|Journeys: Tom Scott|
|Date: February 16, 1998|
|I was working as a counselor at a Christian Science retreat for "juvenile offenders" in Concord, New
Hampshire and met an alumni of the school that introduced me to a group of premies in the area. I think the guy's
name was David. What I remember about this group, and the satsangs I attended, is that there was an authenticity
that I haven't encountered in any other small group of people. These people did not seem brainwashed, but rather
fairly capable and somewhat questioning and skeptical, at least compared to Christian fundamentalists.
At one point we all got in a vehicle (I had to say goodbye to my job, etc.) and drove to Houston for the "Millennium" festival. There was some sort of big hoopla about a comet, as I recall. The experience in Houston was life-changing. I became an aspirant, and have to admit that I became sort of "dazed." I remember being in a number of big hotels and spending a lot of time with some very nice people. I also remember being rebuffed a number of times as an aspirant.
After the festival I went to California, though I can't remember how I got there exactly. (Strange loss of memory ). There is a peculiar phenomenon here. I may have been in Portland OR at that time, after the festival, but can't remember for sure.
I stayed in the Portland, OR community for awhile attending satsang. I believe the ashram was on "Love" street in Northwest, and there was a premie house on Race St. Think I was rejected several times while I was there, by traveling Mahatmas, but can't recall for sure.
Then I remember going to satsangs in Hollywood (Larchmont) and attempting to "make the grade" to become a premie. Rejected several times. I also went on a cross country romp, ending up in Jamaica with my car stranded in Miami (where it probably was eventually sold or consigned to a junkyard.)
I met a certain Rita Higgins in LA who was living in a tent across the street from Maharaj Ji's residence in Bel Air, and stayed with her for awhile sort of perfecting my "devotion." I remember putting on a sort of Krishna dance as a devotional ritual in the field across from the residence. I felt a bit silly, but guess that was the point.
Finally, I took a trip up the coast to San Francisco and received Knowledge there in the Ashram from Rarjaswaranand, an ex municipal court judge in India.. I remember that date well. It was February 14, 1974: Valentine's Day.
I am still terribly conflicted about this experience. On one hand I can see that Maharaj Ji is anything but "perfect," while on the other I have no evidence that Knowledge itself has any great flaw. It also seems clear to me that Knowledge would never have meant as much to me had I not gone through this gamut of tests and preparations, though I may have paid an unnecessary price.
At any rate I became rather convinced that he was some kind of Messiah., perhaps greater than Christ. There is definitely an aspect of the whole experience that was, and is, genuine. I remember that many of the premies thought me quite "brave" because I wasn't really intimidated at first by Maharaj Ji. I didn't really have an ingrained respect or understanding of religious leaders and so tended to think of him as my personal pal. Gradually I began to ascribe a role to him that was much larger than life, but thinking back on it that ascription... it really cost me the genuine "beauty" of the situation.
The philosopher Frederick Turner has a theory about the human condition and the role of beauty. His idea is that everything human must be designed in reference to four families of "neurocharms" that are part of the design criteria of humanity. His references are not religious but historical and empirical.
Anyway, this false ascription left me in a situation that I couldn't manage very well, and I still have a sort of ingrained inadequacy about my relationship to Maharaj Ji that many will find quite familiar. Don't know really whether I caused that, or he did. I spent a lot of time in the LA community, and also went to Boston for awhile. I recall crossing the continent at least three times during that period, by various methods.
I just read Bob Mishler's interview, and it reminded me of some things. There was a big program held in Amherst, MA.. I think it was in 1974 or 75. I get a little confused about the dates, but remember a number of discussions with an ardent premie name Rita Higgins I think that was around the time of the big split over Mata Ji. Anyway, Rita related a series of stories about how people were apparently driving Maharaj Ji crazy, and that he was drinking "until his teeth turned black." I thought it was a bit peculiar, and passed it off as some sort of wild rumor, or something Rita was making up in order to generate some drama. After Mishler's piece it doesn't sound so far-fetched.
At any rate, the whole experience had a note of reality to it, especially in retrospect. At one point Rita took my hand and looking at me very resolutely said that at some point in the near future I wouldn't "have anything to believe in." But, when that happened I should remember that there is nothing to fear.
On a subsequent trip from Los Angeles to a big program in Orlando, on Bob Badnesh's re-designed school bus, Rita just got angry and demanded to be let off in the middle of the Arizona desert. I haven't seen her since. I hope to close that loop one day. She was a thrilling and extra-ordinary person.
After returning to Portland I gradually began a new life, and successively lost touch with people in DLM. I went back to art school, and also developed a mildly devotional relationship with R. Buckminster Fuller. If you want an example of "good charisma" Bucky comes pretty close. My mother used to refer to him as "Buckmeister Fuller," not without some irony.
In the early 1980s I wrote a letter to Maharaj Ji, thinking that I would just ask him point-blank whether or not he is the Messiah. The response from some secretary or other was negative, and had some quote from him to the effect that he was just trying to cure some fundamental seasickness in mankind, so we wouldn't be throwing up all the time. He probably had overheard some discussion of Sartre's treatise on Nausea, and decided that this was a good way to circumvent an attempt like mine to pin him down. Since he was clearly telling me that he had no such role I couldn't see any reason to bother with him any further! Ironically that's just the reaction that Mishler says Maharaj Ji feared. Out of his own mouth, so to speak.
Well, that's basically my journey. I still meditate once in awhile though I don't really have a context within which to put the experience. Was hoping some dialog at this site would increase my purchase on that. The Fred Turner approach looks interesting. I've since become a political sociologist, and have some thoughts about how we might go about recognizing "good charisma." Would someday like to hear from Rita again, just to learn that she made it out of the desert OK.