Search for the GuruSearch for the Guru: Adventures of a Western Mystic, Book 1
By Peter Mt. Shasta

What happens when a member of a better class of "spiritual seeker" meets early 1970s premies and sits at the feet of Guru Maharajji, receives Knowledge and is dropped off at PremNagar, City of Bliss? Firstly we learn that the the City of Bliss was really the City of Shit as 300 or so Westerners suffered dysentry. Secondly we reminded of the eternal question about Prem Rawat, "If he's so enlightened, how can he be so boring?" Mr Shasta makes some interesting and unanswerable criticisms of Divine Light Mission but its always obvious that the author believed he was destined to be a Master not a student.

The door closed and the excitement mounted as we waited breathlessly for the secret of the ages. Then the Mahatma said, "Now that the great moment has arrived you need to surrender your mind, body, and all your material possessions to Guru Maharajji, for from now on he will take care of all your needs."

"What a liar," I thought. "I guess when he said 'free' he meant 'no fixed price,' but he expected you to donate everything you owned!"

Since I had come this far, I was not going to miss these secret teachings now. From studying law I knew that fraud cancels every contract from the inception. I crossed my fingers behind my back, signifying before God that I did not consider myself bound by terms imposed so deviously. 74

After waiting this long no one left the room, and in a hushed voice the Mahatma began explaining the secret techniques. I was shocked to hear that after waiting all these days the practices turned out to be ones I was already doing!

A particularly "premie" moment comes when Shasta gets dysentry at Prem Nagar ashram and is "given satsang":

"The reason you are sick," a devotee said one day, looking down on me with obvious displeasure, "is because you still haven't accepted Guru Maharajji as God."

Nearly all the premies, who were accepting Guru Maharaj Ji as God, were also lying sick all around them.


Chapter 18

Journey to the East

At Kennedy Airport I stood in line for the flight to London with a group of young Americans dressed in white with maks around their necks–obviously on a spiritual path 69 "We're going to see Guru Maharajji," one of them said.

"The Guru of Ram Dass?"

"No, the thirteen-year old Sadguru."

I had never heard of him, and said that I was going to India to see a Guru in Rishikesh.

"Why go all the way to India to see a Guru when you can meet the Sadguru from India who is in London? He is a perfect Master and above all other Gurus. You can stay at the ashram with us in London."

Since I needed a place to stay on arrival, I accepted their offer. What could I lose? Maybe hearing Ram Dass on the radio had only been to get me searching.

In London I found myself sitting at the feet of a chubby, thirteen-year old kid they called Guru Maharajji, who claimed to be the only one on Earth in possession of what he called Knowledge, unique spiritual methods he was willing to transmit to the faithful.

"I am here to give you the knowledge which only I can give," he boasted. "Wow, what chutzpah," I thought, "but you never know; he must have something to be able to attract all these followers:.

"If he's so enlightened," I wondered, "how can he be so boring?" He droned on and on, day after day, about the evils of materialism, and how only he could teach the techniques that would free us of that materialism. Finally, I couldn't take his arrogance any more and asked, "What's wrong with the way I meditate now?"

"How could you possibly know how to meditate," he replied, puffing up his chest.

"Why you spoiled brat," I wanted to say, but held my tongue.

After days of listening to him market knowledge like a dishwashing detergent, I succumbed. "What the heck, I'm already here; I might just as well try it and see what happens."

Either we were found worthy or the boy had exhausted himself, but the Mahatmas finally told us that the great moment of our initiation had arrived. After assuring to that Knowledge was from God so was totally free, and that we would not be required to take any vows, we were ushered into a small room by the Mahatma.

The door closed and the excitement mounted as we waited breathlessly for the secret of the ages. Then the Mahatma said, "Now that the great moment has arrived you need to surrender your mind, body, and all your material possessions to Guru Maharajji, for from now on he will take care of all your needs."

"What a liar," I thought. "I guess when he said 'free' he meant 'no fixed price,' but he expected you to donate everything you owned!"

Since I had come this far, I was not going to miss these secret teachings now. From studying law I knew that fraud cancels every contract from the inception. I crossed my fingers behind my back, signifying before God that I did not consider myself bound by terms imposed so deviously. 74

After waiting this long no one left the room, and in a hushed voice the Mahatma began explaining the secret techniques. I was shocked to hear that after waiting all these days the practices turned out to be ones I was already doing!

I had wasted enough time in London. Now I knew how so many kids were brainwashed into joining cults. Deprived of sleep and surrounded day and night by other enthusiastic followers telling you that you're doing the right thing, your discriminating intelligence is worn down. From this experience I began to trust my innate feelings about spiritual teachers more than what people said about them, and to look to see if they also transmitted compassion, wisdom, and dharma. 75 Even more important, I looked to see if they put their teachings into practice.

This experience with a pretender only increased my desire to be connected with an authentic Guru, the one I believed that was awaiting my arrival in Rishikesh.


CHAPTER 21

At the Mercy of the Child Guru

As the car pulled away from the gate I looked up at the sign over the ashram gate that said Premnagar (City of Bliss). It sounded familiar and I had a sinking feeling. My worst suspicion was confirmed as I walked down the path to the ashram's front door. Fate had brought me once again to the feet of the child Guru I had last seen in London. He had just arrived on a jumbo jet with three hundred westerners he called "Premies." 81 I would just have dinner and get an early start in the morning.

The ashram, used to hosting only small groups of Indians, had no idea how to deal with that many people, especially westerners. The only running water was a single spigot and the toilets had stopped working. The field behind the ashram had become the latrine. In rural India, where toilets and privacy are unheard of, people are used to relieving themselves in public; but for westerners this was a shock that took a while to assimilate. Cooking was also done outside and flies swarmed happily back and forth from field to the food. Within twenty-four hours nearly everyone had dysentery. However, we were still expected to help prepare meals and sweep the temple grounds, which they called Karma Yoga.

In the morning I awoke with a burning fever. Having slept on the cement floor of the temple, I was powerless to avoid the darshan of Guru Maharajji. This time he sat in the midst of an ornately decorated altar on a throne several feet above the audience. It was just before Christmas and the Hindu shrine was decorated with twinkling, colored lights, which appealed to the westerners missing the holiday festivities at home. I was shocked to hear Maharajji boast, "Why are you thinking about Jesus? Forget about Him, because I am that same being here now."

Instead of leaving in the morning as planned, I lay on the cement floor for days, burning with fever, and moving in and out of delirium. The Hindu Gods in their various peaceful and wrathful forms looked down on me from the shrine, gradually merging into a blur of flashing colored lights. Twice a day the child Guru gave darshan, ranting on and on about his greatness, and I began to wonder if, in the midst of this increasing sense of unreality, I had been carried off to one of the astral hells by the asuras (demons) depicted in pictures on the shrine.

"The reason you are sick," a devotee said one day, looking down on me with obvious displeasure, "is because you still haven't accepted Guru Maharajji as God."

When I could no longer stand the boasting of this teenage, petty tyrant I dragged my mat outside onto the porch. There I could at least look out into the fields shimmering in the heat. As I was lying there one afternoon, trying to ignore the incessant droning of the flies, I thought I heard one of my favorite songs from the 60s. Or, was it my imagination? As I listened, I heard it more distinctly, coming through the stillness of the afternoon. It was now unmistakable–Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," which I'd last heard in Greenwich Village at the fountain in Washington Square.

Was I delirious? Or was someone really playing that song? I hadn't seen any electrical outlets out back, so I struggled to my feet and shakily walked around the side of the temple to follow the song to the source. There, sitting on the steps, was a forlorn girl with a mini turntable on her lap. She had brought it and the vinyl album all the way from London–saving the batteries for a special occasion–which for her, as well as me, was now.

Listening to Dylan's voice rasping out over the field, I had a sort of satori that I was the tambourine man–searching for my own song, which no one else could give. I needed to pursue my own truth. I kept walking and started to feel better. The further I got away from the ashram the better I felt. With no idea where I was going, I felt drawn toward a green line of trees in the distance. I stumbled toward them, and when I arrived, I pushed through the greenery, through the branches and vines–and there it was, the river that was the soul of India, the Ganges–which seemed to have been beckoning for eternity.

I had read Siddhartha before I left on this quest, and remembered how Siddhartha had achieved enlightenment–not by following the Buddha, but by living a normal life–finally sitting on the bank of the Ganges, listening to the sound of the sacred syllable, Om, which he heard murmuring..

Without thinking, I stripped off my clothes and plunged into the holy river descending out of the Himalayas.