Breaking Free: Questioning Devotion

Many premies say that they've found true fufillment by following Maharaji and practicing the knowledge techniques. This page is not for them. This page is for premies who don't feel quite satisfied, who wonder if devotion is all it's cracked up to be, who are concerned about Maharaji's lifestyle and business practices, who want to know if there's anything more out there.

The people involved in the writing of this page have all left Maharaji's organization. Some still practice the meditation techniques, and some do not. Our opinions about Maharaji vary (although none of us thinks he is God incarnate). We've tried to think of questions that premies who were feeling dissatisfied might ask, and we've tried to answer these questions to the best of our ability.

Why do people leave Maharaji's organization?
For lots of different reasons. Some of us never experienced much in meditation. Some of us became disgusted with supporting Maharaji's opulent lifestyle. Some of us ran afoul of people in positions of power in Maharaji's organization. Almost all of us began to realize that following Maharaji was not the right path for us. We suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I really happy?
  • Am I doing what I really want to do?
  • Am I trying to suppress doubts or questions about what I'm doing?
  • Am I in touch with what I'm thinking and feeling, and, more importantly, do I feel that it is OK to have those thoughts and feelings?
  • Do I enjoy meditation?
  • Am I having good relationships with my family and friends?
  • Do I really feel that this is the right thing for me, regardless of what anyone else says?

Who is Maharaji anyway? Doesn't he know more than I do? What if he really IS God?
This was an easy question to answer for those of us who got knowledge in the early 1970's. Maharaji was then touted to be the only living incarnation of God on the planet. Now, people who aspire to receive knowledge are taught that Maharaji is a meditation teacher, although a very special meditation teacher who teaches meditation techniques that are not found anywhere else on earth. Many premies still treat him like he is God in human form, and this sort of treatment is not discouraged by Maharaji himself.

If you think that Maharaji is just a meditation teacher, then it's not so hard just to walk away. It becomes a little bit harder to leave when you're taught that the knowledge meditation is the exclusive door to heaven, and only Maharaji holds the keys. And it is extremely hard to leave when you learn to believe that Maharaji is God in human form. Will you go to hell if you leave? Will you miss out on the only way to attain happiness?

A lot of us have been there. We believed Maharaji was God, and we ended up walking away anyway. We suggest that anyone who truly feels that they are afraid to leave because Maharaji might be God should examine some of Maharaji's actions. Look at his lifestyle. Talk to people who have been close to him. There's a lot of information here on this web site, because many of the contributors got to the point where they began to know that Maharaji wasn't divine because of his behavior, or because of the fact that he didn't know or care if leaders of his organization were engaging in abusive behavior. None of us have gone to hell so far, and we suggest that the threat of hell (or insanity, or degradation, or whatever) is a scare tactic used to keep people in Maharaji's organization. To read more about the kind of person Maharaji is, the testimonies of those who have been close to him are collected on this new page on EPO.

Does Maharaji have exclusive rights to the knowledge techniques? Isn't it true that he is the only one who teaches them? Will I experience the same thing if I use the techniques without following Maharaji?
Maharaji does NOT in fact have a copyright on the knowledge techniques. The four techniques that have been taught in knowledge sessions since the 1970's were chosen from several traditional techniques that were taught by the gurus of the Rhadasoami tradition, and were packaged as "The Knowledge" for western premies. Many other teachers have taught, and continue to teach, these same techniques.

Ex-premies who use the knowledge meditation techniques report that their meditation experiences have not changed. We don't feel it's necessary to follow Maharaji to fully experience the meditation techniques. Convincing people of this appears to be a good way for Maharaji to make money.
My premie friends say that Maharaji just wanted to give me a gift, and there's no obligation attached to it. So why don't I feel OK about leaving Maharaji's organization?
Conventional wisdom among today's premies is that Maharaji only asks for three things: don't reveal the meditation techniques, give knowledge a fair chance, and keep in touch. This may have sounded simple and benign when you first heard it, but as you became further involved with Maharaji and his organization, you may have realized that more of your time and devotion was actually required. You may have been asked to do service of some kind, including making donations of money. You found out that doing this was supposed to enhance your experience of knowledge. You may also have gotten the message that devotion to the living master (Maharaji) would enhance your knowledge experience - in fact that this devotion was a prerequisite to REAL experience. All this tends to make people feel that they are obligated to follow Maharaji in order to experience knowledge. It also makes it harder to leave.
Everybody around me seems to be having a great experience following Maharaji. What's the matter with me?
We don't think there's anything the matter with you, because many of us felt the same way. This appears to be a symptom of either thinking for yourself, or recognizing your true feelings. Some of us who followed Maharaji had doubts from the beginning, but we supressed them because it wasn't correct to think and feel those things. This type of supression of feelings can make one quite unhappy, and often quite depressed.

This may be the place to point out that some people don't experience much in meditation. We've found out later that people who we thought were having a wonderful experience with the knowledge were actually miserable. They were afraid to admit to this, however, because they thought it was their own fault for either "being in their minds" (old premie-speak), or "not following their hearts" (new premie-speak).

What will happen to me if I stop following Maharaji?
It depends on you, not on him. It will depend on how long you followed him, and how deeply you had invested yourself in following him. Some people just walk away with no problem, but most of us experienced some anxiety or despair after leaving. You may experience shock, depression, numbing, fear, anger, or all of the above. This is all normal. Most of us were sustained by the feeling that we were doing the right thing for ourselves. Some of us got a lot of support from other ex-premies, or from some type of counseling. We highly encourage people who are trying to extricate themselves from their involvement with Maharaji to get some kind of support: either though friends or family, the ex-premie Forum, or through counseling. It can be a hard thing to go through.

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