These two items by Professor David Lane are well worth a peek.
Very many people seem wired to have auditory or visual neurological events if given suggestions--even by someone who does not identify as a guru.
If someone claims to 'give' such experiences and perhaps adds tecniques used in large Group Awareness Trainings, which facilitate regression, mood swings and bonding--thats heavy duty.
THE KIRPAL STATISTIC
Using Inner Visions to Your Social Advantage
(quote)It turns out that almost everybody has the inherent ability to see inner light and hear inner sound. Moreover, almost everybody has the capacity to have an out-of-body experience and behold wondrous inner visions. You don't need to go to an Indian guru to have such experiences indeed, you don't need to go anywhere at all.
But that's not what Kirpal Singh and his successors told their vast following. Instead, unsuspecting seekers(who number in the thousands) were taught to believe that it was the guru himself, not the disciple, who was orchestrating the elevation of the soul into higher regions. But Kirpal and crew were not being completely forthcoming about the mechanism which governs access to such amazing sights and sounds. That mechanism is the brain and that three pounds of glorious tissue is the lot of all humans.
In the early 1980s when I was teaching religious studies at a Catholic high school, I tried several meditation experiments with my students which convinced me that Kirpal Singh and other gurus like him were taking undue credit for their disciples' inner experiences. In my trial mediation sessions, I informed my students beforehand about the possibility of seeing inner lights and hearing inner sounds.
Naturally, given the boring routine of secondary education, my students were intrigued. I informed them that I knew of an ancient yoga technique that would facilitate their inner voyages. I turned the lights off, instructed them briefly about closing their eyes gently and looking for sparks of light at the proverbial third eye. I told them that I would touch some students on the forehead lightly with my fingers. They meditated for some five minutes. I then proceeded to ask them about their experiences.
[Kirpal Singh invariably did such a process directly after his initiation ceremonies; he also kept a running tally of how many saw stars and so on-something which I have called the 'Kirpal Statistic'.]
To my amazement, since I felt that Kirpal Singh and others were actually transmitting spiritual power, the majority of my students reported seeing light. A few students even claimed to have visions of personages in the middle of the light. Others reported hearing subtle sounds and the like.
I repeated the experiment on four other classes that day. I have also in the past ten years conducted the same experiment on my college students (both undergraduate and graduate). The result, though differing in terms of absolute numbers, is remarkably the same. The majority see and hear something. It doesn't take a neuropsychologist or a sociologist trained in statistics to realize that Kirpal Singh and others were simply tapping into an already built reservoir of meditational possibilities.
What was unique about Kirpal's approach, at least in comparison with other Radhasoami gurus, was that he claimed to be the responsible agent, the medium through which such inner experiences can be transmitted. Kirpal's disciples generally did not question his grandiose claims, since many of them did indeed see and hear something during their meditation. What they, of course, did not fully appreciate was that almost anybody could have induced them to have inner experiences.
[I don't mean to suggest, though, that Kirpal Singh was not a good catalyst, but only that he was not unique and that his success at providing thousands with access to inner lights and sounds was not necessarily connected to his mastership.]
Religious devotees seem overly eager to give up responsibility for their own neurological happenings, believing instead that it takes a 'Master' to draw their attention 'within.' This may or may not be the case (and I am not implying that gurus don't have anything good to offer), but one thing is certain: Kirpal's claims, and others like his, cannot be divorced (as they often are in Sant Mat related groups ) from an initiates own cultural and psychological field of interplay.
It is that interplay, that acceptance as fact of a guru's method and the disciple's own inherent capacity-neurological or mystical-for inner experiences, which fuels the claims of would-be masters.
It seems wise to me, in light of Near-Death Experiences and the plethora of other meditation accounts, to inspect how we see and hear during our inner voyages of light and sound. Then we may be able to understand why such experiences can occur to almost anybody, anywhere, anytime. It may also help us contextualize and appraise the claims of gurus like Kirpal Singh, who insist on taking credit for their disciples' wondrous visions.
If, as I have suggested, that anybody can act as a conduit for such other-worldly experiences, then Kirpal and gurus like him should be judged on some other criteria, since their claims for uniqueness and exclusiveness are anything but unique and exclusive.
The 'Kirpal Statistic' is exactly that: the probable outcome that the majority of meditators, provided the necessary instructions in Shabd or Nad yoga practice, will see and hear something. (unquote)
In a follow up discussion, Lane had a dialogue. Whole thing is worth reading.
Will quote some excerpts.
(quote)DAVID LANE REPLIES:
Nice story, but it doesn't contradict the results of my experiments.
My point, lest we forget, is a simple one:
Almost anybody, given the right circumstances, can help others
"induce" inner experiences of light and sound.
I did it repeatedly, so have scores of other gurus (both in and out
of Sant Mat circles).
I didn't "transmit" anything.
But I did serve as a catalyst for eliciting that which was already
potentially held in reserve within that grand neural symphony we
call the brain.....
The gurus take undue credit, I believe, for that which is already
(quote)DAVID LANE REPLIES:
Yes, remember not all of my students saw light and sound.
But, more importantly, nor do ALL of Kirpal's initiates.
I have talked with dozens of Kirpal initiates who NEVER saw light
and sound during the time of initiation, even when Kirpal took them
to another room for a private sitting.
Just one week ago I had dinner with Robert Pirsic, an Austrian
businessman and an initiate of Kirpal Singh, who told me point blank
that he NEVER saw any inner light and NEVER heard any inner sound.
All of this despite the fact that Kirpal Singh took him aside
personally and gave him a one on one meditation sitting.
My point again is obvious:
The variablity of inner experiences and inner sounds can be
dependent upon a number of factors, not the least of which are:
1. The brain
2. The catalyst
I don't doubt for a second that certain gurus work better than
others in "inducing" cerebral fireworks, just as I don't doubt that
certain "prostitutes" work better than others in "inducing"
I know the analogy may at first glance seem crude but I don't think
Orgasms--no matter how beautiful the lover--is something
The lover merely "excites" an already pre-existing program.
I would say the same with "gurus" and inner experiences.
They merely "incite" an already pre-existing program.
Taking credit for another's orgasm is akin to taking credit for
another's inner experience.
To be sure, some gurus may serve better in eliciting a mystical
response, just as some lovers may be better in eliciting an orgasmic
But let us not forget the underlying point:
the orgasm and the vision arise within one's OWN self.(unquote)