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What I Believe? -- a position paper of sorts by David Lane
Houdini Sid Writes:
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"I apologize then Dave. I clearly misjudged what I've read and many other people
I have talked to have done the same thing. I knew you were still meditating but
I thought you had rejected the teachings. Of course, things like you saying here
that celibacy is a ridiculous concept and many other such examples seemed to
indicate that you have rejected the teachings.
Maybe you equate still meditating with still following Sant Mat but it is hard
for many people like me to see it that way. I equate it with an Atheist who
still goes to church every Sunday because he gets social and status benefits
It's hard to think of a person who has rejected so much of what his master
taught as being someone who still follows Sant Mat just because he still closes
his eyes and repeats a specific mantra.
A mantra, by the way, that you have posted here for all to see even though you
were given that mantra with the instructions that you are never to share it with
You have spit upon what you have been taught by Charan and you have made a name
for yourself in large part because of just that. I have seen many posts by you
on Brian Hines blog and here that seem to fly in the face of any idea that you
in any way still follow what you once promised to devote yourself to following.
My idea of you still following Sant Mat is that you still meditate. You could be
doing TM for all that matters. Sant mat is about much more than meditating and
you have not only rejected much of that but you have gone out of your way to
shout that fact from the rooftops and to profit from it.
You seem to do all kinds of things that fly in the face of the teachings, but
hey, what do i know? If you say you are still a follower then I take back what I
DAVID LANE REPLIES TO THE ABOVE:
THIS IS A ROUGH, OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD (BETA!!) VERSION
I can well understand how one may be confused about what I believe in relation to Charan Singh and Radhasoami Satsang Beas.
Perhaps it is appropriate for me to see if I can explain my position a little better and maybe mitigate some of the misapprehension.
First, I think it is important to note that I agree with Errol Flynn and his famous witticism wherein he writes (from MY WICKED WICKED WAYS) that "I am an octagon of contradictions which in itself may be no contradiction.")
Having more or less a triune brain and multiple selves (see Gurdjieff and neuroscience for more on this), I agree with Edward O. Wilson when he writes that we have selves that are rational at moments (Spockian); emotional and passionate at other moments (Kirkian); and physical and elemental (Scotty?--ah the Enterprise analogy now breaks down!).
What this means, of course, is that I can see things in different lights with different feelings at varying times and in varying contexts.
Now to the jugular:
The wikipedia entry on me says (incorrectly) that I have had a change of "heart" about Sant Mat teachings. That is technically not true. I have had a change of "mind" about the theology, but my heart/affection hasn't actually changed much.
You see, I don't regard myself as an "ex-satsangi". I have never used that moniker for myself. Moreover, I am not upset or bitter about my relationship with Charan Singh. To the contrary, I have exceptionally good memories and feelings about him and the path I chose to get initiated in.
So one may rightly ask, "what happened then?"
Well, like in all relationships they grow and change over time, even if one still retains a deep love and affection for those people involved.
I came to the path when I was 17 and now that I am 56 I don't think that much has changed in me, except that I have grown a bit more skeptical (and more vocal about it) over the years.
I still meditate (my kids just yelled that I meditate too much!), I am still a strict vegetarian, and I still have a deep and abiding love/affection for Charan Singh.
But do I agree with all of Sant Mat theology? NOPE.
Indeed, I don't think I ever agreed with it in the absolutist sense.
My track record (rightly or wrongly) reflects my diffident views on this.
1. I have long championed Faqir Chand's views which do not dovetail in the main with Charan Singh or with Beas. I still vividly remember how I felt back in 1981 when I had a long discussion with Dr. Narang (head of Beas publications) over my plans of publishing THE UNKNOWING SAGE, which contained Faqir's autobiography which he had dictated for me per my request and which I was quite excited to see get into press. Narang and the Dera were very clearly against it. I personally felt at that time they were wrong and despite their protestations went ahead and published it anyways. The first excerpts to see the light of day were in Adi Da's old publication THE LAUGHING MAN which published a shortened version in the Spring of 1982.
Why do I bring this up? Because right then and there I could easily understand how many at Beas would view me as a bad disciple or as a renegade because I contravened the wishes of the Dera.
Moreover, Narang (and apparently others at the Dera) did not want me to pursue further research on the early history of Radhasoami, particularly Agra. I know this because I presented my M.A. thesis RADHASOAMI MAT to them and was again told NOT to publish as I would be doing no service to Sant Mat.
Now, again, I felt that Narang and the Dera were wrong. Why? Because I felt that Radhasoami history, like the history of any movement, was in need of opening itself up to critical scrutiny. I felt Beas had done a fairly awful job of presenting the early history and at certain points I felt that they were more or less covering up controversial issues by trying to sweep these past issues under the rug.
I first got this impression, interestingly enough, before I was initiated when I was on a research trip with Juergensmeyer in the summer of 1978 when the Dera acted (at least to both of us) very weirdly when they attempted to retrieve a financial statement that they had given to Juergensmeyer the day before..... it was awkward to say the least.
I say all of this simply to underline that from the beginning I have had a somewhat renegade relationship with the official policy coming out of the Dera.
This would loom very large in the early 1980s when Narang tried to squelch my further researches only to have Charan Singh override him to some extent. By 1989, I was clearly not on Narang's good side, but he was nice to me nevertheless and on a few occasions asked me to work on a few of their publications..... from Heaven to Earth (which I read before it was published and asked about certain early details related to Agra) to Dawn of Light (I wrote some of the paragraphs in the introduction which they published verbatim, I believe).
None of this justifies my position. I just mention it because it shows the arc I have had with the Dera from the start and thus it is not really all that surprising that I have become a vocal critic on certain theological and historical issues today.
Now when Charan died on June 1, 1990, it was (and I am sure it was for many others) a devastating moment for me.....
At that time I was working on my Ph.D. dissertation which, ironically enough, was centered on succession histories within Radhasoami with a particular emphasis on the Kirpal lineage.
Darshan Singh had a died the year prior (almost to the day) and when Charan opened up the Dera the following year I was very very concerned that he was getting ready to depart. When I saw Treasure Beyond Measure getting fast tracked for publication I just knew that he was likely to die within that year. I even made a prediction that it would be in June. I say this not as some prophet (which I am not), but because I was reading some very obvious tell-tale signs that anyone deeply interested in the subject could pick up.
Thus, I was very engaged in the idea of Charan's successor (I had pegged a family member, given the largeness of the Dera, but had wrongly predicted Nimi's husband) and was not too surprised to learn that he picked his nephew, though I knew nothing about him..... even though I do recall an Indian satsangi mentioning him as a candidate when I was on a train to Delhi from Beas in early 1990).
However, there was something (almost immediately) that made me feel queasy about Gurinder Singh. It is a feeling that has only grown over the years and I wish I could feel otherwise.
Now I can fully accept that this uneasy feeling I have about Gurinder could simply be my own problem and my own psychology, but just as I was deeply attracted to Charan in many non-rational ways, I must confess that I have some very deep feelings (not good) about Gurinder.
Something just doesn't fit right for me. I truly wish I felt otherwise, but such are feelings we have about other humans beings..... rightly or wrongly.
I do think Gurinder is extremely smart and sharp and definitely has a tough position and all that, but I simply cannot feel towards him in any way similar to how I felt about Charan.
Again, I wish I could. I have seen him on a few occasions and even had a nice personal interview with him in Texas...... but it just wasn't meant to be.
I was even appointed (without my knowledge) by him to a Satsang Secretary in Encinitas, even though I had stopped attending satsangs, in the mid-1990s. As much as I really wanted to run again with the tribe, I found I just couldn't. It went against my grain.
Now this doesn't mean that I don't meditate or that I don't miss satsang and satsangis. I truly do.
I didn't have a bad experience. Indeed, it was the opposite...... I had a great time and people were very very nice to me.
I miss my old comrades.
But it is really hard to put a triangle back into a line.
So, essentially I do think that shabd yoga works, but I disagree with the theology that has grown up around it.
I do think it is good to be a vegetarian (even more so a vegan!).
I do think it is good to meditate daily.
However, I disagree with notions of "perfect masters" and Kal powers and all this kind of stuff which seems to me to belong to our mythological past.
Perhaps the best expression of how I feel was in that presentation I gave to the SPIRCON CONFERENCE AT Dayalbagh in Agra back in the Fall of 2010, wherein I argued for a better understanding of materialist science and how it connects to mysticism.
The bottom line?
I think Kirpal Singh had it right when he said that "Sant Mat should be treated like ANY OTHER SCIENCE."
And what is that (at least for me)?
Critically, analytically, and skeptically.
So, yes one can still meditate and still be skeptical of the theology surrounding it.
I went to satsang a few months ago in the desert and I saw my old friend, Vince S., who is now the Western Rep. We hugged and talked for a few minutes. He knew that I was the same person he first saw when I was 17.
The only difference? I have just become more vocal in my skepticism of things, even if at my core I am still a young boy deeply in love with his guru.
I think you mentioned Brian Hines and I wanted to throw in my two cents about how much I admire what Brian has done with his blog and about vocalizing his views.
Brian has been initiated even longer than I have and yet he had the courage to come out publicly and state very clearly where he disagrees with the teachings..... and even his own writings. This is a rare and admirable trait.
Now I realize that satsangis may view him as off the path or as ex-satsangi or Kal's next to kin or whatever...... but from my perspective I think he represents the best trait of a genuine satsangi...... he wants to associate with what he believes is the truth..... and if that takes him in a completely different direction than Path of the Masters, then good on him (as surfers in Australia might say).
Brian is still giving satsang, but just in a more radical way.
Well, I apologize for this long winded rumination.
The very first satsang I went to was one given by Vince S. who had just come back from the Dera..... and I vividly recall a satsangi walking out in the middle of it and basically saying Sant Mat was bullshit..... and slamming the door. Nobody flinched. He came back the next week and every once in a while he would do something similar.
Everybody there loved him, even if he ranted against the very path.
I like a path like that...... perhaps that has influenced me more than I realized.
--- In email@example.com, neuralsurfer wrote:
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> > Comm:
> > Anger, lane, can be expressed in many ways from stamping the floor to eloquent talk, suggestive accusations and the like.
> David Lane:
> And it can also be wrongly projected onto others as well.
Everything is possible lane ... many people project these things on spiritual teachers, you know that, don't you?