Radhasoami - Sant mat Tradition : Where
Maharaji & his organization come from.
Divine Light Mission - Elan Vital - Prem
Rawat : Specific writings and academic studies.
Meditation : Maharaji said the techniques
of 'Knowledge' are in books. Here they
Ex Followers : Other cults, same
Psychology : Maharaji's
philosophy, premies belief and ex-premies problems is
Spirituality : Some guidelines for
the inner search, much broader than "Follow your heart and
listen to me".
Sociology : A broader view of the
charismatic religious groups.
All the books quoted below have
been advised by ex-premies.
The books that are available can be
directly obtained from Amazon.com.
Those not available anymore in bookstores may be obtained
from the main libraries.
here to find Materials available at the UCSD search
This is not a general list of
books on 'spirituality' or Indian tradition.
The 'Paramhansa Advait Mat' Book : originally
published by Shri Anandpur Trust, P.O. Shri Anandpur, Distt:
Guna (M.P.) (1975), and printed at : Anand Printing Press,
Shri Anandpur. Maybe still obtainable from: Anand Sandesh
Karyala, P.O. Shri Anandpur, Dist: Guna (M.P.).
This book is available at UCLA in Los Angeles, California,
USA, and at the Widener Library - Harvard University,
Massachusets, USA. See The 'Paramhansa
Advait Mat' Book on this website with many excellent
Radhasoami Reality : by M.Jurgensmeyer,
Princeton Paperbacks ISBN 0-691-01092-7. Out of
The Radhasoami Tradition : 'A critical history
of Guru Successorship.' Published by Garland Publishing,
Inc., New York, New York, 1992. Author : David Christopher
Lane NB. Online in full here.
(Sects and Cults in America Bibliographical Guides, Vol 14
Garland Reference Lib.). Out of print.
The Science of the Soul : Discourses and
Excerpts from Letters, by Maharaj Sardar Bahadur Jagat
Singh (Radha Soami Satsang Beas - Punjab, India).
Sewa Singh, Secretary
Radha Soami Satsang Beas
P.O. Dera Baba Jaimal Singh 143 204
Distt. Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Ninth Edition 1994.
Excerpts on this website - Axioms
I of 'Science of the Soul' (Who are Saints and what
do they teach) online, a Web Publication by Mountain
Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Spring of 1995
Modern Indian mysticism : 'Commentary on
western response to Radhasoami faith', by M. G. Gupta. Out
Indian Mysticism : 'Rigveda to Radhasoami
Faith', by M.G. Gupta. Available.
Exposing Cults : 'When the Skeptical Mind
Confronts the Mystical' (Garland: August 1994). (Garland
Reference Library of Social Science, Vol 890) by David
Christopher Lane. Available.
Divine Light Mission -
Elan Vital - Prem
Guru Maharaj Ji and the Divine Light
Mission : by Jeanne Messner, in Robert Bellah and
Charles Glock, eds., The Neil, Religious Consciousness
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pg
The Origin, Development, and Decline of a Youth Culture
Religion : An Application of Sectarianization Theory, by
Review of Religious Research, Vol. 20, No. 1. (Autumn,
1978), pp. 23-43. Department of Sociology, Marymount College
Sacred journeys : 'The conversion of young Americans
to Divine Light Mission', by James V. Downton, Jr. Published
New York : Columbia University Press, 1979.
It is a sociological study conducted over 5 years, from
1972 - 1977 and involved interviewing and following the
progress (!) of 20 premies from the Boulder area. Although
now out of print, you can still find copies online with used
bookdealers, priced anywhere from $15 - $50. Read
An Evolutionary Theory of Spiritual Conversion and
Commitment: The Case of the Divine Light Mission. By
Downton, James V., Jr. JOURNAL FOR THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF
RELIGION 19 (1980): 381-396.
Soul rush : 'The odyssey of a young woman of the
'70s', by S. Collier. Published New York : Morrow, 1978.
Read some quotes from S.
Colliers' book, or read excerpts
"I have re-read S. Collier's book 'Soul Rush' to see what
it contains that might be useful to various ex sites. It
turns out to be a very important historical document.
Sophia joined DLM in early 1973. She was 16 or 17 and lived
in Maine. She soon moved to Boston and because of various
skills she had, was sent to Houston to work on Millenium
preparations. The book contains lots of information about
what was happening during this time period; about BalBhagwan
Ji's dire disaster predictions; about predictions that
hundreds of thousands would attend the festival, etc.
S. was sent back to Boston to help with preparations for
Soul Rush. Soul Rush was a cross country bus tour of premies
which stopped in a number of cities and held programs and
concerts to advise the general public that the Lord of the
Universe had arrived and was going to be in Houston for the
Millenium '73 celebration in November at the Houston
astrodome. I was a part of Soul Rush as was Mary M, &
others who regularly post here. It is Mary's belief that
Soul Rush was set up to dispose of surplus apple butter that
DLM had acquired, because that was the mainstay of our diet
during the tour. S. was on Soul Rush too. I remember her as
a good spirit and a good sport. She worked hard.
S. talks about the debacle that Millenium was, how it nearly
bankrupted DLM, and how foolish it made the doomsday
prophesies of members of M's family, and DLM heavies,
S. was in Denver at nat'l headquarters for a couple of years
-- 73 - 76. She was near the top and saw the beginning of
the end of this period of DLM history. She left the cult
around the same time I did in '76. She talks about M and
Marolyn getting together; about Raja Ji and Claudia; about
the schism in the 'holy family' over M's marriage; about
seeing Claudia and Raja Ji drinking and generally out of it
(Her observation: So this is enlightenment??????). She
describes how Michael Dettmers came in and took over
national headquarters, and that his entry onto the scene is
what turned DLM into a corporate entity, a transformation
which revolted S. and caused her to get out. This part of
the book is truly fascinating for those of us interested in
the organizational development. Unintentionally I think,
because we can only see this given historical developments,
S. identifies and describes the beginnings of the Cash is
King philosophy which has completely overtaken the cult, to
the benefit of those who initiated it way back when.
After she left DLM, S. had/has many accomplishments. She
started Soho Soda, which was (is????) an incredibly
successful natural drink company. I believe she is now the
CEO of Working Assets, a progressive investment company.
I've seen her interviewed on tv a few times and have always
been impressed with her. She remains idealistic and
committed to making the world a better place today. I'm glad
I bought this book years ago and held onto it when I purged
my groaning bookcases. (Marianne)"
Worshiping the Absurd : 'The Negation of Social
Causality among the Followers of Guru Maharaj Ji.' Article
by Daniel Foss and
Ralph Larkin in Sociological Analysis 39, 1978, p
It's based on, as the authors describe it, two-and-a-half
year of participant observation in DLM in the early 70s -
going to satsang, festivals, receiving K - i.e. being a
premie. The article covers the time BEFORE the rest of the
Rats (oops, the Rawats) left the sinking ship. It has some
nice analyses, other things appear a little old, but it is
well worth reading. Read some
excerpts from this article, or read
the whole article.
The Lord of the Universe video. A
humorous and critical look at the Maharaji phenomenon. It
was made in 1974 and should not be confused with an English
film by the same name which was made for Maharaji circa
- Order it at Amazon.com
- Price: $29.95
Availability: On Order; usually ships within 1-2
NTSC format (US and Canada only)
Color, Black & White, Original recording
remastered, Restored, Special Edition
Amazon.com Sales Rank (VHS): 9,851
The Lord of the Universe has Come to Us this Day... May
Reviewer: Gerry Lyng from USA
As I was there in the Astrodome for this "program" I
really enjoyed viewing this excellent and incisive film.
I laughed and cried, cringed and burned as I felt the
full extent of the painful realization that I had indeed
been duped by the fraud of the universe, Prem Rawat.
My favorite parts of the film include Abby Hoffman's
ascerbic and accurate remark at the end, seeing the "GOD"
sign behind Maharaji's throne and the devotee at the end
saying he'd like to "slit the throat" of the reporter who
"pied" Maharaji in Detroit. (The reporter was almost
killed by Mahatma Fakiranand, one of Maharaji's henchmen
in the cult, and ended up with brain damage from being
struck in the head with a hammer.)
A fun watch for sure, but don't drink the Kool-Aid.
Anatomy of the Maharaji Cult May 2, 2000
Reviewer: A viewer from Colorado, USA
This video is both hilarious and tragic at the same
time. It shows the amazing gullibility and sincerity of
young people in the 70s who wanted to find truth, and the
willingness of a charlatan Guru to take advantage of that
sincerity. For those who used to be members of the Guru
Maharaj Ji cult but have been freed from it, which
continues to this day, it is a powerful reminder of the
power of cults and mind control. The video uses
interviews, music, and a kind of wandering camera to give
wonderful insights into the 1973 Astrodome event at which
the Guru was supposed to reveal his plan for world peace.
Rennie Davis and Abbie Hoffman provide wonderful
contrasts of perspectives on the cult.
Funnier than Spinal Tap -- & all true (I know, I
was there!) May 1, 2000
Reviewer: Jim Heller from Victoria, British Columbia,
Naturally, former cult members will take particular
pleasure in watching the tubby, teen-age Lord of the
Universe make a fool of himself at the Houston Astrodome.
And current cult members will cringe in discomfort if
they ever summon the courage to watch it. And Maharaji
(modern spelling)? Well he should pick up a copy too.
After all, it's all just a bit of fun, eh?
The two brothers fought over the coffers of the cult a
couple of months after the 1973 Houston event and haven't
talked since. The dour mother in the video, Mata Ji,
sided with Satpal and never reconciled with junior before
her death. The ridiculous Las Vegas act brother, who we
worshipped then as the Lord of Music is in India, I
think, also with Satpal.
Really, this video is hilarious! Take my word for it.
A Cult Event of the '70s April 27, 2000
Reviewer: Ed Prothro (see more about me) from
This is an excellent video (B&W and color)
documenting the Guru Maharaj Ji cult of the early '70s.
It uses cult music and interviews to paint an ironic and
at times laughable picture of the "incarnation of God"
and the events at the Astrodome in 1973.
It also reveals the 4 techniques of "Knowledge" - aids to
meditation, that created all the fuss.
A must for premies and ex-premies alike, as well as those
interested in sects and cults.
You may also obtain it from : Video Data Bank, 112
South Michigan Avenue, 3rd Floor/ Receiving n, Chicago,
Illinois 606003, USA. Ph: 312-345-3550 (prefix001 from
UK), Fx: 312-541-8073. It costs $60 plus shipping
A Charismatic Sect: The Divine Light Mission.
CULTS: FAITH, HEALING, AND COERCION. By Galanter, Marc. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 21-36. Read some
The Dark Side of Enlightenment: Sadomasochistic
Aspects of the Quest for Perfection, by Daniel Shaw CSW -
December, 1999. Read the article
Traumatic Abuse in Cults: An Exploration of an
Unfamiliar Social Problem, by Daniel Shaw, C.S.W. Read this
Divine Light Mission. ENCYCLOPEDIC HANDBOOK OF CULTS.
By Melton, Gordon. New York: Garland Publishers, 1986, pp.
The Origin, Development, and Decline of a Youth Culture
Religion: An Application of Sectarianaization Theory. By
Pilarzyk, Thomas. REVIEW OF RELIGIOUS RESEARCH 20 (1978):
Patients and Pilgrims: Changing Attitudes Toward
Psychotherapy of Converts to Eastern Mysticism.' By Anthony,
Dick, Thomas Robbins, Madeline Doucas, and Thomas E. Curtis.
AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST 20 (1977): 861-885.
How People Recognize Charisma: The Case of Darshan in
Radhasoami and Divine Light Mission.' By Dupertius, Lucy.
SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS 47 (1986): 111-124. Read this
What is Real? Problems with the Phenomenological
Approach in a Field Study of the Divine Light Mission.' By
Pilarzyk, Thomas J., and Lakshmi Bharadnaj. HUMANITY AND
SOCIETY 3 (1979): 14-34.
The Divine Light Mission as a Social Organization.'
By Price, Maeve. SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW 27 (1979): 279- 296.
Read this article
Some Results of Analysis of Conversion Processes in Two
New Religious Movements. (Ananda Marga and Divine Light
Mission), by Bisschops, A. , Nijmengen Psychological
Laboratory (1979): pp. 39-47.
Mystical Experiences, Spiritual Knowledge, and a
Contemporary Ecstatic Religion. By Buckley, Peter, and
Marc Galanter. BRITISH JOURNAL OF MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGY 52
Sociobiology and Informal Social Controls of
Drinking: Findings from Two Charismatic Sects. By
Galanter, Marc. JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL 42 (1981):
The 'Relief Effect': A Sociological Model for
Neurotic Distress and Large-Group Therapy. By Galanter,
Marc. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY 135 (1978):
Relief of Psychiatric Symptoms in Evangelical Sects.
By Galanter Marc, and Luiza Cohen Diamond. BRITISH JOURNAL
OF HOSPITAL MEDICINE 26(5) (1981): 495-498.
Cult Groups and the Narcissistic Personality: The
Offer to Heal Defects in the Self. By Kriegman Daniel, and
Leonard Solomon. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF GROUP
PSYCHOTHERAPY 35 (1985): 239-61.
New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction.
Barker, Eileen. 1989. London: Her Majesty's Stationary
Office. "Elan Vital" pp.176-178.
Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions: A World
Survey and Sourcebook. Barrett, David V. 1998. Blanndford.
"Divine Light." pp.134-136.
The Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the
West. Derks, Frans, and Jan M. van der Lans. 1983. Macon,
GA: Mercer University Press. "Subgroups in Divine Light
Mission Membership: A Comment on Downton" in pp.
The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, & New
Religions. Lewis, James R. Detroit, MI: Prometheus
Books. "Elan Vital (Divine Light Mission)" pp. 210-211.
Encyclopedia of American Religions. Melton, J.
Gordon. 1996. Detroit, MI: Gale. Fifth Edition. "Divine
Light Mission" pp. 890-891.
Religious Leaders of America. Melton, J. Gordon.
1991. Detroit, MI: Gale. First Editiom."Guru Maharaj Ji" pp.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsycology: 4th
Edition. Melton, J. Gordan. 1996. Gale. "Maharaj Ji, Guru"
Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults. Enroth,
Ronald. 1977. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. "Divine Light
Mission" pp. 133-146.
The Youth Napers. Hefley, James C. 1977. Wheaton, IL:
Victor Books. "Divine light"a Teenage Diety?"
The Guru. Larson, Bob. 1974. Denver, CO: Bob Larson
-All the books quoted below have been
very helpful for many ex-premies -
The Breathing Book : by Donna
Farhi. 'Good Health and Vitality through Essential Breath
Work' - A practical guide to improving concentration,
deepening relaxation and much more. Available.
Her book's primary aim is for better vitality but she does
suggest some meditation techniques in the final chapter
using the breath. Here's one everybody should find familiar.
Read her explanation of the 3rd
meditation technique of Maharaji's 'Knowledge'.
The Secret of the Golden Flower , 'A Chinese
"This translation by Thomas Cleary is truly an
inestimable work of high level instruction for piercing the
veil of lower consciousness and greatly increasing the
soul's ability to recognize and comprehend truth in whatever
form it is presented. The practice of the 'Golden Flower'
itself is a method whereby the mind becomes attuned to
reality in a way that inhibits the degeneration of
consciousness and begins to restore the life of the heart
and soul for the practitioner who truly desires to ascend.
Thomas Cleary's work itself is highly valuable to all
english speaking persons today as it adds greatly to
resources which were previously unaccessible, and his high
comprehension of Chinese and other languages in translation
brings spiritual truth as it was told by sages of old one
step closer to the human heart."
1/ The Secret of the Golden Flower, 'A chinese
book of life' - Translated and explained by Richard
Wilhelm, with a commentary by C.G. Jung. Available.
2/ The Secret of the Golden Flower : 'The Classic Chinese
Book of Life ', The authoritative new translation by
Thomas Cleary (Translator). Available.
Become Happy in Eight Minutes : 'The Search for
Happiness in Eight Minutes', by Simon Reynolds.
Gheranda Samhita : by Chandra
Vasu (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1994.
Read some excerpts.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika : With
Commentary by Swami Vishnu-Devananda, by Vishnu-Devananda
Read some excerpts.
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.A Collection of
Zen and Pre-Zen Writings by Paul Reps (Compiler), Nyogen
Senzaki (Compiler). Paperback - edition Charles E Tuttle Co
(October 1998), or Shambhala Pocket Classics (November
1994). This compilation includes "101 Zen Stories", a
collection of tales that recount actual experiences of
Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers over a period of more that
five centuries. B&W illustrations. Available.
The book is actually about zen, but in the end of the book,
there's an interesting chapter called 'Centreing',
'transcribed' by Paul Reps. He claims that he received this
instruction orally from a sage, Lakshmanjoo, I quote:
'Wandering in the ineffable beauty of Kashmir, above
Srinagar, I come upon the hermitage of Lakshmanjoo.
It overlooks green rice fields, the gardens of Shalimar and
Nishat Bagh, lakes fringed with lotus. Water streams down
from a mountaintop.
Here Lakshmanjoo - tall, full bodied, dhining - welcomes me.
He shares with me this ancient teaching from the Vigyan
Bhairava and Sochanda Tantra, both written about four
thousand years ago, and from Malini Vijaya Tantra, probably
another thousand years yet. It is an ancient teachning,
copied and recopied countless times, and from it Lakshmanjoo
has made the beginnings of an English version. I transcribe
it eleven more times to get it into the form given here.
Shiva first chanted it to his consort Devi. /-/ It presents
112 ways to open the invisible door of
Now, this is what Paul Reps says, and I personally have
certain doubts. Obviously, Paul Reps has visited Srinagar,
his description of its looks is correct, it 'fits'. However,
chances of finding a Hindu hermitage in a totally Muslim
area appears meager. The name 'Lakshmanjoo' seems fake to
me, its not a name of a person, really (correct me if I'm
wrong, any Hindu speaker). However, there's a very famous,
'holy' bridge in Rishikesh named LAKSHMANJOOLA - my guess is
that Paul Reps invented the name from there. My conclusion,
his meeting with the sage is probably a fairytale.
Also, the age of the tantric scriptures he refers to - 4000
years - is most definitely not true. The scripture in
question, Malini Vijaya Tantra, he claims to be even older,
perhaps 5000 years. I say, this is pure BS and
However, he is probably correct in claiming that the tantric
text was given orally over generations, from teacher to
The same text can be found in many circumstances, with
slightly different variations - also in China: there's a
book on Taoist yoga, 'Nirvana Tao',
by Daniel Odier, East-West Publications, which describes
exactly the same 112 verses, or stanzas, on pages 145-152,
but with slightly different translation.
Now, here are some excerpts, from this tantric text:
Stanza 2: 'Radiant one, this experience may dawn between
two breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before
turning up (out) - the beneficience'.
Stanza 8: 'Attention between eyebrows, let mind be before
thought. Let form fill with breath essence to the top of the
head, and there shower as light'.
Stanza 10: 'Eyes closed, see your inner being in detail.
Thus see your nature'.
Stanza 12: 'Closing the seven openings of the head with
your hands, a space between your eyes become
Stanza 13: 'Touching eyeballs as a feather, lightness
between them opens into heart and there permeates the
Stanza 14: 'Bathe in the centre of sound, as in the
continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting fingers in
ears, hear the sound of sounds'.
Pretty much like three techniques.
Nirvana Tao : 'The Secret
Meditation Techniques of the Taoist and Buddhist Masters',
by Daniel Odier. Available.
The Christ Consciousness , by
Norman D. Paulson. Paperback 2nd Rev edition (June
"At the age of seventeen, Norman Paulsen's search for God
led him to join the monastery of Paramhansa Yogananda, where
he received instruction in an ancient technique of
meditation and began to become conscious of the presence of
Divine Spirit. This is the story of one man's quest for the
Pure Self within. Relive with him his years with Paramhansa
Yogananda in the monastic order of Self Realization
Fellowship. Experience with him incredible visions and
encounters with beings of other dimensions, culminating in a
meeting with a living being of light called I AM THAT I AM.
The image of the Pure Self within has been seen by many
people, of all faiths, in near-death experiences as a light
at the end of an inner dimensional tunnel. An encounter with
this living Being of Light is available to you through
advanced techniques of meditation."
-All the books quoted below have
been very helpful for many ex-premies -
Some book hints, not directly about Rawat, but recent books
about cults. The more I read about cults, the more I realize
that it's a very typical process, with clear stages, and
it's very much the same, regardless of cult.
Cults differ with respect to message and form from period to
period, but the process people go through - getting hooked
('recruited' or 'converted', 'born-again', whatever), being
full-fledged devotees, getting doubts, being fence-sitters,
getting out, and, during the post-cult period, having the
typical post-cult syndrome - is so much the same.
There's much to learn from these really good books.
My Father's Guru : 'A Journey Through
Spirituality and Disillusion', by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
"Masson seeks to debunk Paul Brunton, a pioneering
popularizer of Eastern thought who for years was the live-in
guru to Masson's childhood family. Masson's impulse to
illuminate shadowy spiritual practices goes awry, however,
because Brunton appears here as gentle and forgiving, while
Masson seems suspiciously vengeful--a Harvard- educated
bully picking on a frail, self-educated old man who once
tried to help him. When Masson was five, growing up affluent
in postwar California, his father, a restless,
spirituality-aspiring gem dealer, found a guru in Brunton, a
slightly built European who'd authored several popular books
about the spiritual life. Brunton was elusive about his real
background, telling young Jeffrey that he'd been born on
Venus and had attended ``Astral University.''
The guru claimed to have been sent to America for a great,
secret purpose, and he dwelt in a fantastic world of
spiritual conspiracies, of battles between light and
darkness. The end of the family's infatuation with Brunton
began in 1956, when the teacher became convinced that WW III
would break out in the early 60's. He persuaded the Massons
to uproot their lives and to seek refuge in South
America--but he never followed them. From Uruguay, Masson
went to study at Harvard; there, encountering the hard, slow
work of real study, he began to see Brunton's stature as a
figment of his own imagination. At age 26, Masson exposed
Brunton in an act of fraud (``I am, I finally realize,
unusually sensitive to pretense, fraudulence, and lack of
truthfulness,'' crows Masson here)--only to see Brunton act
almost relieved not to have to play the role of guru
anymore. Masson eloquently portrays the pretense and vanity
of a would- be spiritual teacher."
Combating Cult Mind Control , by Steven Hassan. A
former cult member, now a counselor helping those affected
by destructive cults, Hassan exposes the troubling facts
about cults' recruitment, their use of psychological
manipulation, and their often subtle influence on
government, the legal system, and society as a whole. This
updated paperback edition includes a new preface by the
author and an expanded bibliography and resource list.
"An excellent examination of the cult phenomena.
Described as "The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection,
Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults," Hassan's book
explains what elements are common to cults, and what defines
"As a former member of the Unification Church (a.k.a.
"Moonies") and a psychologist (he obtained his degree after
exiting the Moonies), Hassan offers a unique perspective and
insight into the cult movement.
Although peppered with examples and anecdotes from the
Moonies, Hassan is careful to keep the analysis general
enough to apply to many other "questionable" groups and
When is a cult not a cult? Does a group have to be
"religious" to be a cult, or could a "non-religious" cult
exist? Hassan answers these questions and more, and clearly
defines the difference between unusual beliefs (which do not
necessarily identify a group as a cult) and dangerous &
destructive social factors (which, independent of the
beliefs, make a group a cult, according to Hassan's
Strongly recommended for anyone who has friends or family in
an "unusual" group; this book will help you to either
dismiss your fears of cult involvement, or give you the
advice you need to deal with this difficult situation.
Even more strongly recommended for anyone who feels they are
an a group that has been "mislabeled" by society as a cult.
This book will either help you to understand what defines a
cult (so you can defend yourself against criticism) or else
give you an interesting perspective on how others view your
"When a dear friend of mine joined a religious cult it was
essential I understood what had happened to her, and how her
mind was working. Steve Hassan's book is an essential read
for anyone who has a loved one in a cult, and for people who
believe they may have been in a cult. Hassan explains what
cults are, why people join them, and how you can get people
out of them -- without the use of force. He also explains
how former cult members can start the journey back to
recovery and a new life." - "As a former member of a
destructive cult, reading this book was therapeutic for me,
giving insight into the psychological factors that induce
people into destructive cults in the first place. The author
defines "cults" not by examining unorthodox doctrines of
groups, but by observing the amount of control the group
exerts over the lives of it's followers. If you have family
or friends in cults, this book tells the way to go about
dealing with the problem, and also how to protect yourself
from being recruited into a cult. A must-read for anyone
affected by the cult problem."
Leaving the Fold , by Marlene, Ph.D. Winell.
"After quitting Bible College in 1995 I searched for
truth. This book is the cause of my liberation from
fundamentalism. So many life changing events occurred in me
after reading the similarities in my pentecostal upbringing.
After months of reading this book over and over I left the
fold on July 4, 1997. I owe my happiness to the author."
"I grew up Christian, but began to break away in my teens.
At the same time, I remained very active in the church,
while protesting the many, many injustices I saw committed
inside it. I've been in college a year now, and saw this
book in a used book rack last month. It's helped me feel
great about leaving Christianity. I feel that my life is
finally beginning. I only give this book four out of five
stars because I found some of the information irrelevant to
my personal situation, and I wasn't able to suck meaning out
of every last word. All my love to the world...finally!
"As a former fundamentalist, I have worked over the past ten
years with individuals and small groups focusing on recovery
from religious dysfunction and addiction. Although there are
several other excellent resources on this topic, Winell's
book is essential for understanding how Christian
fundamentalism and conventional Christian religion can
foster dependency in its adherents. Winell describes her own
Penetecostalist upbringing and the processes she explored
for moving from authoritarian belief to a holistic adult
faith. Using a convenient workbook format, supplemented with
helpful checklists, Winell guides the reader through a
three-part path to recovery: Sorting It Out, Healing, and
Growth. An extensive Resource section provides a listing of
books, media and organizations pertinent to the role of
religion in the life of the individual and society. Winell
works from the perspective of one who is recovering from a
Christian form of dysfunctional belief. Several other
authors have dealt with religious addiction in general, or
in other traditions. These include: "Blind Faith:
Recognizing and Recovering From Dysfunctional Religious
Groups", by Kaye Marie Porterfield, "Cults In Our Midst", by
Margaret Thaler Singer, and "Creating Love: The Next Great
Stage of Growth", by John Bradshaw."
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds: Freedom and
Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships, by
Madeleine Landau Tobias, Janja Lalich (Contributor), Michael
Langone. Paperback - 304 pages (April 1994) Hunter Pub;
ISBN: 0897931440 Available.
Read some quotes on this site,
and some ex-premies comments!
I wish I had found this book immediately after leaving
the cult I was involved in.
This book offers invaluable assitance to those who have been
involved with a destructive cult, whether it be religious,
political or psycho-theraputic. The text gives former
members indications of what to expect in recovery as well as
practical assitance to cope with their recovery.
The text also gives a breakdown of how and why cults operate
as they do; how and why people get recruitted into cults;
and how and why people leave cults.
This book is truly a gift from the authors' heart,
experiences and study. Thanks to them.
Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of
Psychological and Spiritual Abuse, by Michael D. Langone
(Editor). Paperback (June 1995). W.W. Norton & Company;
ISBN: 0393313212. Available.
Cults in Our Midst, by Margaret Thaler Singer,
Janja Lalich (Contributor), Robert Jay Lifton. Paperback
Reprint edition (October 1996). Jossey-Bass Publishers;
Though the title may seem sensational, the book is a
well-researched, enlightening introduction to a serious
subject. Singer is a clinical psychologist and emeritus
adjunct professor at the University of California at
Berkeley who has interviewed several thousand former cult
members and testified about cults and their "thought reform"
tactics; Lalich is a professional writer and former cult
member. The strength of Cults in Our Midst is its clear
explanation of the nature of cults, how they operate, the
threat they pose to individuals, families, and society, and
how others can help cult survivors escape and recover. Many
types of cultic relationships are considered, from tiny
religious or occult groups to the "large group awareness
training" programs that have infiltrated workplaces. The
book makes key distinctions between New Age ideas and the
cults that use these concepts and between types of
persuasion, from education to propaganda to cults'
manipulative "thought reform." Most Americans, Cults in Our
Midst stresses, will be vulnerable to cults at some point in
their lives. Includes resource and suggested reading
Demonstrating that cults are becoming more dangerous and
infiltrating the workplace in the guise of training programs
and workshops, an expert on mind control tells how to
recognize cults and their leaders, rescue members, and begin
the long recovery process.
Exit Counseling : A Family Intervention, by Carol
Giambalvo (1995). Paperback 2nd rev edition (December 1995).
Amer Family Foundation; ISBN: 0931337054. Available.
-All the books quoted below have
been very helpful for many ex-premies -
The Guru Papers, 'Marks of Authoritarian Power',
by Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad. Published by North
Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-883319-00-5. Must read for all
Link to Excerpts
Read some quotes on this site,
and some ex-premies'
"Although I've long wondered how long it would take a
book like this to appear, given the seemingly interminable
polygamous honeymoon between the West and the varieties of
"Eastern" philosophy, I wasn't sanguine about its prospects.
The authors have done us all a service, even if they're not
likely to be thanked for it. The object of their critique,
the "guru" principle, is as much an affront to Western
sensibilities as it is repugnant to reason. That we
Americans in particular --- who otherwise fancy ourselves
the most independent and hard-headed of thinkers --- have
seen fit to embrace it suggests how desperate we've become
for something to believe in.
Cicero once remarked that there's nothing so absurd as may
be found in the books of philosophers. It was his good
fortune not to have been compelled to endure the mindless
babbling of our "holy men." Had his empire relied on the now
popular, giddy ethics of "crazy wisdom," arguably it would
have fallen much sooner than it did. On the other side, the
authors may be taken to task for their seeming denigration
of any type of religious experience. One doesn't "explain"
such experiences by reducing them to something else,
psychological categories in particular --- in effect by
explaining them away.
To suggest that religious faith is always founded upon
irrational submission to the will of another, or that it can
only survive in an atmosphere of domination, is no less a
dogma as the ones these authors are trying to debunk. The
tendency to believe too little for fear of believing too
much has a superficial appeal. Yet it too is beholden to an
ideology which is arguably more rigid and intolerant than
any religion ever dreamed of being. There would be no need
to doubt were there not first a need to believe, and on its
face, belief is at least as worthy a disposition as doubt.
In fact, Westerners don't do well without some concept of a
God. And typically, they've no sooner rejected the
traditional one than they've substituted for him some
grotesque superstition. For the "progressive" faction in
politics, it's the omniscient, benevolent State.
For Buddhists and others, it's karma and rebirth. In any
event, once one has seen the alternatives, one is likely to
conclude that the traditional deity is the most benign of
them all. What we humans choose to do with him is yet
another matter, and again, the historical record is less
than encouraging. What is encouraging is that now and then,
someone decides (as these authors have done) to go against
the grain at a time when prudence would counsel supine
assent or intellectual indolence."
"Must read for all seekers - This book changed my whole way
of seeing the world, esp. since I was involved-at the
time-in a buddhist group, whose sinews were revealed to me
as I turned each page.
If you are following a spiritual path in a group context, be
prepared to be fundamentally challenged...and act on what
your intuition and common sense tells you. I totally changed
direction after reading THE GURU PAPERS."
"True insight into a fundamental issue we all confront. -
Sometimes the important issues are hidden from us,
camouflaged by their blending into the context of our daily
lives. The authors of this book have done a fine job turning
the spotlight on a glaring shortcoming of our daily lives, a
weakness that underlies our interpretation of everything
from self-help books to politics, office relations to
marriage. In a nutshell, they detail the many areas in our
lives where people are conditioned to sacrifice themselves,
often to the benefit of others. They make an impassioned
plea for a new organizational structure for human existence,
one that is not based on authority and submission. Great
book, excellent reading for any contemplative person."
"Probably my favorite book! - In this logical and stunningly
common-sense work, the authors examine human beliefs systems
from the perspective of language and authoritarian
hierarchies. 12-step, Satanism, Fundamentalist Christianity,
Course-in-Miracles, the systems of "enlightened" eastern
gurus... without mercy, Kramer and Alstaad break EACH ONE
DOWN to its ROOTS and show that ALL human belief systems are
the result of a subtle conceptual dualism in which a
behavior or viewpoint is taken as a spectrum, polarized, and
then one side is valued over the other. A must read for
anyone who suspects they might have been brainwashed, very
popular among ex-cultists and guaranteed to make a hardline
skeptic of you. "The Guru Papers" is probably my favorite
Feet of Clay, 'A Study of
Gurus', by Anthony Storr. He's an eminent psychology
professor at a London University. It doesn't mention GM
specifically, but is a good perspective on cults and
"Every generation has its charismatic spiritual leaders,
its gurus. Some are true saints while others conceal
unspeakable depravity. Anthony Storr, Oxford professor of
psychiatry, analyzes an interesting array of gurus
(including Ignatius of Loyola, Georgei Gurdjieff, Rudolf
Steiner, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Jim Jones, and David Koresh) and
two intellectual ones, Freud and Jung.) and finds many
commonalties among them--an isolated childhood, a need for
certainty, a demand for obedience. As his title and his
choice of subjects in the first category reveal, he views
most gurus as being emotionally unbalanced and possessing
many highly unappealing qualities: They tend to be loners,
have experienced profound psychological crises (sometimes
involving psychosis), and generally relate poorly to others.
Most are arrogantly self-certain and otherwise highly
narcissistic, even grandiose; some tend to be paranoid while
others, such as Rajneesh and Koresh, are materially or
sexually exploitative of others. In the last third of his
analysis Storr approaches his subject thematically,
comparing gurus both to those who are scientifically or
artistically creative, and to the mentally ill, particularly
schizophrenics. In his wide-ranging, unabashedly antiguru
final chapter, he engages in a fascinating if frustratingly
brief contrast of the ``charisma of power'' and the
``charisma of certainty'' with the more benevolent
``charisma of goodness.'' He also elucidates aspects of this
psychological profile in various intellectual, artistic, and
political figures of history. This eye-opening book invokes
a larger issue: in our search for guidance and truth, when
and why do we cross the line from reasoned inquirer to
Civilization and It's Discontents , by Sigmund
This essay was written in answer to a question from one of
his friends, Romain Rolland, who was a well-known disciple
of Ramakrishna. He wrote "Ramakrishna's teaching" and also a
book about his successor Vivekananda. Ramakrishna was also
part of Radhasoami tradition. His question to Freud was
related to the beautiful and blissful feeling you can
discover through meditation. This is an 100 pages answer to
people who are interested in psychology. Available.
Shamans, Mystics and Doctors (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,
New York), by Sudhir Kakar.
S. Kakar is an Indian psychoanalyst, practicing in Bombay.
He studied in the US. He analyses several Indian mystic
groups, including the branch of Radha Soami led by Charan
Singh. This is very well documented study, and is
interesting as it is analyzed by an Indian western minded
Crimes of the Soul: by Jill Newmark, Marian Jones and
Dennis Gersten. The link between gurus and their followers
and the sometimes dangerous consequences of their
relationships - includes related articles why people follow
gurus and how Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung made themselves
idols for their patients. Published in Psychology Today -
March, April 1998. Read the
-All the books quoted below
have been very helpful for many ex-premies
A Path With Heart, 'A
Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life ',
by Jack Kornfield. Available.
"I really like this book because the author is both a
Buddhist teacher and a psychologist. He has a very good
chapter on problems with teachers: Chapter 18 - "The
Emperor's New Clothes". Also lots of practical advice,
guided meditations, and so forth." (Katie H.)
"A Path With Heart has been a personal bible to me these
past three years. Kornfield writes with grace, kindness and
clarity. An excellent guide not only to breathing
/mindfulness meditation practice, but to the wider
experiences of having a spiritual practice of any kind."
"This book, by one of the West's foremost Theravadan
Buddhist teachers, offers a step by step plan of simple, day
to day changes one can easily accomplish to simplify and
change one's lifestyle, reduce stress and find a path for
spiritual awareness. The author offers easy to understand,
and sometimes funny, anecdotes which explains Eastern
Theravadan Buddhist practices and philosophy. Even those not
wanting to become Buddhist should enjoy the logical
practices applicable for allowing the world to become a
A Gradual Awakening, by Stephen Levine.
"This explains Vipassana meditation very well. Stephen
Levine has written several other books - he works with dying
people and their families, and I like all his writings. He
wrote a book called "Who Dies?" that helped me and my sister
a lot when our father died. I sent a copy of this to David M
- the ex-premie whose daughter committed suicide, and David
M liked it a lot too. "Who Dies?" is more about death and
dying then meditation, though, so I don't know if it's
appropriate for your list." (Katie H.)
"Poet and meditation teacher Levine writes simply and gently
about his own personal experiences with and insights into
vipassana meditation. An inspiring book for anyone
interested in deep personal growth."
Hymns to an Unknown God : 'Awakening the Spirit in
Everyday Life', by Sam Keen. Available.
Some guidelines for the search for meaning which are much
broader and more rounded than 'follow your heart and listen
to me so you know what its saying', also a 'spiritual
bullshit detector' which would have warned me of Maharaji if
I'd had it in 1972.
"Using practical examples from his and other people's
lives, Keen tells readers how to cut through what he calls
the "spiritual bullshit," and recover the sacred in their
love affairs, families, jobs, and politics -- in short, how
to recover the "Unknown God." Down-to-earth and articulate,
Sam Keen is a popular social commentator, philosopher, and
teacher. He describes himself as "overeducated at the
Ivies," with degrees from Harvard and Princeton. His work
has been featured in a special Bill Moyers PBS interview,
and for over twenty years he was a consulting editor at
"How to Use Your Spiritual Bullshit Detector: In a world of
one-minute solutions, false spiritual leaders, and instant
spirituality, how can you tell which beliefs are valid and
separate the bogus from the genuine."
"Sex and the Spirit: Why is it that sex and spirituality are
so interconnected and confusing? Keen explains the conflict
between "I want" and "I should," and tells readers how to
integrate sensuality, sexuality and spirituality to
experience truly deep and loving relationships."
Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth
and Sacredness in Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore.
Opened up the idea that I could leave Maharaji without
leaving what really mattered to me.
"Thomas Moore, an internationally renowned theologian and
former Catholic monk, offers a philosophy for living that
involves accepting our humanity rather than struggling to
transcend it. By nurturing the soul in everyday life, Moore
shows how to cultivate dignity, peace, and depth of
character. For example, in addressing the importance of
daily rituals he writes, "Ritual maintains the world's
holiness. As in a dream a small object may assume
significance, so in a life that is animated by ritual there
are no insignificant things." This is the eloquence that
helped reintroduce the sacred into everyday language and
The Feminine Face of God : The Unfolding of the
Sacred in Women, by Patricia Hopkins (Contributor), Sherry
A report of a qualitative research study which explored
women's understanding of spirituality - hard to read it and
still maintain the concept that only those who follow
Maharaji have access to depth in life. And is a direct
challenge to the patriarchal concept of God that goes along
with the idea of a 'Master'.
"Running the gamut from Anglicanism to Zen, psychologist
Anderson and consultant Hopkins present an uncritical
examination of uniquely feminine aspects of faith. Offering
a complex, densely layered montage, based on extensive
interviews with over one hundred women--each of whom has
``found her own direct relationship with the divine or the
real''- -the authors seek to extend studies positing a
distinctly feminine moral development to a consideration of
``the way women experience the sacred in their lives.''
Included are ministers, rabbis, priests, nuns, and former
nuns (both Christian and Vedantic), spiritual healers,
tribal elders, and contemplatives, working variously as
therapists, teachers, writers, artists, and social
activists, and all meeting a basic requirement of striving
to ``embody'' their beliefs ``in everyday life.'' Most
compelling within this spiritual supermarket are several
detailed looks at individual quests--ranging from that of
the Kabbala teacher who returned to Orthodox Judaism after
exploring secularism and Sufism to that of the one-time
southern beauty queen who transformed herself from a
drug-addicted, alcoholic prostitute into a pioneering
massage therapist for AIDS victims. Unfortunately, the
frequently intriguing material is shoehorned into an
unoriginal garden metaphor (leaving home to enter ``sacred''
gardens, cultivating plots with a variety of tools, etc.)
that becomes cloying. Also a bit disconcerting are the
constant references to the authors' own struggles to shape
the work, usually resolved through meditation and never as
interesting as the research itself. Still, there's much food
for thought here--more than enough to sate human-potential
devotees and to provide tantalizing tidbits for everyone
"Upon reading this book for the first time I found myself
pleasantly surprised. This book is as germane to women's
spirituality today as it was then. Instead of being a book
about Christian women only, Anderson and Hopkins have
included a cross section of North American women in their
study. Women of many different faiths candidly discuss their
personal revelations regarding their spiritual growth and
their relationships with the divine."
"Interspersed with the women's stories are the experiences
of the two authors as they struggled to research and write
this book. This sharing of the authors' experiences makes
the book accessible to anyone, reminding us that we are all
only human - subject to doubts and questions as easily as we
are to revelations and joy. Instead of being a dry,
preaching, self-help book, the combined experiences of
Anderson and Hopkins and their subjects create a story full
of laughter, joy, pain, sorrow and, most importantly, a
sense that as women we must explore our own spiritual lives
in our own ways in order to live at our fullest
"A provocative look at how women integrate spirituality. I
just finished this book last week while on vacation. It made
for easy, fascinating reading due to all the personal
stories. No matter where you are in your life journey, you
will be able to find a story in this book that speaks to
you. The authors did an excellent job of interviewing a
cross-section of women at various points in their life
journeys. I especially appreciated hearing from women of
different faith traditions. The book challenges women to
seek a new language and experience to express their
spiritual longings. Too often we have settled for the male
models, and frankly, they don't work very well for us! It
was refreshing to be given permission to pursue the tangents
I know I have felt in my own spiritual journey, but have not
always given credit to their validity. This book is an
excellent gift and is appropriate for women in their mid-20s
on. It also should appeal to the woman who has never set
foot within a "church" setting, as well as one who has. The
book has excellent endnotes as well as a selected
bibliography to seek out further resources."
"A great book for women at any cross-road in life. I first
read this book several years ago when I was about 25. After
reading the book, I felt as though I had looked into what
the future might hold: Women have a lot in common. We may
have different paths and destinations, but our internal
struggles are similar. It's tough being the nurturing woman
(wife, mother...) while retaining a sense of self. Some
women need two lives to be complete; others work very hard
to evolve their life with a balance. I'm now shipping this
book to several friends - two who are about to be married,
one who's contemplating divorce after raising two kids, and
another (my mom) who's happily married (2nd marriage) after
raising two kids. I wish them all well in their continuous
Passages : 'A guide for
pilgrims of the mind', by Marianne S. Andersen. Out of
Bridge to Superconsciousness , by Rick Prater.
"Bridge to Superconsciousness explores a process of
spiritual development that we can use in our daily lives to
reach higher levels of consciousness and live in a more
enlightened way. It affirms the greatness of the human
potential and shows how we can actualize this potential
through individual and group work. - About the Author : A
graduate of the psychology program at UC Berkeley, the
author is co-managing editor of the Journal of Esoteric
Psychology and editor of Life in Action magazine. He has
been experientially involved in the Rainbow Bridge
meditation work for the past 25 years, having studied under
the originators of the work. He has carried on the work as a
group leader for the past 20 years."
Why Gods Persist : A Scientific Approach to Religion,
by Robert A. Hinde. 248 pages 1st edition (April