|Journeys: Pat W.|
|Date: May 14, 2003|
In 1997 I submitted a long and quite passionate 'Journey' to this website. A year or so ago I withdrew it, intending to revise it, but I haven't got around to doing it until now. This probably reflects the degree to which I have increasingly 'recovered' from the angst I was once going through and which had motivated me to put pen to paper. The following is a much briefer description of my 'Journey' as a premie.
In 1974, I was an earnest 17 year old school boy from Sussex, England. My hopes and dreams were to find 'Truth' or 'God' from amongst the plethora of 'paths' on offer, and to embark on a happy, fulfilling life preferably involving my passion for music. I ended up receiving Knowledge in London on Sunday, July 28, 1974 at the 'Palace of Peace' from Mahatma Krishnasuchanand. I had done my requisite time as an aspirant 'doing Service' and 'listening to Satsang' in dreary South London so I was quite glad to get back to my quiet parental country home and to get stuck into the meditation.
I practiced meditation very earnestly and enjoyed the results at the time. Guru Maharaj Ji (as he was then called) advocated the Indian traditional path of 'Satsang, Service and Meditation and Darshan'. This was his prescription for your life as a premie of the 'Perfect Master of the Age'. I readily swallowed the whole package and put my doubts on hold as Maharaji had formally commanded.
I took the instruction to follow the Master very literally. This resulted in my rapidly becoming an unusually well-travelled young man, although generally the most I would see of a country would be the interior of some big conference hall or echoey sports facility. I have lost track of the Maharaji festivals that I attended, as no doubt many other premies have too. Anyway, all that 'Darshan' and attention to the words of the Master left me in no doubt as to the gist of what he wanted me to do with my life.
There was however an insidious side to his message. This was that you basically started out pursuing the harmless-sounding agenda of receiving 'Knowledge' but often ended up, as I did, facing an agenda which required much more commitment - that you dedicate your entire life. This requirement Maharaji called 'Surrender' and by 1977 was something he evidently felt terribly strongly about.
So I duly ended up that year in a tiny basement flat in Hove that was the new Brighton 'Ashram'. There was some local resentment about the 'officiality' of this establishment, but the steady stream of visits from Maharaji's instructors (such as the 'patron saint of laundry' Anne Johnson, and the die-hard David Smith) eventually assured the stamp of 'Official Place of Surrender' on our humble rented flat.
I was soon thereafter posted to various ashrams around England, including Norwich, Newcastle and London, where I lived the prescribed lifestyle which roughly translated into the daily routine of getting up dog-tired to sing 'Arti' with a bunch of other over-tired males, sitting under blanket for an hour or two, traipsing off to work (preferably doing something that one wouldn't enjoy too much and hence wouldn't become 'attached to') going back to ashram vegetarian meal off to Satsang program or 'aspirant evening' back to ashram, and so on and so forth. All in all, not the most glamorous rota and one of course which , as I later learned, could not have less resembled the more indulgent lifestyle of our Master.
By 1981 all this ashram 'surrender your life' plan of Maharaji's was looking increasingly ill-conceived. 'Unworkable' was possibly a term that Maharaji might have used when taking a moment off from his 'tight schedule' to address the issue with organiser Mike Dettmers. Who knew what really went on in the dizzy offices of power? Nobody at my lowly level of the hierarchy for sure.
So in 1981 there was a general Ashram 'purge' and within a month or so the ashrams disappeared altogether. As it was, Dick Cooper (the UK co-ordinator) and 'Big Frank' (the ashram co-ordinator in Newcastle) somehow agreed that I was no-longer ashram fodder and so I was ousted during this purge.
Out of the ashram, I found myself aged 25 and in need of a
job, a place to live and most urgently a girlfriend. I
had 'surrendered' sex for long enough! Thanks to my father's
will I had some money to make a fresh start, otherwise I would
have had a lot more difficulty getting on my feet. By the mid-eighties,
and after a lot of hard work, I had a career as a media composer
and was 'on the up and up'. I was very relieved to be enjoying
life again. The ashram experience had turned very sour and had
been a singularly depressing chapter in my life but I still practised
Knowledge and supplied Maharaji's media wing 'Visions' with plenty
of soundtracks for their productions.
I attended an event in Amaroo in 1994, which proved a turning point. It was a fine social event for premies (if you were prepared to put up with the premie paranoia - 'no photographs allowed' etc) but I was tiring of these festivals. Maharaji's 'Master' appearances seemed less inspiring to me.
I guess the whole thing seemed more and more stage-managed and the premies sycophantic attitude to Rawat more unbearably precious. Afterwards, I rented a car, cuddled a Koala at the Brisbane park , drove down south with an old friend and decided to propose to my current wife! A new life beckoned.
And so far a great new life it has been. I have a wonderful wife (not a premie), two gorgeous children and lots of new friends. Sadly my 'apostate' reputation has alienated me from a few of my premie friends not all. Mostly they have all moved on - many ages ago.
I don't go to programs these days although I am informed by others as to the current gist. I am still concerned enough to have an interest in discussing this subject up to a point. To me, it is a matter of ethics that people are more completely informed about Prem Rawat's 'work', and his past, whilst he continues to outreach and influence people. As I see it, the organisation from the top down still displays an attitude of revisionism that stems largely from shame about the past or at least, fear that wider knowledge about 'the way things were' will put people off. In my opinion this is disrespectful towards those who made considerable sacrifices and who toiled to help make Maharaji what he is today. We hear of such former premies being now dismissed as liars and 'unlit matches' and effectively being made scapegoats for the past mistakes. I strongly feel that Prem Rawat should accept responsibility for his past words and deeds that affected so many people.
I went into this whole thing at 17 with the motivation to find the Truth. Now at 46, I find myself unfortunately feeling compelled to protest that truth is being buried in the name of 'Truth'. That is indeed a strange irony.