Excerpt: Between Dark and Dark by David Lovejoy


Entr' Acte

Moreover, the organisation was itself in the throes of change. Denver and Banbury had collapsed, and the Australian headquarters had moved from Wentworth Avenue to a little office in North Sydney. All this was accompanied by the closing of ashrams and a general rationalisation of resources.

Over the course of time Maharaji made many more changes, great and small, to his organisation. He renamed it Elan Vital, introduced salaries for full-time workers, eliminated middlemen - whether known as mahatmas, initiators or instructors - by revealing the techniques of Knowledge himself, renamed it yet again as the Prem Rawat Foundation, and so on. But the change with the most far-reaching effect happened in the eighties when he restricted all public speaking about the Knowledge initially to instructors and finally, with the aid of mass-produced videotapes, to himself alone.

This meant that people could at last hear about Knowledge with clarity, stripped of the confusing harmonics arising from the babble of people enthusing about their own experience. There had been so much misinformation put about by well-meaning followers that one cannot criticise this reform. But it did have the side-effect of making premies, and all people who aspired to Knowledge, take the passive role of mere receivers. Whereas before the Mission had been a fascinating place of wide-open spiritual experiment, with people of all kinds discussing their realisations, progress, mistakes and epiphanies in public, now it became straight and predictable. Maharaji is an incomparable public speaker and a wise strategist, and if he chose to hone everything down to the delivery of the techniques of meditation in a respectable, non-religious and noncontroversial way, then he did so in order to maximise people's opportunities for receiving Knowledge. But some of the old excitement disappeared.