1974: The Thrill Is Gone
After the Millenium Fiasco Divine Light Mission in Debt and Doo Doo
Divine Light Mission finished it's early, rapid growth period by the end of 1973. Beginning in 1974 it had large debts following the Millenium 73 festival and had already attracted their share of the pool of the disappearing, disaffected young hippies looking for spiritual enlightenment.
They were unable to print any magazines until June and tthere were no funds for a Blue Aquarius live Millenium album or a new film celebrating Millenium '73 though the footage was already shot. Then on May 20th Maharaji married Marolyn Johnson a taller, older, more attractive (of course) premie (of course). It took 25 years before premies would admit how shocking this was to them though at the time Divine Times announced: "Premies around the world rejoice and join in congratulating the new couple."
While there were serious problems still to come the administrators, unaware of what the future held, settled down to try to organise and stabilise their large, unruly but dwindling band of ex-hippie premies (and themselves). They attempted to create "communities" of premies in major cities and organise a stable ongoing financial stream (AMP) and regularise ashram activities while paying off the Millenium debts, responding to questions about DLM's tax-exempt status and financially supporting Rawat and his entourage.
In 1974-5 most of the premie administrators living in ashrams in Denver were in a malaise they could not openly discuss due to peer pressure and their belief in the "DLM line." Most had "received Knowledge" in 1971 or 1972 and were coming to terms with their loss of innocence and faith. Administrators made convoluted excuses for all DLM failures and "explained" that the guru was faultless and blameless.
Lucy Dupertuis was an ashram premie and a writer for DLM in Denver. In her thesis she recalled Ashram premies in Denver premies who became involved in 1974 in a positive-thinking practice called "Science of Mind":
They preached that "positive thinking" is the key to meditation and that one must repeat "positive affirmations," such as " I can do anything," or "I am God." In the orthodox premie view, affirmations make one merge completely into a thought created by "mind." In such a state one has no hope of ignoring the "mind" and transcending it in meditation. Further, an affirmation such as "I am God" makes actually merging with God/GMJ, who is beyond all thought, impossible. In fact, one begins to feel less need for GMJ and less inclination to obey him. And this is what actually happened. The leading proponent of this view began to conduct his own well-attended evening "satsangs," outside of DLM's authority. Soon he was attracting premies from the Denver DLM headquarters and robbing official "satsang" of newcomers. For a few months the headquarters lunchroom echoed with intense discussions of "mind" and "thought," "positive thinking" vs meditation. When this heresy clearly began to gain independence from GMJ and the Mission in organizational as well as spiritual matters, GMJ squelched it. (But a new heresy emerged a year or two later comprised of many of the same people preaching yet another alternative to premie meditation.)
Sophia collier's recollections are similar:
After the "Millennium '73" festival failed so utterly in its missionary aims and brought heaps of derision upon the Mission, premies retreated into their first introversionist phase. The Mission fell deeply into debt and though the Denver headquarters reduced its staff, within a few months it began to expand once again *, and along with it the nationwide system of ashrams. During the 1974-1975 period premies withdrew from the outside world as much as possible, the Headquarters worked not on outreach but on facilitating internal networks, premies concerned themselves with meditative purification of the "mind's" "worldly" tendencies, clung to one another in their communities, and drew a marked distinction between "us" and "them." … During this period, then, being together with GMJ meant conforming to a tightknit premie society, socially and physically rejecting the "world."
Alas, attempting to purify oneself of the "mind's worldly tendencies" through practise of Prem Rawat's meditation failed.
Even though Matthew had, like me, adopted the ashram lifestyle, which did not allow drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, he had never quite adjusted. Sometimes in the office he smelled of Scotch, and he kept a stash of marihuana tucked away up in the Divine Times office's false ceiling to enjoy late at night with some of the other people on the Divine Times staff. … I was having a less serious love affair. Although in coming to Denver I had agreed to live in a monastic way, I found it rather difficult to do so. From my short experience, there was no substitute for the deep and happy satisfaction of making love. On a few occasions during that cold winter of '73-'74, I broke my monastic commitment. … he (Raja Rawat) began expanding his existing fascination for guns and violence. Like Maharaj Ji, Raja Ji had started to drink. Though I love to drink from time to time, I never do so before the end of the afternoon. Raja Ji sometimes started much earlier than that. One evening I sat with him and Claudia as they drank. Slowly the conversation turned from an interesting discussion to a series of slurred comments about where do the bubbles come from in champagne. This is spirituality? I thought to myself. … Come September 1974, I felt it was time to take stock of my position and figure out where to go from here.
Premie administrators living in ashrams in Denver began to be more truthful about much of the pretense and exaggerated claims made by premies. Bob Mishler (DLM President) and Mike Donner (DLM VP) made astounding revelations:
Do you think people have learned not to blow things out of proportion and not look outside for things to happen?
Bob: I think there are some people who are still into hyping things, but those of us who are working in the headquarters have gotten beyond that for the most part. … For many premies, hyping was an experience they needed. … we were hyping it up beyond what we had realized and were adding a lot of garbage
In our effort to propagate this Knowledge we seem to have large numbers of people receive Knowledge and then fall away …
Mike: There is a tendency to hype ourselves saying, "I have Knowledge and am realizing it." But I shouldn't have to pretend that I am strong if in fact I am experiencing difficulty or doubt.
* DLM headquarters was able to expand again after a substantial inheritance was donated by an idealistic young fool.