My Mother My Mirror
By Andrea Kitt
This is a really depressing book. It relates a very common theme. It is typical of many premies' lives. Unhappy childhood, aimless teens, LSD, "Be Here Now" and meeting someone already in a cult who appeared to have what was missing in her life - happiness. Ms Kitt describes her time as a premie in a premie milieu very well. She evokes the flavour of life in DLM. She appears very honest about her feelings though like all premies she would have given a rose-tinted view of her life to an outsider back then. One is left with the picture of long-term depression relieved by her involvement in a community life and forlorn moments of joy which she believes demonstrates a real connection to Maharaji and to "deeper things." The failure of meditation to ameliorate her misery is nearly identical to that recalled by another female premie, Barbara Hearne. Yet their lives were opposite in nearly every way. Ms Hearne lived in a financially secure, happy relationship with one partner in Miami and worked amongst a large premie community. Ms Kitt was not so fortunate.
She later involves herself in any path, alternate psychology, psychic group that she comes across but only continual failures to heal allow her to mature somewhat by the end of the book. I was reminded of many similar, weepy female premies and yet her situation was relatively easy compared to all the single mothers in the Mission. She was reasonably attractive and had no children. Once the strong community life ends in 1983 she drifts away.
Ms Kitt had the misfortune to marry Brian Kitt, aka Mahatma Saphlanand, a once important figure in Divine Light Mission but who was a legend in his own mind. Kitt was a world class bullshitter but he fell from his glory days in which he saw himself as an LSD guru, a mystic with powerful visions and the first and only Western Mahatma of the Guru Maharaj Ji. He had been Rawat's pilot flying up and down the West Coast being greeted with open arms and open legs until Rawat got married. According to Ms Kitt, he ended up disillusioned, living an angry, bitter and miserable life in England smoking dope and shouting at his wife and kids. Ms Kitt finally leaves the arrogant and hypocritical poseur. I wish I hadn't read the whole book but didn't know beforehand what parts related to Prem Rawat's effect on her life.
Looking back, I think I was depressed for most of my childhood – or repressed, or suppressed. … Of course I remember the highlights, but I also remember the reason these meant so much to me was that I was still fundamentally lost and depressed. I lived from one festival to the next, the longing I had developed early in life now all focused on Maharaji. … My sense of self was still so fragile that time in a strange country could easily make me feel unreal and upset. … A few weeks later, I went to Leela again. I was feeling lonely and depressed … Time and again I would try not to see him, then become so miserable and depressed …
It was 1973 and the country was plastered with posters of Maharaji, now fifteen years old, with a rainbow round his head, advertising the festival at Alexandra Palace that summer. When the time came I spent one day there; I saw what he was like for myself, and any residual doubts were swept away. He was just a young boy, and his message was so simple: he could show me how to go within myself and find happiness. Nothing he said was threatening in any way. I didn't sense a manipulative ego or a superior tone. I remember picking up a 'Divine Times' from a stall at the back of the hall and reading it from cover to cover, right down to the tiny little advertisements for meditation blankets or accommodation. This was definitely what I had been looking for.
The premies had recently purchased an old cinema in East Dulwich, and renamed it the 'Palace of Peace'. They removed all the seats and covered the floor in one big carpet, and hung pictures of saints on the walls. This was a large satsang venue holding several hundred people, and often more illustrious speakers would be there, such as the 'mahatmas' who were empowered to impart the Knowledge, and premies who had been involved for a long time and had had personal contact with the guru, and sometimes members of Maharaji's family.
At last the day came and I received Knowledge, in a small back room at the Palace of Peace, from a little Indian man with sticky-out ears wearing a saffron-coloured robe. As an offering I gave some bread that I had baked the night before; then I was shown how to turn each of my senses inside and experience God.
I admit, I was a little disappointed. After the whole build-up, all the questioning as to whether I was ready or not, all the soul-searching… not very much happened. But I was still determined to find out what it was all about. I took the train back up to Hitchin, made my way to my caravan, sat down cross-legged on my bed and began to investigate. I followed my breath, and looked and listened and tasted within as I had been shown. There was a moment when there was white light all around me, not in my imagination but for real. It had an expansive, soothing quality. It was only a glimpse, but it was something.
While I was staying there I went up one day to the house where Jessie lived. I had stopped sleeping with him by then, but there were other premies living there and on this occasion there was a party happening. I wandered in, accepted a drink and began talking to a man I had known previously as Mahatma Sambhavo. I had seen him in a film called 'Who is Guru Maharaji?', giving satsang as he polished the small aeroplane he used to pilot Maharaji to meetings up and down the California coast; but I'd never met him before. He said to call him Sam. He was, to refer back to the chapter about my grandfather: Gemini, charming, dynamic, spiritual, keen on writing, and had a certain sadness in his eyes that reminded me of myself. Little did I know, as we never do at the time, just what an enormous impact he would have on the rest of my life.
Ms Kitt has also written what is presumably a saucy book, "Andrea's Life" about her days as a stripper in Miami circa 1985.