'my son is hynotized' … 'I have received the Knowledge'
New York Times: More on 'The Guru Business' …
The spiritual delight members of the Divine Light Mission find in experiencing knowledge through the Guru Maharaj ji is not always shared by their families, who may know other truths and be pained by the separations these differences bring. The deeply emotional response of such groups to Khushwant Singh's article, "The guru business, 'Do you know the aim of life?'" which appeared in this magazine of April 8, is reflected in the following letters to the editor.
The energy within
Aside from Mr. Singh's flair for making inexpressibly exquisite (this is, admittedly, subjective) experiences seem like the grossest inanities, the major inaccuracy of the article is in his deseription of the experience called "Knowledge." It is not, as Mr. Singh suggests, a mantra, or "sacred" syllable whispered in the ear of the initiate. Rather, It is a direct experience of primordial energy within. It can be seen internally as a brilliant, all-encompassing Light. It can be heard internally as completely compelling harmonies. lt can be tasted internally as sweetness. Lastly, lt can be apprehended as a constant vibration of subtlemost frequcncy. This last phenomenon is descrlbed by various faiths as a "Word" (which was "In the beginning …" John i, 1), Shem Hamephorash, Ram Nam, mahamantra, etc.
Brooklyn, N. Y.
I am one who has experienced the "knowledge" and found lt to be the antithesis of what lt purports to be.
At my "knowledge session" the holy man who was revealing this "knowledge" asked us to give up all the money we had with us to the ashram. When some held back, he scoffed at them and said they were not ready to receive this "knowledge." Although one woman was willing to surrender her half of a bank account she was told to leave because she would not give up her husband's half of the account.
After I recelved "knowledge" I went to several premie (receiver of knowledge) gatherings. The majority of people at these gatherings were frighteningly fanatic and I found myself being dictated to by premies who had been meditating longer than myself. I was told I must go to India for the festival, I must give my money to the ashram, and so an and so forth. I was also inundated with literature telling me to go out and spread this "knowledge."
My most recent experience with this movement is the reason for this letter. A friend of mine was told to leave a house [she was living in] because she was not a believer in this particular guru. It did not matter that she had paid her rent or that she had been welcome long before the other residents turned to this "knowledge": this house must be strictly for premies.
Intolerance such as this stems from the premies' inability to cope with ideas outside their own. Their world is very fragile and great pains are taken for its protection. It is tragic that basically good, and I think peace starved people, get snared in this trap. Of course the premies have pat answers to every one of my statements but words are not enough. One can only know something by the fruits it bears and I would say that this particular fruit is very sour.
SUSAN E. LYMAN
Canton, N. Y.
Neither beads nor chants
True knowledge of God should not tell us to shave our heads or live adrift from society, or even give up everything we own. If we want proof of God and how to realize Him and become perfect, that should be all we want or need. We should not need mystic words or beads to go along with it or be it. The knowledge of God must be something which can be meditated upon at all times, which will make us act as the Bible teaches.
Guru Maharaj ji purports to give these things, techniques of God-realization. He does not give a mantra, beads, or chants, nor does he ask for money or anything material. Rather, he can and does give direct experience of God. If a person can find and realize God directly by reading Scriptures, chanting, or counting the beads of the rosary, then let him. But if he wants and needs proof, then he must have an experience that's given directly by a living teacher.
THOMAS C. SWAIN
Greenlawn, N. Y.
The unbidden guest
Guru Maharaj ji was present at our Seder table this year. Not in person, but by the evident destruction he has wrought upon our lives. In fact, my husband and I were to see each other alone across the holiday table. Only last year, our daughter was here. A radiant girl of 17 who baked and cooked with her mother, a talented young woman anticipating college entrance in the fall; an only child who showed bright promise and for whom we had such hope!
Now she seems in a hypnotic trance. She pays lip service to love and peace, but her "love" makes her indifferent to our pain, and she practices what she has been taught by the Guru, a philosophy called "nonattachment." In keeping with this, she has left her parents as readily as she has left her home and fled from her school.
There are other families whose lives have been disrupted. Let us consider the widowed mother whose daughter left College one month before graduation because the ashram required her services. Let us speak of the family whose child left for India, lulling them into the belief that she was taking a school-sponsored trip to Canada. (The invitation arrived in the mail on college letterhead!) This family received a letter each week from their daughter, mailed to them from the ashram in Montreal, before they inadvertently learned that the College had never sponsored such a trip and that the ashram had perpetrated a hoax. We must speak too of those children who, at 16 and 17, departed for India against their parents' wishes, having been informed by the ashram that there was no legal action parents could take past the age of 15.
We parents are separated by geography and anonymity. We are united only by pain.
Whitestone, N. Y.
The article written about Guru Maharaj ji reminds me of a saying: If a pickpocket meets a saint, he will see only his pockets.
Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
Thank you! For one day in the past six months I didn't cry, thanks to your article.
My son, who is normally very sensible and bright, is hypnotized by Guru Maharaj ji. Is there anything we can do to keep him and his traveling mahatma out of this country?
Plainview, N. Y.
I am a physician practicing internal medicine and I have received the Knowledge of Balyogeshwar (Shri Guru Maharaj ji).
Every person is aware that he has a body and a mind. There is some debate as to whether he has a soul or a spirit. Certainly medical science does not attempt to answer this question. Yet, there clearly is an energy keeping the body and mind going, keeping the heart beating, the lungs breathing. The Knowledge of Guru Maharaj ji is not philosophy, words, religion or ideology. By means of simple natural techniques, Guru Maharaj ji shows us how to turn our awareness and our senses inward in order to experience this life energy. These experiences exist in everyone. Maharaj ji points them out to us. They
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do not make one want to leave this world and just meditate. Instead, they awaken the desire for full activity, for full service to humanity. They completely relieve the emptiness and depression so commonly experienced. They bring the mind to a peaceful, clear state which, contrary to Mr. Singh's comments about the benefits of a tortured mind, provides one with an unimpeded means to fully express whatever talents he has been given: our creativity, our skills, and our ability to love.
As a physician, I approached this with a skeptical, analytic, mind. I have now had the opportunity to practice this Knowledge for 10 months and each day I am made more aware of its unique and wonderful nature.
EDWARD S. HANZELIK, M.D.
Divine Health Care Services
You have correctly described the infatuation many elite Jewish young people have with Eastern cults. Some of our best young men and women have been drawn, not to the fatuous Jews for Jesus, but to the more distant, and to them more profound, spirituality of the Orient, I have inereasingly heard from some of these devotees, however, who, having tasted of mystic exotica, now are eager to blend their new experience with their own native tradition. They have not been helped much by a Jewish community whose priorities are in buildings and overseas projects rather than in the religious inspiration of their own young. Still, at least one of the young men I know, now studying meditation in a foreign ashram, wrote me recently:
"Would you please send one of those booklets for the Passover service? I think I would like to celebrate it this year and it will not be possible to get to a synagogue in the area. … As you know I have felt, even after leaving my atheist stage, that Judaism was somehow dominated by the fierce father God of the Old Testament, but I am now seeing beyond this to the essential closeness to the source which permeates the religion and is expressed particularly in a festival such as Passover, a festival of death and renewal, of freedom and duty. I learn very slowly how much of my rejected past I must reaccept, and how good and right it is that I do so."
He may be a more typical returning Jew than we have come to expect. In any case, he will bring new insights and new demands to his own people. I hope we can begin to confront both.
ARNOLD JACOB WOLF
Chaplain and Director,
B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation
at Yale University
Back to the source
The "knowledge" that Guru Maharaj ji is freely revealing to all who ask is a practical method for us as human beings to realize the source of our own lives. This source, which some call God, manifests itself in Divine Light and overwhelming waves of love, bliss, and peace. That is why the guru business is booming. Salutations at the lotus feat of Guru MaharaJ ji.
I remember having heard so many times in the past, "You only see what you want to see." It appears to me, dear editor, that Khushwant Singh only saw what he wanted and at the same time had both eyes closed. To a blind man, the light of the sun does not exist, but in reality, does it not shine ever so brightly? Similarly, to a person perceiving only from his two carnal eyes and from the mind, Shri Guru Maharaj ji is a plump 15-year-o1d Indian boy. But to those fortunate souls to whom has been revealed the Divine "third eye," he is a light brighter than ten thousand suns.
Here is one human being perceived by two other human beings, but which is the one real reality?
STEVEN A. KANE
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Copyright The New York Times
Originally published April 29, 1973