Falsehoods bother me. Including falsehoods about me.
Like the completely unfounded rumor that I started criticizing Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), the Indian spiritual group I belonged to for 35 years, after I was fired as a speaker at meetings of the group.
I've noticed this falsehood popping up in recent comments on this blog, most recently from "manjit." Like so many religious believers, "manjit" is repeating a conjecture that isn't correct, but since it feels good to spout it, it gets spouted.
Well, here's some truth-telling. I've shared it before in comments, but I wanted to write a blog post that I could link to when the Brian was upset when he was fired, so he started criticizing RSSB lie surfaces again.
Actually the truth is just the opposite: after I started critiquing RSSB on this blog back in 2005, I was told that I could no longer speak at RSSB meetings (satsangs) because my blog posts were making RSSB devotees upset and uncomfortable.
Read all about it in "I was fired," an October 2005 post.
Well, my Meister Eckhart fantasy has been fulfilled. I’ve been fired from giving talks (known as “satsangs”) at meetings of my spiritual group because my Church of the Churchless writings have been too heretical.
Yesterday our local secretary informed me that he had been told by a regional representative, Vince Savarese, that my blogging about Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) had caused a lot of people to be uncomfortable. In New York. In India. All around the RSSB world.
Naturally I blurted out “Wow, that’s great! People are reading my blog!” It didn’t bother me to hear that I’ve been making some people uncomfortable. I regularly hear from others that they appreciate my posts, so it all evens out. Yin and yang. Like and dislike. Attraction and repulsion. That’s the way of the world.
Regardless, the RSSB powers that be don’t want me to be a speaker anymore. I said, “That’s fine. Now the folks at the Radhasoami studies discussion group who have been taking bets that I wouldn’t last as a speaker beyond mid-2006 will feel vindicated.”
Interestingly, it was "manjit" who wrote that October 2015 discussion group post linked to above who said about me, "Yes, he's writing some interesting stuff. I now often check out his blog," then predicted I wouldn't last as a satsang speaker past mid-2016.
"Manjit" was wrong about the timing of that, just as manjit now is wrong about why I was fired as a satsang speaker. I guess he's forgotten the early Church of the Churchless blog posts that made RSSB devotees uncomfortable.
My turn away from RSSB and organized religion began long before October 2005, and the posts I've written since have been motivated by a commitment to truth-telling, not resentment at RSSB.
Here's links to some of those pre-October 2005 posts, along with excerpts:
January 2005: "Religious questioning is natural"
I’ve become a bit of a Sant Mat “heretic,” just as you seem to be. Maybe more than “a bit of” in fact. My quest these days is to discern the essential in spirituality. The rest seems to be in the realm of religion, not mysticism or what I like to call spiritual science. There is a lot of religiosity in RSSB even though this path supposedly isn’t a religion. When blind belief and faith are elevated over direct experience and questioning, I call that a religion.
March 2005: "All masters but one are false"
This has been one of my criticisms of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), the spiritual path that I’ve been associated with since 1970. Gradually over the years it seems that personal experience of the divine gained through meditation has been downplayed in favor of fawning guru-worship. Disciples are urged to surrender to the master, who is expected to take them back to God if they simply have faith and believe. Well, if that’s what I wanted I would have remained a Christian.
June 2005: "Cults, religions, and science"
I “signed up” for RSSB some thirty-five years ago precisely because I wanted to be a member of a non-religious spiritual group. Now, either RSSB has changed or I’ve changed. A third alternative is that both RSSB and I have changed: RSSB in the direction of becoming more religion-like, and me in the direction of liking religion even less.
July 2005: "Why I embrace unorganized religion"
When people fall into the trap of saying “I’m a Christian,” “I’m a Muslim,” or “I’m a satsangi” (in the case of RSSB), they enclose themselves in one more layer of illusion. This further distances them both from God and from their fellow human beings. Like this fair façade, their spirituality may be superficially attractive. Yet a closer examination reveals that it lacks depth and is flimsily propped up by artificial supports: dogma, blind faith, self-righteousness, unquestioned adherence to arbitrary moral codes.
July 2005: "More criticism of Radha Soami Satsang Beas"
But the reality is that my current preference for churchlessness is an evolution from my previous attachment to a church—the “Church” of RSSB. So my personal experience with organized religion stems from this source, as does the experience of my correspondent and quite a few others who visit the Church of the Churchless.
If I had remained a Catholic, I’d be focusing on the rigidity, narrow-mindedness, and self-righteousness of Catholicism right now, because this would be the religion that I knew best. Instead, I’m making the same criticisms of RSSB, because that is the religion I’m most familiar with.
My point is that what’s written below speaks of the failings of RSSB and its members. Yet these failings are present in all organized religions, as is pointed out by the author.
September 2005: "Bursting belief bubbles"
However, when it comes to spirituality I really do want my belief bubble to burst. I can say this with some confidence because I’ve been pricking away at my own bubbles for quite a few years now.
“I am a member of a special spiritual group.” Pop.
“My guru is God and will make me just like him.” Pop.
“The course of my life is being guided by a higher power.” Pop.
“If I have a sip of wine I’m a sinner.” Pop.
“There’s only one way to meditate, the way I’ve been told.” Pop.
Some or all of the above statements may be true, but I no longer believe them to be true. Lacking certainty, I hold these beliefs in abeyance.
So these posts written prior to when RSSB "fired" me as a satsang speaker demonstrate that RSSB devotees are wrong when they claim that my criticisms of RSSB stemmed from my being upset that RSSB rejected me.
Again, the opposite was the case: my critical questioning of RSSB dogma caused devotees to become uncomfortable, which led to my firing. I was pleased to speak the truth as I saw it then, and I'm pleased to speak the truth now.