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what is spirituality anyway?
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Joined: 22 Feb 2004
Posts: 167

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:12 pm    Post subject:

I've been trying to reflect on the opening post but finding time to complete a response is a bit challenging, so I'll just share some of what I've been thinking so far.

Someone asked how far you have to go (from gyan) to be an ex bk. Is it that we just stop making effort but continue to believe? Or is it when we stop believing altogether. In which case, what happens to our 'spirituality'? [p.l]

In my view, a true ex-bk on this forum is someone who no longer experiences a sense of ontological security based on the doctrine of the BKs. Central to that doctrine is the concept of the cycle which gives definition or significance to every element of the BK teaching. That includes our understanding of God since God, in Gyan, is really defined as the One who plays the role of renewing the cycle. He is considered the engine that moves the world out of the rut of corruption. Unlike other concepts of God, the version taught by the BKs does not attribute the origin of our material world, its Nature and the universe of galaxies to God. God, in BK doctrine, is defined primarily by a role summed up in the expressions of Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Sustainer, and Shankar, the Destroyer. When the question is asked: “Who created this world?” a few words of an old song or hymn are quoted as an ambiguous and enigmatic answer: “He created all things and then hid Himself away”. The ambiguity lies in its reference to two things at the same time: first to the work of world renewal being conducted by spiritual rejuvenation through the organization of the Brahma Kumaris, a work which should culminate in the transformation of a few humans to angels on earth and who will in time form the nucleus of a new world; secondly, the ambiguity lies in its implication that the phrase “created all things” alludes to the physical world also. The teachers were never keen on elucidating this aspect of “God’s work”. The emphasis was always on human transformation as the means by which Nature will be transformed and thus renewed. Questions on the origin of matter became irrelevant on the basis of a concept of eternity proffered through an eternal cycle. Hence, since a cycle has no beginning or end, questions of origin become meaningless. That is why faith in the cycle is so crucial to being a BK. It defines God. My friend Wally, whose intellect was always so sharp, once remarked in one of our conversations on this issue: “If you ask Baba how come He is God He would most likely reply ‘I found myself so.’

The process of withdrawal from Gyan, therefore, varies in accordance with the extent to which we invested our Faith in that knowledge and, consequently, in accordance with the extent to which we made Gyan the foundation of our ontological security. The knowledge can be given and taken on different levels. The singular factor which determines how far you become immersed in Gyan is based on the extent of your faith that that knowledge originates from the Universal God. It is an intrinsic human attribute to have faith in a universal God. We become atheist through a conscious decision to disbelieve in that notion based on how we interpret or understand our life’s experience here on Earth. Until such time we subscribe to one or more of the constructs offered through religions or philosophy. We adopt these constructs on the basis of the culture into which we’re born and we can live quite happily with them until we encounter a crisis that leads to a crisis of that Faith we took for granted, or, if our faculty of critical thinking is awakened by our life’s experience or a mentor, we can begin to question these constructs. Many of us might have found Gyan in that crisis of Faith. Its fundamentals of ABC (Atma, Baba, Cycle) appealed to us because of its apparent clarity and simplicity. In addition to this – and very significantly - the transcendent experience of that method of Raj Yoga proved to be unique in so far it seemed to be beyond anything we might have experienced in other methods of meditation, prayer or contemplation. So we ‘bought into it’. The spiritual and emotional experience of meditation far out-weighed any doubts we might have had about the length of the cycle and its authenticity. And there were counter measures to ensure that one did not linger too long in fields of doubt about that authenticity.

First of all, we found a wonderfully refreshing atmosphere that was conducive to nurturing our waning spirits. Then we were told the reason for our waning spirits – we were at the ‘fag end’ of the last and most corrupt age of a cycle of history. Moreover, the renewal of the cycle depended on us in particular! We were special because we were God’s Helpers and this was a sign of great fortune. We belonged to a Divine Family which was being created specially by God Himself through the instrument of a diamond merchant named Dada Lekraj who was renamed Prajapita Brahma, “the Creator Father of the People”. Furthermore, an equivalence was drawn between the transcendental and traditional Brahma of Hinduism and the awakened Prajapita Brahma or ‘Brahma Baba’ as we came to know him fondly. A family ethos was created which, on a subtle and psychic level, became an egregore – a field of spiritual energy founded on the matrix of that ABC, that is, an eschatology or doctrine of God, the soul and its salvation, death, destiny, heaven and hell. All of our fundamentally intrinsic spiritual needs were satisfied through association with that ethos. The universal precepts which were inherent or inchoate in us were re-interpreted in the context of Gyan. The universal concept of God, for instance, became the particular experience of “sweet remembrance of Baba”; and “sweet remembrance of Baba” assumed meaning only on the basis of Faith in the 5000 year cycle. Hence, we were told, some ‘children’, after a separation of 5000 years are able to say in recognition “Ah Baba, it is You!”

This process of converting the universal to the particular did not end with our understanding of God but extended into all the foundations of our spiritual heritage, especially that of Hinduism in which culture this new knowledge originated. The great significance of the sakar murlis lay in their continued re-vision and reinterpretation of the Hindu scriptures or “mythologies”. These scriptures and mythologies were shifted from their universal and transcendent dimension to a particular and mundane one through the descent of God Almighty to Earth in the body of Dada Lekraj, whose significance assumed value on the basis of one’s faith in the cycle. The ‘cycle’ itself was subject to such transformation. For Hindus, its validity is based on their faith in its existence as stated in scriptures such as the Bhagvad Gita. The traditional Hindus would argue that it is at least 10,000 years in duration. The BKs ‘set the records right’ by citing Dada Lekraj’s revelation one evening in 1936 in his meditation room in Sindh in that part of India which became Pakistan. Every story in the Hindu scriptures was then interpreted in the context of Gyan. Those interpretations formed the substance of the sakar murlis. The senior brothers and sisters, also, were particularly adept in this task. Jagdishbhai devoted his whole life to that enterprise so much so that it is said in one of his last meetings he expressed regrets to Baba that he was not able to convince the world of the intellectual soundness of the knowledge. Mohinibhen, who introduced the knowledge to the United Nations in New York and to North America in general, did well also in interpreting those Hindu ‘myths’ to the western world.

What was impressive in this exercise was the analogical ‘fit’ of the knowledge into the pre-existing myths of Hinduism. When the knowledge spread to the Western Hemisphere, the enterprise of re-interpreting ‘myths’ and stories from religions was continued by the BKs supported by new-found young and brilliant ‘double foreigners’. Abraham became a derivative from ‘a brahmin’ whose roots were ultimately buried in Gyan from a previous cycle. The murli said clearly that Jesus and Buddha would come and take this knowledge and leave. The inference was that it would form the basis of religions later founded on their teachings. We believed. The Universal was made very Particular. We drew analogies between the spirit of Christ - manifested in the person of Jesus – and Krishna who was said to be manifested in one of His roles as Brahma. There were subtle allusions of correspondences drawn between the significance of Christ in Christian traditions and Krishna in Hinduism on the basis of their phonemic similarities. For those of us who surrendered ourselves completely, then, the ontological security of our entire being became rooted in Gyan. The point at which we took root was the point at which we learnt to internalize the word “Baba” and equate it to a personal relationship with the Universal God. So deep was that transformation that years after leaving, unless we were able to work through the process of revising our beliefs, deconstructing and reconstructing them, we remained in a state of spiritual flux, emotionally bound to “Baba” yet estranged from God.

In contra-distinction to such ex-Bks, there are those who remain emotionally bound to God but estranged from the BK’s “Baba”. The emotional fusion had not taken place. They did not take the plunge so deeply. They resurfaced and regained their former lives without much trouble. Hence they can still meditate on the Supreme Point-of-Light and feel an unencumbered sense of connection. In between and on other parts of the continuum are those who can relate to the Universal God as ‘Baba’ the Supreme Point-of-Light without carrying an obligation to help ‘Him’ establish Swarg or Heaven on earth through close association with the ‘Divine Family’. They operate more or less as independent agents. In this way, a spiritual life is preserved that nurtures that human need of spirituality.

You ask ‘what is spirituality anyway’? I would say it is an intrinsic quality we find in ourselves as human beings. There is an anecdote that comes to mind which illustrates what I mean. Many years ago, I read a short story (by E.M. Forrester I think, I may be wrong). An atheist was seen emerging from a church after spending some time there. He was confronted by someone who knew him to profess a disbelief in God and who therefore accused him of hypocrisy, to which he answered that the fact that he did not believe in God did not remove his need or ability to enjoy the organ music of a church! The faculty in us that has that need and capacity is an index of what, I think, is spirituality. But the “property of spirituality” in humans would vary in accordance with the state of their development. And here is where the concept of Man becomes important in understanding the question or appreciating its significance.

If we see Man from a purely material point of view, then we are not likely to appreciate a concept or understanding of spirituality from any other level or in any other dimension. This is straightforward. We are essentially limited by the level of our development which is circumscribed by the paradigms of knowledge or constructs we subscribe to and the frames of reference of our life’s experience. Paradigms of knowledge seem to exist on a spectrum ranging from mundane to arcane realms. By mundane I refer to things of (apparent) material substance which can be perceived through the 5 senses and which are rationalized by an intellect based physical experiences; by arcane I refer to things of a non-physical nature which can be perceived by senses beyond the physical. Such senses, for example, include intuition, clairvoyance and telepathy. Some of us are rooted in scientific empiricism based on the mundane sciences; others are rooted in another order of empiricism based on the arcane sciences. Empiricism is not solely the property of mundane science. There are long established organizations and traditions (in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres) whose world view and history of experience extend beyond comprehension by mundane scientific empiricism and are understood in the context of Laws yet outside of accepted science. [One reference that comes to mind on this kind of discourse is The Mahatma Letters].
Occasionally, a scientist from the mundane world may stumble across the arcane side of Life or at least touch its ‘border’ (although there’s no border as such). One that comes to mind is Fritjof Capra, the physicist (and a Nobel Prize winner, I think) who began to see a nexus between the paradigms required for understanding new frontiers of nuclear physics and the traditional perspectives of mystics. In essence it was all reduced to one’s level of consciousness or awareness in life. The details I cannot now recall since I was reading this about 10-15 years ago in his Tao of Physics and The Turning Point . The latter work led to his appreciation of the complex interconnectedness of various branches of human knowledge and endeavour. From a highly developed material scientist he became appreciative of the significance of knowledge of the North American Indians and other ‘primitive’ cultures. He saw connections between the imbalances caused by a pre-occupation with economics in the industrial world and its neglect of spiritual laws understood by so called primitive cultures.

Another example that comes to mind is the case of doctors who have had to come to terms with patients whose consciousness slips beyond their present life span and who are able to relate incidents and experiences from a past beyond their present life that explains their situation in the present. One of these (Dr. Brian Weiss) is mentioned in the Any and Everything Forum on this site.

Elsewhere, I have mentioned the knowledge offered by P.D. Ouspensky which is derived from esoteric traditions. Ouspensky offers both an ontology and a cosmology that acknowledges the existence and function of other planets in our solar system. I have not read or studied deeply into them but sufficiently to appreciate that there is significant possibility of some validity to his system for human development. He calls his the Fourth Way. Here is an excerpt from his talks taken from The Fourth Way. “An Arrangement by Subject of Verbatim Extracts from the Records of Ouspensky’s Meetings in London and New York, 1921-46”. New York. Vintage Books, 1971

The first way is the way of the Fakir. It is a long, difficult and uncertain way. A fakir works on the physical body, on conquering physical pain.

The second way is the way of the Monk. This way is shorter, more sure and definite. It requires certain conditions, but above all it requires faith, for if there is no faith a man cannot be a true monk.

The third way is the way of the Yogi, the way of knowledge and consciousness …. When we speak of yogis we really take only Jnana-Yoga and Raja-Yoga. Jnana-Yoga is the yoga of knowledge, of a new way of thinking. It teaches to think in different categories, not in categories of space and time and of causality. And Raja-Yoga is work on being, on consciousness.

Although in many respects these ways are very efficient, the characteristic thing about them is that the first step is the most difficult. From the very first moment you have to give up everything and do what you are told. If you keep one little thing, you cannot follow any of these ways. So, although the three ways are good in many other respects, they are not sufficiently elastic.

….Then in the Fourth Way the first principle is that man must not believe in anything; he must learn; so faith does not enter into the Fourth Way. One must not believe what one hears or what one is advised, one must find proofs for everything. If one is convinced that something is true, then one can believe it, but not before. [pp.97-98]

In Ouspensky’s system, Man is divided into several categories ranging from Physical, Emotional and Intellectual to Mystical and beyond. Each category has its own level of religion. The Fakir, for instance, corresponds to No.1, the Monk to No. 2 and the Yogi to No. 3.

I subscribe to this view that experiences and definitions of spirituality will vary according to the level of our human development. Whether it is recognized in an appreciation for organ music or Nature, or extends to immersion in esoteric knowledge or practices, there is a unique ‘property’ in us that we can describe as spiritual. We should remember too that some of the greatest scientific discoveries were made by men highly developed in so called spiritual sciences.

"Those were the days my friend ...."

Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:48 am    Post subject:

In my view, a true ex-bk on this forum is someone who no longer experiences a sense of ontological security based on the doctrine of the BKs.

I have to agree with this, for if we still felt the need for this security we would be going to Murli. It is a question of where we get security, or comfort. Again what is Spirituality, it is connected to comfort.

An XBK, a person who feels comfort in being a XBK, and perhaps finding onotological comfort in being a BK. This is my definition of an XBK.

Though before I want on the course, I had ontological security through psychology, as many do. So that definition of an XBK does not work for me, but it is true for most XBK.

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 142
Location: Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:26 am    Post subject:

gyaniwasi wrote:
we remained in a state of spiritual flux, emotionally bound to “Baba” yet estranged from God.
I don't question what you are saying here - we have all seen plenty evidence of BKs emotional attachment to "Baba" (never mind which Baba they are referring to - that is almost never clear....) - but I do question why a "path of knowledge" should produce such emotion - this is the way of devotion, not of knowledge.

In contra-distinction to such ex-Bks, there are those who remain emotionally bound to God but estranged from the BK’s “Baba”. The emotional fusion had not taken place. They did not take the plunge so deeply. They resurfaced and regained their former lives without much trouble. Hence they can still meditate on the Supreme Point-of-Light and feel an unencumbered sense of connection.

i relate to this - a very perceptive analysis. But for me it is not about "emotional" bondage to God, but about love for God, and experiencing God's love for us. I do not regard love (true, spiritual love) as an emotion. It is a feeling. Emotions are self centred and taking, true love is benevolent and selfless and giving. Devotional love (such as the love most BKs have for "Baba" IS emotion - this is not true love, though true love will be mixed in with it, there will also be attachment and passion, which are emotions.

I am intrigued by your quote from Ouspensky and related comments, dividing man into
categories ranging from Physical, Emotional and Intellectual to Mystical and beyond. Each category has its own level of religion. The Fakir, for instance, corresponds to No.1, the Monk to No. 2 and the Yogi to No. 3.

Given this analysis - surely the emotional attachment to "Baba" is category 2, whereas Raja Yoga within an institutional context is category 3, and I am delighted by the pointer just given to the next step, category 4, which is to follow your own lights, the way of the mystic - this moves beyond what we normally regard as religion - I think you (and Ouspensky) are showing us all the way forward here... cheers Gy Smile

Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 8:10 am    Post subject: god and spirituality

People may be driven to seek god and spirituality to achieve security, but I think there is moreso just a basic human drive, a primal drive, to seek a satisfying explanation for oneself and the world. This is the essence of adolecence.

Developmental psychologists will tell you that a person achieves adulthood when they reach a satisfying sense of identity - a positive explanation for themselves and their world. Adulthood is simply when we achieve emotional maturity. I don't know that this has anything to do with god and spirituality - ones sence of identity is a product of being normal more than anything.

If our objective is seeking security thru god/spirituality, we would then seek god/spirituality because we are not normal (!) ie: the normal process of accomplishing adulthood (emotional stability) has not been available or successful. So, hoping that we are normal (ie sane), god/spirituality must have some other purpose in our lives? And, if you, like me, don't believe in god as some conscious being with whom I supposedly have a relationship, does spirituality still apply? I am not interested in handing over my 'ontological security' to a figment of my imagination because I need to feel loved and protected, or to gain a sence of belonging. I do believe that there is much more to life and the universe than we can know or see, but a 'god', no.
Mr Green

Joined: 08 Sep 2005
Posts: 41

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:37 pm    Post subject:

i agree with a lot you say there primal, i reckon it kicks in when your about 25, you suddenly have a need to know some answers Very Happy

Joined: 09 Nov 2004
Posts: 102

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:48 pm    Post subject:

Mr Green wrote:
i agree with a lot you say there primal, i reckon it kicks in when your about 25, you suddenly have a need to know some answers Very Happy

As tho having answers would make life simpler somehow....

Here is a question:

"What notes go well together to make a song?"

How does having an 'answer' to that help one with music or life?

Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:27 am    Post subject:

As tho having answers would make life simpler somehow....

A friend of mine asked me why I keep questioning and exploring, seeking explanation - why don't I just let it be and enjoy ie: just get on with life? This has been echoing as I have been reading the posts. And it does seem that somehow, if we arrive at THE answer, that will bring about this blissful glow of satisfaction, the final point of accomplishment. But will it?

That same friend also has his faith, even though I challenge it to the point he has to ask me to stop, because flaws and holes become apparent in that philosophy. He has declared that he is satisfied with his explanation and that is enough.

It does seem that people are willing to arrive at the the first available explanation that enables them to 'relax'. I used to share a house with a 'new born christian'. (It was probably the most traumatic time in her christian life!) But she was not the only person who has told me that she doesn't care if it is wrong, because it works for her. Frankly, I don't get it - surely you would want the RIGHT answer - assuming there is one of course.

Maybe this is the trap - maybe that was how we became BKs - seeking answers in this abstract dimension we call spirituality, only to arrive at the first 'satisfying' answer and go no further. To satisfy ourselves with the BKs reductionist, simplistic but 'logical' answers to life. An answer that we became bound in by faith and to afraid to leave, thereby cutting us off from a more comprehensive development.

But the guts of it is, I am afraid to say, that we are innately discontent. For whatever reason. For me, it was my ADHD I guess (and the chaotic upbringing that came with it). So, does that mean that spirituality is simply a human creation for the purpose of seeking contentment regardless of the reality we create through it? Is that why some of us reject science - because hard facts get in the way of our capacity to create whatever reality we need, sanctioned by the apparent holiness of spirituality?

Sociologists recognise that 'reality is a social construction'. Thus we have martyrs who blow themselves up so they can go to heaven and marry 73 virgins. And they believe it!!! Isn't that evidence of how readily we can believe - and live and die - by any doctrine? Or any religious/spiritual philosophy. Or the BK philosophy?

Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:00 pm    Post subject: a little something..

Hi, Primal.logic and everybody..

when I read this spirituality thread sometimes I get more confused ?! Sad and sometimes I get insights or realise something in my existence..looks like we are all always searching for something, if this is from copper age, I don't know, but if you compare being a BK in the beginning and a relationship. is kind of the same: you are 'in love', with Baba, Madubhan, the family, the murlis, gyan, golden age, and you smile , you wake up 4am, you FORGET (or deny) your family, your job, YOUR CAREERS, your 'material' aims, your leave your freinds, etc, etc,, then you fall into reality: a spiritual group made of other human beings, eveybody looking for something, still searching for some fulfillment, and because no-one reaches that destination of constant bliss, or contentment, the search keeps going, then you 'crave' for that childhood experience, and you know that will NEVER come back, so you keep searching but a little frustrated, a little sad and a little confused , so when anyone is at that stage in their minds, your are not at peace anymore, and you start to hurt yourself and others in millions different ways, subtle and gross forms (believe me , once a sister punched another sister in the face, in the center!), so even after gyan, we keep searching for that contentment and blissful state of mind, that "god knows" Laughing where it is !!! and we keep asking: what and where is spirituality?
Today I read in a tea box (yeah, tea box!): in nature there is no rewards or punishements, only consequences!! (how about golden age? it would be consequence of what? of the end of iron age? but how about the people?????) Crying or Very sad
Mr Green

Joined: 08 Sep 2005
Posts: 41

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:29 pm    Post subject:

i personally am just happy to wonder these days, i don't need answers anymore and I haven't heard any that stand up to scrutiny, so I'm happy to just gaze out at the sky and enjoy the fact I'm still alive

Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:02 pm    Post subject:

Whatever you seek, seeked or seeking, look at yourself today and realise you're the best person to be you and no-one can be as good as you, whatever anyone says.

Have a nice day, and yes do look at the sky and the shapes of clouds now and again. There are they for all to share.

[Just watched this clip from WestWing :
A man falls into a manhole but the hole is too deep and the walls are too slippery for him to climb out. So he calls out "Hey you up there, can you help me". A doctor walks by, scribbles a prescription, and throws the paper down to him. "Heck, what's that going to do for me" yells the man. A priest walks by, writes a prayer on a piece of paper, and throws it down hole. "That's not what I need now" he yells again. Then his long time friend passes by and jumps into the hole. "You stupid man, now we are both stuck, some mate you are". To which his friend replies "well, I've been down here before...... and so I know the way out"]
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