Fairly frequently true believers leave comments on this blog saying, "Brian, you're so bitter toward religion." This surprises me.
I don't feel bitter toward any religion or spiritual organization, including Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), the India-based group I was an active member of for about thirty-five years. Rather, I'm disappointed about the false claims RSSB promotes in its teachings.
If I buy a car, or a computer, I expect it will function as advertised. If it doesn't, I don't feel bitterness. Just irritation, disappointment, let-down.
Now, how do I know that RSSB, or any religion, makes false claims? I can't know with 100% certainty. This isn't how knowledge works. Even scientists who study the material world never say "I'm absolutely sure X is true."
Truth always is provisional, subject to change via new observations, facts, evidence, research. So are claims of falsehood.
Every morning before I meditate, I say "If there's a god or other supernatural power aware of me, pay a visit; surprise me; show me something of yourself." I'm entirely open to having an experience that makes me cry out Praise Jesus! Praise guru! Praise Allah! Praise Buddha! Praise alien beings! Or praise whoever/whatever.
But I've never had such an experience.
And in my three decades-plus of communicating with many, many other RSSB devotees, before I started this blog and afterward, I've never come across anyone else who had the sort of transcendent, mystical, ultimate-reality knowing, astral traveling, soul-body separating experience the RSSB literature promises.
Most other religions or spiritual practices aren't nearly as specific as RSSB is regarding expectations. Nor, as certain. I bet from the Pope on down, no Christian alive today could say with complete certainty that they know what happens after death, and what the nature of God is.
But Eastern religions such as RSSB are quite different.
They assert that it's possible to become god-realized while in the flesh, to achieve a perfected form of consciousness, to be a "god in human form." The GIHF guru supposedly takes root in each disciple, guiding them both in life and after death, eventually revealing his non-physical nature: spirit ("shabd" in Indian parlance).
So this puts a different slant on what can be expected. Christian ministers don't claim to be god-realized beings. They admit to being seekers of Jesus/God, just as every other Christian is. But certain gurus, such as RSSB's Gurinder Singh, are held up as being God.
Is this possible? Sure. Is it likely? No, not at all.
Stupendous claims require stupendous evidence to be believed.
After more than forty years of examining evidence for and against the claim that some humans have become more than human, possessing powers of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and such normally attributed only to God, I've concluded that the evidence (or lack thereof) strongly points toward the RSSB gurus, and others making similar claims, being pretenders.
I can understand the reasons for this, which seem to be rooted in Eastern culture and tradition. (See "Who is the guru?" and "A guru should know if he is God."
But I can't understand why someone would make claims about himself, and the spiritiual teachings which he represents, that almost certainly aren't true. After all, every religion -- and there are thousands of them -- makes certain assertions about the nature of a supernatural reality.
Which are contradictory.
They can't all be true, unless we give up the notion of "truth" as referring to anything objective, universal, demonstrable. So the likelihood that any particular religion or spiritual teaching, such as RSSB, is the One True Knowledge of God... that's so small as to be almost non-existent.
I've learned a lot over the past forty years. For that, I'm grateful.
Every experience I've had, including experiences of disappointment, have made me who I am today. But just as I look back with irritation on cars and computers I've bought which didn't perform as advertised, so do I view religions which make false claims.
This post is a perfect example of what i tried asking you in most of the other posts i have ever made on your blog.
You say you had some experiences in meditation but when we get specific about it you claim you didn't really have any experiences.
Make up your mind.
Posted by: David R | July 13, 2012 at 11:18 AM
David R, there's no contradiction at all. I've had lots of interesting and valuable experiences while meditating. I just haven't had the sorts of soul-travel experiences RSSB/Sant Mat say are not only possible, but guaranteed within a mere four lifetimes of meditating.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM
I'm sorry, but analyzing your posts, your not a critic of the RS path, your a hater. There is a big difference between a critic and a hater.
Going back to the computer example you used, if the computer didn't work, any person would take the computer back to the manufacturer and ask them why its not working. The same with Simran, ask Baba Ji why it's not working. You didn't do that, instead you smashed the computer up with a hammer.
But also you have to consider the way you use the computer, if you do stuff that will damage the computer, it's not going to work.
I.e. if you have a great amount of ego, how do you expect simran to work. Sure, no one will be able to do simran ego free at the start, but you need to try and be humble and try to surrender yourself.
I know an elderly genetleman, he had a large ego, he passed away in 2008, but in his last 6-7 years he got more humble which ultimately helped him progress. So everyday you have to try hard and keep on going.
Ego is the wall between one and God.
If you were disappointed with RSSB, then your posts would be of different tone/content. It doesn't take Einstein to figure that out.
Here is an example of what a 'disappointment post would look like'
Disappointment= RSSB didn't work etc, although it teaches one to be a better human, I'm disappointed I didn't get the experiences. Maybe I should analyze what i was doing wrong. Was I being inconsistent? Maybe I should write a letter or talk to Gurinder. Maybe I feel that RSSB isn't the right path and should experiment with something else.
Bitterness- Insulting/mocking the teachings, fault finding just to make yourself feel better.
Although you mention that you were critical of the teachings whilst doing Satsangs, like I heard from someone else you were mildly critical before the sacking. But after the sacking you became very critical of Baba Ji and the path. So looking at it, the sacking got you off the path not disappointment.
Your posts evolved from mildly critical to severely critical after the sacking and then hatred.
I'm not sure if RS is the right path, I'm looking for someone who is critical, I believe critics are there for a reason. I want to know RSSB inside out before I commit to it.
It's just like when you buy a computer from the internet, you look at all the reviews and try to find negatives and positives before buying the computer.
Also you say 'and in my three decades-plus of communicating with many, many other RSSB devotees, before I started this blog and afterward, I've never come across anyone else who had the sort of transcendent, mystical, ultimate-reality knowing, astral traveling, soul-body separating experience the RSSB literature promises.'
Do you really think anyone that has had the ultimate experience of going within is going to tell the whole world. There has been many stories of seekers that have gone within, as soon as they start telling everyone, their spiritual progress stops.
If a man has a billion pounds in the bank, if the man is wise he doesn't tell everybody.
Also, this might sound contradictory, but I know someone who knew Gurinder was going to be the Guru. He said 'the next Guru will be a guy called Gurinder'. He made this prediction in 1986 He made lots of predictions and they were all right. But he eventually stopped.
Another experience is a lady who died recently. Four days before her death she asked for a photo to be taken. Her family were surprised as she was camera shy and never asked for a photo of herself to be taken. And seconds before her death, she had a smile on her face and put two hands together and said Radha Soami.
I heard this story from her family NOT from a satsang or a book.
There's so many stories I have heard direct from families which to me, enhance the credibility of the path, but there are still some teachings which I question.
Posted by: Gaz | July 13, 2012 at 03:30 PM
"But just as I look back with irritation on cars and computers I've bought which didn't perform as advertised, so do I view religions which make false claims."
...and this is why religion is the best business to be in. Your product/service is no more than an idea, an identity, an attitude, a belief, that credulous people buy and continue to support and endorse for as long as you keep promoting it, or until they catch on...which they rarely do.
It's basic economics. You're just serving the huge demand for comforting, empowering, inspiring bullshit, and if you can supply that kind of crap, who's to say you're not entitled to the wealth it brings you?
Posted by: cc | July 13, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I can understand where your coming from Tara, I have had to avoid egg/meat products since I was 5. I'm getting better, however it does get frustrating every time you read ingredients of some bakery product and they contain eggs or animal deratives.
The worst was when I was in Year 5 at school, it was pancake day, I helped the teachers make the pancakes, they used lots of eggs. When the pancakes were made, I told the teacher I can't eat the pancakes because they have eggs in them. I saw the other kids indulge in the pancakes whilst I was sat on the sidelines.
Posted by: Gaz | July 14, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Also Brian, you resided in the UK before making the transition to the US right? You have a familiar looking face, you have mentioned previously that you used to do satsangs at regional centres. Did you ever do satsangs in Coventry/Leamington? I swear I have seen you before.
Posted by: CJ | July 14, 2012 at 08:39 AM
"I saw the other kids indulge in the pancakes whilst I was sat on the sidelines."
Reject the pancakes, the pancake-eaters reject you.
Posted by: cc | July 14, 2012 at 09:16 AM
CJ, no, I've always lived in the United States. I have a generic "old guy with long gray hair/beard" look. Here in Oregon I often am told, "Aren't you [such and such]?"
I say, "No, I just look like so many other guys my age." We're all unique in many ways, but not in others.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 14, 2012 at 09:41 AM
I was upset with my conditioning more than anything else....thats what it boils down to Tara.
Posted by: dogribb | July 15, 2012 at 07:28 PM