|Journeys: T. D.|
|Date: June 27, 1998|
In 1994, I met and fell in love with a premie who had had Knowledge since 1974. We had met in a different ‘spiritual’ context, in that we both had a deep interest in indigenous spiritual practices, and at it was at one of these ceremonies that we first connected. I had been on the searching spiritual path for a couple of years and was looking for some form of meditation, as it seemed to me, that in every book I read, that ‘going within’ was the key to the ‘truth’, the ‘source’.
When I discovered that my partner was meditating every single day for a couple of hours and was very focused, I was impressed that he was actually doing it, doing it with apparent ease, and enjoying it. So many people who I’d met who said that they meditated, seemed to do so in such a lackadaisical nature. I myself had tried to meditate from techniques I read in a book, but found it extremely difficult to sit still and not be distracted for more than half an hour.
In the early days of our relationship when I visited his house, I noticed a photo of Maharaji. He told me that he was his Master, but I didn’t make any connection between his Master and his meditation. He never really talked much about it. I do remember, being a bit jealous though, that nothing, not even me, ever got in the way of his meditation! Still, I was impressed by his dedication.
About a month later, he told me he was flying for a few days to the States to see his Master. I thought that was totally bizarre — flying all the way to the States from Oz for only a few days. When he told me that that was normal, that people from around the world would fly to the States to see him, I told him that I didn’t think it was a good thing, for people to be that devoted to ONE individual. Being somewhat younger than my partner, I had grown up with a lot of the bad press of 60’s gurus, the Rajneesh, the Rev Moon etc. I thought all those guys shagged and fleeced their followers. Surprisingly though, I hadn’t heard of Maharaji.
When my partner went to the States, he left me an invitation for a video event of Maharaji. Being in love and having a natural desire to get closer to my boyfriend, I was excited to see this Master who was so close to my partner’s heart. Going to that event was extremely confronting. I came out and my head was screaming. Who was this little fat Indian guy with the squeaky voice who had challenged a lot of my pre-existing beliefs?
When my partner returned, I raised all my concerns and he explained to me why I’d had such an experience, because Maharaji acts as a mirror. He said he’d had exactly the same response when he first saw Maharaji in the 70’s. He said that beliefs are meant to be shattered. I was enthralled and thus I became an aspirant. I went to an event with Charanand who addressed all the contemporary queries. He said that people travel all over the world to see Maharaji in the same way that fans might travel to see the Rolling Stones. That made sense.
He voluntarily raised the issue of Maharaji’s wealth. He said that Maharaji’s wealth was from a variety of ways, that he was very clever and had even invented things! It was also at this event that I finally realised what Knowledge was, that it wasn’t some magical feeling of enlightenment that would dawn on me, but rather a set of four techniques that would be revealed to me later in a Knowledge session.
I enjoyed the (persuasive) process of being an aspirant, watching videos and getting thirstier and thirstier for this elusive Knowledge. I found Maharaji fascinating, and he had a good sense of humour which I’m always a sucker for!!
I eventually received Knowledge in Brisbane in 1995 and was very excited about it. Receiving it was one thing, practising it proved to be another! My partner who was only working part-time was able to sleep in and practise it at his leisure. I, on the other hand was working full-time and we were living in a cold part of Australia, so having to get up at 6.00am and practise in the cold when I was tired was a real test. I always felt bad that I wasn’t as disciplined as my partner, and that much of the time when I practised I would have to try hard not to fall asleep.
My partner and I talked a lot about how lucky we were to have Maharaji in our lives, to have Knowledge and to have the experience that was written about in all the ‘holy books’. I had grown up in a Christian family and to have THE delicious secret that supposedly JC had passed on to his disciples was pretty cool (at least according to the Gnostics)! I also devoured my partner’s books on Kabir and Guru Nanak, Mara etc., and re-read the New Testament and all those historical books about Jesus and his time in Kashmir.
I felt such an incredible love for Maharaji, that true devotee’s love, and it made perfect sense to me that not all the ‘perfect masters’ had carked it 2000 years ago. How silly of me to not think that each generation of mankind would be given a ‘perfect living master’ — after all, that’s only fair! I also went down that embarrassing path of giving satsang to a number of my friends and family, which now in retrospect I’m ashamed of. I remember berating my mother for worshiping a ‘dead master’ as I had a ‘living one’. I was extremely spiritually arrogant.
I saw Maharaji whenever he came to Australia, saving up enough money to follow him around the country. I experienced my first darshan in Brisbane in 1996 at an event in the city. It was an event for people with Knowledge only, and as soon as Maharaji started speaking, all these premies started shouting out “Darshan! Darshan!”. I remember that it felt awkward as Maharaji was trying to speak. I had no idea what darshan was and asked the person next to me. They told me that it was a time to pay respect to the Master. I thought I would shake his hand or say “Thanks” etc and joined the line. I was pretty amazed to watch everyone kiss his feet, but was excited to do so. It was a powerful experience for me, and obviously for all these other people, as you could hear the most incredible wailing in the line ahead!
At one point, while surfing the Net, I came across this web-site which was still in its infancy and it’s old format. The Bob Mischler interview was on it as well as the story about the African dude with the same name as Maharaji. The Bob Mischler interview threw me into a tizz and I printed off a copy and showed it to my partner. He read it, and said that it was old news. He’d been a full-on celibate ashram premie from ‘74 until they were closed down and he had seemed to hold no hard feelings as that was the way it was ‘back then.’ (I also know he’d gone through a bit of self-therapy of those times with the help of some indigenous practices).
He had also seen Maharaji a bit drunk after one conference at Amaroo, and heard him say some pretty crass things in private. He also told me he thought that there was a period when Maharaji didn’t practise Knowledge at all. So my initial despair was dissipated, and I subsequently wrote this site off as the result of some cynical disgruntled old premie who hadn’t ‘realised’ the true beauty of the ‘World of Knowledge’.
My relationship with my partner eventually broke down, but I was still committed to Knowledge and Maharaji. I still found practising Knowledge difficult and knew that in order to not waste ‘this seed that had been planted in me’ I would have to rearrange my life in order to make Knowledge a priority. I moved interstate, started working part-time, lived by myself and had all morning to practise.
So for the first time since receiving Knowledge I had the perfect environment in which to devote myself to K and M. It was so great having no distractions or any real concerns. I was back into fitness and yoga (which was great for my meditative posture sans baragon!) and got very deeply into practise. I’d managed to bypass the hour limit as I had no tight schedule to keep to. And so I felt like I now had it all.
The funny thing was though, that now that I had nothing left to blame for the ‘seed’ not growing, I became more aware of the effects Knowledge and this devotion to Maharaji was having on other aspects of my life, and surprisingly, they weren’t good feelings. For those 8 months the more I practised, the more those feelings plagued me. Unfortunately, there was no-one to talk to about it, as I didn’t make any real buddies during the aspirant process, and my ex-partner and I were having a period of incommunicado. There was no forum at the videos to speak to anybody and I didn’t feel by writing to Maharaji that MY particular doubts would be addressed in the near future, or at all. But I carried on.
I went to the big event at Amaroo in 1997 which was very powerful in terms of my renewed commitment to Knowledge and Maharaji. I felt very guilty that I’d ever let other aspects of my life interfere with such a commitment, and vowed again to make it a priority. It was also very inspiring to be around long-time premies who seemed very happy. One guy on the bus told me that it keeps getting ‘better and better’. I kept thinking of the analogy that Maharaji gives about Knowledge. That it’s like an acorn that will (if treated right) grow into an Oak tree.
After the event, some Brisbane friends who aren’t premies and who I was staying with, showed me the article that was in The Courier Mail, and which is also on this web-site. I was incensed. I couldn’t believe what had been written. I had been involved with the media for a number of years and was used to ‘lazy journalism’ — so this article really struck a nerve with me! My non-premie friends told me not to worry about it as “It’s the Courier Mail and you’re in Queensland, so what else you do expect?” [For non-Aussie readers — their inference being that this is a Murdoch newspaper which has a monopoly in Brisbane. Brisbane, and the state of Queensland is known to be extremely conservative and right-wing, as up until recently it was a virtual police-state with a notorious history of corruption and intolerance, so many Australians often talk with cynicism about it.]
Anyway, I spoke to my ex-partner about aspects of the article which I had no knowledge of, such as the title Lord of the Universe. He said he’d never known of Maharaji being called Lord of the Universe. I remembered also him showing me some old newspaper clippings/photos/magazines a while back and there were a couple of articles on the ‘Boy Guru’ etc but nothing about the Lord of the Universe or Peace Bomb. So again any doubts were placated.
After this event, I was inspired to do Service. Up until this point, I had been wary of committing to some form of Service as I knew from my ex-partner, that Elan Vital was rife with politics, and I had experienced enough of that in the workforce so as to be a bit gun-shy. But I put those feelings aside and did so anyway, as it was for the Big M. I went to a participation meeting at Amaroo where I learnt of stuff that disturbed me about Maharaji and Elan Vital — namely the excessive financial figures needed to finance Amaroo, not to mention some examples of Maharaji’s pedantic behaviour behind the scenes, but which was described by one of the coordinators as Maharaji’s desire for ‘absolute quality’.
And then I hit a crisis point. I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but I hit the bottom big time, and I had always felt that Knowledge would alleviate any experience like that. Maharaji is always quoting that verse “Even in your darkest hour, I will not abandon you”. Well my dark hour came and practising Knowledge and going to videos didn’t help at all. I felt really let down as I’d believed that I could rely on ‘going to that place inside’ to get me through the bad times. What is even weirder is that the problems that triggered this ‘bad time’ weren’t that major, it was my now inability to cope with such problems that sent me into such a tailspin.
So I took some time off and went to visit my family for a month, thinking that my problems had to do with everything else other than for Knowledge and my devotion to Maharaji. It was there that I re-discovered this Web-site and I was blown away. It was extremely confronting. I sat and read all the journeys and the forums and it was like having this big fat load taken off my shoulders. I actually felt repulsed by the thought of practising and being trapped by it and had to go through a horrible few days of ‘coming off’ the addiction of it.
As some of you have said, it is like a junkie addicted to smack. My ex-partner also agrees that Knowledge is an addiction, although he says it’s an addiction to ‘love’. I now know that he and I have different definitions and experiences of this crazy ole thang called lurve! This web-site has now given me the courage to express and feel comfortable with all the doubts, issues and contradictions that I’ve had over the 4 years of being involved with Maharaji. I can’t put the emergence of these doubts/issues into any sort of chronological order, so I’ll just list them:
So there you go. Just a few of the major issues that have contributed to my questioning, and ultimately extricating myself from Maharaji and Knowledge. I know that a lot of you ex-premies will concur as you’ve already covered many of these in the forums and in your journeys. It really is such an incredible relief to see them dealt with here.
I cannot express enough my gratitude to everyone who participates on it, both ex-premies and premies (although the premies arguments don’t stack up very well, IMHO!). You’ve all saved me a lot of time, because I would have been in there for the long haul, as one old premie told me when I said I was having big doubts about K & M: “You can’t honestly expect to be having the same experience [with my few years of practise and devotion] as someone who has practised for 25 years”. As some of you have shown me, it’s a hell of a gamble to make, only to find out 20 years from now, that you’re still not satisfied!
I also know a number of premies will feel that people like myself have defected because we just didn’t give Knowledge a ‘fair go’, that we weren’t disciplined in our practise, we weren’t sincere, thirsty, honest etc. All I can say to that is “Horseshit!” I have no doubt in myself about having been all of those things. And besides, if there is only ‘a chosen few’ who will really experience the true beauty of Knowledge and Maharaji’s grace, then why won’t Maharaji tell us that in the beginning and save us ‘inadequates’ a lot of time and effort??
For those confused premies/aspirants who may be reading this, I sincerely am amazed at how much happier I am now than I ever was being a premie. It has, however, been an extremely difficult process extricating myself and I’ve run through the gamut of emotions, and I know that I have to go through further self-analysis to deal with it.
It was interesting to read Katie’s analysis about the role the relationship with our father can have in our adoption of a Master like Maharaji. I can understand the ‘abusive’ aspect in terms of other premies I know, but in terms of myself, I’ve come at it from a different angle. You see, part of the reason I’ve been propelled along this spiritual journey is that I have been over-reliant on my father, who is one of the most loving, kind, generous and gentle people I’ve ever come across. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but we’ve still got a great relationship. He’s getting old now and I know that I was always fearful of how I would get on if and when he died — I was really scared to be without him. In a way, Maharaji provided me with someone whom I could transpose those same feelings onto, another father-figure who would be around a lot longer than my father would be, and someone in whose presence I felt safe and loved in.
You know how Maharaji gives the analogy of the boat in the ocean. Well I’ve got an analogy too. The best way I can describe it is like if a room was my life, I’d built a glass box inside it, which was Maharaji and Knowledge, and I’d crawled into it, feeling safe inside and totally reliant on it for survival, and was detached from my life that was going on outside the box. The allusion was that I was like the lotus flower, rising above it all, but the reality was that I was removed from my life and incapable of dealing with it. I now feel, with the help of this web-site that I’ve broken that glass box and am happy reacquainting myself with the room which is my life!
So where am I now in regards to Knowledge and Maharaji? Even though I have stopped practising Knowledge, I at least know the techniques and maybe in the future I will use them when I feel the need, as opposed to them being a prerequisite for me to start the day and heighten my own seemingly ‘lack of consciousness’.
It would be a lie to say I didn’t have some beautiful feelings practising Knowledge, but at the end of the day, they have never had the positive impact on me like those which I have felt by participating in indigenous rituals and ceremonies. These are incredibly egalitarian and always have as their focus the facilitating of an environment that encourages you to have a direct relationship with nature (and for me, my Creator), without any need for a middle-man to give you the ‘key’ or to interpret your experience, or to tell you how you should be experiencing your life.
At first, after I stopped practising, one of the hardest things to come to grips with was that I’d honestly believed that with Knowledge and Maharaji, I’d found the answer to life, the universe and everything, that my ‘thirst was quenched’ with this whole trip, and yet to admit (having told all my non-premie friends that I’d found THE answer!) that this wasn’t really the case, was a bitter pill to swallow.
As for Maharaji, I believe that he has got some good teachings, and has some remarkable observations and perceptions of life and people. I mean, he should shouldn’t he, after all he’s had a fairly extraordinary life, and he’s seen some pretty odd human beings and their idiosyncratic behaviour! Maybe it would be better for him to come out and go on the ‘speaker circuit’ where everything, including cash, is up front!
As for all the various details about Maharaji and DLM, and EV, I can only really talk about the experience I’ve had over the last 4 years and I just hope that ‘truthful insights’ and not ‘speculation’ will always be paramount on this site. Having been a lurker for a couple of months, I always found myself skimming over those speculative and bitchy bits (about Maharaji being a fatty etc) and embracing those posts where people are speaking of their own first-hand account and analysis of this phenomenon. The funny posts did however, provide welcome comic relief from the difficulties I had going through the extrication process!
Finally, sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the experience of the ex-premies here and those like my ex-partner who seem to have few regrets about the whole ashram/celibacy period. When I confronted him about all their money going to DLM, he said that he was in charge of the finances at one of his ashrams, and every single cent stayed within the ashram, ie no money was sent to Maharaji or DLM overseas. He and another old premie here, said that some of the American premies have always been a bit ‘out there’ (apparently at this last Amaroo gig an American premie got in a taxi at Ipswich (redneckville) station and said to the unassuming taxi-driver “Take me to see the Lord of the Universe!!”), so who knows, maybe the American experience was more full-on than elsewhere?
As for me, when I read some of your stories, I’m grateful I wasn’t around then as I would be pretty bloody angry at the obvious hypocrisy of Maharaji’s life at that time (married, financially plush etc) in contras! t to the life and the sacrifices the premies made in the ashrams. I also have an inkling that some of those old premies have been selectively forgetful about some of the incidents that occurred in the past.
I’ve also given no money (other than the odd $5 contribution at a video event) to Elan Vital, and the last Amaroo event at around $100 for four days was pretty good value, considering the set-up there and all the transport etc. I heard (and this is speculative) that the event actually ended up costing Elan Vital money. Part of the reason I didn’t give any extra money was that I didn’t have any spare to give, and yet I certainly would have, if I’d had the means. I also have a whole stash of videos and assorted merchandise which if added up, would probably cost a pretty penny, but I don’t feel swindled out of my money at all.
So there you have my journey, and I welcome any e-mails people may want to send me (although there may be a delay in replying due to my sporadic access to the Net and the fact that I’m getting back to a few of the things I neglected while a premie!). The reason I want to remain anonymous is that I don’t want to hurt any of the people around me by association, who are still premies, but who I’ve made aware of my decision to leave. By deduction, they will know who I am anyway.
To tell you the truth, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed about having had this experience, although maybe that’s the E in the A-Z emotions of detoxing and deprogramming! You old (more figurative than literally old!) ex-premies were the Western pioneers of the whole Indian guru devotional trip and at the time, were unaware of what the effects would be on your lives. I, on the other hand, grew up well aware of the whole 60’s/70’s cult experience, and yet still effectively ended up in a diluted version of one!
Sometimes that’s hard to deal with, but on days when I’m feeling positive I also try and put it down to like having had a bad love affair, in that it’s painful ‘cause you got in so deep, but coming out of it, you learn a lot about yourself and humanity as a result. In a strange way, to have felt that devotee’s love, which is unlike any other kind of love, has got to be character building (more positive thinking here!), and hopefully will be a reminder to us of what can happen when you give up much of the responsibility of your life to an enigmatic, authoritarian guru. And let’s face it, humans seem to love doing it, and will no doubt continue to do it!!
So, best of luck to everyone on the rest of their life journeys, and once again thanks for the courage and the honesty that you’ve all displayed by participating on this web-site, and special thanks to the ex-premies who give up their time, effort and whatever financial means needed to maintain this web-site. Please let me know if I can help.
Kind regards, The Defector.
TD for short! (Do you like my cracker of a pseudonym??)