I'm an admirer of Taoism. I resonate with these lines in the Tao Te Ching:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.
How could the essence of the cosmos be encompassed by words? The human mind wasn't around at the big bang some 14 billion years ago, so it's difficult to see how a verbal explanation could capture the fullness of ultimate reality.
But silence has another side: speaking. Yin and yang are manifestations of the Tao. Too much of anything, for too long, is unnatural. We've got to have balance.
So I don't understand or agree with the reticence of many mystics, gurus, sages, and such to talk about their "inner" experiences (or lack thereof) of a supposed enlightened state of being.
Referring to gurus in the Sant Mat tradition who are considered by their devotees to have traversed higher spiritual regions of the cosmos, tAo said (with some typos corrected):
you see this is also where i disagree with you slightly. you say that this is "their claim". but they have not claimed any such thing. if you or anyone can produce any book or lecture where they have made such a claim, i will be willing to consider it. but i have not seen it. i have read all the books and i don't remember ever reading them making that claim. they talk all around it, but they don't actually claim to have experienced it. that is the thing that tricks most people (like yourself) into ASSUMING (and then believing) that these so-called masters have experienced what is described in the literature. but the truth of the matter is that they never actually admit that.
I've been to India twice. I've attended numerous talks by two gurus, Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh, who are considered to be "God in human form (GIHF)." Like tAo, I've read every book published by the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization (and there are lots of them), many of which were written by GIHF gurus.
But until today it hadn't fully dawned on me how rare it is for a direct claim of an inner mystical experience to be made by them. Not only rare, it may well be non-existent.
Why is this?
Well, two possible reasons leap out. (1) The gurus have never had a mystical experience of some spiritual domain of existence. (2) The gurus don't want to talk about their experiences.
Skeptics and true believers, not surprisingly, favor different hypotheses. Having been in the latter camp myself for several decades, I can understand how silence can be viewed as being akin to godliness.
"Ah, this shows how divinely humble the guru is," a devotee will say after hearing the guru respond to "Are you really God?" with "I'm no one special. I'm just a servant of my own guru."
Nice sentiment. But what if he is actually telling the truth? He hasn't had any special mystical experiences, and he doesn't have any special knowledge about the cosmos.
This is the problem with assuming that those who know do not talk, because those who don't know also do not talk -- since they have nothing to say. If you ask me how to fix the brakes on your car, I might smile and shrug my shoulders while pointing to the auto repair shop down the street.
If you believe that I'm a master mechanic who wants to hide his expertise under a mantle of enigmatic mystery, you'd be wrong. I'm simply clueless about most matters related to automotive inner workings.
The most honest thing for me to do would be to explicitly say, "I've got no idea how to fix your brakes. And for sure you don't want me to learn how on your car."
Of course, someone knowledgeable about brake jobs should be equally eager to offer you some advice. Either way, silence would be a cop-out, impolite, an unnecessary deception. Why not acknowledge one's experience, or inexperience, about something?
Often you hear that gurus don't want to speak about their mystical experiences to avoid being idolized by devotees, or out of a sense of humility.
But they already are put on a pedestal by their followers. And aren't enlightened beings supposed to be beyond the vagaries of an ego, which entails worrying about the proper level of humbleness to project to other people? What's the matter with simple straightforward honesty?
"Yes, I have experienced such and such. It's hard for me to describe those experiences. Yet if you want me to try, I'll do my best. What questions do you have?"
This would be a refreshing response from a guru, mystic, or sage. As would, "I'll be straight with you. I've never experienced anything out of the ordinary in my meditation. I'm sorry to disappoint my devotees, but I don't know what you think I do."
Naturalness is appealing to me. Fakery isn't.
Most gurus and spiritual leaders look like they're playing the role of a guru or spiritual leader. This is to be expected, but it also is off-putting to me.
In normal human conversations, people aren't evasive. If I ask someone, "Have you ever been to Paris?" they don't respond with "What is the reality of the one who is asking this question?" or "If I told you, how would this benefit your own international traveling?"
They just answer the simple freaking question! "Yes." "No." There's nothing difficult in uttering one of those two words.
Likewise, gurus should be able and willing to answer this question: "Have you personally experienced the mystical states that your teachings describe?" And entertain follow-up questions if the reply is "Yes."