Author: David Christopher Lane and Daniel Caldwell Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: June 1997
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to go back to the home base now.
NOTE by Daniel Caldwell: Regarding my posting on "David Lane and His Call for Testing", David Lane wrote that I deserved a merit badge. Maybe he was being sarcastic? DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, you deserve a merit badge for showing some fine tuned skepticism. I applaud your doubts of Babaji, wherein you mention that you think he may not exist. Good! DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: But he thanked me for bringing up relevant questions concerning his guru, the late Charan Singh. Now when I have replied to David in my latest post entitled " Replace Babaji with Charan Singh. . . .No, Replace Both with Gurinder Singh!!", David's tone seems quite different. Even negative I might say. (See David's own words below.) In my latest posting, I was only repeating and reemphasizing what I had written at the end of my "David Lane And His Call for Testing". My point was simply that since Babaji doesn't do interviews and Charan Singh is dead, why not try to test Gurinder Singh. I will now try to respond point to point to what David has written. DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, I was simply trying to make you focus on one subject and stop trying to switch gurus. We can do that, and the same skepticism should be applied to each and everyone of them. As for switching from Babaji to Charan Singh to Gurinder, the same skepticism should be applied to each. But, as I stated to you before (several times), I am not trying to prove the paranormal powers of the Beas lineage. I am already quite convinced that such gurus don't have all-knowing power. I have written on this repeatedly. You may want to test it, but as for me I already have. DANIEL on Babaji writes: Of course, you were not satisfied with historical accounts but wanted Babaji to appear in public, on tv, etc. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, that would be a lovely way to at least provide some evidence for Babaji's existence. 20/20 or Dateline or 60 minutes? All would be cool. DANIEL WRITES: I did not want to switch gurus or topics but what else could one say to your demand that Babaji should appear on TV. If this is the ONLY kind evidence that you will accept, then there is little else to discuss! DAVID LANE REPLIES: Again, Daniel, you seem to have reading problems here. I wouldn't mind seeing Babaji personally. Maybe he can show up and surf with me. That would be a start. Lest you forget, I said we can start with evidence and build upon that. What I was pointing out was the obvious: Babaji apparently has the ability (it is alleged) to show up anywhere in his physical body. Okay, I simply asked him to show up to a skeptics' meeting. That would be cool. Daniel, I don't mind if he is camera shy and just wants to come over my house for a round of cokes. That would be a nice start.] But I am not going to succumb to Indian "stories" about his existence. They may be nice leads, but they do need follow-up. I suggested 20/20 with Barbara. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: I personally would accept other kinds of evidence like historical accounts. That's not to say that I would be 100% totally convinced. DAVID LANE REPLIES: I am personally very skeptical of historical accounts when they are trying to "prove" the miraculous. In these cases especially I think it is necessary to look for much more compelling evidence, particularly because we can be so easily misled (think of the Gospels for instance). Perhaps Hume's maxim and Occam's Razor are nice tools to use in this regard. Yes, we can start with historical accounts, but I certainly would not settle for them in trying to prove the existence of a miraculous being named Babaji. Even you conceed here you would NOT be 100% convinced. Well, I wouldn't even give it a percentage at this stage. DANIEL WRITES: I get the impression from all that you have been writing on alt.religion.eckankar that you want fast and easy answers. All or nothing! Black and white! Maybe you still have some growing to do. Maybe in ten or 15 years your skeptical views will mature and you will see these things in a somewhat different light. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Nope, I just won't settle for silly answers to important questions. You have not once shown me any evidence that the paranormal really does exist in these debates. You have instead raised all sorts of questions about what type of evidence I would accept. Fair enough. Babaji shows up and psychic powers repeatedly demonstrated in a controlled circumstance. I could be wrong and I am quite open to that. Yes, I am quite positive that my views in 15 years will change. But I surely hope that I will not lower my standards for truth, for facts, for verifiability. You may call lowering standards a sign of progress; I call it the first sign of gullibility. Dan, truth should be able to survive some hard questions. And if it can't, then I don't think it was true to begin with, but just another form of human deception gone undetected for too long. Our gullibility to believe claptrap has a long history. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Concerning Babaji, you want a TV appearance. That's apparently the only thing you will accept. Fine and good. But testimony, historical accounts, eye witness accounts are no good either; you characterize such "things" as "stories". With this attitude you can throw all of history into the dustbin. Don't get me wrong. One should be careful in accepting any kind of evidence. But according to my limited understanding there are different kinds of evidence, different kinds of proof. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, Daniel, we have already been through this territory. I am all for historical records, for stories, and for witnesses. But I won't necessarily accept them as "proof" for that which is "miraculous." Why? Because I know how easily we can be deceived. I also know, in light of my travels to India and elsewhere, how a given phenomena may be explained in a much simpler and easier way. That is why I asked for Babaji to show up to skeptics and be tested. I don't think that is an unreasonable request. And we can always start slowing: Babaji and I go surfing first. I warm him up to the idea of a mass appearance on T.V. Maybe I tell him to cut his hair and get a suit, you know, so he looks real nice and all...... DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: There's the kind of evidence we all accept in daily life as we go thorough our daily routine, trying to make intelligent decisions and discovering what is what? Who's knocking at the door? Who left the cap off the toothpaste? Etc. Etc. Then there's historical evidence about things that we did not personally witness. Who killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman? Who really bombed the building in Oklahoma City? Did George Washington chop down that cherry tree? Did Hitler kill himself or did he escape to South America? Was Paul Twitchell really in communication with Rebazar Tarz? Did Madame Blavatsky commit fraud and bury a cup and saucer and later palm it off as sometime materialized? Was the Master Koot Hoomi really Thakar Singh? Etc. Etc. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Sorry, Danny boy, but you are blurring categories here. Don't confuse Ron Goldman with Rebazar Tarzs. The former didn't claim miracles, nor did his followers; the latter did and so do his followers. In talking about Ron Goldman I don't have to prove something beyond the rational mind, beyond science, and beyond the known laws of physics and medicine. With Rebazar Tarzs, I have to do that and MORE. Be careful; your blurring the lines is misleading. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Barring Babaji's appearance on TV, apparently you will accept nothing else as evidence. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Daniel, I have stated repeatedly that I would love for Babaji to show up for cokes at my house. Do you read my stuff or do you just like to mislead our readers? Yes, as I have said before, we can start with Babaji showing up at McDonald's and then move from there. We can build on that. But I am not going to accept the Miraculous nature of Babaji on the basis of isolated reports that have not been thoroughly or comprehensively substantiated. Naturally, it would be much more ideal for Babaji to show up to skeptics on T.V. since that way WE can all get involved in the discussion.... Then, of course, we would want to examine Babaji (remember this is a cottage industry in India: tens of people now claim to be this Babaji, some of them have already died! oops!) and determine--if possible--his age or his amazing physical resistance to death...... I know India quite well, Daniel, and the naiveness that some have is amazing..... I also know how much duplicity can go on in the name of religion. This Babaji idea has spawned lots of imitators (or are they the real thing?) and lots of gullible people have been duped in the process. Holding out for a high standard seems quite reasonable to me. Why should our standards for a fudging used car being higher than for a miraculous being? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: I personally would accept Babaji's appeareance in my living room with Michelle and me as witnesses. This would not be scientific evidence; but good enough for me. Of course, those who were not present would probably be skeptical of such a "story". But since Babaji probably won't be appearing to me, --- either I can just set aside all of the "stories" about him and do something more productive or else I can approach the "stories" from a historical point of view and see if I can come to any tentative conclusions. You see David, I am open to varying degrees of evidence and proof. I said in previous posts I had no firm opinion one way or the other about Babaji. I have only casually read Yogananda's book and other books about him. I have never taken the time and effort to do serious historical research on Babaji. If I took the time and effort, I might have an "opinion" on him. But my opinion would be based on an assessment of the historical evidence, i.e., the evidence which we do have. Now maybe that evidence is not compelling enough to lead one to accept Babaji's existence. Apparently your standards of evidence and proof are so high that none of the historical evidence would meet those standards. DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, Daniel, the evidence on Babaji (as a miraculous being, thousands of years old) has not been forthcoming. Yes, I am most open to reconsidering my position, just as I might reconsider my position that Elvis lives on Venus. But lest you forget, we have MORE stories that Elvis lives on Venus than Babaji exists. We have MORE reports on Elvis in the afterlife, more reports of Elvis at the local Deli, etc. Sorry, but I don't think Elvis lives either, but that's not because there are not lots of reports on him. There are! Much more than on Babaji. It is just that I won't believe in miracles on sketchy testimony. I have no problem with my standards. And they are not even that high. Hey, I can be a cheap slut at times. If Babaji shows up, I will apologize and I will even pick up the tab for lunch. Gosh, I would do the same for the King, as well. Interesting sidebar: You know, I am sure, that Elvis was a big fan of Babaji's [i am serious]. Maybe they are hanging out with Rebazar in Tibet for the annual Valley of Timir golf tournament. I hear Fubbi Woods is predicted to win. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: For example, apparently Steve R. would not accept ANY of your evidence, David, concerning Twitchell and his birth date. What were his standards of proof, etc.? I don't know. I wonder if he even consciously knows. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Again, Daniel, you are collapsing categories. My research on Eckankar does not prove the miraculous, but the mundane. And, as such, is open to confirmation and disconfirmation from a number of sources. Proving the existence of Babaji is a much trickier thing, especially since he doesn't like to show up to skeptics. Yet, even in the case of Steve's skepticism, he does ALL of us a favor, since he then (more or less) forces us to STRENGTHEN (not weaken or lower) are modes of evidence. I have repeatedly stated (quite seriously) that I am a big fan of Steve's, despite all the weird titles he likes to give me. Why? Because his repeated skepticism forces me to show MORE (not less) lines of plagiarism. It forces me to try to track down Twitchell's driver's license (again, divergent lines pointing to the 1922 birthdate). It forces me to think of alernative hyptheses, even if at times absurd. All of this has provided us with more, not less, evidence. Skepticism helps even those who are already convinced. More doubting shouldn't make the phenomena go away. It should, rather, strengthen our understanding of exactly what it is. I applaud Steve's doubts of my work on Eckankar. That's why I love A.R.E. I don't get believers here. I get doubters. It helps laser beam the research. DANIEL CALDWELL writes: For example, I have had OOBEs in which I was able to confirm later the accuracy of what I had observed out of the body. I would have to be foolish to doubt my own honesty and sanity in these matters. Even some of my friends and relatives can confirm some of the details. And it is for this very reason (that they confirmed the details) that I became convinced that I was not merely hallucinating but apparently "seeing" real things. Of course, to a third party this may all be "stories", not evidence. True, these things may not be "scientific" evidence as you want to define the term; but people can be sentenced to death on "stories." Let's try to keep things in perspective. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Nice start, Daniel, but have you thought about much simpler alternative explanations? Have you tried "repeating" the test? I am game. Want to try it with me or with any number of skeptics? I suggest reading Feynman's own study of OBE's (he used to do them himself); it is quite interesting. I too have had some quite interesting experiences in this arena, but I like to think of simpler explanations and i like to probe deeper. I am all for that. That is why I proposed, lest you forget again, the five digit test. And, lest you forget again, if you didn't like that test, something else that you think may deeper our understanding of his phenemona. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: You have presented historical evidence concerning Paul Twitchell. And I believe you have presented a good case. But this evidence is not scientific and, of course, it could be "better", etc. But I am willing to "believe" something based on just historical evidence. To say this is not to say that I will be 100% convinced. There are degrees of belief depending on the kind of evidence, the quantity and quality of the evidence, etc. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, I quite agree, and that is why Steve and others' skepticism helps in this arena. But again, Dan, don't collapse categories. I was not trying to prove the miraculous with Twitchell, but rather the obvious or mundane (rightly or wrongly), whereas Babaji's existence involves the trans-mundane or the not so obvious. I am willing to concede his existence, but not on LESS than what we know about you and your existence (we have met, at least!). DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: I wish I could "guess" the 5 digits in the OOBE test. Unfortunately, my OOBE abilities are spontaneous and not subject to my conscious control. Maybe these abilities could be developed so as to be under my control. But just because I cannot do your OOBE test, doesn't mean that my previous OOBEs mean nothing or are worthless. Philosophers (even modern ones) often speculate upon assumptions much more dubious than personal experiences. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Daniel, first of all get your arguments straight. I never said your OBE's were "worthless." Gosh, I love OBE's, but that doesn't mean we cannot be skeptical of their interpretation and what they may mean. Yes, we have all sorts of cool experiences. What we are debating is whether or not these experiences reflect a trans-sensory encounter or something else. I realize that my ocean surfing is nothing more than a physical phenomenon, but I enjoy it all the same. Also, I asked you to suggest another test, if you didn't like the five digit one. Come up with some. It would be fun. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: On the other hand, if others claim or believe they can get out of the body, go to your house in Del Mar and are able to "see" those digits, then --- by all means set up a test. Better yet a series of tests. But my question is: Even if someone got the number, what would that really prove? I certainly would consider it interesting but what else could be concluded from it? Would it really prove something scientifically? I don't think so. Unless it could be repeated in some consistent way, a one time "guessing" of the digits could be due to chance. Now if the person who "guessed" the number could also tell us interesting things about what they saw in your room, like that picture you have on the wall of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, ---- then we might have a little more interesting psychological evidence to go on. But a one time guessing of the 5 digits would be an interesting anecdote, an interesting story and. . . really nothing more. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, bro, now you are in the groove. Good thinking here. Second merit badge (with no added sarcasm). DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: David, you are the one who says you are always willing and eager to do testing. You have repeated this probably 100s of times on alt.religion. eckankar. I'm sure many readers on this forum will back up my statement. Again, maybe you have written somewhere about your questioning and testing of your guru, Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh. I have not read anywhere where you give specific details. You didn't write about it in THE UNKNOWING SAGE, did you? Please tell us where you have written in detail about what you asked these two Radhasomai gurus and what tests you asked them to take? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Charan Singh's answer on the question of his knowingness is quite interestingly revealed in the book, TREASURE BEYOND MEASURE. Published just two months before his death. He says quite clearly that he doesn't know and that he never wanted to be a guru and that he was not what people took him to be. No need to test. He already admits the obvious. In my personal interview with Gurinder Singh, he admitted the same. That he had no idea he was going to be appointed a guru and that Charan Singh's death was the greatest tragedy of his life. The reason I am not setting up new tests is because the subjects themselves have already admitted that they don't know. If you claim NOT to know how to surf, I see no reason to take you out at 10 foot Point Panic in Oahu. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Please notice the complete change of tone between David Lane's last two postings to me. The first one is positive and the second one is negative and somewhat snippy. And yet in both posts I bring up Gurinder Singh and the proposal to test him. In David's first reply, he ignores and does not mention anything I had said about Gurinder Singh and when I bring up the subject again, he writes with this new negative tone. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Negative tone? No, dear Danny, I was just trying to make you focus on one subject (it's called tracking). Let me repeat again, I don't think Gugu (Gurinder's childhood name) knows.... As Aaron Talsky told me last nite, "Why give him the test when you already know the answer? He can't do it." Is that clear, Dan, or am I being negative? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Babaji has not made that public appearance yet that you demand. You apparently will not consider as evidence historical testimony, records, etc. Therefore what further discussion could we have on Babaji. It is all moot at this point in time. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yep, it is a real problem when the object in question fails to show up, huh? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Charan Singh was your guru and in your first (?) edition of THE UNKNOWING SAGE you are willing to concede that Charan Singh had "transcendental insights." DAVID LANE REPLIES: Sorry, but first editions of Unknowing (done in a rag tag sort of way) never included such caveats. Quite frankly, I added that section to the stew in light of Dr. Narang's criticism and in light of Darshan Singh's statement that the guru DOES know. I love Charan Singh very dearly, but I clearly do NOT know whether he had transcendental insight or not. I do know, however, of some very nice things he did. I love him more now than I did even back then, not because I have discounted the transcendental, but because I have come to appreciate the practical. When I acknowledge what I know (versus what I wish to believe), I find that I much better off. You see, Dan, what I am asking you to do with Babaji or the paranormal is not different than what I am asking myself to do with what I love most: Think critically. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: If you have changed your opinion concerning his claims, fine and good. But I have not read anything you have written in which you give any details as to what you asked Charan Singh that could be considered a test of anything. Where is the text of your questioning and testing? Did you have doubts about Charan Singh when he was alive or was it only after he died? Of course you are free to refuse to answer such questions but you have written on the topic yourself in your book and even on alt.religion.eckankar. Therefore I believe it is a topic for public discussion. DAVID LANE REPLIES: I am not in doubt about Charan Singh. I love him more now than I did before. All that has happened is that I have gotten more skeptical. As for "testing" him, there is no need. He has already admitted that he does not know. I accept him totally as a human being. A human being I miss more than anything else in this world. That, perhaps, has been my greatest revelation. To love the humanness of things. Quite frankly, I don't know about his "transcendental" insight. I do know about his effect on me and how kind he was to me on a number of occasions. I like to ground my estimation of him on that basis, something much more tangible. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Since you have repeatedly said you are willing to test this that and the other; that you are always willing to reconsider any and all evidence (for example, various issues surrounding Paul Twitchell, which you have been most willing to discuss time and time again in great detail) concerning these controversial topics; since you yourself said you are always willing to test, test and retest; in light of all you have written, I thought you would be more than willing to consider testing Gurinder Singh. He is the appointed guru chosen by Charan Singh. He is the logical person to "test" since Charan Singh is no longer alive. Babaji and Charan are not available: you say that all the evidence about them are. . . stories. If you have attempted to question or test Gurinder Singh, let us know about it. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Once again, Daniel, read Treasure Beyond Measure by Shanti Sethi. It contains excerpts from Charan's diaries. Charan Singh is very clear in his unknowingness, as was Gurinder Singh in his interview with me. Charan never claimed to be an enlightened master. Indeed, he tried to run away from the Dera when he was appointed. He literally disdained being a guru. He did do so, he told me, out of his love and sense of duty to his own guru, Sawan Singh. As for testing his successor, there is no need on my end. I am not in doubt about his unknowingness..... DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Let the world know. You have been more than willing and quite happy to expose the "other" side of Eckankar and Paul Twitchell. And you say that you have found fraud, deception and delusion. Well, are you willing to write about those things dearest to your heart? The true skeptic would. In light of your views and "suspicions", even Radhasomai Beas must be based on. . . .some combination of delusion and fraud. If not fraud, then a great deal of delusion. Here is YOUR chance to set the record straight, just as you have done on Eckankar. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Better yet, Daniel, read what Charan Singh himself says in Treasure Beyond Measure. It is quite clear. As for me, I have already written a large number of pieces on the subject. As I stated before, I love Charan Singh more now than before, not because I have had some transcendental insight, but because I have come to appreciate and admire his numerous fine qualities. Quite human and quite remarkable. I miss him dearly. I have only gotten more skeptical, that's all. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Yes, I could write a letter to Gurinder Singh. But I am a total stranger. But you are one of the experts on Radhasoami, you are or were a disciple of Charan Singh. Is there such a thing as being a member of Radhasomai Beas? What relationship do you have with the organization? I assume you have met him at least once. Does he know you? Have you asked him the hard questions that you would expect a skeptic to ask him? Did he refuse to answer, etc.? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Dan, you seem to overlook what I write. Let me say it again: I don't think the guru knows...... Therefore, I don't need to test somebody on how much he doesn't know when I already KNOW that (word play, yea). Yes, I am still a follower of Charan Singh. Nothing has changed on that score; I miss him more even. The only difference and it is really quite mundane: I have gotten more skeptical. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: If your views are correct, the followers of Radhasoami Beas are as deluded and (possibly) deceived as the followers of Eckankar. Are you willing to set the record straight; to put the present guru of Radhasoami Beas in the glare of truth seeking criticism (as you have been more than willing to do with Darwin Gross and Harold Klemp)? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Dan, try reading THE UNKNOWING SAGE (the main text). Faqir Chand point blank contradicts orthodox R.S. theology. And who published it? Me. Try reading the R.S. Tradition and compare it with what orthodox R.S. theology says about its history. Try reading the many articles I have posted on shabd yoga. I have always been a rebel in this regard. Loving someone doesn't mean that you have to give up your brain. Nobody has presented more critical information worldwide on R.S. than me..... And I have taken lots of heat for it. This is nothing new, this is not a new campaign. This is merely the extension of what I have always been doing. Here's a timeline: 1. MAKING in 78 (critical of Eckankar) 2. R.S. MAT (M.A. thesis) in 81 (presents the wide scattering of R.S. gurus worldwide, mentioning offshoots that some in R.S. don't want mentioned. 3. THE UNKNOWING SAGE (in various versions) in 81. I present Faqir Chand's iconoclastic views in the West, even though he contradicts my own guru and my own path. I could fill-in the rest, but you get the drift...... DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Or are you satisfied with what you have already discovered about Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh? No more testing and questioning necessary??? Then if you have the answers about them share that information for the common good. Again, if you have written about this in more than oblique/ vague references please let us know where a copy can be obtained. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, here's a real thumbnail answer and not at all oblique or vague. They are human beings. That's all. I don't consider them miraculous or all-knowing. I also don't think they are thousands of years old and I also don't think that they have the ability to appear anywhere physically. Therefore, there is no need to test the obvious: they are human and they are unknowing. I accept that and I am quite comfortable with it. Is that, again, clear enough, danny? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Did you do the same with Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh? And what questions did you ask and what were their comments? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, Danny, I did, and I came away with a clear sense of humanness (good traits, mind you) and unknowingness. Sorry, but there were so many questions over such a long period of time that it would be difficult for me to recount them all. Let me just botttom line it: I accept the humannes of them and don't think anything "miraculous" is going on in Hume's sense of the term. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Unless you are willing to be upfront with all of this and give details then most of your readers will have but the foggiest idea about what your talking about. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Again, Dan, how clear can I be? They are human, they are unknowing. I accept that. Read Treasure Beyond Measure; you will get ample evidence to see what I mean. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: You probably will not like what I have written in this posting. And you may even refuse to reply or may give us more replies like your last, but I appeal to the true skeptic IN you. . . who must be there somewhere. DAVID LANE REPLIES: What is there not to like? You have simply demonstrated that you can be skeptical too..... I applaud such skepticism. Now just use it on yourself and your own "close to the heart" kinds of matters. You may too discover what I have seen in my guru: the beautiful humanness of it all. I actually like it, by the way. So did Mary of Magdala.
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I want to go back to the home base now.