Here's a well-written, thoughtful message from a woman who is disturbed that her sister has joined the spiritual group that I was a member of for many years, Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB).
Shiloh emailed me a while back, asking some questions about RSSB that I answered. I'll share those Q & A in another post soon. I asked Shiloh if she'd be OK with me sharing her thoughts in a blog post.
She was. And chose the title for this post.
Shiloh expresses herself well. She's a great example of how someone can be churchless, yet godly. As I often say on this blog, personal beliefs in god are fine so long as they are recognized for what they are.
Personal. Beliefs. Read on...
A message from Shiloh:
Coming from a loose Christian background, I am a fellow churchless one in that I have always been content with what was in my own heart and felt no need to seek God outside of it. I did free-form meditation from age eleven and consciously left my body several times from the age of thirteen. I have always believed in God, felt protected, loved and driven to serve – not a master but all creation.
As an adult, at different times over the years, I looked into two Eastern movements, not primarily for spiritual guidance, but in the hopes of improving my meditation and learning to astral travel at will. After linking up with these exotic movements, I experienced associated phenomena (in both instances, strangely, before initiation). Although this was fascinating and intriguing, I divorced myself from both movements on points of principle, early on.
Being churchless is what I advocate, and in spite of upholding the teachings of Jesus and seeing his life as the highest earthly example (that I know of), I cannot accept the cruelties, errors and inconsistencies in the Bible and have never wanted to join any Christian church – most of which seem to me to be rigidly stultified in their own brick buildings.
I believe each of us is capable of having a personal internal relationship with God, and have long felt that priests, whose purpose is supposedly to connect congregants with their God, often unknowingly do the opposite.
Which is why I was particularly horrified when my own sister joined the Radhasoami movement. (If priests, with their intercessions etc, stand between us and God, then gurus with their I-am-God implications must surely block Him out completely!) Alice has dutifully read much of the official RS literature, but this seems worth little since her only investigation into the guru’s godhood is conducted via other blindly-believing fellow devotees.
However, having myself consciously experienced (outside of Sant Mat) the astral plane, and (without being told of it) aspects of the Sound Current, I believe that the movement’s promised phenomena are real and achievable, if very rarely achieved (according to many ex-satsangis) and certainly not guaranteed. What these phenomena mean, and their benefits or lack thereof, are open to speculation.
What I cannot accept is the claim (A) that only Sant Mat adherents experience sound, light and astral projection, and (B) that its guru is a perfect living master (divinity incarnate) with an ability to raise his disciples to the ultimate in spiritual heights, to protect them from astral ‘monsters’ and from the consequences of their deeds – i.e. sparing them from endless karma-fraught future lives.
While I can accept enlightened mortals as teachers, I feel deeply disturbed about any man being set-up as an exclusive stand-in for God. Even more sinister is the requirement that followers give up the use of their own God-given minds – a necessary step if one is to hand over one’s life to another human being.
My sister believes that since she may never meet her master, no harm can come of belonging to this movement even if it turns out that the master is not God. I disagree, since what she is saying, in essence, is that truth does not matter. But Truth, after all, is objective reality, and whatever moves us away from that must necessarily distort our view of things and thus affect us in countless unknown ways.
Yet Alice, like thousands in this movement, is prepared to give up her free will, her life’s direction and her reasoning faculties to rely on the Guru’s ruling on everything – all this without evidence and on the fallible recommendations of others. I feel amazed that anyone can expect so little of the Creator of this marvelous Universe, that they so readily confer His exalted identity onto what, to all outward appearances, is a mere man.
With kind regards,