|Date: December 23, 2002|
|In 1972, I was 16, isolated in an English back of beyond village, trying to find a way into the exciting world of late period hippydom counter culture, and loose a burden of seriously impeding emotional
history. After some intense experiences with a range of intoxicants, with all of which I seemed well 'sorted', and some barely tangential emotional involvements, with which I was not at all sorted, I was ready to give up on the material (well emotional and personal) world, and seek enlightenment. Friends of friends were premies, they lived in London, I met other premies, got a place to stay and after three weeks, got
Knowledge - from Prakash Bai who I still remember with much fondness. And that was it, meditation was like LSD on tap with no down time, I was out of my rural prison and the whole DLM trip stressed non materialism, non emotional involvement, non participation in the world - I had the perfect excuse to settle into my personal spiritual bunker, sustained by my experience of meditation.
Most of the premies I was around at that time were also escapees or survivors of one kind or another, people getting off heroine or dealing with the consequences of relationship breakdown, or academic failure. DLM and K gave a lot of us direction, something outside of ourselves to concentrate on. And for me - shelter from the world of human emotions, which I was wholly unequipped to deal with. For a year or so I inhabited the outer reaches of the London premie scene, squalid shared houses, bum jobs or the dole and with satsang the only social highlight. I did stray outside those circles for a time but a couple of uncomfortable 'relationship' experiences and I was desperate to go into an Ashram, so by a somewhat circuitous route I ended up in Bristol.
As much as I disliked living in close proximity to other people I relished the Spartan living and my experiences with meditation were strong, I really did believe that it was an experience that all humans should share - so propagation was something to which I was committed. Ashram life was to a large extent what I wanted - and any unhappiness I had, could be put down to the vanity of ego. Bristol was far enough away from London to be out of the 'super premie' circuit and we lived a rather a quiet and happy life - and I started to look, if a little cautiously outside of my psychological bunker. Of course should anything too stressful be encountered - someone getting a little too close for instance, I could just slip into meditation.
There were elements of the DLM experience that I didn't like - the full on bahkti stuff was never really me and the over blown emotionalism towards M (as he then was) made me pretty uncomfortable and I often felt as though I did not quite belong.
I had been in the Ashram for just on a year when the 1974 Copenhagen event was held, like India in '72 this was chaotic - and wet and muddy, although as an Ashram premie I was treated as a cut above the proles. By this time my lila tolerance was significantly diminished and I didn't understand why everything around DLM had to be so crap, the failure of propagation was something that had really started to bother me. After Copenhagen there seemed to be a complete loss of direction within DLM, and in a rather unremarkable fashion I left the Ashram to live on my own. Once on the outside I found the Ashram to be a closed and suffocating place and certainly it did not live up to my ideal of it serving as a hub for the premie community as a whole. This was the beginning of my separation from other premies although having adopted the 'sanyasin' role as part of my adolescence - I was not about to give that up easily. In fact the myth of the 'renunciate premie' was to shape my approach to the world for the next 25 years; it was a highly addictive mythology and I have come to characterise my relationship with Prem Rawat as that between dealer and addict. Of course I can not blame anyone else for my addictive behaviour but as Steppenwolf once sang "God damn the pusher, who sold my soul."
Over the years I settled into a somewhat morbid spirituality, secure in the knowledge (sic) that I had received the techniques to realise all that there is, supported by the soft anaesthetic of meditation whenever life provided some challenge. The inadequacy of this position was shown up firstly by my becoming chronically ill and then becoming a parent - however it wasn't until I had to face a conjunction of some very challenging life events that I really began to question the surety of the DLM package that I had bought into 30 years ago.
I don't blame Rawat for how my life has been shaped by DLM and Knowledge- although he can not be excused for his continued exploitation of others' spiritual searching, I see him as much a victim of the machinery that he came to head and I believe that the theft of his childhood explains much about the character of Rawat the man. My wish for Rawat is that he will eventually find release from his need for adulation and luxury - his redemption I'm sure lies in a life of contemplation and simple sufficiency, lived on the banks of the Ganges near Hardwar.
Ironically my own life, through the limitations of health and limited income is not far from that of a deliberate renunciate, vegetarian, teetotal, non smoking etc. I still meditate but only irregularly and for short periods, and I no longer believe that the practice of Knowledge sets me apart from any other being - and it does absolutely nothing to facilitate an understanding of the 'self'. Like any other addict, I know that my 'hit' will always be a temptation but I no longer partake of the Divine Light myths that have served to keep me 'high' for so long, and I can at least claim to be 'clean'. Rawatism is a spiritual cul-de-sac, its significance is not what lies at its end, but in the time it takes the individual to turn around and rejoin the highway.