|Date: December 8, 1997|
|My Journey with Maharaji began in 1974 when he was called Guru Maharaj Ji. I was nineteen at the time. I had two
groups of people that were my friends. One group were country hippies who enjoyed their beer and pot. The other
group were premies that appeared to be naturally high. This appealed to me very much.
My hippy friends were good to me but were very critical of the premies because they felt that the "boy Guru" was a fraud. I was drawn to the premies lack of being critical of other people. They seemed child-like and full of love. I was not attracted to the Indian traditions, having studied many religions and spiritual paths. Zen Buddhism was simple and I felt more comfortable with it. But one of the first books I ever read parts of, was the Upanishads, so I wasn't completely turned off Indian spirituality.
I began to spend more and more time with the premies but never really understood very much of what they were into. I was a drifter and usually hung out wherever I felt most accepted. I did have definite reservations or gut feelings at the time but I was naive and enjoyed the family of love I was welcomed into.
My own childhood had been extremely dysfunctional. The concept of a teacher was one I embraced without much doubt because the detachment that devoting oneself to spiritual practices promised, along with the possibility of experiencing the author Burke's "Cosmic Consciousness", was very appealing. I had experimented with drugs and I thought I heard a voice within warning me that this was not it, as in Allan Watts "This is it", which I had thought I heard during other trips on drugs.
The idea that I could reach altered states without drugs fascinated me since I had experienced awakenings that came on out of nowhere and left as mysteriously. These glimpses teased me and I felt that since I was looking for the meaning of life maybe this was my destiny. I was picking tobacco at the time and I had a very intense hallucinatory dream. A dream I took to be of a mystical nature. I wasn't doing drugs during this period and never made the obvious connection between my ungloved hands absorbing the toxins in the leaves I picked.
The dream was about Maharaji and it was as if I knew him. Of course, again I never considered all the satsang I had heard because I never thought I was paying my attention since these were the days of children running around playing as someone shared their experience. I also didn't take into account the numerous photos I had seen around the house or the films I was shown. I felt as if I witnessed the evolution of Maharaji from child to Guru.
I followed him in the dream asking what Knowledge was and he played coy until finally he reached up and pulled an apple from a tree for me to bite into. I awoke at this point and lay there unable to move my body. A health problem I would later encounter in my 30.s. But this was the first time it had occurred and I believe that I was reacting to the work I was doing.
I hallucinated wide awake a blue star firework display above my bed. I was stunned. I don't know how long I lay immobile but when I did get up I immediately rushed into see my premie friends. They smiled and mumbled something to the effect that I had had a darshan dream. And my reaction is typical again of a young person. I never asked what that meant. I just knew that it was confusing for me but wonderful to the premies.
I had to return home to my family many miles from this place and didn't have transportation myself as this was my hitch hiking days. So when the premies offered me a lift, I gratefully accepted. I realized that,they were going to see Maharaji only when we got there. Again I must have had my head in the clouds half the time. They invited me and since I couldn't get in touch with my brother and had some time to kill I thought what the heck.
When I entered the facility I was shocked and frightened. Their were people prostrating themselves on the concrete floor and their were screams of what I later came to know as "Bhole Shri Sat Guru Dev, Maharaj Ke Jai". I wandered around looking for the premies I had been separated from. I finally was snagged by one person I knew, who dragged me over to a long line of premies. I had no idea what this line was about. I felt pushing and shoving and someone handed me a beaten up grapefruit.
I was very puzzled and became increasingly anxious about the situation but trusted my friends who seemed extremely happy. We followed the line until,behind a curtain,I saw many Indian people sitting on a stage. I hadn't a clue that this was the supposed "Holy family" of Maharaji's at the time. I didn't even know what people were doing until I saw a young Indian boy who I recognized as Maharaji, and the person in front of me bending down to kiss his feet.
I wanted to leave immediately. But I felt obligated and thought to myself that since I had done some professional acting that I could pretend without a problem. So I mimiced what I saw not realizing that this was a darshan line and I was doing pranam to what was then called the "Lord of the Universe". Apparently, Maharaji blew holy breath when I bent over according to one of my premie friends. To this day,I don't know why he did that or if only premies get this or even what it's suppose to be.
After I came out of the line I tried to find my shoes, which everyone had taken off at the beginning of the line. An odd request that I respectfully honoured. For the life of me I couldn't find my shoes and felt like a zombie which frightened me to no end. I rationalized for many years after this that because I didn't have knowledge that my mind had been wiped clean, when in fact I was in shock at having kissed a strangers feet!
Anyways, I tried to call my brother but I couldn't remember the phone number which also concerned me. I just wanted to get out of there. But my premie friends gathered round telling me how wonderful their darshan experiences had been and how excited they were for me. I felt accepted and safe again. I decided then that something wonderful may very well have occurred but I was too unenlightened to know it. I did not follow my gut feelings or entertain my doubts.
For 7 years after this whenever I heard of Guru Maharaji ji I was unable to say anything negative. I didn't meet anyone with Knowledge during this period and when I finally did I felt the same love and acceptance and this feeling of peace I remembered from my first experiences. All the premies I knew were genuine in their innocent love of Maharaji. I had serious reservations about a lot of things I encountered as an aspirant but rationalized everything because I was very romantic in my understanding of life.
I had many failed relationships and addictions that I battled. I was depressed much of my young life. I even stayed with followers of Roshi Kaplow (not certain of spelling ?) in Rochester New York. When he spoke I was unimpressed, just like I wasn't impressed with Guru Maharaj Ji's squeaky voice screaming what sounded like nonsense at the time I first heard him. The feeling around the Zen students was the same as the feeling I had with premies. But I forgot this conveniently when I myself became a premie.
I'm sure now that if I were to have met followers of Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven's Gate cult I would have experienced the same feeling. I say this with confidence after watching many videos on television of them. It was incredible how they reminded me of ashram premies from the past and present day premies who are at events with Maharaji or those who do his service, like instructors etc. I'm sure that I looked like them myself because it is their devotion that made them smile that way.
When I did receive Knowledge, I was 25 years old. I was in a destructive marriage and embraced the promise of true love. I was devoted and practiced faithfully. I remained a premie for 16 years until last February. I was involved in a lot of service and I have written a lot about this which you can find on the Forum and in the Archives.
I feel I am very fortunate to to have finally followed my gut feelings. The doubts were something I no longer tried to rid myself of because I felt they were something I should look at and consider carefully. I made the decision to leave Maharaji without the influence of anyone else. It was only after leaving that I discovered the Cult Watch site.
I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to it, both premies and ex-premies alike. It has helped me to de-program myself from years of involvement. I take responsibility for my choices but I do hold Maharaji responsible for the way he has taken advantage of the surrendered premies and their sincere love to bolster his continued need to be worshiped. I do not trust him now and feel he is his worst enemy and someday maybe justice will be served.