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Brian Hines
Salem, Oregon
Recent Activity
I've become a fan of easygoing approaches to spirituality. That's one reason I enjoy Taoism so much. The Taoists I've known don't look upon life very seriously. Neither do many Buddhists. A common denominator of Taoism and Buddhism is that... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Church of the Churchless
The City of Salem Facebook page was all proud about Salem supposedly being one of the best-run cities in America. Not surprisingly, Mayor Bennett said it showed how wonderfully the folks at City Hall are doing. I'm not nearly as excited, for reasons I'll describe below. First, this isn't a... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Salem Political Snark
Spence, stop lying. I clearly explained in this blog post that I've had experiences every single day of the 52 years that I've practiced daily meditation. For some reason you continue to lie about what I said above. Clean up your act, because I have a very low tolerance for liars. Here's some of what I said: -------------------- There are lots of different approaches to meditation. What I experienced during my 35 years of RSSB meditation was very close to, if not exactly, how Buddhist and Taoist teachings describe meditation. I felt my self slipping away, probably because I don't have or am a self. I felt a sense of unity with all things, probably because everything is interdependent. Mystics have all sorts of different experiences. I don't really consider myself a mystic, but I've certainly had mystical experiences that are very difficult to describe in words. ------------------- Every day I meditate, continuing to the present -- today -- I have a decidedly-nonzero meditation experience. Just because it isn't your experience doesn't make it any less meaningful or valid for me.
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Back from the dead, I've written about how I came to have fairly frequent meetings with Gurinder Singh and high-level functionaries at the Dera, RSSB headquarters. My impression, based on specific interactions, was that they all were no better than ordinary people and sometimes worse as regards ethics, morality, honesty, and such.
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Back from the dead, the blog post you linked to has no mention of satsangis not achieving anything in meditation. Here's what I actually said: ----------------------- One person included a nicely caustic observation about RSSB satsangis. "I have pointed out that you could compare Satsangis to Navy Seals. They train every day by meditating, they eat only certain things. Eventually, you should see some form of result. All I have seen are fat lazy Navy Seals. That training produces zero results. In fact I think it creates more psychological disorder." You won't get much of an argument from me about that. My main caveat regarding the Navy Seal analogy is that members of this elite American military group actually do train hard every day. But RSSB initiates, not nearly as much, especially when it comes to meditation, which is supposed to be done for 2 1/2 hours a day. However, most satsangis do seem to stick to a vegetarian diet, along with not drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. And quite a few attend the equivalent of RSSB church services every week, satsangs. So you'd think all this religious activity would produce some positive changes in RSSB initiates, even if their meditation didn't match up to the ideal. I agree that those changes often aren't apparent, which makes the "fat lazy Navy Seals" analogy an apt one. ----------------- My point was that supposedly adhering to the RSSB teachings turns people into God-realized beings within four lifetimes. So shouldn't there be some initiates who are close to that ideal? If so, it isn't obvious. Roland deVries, the RSSB representative for the western US for a long time, liked to say, "Satsangis are just ordinary people." Couldn't t agree more. They get as much benefit from meditation as anyone who meditates: relaxation, concentration, and such. But God-realizatio or access to supernatural realms, there's no evidence of that.
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7, send me your physical evidence of the supernatural. Then we can share in a Nobel prize. Generation 77, share links where I've said that RSSB initiates never achieved anything with their meditation. I don't recall doing that. My criticism is of RSSB initiates claiming that their meditation proves the existence of a supernatural realm beyond the physical. Obviously meditation has effects on the meditator.That's why I reacted so strongly to Spence Tepper saying my own meditation had zero effects. That was absurd, a blatant lie.
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Spence, point out the times I've denigrated the personal experiences of anyone in meditation. I don't recall ever doing that. What I recall is many times saying that someone's subjective experience is just that -- subjective and personal. I challenge the notion put forward by you and others that your experiences in meditation reflect some sort of objective supernatural reality. I keep asking for evidence of this. I never get any. I'm going to keep on challenging baseless claims of the supernatural. Maybe you haven't noticed that this is a Church of the Churchless blog, not a Church of the Churched blog. You are fully immersed in the RSSB/Sant Mat theology. That's fine. It's your right to embrace a form of religious fundamentalism. But you persist in proselytizing in the many, many comments you leave on this blog, often using unrelated blog posts to preach your brand of religiosity. I tolerate this, even though it goes against this blog's commenting policy. Be thankful for that, instead of criticizing me for bashing religious fundamentalism, which I've done from the first days of this blog. Osho Robbins, thanks for your wise comments about love. I hope Spence Tepper takes them to heart. He thinks spirituality is all about having inner experiences of light and sound and then bragging about them on the internet. You're correct: what I learned about love during my 35 years of RSSB meditation is what spirituality is all about. Thanks for making that clear.
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Spence, let me be even blunter with you: you're an ignorant asshole to question the depth of my commitment to meditation the past 52 years, 35 of which were done in accordance with the instructions of the RSSB guru who initiated me, Charan Singh. You have no fucking idea of how many tears I shed in meditation during those 35 years, of how many thousands of hours I spent in a small closet or other enclosure, putting in the time that I promised to my guru, who for those many years almost meant more to me than life itself. You have no clue. None. Yet you pretend that you do. In insulting me, you insult everyone who pursues a spiritual practice that doesn't match up with your fundamentalist view of the One and Only Way meditation should be done or what results should be achieved. Charan Singh constantly spoke of love being the key. To meditation. To the rest of life. I experienced that love. I had that love. I didn't spend all those years doing seva, volunteer work, for any reason other than love for my guru and for the path of Sant Mat. I would remember Charan Singh saying that meditation is like boring through a thick mountain. You have no idea how close you are to the other side until the last barrier is breached. Here's something else your fucking judgmental brain is clueless about. Let me enlighten you. I'm not sure whether I've ever shared this before, it's so personal and meant so much to me. But now the time seems right, given your totally wrong notion that anyone who doesn't meditate in exactly the fashion Master Spence Tepper deems suitable, their meditation has been wasted. My mother died of a stroke in 1985. Prior to that, she had several smaller strokes. So it probably was in the early 1980s when I remember sitting on a stump in our yard, having just gotten the news from a neighbor of my mother that she was in the hospital, having suffered a stroke. My mother, Carolyn Hines, was a seeker of truth. She deeply wanted to learn what life and the cosmos was all about. Her alcoholism didn't help in that search, but she keep looking for truth anyway. Divorced and never remarried, I had my problems with my mother. Yet I loved her. I sat on the stump and talked to my guru, Charan Singh. I told him that my mother deserved to know the truth about the cosmos more than I did. So I made a request to Charan Singh. I asked that any benefit that might accrue from my meditation go to my mother, not to me. After that, whenever I meditated I visualized that when I repeated the mantra I was given, the Five Holy Names of RSSB, my mother's soul was impelled toward the light of God, and my own soul was propelled backward toward darkness in a sort of action-reaction thing. That was highly meaningful to me. It led to a lot of joyous tears. But you consider all of my meditation worthless, a nothing, just sleep. To which I say, fuck you, Spence Tepper. You should shut up about things you know nothing about, like what I experienced during my 35 years of RSSB meditation and the 52 years I've been meditating in total. Just because I don't blab incessantly about my meditation experiences like you do doesn't mean they weren't, and are, really important to me. I'm saying this in part in hopes you don't do the same fundamentalist dogma thing with other people who are more sensitive than I am. I fight back when wrongly attacked. Others might simply view your words with despair and sadness.
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UPDATE: Spence Tepper has apologized to me for his ridiculous attempt to claim that my 35 years of daily meditation while a member of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, usually for several hours a day, amounted to "nothing." Good for Spence.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Church of the Churchless
At this point I'm rarely shocked by anything Donald Trump does or says. But today's televised hearing of the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol moved me deeply, because what Trump did to two Georgia election workers -- Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Salem Political Snark
Spence, you keep setting up fake targets to shoot your religious arrows at. I never doubt someone's experience. Subjectivity is a totally personal affair. No one knows what it is like to be me. No one knows what it is like to be you. No one knows what it like to be anybody other than themselves. What I and other religious skeptics keep saying is this: the problem is when people such as yourself ascribe an objective truth to a subjective experience. This is totally unwarranted when the experience supposedly is of a realm beyond the physical, because there's no way of confirming that sort of experience is anything other than a personal subjective experience. Hope this clarifies things. Demanding proof of someone who, say, claims to have experienced the divine sound and light that creates and sustains the cosmos is fully warranted. After all, that's an amazing claim. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. When someone makes an extraordinary claim, yet can't provide extraordinary evidence to back up that claim, skeptics are entirely justified in thinking, "I don't have to take that claim seriously." Otherwise, we'd have to believe every person who claims to have experienced God. There's so many of those people, most with very different tales of what God is like, it makes sense to just disbelieve all of them without demonstrable evidence.
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Generation77, the discussion here isn't how the sangat looks at the RSSB guru, but whether the RSSB teachings say the guru is God in Human Form. That second question obviously is YES. Regarding whether this is a problem, try a thought experiment. You're told about an organization where the members are taught that the leader is God in a human form. The members are told that their eternal salvation is in the hands of that leader. The members are encouraged to give money and their time/effort to the organization. Members rush to see the leader, bowing to him in public. Wouldn't you think this sounds a lot like a cult? Would you be comfortable if a loved one said, "I'm going to follow this leader, who I'm told is God in a human form." Could you see any risk of abuse or manipulation by the leader and the organization? I sure can.
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Yay, me! I finally finished reading Johnjoe McFadden's book, "Life is Simple: How Occam's Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe." It took me longer than expected, because I didn't find McFadden's lengthy descriptions of the life and times... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Church of the Churchless
Spence, that sounds a lot like blind faith, since there's no evidence the Master exists within those higher regions or if the regions even exist. Anyway, the subject of this blog post wasn't blind faith, but whether the RSSB teachings say that the guru is God in Human Form. I'm glad you've finally acknowledged that this is the case, since clearly it is.
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It's amusing to observe how much work some religious believers who comment on my blog posts go to in defending an obvious fact. A recent example is me stating in several blog posts that the notion of the Radha Soami... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Church of the Churchless
Recently I wrote two blog posts about the notion of a guru being God in Human Form. First, I said that this makes no sense. Then I said that Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) does teach that the RSSB guru... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Church of the Churchless
It's a tough time for lots of people in the United States. No, let's make that most people. President Biden said as much yesterday. Speaking to the Associated Press in a rare one-on-one interview in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, the president touched on many topics from war to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2022 at Salem Political Snark
Spence, religion is a particularly dangerous form of fundamentalism for a couple of reasons. Yes, it's true that any form of dogmatic belief impervious to reason and open discussion is dangerous. Communism in China and North Korea are examples in a secular sense. But note the attempts to elevate Dear Leader to a quasi-religious status. The leader of North Korea supposedly got a bunch of holes-in-one the first time he played golf, because he's supposed to be a more-than-human dictator. Religion plays an even more central role in the lives of religious fundamentalists. They tend to view almost everything through the lens of their religious dogmatism. I fell prey to that myself when I was a believer for 35 years in the teachings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas. I'd be late to a meeting, then find an open parking space in a crowded downtown, and think "Thank you, Master," figuring that my guru smoothed the way for me. Crazy from my current perspective. Made sense from my past religious perspective. The more space in our mind that's occupied by very difficult to change beliefs is space that can't be used for a flexible open examination of what reality is all about. Fundamentalist religions close off a lot of space. For example, recently I talked with a LGBTQ-rights activist about the Salem Alliance Church in my city. The church teaches that same sex marriage is a sin, as is same-sex sex. We agreed that there's no point in trying to change the minds of church leaders, because their bigotry is based on biblical passages they consider inerrant, impossible to be wrong. Sometimes it is the pronouncements of a guru or other religious leader that are viewed as inerrant, impossible to be wrong, since the leader is considered to be privy to other-worldly wisdom. This is particularly dangerous, given that followers of the leader will be very reluctant to challenge him/her if they believe their salvation is at stake. And in the case of "Under the Banner of Heaven," as I said in this blog post sometimes religious believers consider that THEY, not just the leader of the religion, are getting messages direct from God or a higher power. This not only can cause other people to follow them blindly, it can cause the believer to be blind to their own grip on reality -- as they think the voice in their head, which really is just their own mind, is the voice of God or a higher power.
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Back in May I wrote about a streaming series on Hulu, "Under the Banner of Heaven." In the title of that post I called it a compelling story of religion gone bad. The series is based on a true story,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2022 at Church of the Churchless
I've been doing the intermittent urinary catheterization thing five times a day since my bladder became atonic in May 2017, a bit over five years ago. Or as I like to say, my bladder went on strike back then and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2022 at HinesSight
back from the dead, there's no problem with throwing out religious bath water. But when it comes to whether the RSSB guru is God in Human Form, meaning the guru has become one with the Holy Sound or Shabd that is the conscious creator and sustainer of the cosmos, that tenet has to be kept in order for the RSSB version of Sant Mat to continue to be what it claims: a means of God-realization centered on devotion to the physical form of the guru, since God is formless and can't be contacted directly. That's why a Perfect Living Master supposedly is needed for God-realization. Generation 77, all I can say is that I wrote the blog posts about Sant Mat 2.0 and 3.0 based on reports from people who have attended Gurinder's satsangs. Quotes from Gurinder obviously are difficult to come by since he hasn't written any books and so far as I know, hasn't published theological/philosophical writings about the RSSB teachings. Still, maybe I'm wrong about Gurinder having updated the RSSB teachings. A big problem is that Gurinder says two contradictory things, as reported by Osho Robbins in this post. The current RSSB guru both denies that he is God in Human Form or has any special powers, yet he told Robbins, "Just see what the previous gurus said and what the scriptures say." And the previous gurus definitely said that the guru is God in Human Form. So as I said in the post, Gurinder claims to be a regular human being in talks, but is fine with being treated as God in Human Form through the RSSB literature. As the saying goes in my country, Gurinder wants to have his cake and eat it too.
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Spence, I'm not equating you with a bunch of murderous Mormons. But the streaming show on Hulu, "Under the Banner of Heaven," which is based on an actual murder of a normal woman and her infant by extremely fundamentalist Mormons, contains numerous scenes along this line. When the fundamentalists are trying to decide what to do, a leader will say something like, "I'm receiving a message from Heavenly Father [God], and He is telling me that we should do __________." This is pretty much a discussion ender for the other fundamentalists, since they don't want to irritate Heavenly Father. I realize that you sincerely believe you are in contact with an inner Master or Guru. That's fine, I guess. I don't think it is true, but I'd never be able to talk you out of your belief. I'm just saying that when someone believes they are getting a message from God, which nobody else can hear, obviously, there's a risk of becoming rigid or even fanatic, since the hearer of the message thinks they are doing God's will. Sometimes that will can be benign. But occasionally it can lead to murder, as in the case of the Mormon killers.
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Spence, I heartily disagree. As I said in a post I just published, the God in Human Form thing has been a central tenet, probably THE key tenet, of the RSSB teachings since the founder of RSSB, Shiv Dayal Singh started teaching in the 1800s. Gurinder Singh has gone away from the RSSB teachings that existed from 1850 or so to 2000 or so. The teachings haven't changed, but Gurinder's take on them has.
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Sort of weirdly, in a recent post, "RSSB does teach that the guru is God in Human Form," atheist me was arguing that the teachings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), my spiritual home for 35 years, say that the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2022 at Church of the Churchless
So after four months of searching the country for candidates to be Salem's next City Manager, the folks at City Hall came up with three middle-aged white guys. My intuitive reaction when I saw the image below on Facebook was, Oh, no! And this is coming from an old white... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2022 at Salem Political Snark