Journeys: Loaf

Date: October 21, 1999

On the eve of my 40th Birthday I think I should bring my Journey up to date.. as I have changed a lot since I wrote it !

I have been called Loaf by all who know me for the past 5 or 6 years. (its a long story) - so it doesn't really feel like a pseudonym.

I was a bongo, a darshan freak, a backstage gopi, an instructor candidate and briefly x rated...

After having spent 18 years in the Divine Light Missionary position - mostly very happily - when I first started to exit.. I wasn't going to indulge in random M bashing - feelings were too delicate and memories too precious to deny. The KEY for me is not whether I am a victim or not - and whether M is a baddie or LOTU - but to UNDERSTAND exactly what forces are at play here (social, psychological, emotional, economic, spiritual) which could combine to produce something as precious and beautiful as my feelings of devotion... and as ensnaring as a belief system which deeply implants itself into my mind and which was arrogance disguised as humility.

Maharaji isnt the issue for me any more. He is a figure now for journalists and sharper pens than mine to examine.

Prem Rawat was a catalyst for the construction of a huge INNER Maharaji which I built in his image.. and it is the displacement of this INNER usurper to which my attention now turns.

I remember the first time I saw him. Rome, Palazzo del Sporto February 1982. I was 18 - travelled over from London on the coach having received K on Valentines Day. No money - a few premies kindly gave me some bits and bobs to eat - Mina Stanton from Wales - thank you for the yoghurt!

I sat in the hall - 10.00AM the next day. It was softly lit, vast. There were slides of the Perfect Master being shown. People sat and waited for darshan. I took off my shoes and made my way...

I had wanted a master ever since I was 15/16 - I remember seeing Baba Ram Dass interviewed by Bernard Levin on the BBC- and that was it ! I needed a Guru. So I went out to get one - and I had no idea what to expect or where it would lead me. Gradually the carpet got better, then the tunnel ...

Rome, Australia, USA, Argentina, Europe, India... In the 17 years since I first clapped eyes on him - I lost count of the events I had attended - well over 150.

I usually had a good time at events - when I was a tiny Premie I was so blown away to be even near the hall where he would be - I remember gazing lovingly at the outside of a few conference centres... so open... so vulnerable.

The hustling for a good seat began to annoy me. The social climbing gradually started to turn me off. The behaviour and the culture of the followers (at the residence it was the worst !) started to stick in my throat long before Maharaji ever did - he was great (certainly seemed clear - clean - blissful - I had been so very grateful to him for reminding me so gently over the years. An illusion it may have been - but I really feel that I have felt things which I may never have come across without the catalyst of a personal focal point. - whether or not I produced this stuff myself or not - it seemed to be his. Aye here is the rub.

Am I sounding a little too devotional? Hold your fire folks. I am not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Premie society may have been seriously manipulative and egocentric - everybody looking after number one - this may very well be a direct reflection of the culture of its leader (who by his fruits ye shall know him) - but I did have had a good time. (I was a lucky one... 1982 - 1999 were yuppie years and having a bit of money and wavy hair and a suit... what bliss !)

I am going to take some credit for this. I asked for a master - and so I got exactly what I asked for. I wanted to have somebody to believe in - and such was provided. Is it a trap? Yes. Did I walk straight into it? Yes. Willingly?. BUT would I do it again?

NO !

I don't need to. This is the great point. To have taken knowledge, to have taken darshan, to have taken the opportunity to create a Lord of the Universe - to have taken humility to heart - to have taken so many experiences and then to run away with them.

BUT has there been damage done ?

YES. Under the bliss.. and the bliss itself is a smoke screen for a creeping seperateness, an aloofness which set me apart from humanity... and as importantly, apart from my own humanity, my fear, my anger, my sorrow...

So in my late 30s I face many lessons which more fortunate souls have learned at 18 !

I have not donated much money over the years. I do not care if the fat one wants to pamper himself with yet another car - if people are kind/humble/stupid enough in this day and age to part with cash after some guilt trip/inspirational stroking by Yoram Weiss or whoever - then so be it - BUT we share the blame AND the credit.

I saw M recently. He really seems to feel that his videos are enough to bring the world to his feet.

I would no more bring a person to him now than shoot them in the foot - not unless they were ready to take the good stuff and run like crazy.

The cult of personality which blinds and deafens and mutes all criticism is nowhere more apparent than in the house of Rawat. He ain't so humble offstage - and nobody can tell me that he is. If somebody want so service their ego - and this includes all of us - then well and good. I really sincerely hope that anybody who wants to get knowledge does so with their eyes open. I am so delighted with some of the journeys read here - AJW's, The late Father Love's - we can benefit from our whole lives - take the orange out of the monkey trap - and then move on.

What does it matter to me if he is a selfish, greedy, flash little man?- Michael Jackson's fans too have had the scales lifted from their eyes - are we nothing more than adolescents with a crush on our star?

It matters because all the gratitude and joy and love which he claims for his own.. is rightfully intended for re-investment with our families, our friends, and our parents.

Our culture is made richer by what we put back into it. And ask yourself what manner of parent would milk his own children for 'gratitude' ?

I firmly believe that gratitude = income for the Rawat family.

The guru as an idol is not such a leap of faith. You like the product, you keep using it, you have the poster on your bedroom wall - and like any self respecting 13 year old girl issue a proclaimation to family and friends - Love me, Love my Lord.

The realisation that we are ALL vulnerable to popular suggestion, mass hysteria, and media manipulation may come as a big shock to the fragile egos of the spiritual elite - but we are not special, not clever, not saved. Nor is Maharaji. We are all in the same boat. My point is is that the forces which supported him in his 'deceit' are not new or unique to ourselves.

Let us invite more and more aspirants to read this site - they can make their own minds up - we don't have to rubbish him - they will chose - and maybe even he will be helped. In time.

Now here is a big (tough) point. I still have those feelings at times, the bliss, the gratitude - and don't want to lose 'em - BUT they are not connected to issues over M's identity - rather they are more to do with my own.

And gratitude is NOT to M. It is just a lovely and sensitive addition to my responses to everyday life. I have come to value and cherish the 'perspective' of Knowledge, in the right context - which is not one of EV - but one which suits me.

Mind you - I am a knowledge lite kid - and am not battling ashram scars - I would have loved to have joined the ashram when I was 18 - but they wouldn't have me (no job) - so I clung, frantically, to the fringes of the Premie world - in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Miami - drinking in every drop of inspiration I could.

It was really as I started to climb the slippery social ladder to the Residence that I deeply began to fall out of love with the world of M.

Yet - I have found treasure - and in all honesty and respect to myself, will not dis-own such a huge part of my life (as in many ways it was glamerous - having a guru, travelling round the world - but I was flying on borrowed money).

My finances came to a head in 93/94 - then the shit hit the fan. I found that I couldn't go Darshan chasing - and had to re-examine that part of my life - then I found that I was questioning other values as well. I had a slow and prolonged breakdown - in the middle of which all I wanted to do was to hide and lick my wounds - I moved back to my Mother's and became a student.

This was an incredibly raw and painful 'growing up'. IF EVER YOU FEEL THE NEED TO HIDE - ON STAGE AT A UNIVERSITY IS NOT THE PLACE TO DO IT.

Anyhow - I survived, and despite the weakening effects of Knowledge on motivation, commitment, self analysis and integrity, have come to find that in education and in Theatre - there is an incredible re-setting of context going on for me - in which the lotus of faith, clarity and devotion can bloom again.

This is a complicated way of saying that all the mass hysteria of Premiedom leaves me stone cold - but that I don't want to deny myself the good stuff - which is what took me there in the first place (along with issues like looking for an identity, a father figure, being an escapist etc etc) which I own and count among the good stuff too. I am responsible.

..... and the down side : I find relationships hard, that my 'relationship' with M has kept me trapped in a teenagers 'pop star' hero worship cycle. My career is in haphazard (may be a good thing artistically- ED) - and with such a huge and practiced temptation to say 'it doesn't matter... its not real etc etc' avoidance techniques abound - If I am upset i still want to dive under my blanket - stick my fingers in my ears and murmer 'there is nothing for me in this world... there is nothing for me in this world...'

In many ways I have been a 30 odd year old lost little boy - lacking much of the psychological armour which enables 'normal' people to forge ahead in a manly, small-animal-shooting fashion.

But what can I do ? (Rhetorical question before you all jump in with advice). Change is gentle and kind (at best).

When I lost my Master I gained the whole of humanity.

Thanks for listening. It means a lot to me to know that we have this safe place - and that we can be supportive and generous with each other - whatever stage of rejection/embracing we are at. Don't let the extremists of either camp get you down.

Post on the Forum or email me. Its always nice to hear from people - and I will reply.



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