The first rogue Light and Sound group got started in the 1960's. Its founder severed all
contact with Master Kirpal Singh of the Ruhani Satsang. Since that time several other new
Light & Sound groups have turned up. These got started in the same way, were founded by
teachers who broke away from the first break-away group --- schisms of schisms if you will!
Unlike the Sant tradition which has a type of "apostolic succession," a stable line of Masters
going back hundreds of years, in this new "Westernized" Sant Mat, so far anyway there hasn't
been a single example of a guru appointing a successor. There have been
arrangements, self-proclamations, schisms, and even coup d'etats, but never any smooth
transitions from one generation of leadership to the next.
These groups teach that Sant Mat should be practiced differently in the West than in the East;
that the vegetarian diet is an "Eastern cultural thing," that long periods of meditation, love and
devotion for God, the morality and ethics of the Masters, are all "arcane Eastern" concepts which
are totally irrelevant to "out-of-body travel" and therefore, ought to be tossed aside. However, in
inner space there's no such thing as "East," or "West." Truthfulness and ethics are
absolutely essential for the spiritual journey. Inner and outer peace are inseparable. If one
encounters genuine Light on the inside, how could this possibly lead one to practice
darkness on the outside? People who are merely supernatural thrill-seekers can easily be
duped, it would seem.
The struggle between ego and spirit is a universal one. The Science of Spirituality is something
that people of all races, genders, religions, and nationalities can practice. The idea that spiritual
principles are different in one place than another is a phony argument. What's really going on is
that the spin-off groups in question are attempting to "market" watered-down teachings in hopes
of attracting more followers, especially from the new age movement. "I'll have a small order of
fries, a burger, an out-of-body experience, and a coke to go, please." But this strategy hasn't
accomplished very much.
Living Saints aren't out to simply "fill seats" and create a large organization which charges
for initiation. This is the unpardonable sin in Sant Mat. Enlightenment can neither be bought
nor sold. "A genuine Master doesn't live off the earnings of his followers." This principle
is designed to keep the Path pure. For if there's the added pressure of a big organizational
structure which needs to be supported, then the focus shifts away from purely spiritual motives to
getting more and more and more donations. "Success" and "failure" are the same thing if the
Teachings of the Masters have been forever corrupted, or lost in the process.
Originally, Christianity was a Jewish movement of Palestine. And then a guy by the name of
Paul came along and became the self-appointed leader of a new branch of the faith called
"Paul's Church of the Gentiles." The leadership of the Hebrew Church didn't see Paul as a
genuine spiritual successor to Christ and disagreed with many of his teachings. Paul's church
was: largely "out of the loop," didn't speak the language, didn't have much first-hand access to
the Jesus tradition -- they didn't have copies of all the collections of sayings of Yeshua and
other documents, and wasn't fully aware of the mystical teachings that the Jewish Christians
practiced. They also weren't faithful to the vegetarian diet. (The Jewish Church was vegetarian.)
Much of this knowledge was unfortunately lost along ethnic lines. After a few short
decades the Greek and Latin speaking Christians of the West, filled with much sectarian pride
and anti-Semitism, were compmletely unaware of hos different their Christianity had become
from the original Jesus movement of the East -- of Palestine. They had become complete
strangers to the original teachings and the original line of Masters that communicated them.
Something, in other words, had gotten lost in translation, somewhere on the long, bumpy, dusty
road from Jerusalem to Rome.
Since the 1960's we've witnessed in the US the very same kinds of problems with Light and
Soundism during its formative period: false claims of gurus, dumbing down the teachings to
make them more "appealing" to the less mystically-inclined mainstream, denying or excusing
past cover-ups and deceptions, being unaware of some key mystical practices of the Path, lack
of curiousity about where the Light & Sound teachings actually came from, lack of access to
documents that would reveal the original, unadulterated teachings, going from a purely
vegetarian diet to meat-eating, and other major changes in ethics that are much more in
conformity with the ethos of pop culture than with Sant Mat.
Even now, quasi gurus still venerate the writings of the 1960's author I mentioned,
even though they've been made aware of the false information they contain!
Teachers in the break-away groups almost always rationalize that the vegetarian dietary
practices of the Sant tradition are merely "cultural" rather than spiritual, that the vegetarian
teachings of the Masters and Mystics are not to be taken seriously. Apparently there's no
danger of rogue teachers plagiarizing passages from The Path of the Masters
by Julian Johnson on this subject!!
The reality of the matter is that Sant Mat is a vegetarian Path primarily for mystical, spiritual, and
theological reasons. The Masters teach that foods are of three kids: Satvik, Rajsik, and Tamsik.
This last category of foods, which includes all flesh foods, is to be completely avoided. Satvik,
the first category, includes: grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and dairy. Satvik
foods are considered by Mystics to promote relaxation, meditation, and spiritual experience. The
bad karma and other negative effects of flesh-eating darkens one's vision of inner Light,
interfering with meditation.
It's interesting to notice that the Satvik diet is also: the life-extension diet, tne anti-cancer diet,
the diet for antioxidants and most of the other plant-based nutrients, and the diet of the Light &
Sound mystics, East and West.
The notion that vegetarianism is confined mostly to India is yet another falsehood of pseudo sant
mat. It is true that many conventional world religions here in the West condone flesh-eating, but
if you do some comparative mysticism you'll soon discover that the esoteric traditions which
have practiced Light mysticism, Sound mysticism, and Ascension mysticism through higher
planes of heavens are in agreement about the need for mystics to abstain from the flesh.
The list of Western vegetarian paths includes: Pythagoreans, followers of the Hermetic
philosophy of Egypt, the Sethians, Theraputae, Essenes (and other Light-mystics within
Judaism), the original Jewish Christians (see The Gospel of Jesus -- In Search of His
Original Teachings , John Davidson, Element Books), the Gnostic religions,
Manichaeans, some Catholic monasteries, monasteries of the Orthodox Church -- including the
great mystery school atop Mount Athos in Greece, and the Sufi mystics of Islam who practice
Zikar of the Spirit, Light, and Sound.
Master Kirpal Singh: "Those who take up the practices concerning the lower centers in the body,
do take meat -- the Mohammedans and people of other religions also. But those who are
anxious to rise above body consciousnes and go into the Beyond have of necessity to eschew all
that. This is the Path I have put before you. Liberation or salvation is something which starts
only when you rise above body consciousness. For that reason, vegetarianism is the first
essential." (The Night is a Jungle) Herbs really are magic healers!
Kabir says, "The man who eats meat is a demon in human form. Keep away from him -- his
company will ruin your meditation." (Kabir: the Weaver of God's Name ,
RS Books) The harshest words that Kabir ever spoke were directed against the slaughter or
consumption of animals.
A Western Master of Sound & Light by the name of Pythagoras once said, "Our Earth has
abundance of such pure and harmless foods and there is no need for us to partake of meals for
which blood has to be shed and innocent life sacrificed."
A spiritual practice quite popular in the Western Light & Sound groups is the "Hoo Chant." It was
another teaching introduced to them via Julian Johnson! In his 1939 book The Path of
the Masters, Julian Johnson quotes several paragraphs from Chapter Eight of Hazrat
Inayat Khan's book The Mysticism of Sound, Servire Press -- a volume in the
Sufi Message Series featuring a compilation of Sufi teachings on Sound, inner and outer. In
Chapter Eight, like deja vu all over again, Hazrat Khan says, "This sound Hu is the beginning,
and end of all sounds, be they from man, bird, beast, or thing. A careful study will prove this
fact,which can be realized by listening to the sound of a steam engine or of a mill, while the echo
of bells or gongs gives a typical ilustration of the sound Hu. The Supreme Being has been called
by various names in different languages, but the mystics have known him as Hu.....This alone is
the true name of God, a name that no people and no religion can claim as their own."
(The Mysticism of Sound was first published in 1923.)
The Qadriya Order of Sufis and other Sufi Mystics frequently use the "Hoo" chant. I have some
CDs of Turkish Sufis chanting "Hooooooooo" during their Zikar ceremony. The Sufis probably
inherited this practice from the Gnostics of the Middle East who were very much into vowel
chanting. Many Gnostic names correspond to the subtle bodies: astral, causal, mental, etheric --
- also the soul, higher spiritual regions, and the Nameless Most High God. For some Sufis "Hoo"
symbolizes (or even mimics) the Sound Current, and was used in a special way to refer to the
Nameless God, the One Whose Real Name is unpronounceable, truly beyond all earthly
In his mystical Sufi poetry, Bahu used "Hoo" as a name for God and the Sound Current, the
cosmic Name (Naam) of God. "Hu resounds within, Hu resounds without, Hu always
reverberates in my heart. The wound in my heart aches constantly with the unabating pain of
Hu's love. The darkness of ignorance departs from the heart lit by Hu. I sacrifice myself to the
one, O Bahu, who has realized the significance of Hu." (Sultan Bahu, RS Books) "Hoo"
is indeed a very beautiful, powerful, and soothing name of God. For Sufis, it is truly a love-song
to God, the Beloved Lord. "Allah Hoo Akbar;" God is Great.
Bahu's love poetry addressed to God brings me to my final segment of "Deviating From the
Path," my evaluation of what America's rogue sant mat gurus have done with the perennial
philosophy of the Masters. I believe there's much illusion to dispel in America's Church of Surat
Shabda Yoga, Inc. I am hopeful that this process is now underway. For the disciples are
genuine even if the master is not. In the end, as the English Mystic Julian of Norwich puts it,
"All shall be well." All shall be well.
The new age movement doesn't like God very much! Orthodox new agers would rather hear
from: channeled entities, ghosts, space brothers, aliens, blobs of plasma supposedly in orbit
around the planet Jupiter, "ascended" masters, goddesses --- just about anything from the astral
or psychic planes willing to woo them! Many in academic circles are also deeply offended by the
word "God." The rebellious baby-boomers of the Age of Aquarius have often adopted paradigms
and orthodox mind-sets that unfortunately make it much more difficult for them to come to the
feet of a genuine Master of a Living Tradition.
Sant Mat is not an introductory spiritual path, but nevertheless builds upon the foundation of
ethics and faith in God embodied in the various religious traditions of the East, and the West.
This Path is for spiritual seekers who want to evolve beyong entry-level religious
understandings and progress onward to the actual experience of Self and God-Realization
(mystical union with God.) Authentic mystical experiences will never cause us to become
less ethical, and will never encourage us to remain alienated from our Creator --- quite the
opposite. Those who define Sant Mat as merely "the science of how to have an out-of-body
experience" have a lot to learn about Shabda Yoga, and a lot to learn about the Saints, Sufis,
and Mystics that have been visiting this planet for thousands of years now.
"I have met a Wonderful Being. Nobody knows him. None can come in contact with Him without
the grace and mercy of Sants." "Sants reveal this truth. Only a gurumukh (faithful disciple) will
believe and understand it." "This Mat (Teaching) of Sants is deep and hidden." >None knows it
except Sants. Radhasoami has revealed this Faith. Some seekers after truth will accept it."
(quotes from the Sar Bachan Poetry of Swami Ji Maharaj)
"First of all I salute the Satguru, Who showed me the Inconceivable God." "Only the
connoisseur, who will test the Shabda and listen to the Teachings with full attention, and within
whom these Teachings will dwell, only he will understand this. He within whom the Sun of
Knowledge will manifest and remove the darkness of attachment -- only he will understand this.
I am telling you this Anurag Sagar (Ocean of Love) --- only rare saints will understand." (quotes
from The Anurag Sagar of Kabir, Sant Bani Books.)
"I have found a Sea of Love, an inexhaustible flood; I have opened a treasure of spiritual
knowledge, it diffuses the radiance of a million suns, arisen in Thy worshipper's souls.
Unexpectedly, without an effort, I have heard the Eternal Secret, I have learned to know God."
(The Poems of Tukarama by J. Nelson Fraser)
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