Second Thoughts: An Aspirant Escapes

The following post was received in the alt.cult.maharaji newsgroup in August of 1997, and explains why the writer decided not to continue as an 'Aspirant'.

Congratulations for making this site. I'm sure that it took some courage and I hope that it will be a healthy thing for many people.

I am not a premie or a former premie, but via a friend of mine, I have seen quite a few of the recent videos and I even went to the latest program in Miami. So I might be able to tell you a little about how things are done now.

At first, I liked the videos quite a bit. He goes around the world reminding people of things that are so simple that everyone forgets - the profound and beautiful experience of being alive. He offers "knowledge" as a way to get in touch with your own inner self. There is no money involved, all you have to do is ask, and when he thinks you are ready, you will receive this gift. Nothing is required in return. A truly beautiful profound message, no? He is even very funny. It's just that every once in a while, something smells a bit strange. For instance:

  • Why does this guy sit in a chair that's obviously set up to suggest a throne?
  • After a while you notice that he rides in really expensive cars, has a really expensive house in California, appears to have his own jet, etc. As if, somehow, even though there is no money involved, he is making a ton of it.
  • It is apparent that he says somewhat different things in India. You hear him refer to himself as "The Perfect Master".
  • There is a very strange video called, I think, "The Company You Keep" where he tells people to stay away from the people who somehow disturb your inner experience. He says words to the effect of "How am I doing?" (as if someone is asking him), "How AM I doing?", "How am I DOING?", "Leave me ALONE!". I had no idea what to make of this.
  • Another small but, I thought, significant moment was this: He is answering the question "How does one become a Master?" His answer, almost verbatim, was this: "One doesn't just become a Master. It's not like you wake up one day and someone says 'you're a Master', and you say, great, I'll go buy a Rolex" I found this rather shocking. Why, when someone says to this guy "Spiritual Master" the first thing that pops into his head is "Rolex"? "Rolex" is certainly not something I would be thinking about in a situation like that.

So aren't I being a little hard on this guy who only wants to give me an incredibly beautiful gift? However, it gets worse. In non-introductory videos, he starts to speak in more detail about the role of "the Master" and the student etc. He starts to tell approving stories about people showing devotion to their Master etc. ("I thought this was supposed to be a gift!!?" I'm thinking to myself.) He tells of an ashram in India (apparently there are still ashram's in India) and speaks approvingly of people bowing down when he walks by.

"This is starting to sound like there's a lot more involved than just my own personal experience." I am thinking. For the first time, one hears quite a bit of talk about "service." Service is supposed to be a natural expression of gratitude to the Master. My questions are: (a) if it's not required, why is it called service? (b) if it's such a natural expression of gratitude, why does he have to go on at great length about it in videos? Remember, though, that mostly the videos are the beautiful message part.

In spite of these misgivings, I went to the recent program in Miami with my friend (suggested contribution: $15). For various reasons, I didn't enjoy myself. One of them is that the nice parts weren't very nice, although he had some good jokes. One of his main themes was, believe it or not, "the Big Bad Wolf of time will blow your house down". Also, the weird stuff was there in much more highly concentrated form.

There was a video called "The World of Knowledge" that was just awful. He talks about how he only wants the people who are really sincere. He all but says that you are supposed to think of him as you are dying (this, somehow, is one of the most offensive things I have ever heard).

There are scenes of crowds of people doing some sort of devotional wave at him. There are songs. One had the words, roughly, "I give my heart, my soul, my everything to you Maharaji." Another song had the words "my Lord <repeat many times>" superimposed on pictures of M flying his plane (get it?). Notice that these are videos which he must surely have approval over.

So... is it possible that this is actually necessary? Maybe human beings are wired in such a way that they can only experience fulfillment if they surrender their will to a spiritual master. It's possible, I suppose, but I of doubt it. In fact, I suspect that there is a rather great danger of polluting your own experience of life by attaching it to someone in this way.

I hope that I can be fulfilled without this. In one of the videos he talks about "experiencing a beautiful sunset....through the eyes of the Master". I think that I would rather experience a sunset with my own eyes.

In spite of the fact that quite a few people seem to have a good time, I personally would recommend great caution. For many people, I am afraid that it is a rather dangerous trap.

Step 1: Introductory Video

Step 2: Follow-up Meetings

Step 3: Introduction to Commitment and Gratitude

Step 4: Selection for Knowledge - Are you ready?

Step 5: The Knowledge Session

Free Knowledge: The Rejected Aspirant

An Aspirant Asks Good Questions : No Answer

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