John Macgregor's third post
to the ex-premie forum,
entitled "Mind Fuck (Maharaji's Trainings)".

Hello again everyone,

I've been away for some time, but I hear that things have not been dull on F7. Things have not been dull for me either, with the majority of my premie friends very hurt and angry about my posts (which has made things rather sticky in this tight-knit community), and a few, too, who are intending to join me on the other side of the fence - which is equally intense for other reasons. (You all remember what that collapse of faith is like.)

I apologise for not being here lately. I've been away for several days, drifting down the Tweed River on a houseboat, celebrating my 50th birthday. On top of that my papers have given me lots of work - which has really put the pressure on.

Quite a few premies - some of them distant, some of them friends here in Byron Shire - have made contact since I came out, and I'm now discussing their exiting processes with them. That, too, takes a lot of time!

There's also the fact that, being a little obsessive, I try not to get involved in the forum for too long at one time: I find it can swallow up my life somewhat, and need to pace myself.

For all the above reasons, I haven't logged on for well over a week. I will tend to follow these patterns of popping up briefly - then disappearing for quite long periods to get other things done.

Post-K is the most pleasant, and interesting, phase of my life so far. I want to try and draw a line between the necessary de-culting process, and just getting on with things and (dare I say it?) enjoying life.

A couple of people rang today and told me there has been much support for me here of late - for which I am extremely grateful. One of the great difficulties in leaving Knowledge is that no premies wish to discuss it: one is thus deprived of one's usual support base. I think I said last time that the ex community is everything the premie community should have been, but wasn't - including egalitarian and supportive. I have made many new friends here in a very short time.

As for my old friends: I'm naturally perfectly happy for the non-exiters amongst them to remain within Maharaji's world: I spent many happy times there myself, and the last year does not somehow magically turn all that into 28 years of hell. I'm also happy to concede that Maharaji has good points: everyone does, and black and white thinking gets us nowhere - other than into cults, perhaps.

But having now learned the nature of Maharaji's secret life, and having gained a little insight into the overall psychology of the master-devotee relationship, all that is somewhat beside the point. For these are overweaning realities, which tower over good memories and 'nice experiences'.

To reiterate:

I've now left the world of Knowledge, so am no longer bound by its rules and loyalties - including the 'confidentiality' which so dominated the scene in recent years. I assert the right to develop my own opinions on it, and to make these public if I wish - along with the information I have at my disposal. I believe this information will help aspirants and premies to make informed decisions on whether to remain with Maharaji, and will help interested outsiders to make decisions on whether to become involved.

This is especially important, in my view, in light of the institutional secrecy which pervades Maharaji's activities, senior staff and organisation.

As a person who joined DLM when I was young and admittedly fairly stupid, and who was programmed with some pretty deep stuff as to Maharaji being a kind of special being or cosmic force, and who gave tens of thousands of dollars and many years of life to further his work (and who watched him grow obscenely wealthy in the process), I believe I have earned the right to say about him whatever I please, so long as it is based on supportable facts.

My take on things will not be the whole truth - but it is as good, as fair and as accurate as I can make it.

Probably 90% of those who have received Knowledge in the West have left Maharaji. This includes PAMs, senior organisers and instructors - and the figure is growing daily. Of all those who have been premies, only a skeleton crew remains.

Thus the majority of us - most of those who established Maharaji's work in the West - are now on the outside. If we do not have a right to pass comment on him, who does?

This post is principally about Maharaji's trainings, which have been the central ideological glue in EV in recent years. However first I need to attend to housekeeping matters, and respond to some miscellaneous points from the posts I read before I went away a week or so ago:

* I was never a major PAM (in for example the Michael Dettmers sense): I described myself as a long-term senior organiser and 'an occasional PAM', which I think is accurate.

* I 'know' that M is behind CAC as a matter of logic only - I don't have a smoking gun. That is: The only people who could possibly be behind CAC are loyal premies. All loyal premies do absolutely whatever M asks of them. Therefore, if M put the word out that CAC should be taken down, it would happen overnight. Given the damage is doing to his work, and given what a hands-on CEO he is, it's reasonable to assume that Maharaji's involvement is even more pro-active than that.

* I don't resile from my earlier statements about sexually abusive instructors.

* The one thing I regret from the first 2 posts is mentioning the names of individuals, in anything but the most innocuous of ways. It could have been construed that I disapproved of (now retrenched EV Australian National Contact) Kaye McKinnon's salary - when in fact I didn't: $A50,000 is not a lot of money. Similarly, I was neither for or against the move to oust Kaye: two of the 'ousters' are long-time friends, and I know Kaye pretty well too. I mentioned these events to highlight the politicking which is built into EV - and of which I partook myself at times. Mark Winter is a friend, and to protect my identity I was unable to mention that when he was constructing Enjoying Life, I was enthusiastically helping him. And of course my remark about Monica Lewis was not meant to reflect poorly on her (she's always been perfectly nice to me): the joke was at my expense. I'll avoid naming names from now on, unless it is completely unavoidable, or I can do so entirely innocently. The way I see it, this is not a war against people, it's a war against an idea.

* Finally, in case some people think I'm ducking them: even when I spend time on the forum, I don't read the premie trolls. That way lies madness, IMO. Their role is to distract from the real issues - and with our enthusiastic co-operation they achieve this very successfully. Both of the main trolls are friends, and I can get quite enough of them at parties and in the main street of Mullumbimby, without needing to engage them here. There's also the fact that - as with all of us - their real selves are more rounded and agreeable than the sub-personalities they send out into the cyber realm.

I'd like to talk briefly about the things I've said about Maharaji in recent times - for these have been the source of considerable angst to my friends.

Firstly, I have little doubt as to my contribution to the things that were bad about EV and M's work in general: I was an organiser since early 1973, and was doing fairly major service out at Amaroo till only a year ago (when I spent a week onsite for the donors' conference). I brought two people to Knowledge, one of whom is still there. As a community co-ordinator I was occasionally rude and disrespectful (a fact of which the victims have been humorously reminding me for the ensuing quarter century).

I don't blame everything I did wrong on being in a cult: many of these things were, purely and simply, personal failures. I didn't leave earlier because of the loyalty I felt toward Maharaji - or at least the image I had of him. All the dysfunction in the world would not have been enough for me to have turned my back on the living master: I had to realise, with great pain, that he was not the living master first.

Secondly, as far as the accusations against Maharaji are concerned, a premie friend believes I should concentrate less on Maharaji's lifestyle, and more on the more serious abuses. (She described sections of my last post as being 'like Jerry Springer'.)

She's right, up to a point: I don't really believe that M's meat-eating, cigarette- and pot-smoking, beer-drinking and polygamy are capital crimes - and have done my share of each in younger days. In enumerating them in the last post, I was trying to establish that I had done a certain amount of service around M over the years - not to draw attention to these behaviours, many of which I don't regard as particularly shocking. All of them, incidentally, were well-known for years before I posted.

Nevertheless, up until the ex-premie site made these things public, there had been very conscious efforts to conceal these behaviours - surely that is what the x-rating was all about - which does tend to introduce an element of hypocrisy.

Additionally, vegetarianism, non-smoking, non-drinking and celibacy were rather hypocritically endorsed by Maharaji for ashram premies. Even now M occasionally works to fracture the relationships of PAMs.

But all of this pales in comparison with M's broader abuses, such as covering up the rape of children, sexually using female devotees, and accumulating at least $US50 million from his flock - to say nothing of the mind control techniques outlined below.

Thirdly, I'd like to re-iterate that, apart from the odd mistake - inevitable in such a vast mass of highly emotive material, and which I will correct and apologise for as they are pointed out to me - what I have said to date is actually, really, genuinely true. Is it being suggested that I have no right to say things that are true?

Fourthly, I do believe I have a right to publicly criticise Maharaji, as he has publicly criticised me. In my training in September 1999, Maharaji had me videoed during one of the exercises, during which I allegedly made a mistake. He then played the video to 85 people, and explained in considerable, pointed detail where I had screwed up. He may well have been right: I have no argument with him correcting me. My point is that - after 28 years of humble submission - such privileges now run two ways.

The Jagdeo matter I wrote about in Pam 1 has taken some strange, contradictory turns. As I said in Pam 2, I got the date wrong: the meeting I referred to was in 1985, not 1980. On the other hand one of the meeting's alleged participants has contacted me saying the meeting did not happen - or at least that s/he wasn't there if it did.

The original participant, however, is sticking to his/her guns. So I figure the best I can do is to refer to this story as an 'allegation'. And I apologise to the second (alleged) participant for not checking the story out with them in the first place.

According to the original participant, the meeting concerned Jagdeo's sexual molestation of one, or possibly two, of the complainant's children in India about 15 years earlier: that is, in about 1970. 17 years have passed. Both my informants are former x-rated PAMs, and I believe both are acting in good faith.

Finally, I've been told someone posted here discussing my family. Given my present workload, I doubt I 'll have time to read and respond. However this does neatly underline a point I make below - which is that even normally ethical people will abandon their ethics when the central icon is under threat. I've little doubt those responsible will one day look back on their action with dismay.

Anyway, now to the main topic of this post...

Maharaji's Trainings:

Over the last year or so, people have pulled back from service, all over the West. There are many factors behind this - including, people getting older and wiser, and continuing disillusionment with EV's apparently permanent state of dysfunction. Poorly chosen and unpopular leaders have played their role.

But interestingly, Maharaji's 'trainings' have also caused many people to revise their commitment to M. Revise it downward, that is.

'Trainees' haven't generally analysed why this is. They express vague discomfort with the trainings, but are unable to say what this stems from. This is hardly surprising. To examine the trainings honestly, and come to one's own conclusions about them, would lead one to the largest 'Do Not Enter' sign in the premie catalogue: the one which involves an objective ethical examination of Maharaji's activities.

Thus the vague, unsettling feelings persist - but (with the exception of the minority whom the trainings propelled out of Knowledge) nothing goes further than that.

Yet the fact remains: now the trainings are finished, people have withdrawn from service en masse. Why?

Firstly, just about all premies have a bad attitude to EV thesedays. Given that EV is just a bunch of volunteers - people like you and me - this is curious. It's not exactly a monolith, and it has virtually no paid staff. Indeed the latest reports suggest that it is fast sinking beneath the waves.

I believe - and it's only a belief - that EV plays a role in displacing premies' anger at Maharaji. EV is a 'safe' way of resenting M. It is a safe place to direct blame for the pain, stunting, inconvenience, cost, fear, guilt and anger which often lie below the surface of the premie's much-vaunted satchitanand.

It's interesting to note that the instructors played a similar role in the 1970s and early 1980s: in satsang after satsang, Maharaji himself set them up as targets for anger and abuse, which of course drew such emotions away from himself.

But this time around, tho antipathy to EV is nearly universal, it has been impossible to contain all the anger in this single vessel. For the first time, considerable anger is being directed at Maharaji himself. Some premies have gone the whole hog and left K; others quietly mutter but stay in the fold; and others do not divulge their mutinous thoughts to other premies, but think them nonetheless, divulging them only to outsiders.

IMO, more than any other factor, the trainings of the last few years are responsible for this change. For large numbers of premies, the trainings brought the EV cult psycho-dynamics - basically the techniques of thought reform which are the basis of Maharaji's influence - into the daylight for the first time.

The trainings also revealed something like the real Maharaji, to people who had never previously been exposed to him - and those people have been troubled ever since.

Maharaji's trainings were EV's central institutional methodology of the 1990s. They were to the 1990s what ashrams and satsang were to the 1970s. Their importance in deepening and entrenching the Maharaji psychological 'spell' should not be underestimated. Their chief psychological weapon was the mixed message (which I've discussed below).

Just as ashrams created a top layer of heavy-metal devotees with a 'single idea' in the 1970s, so did the trainings select and create the same cohort in the 1990s. In both cases the aim was to bring about a 'core' of 'clear' devotees - clear as to who was Boss, clear as to organizational methods - around whom a global mission could be built.

Among its other functions - many of which were highly enjoyable - satsang in the 1970s was the vehicle wherein these clear devotees could deliver the message (the 'truth') to the rest of the community, and bring everyone into line with the general philosophy. Teams - which mixed core premies who tended to lead with community premies who tended to follow, just as satsang did - were meant to become this ideological delivery vehicle in the present era. And the team thing was one of the main messages of the training.

So the trainings not only entrenched the message (Maharaji is always right, et al), they also created the means for its further dissemination (teams).

Why did the trainings arise? Let's look at the timing.

Significantly, the trainings arose after the Amaroo Mutiny - the first blip on the radar which alerted M that there was trouble brewing in Paradise: that people were challenging the authority of his small group of appointees, and therefore his authority. Amaroo was and is the jewel in M's crown. A challenge to his authority there was probably very difficult for him.

There have been several mutinies in Maharaji's world over the last decade - some of them attracting emergency interventions by M's envoys. There has been an Indian mutiny, the PR Team mutiny, and various mutinies at local level throughout the US and Australia. But perhaps the most famous mutiny was the Amaroo Mutiny (as Maharaji himself named it) of December 97-January 98.

The mutiny at Amaroo - Australia's cult-within-a-cult - brought the place to a halt, saw its management team implode, scrambled the international team to red alert - and nearly saw Amaroo sold off by an infuriated Lord of the Universe. ('This is a mutiny! How dare they!' he said when told about it.)

Basically, the Amaroo Mutiny was an attempt to democratise Amaroo - to spread and diffuse the power to make decisions. The Mutiny began when the management team imploded on December 21, 1997; it was led by several former management team members.

The Mutiny was put down when Valerio Pascotto was sent to Amaroo (first by the three-man facilitators' team, then, when M heard about the Mutiny, with M's blessing). From memory, Valerio arrived in late January, 1998.

After his arrival, Valerio sat the perpetrators down and instituted workshops which included self-criticism sessions - written and oral. These lasted several days, and in time broke down all resistance. On Day One, all participants were sat in a large horseshoe - with Valerio and his note-taker at one end - and one by one asked to confess what role s/he had played in causing the trouble. (The question was handed to participants the night before on paper, so they could spend the night contemplating it.)

One attendee stated out loud that these sessions were 'medieval', and refused to take part. However everyone else joined in.

For me, the most surreal aspect was that maybe a dozen people who'd had nothing to do with the mutiny - who hadn't even heard of it in some cases - took the blame for enough sins to fill a Catholic textbook. The word 'hysteria' barely does the atmosphere of these sessions justice. Some people were so distraught they could not speak, when their turn came to confess. Others seemed utterly destroyed at the thought that they had offended the Master.

Before the sessions even began, Valerio had made it extremely clear that Maharaji was very angry at us.

The Angry Daddy gambit is one of Maharaji's crudest yet most effective psychological techniques. The Rawat psychology does not need to be subtle. Because of our sincerity, we were extremely easy to manipulate: for Valerio it was like taking candy from a baby. Some of the techniques may have already been in place, from the 1996 international organisers' conference, where these workshop-style settings began - specifically:

Childhood parental models were invoked to terrify potential dissenters; philosophical closed-loops were reinforced, in which the master could never be wrong; the 'group dynamic' was strengthened to dissolve individualism.

In the end, after some spirited resistance, we all caved.

Valerio told me I should be feeling 'grief' at what I had done to displease M - and by the end of these sessions I believed he was right. I mention Valerio's name here because it is simply unavoidable: he was central to the Mutiny, and central to the trainings. Personally I always got on extremely well with him, and we parted cordially. What I write here should not be construed as an attack on him, but on the crazy psychology which possessed us all. I don't use the word 'possessed' lightly. Like myself, Valerio was in the grip of a powerful daemon, and under its influence we were as mad and inhuman as each other. I participated in the sessions as fully as he did.

Anyway, Maharaji should perhaps be grateful to the Amaroo mutineers: the Mutiny provided not only the impetus for a global re-education program, but many of the techniques employed in it.

In early 1999, the first prototype training was held at Amaroo. The model's bugs were ironed out.

At this training M yelled at participants that they - the Amaroo premies - were 'insane' and 'lunatics'. He used frequent war analogies, swore violently, and was extremely angry much of the time. This is what convinced many attendees that the Mutiny was on his mind.

He was so angry on one occasion that his hands shook, and he dropped his whiteboard marker. After he'd done one of his 'storming out of the room' routines (I think he trialled the technique at this first training), a PAM came into the hall in tears: 'Maharaji's going to leave Amaroo unless we get it together,' he sobbed. 'Unless we do what he wants.' Significantly, what he wanted was never made clear.

One brave participant told Maharaji he thought that training's techniques were reminiscent of the Nazi Party. He has not been singled out for promotion!

After this trial run in early 1999, the trainings began in earnest in various major centres.

The trainings were for premiedom's top 'resources' - mostly managers and those with money. A seldom-appreciated refinement of this is that the trainings were directed at 'resources' who were, with advancing maturity, displaying symptoms of independent thought.

So - throughout the trainings - once again childhood models of authority and obedience were 're-booted' within the greying skulls of Maharaji's flock. Wealthy businessmen were reduced to obeisant, trembling children who sometimes went dry-mouthed with fear; normally balanced, competent women were driven, in several cases, to hysterical breakdowns. (NB: I don't want to be sexist about it: there was ample hysteria on the male side as well.)

My training cost each of the 80 participants $A1000 to attend. (Tho I think some full-time staff probably got freebies.)

Each training was different, and there were specialist trainings for (for example) propagation and the residence/personal area staff. But the overarching purpose of the trainings was what the Chinese call 're-education' - the Chinese approach and Maharaji's having considerable common ground. These were the main elements, as I saw them:

- Insufficient loyalty to the master/government is profoundly stigmatized.

- Individuality is stomped on. The Chinese call it 'degenerate individualism', Maharaji the 'Lone Ranger syndrome'. In both cases self-criticism plays a central role in eliminating it.

- Mutual monitoring is stepped up and refined.

- Certain more trusted group members are secretly recruited by the trainers to work against the interests of those who are to be made an example of.

- Blatant untruths are stated and restated, and eventually accepted, despite evidence which contradicts them staring participants in the face. (E.g. M's stating how hard he works to 'keep my body fit so I can carry out
this work'.)

- Disabling of logic, and destruction of will and volition, by organized 'mindfuck' games which nobody can win. (In some trainings, not a single exercise was completed successfully, and not a single game was won. I guess
the subliminal message was: 'You cannot win.')

- Creation of confusion and thus compliance, by recurring mixed messages. For example: M makes mistakes/M can't be challenged; claim your territory/obey the master; if the food is no good, don't hesitate to tell the kitchen/don't criticise others, or be 'political'.

- The inhibition of independent action by the ratcheting up of fear and of paranoia. (Every participant could become the object of severe criticism, could be expelled from the group, or could even be responsible for the cancellation of the entire training, at any time.)

- Revival of the old 1970s fears in 1990s form: exclusion from the perfect world of Knowledge, from the group's approval, and from the Master's blessing. ('Cult members are systematically programmed with phobias so they
will be in terrible fear of leaving the cult. They are enslaved by this mind control technique in thinking that there is no other way for them to grow.' Ilona Cuddy, mental health degree masters project.)

- Recurrent use of what cult psychologists call 'the cult of confession' to undermine the credibility of individuals acting outside of the master's command. (The trainings began with a round of confessions, accompanied by hysterical crying, a dramatic collapse or two, and claims of absolute, total unworthiness. Interestingly, confession had not been called for by M at this stage: premies had merely been asked to say what they expected and hoped to learn from the training, and what they thought would be the most difficult aspect of it. Yet out came the confessions of unworthiness and shame. This undoubtedly says something about the psychological climate within the wonderful world of Knowledge! In another session, participants had to confess what their 'buckets' contained. People interpreted this to mean, 'What are my faults?' The hyper-critical self-descriptions came tumbling out: anger, fear, haste, hate, judgement, envy - and so on. More tears, more wailing.)

- Closed circuits of logic were dusted off and re-presented for the group's approval. (To put it at its crudest: 'We know Maharaji/the Communist Party is the unchallengeable source of truth, because they most purely represents that truth. We know they most purely represent that truth because they have often told us this. We know that they are speaking the truth on this matter because they are the unchallengeable source of truth.')

- Premies' sense of powerlessness and dependence was entrenched, partly - and bewilderingly - via a set of complex and demanding training rules which participants were led to believe that they created, but which were actually insinuated into the process by the trainers.

- Fear and praise were alternated to implement the above and other dynamics. (E.g. two trainers would play good cop/bad cop.)

- People's time was 100% occupied with pointless tasks - long, circular meetings; unwinnable games - to obviate thinking and analysis, especially about the high levels of mind control in evidence.

- In some trainings, long hours were employed to break down resistance to thought reform. In others, participants were blindfolded for long periods, to sow confusion and emphasise powerlessness.

- Acceptance of the amorality and immorality of M's world were further entrenched. E.g. in one training, M said: 'If the team decides it's dark outside, and you look out and see that it's light, IT IS DARK OUTSIDE!'

- Diminishing of individual discernment - and of individuality - by giving exaggerated value to the 'team'. One whole exercise was directed to getting individuals to 'merge with the team'. If that was the individual's goal, what was the team's? It was, of course, to realise Maharaji's desires. Thus the team dynamic was a kind of front for implanting Maharaji's control.

- Entrenching of top-down hierarchical structure, and unquestioning obedience. E.g. M said, 'If a manager tells you to dig a hole immediately above a buried electrical cable, the only thing you are to say is, 'How deep?!'

- Demands for devotion were escalated. (E.g. one premie was quizzed on why he spent his days in his high-profile job and ONLY his evenings, when he was tired, doing service for M.)

- A system of rewards and punishments was instituted in ways that undermined trust among members, but increased emotional dependence on Maharaji. And in which no-one ever wins. (There is a broader, analogous pattern of competition between PAMs for M's approval - a pattern M has profitably maintained for 30 years - in which no-one ever 'wins'. No-one ever gets to be Arjuna - he makes sure of it. The trainings utilize the same 'rewards and punishments' model - though it's an intensified version of it. In essence, the trainings aimed to take cult psychological manipulation to the highest level that people will tolerate, and not begin to smell rats.)

The trainings more than fulfilled cult author Steve Hassan's 'four criteria for cult mind control':

(1) They had strict rules of behaviour. (Indeed one whole session was on 'What are you going to do to follow the rules?' M stated 'the whole purpose of the training is to follow the rules'.)

(2) They employed thought control. (Thoughts expressing individuality or challenging M were violently criticised; others such as 'Are we being manipulated?' or 'Is M wrong?' were off the agenda altogether.)

(3) They employed emotional control. (Provoking M's anger - which happened almost daily - threw participants back into childhood emotional states; guilt and shame were employed repeatedly; and the group was frequently divided against individuals or sub-groups.)

(4) Finally, the trainings restricted the flow of information to members. (E.g. participants were led to believe that they themselves invented the training rules, whereas in fact they were predetermined by M, and insinuated into proceedings via an apparently 'democratic' process. Also many of the group votes, and some of M's temper outbursts, were pre-scripted. Those secretly approached to catalyse events such as the expulsion of the scapegoat were told not to tell others about this.)

The trainings were run by psychologists, and other professionals.

The 'team' dynamic which dominated the trainings was not about democracy, as the word 'team' might suggest, but was actually a mechanism for reinforcing Maharaji's authority. I would not characterize this as another deception, though, because it was made pretty clear from the beginning that M alone stood outside the team - not only its membership but its ethics - and the take-home, whole-of-life, bottom-line message that was driven home on the last day - the rule of all rules - was simply 'Maharaji'.

It was a powerful bit of final programming that left no-one in any doubt as to the focus of the training, and the expected future orientation of its participants.

As I said above, the chief psychological weapon of the trainings was the mixed message - of which Maharaji is a master:

If you don't like Knowledge, walk!
If you stop practising this Knowledge, you 'll go rotten inside.

I make mistakes.
How dare you criticise me!

Claim your territory.
Follow the master.

Trust yourself.
Trust the master.

Speak your mind when you see problems.
Don't criticise, and don't be political.

Are the tapes running? I am not God!
I have come to the world with full powers.

Everything is within you.
Everything is within Guru Maharaji.

The mixed message is (IMO) a double-barrelled shotgun which has blown away even some of the cleverest of minds, because it is installed at a level where intellect does not operate. Whether this is at the level of the God archetype, the sub-conscious, or whatever, depends on your psychological viewpoint.

The mixed message is a powerful thing. Typically, one half of it empowers and expands, the other half intimidates and reduces; one half provokes love, the other half fear; one half liberates, the other half enslaves.

People are powerfully hooked by both elements of the mixed message: everyone wants to feel free, but we also want to obey a legitimate authority. (Especially if we believe that authority to be God, or God's representative.)

Above all, the mixed message strategically confuses.

We are 'freed' by Knowledge, but we find ourselves subjugated to the person who gives us Knowledge.

At the surface level, a very reasonable explanation is put forward: that person to whom you are now subjugated is the ocean of compassion, and is thus the one person you can trust in this life. Unlike other people - employers, friends, family: all of whom let us down eventually - he has our best interests at heart, and will never let us down.

It would be pathological to be subjugated to any other person. But to be subjugated to this person is acceptable, because he is the one person who will not abuse this status.

Trusting souls that we are, most of us took many years to dig below this logic. Because it brought us great comfort, we bought the surface explanation. This allowed the freedom/slavery contradiction to disappear below consciousness, where it long troubled us in strange and unpredictable ways. Some of these 'ways' include the sapping of will or ambition, an inability to promote or even explain Maharaji to outsiders, ethical lapses we would not normally be prey to, clinging to 'safe' channels of thought, and an almost wilful failure to follow 'risky' trains of thought through to their logical conclusions.

The standard premie defence against criticism - I've heard it a lot lately - is 'I'm just having a nice experience inside - what's cultish about that? That's what this whole thing's all about.'

I usually point out that this whole thing is only partly about that: the second half is about embracing Maharaji as your master. It's about following his guidelines, obeying him implicitly, and it's about never criticising him. That is, it's about putting him above the requirements we apply to all other human beings.

Thus the first half of the M/K equation is about feeling good, freedom, personal liberation, and so on. The second half, however, is about obedience, never criticising, and following somebody else's agenda. The entire Maharaji/Knowledge paradigm is founded on a mixed message.

Thus the premie's world is founded upon a dichotomy - a dichotomy which usefully enough) helps to disable both thought and volition.

Has Maharaji worked all this out? I doubt it. Masters like him - and there are many - intuitively know how to place their cards: when to raise the eyebrow, or voice, or standards, or stakes, to make people do their bidding, or part with funds. When things don't work, he simply adjusts to something that does. I doubt if he's thought through the mechanics of it any more than I had till recently.

The trainings being an intensified form of the M/K paradigm, the mixed message was naturally intensified within them. One need look no further than some of the training rules - 10 seconds, conscious, respect, confidentiality, honesty, unanimous - to see this:

* No-one was allowed to talk for more than 10 seconds without permission - though this didn't apply to Maharaji.

* Participants had to be 'conscious'. Yet all participants remained profoundly unconscious of the manipulation to which they were being subjected - and even of how the training was constructed.

* Participants had to be extremely respectful of each other. Yet this rule did not apply to Maharaji, who frequently unleashed obscenities at those who angered him, or at the whole room.

* Confidentiality was emphasised over and over, as a way of creating a 'safe' environment for participants. Yet the trainings were emotionally unsafe in the extreme - as evidenced by the fear and hysteria frequently expressed. The likely real role of instilling confidentiality - to keep information about M from outsiders - was never divulged. (I guess it was confidential.)

* Honesty was urged on participants. Yet neither M nor the trainers were honest with participants as to the real purpose and modus operandi of the trainings.

* Decisions had to be unanimous. Unless Maharaji disagreed with them.

The ostensible purpose of the trainings was to instil teamwork - to convert EV from a hierarchical model to a team model. And there seemed to be a genuine attempt to do this at times. Yet the take-home message was extremely hierarchical: Maharaji is the Boss. Anyone who showed signs of disagreement with that was publicly shredded.

There were sincere if muddled attempts to practise the teamwork model in the year after the trainings. However the wheels duly fell off: no-one could ever quite make it work. This was for the same reason that the wheels have fallen off every premie enterprise - including the original one, of lasting happiness: mixed messages don't take root.

It's within me, but I kiss Maharaji's feet. I'm free, but I'm a servant. I contain the source of all wisdom - yet he is the real source of all wisdom. On the conscious level, we were pretty good at rationalising such contradictions. But on the levels which are important, where people secretly and quietly grow, the psyche can't make any sense of such messages. Plants won't mature if you pour on nitrogen and herbicide at the same time.

My notes from the training make scary reading, now that (two years later) I've deconstructed the experience. I noted down various people's statements, motions and amendments throughout the week - for example:

* I propose that we all apologise to Maharaji. (This was a popular one, given that the thing was set up so no-one could do a thing right.)

* I take personal responsibility for failing the rules and the team. I wish to re-commit to the rules and the team.

* I accept responsibility for the team's failure. I apologise. I will follow the rules.

* I propose we renew our commitment to the team and the rules.

You get the picture.

Some premie readers will find the comparison with Chinese-style 're-education' offensive. However I suspect that those who actually attended trainings will be slower to take offence. I don't know one of these people who doesn't have lingering doubts.

To really identify these doubts - to drag them out into the daylight - would necessitate entering the mental no-go area wherein Maharaji's behaviour is evaluated like anybody else's. It's a place to which many are not yet prepared to go.

Who knows? This may have been one purpose of another of the training's rules: no dark thoughts.

Maybe a description of the darker side of the trainings will bring some better definition to this process. (You thought you'd already read the dark stuff, right?)

The Scapegoat:

The ritual humiliation, victimisation and frequently the expulsion of the designated 'black sheep' in some (but not all) trainings has left even some of the staunchest premies with dark thoughts.

This scapegoat would be picked on the basis a minuscule personal sin, which was then magnified out of proportion by M. S/he would be verbally humiliated by Maharaji at some length.

Most premies are basically nice people. Thus the group - often around 80 people - would not want to hurt the scapegoat by supporting M's abuse, but would not want to offend M either. So everyone would listen to the voluble obscenities in silence - many weeping.

Everybody realized that there but for a throw of the dice were they: the scapegoat was picked because s/he was a personality who would absorb humiliation, not because of anything s/he had done wrong.

Eventually Maharaji's anger at the scapegoat would prevail in the room. After much equivocation and many attempts at compromise, finally someone would stand up and move the motion that everybody had been dreading: the motion to expel the scapegoat from the training, and cast him or her into the outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The motion would be duly carried by a shamefaced but intimidated group. The scapegoat would be sent out of the room permanently - everybody avoiding his gaze as he left.

After the expulsion from Paradise, the scapegoat was to be seen sitting alone and unloved around the campfires, silent and morose, like a recently disembodied spirit unsure of whether he was alive or dead. I tried to talk to the scapegoat from my group one night: he was unable to talk.

To make it worse, this 'spontaneous' collective scenario was a set-up:

Typically around Day 3, a suitable candidate would be taken aside during at dinner, and told that something 'really serious' was going to happen next day - that someone was going to 'take a fall' in order 'to bring the loyalty issue to a head'. And that s/he would be a suitable person to get up at that juncture and organise an apology to Maharaji, and move the scapegoat's expulsion. (Naturally the word 'scapegoat' wasn't used.)

Sure enough, at one stage during the next day's session, a member of the group would make the mistake M had been waiting for - and all hell would break loose.

After a protracted period in which the group failed to expel the member - which they were clearly required to do - the pre-chosen person would stand up and say: 'I move that ________ be expelled from the training.'

And so he was.

(Incidentally, the person so expelled in my training was subsequently flown to the Delhi training free of charge, on Maharaji's instructions: M is a tyrant/M is compassionate!)

I suspect that pre-chosen people were also employed for other crucial tasks, such as the Ritual Humiliation of the Dissenter, and the Begging for Forgiveness Ritual.

During one training, an attendee begged to differ with M on a particular point. Maharaji screamed that it didn't 'matter so much as a fart what you think!' After some more generalised screaming, he stormed out of the room.

When the wailing and gnashing of teeth stopped (that's not poetic licence this time), a (pre-selected?) person would step forward, and propose that a group apology be devised. There would then be endless argument and discussion and voting re the wording: this could literally go on for two hours because of the requirement for unanimity on every word. Finally a card would be drawn up, and signed by all.

The card would bear such wording as 'We are truly, deeply sorry', 'We apologise from the bottom of our hearts' and 'We wholeheartedly beg your forgiveness'. (The word 'pathetic' barely begins to describe these rituals.)

The card would then be sent to Maharaji, who would - after an appropriately suspenseful interim - reappear at the training, and gravely compliment the group on 'finally learning something'.

Anyway, what was the upshot of all this nonsense?

1. As a result of the trainings, there was a rush of 'trainees' to the doorsteps of physical and even psychological therapists. Several attendees quit Knowledge altogether.

2. Since the trainings tuned everyone up for 'greater and more focused participation', nearly the entire global community has 'stepped back' from doing service.

3. Back at Amaroo, because of the trainings' overwhelming emphasis on 'confidentiality', team meetings became covert operations.

4. Other than for the all-pervasive secrecy, and whilst teams do exist, the actual teamwork mechanisms instilled by the trainings are now widely viewed as unworkable.

Ultimately, the trainings were not at all about learning things like 'respect' and 'consciousness', as the training rules suggested. If they were, Maharaji himself would have been frogmarched out the door in the first hour. Nor were they about learning the techniques and approaches inherent in the exercises: most of these are now passe in the corporate world from which they derive.

The trainings were about re-learning and reinforcing deep psychological attitudes of gratitude and subservience to an omnipotent father figure, whom many of us encountered in our impressionable teens or early twenties. Basically, they were a mid-life re-boot.

For the founders of (who deserve all the praise that comes their way) here is what a long-term insider, and a participant of two trainings, says:

'I have no doubt that the fanatical insistence on confidentiality which the trainings instilled - absolutely everything thereafter was 'on a need-to-know basis' - was to stem the flow of information to So all of that mindfuck was about Maharaji getting scared of the information being gained by the ex-premie website.'

So, that's all on the trainings.

Whilst I'm fairly confident that everything of a factual nature in these posts can be supported, I doubt there is any final 'truth' in the psychological realm. I put all that out there for what it's worth. For me, the real 'truth' lies in just being able to think it and say it.

Posts like this one are often initially seen by premies as 'the product of a bitter, twisted mind', a 'wild distortion of Maharaji's work', 'vengeful, malicious fiction', etc, etc. Hate, rage and personal attacks (shooting the messenger) are very much to be expected. (I gather we've seen some of it here lately.)

In my experience, all this generally continues until one has had the chance to sit down and discuss the subject one-to-one. On these occasions - when real communication can happen - the hostility gradually melts away, concessions are made, and in some cases the exiting process begins.

So I only regard this stuff as 'information' - useful to back up statements, and so on - but somewhat less useful than personal contact when it comes to changing premies' ideas, which are deeper-entrenched than any of us could have imagined.

The post I'd really like to write - if I knew how - is what caused us to have the experiences we had? I had some extraordinary experiences in meditation - which I'm fairly satisfied can be attributed to some rather complex brain chemistry.

But I also had some extraordinary experiences around Maharaji - and equally extraordinary ones around Bal Bhagwan Ji. Others have entered sublime states of consciousness around Mata Ji, Rasputin and Adolf Hitler. What causes this stuff?

I've got a few superficial answers - e.g. projection - but they don't really satisfy me. Maharaji's cognac intake is all very interesting, but to me this is the real nub of the matter. After three decades - all thoughts are welcome.

Best wishes to all,


PS: These posts seem to be circulating through the premie community somewhat. Those premies who wish to discover more about their master and his activities might have a look at

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