Introduction to "In The Light of Knowledge" by Mike Finch
Part 1: The Problem
Part 2: The Wrong Approach
Part 3: The Right Approach
Part 4: The Solution: Guru Maharaj Ji
"In The Light of Knowledge" is the draft manuscript of a book written by Mike Finch in the early 1970's while a devoted member of Divine Light Mission and premie ('lover') of that organisation's leader and God on earth, Prem Rawat then calling himself Guru Maharaj Ji. Mike was the fortunate (compared to most other premies) recipient of agya (divine command) of Bal Bhagwan Ji, Prem Rawat's eldest brother and number 2 in the divine hierarchy that Rawat called the Holy Family, to continue his education. This was a rare instruction as most new premies were told to join the ashram, get any sort of job and donate 100% of their time and money to the so-called Perfect Master and Lord of the Universe.
Bal Bhagwan Ji, who is a successful politican and Godman in India calling himself Satpal Maharaj, liked to think of himself as an intellectual and in Mike he recognised a real one. Bal or Bhagwan commissioned Mike to put the cult's teachings on a scholarly and rational footing. Exactly how the 23 year old Physics student, sometime chauffeur of the Lord of the Universe, ardent meditator and proselytiser who went as often as possible London's "Palace of Peace", managed to actually write the book is a testament to a life without fripperies (like family and friends) and the power of faith and inspiration of a new convert. It is a shame that such inspiration does not require a religion that has a charismatic and powerful spiritual leader and meaningful teachings. In Mike's case a person more unsuited to being a Spiritual Master would be difficult to find. Mike's year at Oxford University studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics had given him a grounding in Philosophy and 3 years at Exeter University where he gained a B.Sc (First Class Honours) in Physics provided the basis for relating scientific mysteries to Maharaji. He certainly didn't get his understanding of the historical religious and spiritual background in satsang where intellectuality was frowned upon. "You're in your mind" was the premie put-down of spiritual oneupmanship. There was a lot of deep thought and hard work involved. In fact, by the time Mike had finished the first draft and achieved a university degree the 16 year old guru had discovered that fast luxury cars, over-eating, alcohol, sex and private planes provided Him with real joy compared to the tedium of meditation and "working for peace."
The Perfect Pudge was outed by his mother in more ways than one as she informed the media of his misdeeds (misdeeds for a guru that is) and fired him and annointed the eldest son, who was a far more logical choice, as the Satguru. The young guru failed to regain his birth-right (as he saw it) in the law courts of India but held on to the bulk of his Western followers and their cash flow. An anti-intellectual himself (as far as he could understand what 'intellectual' meant), he wanted nothing to do with anything supported by his brother and the word came down from Sinai and a book burning was held.
When I heard that a manuscript was found I immediately began to nag Mike (electronically) to get it into the light of day or at least the light of a computer monitor or iPad. Mike hopes it is an easy read and for him it probably is. Most of the rest of us will put it in the "A Brief History of Time" category, more often praised than read. While the book is a tour de force, it is also didactic and repetitive as it tries to fit philosophy, science and religion into a book for people who have only the most basic acquaintance with them. While Mike now disowns the book he deserves full credit for being able to write it. It was all for the Glory of Guru Maharaj Ji but it's message fails on some very important points.
- Are we, in fact, all restless and dissatisfied and yearning for complete peace?
- If we are, is there a way of being in perfect harmony, equilibrium and unity?
- Is the way propounded by Finch (and others, possibly most influentially in the modern West by Aldous Huxley in "The Perennial Philosophy") actually feasible?
- If it is, is Prem Rawat (Guru Maharaj Ji as he was known 40 years ago) a Perfect Master who can empower this transformation or is he just another charlatan using human hope to live high on the hog?
Mike's life provides a better answer than the book and I can heartily recommend "Without the Guru," both the book and the lifestyle.
No doubt, Mike would skewer his youthful arguments these days but I prize this manuscript as a historical record which gives a full and truthful record of the early rationale of a newly Westernised religious cult from India that was developing amongst a group of young and not all overly serious and dedicated followers and a guru who didn't have a clue and no scruples either it seems. The book, unlike the guru, maintains a high moral tone throughout and leaves the cult's dirty linen uner the carpet but never strays from the the truth while always presenting the cult's best possible face. Mike inadvertently predicts the certain failure of Rawat to lead a mass movement. As he cannot actually provide the Grace to allow his followers to achieve a breakthrough into the unity with the 'One' or as most of his early followers would have said, enlightenment or liberation, then all that is left is trying to convince his followers that adoring and worshipping an imaginary version of Himself is the purpose of life and the highest fulfulment. He has achieved a certain success in doing that with the fraction of his followers who have remained loyal and with their financial and voluntary labour support he has been trying to turn himself into a respected public figure for the past decade or so.
Information such as is available in this book will hopefully prevent that happening.
I have divided the book into 4 files matching the book's 4 Parts. Part 3 is of most interest if you're attracted to religious mysticism and Part 4 pertains to the so-called "Perfect Master" Himself.
Links to the Text
Part 1: The Problem - A World Of Difference
Part 2: The Wrong Approach - Looking To The Di-Verse
Part 3: The Right Approach - Looking To The Universe
Part 4: The Solution - Guru Maharaj Ji
A section I found interesting was that on the new proof of the supernatural or as Mike would probably prefer it to be called, Parapsychology. Belief in such possibilities as ESP and Psychokinesis will probably always be a part of human culture and certainly most of Rawat's followers were completely credulous in these areas. However, the 'evidence' Mike mentions has long lost any credibility. Uri Geller the spoon bender, A. S. Popov claiming a rabbit recognises the murder of her submariner children across space and time, Cleve Backster demonstrating that plants can read human minds. All these and more are left behind but there is always new evidence being discovered and then debunked and left to rot in an ongoing process.
This manuscript is amongst the best sources of authentic information about Divine Light Mission and Guru Maharaj Ji that includes:
- Company of Truth by Lucy Dupertuis
- Sacred Journeys by James V. Downton
- Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? edited by Charles Cameron
- Without the Guru by Mike Finch