Journeys: David Stirling

Date: March 13, 1997

It was some time around February 1972 when I was handed a leaflet which offered an escape from madness. I was just 19 and about to drop out of art school in Leicester, England, due to what the doctors called a 'mild case of paranoid schizophrenia'.

Like many others of my generation, I'd left school at 16 with little in the way of qualifications and even fewer ambitions. A high grade in art got me into art college and from there it was en easy step into the prevaling drug culture. It was enough to scramble my brain to the point where reality and unreality became blurred and panic began to set in.

They say that one in ten of us will experience some form of mental instability. Anyone who's been there will understand just how frightening it can be. Any escape route will do and this leaflet seemed to offer just what I was looking for. It was free, there were no strings attached and it sounded good. What had I got to lose?

I entered the white-walled house filled with the scent of flowers - a beacon of light in a seedy red light district - and was greeted warmly by people of my own age. I sat cross-legged and listened as they explained how they'd found peace and stability by accepting a package of meditation techniques called 'The Knowledge'. I was hooked.

An enchanting Indian called Mahatma GuruCharanand asked a small group of us to swear we would never divulge 'The Knowldege' to anyone else before showing us the techniques. I came away feeling mildly disappointed. Is he really asking me to believe that the lights I see when I press my eyeballs is God? It seemed he was.

For a week or two I forgot about the Knowledge but my mental problem was getting worse. I believed everyone else could hear my thoughts - it was making my life miserable and work impossible. My psychiatrist really couldn't offer anything more than mind-numbing pills so I tried using the meditation techniques.

It's at this point that the fish begins to get reeled in. I'd forgotten to read the fine print; the meditation techniques won't work unless you do unpaid service for the guru and attend what's called 'satsang' which is a form of group indoctrination. From there it's just a short step into what was called an 'ashram'. I was now a fully fledged 'ashram premie' with just a sleeping bag and a few clothes to call my own.

I was sent to Manchester where we opened another white-walled, flower-decked ashram. Then to Preston, a grim port just north of Liverpool where I became assistant manager of the local Timberland store. My leisure time was spent trying to persuade the locals that their only salvation lay in accepting a 14 year old Indian as their spiritual master. It was not an easy message to communicate! So when I heard that they were looking for someone to design the guru's newspaper and magazine, I was off to the bright lights of London like a shot.

I left DLM sometime around '75, following Maharaji's marriage and subsquent bust up with Mataji. I'd become increasingly frustrated by my lack of spiritual progress and the obvious hypocracy surrounding Maharaji and the London Management of DLM.

I had nothing more to do with the DLM until I decided to explore the internet and found people asking for advice on meditation. I'd always felt that the four techniques were very powerful but I still retained the feeling of guilt over breaking my promise not to reveal them to anyone else.

I started asking general questions on the newsgroups about whether I should or shouldn't reveal the techniques. Jim Heller responded by cutting through to the heart of the argument in his usual brusque but elequently reasoned style. That was in Oct '96.

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