|Journeys: Leslie Veale|
|Date: May 11, 2004|
|We were born into a shell shocked world. We grew up with a subterranean silence that echoed to the muffled sounds of the terrorised and the call to make peace not war. And maybe in our youthful ebullience, the call sounded more like make love not war, or maybe we were being wise. I don't know for sure, do you?
The Nausea Factor
Whatever you ingest, good or bad, the next thing that is going to happen is that you will attempt to assimilate it. If it's a poison, it's not always that easy.
There's anaphylactic shock. I have an understanding of what this means from the inside of experiencing it, and I have also been given an explanation of the basic procedure. You overreact to the poison, an instaneous rejection, creating such a tidal wave of resistance that your whole system goes into shock, all the capillaries open in your skin at once, the blood drains away from vital organs, and so on, it is major trouble.
And then, I was watching a comedy show just recently, Black Books. An accountant was feeling bored and frustrated in his job, and he had a Little Book of Calm, which he accidentally swallowed, whilst reading it at work. The doctor in the hospital told him the situation was dire, they would be operating in the morning to remove it, and even then, the prognosis was not good. In the morning, the doctor arrived at his bedside with new x-rays. The Little Book of Calm has disappeared, he announces. "Of course it is impossible, but the only explanation is that your body has assimilated it overnight, that is, of course, impossible, you do realise." As the camera pans back, we take in the glowing aura, as our accountant smiles beatifically, and says something along the lines of "Consider the reflection a mountain makes in a pellucid lake." He then wanders out, still begowned in white, and tries it on a few skinheads, (fortunately rescued by a mad drunken black irishman).
I would imagine most of us have memories of that moment, that brief struggle before succumbing to the inevitable, that moment when your stomach insists it can't handle it's contents, that there is only one way to do it, and that is to send it back. And, despite the possible embarrassments associated with it, the relief, the pleasure that washes through you, the clean sleepy peacefulness that follows. And my goodness, aren't you glad not to be feeling so sick anymore.
Sometimes, we feel we are in a situation that precludes this easy resolution, and we are determined not to succumb to the natural way, and we pit all our strength, courage and fortitude towards this end, we believe that we have no choice in this, our heart, love, hope itself, is at stake.
This is a serious situation to be in, at least I found it so. In my case, the poison was ingested through my eyes and ears. It was trippy, I mean really trippy when it first hit, I was eighteen, it was London, Spring 1973.
You know, I'm just thinking about it, for a short period in my life, less than a year, I had it all together, thanks to my Grandmother who had a cottage in the woods which she lent to me. It was a lovely place, near Southampton, and I had somehow managed, with my mother's help if I remember correctly, to enrol myself in art college to study pottery. I liked my teacher, a Korean war veteran, and I had clay in my fingers. I was high as a kite on zen macrobiotics, believe me, I was a novice and consequently, according to the book I was reading, had to stick to the basics to be able to balance my yin and my yang, which meant rice, water and fire to cook it.
I had graduated to include gamasio and twig tea, and had started a vegetable garden when my hippy friends caught up with me. They reunited me with the delights of toast, porridge and a nice cuppa. The house grew distinctly more colourful. And then a premie turned up. A lovely genuine human being, who had recently got caught up in a hindu flavoured messianic religion without understanding what had happened, and passed it on to me. And that was that. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure when I gave up art college, I probably missed the start of term, I don't remember thinking about it.
Fortunately I met Bill soon afterwards, we fell very much in love, which had a calming effect, and made me happy. We moved to Australia. So, for many years I went about my life without recognising what idiotic things I believed, pretty easy seeing as we both believed the same things, actually all we premies believed them. Apart from, if I am to believe them, a few hardy souls who reckon they were hip to the whole thing right from the start. An assertion which, I think, begs the question: 'Just how much of an idiot do you want to make yourself out to be?
I mean, why on earth would you stick around if you understood what was happening. If you were clear that 'Maharaji' was naught but a stage show, managed in the early days by the robed, baldheaded Great Souls who turn out, behind the scenes, to be a collection of characters who range from nice if seriously deluded, to downright sickening.
A stage show starring Master P Rawat, billed as the Golden Child from the Mystic East, in reality, a teenager from Dehradun, whose airbrushed visage adorned the altars, who, on arriving at Heathrow, drove away in a limousine that was plastered all over with an absolute carnage of flowers. A teenager who probably was, my guess is, when he was still inexperienced at addressing westerners, both thrilled and terrified, not knowing whether he would swing it with us or not. I do remember, and it continued over the years, how he would often say something along the lines of 'As long as I stick to the same stuff my father said, I can't go wrong'. Did he have his fingers crossed?
The nicest explanation of why you stuck around is that you believed the same idiotic things we all did. You've just been so busy being a premie, sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes, sucking your tongue. Meditation is so foetal, don't you think? You've just been so busy learning the ropes.
I am still in mourning for all the thoughts I never had.
Busy trying to assimilate alarming information such as that your mind is your enemy. I just want to put this straight now, your mind exists in your skull, you are a package deal, and your mind, just like your liver, is not your enemy. And don't go relying on that dummy of an idea that there is a split between a brain and a mind, any more than between a mind and a heart.
Busy staying hip to the latest reframing of the timeless, immutable message of truth, the latest rendition of compassionate love, the latest info on Mr P Rawat's attitudes to life. Too busy being loyal, and being way too trusting.
I remember one afternoon, sitting in a tent having a knowledge review. We had got to the second technique, you know, the one that used to be referred to as Music, the one where we are supposed to hear heavenly music, music that would touch, transmute our soul. That was the promise, and at least the Great Souls would have a go at explaining it, 'The silence from which sound comes', is one I can recall.
If you can cry, then you've got to laugh.
That's the one where you put your thumbs in your ears, both at once, which gets quite tiresome if you are sitting, beragonless, pillowless, anything at all to lean on-less, and so I gave up and opened my eyes.
He was still sitting there, facing us on his raised stage. I gazed over the placid forest of raised arms and waving heads. I was mildly surprised at how well everyone was doing, only a few collapsed sleepers, and not many with their arms down either. He shifted in his seat, and our gazes met briefly (oddly, I suppose, for a premie, I was looking at the other people in the tent, rather than 'Maharaji', and that was what he was doing too).
Another refrain of Prempal's over the years has been the complaint that nobody thinks about what it's like for him. Like many a parent, he feels a bit overworked and under appreciated, or, I would imagine, like many a guru, like many a Superior Power in Person, he feels that he does not receive his due. The reality of his life as Satguru has not lived up to the promise either. It hasn't, has it. Just imagine if we really had been transmuted by the celestial beauty of the experience of meditation.
'By His Knowledge, ye shall know Him', was the refrain of the Great Souls, and that was what was supposed to happen. We were supposed to adore him, worship the very ground he walked on, not ignorantly or blindly, because we had been tricked into it. But voluntarily, consciously, with happiness and gratitude, from the individual depths of our sublime hearts, because we recognised him as the giver of the transcendant life fulfilling experience we were having in meditation.
And we did our best, did we not, to live up to it all.
So there he was, gazing over the throng from the stage, and I was gazing over the throng from a chair somewhere towards the rear of a large white tent set in the backblocks of regional australia on a mercifully pleasant sunny warm winter afternoon, some twenty years on from 1973. Oddly, I suppose, for me, I was not at all fazed by exchanging gazes with 'Maharaji'. And I can remember precisely what I thought:
"It's lucky Knowledge is for real. Because if it weren't this would be an unbearable experience for you, how could you not be moved to contempt by the sincerity of these fullgrown men and women playing, at your behest, with their eyes closed, what looks for all the world like a game of Simon Says."
At that point, nature called. I could see the sunny colours outside through a tent flap. I got up and moved through the aisles to the exit. Now, I was looking the way I was going, and I was thinking about where I might go to pee, but I had a sense that he did not want me to leave the tent, and he was indeed looking when I turned to give him a reassuring I'll be back type smile, before ducking out the tent flap into the sunshine.
It strikes me as I read what I have written, that when I walked, in such a gentle confident happy mood out of that tent, it would have made a sunset ending if I had kept on walking. But I didn't. It didn't even occur to me to take my own perceptions seriously. It's not easy to leave a guru.
A game of Simon Says. Staying hip to what Simon Says does not in any way translate into being hip to what it was all about all along.
And it doesn't, it in no way takes the place of, or compensates even minimally, for the individual thought process that was stifled, as Simon told you to do, in exchange.
So, there you go, that's the nicest explanation of why we stuck around. Do you want to hear a worse one?
This spring afternoon, as I stood in the garden watering the plants, it struck me how frequently 'Maharaji' would make fun of people, for what? Just for doing what you want to do. Being a slave of the Mind, he would characterise it as. An endless list of wants that you would slave away at instead of, instead of what? Instead of being a premie, that's what. I am angry about that, dead right I am. How very pleasant, how very rewarding, how very damn healthy and plain out good it is to do what you want. Hah! to you Rawat.
Of course there are worse explanations. Lots worse. That Jagdeo stuck around for the easy access to children? That any number of lazy tinpot bullies and snivelling jackbooting toadies had found their spiritual home? Or, let's calm down a bit here, perhaps it's as simple as you can't face the embarassment. At least that's better than a plain out evil explanation such as you knew all along. That you know exactly what you are doing, that you like the sound of bleating fluffy idealists in the morning, and you don't care how dirty the game gets in the pursuit of, just what exactly are you in pursuit of by the way?
Can you answer that with something more than some hypocritical, sanctimoniously delivered, stupefyingly dull little pacifier of a phrase such as 'It is in the journey itself, not the destination, that fulfilment is found', some 'as long as I stick to the same stuff Maharaji says, I'll be okay' type phrase. Or, perhaps you're a martinet of a purist, no words allowed, and you just go for the breath, strike a meditational stance, a superior attitude, with a little aren't I blissful smile. Cat got your tongue?
Perhaps, perhaps, as it comes down to for most of us, there is something you can't face about the whole thing, something you might have to look in the eye, maybe you just can't face how bad it really is, the things you can never put right, the things that have happened for what? For no good reason, that's what.
And maybe, just maybe, like it was for me, you simply don't want to look at what is happening because you feel too distressed, too sickened when you question whether your loyalties are misplaced, whether you have given your affections wisely, and whether the trust you have given has been fulfilled.
It takes what it takes to break taboos, turn round and face those feelings of betrayal and fear and coolly assess exactly what they are based on.
And that's just the start of it really. That's when your roots break through the icy crust and you can finally get round to doing what you want and need to do. Finding answers, learning things and understanding yourself. Tackling the horrendous mess in your garden, getting your roots down into the nourishing soil. Growing up. Flourishing, flowering even, and making your own contract with the mites and the fungi and whatever else, even the honey and the trees.
Eat your eyes out, Rawat, I can speak much better than you!
I am in mourning that I listened to you for so long.
That icy crust, in case you think I'm joking around: I remember a program in Brisbane, it was, now let's see, easy, an Instructor Training program, complete with a written test at the end, multiple choice of course. And a caste system: those who had applied for full time instructor, part time instructor, or paid a donation to sit up the back.
Sitting at the back had its advantages. We were up a little higher than the rest of the room, and of course, just as we were under instructions not to ask questions, we could be pretty certain of the same thing, being asked no questions.
I was almost relaxed enough to feel disturbed when he started talking about the isolation booths. He expressed the wish, get this, he wished that instead of people being in chairs and able to see one another, that we were in little cubicles from which we could only see him. Only hear him. Only listen to him. When he chose to speak, of course.
Reminds me of the blinkers people used to put on horses, to stop them reacting to traffic. It is rarely done these days, it is considered cruel, because the horse cannot see at all with them on.
For those who gave me gifts when I was heedless, I thank you now for the buried treasure.
Friendship. Rawat on friendship: 'People are only friends as long as they are compatible, when that changes they split'. Good grief. I ask you, is Rawat right, is friendship all about compatibility? You can make a choice about that, can you not.
There are a lot of choices you can make, you can decide for instance that what is is. That you want to know the truth of the matter, come what may, you want the truth, it matters.
Divine love is such a phlurphy. Just dump it is my advice. And, as a fellow human being it is also my request. Just one of the many sins of God is that He steals the finest of our feeling that would otherwise be shared more wisely.
I became vulnerable again just as when I was a teenager, in my early 40's a time when life is shifting gears, and the infection flared up. All the old feelings, as in the early days, the bright dreaming, wanting to live it for real, finally resolve the anomalies, the confusing dark spots in my vision of life.
I was one of the chosen ones, staying on the promised land, and preparing for a visit from the lord, 1998. A couple of days before he was expected, I fell off my bike, breaking four bones. That's painful, believe me. As the thunderheads of pain approached through the nauseous mist of pethedine, the thought 'Beam me up Scotty' wandered wistfully through my head.
I learnt very quickly that meditation was not effective, that I needed to hang in and help myself. I could hear the cries of those who had lost it in the pain, it's an education, a broken bones ward.
Bill and I were awarded seats near the front at the next show in Brisbane. They needn't have worried. I never had any intention of seeking compensation, it was an accident, that almost inevitable accident children have when they first get the hang of riding a bike, get all happy and excited and go too fast. Unfortunately I was 42 when I went flying over the handlebars, hadn't figured out those gear things, and I landed with a crumpling thump.
You have to give me A for effort, as well as A for idiocy. We went to the show and I was still on crutches.
That was one thing that was different about my appearance, and, on an intuitive level, well I was not feeling cruisy, more grumpy than anything, stumping around on crutches whilst you say goodbye to the cocoon of the painkillers does that to a person, it's not a permanent condition, though, is it. At the top of the stairs stood a tall handsome premie, someone I would always share a friendly smile with, had considered, albeit casually, a friend. For the first time instead of smiling, he recoiled at the sight of me, 'must dash'. Look some people just don't do blood, or crutches, or frogs, or whatever, do they. But, in my little world, it was the dawning of a conscious recognition of how insubstantial 'The World of Knowledge', such a coy little phrase that, isn't it, how very insubstantial this thing that I trusted so implicitly and so importantly was.
He talked, in case you're interested, at length, about one work team constructing during the day, and another demolition team taking it down during the night. May I propose the possibility that Mr P Rawat experiences an inner conflict?
And when I returned to the Land of Love, peopled as it is with superstitious folk, I fared no better. 'It was like the paw of a Giant Wallaby swept you off the land', well really what else are you going to think, as a premie, but that I been removed by His grace in preparation for His arrival. Perhaps formed from the gritty experience, like a pearl in an oyster, I stubbornly knew that I had simply had an accident, I knew what had happened, and why.
That was the first line of satsang I heard, by the way, 'This Knowledge in the World is like the pearl in the oyster'. Ah, what fun, how rotund, I'm smiling now.
And like the bike accident, where I had gone from such a sunny high, to such a thunking low. In the ensuing months I did the same psychologically. Just because I knew why I had fallen off the bicycle did not mean I had my head screwed on, I still believed the same idiotic things. I was still struggling to reconcile the feudal court I had seen in operation at Amaroo with believing it to be a sort of latterday Garden of Eden, wonder where we all got that idea? I was still trying to understand what exactly my relationship was with 'Maharaji' satguru, or Mr Rawat, star of many a 'Maharaji' video, pilot, family man, the human being just like any of us, or the hardball playing CEO Mr Rawat who, in his own words, 'burned people out', or God of course.
Did I tell you that one day I flatlined in hospital, anaphylactic shock from a tick bite. When you have been told that the next time you feel an itch, just an itch mind you, one that you might scratch without even really noticing, that the next time, you might only have two minutes to live, well you really want to know where you stand with life, no messing around.
It's quite an experience, going mad. My goodness the visions you see. I went from just tripping out when I meditated to helplessly tripped out most of the time, without questioning what was happening. I figured the beautiful choral music I heard in the wind was just another manifestation of the holy K. What it is is the product of a bored, exhausted mind, and disordered senses. It really was the sound of the wind, it was my interpretation of what I was hearing that was wrong. I speak confidently, why wouldn't I, I had to undisorder my senses, and that is what I discovered. If I focused my attention externally, I could pick the sound source that I was translating into music.
Sound fun?, sound sublime, even? It was the most subtle beautiful choral music I have ever heard. But no, you are right, just imagine what it must be like when you are tired, and you want to go to sleep, and, rather frighteningly you can hear the same boring riff, a piece of chewing gum music, over and over again, getting louder and louder, closer, the more you turn away.
'You do realise you are depressed", the doctor said, when I finally went to see him. I didn't actually, not yet, I was still numb from terror.
I have understood something from this, something you can as well understand from any simple fever. You can't always regulate your chemistry, you can't always guarantee a well functioning brain, but you can have your head screwed on. It makes navigating a lot easier. Gee, I guess it even helps you have a healthy brain if you aren't trying to do the impossible; reconcile the idiotic things you believe are true non-negotiable unquestionable holy beliefs with what is actually happening on the ground, the evidence of your own perception. And moreover you are attempting to do this by, get this, focusing on your breath, sticking your fingers in your ears and your eyes, and listening to Mr Rawat.
Trust. Rawat whines on endlessly about it, we would be foolish indeed, just asking for it, to put our trust in anything else, but his prescribed method, according to him.
Read it and believe it. I went back again. Fortunately, though I still believed the same idiotic things, I had some time under my belt now of retracing my steps, no longer living as a premie and I was able to resolve the dilemma of how to leave your guru, at least gain a bit of distance.
As I sat near the back of the hall, it was a nice sunny afternoon at Amaroo, I said to him, silently in my head you understand, "I cannot keep coming to your call, I need to stand up on my own two feet and look after myself, it's a question of survival, and I am sure you understand that that matters." It is not a big hall, and I was on the centre aisle, it appeared to me that he was looking at me, and I had a sense that he was saying 'don't go'. Silently, you understand. "Don't worry, I'll be back" I replied reassuringly. "They never do." he replied sorrowfully. "Oh" I wondered. All silently, you understand. But of course, I meant every word I said.
The infection had run full course. And I had survived to tell the tale. One dogged step after another, I continued to retrace my steps. One evening I decided to go to the local video show. Well I ask you, was it helpful? No, it wasn't, how could it be.
Earthquakes rumble and explanations are the rubble. All that was on offer via the video was more of the same explanations, more of the same directions that I already taken, and was now on my way back from. If someone offers you some food that you have already eaten, and it has made you very sick, with the best will in the world, even if you think you should eat it, you won't. Not even if the very thought of not eating makes you feel absolutely, eternally and infinitely, helplessly depressed.
As I was walking towards my car, John MacGregor walked up. We sat and smoked cigarettes and talked. Like premies normally do for eachother after the show, we shared our company with eachother and chatted. Just imagine, it takes courage to share the company of the utterly at a loss and going down for the final count, doesn't it. It takes a whole different notion of friendship than that it is all about compatibility, does it not. Surely, that is something we all understand. At one point he said to me that I was like Ariadne in the Labyrinth of the Minotaur. He said to me that I had the end of the string in my hand, all I had to do was follow it.
And that was what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it most. Someone in that trusted World of Knowledge having a little trust in me, a little faith in my ability to think. What's that dreaded cliché? Ah I have it, A friend in need is a friend in deed. Neither of us knew then how precise, how accurate his imagery was, we have chuckled over it since.
I heard this man talking on the radio the other day. Ah, he was nice to listen to, sensible, and straightforward. It's an uncomfortable fact, he was saying, and now I'm using my own words, because I don't remember his well enough, and I have my own, I understood him well. The way I'll put it is that god really messes with your love life. It takes intelligence and caring on both sides to have a loving relationship. There is more to a loving relationship than being forgiving, that just means the relationship endures, and I cannot imagine anything more annoying than being in a relationship where you keep having to forgive eachother for being beastly, not much fun at all. Or a one-sided relationship, where one is superior to the other.
Read it and weep. I did go back again. Can you imagine? It really was an extraordinary time for me however, my proving ground, and I don't regret it. By the time I left Amaroo I had done the deed. I had worked my way out of the hall of mirrors. And now I had stopped blaming myself and the other premies for non-deliverance. I was observing the evidence in front of my eyes, and I was asking if our principal speaker had delivered on his promises instead.
I have learnt something about myself, my strengths as well as weaknesses. So loyal that I was broken in both body and mind before I refused 'Maharaji'. So easy to fool that I was sickened to the depths of my soul by the stench that seeps from beneath the golden throne. I felt sickeningly compromised by my association with him and my survival, literally, was at stake before I was able to start listening to myself, and accept the evidence of my own perception, which to put it simply is that oft pointed out little truism: The rot starts at the top.
But once I had realised, in a moment of black sobriety mid plunge into madness, that I had no further to go, no choice but to walk back step by step the way I had come as a premie, a follower of the Golden Way, if you will, that is what I did, retraced my steps. And I started out suffering under the enormous impediment of believing that it was I who had failed, not knowledge, not 'Maharaji'. Try failing God for a while, it's no fun, believe me.
I did a list once, all the things 'Maharaji' kept warning me would fail me. Family, friendship, the ground beneath my feet. Yes Rawat, I am still angered by the unconscionable drivel you parlay. But hey, let's keep this in perspective. Rawat is not the only idiot on the planet.
It was precisely those things he predicted would fail me which didn't, and I named a very few, I would have continued, but I felt a depth charge go off at mention of the earth. I like the stuff. Though I am bothered by all the indigestibles we, as a species, are piling into it, I am nonetheless much comforted by the whole ethos of composting.
So, just the ones I mentioned, family. Bill comes to mind, because he went to hell and back with me, and still stayed by my side, which has had a calming effect and made me happy.
John, we still meet quite regularly for a coffee, and like many an underappreciated and overworked friend he reminded me yesterday, with such a gentle twinkle in his eye, of how dreadful the sensations were that he struggled with as I started passing that string, that thread of reason through his fingers. The fearful thoughts that I had merged with the satanic mind, lost the heavenly plot, become evil, yes evil. It's not easy to leave your guru.
And the earth, well we all know the comforts and wisdom a little in your fingers will bring. But I do have my own story, the day I realised I'd been had. The day I understood I didn't have to keep Mr 'maharaji' Rawat's framed photo on my office wall, that he was, in fact, of no actual relevance to me.
I felt like I was hewed from granite as I walked to the studio. I was making some choices. I decided my anger was too valuable and too precious to me to waste on Rawat. I decided I wanted to get the benefit of all that energy. As I sat down and reached for some clay, I felt like my body was disintegrating under the stress of feeling so stony. And as the clay responded to the pressure of my fingers I utterly melted, and spent a very happy day. That simple basic most common substance in the planet's crust had the power to earth me. Take the rawest of emotion and gentle it into a productive enjoyable creativity. Now I have loved clay ever since I can remember and have spent a lot of time with it, but I had no idea it could do that before, pretty special, eh.
Out of many, out of many, do you have a few spare hours so I can tell you about my family, my friendships, and my life? My brother, who dropped everything and flew up to see me when I needed it most. The doctor whose first idea was to put his arm around me and give me a hug. Or McDuck, a gentle man of reason if ever there was one. He came round to see us, he must have heard that we were 'leaving knowledge' because he wanted us to know that whatever was happening he loved us. We talked for a short time, he understood and he never flinched, I think he was rather glad really to dump his guru so convincingly, he made it look easy.
Family and friends, good grief, they needed to be made of sturdy stuff.
Am I not glad that I can be grateful to whom I wish, for what I feel grateful for?
God is really a cuckoo, you know. Steals the lot with his big red gape. That, I am reliably informed, the tv this time, is how come the mother bird feeds the cuckoo. It has the biggest reddest gaping throat, and so her instinct is to feed it first, even though she is visibly bothered. Perhaps she wishes she understood her dilemma, perhaps she feels confused as she drops another worm in that big red gaping mouth.
Maybe the attraction wears thin after a while, it must be tiring after all, having to feed a dirty fat lout of a cuckoo as well as your own chicks. Maybe that big red gaping mouth starts to look like the Gates of Hell to her as she drops in another insect, as she sees her chicks tumble one after the other onto the ground beneath.
My creativity, my emotion, all of it, in my aegis, under my direction, is a productive and enjoyable force. Flapping to the capricious breeze that Rawat brings along with his game of Simon Says, ultimately it was terrible. Not just not as good as it was cracked up to be, terrible.
And am I not glad that I can be angry with whom I wish, for what I feel angry about? You bet.
It was precisely those which he said would never fail me, like god, like the four refried hindu yoga techniques he sold as Knowledge of God, like meditating on your breath, like listening to his drivel, like 'saviour at the bottom of the barrel' him, which did. Utterly useless, worse than useless when I trusted to them, moreover as I did accept the evidence of my own perception, a possibility now that I was no longer co-opted into the ranks of the hopeful, the consequent ridding of my system of them has indeed produced the requisite relief I mentioned up above. Peace has broken out in my gut.
And I have learnt that hope does indeed 'spring eternal in the human breast'. But, but it is not impervious to damage, and without hope living is no fun at all.
And I have learnt that sadness is indeed lit with beauty. And you can't lose it either, even if you wish you could.
Don't laugh, I went back again. It was one of those satellite broadcasts of a video that one was so encouraged to attend. Plus, I had been asked to come by someone I liked. I heard about the epo site from her, that there were premies who had problems with knowledge, had some complaints. 'Why is nobody talking to them then', I wondered. I settled back in my seat and turned the car for home, I had found the day recognisably, even if I was still mystified as to why, stultifying. I found the internet site the next day and I read and read, it was illuminating.
For one thing, I discovered that in according Mr Rawat his privacy, a reasonable thing in my opinion, I had had my trust abused. The x rating system was not protecting his privacy alone, it was hiding secrets, things that if they were known would cause comment amongst his flock. I knew he had planes, cars, watches and houses, but I did not know about the luxury yacht. Why not, I asked myself. Why the huge discrepancy between the way he conducts his personal life, and the videos shown to us portraying him as the happy family man. And then, and then, might I mention that he has a way of saying somewhat frequently how important knowledge is. If he is serious about that, how can he not make contact with the children who received his holy knowledge along with the attentions of a paedophile Great Soul. Great lila, eh?
And it was the jogging of my memory of the old days. Somehow I seemed to have forgotten exactly what it was that we believed back then. The basis of why we were premies in the first place. Why was that?
And back for one last time. It was about three weeks later, I had just walked into the living room and announced that I was an ex premie when the phone rang, an afternoon show at the ranch. Good, we're going. A chance to see for myself. Watching the show without joining in was an education. I sat and watched that elephantine flirt in action, nothing of substance, just a coy flirty game of divide and conquer. Give the 'instructors' privileges, and then threaten them with the back row. Flatter the common premies, make them feel they are the most dear to you, that you really might come to Melbourne, only if the 'love' pulls you, though. 'Playing with the hearts of the premies' is the terminology and I agree. How pathetic. The advice he gave, hopeless. Perhaps, I wonder forlornly, he has realised what a mess he has made and is working out the best way to deal with it (silly, I agree, but you have to remember that I had given him the benefit of the doubt for nigh on twenty seven years), but no. Despicable.
I left on a singingly clear high of a growing anger, and I have not looked back. Rawat can bite his ass. There is a certain bitter irony in having given him things such as my trust, things that are of inestimable value to me, and recognising that whatever he might think or say, he has placed no value on them at all, other than as a means to money.
And I have wanted to elucidate my part in 'The World of Knowledge'. I am briefly in a video of that name btw, a mugshot, wallpaper to enhance the main subject, his holiness speaking the truth. I have wanted to rip away, at least, the credibility that my belief gave it.
But, you know something, I was a reasonable human being as a premie, and I am one now.
I remember once characterising the cult as a particularly smelly, due to the close confines, microcosm of the world at large. Nothing happens in it that doesn't happen in society at large, that isn't happening in organisations in general. I have been gobsmacked since leaving it to gain the broader perspective again, yes it is as bad as I thought way back at eighteen years of age. The lives of good men spent in thrall to a process of corruption, to no good end. The cuts and running sores of countless stupidities and meannesses.
And still no satisfactory answer to the question I was pondering, my own question, my own ant trail, before I joined a cult. Does a carrot scream when it is pulled? I'll get to pondering it again, in my own sweet way, in my own sweet time. Or someone might help me with it.
In the last book I read, Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes, the author makes an intriguing comment. We all like to do it, do we not, even though we recognise the complex nature of things. His dividing line, his way of categorising human beings into two types was those who have understood that looking into the pit engenders calm, and those who run.
Believe me, I know the value of optimistic thinking, it is as important to me as brushing my teeth. But I have learnt that it is better to despair sooner, get it over with, and get your feet back on the ground, than keep vainly looking to a false hope.
And the best restorative for a damaged breast, an ailing spring of hope? Learning, learning from your mistakes, that's what.
So, I guess that's enough from me. It is not, of course, the whole of my memoirs as a premie. But it is the story of how I stopped, a harrowing tale, as Bill put it, and really, it is often enjoyable to hear those tales as they happened to other people, is it not? I hope you enjoyed the read. Those premies who shared fun times with me, and we did have plenty of them, will I hope remember me with affection, as I do them.
I once said to a premie friend, who was bravely visiting despite my by now fearsomely sad reputation in premie circles, that I loved him better than Mr 'Maharaji' Rawat ever had or ever would. He was touched, but it made no difference. It doesn't matter what you believe… like hell it doesn't.
My dividing line, my way of categorising human beings into two types? Those who are reasonable, and those who are not. Those who will listen to reason however frightening or confronting it feels and whatever the perceived cost, and those who won't no matter what, no matter how terrible the price.
I have sometimes felt such an ache, as if it is going to take us all to cry this one out. I am however delightfully practical these days, determinedly not an idealist, a ruggedly fluffy individualist is more like it. Ready to make the very best with what I have around me, after all what is is. And I still feel lucky, can you imagine, but I do. And my heart still works, I can hardly imagine, but it does.
"Doesn't it just get you", I wrote in a letter as I was exiting my erstwhile world of knowledge, "that that trusted love is how you feel about yourself."
Ah well, what the hell, s'pose I'll go back and get rid of the F word. Though heaven knows, I've earnt the right to swear.