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Soul Rush

The Odyssey of a Young Woman in the 70s'


by S. Collier. Published in 1978

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Chapter 14: The Rawats' War.

morning after the program was over, as I woke up in the dilapidated old Coca-Cola plant. "What the hell am I doing here?" I rubbed my tired face and took a deep breath.

Even though I understood the complex circumstances which had made the festival into such a failure, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. It was not only a failure because few people enjoyed the three-day program. That would be tolerable, an unfortunate occurrence on par with a play bombing in the bush leagues-the theater company can always practice more and make a comeback with a better script.

But Millennium was a media event. We had promoted it actively. Journalists from all over the country were in attendance to hear what Rennie had promised would be a "practical plan for world peace." Instead of any new thoughts on a workable plan for a better world, these visiting media people found a confused jumble of inarticulately expressed ideas. The clearest remarks were the most outrageous, the Millennium Fever victims' exhortations. And, as I noticed on Soul Rush, anytime the premies started to sound dumb or crazy, on went the TV lights, to the pad went the pencils. No journalist could either resist or make sense of this odd story of foolish utopians whose leader appeared to be nothing more than a fat Indian kid in a Rolls.

"And didn't he have an ulcer?" was one reporter's last question to me at the end of the third evening.

One news story caused me great personal embarrassment. It was written by the woman from the Village Voice who had seemed so sweet on Soul Rush. The things I had told her, hoping to explain how fanaticism and genuine spirituality coexisted in our movement, were misquoted. Other remarks, which I had made jokingly and in high spirits, she presented as my serious beliefs.

"Do you know what came across the telex today?" Sophia, an intense 17-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji devotee (premie) asked me excitedly. "This is very confidential, but there are two beings from another planet staying at the Rainbow Inn in Houston. That's where all the premies live down there."

Soul Rush had begun, and we were on our way to Houston, where Maharaj Ji promised to present his plan for world peace. By this time I'd begun to love the premies-their energy, their enthusiasm, the way they treated each other.

"How do you know they're other beings?" I asked, hopeful that maybe it wasn't as weird as it sounded. I was thumbing through the Boston Globe and stopped at the page with a photograph of UFOs over Columbus, Ohio.

"Look!" Sophia jumped around me and grabbed the paper. "See, they're following Soulrush. They're going to Millennium to see Maharaj Ji 'cause he's their Lord too. He's Lord of the Universe. Really."

"Hey, Sophia, what do these beings look like?" I asked. "Has anyone actually seen them?"

"Oh, yes," she said. "They're twelve feet tall and have these big round gleaming eyes like half-dollars and fingers kind of like claws. I also heard that a big mother craft stopped above the Rainbow Inn, and a lot of baby craft went outdoors in the bottom. It was pulsating all different color lights.

"Your mind's really gonna be blown," she told me, giggling. "Bal Bhagwan Ji said that a lot of strange things are gonna happen in Houston. All of those UFOs people've been seeing are around the Gulf Coast waiting for Millennium. Maharaj Ji says he wants all his premies inside the Astrodome on Saturday night."

In Houston Maharaj Ji was not only going to announce the founding of an international organization to feed and shelter the world's hungry, he was not only going to initiate the building of a divine city, he was going to show the world that the Lord is indeed on this planet. By what proof we didn't know, but the UFOs were a good bet for Sophia and Tracy.

The article went on and on as if she were being paid by the word, no matter how trivial or inaccurate, obscuring and misrepresenting my actions and beliefs. I consider it libelous, and worse, it shows a lack of sense of humor. This was only one of many hundreds of such articles about the festival. As if ruining DLM's public image were not enough, the festival also had the effect of putting the organization into a debt I estimated to be half a million dollars. (I found out later that the debt was a hundred thousand dollars more than this original estimate. In total we spent one million dollars on the Houston effort.) We owed this money to firms all over the country. The small profit that Soul Rush had made due to Lola's good sense on money matters was quickly consumed to pay a tiny portion of this large debt.

The whole thing made me feel stupid. Not stupid to be in DLM. My experiences in the early spring had given me profound reasons for joining it. In DLM I had already met many fine people who, more than any other group, shared my world view and hopes. The reason I felt stupid was because I had not done more to keep the festival from turning out as it did. Since it is always easy to think about what you could have done once something is over, on this first day after the fiasco my mind revolved around the phrases, "I could have . . ." and "If only . . ." I could have confronted BB more powerfully. If only I had been more articulate, more persuasive.... I could have spoken to Bob Mishler. . . . If only I had had a more clearly thought-out solution . . .

But even as my 20-20 hindsight concocted brilliant things I could have done, if only . . ., I gradually accepted that what was done was done. Working on the "today is the first day of the rest of your life" principle, I decided that I would start now and do better in the future. I would join the effort to pick up the pieces after the festival and would continue to work with the other premies to salvage what was left of DLM's public image.

To get me in the right mood for this salvaging work, I went down to the Astrohall to watch my friends on the Millennium staff take down the temporary makeshift offices they had set up there. While I was standing around leaning against a metal desk that was tipped up sideways, I was joined by Michael Donner, DLM's vice president.

When I first met Michael several months earlier I had noticed that he looked a lot like a younger version of New York's former mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, whom I knew from the statue that stands in the airport of the same name. Michael was of a muscular build, but short. When he gestured, his hands defined exact spaces and progressions. But for all of this toughness and masculine appearance, the words he said when speaking showed subtle and compassionate reasoning.

Before joining DLM, Michael had been in an anti-war group called Beaver 55 which did things like pour blood over draft files. During one of these shenanigans Michael and some of his buddies had been caught. For one charge they spent a year in a federal penitentiary; another charge was still pending. Michael might have to go back to prison. We stood together silently for a long time, and then Michael turned and spoke to me.

"You know there is a place for you in Denver, writing for the newspaper and magazine full time, if you want it." When he turned toward me I was struck by how incredibly clear his eyes were.

"I'd like to come," I replied.

Denver is a funny town. It seems to have no context for its existence, no reason for it to be there, plunked down in the middle of the desert fifty miles from the mountains. Perhaps people chose to settle there because they felt too weary to go any farther, too tired to make it over the Rockies and on to California.

For whatever reasons people settled this land a hundred years ago, I had come to Denver to be in DLM. And DLM was in Denver because Bob Mishler was there. Back in 1971 when Maharaj Ji first came to the United States, he went through Boulder, Colorado, in the late summer. Bob, a local yoga teacher, had gone to see Maharaj Ji because one of Bob's former students had given the young guru rave reviews.

When Bob learned the meditation he found he already knew the techniques. "As a matter of fact, I was teaching these same things in my yoga classes," Bob told me. But something struck him about Maharaj Ji himself. "He had both wisdom and innocence. I liked him and I wanted to help him."

Bob offered his house, down in Denver, for the traveling mahatmas to stay in when they were passing through town. Maharaj Ji must have been quite impressed with Bob, because when Bob showed him the house, Maharaj Ji asked if he could move in himself and make it DLM headquarters. From that time until late in 1976 Bob was the president of DLM and an intimate associate of Maharaj Ji.

The first night I was in Denver I stayed across the street from Bob's house; then I moved to my permanent home in one of the monastic houses a few blocks away. There were approximately thirty-five communal DLM houses in Denver, and many other single-family apartments. Many of the people who lived in my new house were also on the publications staff-my future co-workers and people I still count among my finest friends.

When I went to DLM's office building I was impressed. Headquarters occupied four floors right on Denver's main drag. The building itself had a lot of charm. Built at the turn of the century, it had sculpted stone sides and a row of arched windows at the sixth-floor level. In the middle of the modern, less decorative buildings in downtown Denver, the Kittredge Building looked like a small castle.

The building was owned by Joe Gould, an eccentric and extremely wealthy man with offices there and in Las Vegas. Joe claimed to have had his start in Chicago as "Al Capone's shoeshine boy." Maharaj Ji and Joe were good friends and were alike in many ways, both being extremely short and successful on their own terms, in their chosen businesses.

What DLM had inside Joe's building impressed me more than the building's location and architecture. There was all of the photographic, typesetting, copy camera, platemaking and printing equipment of a good-sized graphic and printing company.

After I settled into my office and the initial razzle-dazzle wore off, my mind returned to the trouble the mission faced: half a million dollars owed to businesses all over the country. Now where could I get half a million dollars? I looked out the window of my office and began to wonder. I could get a job, I thought, as I noticed clouds gathering and snow beginning to fall.

My new "service," as people in DLM like to call their organizational assignments, was in the DLM publications, covering the Family beat-the activities of Guru Maharaj Ji and his kin-for the Divine Times. I was also asked to write assorted feature articles of a general nature.

To help with the debt I planned to take some off-hours job which still gave me some time for my service. After a week of pounding the pavement, the only employment I could find-I didn't go to any laundries-was an assembly-line job in a Christmas wreath factory for a buck sixty an hour. Work started at seven in the morning and went on with two ten-minute breaks until two-thirty in the afternoon.

The factory was kept very cold, to avoid wilting the greens. It was staffed primarily by non-English-speaking people. In front of me on the assembly line were four or five Orientals who must have worked there for many seasons. They could whip out wreaths like crazy. Further down the line were several Spanish-speaking women who showed less interest in their productivity.

Whatever boredom I suffered at the wreath-making line was quickly compensated for by my service. All of Guru Maharaj Ji's family were in Denver, except for Maharaj Ji himself. Sensing that Millennium was the end of her and BB's reputation among the American DLM members, Mata was making a desperate effort to consolidate her power base.

One day several weeks after the festival, I went to the house DLM had bought for Maharaj Ji and his family, to attend a reception Mata was holding for the housemothers, the young women who took care of the domestic side of the headquarters staff's lives. This apparently innocent gathering was the beginning of Mata's many attempted coups.

Mata, wrapped in her familiar pink sari, was wearing her diamond nose ring. "You are not appreciated in your work," she exhorted them through a translator. (She spoke only Hindi.) "You should go out and tell people about this love, this Knowledge, this truth.... Anna, where would you like to go?" She pointed to a large map of the world she had set up behind her.

Naturally this created a rather uncomfortable situation at headquarters. Some housemothers, anxious to end their bondage to the stove and washing machine, took Mata up on her offer. They collected enough money for a ticket and went off to some other, hopefully more pleasant, part of the world. Others smiled sweetly at Mata, then left the meeting shaking their heads. "She's really flipped, hasn't she?" I heard Anna comment to her friend as she walked to her car.

This was a situation that Maharaj Ji would clearly have to deal with himself. Unfortunately, Maharaj Ji was out of town trying to form a new family for himself. He had met a young woman shortly before the festival and had fallen in love with her, although this was not clear until a few months later. Since it was hard to know exactly what definitive action any of us should take with Mata and her boys, people at headquarters resorted to that old social formula: be polite, talk about the weather, and smile.

But on some occasions this would not do. For example, once the mission directors were having a meeting to figure out some basic economy measures. They had already gotten rid of all but one of our WATS lines and cut back on nonessential personnel. Now they were looking for new ways to economize. Mata, who was downstairs attending a DLM program, heard about the meeting upstairs and wanted to attend.

Since I had a key to the elevator, I took her upstairs and then stood in the doorway and watched. Her remarks to the group were excessive and cruel. Some of them the translator would not repeat. At the end of fifteen minutes, several of the directors, male and female, were in tears. Holding part of the general ledger in her hand, she looked a lot like Joe McCarthy with his list of Communists.

If politeness kept some premies from insulting Mata to her face, they got back at her in other ways. A few people started imitating her high, whining voice and made slightly derogatory remarks about Indians and Indian culture. For example, there are many Indian scriptures whose names, to the American ear, sound like the names of Indian food. People would joke that we were going to have "pourris" (Indian bread) and "Puranas" (Indian scriptures) to mop up our plates after dinner.

Mata could see she was not gaining any ground. When she and BB learned that Maharaj Ji would be arriving in Denver, they must have decided to take the money and run.

This tactic, however, would not have been discovered had it not been for Freddy, one of the young men who lived in the house with me. BB was going to the airport and Freddy was taking his bags. When it came time for the plane to leave, Freddy absentmindedly left one of the attache cases on the runway. When the airport officials opened it up to find out its owner, they discovered a suitcase full of $100 bills. The Rocky Mountain News, a Denver daily, ran a story under the headline, "Franklin Never Flew the Friendly Skies," which represented the detached and amused attitude the Denver citizens were beginning to take toward having the guru in their town.

But the intrigue did not end here. Mata, BB, and Bhole Ji left Denver and regrouped in New York, where BB had had some popularity in years past. You'd think his popularity would have worn a little thin because he had predicted such an adverse fate for the Big Apple and all her inhabitants, the pre-Millennium earthquakes. But instead they were welcomed and allowed to stay in the house reserved for Maharaj Ji in Westbury, Long Island. Firmly settled in, Mata and BB encouraged the local premies in their plans for a birthday party for Maharaj Ji, who would be sixteen on December tenth. Then they tried to get Maharaj Ji to come, to see them on their own turf. Maharaj Ji's new girlfriend, Marilyn, was not invited. From the start Mata had insisted, according to those who translated her Hindi for me, that Marilyn was lower class, a dirty American, not a fit match for their little Maharaj Ji.

Maharaj Ji did not want to attend the party. When conventional methods of invitation like flowers and phone calls failed to attract him, Mata and BB tried another tack. They sent a message to Maharaj Ji that Mata was on her deathbed, using a weeping premie as the courier. Maharaj Ji would have to come immediately if he wanted to see Mata before she died. Finally, at the last minute, Maharaj Ji got on a plane and went to New York. When he discovered Mata was not on her deathbed, he seemed furious, according to a friend of mine who was there. But since he was in town anyway, he decided to attend the birthday party. Several thousand people had gathered who genuinely wanted to wish him well, unaware of the part this party had played in the plot behind the scenes.

Amazingly, nothing Maharaj Ji did in public that day gave them any inkling of the troubles. Even at this late date, in the face of Mata and BB, Maharaj Ji was still holding to his stand-and-smile-with-the-family policy.

From my vantage at headquarters, I saw the real story which was hidden from the majority of premies. This private information put me in an awkward position. Since I was supposed to cover the "holy family" news for the premie paper, I thought I should write something about it. But I knew what a delicate situation existed. I did not want to jeopardize Maharaj Ji's position. If push came to shove, I knew Mata would try to use her power as Maharaj Ji's legal guardian and make him return to India, never to be heard from again. Then I would have lost my friend and guru.

After talking with Matthew Austin, the Divine Times editor, we decided to go ahead with some sort of series on the situation. But when Matthew proposed this idea to Bob Mishler, Bob nixed it, saying, "It would confuse the premies; besides, it is not what Maharaj Ji wants."

That it would "confuse the premies" struck Matthew and me as absurd. Matthew said he didn't want to be part of any "paternalistic cover-up," but I was willing to give Maharaj Ji some credit for his discretion. After all, he was not the first of my young associates who had trouble with his parents. In my opinion it all added up to a waiting game. Maharaj Ji was holding out for his eighteenth birthday when, by Indian law, he would be a man, free and clear of his mother's legal clutches.

In reaction to his frustration, Matthew tried to take the newspaper in a different direction. He wanted to make it more of a general interest publication with a spiritual perspective, rather than what he called a "propaganda rag."

As we worked together on the new paper idea, Matthew and I became good friends. Since we both lived in the same house, we usually walked to the office together on the mornings when I was not working in the Christmas-wreath factory. Matthew was thirty-two years old and had a good deal of writing experience. He had started out in New York as a copywriter fresh out of college; over eight years he gradually became dissatisfied with his life and his Greenwich Village apartment. From New York he moved to Boston to make a new start on a life outside the nine-to-five subway-to-subway grind. In Boston Matthew started a small spiritual newspaper called Boston Public Gardens. It was a fine little paper, and I remember seeing it when I lived in Maine. Matthew joined DLM in 1972 and toward the end of that year he took over Divine Times for the mission. Even though Matthew had, like me, adopted the ashram lifestyle, which did not allow drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, he had never quite adjusted. Sometimes in the office he smelled of Scotch, and he kept a stash of marihuana tucked away up in the Divine Times office's false ceiling to enjoy late at night with some of the other people on the DT staff. On our morning walks downtown we sometimes stopped as many as three times over the twenty-five-block distance so that Matthew could have coffee and a cigarette on his way to work. Since I have never smoked cigarettes nor had any desire whatsoever to smoke them, the ashram restriction did not bother me.

Coincidentally, another friend on the publications staff had also been in Boston putting out another paper at the same time Matthew was there. This was Saul Bear, who lived in the same house with Tom and me and was the Assistant Editor of DLM's four-color monthly magazine. Saul's Boston paper was a monthly called Lavender Vision, which was aimed at a homosexual audience. Because of its coherent format and writing, Lavender Vision was a leading force in Boston's gay civil liberties effort at that time. When I was in Maine, I had also seen this paper, as well as Matthew's.

I thoroughly enjoyed my association with this varied group of people, many of whom had been successful in other fields before joining DLM. The office suite down the hall from me was jokingly referred to as the Harvard-Radcliffe Club, because its three inhabitants were all graduates of that venerable institution.

Leaving New York a few hours after the party was over, Maharaj Ji returned to California and his sweetheart. Raja Ji, the brother most close to Maharaj Ji in age and temperament, was also having a love affair-a fact which infuriated Mata all the more. Raja Ji's romance was with Claudia Littmann, a European model whose father was at one time chief of police in Frankfurt. One day, as I was leafing through a graphic magazine to get ideas for our new-style Divine Times, I saw an advertisement that Claudia had done before joining DLM. Claudia and Marilyn lived together in an apartment in Marina del Ray, California. A few days after Maharaj Ji got into L.A., Mata, BB, and Bhole Ji also arrived, making themselves at home in Maharaj Ji's small house on Sunset Boulevard.

Meanwhile, back in my life, I was having a less serious love affair. Although in coming to Denver I had agreed to live in a monastic way, I found it rather difficult to do so. From my short experience, there was no substitute for the deep and happy satisfaction of making love. On a few occasions during that cold winter of '73-'74, I broke my monastic commitment.

At the end of the Christmas season, I was laid off my job at the wreath factory. They did a small business throughout the year for funeral homes, but they no longer needed the extra workers they took on at Christmas. To add to my unemployment, at the same time DLM's newspaper went out of business for lack of funds. On the day that I was about to start looking for work in the local laundries, one of the DLM directors approached me with a much more attractive offer. His idea was for me to write a gourmet vegetarian cookbook with a really excellent cook who lived in New York City.

With a sigh of relief, I accepted this job and began writing up some guidelines for the book. At that time DLM was running a restaurant in midtown Manhattan that served tasty food and was called the Alive Kitchen. It seemed logical to me if I was writing the Alive Kitchen Cookbook and working with a New York cook, I should go to New York and see them both.

While I was waiting for a car ride east-plane fare cost too much-Maharaj Ji announced that he was going to do a tour of all the DLM branches around the country. Denver was not the only place where things were dark and the living was lean; all the premie communities were in a similar slump. Maharaj Ji wanted to make a tour and cheer up the troops. This also offered him a discreet way to get Mata out of his hair; however, she insisted on joining him in his travels. So much for that plan.

The first stop in Maharaj Ji's tour was Denver. He planned to be there for Valentine's Day. Not having much to do while I waited around for a ride, I volunteered for the "World Peace Corps" or "WPC" duty, which was a corps of sweet-looking ushers and more brawny strongarms whose job was to control the crowds at Maharaj Ji's program. Raja Ji was thought of as the "spiritual director" of the WPC. One advantage of this job was the close proximity to Maharaj Ji, himself.

Standing on the stage with Maharaj Ji or at the door of where he was staying, you could get a good look at him, hear what he really thought about things, and enjoy his relaxed personality in a way that was impossible sitting so far away in the audience of one of his large programs. From so close you might even get to understand the enigma: this little fellow from India who suffered his pains so quietly and still wanted to save the whole world.

While I was working for the World Peace Corps during Maharaj Ji's Denver programs, I had an interesting experience with a reporter from the Denver Post. The reporter was planning to do an article for the Post's Sunday magazine. He was very open-minded about the Mission and the Knowledge, so he decided to participate in a ritual called "Darshan" which usually attracts only premies. In the Darshan ceremony, the premies line up and wait their turns to go before Maharaj Ji. The first time a person is involved in Darshan, they can ask for "holy breath," which is a special initiation which only the guru can give. Then, after a person has had "holy breath," he may go up for Darshan again anytime, though on subsequent occasions there will be no further initiation. The person may offer a flower to Maharaj Ji, kiss his feet, or just give him a good look in the eye, whatever suits.

This reporter got in the line, taking a daffodil. He bowed and placed the flower at Maharaj Ji's feet. When he stood up, he told me he felt a rush of ecstasy. He stumbled away, almost falling. I reached over and caught him, since I was standing next to Maharaj Ji's chair. He was laughing and crying at once. I helped him to a bench nearby. "I couldn't see. There was too much golden light," he exclaimed.

Later Michael Donner related this incident to Maharaj Ji and I corroborated it. Maharaj Ji turned away nonchalantly and replied, "Oh, that guy, he's just eaten too many chili peppers." When the reporter heard this remark, he was astounded. Chili peppers were one of his favorite foods. This reporter wrote a lovely piece about the young guru.

After Maharaj Ji left Denver, I got a ride to New York. I stayed there several weeks and then returned to Denver with the cook-collaborator. While I was working on the book proposal, tasting good food and writing little stories about the ingredients, I continued my involvement with the World Peace Corps. The person in charge of the national WPC had been nicknamed "Lemon" by Maharaj Ji because of his seemingly sour disposition. Raja Ji and Lemon were good friends. I found Lemon to be quite a good companion on some occasions. Now that the Mission had so little work to do because of its financial troubles, Lemon thought it was an ideal time to reevaluate the Mission's focus. "Action's where it's at; not all this talk," he insisted over and over. Lemon thought the organization would be better off as a social service group. "World Peace Corps, man. World Peace Corps. That means work." He shouted and pounded on his desk. Lemon had a slightly military quality which he enhanced by wearing dark suits and always keeping the corners of his mouth firmly in a frown. As a sidekick he had a smart aide named Gordon Petty, who could articulate in less passionate tones what Lemon was thinking. Gordon always spoke softly, almost in a monotone, which contrasted strongly with Lemon's more emotional cadence.

"We should organize the premies into meaningful community action groups," Gordon said, explaining Lemon's thoughts. "This will foster discipline and compassion. It will also help the premies become more rooted in practical values. Through firsthand experience of real suffering they will understand how much work is needed in the world and how crucial it is for us to begin. Beyond even this, volunteering will not hinder the financial recovery of DLM. It is a perfect time to start this work."

Since I was a "writer," Lemon asked me if I would write up some proposals for him. Since I agreed with Gordon and his idea of how DLM should be run, I took the job. Though they were a comical pair to be aligned with, I liked their thinking. Lola, whom I knew from Soul Rush, did too, and soon she moved into the house where Lemon organized his projects.

This house was located in the all-black section of Denver, far outside the traditional premie neighborhood. Lemon had chosen this out-of-the-way location to emphasize his distaste for the administration which had put together Millennium. Even before the festival Lemon had felt a definite antagonism toward DLM programs. He thought many of them were hot air and he made sure everyone knew how he felt.

After I finished the cookbook proposal, I was out of a job again. I did not plan to write the cookbook if a major publisher was not going to buy it. I knew we did not have the expertise to distribute it ourselves, even if we did have the facilities to print it. Rather than go back to the director who had gotten me started on the cookbook and ask for a new assignment, I decided to help Lemon in the WPC. While tactfully assuring my friends in the leadership of DLM that I was not writing them off by joining this slightly renegade operation, I packed my bags and moved to the WPC house, becoming one more among the white folks on the block.

Analyzing the outfit, I saw that WPC had the same problem that Good Day Market had faced in Maine: the volunteers needed a source of money so that they could keep body and soul together while they did their good deeds around the community. The answer seemed the same: start a service company. Nobody liked the name Denver-America Contracting, so we settled on something more "spiritual": Rainbow Community Services. We had cards printed up and were in business. On our best day we employed thirty people.

Living in the WPC house, I had access to a lot of information that would not normally come my way even on the Divine Times staff. For instance, Raja Ji, Guru Maharaj Ji's still-faithful brother, told me how he had secretly married Claudia while Mata was away on tour with Maharaj Ji. Then when Mata returned from touring, Raja Ji said, he no longer felt able to keep up the charade and went to face his mother with his new wife. Raja Ji said Mata was livid with rage and would not allow him and Claudia to come inside Maharaj Ji's L.A. residence. Instead, she ordered the mahatmas who were present to go outside and beat up Raja Ji and Claudia while they stood in the driveway on Sunset Boulevard.

When Maharaj Ji returned and saw his brother black-and-blue and his brother's wife with a bloody face, he became extremely frightened, according to Bob Mishler. He called Bob on the telephone and finally took a strong stand in regard to his family. Bob remembered the conversation this way: "Maharaj Ji was extremely upset. He told me 'Get them out of the country. Deport them, anything. Anything. I don't care what you do. Just get them out of here.'" Bob was glad to do it. "I'd had enough of their tricks." So using what Bob described as a "variety of intimidation tactics," he convinced them to go back to India. While Mata and BB were preparing to leave, Raja Ji came to stay with us in Soultown and Maharaj Ji sought refuge in the Denver residence reserved for him. Maharaj Ji refused to see Mata or BB before they left. Several times I remember Lemon driving to the airport in the middle of the night to dissuade BB from going to see Maharaj Ji at his home in Denver.

"Finally," Bob said, "I arranged for Bal Bhagwan Ji to speak to Maharaj Ji on the phone. Maharaj Ji told Bal Bhagwan Ji that if he would go back to India and take Mata, then he, Maharaj Ji, would return to India himself on May 24."

On May 24, 1974, Maharaj Ji and Marilyn were married in a small chapel in the foothills of the Rockies. The next day the news appeared all over the world. For most premies, this was a very happy day, but for Mata and BB, Maharaj Ji had committed an act of war. Sitting in India, they planned a full-scale campaign against their youngest kin.

I could see that Raja was not taking it well. With the lines so clearly drawn he began expanding his existing fascination for guns and violence. Like Maharaj Ji, Raja Ji had started to drink. Though I love to drink from time to time, I never do so before the end of the afternoon. Raja Ji sometimes started much earlier than that. One evening I sat with him and Claudia as they drank. Slowly the conversation turned from an interesting discussion to a series of slurred comments about where do the bubbles come from in champagne. This is spirituality? I thought to myself. This sort of incident and the seemingly endless difficulties Guru Maharaj Ji had with his family were wearing me out.

I started to wonder if maybe the Mission was destined to fail; if from the beginning the odds had been stacked too heavily against Maharaj Ji. Even though Knowledge was an excellent product, probably the best on the market, the mismanagement of the business and the ineptitude of the sales force might be too great to overcome.

This idea depressed me. It made me sick to think all the effort I had made and all the efforts my sincere friends had made would come to nothing. I didn't like the idea that people who might have benefited from meditation would never hear about Knowledge because our Guru's life was so flashy, his family so greedy.

I thought of the Christian Church and the profound realizations of its early members and then I thought about the Church today and how little spiritual progress seemed to be happening in it. Full of these weary thoughts, I went to the office building to see Saul Bear, who had moved out of the ashram after the magazine folded. He was in a joyous mood and grabbed me to dance while he hummed some music. I couldn't help but smile.

"The paper's going back in print," he said. "Somebody donated $350,000. Come on kid, cheer up. Let's go out dancing tonight."

That sounded like a good idea. Knowing the debt was reduced to a manageable and payable level lifted a weight off my back. In a peculiar way it signaled to me that my responsibility to the Mission was over. The commitment I had made when joining the Millennium staff was complete. When I met Saul that night I was in a fine humor and stayed out until three in the morning. When I got up the next day I knew what I should do. The time had come for Sophia to take a vacation. And let me assure you, after a year of poverty, chastity, and obedience, I was ready to make money, make love, and make decisions.

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