Here's a message I got recently from someone who has left the India-based religious organization I was an active member of for 35 years, Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB). My reply to this person follows the message.
"baba ji" refers to the current RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon. "Seva" means service, volunteering. "Satsangi" is a RSSB initiate. "Satsang" is a RSSB meeting.
I came across your blog a while ago and it has been instrumental in helping me question my beliefs. My family is satsangi and I was raised in it. I think you and I had a similar loyalty to the path. I would attend seva every weekend and sometimes in the weeknights too and was heavily involved in the regional and national satsangs when baba ji would come. I always considered myself a satsangi; however, for seven years I was very deeply entrenched in the satsangi way of life. For those seven years, my life revolved around seva, satsang and satsangis to the point that I sacrificed my non-satsangi friendships for the sake of the rs path.
10 years ago, I moved to a different city where I didn’t have access to the teachings. The sangat was small, I attended a few satsangs but I didn’t put in the same amount of effort. Now, 10 years later, I am slowly realizing that the path isn’t for me. The financial scandal pretty much ended any hope for reconciliation, especially when I read on your blog that baba ji said he has diabetes and can’t attend court yet was holding satsang on the same day. It is always preached that we need to be the best representatives of the guru so we do not bring shame to him. What about him bringing shame to us? How is he being a good representative of us? He also preaches about ‘haq halal di kamai’ or earning an honest living. It is all so hypocritical.
The worst part is, the fear is still there. I’m typing this, but will something horrible happen to me now? Will I go blind because I’m rejecting the guru? I know it’s ridiculous, I’m a rational person, yet these wayward thoughts that have been programmed into me since I was 5 years old keep popping up and I don’t know how to shut them up. There isn’t any guilt, I’ve been freely telling my family and close friends that I’m not binding myself to arbitrary restrictions anymore and I do truly think it’s a sham centred around cashing in. I’m still a vegetarian since that’s my own morality but I’ve pretty much stopped asking about ingredients at restaurants and do have a drink when I feel like it. By all outward appearances I am untangling myself from the situation but inwardly, there is a smidgeon of fear that I can’t seem to erase.
At the end of the day, I’m not overly angry but more so disappointed and very very sad. It is just so sad, I can’t believe it. I feel as though I’m in mourning. I guess the reason I’m writing to you is because you are so far ahead of me in this journey. Did this happen to you? How did you ‘unlearn’ the programming? It seems you bought into the teachings as much as I did, maybe you can give me some advice on how to deal with this.
Thanks for your blog Brian. I know you get a lot of flack for it, but it was instrumental in helping spur my critical thinking of the path.
This was my reply.
Thanks for your message. It makes me feel good to hear from people like you who find some value in my Church of the Churchless blog.