they are both "spiritual" and dependent on God's grace. And i am agnostic. I use the word "God" hypothetically.
I can hear a rebuttle blowing in the wind, "You are a seeker. The Self is not something obtained like an object, it is already there. You just need to remove the weeds". oh really? Well then i might as well go away and IMAGINE that God exists without actually knowing it.
Sorry, i wasn't directing all this at you tAo. I was airing random thoughts.
Posted by: David | February 13, 2009 at 10:25 AM
"I can't see any difference between light and sound experiences and Self experiences, they are both "spiritual" and dependent on God's grace. And i am agnostic. I use the word "God" hypothetically."
---From your training received, what is a "Self" experience?
---Depends on God's grace? What is God's grace? Where is you learn God's grace?
---From your training received, what is the definition of Spirituality?
Thanks for some answers, I need one of those "made simple for dummies" training manuals.
Posted by: Roger | February 13, 2009 at 10:47 AM
I have no formal training in anything. i wasn't initiated by anyone. I simply read books and internet pieces.
To answer your questions though. I don't know what a Self experience is becasue there are no definitions or descriptions of it compared to the more tangible light and sound experiences, which i consider understandable. But it seems evident enought to me that any of these experiences must come from a "place" that is not your regular run of the mill mundane life experience.
I don't know what "spirituality" is but i suspect it could be all kinds of things. Atheists can be spiritual. When i use the word "spiritual" in general i mean an experience that seems to come from beyond mundane life phenomena and knowledge. That is about as specific as i can get or think of getting at this point.
Posted by: David | February 13, 2009 at 11:29 AM
Thanks for your reply.
---What about God's grace? You mentioned his grace, in your comment above. Do you have any knowledge regarding God's grace?
---Could you describe the tangible light and sounds, that you have an understanding of?
Thanks again for your reply,
Posted by: Roger | February 13, 2009 at 11:45 AM
"Everyone knows they exist don't they? So why do they need more than that? I am failing to understand the difference between this sense of self that everyone has and some kind of cosmic ground of being Self."
--Well, actually "you" don't exist. The sense of self or "I" or "I exist" is merely an objectification of what we are which, as I have said here many times before, is no THING. "I" is merely an idea floating in the phenomenal sea.
So many people searching..searching for what? A self? But there isn't one! No such 'thing' exists, has ever existed, or ever could exist.
Why? Because it would need another to find the One. They are searching for themselves and how could anyone find himself?
It is This which is looking for Itself when we look for It, and we cannot find It because It is This which we are. And..objectively It is not here.
That is all there is in it.
And why there is nothing more
to be said.
Except a favorite poem:
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains way.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
Until only the mountain remains.
Posted by: tucson | February 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM
While in college, eggs were my primary source of protein. I don't think I could have finished school without them.
The most recent RSSB policy even forbids eating unfertilized eggs but I will consider your suggestion. I never had difficulty in giving up both meat and eggs because there is something in the flavor of most selections that taste "off" to me. Probably related to how the animal was treated and/or processed.
Though the whey protein suppliment satisfies cravings, My body and mind do seem to have suffered with the vegetarian diet (I'm not a very good cook - lol).
Posted by: Jayme | February 13, 2009 at 03:37 PM
Just my personal preferences of course, but why support an industry that creates so much suffering? There are free-range chickens of course and 'organic' eggs, but even then I find it easier to just not eat eggs.
Posted by: zenjen | February 13, 2009 at 04:42 PM
Eggs (specifically egg yolks) are the best and highest and easiest source of dietary cholesterol.
Dietary cholesterol is used by the human body in the production of essential hormones.
A diet that is lacking in any fish, poultry, meat, or dairy, or just simply some egg yolks... is a diet without any dietary cholesterol.
Yes, the body produces some amount of hormones on its own, but a moderate intake of dietary cholesterol (via the consumption of egg yolks) is very beneficial for hormone production, and for the brain and many other tissues in the body.
Regardless of and contrary to what Hindu and Sikh and Santmat religious dogma says, there is no detriment or "bad karma" whatsoever from merley eating eggs (preferably organic eggs) in order to maintain good health and long life. Nor is there any detriment from consuming Whey as an excellent protein supplement.
The vegan diet is the worst offender.
The avoidance of eating any eggs is a negative mental fixation, a self-imposed limitation based upon religious dogma that achieves no benefit in any spiritual sense whatsoever.
It is actually the unnecessary taboo and inhibitory fixation that causes detriment and obscuration to spiritual wisdom and ultimately mukti.
Posted by: tAo | February 13, 2009 at 06:46 PM
Eggs have a high nutritional value as tAo said. They are high in lecithin which helps break down and assimilate the cholesterol. But only about 10% of serum cholesterol is from food anyway, even in a diet high in animal products. Cholesterol is primarily produced by the liver in response to insulin which is produced by the pancreas in response to glucose (sugar). Want higher cholesterol? Consume a diet rich in sugars and carbohydrate, especially refined carbohydrate like white flour, white rice, pasta, etc. which are rapidly converted to glucose in the digestive process.
Yes, most eggs are produced under questionable factory farm methods, but it is easy in many localities to obtain eggs from chickens kept under better, more natural conditions. I once had a neighbor who kept chickens. They would run around in the yard eating scraps, bugs and some grain. Very happy chickens. Then they would go in the henhouse to roost for the night. Several days a week the neighbor would put out a basket filled with fresh eggs. You could take what you needed and put some money in a container.
Posted by: tucson | February 13, 2009 at 09:40 PM
I am concerned about the methods of all food production. Catherine Muller provided a number of video links about european practices that showed these appalling conditions. This is good to know, thank you.
It isn't the fact that animals have suffered and died that bothers me so much as the way in which we as a society have pushed this process behind the scenes and have become innured to the suffering or the grotesque methods and practices which destroy more than seems necessary. I'm not a moralist either but along with the increased suffering it just makes the food taste worse and I expect is a leading cause for poor health conditions in humans as well as the animals. It simply makes sense to respect our environment and food sources as much as ourselves.
"It is actually the unnecessary taboo and inhibitory fixation that causes detriment and obscuration to spiritual wisdom and ultimately mukti."
-- I think you very simply answered the chicken and egg dilemma :) Does one stop eating animals because one respects the life form or does one respect the life form because they stopped eating animals? It seems to me that being a vegetarian because it makes one more spiritual is another conceptual bond. I found that giving up the idea of good and bad meditation made for a nicer (quieter) meditation experience (no guilt). This also seems to apply to "honest living" and the rest of the pilars of the RSSB belief system. Is this what you are saying? Hmm.
Posted by: Jayme | February 13, 2009 at 10:40 PM
Hello everyone, I am somewhat surprised by the response to my e-mail to Brian, but it has produced a considerable number of interesting and thought provoking responses.
Running the risk of offending, which is not my intention, I note that some comments fall into the blind faith category. While there is nothing wrong with blind faith, for me, it only works if it sets me upon a path that leads to where I hope to go. The example of taking directions from a stranger in an unknown country comes to mind. It is when indications along the way confirm the goal is being neared that blind faith becomes less blind and faith becomes knowledge.
To sprout comments that support blind faith without experiencing any conversion to knowledge is no different from any religion out there at the moment. Surely it does not matter to one seeker or poster whether another has blind faith or not? So why even bother to post?
But what about those who have been able to convert blind faith to knowledge to some degree? I cannot imagine such persons having any interest in this blog! Indeed, I would immediately question why such lucky person would be on here?
If I may ramble one more paragraph, consider the indications that can convert blind faith to knowledge, these would be inner experiences probably gained in meditation. I personally do not consider a few glimpses of flashing lights or similar signs to be confidence indicators, (many drugs can provide such experiences) . However one sentence I read somewhere in RSSB literature does come to mind, and for me, its relevant. Just as one wakes from a dream, and immediately KNOWS that it was a dream, that waking is a higher level of awareness, a greater depth of reality, then so does one know when entering higher regions, one does not have to interpret glimpses of light or vague distant sounds, one simply knows, it is as obvious as waking from a dream.
I have added a comment to Brians latest blog on Darwin, which I think follows along quite nicely from here
Posted by: Phil | February 14, 2009 at 01:00 AM
Regarding simple people having spiritual experiences. I got to know an Indian family in Queensland very well. 3rd generation Satsangis. The guy brought his mom out and his dad out to Australia after he had emigrated. She was initiated by Great master, one of the many children initiated by him just before he dies. The father was initiated in the 1960s, so when I met them in 2000 they had been initiated an awfully long time and considered themselves devoted satsangis. I got to know them well and spent a lot of time with them. If there was anything special spiritually about them i failed to detect it. The more I got to know them the less time I wanted to spend with them, due to the capricious unpleasant sort of people they were. So there you go. I have know many followers who spend decades on the past, all like me, with nothing in terms of spiritual experiences to show for it. Believe what you want, but based on my own experiences with these people and countless hours of my own meditation including up to 8 hours a day for months on end, the path and the master are one gigantic fraud.
Posted by: Jeremy | February 14, 2009 at 02:09 AM
Brian - sorry if this is too long a response. Please just delete it if it is.
> February 11, 2009
> Hanging out with a guru leads to disillusion
They do say familiarity breeds contempt.
I believe Jaimal also said something familiar to Sawan, that too much
intimacy or familiarity with one's guru can breed something along the
lines of disbelief in their divinity (I forget the exact words).
Perhaps our 'ideal' of a Godman is too easily dispelled if you see
your guru suffering from a physical illness, for example? "But he
suffers just like everyone else!". Or, at least, the appearance of it.
> Most disciples of a guru believe that if they could have more
> intimate face-time with him, their faith would be strengthened.
> their spiritual progress would soar.
> But belief isn't reality.
> Here's the story of Phil Risby, a Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB)
> initiate who got to hang out with Gurinder Singh, current RSSB
> when Phil lived in the Caribbean.
> Phil said it'd be fine to share his thoughts via a blog post. I've
> mildly edited a couple of his email messages, fixing some typos and
> adding a few explanations in bracketed italics.
> It's interesting reading, providing a rare behind-the-scenes
> perspective on time spent with a guru who is considered by the
> faithful to be GIHF, God in Human Form.
> You can either download the PDF file, or click on the continuation
> this post.
> Download Phil message (PDF)
> Messages from Phil Risby, February 2009
> I do not have a problem with sharing my experiences with you, you
> use any of the material on your blog, My experiences are genuine
> honest, albeit only my personal experiences, recounted within the
> limitations of my memory.
That's a nice, positive start!
> I was initiated in 1989 in Florida by Mr. Weekly. I never met
> Singh [RSSB guru at that time], but of course heard his satsang
> and read the books. It all made sense to me, and given that the
> principles are presented as scientific, able to be verified through
> experiment, there was most definitely an appeal.
> It was with great enthusiasm that I set about meditation, devoting
> hours of early mornings every day for several years. I was willing
> take on any seva [volunteer work] I was offered, and never expected
> or asked for seva. I became secretary for Puerto Rico, and devoted
> more and more time to traveling with the Caribbean representative,
> Sean Finnigan.
> As I 'progressed' in the physical organization, (but remained at
> bottom of the spiritual ladder) I became more and more aware of the
> details of the organization. I very much recall the day that I
> discovered that all the travel of the Rep was paid for out of
> funds, whereas I paid for all my many trips made at request of the
> (I was asked to give regular satsangs on many of the islands in
> Caribbean, so traveling from Jamaica, St Martin, Grenada, St Lucia,
> Aruba, even Surinam was part of my normal seva as 'international
> speaker', and trips away from home would last up to 2 weeks).
> I remember asking Sean on one of the trips when staying in a hotel
> Surinam, why I was personally paying for all expenses, and he was
> not. His reply was quick: he could not afford all his travel so
> funds paid for it. (Of note, I had my own business, and my expenses
> represented a significant hardship to my family).
The problem with rules and guidelines is, there is always a potential
pitfall in them.
Either let everyone get all their expenses paid and be accused of
blatant misuse of sangats money. Or nobody at all gets any expenses
paid, making it impossible in some cases for poorer sangat members to
ever get a 'higher' more time consuming seva, like area rep.
Or, lay down guidelines that only certain positions get their
expenses paid, like the reps. Then, anybody not included in that
expenses bracket gets upset, etc etc.
The potential for disagreement is endless.
Just like politics.
> One day, Sean informed me that it was time for my wife to be
> initiated. He made her application for her, and although she went
> along with it, she was initiated because I was married to her, not
> because she requested initiation. This also sowed a seed of
> but remember, I was still very indoctrinated with RSSB.
This is something I have never, ever come across before, even by
Phil should speak to a 'higher' rep, or directly to Beas about this?
I'm pretty sure there have been even worse cases of abuse &
manipulation than this in the RSSB org, and on many occassions. But
do we really expect anything less than 'rogue' reps is such a large
However, most importantly, whatever the details of this story, it
clearly isn't instituanalised abuses, not in my experience anyway?
> I met with Gurinder [Singh, current RSSB guru] first time in St
> Martin during his visit. The satsang ghar [meeting hall] had not
> been talked about, and I was a sevadar [volunteer]. At the end of
> of the satsangs many satsangis had collected in the hallway to get
> glimpse of him. I was upstairs with his group when he commented so
> all could hear that he did not want to pass by the rabble, but slip
> quietly out the back to his waiting car.
> While my memory may not serve me absolutely correctly, and it may
> have been "rabble" that he used, it was not loving and certainly
> surprised me!
I've heard something very similar to this before, here? The same
I can believe it's something he'd say, anyway.
It's just his style. It's a matter of interpretation though.
You'll notice Phil mentions he said it 'so all could hear'. We should
at least ponder if everyone interpreted the emotional intent of those
words exactly like Phil?
If my girlfriend calls me a 'bandar' (monkey), which she very often
does, with a cross look on her face, I still knows she's saying it
with some sort of genuine affection.
Least that's what I keep telling myself.
> I think it was about 2005 that I made my first and only trip to
> [RSSB headquarters in India]. I was able to meet with Gurinder a
> couple of times, but the one event that really surprised me was the
> treatment of a swarm of bees that had settled in a tree near the
> computer block (I was doing some seva in the computer building).
> Under instructions from Gurinder, these bees were sprayed with DDT
> (still used in India) and the swarm was killed. I could not relate
> this to the story of the saint who even took a straying ant back to
> its tree! Certainly there seemed no need to kill the swarm, which
> could have been safely moved elsewhere. A minor incident, but major
> in my mind.
I've read some very interesting Buddhist debates on this very
subject. Quite a complec topic.
But I was also shocked when I saw a usually very motionless Gurinder
very abrubtly swot away a fly whilst he was giving darshan on his
dais at Beas. In that moment, I was very shocked, as I had *imagined*
an ideal of how these 'godmen' moved. Certainely hoped they moved in
more mysterious ways than violently swotting away flies that
But, perhaps it's more pragmatic than all that?
It's the bees or risk getting satsangis stung?
> I asked several people about this, and was given the standard
> masters move in mysterious ways which we may not be able to
> understand. Convenient.
Ahh, mysterious ways indeed.
> Back in the Caribbean, I put aside my concerns and settled back
> the task in hand, continue with the experiment. I really want to
> if there is a realm of consciousness, without or apart from the
> physical realm. (I am still researching this, but not under the
> guidance of Sant Mat. This may be a topic of another e-mail; I
> suspect you might be interested in the work of our very small group
> of scientists and engineers, mostly atheists.)
I would love to hear more about this research?
> My seva duties continued and I was asked to oversee work on Curacao
> Satsangar, and then later with St Martin satsang ghar construction.
> met with Gurinder on several occasions, and spent many hours with
> Any semblance to the image created by the story of Charan Singh
> traveling in the train with his disciples was very very difficult
> discern. The use of expensive fast cars, private planes and the
> luxurious of homes for his entire stay was the norm.
Wow. Jammy bas....ket.
Guru's Finan Singh needs checking out.
> I flew with him and Rep in private plane (belonging to a satsangi
> Florida) and stayed as part of his group (this time at sangat's
> expense) in exclusive hotels in St Martin. (a sort of whirlwind
> of private planes and expensive hotels) and although I ate
> and dinner with him I do not recall even one moment of spiritual
> I do remember jokes at the expense of women, talk of relieving back
> pain, construction discussions, stories of humorous nature, and
> generally quite light talks, with the perfume of awe still present
> my senses (illusions I suspect).
> Close to the point where I started to move away from the cult, I
> asked to visit a number of satsangis to get them to do seva. The
> satsang ghar was built in St Martin, but sevadars were needed to
> maintain, run it, stay on premises for security on 24 hour basis,
> etc. I was asked to 'recruit' sevadars, there were not enough.
> Visiting people who were clearly not wanting to do seva, but, due
> their belief and love of Master, they made sacrifices to their
> and businesses because they felt they could not say no. I was truly
> very uncomfortable with this visit task. It was my last seva.
Once, probably the most uncomfortable 'seva' related experience I've
ever witnessed in RSSB, was when the Southall centre rep made an
impassionaed, almost tearful, almost angry, request for Southall
satsangis to do seva at Haynes Park. Due to more people going from
other (read competitor) sangats, such as Birmingham.
I thought that was a gross misuses of his position even then, and
But, such is life in a human organisation.
> I am now living back in England, and not one of the satsangis with
> whom I spent so much time had made any communication with me. I
> suspect I have been excommunicated, possibly because when Sean came
> to see me shortly after I moved back to England, he came to stay
> me and my wife, spending a week here, eating our food, staying self-
> invited in our home.
Hello there ole chap.
> At the end of a week, not knowing how long he intended to stay, I
> asked if he would be willing to contribute, at least a little, to
> fuel costs of driving him around, and ideally towards the food
> expenses. He left the next day.
Maybe he had financial constraints?
*****Anyway Phil, thanks so much for sharing*****
Posted by: manjit | February 14, 2009 at 06:45 AM
I live in Fayetteville about 2 miles from the Science of the Soul Study Center*. (*Sorry, I don't have the copyright symbol on my keyboard). I've been here since they built it, and up until about 2 years ago had done lots of seva during the construction period and afterwards, since building, rehabbing, and maintenance never seem to end. I haven't been to satsang there in a couple of years because I became disillusioned by a number of things that were going on there.
Regarding the discussion of spiritual experiences, I attended part 2 of a TM "teacher training course" with hunderds of other TM'ers in Mallorca, Spain in the early 70's. (Was I that young once?) : ) The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi presided over the nightly "experience sessions" where he encouraged people to discuss their meditational experiences and ask questions about them. I would listen to the experiences people would relate over the open mike in front of a filled
auditorium. After a couple weeks of this, I became frustrated because I NEVER
HAD ANYTHING TO RELATE! MMY would discuss the person's experiences in front of the crowd. I was always wondering what was wrong with me--nothing ever happened in my meditation!
Eventually I got to thinking that the nightly I-CAN-DO-YOU-ONE-BETTER
sessions seemed like a chance to play a game of spiritual show and tell. There
were some wild tales being related--probably all just made up, who knows? My
point being, to keep up with the neighbors, you had to get up there and tell a
bigger whopper than the next guy. Well, I had to leave the course early so I never "graduated" as a teacher of TM. (Lucky me).
I was initiated into RS in 1973, and coincidentally, still have had no experiences, but, mercifully, never had to endure any tale-telling sessions at the satsangs I used to attend. Even if RS allowed talking about inner experiences, it wouldn't mean much to me. How can I believe what someone is telling me about their inner experience--maybe it's just a fabrication on his part to look superior. And if it is true, so what? It happened to him, not to me.
Thanks, Brian, for hosting this forum and givine me a chance to listen to all of these different viewpoints.
Posted by: doc | February 14, 2009 at 08:11 AM
doc, could it not also be the case that the people relating their spiritual experiences in meditation were not making it up? Don't you think there are only 2 possibilities then - 1) there is something "wrong" with their brain or they unconsciously self hypnotised and 2) their experiences really do come from "God"?
Posted by: David | February 14, 2009 at 08:32 AM
Phil says - "While there is nothing wrong with blind faith, for me, it only works if it sets me upon a path that leads to where I hope to go."
-- maybe replace "hope to go" with "hope to be"?
-- Blind faith. I think it has been denigrated often in these blogs. Faith is trust in being in something other than ourselves. It seems to me that the only trust one can hope to have is trust in themselves. How else does one experience the world except through their own abilities? To put our faith in others can create collective monsters, if this faith is not tested against reality. A social consensus is established that informs each of us in a way that can be trusted. That is, we "buy into the system" because it is in our interest and fits what our knowledge says is right. When blind faith begins to rob us of out own vitality for the sake of the system, we begin to lose trust in our own being. I think this creates a cognitive dissonance and collectively, a social psychosis.
I'm susceptible to cultural influence. It was peculiar and disconcerting when one of the RSSB books had a flier suggesting I should become an organ donor.
Donating an organ is fine but when these issues become institutionalized it leads to terrible behavior. Having blind faith that brings one to do what is adverse to their own being hurts not only the individual but the society as a whole.
Unfortunately, it isn't so easy to have faith in one's self. How can we trust ourselves if we are such a confused state of desires and fears? So this search for the heart (center) is a search for something to be trusted.
Phil says: "It is when indications along the way confirm the goal is being neared that blind faith becomes less blind and faith becomes knowledge."
-- I agree. The entire swirl of energy is not the ground of being and cannot be trusted. When we move closer to the state of Self Knowledge, we become grounded and trustworthy and no longer a spreader of false hopes that we or others will attain truth anywhere in the creation. This is a dissolution of the "mini-me" identity.
This is a long way of saying "if you want to change the world change yourself."
Corrollary: if you want to trust the world, find out why you should trust yourself. No one elses experiences matter one iota for another.
Posted by: Jayme | February 14, 2009 at 08:41 AM
Right David, I agree with you. It's probably either #1 or #2, but for myself, as an outside observer, I could never tell which it was. But, based on the sheer volume of experiences being related, I tended to favor #1 as probably being true. And maybe some lucky people were #2. As for myself, it was definetly not #2, although #1 is always a possibility.
Posted by: doc | February 14, 2009 at 08:54 AM
I am sure you will appreciate that I have thought long and hard before writing to Brian. There have been several minor aspects of RSSB that have never sat well with me, most fall under the category of judging a path by its travelers, such as holding hands together and saying Radha Soami every time we meet and leave. Other concerns can be explained by the response that Master moves in ways we cannot understand, he appears as human, but is different, made of different stuff, or whatever the response that cannot be proven may be.
But there is something that I have not included, nor even mentioned to anyone else, as I have considered it too personal. About one year after initiation, I was as enthused and motivated, sincere and dedicated as before initiation. I tried hard to do everything to follow the path, and scrupulously followed the guidelines and rules. I did all sewa offered to me and every week, drove to satsang and back, never ever missing one satsang ( a 2 hour drive each way.)
But I was struggling with one aspect of maintaining the vows, and had written to Charan Singh and later to Gurinder Singh. each time, I received the same reply, keep following the path, attend to my meditation and help would come. About 3 years on, I wrote again, and expressed the same worries, and again I was told in the reply from Gurinder that I would receive help very shortly, he understood my problem and would absolutely help me, and not to worry.
Perhaps I was wrong to assume 'soon' may be within the next 10 to 12 years, because that help never came. Later I asked in a private interview and was told the same answer, wait, help will come. By this time, I began to suspect that a series of standard answers could serve almost any situation.
While I refrain from the details here (again, this is personal) I will say this is not any great request for something impossible, I was not asking for a miracle, and note that I was promised help to my request, a promise from GIHF no less, so quite a let down and eye opener when some 12 years later, nada!
in conclusion, I have only presented to this forum, as open and as honest account of my 15 plus years experience in RSSB. Within RSSB, there is no space, no room for such comments as I have made here, which perhaps says something as well.
I understand that YMMV (your mileage may Vary) and others may have very different experiences.
Posted by: Phil | February 14, 2009 at 09:05 AM
What was the, "I was struggling with one aspect of maintaining the vows, and had written to Charan Singh........."
---If this is a private situation, I would understand.
---on another topic, how is your wife handling her initiation experience?
Thanks for a reply,
Posted by: Roger | February 14, 2009 at 09:23 AM
doc, sounds like you have been at this spiritual game for decades now with no noticable result. It bugs me when people say that westerners are used to quick satisfaction so they should have patience on the spiritual path. And when you spend over 30 years on the spiritual path your patience must be worn thinner than one hair! It just doesn't add up.
Thank "God" for the internet and websites like this. I don't want to spend the rest of my life chasing a false dream. I have already been meditating for 7 years with no real result and i certainly don't want to spend the next 40 years doing same.
George Orwell said that most people don't want to be saints. I agree with him. Humans by default are imperfect. We all try our best to follow the laws and the golden rule so why do we need to try to pretend to do more than that? It is pretentious and shallow and false humility. Most "ordinary" persons get on with life and try their best. A real saint doesn't seek publicity, and the best saints in this world are the doctors, nurses and others working in the hospitals.
I have never understood why people put their lives under the charge of other people. That Indian custum of taking the dust off the gurus feet shows an inferiority complex more than anything else. In real life relations people just do not do that kind of thing. Religion is the elephant in the room.
Doc, you seem to somehow still believe there might be a God which i deduce from your admission that #2 could be correct. Do you have any particular reasons to believe in a God after 30+ years of meditation without any result?
Meditation and Yoga are nothing but stress relievers in my opinion. That doesn't take away from their utility, but think about it - why would God show himself only in meditation where the potential for self delusion is great? People speak about meditation producing "bliss" and say it is better than any drug. I wonder if those people have ever taken a drug in the first place. I have, and i have meditated and i can say from direct experience that drugs far outweigh any "bliss" that meditation has ever produced.
Forced celibacy does not work. Humans are not animals, they are humans. Humans have more than instinctual reactions to their environment. They feel sexual arousal in a much more heightened form than other animals, and this is natural. To say that the only purpose of sex for humans is procreation sounds to me like a pathological problem coming from the one that expounds that doctrine rather than an actual fact of life. Since it is natural for humans to want to enjoy sex, and rather detrimental if they suppress that tendency, i don't see any justification for forced celibacy. It is not as if God made humans any differently than they actually are. Why doesn't God fly to earth in a spaceship once and for all and actually tell us that unless we buck up and stop having sex he won't allow us to see the spaceship control panel? It aint happening.
There is only one thing i see with cults and religions, and that is grown up adults behaving like bullies in the school playground, "i am right and you are wrong" - "my technique of meditation is better than yours" "my God is bigger than your daddy" etc.
Posted by: David | February 14, 2009 at 10:07 AM
RIGHT ON target David. I'd have to agree with you. Thanks for being real and for bringing up these important points and saying what really needs to be said. This is the kind of discussion we need here, rather than more compulsive parroting and holier-than-thou preaching of stale RS dogma (as with Sid).
Posted by: tAo | February 14, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Spot on David. You have really articulated many of my thoughts and concerns. The more I think about my decades with Sant Mat, the more I am realizing that is is nothing more than a religious cult
Posted by: Jeremy | February 14, 2009 at 05:15 PM
Well David, I do have a lot of patience. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not. I teach middle school--it's a good thing in that setting; in terms of RS maybe it wasn't such a good thing. After all, how much time do we have?? Nobody knows.
You asked me, "Do you have any particular reasons to believe in a God after 30+ years of meditation without any result?"
No, no particular reasons at all. Some days I'd like to believe and others I'm not sure if I should. Twelve years of Catholic school does leave its imprint, even though I walked away from it after high school. Although I've noticed that when I took my Dad to church this Christmas things certainly have loosened up, however, the dreaded confessional booths were still there. Now they call it the sacrament of reconciliation I believe. How times have changed. I do know that the few types of meditation I've tried haven't revealed that much to me, but that could be my own shortcomings.
When I started things were different, we had satsang in a rented room at the Lawson YMCA in Chicago. The only seva was rolling out some books and setting up the mike and a picture of Charan Singh. Oh, and you can count the ladies that always made fantastic desserts for afterwards. Word got around, and people would come in off the street just to eat the coffeecakes and jalabies! A far cry from today where things are much more regulated. But then, I haven't been to satsang for a couple of years, so maybe things have changed.
Posted by: Doc | February 14, 2009 at 09:50 PM
Phil said: "Everything is built on faith, taking the reductionist view, what truth can I say I really know? Mathematics is founded on axioms, self evident truths, but consider Godel's incompleteness theorem, there will always be something that cannot be proven."
-- I'm not very knowledgable about mathematical or logical formalism and think I referred to Godel's incompleteness theorem myself in an earlier post (probably incorrectly) but I think Roger Penrose discusses the implication of Godel's theorem a bit in "The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe." Please correct me if I'm wrong but Godel's theorem is only true if one remains within a closed axiomatic system. That is, if one looks at higher order systems, then lower order systems can be fully defined, provided they can be trusted. This seems to be a rabbit hole to wonderland. Fundamentally, I agree that we are reduced to building on things on faith which I'll add, is without basis in itself.
Posted by: Jayme | February 15, 2009 at 01:57 PM
faith is not built upon unsupported data. Blind belief is. There is no such thing as blind belief in God because there is no way of actually knowing that idea either positively or negatively, especially by deduction.
I can forgive people that try to know God and end up being disappointed but i cannot forgive people that have knowledge that cannot be proven objectively and lazily state there is no reality to it.
Posted by: David | February 15, 2009 at 02:11 PM
"Well, actually "you" don't exist. The sense of self or "I" or "I exist" is merely an objectification of what we are which, as I have said here many times before, is no THING. "I" is merely an idea floating in the phenomenal sea. So many people searching..searching for what? A self? But there isn't one! No such 'thing' exists, has ever existed, or ever could exist.
Why? Because it would need another to find the One. They are searching for themselves and how could anyone find himself?
It is This which is looking for Itself when we look for It, and we cannot find It because It is This which we are. And..objectively It is not here.
---- What is the "this" that we are not? For converstion purposes, a noumenon? Or a no thing?
----In the phenomenal world, and from a phenomenal point of view, One can find themselves? That is, phenomenal finding of this or I, is nothing more than our attempt to objectify, in an phenomenal sea.
Is clarification, coming my way, for blog conversational purposes?
Thanks for a reply,
Posted by: Roger | February 17, 2009 at 07:56 AM
I think it is true that looking for your self is futile because you already have self awareness. Certainly in vipassana meditation when you just watch the mind do its own thing the "self" doesn't appear to have any reality. But at the background of the thoughts there is always the sense of self and you can especially notice it when you are engaged in outward activity. So to say there is no self is not quite correct in my opinion.
Posted by: David | February 17, 2009 at 10:24 AM
So is self awareness, phenomenally, a constant, or an ongoing process? I can see the illusion in this phenomenal awareness. However, phenomenal self awareness is something that is what we can do.
I'm not trying to create my own self contained belief system, just enjoy the flow of conversation.
David, I searched the, vipassana meditation topic, sounds like very interesting reading.
Posted by: Roger | February 17, 2009 at 10:50 AM
David said: "I think it is true that looking for your self is futile because you already have self awareness."
-- And I agree. There is no need to search for one's "self". The one who searches is already awareness to begin with. So "self" is just a concept... and there is no need to search for what one already is.
This is the crux of the entire problem, the fallacy and the non-necessity of the entire spiritual path and search... which is the search for a self, and/or the search for realization, enlightenment, God, etc.... not to mention the belief that someone else (ie: a supposed master & guru) is special, unique, superior, divine, or more enlightened, more God-realized than other people. The entire thing is false, it is a MYTH - an illusion born out of the mistaken assumption that there actually is an individual self or soul, an entity which is somehow apart from God, and that there is some need to realize that self, and even that there is some controlling creator God who manifests as some one particular human individual referred to by the ignorant as a "master", a "saint", or a "satguru". The entire thing (and the consequent search) is predicated upon duality and avidya (ignorance).
"Certainly in vipassana meditation"
-- Yes, vipassana is a more natural true and uncontrived form of meditation. Meditation without any goal or self-orientation.
"there is always the sense of self and you can especially notice it when you are engaged in outward activity."
-- Yes, because the "sense of self" (or I would say 'self-ness' or cognition or sentience)... is simply just awareness itself. Without awareness, there can be no "sense" or cognition of anything, nor any sense of self-ness.
"So to say there is no self is not quite correct in my opinion."
-- It all simply depends upon how and what you define "self" as being. That is where any confusion lies. One can say it is ALL the Self, or one can say there is NO Self. Its just concepts. But regardless, for us who are alive, it is simply awareness.... self or no-self. This ongoing debate relative to, or between 'self' or 'no-self'... is simply another form of duality.
Ultimately, there is just THIS
...and that appears to be something which we all can only best describe as 'awareness'. So "self" is just simply an idea (a thought) which is but like a wave arising (and subsiding) in and upon the sea of awareness.
Posted by: tAo | February 17, 2009 at 01:44 PM
So "awareness" phenomenally is real. Awareness of our physical objective world is real. This awareness is how One can engage in a self examination, to exist (et. al.) in the phenomenal world.
From the internet:
"Vipassanā meditation differs in the modern Buddhist traditions and in some nonsectarian forms. From the point of view of vipassanā as dichotomous from samatha, it includes any meditation technique that cultivates insight including contemplation, introspection, analytic meditation, and observations about experience. Contemplations include understanding logically or through mental activity that the nature of phenomena is transitory and the nature of persons is selflessness, that the conceptual consciousness "I" does not exist."
As usual, sounds interesting,
Posted by: Roger | February 18, 2009 at 07:32 AM
It seems to me in my own experience of meditation that the mind can be "split", one part is watching everything else but also that "witness" is just another thought. So perhaps this is what is meant by the idea that there is no actual "self". As i said though, when engaged in waking consciousness in the outside world there is definitely a personality there.
vipassana meditation is just watching the thoughts as they arise and letting them pass without attaching or clinging to them. I haven't meditated much but i have experienced that when doing a similar kind of meditation that the thoughts are relentless and quickly follow one another. I find it quite easy not to get lost in any train of thought. I call it forgetting everything. Seems to work. However, there is no breakthrough into some kind of thoughtless state, seeing light and merging with it or any such thing. Often i just seem to lapse into some kind of sleep state and come to again.
I haven't practiced Maharshi's self inquiry method (if it can be even called that). But i will probably take it up.
There is a guy called Sankara Saranam who touts the kriya yoga path and a state called kevala kumbhaka, which is supposed to be a breathless state equivalent to samadhi, reached through a pranayama technique. He has a video on Youtube where he apparently does a technique on someone in an audience he is lecturing to, where he shows them the spiritual eye. If you are familiar with kriya yoga, it is a popular path associated with Paramahansa Yogananda, who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi. In this path, there is light and sound also (he borrowed from the Radha Soami people as well as kriya yoga) and the light he calls the "spiritual eye" which he says is a gold ring surrounding a blue like field with a white 5 pointed star in the centre. You are supposed to pass your awareness through this vision like an extended telescopic lens and penetrate the star to get samadhi. Along with the light you hear the AUM sound, which comes in various sounds ranging from bell sounds, bee sounds, to the roar of the ocean.
So this guy, Sankara Saranam, has apparently "shown" someone the spiritual eye and he also says he can show anyone it if you happen to meet him. Please find the video on Youtube. It is in a lecture he gave at some Omega yoga conference. I want to know what you think about that.
Posted by: David | February 25, 2009 at 10:05 AM
God Without Religion - by Sankara Saranam
Posted by: tAo | February 25, 2009 at 01:09 PM
So Tao, what do you think of this person? And what do you think about his apparently transmitting a spiritual experience?
Also, i wanted to ask you if you recognise the description of the spiritual eye i gave. Did you experience that before?
Posted by: David | February 27, 2009 at 09:17 AM
"In this path, there is light and sound also (he borrowed from the Radha Soami people as well as kriya yoga) and the light he calls the "spiritual eye" which he says is a gold ring surrounding a blue like field with a white 5 pointed star in the centre."
-- I cannot speak to this method or reported experiences but this experience is not consistent with my experience before initiation through the RSSB.
Posted by: Jayme | February 27, 2009 at 04:11 PM
"So Tao, what do you think of this person?"
-- I just don't really know, but he does seem to be a talented musician and author. I am not familiar with his spiritual outlook. And I have little or no interest in what people have to say (with respect to spiritual talks and teachings, and descriptions of meditation experiences etc etc). For me, all of that is just someone else's notions and perceptions, and it is irrelevant to my own life. My own orientation is that of dzogchen, in which words and concepts and all such descriptions of inner experiences really have no value or bearing.
"And what do you think about his apparently transmitting a spiritual experience?"
-- I can not say, because I have never met the guy. I don't really subscribe to the idea of some guy causing other people to have spiritual experiences. In dzogchen, there is a so-called "transmission", but it is not a spiritual experience like you seem to be indicating. It is more like just a simple conveying of an understanding, a direct insight.
"Also, i wanted to ask you if you recognise the description of the spiritual eye i gave. Did you experience that before?"
-- I have had many mystical "experiences", but no, not exactly like what you have described. Given the fluid nature of sensory perception, I don't think anyones experience or perceptions are, or can be, identical to anyone elses. I also don't think it is helpful to present such ideas as some satandard that people should look for or expect. So I don't think descriptions are useful or relevant or meaningful. Because people tend to hear such ideas and then try to seek or re-create that experience for themselves. I feel that doing that is very misleading and leads in the wrong direction. Experiences happen, but they are not the essential thing. Awaeness, insight, presence, and realization are of vastly greater importance than are ephemeral perceptions and experiences. Thats just my opinion.
Posted by: tAo | February 28, 2009 at 12:59 PM
I share tAo's opinion above. I too have had various visions/experiences of the "inner" variety as they call them, but none had anything but a 'wow' factor. None had the significance of recognition of the absence of personal presence concurrent with the absence of the presence of personal absence.
Posted by: tucson | February 28, 2009 at 05:29 PM
Re: Sankara Saranam's statement on the godwithoutreligion.com website...
"After living as an ascetic for nearly two decades, engaging day and night in sophisticated methods of sense-introversion, and eventually coming to an inner understanding of how the human sense of identity manifests, I felt burdened by my discovery and needed to share what I'd found..."
--This may be just quibbling with words on my part, but to my understanding anyone who truly understands "how the human sense of identity manifests" would not feel "burdened" by anything in that recognition. They may find 'themselves' discussing, writing, telling about this recognition, but 'who' would remain to feel burdened about anything?
Posted by: tucson | February 28, 2009 at 05:46 PM
Yes, thats another good point Tucson.
Posted by: tAo | February 28, 2009 at 05:51 PM
"None had the significance of recognition of the absence of personal presence concurrent with the absence of the presence of personal absence."
Sorry if i sound condescending but this sentence you wrote doesn't mean anything.
Perhaps Sankara Saranam had an experience he simply wanted to share with others? I don't understand your meaning when you talk about a "who" somehow not being there to share something.
I wasn't interested much in what this guy talks about as much as the fact that he seems to have transmitted a direct spiritual experience to someone else. In my mind, this kind of ability proves somewhat the validity of the vision of the spiritual eye in that particular school of yoga and also outside that school.
Tao, i've been reading more of the blog posts you made before and you seem to endorse the Hare Krishna philosophy and practice. I quite like their approach as well but there is only one thing about all of it that is important to me which is the spiritual experiences people have by chanting. If the Vedas say that krishna is an actual person and God in form it doesn't make much sense to me that people chanting the maha mantra wouldn't get visions of krishna in the spiritual realm. So what spiritual experiences do you actually have with the chanting and lifestyle?
Posted by: David | March 01, 2009 at 03:56 AM
I wrote: "None had the significance of recognition of the absence of personal presence concurrent with the absence of the presence of personal absence."
Then David wrote: "Sorry if i sound condescending but this sentence you wrote doesn't mean anything."
--Actually it could mean a great deal. In the absence of dualistic conceptuality it may be seen what I am pointing to...there has never been an objective being.
Don't taker my word for it. Sages have been saying this at least since the time of Buddha. That which you seek is this which you are and you are no where to be found.
WHO could there be to be born, to be lived, to be killed?
WHAT could there be to be brought into esistence or be taken out of existence?
WHERE could there be a 'space' in which objective existence could be extended?
When could there be a 'time' during which objective existence could have duration?
Questioning these notions belong to whoever has never profoundly considered these assumptions. All are conceptual images in mind, the supposed factuality of which is as imaginary as any mirage. But the supreme illusion is not that of the veracity of birth, life and death as such, but that of there being any objective entity to experience these conceptual occurences.
If we clearly apperceive the difference between direct apprehension in 'whole-mind' and relative comprehension by reasoning in a mind divided into subject-object conceptuality, all apparent mysteries disappear.
Posted by: tucson | March 01, 2009 at 08:07 AM
I just don't agree with any of that. If nothing is born and nothing dies then either you shouldn't be typing onto this internet page so others like me can read it or when you die you won't be able to do that, the absence of which proves that you once existed and no longer exist.
The rest reads like thoughtful philosophical speculation and doesn't appear to me to have any bearing on practical everyday reality and life. I wouldn't call existence itself some kind of assumptive conceptual take from any subjective viewpoint. I see it for what it is and that is not assumptive but evidence based. It is so overwhelmingly evidence based that other subjective mentalities can percieve the exact same thing. If your kind of philosophical take on existence was put on trial at court it wouldn't even get past the introduction proceedings.
Sorry but the jnanic bent that people have doesn't impress me and actually irritates me. I don't mean to sound like i am having a go at you personally.
Posted by: David | March 01, 2009 at 08:46 AM
We can vaguely conceive of infinity as unlimited space and unlimited time, but we find it impossible to conceive of the absence of space and time.
The inconceivability of the absence of space and time, in the sense that it cannot be imagined or visualised, has profound significance since nothing objectifiable can be inconceivable.
What then is not objectifiable? Surely any kind of thing or object can be imagined. There can't be anything at all that is not objectifiable because any and every thing imaginable is conceived in imagination or mind.
The only thing that is not conceivable is the thing that is imagining or conceiving because the thing that is conceiving, while conceiving, can't conceive itself.
What is conceiving might conceive itself as an imaginary object exisiting in consecutive duration, but while doing so it can't conceive itself conceiving any more than an eye can see its own looking...get my drift?
This demonstrates the validity of an insight where we may intuit that the absence of space-time must be what we are who can't conceive it!
So, it must be clear that what we are is 'conceiving', for what else could be conceiving what we conceive?
And (this may be a bit more tricky) if there is a phenomenal absence which we can't conceive, that absence must necessarily be our own absence as what is conceiving. This absence is our presence and the apparent paradox of what inconceivably we are.
Posted by: tucson | March 01, 2009 at 09:51 AM
Again, the way you jumble words up doesn't mean much to me. It seems you are simply saying that we all know ourselves and that is somehow compared to God. It is not something i agree with in the slightest, not less because it is just a jumble of words.
You want to somehow make me fairly agree with your concepts and ideas as if i already am familiar with them, which i am not, but i am familiar with that particular jnana thinking process. And i think overall it is meaningless verbiage.
You seem to be thinking in circles.
I don't like thinking in circles. Thinking linearly is much better.
Posted by: David | March 01, 2009 at 11:46 AM
David, I expect nothing. Take it or leave it. Fine either way. Thinking in circles? The meaning is not in the words, but in the instant when mind comes full stop...
I only am as all beings,
I only exist as all appearances.
I am only experienced as all sentience,
I am only cognised as all knowing.
Only visible as all that is seen,
Every concept is a concept of what I am.
All that seems to be is my being,
For what I am is not any thing.
Being whatever is phenomenal,
Whatever can be conceived as appearing,
I who am conceiving cannot be conceived,
Since only I conceive,
How could I conceive what is conceiving?
What I am is what I conceive;
Is that not enough for me to be?
When could I have been born,
I who am the conceiver of time itself?
Where could I live,
I who conceive the space wherein all things extend?
How could I die,
I who conceive the birth, life, and death of all things,
I who, conceiving, cannot be conceived?
I am being, unaware of being,
But my being is all being,
I neither think nor feel nor do,
But your thinking, feeling, doing, is mine only.
I am life, but it is my objects that live,
For your living is my living.
Transcending all appearance,
I am immanent therein,
For all that is - I am,
And I am no thing
Posted by: tucson | March 01, 2009 at 06:47 PM
Know of anyone present, that is emersed in rigpa: clear light mental activity, that is, the clear light that knows its own two-truth nature?
Posted by: Roger | March 02, 2009 at 09:00 AM
Here's my response to a few things you said (in quotes) to me:
"you seem to endorse the Hare Krishna philosophy and practice."
-- No, I don't "endorse" that at all. I posted some of that info simply to make a point about doctrines and beliefs. And I don't really endorse any "philosophy" as being useful... entertaining perhaps, but not useful or pragmatic. As I said, I my own particular orientation is very much one of dzogchen, and not along the lines of the religion of vaishnavism and bhakti yoga.
"there is only one thing about all of it that is important to me which is the spiritual experiences people have by chanting."
-- If that hold some interest for you, then fine... but I myself don't hold much value in other people's "spiritual experiences", whether they be via chanting or otherwise. People claim all sorts of spiritual experiences. But I think most of it amounts to imagination or emotion, especially with regard to bhakti and devotional type religious practices.
"If the Vedas say that krishna is an actual person and God in form it doesn't make much sense to me that people chanting the maha mantra wouldn't get visions of krishna in the spiritual realm."
-- I can't really address whether or not it should make sense to you. If you like, I can probably locate some brief explanation and answer for you as to why it is believed that chanting supposedly makes sense. If so, then let me know and I will find it and post it. Although please be aware that my posting it for you does not mean it is something that I "endorse", as you say.
"So what spiritual experiences do you actually have with the chanting and lifestyle?"
-- Well, I just don't have any spiritual experiences that are related to chanting etc to report about to you. I don't follow or practice that sort of thing. I am not a Hare Krsna devotee, I don't chant, I am not a believer in the vaishanava religion, and I no longer practice a srrictly vegetarian lifestyle.
Also David, you said this to Tucson:
"the jnanic bent that people have doesn't impress me and actually irritates me."
"i am familiar with that particular jnana thinking process. And i think overall it is meaningless verbiage."
-- It would help to clarify if you would explain what "the jnanic bent" and the "jnana thinking process" is to you. You say that jnana "irritates" you, and that jnana "is meaningless verbiage". The actual meaning of the term "jnana" is 'knowledge', and more specifially it means direct insight or 'self-knowledge'... as opposed to mere concepts and intellectual knowledge. It does not refer to "thinking" or "verbiage" at all. So that's why I would ask you to explain the whys and wherefortes of your reaction to the state of jnana.
However, perhaps you are referring to jnana as was related and described by Sri Sankara in his well known treatise on Atma-Jnana titled "Viveka Chudamani" - the "Crest Jewel of Discrimation"? Or maybe the jnana as exemplified in the sage Sri Ramana Maharshi?
Or perhaps and more likely, you are referring to spiritual talks given by recent modern era advaita philosophers?
The thing is... to simply say that "jnana" is somehow irritating, could only be due to some kind of misunderstanding of what jnana actually is.... because it is not "thinking" nor is it "verbiage".
Thanks in advance for clarifying the import of your previous statements regarding "jnanic bent" and "jnana thinking process".
Posted by: tAo | March 02, 2009 at 03:19 PM
Roger asked me: "Know of anyone present, that is emersed in rigpa: clear light mental activity, that is, the clear light that knows its own two-truth nature?
--Assuming I understand that to which you refer, yes, the answer is 'You'. There is no other. If illusion is the only barrier, Absolute is already present. Why? Illusion is simply perceiving something objectively in such a way that causes misinterpretation of its actual nature. Nevertheless, that actual nature is still fully present.
As far as "others" are concerned it is impossible to ascertain their state of awareness as long as they appear as "other". When there are no "others" then all "others" appear as Absolute.
So, in the absence of illusion all are immersed in what the word "rigpa", a term that is unfamiliar to me, seems to indicate.
Posted by: tucson | March 02, 2009 at 05:21 PM
Tucson, in a very relaxed and casual way, I have been experimenting with the concept, during the past 6 weeks of 'there is no other.' - so, during a meeting, a meal, while driving, and during as much of the time as I remember, that's what I have done. Are you immersed in the same sort of thing? Can you be at one with the air, the sales person, the earth-moving truck? I can't.
Posted by: Catherine | March 03, 2009 at 12:10 AM
I have a couple of tricks which may work for you.They work for me.
Project kindness.If you are in a meeting project kindness to all in your meeting.If you are crossing the road project kindness to all the drivers etc.Use it whenever you want to.
The other little trick is make awareness a big smile.Put a big smile up their between the eyes.
These little things some how or other help to make those others not really those others.
Posted by: Obed | March 03, 2009 at 08:24 AM
In my experience it is not a doing that any 'one' does in the sense that it is something to practice. It is a noticing that occurs spontaneously, sort of a flip of the switch. But as soon as you try to grasp it and say, "Oh! That's it!", it's gone.
One learns to resist the grasping and just let it be. I have found it is not a "state" that you remain in for long because for most of us this life requires one to function from an identified position as a person, yet all of us, every day, slip into clarity without even recognizing it. It is that simple.
However, once there is this recognition, even as we function as tucson or Catherine, there is the recollection of how things are which brings an ease and less resistance to the flow as one lives, or rather, is lived. There is a feeling of benediction and sympathy with all and a sort of humor as our various roles are played out. Pain, discomfort are present if they manifest, but intensity of attachment is lessened and somehow reduces the impact. Same with pleasure, impatience and all the various moods and states. It is more like it is observed dispassionately rather than personally, but it is indeed present.
We cannot practice this any more than a shadow can act on its substance.
An appearance cannot affect the source of its appearance. All apparant action, and so all practice, necessarily has its origin in non-objective source. Who then would practice? It is this Source alone that practices and phenomena ('us') are practiced. To what purpose? Of course if one finds oneself practicing, so be it. That's ones part in the play. There is no purpose in it all other than the living of it.
Practicer and that which is practiced are one, seemingly separated objectively as what they are not, as appearance, but absolutely united as what they are.
Ultimately, there is no practicer and nothing to practice.
Posted by: tucson | March 03, 2009 at 01:23 PM
Based on your particular orientation, that of dzogchen. If you desire, could you prepare a comment on rigpa: clear light mental activity, that is, the clear light that knows its own two-truth nature?
Posted by: Roger | March 04, 2009 at 07:54 AM
Profound and tranquil, free from complexity,
Uncompounded luminous clarity,
Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas;
In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor anything that needs to be added.
It is the nature of immaculate primordial awareness.
The essential nature of mind is Rigpa — primordial, pure, pristine awareness that is at once intelligent, cognizant, radiant, and always awake. This nature of mind, its innermost essence, is untouched by change. It is hidden within, enveloped and obscured by the mental obscuration of our thoughts and emotions. Just as clouds can be shifted by a gust of wind to reveal the shining sun and the wide open sky, so is this nature of mind - rigpa. Rigpa is the very root itself of understanding.
The ground of Dzogchen is our original nature, which is already perfect, always present and never subject to delusion. One can either recognize this original nature; or not recognize this nature and so become confused. Generally, our relative condition is that our intrinsic nature is obscured, but to to realize our original nature of rigpa is to attain the fruition of Dzogchen.
Rigpa is a Tibetan word, which in general means ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’. In Dzogchen, however, the highest teachings in the Buddhist tradition, rigpa has a deeper connotation of ‘the innermost nature of the mind’. The essence of the teaching is directed towards realizing this - our real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness - the state of rigpa.
Posted by: tAo | March 04, 2009 at 12:10 PM
Thanks for your comment.
There are no practices and meditation procesess that are needed for the realization of the real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness?
The introductory information, Dzogchen teachings, is directed towards realizing this - our real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness?
Thanks for your continued replies,
Posted by: Roger | March 05, 2009 at 07:54 AM
"The essence of the Dzogchen teaching is the direct "transmission" of knowledge from master to disciple."
---This transmission is merely introductory information? No need for conceptual terms, such as: master and disciple?
"The polysemic symbol and teaching tool of Dzogchen is the Gankyil."
---This symbol is a conceptual manifestation, and is not needed?
Posted by: Roger | March 05, 2009 at 08:47 AM
tucson,paragraph two gives the gist of it. Thanks. You do sound almost word for word like some of the Buddhist teachers that I've been around.
Obed, a big smile at all times right there between the eyes?!!!!! Reminds me of a Farside comic strip -a series of Bernard Shepherd dogs in different moods but each with the same smiley expression. In fact I had an aquaintance who was a big smiler- very disconcerting at times. I think he was afraid not to smile.
Posted by: Catherine | March 05, 2009 at 10:16 PM
"There are no practices and meditation procesess that are needed for the realization of the real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness?"
-- Generally no... but what makes you assume anything would be "needed"? Dzogchen esentially means the self-perfected or self-liberated state... not a "realization".
"Dzogchen teachings, is directed towards realizing this - our real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness?"
-- No, dzogchen is the self-perfected state. Primordial means prior, original. Not something yet to realize. Those are just words ("our real nature of primordial pure pristine awareness", etc etc). There is no thing to realize. And no one who needs to realize anything. Awareness is simply primordial.
"The essence of the Dzogchen teaching is the direct "transmission" of knowledge from master to disciple. ---This transmission is merely introductory information?"
-- Not exactly. The so-called "introduction" is the introduction to the Base. Knowledge of the Base.
"No need for conceptual terms, such as: master and disciple?"
-- I don't know what you mean by "No need for". Those two terms ("master and disciple") may be useful in a relative sense. But I am not quite sure what you are indicating or asking.
"The polysemic symbol and teaching tool of Dzogchen is the Gankyil. ---This symbol is a conceptual manifestation, and is not needed?"
-- Again, I don't see what you mean by "not needed". It is simply a symbol. It certainly does not pertain to anything essential. You are taking quotes from somewhere which are not things that I myself have said... but then you are asking me to address and explain them in detail as if I myself had said them. And thats not really something that I much care to engage in.... because it could go on and on.
So to give you some better understanding and insight, here's what I can and will do — I will post (in another separate post) a deeper and more detailed explantion of what is actually meant by self-liberating or the self-perfected state in dzogchen. But please don't ask me a whole bunch of more questions.
Posted by: tAo | March 05, 2009 at 10:49 PM
The Base, Path and Fruit in the Dzogchen Teachings, and the True Meaning of Self-liberation:
Self-liberation does not mean that a self liberates himself or herself from delusorily valued thoughts or delusory experiences; what it means is that delusorily valued thoughts and delusory experiences liberate themselves spontaneously (which may take place in three main ways). The paradoxical, inverted dynamics of samsara manifest as countless “laces” in which we tie ourselves up; understanding the functionality of these “laces” is one of the preconditions for them to self-liberate—the others being direct introduction, and knowledge of the “treasure of instructions”.
The Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism speak of Dzogchen as Base, Dzogchen as Path, and Dzogchen as Fruit.
Dzogchen as Base is our original condition of total plenitude and perfection — which, in samsara just as well as in nirvana, is the true condition of both the subject and the object, of both mind and matter, and in general of all entities. In any given individual, this original condition may manifest three different ways of functioning: (1) samsara, wherein a deluded consciousness fails to apprehend the said condition as it is, and only perceives its own dualistic, substantialist fictions; (2) nirvana, wherein the condition in question is apprehended as it is and thus the individual’s experience is characterized by total plenitude, whereas his or her actions are marked by total perfection; and (3) a condition called “base of all” or kunzhi, wherein neither samsara nor nirvana are manifest — so that there is neither the perfect freedom inherent to undeluded primordial cognitiveness, nor the incompleteness and self-encumbering inherent in delusion.
It is only when samsara has manifested that we need Dzogchen as Path, which consists of the repeated self-liberation of delusions in the unveiling of Dzogchen as Base, and which, if practiced thoroughly and uninterruptedly until its final consequences, will result in the manifestation of Dzogchen as Fruit.
In short, Dzogchen as Path and Dzogchen as Fruit are but the direct unveiling of Dzogchen as Base — the difference between them being that the first is transient, whereas the latter is definitive. Now we can explain why is it misleading to speak of “self-liberation from delusorily valued thought,” “self-liberation from delusory experiences,” and so forth.
It so happens that “self-liberation” means that, rather than being liberated by an intentional action carried out by the mental subject, delusorily valued thoughts and delusory experiences liberate spontaneously, of their own accord. Moreover, when self-liberation occurs, the illusion that there is a separate mental subject perceiving an object, or acting upon it, and so on, dissolves like a feather entering fire: the self-liberation of delusorily valued thoughts, delusory experiences and so on, involves the instant disappearance of the illusory mental subject. Any attempt by the illusory mental subject to liberate a delusorily valued thought, a delusory experience and so on, would confirm and sustain the illusion that there is a mental subject separate from the flow of experience and from the myriad potential objects, which is a most essential aspect of the essential delusion at the root of samsara — and thus would bar self-liberation and sustain samsara. Thus the phrase “self-liberation from thoughts” is misleading insofar as it seems to imply that there is an inherently existing self, soul, or mental subject that, as a result from its own intentional action, is liberated from delusory thoughts, experiences, and so forth: it is likely to give rise to the attempt by the illusory mental subject to liberate a delusorily valued thought, a delusory experience and so on — which, as noted above, would bar self-liberation.
The above explanation has to be made more precise, as there is not a single kind of self-liberation, but a whole range of it that is divided into three main types, corresponding to three principal capacities.
Whereas the first type/capacity of self-liberation depends on a thought that is already established as an object, the second type/capacity of self-liberation depends on an instant automatic reaction as the delusorily valued thought begins to arise.
Finally, the third type/capacity of self-liberation does not involve either an intentional movement of attention toward a thought that is already established as object, or a spontaneous reaction as the delusorily valued thought begins to arise: as the thought arises, it self-liberates, like a drawing on water.
In this last type of self-liberation thought is not delusorily valued even for an instant; therefore, it never veils the “essence” aspect of the Base, which is voidness (shunyata).
Though the first type of self-liberation is preceded by an intentional movement of attention towards the thought that is already established as object, and the second type is preceded by an instant automatic reaction of attention as the delusorily valued thought begins to arise, in neither of them is self-liberation produced by the illusory subject’s intentional acts or spontaneous reactions.
Self-liberation being spontaneous liberation, its occurrence shows most clearly that the subject cannot cause it, and that the obstinate attempt to do so does but increase the force and intensity of delusion.
However, even this attempt will not prevent self-liberation, as the increase of the force and intensity of delusion may lead it to a threshold level at which, its reductio ad absurdum having been achieved, its spontaneous liberation becomes possible. In turn, this runaway of delusion to a threshold level and subsequent self-liberation will demonstrate even more clearly that the subject’s intentional actions or automatic reactions may not cause liberation.
The following lines may illustrate the first type/capacity of self-liberation:
As I look into the thought in order to apprehend its essence as subject and object, they instantly spontaneously dissolve independently like feathers entering fire: Thought disappears on the spot and there only remains the patency of inherently self-liberating primordial cognitiveness or awareness.
In turn, the second type/capacity of self-liberation may be poetically described in terms of the following lines: Like snakes, tensions appear and dance in my breast; like snakes they uncoil and free themselves on the spot in the radiant, limitless, unborn and empty expanse.
To conclude, the third type/capacity of self-liberation may be poetically expressed as follows:
Silence roars and darkness shines in the sparkling fullness of the void — and if a thought arises it is void and therefore does not veilthe roar of silence in the fullness of the void.
Since there is no longer an apparent distance between a subject and an object, (we) cannot follow patterns “down the river” as subjects who look toward an object, but simply “remain in the source” beyond the subject-object duality. Like endlessly moving ripples in a spring, thoughts leave no traces and there is no mind to seek them: the “mirror” of primordial cognitiveness reflects whatever appears at any moment, but no imprint is ever left on its surface, as there is no observer to look into the mirror.
Thus, there is no longer any “meditation,” but authentic, true self-liberation — the self-perfected state.
Posted by: tAo | March 05, 2009 at 11:04 PM
Some additional dzogchen info can be found by clicking... HERE
Posted by: tAo | March 05, 2009 at 11:30 PM
Thanks for the continued comments.
Much interesting readings to engage in. The "questioning monster" shall rest.
Posted by: Roger | March 06, 2009 at 07:35 AM
You said: "You do sound almost word for word like some of the Buddhist teachers that I've been around."
--My God! Maybe I'm a Buddhist! I never know what to say when asked. I mumble something about Taoism or Ch'an or Advaita Vedanta or The Heart Sutra or Diamond Sutra or the Heart of the Ribhu Gita and their eyes sort of glaze over and the subject changes to something else. Or, I say "non-duality" and they say "Huh?". So, I say "no 'thing' at all" and they say "Oh, I get it, you're an atheist." and then we're hopelessly lost. They walk away thinking, "Man, that guy is really fucked up."
Posted by: tucson | March 06, 2009 at 09:54 AM
tucson, just pulling your leg. I understand the value of no practisioner, no practice, but do know that many of us hold very stubborn harmful habits, some of which we have no idea even exist and these prevent that ease. They need a practice I think.
What I like about those Buddhist teachers today is that they did not present as anything special ie: avatar, son of god etc and so there was nothing to be disillusioned by.
To be honest I cannot remember much of what they said. Thank you for your previous, helpful comment.
esp. enjoyed 'Hitler's failed trip...'
Posted by: Catherine | March 07, 2009 at 11:49 AM
Yes, I understood your remark and appreciated the clarity it gave me. You have helped me a great deal. From now on I'm just going to say I'm sort of a Buddhist in a way and leave it at that hoping the subject will switch who should be voted off American Idol where my real expertise lies.
Those stubborn habits you mention may appear to need a practice, but that which we really are needs no practice at all. Would it practice being what it is? How does a tiger practice being a tiger? It is a tiger! That to me seems to be what practioners are doing and in so doing are practicing being something else.
"But there must be something I can do!"
You're already doing it, especially when 'you' aren't.
Posted by: tucson | March 07, 2009 at 12:24 PM
tucson, this is my view.
Conditioning happens from conception with thought, speech and action patterns affecting the embryo, the unborn child, the child, young adult and so on. A person cannot escape the world's imprint. So a person, through recognition then effort and the right influences, becomes less conditioned. This happens through trial and error. There can be hundreds of techniques, some working at one time but not another.
A tiger is a tiger but quite dangerous if it is maimed.
I liked your last line, because plain attending to work, conversing and other interaction, or actions not consciously meant to clear conditioning can be a good balm. Certain regular meditations which don't imprint further conditioning, would be valuable too.
Incidentally, your diet info was excellent and it changed my approach. I remain a lacto-vegetarian, but have suggested that the next generation if they wish, try out eggs and salmon. So far they have resisted. I have a better understanding after reading all the info that you supplied. As a casual observation, there were quite a few very bent older people at the Dera and the men were often pot-bellied. I have heard that an enlarged belly on men is accompanied by a release in eastrogen and so men become less masculine.
Obed, thank-you for the advice regarding kindness.
Posted by: Catherine | March 09, 2009 at 04:41 AM
Does the word, "voidness" cause problems too? Maybe, the meaning of terms is in reverse, that is, "fucked up" is a form of liberation or enlightenment.
Posted by: Roger | March 09, 2009 at 07:28 AM
Well, I think any word can be deceptive depending on who's hearing it and the context. I think the term "Void" as used by Buddhist sages and others refers to an empty fullness or a full emptyness. The monk exclaims, "Oh, so it's a full emptyness! Now I understand. Why didn't you say so in the first place, oh revered Master, instead of misleading me all these years with 'empty fullness'?"
Regarding "fucked up". I think admitting you're fucked up and don't know anything is, if not enlightening, certainly liberating in the sense that the burden of self-importance is diminished.
I think if there is a liking for meditation. Why not? But I see conditioning as just another phenomena that has no bearing on the Awareness in which it occurs. Just another bird passing by in the sky.
I am happy that the information I passed on has been helpful to you. My kids were vegetarian for the first five or six years of their lives. When meat started appearing they took to it rather naturally. It wasn't forced on them, but there was little resistance. For me, it was a big deal (here's where the conditioning comes in) because I had been strict veg for 28 years. "Are there eggs in those muffins?" It was very weird finding myself eating meat again. Physiologically, the adaptation was easy because I am a metabolic type that utilizes protein and fat efficiently, but psychologically there was a period of adjustment.
It is interesting that men (and women) in modern cultures tend to put on weight and get pot bellies as they age. In primitive cultures, they tend to lose weight as muscle mass declines, but because of diets low in refined carbohydrate insulin does not get so out of whack and result in weight gain.
Vegetarians often have to be careful about weight gain, especially as they age because the diet is usually heavy in carbs. When you are young and the metabolism is reving at full tilt the body can compensate for imbalances especially if one is physically active. This becomes harder once you are over the hill.
For most of my adult life I weighed about 150 lean lbs. (68 kilos). Then one day I found myself tipping the scales at 180. I didn't suddenly gain 30 lbs. of muscle. I was showing signs of metabolic syndrome. I cut back on the wheat and corn and ate more meat, fish and eggs. I lost all the weight in a few months. Triglycerides and total cholesterol dropped as well. Now, I weigh about 168 which is about right because I did a lot of weight training and throwing hay bales around after the dietary transition and built up some muscle mass. Otherwise I would probably be in the 150's.
Posted by: tucson | March 09, 2009 at 12:54 PM
If your're interested, here's an update on the current status of my diet:
You and I had originally discussed this issue and exchanged info sometime earlier last year. If you remember, similar to you I had been a vegetarian too, but for approx 40 years. I also had been a strict vegan (no dairy) for almost 20 years. I was relatively healthy but lacking in any dietary cholsterol, and I wanted to gain strenght and weight and especially muscle mass.
So in the spring of 2008 I finally concluded and decided that I needed some dietary cholesterol, so I started eating organic eggs (usually 2 or 3 a day). About the same time I also decided to start some serious weight training to build up muscle mass.
So I also began taking daily Whey protein isolate shakes about 2 to 4 times per day, especially post-workout. To assist greater muscle gain, I also increased my level of testosterone via the addition of 10 to 20 mg DHEA daily.
I also tried out shrimp and a little white fish a few times, and found them both to be tolerable. The shrimp was fairly to eat, but unfortunately I learned that shrimp is not very recommended due to somewhat being polluted. So then I tried tunafish, then kippered herring, then salmon. Tuna is moderately palatable, if it is in the form of tuna salad (sandwich). Small kippered herring is low to moderately palatable. Salmon varies from very dry and completely unpalatable, to barely moderate. So I have more or less dropped the fish, except maybe white fish, and only very occasionally.
I very like the rationale of the Paleo-diet, but I have yet to try any poultry or red-meat. But I have cut out almost all grains except for a little basic oatmeal with raisins, and occasionally a small amount of whole-wheat pita bread. I eat alot of lightly steamed mixed vegetables, salsa, and some beans (usually kidney beans or black beans), or occasionaly some yellow Indian dal soup. I also eat alot of organic raw spinach greens, broccoli, and various raw fruits. I have not elimated potatoes comletely either, as I occasionally enjoy steamed or baked potatoes with my eggs.
At this point, I would like to be able to have a broader range that includes some chicken or meat, but those still seem to remain fairly unappealing and elusive, both mentally and taste-wise. So I am still working toward the Paleo diet... and I may never get there all the way.
So at present I remain steady at 2 or 3 eggs per day, and 3 or 4 whey protein shakes daily. I also take a solid dose of fish oil and also a tablespoon or two of coconut oil (with my oatmeal), Lecithin granules, Brewers yeast, B-complex, B-12, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, vit E, vit C, DHEA 10mg, L-Arginine, and Red Ginseng. I get loads of Potassium from bananas and raisins etc, and Phosphorous from brewers yeast.
Also, for the past few months I switched away from Bio-chem whey, and started using Jay Robb's whey protein (chocolate) because it has no sugar or artificial sugar additives (only natural stevia) and tastes truly fantastic. I definitely like it, but the thing is it is way more expensive ($138 per 5 lbs).
However, I have recently found online another brand of pure whey protein isolate called "Bioplex Pure WPI" that sells for $104 per 5 lbs of natural/unflavored (no sucralose). So I may switch from Jay Robb over to Bioplex Pure WPI.
Thats my story for now.
Posted by: tAo | March 09, 2009 at 09:26 PM
Hi again tucson
I've not looked at conditioning as a phenomenon with no bearing on awareness. Conditioning to me has always clouded and in many instances prevented awareness. I'll have to give the whole thing some observation over a few weeks!
I also think that diet and physical fitness affect awareness and at the least, morale.
Posted by: Catherine | March 09, 2009 at 10:59 PM
Catherine, you said: "Conditioning to me has always clouded and in many instances prevented awareness."
-- I think, in this instance, that perhaps your concept and definition of awareness is slightly different than mine or Tucsons.
Awareness as I see it (and maybe Tucson too) can never be conditioned, clouded or prevented.
Awareness remains continuous and unbroken and unaltered... regardless of whether one is awake, dreaming, or in deep dreamless sleep, or artifically sedated or stimulated, or during the arising or the cessation of thoughts and emotions.
Awareness itself remains continuous and unconditioned throughout any and all states of consciousness.
Posted by: tAo | March 10, 2009 at 12:19 AM
"So at present I remain steady at 2 or 3 eggs per day, and 3 or 4 whey protein shakes daily. I also take a solid dose of fish oil and also a tablespoon or two of coconut oil (with my oatmeal), Lecithin granules, Brewers yeast, B-complex, B-12, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, vit E, vit C, DHEA 10mg, L-Arginine, and Red Ginseng. I get loads of Potassium from bananas and raisins etc, and Phosphorous from brewers yeast."
"I eat alot of lightly steamed mixed vegetables, salsa, and some beans (usually kidney beans or black beans), or occasionaly some yellow Indian dal soup. I also eat alot of organic raw spinach greens, broccoli, and various raw fruits. I have not elimated potatoes comletely either, as I occasionally enjoy steamed or baked potatoes with my eggs."
---Excellent information. Three eggs a week for me, however, the above info is simply wonderous.
Posted by: Roger | March 10, 2009 at 07:40 AM
I agree with tAo's remarks about awareness.
You seem to have a very good dietary program. If certain meats are unappealing to you it sounds like there is adequate quality protein in your diet without them as long as you are feeling well.
I know you are familiar with D'Adamo's blood type diet. His research indicates that milk products are generally not advised for blood group 'O'. I have found that there are exceptions to that rule. However, if you are type 'O', or any other type for that matter, you might consider trying Jay Robb's egg white protein to see if that feels better than the whey. I find the taste to be neutral and it mixes well in smoothies or even in your oatmeal. There are other brands besides Robb's such as "MRM".
Posted by: tucson | March 10, 2009 at 09:39 AM
Tucson and tAo,
I am assuming that you mean a general awareness inherent in all things and unchanging through mood, sickness, conditioning, effort etc. I did not assume that it can be conditioned ( read again), my revision is then, that it cannot be prevented.
Basically, I understand that Tucson is saying, just get on with life.
Posted by: Catherine | March 10, 2009 at 10:58 PM
I see 'us' as being lived rather than an 'us' that lives. Move your fingers around like you are typing or playing the piano. You may notice that there really isn't a decision being made about their movement. They just move. Life just lives. Yes, just get on with it as if you had a choice knowing you really don't. What a relief!
Posted by: tucson | March 10, 2009 at 11:45 PM
Some verbage on Voidness, found on the Internet.
There are two levels of voidness (emptiness):
1. voidness that is a conceptual construct,
2. voidness that is beyond conceptual constructs.
Voidness, as an absolute absence (nonimplicative negation) of true existence as “this” or “that,” is the conceptual construct or abstraction “there is no such thing as truly existent ‘this’s and ‘that’s.” It can only be known conceptually and is that to which the word or concept “voidness” refers.
Cognizing this level of voidness is a necessary stepping-stone to cognizing definitive voidness, which is beyond all conceptual categories and beyond all words. Although voidness can be referred to by a conceptual construct or word, voidness that is beyond conceptual constructs (definitive voidness) does not correspond to anything a word or concept would correspond to, namely something existing in the fixed box or category of “voidness.”
Thus, the two levels of voidness are not contradictory. It is not that voidness “beyond” is a transcendental level in the sense of being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge, and only accessed through a mystical experience, perhaps gained by the grace of God. It merely means that it is beyond the limits of what conceptual cognition and nonconceptual sensory and mental cognition can cognize.
Voidness as a conceptual construct can only be cognized conceptually. We cognize it conceptually by our mental consciousness giving rise to a mental aspect resembling an empty or blank space, and superimposing or projecting onto it the audio and meaning categories “voidness.” This does not mean, however, that when conceptually focusing on voidness, we necessarily also must have a mental aspect resembling the sound of the vowels and consonants of the word “voidness.” The conceptual cognition of voidness may be nonverbal. Nevertheless, since the mental representations (the conceptual categories) that appear in conceptual cognition are necessarily appearances of true existence, the empty or blank space appears to be a voidness that truly exists in the concrete category “voidness.” The meaning category associated with it, however, is the correct meaning of voidness – namely, the absolute absence of true existence.
Voidness that is beyond concepts can only be cognized nonconceptually, but it cannot be cognized by nonconceptual mental cognition. Nonconceptual mental cognition produces a mental aspect of something not truly existing as a “this” or a “that.” However, voidness that is beyond concepts is beyond all four extremes:
1. truly existing as a “this” or a “that,”
2. not truly existing as a “this” or a “that,”
3. both truly and not truly existing as a “this” or a “that,”
4. neither truly nor non-truly existing as a “this” or a “that.”
Therefore, voidness that is beyond concepts does not cognitively appear as a mental aspect of an empty or blank space that appears to be a voidness in the category of a non-truly existent “ voidness.”
Posted by: Roger | March 11, 2009 at 08:03 AM
I like that. In fact, I might save it to save me some time trying to explain the unexplainable should the need come up.
Void can be known, but not by any conceptual reasoning process. It is just suddenly "understood" or "recognized" without any cogitation. However, cogitation could lead to non-cogitation such as when contemplating a koan or poem or something like that. Suddenly the mind just quits and then...
Posted by: tucson | March 11, 2009 at 11:23 PM