I'm a big fan of religious deconversions. They're just about as common as conversions, since few people stick with a chosen religion for their entire life.
Below is a mildly edited message that I got a few days ago from someone who has deconverted from the India-based religious/spiritual/mystical group I belonged to for many years, Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
At the sender's request, who wishes to be anonymous, I took out names and other personal references. I also added in some explanations (in italics) for words that will be unfamiliar to most readers, along with some links.
It takes courage and commitment to the truth for someone to break away from a religious organization that has left them disillusioned. Which is a great word, really, since it is wonderful to feel free from illusion.
I wanted to write to you and introduce myself. I am not sure if we have ever met but I’m sure we know some of the same people from satsang [spiritual meetings]. I happened to stumble upon your website a few weeks ago and have read a lot of what you have written concerning RSSB. There is so much on my mind that I would like to relate to you concerning the path that I always kinda questioned in the back of my mind. Luckily, your insights have helped me understand my experience with Sant Mat and put a lot into perspective.
I attended my first Satsang in the mid 90’s when I was in my early 20’s. I was introduced to the path through a friend of mine in AA (another story) that heard about a group that practiced meditation. I met guys like Joe (not his real name) who became my AA sponsor and happened to become secretary of the sangat about a year after I started showing up. I was a voracious reader like Joe, so I ended up borrowing a lot of books from him. You see, I also did not have a good relationship with my father who was a workaholic and physically abused me as a child.
So needless to say, I was very much looking for older men to pay attention to me and show me what it means to be a man. The idea of a mystical guru from India who was spreading the word of salvation was very appealing to me and I was attracted immediately. I was a 21 year old “recovering alcoholic” college student who was looking for the meaning of life. The fact that I had never really abused alcohol that much did not matter since I had not had any alcohol or drugs since I was 17, when I caused a car accident when I was under the influence. I was court ordered to go to rehab and then was introduced to AA, which promised a better life through working the 12 steps. Four years later and many meetings later, I was not feeling any better. That’s when I started attending Satsang and continued to do so off and on for the last 20 years.
I remember reading both of your books that were published by RSSB. I particularly liked God’s Whisper, Creation’s Thunder. And, I am really looking forward to reading your book about Plotinus. I was really into Ancient Philosophy and I remember taking a philosophy class on the Socratics in college as an elective and writing a paper interpreting their philosophy with a very Sant Mat point of view. I wish I still had it so that every time I think Kal [the Devil, basically] is playing a trick on me and keeping me away from GIHF [God in Human Form, the guru], I could re-read it and realize what I jackass I was.
I remember coming across Mark Juergensmeyer’s book about Sant Mat and I bought it. But when I started reading it and raising questions to my AA and Sant Mat “sponsor”, I was shut down and given the traditional “There will always be critical people of the path and that once my intellect was satisfied, I shouldn’t have any more questions.” Unfortunately, I could not google Sant Mat as there was no google yet and access to information about Sant Mat was very limited. Oh sure, I heard about Kirpal Singh and Paul Twitchell while scouring through used book stores. But I had no idea, until recently, what a scam Sant Mat is. Googling "Gurinder Singh Dhillon net worth" [my post is top result] helped to alleviate any last hope I had that I was missing out on “gAnoing home.”
I tremendously respect you for having the balls to come out and say “I think I changed my mind.” You see, I’m pissed. Yes, I know, anger is a negative emotion and I’m letting Kal control me. I’m pissed for wasting 20 years of my life worried about stuff like rennet in my cheese. I treated the path with profound passion and commitment as a seeker and followed all of the rules, including all of the vows explicitly for the first 3 years.
Since, at the time, I couldn’t get initiated until I was 24 (which appears to be a flexible age based on the new seekers guide released last year.) When I turned 24, I submitted all of my paperwork to Joe, who then passed it on to the RSSB representative to send to India. While I was waiting to hear an answer back, I accidentally tripped and had premarital sex with my girlfriend. (Who also happened to be a seeker.)
Ironically enough, the application came back to me to revise and send back for approval. Apparently, instead of putting in my birthdate on the appropriate line, I put that day's date. But I refused to send back the amended application because I truly felt that I wanted to meet God in an honest fashion. Plus, I never thought I could pull the wool over Baba Ji’s [the guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon] eyes, whether they be inner or outer. Since then, the girl I was dating at the time ended up getting initiated. But she lied on her application about following the vows and got accepted anyway. How do I know? She told me and I saw it myself. Around this time, I started to question whether my guru was on the up and up.
I just re-read what I have written to you so far and realize I sound like Sarah Palin endorsing Trump. Different thoughts just seemed to flow out of my mind as I typed. I was planning on writing to you earlier, but I wanted more time to read and research. I guess I just wanted to let you know, that thanks to you, I don’t feel so alone anymore for not accepting the path. Fear of death causes people to do and believe some crazy shit. At this point I have no intention of going back to Sant Mat, or any other path or religion. It’s time to let it go and maybe get a little hedonistic. ( I may even eat a piece of cheese that is not on the approved list :).)
Thank you for your time.