Journeys: Tor Strasburg

Date: December 17, 2012

I'll tell you what, there's a hell of a lot more satsang (truth-telling) here than in any group-speak, party line, indoctrinated drivel that we endured for, oh, so many years. Rabidly reading every Journeys entry and gobbling up every word on the site, I can say what a wonderful bunch of human beings you are. I'm deeply moved (and saddened) by these stories. The qualities that are exhibited here: depth, honesty, innocence, morality, humanness, openness, trusting, generosity, enthusiasm and zest for life, got hijacked and subsumed into the M world, one where critical thinking, reason and logic have no place and are discouraged, frowned upon. One where religion took over, where myth and belief rule the day. It didn't have to be this way. But, more on this in the forum.

I had been intrinsically hungry for meaning since I can remember. I was on an inexorable 'search'. Smoked my first joint at thirteen, dropped my first acid at fourteen while seeing Pink Floyd in the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Yoga and meditation at fifteen, Yogananda at sixteen. In 1972, at the ripe age of seventeen, I received K from mahatma Mohani Bai Ji after two weeks of satsang in the Frankfurt, Germany ashram (she left M in '74 and lives there to this day with her sister. She got a PhD or something and last I heard was still giving non-M 'spiritual discourses'. Another mahatma (forgot his name) took her place in Germany--a young, shaved playful Indian, who also left in '78 and who also still lives there, remaining connected peripherally--I hear he's pretty confused). I had an explosive experience but, hey, pushing on the optic nerve has a tendency to do that. Later, I was amazed when we were officially told in '74 that the 'light' technique had changed--two full years after daily, diligent and committed practice! We were all looking at the wrong light. Now, one should just only gently stabilize the eyes, not push. The 'light' pretty much disappeared but there was still a faint luminosity, so to speak. There were and are hefty inconsistencies, immense variables, lack of clarity and ambiguity with all the techniques and they have been changed/modified more than once during the years. 'Nectar', or the fourth technique, was particularly problematic for most everyone. I justified this by accepting that, like the game of telephone, it was simply miscommunication due to dilution and that M was rectifying it. Yet this, the most important factor of the whole phenomena, was just simply never discussed, certainly by M in any of his talks. There was never a forum for meditation study--no workshops, discussions, questions and answers; it was all arcane, secret, exclusive and private. ( I did attend a K review in 2009 to brush up on the techniques and to specifically get more clarification on 'nectar', but upon leaving, was not only unsatisfied with M's video K session, but in the exchange with the instructor, who clarified absolutely nothing, yet again. A week ago, just before viewing for the first time, I emailed the organization insisting on getting clarification on the meditation techniques. They emailed me back saying that the appropriate person would contact me--still waiting). I chalked it all up to "not being able to describe it with words", "talking only implants concepts in the mind and sullies the experience", etc. Gee thanks, I thought you were a meditation teacher! (The famous bait and switch in all it's unabashed, glorious deception.)

Anyway, I digress. Hell yeah--I was ready for the all and out! My first real-life encounter with M was at a festival in the mountains of Switzerland in '72. I fell so in love. The holy family was there, too. I liked Bal Bhagwan as his pseudo-intellectualism and pseudo-science seemed to validate K for this young, impressionable mind (kind of like a watered down Deepok Chopra today, without the devotional aspect). Then off to India later that year (in three weeks living in Prem Nagar ashram, I never got to see M once--what the hell, he was our 'teacher'). At eighteen, opened an ashram in Wiesbaden, Germany. From the word get-go, I eagerly became involved with propagation and courageously gave introductory talks to large groups of Germans in halls and auditoriums. Not to mention loads of regular satsang in ashrams. Stayed in the ashram system 4 years--by '74, the one in Bad Homburg, near Frankfurt had at least 30 people and up to 50! I was active as housefather/treasurer and then DUO coordinator (remember that one) for the greater Frankfurt community (I must have been tremendously skilled at 19 with all my life experiences-ha; devotion was the main quality needed anyway. Or perhaps there was an element of novelty being a dynamic American teenager amongst all the Germans). I started an ashram in Stuttgart and then 'got stationed' to Munich. We had a national health food distribution company, health food stores and coops in every larger town, a large warehouse. Satsang started being held for premies in bigger non-ashram venues. At one point we had a large multi-story house with satsang hall, kitchen and cafeteria, offices, child-care. All this time, relentless propagation was in full swing. Buschi, the head of DLM for Germany, became one of the first western mahatmas, recently name-changed to initiators (and later instructors). I went everywhere to see M at the festivals throughout Europe and flew to Houston and Florida as well. Suffice it to say M/K was my whole life and I was fairly good at being a premie.

But, I couldn't really 'escape' my nature, my personality. It was becoming exceedingly difficult and unfulfilling trying to be 'spiritual', trying to live in such a constricted framework with such religious 'political' power dimensions dictating daily life and thought processes. In 1976, while on a trip to Holland with my dad and his girlfriend (first time away from the ashram), I purchased a chunk of hash and took it back to Munich with me. This was unheard of at the time but several premies, both ashrams and others, thoroughly enjoyed it with me and admired my daring. I fell in love with a DUO-house girl (after I got a group of us stoned at the ashram prior to a meeting) and shortly thereafter we moved into an apartment with her toddler and another ashramie. I had not been the person I was pretending to be. How wonderful to be making love; I was, indeed, a normal sexual creature. I enjoyed drugs, long hair, real music, culture, freedom. I was an iconoclast; religiosity was anathema to my nature. We split after a year and I continued with my life of hedonism and 'worldly' affairs, wild as ever, as if making up for time lost in the ashram. But, make no mistake about it--I was still a premie and continued on the periphery. What else could I do? All my friends were in M's world; it was the only reality for me as my life was 100% built on his paradigm. Slowly, over time, it became less and less the case. Life itself took over.

In 1980, after a five month's stint in jail for selling hash (solitary confinement, 23 hours a day in a concrete block cell), I left Germany for Miami Beach. I was two years old when last I lived in the US (New York City), so it was logical to go where M lived and where the most action was. I saw M several times from 80-83 at festivals and around town and forced myself to the occasional local satsang, remaining connected but never as before--I still had no real option as my sense of self was still inextricably enmeshed with M's worldview, but my life became more and more my own. I formed a band with several fringe premies and did menial, nothing jobs until massage school in 1985, eventually making a 25 year career in the field, specializing in neuromuscular therapy. I introduced my girlfriend/fiance' to M and she got K but never really practiced much. I married another girl in '88 and by that time M, as a person, was just an event of the past. But, since I found value in meditation, I encouraged my wife to receive K which she promptly did, from Charnanand. She found C delightful but never really practiced, as I didn't either very much. I must say that in my mind, though, I still considered M to be a great master; I just hated the cult of personality and the incessant group-think. I couldn't put two and two together as my discriminative faculties had been co-opted. Thankfully, I was naturally pulled to pursue my own life and mostly escaped the iron clutches to this day--at least compared to some.

After many years of being completely out of the loop except for occasional meditation, my wife and I went to a program in Berkeley, CA around 10 years ago. We were both impressed, as usual, but left it at that. I was happy that progress was seemingly being made. Then in 2011, I finally had access to YouTube, finally upgrading from dial-up to high speed internet access. I checked M out just to see what he was up to. Lo and fucking behold! How good he looked, older and wiser. What great work he was doing--more people than ever receiving K, WOPG, TPRF, the prison program, an updated, totally modernized organizational system. And that charisma--that otherworldly quality, that wonderfully emotive speaking ability, full of storytelling, inspiration, wisdom, focus. The sheer immensity and vibe of his being, that 'look' in his eyes. I thought how admirable he was not to have wavered in his work and life since the age of 9! Everything changes is this world but M is constant, I thought. I was so impressed that I even started sending video clips to close friends. But, by that time, my intellectual 'thirst' and pursuits had led me to some of the great (real) thinkers/scientists of our time such as Christopher Hitchins, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krause, to name a few. My thinking had thus evolved into a more advanced state, where reason, thinking and evidence-based knowledge were cherished. Hearing and reading these public intellectuals, scholars, philosophers, teachers and scientists was a direct contrast to M's non-specific ramblings. Even though he was funny, passionate and poetic, it frustrated me to no end that he never tried to explain the dynamics of 'going inside'. I mainly heard platitudes, generalizations and Misms. Then, I saw a clip of a talk Sam Harris gave before 4000 people at the Global Atheist Convention in Australia, 2012. In it, he gave a brief, introductory guided 'mindfulness meditation'. It was as completely effective as M's third technique yet better as it was guided with precise, yet simple choice words. Nothing mysterious, all open and accessible to anyone in the world who wanted to try it--the common pool of knowledge. And categorically with no strings attached. I couldn't contain myself and googled "Prem Rawat critique". I first saw less than a week ago and here I am l. Finally (whew), this is a welcome catharsis for me and a great relief. In a way, after all this, I wasn't so off the mark after all even though the wool was still over my eyes. Regardless of M's severe deficiencies, I never in my wildest dreams and musings had any idea of his amoral and criminal behavior. It's completely mind-blowing. The hypocrisy, the meanness, the hucksterism, the blatant financial rip-off, the utter disregard for humanity, the inability for honest self-reflection, the denial of any complicity in lives negatively affected, the lack of respect for those who gave him so much, the all-consuming materialism, etc, etc. Unfuckingbelievable, unimaginable. It comes to me from left field--and yet it all makes sense; I'm not really surprised. It's way too easy for us human beings to get duped as we appear to be hard-wired for religion/belief. It happens time and again to the best of us. At least it wasn't Jim Jones (although that remains to be seen; there is, indeed, a remarkable resemblance to KimJong-un, the leader of N. Korea, both physically and theocratically). But, now I know. Now, we know; now we move forward. I'm doing serious processing on all this and don't know the full extent of my 'damage'. I can say with certainty that my personal growth was irrevocably stunted but can't prove conclusively that it's all M's fault, of course. That would be too black/white and too easy. But analyzing my life and looking closely at how it evolved, it stands to reason and critical judgement that I've been terribly, negatively affected. I sincerely think my life would have manifested itself differently, more successfully. But, this subject and others are topics for the forum (such as M also being a victim, and what I/we can do practically to expose the myths, beyond posting on this site). I look forward to personal dialogue/connection and welcome any and all response to my Journeys entry. Hopefully, I won't be hounded by M's thugs but, hey, bring it on.

With fondness and a sigh,


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