Journeys: E. T.

Date: March 3, 2000

I walked out in the middle of my Knowledge session.

It was 1973. I had dropped out of a Boston college after my freshman year, largely because I had discovered the joys of marijuana. I made the transition from nerd to hippie. By 1973 I was living in my first apartment in Boston. I had resumed buying bag after bag and hanging out with my college ex-roommates.

One day I saw wheat-pasting in Back Bay advertizing Guru Maharaj Ji. I thought it was something I should look into. I went to an introductory lecture in Boston. All I remember about it was young people speaking in superlatives and a kid who talked to me afterwards. He was impressed but I said, "I'm not so sure."

Soon I was going to satsangs given in a classroom at MIT. They would bring in a large picture of "the 15 year-old Perfect Master" and put it on an altar throne. Premies would take turns giving testimonies to "this Knowledge". God was mentioned and I found myself believing in God as a side-effect, although I was raised an atheist who had never spent a day in church. Science and "2001: A Space Odyssey" had been my religion up till then.

Occasionally a Mahatma (meaning "great soul", I was told) would come to town and we would meet in other places. Two Mahatmas came to Cambridge one day, and it was my first chance to ask for Knowledge. We were sitting on the floor in the second-hand store used to sell the premies' material possessions. The Mahatmas wanted to know who had come a long distance for Knowledge. I thought it was my chance so I said, "I came from Lebanon." The Mahatmas whispered to each other for a moment and then one pronounced, "All knowledge is found in the Koran." I was stunned and tears came to my eyes. I wasn't even Islamic and I had been rejected for Knowledge.

I learned that each age had a Perfect Master. Others had been Jesus, Krishna, and Buddha. In our age, he had come as Guru Maharaj Ji. I sent a crazy postcard to my ex-roommate that said, "Christ is on Earth!" over and over. I saw a "documentary" film over and over about the rise of the Perfect Master.

Soul Rush came to town. There was a parade in downtown Boston and I got a few tokes from a joint in the Boston Commons. I laughed and prostrated to Rennie Davis on the grass.

Guru Maharaj Ji himself came to Boston. By them I had been reading "And It Is Divine" and had a copy of "The Lord of the Universe" album. I took it and made my body a living altar outside the meeting hall. I had a colorful cloth over my crossed legs and a picture of his holy-rolliness. Hare Krishnas chanted outside. I went inside and saw him, although without glasses he was just a blur. Somehow I heard him think about me, "This hippie thinks he is Shiva." At the end I went up to the throne. Some protesters had jumped up on stage and kicked the throne over. A girl beside me was in tears. "We need you!" she cried.

I continued to go to satsang at MIT. I tried to interest my hippie friends but they weren't much interested. The most important event in the history of man-kind occurred. It was the Millennium bash at the Houston Astrodome at which Guru Maharaj Ji was going to reveal himself to the world. A huge turnout was predicted. There were even parking spaces for UFOs to land, or so the press reported. It was a bust and soon they were all back for the MIT classroom

One guy was very high up in satsang because he had done TM before Knowledge, so he could claim Knowledge was better. At one lecture he asked me if I had done any Service. I said no and he went into a long lecture on the importance of Service. But since I had been to some 80 satsangs by then, I was approved for Knowledge. I had once asked him if I could give satsang, but he said it was only for those with Knowledge. I had shouted, "Bhole sri satgurudev maharaj ki jai!" with the best of them, before it was forbidden.

Now I was going to learn the Four Techniques. I went to an ashram house in suburban Boston. The Mahatma, whose name I do not recall, complained about construction noise next door. I saw my first and only baragon. I wanted to lean against the wall for the hours-long Knowledge Session but the stern Mahatma insisted I sit up close to him. We were given a bathroom break and I found I could not urinate, although I needed to. Someone pounded on the bathroom door, "Come on!" I went back to the Knowledge room, uncomfortable. The Mahatma seemed to know. He repeatedly questioned if everyone was ready. I claimed I was. He said everyone should give some gift: money, a watch, a flower, themselves. I thought about giving my watch but I didn't want to. Perhaps I was unworthy of Knowledge if I could not part with my watch. We were let out of the room again to pick flowers and I walked out. Several blocks away was an old wheatpaste of Guru Maharaj Ji. I folded my hands in prayer towards the image and burst into tears. I rode the subway home and was finally able to relieve myself in my apartment. My phonograph player malfunctioned and I believed it was due to the curse of the Mahatma, outraged because I had walked out of my Knowledge session.

I went to satsang a few times after that. Some woman said that Knowledge was, "You press your eyes, you press your ears, and you swallow your tongue." All the premies laughed but it was clearly partially true.

I slipped into a depression for a few months. Then I found the book, "Be Here Now" and was fascinated. It mentioned Maharishi in passing and I soon was initiated into TM. I had fantastic experiences and TM seemed to be the best thing that had ever happened to me. My depression was over and I could think faster. I went on a yoga retreat with Swami Satchidananda and I seemed to be making real spiritual progress. In later years I got involved with Christianity, Eckankar, and Kriya yoga.

I love to read about cults on the Internet. I have Maharaji to thank for first introducing me to God and New Age thought. I also have the Divine Light MIssion to compare to any movement where the leader is claimed to be divine. Been there; done that.

I still meditate and believe in God. I believe firmly in life after death. I look forward to meeting the real Lord of the Universe one day.


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