A Difficult Disillusionment
The following letter was posted on the internet on prem-rawat-talk.org on 1st May 2017. The writer, who was not aware it would be published online, had rejected the guru and apostasized from Divine Light Mission over 30 years before judging by internal evidence in the letter. He also appeared to have been one of Prem Rawat's inner circle.
When I received your message, I pondered how I had processed my transition. In retrospect, there were a few important avenues that allowed me to move on - and I do feel comfortable in myself that I have moved on, but who knows what lurks in the dark caverns? ("Only the shadow knows," if that old radio program, from way, way before your time prompts any memories.)
Truth is, I went through the process very intimately and openly and for a considerable time (years really) with a number of old ashram buddies with whom I am still close, allowing, even encouraging me to explore and express the depths of it - from theological, social and personal experiences and perspectives. That's a very smart group of guys and for years it was a subject of our ongoing sharing.
Second, I wrote and journaled about old memories and old feelings I had during the GMJ days, reflecting on what they meant, how I responded and why, and how I feel now, both about my thoughts, feelings and actions of the times, and what I learned from them and the choice I make now to move through them and move on.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I truly never felt much angst, anger or blame about my many years in the ashram. I always held a healthy dose of, if not doubt, a connection to a lifetime of explorations, reading and experiences on my way leading to and even during my GMJ days. I don't think I ever had one ounce of blame aimed at him. I knew that it was always my choice to follow his path; and though while recognizing the incredible structured system – not doubt developed not so much by him, but over millennia of teachers and cultures, that corralled us down a chute, like cattle being led to slaughter – I did recognize it for what it was. Perhaps I had the benefit of being slightly older than many coming at that time and the advantage of more extensive philosophical and spiritual readings and experiences that my 25 years prior to GMJ's entrance in my life afforded me.
I also never completely let go of my own control of my life. While diving into much of his universe (as evidenced party by my roles and actions), I always felt it was up to me to bring the best of my being into the process. So, for example, when ____________ and I shared a room in the ashram, we always had a TV (considered a no-no for ashram residents) – not really to "escape" into sports (although I still lament the deep hole in my knowledge of sports history from the mid-70s - mid 80s) – but more because we believed that staying connected to the world in that way only enhanced our ability to perform our services. My service brought me into regular contact with "normal" people; I needed to speak their language and know the events and ideas that shaped them at the time. I have zero doubt that GMJ knew we were doing it and trusted us to do what we thought best. He had plenty of opportunities to interact with us and to make his own judgment about whether our actions were diminishing our experience or ability to be useful to him.
I believe that I made a conscious choice, continuously, to follow him. I was aware that it was always a choice I made, but it was my choice to make. I was fortunate to have numerous experiences of how "monmuts (those who left knowledge)" were considered, treated and even languaged. I also had plenty of experiences of GMJ's utter meanness and what was obviously his tenuous grasp on reality, which became ever more tenuous over time as he wanted more of the material and other trappings he warned about. I was pimping for him when he was 13. I was buying him booze and dope even earlier.
His deep character flaws were obvious to me, and I was never able to embrace the idea of dismissing them to the grace and power of guru. I never truly abandoned my values, and that is what doomed me in his eyes.
I really pissed him off on at least two occasions, and the feeling became reciprocated. First, I went to him with stories of how the children, the babies were being malnourished at the hotel that housed families working on GMJ's airplane renovation in Miami, and said that he MUST stop progress on the airplane, balancing it with the human needs of his premies - and of babies, babies! His reaction?… he barred me from his residence for a month.
In one of my roles, I had the responsibility of dealing with everyone who showed up to see him from all over the world, and admitted more than a few to mental hospitals. I approached him with a written, well-explained, detailed and excellent idea that addressed what I had learned from him about what he wanted done in regard to those often bedraggled, suffering premies, but also allowed us to do our best to care for them as they needed. His response?…from that point on, he no longer allowed me to see him and I no longer had an interest in doing so.
I could not accept in my deepest being that guru would abandon people to suffering, and rebelled at the notion that, if that was happening, it was because he knew what was best. I was unwilling to give up the love and compassion I had felt from birth, and if that was not okay with him - then fuck him.
I was well aware than I made a choice - to remain with him, and so never truly harbored deep resentment from that aspect, like I was tricked, trapped, or cajoled. In many ways, I benefitted greatly from my many years with him and in the ashram. But I was going to be god-dammed to give up myself, thinking my true existence lay only in surrender to him. Now, unquestionably, I did a hell of a lot of surrendering. And no doubt, to my retrospective chagrin, I was the vehicle for him to create much suffering in people's lives.
So, maybe I never have processed it all. I do know that it just about never comes up in my thoughts, and as far as I can tell, in my feelings.