GURU TO YOU TOO
"To tell it as straight as I can, Guru Maharaj Ji is now putting together the only truly effective social movement capable of ending war, poverty and hunger. He has already assembled the most incredible human talent I know of in any organization, and His movement is working with more harmony than the Black movement, the Peace movement or the Women's movement ever believed possible. At the age of fifteen. Guru Maharaj Ji is already the brightest event in the history of the world."
- Rennie Davis
Five or six years from now, the Divine Light movement may very well be the major non-Christian sect in the USA. I'm not kidding. Followers of the young plump god/man expect to fill the Astrodome next November in a three day rally to begin a campaign to "save the planet." This rally will follow a march for peace starting in New York and ending up in Houston. I expect the operation to be a success. The Guru includes among his followers not only former Movement types but professionals, scientists, business people and very rich devotees. Last year, after returning to India with a planeload of his followers, Indian customs found over $80,000 worth of currency and valuable jewelry among the belongings of his group. They have MONEY. . .so much so that not only can they publish slick, well written monthly magazine and have at least one ashram in every major city in the US, but also satisfy the Guru's proclivity for limousines and motorcycles. Add this to the fee for renting the Astrodome for three days and you will have an idea of the amount of $$$ they have at their fingertips.
Architects have already drawn up plans for the "DIVINE CITY" to be built in the US. Besides places of residence and business, there will be eight temples surrounding one of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes housing the Temple of Truth.
Prediction: if, as I predict, this becomes a huge thing, the Christians of a fundamentalist persuasion will peg the Guru as the Anti-Christ who has been predicted to come prior to the end of the world. Shit will fly.
In two months, Rennie Davis has become the major exponent of the Guru's "philosophy" due to the fact that he is one of the well known people blamed — or praised — for the social turbulence of the sixties. As you may remember, he became famous for being a defendant in the Conspiracy trial and for organizing the May Day anti-war farce in 1971.
Before I continue about Rennie and his current trip, let me tell you about Annie Besant and Krishnamurti. If you are a student of philosophy, you may be familiar with Krishnamurti but the name of Annie Besant is one of those which has been relegated by history to be the stuff from which footnotes are written.
Annie Besant was born in London in 1847 and spent her entire life being an ideological gadfly, running from religion to politics to atheism and finally to mysticism. Her causes and Masters were myriad. She was raised an orthodox Protestant and gradually moved into preaching atheism, feminism and socialism, in 1885 she joined the Fabian Society, an early English socialist organization. Four years later in 1889, Annie was a leading figure in the Theosophical Society, an occult organization founded by Madame Helena Blavatsky to establish a Universal Brotherhood, encourage the study of Aryan Literature and philosophy and to investigate unexplaned natural phenomena. In 1908 Besant came across a thirteen year old Brahmin youth named Jiddu Krishnamurti. She immediately proclamed the youth to be an avatar (god in human form) and World Teacher of the New -Age which was to come. "The Order of the Star in the East" was the name of the organization founded to spread the sage mouthings of the young god. Within a short period of time, Krishnamurti was literally worshipped by thousands of people. This continued for twenty-one years until 1929 when the diety, now thirty-four years old, proclaimed that not only was he not God, but that he felt that religion was a cage built by mankihd to imprison itself (he has since that time become a major philosopher and founder of a school of thought which does not include the idea of God, an afterfife or ethical norms). Annie Besant never fully recovered from her young god's refutation of divinity. She died four years later, a rather tragic and comic figure.
I mention this brief historical anecdote simply because I see such striking similarities between Krishnamurti and Annie Besant and the current young avatar and his eloquent spokesman. You are of course free to draw your own conclusions.
Let's get back to Rennie Davis.
Rennie Davis was the type of young radical who ip the mid-sixties would appear on television wearing a suit and sporting short hair. Very rarely would a smile appear on his face. He was SERIOUS. One got ^e idea listening to him that as long as any of the various isms existed tfiat made people oppressed, no one should have any fun. After meeting him a couple of times prior to the Conspiracy trial, mi^ suspicions were confirmed. The trial mellowed him a bit though. He even let his hair grow long and said he didn't mind if people fucked publicly when he was grilled for a couple of days on the witness stand.
I was surprised — but not amazed — when I heard through the grapevine some weeks ago of Rennie's whirlwind conversion. After thinking about it a while things fit into place.
Put yourself in his position for a minute. You have been a leading spdkesman for a social movement from its very beginning. After you've been pushing it for a few years, things start clicking. Hundreds of thousands of people march in the major cities to end the war. Universities are shut down almost daily. You are constantly in the public eye. You can see the New World just beyond the horizon. Peace and World Brotherhood will be realized in your lifetime. Then suddenly, everything seems to stop. Fewer and fewer people show up for rallies. Anti-war organizations begin to atrophy from lack of support and loss of membership. Apathy and pessimism replace idealism and optimism. Your constituency deserts you. Then suddenly you come across a movement not unlike your own in its objectives. You are overwhelmed by its charismatic leader and join. You once more find yourself a major spokesman for a Cause. You are needed once again, once more you have a reason to exist.
Am I being oversympathetic? I don't think so. I'll admit, in fact, to a strong dislike for Rennie Davis that goes back several years. After hearing him speak at the People's Church in Uptown recently, what little respect I did have for the man waned considerably.
I felt rather strange walking into the church and seeing that the majority of the Guru's followers were young men with short hair and suits. I learned later that this is the accepted style of dress (along with celibacy, vegitarianism and druglessness) for male members who enter the ashrams. After listening to a rather scruffy minstrel praise his Master, a short presentation by actors mocking straight and "hip" lifestyles followed. Then Rennie Davis proceeded to insult my intelligence for what seemed like an eternity.
He prepared us for his long recital of seat-of-the-pants theology and psuedo-sqience by stating, "Don't use your mind or intellect. It will short-circuit." He stood before a huge picture of the Guru (which I noticed several people grovel before at various times). Davis quoted the Old Testament, told us about a young Israeli man who can rearrange atoms by thought, and talked about God walking around on the planet in the form of "the most staggering man in the history of the Earth — Guru Maharaj Ji."
The most interesting thing I heard him speak about was the story concerning how he became a follower of Mr. Ji. While on his way to meet the North Vietnamese in Paris he ran into two friends who had become devotees of the Guru. They laid a free plane ticket on him and brought him to India with them. Once there, he found himself surrounded by Weatherpeople, Feminists, anti-war activists and stone Marxists who, besides becoming devotees, if we are to beJieve Rennie, all found themselves ther by "accident." Proof positive that religion and politics are substitutes for one another. Davis then related his early skepticism.
He didn't go into it too much more the other night, but elsewhere he has elaborated on the actions of the Guru which led up to His acceptance of "Him" as God. He first saw the young man dressed in a business suit, wearing cowboy boots and riding a motorcycle. "He drove it around in circles," Rennie said, "tried ro run people over, tied a bed to it, and dragged people in the bed and people were relating to him as the lord of the universe."
What more can I say? At least he isn't a Jesus freak. At least he can have a little fun. The worst that can happen, after all, is that God could run over him in His motorcyle.