|Date: September 26, 2010|
|Bait and Switch
In a bait and switch scam, you lure customers in by advertising a good product at a low price (the bait), and then you disparage it in favour of another product offered at a higher price (the switch). So why do I think receiving Knowledge was a bait and switch? Let me explain. Back in the early 70s when I first came across premies I found a great group of people who seemed really alive and optimistic. There was a love and sense of community among premies that I had never experienced before. That's when I first became interested in receiving Knowledge.
In 1974 I read Who is Guru Maharaji Ji, the authorized story of Maharaji. On page 18, in the receiving Knowledge section, is the following Q. and A:
- Guru Maharaji Ji are you God?That was a key statement for me. If he had said, "Yes, I'm God," I would have left immediately.
Later, in 1974, I saw Satguru Has Come and it was the following "satsang", actually spoken by Guru Maharaji Ji himself that convinced me to receive Knowledge. Maharaji said this:
"I believe in one reality and that is the pure religion. Religion word has been started from the word realization and the realization of God is the pure and perfect religion. There is a glorious sun, not the sun that you see in the sky but the sun which is within ourselves, which is much brighter, much, much, much brighter than the sun you see in the sky. People think God is a man. People think God has got ears, nose, teeth and he rises daily in the morning, toothbrushes, washes mouth and he is an old man also so he makes his beard also and all that people think. But no, God is energy, God is perfect and pure energy and that is why scientists say energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed. And this Knowledge, this Word of God, how, they sway in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, now try to understand here, and the Word was God. Isn't it, isn't it a fantastic sentence? In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.Quite the declaration isn't it. Note the emphasis on an inner experience. As an idealistic young man in my early 20's I was intrigued. I definitely wanted to experience that pure and perfect energy within, that holy spark that makes everything perfect, that inner peace? The perfection was inside. By meditating on it, I would attain the peace that comes through knowing Truth. I would improve my life and the lives of all those around me. Only when people found that peace within themselves could there be peace in the world. Maharaji could show me the way to go inside and experience God within and the techniques were free. I was sold and received Knowledge in 1974. So where does the switch come in? Well fast forward to 1978 when Maharaji says the following:
"To be here as individuals and yet to be able to be next to the person who is everything; in which everything is, and he is in everything. Guru Maharaj Ji. The Lord. All-powerful." ~ Divine Times June/July 1978 Volume 7, Number 4, Page 36Then fast forward to 1979 when he says this:
"Where does Guru Maharaj Ji fit in? Guru Maharaj Ji doesnt fit in anywhere. Guru Maharaj Ji is Knowledge. It is Guru Maharaj Jis Knowledge. Who are you going to do service to, for? Guru Maharaj Ji. What are going to meditate on? The Holy Name, which is Guru Maharaj Ji." ~ Divine Times, May/June 1979, Volume 8, Number 3, Page 16.Note the massive discrepancy here. In the initial pitch Maharaji says he can give you Knowledge, five years later Maharaji says he is Knowledge. These and other quotes are taken directly from official Divine Light Mission publications posted on ex-premie.org. I was never looking for divinity anywhere except within myself. I absolutely wasn't interested in worshipping anyone, kissing anyone's feet, and giving them money for the rest of my life. I didn't sign up for that. The bait was set and the message was gradually switched from the inner to the outer. The frog was boiled alive! The story goes that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not notice the danger and will be cooked to death. The anecdote is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur slowly. Twenty eight years later I was rescued from the boiling water by ex-premie.org.
Apparently the whole purpose of the bait and switch was to make Maharaji rich. That was the opinion of Bob Mishler who said in a radio interview posted on EPO that, "A lot of the necessity of keeping the members believing that he was God was to ensure that they would continue to support him in this lifestyle." Cheat and deceit anyone? When a person receives Knowledge they don't know they are signing up for a lifetime of dependency on an exterior person. I came for inner peace and some free meditation techniques and got suckered into an idol-worshipping personality cult. And, as it turned out, surrendering my life to the guru was anything but free.
As the years went by, "Try it you'll like it," became "You must surrender your life to Maharaji. You can't practice Knowledge without Maharaji. In fact, Maharaji is Knowledge! There's no place else to turn, except to Maharaji. Leaving Maharaji is like committing suicide." What started out as the promise of, "I can show you the peace that is already within you," gradually became servitude and dependency on Maharaji. Little by little there was fearful talk of rotting vegetables, shark infested waters surrounding Maharaji's boat, and shattering into a million pieces. All this was done to keep people hooked and the money coming in.
Then came the Internet and thank God for that! When these inconsistencies started to come to light, and the "switch" statements started to prove embarrassing, on February 15, 1999, Prem Rawat (aka Guru Maharaji Ji, aka Maharaji) posted the following on his website:
"To disseminate Knowledge to those who were seeking the inner experience of the self, who were thirsty for it-that was the objective and still is. Quite a few people wanted to see me as a figurehead. I didn't want to be one and I am not one. A few others saw me as a leader, and I didn't want to be one and I am not one."Maharaji also posted the following available here: http://www.wopg.org/en/about-words-of-peace/prem-rawat/interactions-main/40-conversations
Q. A person in your position will be described or defined by many people. How would you describe yourself?Incredible isn't it! You can't make this stuff up folks. Maharaji now denies he ever made those switch statements. The superior power in person, the Lord all-powerful, didn't want to be a figurehead. I guess that's why he dressed as Krishna. Not a leader huh? Gosh-darn those people and their emotions! Apparently people were putting labels on him he didn't want. Completely ridiculous isn't it?! Or is it just flat-out sad?
And how do premies defend against these ludicrous denials? Would they say, "Maharaji really didn't say all those things he said"? Surely Mr. Rawat doesn't think that long-term premies are so stupid they can't remember the words of Arti or what he said in back 1978? The revisionism is even more ludicrous when you consider that the "switch" or God claims made by Maharaji are all from official DLM/EV publications available here: http://ex-premie.org/gallery/god_claims.htm and here: http://www.ex-premie.org/papers/mastergod.htm
These days the language is low key but the message remains the same: the "bait" - here is this free meditation and the "switch" - you need the Master, you are nothing without the Master, surrender to the Master, obey the Master, Knowledge doesn't work without the Master, the techniques are worthless without the Master's guidance, etc. Support me in my mission (i.e. give me money to support my obscenely lavish lifestyle).
So, "Knowledge" definitely isn't free; there are strings attached. And those strings are spiritual bondage and subservience to Maharaji for his financial benefit. You suck people in with the promise of peace and some free meditation techniques and once you have them hooked (the meditation techniques really work) you make the switch. Over time premies were cleverly manipulated into confusing the inner with the outer. I would definitely not have received Knowledge if I had known about the switch.
Now that Maharaji needs new followers (more people have left than are still in) he is apparently setting the bait again by stressing the inner. Apparently where it's happening now is inside, not on the stage dressed as Krishna. The focus now, as it was in the early 70s, is on the "gift of Knowledge, the wisdom that has been given to you that exists in the glorious harmony within you." All inner! It's all about Self Knowledge now. He is setting the bait. He never said that he was the superior power in person-no, confused premies said that. He didn't want to be a figurehead. Sheesh.
In order for me to cancel the switch and take my life back, I needed to stop the magical thinking and separate the inner from the outer-or as Mike Finch said in Without the Guru, make the meditation-darshan split, the inner-outer split. It's not Maharaji's Knowledge anyway-the techniques are public domain and available from many sources. My meditation is mine alone now and it feels a whole lot more sane.
A quick glance at the satsangs posted on ex-premie.org also reveals many other contradictory statements that Mr. Rawat has made over the years, to keep us confused and off balance and in the role of perpetual student. The following were posted by Jim:
- Maharaji's family is the one true Holy Family and any one of its members could easily replace him.Top this off with the ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe leader:
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.. . . and it was time for me to become an ex-premie. It was difficult at first but I'm now truly glad I broke free-I too am capable of making a switch. My spirituality is mine alone now. I am an individual, authentic in my own life and operating out of my own center. The only question is, "Why did I stay for as long as I did?"
If people choose to remain devotees of Mr. Rawat I have no problem with that. If they choose to stay, however, it should be an informed choice. Ex-premie.org and the Prem Rawat Talk Forum helped me to make an informed choice and I chose to leave.
A heartfelt thank you to all the people who run this site and who have posted on the forums.