Mike Dettmers: Questions - Answers
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Here is a reproduction of some of the questions he answered on the Forum. Other exchanges with Michael Dettmers and converstations' threads have been saved in the 'Best of the Forum' section.

Date: Tues, Oct 17, 2000 at 23:55:44
From: Joe
Subject: Additional Questions for Michael Dettmers

Hi Michael,

I hope you had a good weekend. I had a great one backpacking in Yosemite -- in an area called Cathedral Lakes. We had fantastic weather, although it got pretty cold at night and we had to hike through some snow. We even saw a Mountain Lion and two bears. Fun.

Sorry you got that threatening email, but I must say, I was very impressed with your response to it.

I had a couple of additional things I was hoping you get your viewpoints on. Regarding the asrhams, you said:

So Maharaji, in effect, threw up his hands in frustration because the financial resources were limited, and if we spent those limited resources on [the ashrams, there would be precious little money left for Maharaji to live in the style to which he had become accustomed, and to which he felt he was entitled. So the ashrams failed because the legitimate needs of the ashram premies became more of a burden than an asset to Maharaji...He expected unquestioned devotion but he never took a serious interest in the welfare of the people who had dedicated their lives to him....So, in the end, Maharaji decided that, instead of trying to create a support structure that covered all of the ashram premies, he limited that support structure to the instructors.

So, it seems the conclusions that most of us have reached that Maharaji didn't give a toss about anybody but himself is supported by what you saw as well. Thanks, that's ememsely helpful, but not at all surprising.

And I know that Maharaji was anything but a normal person, but to any normal person, shutting down the ashrams after having held those ashram meetings with us when he said the ashram was a life-long committment, and that no one should ever leave, etc., and that he was taking care of us, etc., would be very embarrassing. It would be an admission that one was wrong on a very fundamental issue, and such a person would feel kind of sheepish about doing this about face. Do you think Maharaji felt any of that? Was he at all embarrassed, or do you think he felt that he was somehow maybe not as perfect and all-knowing as he thought he was? By the way, did Maharaji believe he was 'all-knowing' like we sang in Arti? Did he ever talk to you about what his supposed above-human powers were?

And do you think Maharaji's failure to admit or take responsbility for failures in his mission, either the ashrams, or his abysmal failure at 'spreading knowledge', especially in the West over the past 25 years, not to mention his failure to hold on to 90% of his devotees, are due to embarrassment, or just because he just doesn't see the failures?

Regarding the instructors. Wasn't there also a time when Maharaji cut them loose as well, just like he did the ashram premies? Was the motivation the same as it was with the ashram residents, that they were more of a financial burden than he thought they were worth, so he just cut them loose? Was that handled any better that the ashrams were handled?

For example, I have heard that Anne Johnston, a Canadian initiator whom I got to know fairly well because she often toured through Chicago when I was there, and who was one of the most fanatically devoted premies I ever met, and was notorious among the premies for that very reason, was 'fired' from being an initiator/instructor in the mid-80s, after having been an ashram premie and initiator for well over a decade. I don't think she was given any money or help with getting on her feet. Since she had no real skills, people who knew her said that she had a very hard time supporting herself, had to beg for money from other premies, but didn't go on welfare because she was afraid it would reflect negatively on Maharaji.

Apparently, she remained devoted to Maharaji, despite feeling abandoned, and finally about 10 years later, a couple of years ago, Maharaji 'allowed' her to live in a trailer near 'the residence' in Malibu and walk miles to the residence, despite being in her 60s, and do his laundry for the rest of her life. And I'm sure if you asked her, she would feel incredibly privileged for the right to do so.

Anyhow, was this the same basic scenario?

Thanks again.


Date: Thurs, Oct 19, 2000 at 03:17:59
From: Michael Dettmers
To: Joe
Subject: Additional Questions for Michael Dettmers


Thanks for the support you and so many others have expressed on the Forum.

You ask if I think Maharaji felt embarrassed about closing the ashrams after stating repeatedly that it was a life-long commitment, or do I think he felt that he was somehow maybe not as perfect and all-knowing as he thought he was?

As I said earlier, I was not party to most of the conversations about the closings of the ashrams so if he did express embarrassment, I did not witness it. But, it was my experience that Maharaji always looked for someone to blame if things went wrong. In the case of the ashrams, it was the honchos’ fault for trying to make things so complicated and expensive, and it was the ashram premies fault for not being grateful enough for the opportunity to surrender.

Does Maharaji fail to admit or take responsibility for his failures because he just doesn’t see them?

I’m sure he saw failures (he spent too much time complaining about this or that not to). However, those failures were never his. It was always somebody else’s fault. And as “worthless” dirt at the feet of the perfect master, we assumed that he must be right, offered our “mea culpas”, and committed to try harder in the future. You can’t imagine the amount of politicking this kind of environment produces. It is certainly not one for the faint or pure of heart. In fact, it absolutely kills the spirit.

Did Maharaji believe he was 'all-knowing' like we sang in Arti? Did he ever talk to you about what his supposed above-human powers were?

Maharaji never talked about his “supposed above-human powers” with me or anyone else I know about. I remember him talking to the instructors about people on a spiritual path becoming fascinated with acquiring powers (he used the word “siddies” (spelling?) but that knowledge had nothing to do with that nor, he claimed, did he.

Regarding the instructors, wasn't there also a time when Maharaji cut them loose as well, just like he did the ashram premies? Was the motivation the same as it was with the ashram residents, that they were more of a financial burden than he thought they were worth, so he just cut them loose? Was that handled any better that the ashrams were handled?

I remember a conversation I had with Maharaji when we were alone in his hotel suite on tour. He was, as usual, complaining about the instructors (I don’t remember about what). So I asked him, “Why do you need instructors?” It was obvious to me that not many people were receiving knowledge anywhere in the world, yet he had who knows how many instructors. More to the point, I asked him why he never gave knowledge personally. At that time, it was my opinion that he should take look at this issue instead of simply perpetuating what he had inherited from his father. I thought that if he gave knowledge personally he might actually start thinking about the whole process and who knows, like any good leader, might actually begin to innovate. Thus, I was not surprised to hear, sometime later, that that is what he did, although I do not know what he has actually done in that regard. I assume that is the reason he “cut them loose”, but I do not have any information on how that was done.

I am sorry to hear your story about Anne Johnston. Anne and I moved into the ashram in Toronto on the same day in March of 1973. We both took our ‘vows” (it was a serious commitment) at the same time. I liked Anne despite her touch of fanaticism and I wish her the best.

Date: Wed, Oct 18, 2000 at 12:19:38
From: CHR
Subject: Even more questions for Michael Dettmers

Hi Michael

I have been impressed with your integrity in the way you have responded to questions and assertions here.

I have a few questions that are more personal curiosities than anything.

I spent some time in the late 70s and early 80s around Maharaji - some residence security, backstage security, airport and coordination of security at a few programs. Although I never had any real personal involvement with him (he spoke to me maybe 3 times) I was able to observe things that at the time were confusing and confronting. I am curious as to whether my picture matches yours.

I found M unpredictable and moody- he could be funny one day, dark and irritable the next. He could be tenderly playing kites with Hansi in the morning and yelling at someone in the afternoon. At the time I thought he was simply confronting our 'minds'. I saw him drunk a couple of times. In hindsight he seems like a spoilt little rich kid, probably more deluded than concsiously fraudulent.

The people I saw and knew who were at his beck and call seemed permanently exhausted. Some initiators who were close friends confided that they had been incredibly lonely and the closer they got to M, the more confronting life became. When I look back it seems to me that they were quite unhappy. It was all rationalised, of course. One residence security person I know served and lived at one of M's residences for 9 years. M hardly spoke to him or acknowledged him during this time. He was hurt and confronted but blamed himself.

I myself had moved into the ashram in 1973 at the age of 20, and except for 1976, stayed there until they closed. At least half of this time involved full time service. Within a year of the ashrams closing, I was married. I had little or no understanding of what it meant to be in a marriage, little awareneness of anothers needs. Somehow I'm still married but its taken a huge learning curve. I have friends who were in M's fulltime service from 1972 to 1985. They went from community Coordinators to initiators and were left with nothing except middle age and a deep sense of betrayal.

Did Maharaji have any awareness of these things or did he simply see these people as going down the wrong track and not having faith in him? Was he aware of the exhaustion suffered by those around him? You may correct me, but my observation was that many didn't have time to sleep properly, let alone meditate.

Thanks, Chris.

Date: Thurs, Oct 19, 2000 at 03:35:53
From: Michael Dettmers
Subject: Even more questions for Michael Dettmers


I think your observations and assessments are right on the money.

I have been giving considerable thought to the question about Maharaji's awareness, or lack thereof, of the consequences of his actions, and his ability or willingness to be accountable and responsible for his actions. I will write on this topic soon but, for the next two days I am traveling and don't have the time at this moment.


Date: Sun, Oct 22, 2000 at 03:33:43
From: La-ex
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: A few questions for Michael Dettmers

Michael-I have a number of questions for you...here's a few...

A few years ago a premie named Danny Blood came through a community on the east coast and ended up staying for almost a year.

Supposedly he was at the residence for a long time in the 70's and early 80's and was told by m that he wanted him to 'friends' with m, rather than a 'devotee'.

He told us many stories about smoking dope and drinking heavily with m late into the night, and actually carrying m up to his bedroom a number of times because he was so wasted.

He also told stories about some of m's 'tests'.

He claimed that one time he was in the garage with m, and m told him to drink some gasoline from a gas container.

He drank some, but didn't swallow it,until m slapped him on the back and he had to swallow. He claimed that the gas turned into nectar, at which point m asked him why he didn't have more faith.

I asked him 'do you think m had put a sweet liquid in the container instead of gas, or was it really some sort of miracle, as he believed?'. He thought it was a miracle.

I heard of bal bhagwan ji doing similar things at the Long Island residence in the early 70's, but those were practiacl jokes aimed at playing head games with premies. They were fairly mild, and bbj commented on how gullible premies were.

Do you believe that maharaji has, or ever had a serious drinking or drug problem at any time?

Did you ever witness any tests, or miracles such as the above story?

Finally, this is just asking for an opinion, but why do you think that maharaji is posting such obvious revisions of the past?

He has to know that so many people know for a fact that he is lying, covering up and deceiving so many.

The only thing I can believe is that he and the people around him must be making a calculated decision to lie about the past, and figure that it will piss some people off (who they will lose), but that the 'true believers' will still hang in there with him.

With a newly revised past, he is free to 'trawl' for new converts as a 'master' with a 'gift', but not the messianic figure he told tens of thousands he was.

I think this must be his strategy, and I also think that he is vastly under-estimating the power of the internet.

The whole world is a couple of mouse clicks away from seeing how deceptive he is...how can he pursue such a stupid stategy?

Just wondering what you think the reasoning is behind his bizarre moves...

Thank you for your posts, and having the guts to do so...


Date: Mon, Oct 23, 2000 at 05:30:03
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: La-ex
Subject: A few questions for Michael Dettmers


Here are my answers to your questions:

Do you believe that maharaji has, or ever had a serious drinking or drug problem at any time?

Yes, I believe he had (has?) a serious drinking problem and I told him so, not out of judgment but out of love and concern.

Did you ever witness any tests, or miracles such as the above story? No.

Finally, this is just asking for an opinion, but why do you think that maharaji is posting such obvious revisions of the past?

To answer this question, I think we have to look at the whole Maharaji phenomenon in context. As I said in an earlier post, he was indoctrinated into an absolute belief system since birth and witnessed first-hand how that system worked at the feet of his father who groomed him to take his place. Thus, when he was eight years old, he already had an embodied identity and a mission in life. How many other eight year olds do you know who were in a similar situation? I certainly don’t. And, he got off to a great start. By the age of 12 he had left India and in just a few short years established a global organization with thousands of people all over the world who dropped everything to dedicate their lives to him. Like it or not, that is real power. He must have felt invincible.

That much power and influence over others, however, brought with it a tremendous responsibility because the people he attracted entrusted their hearts and souls to his care. It’s one thing to play with the spoils of power and, as a young person, he had no trouble with that side of the equation. To deal with the other side, however, takes character and maturity which he lacked. I can only assume (since he never discussed it with me) that in time it must have dawned on him that he was not up to the task, that he was not the person he was led to believe he was and that he had led others to believe he was. This inner conflict may account for his drinking problem. Whether or not that is the case is beside the point. The fact is that he failed to assume the responsibility that came with his invitation and our acceptance to surrender our lives to him, and that irresponsibility has been amply demonstrated by the way he handled the ashram situation and the Jagdeo situation, to point out just two examples.

One way to deal with this dilemma is to pretend that it never happened, hence his extensive revisionism of the past. Will it work? Time will tell but I doubt it. Too many people got hurt because he failed to honor his part of the bargain. If he wants to change the deal and move on, in my opinion, he must first undo what he did. He owes those who still care whether through anger, grief, sadness, or whatever, an apology and an explanation. It must be sincere and he should be prepared to make amends for the consequences of his actions.


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