Journeys: John Watson

Date: February 3, 2001

First up, let me say I'm glad for the opportunity given to me by telling this story.

This is something that I've sledom thought of in the last ten years, but I've realised that has been as a result suppressing the memories of what happend. The questions I've been asking myself are pretty much the same as those whose stories I've been reading during the past few days since I discovered the web site.

I became involved with the Divine Light Movement and m in 1975. A childhood, friend Ernie Tyas, had been at the Alexandra Palace shows in London and received knowledge along with some of his friends from University. He came back to my home town of Guisborough in North Yorkshire and held satsang for all of his friends. I was immediately struck by how ernest and 'blissed-out' he was and began to attend satsang in Stockton a nearby town where there was a premie house.

Looking back i can see that I was the classic cult victim, from a not particularly close, typical, British middle class family, low self esteem, in need of some kind of loving, stabilising, supporting family life.

In the summer of 1976, I passed my A-levels, and started studying music, with the emphasis on singing, at the same University as Ernie in Bangor, North Wales. This became my real introduction to satsang and premie life, (although at that time not a premie myself) and through the premies I met, to Hashish, Maharaja and Psyloscybin (magic mushrooms). Throughout this time I was disturbed by the mental state of some of the premies, for example Witford (Richard) who had more scars on his wrists than anyone I've seen before or since, and Ernie who suffered (and still does) from depression.

It was amazing how many premies I met who lived in and around Bangor, and how many of them had a serious problem with substance abuse of one form or another. Ironic really considering what our perfect master had been up to!

In the course of that year I used more time on attending an aspirant program in Chester (two hours away by train) and enjoying various mind altering substances than I did studying. So, of course, the inevitable lay in wait, and after I dropped out of the University's Opera three days before the first performance to see m at the London Wembly Arena (back in the days when he could pack 'em in) I got sent down (that's thrown out on my arse for you guys in the US).

I attended a selection weekend in Manchester where the mahatma (a Canadian woman who I think was called Joyce) told me that if I wanted knowledge then I'd better move to Manchester. This I did in 1977, alienating myself from my family and friends, and began the process of becoming a premie. I lived in several premie houses, (including sharing a flat with Bazzer) and in early 1978 I received knowledge at the Manchester Ashram. Like many have said and written, this was an amazing experience. How much was because of the meditation techniques, and how much was because the whole aspirant program provides conditioning (roll over Pavlov) so the aspirant will have this amazing experience is open to question. (Incidently, at the same selection weekend a certain Jonathan [mad john] Cainer was told that if he wanted knowledge then he'd better marry his then premie girlfriend).

Shortly after this, I lost my job when I hitched down to Malaga in southern Spain to see m in a bullring. (Ah the incongruity of it all!) A year of travelling to festivals followed culminating in a trip to Kissimie, Florida, in November. This was an introduction into the harsh realities of how much of a rip-off culture was (and is) surrounding m.

I moved into a premie flat in Manchester with two premies, Ian Gosling and Chris Gribble and tried to get something out of my life.

After 18 months or so, things began to go very pear shaped, both in my life, but also in the mission. The closure of the ashram (I saw one of the Ashram premies, George Blodwell, on a low budget celebrity show from the US some months ago billed as an Image Consultant - nice work if you can get it!), the later de-Indianising and westernising of the mission to maximise revenues (we all know what happened to all the money from the ashrams don't we. It didn't go towards housing the homeless premies, that's for sure!), all contributed to the general unease and falling-apartness. This of course was always explained as being a problem with the interpretation of what m wanted by the organisation... this was of course nothing to do with m. (Didn't Nurenburg eradicate this as an excuse?....).

About this time I began to smoke hash again, and when this became known (within a couple of days... premies are such gossips!), I was shunned by a large number of the more holy premies (with the exception of some like for example mad John Cainer who turnd up looking to score one evening). It was like being shown the cold shoulder by a loved one, hideously painful. In the end I began to move out of the premie circle and eventually moved back to my home town in 1981.

Ernie still lives locally (Saltburn-by-the-sea) but otherwise I've lost touch with all the premies I knew from that time. I was left with a Hash habit that took until 1993 to break. I also had huge problems in personal relationships, I was frightened of rejection and could not accept criticism, which took me years (and cost a fortune in therapy) to get over. I have been a Radiographer (X-Ray tech.) since 1984, and moved to Denmark in 1990. This is not the direction I saw my life leading in 1976.

I haven't sung professionally since 1977.

All in all I've accepted the way my life has turned out, inspite of d.l.m. and m, but I do believe it would have been totally different if I hadn't attended Ern's satsang that evening in 1975. I'm no longer bitter, but I know that I gave up much for a handful of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.

John Watson

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