Well, I guess this is a compliment, more or less, from Gurinder Singh Dhillon -- the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas who is speaking this week in Petaluma, California at the RSSB center there.
This afternoon I heard from someone who attended one of Dhillon's satsangs (talks) in Petaluma. This person wrote:
A woman asked at the end of her questions, "Will you pay for your nephews 5 million" (something like that, I don't have a reference for that and I may not have heard clearly.)
Baba Ji [the guru] said (as I heard it) "I have some money from my parents and have not taken anything else from anyone." Then he said my life is open (or something like that).
Then what really caught my attention was "if you want to know more read Brian Hines."
If you hear from or talk with anyone else who was there they might remember it differently, but I definitely remember the words "if you want to know more, read Brian Hines."
How's that for the surprise of the year?
It is indeed a surprise, though not totally unexpected. (Note: I suspect the woman said "500 million," since this is the amount in dollars Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, the guru's relatives, first cousins actually, owe in a court settlement.)
This fits with a comment someone left a little while ago on a recent blog post.
I'm pleased that Gurinder Singh Dhillon is encouraging people to visit this blog. However, since I moderate and approve comments, I'm really not interested in RSSB devotees using comments to wish the guru Happy Birthday, or HBD.
Yes, Google tells me the guru is 65 tomorrow, August 1.
But please wish him Happy Birthday in your meditation. If Dhillon truly is God in Human Form, as his devotees believe him to be, he'll receive your thoughts that way. And if he isn't GIHF, as seems virtually certain, maybe he doesn't deserve your birthday greetings.
Since 1970 I've been a vegetarian who eats some dairy products. But over the years I've eaten less and less. Currently I use soy milk and basically only consume dairy in the form of a daily serving of yogurt and half-and-half creamer, plus some occasional cheese.
But I admire people who stick to a vegan diet (vegetarian, with no dairy products). So my admiration extends to the person who calls themselves "ex-satsangi" in the message below that I got via email, and was allowed to share on this blog.
They rightfully point out that dairy animals almost always are treated cruelly. Feeling that eating dairy products isn't compatible with a truly spiritual life, they wrote a letter to the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
The answer they got wasn't acceptable, so they became an ex-satsangi. Here's their message. It's well-written and moving. I corrected a few typos and added descriptions of some abbreviations, in brackets
Hi Brian, I was initiated on the path back in 2000. Since then I’ve done my meditation off and on and have enjoyed it and don’t regret it.
I’ve always scrutinized RSSB [Radha Soami Satsang Beas] and GSD [Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the RSSB guru] along the way to test the teachings and the man they referred to as Master. I would ask a lot of questions to other satsangis and visit your website for a balanced view of things.
I’ve been to Dera [headquarters of RSSB in India] twice and seen him multiple times at other places around the world. After collecting all the data, I would usually come to the conclusion that I didn’t know if he was a PLM [Perfect Living Master] but that there was enough there to continue on the Radha Soami path.
Even the financial scandal was something that made me raise my eyebrow of course but I didn’t have direct experience with the accusations and didn’t want to be swayed by the nay sayers so I kept an open mind that GSD could be innocent.
Usually, it seemed that sexual scandals were the downfall of other gurus in other paths and were the defining moments exemplifying that gurus are just men with faults like everyone else, so it caught me by surprise when I came across a video from the dairy industry in India. This video was the deal breaker and proved (at least to myself) GSD is not a saint or PLM.
Here is the video on YouTube that I came across entitled "Infiltrating India’s Dairy Industry."
I recommend watching it to the end so you know where I’m coming from. This video shows the exploitation and abuse of sentient beings that not only happens in India but all around the world.
After watching the video, the first thing that came to mind is “does GSD consume dairy and if so how can he justify it and be considered a PLM”. I immediately contacted someone who has traveled with him around the world and asked, “does Baba Ji take dairy?” and the answer was yes but that he gets it from his approved dairies that he inspects himself.
They came up with all kinds of excuses as to why he would partake in this, excuses such as “Well if satsangis in India noticed he wasn’t taking dairy then they would stop taking dairy and those people are so poor that they would become malnourished and the karma from supporting the dairy industry can just be meditated away anyway as nobody is killed in the milking of a cow."
But as you can see in the video and the many more like it from around the world, lives ARE being taken.
Baby male calves are waste products and killed routinely for veal. The dairy cows themselves all end up as beef long before their normal lives would have ended. Breast feeding from another species is not natural and not something we need to do for health and sustenance.
Therefore, if one partakes in it, it is due to ignorance or pleasure. For God in human form to take pleasure in the suffering of other souls is immoral and breaking the 4th vow of a satsangi: to live a moral life. GSD must not know about this abuse therefore he is not a PLM. He’s just another human caught up in tradition and sensory pleasure.
I decided to write him a letter as I’ve always been told, the guru is there for you if you ever have questions. I had to send him a snail mail letter as they don’t take emails. WTF! It’s 2019, come on. Anyway, here is my letter to GSD. I wanted to give him the chance to make this right and defend himself.
Dear Baba Ji,
I am an initiate of yours since 2000. I suspect you already know this as any perfect living master would know who his disciples are.
I’ve also come across some information that any perfect living master should know but apparently you don’t by your participation in it.
That information is the violence, rape and murder in the dairy industry around the world. I have been a vegan for around 12 years with a 3 month revisit of dairy when I went to the Dera and other parts of India 4 and a half years ago.
You see, I figured since the cow is seen as holy and sacred in India, surely it would be fine to take dairy, particularly at the Dera. If Master says it’s fine than who am I to argue. Well I watched this video
Searching YouTube with the words “Infiltrating India's Dairy Industry” will get the same video as well.
It’s a YouTube video on the dairy industry in India. Anyone who watches this video will be scarred. It is not something that my master would condone let alone participate in.
I immediately reached out to some other satsangis that have spent some time in close quarters with you and they confirmed that you do take dairy but that it’s from your approved Dera farms that only supply to Dera.
Regardless of whether the Dera dairy is the cleanest dairy farm, where none of the cows are forcibly impregnated, where the baby calves are allowed to drink the milk that’s meant for them, where the babies are not ripped away from their mothers and are allowed to bond, where the boy calves are not sent away to become veal, where all the cattle graze in green pastures until the end of their natural lives after they can no longer produce milk, where the cows are not living in their own feces and they don’t suffer from mastitis from over milking...regardless of any of this, people outside the Dera don’t have this luxury and go home supporting an industry of violence, rape and murder around the world.
It only takes a little math and common sense to figure out that the Dera cows have to give birth to produce milk and that 50% of the babies will be male. In a herd of 100 cows, 50 male calves will be born per year.
In 5 years there will be 250 more bulls to feed in addition to 250 new cows. 500 offspring to the original 100 herd that are now too spent to produce any more milk. So now there are 600 head of cattle on this dairy farm and only 250 of those cows are producing milk.
That’s a lot of cattle to feed and shelter for no economic return. Baba Ji, what happens to those non-dairy producing cattle? Are they living the good retired life on some green Dera pastures or are they part of the statistics that make India the largest exporter of beef in the world!! Holy Cow!!!
Baba Ji, why not just exclude dairy from the satsangi diet? Why would a perfect living master partake in this? I can’t believe meditation can burn this kind of unnecessary karma.
We don’t need dairy to survive and it actually isn’t even healthy for us. We weaned off our mother’s breast milk at 2 years old. Why are we drinking the breast milk of another species? We would be grossed out at the thought of drinking our mother’s breast milk or the milk of our wives, daughters. Why do we think it’s natural to drink the milk of a cow or sheep. Perhaps dog milk is fine? Why not dog’s milk? (I’m being facetious obviously).
Anyway, I guess I’m writing to you because this is a deal breaker for me in regards to finding a perfect living master. This might be a break up letter depending on your reply.
As satsangis there are 4 vows:
Vegetarian diet, no eggs
Live a moral life
Baba Ji, how are we supposed to get the last one if you can’t even do it? If you watch the video in this letter you surely agree that there is nothing “moral” about partaking and condoning and paying someone to do this to animals, our fellow souls.
Most people don’t know about this and so it’s understandable that they don’t have a problem taking dairy but a perfect living master should just know this stuff!! He has a different vantage point than the rest of us.
It is because of our dollar that this goes on. It’s also a human rights issue for the poor people who have to do this to animals because they can’t get a different job. What kind of ptsd [post-traumatic stress disorder] must these executioners have after bludgeoning an animal with a sledgehammer???!!
How do they get the cries of a mother cow, pining for her baby that they’ve taken away from her, out of their heads? How do they get the visuals of the blood and gore out of their heads? How do they recover from this in their lives?
What can you say about this Baba Ji? Maybe it’s time to transition your dairies into farm animal sanctuaries. Now that’s seva worth doing!
You’re probably interested in the reply I got from him. Well as I suspected he never replied directly. One of his sevadars replied to me on his behalf with a generic “what do we say about dairy” response. Here it is:
Dear Brother Radha Soami. Your letter of _____ has been received. Baba Ji has gone through your letter. Regarding your concern about the dairy industry, please know that Saints give us general guidelines to live our life within the framework of Sant Mat principles to help us on the path but ultimately leave it to us to decide the most practical way out to implement them.
The four vows form the foundation on which the Sant Mat philosophy stands. One should avoid hair splitting and maintain a balanced approach to all things in life. Every action that we do is karma. We can't take a step without karma in this world. Even when we breathe, we are committing karmas by inhaling so many germs that are present in the air.
Too much hair splitting becomes counter-productive and often distracts us from our real concern. We must take a practical approach while at the same time find our own comfort level in such matters. Basically we are allowed to take dairy products as in general terms there is no taking of life in obtaining milk from the animal and hence there are limited karmas involved and those can be taken care of by our daily meditation.
It is good to be compassionate to the plight of others. However, you can share with others only what you have. Baba Ji says that if I have $100 in my pocket, I can definitely give $99 to someone. But if I do not have anything in my own pocket what can I give to others?
If we truly want to help others we should first help ourselves. Unless we have happiness within ourselves, how can we share it with others? Most of the time, instead of sharing our happiness with others, we start sharing their sorrows and make ourselves miserable.
It is therefore essential for us to get access to the real happiness which is within our own body through our regular meditation. We should always maintain our balance while being compassionate to others. We need to be practical because ultimately everybody is paying for their karmas.
The purpose of Saints is very different from that of the social reformers. They come here to take us back to the Father. Baba Ji generally gives an example of a toddler who slips into the dirty drain. One fellow comes and cleanses the drain but leaves the child in the drain itself. Another fellow doesn't care much about the drain but picks up the child and cleanses him and ultimately restores him to his parents.
The purpose of the Mystic is to attach us with the Holy Ghost and to free us from the cage of this body, the prison of this world. In Saint Matthew, Christ said, I have not come to create peace. Don't think that by following my teaching you will find this place a paradise for you to live in. This place will remain as wretched and miseable as it is. My purpose is to detach you from this world and take you back to the Father.
Never forget your daily meditation that the Master has assigned to all of us because that alone will help us in experiencing as to who the Master is. Our meditation alone will help us in attaining the tranquillity and happiness in life.
When, after initiation, living in the will of the Master, we perform our devotional exercises regularly as advised at the time of initiation we become receptive to the grace of the Master which is constantly flowing from him to all his disciples. Meditation alone will give us the grace and understanding to go through our life in a happy and grateful attitude. Keep mind in simran during the day and try to transform your restless worldly thoughts into loving Holy Names.
If we have all this karma to burn off, what kind of master would condone an unnecessary and unhealthy industry that exploits, enslaves, rapes and ultimately kills animals and their male offspring? That seems like karma that can just be avoided the same way satsangis are told not to eat meat and eggs.
Oh but hang on a second, Indians would hate giving up dairy. Chai tho, paneer tho, lassies tho, raita tho!. So delicious! So the master appeals to culture and tradition instead of truth. Well not my master... anymore!
Thanks for your time Brian…just thought I’d share this with you.
Wow, if true this tweet by Lana Puckett would be depressing news for progressives like me who detest Donald Trump. I emailed the tweet to myself after I saw mention of it in a separate tweet by George Conway, a fierce critic of Trump despite his wife being a senior advisor to Trump.
This is what Conway said about Puckett's tweet: "um, remind me who the patron saint of porn-star payoffs is again"
Last Monday night I learned that it isn't only religious fundamentalists who don't care about the rights of LGBTQ people.
(Since this blog is read by people all around the world, some of whom may not be familiar with that term, it's an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.)
I was deeply irritated when the Salem City Council voted 6-1 to approve a lease with the Salem Alliance Church for use of a church-owned building as a temporary public library while renovations are being made to the library at the Civic Center.
This has been a fascinating issue for me to be involved with, since it intersects issues that I'm interested in: the role of religion in society, politics, and human rights.
A key reason I decided to support the Salem Human Rights Commission, which opposes using the church-owned building as a public library, given the opposition of the Salem Alliance Church to same-sex marriage and same-sex sex, is that I don't see any difference between bigotry in the name of religion and bigotry in the name of anything else.
Bigotry is bigotry. If you don't support basic human rights for everybody, no matter their race, sex, gender identity, or whatever, you're a bigot.
I've had people on Facebook say to me in a comment, "What don't you understand about same-sex sex being a sin? It says so in the Bible." Hard to believe religious people can be so ignorant. The Old Testament was written by human beings in pre-scientific times.
So using the Bible as a guide to morality is absurd. As is using any other holy book as a guide to morality.
But even Christians should recognize that the Bible can be interpreted in various ways when it comes to same sex attraction. Today a gay man, Cary Renfro, left this comment on a post I wrote about the City Council's bad decision.
Brian, thanks for doing this blog.
First, the Salem Alliance minister either doesn't know his Bible very well or (more likely) is reading from faulty English translations. There are gay and lesbian people all over the place.
Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18), (Ruth 4:14-15) David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 1 Samuel 20:16-17 (their marriage); 1 Samuel 20:41; 2 Samuel 1:26) Psalm 133, which is very short and begins "How good it is and how pleasant for men to dwell together in union!"
First gentile conversion was the gay treasurer of Ethiopia: Acts 8:26-39. Gays can go to heaven: Isaiah 56:3-7
The story of Nehemiah, the eunuch (aka gay) handservant of King Artaxerxes who became the rebuilder of Jerusalem and the temple starts in Nehemiah chapter 2.
King Zedekiah’s gay (court official) Ebed-Melech, who rescued the prophet Jeremiah when Prince Malchiah and others threw Jeremiah into a cistern and he sank into the mud. (Jeremiah 38 - 39) The story ends with the LORD telling Jeremiah to go to Ebed-Melech and say: “Thus says the LORD of hosts…I will surely deliver you…because you have put your trust in me, says the LORD.”
Jesus, praying that men who love one another may be united with Him and God: John 17:18-26.
Jesus healing the Centurion's boyfriend: Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-53.
SO much for all that. Look it up yourself, and do the translations yourself, and for goodness' sake use a decent English translatiion.
Now, this decision of the city council is quite upsetting to me.
If the property were owned by the KKK would the city be leasing it? No or yes? If you take that pastor's remarks and replace the word "homosexual" with any racial term or religious term such as Black person, or Irish person, or Jewish person - would there not be an outcry? and would not the city refrain from contracting with the organization?
(I put in Irish because at one time there were signs all over the country saying "no Irish need apply".)
How can the city justify this?
For those of us who can't use the temporary facility for whatever reason, please come to Chemeketa Community College library. Lots of parking, on the bus line, handicap accessible, linked to the full CCRLS catalog, and your Salem library card works just fine there. Open Monday thru Friday and even a lot of Saturdays.
I invite you to look at these four short videos I made of the people who testified in person at last Monday's Salem City Council meeting. I was the first to sign up, getting to the meeting early, so led off the three-minute public comments. The other three testifiers made some great points in heartfelt ways.
The book by Williams and Penman is the best I've ever read on this subject. Very clear, well-written, and creative.
A core theme is the difference between Doing and Being. Doing is fine, if what we're after can be obtained through specific actions. But as you'll read in the excerpt below, Doing leads us astray when we try to apply it in the wrong way.
Why do your best efforts to get rid of unpleasant feelings backfire so tragically? When you try to solve the "problem" of unhappinesss (or any other "negative" emotion) you deploy one of the mind's most powerful tools: rational critical thinking.
It works like this: you see yourself in a place (unhappy) and know where you want to be (happy). Your mind then analyzes the gap between the two and tries to work out the best way of bridging it. To do so, it uses its "Doing" mode (so called because it performs well in solving problems and getting things done).
The Doing mode works by progressively narrowing the gap between where you are and where you want to be... It's a tremendously powerful way of s0lving problems. It's how we find our way across cities, drive cars and arrange hectic work schedules.
...It's perfectly natural, then, to apply this approach to solving the "problem" of unhappiness. But it's often the worst thing you can do because it requires you to focus on the gap between how you are and how you'd like to be: in doing so, you ask such critical questions as, What's wrong with me? Where did I go wrong? Why do I always make these mistakes?
Such questions are not only harsh and self-destructive, but they also demand that the mind furnishes the evidence to explain its discontent. And the mind is truly brilliant at providing such evidence.
Imagine walking through a beautiful park on a spring day. You're happy, but then for some unknown reason a flicker of sadness ripples across your mind. It may be the result of hunger because you skipped lunch or perhaps you unwittingly triggered a troubling memory.
After a few minutes you might start to feel a little down. As soon as you notice your lowered spirits you begin to probe yourself.: It's a lovely day. It's a beautiful park. I wish I were feeling happier than I am now.
Think about that: I wish I were feeling happier.
How do you feel now? You probably feel worse. This is because you focused on the gap between how you feel and how you want to feel. And focusing on the gap highlighted it. The mind sees the gap as a problem to be solved. This approach is disastrous when it comes to your emotions because of the intricate interconnection between your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.
...The mind can do so much more than simply analyze problems with its Doing mode. The problem is that we use the Doing mode so much, we can't see that there is an alternative. Yet there is another way.
If you stop and reflect for a moment, the mind doesn't just think. It can also be aware that it is thinking. This form of pure awareness allows you to experience the world directly. It's bigger than thinking. It's unclouded by your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
It's like a high mountain -- a vantage point -- from which you can see everything for many miles around.
Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life.
Makes a lot of sense.
What's said above applies to spiritual goals as well, like believing that you need to do something to reach God, heaven, holy spirit, or whatever. That belief creates a gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Then that gap becomes a problem to be solved, which takes work and creates anxiety.
Yet where is the evidence for any gap at all? God, heaven, holy spirit, and such are just concepts, ideas, thoughts. Give them up, and you are much closer to where you want to be: reality, here and now.
I wrote it back when I was still an active member of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, the organization headed up by Dhillon. The RSSB guru wanted a book about a Western mystic. He gave me some suggestions to choose from, and I chose Plotinus, a Neoplatonist Greek philosopher.
The book got close to being published by RSSB, but I ended up publishing it myself.
Anyway, I'm still a fan of the One, though according to Plotinus there is nothing we can really say about the unity that underlies existence, because it is, well, One. And descriptions require a quality that can be described. which makes two. At least.
Osho emailed me this:
I went to Haynes Park today (Sunday). GSD invited questions. I asked one.
My question (Dialogue):
The first word or gurbani is “ek” (one).
Whereas our first word is usually “me”.
Gurbani says there is no “me” or individual soul, yet that is all we focus on.
It’s like we are trying to navigate with the wrong map. Every step we take is wrong.
It’s true there is only the ONE but that is not our experience. So we need to meditate to experience the merging into the ONE then we will truly understand. Otherwise it’s jyst intellectual knowledge. From knowledge we experience and that leads to understanding.
So one thing became clear. He does advocate meditation. I previously said he did not and was obviously mistaken. Meditation is the means to experience the ONE, according to his teaching. We are already merged but through meditation we go through the experience of it.
It was business as usual at Haynes. Packed hall. He was his usual jovial self. Nobody would imagine he has just lost 500 million dollars. If anything, he was more jovial than usual. Cracking jokes st every opportunity.
No question was asked about any financial matter. The sangat was either oblivious about the financial scandal or really did not care. Judging by how the day went, RSSB will not be affected at all by the financial scandal.
Sometimes, well, often, I wish that everyone who comments on this blog used their real name and shared personal details of their life -- much like Facebook does, or at least was supposed to do.
But once in a while I like to share some descriptions of my own life, if only to remind people that even though discussions and debates on this Church of the Churchless blog can get hot and heavy, each of us has much more important things going on in their lives.
So here's an Adobe Spark web page I made tonight of photos that I took Friday at the Salem Art Fair & Festival, where we live in Oregon. (A neighbor took one photo of my wife and I.)
It was wonderful to be immersed in the works of talented artists for three hours or so. Afterwards, we took our dogs to a dog park, where they enjoyed the "artistry" of such activities as smelling other dogs' butts, and having theirs smelled in turn. Now that is real living.
(For dogs, at least. I don't recommend it if you're a human, at least not unless you know someone very well.)
Great comments from Church of the Churchless visitors keep on coming to this blog.
Here's one by "j" that consists of a letter to the editor about Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) who is deeply involved in a financial scandal involving many hundreds of millions of dollars.
It's a great idea, sharing a letter to the editor that can be used by people in other cities where RSSB has a large meeting center that the guru visits.
This is a great example of the hypocrisy of religious leaders, since Dhillon preaches in his talks about living an honest, simple life, yet has been busily engaged in vastly enriching himself and his family through decidedly shady practices.
About the only quibble I have with this letter, and it's a small one, is that the siphoning of money also involved close associates of the guru such as his right hand man, Sunil Godhwani, who was installed as the head of Religare at the guru's urging, then proceeded to funnel money into the pockets of the Dhillon family and other people associated with the guru.
So instead of saying "run by the guru's family members" in the Here's the gist paragraph, it'd be a bit more accurate to say "run by the guru's family members and close associates."
Anyway, here's the comment.
Here's a copy of an email I just sent to the Executive Editor of the Press Democrat, Petaluma's newspaper. I invite others to use it (or write a better one, which shouldn't be hard) and send it to other newspaper editors, eg Fayetteville or other RSSB locales, or even the New York Times.
Dear (Executive Editor)
As you may know, Science of the Soul is one of Petaluma's largest religious centers. At the end of this month it will host their guru, Baba Gurinder Singh, who is one of the most popular religious leaders in India. Many thousands of people will attend. https://petalumaprogram.org/
This organization prides itself on its high ideals, and attracts many members based on its apparent integrity. But many people don't know that the guru and his family are embroiled in a huge financial scandal.
Here's the gist: Roughly 500 million dollars was siphoned from corporations that were run by the guru's family members, and then distributed to other members of the guru's family, and to the guru himself. A court has ruled that the money must be paid back to the corporations, but so far no restitution has been made. The guru has also borrowed large sums of money from individuals for his personal use (and opulent lifestyle) and likewise has so far refused to pay it back.
I bring this matter to your attention in hopes that the Press Democrat can do a story about it. So far, no American newspaper has published anything on this matter.
Here are a few websites that explain the scandal in more detail:
Thanks to Amar, a regular commenter on this blog, I learned about this amazingly creative, well-done, and generally accurate animated depiction of the financial scandals involving the Singh brothers (Malvinder and Shivinder), Gurinder Singh Dhillon (the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, and a bunch of other characters.
I make an appearance near the end of the video.
Sadly, the animators used a rendering of one of the worst photographs of me that can be found on Google images. Oh, well, such is life. At least I didn't cause relatives of mine to lose billions of dollars, as this video describes in an entertaining fashion -- how the Singh brothers' faith in Gurinder Singh Dhillon, "Babaji," led them to lose their wealth.
My only quibble with the video is that it fails to mention that, so far as I know, the criminal complaint filed by Malvinder against Dhillon, his family, and close associates remains active. And the board of directors of Religare has filed a separate complaint urging investigators to track the money that was siphoned into shell companies controlled by the RSSB guru, his family, and associates.
A well-written, thoughtful, truthful, and provocative recent comment deserves to be made into its own blog post.
Here's what Amar said. "HC" refers to High Court of Delhi, which has frozen the assets of the RSSB guru and his family, and garnished those assets. "RSSB" refers to Radha Soami Satsang Beas, the organization headed up by a guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
Tushar, you wrote, "One who has experienced the truth it's all useless and rubbish for them."
Who is this one who has experienced this Truth? You? Certainly not me. According to almost all of the satsangs I've heard, the guru is the one who has experienced the Truth. So if he behaves in this way, then why would I want to follow that.
There is an undercurrent of arrogance in your wording that I find obnoxious. The law has proven that the guru, his family and close RSSB friends are required by law to return funds back to the HC and frozen their assets. This is fact, in the court register. If they were innocent, why would they be required to pay it back?
Why wait for the courts to order you to pay it back? Has nothing to do with faith, it has to do with common sense and using that brain between our ears to see what is in front of our eyes. Sometimes, the obvious is not so obvious because our faith blinds us.
I've been privy to a lot of conversations with RSSB satsangis who talk trash about followers of other faiths who were duped by nasty gurus who stole, cheated, and molested their followers. RSSB satsangis also have contempt for the Agra lineage of saints. Same teachings, different gurus, same contempt. Go figure.
That is the arrogance I'm talking about. I used to do it also. Makes me feel like throwing up. RSSB followers are no better off than anyone else who tries to live a good, honest and clean moral life. It's not the copyright of RSSB on this.
Learn to take a dispassionate look at the news, the court findings, the financial ties and score of business entities being run by the guru, his family, and close friends. Don't just ignore it or think it is fake news. If you do, you're probably afraid it might actually be true.
That's what you're afraid of, deep down. and that's normal, but to just ignore it and to continue on like it never happened, you're only lying to yourself. On the one hand he says don't run after money. Just make enough to take care of your family and obligations, and let the guru handle the rest.
I guess he didn't want to leave the rest to his guru, so he went after the money like a fat kid in a candy store. The teachings apply to all and everyone, including the guru. Do your homework.
Gurinder Singh Dhillon, guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (from RSSB official photo of the guru)
Today Sonya, a regular commenter on this blog, noted that the "scary," "evil" photo of Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, actually is an official photograph that can be downloaded from the RSSB web site.
But as shown above, in the lower right corner, that photograph shows the guru at a considerable distance. Zooming in on the high resolution screen of my much-beloved MacBook Pro we get the scary, evil look of Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
In the course of searching for this photo, I found that Google Images has another search result for the RSSB guru that makes him look remarkably akin to someone I know quite well. Me!
Then I wondered what the regular Google search results for "Gurinder Singh Dhillon" would turn up. Interestingly, two of the five top hits featured...me! Or more accurately, my blog posts.
It's telling that aside from the Wikipedia article, the other four top search results all concern wrongdoing by Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
Kind of weird that someone who is considered by his devotees to be God in Human Form would be notorious for decidedly non-divine reasons. But it makes sense if you take another look at the "evil" photo.
Fans of The Rocky and Bullwinkle show, an animated series I watched as a kid, will remember their arch enemy, Snidely Whiplash. Here's an image of him. Does his mustache look familiar?
Today I got an email from someone who didn't want me to quote them directly regarding their view of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), the Indian religious organization headed up by a guru that I was a member of for 35 years.
But this person was fine with me summarizing their take on RSSB. So here goes. I'll refer to the person as "they" from now on.
Pleasingly, they read everything on this blog, but don't leave any comments. They said I'm doing a very good job, and was asked to continue doing so -- which naturally is my intention.
Like me, they are an initiate of Charan Singh, the guru who preceded the current RSSB leader, Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
Dhillon is embroiled in a financial fraud saga, which they call a "fiasco." Apt term.
They never were as avid a RSSB devotee as many are, choosing not to leave their children alone to attend satsang or follow the guru wherever he went. Nor did they obsess over the RSSB vegetarian diet, which even called for not eating unfertilized eggs for difficult-to-comprehend reasons.
Slowly they came to an understanding of what the world is about that freed them from the guilt that was such a big part of RSSB talks, a.k.a. satsangs. They felt happy, realizing that no one suffers from not following the RSSB teachings.
Being told that this was the only true path back to God was a turnoff. And they never felt an attraction to the current guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon. They consider Dhillon to be running a "circus."
I've been sharing reports in the Indian financial press about the involvement of the guru and the rest of the Dhillon family in financial fraud, death threats, criminal conspiracy, and other unsavory goings-on. They consider that all of this is true, but it's just a fraction of the whole story.
The RSSB guru thinks he's covered his tracks. However, they believe there's more stones to be turned over, revealing more of the mess that Dhillon is part of in Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, Gibraltar, China, and maybe other places. India also, of course, I'd add.
Gurinder Singh Dhillon always wanted to be a rich man. Now his dream has come true.
Or perhaps more accurately, was true, since the High Court of Delhi has garnished the assets of the Dhillon family. Dhillon believes no one can touch him, perhaps because he's surrounded by devotees who think he is God in human form.
They like what I'm doing on this blog: putting the truth in "every stupid satsangis face." (Satsangi means a RSSB initiate.) Because those satsangis can't handle the truth, most will continue trying to excuse the inexcusable things Dhillon has done, and is accused of doing.
It's well known to this person that satsangis refuse to talk about the guru's legal and ethical problems. They make up stories about how rumors are being spread by jealous individuals. Of course, that ignores the fact of the many stories written by members of the Indian financial press, who couldn't be viewed as jealous of the guru.
They liked what they remember reading on this blog: that if someone was shopping for a guru, and saw the profile of Gurinder Singh Dhillon, they never would pick him.
Don't bother about all the Radha Soami haters who try to prove my blog posts wrong, they advised. I'm poking their beehive, so they are bound to attack the truth-teller. Somewhere deep down, though, they know the allegations against the RSSB guru are true.
After all, if they had total faith in Dhillon, they wouldn't be visiting this blog. So they're afraid the cover they're hiding under will be taken away, exposing them to the light, which makes them attack me and this blog.
Please sign this petition I just started to support the Salem Human Rights Commission in its stand against the City of Salem leasing a building from the Salem Alliance Church to temporarily house the public library.
The church rejects same-sex marriage and considers same-sex sex to be a sin. The Commission is calling on City officials to find another location for the library while renovations are made, even if that location costs more and is less convenient.
For those unfamiliar with this abbreviation, LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.
We've come a long way toward accepting LGBTQ people here in the United States. But there's a lot that still remains to be done, largely because of archaic Christian religious attitudes based on pre-scientific notions thousands of years old, now hugely outdated.
An email I got recently gives me hope, though. Read on...
Hey Brian, I saw the post about the Salem library wanting to use the church property as a temporary place while renovations take place. Hmmm…
It’s interesting to look back and see how much my values and opinions have changed. Growing up in the heart of the Bible belt, I was surrounded by God fearing Republicans who prayed to God in Jesus’ name at sporting events and had Christmas programs in the schools.
So, I was raised with those same ideals. Part of all that, of course, was to believe that homosexuality was wrong and sinful. I can’t say that my family had any kind of open hatred for homosexuals, but it was thought of as wrong, according to the Bible.
Also, we would have looked at a situation like the library renting the church as a great thing.
Lots of changes took place in my thinking in the last 10 years or so. Fast forward to today and I now I do not see homosexuality as being any different than heterosexuality. It’s just a preference. Everyone is different and that’s normal.
And my political views have shifted drastically as well. Also, I definitely have issues with the blatant non-separation of church and state that goes on here in the south, all the time. The library thing is definitely in a gray area.
One cool thing is that my parents and sister have changed a lot as well. None of them are atheists, but they are all Democrats (gasp!) and they also no longer have issues with the homosexual community. And we all changed without knowing that each of us had changed. My parents were raised in really strict evangelical Christian traditions. So it gives me hope that people can change if they are just open to it.
I have no doubt that a catalyst for change for most people is education and exposure. In the churches I went to, we were often encouraged NOT to learn a lot of different things and don’t be exposed to “the world” because it could “contaminate” our faith. Well shit! Of course it will!
When people start educating themselves and learning to think for themselves, chances are they will start to see through the religious bull shit. In my experience, the religious folks that I know who are the most staunch, unmoving believers are often the ones who have done very little study into what they believe and why.
On the flip side, the people that I know (myself included) who have really researched the history of their religion and their holy book and some science about how the brain works and how societies have formed, and such… these people often have become less dogmatic, more open to the world around them and those that believe differently, and even have become agnostics and atheists.
My children are a good example of this. They both were in church at a young age, but we quit going to church around 2010 or 2011. Since then, my daughter has graduated from college and my son from high school. We stopped actively indoctrinating them before we quit attending church.
So they have had several years to think and observe and become their own people. I don’t know where they are spiritually, but I think they still believe in God in some form or fashion, but aren’t religious. They both have several gay friends and they don’t look at them any differently than their straight friends.
Awesome. Even my wife, who is still in church and full on Christian, has loosened up on her view of the LGBTQ community, and a few other sacred cows. So that’s kind of cool.
Leave a comment on this post about anything you want to talk about. Remember that I'm moderating comments, so it could take a while for your comment to be published. Almost every comment submitted to an Open Thread will be approved. Personal attacks devoid of substantive content are an exception.
Though I haven't been doing too well on this, I'll try to remember to always have an Open Thread showing in the Recent Posts section in the right sidebar. If one isn't showing, I've added an Open Threads category in, naturally, the Categories section. You can always find an Open Thread that way.
So if you're a believer in some form of religion, mysticism, or spirituality, this is where you can put your "praise God," "praise Guru," or "praise _______" comments.
Over on one of my other blogs, Salem Political Snark, I've been writing about an ill-considered plan by city officials here in Salem, Oregon to pay the Salem Alliance Church to use a building the church owns as a temporary home for the public library while renovations are being made.
Daniel Rollings, president of the Salem chapter of PFLAG, a national organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights, said the plan is still tantamount to partnering with a hate group.
“I am completely opposed to the city partnering with any organization, regardless of what it is, that actively discriminates against anyone,” he said. “The city should not put out bids to work with the (Ku Klux Klan) nor should they work with anti-LGBTQ organizations that actively discriminate against the LGBTQ community.”
For sure. Gay marriage is legal everywhere in the United States. Acceptance of gay rights is widespread. So how is it possible that religious organizations such as the Salem Alliance Church remain mired in irrational superstitions?
A visit to the church's web site shows why. There's a link called "What We Believe." That page contains a fairly brief summary of the Salem Alliance Church's beliefs, complete with footnotes.
Only problem is, the footnotes don't point to any fact-based, rational, defensible information. They're all references to passages in the Old and New Testaments. Which enables the church to engage in the sort of circular reasoning that is common to all religions.
What we believe is true because the holy scripture or holy person we believe in says it is true.
So that web page says under the "Bible" heading:
The Old and New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and women. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice.18
And footnote 18, not surprisingly is: 2 Peter 1:20 - 21 Which reads:
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Thus Christians believe the Bible is God's true teaching because the Bible says the Bible is God's true teaching. Illogical crap like that makes me ever so pleased to be an atheist.
It's great when I start out my morning by reading a comment that makes me smile with delight -- because it is honest, true, well written, and makes fun of religious blind belief.
In this case, the blind belief of defenders of Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, who is deeply embroiled in financial fraud, death threats, criminal complaints, and garnishment of his assets by the High Court of Delhi.
But, hey, everything is going according to God's plan in the eyes of RSSB true believers, who refuse to see the facts yelling Look at me! right in front of their faces.
"But, GSD is RSSB "CEO" so to speak. It's an enormous job that reportedly would bring much younger men/women to their knees within a matter of weeks. He may well have delegated financial details to others within his family, already one of the wealthier ones in India, I presume. He may have received continual updates andassurances from wife/sons/associates, glanced at cooked books briefly, and assumed all was well."
If this is as you say, then they all betrayed him and lied to him? That's the biggest load of shit I've heard yet.
You're dumping the blame on everyone else, but him. If he did charge others to do what he asked, then he's still responsible for their actions. To say his his own sons and wife all colluded together without his knowledge is laughable. So on the one hand he's all knowing and the guru, and the next he's duped by everyone, including his own family. Ya, right.
Sumit, you wrote:
"They get small insignificant thing and they start barking. Now days the trend is spoil the image of gurus and earn money."
Are $100's of millions of dollars no small thing? These guru's have themselves spoiled their own image by running after wealth and coddling the politicians and wealthy people. Do you think he would say the same thing to you if you were involved in this kind of mess?
He'd probably say avoid the company of people who cheat and lie. Think on that...
Again, don't look at guilt right now, that will flush out eventually, against GSD or not, have to wait and see. I've said this on previous posts, would you, not knowing anything about this path, doing your homework and finding these court rulings and fraudulent money loans to the guru, his immediate family, and close friends, would you still join and follow a guru embroiled in this mess?
If you say yes, then that's why people get sucked in by dogma and bull shit. Your acceptance and denial of these events only emboldens these people to keep doing what they're doing.
They amass huge personal wealth, and hide behind it by doing charity work, and people like you, including me until recently, get googoo eyed and fall for it because the teachings sound great, but the leader is involved and connected to these nefarious things.
UPDATE: Here's another right-on comment from Amar that deserves to be read. Baba Ji refers to the RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon (GSD).
Arjuna and One Initiated, you see the Baba Ji which is trotted out to the masses. You see the image we all want to see. White clothes, white beard, sarcastic answers to play to the sangat.
You have no idea what he does in the background, the people he really associates with. The scheming and money being dealt back and forth and the solicitation of politicians. You see what the Dera managers and handlers want you to see. If you had greater access to him, like the wealthy people do, you'd see something totally different.
So Amy's Food owner decides he's going to buy the land for the Petaluma Study Centre. Now, for the last 10 years, every North American Study Centre has to purchase their nasty vegan burritos for every GSD official visit. It's actually written into the official visit guidelines provided by the Dera.
I guess if you "donate" the land or property, you get a customer for life. Makes sense, right? Not.
Money and religion don't mix, but invariably, they do mix, sometimes as give and take, or land for sustaining a prominent satsangi's business. Must be nice to keep your business going with a spiritual organization's demand for your product, spelled out in a list of directives from the Dera.
But I guess you'll have an answer for that also. I bet if GSD announced on the stage that he was guilty of taking the money, you all would probably say, naahh, he was testing us to see if we'd still follow him. Keep following, my friends.
It's difficult to follow the twists and turns in the Bollywood'ish drama involving Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas in India.
About a billion dollars is at stake here, much of it in the form of fraudulent loans that ended up in the pockets of Dhillon, his family, and close associates.
Add in criminal complaints, death threats, squabbles with his relatives Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, investigations by Indian financial authorities, and court rulings -- yes, it gets tough to keep track of what's going on.
Today Spence Tepper left a comment on a recent blog post that does a good job of providing an overview of the guru's legal and financial problems. I've added some links and made a few corrections that I think are accurate. Like, changing "High Court" to "Supreme Court" in the fourth paragraph.
Because defenders of the guru often fail to see the big picture, choosing to focus on a few facts that put Gurinder Singh Dhillon in a more-or-less positive light, I wanted to share Tepper's comment in a blog post.
What follows isn't the whole picture, for sure, but a good summary of some key "plot points" in this drama.
Hi Osho. You wrote, "I don’t think it’s a matter of 'guilty or not guilty' but more a matter of recovery of the money."
Logically that makes little sense nor does it reflect the High Court of Delhi order. The court determined responsibility, and therfore guilt, and on that basis moved guilt away from Malvinder and onto Gurinder and company.
The Singh brothers held the legal responsibility to pay the Daiichi FDA penalty against Ranbaxy. But the High Court transferred that to Gurinder and company in June.
Malvinder claimed that he and Shivinder had loaned money to Gurinder, his family and associates, amounting to more than enough to cover the penalty. At first the Supreme Court indicated that they didn't care about the Singh's other business dealings, and held them directly responsible for repayment.
But when Malvinder was unable to pay up he filed a criminal complaint with the EOW (Economic Offences Wing) of the Delhi Police pleading his case that Gurinder, his wife, sons and associates owed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and interest and hadn't repaid for years. These were the monies he needed to pay the Daiichi penalty.
Even before Malvinder filed his complaint the SEBI and the Fortis board had conducted separate audits that showed fraudulent loans being siphoned through shell companies.
Business journals had conducted their own audits and found that Gurinder and his family were the recipients of nearly a billion dollars in loans through a variety of shell companies. And some of Gurinder's family were involved in the creation and maintenance of the frauds.
All the participants and recipients of the fraudulent loans are satsangis who pledged vows of loyalty to the Master, in this case Gurinder.
By June various additional detailed and indiependent audits had been conducted by the Serious Crimes Division of the Delhi police, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the new board at Religare (who filed their own complaint directly implicating the loan recipients and claiming this was all a big scheme involving several people who had knowingly participated in the construction and execution of several frauds).
Then in June, after much deliberation, the High Court of Delhi rendered a judgment that Gurinder, his family and associates, among others, were directly responsible for repayment of their delinquent loans, in full.
The High Court, essentially, verified what Malvinder claimed, and placed responsibility, and therefore culpability, directly onto Gurinder et al's shoulders. The High Court further froze Gurinder et al's assets as they were delinquent over several years in payment.
Guilt, culpability and responsibility have already been determined and payment ordered. For the funds Gurinder et al took, Malvinder is no longer responsible to repay that portion of the Daiichi penalty. The full responsibility is now directly upon Gurinder and company's shoulders, by judgment and order of the High Court of Delhi.
I bought a book written by Sam Harris' wife, Annaka Harris, because the title appealed to me (Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of Mind), and I wanted to see if she'd disagree with her husband -- a noted atheist neuroscientist whose Waking Up guided meditations I listen to every morning via an iPhone app.
As I suspected, this little (110 pages) book didn't contain much that I didn't already know. But Harris did discuss consciousness in an appealing fashion, and had an interesting take on the possibility of panpsychism.
Here's how she distinguishes between prescientific notions of all matter being imbued with consciousness in some sense, and modern versions of panpsychism.
Some versions of panpsychism describe consciousness as separate from matter and composed of some other substance, a definition reminiscent of vitalism and traditional religious descriptions of a soul.
But while the term has been used to describe a wide range of thinking throughout history, contemporary considerations of panpsychism provide descriptions of reality very different from the earlier versions -- and are unenumbered by any religious beliefs.
One branch of modern panpsychism proposes that consciousness is intrinsic to all forms of information processing, even inanimate forms such as technological devices; another goes so far as to suggest that consciousness stands alongside the other fundamental forces and fields that physics has revealed to us -- like gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces
Harris prefers the second idea, that consciousness is fundamental to matter. This is a simpler concept than assuming that consciousness emerges at a certain stage of complexity in information processing.
After all, I find it hard to accept that the thermostats in our house are conscious, even though they do process information about the temperature in our home, comparing it to the temperature we desire, and "acting" accordingly. It's a bit easier for me to envision that my iPhone is conscious, though this also is a big leap of faith.
The main problem with studying consciousness is the definition Harris uses, which is founded on Thomas Nagel's famous paper, "What is it like to be a bat?"
An organism is conscious if there is something that it is like to be that organism.
Now, obviously this doesn't entail a self, soul, or such. All that's required to be a member of the Conscious Club is there being something that it is like to be you. Or me. Or anybody. Or anything.
Because we humans have a finely honed sense of what it is like to be ourselves, and love to describe that sense in words, music, poetry, and so many other ways, we reasonably assume that our fellow Homo sapiens also are conscious. However, there's no way that we can be sure of this, since there is no way any conscious being can know what it is like to be another conscious being.
(Thankfully, really. My wife and I have been married for 29 years. We're still learning about each other, which makes life interesting, given that neither of us has access to the other person's subjective side.)
This makes consciousness seem mysterious, even though it also is the most obvious and familiar thing we know, given that all of our experience, every bit of it, is known by consciousness. A robot could be programmed to answer "Yes" if asked the question, "Are you conscious?" Yet this wouldn't prove it was conscious.
Thus consciousness has to be inferred in every being other than the entity that directly knows what it is like to be what it is.
I'm virtually 100% certain that our dogs are conscious. Ditto for the squirrels, deer, coyotes, raccoons, and other creatures that inhabit our neighborhood. In fact, I can envision almost every living thing being at least minimally conscious, even a starfish or an ant.
As Annaka Harris notes, the problem arises when we try to establish a firm dividing line between conscious living beings and unconscious living beings. Plants respond to stimuli and have an awareness of their surroundings. Is the oak tree in our yard conscious?
Maybe. But since I can't fathom what it like to be a bat, in no way could I even begin to fathom what is like to be a tree, assuming there is anything it is like to be a tree.
Rocks and other inanimate objects almost certainly lack consciousness in the What is like to be.. sense. Yet they are composed of atoms and molecules that obey the laws of nature. How are they able to do this? Or, does that question even make sense? It does if panpsychism is accepted.
Near the end of her book, Harris writes:
It's important to clarify a few points regarding the distinction I continue to draw between two categories of questions -- those pertaining to how deep in the universe consciousness runs and those about the brain processes that give rise to our human experiences - along with the value I place on each of them.
First, although I'm defending panpsychism as a legitimate category of theories about consciousness based on what we currently know, I am not closed to the possibility that we might discover, by some future scientific method, that consciousness does in fact exist only in brains.
It's hard for me to see how we could ever arrive at this understanding with any certainty, but I don't rule it out. Nor am I discounting the possibility that consciousness is something we will never fully grasp.
Those are pleasingly open-minded sentiments. I just wish religiously-minded people had the same uncertain attitude.