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.