Dear reader

Why do I write about pitfalls of spirituality?

My purpose with this blog is to crystallize and share my thoughts and experiences, in the hope that you and I may benefit from them. From 1993-2005 I practiced a so-called spiritual method (Sahaj Marg). Ultimately I realized that this method - and especially the organization around it (Shri Ram Chandra Mission or SRCM)- was contrary to some deep spiritual layer in myself. I came to some clear conclusions, and also to some still developing insights.

One still developing insight is that almost everybody is looking for some form of spirituality in their life. Therefore there are many spiritual methods and movements, often with similar pitfalls to the ones I experienced.

Many people follow a well-trodden path which is defined by the group in their immediate vicinity. Others are prompted by their heart and/or head to look for spirituality that makes sense on a personal level. Spirituality gives fulfillment -humanity as one, universal love growing, one with the buddha- as well as direction through life's tough questions.

I write about the pitfalls of spirituality because so many others seem to write mostly about the bliss of their own approach to spirituality. This bliss to me actually seems a pitfall.

Understanding the pitfalls I deem essential to gain more spiritual insight. For me this actually translates into a lighter and more loving heart. I do not believe that understanding is the key issue in spirituality. But I do believe that misunderstanding can block key issues (although to which degree probably varies with each person).

Please bear with my frequent use of I feel, seems to me, in my not so humble opinion and so on. It is to emphasize that I do not consider any of my opinions to be more than that. I cannot bring you universal truth. In my not so humble opinion [imnsho] universal truth is a major pitfall in spirituality.

Dear reader, I hope you find something worthwhile on these pages. Friendly reactions, which may be as critical as you like, are always welcome.

Tips how to read this blog

* Please start with the closing remarks (click on the link), they should provide a balanced perspective on this blog.

* There is a list of 20 pitfalls in the sidebar. Clicking on a pitfall will provide a number of posts in which that pitfall is discussed to some extent.

* If you have time, consider starting with the oldest post, and simply going through to each next post. This probably gives the most faithful ;-) reading...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Us & them: homosexuality, woman, man AND science

What sparked this short series of posts on sexuality was a recent speech by my former spiritual guide in which he condemns homosexuality as unnatural and against the wish of God. Giving this as reason for not performing same-sex marriages.

The implications of such condemnation by a spiritual `leader' are manifold. I will probably not go into all of them.

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But the first thing that strikes me is that, coming from a Moral Authority, such condemnation divides humanity once again. We already had men vs. women, now we have also heterosexuals vs. homosexuals.

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The second thing that strikes me is the word `unnatural'. Here obviously this spiritual guide (and many like him) knows very little about nature. I cite wikipedia (article on homosexuality here, article on sexual orientation here):

Homosexual behavior in animals


Homosexual sexual behavior occurs in the animal kingdom, especially in social species, particularly in marine birds and mammals, monkeys, and the great apes. Homosexual behavior has been observed among 1,500 species, and in 500 of those it is well documented.[130][131]. This discovery constitutes a major argument against those calling into question the biological legitimacy or naturalness of homosexuality, or those regarding it as a meditated social decision. For example, male penguin couples have been documented to mate for life, build nests together, and to use a stone as a surrogate egg in nesting and brooding. In a well-publicized story from 2004, the Central Park Zoo in the United States replaced one male couple's stone with a fertile egg, which the couple then raised as their own offspring.[132]

The genetic basis of animal homosexuality has been studied in the fly Drosophila melanogaster.[133] Here, multiple genes have been identified that can cause homosexual courtship and mating.[134] These genes are thought to control behavior through pheromones as well as altering the structure of the animal's brains.[135][136] These studies have also investigated the influence of environment on the likelihood of flies displaying homosexual behavior.[137][138]

Georgetown University professor Janet Mann has specifically theorized that homosexual behavior, at least in dolphins, is an evolutionary advantage that minimizes intraspecies aggression, especially among males.[139] Studies indicating prenatal homosexuality in certain animal species have had social and political implications surrounding the gay rights debate.[140]


Almost all forms of human behaviour are seen in other animals as well. Nature is vast and complex. Who of us can really divine (this word is not a coincidence, you understand) what Nature is about?

But I can rather safely say that one does not see animals praying, or meditating under the guidance of a guru of the same species (please let me know if you spot something like this in Nature, outside of humanity). Therefore we can safely conclude that it is quite unnatural to meditate and to pray...

Also, egoless behaviour is seen in primitive to very primitive animals, but in higher mammals it doesn't normally, naturally occur. How about non-agression, altruistic love, non-powerhungry social behaviour?

I think we can safely conclude that most of the behaviour that spiritual movements advocate as spiritual, advanced etc. is quite un-Natural. Does this make a more united humanity, a more loving humanity, a peaceful humanity... undesirable?

`No no, it is unnatural you see, and against the wish of God. If God would have wanted a peaceful humanity, He would not have created us so aggressive.'

(Truth is, most great apes are far less aggressive than we humans. Very few mammals fight so violently amongst their own species as we do.)

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So, as usual, science comes to the rescue when medieval bias and unfounded popular beliefs and attitudes threaten some minority (or weaker part) of the population. No, dear Spiritual Leader, women are not spiritually different, and a woman can be as good a spiritual guide as a man. No, dear Spiritual Leader, homosexuality is not unnatural, and the sun does not revolve around the earth.

The (pre)medieval idea that the sun revolves around the earth is a good example of not being able to look beyond one's own nose. Galilei was -I'm not joking- persecuted by the roman catholic church for stating that the earth turns around the sun. Why did the catholic church consider this a dangerous idea? Because the bible stated otherwise. And surely, since humanity was so important to God, everything in creation revolves around us?

In fact, if we look at the truly mindstaggering number of stars and the incomprehensible dimensions of our universe alone, I think the greatest arrogance is to assume humanity is even anything close to important in the Grand Scheme of Things.

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So for someone to state that something is against God's wish...he or she has to think that they have some Special Connection to God, or am I mistaken? Is it a humble statement? Not that I take strongly against arrogance, I consider it a lot better than false humility. But spiritual movements often preach humility as a spiritual value, a desirable character trait. And they often claim that their Great Leader is so humble, a shining example to all.

`No no, you see, my Master is the most humble person I ever met. It is true that in His books He claims He is the Special Personality, sent down to help Humanity. But His Divine Grace shines through in every word. And of course He avoids to write directly that He is the Special Personality, He only infers it, out of humility.'

Humility? A truly humble person would - in my not so humble opinion- never agree to be a Great Leader, Guru, Guide, Special Personality, Master, Pope, whatever. She or he would never claim to know God's wishes. She or he would probably not feel unhumble enough to judge someone's sexual orientation either.

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That being said, I cannot even imagine the pain that homosexual followers of some spiritual movement or religion must feel when once again their sexual orientation is under moral siege by the Great Leader.

Does this loving Special Personality even stop to consider this pain? Or is it irrelevant, since by Special Divine Communication, God has spoken out to the Great Leader on this subject?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank...

Good one... (I include only one quote but I agree with others also)


But I can rather safely say that one does not see animals praying, or meditating under the guidance of a guru of the same species (please let me know if you spot something like this in Nature, outside of humanity). Therefore we can safely conclude that it is quite unnatural to meditate and to pray...


This is a nice verbal twist. It is one way to put Pressure on a SYSTEM: to try and get it to adhere to its own "rules and criteria". I try to use THEIR WORDS and THEIR ACTIONS as much as possible rather than my "rants"! Lol ;-)) If Intellect has a value, it is as a "control" and/or a "system over-ride" for our emotions...If spirituality has a value, it is to hone and polish our intellect and our logic and not "pervert" it so, as religious literalists and "dogmatists" tend to do. The GAUGE of SPIRITUALITY should be see the ONE-ness or "UNITING" not DIVISIVE-ness... One can thus logically and spiritually claim that homosexuality is "ab-normal" (i.e. not the "NORM") because homosexuals represent only a small but IMPORTANT percentage of the general population, but to claim that is is "un-natural" and not "intended by the CREATOR" is a show of un-evolved realization of our spirituality and even of an un-refined INTELLECT. And it is simply not TRUE and not even LOGICAL... or at best, a perversion of logic. One can see where a small "desert tribe", wanting to capture a already occupied city (Jericho) would want the population to breed and build up an "army" so as to conquer a "weak" city and ensure the survival of the tribe. However, we now have an "exploding population", and do not need more "numbers" to move to and populate the STARS yet. So homosexuality could be a mechanism to regulate POPULATIONS and could be created by the ONE as other biodiverities.

As usual, Chari, does not claim to be the "Special Personality" (That is reserved for Babuji who only "infered it"), and he (Chari) does not claim to be a "Master of Spirituality" (that is reserved for Babuji (and Lalaji) also), but Chari claims to be a "master of humanity". Now to have contact with the ONE (what some call by the Gothic term, GOD) or with Babuji, he has a French (female) Medium bring down a series of Messages from "deceased souls" (including Babuji), confirming the correctness of Chari's words and actions. To claim authority from the Special Personality through messages from a French Lady Medium is really "un-spiritual" and "un-natural" also and smacks of "spiritualism"...Where is HOUDINI?... who spent much effort and time exposing these "spiritualist charlatans". Specially, remembering that "women" can't be Masters according to Chari (in transcript of speech at Satkohl Airport...I have a copy) as they (women) are not "destructive" enough. He claimed as a response to my questions in a e-mail that this meant on a "COSMIC" scale... so The GURU has a job of destruction on a COSMIC scale?? Is that "apocalyptic" enough for those who reject RELIGIONS and CULTS?

I concur with your understanding of the words used by Chari and SRCM, and their meaning, which the abhyasis now have to defend and become "apologists" for SRCM because of many of the teachings of Chari.

http://www.sahajmarg.org/youth/story92.html
Chari even teaches to children that GOD IS MALE, NATURE IS FEMALE at their site for children. Again we know that NATURE is MALE and FEMALE and more. We can, without much stretching of our little minds and it's imperfect logic, that the ONE would have to include and contain (at the very least) MALE, FEMALE and NEUTER. To say that GOD is MALE is so RELIGIOUS.

Your approach is unique...carry on...looking forward to the next installments...

4d-don

http://www.sahajmarg.org/youth/
story92.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank...

The Title of this article links with the Wikipedia articles... It would be useful for those who want to link directly to this article to be able to so... The Link to the Wikipedia article is in some hypertext in the article already...

Thanks...

4d-Don...

frank waaldijk said...

thanx don, i have changed this now.

about the book `whispers from the brighter world' to which you refer (the spiritistic medium messages):

as you will recall it was released on chari's birthday, but only for limited pre-inscribers. in the year beforehand one could pre-inscribe at the cost of €250,- per book.

the book was described as containing unique & essential insights for spiritual progress. also, it would never be available again afterwards, it would not be reprinted.

a classic combination of fear & temptation.

but some abhyasis whom i knew were truly cut up about it, because they really could not afford such a book. and they felt, well you can imagine.

so i gave a talk (on babuji's birthday) in denmark, relating personal experience with a third-world surgeon who gave out his books for free, because he wanted his knowledge to be used by doctors all over, without financial barriers.

but, is said, i understand the wish to finance certain activities. and i so suggested that instead of selling the €250 books piecemeal, it would be better to sell them 10 or 50 at a time to well-off people, who could then give away a remainder to centers all over, so that everyone would have easy access to this valuable spiritual material.

you will not believe how i was reprimanded for this talk. someone was sent over to tell me that as a zonal-in-charge (which i was at the time, but only of the netherlands, so about 50 people...) it was entirely inappropriate for me to say things like that.

other abhyasis, some of them whom i had been friendly with for years, really avoided me and cut off their contact with me.

well, i won't go into all the details, the illustration is clear. but in retrospect, when the book finally came out, i was even more flabbergasted to see that it contained such spiritistic medium garbage.

i have looked at a few of the messages. they do not contain any new insight. they are just advertisements for the method, and especially for chari.

so in essence it was a money scheme. the reason why i mind is that it was not put simply as an open request: we would like to do this and this, for this we need such and such amount, if you feel like helping us, please donate.

it was intricately tied to spiritual progress and morality (we should help master and give money), and people really felt bad about not buying the book.

i will address these issues certainly in posts to come (afterlife, group morality & moral pressure, fear & temptation, money, power).