Derek Harper

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 other young Australian devotees of the 1970's. Those Australians who in the early 1970's, became "premies" of Prem Rawat, then calling himself Guru Maharaj Ji, 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.

Harper was different. He admitted, actually he boasted that he wanted to maximise his pleasure and do no study or work if at all possible. He was eventually expelled from school and began employment with his father, a wealthy Melbourne businessman. He then got a job in a stockbroking firm (the old boys' network?) because it seemed to give the greatest financial reward for the least effort and began regularly smoking marijuana and drinking whisky to excess. His work and attitudes were unsatisfactory and he was fired. When he ran out of money he had to stop lying around in the sun and was forced to get another job. He picked copy writing in an advertising agency because it seemed easy and lucrative.

Harper Harper mistakenly thought he was an intellectual. He wrote an appeal to drug addicts, alcoholics and dopers in which he claimed Prem Rawat's Knowledge was the ultimate drug experience.

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 phrase it or possibly even conceptualise it in that way.

His lack of ethical constraints did not prevent him being a great success in Divine Light Mssion. He ran Divine Sales which was a grotty second-hand store filled with goods collected by "jumbling" under the guise of charitable work. He became Finance Director of Divine Light Mission and in mid-1975 became the chief honcho, the Australian Divine United Organisation Director (various organisational name and title changes occurred at Rawat's behest) despite his dubious employment history. The pool of talent was conspicuous for it's lack of administrative experience as Divine Light Mission's recruitment had been nearly totally from the disaffected youth of the 1960's: "drop-outs, drug addicts and so-called hippies."

In the June Golden Age Harper repeated the message that Bob Mishler had published in the USA. Harper stated that the past propagation tactics "making huge claims about Maharaj Ji and the Mission" was unnatural and that premies must be practical examples of the benefits of meditation as proclaimed by the guru. Harper believed that really "practising Knowledge" would produce such different behavious as a constant grin from ear to ear and a peace of mind that radiates a contagious calmness though he radiated no such effect himself. Time would tell if these concepts were based in reality and time did tell that it didn't.

In October 1975, the guru came to Austalia and the national and regional staffs of DLM had a one day conference with Rawat's honchos/minions: Bob Mishler, Michael Dettmers & Marino Amico. The Australians were taught the latest doctrines which in retrospect appear to be more Mishler than Maharaji: past mistakes were now being corrected and by Maharaji's grace a new and true understanding had developed/was developing.

Harper Discovers Pseudo-Knowledge and Closes the Ashrams

For the next 6 months Harper and the DLM elite wrestled with the reality of life in Divine LIght Mission and the gap betqween the theory and the reality of 5 or so years of didgent practice of satsang, service and meditation. Finally in June 1976 they came up with an explanation. They decided there was something called practising pseudo-Knowledge. This appeared to be identical to practising Knowledge but those premies for whom the practice did not produce peace, bliss and mature confidence were obviously only practising pseudo-Knowledge. Before most of the premies in Australia even heard of his idea Harper had already made up his mind. In the USA ashrams were being closed as members began to understand and acknowledge their lack of the benefits of Knowledge and when Harper heard about this he unilaterally closed the ashrams in Australia and sent the residents packing.

Harper Meets the Lord of the Universe

On November, 28 & 29, 1976 there was a Divine Light Mission 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 the Australian DLM was so poor that Rawat did not even know if there were any ashrams still functioning in Australia. The excerpt from the conference transcript below shows that Harper had made a unilateral decision to close the ashrams in Australia without seeking explicit 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. Personal feelings may have played a large part in this decision as Harper married the former New Zealand co-ordinator and ashram premie shortly thereafter.