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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
David Christopher Lane, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy, Mt. San Antonio College Lecturer in Religious Studies, California State University, Long Beach Author of Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical (New York and London: Garland Publishers, 1994) and The Radhasoami Tradition: A Critical History of Guru Succession (New York and London: Garland Publishers, 1992).
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Floating Swans and Blooming Flowers
Faqir Chand on the Illusory Nature of Religious Visions
At the age of 95 years old and after seventy plus years in meditation, Faqir Chand, the renowned shabd yoga master, gave one of his last formal satsangs in India. The following is one of the best summaries of what he realized. Note, also, that he even at this late age he was open for correction and didn't proclaim that his understanding was final.
KEY EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
“One day in my congregation here one man rose up and fell at my feet. I asked him who he was. He replied that he was a meditator. One day he had seen inside him great effulgence and a lake with blooming flowers in it, swans were floating and I appeared before him and told him that I could ferry him across. He did not know me, therefore he went about in search of me. Somebody informed him about my satsang. So, on reaching here, he recognized me as the saint whose vision had appeared in meditation. He asked me to take him to the not know me, Destination. This experience opened my eyes. I had projected myself into his mind; then how to explain all that had happened to him? The explanation is that he had gathered certain suggestions and impressions from books and persons in his mind.”
Faqir Chand died on September 11, 1981. He was ninety-five years old. During his lifetime, this most remarkable of shabd yoga masters was relatively unknown, since he eschewed publicity and refused to grant initiation after 1942. However, he is unique among Radhasoami gurus for his exceptional honesty in explaining the illusory nature behind religious visions.
Faqir was a harsh critic of spiritual leaders who were unwilling to acknowledge their own limitations and who exploited their respective followers by allowing them to believe that they possessed omniscience and omnipotence, when, in truth, they were as unknowing as their naïve followers. Although certain Radhasoami branches wish to advertise them as scientific, they seldom live up to that high ideal and instead only use that moniker to attract seekers who disdain more dogmatic religions. A truly scientific guru must be willing to be wrong and allow himself or herself to be corrected.
Of all the shabd yoga gurus I have met in my research career, spanning some forty plus years, Faqir Chand is the only Radhasoami master who confessed that he may be wrong in his understanding and he openly asked other spiritual teachers to point out his errors if he was mistaken. They never publicly did. I suspect it was because they knew that Faqir was right about how religious visions and the like were projections of a disciple’s own mind. It is a devotee’s faith and belief (not the guru’s so-called superluminal power) that causes a Christian to see Jesus and a Sikh to see Guru Nanak. Such apparitions are not real in themselves, but merely reflections of one’s own consciousness.
Faqir Chand realized this truth very early on and decided to tell the truth to his numerous followers, even though he realized that by doing so he was opening up Pandora’s Box and he would be regarded as a heretic in some circles and heavily criticized for revealing what had been kept secret by countless gurus in order to maintain the blind faith of their initiates. Today Faqir Chand’s life and work are more well-known than ever before. This is primarily because in a world deluded with false gurus and prophets, Faqir’s truthfulness and frank revelations resonate with those who don’t want to be hoodwinked by charlatans. Faqir Chand was a great advocate of daily meditation, but he warned against getting trapped by mesmerizing sights and sounds which ultimately distract the seeker from reaching his/her ultimate goal. Rather, one should focus on the source from which all such manifestations arise.
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