Hard on the heels of a great blog post comment I shared a few days ago in a post of its own, here's another great comment that was left on that post.
Nice! We've got a Great Comment Breeding Ground.
I heartily agree with everything "J" says below. This matches with my 35 years of going to meetings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas devotees, and talking with countless (almost) RSSB believers during that time.
As a wise RSSB representative used to say -- recall it was Roland deVries -- satsangis, meaning RSSB initiates, are just ordinary people. For sure.
Here's J's comment. Sant Mat refers to the RSSB belief system. Satsangs are RSSB meetings.
Hi Jen. I didn't mean to say that people in Sant Mat are unhappy, or that Sant Mat doesn't provide a relative sense of fulfillment to those who take it up. No doubt, people find meaning in Sant Mat, and right living, and meditation, and community.
These are all undeniably positive things.
But in nearly 40 years of going to satsangs of various Sant Mat groups, I haven't seen evidence that any group of satsangis are happier than people who follow other religions, or even happier than people who follow no religion.
Sant Mat makes the grandest claims for its meditation and masters, and yet we don't see sangats made up of people who exemplify truly exceptional serenity. They seem no more or less content than congregants at a Mormon worship service or a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Happiness" in respect to religious belief is admittedly hard to quantify.
While many people find a relative advantage in being believers in whatever path, there are many accounts of people who were ardent believers in this or that guru or religion, who lived the tenents of that path fully for decades, who felt they completely believed that their path or guru was the summit of the highest Truth, said they were fortunate to have found it, etc...and then one day, these ardent believers leave that particular faith, and say that they are much happier apart from it. And they never go back.
There are many such stories in all religions, including Sant Mat.
These former ardent believers found that their happiness wasn't genuine happiness, and that's because they ultimately discovered that their belief and devotion to their guru of path was actually slavery to an attractive but unrealistic ideal that conflicted with their deeper nature.
Ideals that conflict with our deeper beliefs always compromise our happiness.
What they took for happiness was the payoff they got from being true believers. Human nature is such that there's a huge pull to be yoked with an attractive ideal. We get a certain measure of satisfaction from fulfilling that instinct, but it's questionable whether that fulfillment is genuine happiness.
Many years ago a satsangi made an astute observation of his experience with his fellow RSSBers -- "satsangis often go around like they have this huge problem."
I concur, and would add that the typical satsang is really little more than a lament of huge problems that Sant Mat theology puts upon its believers. Every RSSB satsang is an ode to how we are all failures but must keep trying to find a victory that no one dares speak of attaining.
Satsangis are sold on trying to realize an impossible ideal. The ideal is no doubt very attractive, wholesome, and "logical," but the ultimate unrealizability of that ideal has to create frustration.