Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: September 1997
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I want to go back to the home base now.
Dear satsangi: I deeply appreciate your concern and the time you have put into replying to my letters. I also realize that you don't want to disobey Gurinder Singh's orders yourself. I will perfectly understand if you don't write back to this letter of mine. I just want you to know that I have no ill feelings towards you whatsoever. I can appreciate what you are trying to accomplish. Below I have included your letter, with my attached commentary. Hopefully, it will better clarify my position. YOU WRITE: Dave Having written my message to you that I don't want to enter into a discussion of the Dera on e-mail with you, I feel myself compelled >But I know Charan would tell me to be critically minded--he told me that >repeatedly for five years before I got initiated and he told me that >after I was robbed by J.R. personally. My comment is this. You say that Charan Singh told you to be critical before you got initiated. Gurinder Singh says exactly the same thing, but he adds that once one has made the decision to follow the path and asks for initiation then the critical faculty has no more place. Rather it is a time to squelch the arguments that the mind throws up because after all it is the mind that interferes with our spiritual progress. Who knows more about what is best or us, we or our guru? I guess the question then arises who do we think our guru is? Just an ordinary man? If we truly believe that our guru is a God realized Soul and is in fact God made flesh, then surely we have to bow to his superior knowledge of what is best for us and for the rest of mankind. I have no real understanding of why Babaji wants us not to talk about Sant Mat on the web or on e-mail, but I have to believe that he knows something that I don't. And if you truly believe in the tenets of Sant Mat, then you know as well as I do that there is no difference between Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh, because the real master is Shabd, and clearly if you have the capability of meeting your own Master through meditation, then obviously Gurinder Singh (Huzur's chosen successor) already has and is following his orders. DAVID LANE REPLIES: 1. Jagat Singh says that 90% of spirituality is clear thinking--this is both before and after initiation. The Masters have never said to give up critical thinking after taking initiation (this is a misreading of the literature). What they have stated is that once you have taken initiation it is time to do the practice. Just as in science once one becomes convinced of theory, then one does the experiment. But no scientist gives up critical thinking when doing the experiment. No, we should become better critical thinkers (not less) due to Sant Mat. I am not questioning the practice of meditation. I am questioning the infrastructure of a group that would have some of its members write letters to "police" the information flow given by a free individual, especially when that information is of a historical and critical nature (check the website again--it is not a promotional piece for any one thought--geez, I even have an Atheist book online and feature it prominently). If Sant Mat wants so badly to be called a "science" and not a dogmatic religion, then it better start acting like one. Please tell me of one science where the free flow of information is squelched? Where heathly debate is collapsed? I can name lots of dogmatic religions, however, who engage in the same type of behavior. Now to the point of how we view the master. I must tell you in all frankness to read the Sant Mat literature more carefully. Tulsi Sahib, the guru of Shiv Dayal Singh, says "I will NOT believe my guru until I see the truth with my OWN eyes." Blind faith has no place in the guru/disciple relationship. You mention the nice story of coloring your prayer mat in wine if the guru so desires, but I don't think you have really thought out the consequences of what you are saying. Do you know that another Sant Mat guru--with the same type of rhetoric--has beaten women and sexually abused them and allows the blindfolding of children in his ashram? When his disciples are confronted with this, they say just as you do (indeed, they quote the same passage) and say the Master is Perfect and must know what is right for us. By the way, the drinking of wine is prohibited in Sant Mat, so how does one justify the nice story? By claiming the guru is perfect and must know. Yet, as you even state about Gurinder, he says that we don't know about the status of our own lineage. Well, let's go right to the jugular: we don't know of the status of our own guru. We may believe lots of things, but we simply don't utlimately know the ontological status of our own guru. As Charan Singh told me, "It is intellectually impossible to believe that the guru is God." These were his own words. Thus we must always make critically minded decisions in light of the guru's behavior. If we don't, then you get thousands abused by the likes of Thakar Singh (just check out chapter five of my R.S. Tradition for the horrors inherent in this type of thinking). No we should retain our critical discrimination (our "clear thinking" as Jagat Singh said). I know how much I love Charan Singh, yet that love does not mean that I have to give up that obstruction known as my brain just because I want to go directly to my heart. There is such a thing as "intelligent" love. The gurus do make mistakes and this is one thing that should be publicly broadcast. If you don't believe me on this, just listen to the tapes where they have been wrong on dates, on names, on history, on monetary speculations (read Treasure Beyond Measure-- my all-time favorite book). I can list a whole series of them for you, but let me just give you one that I know of: Charan Singh said on tape that Shiv Dayal Singh did not smoke a huqqa (a tobacco pipe). He is just plain wrong. Shiv Dayal Singh did indeed smoke a huqqa; i even have a real photograph of him doing just such a thing. I don't blame Charan and I don't try to cover it up with some lame and cultic explanation. He just didn't know the history as well as others, perhaps. Or, just maybe he was being diplomatic and did not want to offend his audience. But in either case, his answer is empirically wrong. Now having said that, we must always keep in mind that we must be intelligent followers of the guru, and not sheep-like or herd-like. Yes, Gurinder Singh was indeed appointed by Charan Singh, but that does not mean that he cannot be wrong on certain points and that he does not need or deserve healthy criticism from time to time. You must be aware that With a Great Master in India by Julian Johnson contains many racial slurs and is quite anti-Jewish in its sentiment. Indeed, it has a Nazi-like rhetoric to it that is quite disturbing at times. Yet it was published under Sawan Singh's authority. Today, you can't find those same racial statements. Why? They have been edited out. Why again? Because there were critically minded Jewish followers who objected to it. Thus the deletions. This Dera would be better served by thinkers, by doubters, than by a bunch of synchophants who are merely scared of reincarnation rhetoric. A SATSANGI WRITES: As to being critical about other religions, I know that Master does not like us to do that. At the Dera someone asked whether Christ had been a Perfect Living Master. Babaji said that we are not in a position to judge who is or who is not. How do we know, he said that the Radha Soami line of Masters are PLMs? We cannot know without going inside. Discussing it doesn't take us anywhere. We cannot know with our limited intellect. But as Babaji said, these gurus and masters are all higher than us, and so deserve our respect - as do all human beings irrespective of whether we agree with their opinions or the way they lead their lives. In the November Central RS Newsletter, there is an excerpt from a letter sent to representatives about the quality of satsangs. In it, point 4 says: "The speakers should avoid criticism of other religions and faiths. The emphasis should always be on our strength and not others' weakness." DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, it is better to be critical of Radhasoami, which I most certainly am. It is also good to be critical of the gurus' authority, as well as be critical of ourselves. I don't criticize religions because I think Sant Mat is true. I criticize all religions, when necessary, because that is exactly what we should do. Read Davidson's new book on Jesus. It is highly critical.... especially if one happens to be a fundamentalist Christian. Path of the Masters is outrageously critical of other religions-- indeed it is even arrogant. Read the criticism of Agra R.S. groups in our books--it is blatant. This rhetorical device just does not hold up. To be sure, Sant Mat should stand on its own legs, but to give up the critical mind is silliness. Radhasoami deserves to be critically analyzed.... If you don't think so, then please by all means read about Thakar Singh. I am the guy who first went public about his transgressions. I am very very happy I did. I know of several women whose lives were literally saved because of it. Give up the critical mind? How do you think I became convinced of Charan Singh? Grace, yes; critical thinking, yes too. A SATSANGI writes: It seems to me that critical analysis of other religions is fun and interesting and stimulating to the mind. That is why we do it. I am enjoying writing this message and I know that my mind is pushing me to do it even though last night I said I would not. But, the bottom line is what do I want out of this life? Do I want to be born again or do I wan to go back to Sach Khand? My personal feeling is that if I want to go home I have to believe in my Master's instructions and if he tells me to "dye my prayer mat in wine" then so be it. DAVID LANE REPLIES: You should re-read what you just wrote. It sounds no different in form or context than a fundamentalist Christian. Do you really think that the guru is going to send a person back a life because he or she uses the internet? Or, more bluntly, that he or she uses their BRAIN? What kind of fear tactic is this? Guru authority is potentially the most abusive authority around. I know from which I speak (having received personal death threats from another shabd yoga guru, John-Roger Hinkins--the guy who also robbed my house) There is nothing wrong with the mind, per se. But there is something wrong with not using it. That's the scariest proposition of all..... Just watch the video where Thakar Singh blindfolds kids and beats them.... They use exactly the same wording to defend the guru....... I realize that Charan and Gurinder are not abusive in that way, but that does not mean that we cannot disagree. It is Gurinder who is trying to get me off the web, not vice versa (remember that---it is very telling indeed). A SATSANGI WRITES: In your message you also said: >This has got to be one of the toughest things for me to go through, >especially given my great love of Charan and Sant Mat...... Why do it, then? You don't have to do it. Your web page could be simplified to remove all reference to the Beas line of Gurus. You could remove explicit reference to the teachings, such as chapter 4 of the Enchanted Garden. You could take out everything about surat shabd yoga and focus on other mysticism. You could even get rid of the web page altogether. Or you can continue going your own way using as an excuse your arguments about the importance of allowing the free flow of information. Maybe you are right, maybe there should be a free flow of information, but does it have to be you, an initiate of Charan Singh, who has to make that information available? There are plenty of non-satsangis out there who share your views about Sant Mat. Why not let them inform the public? DAVID LANE REPLIES: I don't think you know my background that well so I understand why you may have written the above. But if you knew my background better you may change your tune. Gurinder Singh in 1990 in a personal letter to Michelle Lopez told her that "David Lane has a deep understanding of Sant Mat" and that she should come to me for advice on any questions concerning it. Charan Singh also said the same thing and told me "It was NEVER my intention for you to give up your research work. As I told you before, it is GOOD research that you are doing." Well, I am no different in 96 than I was in 90 in terms of my understanding of Sant Mat. And I will tell you one thing: My website is none of Gurinder Singh's business. It has nothing to do with promoting Radhasoami Beas, and the fact that he or any of his disciples think they have the right to tell me to take it off indicates or suggests to me that Radhasoami needs some cult counseling..... I am not writing the Dera and telling them what they should do and threatening them with karmic retribution. This website contains my books on the subject which have already been published and circulated worldwide. This website contains most of them in verbatim form. My Enchanted Land contains my articles, not Dera's. It is absolutely none of Dera's concern. That they think it is scares me.... It scares me because they are lying to their following. Don't tell people Sant Mat is a science, when it does not act like any science that we know of (no email? no websites? no intellectual discussion? give me a break). I have seen the Dera be dead-wrong before (don't forget, they backed down on that woman's dissertation; how do I know? I was on her committee!). Charan Singh would never have asked me to do this and if he did I would have publicly and openly disagreed with him. That's how much I loved him. I loved him so much that I had the balls to disagree with him. Loving somebody and kow-towing to his or her every whim is not love. It is called belonging to a cult. Read Treasure Beyond Measure very closely; you will see how intelligent love acts. Then you said >Gurinder has an incredibly tough job.......... But that does not mean >that we cannot simply disagree. No, it does not mean you can't disagree, but does the disagreement have to be so public? The question that comes to me here is who is disagreeing with whom? Remember that the law of karma is inviolable. What karmic debts does an initiate create by overtly disobeying the requests of a PLM? Babaji has said to me personally, that the Lord does not forgive everything that we do in this lifetime. That's what scares me about what you are doing. Are you prepared to pay the price? I am not. I have heard too many stories about satsangis who have deliberately gone against the Master and had very horrible illnesses to contend with at the end of their lives. Remember the three gifts of the master: poverty, illness and dishonor. Which gift do you prefer? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Dear satsangi, please re-read what you just wrote. It has the same import of any fundamentalist that I know of--Christian or Muslim or Jewish. Do you really want to believe such things? Do you really think so poorly of Gurinder Singh that anyone who disagrees with him (and because of that conviction does something different) gets "karmically burned."? Geez, I have students of mine in college who disagree with me all the time. I don't threaten them with damnation or another round on the karmic wheel..... We just disagree and I appreciate that. I like when students rip me. Charan Singh said, "critics are our best friends." He meant that too. I could give a shit about illness or bad karma or another fudging life. Why? Because I am not disagreeing with Gurinder because I am just a naughty satsangi. I am disagreeing with him because I think he is just plain wrong. That's it. I am not telling him what to do, yet he has you and others trying to tell me what to do. Think about that, contemplate that. That's called a cult, if you could see it from an objective perspective--especially when this website of mine contains MY writings! A SATSANGI WRITES: If I were you,I would write to Babaji and ask for his advice about how to change the web page so that it continues to do what you want it to do, but does not contravene his wishes. But here I go again, trying to tell you what to do. Gotta stop that. DAVID LANE writes: NO. Let Gurinder Singh stop making his disciples do what he wants done. If he wants me to shut it down, then let him write. I will tell him point-blank that he is wrong and we can have a healthy argument about that. Gurinder Singh should stop interfering in the lives of those who happen to think differently than him. I am genuinely appalled by this tactic of the Dera to "control" information, because that is exactly what is happening; and in the process making people like your good self act as "cyber" cops in the name of the Guru. It is revolting on a personal level, it is revolting on a social level. I never thought I would see the day that the Dera would try to "trademark" names to protect their property and self-interest. But they are doing it as we speak. How do I know? Their lawyer called me and asked for advice. Why? Because, ironically enough, I have a legal claim for many of the terms they want trademarked. Why do I have such a legal claim? Because I appear to be one of the first to appear on the Net with my book. Do I want such trademarks? Absolutely not. Yet the Dera does. Do you really think this is what Sant Mat is about? Property, money, trademarks, and policing information? What would Kabir (my metaphorical friend) have done if he were alive today? I think he may have thrown rocks at the Dera and told them one simple piece of advice: shut up and meditate. Let people live their own lives and let satsangis think for themselves....... A SATSANGI WRITES: By the way who is the JR who robbed you? I am not an American (... actually) and don't know about all these American gurus. I assume that is who he is/was. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, he is an American guru who offshooted from Eckankar but who now claims that he was given authority by Sawan Singh to initiate souls. He threatened to kill me because I exposed the fact that he had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars and threatened the lives of his former followers. You see, I won't back down when I think something is wrong....... A SATSANGI WRITES: I hope that I haven't totally pissed you off with my comments, but you did ask and I (my ego) had a lot of fun thinking about it. Take care. A satsangi DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, not at all. In fact, I am very grateful for your commentary and I realize how tough it must be to deal with somebody like me. You might have thought it would be a relatively easy affair--just notify Lane to get off the web.... Please know that my harsh words are not really directed at you per se, but at the rhetoric that is used in Sant Mat circles to justify the type of behavior that I find cultic...... As always feel most free to rip anything I say. If you write Gurinder Singh, you can also say that you tried your best but this Lane boy is under the sway of the Kal. I shall not mind. Like I said (and I literally mean this): I love my guru so much that I can openly diagree with him-- I love him that much....... I am serious. David Lane
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I want to go back to the home base now.