Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 16:27:29 (GMT)
Subject: Gratitude to this Forum and its participants
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 16:27:29 (GMT)
So where do I send my hard-won rupees?
I've been checking into this astonishing site for at least a couple of years. I've learned a lot and laughed a great deal. And almost wept. This is my first post.
I am tremendously moved by the sincerity and intellectual vigor demonstrated here in the grappling with the profound issues summoned by involvement with GM & K. This site is a most necessary antidote to the stultification of inquiry and censoring of shared discourse about some pretty thorny questions that refuse to go away.
It seems that all those who regularly post or lurk/monitor here are permanently captured by the GM & K phenomena. If we weren't, we wouldn't even show up. Is it 'once a premie, always a premie? Can't ever shake it?
But how great that the boddhisatva spirit persists that brings you all here -- some so much that I wonder how you ever get anything else done! -- for the benefit and, dare I say it, upliftment of humankind. This particular internet space seems critical for the prevention and cure of our unique brand of superstition, fear and bigbrotherish mind control. It is empowering and refreshing, in all its variety of tone and content.
I've been thinking that there are other issues on the table, having to do with the future course of religious/philosophical thought on this planet, and how political, scientific and economic realities will be affected by how people think about what now seems to be just another slick/sick guru cult.
Not that we'll live so long as to know how history will unfold; however, we just may be born back into it (if you subscribe to that notion).
I mean, consider how the lives and subsequent cults of Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Buddha, et al., have influenced the course of history, and have both inspired AND retarded scientific and artistic understandings and progress, having directly or indirectly brought both exquisite beauty and utter depravity into being.
Perhaps this is just the way, the will, and the reflection of conflicted 'human nature', both in its individual aspect, and collectively. Man makes gurus, he needs them for some yearning reason, and Nature (in the way that Nature abhors a vacuum) provides. It may be the natural and civilized mentoring phenomenon that has gotten both amplified and distorted. Didn't P.T. Barnum also have some insight along these lines?
It seems there is a concerted effort to market and perpetuate the guru's myth and reputation, true of most any guru. The Bible's Apostles as well as today's EV are doing much the same kind of work: PR for the CEO.
But how to guard against education from becoming indoctrination? How to cultivate respect for, if not to celebrate, diversity in cultures, philosophies and outlook, without the tendency toward witchhunts, pogroms, holocausts, and jihads? How to prevent differing canons from becoming cannons?
That's what is so great about this forum, and I am indeed grateful: People are trying mightily to understand what the hell happened -- and is happening -- and to resolve the discord between the teaching, the practice, and the promise. Yes, we may have been 'had' on one level, but we were 'giving' it to ourselves, too. And in the work of resolving all this, there still seems to be immense benefit.
Some brief background:
I first heard of 'the young 13-year old perfect master' in 1971 when I was 19, and became a 'premie' (that oddly diminutive-sounding term) in 1972 at Montrose Guru Puja. Joined an ashram, went to London, also India (several times), was in Blue Aquarius, landed on the Satpal side of the 'great split' in, what year was it, 1975?, and continued ashramic involvement until about 1988. Have maintained sporadic contact with Bhole Ji and Satpal Ji, and still value the meditation practice to this day.
BTW, I hope to participate from time to time, and wonder how you folks accomplish the italicizing and bolding of text.
My sincerest best wishes to all.
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 17:10:58 (GMT)
Subject: Did you play the trombone?
I was in Blue Aquarius from the Camp Joan Meier phase forward, through the ugly split. The last band houses I lived in were in Venice and Culver City (with Colleen and Doug, Matt and Raya, and a bunch of others).
Welcome to the discussion. I can't say welcome to the Forum, because you've been reading the posts for quite some time!
If you were on the Bhole Ji/Satpal side then you were in touch with Michael Green, Rick, Helen, Knud Bjorno, Sylvia St. James and a bunch of others way longer than I was, and I would be glad to hear about them. My e-mail address is above so we don't have to chat about that on the Forum.
I am still in touch with Larry Cohen (bass, piano, arranger extraordinaire) and Dick Parke (guitar) [Dick was in during Soul Rush, Millenium, and for a while after that].
As for bold, italics, fonts, etc. -- click on Forum Help at the top of the page, and that should get you there. Once you type in the tags, they are embedded in the post, so I can't show you here.
Best wishes, f
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 16:37:26 (GMT)
Subject: Thanks and welcome Carl. a question for you…
Were you in Indian ashrams until 1988?
Under Satpal's guidance?
I think the US ashrams closed in 1983, that's why I ask.
I would be very interested in knowing more about the Satpal side of things…
What his version of the split was.
How big is his following?
What is his take on maharaji?
Have they ever talked, like at Mata Ji's funeral?
What does Bhole Ji do these days?
Just wondering..thanks for your thoughtful post..
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 19:47:23 (GMT)
Subject: Thanks and welcome Carl. a question for you…
I was in Blue Aquarius at the time of the split, and most all of us were quite loyal to Bhole Ji, who was loyal to Satpal and Mata Ji. It was a very traumatic time, as you can imagine.
At that time we were all staying at Camp Joan Meier (Meyer?), a large, rather nicely maintained, camp for physically handicapped children. Those children were not there; it was no longer being used for that purpose, or maybe we were there only for the off-season, I can't recall. (I was not a honcho.) It had nice great number of cementblock 'cabins', a rehearsal hall, dining hall and kitchen, other apartments for staff and so on. It was near or north of Malibu, and was on Pacific Coast Highway directly across from the ocean. It was actually idyllic, just beautiful: the wooded hills were behind us, the sparkling ocean in front of us. It was a popular spot for surfers, too. Some of us would go down to the beach at night and meditate. Some may have been doing other things, I seem to recall.
I remember the 'night of the guns.' Although I never saw the guns myself, there was a very disturbing night at the split-up time when the whole compound was 'under siege' and Bhole Ji was in, or felt to be in, considerable danger. The DLM heavies were so unpredictable and bizarre, anything could have happened.
Eventually, we set up in Thousand Oaks, CA, and took a number of apartments in an attractive apartment complex. We were pursued there by the DLM heavies, the names of whom I've forgotten, who would come around and try to intimidate, cajole, threaten and entreat us to reconsider our allegience. I distinctly remember Jagdeo also coming there to talk to us, apparently to try to gather us back to the DLM view. We would have none of it. I'm somewhat certain he conducted there no knowledge sessions, children's or otherwise, but he did hold 'satsang'. I do remember what he looked like. Full grey head of hair, handsome lined face, distinguished, glasses I think, nice suit, no saffron robes.
Many of the musicians in the band were mavericks, notoriously anti-authoritarian, and didn't have any patience with the DLM bullshit. A fair number were jazz musicians, or trying to be. We were a thorn in DLM's side: we knew it, they knew it. Economics played a big part of it, I'm sure, because we were Bhole Ji's personal band, and it was gigantic: full brass, woodwind, rhythm and string sections, four or five singers, electricians and audio people, arrangers and copyists, roadies, cooks, a few wives and kids, other hangers-on. And the funding was staggering, I'm sure.
We had some amazing music-making sessions, I must say: Sort of Lawrence Welk on acid, some of it, with some very heartfelt and sensitive song-writing, and plenty kick-ass grooves. We were all over the musical map. There actually was a lot of raw and refined talent expressing itself there.
Our efforts were as much directed toward becoming a viable entertainment-world success as it was in 'serving Guru Maharaj Ji', the one necessarily helping the other. We even had contacts with Quincy Jones, and others, who came to the Camp to audition us, or check us out. We were recording regularly in Hollywood.
We were fortunate to have had in the band several independent and vocal thinkers, who could emotionally position themselves, and sometimes clearly articulate, exactly why the DLM trip was in trouble, and that we were damn lucky to be under Bhole Ji's wing. But basically, the DLMers, the bossy honcho types, the 'suits' were anathema to jazzers and 'creative types'. This is not surprising, 'tis ever been thus.
Remember, this was very early on, ca. 1974, and we had, before all this, been living together in Hollywood at a fabulously seedy old hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, just down the street from (the legendary) Grauman's Chinese Theatre. (That's a whole story in itself.)
But before that, we had been in Houston for the great lift-off, and before that, on 'Soul Rush', a multi-city mainly East Coast concert tour. And before that, the band had formed in London, giving concerts at Hammersmith Odeon, also at the big GM event at Alexander Hall (or Palace?). We had bonded together both with Bhole Ji and amongst ourselves. I have great friendships to this day from those times, and some of whom I've lost track, regrettably. Many of the people in the band were European, lots of Brits, smattering of Germans, Swiss, others. Around this time there were immigration concerns which also threatened the fabric of the band. How, or by whom, were they going be be sponsored?
After a while the band couldn't maintain itself, and we ended up getting regular jobs in and around LA, formed various premie houses in Santa Monica and Venice (CA), and a 'Residence' in Pacific Palisades. Some people drifted away, and life went on. We who remained were informed, felt and understood that Prempal was bonkers for 'falling from the path' and that Satpal was the real keeper of the flame. There had been rumors of unseemly behavior on the part of Prempal (aka Sant Ji) before then, just worrisome scandalized whispers. It may have been excruciating for some to negotiate that switch to Satpal Ji, but for those who were instinctively rebellious to begin with, I don't think it was that bad. To be honest with you, Bhole Ji just seemed a lot hipper and more much fun than anything else happening at the time. It was a wonderful balance in many ways: creative musical work along with meditation and 'spiritual progress'.
A significant figure at the time was Mahatma Satyanand, one of Shri Hans' mahatmas, the oldest or longest serving mahatma. He was a powerful figure, and communicated much and well, even though his accent was very strong. He pretty much made it clear in both practical and cosmic ways that Satpal was Lord, not Prempal. I wish I could dredge up the fine points of his argument, but it was as much his force of personality and personal integrity that compelled belief as it was any logical reasoning.
This much was clear from this particular Mahatma: I never felt or construed anything he said that would lead me to become a blind robot, an automaton of blissful disregard. This was one cranky, genuine and thoughtful guy. He made it very clear that we SHOULD think, carefully, with discernment and for oneself, to test all premises, about anything, from the existence of God to the price of watermelons. In no small way, he helped me, and I believe many others, keep their heads and wits when the DLM would have preferred us to shut down, turn off the lights and become yes men.
Mahatma Satyanand was the farthest thing from a yes man. He would reason and talk and argue just about anything, and when it was REALLY important, he would vociferously present his view, but give you space to make up your own mind. But his reasoning would usually be convincing. Also, he would never cling to a position if it could be shown that he was in error. He invited debate and sometimes got as good as he gave. He never shied away from hard physical work, either. He was up early and out the door digging stumps out of the mud, or clearing land, rototilling a garden, you name it. Didn't seem to have much fondness for Arti and all that routine. Plenty of action. In fact, one of his main concerns was 'the meaning of action' or the 'secret of action': That was where you could learn what your or anyone's character was all about. It is a lesson I still treasure. If you can imagine a short, burly, scrappy and cantankerous, hard-working, trouble-making saffron-robed son-of-a-bitch with a heart of gold and a wicked sense of humor, that was Mahatma Ji.
But I ramble.
To answer your questions:
The new faction eventually moved, i.e., a small remaining core group, to NYC around 1976 with Satpal Ji. He never actually lived there for any permanent length of time, but he definitely wanted a separate presence and fresh beginning in NYC. (India was his main focus, events have shown). That NYC ashram became the basis of another smallish community of faithful, and things proceeded under another name, Spiritual Life Society. There was an Indian version, Manav Dharma, which continues even now. I think it is Manav Dharm Seva Samiti.
There was another relocation to semi-rural New Jersey. That ashram disbanded around 1990 or so, I'm not sure the exact year: I was there until around 1988. But there has always been a few die-hards who've kept the flame, and in any case, a strong Indian community thread which is still active. I would have no way of calculating the numbers of Satpal Ji's followers, although I believe it is more than just a few. Again, the sizable Indian communities in New Jersey, Canada, California and perhaps elsewhere are his strong suit at this time.
As to Bhole Ji's ongoing activities I know little, although I do see him every so often. He does come to the U.S. at least once, maybe twice a year. With all that has happened over the years, some very difficult and wacky years, I still respect him and like him very much as a person. He is unconventional and sometimes hard to 'read', but it would be unnatural not to feel warmly toward someone with whom you've shared some interesting and challenging times. I still touch his feet in the traditional greeting of respect.
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 21:59:32 (GMT)
Subject: Excellent post, hi, nice to meet you, but ……..
Well, if logic and close reasoning, and a lack of insecurity, and a personal courage not otherwise countenanced in that environment, had prevailed, perhaps there would have been another result.
All in all, I have no regrets. We all came to this, got in, stayed for varying lengths of time, learned much if we wanted to, questioned much (hopefully), and came to some sort of individual accommodation to the baffling events and ideas, and moved on, or stayed in deep, or stepped to one side at various distances.
It seems that most who visit this forum are still sorting it out. I am. Maybe we always will.
Perhaps it it is a natural gradual genetically encoded maturing that brings one to various realizations along with a receding hairline.
No one is perfect, not even the 'perfect master'.
As a musician, I know what happens when you are winging it: Sometimes 'things happen' both incredibly fantastic and lamentable. But you go forward.
Gotta run now, dinner beckons.
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 23:17:49 (GMT)
Subject: Good ideas and all but you didn't answer my q's
Sorry, Carl, but I'm asking you something a bit more specific. I know you don't endorse however you thought then but I AM asking what those thoughts were, if you don't mind. How did you put it all together? How did Satpal maintain any credibility being that he was so god-awful wrong about who the Lord of the Universe was and exactly what was going to happen in Houston? That's just such a juicy question to me, I hope you give it some thought. Maybe you can't remember but that'd be so unfortunate.
See, I don't think I'm the only one here who never met any real-life Bal Bhagwan Ji people. It's true, I never did. To tell you the truth, I almost have this instinctive reaction to you as if you're playing for the 'other side' or something. Yes, even after all this, after all that time, all this change, I still had that sense of 'uh oh, it's one of them!' Did you feel that in any way for any of us real premies after you left? [joke!]
And, as well, I really want to know, if you can tell us, how Satpal and Bhole Ji explained Satpal's spiritual authority, when he got it, how and all that. I bet a lot of us are curious about that.
Date: Thurs, Apr 26, 2001 at 12:35:15 (GMT)
Subject: will try to answer:
Some of the thinking may have been (and I am not claiming I remember or understood it very clearly) was that it was Mata Ji who essentially 'made' the Guru; she was the one to know for sure. Also, it was actions and results of actions that prove who is the Satguru, and that that role can pass from someone who is demonstrably corrupt. There were also some specific references (quite forgotten) to certain Indian scriptural prophesies that foretold of a split in the family of Hans, that the two youngest brothers would fall from grace.
If you recall, part of the original thinking, way back at the beginning when this movement first came to the West, was that the holy family were 'all-one'. So it did not seem implausible, then, that if any one of them became bonkers or corrupt, they would need to be excised or denounced from the true living tradition. This was extremely hard on them as a family, whom I believe honestly regarded the dissemination of the knowledge techniques in the purely traditional manner as a sacred trust.
Let's see, what else: I guess it was such a strong sense of emotional commitment to Bhole Ji that made it relatively easy for most of the band folk to align where he aligned. At the same time, from what I remember, Satpal did carry himself with thoughtful gravity and was circumspect, and welcomed discussion in an open way. Of course, he was still treated with the same deference that all the Holy Family were, and one did not disrespectfully 'challenge' any of their authority. Really, respectful love was the basis. Satpal Ji gave satsangs that were intellectually stimulating, scripturally rich and informed, and as contrasted with Sant Ji's (i.e., Prempal's) satsang, quite erudite. I think many people could relate to, and respect him, on that basis alone. But there was always additionally present a great kindness, just personal indefinable simple human warmth from him and from the remaining family, and amongst ourselves, that kept us all together through these troubling times and beyond.
Any group has its level-headed ones, its wise-ass rebels, its humble backgrounders, its clench-jawed fanatics, its ambitious ones, its layabouts and its bongos. In almost all ways we were no different from the regular premie community. The level-headed and loving ones never felt hatred toward the premies who remained with the disgraced Sant Ji. I think most felt a kind of pity. Most people, on both sides, were simply confused and deeptly hurt by the split, and many did indeed just fall away from the whole scene.
But we regrouped. We were still premies. Some worked in NYC in various businesses and tried to live spiritual lives. The Satpal side just seemed to maintain more of the traditional approach, similar to the early 70s ashram days. There wasn't the emphasis on greedy slickness such as was developing at DLM. Rather, it was quite low key, and was focused on the essentials, you remember: satsang, service, meditation. Aiming for balance and understanding.
Also, Jim, everyone: please be patient. I am new to this posting routine, and am learning the ropes. I hope one is not expected to exhaustively answer every question that gets posed. I simply won't be able to spend gobs of time here keeping track and responding to all. I see how for many posters it is apparently all-consuming.
Right now I have a lot of irons in the fire, and can only check in from time to time. In fact, in a few days I will be travelling out of the country, and will be away from email until mid-May.
But golly, it IS gratifying to learn and contribute here. Warm regards to all.
Date: Thurs, Apr 26, 2001 at 17:31:15 (GMT)
Subject: Informed, intellectually stimulating and erudite??
I was around for some of the period Michael is talking about, except that I jumped off the Satpal turnip truck in about 1975 or 76 (sorry, fuzzy on the time frame). I kind of faded away, and eventually went back to the premie community, partially because my premie sister and husband were always there for me in a really big way. But before I digress, the Satpal of the wild Millenium days was not the Satpal that came to our tiny apartment living room in Venice and gave satsang. And although he got his measure of respect and Carl is being honest about that, it was nowhere near the way we were supposed to treat M.
I didn't find him warm however -- more incisive, almost cutting like a knife. I think it was a reflection of his intellect somewhat, but possibly his personal energy and dynamism. He and Bhole Ji knew everyone in the band personally, although Bhole Ji was the one we could just hang out with.
Mata Ji had her moments -- I remember her being really cold to me as I set out in another thread. I was going through hell with the family split and was crying while I was doing something at the residence. She apparently thought it was funny and said, 'confused?' with a big smile and told someone to get me some ice cream. Since there was a whole thing about 'confusion' and M that was an in-joke at the time, I thought it rather cold and cynical. Maybe she didn't mean it that way, but suffice to say she certainly was NOT tuned in to where I was coming from.
Another time I was sitting in a car crying instead of going into rehearsal and Satpal said, 'where Frenchie?' (That was a nickname some of the folks in the band used for me.) He noticed that I was missing, but I'm not sure if he followed up and found out why. Eventually I left, because it was another Guru trip.
But here's the sick point. I went back to M because he had given me K, and I hadn't really practiced it enough yet so I didn't feel I could throw it away. I went back to the K session vows and the whole thing. Sick, sick. No wonder the Tibetan Buddhists can't get me to take spiritual vows seriously. Once broken, only jokin'. Spiritual vows are made when someone really wants something they don't know. Otherwise they wouldn't be coming to a teacher or guru in the first place. How can you make vows based on that??
Date: Thurs, Apr 26, 2001 at 01:17:58 (GMT)
Subject: Jim, I did know some Satpalians until 85 and they
NEVER proselytized. One of them was actually married to a Prempalian and it did not bother him. He was very wealthy and maintained a house in New York for Satpal. They just never seemed as totalitarian or messianic as Prempalians.
Before I forget have a safe and pleasant trip to Costa Rica. I know you will hyave a wonderful time and don't forget to retrace your past lives in the footsteps of Shirley McClain or was that some other jungle?
Date: Thurs, Apr 26, 2001 at 03:14:07 (GMT)
Subject: would that have been Jimmie LoDato and family?
Jimmie LoDato was a blue collar salt of the earth entrepreneur who made a million bucks at anything he tried his hand at. He ran away with his sweetheart at 15 after he shot a man. He was a
self made millionaire before he came to GMJ and left it to start again with the Alive kitchen on 42nd street, where i cut my teeth on the premie life in 1973. Jimmie gave his long island house over to the Holy Family as
their Residence whenever they were in New York. I went out there once for a picnic with Mata Ji in the back yard in the summertime.
I heard after the split that Jimmie provided that house as the official headquarters for Satpal and MataJi's consolidation of their following.
Jimmie let go of the Alive Kitchen about 2 years after its opening and went on to real estate, selling condo's he called Alive condo's and made yet another million at that. He had four sons who were new york street smart and a sweet wife whose name I now forget. Joanie, maybe? Of his sons, I remember Lance and Danny
Date: Thurs, Apr 26, 2001 at 04:21:17 (GMT)
Subject: No, but the guy I knew was also a self-made
millionaire and flew his own plane. By the time I met him he was living on a huge piece of land in Mendocino county with another wife (a premie from New York an artist.) He and I hit it off and were going to go into business together buying a fixer-upper apartment building in SF but I found it hard to handle his wife at the time. Never been very patient with artists I'm afraid. He built her a fabulous house on the land with a separate building as her studio. They parted later in the 80s. I think the house he had was in New Jersey and it was for Mata Ji.
Date: Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 20:04:19 (GMT)
Subject: You're the first poster to back me up
I have posted about the post millenium days of the band, and I'm sure some folks thought, yeah sure. It's in several old threads here and there. You stayed in it longer than I did. I went back to the premie community in 1976 and ended up in a premie band with Larry Cohen and Dick Parke, among others, called 'Beckon Gently.' And then eventually 4 years in the ashram, 78-80 in LA and 80-82 in San Francisco. I made a few phone calls to the place in New Jersey, many years ago, when I would go home to the east coast.
Donner has told the DLM side of this tale, but no one else from the band or support crew has posted on this stuff. Thanks, and best wishes.