Michael Dettmers, Former Personal Assistant to Prem Rawat Internet Revelations
Date: Mon, Apr 03, 2000 at 00:01:55 (GMT)
Subject: Michael Dettmers speaks out!
To: Jim Heller
From: Michael Dettmers
Date: April 2, 2000
At your suggestion, I am writing to address many of the comments that have called my integrity into question in the Forum section of your website and on some of the links associated with it. I trust that what I have to say will answer many of the questions that have been raised and set the record straight on the misrepresentations that have been asserted. I expect that there are a few people who will disagree with me no matter what I say. I also believe that most readers, including many who know me to be a person of integrity, are simply seeking a clarification to some of the issues that have been raised in your forum.
First, I have not spoken to Maharaji, nor participated in his work either actively or passively, nor attended any of his programs or events for many, many years. Nevertheless, I have no intention of engaging in rumor and gossip nor doing or saying anything that disparages him or my past involvement with him. In my years of working with him, I acted, at all times, to the best of my ability, and with honesty and integrity. Although my life has long since moved on in a new and different direction, I honor and take full responsibility for my past. The time I spent with Maharaji were important years in my life, and I continue to derive great benefit from the knowledge he taught me.
Second, the Swiss Foundation to which I refer in my bio is called the Élan Vital Foundation. In the late 70's, one of my responsibilities was to re-organize Divine Light Mission, in part because there was considerable litigation over the name in India and elsewhere caused by the dispute between Maharaji and his mother. The Swiss Foundation became a hub (not the legal owner) for the overall coordination of most of the independent, not-for-profit Élan Vital organizations around the world. This structure simplified the organization and financing of worldwide programs, festivals, tours, and all of their related support activities.
It is my estimate that these Élan Vital related activities generated about 100M worldwide especially when you include the revenues derived from product sales, food services, and the airline tickets, car rentals, and hotel accommodations for attendees at the numerous events organized all over the world. Of course, all of these entities were not owned or consolidated under one company or organization. They were spread out over several businesses and organizations in many countries. I had little or nothing to do with the day-to-day running of most of them. Nevertheless, from an overall executive management perspective, I had ultimate responsibility for organizing these worldwide events and that's what is reflected in my bio.
In my opinion, there is nothing mysterious about this information. During the years I managed these activities, Maharaji and Élan Vital in the USA and elsewhere were audited by various government taxing authorities including the IRS on several occasions. In every instance, he and Élan Vital were found to be in complete compliance. I take pride and satisfaction in the quality and standard of service that my team, consisting of premies and several non-premie professional advisors, provided in this regard.
Some have suggested that, because I don't mention him in my bio, I am covering-up my past relationship with Maharaji. This is not the case. In my personal life, all of my close friends, many of whom had never heard of Maharaji or who had heard of him but were not premies, are aware of my past involvement with him. In my professional life, some of my clients know that I worked with Maharaji; most of them do not, nor do I feel compelled to raise the subject. For the most part, it is not relevant to the task at hand, nor is there usually a context in which it would arise. This is not to suggest that I am ashamed about my past relationship with him, nor would I ever deny it should the question be asked. To mention him on my bio, however, simply for the sake of including him (as some of you seem to be suggesting) would serve no purpose. In my opinion, a bio should include only those references, skills, accomplishments, and/or activities that relate to, and are consistent with, one's current offers in the marketplace. The Élan Vital activities I managed are relevant, so I include them in my bio.
Third, there is great misunderstanding and misrepresentation about Dettmers Industries Inc., a company I co-founded with my brother in 1987. It is implied that this company is nothing more than DECA with a new name, and that I somehow made a personal fortune by taking over a company that was created for Maharaji with the slave labor of premies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are the facts.
I, and others, created DECA in the late 70s to refurbish a used Boeing 707 to provide transportation for Maharaji and Élan Vital personnel. It is true that many premies from around the world gave of their time and skills on this project for very little money and/or modest support. However, nobody was a slave laborer. Slaves do not have the power to choose their situation. When the project was completed in 1980, DECA evolved into an aircraft completion center, fabricating and installing interiors for corporate jets. This endeavor proved to be commercially unviable and, within a year or so, the company was sold to an independent (i.e. non-premie) buyer who was primarily interested in the aircraft seating products DECA had designed and certified. Shortly thereafter, the company was re-named Aircraft Modular Products (AMP) and some of the premies that worked at DECA, including my brother, chose to remain as paid employees of AMP. I am not qualified, nor is it my business, to comment on what became of AMP after the sale.
In 1984, my brother left AMP to start Dettmers Precision Crafting, a sole proprietorship where he, with the help of his wife and one or two others, designed and manufactured hi-lo tables for corporate aircraft. In 1987, my brother and I joined forces to grow this business and, as partners, we incorporated the company as Dettmers Industries Inc. In the beginning there were only five employees. We began with three FAA certified table designs, a used drill press and lathe, some miscellaneous tools and equipment, a few thousand dollars of capital and the slave labor of nobody but ourselves. The company never had any association with Maharaji, Élan Vital, DECA or AMP.
Six years later, in 1993, our company was selected by Inc. magazine as one of the "Best Small Companies To Work For In America." We received this recognition not just because we dramatically shortened manufacturing cycle times, accelerated innovation, and improved quality and profitability but, more importantly, because we simultaneously improved the standard of living for all of our employees by incorporating values-based practices that promoted self-esteem, dignity, ambition, prosperity and pride of ownership throughout the workforce. In this way we transformed our company into a world-class organization that benefited all of its stakeholders.
In 1995, having achieved what I set out to accomplish at Dettmers Industries Inc., and finding myself in demand as a speaker and consultant in the design and development of partnership-centered, values-based, learning organizations, I co-founded Gylanix Solutions, a management consulting firm. What we do and how we do it is well documented on our website at www.gylanix.com.
You have asked why Maharaji and I chose to part company. Based on years of experience in managing and promoting his worldwide activities, I had come to the conclusion that a different approach to spreading his message was needed, including a re-examination of his role in the process, if he were to better address and connect with the concerns and challenges people are facing in our post-modern world. To that end, I made several recommendations. When Maharaji decided not to adopt my suggestions, we mutually agreed that it would be best if I resigned.
I must add, however, that although we differed on how best to proceed with his work in the future, Maharaji always treated me with great respect, dignity and love, not just while I worked with him, but also at the time of my departure. Even though we disagreed, I respect his right to make whatever interpretation he chooses. I am clear, after all, that it is his work.
I was also aware that it is sometimes much easier to give someone else advice about what to do than it is to put your own advice into practice. It was with that awareness in mind that I was motivated to make Dettmers Industries Inc. into the kind of company it became. That same motivation continues to inspire the evolution and development of my work through Gylanix Solutions.
I trust that what I have said here sets the record straight about me and where I stand on the issues that have been raised in your forum.