Recently I asked myself, "Brian, what's the craziest thing you've ever believed?"
Since I was an active member of an Indian mystical guru-based meditation organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), for over thirty years, quite a few candidate beliefs came to mind.
Here's the winner: I used to accept the distinct possibility, if not likelihood, that when I was initiated by the RSSB guru back in 1971, Master Charan Singh placed a metaphysical "double" of himself, a radiant form, within my consciousness.
Or being. Or soul. Or something like that.
It wasn't very clear where or how this magic act was performed. But this was a central aspect of the belief system that I subscribed to for a long time, until I couldn't believe in it any more.
I give this my uber-crazy award because some other RSSB teachings, which fall under the general rubric of Sant Mat, continue to strike me as being relatively plausible -- though not probable.
It's possible there are realms of reality beyond the physical universe. It's possible that human consciousness can extend beyond the brain's confines. It's possible that ultimate reality is a nameless, formless, mysterious all-pervading energy.
And I suppose it's possible that a guru could have the power to place a doppelgänger of himself in each of a million or so disciples. But now this seems like a deeply weird and exceedingly unlikely possibility.
We initiates were told that the guru's radiant form could communicate with the physically embodied guru. So Charan Singh supposedly could tune into what was going on with me whenever he wanted.
The radiant form knew what I was thinking and feeling. The radiant form knew what I was doing and perceiving. The situation was a lot like the Christmas song about Santa Claus:
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
I never thought much about how this whole radiant form thing worked, maybe because it's difficult (if not impossible) to come up with a coherent explanation of how a human being, the RSSB guru, could manufacture non-physical carbon copies of himself at will and place them within selected other people.
Many disciples believed that when they had an intention or intuition to do this rather than that, such was the prompting of the guru's radiant form. Except when the prompting didn't turn out to be a good decision; then it must have come from the devilish ego-mind.
I've never heard of anyone who experienced conclusive evidence that he or she had come in contact with the radiant form. I sure didn't. I still invite the guru to show himself inwardly, though.
To date he continues to be a no-show.
Here's how Julian Johnson describes the radiant form in his "The Path of the Masters." It's an appealing notion, this idea that you can have an inner friend who is always with you and accompanies you back to God.
But it's also crazy.
At a point between the "sun-worlds" and the "moon-worlds" and the pure astral zone, the disciple of the Master enters a zone called Ashta-dal-Kanwal. At that place something happens which changes the whole course of his life and also his method of proceeding from that point on.
It is the meeting with his own Master in his "Radiant Form." This is the Master's Nuri sarup or light form. It is the Master, his own Master appearing just as he does in physical life, except that his body is now much more beautiful and full of light, brilliantly illumined.
The Radiant Master then and there receives his disciple with much love, to the great joy of the disciple. From that moment on, the two are never separated throughout the journey to still higher regions.
Of course, the form is always with the disciple form the moment of his Initiation, but the disciple cannot see him. But from here on, the disciple can see the Master on the inner planes as well as the outer.