Berkeley Barb Volume 17 No. 16 Issue 401 April 20 - 26 1973
Blissed Out, Hissed Out
by Ken Kelley
Rennie Davis did something Wednesday night that few people have ever done before—he united the left. Against him.
It was Rennie in the Lion's Den--Pauley Ballroom. Through the darkened windows behind him loomed Sproul Plaza , site of so many historic rallies, speeches, movements. In the foreground, on a linen-draped altar, a huge blowup of Guru Maharaj-Ji, the divine child prodigy that Rennie believes is God the Father here to lead us all to salvation. He looks more like a young Oriental Mussolini.
A perplexing series of thoughts raced through my head. Here was a man, a friend in whom I placed implicit trust for
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many years, an incredible organizer and orator who was instrumental in changing people's politics and moving people's bodies into action—Chicago, Mayday, Miami. And now the image of the same man, with a mod haircut and dapper suit, telling us to abandon the concept of struggle and place our trust in the hands of a 15-year-old child who will show us the land of milk and honey.
Predictably, too predictably, the vultures were ready to pounce from the start. "All power to the Maharajah, huh Rennie?" "Kiss my lotus ass, motherfucker." Throughout the taunts and barbs, Rennie was unshakeable—"It's cool, man, it's all
right— I'm just here to give a report and people should feel free to say anything they want to, anytime."
He was, in his own newfound vernacular, "blissed-out'-a big smile, easy style, relaxed delivery—the same old form with a mindfucking new content. His ashram apostles, disciples of the San Francisco Divine Light Mission—were strategically situated in the front rows and around the mike to provide any succoring.
After all, Rennie is a very recent convert and needs all the aid any novice suddenly thrust into limelight requires. Their absolute dedication and singlemindedness of purpose shines from their eyes like cosmic laser beams, their joyous composure radiates with amazing energy.
It is a very enlightening commentary on the Movement, recently ready to trash and demean Rennie and other leaders when they were active (and now willing to slash him into literal ribbons), that Rennie now has turned to an organization based on lovevibes for support, where trash is something you give the garbage man.
Rennie anticipated the audience's vicious skepticism with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. "I look out there and see all my friends with the pain on their faces saying 'Poor Rennie, he's really flipped out.' Don't pity me—check out what I'm saying.
"I walked out of Sunday School when I was in the eighth grade when the teacher told us to accept when the teacher told us to accept God and believe it. Now with Guru Maharaj-Ji, you find God and you can't believe it."
"When I first saw the Guru, I thought—big deal, this fat little rich kid running these mystical bullshit trips—who needs it? Every time I saw the evidence of his divinity my mind would say 'no, no, no'—I resisted at every point."
Evidently Rennie's resistance was no match for the Perfect Master's machinations. On a trip to Paris to see Mme. Binh, two old friends of Rennie, guru converts themselves, persuaded Rennie to visit the Divine Headquarters in India. Over a three-week period, his negativism was transformed into evangelic zeal; he saw mystical experiences that showed him The Light.
"What blew my mind the most was that at the ashram, people came up to me and said 'Far out — I was with you in Chicago,' or 'Hey, man, I got arrested with you at Mayday'—these were people I knew and trusted, and they were totally flipped out behind this kid. It really opened my mind."
"The main thing I discovered," continued Rennie, "is that everybody has the capacity to discover in themselves knowledge, truth bliss. And I say to you here that Richard Nixon is truth, knowledge and bliss."
The stunned crowd reaction at that point was awesome. At least three tomatoes were hurled (poor shots—they squished against the Pauley windows), and the hissing reached new crescendoes. The Divine Disciples chanted an Indian phrase which, one of them told me, roughly translates into "Hip Hip Hooray for God."
The pandemonium was a savage satyricaon, a circus of lunatics and movement people who came out to watch the gladiators smear the Christian heretic, and to turn their thumbs down when the time came for the final kill. One had to admire the sheer nerve of Rennie to expose himself to such rabidity—and Rennie capitalized on the underdog role to keep talking.
"I am really placing myself out on a limb above a cliff. And if I weren't totally convinced that the most important event in the history of mankind had arrived, I wouldn't be here now. I will tell you this—before this year is up, Guru Maharaj-Ji will have swept America, in 1974 he will enlighten Eastern Europe, and in 1975 he will visit China and have the greatest single following of people the world has ever known. I know this with every fiber of my being."
Catcall City. Mass gestalt therapy. Nixon sending troops into Peking couldn't have aroused more anger and hysteria. Rennie, standing around his former brothers and sisters who with him had gone from civil rights to anti-imperialism, now with blank stares and unbelieving faces, mouths agape and fury bleeding out of every wound. Casey had struck out at the plate and returned home to find that all of Mudville wanted to crucify him.
And, finally, Rennie with a weary smile raising his hands in a serene gesture of calm. "All I ask, all I want you all to do, is check it out. Find out who Guru Maharaj-Ji is. It'll blow your mind."
It already has, brother.
(The following is an interview BARB reporter Ken Kelley conducted with Rennie Davis at the Pauley Ballroom romp.)
Kelley: Rennie, can I talk to you a few minutes?
Davis: Yeah, I guess so. We need more than a couple minutes, because I'm telling you people here are making the mistakes of their lives not to hear this.
K: I really don't want to trash you, I just want to get a few things straight. Like where is this thing in Astrodome, what's that going to be? You just started to say something about it and you got interrupted.
D: It's going to be an event to try and explain through an incredible display of theatre and presen-
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tations the lives of all the past Perfect Masters and what they've all said and what their knowledge was.
K: Who are all the past Perfect Masters?
D: Well, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed. It's going to have a sixteen-acre exhibit that is going to answer the question, "What is life, why is life, what is the ultimate purpose of life." It's going to be seven pavilions.
One is going to deal with the whole pavilion of the unknown and the supernatural, things like the facts of the lost continent of Atlantis, the ancient civilization, the secret of the Pyramids and numerology, spiritualism, mysticism, Voodoo, magic, withcraft. It's going to be so far out, man.
The second pavilion will deal with all of Mythology in world history. The pavilion of Mythology. Then the third is going to deal with the pavilion of World Religion. It's goint to show how all religions got started, that their source is always a Perfect Master. But then, people screw up, people put it together and people don't have the teaching tht the Perfect Master gives, and why religions can't get it together.
And then a pavilion called Science and Religion. That's going to correlate the truths of religion with the discoveries of modern-day science in order to reveal a universal, scientific, humanitarian, religion for the space age. I mean man it's going to be real far out. And then there's going to be another pavilion called Parapsychology. It's going to demonstrate the techniques of clairvoyance, telepathy, and alchemy.
Kelley: Does the Guru have all these techniques—is he clairvoyant?
Davis: This is being put together by his brother who is the closest disciple of Maharaj-Ji. In his last lifetime he was Jesus. And this time he's brought his Father—Guru Maharaj-Ji—and he's the incarnation of the divine intelligence. Balbhagwan-Ji is 21 years old and there's no question that he's the smartest person on this planet.
K: Maharaj-Ji's brother?
D: His older brother.
K: Well, if he's so far out, is he a Perfect Master too?
K: Well, what distinguishes him from the other guy? How come he's not a Perfect Master?
D: Well, we're going to find out who they all are as time goes on. They're all manifestations of some aspects of divinity.
K: Have you met his brother too?
D: Yes, I spent a lot of time with his brother. I mean his brother is really fantastic, man.
K: You're really convinced of this? Completely convinced?
D: Absolutely convinced. I know it, Ken, and like I wouldn't be out here in this kind of scene unless I was coming from somewhere.
K: Did you expect this kind of reaction tonight, Rennie?
D: Yeah, I mean I didn't know what to expect. I mean I know the way I freaked out the more I investigated and the more I learned. Cause, like I'm not into a God trip, I'm just like everybody else.
K: Are you still an atheist?
D: No, I'm not. I mean I was, but I mean like when something comes along that's true and it's different from whatever it is I've been thinking before, then I relate to it, you know, if it's true. And the way I figured out truth is what I'm experiencing directly, and I'm telling you it's not a belief thing for me at all. K: What did you say Nixon was? D: Nixon is like everyone else. He's a human whn has the capability of realizing that he's God and the only way he can realize that he's God is through this knowledge. And what the realization produces in yourself is truth, that is what is actual truth, what is actually eternal, what is unending, real consciousness. Which means aware of everything. Instant awareness and bliss. Love, I mean bliss like Bliss with a capital B.
K: Have you gone through all those three things?
D: Well, what is happening to me is that I'm experiencing higher and higher levels of this reality. And it's so powerful, man, it's so strong, that I'm connected to this siter. (Points to one of the Guru disciples.) And this sister and I are in an organization and it has a leadership that is Divine. And like we know that when we go out and speak with people we do nothing. He arranges all of our meetings, and whom we should speak to. That's what I mean about this organization. If people would just investigate it, if they will hear it and investigate it, they'll discover the same thing that I've discovered. If they'd really check it out. Cause the evidence is there—it's all out there.
K: How do you investigate it?
D: Well I think you begin by talking to hundreds and hundreds of people who have received knowledge, and they'll tell the same story in their own words from their own experience of what I would have told tonight if I'd been allowed to tell it.
K: You were mentioning up there about being freaked out by Jesus freaks and stuff, and I get the same freakout by talking to some of these starry-eyed people that sit around and say the Maharaj-Ji's God, you know.
D: Right, but like you have to like go to lots of different people and you'll find there are people just like yourself who have been brought in, Ken. We've got the most creative scientists, the best artists, the most far-out architects, political people all over the world—I mean really heavy-duty people, that are coming in left and right now. And they're coming in not because they're on some God trip but, because they're just being plucked out of the earth right now. Pluck, Pluck, Pluck, Pluck, just like me on the way to Paris, France I'm plucked out of the sky, man, and taken from I don't know where and put through something that I don't understand until like the evidence is like I can't move without it, and like this whole family is probably going to change the world, and there's going to be a big wash of the world and the people who have knowledge are going to pass through this time and the people who don't have knowlege I don't believe are going to pass through this time.
K: When is this going to happen?
D: I don't know but soon like very soon.
K: Like before 1980?
D: Yeah, I would guess yeah.
Kelley: Way before then?
Davis: Yeah, I think it's moving very fast. This next year he's going to build in California a city that's going to be a concrete demonstration of heaven on earth.
K: Where in California?
D: The place hasn't been chosen yet. So, how does he put up a city in one year and put all these things together and make it the most far-out total harmony—no money, no difficulties, showing people are in a higher state of consciousness than any other place on the planet. The planet itself is going to get darker and darker, more and more freaked out. Everyone who thinks of getting themselves together is going to find out they can't get any-thing together. And people with knowledge are going to get higher, higher, higher, higher. And the world is going to split between those that are going crazy and those who are literally realizing that they are God.
K: Is this the only way to salvation right now on the planet—is there no other trip possible?
D: There is no other trip. This energy is One and it manifests itself each time in one person. And it's always just one person, and this time what's different is he's come for the whole planet. He's already given this knowledge to five million people. There's never been a time in the history of the world like this time, and people are very foolish to not at least just hear the rap. You know—just very foolish. But I'm telling you that everyone is going to hear and everyone is going to be very freaked out. And what I'd like to do is just hold everyone's head and like help people get through it so they can understand what's coming down.
K: How long a process is it to discover knowledge? How long did it take you?
D: Not so long—about three weeks.
K: In three weeks, all that happened?
K: Well, what about the money thing that everybody always raises? Like this guy drives a Mercedes and his mother has all these diamonds and that his father is incredibly rich according to the New York Times. I mean how do you react to all this?
D: His mother doesn't have a lot of diamonds and his father is not incredibly rich. Definitely he's into giving an appearance of the material world around him. He's coming into the twentieth century. We've got to save our planet professionally. You know the Perfect Master is like a mirror, and whatever you want to see you'll see and if you've got doubt or whatever he'll just mirror it right back and if you try to judge him by his appearance—no way, no way. He's going to run the biggest trip on your brain. And one of the trips is going to be money, and people are going to say that's something, but it's nothing. It's all an illusion.
K: Why does he need it?
D: Just to run trips and play games on people's minds.
K: That's all it is? Playing games to make people realize the ludicrousness of the pretension.
D: Absolutely, absolutely. It's the heaviest thing going on. And people just got to check it out.
K: Are you into making predictions with this knowledge receive? I mean, do you think that a lot of people on the left are going to be as resistant as they obviously have been tonight?
D: I think by the end of the year everybody in the movement will be into it.
K: You really do?
K: Rennie, do you realize what you're saying?
D: Yes, of course. Listen, man, I wouldn't be saying it unless I was coming from somewhere. I'm telling you. I wouldn't, I'm not on a belief thing or anything. I'm speaking with more certainty—I'm positive.
K: You're really far out on a limb. As far out as you can be to say something like that.
D: Yeah, that's right, and it's all going to come very soon and people can just sit back and watch. You can be in it and save the planet. I mean like I'm telling you it's a chance to save the whole planet, you can bring the whole planet through a change. You can sit back and laugh and then get washed away, or you can get into it and find out that it's actually true.
K: Well, you said he's going to go to China in a couple of years. Is he also going to go to Vietnam, do you think?
D: I don't know, I would hope so. His brother just loves the Vietnamese people. His brother has just given me the sense that Viet-
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nam has brought in an age of darkness in America that will give rise to the light of Maharaj-Ji. And that Vietnam is like a precious jewel. K ; He sounds like St. John the Baptist was to Jesus, sort of to clear, the way kind of thing to help enlighten.
D: Well, what I think is that Maharaj Ji's brother is Jesus in his last lifetime and that this time he's brought his Father.
Jesus is the perfect servant of God, right, and he goes to prepare a place, clear the right-hand side of his Father. Watch in our movie where Balbhagwan Ji sits everytime he appears in this film, he's always on the right-hand side of Maharaj-Ji.
K: Have you talked to any Vietnamese since you've done this?
D: No, I haven't.
Kelley: Do you intend to?
Davis: Absolutely, man I'm gonna shout it in the streets.
K: What do you think their reaction to you is right now?
D: I don't know. I think they're going to be more open to this than a lot of people here, though. It's interesting, Maharaj-Ji says America will be the first country to realize who I am and India will be the last. Yep, it's really going to go just like that.
K: Well, Rennie, I don't know what to say. It really pissed me off that people were really into being cute and everything but, you've got to expect something like that in Berkeley of all places. Was this the place you kicked off the tour?
D: No, I went to Santa Barbara last night.
K: What was your reaction there?
D: Well, they were pretty good. Anybody who will actually be quiet and listen a little bit—I mean people get all sorts of different reactions but, it's good you know, if people would hear the whole thing, it blows their mind. A lot of movement people came who said they had thought I'd lost my mind but at the end of the thing they just were completely blown out, they're dropping everything and they're going to check it out. Without a framework anything is impossible. A program that intends to end suffering for humanity—and people say what are you talking about—if you can get the framework laid at least they'll check it out.
K: I have a lot of respect for you, Rennie, and a lot of other people do, too.
D: For sure.
K: And so, that's why we really want to find out what's going on. Where was the place in India where your Discovery took place?
D: Prem Nagar. It's in Northern India.
K: How would one go there if one wanted to get enlightened?
D: You don't have to go to India. Maharaj-Ji is going to be here and he's going to storm this country.
K: When's he going to be in San Francisco?
D: I don't know the time, but very soon.
K: Are you going to be with him?
D: Whatever he wants.
K: I heard that you were recently made a vice-president in the organization?
D: Everything I've done is to organize this tour, which will culminate in the Astrodome. And everything that you've been doing is to play a function in His plan. And everything that this sister is doing is in accordance with His Divine plan.
K: How does this fit into combating racism, sexism, etc? Where does struggle come in?
D; There is no struggle. We connect ourselves to Him, which is the source of light. And we come to realize that we are One, just like energy is One. And then we will end all the problems that are in everybody's way. It's a test for us—like this meeting tonight. This meeting didn't faze me at all—I'm experiencing all this stuff—I really can't tell you, you just have to experi-ence it.
K: Did you experience all this when you first met him?
D: No, when I first met him I thought he was flipped out—I couldn't relate to him at all. Because I was relating to how he looked—I mean, how he looks. It's ridiculous.
D: I listened to people I trusted, and believed the experiences they had.
K: How did you experience all the knowledge the first time? What happened?
D: Well, the way I received knowledge is a long story. I first was shown a technique called "light," and I saw light in my head that was a hundred times lighter than the sun. And it was fantastic, but my mind seeing this light just went crazy. I said "no, no, no—this is a fraud, a technique." Then the second thing I was taught was Music—at the center of the creation are sounds that support creation—I heard a bell that made me more blissed out than I've ever been in my life, and my mind started hearing really loud rock 'n' roll, and I just went crazy. Then the third technique was called Nectar—when Jesus went into the desert for 40 days he was drinking Nectar. It's a mechanism inside your body that sustains you without food or water. And the fourth is called the Word—you know, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God"—the Last Gospel stuff, every scripture talks about the Word. It turns out there's a vibration in your body, and He teaches you what this vibration is.
K: So all this just uplifted you and broke your resistance?
D: No, my mind just completely flipped out and said "Get out of India. He's the Anti-Christ, a fraud." And I went out and started doing my laundry and tried to figure out how this could be a fraud, trying to figure out a theory on how this could not be real even though I'd experienced it. I thought it just must be techniques, I've just been taken in. And like about two or three hundred crows from all over the area started flying in, and came to the grove of trees where I was sitting and started screaming at me and going crazy and swooping down on me and going at my head. And it was out of control. And at the point where I was literally terrified and flipped, I pulled out of my laundry this pillowcase, and embroidered on it was this phrase, "Lord of the Universe." And it was just an amazing kind of coincidence in the midst of this freak-out, and I just said, "I really don't know what is going on here." I wasn't saying I know, I was just saying I don't know. And I just let go, and instantly all these birds just flew away in all directions—they left! And then a guy came along and said, "Who is this Maharaj-Ji cat, he's just a rip-off artist"—more doubts than me, you know. And I found myself trying to talk to him, and trying to be more open. And I started telling the other guy, "Just let go of it—just let go and say you don't know—confess you don't really know either way, and that it's given to you from inside, from your experiences." Here is the truth—I know it, but I don't believe it.
Davis told this story on more than one occasion and here is how he told it to Ramparts magazine. Was it 50 crows or 300? It's particularly weird as it was the same reporter. Facts meant little to Rennie Davis, then and even less now.
"Then my mind just completely flipped out and said 'Get out of India. He's the Anti-Christ, a fake.' And I went outside and was dragged off by this Mahatma to wash some clothes, my service for the day." Every premie is expected to perform diurnal service for the Perfect Master, whether it be envelope-licking in the ashram of dishwashing. "I was sitting there by this water trying to figure out how this could be a fraud, trying to figure out a theory of how this could not be real even though I'd just experienced it. I thought, 'I've just been taken in, these are only techniques.' Then I noticed this crow sitting on a branch. Then another. Then a couple more.
Pretty soon there are like 50 crows sitting there cackling at me, flying around. Then they start flying closer and closer, 'til finally one dives for my head dead ringer and I managed to jump just in time. It was right out of Hitchcock - all these birds screaming at me and going crazy and swooping down on me. It was out of control.
"And at the point where I was literally terrified for my life, I pulled out of my laundry this pillowcase. Embroidered on it was this phrase, 'Lord of the Universe.' It was just an amazing kind of coincidence in the midst of this freakout. I pulled out that pillowcase and instantly the crows just flew away in all directions-they left! And I just said, 'I really don't know what's going on here, I just really don't know.' " That, it turned out, was the crucial point - to admit that you haven't the faintest idea what's happening; to literally lose your mind and the control it has over your soul and let the Word of the Perfect Master take over.
"For the first time," says Rennie, "I felt completely open. And the buzz I was feeling was just unbelievable. I just surrendered my mind completely to Guru Maharaj Ji and said 'No more-from here on out you do the thinking and I'll do the listening.'