« Relationship is the essential nature of reality | Main | Sam Harris says morality can be scientific »

October 08, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hi Brian,
Having seperated ourselves from a Moloch type diety we certaintly are better of.Saying thank you to the Cosmos is genuine genuflection.After all the stars are our real progenitors
All the best
Stephen S Fine

Well said!

I do still say "thank you" to the cosmos now and then, but this is gratitude for being able to experience existence itself -- not any specific experience.

I very much agree if gratitude is ritualized or eagerness to conform to some oh-so-helpful editorial hint. But, as a sense of awe (or gratitude) about existence, its effect has always seemed like awareness itself ... a moment that stills the mind and reminds us of the mystery that's at the core of life. Too elusive for ritual and catechism but precious when caught.

On a different subject, Brian, I wanted to highly recommend Sam Harris' new book, THE MORAL LANDSCAPE.

His rip of Catholicism is worth the price of admission.

And his rip of Francis Collins is a gem.

It is not only critical, but starts a whole new conversation within a new set of parameters.

David, your comment got emailed to me just now as I was finishing up a blog post about that very book. Cosmic! Our faithless minds are on the same wavelength!

I've only read a couple of chapters. But Harris lays out the book's game plan in the Introduction, so I wanted to share my enthusiasm for "The Moral Landscape" right away. I agree: it's a great book.

Hi Brian,

Me (Elizabeth) again (goofing off at work on a Friday afternoon and reading your blog).

I enjoyed this post. I find that there are a lot of control issues going on with a lot of the "sevadors" I've come in contact with. I call it the: "Radha Soami, GET OFF THE GRASS!" syndrome. That was inspired by the sevadars who try to direct the crowds at the Master's visits to the big centers. They make me want to rebel and walk in the dirt :-)

Anyway, this control issue is not suprising since they are humans just like the rest of us but none the less, it is one of the reasons I don't get involved in RSSB seva other than giving satsangs :-)

I also failed to mention a few other things in my first comments to you earlier this afternoon. I personally believe that there is a widespread misunderstanding about 4 things in satmat:

1. The concept of "detatchment." It isn't something we need to actively strive towards and it isn't even something within our power to strive towards and furthermore, I don't even wanna strive towards it because I do love the world... it is after all God's creation.

2. The idea that we need to battle the ego and then talk about how we are battling our ego all the time.

3. "Seva" and how doing it at satsang is the most important thing in the world besides your meditation and it'll get you to Sach Kand quicker. I believe in striving towards living a life of service. Simple small things such as opening the door for someone or smiling at people or listening to someone tell me their troubles or cooking dinner for someone. You get the point.

4. And last but not least... I get so tired of the attitude that satsangies are "special" and that initiation is "magical." In fact, I always point out in my satsangs that we are NOT special and initiation is not magic.

Okay... now I'll try to get back to work,


Liked your comments. You are very sincere.
I was wondering, your view, on meditation. Is RSSB meditation, from your experience, special or have some sort of spiritual meaning? Have you made 'progress' in your meditations, through the spiritual planes?
Thanks for a reply, and again, I liked your thoughts.
Best wishes, Roger

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the comment on my comments.

I don't want to get into a discussion of RSSB meditation or my personal experience.

But I will address your question about "progress."

I personally don't ever think about "progress." Honestly, I was sick of hearing people talk about the idea of "progress" before I ever even got initiated.

I just do my best each day. And my best looks different on different days.

To me real progress is visible in how we treat ourselves and one another. Like are we a meanie to ourselves and to our fellow humans or are we growing in the areas of empathy, sympathy and compassion? Do we hold grudges and get high off anger or are we trying to learn the spiritual art of forgiveness? Those are the things that really matter to me.


Elizabeth, I also am enjoying your comments. Nicely open and honest. You've got a refreshing common sense approach to RSSB and the "spiritual" life.

Thank you so much, Brian!

And I truly do enjoy your musings and have often thought about writing you a comment. Some of the things you mention about your experience with RSSB and the people involved therein just crack me up (in a good way-- not that I'm making fun of you).

And I really do find it disgusting how people tear you to pieces in their comments. It really is shameful that there are people out there who would actually write some of those things. I once read some of those comments on your I Hate The Church of the Churchless last year and once was enough for me. I felt dirty after reading some of those terrible comments. Really, I did :-)

Anyway, I do not pretend to be a perfect little satsangi but I do try my best to live a good life which is all God asks of any of us, right? And, my faith is very important to me and I hope to continue to grow in my faith.

Well, so much for working hard at work this afternoon! Seems I have been playing on your blog (and other blogs) most of the afternoon :-)



I liked,

"To me real progress is visible in how we treat ourselves and one another. Like are we a meanie to ourselves and to our fellow humans or are we growing in the areas of empathy, sympathy and compassion? Do we hold grudges and get high off anger or are we trying to learn the spiritual art of forgiveness? Those are the things that really matter to me."

---Keep up the good work...


I also enjoy your non-defensive, mostly non-dogmatic, light-hearted and positive approach in explaining your views on Sant Mat. From what you have said I gather you have been reading this blog for some time and must have read some of the scathing criticism of RSSB here regarding its fundamental beliefs, the authenticity of the guru, and questionable financial operations.

I wonder if you might say something about what it is in your understanding and experience of Sant Mat and the current master that gives you faith in this particular path? I am not baiting you so that I might tear into your faith although I am not a great fan of RSSB as you may be aware.

I am just curious what keeps you going in light of all that has been discussed here and elsewhere on the web.

Hi Tucson,

Great questions!

What keeps me going....

I ardently believe that I personally MUST have a code for living. I choose the 4 vows of Sant Mat (not eating meat, not taking drugs or booze, being moral and honest and of course meditating).

I have intensely studied other religions for many years (and still do, for I believe for instance that many Catholic writers have a lot to say about spiritual matters that I don't see as conflicting with RSSB-- think of Mother Teresa and Thomas A'Kempis for example). I find that most of the major religions all have wonderful codes for living that I personally see as compatible with RSSB. Think of The 10 Commandments of Moses, the Be-Attitudes of Jesus etc.

It is my personal experience that there are many satsangies out there who have struggles with one or more of the vows. I know satsangies who have very spiritual outlooks but struggle with drug addiction. I know others who struggle with the meat and eggs issue. Others struggle with living a moral life. I mean, think about honesty for example. How many of us are even honest with ourselves half the time? And yes, others struggle with meditation as you may have gathered.

For me, RSSB answers all my questions (and believe me, I had lots-- as I said, I love delving into religious scholarship). And most importantly, it gives me something to work towards. It gives me a model for living, for I can look at the Master and see a living example of someone who embodies the virtues that I strive to inculcate within myself.

So, yes, I am happy with my choice of following RSSB.. but that doesn't mean that I still don't yearn to participate in some good old rites and rituals in a beautiful old church from time to time :-) So, on occasion, I do go to churches on Sunday mornings and sing hymns and gaze at the beautiful stain glass windows and contemplate spiritual matters. And I apply whatever is being discussed in Church thru my RSSB lens.



Your comments continue to be very sincere.

You mentioned,

"..... for I can look at the Master and see a living example of someone who embodies the virtues that I strive to inculcate within myself."

---Nothing wrong with feeling that way. I'm guessing, the Gurinder person, embodies the virtues you strive towards? Is this the Master, you are referring to?

Yep, that's him.


Coming from a religious background I can understand why Sant Mat would have its appeal to you. There is a living master rather than one who may have existed 2000 years ago and there are prescribed steps that may lead to Sach Khand (heaven) in this lifetime and not after death. It gives you a code and model for living and a goal to strive for. Many people find comfort and peace of mind in a structure such as this. At one time it did the same for me and like you it answered all my questions.

The thing is that eventually the answers became questions and no longer was I able to remain within the "faith box" of Sant Mat. I took the leap and stepped out and found this to be more "spiritually liberating" than anything I experienced in Sant Mat. I became receptive to a different truth that was immediate in daily life. It was less comforting than Sant Mat but it freed me of this burden of a self that required the structure and discipline of a spiritual path...

What exactly was this entity that I was trying to liberate? Where is it located and where are its boundaries? Sure, I had this body of flesh and bone, a brain that produced these ideas and perceptions, but obviously it was going to disintegrate one day. What was left? Nothing that I could find. No individual thing. All that was left was everything.

I wish you well on your journey.


I can see the importance of the 'idea' of a Perfect Master(a GIHF) that would be a valueable linkage to faith and belief. A belief system in the absence of such, would/could be a tougher path to follow. Problem is that once someone actually meets(in person) the Perfect Master, a few are not going to see much perfection. This could be more damaging to some. So, keeping the 'idea' alive is the better. Problem there is that an idea gets boring as the many years go by.

Yes, Roger I think it is the "idea" of what a perfect master represents or is supposed to be that devotees are enamored with. Most followers rarely have the opportunity to get to know the master in a personal way. He is usually seen at a distance and/or in a structured setting such as a satsang. It can be disappointing when the master behaves or reacts in a normal human manner...trips, farts, gets angry or impatient, etc. It is tough to keep up the perfect master/GIHF image in all situations. So, most satsangis who witness such behavior rationalize it in some way as some sort of lesson, taking on of karma, etc.

Another thought...

The master is a human. He just happens to be at the spiritual level of God.

I don't expect him to be perfect and I don't care if he does do normal human things or make mistakes or what have you.

For me, he is a my spiritual teacher, my guide and someone who embodies some very good virtues that I aspire to. He is someone who can teach me about God. Someone who can help me on my journey in this life.


In speaking about Sant Mat I have a sort of conundrum, because I don't want to personally upset or offend people like Elizabeth, but at the same time I am inclined to speak honestly about Sant Mat (RSSB) as I see it.

All I can say is that when you go on blogs you have to have a thick skin because you are likely to encounter opinions you don't like, people who misunderstand you, and all types of jerks who enjoy being jerks. Cowards come out of the woodwork and say things they would never have the courage to say to someone's face. Fortunately most people are decent, reasonable and fair.

Nothing much worth saying.

Very much liked Return to the One Brian. It along with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance started me thinking outside the RSSB "faith box."

Respects tuscon.

Kind regards Elizabeth.


how do you know "He [the master] just happens to be at the spiritual level of God" ???

what is that supposed to mean ?

no human being is "at the level of God". all human binegs are merely part and parcel of God. no human being is equal to God.

your claim is akin to mayavadism. it is bogus, and it is offensive to God. although i strongly suspect that you are quite ignorant of that.

believing (and claiming) that anyone (any human being) is "at the spiritual level of God", is blatantly mayavadi.

also, if you don't "expect him to be perfect", then how is it that you then assert or claim that he is "at the spiritual level of God" ?? that is a contradiction.

typical of many believers, your assumption and belief that a particular human individual (your so-called master) is "at the spiritual level of God", simply does not jive with the fact that all humans are imperfect and mortal and merely part and poarcel of God.

no one, i repeat, no one is "at the level of God". it is utter foolishness and nonsense to think that way. that idea is poison.

you say that you "don't care if he does do normal human things or make mistakes". but being ordinary and making mistakes is true of everyone. so where do you get this "at the spiritual level of God" ???

you say that he is your "spiritual teacher", your "guide", and is "someone who embodies some very good virtues". but how do you know that he "embodies very good virtues"?? have you spent alot of time in close personal asscoiation with him?? if not, then how would you know, how can you say that he is virtuous??

it appears that he is not so virtuous. not virtuous at all in fact. so exactly what "virtues" are you talking about? and how is it that you know him better than people who are in closer proximity to him??

his behavior and actions tend to show that he is rather pretentious, egotistical, corrupt, and fraudulent. and there is nothing to indicate his being "at the spiritual level of God". none whatsoever.

what good has he actually done for anyone?

what makes you think that he "is someone who can teach me [you] about God"??

where is the evidence of him helping you on your journey in this life??

you seem to have made a lot of blind assumptions about this guy, with nothing to back it up.

this is typical of people who want to believe in saviors and saints... that some guy is going to save your soul and/or bring you to God. but that is an illusion -- an illusion that you must abandon if you are ever to know your true relationship to God.

this fellow that you call your master is an imposter. he is a fraud. he is misleading people. moreover, he shows no signs whatsoever of being a humble devotee of the supreme godhead.

you will wno doubt aste your precious human life if you follow such deceivers. you are being led astray.

i advise you to abandon all varieties of religion and philosopy and fraudulent demonic gurus... and simply surrender in sincere loving devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

only then will your life become sublime.

only then will you attain the transcendental plane, free from maya and the gunas (the modes of material nature).

only then will you attain Love of God.

Brian wrote somewhere that every religion offers a savior from some fear in exchange for some code of living. Now if the code was just a pointer to 'the one' or the supposed perfect idea of God that would be ok. But in all the religions and cultures the code becomes the goal. Sant Mat is not excepted in some miraculous way.
If the master says not to eat meat that is ok but we are allowed to wear leather. I'm told that in India leather comes from death cows but in Europe cows are killed for leather. So the pointer doesn't make sense anymore in Europe.
Now we can say the vows are there just to ask for a commitment and that is the way I have always seen them. If you pay a lot of money for a meditation technique or you have to do a lot of difficult stuff than you won't easily let go of the technique you 'bought'. That is how the very old teachers trained their students bu letting them work and sweat. But if this technique doesn't work and students don't meditate but still follow the vows. Than we have a culture of emptiness. It is better to eat meat and seriously meditate I suppose.
On the other hand the old teachers where wise and it showed in their living as Brian pointed out. The momentary teacher doesn't show any signs of unearthliness and doesn't appear very wise. Now we have no way of proving it but it seems he is sailing on an old tradition and is not adding anything but selling the packets.
But he is a nice man as far as I saw. And when I'm in the satsang room there seem to be spiritual experiences in some of the corners judged from my intuition. But I'm afraid it is the old teaching that reaches some of the visitors that are on the far end of the bell curve (statistical curve where majority does not experience anything but few do).
How long should we keep the vows if there is little hope that we will be in that far end of the statistical curve? If we don't progress we will not see the master when we die so what did we gain for a lifetime of vows?
Reading from the enckakar teacher Paul something I immediately understood what he ment with the yoga. He said you close your eyes and you let the fantasy take you away following where the fantasy takes you from the third eye. That made sense because the third eye is where the thoughts originate. So that made me believe the Paul person did see indeed something even if it was just fantasy. Why do our master never give these hints? Do they really see anything themselves at all? Why this mysterious attitude when other masters are very open about it. And why the collecting of old cars and very expensive stuff if this world is just a latrine to him?
I don't read about great master being very materialistic he had his pension and stayed away from any money as far as he could.
Now we have no way of telling if we are following a genuine teacher and it might be our believe that saves us even if the teacher is just a sales man. Personally I don't risk following very strict rules that have a negative impact on my (Brain pointed out that many satsangi's are in a form of regression) in exchange for salvation from karma. When you come to think of it karma was a lot of bull in the first place just like the teaching about hell where a lot of bull.
The other Brian made a nice joke when he said. Where do I come from? Nothing! Where do I go to? Nothing! So what did I loose?
But that is just a joke to make karma and hell less heavy.
Learn to life and let go of the fears and follow your intuition instead of the vows.
Damn this whole writing sucks doesn't it? :)


Nothing wrong with your belief and faith. You did mention,

"He is someone who can teach me about God."

--Yes, I can see Gurinder teaching you and others a 'concept' of God. There are many teachers around that can do that. If I am learning something about God, I want to make sure, I understand, that it is just a concept. I'm off the hook, if I choose to have belief or 'no' belief.
--Does Gurinder teach something that is beyond a concept of God? If so, could you write something, in your words, that specifically explains such?

Thanks for your continued interest. You are a good person, Roger

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.