Often comments added to a blog post by other people are the best part of something I've written.
Such was the thought that went through my mind on April 28, when I read a comment by tAo that he'd submitted to my "Another RSSB initiate bites the dust" post. With minor editing, I've copied it in below to give it wider attention.
Though the subject is the Sant Mat philosophy that forms the basis of the teachings of an Indian organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, seemingly much of what tAo says applies to any religious group.
I agree that many of those who become "churchless" don't do so because of a lack of mystical or spiritual experiences while they're members of a "church." Rather, the opposite is true.
Often they have profound realizations. However, what is realized leads to a conclusion that truth lies in a different direction from what their organization teaches.
tAo also makes a good point when he distinguishes between (1) mystical experiences of purported higher realms of reality, and (2) intuitive insight into the nature of reality.
It's sort of like the difference between (1) having a marvelous dream, and (2) waking up. No matter what is experienced in a dream, it is still illusory -- not to be confused with awakening.
Here's tAo's submission. He is commenting on previous comments to the post, which I've shown in italics.
George posted the following comments:
"One has to let go of the intellect to pierce the veil and connect with a different state to achieve some sort of mystical experience or gnosis."
-- But that which you describe is not the actual practice of shabda yoga. First, the intellect can not and need not be let go of. Shabda yoga meditation is simply listening to an 'inner' sound current and seeing an 'inner' light. And also, there is no "connect with a different state".
The prescribed meditation is to put attention upon the inner sound current (the "shabda" or "nam"), and that is itself the goal. From then on, the shabda then supposedly draws the consciousness of the practitioner into higher and higher subtle planes, and supposedly, ultimately beyond the realm of the mind into a transcendent purely spiritual realm. The "mystical experience" that is achieved, is simply the action of drawing of the individual's consciousness (the "surat" or "soul" in Radha Soami (RS) parlance) beyond the body and material plane, and up into inner higher subtle planes, supposedly eventually reaching the imperishable spiritual realm.
"These mechanical tenets [...] them being tools to try and open up the mind and release it from the supposed clutter of the intellect."
-- No... again, the practice of shabda yoga meditation is not done to "open up the mind and release it from the supposed clutter of the intellect". It is done specifically to bring the attention of the practitioner to directly perceiving the shabda/nam or the inner sound current (which supposedly emanates from the highest spiritual plane), which then supposedly has the power to automatically draw the practitioner's consciousness upwards into higher more subtle inner planes.
"Those that have had a mystical experience continue to follow RS, while those that do not become disillusioned."
-- I don't agree. It is actually more the opposite. Most of those who do continue to follow RS, have by and large achieved little or no mystical experiences; and many of those who have left RS (or "disillusioned" as you say), have indeed had unique and profound mystical experiences (but not derived from or related to the practice of RS meditation), but which the RS meditation has not brought about and not proven effective in achieving such experiences.
So I would not say that those who stay with RS are the ones who have achieved "mystical experiences". They only stay because they hope and believe in the promise of someday achieving those experiences, not because they have had any experiences.
These are all things that are much more obvious to those of us who are very knowledgeable and experienced in Sant Mat, and not to people like yourself who basically have little understanding and knowledge and no experience in Sant Mat. There is no criticism in this. It is simply a matter of having correct understanding of what is the actual practice and the goal of Sant Mat, of the shabda yoga meditation.
"Those that enter RS with a western questioning mind geared more towards rationalism, would seem inherently predisposed away from entering into this different state."
-- That may be true to some extent, but the eastern mind can be very inquiring as well. But neither eastern nor western is more predisposed. Achieving results in shabda yoga is much more simply a matter of focusing upon the inner sound current, and having experience of traversing the inner subtle planes as outlined in the Sant Mat cosmology.
"But this seems to be [...] that one has to risk one's mind as it were, to let it go totally, and i'm not sure if the disillusioned ex-satsangis were ever truly able to do this."
-- I beg to differ with that notion as well. It is the "disillusioned ex-satsangis" who are really the ones who have "let it go" far more than the RS believers who hold on to Sant Mat dogma and beliefs. The believers have not "let go" at all. They are rigidly holding onto the master/savior figure, the body of dogma, and the hope that the practice (shabda meditation) will deliver them to the goal.
[George's comments to Brian]:
"The goal of RS is to unite with the sound, othewise why do it?"
-- The goal is not so much as to "unite" with the sound, but rather to simply hear and meditate UPON the sound current (and light)... so that the sound & light current (shabda/nam) will then draw the consciousness (or 'soul') up into higher more subtle realms and beyond... eventually to the spiritual realm. So the practice is not to "unite", but rather to focus and maintain attention upon the sound. [The practice also includes internal repetition of a mantra, and visualization of the form of the guru]
"Mechanical tenets for achieving this, i.e. vegetarianism, purity, etc are surely all just tools forming part of a method that have been found through practical experience by the saints/satgurus through the ages to supposedly be the best method for achieving such a connection or unity."
-- Yes that is generally true of many paths, but in Sant Mat those things (vegetarianism, purity, etc) are simply peripheral aids intended to assist in a more effective meditation... and they are not the primary practice.
"the plain intended meaning, which is [...] some sort of unity or connection with a creative force or sound where one experiences this gnosis or direct intuitive insight into the nature of reality."
-- That is somewhat correct, but not specifically. Yes, the "intended meaning" or purpose is to "connect" with the shabda/sound-current, but that is not really stated as being to have "direct intuitive insight into the nature of reality".
The stated purpose of "connecting" and meditating upon the sound current is all about facilitating the so-called "soul" to be drawn up through and beyond the material, subtle, and mental planes... and into the (supposed) supreme transcendental spiritual realm. The practice and the goal of Santmat is not generally stated as being for any so-called "direct intuitive insight into the nature of reality". That is much more the orientation of traditions such as Ch'an/Zen, and advaita vedanta, jnana yoga, siddha yoga, and dzogchen.
"Such a feeling must surely be overwhelming if experienced [...] Why would someone get off the RS path having had such a profound experience."
-- Again, the reason that people remain on the RS path is not because they have had, but because they have NOT had "such a profound experience". They remain because they are seeking that, and because they believe that Sant Mat will eventually give them that.
It is far more likely that those folks who HAVE had "profound experiences" realize that such experiences are not at all dependent upon, or limited to Sant Mat. In fact, some of the practices and beliefs of Sant Mat may be impediments to realizing such mystical experiences.
But ultimately, all such supposed "mystical" experiences are phenomenal, transitory, and they do not equate with actual realization/recognition or as you say "direct intutive insight into the nature of reality".
"The love for their guru and his teachings would be massive."
-- The so-called "love" for the guru is simply an aspect of cult mentality. It is not actual real love, as the disciples never have any closeness or proximity, or any actual personal contact or interaction with the guru... the guru who basically remains aloof and inaccessible to the masses of followers.
"Perhaps I have misunderstood your reasons for leaving Sant Mat."
-- Yes, I believe that is definitely the case. But that is not your fault. To really understand why someone would leave, requires that you know quite a lot about the RS path, its dogma, its practice, its guru worship, its authoritarianism, its organization and sangat, and various sorts of other aspects that a non-initiate would not be privy to, or familiar with, or have had any direct experience of.
I hope this helps you to get a better picture as to the actual practice and intended goal of Sant Mat.
"I don't assume to know a single thing about ultimate reality. I find such a concept in itself quite overwhelming and am not even sure such a state or means of perception exists."
-- Thats good observation and thinking George. I agree with you.
"My limited understanding [...] is that RS is one of many mystic traditions that supposedly allows one to enter into some sort of raised consciousness in which one is able to unite with something bigger, with the one or ultimate reality or whatever."
-- Yes, that's more or less the supposition of Sant Mat.
"I understand it is a feeling like being in love, like returning home to the source and so on and so forth."
-- No... thats not really quite how it is, or how it turns out.
"I have never experienced this."
-- But that is irrelevant. You HAVE experienced many other things that are no less important and meaningful. There is nothing special that you do not have. Life itself is what's its all about, not some particular special meditation experience or extraordinary altered state. There is nothing lacking for you to gain, in that respect.
"What are people after? What were you after? I mean why did you not just go the zen route or yoga if it was mere meditation and clean living you were after?"
-- Its all simply a matter of the vagaries of the search. Each person's process and journey is unique.
"I don't assume that any form of religion - mystical, mainstream or otherwise - provides any type of higher knowledge, but am interested in trying to find out."
-- Thats a reasonable question. But the best path (in my opinion) is to be content with, and proceed on YOUR OWN unique path, as it is revealed and lived from moment to moment.
"It sounds like my understanding of RS is incorrect and that many people entered RS for other reasons, which means i obviously totally misunderstand the main aim or goal of the tradition itself."
-- Yes, that's much what I was trying to tell you awhile back. But you reacted in a negative way. Yet I and others have been trying to better explain Sant Mat to you. Its not your fault. It takes awhile to correctly understand what Sant Mat is all about.
".......the practice of shabda yoga meditation is not done to "open up the mind and release it from the supposed clutter of the intellect". It is done specifically to bring the attention of the practitioner to directly perceiving the shabda/nam or the inner sound current (which supposedly emanates from the highest spiritual plane), which then supposedly has the power to automatically draw the practitioner's consciousness upwards into higher more subtle inner planes."
---I think, this description, is what caught my attention, some 2 1/2 years ago, when I came across SantMat, in an unrelated internet search.
---Granted, everything (there in) is in the realm of the supposed.
---With that said, what I found interesting was the "direct perceiving" of the shabda/nam or the inner sound current.
---Likewise, how the "power" automatically draws the practitioner's consciousness upwards into higher more subtle inner planes.
---As well as, more information or description of these planes, the power, and what is meant by a practioner's consciousness.
My interest, currently, is kinda low, due to the lack of further information, regarding the above inquiry.
Posted by: Roger | May 06, 2009 at 11:34 AM
Actually, there is little detailed description of the "inner regions" in RS literature and the masters rarely discuss them. In fact, I do not recall ever hearing Charan Singh discuss the inner regions at all except in the most cursory manner. At initiation some description is given but nothing to really sink your teeth into. These limited descriptions are given as "guideposts", nothing more.
The reason given for lack of description is that these inner planes are difficult or impossible to describe and more detail just leads to more questions which are a distraction from the real task, i.e. meditation and stilling the mind at the eye center or third eye.
Descriptions are given of the nature of the shabd or sound current in various regions such as bells, conch, flute, thunder, etc. Also the intensity of light is described as a star brighter than a million suns or the radiance of one hair on the body of the lord is brighter than millions of suns.
I recall one RS book titled, I believe, "Radha Soami Teachings" where a description of inner regions is given. Also another book called "Sar Bachan" does this, but in both cases there is little of substance to satisfy the inquiring mind. For example, the region Sahansdal Kanwal is described as having islands or "dweeps" inhabited by elevated souls or "hansas" who reside in bliss living on nectar. Another higher region is called the rotating cave or "Bhanwar Guphta". These regions are described as vast beyond comprehension where if the entire physical cosmos was superimposed on them it would appear like the head of a pin compared to the size of the sun.
In Sant Mat consciousness or awareness is probably interchangeable with "soul", "surat" or "jiva" which are the terms most often used. This is my interpretation because the concept of consciousness or awareness is not well developed in this religion. It is the soul (awareness) which in sant mat is covered by the dross of various bodies, subtle and physical, which impair its ability to function in higher regions and perceive the lord of the highest spiritual region.
I don't think many devotees will openly admit this, but the idea of hanging out in bliss on some spiritual island living on nectar with advanced beings sounds pretty cool especially since they are supposedly guided there by the radiant form of the master. This world we live in is described in sant mat as a "vale of tears", a latrine in comparison to the spiritual regions, so those who are unhappy in this life or think it is too hard, find sant mat a very appealing escape from what is right now, not to mention a solution to the problem of their mortality.
Posted by: tucson | May 06, 2009 at 01:06 PM
"I don't think many devotees will openly admit this, but the idea of hanging out in bliss...sounds pretty cool"
I'm happy to admit this. I just don't think folks should use Sant Mat as an escape from this life, or as an excuse to fantasize about some fictionalized, future nirvana. Sant Mat masters are quite clear about not running away from this life, however.
Also, I believe Sawan Singh gives quite detailed descriptions of inner regions, etc. I can't remember which books specifically, but I do remember reading passages by him where he is clear and specific in his description.
Posted by: Adam | May 06, 2009 at 01:25 PM
Adam said: "I just don't think folks should use Sant Mat as an escape from this life, or as an excuse to fantasize about some fictionalized, future nirvana. Sant Mat masters are quite clear about not running away from this life, however."
--Perhaps they shouldn't use Sant Mat as an escape from life, but although you may not use sant mat as an escape many devotees do. True, masters do say not to run away from this life, but at the same time they say this life is false and unreal, a pus effusing scab, a blight on the fields of creation (my words). Sawan Singh did refer to this world as a latrine, and Sant Mat does encourage withdrawing as much as possible from this life while still carrying out ones duties according to their fate karmas.
The implication then in sant mat is that one is not in bliss (peace) now and bliss/peace must be sought via a process to get to another state. While the cosmology of sant mat may or may not be actual, we do know that we ARE here right now. Sant Mat is a supposition, while what is available now is not.
Daswan Dwar, Trikuti and Sach Khand may be a possible presence, but as such right now they are only concepts and thus dualistic... That is like saying, I am here, but reality is somewhere else. But, no matter where I go, there I am. So, to me it is impossible for reality to be other than 'this' whatever form it may be.
To say my home is in a place called Sach Khand is to say something is wrong with where I am which is, again, impossible because I am always here! Sach Khand is the error because it, as it exists conceptually, is not. Only 'this' is.
It is the recognition of the clarity of 'this' which is at the heart of the matter for me.
Posted by: tucson | May 06, 2009 at 02:54 PM
"To say my home is in a place called Sach Khand is to say something is wrong with where I am"
How do you know?
What if "sach kand" points to a "place" where awareness is not manifested in the physical?
It seems clear the physical manifestation is not permanent...
What if there is nothing wrong with this, but that there may be other types of (un)manifestation?
Posted by: Adam | May 06, 2009 at 08:28 PM
Awareness is already not physical in my view. If Sach Khand is home then it must be here now because there is no other place than here. When you are there, there will be here. See what I mean? You cannot escape 'here'. All else is abstract. If non-physical phenomena become 'here' then so be it, but the awareness present is no different when the potential 'here' manifests than the already present 'here'. We are already home, a home with no walls or boundaries. A home that can never be found except the living of it in/as this formless clarity which is as they say, our original face.
Posted by: tucson | May 06, 2009 at 10:01 PM
Thanks for the reply. Enjoyed the read. Descriptions of the inner regions would be interesting. However, a description would just be a description, nothing more. IMO.
It is interesting, that no One has ever transversed these regions. Or, they are very good at keeping these experiences to themselves.
I wonder what it would be like to transverse the regions of Poland, and get a haircut?
Posted by: Roger | May 07, 2009 at 07:30 AM
Understand perceive O beloved mind
How can you slumber and be a Lover?
Having received then share it all
Or would you rather lose it possessing?
If crumbs be all that you have to fare
Does it matter if it is salt less or tasty?
When eyes are loaded with deep sleep
What is then the pillow and bedding?
Says Kabir, such is the path of Love
Why lose heart having committed yourself?
Posted by: shams-i-ta | May 07, 2009 at 11:19 AM
With mind immersed in Love, why should I talk?
Having the diamond knotted safe, why again I open the knot?
Empty scales at initiation are full, why measure again?
Rationality became intoxicated, by drinking without measures
Swan reaching the lake, need wander in ponds and puddles?
Your Lord is your inner Self, why seek him outwardly
Says Kabir listen my folks, I realized the Lord within
- like oil contained in the seed.
Posted by: shams-i-ta | May 07, 2009 at 11:21 AM
What is seen is not the Truth
What *is* cannot be said
Trust comes not without seeing
Nor understanding without words
The wise comprehends with knowledge
To the ignorant it is but a wonder
Some worship the formless God
Some worship His various forms
In what way He is beyond these attributes
Only the Knower knows
That music cannot be written
How can then be the notes
Says Kabir, awareness alone will overcome illusion
Posted by: shams-i-ta | May 07, 2009 at 11:23 AM
idi-0-sync-ra-tic, Kabir speaks the truth. That's why he was so down on organized religions. Kabir urged seekers to commit themselves to finding reality directly, not through the experience of others. Wake up! he urged.
Yet often people do lose heart and return to reliance on others, not trusting that reality is within their own self, not in holy books, holy people, or holy icons.
Like I noted before, Kabir was too wild for religion. He's a patron saint of churchlessness. See:
Posted by: Brian | May 07, 2009 at 11:34 AM
Dude, that's enough Kabir poetry. Speak in your own voice if you want to make a point. Kabir would prefer that.
Posted by: Brian | May 07, 2009 at 11:37 AM
When did you cease being churchless?
Why have you stagnated?
Do you not realise you have become as much a believer as those you criticise (and indeed censor such as Ashy)?
You believe in the supremity of science to reveal all secrets.
You believe in the ability of the intellect to comprehend and explain all things.
You believe you understand the *real* meaning behind the linguistic constructs that thousands of years of mystics have *used as tools* to motivate, perhaps even placate, the minds of humans? How do you understand the real meaning? By taking the linguistic constructs as literal truths, then gleefully dismantling them?
You now censor those with opposing views? Under a pretence that, imo, is almost cultic in it's lack of self-awareness; Here we have Tao, the most personally abusive and irrelevant of ad hominem attackers in the entire history of this forum.....praised?
Tao, my dear friend, you keep coming with these mechanical lingustic deconstructions; meaningless. You must know every now & then somebody who actually knows what they & you are talking about, will come and spank you? :
You talk about your vast inner experiences? Was this by a process of osmosis? I've been reading your posts for years, and we both know you're talking absolute nonsense. Have some self-respect and self-introspection before you start fooling around with all these gullible posters here.
You know NOTHING about Shabd Yoga.
You know NOTHING about Dzogchen.
Your entire incessant anti-RS vitriol is based purely on word-play.
You use the moniker 'Tao'.
Yet you know absolutely nothing about Taoism (except perhaps the basic Tao te Ching).
Within a moments discussion you would be shown up for the game-playing, dishonest, braggart that you continuously want to play.
Tell me about the transformations of Chi that lead to the immortal body? Tell me about the physical transformation, as well as stages of meditative experience that one reaches after years of Taoism practice?
Tell me about Treckchod, Thodgal, Dark Retreat, Thigle & Kati in Dzogchen?
Tell me what Shabd is experienced as at a higher level of experience?
Tell me, from a first-hand perspective, your vast experience of the 'inner'?
You can't, because there is no Wiki page you can find these on.
You may all be very proud in your criticisms and 'cogent' analysis etc.
But it's all hot-air and intellectual word-play.
I can teach a teenager to trounce you in debate within a few days.
But, that would be utterly pointless. Because it's merely word-play based on sheer nothingness.
ANd incredibly dishonest, insincere and lacking in anything GENUINE.
Posted by: Manjit | May 09, 2009 at 02:36 PM
I was in a similar organization to Sant Mat called Suma Ching Hai. It was an interesting organization but after I got attacked by criminals who left me mentally disabled for the rest of my life, I realized Suma Ching Hai is a fraud and a fake. Prior to getting attacked I gave it all to the Master who I later discovered never wanted to initiate me.
I found the Suma Ching Hai organization to be seriously a dictatorship. The vegetarian diet requirement was one thing that lead me to a total alienation from society. The 2 and a half hours meditation was another thing that lead me to alienation from society. Also, keeping silence while eating after meditation and preventing me from socializing was another thing that alienated me from others. I found the technique of Suma Ching Hai to be too escapist from reality. It made me feel lonely and rejected.
Also, after I got attacked I discovered the true face of the initiates and the Master. Both of them were against me because I was the only Indian guy in the New York Center. I was told by one initiate whose name is Peter from New Jersey that he felt I was out of place being in an organization largely dominated by Orientals. He maintained that prejudice due to his racism and would not give me a chance to be a part of the organization by yelling at me when I tried to answer his questions and so on during volunteer opportunities.
I find meditation cannot be practiced because of its strict requirements and demands on a person. There is nothing wrong with eating meat. If you like to meditate and eat meat, then by all means go ahead. Also, there is nothing wrong with going out and socializing even if we meditate. We are social beings after all.
Posted by: Satya | November 06, 2016 at 01:44 PM