That's a great summary of how Lane views spirituality.
Like me, he's an initiate of Charan Singh, who was the guru of the India-headquartered Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization prior to Gurinder Singh Dhillon -- who has served as the RSSB guru since Charan Singh's death.
Lane has an academic interest in the history of RSSB and related Radha Soami sects that far exceeds mine. But we share an interest in the nature of reality, an admittedly vast topic.
Below I've shared a comment that Lane left today on a recent blog post of mine. I wholly agree with his observation that the root problem facing RSSB and similar guru-based faiths is the notion of a "perfect" master.
Nobody is perfect.
In fact, there isn't even a viable definition of what the qualities of a perfect human being would be. Yet devotees of Radha Soami Satsang Beas consider that their guru is God in human form, a perfect guru. So to them whatever the guru does must be perfect.
This obviously is circular reasoning that doesn't apply to other non-religious personages. "Perfect guru" is an abstract concept with no connection to reality. No one speaks of a perfect singer, a perfect dancer, a perfect physicist, a perfect lawyer (especially not that).
Someone isn't considered an artist worthy of admiration unless they're able to produce admirable works of art. Ditto with a teacher. They need to be skilled at educating people in order to be viewed as an exemplary teacher.
But once a new guru becomes the leader of RSSB, they automatically are considered to a Perfect Master even if their conduct is decidedly imperfect, as is the case with Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
One of the antidotes to a false belief in perfection is recognizing that unknowing is a fundamental feature of our human reality. At the end of his comment Lane says that a little movie he made summarizes best his personal philosophy, Here's that movie. (Lane set the You Tube URL to start at a certain point.)
I heartily agree that acknowledging unknowing is an exceedingly wise thing to do, in every area of life. None of us knows everything about anything. Even less does anyone know everything about everything. Omniscience is a godly myth. Gurus, like everyone else, are fallible human beings.
Lane is an admirer of science. Scientists have to be committed to unknowing, since it is crystal clear to them that human knowledge is limited compared to the unimaginable vastness and complexity of the cosmos.
The best we can do is strive to know reality as best we can, through the means available to us. No one has a corner on truth. We all are truth-producers and truth-consumers in our own ways. Every day I learn something new. And every day I realize that something I thought was true, really isn't.
So let's reject perfection and embrace unknowing. The world would be much better off if everybody did this. Here's Lane's comment:
Thank you for your welcome. I like that phrase, "still in the Bardo" since it dovetails with that recent movie we made about comparing Faqir Chand's "hanging on the gallows" with the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
My perspective is pretty simple and echoes Nietzsche's famous line, "human, all too human." I have long felt that the fundamental problem confronting Radhasoami is the repeated usage of the moniker, "perfect" master.
This very honorific is to some measure the root problem.
If we can simply accept that our teachers, our gurus, our masters, are human beings and as fallible as anyone else (and sometimes much worse), then we retain our critical faculties and we don't succumb to premature cultic thinking.
Instead, we can admire those aspects that are indeed beneficial and be critical (even hyper critical) of those aspects that are damaging or wrong in our eyes.
This way, we hold our beloved teachers accountable as much as they hold ourselves accountable.
The reason I went to the Dera back in March of 2017 was because Professor Juergensmeyer and I were asked by Oxford University Press to do an annotated bibliography on Radhasoami and its various branches. I felt at that time it would be helpful to visit the Dera library and see their holdings.
The Dera very kindly (and much to my surprise) allowed my wife and my kids to stay at the Dera for nearly a week and we were treated very well indeed. As you can well imagine, it was a wonderful trip for me since it brought back a flood of memories of the times I was there when Charan was still alive.
I particularly liked that Gurinder was attempting to demythologize much of Sant Mat, especially when he would say things like "Kal doesn't exist" and so on. His morning satsangs were focusing on doing meditation and standing on one's feet.
That I felt was a good development, even though I have long felt that the Perfect Master idea and all that goes with it belongs to the dustbin of history since it can lead to all sorts of evil consequences, not the least of which is justifying that which is unjustifiable.
As for the current controversy, I think it is important to let all of the information come forth. That way we can see how these human dramas play out.
As for my own philosophy, it again is pretty simple: I am a strict vegetarian, I love meditating, and I am ultimately unknowing..... yes, I love science precisely because it is willing to be wrong, augmented, and corrected over time....
In any case, here is a little movie I made that summarizes best my own personal philosophy:
Lastly, here's part of another David Lane comment that I'm sharing both because I liked what Lane says, and because he mentions me.
My attachment has always been with Charan, as those who know me well can attest. However, I learned many years ago (I am sure Faqir's influence when I was just 21 had its own impact) that it was always best to see these teachers as human beings first.
Otherwise, we end up condoning all sorts of strange things that we shouldn't. So in that light, we can learn the best things from them and discard or criticize those things which we don't accept or don't agree.
My life in exposing certain cults definitely shaped my outlook and because of that, I think it is perfectly fine to be hyper critical. Charan is famous for saying "critics are our best friend." If we take that literally, then perhaps Brian is Gurinder's best friend!
In any case, I find myself meditating more now than ever before. I really do like shabd yoga meditation, even if I don't necessarily buy the theological myth that has encrusted it over the years.