|Date: October 1, 2012|
|Quick intro: First serious doubt happened about 2 months ago. My new chap, who had agreed to order the 'Keys,' did some subsequent
research, & found EPO. What followed was a disturbing, yet ultimately enlightening conversation beginning with his text referring to M which
read; "I think he's a nasty ba***rd.'
'Here we go again' I thought - yet another closed mind to deal with. Snore. But what I hadn't bargained for was his patience, understanding, intellect and OPEN mindedness on the matter. His artistic temperament endows him with abrupt delivery at times, but I could not ignore his earnest nature & will to understand. Why was I following this man? Why had I not researched him? Why had I not asked all the questions that he would expected of me, someone he deems bright, clever, curious, and insightful. Why?!?!
'When you know something in your heart you don't need to be so curious about little details,' I responded with a heavy heart.
"But you don't 'know!!" he said, you don't 'know' anything about him, about who it is that you respect and revere. He's a f*kng piss-head for one thing!'
I had to walk away, I was angry. I was angry at him for being so insensitive in his delivery. It was his fault I was angry wasn't it, not because he had touched a nerve, not because he was right. I mean, why would I be actually 'scared' of looking at a website ?? That's a ridiculous connotation, it's just academic, it's just information. I haven't looked at EPO because it's a choice I have made, that's it, it's a choice, a statement of my loyalty to M, my one and only saviour. I don't care if he has a drink or mistresses; that stuff is none of my business. Scared? Me? Never! I have Knowledge, right?
I received Knowledge in 1995 when I was 21 years old, from M himself in England. That's 17 years ago (something I keep repeating to myself…17 years) so I didn't go through the whole ashram, Lord of the Universe thing - however I most definitely got the hand-me-downs & lapped them up like a hungry puppy. I adored having a Master to please…and the thought that he might actually be a divine being appealed to me immensely, although publicly I liked to adopt the right-on approach of him being just a guy with a peaceful, positive message. I was always someone who hung out with older people a lot (don't know why..) but during my 20's my closest friends became premie guys, mostly 15, 20 years older than me - probably because we played music together. I loved them and we were like a family. I still love them & as I write this I am fearful for them that it would be too late to ex now, my closest friend (and lover for 3 years in the late 90's) got K the year I was born (1973.)
To tackle writing the whole story - wow, what an undertaking. Suffice to say I have been very involved with the organisation, and up until I had my child almost 4 years ago I was heavily involved in 'service,' (now known as 'participation') and always had been. In the early years, which were post-college, where the all important ground work for my vocational career should have been happening, I voluntarily gave away thoughts of a career, deeming it shallow and worldy. It is difficult, even at this point to understand how it happened. M would say things like 'you can have it all,' 'you don't need to give anything up.' I recently heard him say that the biggest concept of them all is that you can't have knowledge AND a job. I historically have exercised an all or nothing kind of nature, perhaps it was this that lead me to give up everything, sell possessions to get to events, lose trust in everyone but premies, think I knew better than everyone. But the more I open my mind to other perspectives I realise there are powerful subliminal messages in what Maharaji says. He seldom comes out and says something regarding lifestyle directly, but his nuances, humour & indication filter through & somehow, intoxicated by knowledge, bliss & all the good stuff you would give up anything and everything to get close to him, spend time with him, be in his favour, even if it is at the expense of family, friendships, career or a home life. It was unthinkable for me to have a job which I couldn't leave in an instant. Programmes would happen last minute; I needed to be free to go. So I temped in offices, took part time employment. Underneath I buried my burning desire to create, write, sing & perform because what if found myself in a position where I would have to choose between my dreams and my Master? What if I was touring or part of a company? I would have to let everyone down. It was easier to just leave behind the 'worldy' dream of being an actress or a singer, could there be a more egotistical vocation anyway? It felt kind of romantic to sacrifice everything worldly that meant something to me, a statement of real love. I must fight against my ego, right? I need a heart free of cheat and deceit to realise knowledge. Unless I sing a song of devotion to my Master it's all just mind, and to be pitied really. How embarrassing to be so caught up in love for another human being and write a song about it, how passé! No, love for your Master is where it's at.
I spent half of my secondary education in a top private school, was driven as a young adult by art and literature. What I'm trying to say is I was not without education or intelligence, so why would I make these assumptions of complete devotion and world relinquish? Why would I be so ready to leave behind everything that I had valued so greatly to jump on a plane at all costs, at any given moment and all the rest that goes with it. You would think that if M seriously wanted us to keep healthy worldy careers, relationships and truly 'have it all' it would be utterly evident in his teachings, so we don't miss that exceedingly important point. Everything is so indirect and mysterious; you have to 'work it out.' If 'having it all' were in the plan of care perhaps some of the monies raised could be used in community, to encourage young people to follow their dreams & nurture their skills, as rounded human beings inside and outside, instead of convincing them their dreams are for the most part, worthless., unless they can 'wake up and make them happen.' Interesting that one because sometimes, in fact, a large percentage of the time for most people, our dreams don't come true (or haven't yet.) The insinuation here is that if our dreams don't come true it is because we are asleep (horror!) What pathetic creatures we must be to have broken dreams, perhaps its better we don't have any in the first place so as not to disappoint the Master with our zombie-like states and failure. Perhaps some of the monies raised could go towards helping jobless premies rediscover their talents or even just some energy given to those people who suffered when the ashrams closed - or whatever? A notion of this sort would show care and responsibility.
Another (& cheaper option) could even be a straight-up statement like; 'Look if you receive Knowledge and it works for you it is probably going to blow your socks off. Red alert: Do not, repeat do not take this is as a green light to drop out of the world, especially if you are young with dreams. Work is important, dreams are important, taking care of your family and friends is important, even if they don't have knowledge! You are part of the world, as a living human being & you should find love for this world somewhere because it's the only one you have to live in and if you wind up hating it you will become socially inept and reclusive, which is not what I want for you.' Perhaps a simple statement like that would be all that so many of us thirsty, Master-hungry students would have needed to keep us on the straight and narrow.
I know at the time I met M I was young, enthusiastic, hungry for life, but also I was vulnerable and behind my fresh face and actress smile lay an achingly low self esteem I now recognise (through counselling) I had carried since childhood. I respond exceedingly well to encouragement because of this. I just love to please (apparently.) The potter analogy of holding the pot with a firm hand whilst bashing it into shape comes to mind, I could take the bashing for one moment of blissful supportive recognition from him. Divine ecstatic moments of pat, pat 'well done puppy' had me panting in earnest submission.
I do believe as humans we play roles out and I don't think that necessarily has to be a bad thing. If someone likes to dominate and someone likes to be submissive for example, well who's to say they shouldn't get along? The problem here is if a role we have adopted negatively affects our development as a human being on our 'life path.' If, after some honest self-reflection, we do find this is the case then we should accept the possibility that the relationship could be flawed, or at the very least consider it might be time to take a really good look at it and weigh up the pros and cons. Don't know if this is controversial for EPO but reflection thus far, as a 'green' ex, has brought me to a conclusion that actually, Maharaji was there when I needed him, I was thirsty to experience deep meaning in my life and knowledge really did work for me. I cannot deny I have had some very profound experiences. I believe the fact that I sat in silence for an hour daily (well, almost) up until a few years ago when it became more difficult with a young child around -(ok, ok give me a break I tried!) has benefitted me greatly. And he's pretty good at reminding you to do that fo'sure. When I expressed to my chap about profound experiences he pointed out to me the human body is an amazing thing. I was immediately taken aback that I had actually never thought about it like that before. Maharaji gave me knowledge, it was thanks to him wasn't it? Isn't it all thanks to him?
What I want to say here is, at the point I am at right now I believe it is the negative social impact of being a 'premie' which has finally become evident & pushed me to question the whole thing. It is so evident that I cannot deny it to myself anymore. I must say also it took an insightful, kind and special human being to find a way through my weakening shell, and probably a helping of (real) grace at the timing of that. It took having a child for me to realise I needed other people. The support I received through a local church for example actually blew my mind. I don't recall my close premie friends ever visiting me just for the sake of a visit, even after I split up with my partner and became a single mum, struggling to find time to practise etc., and cope with every day life. There would always have to be the necessity of a 'service' reason for a social call to somehow justify the effort & expense of travel etc. When I think to myself how I have neglected my own friends over the years however, I am in no position to judge. It is a strange mind-set indeed though, to feel one has to validate social interaction in some way that relates to Maharaji, and it's a mind-set I relate to because I was in it for years.
Reading up on meditation I found some suggestions that having an intense meditative practise that has no social infrastructure can actually be damaging. I found that very interesting, it's such a simple statement. I am trying to come to terms with the fact I never questioned these things. Once I had my first blissed-out experience of knowledge I was completely sold, and just absolutely gave all credit to Maharaji for every subsequent conscious moment I experienced, for years and years to come. I remember hearing him say things like 'This is not a social club.' I absolutely could not see that adopting this mind-set would make me more and more detached from people, premies and non-premies alike. I had always had that (rather common) 'outsider' feeling growing up and into my early adulthood preceding meeting Maharaji, so the idea of not having to be socially acceptable suited me perfectly, at last someone understands me I thought. But of course human beings are social creatures and we need each other. If we are alone for too long we feel pain. I think one of the most disturbing & damaging things about my journey is there was a point at which I became (because of the concept that relationships with other people are ok but are, in the great scheme of the universe, quite invalid really,) romantically involved with a man who was utterly wrong for me. It's only now, as I am coming out of the mind-set of 'detachment,' the mist is clearing and I can see how it happened. Circumstance took me away from premie communities and I started to mix with non-premies. But I had had so little experience really of communicating with the 'outside world' on social levels for so long I thought it must be normal for non-enlightened people to behave cruelly and abusively. They are hurting aren't they, because they haven't felt true love and are looking for it and becoming frustrated. I know, I have a great idea, just love them more and they will feel Maharaji's love through you and if you are really patient they will be healed and everything will be wonderful. I took his verbal abuse and damaging behaviour towards me because I thought, ultimately that actually it didn't really matter because he was just part of the illusion and in actual fact he didn't even really 'exist.' Everything you can see with 'these eyes' is an illusion right? Relationships are pretty much a doomed entity anyway so just suffer the crap, you'll be fine because you have a place to go, you have knowledge, you are incredibly fortunate, you'll be fine. It's just the nature of the 'world.' Here's the mosquito: frustratingly I am now tied to that guy for a long time yet because he is my son's father.
I could take responsibility for all of this stuff couldn't I? So easy to point the finger at Maharaji and blame him for all my misgivings and problems now I am approaching middle age and things haven't quite worked out the way I wanted them to. In actual fact I don't blame Maharaji for everything at all. I made my choices & I take responsibility for them. Last night my partner joked (a bit close to the bone but we are English) about me wasting 17 years, oops! Of course that smarted but it got me to thinking. It doesn't feel like a waste. It doesn't. I have actually had a marvellous time in a lot of respects, some fabulous experiences, worldwide travel, met some amazing people but more pointedly I was making an earnest effort to live from my heart. Bite me but I'm not ashamed of that and I don't think anyone who has been through this experience should feel ashamed either. We are all looking for love in some shape or form. If you find some you're going to stick to it if you have any sense of passion and conviction - and credit where credits due premies certainly seem to have that in abundance. But if a person finds that passion has turned to routine, a sense of duty and/or nostalgia for what once was with perhaps a little guilt for not being a better premie thrown in, or takes a good look at their circumstances & feeling and finds that in actual fact they are not satisfied or as fully a rounded human being as they would have hoped for by this point and truly blissful experiences of the practise of knowledge have become few and far between it may very well be time to reassess. In my case it was time to wake up, all over again.
On the path of knowledge we are being taught to court clarity, embrace the 'true' reality of existence, not believe but 'know.' Yet the route which we have been taken down is littered with doubts and uncertainty. After my knowledge session Maharaji had left the room and Charanand told us to not discuss our experience with anyone, it would only lead to confusion. Er ok. Bear in mind any 'older' premie readers, regarding any information given out in 1995 we didn't get a sniff of 'light' 'music' 'word' or whatever. We had no idea what we were supposed to feel. We were on our own with that. I remember a sense of guilt beginning to come if a conversation veered toward the techniques and I developed phrases to change the subject. Also Maharaji is famous for not answering questions with a straight answer, preferring to use metaphors or stories to illustrate his response. But of course metaphors and stories can be interpreted in different ways for each individual. I remember hearing Belkis say once, "Maharaji says what he means and he means what he says," and something along the lines of "Don't try to interpret what he says." Hmm, yes that's nice but stories are open to interpretation aren't they? So the humble student, without direct explanations, is bound to relate things to their own personal life and experience and draw their own conclusions. How easy it would be, without specific social care and guidance, to go off on one's own mind trip. If you have arrived at a place where you have gone through the aspirant process, received knowledge, are doing service, travelling a lot to events and the whole thing has become the centre of your life it is pretty likely that it will have affected your worldy circumstances quite considerably. So it's natural to crave guidance about your practical life because there is just that chance that it may well have gone to pot. But then, we are not supposed to look to Maharaji for worldy guidance are we? He can't solve our problems remember? If this isn't a paradox I don't know what is.
To put it into perspective I know myself and great deal of the other premies I knew believed they were walking the line between two worlds. We were on the knife's edge between heaven and hell, bliss and maya, the heart and the 'world.' One slip, one fatal moment of unconsciousness could send us tumbling into the sticky quagmire of the unspeakable 'mind,' which is a long way away from the Master's favour and nowhere near where we want to be. We hung on his every word to save us from that fall. Our focus was on not falling back into the swamp. Poignant to consider that we are making big, important life decisions whilst in this mind-set.
As an aside note to anyone reading this who has experienced the same feelings of 'not fitting in,' social exclusion etc. and felt premie-ness took care of all those emotions. I would like to say that I don't have those feelings of exclusion anymore. They went away when I started doing what I love and once again embracing the talents I had left behind a long time ago. I have met people I feel truly comfortable with whom I don't feel judged by and have started to feel whole again. It's wonderful. I have learned I don't need to belong to a group of 'outcasts' to fit it. I'm not saying it's utopia but accepting my 'outside' self is rewarding, fulfilling and as I am discovering, extremely validating.
Reading through the posts of ex premies who did go through the ashram thing - and having been bought and read Mike Finch's book (drank it in in 2 days! Even with a toddler running around!) the question just keeps coming up in my mind why M hasn't taken some kind of responsibility for the social impact this has had on people's lives. Even if he just said something like 'It was a wrong way to go about it and I am trying to improve things' it would grant some favour, at least in my book. His line about Masters' traditionally having a big ego just doesn't cut it for me anymore. And the info I have seen on here about his great wealth was shocking indeed. It's just too much to put up with. My bank subscription was cancelled last month. When I think of those times, putting myself further into debt to buy a celebration book or sweatshirt as a fresh-faced young premie in the 90's on the other side of the world, it's kind of sickening. Adding to this subject matter I campaigned internally within the organisation for years, as a volunteer in the Production area for main events with M to secure free or at least cheap catering facilities for other volunteers, especially highly skilled people like audio & sound & visual engineers, lighting personnel (who's labour would normally cost a fortune,) not to mention the 'humpers' who would undergo heavy lifting/manual labour etc. They were all giving freely of their time and efforts. It was unbelievable how many brick walls I came up against. I just couldn't understand why nobody would listen to me. We were operating in contradiction of UK health and safety regulations and blatantly to put it bluntly, taking the p*ss out of volunteers. Some of them work incredibly long hours and suffice to say setting up events can be very hard work, on every level. Elan Vital were saving so much money with the use of volunteer labour but we couldn't even give these guys a cup of coffee when they arrived at 6am, some events they weren't even supposed to take in bottles of water, we had to sneak around all cloak and dagger. So when I read the evidence regarding Maharaji's material wealth and how he acquired some of it (Mike Finch giving away 2 family inheritances for example, and the acquisition of property in Malibu that premies had built for free as another) alongside personal testimonials about the way in which he has chosen to spend it at times, I find a distaste rising in me, especially in relation to the above issue, which I cannot ignore. Maharaji says he can't micro manage; understandable? Maybe. Good enough? Sorry, but no.
I also found the EPO posting of the account of a major donor meeting particularly disturbing and I realise that the vast majority of premies I know are skint and many trying to fight their way out of debt. By the way, after registering for the Keys recently my chap received 2 letters within around a 6 week timescale asking for money.
I feared a little to write here - because I don't want to attract negativity. Whatever helps anyone is ok by me, but right now I don't actually feel resentment towards M, I don't think that attitude helps me. Also, I do believe (maybe because any other option would be too horrific) that he believes in what he is doing and he believes in Knowledge. Perhaps it is the divine plan that knowledge really is in the end, the only thing that matters, but if that is the case then why, in moments of grave honesty with myself, doesn't it feel like it anymore?
I want to believe that he is earnestly trying to improve things within the organisation, that perhaps he realises himself that there have been some major mess-ups and is doing his level best to clean it all up and make headway for people to come to knowledge & grow in a way that is conducive to living in this world. However, without the acknowledgement that people have suffered under his care and in the absence of any major changes to the weird mind-set people have when they participate my trust for him will continue to waver.
The incredibly profound experiences I had, not just in knowledge but in the student/Master relationship, I need to work through. I certainly want to continue having profound life experiences, but I recognise without doubt that it is time to stop giving up ownership of everything good that happens to me, to Maharaji.
When I was little I always had the feeling that 'God' would not abandon me. It felt like a beautiful trust. I found M and believed that was god's answer to my prayer & I stayed with that belief for a very long time. Now, 17 years on I am in the same position again, like I was when I was a little girl. In an earnest search to embrace love I simply do not believe 'God' would punish me for using my brain and questioning. The fear still lingers I could be making a mistake, that I am turning my back on the best thing happening on this planet, perhaps because I let my practise slip and the 'world' got in. But you know what, I don't think so. The rug has been pulled from underneath me - but I know it's going to be ok because somehow I feel stronger . 'God,' 'universal love' or whatever it is, is still here inside of me. It's just the baggage of premie-dom and devotion to a man I have dwindling respect for has become too heavy to carry alongside my dignity and integrity.
It does feel like I could write more and more - and if there are any 'serious doubters' out there reading this if you are anything like me you are getting red eye from your ex-premie research. I will stop here. I would like to thank the people who set this site up. It has helped me greatly. You know I was shocked to find that the vast majority of content here is genuinely aimed at helping people, I was so sure for so long (whilst keeping myself in the dark) it was just a place to criticise M. Discovering that care gave me the courage to look deeper into the site and investigate my own emotions and attachments on a deeper level.
Best wishes to all,