Journeys: Abid

Date: June 3, 2000
Email: None

Hello. I just came across this website today. Actually, I haven't given guru Maharaji a thought in some years, but yesterday I was talking to a friend about all the stupid things I'd done in the 60s and 70s and mentioned my stint in the ashram (that always gets them when all else fails, although it is a bit embarrassing to describe the depths of inanity to which premie life descended). So my friend says "And what ever happened to this guru? Is he still around and does he still have followers?" I realized I had no idea --- so off I went to the source of all obscure information, and found this site. So I see that he is still at it.

I became a premie in 1973, shortly after the Houston "Millennium" (which I attended), and left the movement probably in around 1976, although I still halfheartedly and sporadically attended 'satsang' for a couple of years after that. It ended with a whimper rather than a bang, I would say, as one abandons a useless (rather than repulsive) thing.

I don't look back on those years as 'wasted' particularly, although I will admit I did nothing and learned nothing that was of any value, either to myself or to others, in all that time. Probably if it hadn't been DLM, I would have been doing something equally pointless --- I was not then of the mindset which regarded striving for achievement in any field (whether material, personal, political, intellectual, or whatever) of any value.

What exactly I _did_ regard as important then is difficult to say. I can't even claim that I (or premies generally) thought "spirituality" was important. Despite all the blather about the Vedas, Tao, Zen, Sufi, etc, very few premies had any real knowledge or engaged in any serious study of any of these great spiritual movements --- we were actually a remarkably illiterate lot, in part because intellectual discipline and rigour was suspiciously close to "being in your mind" and therefore disapproved of. About the only thing that _was_ approved of was droning on about "Goomarajee" himself and how great he was, or attending the nightly navel-gazing sessions called satsang.

Having said all that, we were not (then, anyway) a malicious lot. Useless yes, malicious no. Spending time with premies was a pleasant enough pastime: sort of like spending time with plants or farm animals. Premies had had their "ego" beaten out of them and their self-confidence undermined to such an extent that no one was capable of expressing an opinion or stating a contentious view with any real conviction. Invariably what was interesting about premies was what they had done _before_ they joined the movement, for it really attracted a bizarre array of people, most of whom were on the fringes of society in one way or another.

Some were frankly destitute (what one today calls "homeless"), some mentally ill, a lot were emerging from a drug-induced haze or extended periods in India -- and many in fact fell into all these categories simultaneously. For these people, the ashram or premie house actually represented a step up in the world in the sense that they were clothed and fed regularly. In return they were supposed to be engaged in some productive work, but in fact many had next to no skills and maybe helped out around the back garden for a couple of hours a day, or else went out and pretended to look for a job.

There were of course a few high-profile people, usually older, who were quite successful in their respective professions before they joined DLM; some doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc. These people lost the most, since, firstly, they were parted from whatever accumulated wealth they may have had and, secondly, they often lost or gave up their professional standing. There was one columnist from the Denver Post (I think it was) who was converted after covering DLM for the paper -- he soon after lost his job for writing columns which in one way or another always seemed to mention DLM and GM; I seem to recall his marriage broke up shortly thereafter.

Actually, I felt immediately after "receiving knowledge" that the whole thing was basically a sham --- the notion that following the sound of your breathing can produce some kind of radical enlightenment is, after all, ludicrous prima facie. Certainly it can help calm and concentrate the mind, but so can counting to 100, repeating a mantra, attempting to work out a riddle, or any of a dozen other tricks. So why didn't I simply walk out there and then? Well, by that time the story had shifted slightly: it was no longer the meditative technique which was of ultimate importance, it was the community of devotees and the grace of the guru which bestowed the coveted state of bliss and enlightenment.

Basically it was an elaborate "bait and switch" scheme and I fell for it, partly out of naivete, but also because I'd pinned all my hopes on it and didn't have any Plan B --- i.e. I'd burnt all my bridges, had nothing else to do, so, even though I was disappointed, I stayed. Over time one gets involved in the day-to-day life of the premie community and forgets the original motivation for being there. Nevertheless, the dissatisfaction not getting quite what one was after in the first place lingers and grows. That coupled with the growing conviction that the whole concept of some kind of "enlightenment" divorced from material reality and the struggles of human life is flawed. Eventually one does develop other interests, plans, strategies, and when the time is ripe, leaves.

So there it is.

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