Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: June 1997
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DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: In light of what Dr. David C. Lane believes about the nature of reality,--- the most famous mystics, yogis, saints and seers are all a bunch of fools and/or deceivers of the first order. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Plato was wrong on many things, so was Socrates, so was Rumi, so was Shiv Dayal Singh, so was Sawan Singh, so are you and I. Yet, that does not mean (as you wrongly imply about me and my writings) that such saints or mystic do not have positive contributions to make. I most certainly think they do, but that does not mean that we cannot be skeptical or critical or doubtful on a large number of issues. Go back to your original point about Babaji. I simply asked him to "SHOW UP." There is nothing wrong with that, as you yourself indicate that you are not certain if he exists or not. Being doubtful or being critical does preclude one from finding valuable or insightful things about certain teachers. I still read Plato, though he has many scientific things wrong. I still read Aristotle, though he was wrong about the solar system. I still read Sawan Singh, even though he was wrong about the authorship of Anurag Sagar. I still read Charan Singh, even though he doesn't know science very well or that he mistakenly believed that Shiv Dayal Singh didn't smoke a huqqa. I still read Faqir Chand, even though he was naive about physics and astronomy. I still even read "me" (see Dick's repostings), even though I indulged in silly transpersonalisms that were neither accurate or appropriate. I still read Wilber, in sum, even though I may disagree with him. Critical discrimination, Dan...... DANIEL CALDWELL writes: Think about it folks! Dr. Lane can write almost laudatory articles about three great mystics of India for *Fate* and ten years later in light of his current thinking, these three seers--- Yogananda, Sawan Singh and Ramana Mahrishi---are either deluded fools and/or charlatans who have, in effect, deceived thousands if not millions of people. DAVID LANE REPLIES: You better watch your overstatements here, Danny boy, since it makes you look downright silly. What did I say that was negative about Yogananda? I simply asked for some fudging proof about Babaji's physical existence. I am quite open to have Babaji over for cokes. As for Ramana Maharshi, I have a deep admiration for him (and still read him almost daily). Does that mean I cannot disagree with him at points? Is this an either/or thing with you Dan? Because for me (contrary to your puff piece here) it is not. As for Sawan Singh, I deeply enjoy some of his writings. Does that mean that I cannot have a contravening view in some areas? Faqir Chand deeply loved Sawan Singh, but he disagreed with him at times. Is it that difficult for you to understand this? DANIEL CALDWELL writes: And although Dr. Lane has repeatedly spoken of the love he has for his own deceased guru, what must one conclude about Charan Singh in light of what David Lane has written? If we are NOTHING BUT material bodies living in a material world, Charan Singh was either greatly deluded himself or guilty also of deceiving thousands and thousands of disciples. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Do you have reading problems Danny? I have continually said on this newsgroup that "I don't know much" and have called myself, more or less, a mystical agnostic materialist. To unpack that for you (since your sense of fine-tuning seems to have gone on vacation) it means this: I am not sure, not certain, though I clearly see advantages in a the empirical approach, since it (in contrast to its spiritual counterparts) tends to ADMIT its errors and be willing to CHANGE over time. To invoke Occam's Razor or Hume's Maxim does not mean that ONLY Materialism is true (I simply don't know that), but rather to think rationally and critically and economically about issues that tend to get inflated with both hype and hyperbole. What I have written about Charan Singh can be applied to any or all gurus: Let us be critical and discriminating. We can still honor and respect those things which we admire or are impressed with (I can list some amazing things about him that I deeply honor and admire), but that does not mean that we cannot retain our critical faculties and ask some deeper and tougher questions. You seem to have a problem with one simple point: I think all gurus, including my own, should be viewed with skepticism. That skepticism will not "debunk" the true things about them, but only those features which are less than true, less than real, less than honest. What's wrong with thinking critically and deeply about the very core of our beings? I happen to think it is a very positive thing. It also does not mean, as you so wrongly state about me, that we somehow know the Absolute and Final truth. Anybody who knows me well knows that I always state the same mantra: "I don't know much." But in that littleness it does not mean that I have to believe stupid or silly things in order to keep my religious faith afloat. Remember Danny: little doubt, little faith; GREAT doubt, GREAT faith. --------- DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: And poor Paul Johnson. He could have saved himself tons of effort and time researching Edgar Cayce's readings. We all must know what Dr. Lane thinks about Cayce's readings and the alleged paranormal information contained in those readings. Last time I personally talked on the phone to Dr. Lane he had not a good word to say about Cayce. In fact, his remarks were quite negative. None of the "evidence" provided in the Cayce readings could possibly pass the standards set up by Dr. Lane. Evidence, I shouldn't even use that word! No doubt, Dr. Lane considers the whole mass of Cayce's readings as mere "stories". DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, Danny, and Paul Johnson (to his excellent credit) asked me to "critique" his manuscript from my "skeptical" position. He even asked me to write a section for it, even though it point blank contradicted his views. That is the wonderful thing about him and why I am always happy to correspond with him. We can disagree with each other and not get stuck with silly and ridiculous rejoinders (huh Danny?). DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: he Cayceites are no less gullible than the poor Eckists, Theosophists or the millions of other poor deluded fools who have believed in various paranormal claims and/or the tenets of any religion upon the face of the planet. Surely this must be true if Lane is correct in his thinking. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Well, Danny, do you believe in Thor the Thunder God? Do you believe that Zeus is still atop Mount Olympus? Yes, many of things that we believe in religion turn out on closer inspection to be wrong, inaccurate, exaggerated, misinterpreted and the like. Yet, we can still be open to many things while retaining a critical and discriminating edge. Paul Churchland has written an elegant essay on this very point, wherein he talks about eliminative materialism and folk psychology. What he points out is that our ancient mythic conceptions may have been the best models at the time that we had but later on we grow out of them and develop finer tuned models with better predictive powers. I think the same holds for religion as well. I certainly don't believe in Creationism, though it is clearly spoken about in the Old Testament. I certainly don't believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, though it is clearly written about in the New Testament. I certainly don't believe in the Flower Resurrection of Kabir, though some stories speak of it. I certainly don't believe that homosexuality is against nature, even though some R.S. gurus have said as much. What this means, Daniel, is that like science (which can over time change and alter its view) we should allow religion to ADMIT its weaknesses and its mistakes. Why is that so difficult to acknowledge? Remember, my skepticism does not mean that I somehow know the Truth, but rather just indicates that I won't settle for models that I sense are less than complete. And clearly R.S. and religion needs some wholesale questioning and doubting, don't you think? We can ferret through the stuff that is crap and that which may be valuable. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: That is why I declined to "debate" and "discuss" the claims of Madame Blavatsky with Dr. Lane. What "evidence" (that might even seem to support Blavatsky's claims) would pass the tests and questions of Dr. Lane? All we have are just stories. If the BEST research by parapsychologists cannot pass the Lane test, why even discuss personal or historical examples of the paranormal with the good Dr? Dr. Lane says he is open to the paranormal, but isn't it strange that apparently NOTHING up to this point in time passes Lane's standards. NOTHING. Everything is somehow . . . . flawed. Of course, Dr. Lane will probably deny these observations. No doubt, he will say I am overstating the case. Isn't it good to doubt, to question? he will reply. Etc. etc. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Geez, Danny, I guess you want a cheap conversion? Sorry, but I think Truth will be able to survive the questions asked of it, even by those who don't know much. Dan, you have not cited evidence in your replies. You have simply debated the issue of proof and my standards. Let me repeat again: Read the fudging five digits and I would be impressed! Have Babaji show up at my house and I will apologize. I am all for being wrong (it would be truly groovy to see Rebazar in the physical--I am serious), but that does not mean that I have to be a cheap slut and sleep with shit as evidence. No matter how much I love my guru, I am willing to be skeptical and critical of him. What's wrong with wanting evidence? What's wrong with holding out for higher standards? If the paranormal is true (along the lines you mention), all the doubting will simply make the case STRONGER, not weaker. Is truth such a wimp that it needs cheap converts? Yes, we should take God to task....... Read Nietzsche, Dan, it is really refreshing. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: As they say in Texas, each tub stands on its own bottom. David Lane can believe whatever he chooses to believe. He says he is open to the paranormal but is he really? Does anyone really believe James Randi is open to the paranormal? Can I sell you a bridge in Brooklyn? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Dan, are you now practicing as a psychologist? What you fail to realize is that if I am proven wrong (that Babaji exists, that Rebazar exists, that soul exists, that OBE's can show objective and truthful reports, etc.), I WOULD BE STOKED. Do you really think it is easy for me to criticize my own guru? Get a clue, Dan. I am only asking these tough kinds of questions because I really do want to know what is true, what is real, what is happening. I may be dead wrong and I would be the first to celebrate. Now, Dan, let me ask you: Would you, likewise, "celebrate" if you found out that you were wrong about Madame, about the paranormal? I know I would be happy to be wrong; Can you honestly say the same? You seem to forget that I wrote glowing transpersonal articles in the 1980s and I seriously STILL practice shabd yoga. What has changed is that I have read more widely, thought more deeply perhaps, and gotten more skeptical. I have seen lots of BS in the shabd yoga world (from Thakar to Michael Martin) and that has seasoned me over the years. I don't regret the change at all. Truth will shine all the more because of such tests, because of such doubts. Relax, Dan. Reality will win in the end, not our puny versions of it. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Eckists, I have some advice to you. Don't waste your time in dialogue with Dr. Lane. If no one ever replied to his endless stream of verbiage, maybe he would go away and "harass" some other poor group of "gullible" people. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Harass? Geez, Danny, just because I take the time to reply to almost every question or note that comes my way does not qualify for such adjectives. Perhaps you are confusing me with your own situation? Ask Paul Johnson, Dan, about harrassing...... As for me, I try to reply to whatever one asks. Just as I am doing with you right now. Lest you forget, bro, YOU asked me to respond to YOUR question on alt.religion.eckankar. Endless verbiage? And I thought we were friends? just teasing. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Why doesn't Lane try to open the eyes of those millions of deluded Radhasoamii followers? Lane could produce a couple of cheap paperbacks and flood India with copies. . . . DAVID LANE REPLIES: Do you have any idea of my history with R.S. Beas? It simply amazes me how little you know and how quick you are to make these grandiose sweeping statements. But I should thank you, actually, since it gives me another opportunity to list what I have written that is critical about R.S. or shabd yoga in general. 1. For over a decade I worked on Juergensmeyer's study of R.S. Lest you forget, Juergensmeyer is NOT a satsangi and his work is critical (at times) of some very orthodox issues. I gave him COUNTER-arguments to PRO-R.S. positions. I set up Juergensmeyer's interview with Faqir Chand (he didn't know about him); I gave Juergensmeyer copies of some of my S.D. Maheshwari material (anti-Beas, by the way). In 1981 I published at my own expense (and against the wishes of my own satsang) the LIFE and WORK of BABA FAQIR CHAND which is a radical critique of the cardinal item in Sant Mat: the all-knowingness of the guru. In 1981, I wrote my MA thesis on the genealogical history of R.S. even though it was not welcome by Beas. Throughout the 1980s I wrote a number of articles on Faqir Chand and his radical insights for Laughing Man, for the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and FATE, even though I was told by Dr. Narang and others at the Dera that I would be doing NO service to Sant Mat. I spent several years researching my PH.D. dissertation which illustrates, quite graphically, the utter humanness of guru succession in R.S. It was published by Garland in 1992 and is MORE widely available in public and university libraries than my work on Eckankar. Do a fudging altavista search on Radhasoami, Danny bro (you are a librarian, you know how to do it) and see whose name shows up most. Quite frankly, I have written more skeptical pieces on R.S. than anybody on the NET, even though I have gotten scores of letters from those in my own Satsang asking me to DELETE it..... Daniel, you simply don't know what you are talking about here. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: or open the eyes of those deluded Yogananda people. Why waste all your talents, energy and time on those poor Eckists? DAVID LANE REPLIES: You apparently do have problems reading. If you look at my vita, I have written much more on R.S. than any other group, including Eckankar. My M.A. and PH.D. theses are on Radhasoami, not ECKANKAR. "ALL your talents?" Hmm..... you better read some other sections of my website besides Eckankar, bro....... I spend comparatively little time on Eckankar....... I just write really fast, bro. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Maybe Lane will become so engrossed in doing "puja" to his new gods Crick, Churchland, Randi, Blackmore, etc., that he will forget about alt.religion. eckankar and other paranormal groups. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Geez, is this how you "meltdown" after debates? Dan, YOU were the guy who ASKED ME to debate this issue ON THIS forum (go check your records). I have always thought of you as a rational and reasonable guy, but I think Paul Johnson has you pegged much better than I ever suspected. I love debating Dan, but ad hominen silliness loses the focus. You can also indulge in name calling, if you wish, I shall not mind. What you seem to forget is that I am comfortable reading Crick, as well as Daniel Caldwell, as well as Blackmore, as well as Kabir, as well as Steve R., as well as Yogananda. I like the wider view, don't you danny?
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I want to go back to the home base now.