Below is a recent comment written by Radh(er Not) Soami that struck me as well worth sharing as a blog post. The comment points to something important that I feel has been overlooked by defenders of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas guru who are fond of saying, "Innocent until proven guilty!"
(If you're not familiar with what the guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon (GSD), has been accused of, it is a conspiracy to commit massive financial fraud and death threats. A criminal complaint filed against the guru is discussed in "Legal filing against Gurinder Singh Dhillon is fascinating reading.")
The important thing being overlooked is how strange it is that a spiritual leader with millions of followers, who is considered to be God in Human Form according to the teachings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), is at risk of being convicted of engaging in financial fraud and making death threats against people who demanded their money back.
Nothing remotely this scandalous has ever occurred in the lineage of RSSB gurus. And as you can read in the following comment, RSSB has even published a book called "Honest Living" whose message is decidedly at odds with how the guru who leads this organization has been conducting his life.
Read on for what Radh(er Not) Soami says. The family settlement letter mentioned in this comment can be read in this post.
@jay, you wrote:
"So far no one has disputed the accuracy of the bad news about the RSSB guru"
Brian, this pinpoints where we disagree. Strictly speaking, the facts (a thing that is known or proved to be true) presented have all [been] about the associates of the RSSB guru. But they're not facts about the actions of Gurinder Singh himself.
Does the letter written by GSD talking about the Family Settlement, reversal of properties, and settling of accounts constitute "facts" with some "accuracy of the bad news", or at least admission of some "facts" with some "accuracy" of the news, whether bad or not?
To all RSSB defenders, please help me in putting this scandal in the context of Honest Living. As opposed to the previous RSSB related dramas, this one cuts directly to the heart of what the head himself does in his private life, something 99.99% of the sangat is not privy to, and something that he has not been transparent to us at all, ever.
Not in their books, wikipedia page, or even on their own website. Not even now! And here I thought Saints like Nanak and Kabir show openness and transparency to set themselves up as good role models for the followers.
Most people tend to think that GSD has (or had) business in Spain. And that is all, the end of thinking and discussion.
Honest Living book:
Page 21: Honest living necessitates self-control. It requires that we exercise restraint in all our dealings, that we use our sense of judgement, our God-given gift of discrimination, to shape our lives. Honesty implies being faithful to our spouse, or, if we are not married, being faithful to a chaste life. It implies fairness and justice, openness and transparency, the absence of deceit—in contrast to wealth, power and passion, which lead to oppression, extortion, deception and pain.
Page 34: The extreme subtleties of the law. The law of karma is inexorable and subtle beyond our imagination. For example, even if we are party to someone else’s dishonourable actions, we too are culpable as an accessory to the suffering caused.
The second quote clearly highlights the reason for our moral, ethical, spiritual, and legal dilemma here - allegedly a fraud on such a grand scale, discomfort due to this round of news cycle that is not even remotely in the league of previous RSSB related controversies (and I thought I had heard it all ever since joining this mission), and inability to easily shake it off when put in the context of "spiritual before material wealth", "living within one's means" and "not even a single grain..." mantra of Honest Living.
If one were to say this drama is all his wife's or sons' doing as far as his family involvement is concerned, then they are not the ones writing a signed letter to Singh bros either. And they are not the ones to whom Malav [Malvinder Singh] has addressed his reply letter either. They are also not the ones with whom Shivinder is siding with, and Malav going to court against.
That alone should tell you about who likely pulls all the strings on the Dhillon empire side and the level of involvement.
The language in the GSD letter also does not suggest or say "my wife and my sons or family got a loan and would like to settle with you" or appear to act on their behalf. When asked about being called as the third brother of Singhs, Sunny G [Sunil Godhwani] also says his allegiance is to the guru and guru alone. Perhaps that could also give you some hint.
And then you look at the other RSSB characters involved. A natural question arises about who the fountainhead of all these activities is or the head cooks involved in baking this dish are. Even if only occasional gusts of wind have blown (yet), the picture does not seem to be rosy behind the curtain.
To me, this letter and the "fact" that a coterie of RSSB leaders were installed on most significant and top positions of Singh empire, indicate that the crisis could not have come from and just due to the actions of GSD family members alone on the Dhillon side.
But that he himself was involved to a large extent, even if not in day to day activities (more like a 36,000 ft view than a bird's eye view). But he simply could not have been passively involved as a mentor or business consultant. And if actively involved, should he then not be "culpable as an accessory to the suffering caused" due to "someone else’s dishonourable actions" like in the quote above?
So GSD's involvement for sure is there, what needs to be ascertained is a) how much, and b) whether it was knowingly malign at any point during this saga or simply a cruel fate resulting from vagaries of economic cycle.
Even if that is settled, what needs to be truthfully questioned - as if our soul's fate depended on it, which actually it is if we go by GIHF-moksha formula - is that, as an RSSB Saint, should he have indulged in all these affairs to such a ginormous extent, lest the name of the organization is tainted even by remote association?
This is not to say that you can't run a business. To the best of our knowledge, he already was running a small business. But then when the scale of effort goes from 1X to 1000X or more, then how do you rationalize the involvement in gathering of such large scale material wealth, particularly when you are a spiritual head. What is the objective?
It is one thing to have a cool business idea where you can rationalize you are helping society in some way or bringing something new and along the way a misstep or two inadvertently occured.
But it is totally different when it is simply garden variety real estate hoarding on a massive scale and that too done with questionable practices like Trump family's bankruptcy strategies. Most stable and well-known businesses expand on a 2-3X scale.
Some here are confusing loans with donation! I am sorry, even if these were donations, they were not routed to RSSB. And if it were to him or his family, how could he even accept it as a living honorable Saint?
What happened to those stories that Saints don't take a penny/paisa even if a King comes to their door and leave gold bullions, diamonds, etc? Weren't they supposed to earn their own wages for themselves and their family? And that they live within their means and not covet what belonged to others..
And then how do we square these revelations with the mission: as the spiritual head, who best to show us the way to live within one's means, to set himself up as the best example of what is taught in "Honest Living", and to focus on spiritual gains more than on material wealth?
It's also equally absurd to think that somehow the master is arranging/planning a grand heist to shake us from our beliefs and concepts and see who the true believers are or separate the wheat from chaff. What an aweful way to do it and that too pulled off on a decade and a half long initiative, with suffering of many non-satsangis (yet curiously enrichment of some satsangis).
This kind of reasoning is a cousin to the beliefs of Jesus fanatics thinking Grand Canyon or dinosaurs or fossil records were put by him to mess with our beliefs and test our faith. Is Earth really 6000 years old and really flat? If they have to test it, they can equally walk into a bar or put an alcohol bottle with some chicken tandoori on the satsang dais and see what happens, without this much scandalous pain.
Or is it simply what it appears on surface, the classical mantra: "Do as I say and not as I do"!
Relevant to this critcal question of ethics, morality, and spirituality, which to my mind is even more important than the legality of the situtation, is if the Singhs' direct relatives (Huzur and his family members) did not get involve in business initiatives with Ranbaxy empire - likely a carefully considered position - then why did GSD agree to work with the Singh brothers on such a large scale and not follow the path of his predecessor?
Clearly, it wasn't just mentorship. And it's not like GSD's sons or his wife were India's most successful businessmen or had the experience necessary that led to the fateful decision by the Singhs that parting ways with nearly 1/3rd of their hard earned money (actually their fathers') for a lucrative business, is a no-brainer!
His sons were just in the 20's during this time frame (in 2009, Gary would be 24 and Gurkirat just 18) and had not done any serious venture of any sort to showcase their talent. This would be true of GSD's wife as well. On what grounds were the Religare shares awarded to the two GSD sons in 2006?
Even some in the RSSB inner circles seem to think that GSD's wife lives the life of a sevadar and can't possibly do this on her own. (Was that snippet in the orginial Bloomberg article?)
MMS [Malvinder Mohan Singh] also doesn't seem to be targeting or talking about his sons or wife but rather refer to him being involved as a mentor and allegedly a behind-the-scene business partner, an involvement that has turned into a legal (and unholy) quagmire.
Evidently, the whole conglomeration transpired because of GSD due to his experience in dera activities, real estate dealings as well as the experience of dera head honchos who regularly conducted such dealings.
A degree of youthful naivete and trustfulness of Singhs coupled with the experience of GSD/RSSB honchos likely lured the Singh bros into marrying mentorship with business. The awarded shares in the names of wife and sons were likely a dowry for this marriage. They were not in his own name to present a clean image to sangat and avoid probe. But the timely sale of Rabaxy sealed the fateful path.
One's you ponder over it, you will see why many of us are uncomfortable with these revelations and are seriously questioning not only his pivotal role and the involvement of dubious practices but even the very decision to participate in such a large-scale wealth gathering effort in the first place.
Again, what is the objective? And if his heart was clean, then as a spiritual mentor, why did he not call into question or intervene in the dubious practices by his family, Godhwani, and the Singh bros?
It does not appear that he was not acquainted with issues cropping up, given the settlement plans first discussed in 2013, then in 2016, then 2018 letter, followed by Malav's rebuttal letter. Undeniably, there must have been more discussions involved than what just appears on paper.
I applaud what Brian is doing here. He is surely not a saint and can be rightly biased, but then how else do you reveal the truth than by asking tough questions?
“Truth has nothing to do with the conclusion, and everything to do with the methodology.” ― Stefan Molyneux
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him will believeth in anything. - Hitchens 3:16”
― Christopher Hitchens
“When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons.”
― Anaïs Nin
If you care for truth, then I say right now your heart and mind should say: "I want truth and nothing but the complete truth". It is better to die living with an uncomfortable truth than living with "ignorance is bliss". So ask we must, and ask as assiduously as we can to peel behind this curtain. If there is nothing to be seen, well then how lucky will we be!
Critical thinking welcome here. Preachiness, not so much.
On this blog I've gone back and forth with moderating comments. After deciding a few weeks ago to return to approving comments before they're published on this blog, I'm feeling good about doing this.
I'd rather have just a few -- or even just one -- thoughtful comments on a post than a bunch of irrelevant comments, especially if they're of the "Praise God!" or "Praise Guru!" variety.
But for many years my boundless Buddha-like compassion for religiously-minded beings has led me to offer an "open thread" option to those who want to express themselves in a fashion that isn't appropriate for comments on regular blog posts. Such as, being preachy.
(Here's the newest Open Thread that I just put up.)
This is a big difference between open-minded atheists like me, and dogmatic religious devotees.
I can pretty much guarantee that few religious web sites or blogs allow commenters to criticize their faith, while most non-believers are fine with open discussion of their viewpoints.
Critical thinking is key. I love comments that exhibit thoughtfulness, even if the commenter disagrees with me.
Now, I don't have a definition of "critical thinking," nor do I feel like looking one up. Instead, here's my ideas about what this entails.
I'll start with the most important word, critical, since I think most people understand what thinking means. Critical can mean "important," and that's certainly true with critical thinking. It also connotes a certain skeptical questioning, not taking things on faith.
A critical thinker isn't a blank slate, since all of us have preconceived ideas, assumptions, world views, and such.
However, we need to be willing to hold the attitude "I could be wrong." Many, if not most, religious believers aren't willing to do this. Though they may use critical thinking in other parts of their lives, they put it aside when it comes to their belief in God, heaven, life after death, and so on.
The main goal of critical thinking is to understand reality as clearly, completely, and accurately as possible. A related goal is to enable individuals to have productive discussions of what reality consists of, since without critical thinking as a foundation for such discussions, they'd degenerate into people making claims that stifle open debate.
Let's imagine a group talking about global warming -- it's causes, consequences, and what should be done about it. Then someone chimes in with "Jesus saves!" or "God is in control, so no worries." That would stop the discussion in its tracks.
Critical thinking mainly is directed at objective reality, the world outside of our internal subjectivity.
If someone says, "I believe in God," or "I like chocolate ice cream," there's little that I'd feel like saying in response except, perhaps, wonderful. However, if that person says "God is real," or "Everybody should like chocolate ice cream the best," I'd want to argue with them.
During the 15 years I've been posting regularly on this blog I've seen countless (almost) examples of religious believers mixing up their subjective faith with objective reality. No reasons need be given for subjective faith, but very good reasons must be provided if a claim is made about objective reality.
Typically, truths about objective reality require an extensive process of review, discussion, debate, and criticism.
No one gets to say "the world is like this: _____" without that claim being put under the microscope of critical thinking. Saying so doesn't make it so. Facts, evidence, sound arguments -- those things make it so.
Look, I'm not saying that every comment on this blog outside of an Open Thread needs to be an intellectual tour de force. I'm simply encouraging visitors to this blog who want to leave a comment on one of my posts to be thoughtful in your arguments. Which doesn't mean serious, necessarily. Humor and thoughtfulness are allies, not enemies.
Each of us should be able to laugh at our mistakes, our tendency to believe that we're correct even in the absence of evidence, our unwillingness to admit I could be wrong.
Again, I see this as a difference between us atheists and religious believers.
I'm not certain that God doesn't exist. I'm open to evidence and arguments that God does exist. All I ask is that religious believers have the same attitude. Admit that you aren't certain God exists. Be open to evidence and arguments that God doesn't exist.
If this happens, we can have a dialogue based on critical thinking.
Here's a few cartoons about critical thinking.
Posted at 07:58 PM in Atheism, Comments, Religions | Permalink | Comments (7)