PAGE 6 BERKELEY BARB APRIL 6-12 1973
Rennie's Rap: How He Found God
by Dancing Bear
Last week anti-war activist and veteran of the Chicago Conspiracy trial, rocked the Movement with the announcement that he has become a disciple and full-time supporter of Guru Maharaj Ji, the 15-year-old Saut Guru, or Perfect Master.
For many revolutionaries it was a shocker, because Rennie was never know for weirdo trips. An outstanding speaker, Rennie has a reputation for concentrated energy. He’s known as a serious disciplined organizer who helped to produce, among other things, the massive MayDay resistance when close to 12,000 people were busted for civil disobedience in Washington D.C., May, 1971.
Now, Rennie is committed to the Guru Maharaj Ji who is said to have the ability to give people a "driect experience with God."
The story was brought home to the Bay Area last week by a forty-minute interview broadcast in its entirety by KSAN-FM. Here's a part of what Rennie said to news director Dave McQueen:
"It’s like a young boy running around the world with his hand stretched-out saying: "Here in my hands is the secret of the Universe. Here is the purpose of life. Would you like to have this Secret? It's free of charge’.
"My experience was that only the Knowledge that He is giving can really remove the doubts and tell you that this man is bringing Absolute Truth to the planet, and that He is therefore the most important event happening….My feeling is that words don’t work and T believe that what everybody should do is to clear their schedules and begin immediately an investigation of who Guru Maharaj Ji is".
"I believe that anyone who investigates at all with an open mind is going to come to the view — not by belief or by faith, but by experience! — that literally God is now on this planet."
If that’s not bizarre, I don’t know the meaning of the word. Rennie said that while on his way to Paris to talk to the Vietnamese following the cease fire, he met some friends who bought him a plane ticket and convinced him to continue with them to India, never suspecting he would experience God.
I think that there's further reason that Rennie Davis was attracted to Guru Maharaj Ji and that is the Divine Light organization. In less than two years, "by-the grace of Guru Maharaj Ji," the Divine Light Mission has built centers in over one hundred American cities, many of them with teletype machines and WATS lines for inter communication.
In addition, Shri Hans Productions (named for Guru Maharaj Ji’s father) produces a very slick full-color monthly publication callet AND IT IS DIVINE. They have produced documentary films, and stereo record albums, among other things.
Rennie told BARB in an interview: "We are going to put an organization together like we always wanted to do."
As a cosmic warrior who was also once a MayDay organizer and who has been into Transcendental Meditation for close to five years, I had to check it out. I read off a poster up in my San Francisco neighborhood that there are weekly gatherings held at the James Lick Jr H.S. on Noe St. Saturday nights at 7:30, so I went.
It was a mellow scene where people rapped about the Knowledge they had received through "the grace of Guru Maharaj Ji." The philosophy is consistent with most Eastern teachings. They were speaking of the One, the Truth, the Light, Energy which can neither be created or destroyed which is the basis of Life and the Universe. It is only through this Energy that we can find our true Selves. What’s different about Guru Maharaji Ji’s trip is that He promises direct experience; but what really flashed me out was the "coincidence" that the brother playing guitar and singing songs about Guru Maharaj Ji was an old high school buddy of mine who I hadn’t seen since (yes) the MayDay demonstrations.
A few days later I was asked to write this article for the BARB, so I tried to reach Rennie by phone to find out more; but, for that moment, being unable to track him down on the East coast, I went to the ocean to meditate, then smoked a joint and went to visit the S.F. ashram of the Divine Light Mission. The more I investigated, the more truly a-
APRIL 6-12. 1973 BERKELEY BARB PAGE 7
mazing the story became.
The S.F. ashram is located in the Sunset district (1627 10th Ave) on the hill surprisingly close to that incomprehensible half-fin-ished broadcast tower which blinks its lights in the San Francisco sky. The first question that I asked was: "Where does your guru get all the money he uses to fly all over the world and develop these programs?" The answer came quickly "His devotees give it too him."
To my surprise, I found out that most of the people who live in the ashram have full time jobs and donate their entire pay checks. Jaimo, my high school friend, works nine to five as a typist. In addition, three of "the premies" operate the "Divine Sales" thrift shop. They go out "jumbling", collecting rummage from around the city, and sell it in the store for a net of $700 to $1000 per week. All of the money from "Divine Sales" and peoples’ salaries which is not used for food, clothes, and the operating expenses of the ashram goes directly to national headquarters in Denver.
Most devotees do NOT live in the ashram, but those who do have a strong discipline. They rise at 5 am for singing and meditation, have no sex or drugs ("we rechannel that energy") and all those who live-in have shaved and cut their hair "in order to reach the largest possible number of people." There is a house mother who does the cooking, but when we asked for a free meal Jaimo replied: "Guru Maharaj Ji says that this is not a hotel." But you ain’t heard nothing yet!
Every year in India, Guru Maharaj Ji’s Indian devotees (said to number 3 million) hold a huge festival called Hans Jayanthi. Well, this November, for the first time, it will be held in the UJ3.A. Can you guess the site? It’s the Houston Astrodome!
The festival will be free including vegetarian cuisine and Guru Maharaj Ji’s brother Shri Bal Bhagwan Ji (said to be the incarnation of Divine intelligence) has promised that five to ten thousand Indian devotees will be flown in for the occasion. Money is being raised for the festival through what is called the "Sacred Pledge". The extimated 70,000 premies in the U.S. are being requested to donate one dollar a day to help pay for the festival. If 15,000 of them do it — (click whurr) that’s one hundred and fifty thousand dollars every ten days!
From there the plan is to move on to southern California where plans are underway for a DIVINE CITY. Rennie is involved in this one and described it as a "demonstration of heaven on earth." He said that it would be uilt in a year. Guru Maharaj Ji has said: "This is the year that I am going to manifest myself in the U.S."
I went home with my head spinning … impossible, but real? … The centerfold of the April issue of And It Is Divine has a color photo of Guru Maharaj Ji sitting in a business suit behind a stained glass window talking on the telephone … I picked up my phone, dialed, and Rennie answered.—As they say in the Divine United Organization, he was "blissed-out," delighted and giggling:
RD: "… ‘T’ve been through all the doubts, you know. I resisted every step of the way. I represented every doubter… When I received Knowledge my mind flipped out! It started yelling, "It’s a fraud! He’s the anti-christ. Get out of here, get out of here!" It was like out of control. It was like more than, I wanted to say, as a matter of fact. And so I went out to do this laudry after I had had the Knowledge session and I was trying to think it through: "Is it a fraud?" I was trying to fit' all the stories I had been told and all the experiences I had had into some plausible theory that this is a fraud. And as I’m thinking this, these crows start flying in from the fields all over the place! They’re up in the trees all around me, and they start screaming at me like they’re furious, and then the crows start diving down towards me and at me and right at my head and there are hundreds of them. It was really a frightening experience. And then I pulled out of this laundry I’m doing, this pillowcase on which is embroidered "Lord of the Universe" and my mind just let go. "Man," I said, "I don’t know what’s going on here!" and I let go. It doesn’t mean that I’m into anything, I just let go; and the crows just take off — bye bye. It was just really beautiful. And a little later a Mahatma (one of 2000 men and women who are qualified to give Knowledge) comes up to me and I tell him that I’m really freakedout, and he says: "Your mind engaged in a life and death struggle for its survival. All your life your mind has been master. Mind says: I do this and I do that; but you now have something which makes it possible for your soul to take its rightful position. Your mind should serve the soul, not the other way around." ^silence)
DB: That’s phenomenal!
RD: I’m having experiences everyday that I would have regarded as in the realm of impossibility. I have resisted with all that I can: saying this isn’t really happening, but then another ton of evidence is dumped on my head. And I say that the evidence that an Avatar is on the planet is absolutely staggering! And I call on everybody to investigate for themselves, (then he laughed)…Everyone is discovering that they’ve got skills that they never knew existed before — when the commander and chief is Godl … It’s really coming and it’s gonna come strong — like this year. The high schools, man, are just going to have people facing up to the fact that this drug thing is a death trip. People are facing death. Quaaludes are out there, you know?
DB: I know.
RD: Well, the Guru Maharaj Ji is going to come along and it’s going to be Guru Maharaj Ji vs. the quaaludes at the high schools — and Guru Maharaj Ji is going to win hands down!
DB: I cannot doubt, you know?
RD: He says, Bear, if we would make the effort, and it’s up to us to make the effort, we could save humanity. That’s the challenge that He’s making: "Your effort can save humanity. Why don’t you go do it? Evertime I come," He says, "you spit in my face, you try to kill me" you know? This time He says: "Let's get it on and put it all together." Rennie said in the KSAN interview:
"Guru Maharaj Ji says that the time is short. That this is the year that we have to show the country and the world that another way is possible. He’s just released a film - an incredible film in which He announced a plan to build an organization Which He calls the Divine United Organization.
"The film is just amazing because what He is saying is what we have wanted to do in the movement all of these years. He says that poverty and housing and racial discrimination and the oppression of women — that all these things get in the way of people receiving the greeatest gift of Creation which is the Knowledge -which will show you who you are and what the purpose of life is; and therefore, the Divine Unity Organization will have as its purpose the elimination of all material suffering throughout the world. And you hear that and you say, "What’s that guy talking about?" and then He looks right into the camera and He says: "Now some people will say this isn’t possible" which is exactly what I’m thinking when I see it. And then He says "But I tell you, it is possible;" And then He looks like right at you and then He says, "In fact, I tell you that I know that it’s possible."
"You know, one can still be a cynic and a sceptic about an incredible statement like that, but He is coming on - for a fifteen year old - with a kind of confidence that is just blowing people away and when you see the organization that He has assembled and when you see the resources that are coming together, you realize that there is an icredible serious force here that really means for people to roll up their sleeves and get down to work with the problems of this material world while at the same time sort of putting our heads together. And I think the combination of sort of, if you will, a politics and a spirit, joining tegether in one force lead by God himself is a very far-out vision."
Everybody back here (in the East) flips out. Two weeks is about average. Some take longer, four weeks, but that’s pretty fast, you know; if you can go from being a Marxist-Leninist to believing in God in four weeks, that’s pretty good!
DB: You know, Rennie, there are a lot of people out here in the movement who are really pissed. They consider you to be a cop-out on the "revolution". rd«-
rd:- Let me answer that personally - where I was at was that after the ceasefire (in Vietnam), I wanted to get some space and maybe be alone for a while. And I was particularly tired of being hassled, like that’s just really worn me thin, like having people wonder: "What’s he up to now?" That sort of feeling or vibration. I can’t tell you how strong- it is in me not be hassled. And therefore for me to now be standing over this canyon, or something, and yelling at people — daring them to knock me in. It’s riduculous where I’m at. I’m way out on a limb, and I wouldn't be way out on a limb unless I just felt completely secure and sure. You know that I have investigated the situation. … And that’s what I’m asking people to do to investigate the Maharaj Ji. I FEEL LIKE SAYING, haraj Ji. I feel like saying … .heads’s up everyone! This is really important and I think that you should investigate it immediately.
db: to me if it was someone else besides you saying that… It’s really weird: someone said the other night that if it was Jerry Rubin or Paul Krassner that said that it would be different; but for you, it’s just the most bizarre thing to come down in people’s ears.
RD: Yes, of course, and it’s all by design, I’ll tell you that. The whole thing; I have done nothing from the beginning to end, and that’s the Truth — and neither have you, Bear. We are all just functions of this One.
DB: 1 think that’s true; I’m trying to get in touch with It.
RD: And the Knowledge puts you in touch with It, and you are suddenly a part of the One - and you experience it in a practical way. It’s experience, you know, try it out.
GURU MAHARAJ JI THE PERFECT MASTER