Michael Dettmers, Former Personal Assistant to Prem Rawat Internet Revelations

Date: Fri, Mar 02, 2001 at 21:09:20 (GMT)
From: Susan
Email: None
To: Everyone
Subject: Read Michael Dettmers post below

There are so many incredible posts right now and great threads but this one needs to get archived with Michael's other posts. I know I don't have time to read all the posts lately I don't think anyone would want to miss this one.

Been There, The information provided by Kathy Sullivan is substantially correct. The therapist's name is Dr. Irene Kassorla. Maharaji and Marolyn began therapy sessions with her in the later part of 1984 and continued for about six to eight months thereafter to help resolve their marriage difficulties. It is not true that Maharaji shut down and wouldn't go back after a couple of sessions.

At the time, Dr. Kassorla, who lived and worked out of her palatial home in Bel Aire, California, was known as the "therapist to the stars," She is the author of several books including Nice Girls Do, Putting It All Together, and Go For It: How To Win at Love, Work and Play. She also hosted a call-in talk show on CNN for a while.

I don't recall if Marolyn attended their first session "dripping in diamonds" but your report that, "they never told the therapist what M. did" requires clarification. It is true that they never told her who Maharaji was or what he did. That task was left to me, since I was the person who suggested that they seek therapy in the first place, and I was also a key participant in the selection process. Because Maharaji had publicly bad-mouthed therapy for years, and because he was a public figure, I wanted someone who had an established reputation for protecting the identities of her famous Hollywood clients.

At the beginning, they had one-hour sessions every week for about two-months. After that, their sessions tapered off to about once a month and towards the end, they consulted with her on an "as need" basis. During the first month, I met with Dr. Kassorla after each session to answer questions. It was clear that she had never worked with a guru and his wife before, and she had many questions concerning the nature of his work, his teachings, his philosophy, the culture of worship and deference that surrounded him, and questions about Marolyn becoming Durga Ji, his devotee as well as his wife when they were married. She obviously considered this information to be very relevant to their current marriage difficulties. As a professional, she never discussed with me what took place in her sessions with them. My role was to provide her with whatever specific and/or contextual information she required.


Date: Sun, Mar 04, 2001 at 21:31:15 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: Everyone
Subject: Some Answers

Some of you have asked questions about Maharaji and Marolyn's therapy sessions with Dr. Irene Kassorla. I am unable to answer any questions about what took place during the sessions, as I was not present at any of them, nor did Maharaji or Marolyn or Dr. Kassorla ever discuss any of the details with me. With that proviso, I will do my best to answer your questions.

First, let me establish the context which led Maharaji and Marolyn to seek the help of a therapist. During the summer of 1984, Maharaji and Marolyn encountered a severe "bump in the road" in their marriage. During that time, Maharaji became aware of a rumor that Marolyn was having an affair with one of the premies doing full-time service at the Malibu residence. It is my belief that the rumor was true, although I have no absolute proof of that fact. I know that Maharaji believed it was true because I witnessed his incredible anger as well as his genuine sadness over this matter.

During this period, Maharaji and I became close, almost as friends. He was very vulnerable and it showed in his manner and behavior. He was far less arrogant than he often appeared to be, and his mood was very subdued. I remember during August he held an impromptu program in Miami. I had never seen him so humble and unassuming about himself and how he spoke about knowledge. Many people commented to me after the program about how touched they were and how different this program seemed from the others. No one knew the circumstances behind Maharaji's shift in tone, but most attendees experienced it, including me.

After the program, Maharaji and I flew to an exclusive resort called The Greenbriar nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. There, the two of us spent three days. We wandered the beautiful grounds and went for long drives along the back roads. As angry and hurt as he was at Marolyn, he made it clear that he had no intention or desire of getting a divorce, for reasons I have already discussed. In one of these conversations I suggested that he and Marolyn seek counseling. I offered the opinion that someone with expert knowledge and experiencing in these matters might be helpful, in much the same way that the team of outside advisors I assembled had been helpful in restructuring his organization and personal affairs after the potential debacle we faced with the IRS in 1976. Despite his misgivings about therapists, my argument persuaded him to consider the possibility.

Before Maharaji finally agreed to meet with Dr. Kassorla, I had lengthy conversations with him explaining that any therapist worth his or her salt would need to have a thorough understanding of who he is. I specifically suggested that the issue of Marolyn as Durga Ji, his devotee, as well as his wife would definitely be a topic of considerable discussion, given their current difficulties. Maharaji agreed and indicated that he would feel more comfortable if I were the person who explained all of this to Dr. Kassorla.

Consequently, when I met with Dr. Kassorla, I explained how things were when Maharaji first came to the West, but explained that he had made great progress in his efforts to shed the Indian trappings and rituals that were exported from India. Based on some very personal and intimate conversations I shared with Maharaji during that period, I was convinced that he was ready to step down off the throne and begin a process of genuine dialogue with premies and non-premies alike. I envisioned that he would openly address these issues with all of the premies and take responsibility for the consequences his decisions had produced. I believed that it was not necessary for him to present himself as anything other than a human being, albeit a very evolved human being, who had something important to say about the meaning and purpose of live. Although the changes I had envisioned had not yet taken place, I spoke to Dr. Kassorla with a confidence and conviction as if they had. From my perspective, Dr. Kassorla had the potential, not only to help Maharaji and Marolyn with their marriage difficulties but, in doing so, to help him let go of his old identity and fully embrace his humanity. In essence, I had come full circle to where I was in 1976, before Maharaji put an end to the organizational changes, and ushered in a new era of devotion. Right or wrong, this is my response to Jerry who asked, "How did you reconcile recommending that M see a shrink to the power of Knowledge?"

From my perspective, the therapy seemed to be working. Although I wasn't privy to any of the details, Maharaji and Marolyn attended all of the sessions, and he spoke very positively about Dr. Kassorla. Once Maharaji and Marolyn appeared to be getting their marriage back together, I felt it was time to extend this process into his organization. Maharaji's positive experience with Dr. Kassorla made him receptive to my suggestion that we conduct a two-day conference at San Yisidro with organizational consultant Will Schutz. It was during that conference that the proverbial shit hit the fan. It's as as if Dr. Kassorla had been playing softball, and then in came Will and suddenly the game changed to hardball. Maharaji freaked.

Without repeating all of what I have said before, Will and his associate told him that if he didn't take to heart the enormous responsibility that comes with engendering such love and commitment, he could become very scary and dangerous. He also told Maharaji that, of all the groups he had facilitated, he had never experienced as much fear as was exhibited by our group. He added that, in his opinion, Maharaji had received too much, too soon and that he really had to start practicing what he preached. Finally, Will alerted Maharaji to the dangers of having so many people so dependent upon him. Maharaji was very confronted by these comments. He felt attacked and betrayed when Will's comments were echoed by some of the conference participants, and so he withdrew into himself even though he remained physically present.

As I look back, the San Yisidro conference was a major turning point. I had hoped that the conference would help Maharaji extend his humanity throughout his organization and positively impact his approach to his mission. The exact opposite occurred. He reacted in much the same way he did when Bob Mishler confronted him in 1976. Rather than let the process settle for a couple of weeks as Will suggested, Maharaji cancelled the follow-up meeting and immediately fired two of the conference participants. He was as arrogant as before and he became imbued with cynicism. He continued to abuse alcohol and he began his sexual exploitation of his female devotees.

Bin Liner asked why "I didn't you walk when (I) realized Rawat was a fake?" Ultimately I did walk. But despite my disappointment, I genuinely loved him and I found it difficult to accept what I increasingly could not deny.