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,
Shiloh wrote: "What I cannot accept is the claim (A) that only Sant Mat adherents experience sound, light and astral projection,.."
--That is not true. Sant Mat admits that other mystics, yogis, etc. experience sound and light. However, it does say that ONLY "perfect" Sant Mat masters and their initiates have access to sound and light from the HIGHEST region.
If I were considering this path I would ask the master how I can know that he has access to the "highest" region. His answer would be to do the meditation and see. But if I am going to devote my life to this practice I want something more to go on than just his say-so, expecially if it may take 3-4-5 decades or even death and future lifetimes to accomplish this.
I mean, we don't even trust used car salesmen's claims about the condition of a car they are selling. Why on earth do we believe some dude in a turban who says he is God and is here for our salvation? It's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? I'm more likely to trust the used car salesman.
Shiloh wrote: ".. 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."
--This is a truly remarkable and supernatural (magical) claim that the masters make with a straight face. It could be true, but how in the world is an ordinary mortal to know if the so-called master can do this or not and thus devote their lives in devotion to him?
If I were to walk into a restaurant and claim that I am:
A) An incarnation of the highest God and Lord of the universe of universes
B) Can guide you through obstacles in other dimensions of consciousness to the highest spiritual realm
C) Can administer your karma (destiny) in the most efficacious manner to expedite your spiritual liberation.
D) That you must put down your forks and not eat any more steak if you want all this to happen
I think the only steak leaving the forks would be the pieces aimed at me.
Posted by: tucson | August 28, 2009 at 03:49 PM
I congratulate you on your great good fortune.No doubt your sisters acceptance of Nam will lead to your salvation as well.Mileage may vary...LOL
If she's married it will put a strain on the relationship.If single all the elidgible males or males in relationships with non rs girls will give her lots of attention.
The whole thing for me was a pretty special thing and simply met needs not obtained via the family and culture of my birth...very mundane ordinary psychological needs that I attributed to Grace and the Master....and caused me to buy into the kookiest things.
Posted by: Dogribb | August 28, 2009 at 10:23 PM
It's just a matter of personal choice.I feel, we can help them by encouraging them to dig deeper and vast before making a choice. If we are sincere about their well being, we should be more understanding and more generous towards them and try to offer them something of greater value.
We should try to find out their needs and try to make those fulfilling things available to them.
We can go for research in the fields of their interests and find something the best for them.
As long as there is life, there is hope.
So, keep going.
Regards and best wishes,
Posted by: yogi | August 29, 2009 at 04:01 AM
I too have been initiated onto the RS path. I found it by doing a lot of trying different things and having experiences in meditation that led me to or away from different practices. I think it's normal from what I can tell with more years and maybe experience that no matter what the practice or religion- it gets tarnished by the human-ness of those who practice it. Just like there are in Christianity those "church mice" who are seemingly looking for something outside of themselves to worship; the same can happen in RS even though the "master" seems to get put off by any kind of worshipping of himself. He just has to deal with it. What I think he represents is someone who is just a man- with a job, family, etc.. who has practiced and realized an openness and high level of consciousness and become what we are all capable of becoming with our own work. I must say that I've stopped going to satsangs for similar reasons to those that made me become less interested in church when I was younger. Mainly that people's egos get too entangled in a group setting and things like competitiveness come into play where they shouldn't. Regarding your sister- I think I'd worry less about her as she's focused on her own spiritual growth and I think that only good comes of that- even if for now she's going through a phase of focusing on trying to not live and act out of her own ego and will by turning that over to someone she believes she can trust. If she can't she'll find out... it's all learning and it's all good!
Posted by: Jenny | August 29, 2009 at 06:38 PM
While I agree with you on some things you said, I don't agree on two points.
One point is where you say: "it's all learning and it's all good".
And the other point is where you say: "What I think he represents is someone [...] who has practiced and realized an openness and high level of consciousness and become what we are all capable of becoming"
I disagree with the first point because, although it may be a "learning" experience, its definitely not "all good".
Many people have been very damaged, have suffered and have been treated badly, and have had terrible experiences at the hands of spiritual gurus and guru-cults. And the RS cult is no exception. The facts are all there. So it is not "all good", as you claim.
I also disagree with the second point because you do not actually know for a fact that "someone", namely the master/guru, "has practiced and realized an openness and high level of consciousness".
You also don't know that the master/guru has actually "become what we are all capable of becoming".
These may simply be your own personal feelings and opinions and beliefs, and that is alright... but then you should make that clear, instead of asserting it as if it is a statement of fact.
Lots of people have been led to believe as you do. But that does not make what the believe true.
And I think its important for people like you to recognize and understand that there is a difference.
Posted by: tAo | August 29, 2009 at 08:40 PM
I feel for you Shiloh. I followed this path for 25 years. What a waste of time and effort. What a charade. But then, as the saying goes, none are so blind as those who will not see!
Posted by: Jeremy | August 30, 2009 at 05:27 PM