Allan Thomas Memoire about His Time In DLM
Like many old hippies, "premies" and "new-agers" Allan chooses to reject "negativity" and not to bother about discreditable events in the past but there's looking on the bright side and then there's making things brighter than they really were. This vignette taken from Allan's web site starts with the one thing nearly all 1970's premies had in common, drugs ie marijuana and LSD. I don't think even Cheech and Chong are claiming their use improves your ability to think clearly and make sensible judgements. Like many another hippie lemming he joined an Eastern meditation movement led by a "Realised Soul." Unfortunately he joined the one making the most noise with the least credibility and the most unlikely and least qualified guru. His face was round from his mother's Nepalese heritage and years of over-eating. Was he beautiful? Make up your own mind. Like many other young hippies Allan was impressed by the saffron clothed bald headed Mahatmas who provided spiritual credibility for the young guru. However all but a literal handful either repudiated Maharaji within a few years or were sent back to India in disgrace for behaviour unacceptable in a "Great Soul." The guru himself was repudiated by the Indian premies for meat-eating, alcohol and drug abuse.
The "ancient meditation techniques" involved the mahatma squeezing your eyeballs very hard, and teaching you to stick your thumbs in your ears, think about your breathing and try to get your tongue back up into your nasal passages for 2 hours a day. No wonder it wasn't instant enlightenment and it wasn't anything close and yes those bogus enlightened souls were just telling fables. Were the experiences deeper than the surface trappings? Certainly not enough for Allan to actually obey the guru who he sang again and again was God Incarnate on the planet, his Lord etc etc and Allan was quite right to do what he did. Unfortunately as Rawat is and was a bogus guru who inherited a profitable family business as God that he ran for his own profit, a grossly materialistic and vulgar profit, those premies who sincerely practised the Knowledge as they were told (poverty, celibacy, total surrender, etc) were the big losers in life and those like Allan, the charismatic troubadour flitting from ashram sister to ashram sister were the big winners. It doesn't seem fair but that's life in a cult.
The Guru and The Knowledge.
I'd joined the Bliss Band in Philadelphia - a group of musicians who were all devotees of the fourteen-year old Indian Guru, Maharaj Ji. Bryan played guitar, wrote, and sang some of the most soulful devotional songs in their repertoire. Right after joining, the whole band flew down to Jamaica for two weeks of rehearsals, and then on to Montrose Colorado high up in the Rockies to play at a Maharaj Ji festival. Bryan and I have been making music together ever since. BK is from Philly, the City of Brotherly Love. He's also one of my guitar hero's with his tasteful licks and melodic chord work. We've shared it all, and can say whatever whenever to each other. I appreciate our friendship. You could say we met at the feet of the Master.
The early seventies was the gateway to the inward connection. We'd lived through the freewheeling '60's, and LSD. Now we wanted to find out how to extend that elusive super-awareness into real-time - without the psychedelics. Meditation sounded like the closest thing. Before this time, if you wanted someone to teach you meditation or yoga, you'd go off to India, find yourself Master. Now, in the seventies, you could go to Denver, L.A., New York, even Nashville, wherever; the teachers had come to America.
Many jazz musicians were writing tunes based upon their experiences of Eastern philosophy and meditation, even changing their names to Hindu ones. Having a Guru was a mind-bending concept for many in the West, but in the East it has been commonplace for thousands of years, like having a family doctor, except it's your spiritual doctor. Dr. Feelgood of the soul. I was fully enjoying the life of a traveling musician, but was beginning to feel something was missing. Something I couldn't put into words, but something key. In writing a song called 'Any Home Will Do', I came face to face with this acknowledgement. My soul was hungry for fulfillment on a different level and I was compelled to feed it by the current that pushed me in that unknown direction. Maybe I was caught up in the zeitgeist of the time, but I think not.
While in Nashville I saw a poster with the picture of the young Indian Guru named Maharaj Ji. His words on the poster said, "Give me your love - I will give you peace". That sounded pretty off the wall but it aroused my curiosity. His face was round like the sun; beautiful, serene, and wise beyond his youthful appearance. The next day there was a lecture about the Knowledge and meditation offered by the guru at the Unitarian Church. Speaking in Hindi with great animation was one of Maharaj Ji's initiators, a saffron-clad bald man in his fifties. I didn't understand a word he said but he got through to me on another level and I wanted whatever it was that he was offering. That much I knew. He spoke with such conviction and passion that he reminded me of Ray Charles singing.
The following morning Maharaj Ji's ancient meditation techniques were revealed to me in a very quiet, private setting with eleven others. It wasn't instant enlightenment or anything close, but I became aware of another level of self. Some kind of veil was lifted behind my eyes, and a seed definitely planted. The direction was now pointing further inward, and I mined this vein pretty solidly for the next seven years; I had no choice. At first it wasn't easy to close my eyes for one minute, no less an hour - watching the mind until it eventually slows down and the big picture comes sliding into view. But when I applied myself to the practice of meditation for however long, I felt clearer, lighter hearted. I hoped it was something cumulative; that the more you did, the higher you would get, and you'd stay there in that peaceful state extending its length until you had reached whatever you want to call it - samadhi, bliss, everlasting peace. But it wasn't like that at all. If you stopped meditating you popped the balloon.
At that moment in time I lived a pretty wholesome life - vegetarian, no alcohol, and very little weed. While gigging around the US - my album still out less than a year - I stayed as a guest in Ashrams more than a few times, particularly in Denver, Philly, Washington DC and L.A. I'd force myself to get up at 5am to sing a ten-minute thousand-year old devotional song in Hindi with the resident devotees, who were mostly young middle-class Americans. I eventually learned most of the tune, but faked the parts I didn't remember. In the ashrams you could listen to traveling Indian Mahatmas (great souls) telling the great old fables and stories of past masters and saints. After the devotional song it was meditation time. Dutifully I meditated every morning, or tried to, as it was ever so easy to nod off while you were sitting in the lotus position on the carpet, a cotton shawl draped over your head, and its five in the morning and you've only dragged your ass in from a late gig a few hours before.
All the devotional Bhajans (songs) they sung in Hindi, so in the end I learned a spattering of Hindi words and even wore some of the light cotton Indian clothes. We ate a lot of great Indian meals too. The experiences behind the teachings however were deeper than any of the superficial appearances and trappings. And these inner-world excursions proved invaluable in the years to come. Inspired, I began writing my own devotional songs. Incidentally, when staying at an ashram one was supposed to live the monastic life. But at least in America there was all kinds of shit happening behind the altar. You had some very sensual sisters performing their devotions in shapely silk saris or see through cotton meditation pants, plus they were in a state of semi-bliss half the time anyway.
This made for a serious test of spirit over flesh. Lets just say the spirit of the flesh won more times than not. Though I was thoroughly enjoying the Knowledge and its many facets both inward and out, I was always weak when it came to women and found that embracing one in any manner of many was also a divine experience. The celibacy bit was for others who were more steadfast in their fervor to reach whatever lie at the end of the path, whilst I took my time along the path stopping to smell the roses, and partake of what succor I could, believing it was all good for the soul. At least that's how I justify my lapse of moral conduct as a guest in an ashram.
Back to my buddy Bryan, we were on this same road at the exact same time. We played in several devotional bands between '72 and '73 - The Bliss Band, Blue Aquarius and The Apostles to name a few - traveling a great deal, mainly in the US. Living the musician/disciple life, we had plenty of memorable adventures with remarkable people, including our future first wives, it turns out. By the late seventies we each were back in the secular world, playing normal gigs, writing love songs, blues, and what have you. We had both married, and were Santa Monica Bay Band cohorts.