Derek Harper: Greater Than Guru

The Harper Chronicles:

In many ways Derek Harper's story of how he became a premie ie a devotee of Prem Rawat's is similar to most others. They did so after a history of extended drug abuse, mainly marijuana and LSD, and most of them had suffered mental and emotional problems caused by or intensified by this drug-taking. Nearly all of them reported an interest in spirituality, alternative life-styles and Eastern religions, they identified as "seekers." Harper, however, had no interest in anything but maximising his own pleasure and minimising any effort, took any drug available and had no ethical values.

Harper's egotism apparently knew no bounds and this enabled him to do and say things other premies could or would not. As the head honcho of the Australian DLM he had the gall to publicly expose the failure of Rawat's Knowledge to actually deliver on His promises though he could not actually say it or possibly even conceptualise it in that way.

Harper Attends The Frankfurt Conference

On November, 28 & 29, 1976 there was a conference held in Frankfurt with all international DLM administrators including Harper, where Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) continued his effort to return Divine Light Mission to a simplistic, fundamentalist practice of obedience to his orders and total devotion to him and practice of this "Knowledge". Communication between the guru and his administrators was so poor that Rawat did not even know if there were any ashrams still functioning in Australia. The excerpts from the conference transcript below shows that Harper had made a unilateral decision to close the ashrams in Australia without seeking directions from the DLM International Headquarters or requesting advice from his Perfect Master. Exactly what criteria he used to decide ashram residents were not "making progress," presumably spiritual progess, or why he thought he was qualified to make such a decision is not clarified in the transcript but his overweening arrogance would be a good start. Personal feelings may have also played a large part in this decision as Harper married the former New Zealand co-ordinator and ashram premie shortly thereafter.

Rawat Made It 100% Certain That He Wanted Satsang to Continue In the Same Format It Had Always Been

PREMIE: "I think all premies want to make a real experience of satsang, but we came to the point that in formal satsang having someone sitting at the front giving satsang, was not the form we can make this experience. So we tried to make this experience of satsang an individual talk or something.""
GURU MAHARAJ JI: "That's crazy. I do not understand. Satsang is satsang."

Rawat Made It 100% Certain The He Was and Had Been Against People Leaving The Ashram

GURU MAHARAJ JI: Because, you see, a lot of premies have left the ashram because of the whole thing that was started from Denver. It was not my idea, believe me, it was this process of re-evaluation … There was a lot of this evaluation process and so on and so forth, going on and lot of people started to evaluate.What did they evaluate in the period of evaluation? Their mind!"

Rawat Made It 100% Certain That Leaving The Ashram Left People At The Mercy of Their Minds

GURU MAHARAJ JI: … right now they are out of the ashram. They do not know what they are doing out there. They're really lost. It is like they're really having a hard time just to be able to pull themselves together and to be still doing satsang service and meditation. … If you give that opportunity to the mind it'll take advantage of it. The advantage it'll take is to completely take you away from satsang, service and meditation. When premies are doing satsang, service and meditation, they're clear, they know what is happening. When premies are not doing satsang, service and meditation they are unclear."

Rawat does at least understand that something has gone wrong since 1973

GURU MAHARAJ JI: If you take 1974 and project our growth it should have quadrupled. But actually it has gone down, not up. Why is this happening? The present premies are not satisfied.

It is because the amount of this other agya that is not agya, that has been thrown around with the agya, has cost me too much. I've seen this Mission just go bzzzz right now and that's too much for me to bear, it's too much for me to pay for just because somebody's stupid enough to do this, going around and giving anything, any kind of direction, any kind of direction that is possible.

Because I know, quite well that ashram rules, ashram guidelines, are really not being followed - that is an understatement. People are doing whatever they want to, you know. They go out; people go out, maybe get drunk. That is the time they should be sitting down and doing meditation. They come home to the ashram, they're zonked, and then they get up in the morning and say, 'Guru Maharaj Ji, I'm confused.'

GURU MAHARAJ JI: Are there still ashrams in Australia?
DEREK: Well, 3 months ago when I was communicating with Denver to find out what the situation was with ashrams, I got the impression that you were intending to set up a new type of ashram and the other situation was proving to be sort of inadequate. Some of the premies weren't taking real advantage of the ashram, and so what I thought would be best to do was just to stop the situation in the ashram and give those people who wanted to go back into the ashram a chance to do that. But I thought that if you just allowed the ashram situation to continue, many premies just didn't seem to be progressing in that circumstance. And I thought that if you just like allowed it to go on, then they'd just stay there simply because they didn't really feel strong enough in a sense to just move out and progress in another way. And so the situation is now that those people that were in the ashram the majority of them are still living in the houses that were like the ashram and they're still living pretty much to an ashram style of living. You know, they're not confused in any way; the majority of the people who were in the ashram think there's been a real benefit in being able to get out and about and be a little bit more responsible for their own lives, in a sense, and take more of the onus on themselves. And then I guess if we started up the ashram again under the terms of what's been outlined I think maybe just at a rough guess about 60 people throughout Australia would want to get back into the ashram again. But mainly those people are aspirants and people who have only just received Knowledge who would like to take the opportunity of living in one.

GURU MAHARAJ JI: See under the new structure of the ashram if people would like to stay there for a lifetime then people will be able to stay there a lifetime. And of course, when we go into the ashram there's a lot that can be explained. The structure is really beautiful. I personally feel it's really nice; it's very strong, it's very open and very adaptable to the situation. I mean, you can look at the ashram structure presently and it's not doing people very much good. It's just like if a person is in the ashram he has to pretty much do himself his good, you know; he has to really be sort of isolated from all the craziness there is in the ashram that other people created, that other people give out. And he has to pretty much on his own just use the advantage of being in that environment. But this new structure I think is much more beneficial; it's much more refined and I think as soon as we can get our heads together about it and start it I think a lot of premies are going to be benefited by it.

Like many things Rawat spoke of, new "ashram structure" was ever created. Things just reassembled much as they had been. Rawat says that premies created the craziness in the ashram without realising that the trying to practise Knowledge in the ashram situation may have been the source of the crazinesss or at least did not prevent or ameliorte it. By craziness, Rawat is referring to disobedience to the ashram rules and lack of dedication to practising Knowedge and obeying Him.

Harper tried to prevent news of the ashrams reopening in North America and Europe from reaching the general premie community but Australian premies returning from overseas spread the word and ashrams were reopened in Australia during 1977.

Divine Light Mission's core teaching was that premies should do satsang, service and meditation and meetings were held nightly in any town where enough followers lived to make this practicable. In these meetings or "formal satsangs" the format was simple. One person would sit at the front of the meeting space and talk extemperanusly, "from the heart" about the guru and the hopefully positive effects of the Knowledge in that person's life while the other people present would listen, concentrate without judgement and hopefully "try to understand what is being said." - Prem Rawat, Lisbon, 1976. Rawat made his views about satsang very clear in this discussion with a German follower on the Saturday 28th November meeting at which all conference attendees were present:

We want to have a clear distinction between the ashram; and when people go up to the ashram they do what they are supposed to do in the ashram in terms of rules and regulations. They have been really spaced out; nobody has been really following the rules and regulations in the ashram and they are really spaced out. People are just going out and doing just whatever they wanted to do. Really that drive of premies of why we should be in ashrams, that inspiration, has been really sort of lost. People go out and see movies instead of sitting down and maybe doing meditation. Once a while it's O. K. but it's extensively done. But in the new ashram system it's going to be very very clear, a black and white line, no grey areas. If you are found smoking, found drinking, found disobeying any of the guidelines that are specifically set, you will find you are immediately outside the ashram, and you'll never be able to come back in again.

SWEDEDn we had a very … very strong organisation, and people were really co-operating and helping and, I must say, very much of their own interest too. But we made it too big. And you came, and took the air out of our big ideas. And the reaction after your satsang was 'Oh, only satsang, service and meditation, is that all? " And, so simple. And we had a whole lot of things to go through to get any kind of near to that simplicity again, PREMIE: In Hamburg we have many groups and we have a beautiful satsang hall; we invested a lot of money and a lot of service and it's really beautiful, large and really elegant, and ten premies come often, and the others have groups there. They do things like Gurdjieff, or Zen and things like that, or they are very similar. And they do something like opposition against those who come to satsang; some say, "If I come there, we don't come there," or things like that India Because we have about 5 mahatmas and 8 bais (a bai is a lady mahatma) and about 3 of the bais are wearing any clothes they feel like … I'm not kidding; look at the U.K. There are 6,000 premies, and there's only 3,325 active premies.