A Quick Topic Discussion on Devotion and being a Devotee
07-01-2001 08:17 PM ET (US)
I recognized Sparrow's description of her devoteeship. Like Sparrow I was an ardent devotee for about 9 years too. Not sure about the time. How it started? I had never read such beautiful discourses as in Sandweiss' book. It really gave me guidance and inspiration in my daily life. Like Beyond the Form's magic lamp, post 481. Somebody I trusted told me a mind boggling remote miracle that she had experienced. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saiunity/message/2523.
I still don't understand it. May be a misunderstanding? My visit to the first European youth conference in Denmark was important. I got enthusiastic and was very inspired there by Jega Jagadeesan, Conny Larsson, David Bailey and Phyllis Krystal and by the love I felt and the sense of unity. The second European youth conference will be in Slovenia this year btw. But I'm not sure.
Could it have been stopped? There had been hot debate about SSB about 10 years ago in Dutch media instigated by the late professor in psychology and SSB opposer Piet Vroon but I was not impressed by him. And I had seen Premananda on TV but I wasn't impressed by him either. Nor was my father who was not a devotee. Yes, exactly like Sparrow it could have stopped if I had met somebody that I trusted who told me first or second hand about the sexual abuse. I knew that there had been an article about it in a Dutch magazine called HP but I thought it was just gossip. If I had read it then I might have changed my mind because the article was quite serious although condescending.
When I cleaned my house I thought I did it for SSB who could visit me because of his omnipresence any moment. When I did my work in computer repair I imagined that SSB would use the repaired computer. When I woke up in the morning my first thought was about SSB. It still is btw but the thought has a different energy......And then half an hour doing japa with SSB's form before I went to work. I was quite disciplined. My ideal was Sabari, a character from the Ramayana who practised the 9 forms of bhakti (devotion) and was rewarded by Rama's darshan. No wonder I got an altered state of consciousness more or less as described in post 396.
Imho the only thing that made it cultic was the fact that the guru is still alive. It was a very private, intimate internal behavior. Not even my best friend who was also a devotee was aware of it. There was hardly support from the SSB centre necessary for me to continue with this internal behavior That makes it even less cultic. Many devout Hindus practice what I just described with the form of Krishna or Rama. I found the sweet devotion very rewarding and may do it again. Much safer though with a guru that is already dead. I was aware of the dangers of following a living guru so it was a calculated risk but I was totally unprepared for the intensity of both the good and bad experiences.
Please, Questor, explain me the psychology of religion once you understand because for me it remains a mystery.
Kind regards, Andries
07-01-2001 11:20 PM ET (US)
I am not sure why you think I would be the expert here. But I can give you my thoughts. I can't really say why you are so devoted to this religion. I think it might help you if you read and find out why you were particularly moved by this need to worship another individual and structure all your life around him. Perhaps you might ask yourself if you had a lonely childhood, or were very dependent on others. Perhaps you never were able to depend on your family, or felt abandoned. Someone like ssb would never leave you, never abandon you, because he is so distant that you can project whatever positive qualities you desire on to him. Did this devotion prevent you from forming relationships with *real* human beings? Were you very disappointed by the real people you met? How did you cope with disappointment over relationships? Think about how you grew up and what your family was like and how they treated you.
I think religious beliefs have more to do with who *you* are than who or what the religion is. What happens later, is the religion takes over and *tells* you who to be. It is an inner dictator that people choose because they need that structure, that inner authoritarian. They do not tolerate the unpredictability of the world.
Many people believe and also accept that God is forgiving and flexible. Some think that God is a very unforgiving and threatening one. Some think of God as a demanding one, demanding celibacy, asceticism, self denial, even self-mutilation. I don't think that everyone who believes in God has this problem. Everyone believes in God differently.
One must be aware that there are religious groups, cults, and abusive groups of one sort or another that exploit people's needs for stability, self-sacrifice, need to be dominated, need to depend on someone or something. These cults take people away from their true selves, and separate them from their families and loved ones. Cults also lie and use people for various functions. For education purposes, for proselytizing, for gaining new members, for making money. People who slowly realize the nature of this relationship, will leave if they have enough of their faculties still intact. Others are so manipulated that they never realize what is happening to them. Some cults do sexually abuse their members, and the abused feel it is a gift from heaven. Others realize they are abused and speak out.
Some cults elevate people to powerful positions which give them the power and appreciation that they never received in the outside world.
I think of religion as a refuge where people can go when they need help. Or when they don't. Or when they need someone to listen. Worship is a time of solitude and reflection. It is a time of quiet and conscience and evaluation. It needn't be a time for oppression and fear and rigid rules. It should not be a time or place where one's rights are violated.
This might be a bit disorganized, but hopefully some of the thoughts will be of assistance to you.
Let me know-Q
Terrie Message 546
07-02-2001 04:51 PM ET (US)
Questor, I'm not sure that there is an involved psychological picture in becoming a devotee of ssb or anyone else. Some of us are simply born with a devotional temperament or a desire for unity.
The spiritual teachers say that all of us deep down want to become re-unified with our source (the spark of the divine which is our true nature). This is probably the root cause of romantic love, wanting to merge with another. I know you don't especially tune into this idea. I remember you saying that you found it difficult to read Yogananda's autobiography because he was so devotional.
So ssb capitalized on this innate longing in human beings. He set himself up as a visible god, a person that anyone with a devotional temperament could easily attach themseleves to. So much easier than a God without form!
Many ex-devotees experience the same heartbreak in seeing their ideal
fall as a lover feels who has been betrayed.
Anthony Message #547
07-02-2001 06:25 PM ET (US)
Thank you for sharing your insight. So broadly covered and clearly explained. I see what you meant by your idea of "why would someone wish to worship another person?"
I reckon you are right and that some people probably do have the quality of devotion within them from birth. I think we each have different qualities. I think somehow all these beautiful spiritual qualities come together to make up a whole picture. Some people seem to be naturally very loving and have little need for mental or rational understanding of things. Others seem to show us the gift of freedom by their disregard for attempts to control or restrict them. Other people seem to be very wise and perceptive. Others have a great innocence and trust.
I am sure there are other qualities also. Perhaps the idea is when we see these qualities in other people, we can become aware of that quality and perhaps choose to gain those qualities we see are missing in us. I often admire qualities in people that I am aware are missing in me. Pure devotion is beautiful. It is the desire to align to and with Source. I think someone can be devotional without giving their own spiritual power away. But of course, there are people who are devoted but will still be in a stage of learning of how that can be done in its highest form.
07-02-2001 10:01 PM ET (US)
Questor Message #550
I don't want you to think that I am anti-devotional. But I am beginning to see that pure devotion, as pure trust must be tempered by discernment. In fact, we cannot completely trust any human for we are all imperfect, and cannot always know all things all the time, what is always right for others, or even for ourselves. That is why love relationships must be tempered by a degree of good judgement, and devotional relationships with religions, gurus, must also be tempered by a degree of good judgement.
One can only wish and pray to find that someone or entity into whom we can put complete faith and love. Who will be there for us and whom we can depend on when when we are in need!!! Carson McCullers wrote a book whose title that really captures this; The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
I think someone pointed this out; that some people are devoted to a love object and some to a belief or god- entity. I am sure that we all have been involved in one or the other--or both-- at some point! Not only to receive but to give, which is just as rewarding.
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