Michael Dettmers, Former Personal Assistant to Prem Rawat Internet Revelations
Date: Sun, Dec 16, 2001 at 22:25:08 (EST)
From: Michael Dettmers
Subject: My response to Jim Sander
Last week Jim Sander asked me the following questions:
'What did you go through in deciding to post? Can you describe some of the "inner dialogues" you had within yourself in coming to the conclusions you did? How did you feel after you posted? What were some of the responses form people who read the forum? Did I ever have any doubts or fears about posting?'
I did not easily come to the conclusion to post. In fact, I didn't even know that EPO existed until I got a call out of the blue from Jim Heller a little less than two years ago. He politely (yes, he does know how to be polite) introduced himself and asked if I remembered him from the early days of DLM in Canada. I told him that I remembered his name and had a vague recollection of who he was, but that was it. He went on to ask if I had heard about EPO and if I was aware that it contained a scathing expose about me and my past involvement with Maharaji. I told him that I was not aware of EPO nor the expose so he informed me how to find the site, and said he would call me in a few days for my comments.
Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I read what had been said about me, and I was especially offended by the lies and mis-information. Mostly, however, I had this sickening feeling in my stomach that my past connection with Maharaji was coming back to haunt me. I had hoped that I had put it behind me and had gotten on with my life (which I had). But here was a stark reminder that, in the age of the internet, my past could not so easily be swept under the carpet.
When I next spoke with Jim, I focused on the lies and misrepresentations that had been written about me. Jim listened and acknowledged my concerns but re-directed the conversation towards Maharaji and my role in his organization. He wanted to know what I thought about Maharaji and, more specifically, if I would be willing to post about what I thought, experienced and witnessed while in his service. At that moment, I had no intention of posting or saying anything, and I told him so.
Jim called me back a few weeks later to see if I had changed my mind. When I told him that I hadn't, he said that I was making a mistake because so many people had been damaged by their involvement in M's cult and that I was in a unique position to help undo some of the damage. It was after a few more of these conversations with Jim that I finally made my first posts on EPO. Anyone who read them will remember that I focused more on clarifying some of the lies and misrepresentations that had been made about me and, only in a circumspect manner, did I explain my reasons for leaving Maharaji, making a point not to criticize him. These posts did not go over well with most Forum readers and I was roundly criticized.
Some good did come out of those initial posts, however. Jim put me in touch with other ex's including Joe Whalen who, in the course of several conversations, encouraged me to speak out. Jim also asked if I was aware of the Jagdeo situation, which I was not, and asked if I would be willing to speak with Susan. I agreed, and Susan and I engaged in several e-mails and phone calls during the ensuing weeks. I was horrified to hear about Jagdeo's behavior. I have a close personal friend who was sexually abused as a child by her father and I know the damage it caused and the courage, with the help of an experienced therapist, it took to undo the damage and reclaim her life.
It was Susan's story, and Élan Vital's denials, that prompted me to write to Maharaji with an enclosed letter from Susan, informing him personally of the Jagdeo situation. His subsequent inaction and indifference to this matter triggered whatever unresolved anger and resentment I had suppressed in my efforts to put Maharaji behind me and get on with my life. I was outraged. This outrage was exacerbated by Élan Vital's responses in the FAQ section of its website.
I knew when I left that Maharaji had lost his moral compass. Now, as evidenced by Élan Vital's FAQ's, he wasn't even acknowledging the genuine love and devotion that made him a wealthy man. Instead he was re-writing history in a way that mocked all of the people who had sincerely dedicated their lives to him. I was now determined to speak out, and I did.
Since speaking out, I have received countless e-mails from ex-premies all over the world thanking me for doing so. For the most part, I have simply reported the facts as I personally witnessed and lived them, letting the facts speak for themselves. I have no regrets for having done so and I am gratified that, by speaking out, I have helped many people exit the cult. It has been a liberating experience and I thank all of the people whose efforts make EPO and this Forum possible.