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February 18, 2011


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Hi Brian:

I have always been of the opinion that one can't really understand the Radha Soami Faith and community outside the context of North India culture which is fabulously more colorful, baroque, and mythological than Western philosophical/ religious history and traditions.

At the Dera one witnesses and senses so much intense emotion/devotion to guru. But India loves to love----Puja to rats, monkey god, Krishna, Ganesh, Lakshmi, idols, or anything that is considered auspicious, helpful and holy-- that is part of India's heritage. India is into auspicious relationship.

Many Westerners look about quite nervously if an Indian lady starts crying, howling and keels over in satsang. Does not seem to bother the Indian contingent at all though. Just one example of the numerous hurdles Western people have with digesting the enchilada...or chapati.

jon, good observations. Nicely said. That's also how I felt the two times I've visited North India/Punjab/Dera.

Philosophy is tightly related to culture. We argue over philosophy, not realizing that what we're talking about is rooted in cultural ways of viewing the world.

Is the Guru God? Is bhakti (devotional) practice a good way of trying to know ultimate reality? Questions like these can't be divorced from culture. What works for North Indians probably won't work for North Americans.

Devotion is more Universal than that...ask these 14 year old girls.Or their mothers who squealed over Sinatra


Hi Brian,
Culture plays an important role in shaping one's philosophy, but I feel knowledge is fundamental as well.
As an Indian, I feel that our cultures have not passed through the phase of an 'awakening' so to say, where science replaced superstition. As we get to learn and use the method of scientific & logical inquiry, I can feel a change in our own culture; the self is becoming more important.
I feel the sense of community is self perpetuating; once we have a certain 'status' and 'image' in our family/society, we fall under that peer pressure to maintain and improve this image. Temples and Deras etc. become the 'proving grounds', and you'll find people being more charitable and sociable than ever in these places.

Hi Dogribb.

Yes. Wow, Beatles. Perhaps though this example is more teen excitement(emerging-and rampaging teen sexuality) than religious devotion? Come to think about it, this does raise some interesting question(s) ...about emotion/devotion/sexual sublimation.

Brian, probably you too have noted that North American RS initiates have very different troubles with RS than the Indian Sangat. Even if these troubles, or conflict(s)do not express or show up for years....

I'm sure a few Western ladies have had naughty dreams about the Guru....a few Nuns with their Christ as well.
Cultures give rise to differing psychologies.A Russian psycotherapist would have differing opinions to treatment than his American couterpart.Imagine going to a tribal WitchDoctor and being admonished for not sacrificing your child to the corn Gods

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