Geez, I thought, when I read the comment. Another one!
I have no idea why so many people are so interested in why, after 35 years, I deconverted from being a follower of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), which is headed by a guru devotees consider to be God in human form. But here's the comment by the somewhat weirdly named "Guru."
Naturally my second thought was, No way am I going to pick only one option or reply in one sentence. Instead, I'll use this blog post to convey what I hope is the definitive answer to why I left RSSB. Then I can simply copy in this post's URL if I get asked this question again. (Here's a previous 2008 try at this, "Why I'm not a Sant Mat true believer.")
Short answer: It's complicated. Like everything in life. The long answer follows. First, though, let's dismiss the four A,B,C,D options the commenter suggested.
Regarding A, as I said in "Here's the truth about when I began criticizing RSSB," the reason a RSSB representative gave for me being fired as a satsang (meeting) speaker in October 2005 was that my blogging here on the Church of the Churchless since November 2004 was making people uncomfortable. So my criticisms of RSSB preceded being fired, rather than coming after that happened.
Regarding B, I wasn't much bothered by my book about the Greek philosopher Plotinus, "Return to the One," not being published by RSSB. We, RSSB and I, simply couldn't agree about some content that RSSB wanted me to add to the book, which I didn't want to do in a book that would be sold to the general public. I suggested having two versions of the book, one with the added content to be sold by RSSB, and one without that would be sold commercially.
I've written about this in several posts: "My letter to a supposed Godly guru," "My inside look at RSSB books," and "How writing a book rewrote me." I ended up publishing the book on my own, and it's been a steady seller on Amazon, with good reader reviews.
Regarding C, I never gave up on meditation. I've meditated every day for 50 years. I enjoyed my meditation during the 35 years I was a member of RSSB, and I've enjoyed my meditation both before and after my RSSB years. I still meditate every morning, in a mostly Buddhist/mindfulness fashion.
Regarding D, I liked Gurinder Singh Dhillon after he became guru. You can read the 2003 letter I sent to him. We engaged in quite a bit of other correspondence back and forth. I also had a number of personal interviews with him. I did "security seva" (volunteer work) during his overseas visits to Vancouver, B.C., Palm Springs, and Honolulu. Once I stood outside the bedroom where he was sleeping at 3 am in the morning, unarmed, willing to die in the admittedly unlikely event armed attackers showed up.
I wouldn't have done that for someone I didn't care about. I wrote about this in "Some thoughts on divine dying," Excerpt:
I regularly get criticized in comments on this blog for not having given the RSSB teachings and meditation practice a serious try. My two word response, which usually isn't quite this pithily direct: that's bullshit.
For thirty-five years I devoted myself to doing what I was told to do, and promised to do, at the time of my initiation by the previous RSSB guru, Charan Singh, in 1971.
Without going into the details, I can confidently say that my devotion to this spiritual/mystical path was considerably more serious and deep than that of the vast majority of other disciples.
To the above-mentioned critics, I'll ask a question: how many of you have stood outside the guru's window in the middle of the night, prepared to die for him? And how many of you have meditated an average of several hours a day for thirty-five years, prepared to "die" in meditation for your guru?
And that enables me to speak confidently about what my RSSB experiences taught me, because I've walked this faith's walk, as well as talked the talk.
Now I'll talk about the real reason I left RSSB. This can be summed up in just a few words: it's impossible to say. But since I'm a wordy guy, I'll say more about why I can't say why I left RSSB.
I don't believe in free will. I also don't believe that I, or anyone else, has (or is) a "self." You can use the Google search box in the right sidebar to find the many blog posts I've written about free will and having a self.
In brief, I'm convinced by neuroscience, psychology, and my own experience that our conscious awareness is just the icing on the cake of what the hugely complex human brain does. Most of our thoughts, desires, actions, and such flow from unconscious sources. There's plenty of scientific evidence that this is true.
But we humans love our stories. Even though we really don't know why we or someone else did something, we're addicted to making up stories about why this or that happened. When it comes to us, usually we conjure up a story that puts us in a good light as a hero or heroine.
If we like someone, we do the same for them. If we dislike someone, we fashion a story that makes them look bad. Progressives like me do that for Donald Trump (it's easy to make him look bad), while when Obama was president, conservatives did the same.
So whatever story I could tell about why I left RSSB wouldn't be true, nor would anyone else's story. Along with Buddhism and modern science, I consider that our world is a vastly complicated network of causes and effects that is virtually impossible to completely explain once we get beyond simple physical systems. And really, not even then.
It's often said that the human brain is the most complex entity we know about in the universe. The hundred billion or so neurons connect in astoundingly complex fashions. Yet when asked a question about why we did something, we confidently come up with a story.
The world isn't a story, though. It just is what it is. As I am what I am. And you are what you are.
Sure, I could supply a bunch of reasons why I left RSSB. These could include: getting divorced and then marrying a woman who supported me in my RSSB pursuits, but also asked probing questions about the RSSB teachings; writing the book about Plotinus' philosophy, which made me realize that blind faith in things unseen no longer appealed to me; having closer contacts with the RSSB guru and his close associates, leading me to see that they were fallible human beings, just like me.
I'll end by observing that few people, maybe none, have left comments on this blog asking why I joined RSSB. Isn't that an equally important question? And an equally unanswerable question?
Unanswerable it may be, but I told part of my story about it in "My strange RSSB initiation story." It really was strange. Given how bizarre the circumstances were that led to me being initiated by Charan Singh, the guru at the time in 1971, it seems fitting that I'm unable to give a simple answer to why I left RSSB.
I did. I'm pleased that I did. I'm more content now. That's what matters to me.
Can't resist sharing an (unposed) photo that a friend snapped of me back in 1970, I believe it was, when I was teaching yoga and meditation after taking classes from the crazed Greek guy who tried to meld Christianity and Eastern religions I talked about in the above-linked blog post about how I became a RSSB initiate.
Those were strange times. Not that things are less strange now. Life is just always strange. Which I consider to be a good thing.
Very nice and candid post, Brian. Still giving a good Satsang even if not “officially”.
Posted by: David Lane | March 02, 2019 at 11:46 PM
Brian - great pic mate, definitely Jesus like in a hippie kind of way. I’ve enjoyed reading some of Manjit’s recent posts, so here’s a good a place as any to post a response, I believe it has some relevance:
Hey Manjit! - Nice to hear from you again. You seem in fine form and still somewhat angsty in your criticism of comment on this blog, especially from Brian and Spencer. I tend to agree with you generally, though I’m definitely grateful that Brian started it and continues to allow fairly diverse comment. I also like his on-going interest in science’s investigation of consciousness and how it also can link with the various religious/spiritual/mystic traditions e.g. Buddhism. One could argue that things keep getting bogged down in discussion of issues pertaining to RSSB and the current guru. However, many of us having formerly been associated with RSSB can’t help but be interested in what’s unfolding before our eyes. I’ve also enjoyed Spencer’s ongoing input particularly his explanations of all the apparent financial misdoings in the RSSB camp.
In regard to Spencer’s comments re his meditational experience etc he does say it’s all subjective, which is fair enough imo. However, the big question for me has to be ‘Who is it that’s having the experience?’ I believe getting clear understanding of and potentially answering this question is at the core of a lot of what is discussed on this blog.
Thus far, for me the most ‘meaningful’ experiences have involved loss of self or alternately expansion of ‘consciousness’ to become more of a ‘Self’. I would call some of my present experience more like being ‘a body in consciousness’ rather than ‘consciousness in a body’. I have to say the teachings of Nisargadatta have helped to mould this view. Interestingly the two quotes you recently gave from ‘I am That’ are book-marked in my copy - I checked, especially the Radha Soami faith bit. While I’d been aware of Nisargadatta years earlier, I found the book to be a bit of a life-saver. My wife and I were waiting in the cool and relative peace of Udaipur airport, waiting for a flight to Mumbai. It was 2009 and marked a time when I needed something to clarify thinking about my own experience and connection with RSSB - time to finalise the disentanglement from the dogma and increasingly rigid belief system (we’d just had our last visit to Dera). The book is a gem.
I posted a comment to Sonya the other day (possibly as an attempt to change the subject a bit) and talked about an interesting article I recently read in a magazine called Nexus on the ‘Refresh Rate of Reality’. It discusses things like time capsules, consciousness, unreality of particles, parallel realities and particularly ideas of Continual Creation. To quote: ‘the world is endlessly emerging into existence-coming into being afresh at every instant with new and distinct configurations, which emerge smoothly and incredibly rapidly… with each distinct state being utterly static… If we consider the analogy of the frames of a film. Every frame is utterly static and already exists prior to viewing. Projecting the story corresponds to the time capsule idea [see Barbour’s book End of Time].If the viewer is completely lost in the story, the images are sequentially emerging from his point of view,, corresponding to continuous creation’ (Solomon in Nexus Feb-March 2019 p. 50).
I read this a couple of days back:
‘.. Your beingness is like a tape recorder or a film in which all this has already been recorded and is being projected in the waking state, sleep, meditation or whatever, but the primary condition is the “I” consciousness. When you get this Self knowledge and abide in the quietude, you will realise that all the universes are already present in this atomic consciousness…’ (Nisargadatta, Seeds of Consciousness p. 120).
Pretty similar in my view. Transcribed in the late 70’s I think. What a cool old dude he was.
Posted by: Tim Rimmer | March 03, 2019 at 12:14 AM
@ David Lane - hello
What is your take on all of this? Do you still go to Beas?
Posted by: Arjuna | March 03, 2019 at 01:59 AM
Thanks for your fascinating, very considerate, pleasant & balanced post - I enjoyed reading it!
I have to say, I am entirely disarmed by what I consider to be genuine, sincere & raw posts & posters, not guarded by pretence or posturing. I read your comments like that, as I do David Lane's. I feel unable to put up any pretence in response, so "real" discussions can begin :)
You write my comments have been "angsty" in my criticism of this blog and comments. I am entirely aware that the tone, direction & motivation of my posts can be interpreted in a variety of ways, many not so pretty, and I am never going to make many friends, pro or sceptic :)
But before I go any further, can I please paste this from a comment I left on this blog in June 2018:
"Finally, personally I find the real long-lasting value of this blog and the RSS forum is twofold. They are the ONLY 2 places, worldwide, where people can share critical opinions, experiences and theories about RS. That is an immensely valuable & precious space to have (for potential reasons that I suspect are too subtle to explain here) - and for that I bow to both Brian Hines & David Lane (and current RSS mod. James Bean) from my heart. They have done a tremendous "seva" (not to a specific guru or group, but to the universe itself, which is real "seva" imo). Secondly, it gives a space to those disaffected or disenchanted with RSS to meet and discuss with like minded individuals. Again, on a purely psychological level, that is a breath-takingly beautiful space to have.
And, again, there are only TWO places worldwide that can occur. Beautiful Thank you Brian Hines & David Lane for being the wild frontier men (or women) we needed!"
I have heaped similar praise on Brian and this blog on several other occassions, and going back almost to it's inception - even whilst fundamentally disagreeing with the sub-text of much of what Brian promotes (specifically, reductive materialism, atheism, nihilism, futility, and an overly-unbalanced criticism of RS, RSSB, religion and mysticism in general).
I am profoundly and deeply aware my criticisms, and "angsty" tone will be off-putting to many, especially those who are in complete agreement with Brian or other commenters, and will result in assumptions about my character, motivations etc. For example, when I criticise Gurinder, I am an exer, when I criticise the incoherency of reductive materialism, I am a "True Believer" (something he has called me several times over several years, but I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to be believing....I cannot locate any beliefs in my head! :). But without spending too long defending myself, can I just suggest that sometimes a discussion is moved forward far faster by blunt, direct & perceivably "rude" comments than all the pretence and merry-go-round that often occurs, when the real issues of importance are often avoided or even unrecognised, hidden behind huge constructed walls of egoic narrative that merely avoid, deflect, project etc. Sometimes a good old shake-up of the box can reveal some plesant surprises lurking at the bottom......that brief, directed act of violence can reveal new possibilities within our conceptual and emotional mind-space, imo. It is not violence for violence's sake, but to construct new possibilities, new discussions...and a new balance. I will say one thing, though, on a personal level - and I know this to be completely true to my very core, though I am certain most will not even be able to believe this - I have absolutely no interest in the personalities of this blog or forum, including my own. In fact, I'm not even sure if any of us exist :) All of this is occurring like a discussion within my own head......I do not and have not ever written a comment to anyone that I would not write or ask of myself in my own head about my own beliefs, experiences, emotions, motivations etc. My only interest - my entire life - has been to understand "truth". Take that with a pinch of salt if you wish :)
Anyway, moving beyond the mechanics and motivations of how and why we post, I found your all-too-brief recollection of your personal history with RS and reading I AM THAT very interesting.....if you could expand that to about 100 pages I would gladly drop everything today and read that!
Yes - as Niz says, it inevitably must come back to our "self", there is literally nothing else we can be certain of or rely on. In my experience, at very deep stages, all dualistic, visionary, ecstatic etc phenomena.....even the very body as you say........is within consciousness. You put it very beautifully: " I would call some of my present experience more like being ‘a body in consciousness’ rather than ‘consciousness in a body’.".
Hey, I posted this over at Radhasoamistudies forum yesterday - hey Tim, are you from the UK? You have the UK vibe (in a very positive way....no BS) about you?! :). I spent a day with Jens a few years ago meditating and talking. He is an extremely nice guy and I am entirely certain everything he recounts in this audio interview is his personal truth and direct experience. I also agree with his ultimate vision. I think it perhaps bridges this "One Self" within which all visions, regions, experiences arise, and the practice of inner light & sound meditation. Very, very highly recommended for anyone with an interest in light & sound meditation, enlightenment, inner experience etc:
It's interesting to me you used the words "I found the book to be a bit of a life-saver." about Niz'sIAT. You probably haven't read my "bio" (:-) stories at RSS forum, but for me I became disillusioned with RS theology (was never initiated though, was too young at the time) and went through a few years of a "dark night of the soul", followed by spontaneous (and at the time, completely un-understood.....still don't to be fair :) "kundalini" and "non-dual" awakenings .......I have often said the book "Talks with Ramana Maharshi" were a bit of a life saver. That book, and the "vibe" of Ramana Maharshi I got through it, totally soothed, guided and comforted me etc (where the literature of RS now seemed like complete hollow dross!), and was far more of a practical guru to me than Gurinder or anything within the RSSB organisation was
There is a pattern here, I sense......of doctrines that foster dependency, and those that liberate us from them (from dogma, from fear, from inadequacy etc) by making us familiar with the our very own "self" rather than external factors, subject to corruption and decay.....
Loved the Nexus quote - reminds me of the concept of "annica" in buddhism.......you're probably aware that the direct, experiential insight of this reality (of distinct and discrete "bits" of reality" rapidly flickering to create the illusion of a continuous reality, a continuous "self" etc) is a fundamental aspect of the path of Vipassana meditation, and is experienced by thousands if not millions of people worldwide?
I think it's already been discussed here with yourself (and Jen and others?), but have you read or heard any of the youtubes or books of Tom Campbell and Anthony Peake? Give them a youtube search when you're looking for something to listen to if you haven't, I think you'd appreciate some of their stuff......there's tons of it too! They're all into this discrete bits of reality, Bostrum's stimulated reality etc.
Cheers Tim for your interesting & thoughtful comments!
Posted by: manjit | March 03, 2019 at 03:22 AM
777 wrote: "gollem's"
How about this for a plan?:
Write a heart-felt email or blog to the owner of this bloh, apologising for past impropriety, insults, misunderstands etc, with a future promise to:
Stop calling the owner of this blog a "gollem".
Stop referencing people's personal health problems, shared with admirable vulnerability and openness, as if you're taunting them.
Stop hinting the there will be divine wrath and judgement on the owner of the blog, or any commentators, just because YOU'VE been offended.
Stop hinting you know of the negative future outcomes of people as if you have some sort of magical insight. You don't.
Stop mentioning personal things of no relevance to an argument - especially about the blog owner! That is cult like stalking behaviour.
Perhaps then, dear 777, you can have your "precious" back, and be allowed to post here so you can get all the attention & exposure to readers you seem to desire?
Posted by: manjit | March 03, 2019 at 04:53 AM
Gollum. Even he had a purpose albeit his own destruction in the end. Everyone has a part to play but none of us know the end.
Great movies nevertheless.
Posted by: Arjuna | March 03, 2019 at 06:57 AM
Actually, I can think of at least two primary reactions to your post.
1. It isn't necessary to explain why you hold your position re RSSB or anyone or anything else. You have done a beatiful job in each post of outlining a position of Atheism, and at times Anti-Theism based upon observations of events, and some philosophy you have read, as well as personal experiences, which are readily transferable and entirely rational.
One could argue that if there were a spiritual truth, you are carving a legitimate pathway there. Therefore your past, while helpful, is not the principle reason for your current views. Those views, However you got here, stand on the strength of their own premises. And your current position is actually more interesting because it is furthest developed. Your sword is sharpest today.
2. Anyone interested in the biography of how someone arrived at such views would certainly find your history of interest. But to try to explain your position on the past is actually a distraction from the arguments you put forth. Those arguments are the cream on the milk, the actual point.
3. However, there are missing elements in your narrative. The line of rational thought that earlier embraced Atheism before your RSSB experience helps to explain the RSSB experience as one that in some essays strengthened and progressed the development of your views on rational materialism and objectivity.
You didn't become an atheist because Baba Ji had a tantrum and continues to behave badly by common standards of kindness and consideration, nor because Satsangis have indulged in idol worship. Those events simply added strength to your growing views about the dangers of false and blind faith, which sort of faith actually is a self - serving but also self - destructive myth for the individual who indulges in it. In some ways you might say that by entering RSSB you willingly choose to enter the world of blind faith and idol worship, in its present &-day incarnation, and the results were a deeper understanding of their dangers, and a stronger conviction for the rationalist perspective.
Since you advocate seeiing the world wide awake as it is, to the best of our subjective capacity, with a healthy respect for science's role and utility there, I think that's very healthy.
Each of us will have a different version of that. I haven't met too many people who think they aren't rational. I may be among a very small group who believes that their subjective view is unavoidable and a true rational single truth is unattainable by the human mind.
But you are carving a legitimate perspective. The work isn't done yet, there are some rough edges, but count me as a fan.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 03, 2019 at 08:23 AM
(sorry, definitely last post of the day & forseable for me!)
hey Tim - sorry, forgot to mention one thing about your quote from Nexus:
"If we consider the analogy of the frames of a film. Every frame is utterly static and already exists prior to viewing. Projecting the story corresponds to the time capsule idea [see Barbour’s book End of Time].If the viewer is completely lost in the story, the images are sequentially emerging from his point of view,, corresponding to continuous creation’ (Solomon in Nexus Feb-March 2019 p. 50)."
Sounds like the Minkowski Block-universe theory - where all time exists simultaneously, and some sort of "consciousness" is moving through it like layers. Quick google search provides this, but not sure how dense or technical it might be:
Real reason I wanted to add this reply was, I get the feeling you may perhaps appreciate this totally mind-bending blog and book (don't think it will be up many people's alley, on this blog :). If you want to go down a fairly deep rabbit-hole, go right back to the beginning of Eric's blog, and read through it - it's absolutely mind-bending in the very best sense (and based on scientific principles too!):
Cheers & all the best folks!
Posted by: manjit | March 03, 2019 at 09:01 AM
@ Spencer - whose work is Brian doing?
His own? He is an athiest - for the time being that is.
I have said many times that nothing will come out of this (investigations). Just watch and see. You go within surely you have can see future events?
All the best
Posted by: Arjuna | March 03, 2019 at 11:05 AM
Thank you for your question.
I made a few movies that may best summarize my views:
Of course, these may also be helpful if you suffer from insomnia (jk).
Posted by: David Lane | March 03, 2019 at 12:06 PM
Hello David - thank you. It is very windy here and I must take my leave and wish you (good day/good night)
Posted by: Arjuna | March 03, 2019 at 01:05 PM
Reading through this blog and the comments always makes me think about why are people so serious about life? I see life as some kind of game and we need to learn skills in order to know how to play it well and that means being as genuine and truthful as we can be without hurting other peoples feelings. Criticism and judgment can be changed into just observing others and seeing them as struggling souls trying to do the best they can just like everyone else.
I have discovered one of the beautiful things about getting old is that my sense of humour has increased so much. When I read Manjit's comment to 777 about using the word 'gollem' that made me laugh out loud. Why take everything so seriously. Maybe I laugh a lot more now is because I know that death could be just around the corner so I am jolly well going to enjoy everything as much as I possibly can.
So to all you dear gollems, be adventurous and silly every now and then, which might stop you being so over sensitive and judgmental. Here's the wonderful Bill Hicks we all know, the best words ever... Life is just a ride.
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we … kill those people. "Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love."
Posted by: Jen | March 03, 2019 at 01:15 PM
@ Jen - hello and I hope you are well.
Your post is excellent - “Gollum” could be a word to describe people on here lol.
“My precious” ha
Some do take the posts to seriously - I enjoyed David’s links - thank impressed me.
Posted by: Arjuna | March 03, 2019 at 02:03 PM
Damn! You cannot get a proper answer these days, people just want to write stories or blogs to hide the real reason! Maybe because deep inside they know they somewhat still want to to go back to an organisation they left due to an inflated ego or perhaps personal failures in life they are ashamed of! But I guess that's the problem of being highly educated( not sure if you are) or maybe being a writer or even perhaps being a public speaker that it gets difficult to give a simple response! I really dont know why my name is weird when it is a very common name is the sikh community! Anyway, if it that complicated thrn i will leave it and will not ask that question again because you simply dont seem to have an answer! Without making this look as a personal attack I will leave it as it is. Because the more i ask about brian's reasons the more it will look as if i am attcking him personally. I was just trying to understand why people join paths and after so many years of dedication leave it and are unable to explain why they left it! Personally i think it was your Ego brian because you were fired as a speaker and the fact that you needed this blog to let steam out whilst still getting the attention you want. You obviously knew you will easily get a lot of attention if you claim you have been very close to the leader of a path and that you can proudly say you had meditated for so many years blah blah blah. As for me, i think i am more confused and not sure if i want to follow a path e.g. RSSB because it is very easy to become a rogue disciple like Brian is and then criticise the very path you once convinced people to follow! Or try to prove you know more than the leader like Osho robbins does who is another disciple gone rogue and following brian's foot steps or even licking what brian spits! Not sure about David Lane but i am guessing he is in the same league, good disciple, speaker, got fired, gone rogue etc. Then there are people who just comment and support one side and argue with the other! Athiest ummmm not sure because i have a strong feeling there is god somewhere i just need to know how to realise the power. Oh lord please show me the way!
Posted by: Guru (weird name lol) | March 03, 2019 at 03:01 PM
Concerning myself, I never got "fired" nor do I regard myself as an "ex" satsangi. I also don't regard Brian as an "ex" satsangi either, since such monikers are silly and ridiculous. Brian is here telling us about his life journey, just as we all are. There is one path on this planet..... it is called being human. The more we can accept the humanness of our gurus (good, bad, and ugly) the better off we all will be. Yes, we can admire those aspects that are helpful, positive, and shine a brighter light. But at the same time should have the guts/courage to point out those areas where those same gurus are wrong or mistaken.
I also don't see Brian as going rogue. I see him articulating how his thinking has progressed. Yes, we can agree and disagree, but that is normal and healthy.
I love shabd yoga meditation, but that doesn't mean we have to give up our critical faculties.
As Jagat Singh used to say, "90 percent of spirituality is clear thinking."
Here is a little movie that was recently finished on Faqir Chand which sheds a more radical light on Sant Mat and, interestingly, dovetails with much of what Brian has written.
Posted by: David Lane | March 03, 2019 at 03:57 PM
"@ Spencer - whose work is Brian doing?
His own? He is an athiest - for the time being that is.
I have said many times that nothing will come out of this (investigations). Just watch and see. You go within surely you have can see future events?
All the best"
You and Brian may place my views in the "Unicorn's" column but here, with subjectivity abound, is what I believe.....
1. Brian is Brian. He is no more or less an Atheist than you or I are Satsangis. We are human beings, and the overlay of belief rarely matches behavior. Labels are a human invention that hardly captures who and what we are...
2. Brian is doing Maharaji 's work, slicing through superstitious and self - serving justifications day and night on a number of fronts, including his reviews of documented criminality among some of the highest ranking RSSB members. He has his own biases. But that makes his work all the more precious when he hits the mark, and that is frequently.
3. The evidence for Baba Ji's association with a series of incredible and huge corporate robberies over the last two decades is substantial. This has already altered the course of RSSB.
4. It is quite possible that Gurinder will be charged, and placed under house arrest or worse.
5. RSSB has seen it's zenith come and go. Now we are watching the downslide. But it is in the defensive reactions of Satsangis that you see the corruption.
6. Sant Mat is the truth. Or more precisely, it is a school that accurately depicts the inner geopraphy and a reasonable pathway there through the love of an enlightened teacher sent here for this purpose. Of course, where there is the original diamond, there are even more costume jewelry copies. But even those copies have utility, reflect a higher light, and closer inspection just makes us better at finding and identifying the real thing. Children must play with toys for several years before they are ready to try real work. Real toys are part of the process.
7. Baba Ji's chosen Karmic path is with his full knowledge and intent. And more than anyone He expects justice, even while playing the role of someone acting to avoid it.
The reason is simple. The organization has grown too large, with too much corruption in the hearts of its members at all levels. It's utility is declining daily.
Brian said it best several times. When you think you are special, chosen by God, etc, it's lost. That's corruption. And that steel hardened ego culture is rampant throughout the world including RSSB.
To find an atmosphere of humility and meditation that is not self - serving, but helping each other find Truth as the conclusion of our own misadventures, and the humble end to our individual story, that is a smaller, more personal connection without what you would call a "Leader", nor even a teacher, but only a beloved friend.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 03, 2019 at 04:35 PM
When talking about inflated egos...
Isn't it ironic that there is someone referring to them-self directly as Guru?
Given the context, and discussions, it might as well be a strange name on this blog.... lol;-)
Posted by: Pema Tej | March 04, 2019 at 12:01 AM
Thanks for the response! Had a skim of the links and will peruse in more detail later. The one concerning an episode/episodes of the original Star Trek looks interesting - life was never the same after my first visual of the Enterprise flying through space on the old black and white TV. Cool to see Sonya posting a Gene Roddenberry quote the other day.
Posted by: Tim Rimmer | March 04, 2019 at 12:32 AM
@Spencer Whether GSD gets charged or not probably depends on whether receiving embezzled funds is a crime in India -- let's say it is...
But he can say that he asked a relative for a series of loans -- albeit massive ones -- and had no idea that these were not sanctioned by the loan provider's board. Okay, he lost the money in a real estate collapse and now can't pay it back, but that's not criminal activity...
However, prosecutors would argue that the setting up of shell companies to receive the loan indicates he knew he was the proceeds of theft/fraud. And maybe they have other evidence that shows he knew this.
Or maybe he really didn't know that they had embezzled the money and is innocent of that charge. I don't care about that tbh -- it's not something a true Master would do or get involved with, so I would be off the GSD train for this alone.
Posted by: PJ | March 04, 2019 at 01:54 AM
Pema Tej, has my name gone from being Weird to Strange now? Umm...i think my name is making people deviate from the issue so i shall call myself Bob now! Will that be ok? Lol
Posted by: Bob ((formerly known as Guru) | March 04, 2019 at 04:57 AM
Because so many shell companies were set up in his wife's name, and they took so many loans without collateral for so many years, you have two pictures: In family-run Indian private corporations this is entirely allowable and reasonable. They can do with their own money as they like. Happens all the time. Because it's all in the family. Profits and losses.
But when moving to a publicly held company, the picture is entirely different. These casual agreements between relatives now must be transparent and board-approved. No public corporation's officers, even in India, are allowed by law to make secret loans. They require documentation and beyond a set amount, or beyond accounting practice, they require board approval. Handing out $400M in loans without any required collateral is fraud. Because you are using other people's money...investors money. So the SEBI has stated (Securities and Exchange Board of India). That is stealing money from investors by intention, on purpose. And as Brian has also pointed out, when you damage a healthcare system, you damage vulnerable patients' lives.
I've been a hospital consultant for more than 30 years. This is very wrong. And healthcare systems, in India, also run with much tighter oversight guidelines, just as they do in the U.S. Transparency is crucial to protecting patient lives.
So there is huge overflowing basket of violations here. As India and other countries become cost-effective centers for surgery for patients abroad, they have worked very hard to confirm quality standards. This whole fiasco with the Dhillon family places a significant and visible black mark on that decades-long effort.
It is understandable that Baba Ji's swagger, common in family-owned companies in India, now in a public company, is fraud. But in a healthcare system, it's worse, and harms vulnerable patients.
His demolition of one of the RSSB public free hospitals and sale of the property to his own private holding company, and then to Fortis illustrates the rapacious nature of these decisions.
The opposite could have been done. Baba ji could have siphoned money to hospitals who had no decent collateral as a means of helping them stay in business and maintain or grow patient access. He could have re-invested his $1B U.S. profits in a couple of new charitable hospitals, as philanthropy. Instead he has burdened the progress of healthcare in India through fraud.
If you can hide financial metrics, you can hide quality metrics, as was seen at Ranbaxy.
In fact going public with the establishment of Fortis appears to have been part of the scheme all along to siphon a much larger pool of money into private interested hands from public investors without their knowledge.
Shivinder was placed as the COO of the healthcare system, but has never actually run a hospital department, nor managed a hospital. This was entirely set up as a fraud scheme. Had they wanted to set up Fortis as a legitimate business venture, they would have put non-family executives with extensive health system management experience as their leaders.
This doesn't reflect well on Shivander's ethics. He knew well his lack of hospital management experience. Why take the role? Clearly to siphon funds and hide quality variances, as per his skill set at Ranbaxy.
Apparently the negative consequences to patients' lives was not an active consideration.
What they did was set up a scheme, from day one.
In a privately held Indian family corporation who cares if the loans were repaid or not with interest? The uncles would just be quietly cut off from making such decisions in the future.
But the problem is that there was never any intention to return these loans, and the agreed interest rates also were not approved.
Journalists are saying it all had to do with the soft market, but as Brian eloquently pointed out, the market hasn't been that weak. So over all these ten years, wouldn't some of those shell "investments" into real estate have returned substantial profit to Fortis?
Whatever profit they did engender, didn't go back to Fortis. Not because the market was weak, but because there was no agreed pathway for Fortis to ever make any money on those loans.
Fraud. Corporate robbery on a grand level.
Even if I disagreed completely with Brian on all matters of spirituality, I must herald what he is doing. His constant dogged pursuit of this issue of healthcare and other fraud by the Dhillon family is actually a service, not simply to the readers here, but to patients in India for decades to come.
Brian is using his voice, and accepting his duty as a human being to discern right from wrong as best he can, consequences aside, and intervene where he can.
If Baba Ji wanted to pull RSSB down into flames, he could not have come up with a better, more extensive plan. So let's do our part and acknowledge the flames so that His will, the erosion of RSSB, proceeds with all due speed.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 04, 2019 at 10:19 AM
@ Spencer - Brian is doing his own work and no ones else. Stop putting him on a pedestal that Huzar Maharaj work is being through Brian.
Huzar once said “ the lord doesn’t give you power so that you may become his competitor”
Said my peace and no offence. Just don’t buy what you are saying
Posted by: Arjuna | March 04, 2019 at 12:22 PM
Hi Ilanovitch and Arjuna:
I'm sorry but your loyalties are misplaced if they result in the denial of the harm being done.
If, in order to love Baba Ji, I must pretend that the crimes against both Fortis and its patients are some kind of illusion, when they are fact, then that isn't Sant Mat. It's not RSSB.
And even if the majority of RSSB initiates choose illusion over reality, because the cost is too high for them, then RSSB no longer exists.
And if you believe Baba Ji is GIHF as I do, then these two realities must be acknowledged, and not denied.
It is most absolutely not a duality.
But ignoring fact and trying to defend some idea of what you think is the Master's innocence, requires a convoluted series of justifications not much less horrifying than the shell scheme that has been so well documented and verified.
You see, God is not innocent. God is pure, but not innocent.
Arjuna, you may buy and sell as you like.
I just don't think your and Ilanovitch's definition of perfection is a perfect definition.
And no definition is a substitute for fact, experience, and the witness, either external or internal, of reality, however different from our own comfort that may be.
Do No Harm.
That's God's law!
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 04, 2019 at 12:55 PM
Yes, we should not put anyone on an unnecessary pedestal. We are all humans. However, the reason that I and others have written or posted about Faqir Chand is that he was very frank and honest about his own limitations and his willingness to be corrected. We have no idea of the inner heights of anyone (or if any of that really matters ultimately). Faqir basically was like Toto in the Wizard of Oz. He pulled back the curtain. It is up to us to interpret what that balloonist of Kansas was really up to and whether or not it was necessary. Or, was that Wizard delaying us from the inevitable? Ah, the ruby slippers (silver, btw, in the original book) are on our feet and no one else's.
Posted by: David Lane | March 04, 2019 at 01:21 PM
Nice to see you are participating here.
Chand pulled back one curtain, but not the others ;)
Hypnosis, suggestion, those are all real events. Manipulations of the mind.
But even regarding hypnosis, there is still doubt as to whether it is a real thing and not merely imagination of a pliable, suggestable personality.
But there really is more there there. I think you know that.
However, to call it objective, it has to be tested, and that means repeatable, documentable, controllable, and you need to be able to discuss these events with other peers who have had them, as the chief criteria - those serious about an objective accounting; The basic criteria of science. To limit the evaluation only or even primarily to the reports of those who have only undergone hypnosis, or those who have no personal exposure at all to spiritual regions (for lack of a better term) isn't scientific.
So if you use hypnosis subjects' reports claiming these are the same as long term meditators', and thereby claim the experiences of deep meditation are the same as hypnosis, when in fact you don't have the detailed reports of long term meditators', that is a significant validity error.
What biometric studies have already shown is that the two are entirely different, physiologically. Experientially, you would need a peer group of those who have mastered their meditation. And that isn't actually hard to find, if your interest is sincere. It's not quite as uncommon as some believe. But no one likes to be called crazy, so it will never be a popular discussion. Hence the need for sincerity of interest.
it's not unusual for science to confirm things it cannot actually detect.
We measure gravity by its effect on other things, not gravity directly.
Even gravity waves aren't gravity particles, just the ripple of gravity's effect on sub-atomic matter.
Space, which is the undetectable void, actually has qualities. We know this by its effect on other things.
So when children can reflect on their past lives, and a small but statistically significant number report facts for which there is no plausible physical explanation, we must still acknowledge that this isn't the Chand effect. There really is more there there.
If you like to pull back curtains, keep going. There's plenty more...
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 04, 2019 at 01:50 PM
As someone with 40 years of experience in sant mat affiliated paths and 20 years experience in internet mma with true believers of sant mat and other faiths, I've learned many things. Here's some of them. 1) All apologists from Catholics to St. Germaine followers tend to work from the same playbook 2) Facts are facts, but no one is absolutely right 3) Corruption and virtue are often in the eye of the beholder. 4) Even the most vicious personal attacks can be appreciated as springing from good intentions and love 5) When it comes to critiquing religion, we're all hypocrites, and that's OK.
Posted by: jay | March 04, 2019 at 02:41 PM
Posted by: anonymous | March 04, 2019 at 06:53 PM
Please have a peace from inside and ignore all. You are here for diff. Purpose donot make unnessary* comments
Posted by: anonymous1 | March 04, 2019 at 06:55 PM
anonymous, I assume you're referring to the RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon, when you said "Fool" in a comment above.
I agree with you that the guru has acted foolishly, but you might consider whether it is appropriate to call him a fool. He seems quite smart, though his actions certainly can be criticized. If you haven't read a great summary of Dhillon's financial wrongdoing yet, here's a link:
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 04, 2019 at 08:06 PM
I am not quite sure what you are driving at, but I think the key with any scientific endeavor is to simply follow the evidence wherever it may lead and then always be open to revision, given that new data may explain things differently or in a larger context (here one is reminded of Italo Calvino famous card game scenario). In any case, you write "So when children can reflect on their past lives, and a small but statistically significant number report facts for which there is no plausible physical explanation, we must still acknowledge that this isn't the Chand effect. There really is more there there."
Well, the Chandian Effect is just one aspect and I certainly would not want to argue that it is the be-all and end-all explanation of internal manifestations, etc. As for the reports of certain children recalling past lives, I think we should be doubly cautious here since whenever we say that "there is no plausible physical explanation" we may be premature in our conclusions, since given more information and more investigation we may find that there was indeed a hidden physical variable.
I don't say this lightly, as Faqir himself (to his great credit) later in life theorized that his own numinous vision of his guru (Shiv Brat Lal) along with his correct address which he claimed came out of the blue and which utterly transformed his life..... may have been the result of him actually reading a magazine article by his future guru and then recalling it as a vision...... even though he didn't at the time conscious recall such a thing.
My point is that we have to very cautious in the arena. I wrote an article on this subject for Integral World called The Remainder Conjecture, which simply put says that the more skeptical we are of the paranormal the better it is for parapsychology in general..... since that way we can clear out the cobwebs and not get stuck claiming something as transpersonal too early.
In any case, the science default position is one of unknowing and patience..... no need to rush to conclusions quite yet.
Here is a link to two articles I wrote trying to rationally explain why one of my students had a vision of Charan Singh's death almost at the exact time he died...... and why it may not be supernatural even if it was quite extraordinary.
Posted by: David Lane | March 04, 2019 at 11:15 PM
You raise a good question here when you ask, "Does [Faqir's realist position] this align, coincide with your understanding of Soami Ji / Baba Jaimal / Sawan Singh's portrays of inherent focus?
According to Faqir, he told me personally that every guru he talked with privately (which included Charan, Kirpal, and others) they admitted that they did NOT know when and where their form appeared to their respective disciples in meditation.
Interestingly, however, when I first sent the Unknowing Sage (Faqir's personal autobiography which he dictated in Urdu a year before his death at my request) to Beas, I got a lot of push back and was asked not to publish it..... and my sense then was that either it would cause people to doubt or that they disagreed with his conclusions.
Yet, when I went back to Beas for the first time since Charan's death (during the Spring of 2017 since Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer and I were asked by Oxford University Press to do an annotated bibliography on the whole of Radhasoami movement), I had a deep conversation with the Secretary of the Dera (Sethi) and he more or less confessed that Faqir Chand was right on the mark, which as you can imagine really surprised me.
Essentially, Faqir was a man before his time.
Of course, I know that others in R.S. related traditions disagree with Faqir. I had a very long conversation with Darshan Singh (Kirpal's main successor and eldest son) and he disagreed with Faqir's take.
My own hunch is that Faqir was not appreciated since it let the cat out of the bag, similar perhaps to a well known magician who explains HOW the magic trick works. Other magicians are then put out of work!
Again, of course, we need to follow the trail of evidence. Faqir is just one piece of the puzzle here, not the whole pie.
Posted by: David Lane | March 04, 2019 at 11:27 PM
Bob aka Guru,
I've experienced stranger and weirder things in my life...
As far as I'm concerned, there is no issue to deviate from.
Brian seems to be a good human being, who writes interesting blogs.
And, he's got a wide/diverse audience in his readers.
Posted by: Pema Tej | March 04, 2019 at 11:48 PM
Yes, unless we can actually measure a repeatable effect with some level of control over extraneous variables, and control over that variable, it is difficult to know what we are dealing with.
Even imagination is informed by something.
The testimony of children who report astounding facts from another life that are verified, and who have, after significant investigation, no detectable connection to the past events, is fascinating research and has been pursued with significant scientific vigor at the University of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies.
As to what the Master's know or don't know, even Charan admitted that in this human brain we are all bound by the physical limits of that brain and this body.
Hence the utility of Meditation. But are we really leaving the body? Or simply opening up other faculties of perception also in this brain? When you open your eyes, you are still limited, but you have a broad vista to the places here which you can now see.
And what of those inner faculties? Not from emotion at all, but a focused and completely calm approach. Hidden things within are uncovered with great patience, an open mind and the observational calm of a great anthropologist. And when we gain control over those experiences, then we can say we have learned something about them. Hence the utility of long term meditators.
If we view our own internal state as carefully as a great investigator, and step carefully as the fog lifts, well, we certainly will see many more things.
As mentioned, meditation changes the brain, even repairs our DNA. We don't really know all that is happening. But whatever imagery is involved, is connected to real things. So the reverse is certainly possible: Real things can be perceived as constructed images...just like our normal vision.
Posted by: spence Tepper | March 05, 2019 at 05:24 AM
@ Dr. David Lane and other Faqir Chand Devotees,....
Welcome back Dr. Lane! We all have been waiting your return with baited breath to hear you share your new revised opinion of Gurinder Singh and RSSB. But it appears you are still in the Bardo, strateling the fence on weather to believe Chand, or others like me who have had visitations from Astral Forms of former people that still are interested in us.
I have shared my my experience here, many times, of Master Charan Singh appearing to me in his full Radiant Form, speaking to me in his familiar Inidian/English accent, and giving me personal advise to prolong the survival of my body long enough to visit the Dera once in my life, so I could witness the changes occurring there for my self, so I could move on.
Chand may have not known his Astral body visited his followers, as most others also do not, but that does not prove that Astral bodies do not exist out side of the brain. You have spend at least the last 15 years trying to convince any one believing in survival of souls, or life after death, that its all projections of our brain.
But you, nor Hines, nor any of the other majority of Skeptics here, or on your old RSS blog, will ever be able to convince we that know the difference between imaginary projections and Astral visitations of departed or even non departed souls, are Chandian non real visitations.
You should include my Testimony in your Articles of skepticim when you hype your Guru, Faqir Chand, to offer another side of your Materialist Skeptic Coin.
You obviously must have read Dr, Elizabeth Kuble-Ross’s Book, on Death and Dying, as its a Classic, it must be some where in your Library mixed in the 17,000 Books? But she was a Swiss Psychologist, who was non religeous, and as skeptic and as materialistic as you, until she was around 50, in spite of hearing about other’s Near Death experiences. But we all remain Skeptics, until,....we are visited by an Astral soul as I was by Charan, and as Dr. Ross was by a former Patient of hers that had died 10 months prior and had been buried!
I have copied the following testimony from Dr. Ross’s Book for corroboration to my own Testimony of haven had Charan Singh pay me an Astral Visit. Scoff at it, as desired, and agree with A.R. that I am a “Liar and Charleton.” ( as most here and at Rss have always written me off as.)
But good to see you surface, with your same ole bag of tricks, repolished and packaged with bright Tinsel and decorated coverings,
Quote from the Book, “ Wheel of Life”, by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, M.D.
Page 272 -277,
“I was getting ready to quit, and finally the Friday arrived when I decided that was going to be the last Death and Dying seminar of my career. I was always one for extremes. Afterward I approached Pastor N., preparing myself for how I was going to tell him that I was quitting. We stood by the elevator, reviewing the seminar that had just ended and discussing some new business. When he pushed the button to summon the elevator, I decided I had to seize the moment, resign before he got in and the doors shut. Then it was too late. The elevator doors opened.
I had just started to speak when a woman suddenly appeared between the elevator and Pastor N.’s back. My jaw dropped open. This woman hovered in the air, almost transparent, and she smiled at me as if we knew each other. “God, who is that?” I asked in a weird voice. Pastor N. had no idea what was going on. Judging by the way he was looking at me, Pastor N. thought I was losing my mind. “I think I know this woman,” I said. “She’s staring at me.”
“What?” he asked, glancing[…]” “be seeing ghosts. Especially ghosts who stopped outside my office, opened the door and let me enter first as if I was the visitor. But no sooner did she shut the door than I recognized her.
What was I saying? Ten months earlier Mrs. Schwartz had died. And been buried. Nevertheless, she was there in my office, standing beside me. She looked her usual pleasant but preoccupied self. Definitely not feeling that way myself, I sat down before I fainted. “Dr. Ross, I had to come back for two reasons,” she said clearly. “Number one is to thank you and the Reverend Gaines for all you have done for me.” I touched my pen, papers and coffee cup to make sure they were real. Yes, as real as the sound of her voice. “However, the second reason I came back is to tell you not to give up your work on death and dying . . . not yet.”
Mrs. Schwartz moved to the side of my desk and offered me a radiant smile. That gave me a moment to think. Was this really happening? How did she know I was planning to quit? “Do you hear me? Your work[…]” “As I have learned since then, if you are not ready for mystical experiences, you will never believe them. But if you are open, then you not only have them, and believe in them; people can hang you by your thumbnails and you will know that the experiences are absolutely real.
All of a sudden the last thing in the world I wanted to do was quit work. Although I still left the hospital a few months later, I went home that night energized and excited about the future. I knew Mrs. Schwartz had prevented me from making a terrible mistake. Her note went to Mwalimu. As far as I know, he still has it. For the longest time, he remained the only person whom I told about my encounter. Manny would have chided me like all the other doctors. But Mwalimu was different.
We soared to a different plane. Until then, we had been trying to define death, but now we looked beyond that, to an afterlife. Even though he had his new church, we struck a deal. Both of us agreed to continue interviewing patients and collecting data on life after death. I had work to do[…]”
The Wheel of Life
This material may be protected by copyright.
Posted by: Jim Sutherland | March 05, 2019 at 06:33 AM
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:
Posted by: David Lane | March 05, 2019 at 07:45 AM
When I was at the Dera last in March of 2017, I was asked by the publications committee to go over a new, less edited version of WITH THE THREE MASTERS IN INDIA, volume 1 to 3 and provided whatever historical context I could to the texts. I was surprised to learn in the longer version that Faqir Chand actually gave satsang at the Dera in the mid-1940s. He is also mentioned as being the successor of Shiv Brat Lal, even though family members of his Shiv Brat Lal wanted the gaddi for themselves. In addition, I found out from Professor Bhagat Ram Kamal (see the 2014 interview conducted in Delhi in 2014) that whenever Jagat Singh or Charan Singh visited Hoshiarpur, they would pay a visit to Faqir Chand. Apparently Jagat Singh and Faqir Chand were friends.
When I visited Faqir in the summer of 1978, before I left he gave me a message to give to Charan Singh and he told me that he had known Charan since he was a kid and liked him very much. Charan in a letter to me back in 1979 (responding to a detailed description of my research work for Professor Juergensmeyer on the genealogical history of Radhasoami) referred to Faqir Chand with the honorific "Baba Faqir Chand Ji Maharaj," which seemed a bit different than his referencing to Kirpal Singh who he called "Sardar."
In any case, I agree with you that Beas most likely didn't want Faqir Chand's life story published since as you mention it "may have deviated from acknowledged RSSB tenets." That seems certain to be the case.
As you know, Faqir Chand (and later one of his more prominent female successors, Tripta Devi/Yogini Mataji) stopped initiating anyone from 1942 onwards. Tripta Devi gave up her guruship and retired at her family home (she recently died). Faqir felt very strongly that there was a fundamental mistake in R.S. since the gurus were not as forthcoming as they should be about how much they do NOT know and that they too often exploit their disciples because of their naive thinking.
I realize that not everyone will agree with Faqir on this, but I have found that over the years Faqir's honesty and frank confessions shed a clearer light on the humanness of this spiritual quest.
On another note, I would like to mention that even though the new edition of With the Three Masters has much more material and is much less edited, it still is not the complete diaries. It turns out that a much earlier edition in Urdu has passages that Beas had edited out and I suspect I know why.
In the summer of 1943, Sawan Singh got extremely ill and according to the Diary of Munshi Ram made a will out designating Bhagat Singh as his successor. Bhagat Singh, of course, was the lawyer mentioned in With a Great Master in India as the "prime minister" of the Dera group and a practicing lawyer.
Furthermore, when I did a book on how Julian Johnson died a the hands of the famous mountaineer Paul Petzoldt (think K2), I discovered court documents dating back to 1938 and 1939 which mentioned this same Bhagat Singh as being the successor in waiting to Sawan Singh.
Beas decided to delete these references and it is generally not known that Sawan had indeed made a will 5 years before his death designating someone else as his successor. Perhaps similar to the Faqir Chand resistance, Beas wants a homogenized version of early history.
This is even more evident by a close textual reading of the two versions of Spiritual Letters, where the former translation is a bit dishonest, and the latter (more literal one) shows just how subservient Jaimal was to Partap Singh (and not the other way around).
I think the underlining point here is that we need to think for ourselves and in this process be able to keep our critical discrimination fine tuned.
Thanks and I appreciate the conversation.
Here is a link to one of Faqir Chand's very last satsangs in visual book/film format six or so months before he died in 1981.
Posted by: David Lane | March 05, 2019 at 01:31 PM
@ David Lane,.....thanks for your honest explanations of your reason for your visit to the Dera in March 2017. No doubt, you must have read my report here, on my impression during my one and only visit there in Oct. 2017. I can imagine the memories of the good times you must have had there during Charan’s Leadership. Of couse, I obviously wonder if you felt Charan’s Spirit Presence there, at all, during your visit, or did you ever see Gurinder’s form morph in to Charan’s during any of his Satsangs? As I expected to witness, ( but did not ), as I had been told to expect by several Charan Initiates that had told me that they had actually SEEN Charan’s Astral Form all over the Dera , Who was still in charge there. I really believed I would also see him there, considering I had already seen him in Meditation. But sadly, he was no where there to be found,....for me at least. He had departed , and his House and Buildings were locked up and off limits to Guests unless they had Special Passes from Gurinder, personally, of which I assumed you would have had.
But no doubt, the time there was a Treat for you, but I sure would like to hear honest opinions from your Wife and Sons, regarding how they felt while being incarcerated there with you for almost a week!
I must confess, I have read most of your Books and Articles of the last dozen years or more, and have come to enjoy your early criticisims like “ The Gurus Have No Tubans” much more now, than I did when I first read it. It appears you really HAD seen behind the curtain!
Any Way, I am looking forward to your Radhasoami Encyclopedia forth coming Book, and may even purchase a Hard Copy to add to my Library of Radhasoami Books. No doubt, you will be considered the modern day edition of Sant Das Mahaweshsi.
I hope you have included a Chapter on your inner experinces during the last 40 years of meditation using the Surat Shabd Yoga Technique that We were given, as compared to any other Techniques you have tried, as Dr. Iswar Puri has reported.
Will you have a few pages on Iswar Puri in your Encyclopedia?
Posted by: Jim Sutherland | March 05, 2019 at 04:55 PM
The Gurus Have No Tubans
...the book is " The guru has no turban"
Posted by: Marko | March 05, 2019 at 05:04 PM
@Marko,....Do you think Dr. Lane had a futuristic premonition during his meditation and saw Ishwar Puri’s Astral Form, when he wrote his Book, “The GURU has no Turban”?
Posted by: Jim Sutherland | March 05, 2019 at 05:44 PM
Thanks for your nice note. The trip to the Dera in March of 2017 was enjoyed by my whole family, since they gave us really nice accommodations, especially since we had two boys with us (16 and 11 respectively at the time) and having two air conditioned rooms was really helpful.
The library staff was very helpful and very friendly, as was Wayne who reminded me of my late brother Michael, who we dearly miss.
I actually didn't mind giving up my cell phone as it was nice to get a break from constant emails, etc.
My son Kelly and I used to go for nice walks and though my two boys are not religious in the least (they are agnostic-atheists), they have been vegetarian since birth and my youngest likes to meditate.
As you can imagine, some satsangis were a bit shocked to see kids there as that is not usually allowed, but on the whole everyone treated them well.
They enjoyed the food too.
As you know I was/am very attached to Charan Singh, so for me everything was like living through cherished memories from the past. The Dera is so huge now and very clean.
Of course, being skeptical and having written so many critical pieces over the years I wasn't quite sure how others at the Dera might respond when we showed up. But the administration treated us with the utmost respect. It was a great trip, and we even had the chance to visit the Sikh's Golden Temple at night which was breathtaking.
Yes, the new encyclopedia will indeed include a section on Ishwar Puri. We are trying to make it as inclusive as possible. It is indexed both chronologically and by name.
I do love shabd yoga meditation, but I think as you rightly suspect that we need to be mature in our approach and not overly idealize gurus and teachers. In this regard, it seems as if we seeing the transformation of our mythic past morphing into a more rational approach which focuses more on a genuine science (where we can admit to mistakes and to be wrong) instead of an overly dogmatic ism where we try to defend that which is indefensible.
Here is a little movie we made on our visit to the Golden Temple.
Posted by: David Lane | March 05, 2019 at 05:44 PM
I first learned of Faqir Chand when I was doing research at the UCLA library back in 1977. I then corresponded with Faqir for the next six months and have a number of long letters from him during that time. Because of my work as research assistant to Professor Juergensmeyer (my job was to genealogically track down all the various branches and offshoots in Radhasoami..... a much bigger task than one might imagine as there are so many differing groups connected to Shiv Daya Singh), I got to visit various gurus and centers around North India.
When went to India in the summer of 1978 for Juergensmeyer's project, Faqir cabled me in Delhi to come directly to his ashram in Hoshiarpur. I then got the chance to stay there for a number of days and interview him. We became close and he was very very honest with me about what he realized, etc.
I then later asked him to write his life story, which he did at my request but dictated it in Urdu and had it translated into English by Professor Bhagat Ram Kamal (who is now head the center) and has been my friend since those early days.
In the last year of his life (1981), Faqir was 95 and flew to America. He was supposed to stay at my house but he died in Pittsburg, PA, after cardiac arrest and suffering in a coma. The last days of his life, btw, are really quite remarkable but that is for another time.
The last time I talked with Faqir was on the phone when he called me at my Mom's house just a few days before dying.
As for Gurinder Singh, I have seen him on several occasions and once had an interview with him Austin, Texas, back in 1994 after he had appointed me as a Secretary for Encinitas, which was a bit of surprise since I hadn't been attending satsang. Charan's death really devastated me and therefore I felt after a few months that I was not the right guy to be giving satsang. So I wrote Roland and told him that it would be best if I resigned. He totally understood (especially given the kind of books/papers I was writing on cults, etc.)
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.
Posted by: David Lane | March 05, 2019 at 06:00 PM
I'm sure you have become acquainted with the stories in "Tales of the Mystic East" as told by Huzur Sawan Singh.
One such story is how Guru Amar Das third Sikh guru appointed his successor.... "
Thank you for the story of Guru Amar Das and Ram Das. The Guru, if you will look carefully, did not require his disciples to aid or defend any untoward acts. Merely a harmless repetition. But those with little or no love could not continue for long.
It's a story of love, Ilanovitch, and not a story about rewarding blind obedience with kingship at all. But it has been told so many times. Why did it matter that Ram Das was appointed? This weakens the intent of the story. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of iias. When his King placed the crown upon his head, tears ran down iias face as he whispered to his king, "One King is enough for me, my beloved King."
Perhaps you may have read also of this version of the story you have cited :
Centuries ago in ancient Persia a well known Guru saw that his days here were drawing to a close. He had several disciples of varying degrees of sincerity.
He told them all that on Sunday he would announce his successor. He said a lot of people from the surrounding community would show up. He will need a raised platform to give that Satsang and make his announcement.
He then asked his disciples to please make some platforms. He would choose the one he would speak from.
The next day he saw that every disciple had worked through the night making platforms. But there was one less platform than the number of disciples. So who had not made a platform? A short boy, Rav, of average build stepped forward. "I have no craft, so I offered to help the others."
The Guru noted the platforms were of varying heights and material, some of mud carefully molded into bricks and precisely stacked; , some of wood cut carefully and cross fit with hand hewn joints ; others of stone hand cut and carefully placed in a perfect little square of absolutely flat and plumb walls surrounding a mound of perfectly pressed earth.
Just as one appeared to reflect the highest craftsmanship, the next even higher.
And yet each one, according to the Guru, lacked something. And as he passed he gently and quietly pointed that out and asked kindly if the disciple would please tear it down and begin again. Some, he acknowledged, were lovely, but the location was wrong, not enough shade for the hour of the day he would give his talk and pronouncement, as rain was expected. Or not enough sun. Should there be no rain.
They worked tirelessly through the night again.
And the scenario played out much the same.
After three days the number of disciples dwindled. Some had questioned the sanity, pride or the cruelty of the guru, and rejecting him in frustration, walked away.
After the fifth day only Rav remained, and his mud platform, which took the entire day and night to build. It was not particularity elegant.
The Guru pointed this out and asked Rav to begin again. In fact the Guru was quite disappointed and said he would postpone the pronouncement until Rav could get the platform right.
Each day another platform, only marginally better, and each day a visit from the Guru, some small talk about how Rav was doing today, and some comment about seeing improvement, though with squinted eyes and a questioning look, and the customary request to tear down and rebuild.
Each day one or two of the ex-disciples who had left came and encouraged Rav to give it up. The old man was senile and a cruel streak had taken over, they said.
Rav just shook his head. They shook there's and walked away.
And so each day for months and then years it was the Guru, Rav, small talk, a walk together around the field and the customary request for another platform.
The entire discussion about a successor was forgotten altogether. As the Guru grew infirm, Rav took care of him. When the Guru could no longer walk, Rav carried him in his arms for the daily inspection of the platform, and the request for Rav to rebuild. When the Guru could no longer speak, Rav would ask, "shall I rebuild it?" And the Guru would smile, with the slightest nod.
And so it went until one bright and cool morning, as the dew began to lift upon the rising sun, and Rav brought the Guru to the field for the daily inspection, the Guru looked into Rav's eyes, smiled, and faded away, held in Rav's arms.
Upon his funeral, a few of the disciples returned. And when they heard the story of how this all had progressed, they each cried, as they saw how much they had lost, and were humbled by the wealth that Rav had gained.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 05, 2019 at 06:03 PM
@David Lane: you say "When I was at the Dera last in March of 2017, I was asked by the publications committee to go over a new, less edited version of WITH THE THREE MASTERS IN INDIA, volume 1 to 3 and provided whatever historical context I could to the texts" are you still serving at the dera? I am bit confused here, are you still a member of rssb?
Posted by: Guru | March 06, 2019 at 03:12 PM
Brian, you say 'Short answer: It's complicated' are you trying to hide the real reason?
Posted by: Guru | March 06, 2019 at 04:08 PM
I don't think you understand.
This isn't about rewarding obedience with spiritual or worldly treasure.
The story you cite might be a story of the Master and Disciple relationship. But so long as the disciple is there to gain something tangible from the Master whether spiritual or worldly, that can can never be pure unalloyed love, and is not the highest relationship. And the kind of faith you speak of is faith in such rewards.
But I'm talking about something different. Love.
For that, you must happily give up everything, even when all possibility of personal gain has long disappeared. Even when your beloved has nothing, not even wisdom, protection or insight to give you.
That is the difference between the story you told and the one I shared.
And it might be the difference between your love for Baba Ji and mine.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 06, 2019 at 06:34 PM
Thanks for your questions. I have never thought of Radhasoami in terms of member or non-member. I was initiated back in November of 1978 and the essence of the thing then (and even now) was to try to be a good person, be a vegetarian, and meditate. On that score, I have always thought those ideals were worthy. My personal attachment was with Charan and I have never felt attached (in that same way) with anyone else. So naturally if someone wants my help on certain aspects of RS or Sant Mat history that I may know something about (whether it is at the Dera or Dayalbagh or even some University) I am very happy to assist the best I can. I have always felt that RS needed a more objective history from many different sides.
Posted by: David Lane | March 06, 2019 at 08:19 PM
Guru, did you even read this post? I explained why it's complicated. Nobody has access to the unconscious parts of their brain that leads us humans to make decisions, feel emotions, have thoughts, and so on. I explained why leaving RSSB was complicated.
There's really nothing more for me to say. Obviously I'm not trying to hide the real reason, because as I explained in this post, there isn't a single real reason.
Have you ever been in love? Have you married someone? I have. I know that it would be impossible for me to explain why I fell in love with the woman I've been married to for 29 years, after getting divorced following an 18 year marriage.
Love is complicated. Love is mysterious. So is falling out of love. I can't explain why I got divorced, or why I fell in love again and got married. It just happened. Likewise, I can't explain why I got initiated by Charan Singh and was a devoted member of RSSB for 35 years, then decided to leave the organization. It just happened.
How about if I ask you, "Why are you so interested in my relationship with RSSB? Give me a one-sentence reason why this is so." And how about if, after you did your best to answer that question, I said to you, "Are you trying to hide the real reason?" Wouldn't this seem absurd to you?
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 06, 2019 at 08:26 PM
Brisn, you mentioned How about if I ask you, "Why are you so interested in my relationship with RSSB? Give me a one-sentence reason why this is so." I only want to know why would someone follow then preach and then totally go opposite and entice people to go against the same very organisation!
Posted by: Guru | March 07, 2019 at 07:35 AM
Guru, I'm enticing people to go against RSSB because I came to realize that I was wrong about RSSB and Sant Mat. Almost certainly (along with scientists, I consider that we never can be 100% sure about anything) the RSSB teachings are just as much a fiction as every other religion is.
Having come to this conclusion, I now feel that it's my duty to help other people examine their own religious beliefs with a critical eye. Life is short. We shouldn't spend it mired in illusion. I enjoyed the 35 years I spent in RSSB. Now I'm enjoying life in a different fashion.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 07, 2019 at 09:13 PM
Brian, you say " I now feel that it's my duty to help other people examine their own religious beliefs with a critical eye. Life is short" First of all you should know RSSB is not a religion! So if you spent 35 years there and still didn't know this then your so called followers should know that you probably didn't know much about it and also that your conclusions are also based on distorted mental misconceptions! Also, in the few satsangs I have attended, I have never come across anyone saying that master is God in Human form! In fact all I have heard is that we are all potential gods and the master is just a guide! So in a way you are not helping people but misguiding them! Yes life is short, so should we not spend it in helping ourselves first then trying to help other? I personally think you really need help Brian, please for your own good get some help before its too late! As for me, my options are open and RSSB seems to be veru attractive at the moment as it has no rituals, it is very modern and appeals to my intellect. I have also heard that the master only comes for a marked soul, does this mean this pull in me is a blessing? But then Brian was also marked and got initiated and now going in opposite direction, does this mean he is now unmarked? Perhaps as human's because we have the option to choose we should use it! I know where i might be going as i cannot seem to be convinced that someone who has never been true to any relationship be it spiritual be it marriage has sound mental state to be able to 'help' others! Sorry Brian i somewhere got personal here but then I was looking up to you before but now it seems you have mental issues! Or is it age?
Posted by: Guru | March 09, 2019 at 03:17 AM
Brian its the mind that pulls away...and some clouds that shadow the mind. I'm not even initiated by the Master yet because i haven't applied for it but you gave up soon. God's will & grace is always there in us. Just we need a true master to reach that heights & i must say no one is better than huzur & rssb successor. Its just you who couldn't stay in his will & all you were worried was about the flesh but you somehow didn't realized he is a light & his body is same like us. May be you will realize & come back to the path in this birth or the next. He never leaves his disciples. We just need to learn from our mistakes. I also did a mistake.. I blamed him.. I blamed the master but after few years i wept & cried because i realized he filled me with huge blessings & much more unexplainable things, love etc in life which earlier i blamed him, disregarded him for snatching something from me. But i was wrong, he didn't snatched anything but he was planning to give me better & i realized in the end. So you shouldn't have lost your faith too early because there is a huge load of karmas on us.. Some have very low burden & some have heaps of karma to burn. So only thing is you gave up too soon which seemed to you as if you did a lot. Might be your burden was 1000 year's heavy but he converted it into 100 years jfor you just by cutting a zero away from that 1000. But you were so near but you lost it because a lot of weed & grass coverd the soil so you couldn't see the seed growing.
Posted by: Haps. k H | September 30, 2020 at 07:04 AM
@Haps. k H
A little judgey. Might not be Brian’s “karma” too go back to Sant Mat. I believe in Sant Mat and follow it now but I certainly wouldn’t tell someone else to—especially someone who spent 35 years in it. I’m just saying, let people be.
Debates are healthy. Proselytizing isn’t. Admittedly sometimes there’s a fine line between the two.
Posted by: Sonia | September 30, 2020 at 10:42 AM
"First of all you should know RSSB is not a religion! " - Guru
depends on how you define a religion.
No religion likes to call itself a religion. Each one claims to be truth.
if you acquire beliefs and have dogmatic ideas - it is a religion.
you are given ideas and beliefs: karma, regions, shabd, naam etc
and you live as if those are true - when they are just ideas you have acquired.
same as all religions.
" I have never come across anyone saying that master is God in Human form! In fact all I have heard is that we are all potential gods and the master is just a guide!"
"Gur ko manukh mat Jaan - yeh hai sat purush ke jaan" - Sar Bachan
dont consider the guru to be a man - he is the very life of sat purush
"So you shouldn't have lost your faith too early because there is a huge load of karmas on us.. Some have very low burden & some have heaps of karma to burn. " - Haps. k H
How do you know this is true? this is what makes it a religion.
you act like to you know - when all you have is beliefs you have bought into
you have feelings and those feelings become your proof - but so does a christian have his feelings
Posted by: Osho Robbins | September 30, 2020 at 03:34 PM
Hmmm, Interesting my friend. I don't know why i come hear and read this when i become negative. I appreciate you for for all the blogs.
Posted by: Nav | October 09, 2020 at 10:49 AM