Prem Rawat's Knowledge Sessions

In his early days in the West, Prem Rawat's mahatmas conducted "Knowledge Sessions" face-to-face in small groups (usually no more than 30) that lasted 8 hours. At least the one I was in did. These were intense "spiritual" occasions in which it was asserted that a mystical grace would empower the meditation techniques if the persons involved were sincere. A flow of divine grace from Maharaji would be transmitted through the saintly mahatma ("great soul") like water down a hose and this would begin the transformation of consciousness the Knowledge empowers. They had to profess a strong desire for the Knowledge and convince the initiator that this was heartfelt and to repeat certain vows of homage and worship of Prem Rawat in his guise of the Guru Maharaj Ji. You were not taught the techniques, you were initiated into them. The Knowledge Session ritual began the process and admitted you into a society with secret methods of meditation. Until the mid-1980's everyone had to repeat the following vows, out loud, before they were initiated:

Oh my Guru Maharaj Ji, I dedicate myself to your lotus feet. I am weak and ignorant and am filled with the impurities of this world
Oh Guru Maharaj Ji, please take my mind and purge me of the impurities I possess. Reveal to me the knowledge of all knowledge
Strengthen me, uplift me and reveal the kingdom of heaven within inside of me
Bring me from hate to love, from darkness to light, death to immortality
I will OBEY you implicitly and will never reveal this knowledge to anyone for any reason
I will keep in contact with you through my DEVOTIONAL LOVE, satsang, meditation and service
Thank you my LORD for everything

And they really had to bow down too … These vows could be considered controversial so they were toned down considerably during the 1980s.

From 2001 the techniques were taught via a multimedia presentation made by Rawat. It was a far cry from the early 1970's when people heard about the Knowledge, went into the Knowledge Session and out with barely any preparation. Now it might have been the times or it may have been the young people of the day but those chaotic sessions were as successful in producing long term dedicated followers of Rawat's as any other period and in far greater numbers and for far less cost. Rawat is a person who instinctively prefers technology to humanity which is particularly ironic in light of his 21st century preaching about the heart.

TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary

Prem Rawat's Personal Preference For Technology Over Humanity Is Why He Has Failed To Attract Followers

This is at the heart of his failure to attract followers despite the incredible financial resources and talent those people who were initiated in the early 1970's have given him. From the early 1990's there was multimedia, huge HD screens, high quality sound systems and even custom built chairs and still the numbers of premies in the West slowly fell and now (2010) the long-timers are starting to die of old age. No matter how long you've taken to convince people beforehand, learning these techniques from watching a movie of an absurd little fat guy who resembles a toad will not have the same emotional impact as learning them in a dimly lit room from a shaven-headed Indian "saint" sitting cross-legged in front of you, dressed in saffron robes and bringing the mystic East directly into your young life in the early 1970's when this possibility was still pretty far out. Of course, even then, the drop-outs far outnumbered the people who stayed for the long haul.

In the late 1990's premies became far more organised and standards, protocols, rules and regulations proliferated and service became integrated via an internet system called ©FirstClass, an Elan Vital private communication system. Prem Rawat's personal presence at sessions was hopelessly inefficient and the possibility of recruiting thousands of new followers in the West under this sytem was non-existent. Rawat was and is an ardent technophile and so a machine driven system was devEloped. Knowledge Sessions became highly formalised and a Knowledge Session Event Guide was produced. This system requires numerous teams of people: Event Management, Aspirant Team (aspirant contact), Hall Liaison (venue research & facilities coordination), Production Team (audio, video & lighting), Event Set-up Team (KS venue & reception area setup), Assistance Team (security, ushering & special needs), Catering Team, Translation, Finance (resource contact). The members of this team, who often outnumbered the "people receiving the techniques of Knowledge," were not there for personal contact which was frowned upon. Even under this inefficient, impersonal system the actual teaching of the techniques only takes about 5 minutes each technique less time than the "de-briefing" of the premies involved after the session is over. The possibility of "receiving the possibility of peace" in the simple surroundings of someone's home in a person to person transmission is impossible. Rawat's world is a world with diminishing numbers and proliferating bureaucracy.

Prem Rawat's Connect 2000 magazine
Prem Rawat's Connect 2000 magazine
Prem Rawat's Connect 2000 magazine
Prem Rawat's Connect 2000 magazine

The Keys on 2 Gig Memory Stick In 2005, Prem Rawat introduced "The Keys", a program of five topics explained in 70 hours of speeches by Rawat on 25 DVDs which attempt to prepare the student for receiving Knowledge in an unquestioning manner. In the main these are just sections of the numerous speeches he has made in front of his devotees. Those in which he can't wing it are noticeable for his poor communication skills and speech. The techniques are taught in Key Six. A request from a practitioner who feels they are ready to view Key Six will result in an invitation to a Knowledge Session.

This was apparently too much to expect of people and so in 2014 the amount of brain-washing required by Prem Rawat before he would "reveal" the techniques of meditation has been dropped down to less than 7 hours presumably because so few people were prepared to watch the required minimum of 60 hours.

Below is selection of the accounts I have of people talking about "Receiving Knowledge" ie being initiated and being taught/shown the meditation techniques that Prem Rawat teaches. These initiations were first done in the West by Indian "mahatmas" and then by Western devotees and finally by the use of videos of Rawat. There is not a large number of published texts from which to choose. These are all describing events from the 1970's and it's interesting that the two who write about the most exotic and intense experiences in the Knowledge Session are also the most "out there" and neither became followers of Rawat's.

Sophia CollierSOUL RUSH: 'The Odyssey of a Young Woman of the '70s', by Sophia Collier.

Published New York : Morrow, 1978.

"You are about to learn the holiest of all secrets," he said. "All religions are based on the principle that the Kingdom of Heaven is within each person; that each person is part and parcel of God. Every person can know and realize this. It does not matter where someone is from, what the sex may be, or what is the class or creed. Every human being can be intimately connected to this heavenly kingdom, within himself, if he has the key to unlock the door. This Knowledge is the key and you are going to learn it today. Of course, when you have this key, it is up to you to use it. The aim of human life is to realize God, and that takes much effort and work. When I say realize God, I do not mean to know intellectually, 'Sure, God is within me,' but instead, to experience it practically-to feel the love and wisdom of God within oneself, with every breath and action.

"Guru Maharaj Ji has the divine mission of taking this Knowledge to all people. By learning these techniques today, a bond of love and commitment is made between you and Maharaj Ji. By taking this Knowledge you become disciples, and you must follow his counsel to the letter if you want to progress and realize union with the God inside of you in this lifetime."

After this introduction, the mahatma asked for questions. "Why the intense reverence of the guru?" an older woman wanted to know. "I saw people bowing before his picture; surely you can follow this spiritual path without doing this."

"Oh, sister," the mahatma said, "to me Guru Maharaj Ji is my divine father. I love him more than the whole world. He has taken me from the darkness of illusion and moved me into a world of light. To me, he is the Lord himself standing on the earth. I melt in the love he has shown me. I bow to hide my face before him. Of course, in the Bible it is written, 'By his fruits you shall know him.' Take this Knowledge and discover if Guru Maharaj Ji will mean as much to you as he means to me. For a Western person, this is hard to understand. You are so proud. But look at it this way. If you have a dollar bill in your pocket and it falls out, you will bow and bend to pick it up. Even for a penny you will stoop. So for this supreme Knowledge of God, should you not do as much as you would for a penny?"

All of this heavy religious talk was surprisingly easy for me to translate into my secular idiom. I heard the mahatma saying: "Take this meditation and practice it. If you like it, take the guru too. Go along with him as long as he helps you. And if there comes a point where he no longer helps you, just leave."

I thought it all sounded very fair.

The meditation techniques were very simple and effective. When I tried them out with the group, I felt wonderful calm and joy. There were four techniques concerned with bringing the practitioner in contact with certain internal experiences of light, sound, taste, and "vibration." Three of these techniques were for formal, or sitting meditation, and the fourth was for anytime. This last one was particularly interesting, because you could do it while you were walking around or riding on the bus or doing anything else. Because this fourth technique is such a practical and sensible solution to everyday stress and strain, I am going to tell you how to do it here.

Our breath is a naturally built-in mantra, always flowing within our chests. When you gently turn your awareness toward the movement of your breath, its continuous rhythm will have a soothing effect on you. Beyond being merely soothing, this is also exhilarating. At the top and bottom of the breath, there is a little experience of energy surging within your body. As you concentrate on this little spark, it gradually becomes more pronounced and invigorating. Because you are concentrating on your own breathing, something which is going on within you at all times anyway, this meditation does not detract from your experience of other activities. You can still follow the intrigues of TV crime dramas while you meditate; the only difference is that you will be in touch with yourself in the most basic and beautiful way while you are staring at the tube.

After the mahatma had taught us all four techniques, he said that the reason for our positive experience was the connection of grace that was established between us, the disciples, and Maharaj Ji, the Guru, in this mystical initiation. We should not teach the meditation to anyone else, he cautioned. The people we taught would be spiritual bastards, initiates without gurus. And furthermore, he added, if we taught the meditation to anyone else, we would suffer too, if not in this life, in the hereafter. Undoubtedly we would be reincarnated as snakes, he said.

To me this seemed like typical Hindu mumbo-jumbo. I felt that there was good reason to safeguard the first three techniques of meditation. They were more advanced and should be learned in a certain setting, like a Knowledge session, where everything could be properly explained and all questions answered. But I thought Indian threats were not a good way to protect them. Hellfire and brimstone, from whatever culture, just isn't that scary.

Janet McDonaldProject Girl - Janet McDonald

I said I had every intention of returning to Vassar, which pleased them. Everyone enjoyed the weekend and my family departed with happy expressions and bags of vegetables.

In July, the premies drove to New York to attend a talk by one of Guru Maharaj Ji's mahatmas. These saffron-robed "saints" were said to transmit wisdom to aspirants through a touch of a finger on the person's forehead. At that moment, you were supposed to see within a bright inner light of divine Knowledge. The premies wanted me to be initiated by "receiving Knowledge." I wasn't sure. In my opinion, a white premie was one thing, but a black one from the projects, well, that was quite another. In the end, uncertainty yielded to anxiety. Despite feeling much happier and settled than I had in a year, I was still worried about returning to college. I decided, what the hell, I would ask for the Light, just for backup. In a plush premie apartment on Central Park West, we listened for hours to the mahatma's discourse. He spoke of maya, or illusion, the treachery of rational thought, and Maharaj Ji's wisdom. When the time came, I raised my hand along with a number of others who felt "ready" to behold the Light. The shades were drawn and we sat in meditation. I was abruptly startled by a finger touching my forehead. I wasn't sure I saw anything, but it didn't matter. The important thing was that I was officially "saved." A baby-faced guru was watching over and protecting me. I meditated side by side with the other premies, worked "blissful" into my vocabulary, and handed out Guru Maharaj Ji leaflets in nearby cities. In Philadelphia, we nearly scuffled with some Hare Krishnas who accused the Perfect Master of being a materialistic, false prophet who wore gold jewelry, drove a Rolls, and needed to get on a diet.

Jos LammersAbandoned Roads - Jos Lammers

At the end of the second day, when the mahatma finally entered the room, about ten people were left. A clear sign that this just wasn't for everybody. In English with an Indian accent ('yes, yes, you must be berry determined'), he again told about the living perfect master and how lucky we were to have met him. "Because true devotee will experience eternal bliss and joy." Whoever couldn't promise that devotion, could still leave the room. "Without a life at the holy lotus feet of the master, this knowledge is completely worthless", the mahatma roared.

In the end six people were left, at which moment the followers of the ashram that were present closed the curtains and locked the door of the room. The initiation was strictly secret. Like the others I had to solemnly promise never to tell anyone what the mahatma was about to reveal. I see that differently now.

Maharaj ji taught four meditation techniques. Three of them I had read about before in 'The Yogis of India', a book with a hard cover and black and white photos of sadhus with waving grey beards that I carried around as a bible for years. But now, thanks to this mahatma, I finally understood the value of these techniques. Like concentrating on the sound that your breath makes at the back of your throat that kind of sounds like sooo (inhaling) --- hangggg (exhaling). A simple breathing technique, I always thought. But this sound, the mahatma said, is the true meaning of the Word that the bible mentions. The Word that is god. "Every living perfect master teaches same technique but then, I tell you, people turn it into religion and true meaning gets lost. Until next perfect master comes…," he said, bowing deeply at the picture on the wall showing Maharaj ji wearing the red velvet robe and golden crown of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The second technique he demonstrated to us one by one. I sat with my back straight and legs crossed on the floor. In the half light the mahatma sat in the same posture right in front of me. His knees, covered with pink cotton, touched mine. He smelt a bit sweetish, like incense. He breathed very light, as if hardly there. His dark brown eyes shone. "Close your eyes." With his index finger he lightly touched my forehead, right where he himself had a red dot. "Concentrate here." He then put his thumb and middle finger on my closed eyes and pushed them pretty strongly to the place where his index finger was pointing. "What you see?" "Light, mahatma ji." "Good. This is eternal light of creation. Source of all bliss. Meditate on it." He grabbed my own hand to take over his grip on my eyes and moved on to the next one.

After that he taught to listen to the sound of your own body while pressing your thumbs in your ears. The fourth technique was to stretch your tongue to the back of your throat, till it reached behind the uvula. There the true devotee could, after lots of meditation, taste the reward of 'holy nectar'. The drink of the gods. The food of yogis that meditate for months without food. The source of life for Jesus in the desert. "This is their secret."

We had to practice this twice every day for at least an hour. With a cloth over our head (that's why all of these beautiful Indian fabrics in the ashram!), because nobody was allowed to see the secret techniques. Together with a life of dedication to the master, "this will bring you eternal happiness." We then were allowed to kiss his feet and finally go home.

Without The Guru Without The Guru: How I took my life back after thirty years by Mike Finch

At some point he (Mahatma Gurucharanand) decided that I was ready, and the day was fixed - June 1 1970. I got up that morning with a number of conflicting emotions. At times I thought that this was going to be a watershed day, a day that would effectively separate my life in two - the dark days prior, when I was a slave to maya, and the bright days to come as a devotee of the living Lord of this age. Then I would think: What if it does not work for me? What if I am so ignorant and unfocused that I just don't 'get it' - the match that fails to ignite?

I bathed that morning as I had never bathed before, determined to be spotlessly clean. I agonized endlessly over which clothes I should wear. I wondered what should be the appropriate gift to place on Guru Maharaj Ji's altar as a token of my surrender and dedication to him.

When I arrived, the Knowledge session was in the usual satsang/bedroom where I had been many times before. But this time it was cleaned out and arranged differently, as if to emphasize what an important day this was. Two other people got Knowledge with me; in those days a Knowledge session of three was a large number, and this was thus quite an event. Within two years or so Knowledge sessions would often consist of hundreds.

Mahatmaji started by giving us satsang, telling us stories of saints and generally inspiring us so that we would be in a suitably spiritual frame of mind for this important event. When he presumably thought we were receptive enough, we started the Knowledge session with a vow to Guru Maharaj Ji.

I cannot now remember the words of the vow I made, bowing down with my head on the carpet in front of Maharaji's altar. Very soon afterwards there was a standard vow that every would-be devotee had to make to Guru Mahraji. It was either these actual words I spoke, or words very similar:

Vow to Guru Maharaj Ji

Oh my Guru Maharaj Ji, I dedicate myself to your Lotus Feet. I am weak and ignorant and am filled with the impurities of this world. Oh Guru Maharaj Ji, please take my mind and purge me of the impurities I possess. Reveal to me the Knowledge of all knowledge. Strengthen me, uplift me and reveal the Kingdom of Heaven within inside of me. Bring me from hate to love, from darkness to light, death to immortality. I will OBEY you implicitly and will never reveal this Knowledge to anyone for any reason. I will keep in contact with you through my DEVOTIONAL LOVE, satsang, meditation and service. Thank you my LORD for everything.

[The uppercase words were in the original].

After the vow, we were shown the four techniques of meditation. For the first technique, we sat with our eyes closed, and Mahatmaji came to each of us one by one, and touched us on our forehead with his index figure, simultaneously placing his thumb and middle finger on each eyeball, and squeezing hard. This was the 'Divine Light technique'. We were later told that Mahatmaji demonstrating the technique on us, and touching us, was the moment that Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace touched us, and when the connection with him was actually made.

I certainly saw light, and tried to convince myself that it was indeed the Divine Light, but I had this feeling that seeing the Divine Light should probably not be so painful. A more cynical observer might have noted that anybody squeezing their eyes hard sees lot of swirling colors and patterns.

Hie second technique was Divine Music or Harmony, where you blocked each ear with your thumbs, and heard the Divine Music, or the Music of the Spheres. This was also painful to perform, since sitting upright with each thumb in each ear meant that your elbows were held up at about shoulder height with no support. Later I was to hear about 'beragons', wooden T-shaped instruments on which you supported your elbows to take the strain. Again, our cynical observer might have noted that anyone blocking their ears with their thumbs hears some kind of sound, whether it be the blood in their thumbs, or the trapped air in the ear canal.

The third and fourth techniques were less strenuous. The third technique was called Holy Name or the Word. It involved simply following your breath. Here I was in my element, as I was a veteran meditator of at least a year at following my breath in the Buddhist monastery.

Following the breath is probably the most popular meditation technique of all meditation schools or styles. There are many ways to do this, and many nuances in a wide spectrum of practices, ranging from controlling the breath in a certain manner, to just breathing naturally and being aware of the breath as it is. Even in just following the breath 'as it is', a very common meditation instruction, there are many differences and subtleties of emphasis. I personally find the instruction to follow the breath 'as it is' can be confusing, as even just being aware of my breath changes it.

As Mahatmaji gave his very brief and simplistic instructions on this third technique of following the breath (the Holy Name), I realized that I was not being taught a meditation merely as a meditation. It was being taught as a practice to keep the connection with Maharaji open. In that case, it did not really matter how precisely you did the meditation technique, it was all about your openness and surrender to the higher power in your life, embodied as Guru Maharaj Ji. The results of one's sitting to meditate were not dependent upon the techniques of the meditation and how precisely you practiced them, but in the Grace you allowed into your life as you meditated with trust and devotion to Maharaji. It was why 'practicing Knowledge' was so much more than simply doing the meditation.

The fourth technique was called the Nectar, sometimes called by its Sanskrit name 'Kechari Mudra'. This involved rolling your tongue back as far as it would go, up into the nasal cavity behind the uvula if you could, and tasting Divine Nectar. Our cynical observer would certainly have tasted something, but whether it was Divine or Nectar was another question.

At the end of the session, Mahatmaji added our names to the numbered list in the notebook recording who he had given Knowledge to. I noted that I was the exact one hundredth person to get Maharaji's Knowledge in the West.

TVTV The Lord of the Universe documentary

First Technique: Divine Light
Second Technique: Music
Third Technique: Holy Name or Word
Fourth Technique: Divine Nectar

Disllusioned premie: The First of the four techniques is the Light and it involves using the middle finger and the thumb, closing your eyes and pressing in and somewhat up on your eyeballs and then putting your forefinger in the middle of your forehead where your "third eye" is supposed to be and focussing your concentration your inner vision on the light, the single point of light that appears at that uh point (mm-mm) that's the technique of the light.

Michael: As journalists I don't think you'll agree with it but complete freedom of information doesn't isn't always the best idea because it can do harm.

The Second Technique is the technique of the Music which involves putting your thumbs in your ears, closing your eyes and holding them closed with the little fingers of each of your hands, joining the rest of your fingers and forming a kind of cap or bonnet over your head and concentrating on the inner sound. That's the, that's the technique that's called the Music.

Ah the Third Technique is the is the Nectar and the Nectar involves rolling your tongue back in your mouth as far as you can past your soft palate and sometimes it's advised you use a couple of fingers because your tongue is not used to going in that direction. The mahatma said that he takes his tongue and he turns it all the way around and loosened up his muscles that for me were tight. Puts his tongue all the way back back of where your mouth turns down, the roof of your mouth then turns down and there's an opening and he goes past that opening with his tongue and the up into the canals that lead to the nose and I suppose the ears too and that is just bliss

The Fourth Technique is the Word, the Unspeakable Name of God and that is basically (inhales loudly, exhales loudly a few times) uh you know very deep even breathing while uh internally concentrating on the sound 'Soham' (sohung) ah which in the Hindu tradition is supposed to accompany the 'so' on the inhalation and the 'hungh on the exhalation and this is supposed to be the sound that is produced by this unspeakable Name of God.

TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary

Every morning before you got up, before you got out of bed you were supposed to cover yourself with your sheet and do at least a half an hour on the Word, at least a half an hour on the music and as much of the Light as you could and you were supposed to be doing the Nectar while you were doing all of the other three and you were supposed to do the same thing every evening just before you went to bed so you were doing at least two hours of formal meditation. Throughout the day you were supposed to be doing the informal meditation on the Word.

Lewis BlackMe Of Little Faith - Lewis Black

The first contact I made with the boy wonder was in Colorado, at a huge festival in his honor. Apparently many of the folks saw the guru as the Lord of the Universe. With a thirteen-year-old Lord, I thought, this must he a pretty young universe. I wasn't buying it. A thirteen-year-old Lord, awash in the changes brought on by puberty, fuck!

What I remember most vividly is he seemed to be hanging around with some hot stewardesses and he had a Rolls-Royce and a couple of other swell cars that he wasn't old enough to drive. These cars -- and their drivers -- didn't seem so spiritual to me, but I was told he had no attachment to them, so it wasn't a sign of his materialism.

How do you argue with logic like that? I just figured this new Lord of the Universe was no idiot. What's he going to be driven around in, a Pontiac? Or to quote the Bible: "And the Lord saw the Rolls-Royce, and it was a bitchin' ride."

This was back in the early seventies, before conspicuous consumption became a good thing. A Rolls was an unusual sight, especially at a religious festival. And what was the kid dispensing that was enabling him to raise the money for a Rolls -- and apparently a lot more? It was called, I shit you not, The Knowledge.

The Knowledge. The Secret. The Truth. They've always got a name for whatever they're selling as "The Way." Most of my adulthood, I have preferred The Secret Truth for Making the Perfect Martini. There's my path to enlightenment.

The Knowledge, as it turned out, was four different ways to meditate, and by doing so you could achieve inner peace. All you had to do to receive The Knowledge was attend a few meetings and then sign up for the all-day session, where it would be given out to you. There was no charge for this. Actually you were asked to bring a piece of fruit, like an apple. I guess once they had you hooked, they would go after the cash, like a heroin dealer who gives you the first free dose up front. Or maybe The Knowledge compelled you to give your money to the kid.

I had to see for myself just what this Knowledge was. So when I moved to Maryland to work in a theater company, I went to a number of meetings of his followers at an ashram in Washington, D.C. These meetings were called Satsangs, and it was at them that the converts talked about their experiences with The Knowledge or how they felt about the kid. They were all grinning that grin that one finds only in the zealously religious. The kind of grin that says idiocy has replaced any form of real thought.

These people were all harmless enough, and like any group that seeks converts, they were thrilled to have me around. They treated me like just one more moron to throw on the pyre of enlightenment.

The meetings were run by one of the kid's disciples, who were all from india. Even in his pidgin English, the disciple seemed a lot more spiritual than his fearless leader. For starters, he was a lot older than thirteen, and that was comforting. He wasn't surrounded by a circus of sycophants and a luxury car dealership. He also gave off the impression that he was completely at peace and at one with the universe. Finally, as he spoke of the meditation, he exuded truth and wisdom.

On the day I was to receive The Knowledge, I brought my apple and placed it in the basket. I was so skeptical about this, I'll bet you could have smelled it on me. Our teacher that day was actually my favorite of the guru's disciples, and he blew my cynical mind when he meditated in front of us and within thirty seconds of his beginning to meditate his skin became translucent, as if a light were shining through it. If that was a magic trick, it was fucking spectacular. No one commented on it; the room was absolutely silent.

Once he had finished meditating, it was time for us to be given our four meditative techniques. I will not go through them for you. You want The Knowledge, cough up your own goddamn apple.

I will tell you that we were told to close our eyes. Without going into details, I was instructed to focus on where my third eye would be. Easy enough. I had two eyes in my head, and there was the one-eyed monster in my pants. That made three. I was focused.

You weren't supposed to watch as the instructor went from pupil to pupil, but I snuck a few peeks. He was barely touching anyone. So when he came to me, I am sure he was doing the same thing, but the effect was overwhelming: When he touched me, it was as if he had poked my eyes as hard as he could. It was such an overwhelming jolt that I felt as if my head was going to explode. The vague shapes and shadowy figures I had been seeing turned into a mandala of spectacularly vivid colors. My mind was seriously blown. If I was going to meditate, this was the meditation for me.

I know I don't seem like the kind of person who would meditate, but at least I now had begun to understand what had attracted Gayle to this outfit. It seemed pretty powerful, and I wanted to see where it would lead me. Despite my earlier skepticism, I actually found it fascinating. It seemed to be a gateway to the power of the mind.

Still, it didn't seem all that spiritual to me, and it was totally separate from the thirteen-year-old kid. He was just the pitchman. Besides, it only cost an apple. I had paid a lot more for a lot less.

So every afternoon, I sat upright and put a sheet over my head. (Don't even ask.) The first four times I meditated, not much happened. My body was no doubt adjusting to staying still for a half hour. Then, as now, I am not good at sitting still. I've always been a twitcher. But the fifth time I got under the sheet, all hell broke loose. Bright colors were spinning in circles and everything around me was blue -- sky blue to be exact.

"Holy shit," my conscious flashed, "I'm in the sky. I AM IN THE FUCKING SKY. It smells like the outdoors. And there's a cloud."

It freaked the piss out of me. And just as soon as I realized I was in the sky, I wasn't anymore.

That was that. I never tried to meditate again. That's how much it shook me up. It's one thing to watch someone's tie turn into a snake while you're on some hallucinogen; it's quite another thing to be sober and float around in the sky while your body is in the living room.

It is the only out-of-body experience I have ever had. I know I was in the sky. I know I saw that cloud. No one ever talked about this kind of experience at Satsang. And that was the problem. These guys knew how to hook us up to our interior, but they didn't seem to know how to guide us out. They didn't really communicate how the interior reality and the exterior reality could be brought into balance. They didn't warn us that we would be tripping our brains out. At least the first guy who gave me mescaline gave me that little talk beforehand. I call that responsible.

Now, my grip on reality has always been tenuous at best. I'm the kind of person who needs balance. I have always taken my cues from what I see around me. It's my guide. And if I was going to be going God knows where when I closed my eyes, I needed a reliable guide. Not some thirteen-year-old sitting in the back of a Rolls-Royce.

I never talked to Gayle about this. I didn't have to: The unrequited love died in the sky. I went from serious meditation back to heavy masturbation. I found they both do the job. They calm you down.

Phil PolizatoHunga Dunga - Confessions of An Unapologetic Hippie by Phil Polizato

October 3, 1973

I was lost in possible scenarios like this when there was a restlessness that swept through the crowd. Desperateness. Maharaj Ji was starting to stand and leave the podium. People sitting on the floor in front of him leaned toward him, hands outstretched as if he would let sacred ash fall from the palm of his hand into theirs. "Please, I want the Knowledge, Guru." "Maharaj Ji, I have traveled so far, please let me receive Knowledge." Others joined in begging for the Knowledge. A respectful pandemonium broke loose.

As if coming back on stage for an encore, Maharaj Ji sat back down on the cushions and held his hands in the air. The crowd quieted down.

Maharaj Ji laughed. "Oh, you are so hungry for the Knowledge. And I recognize faces that have followed me from Los Angeles and Portland and forth and back between Victoria and Vancouver. OK! I give in. I will let Mahatma Rajeshwaranand hold a Knowledge session after I leave. I will pick out 12 people only. You shall be my chosen ones, my apostles. You shall spread the word of the Knowledge."

He held out his hand, extending his index finger, and starting at one side of the room, he slowly swept his arm across the crowd. Every now and then he pointed to someone and simply said, "You!" And then he pointed again to another and said, "You!" He picked a couple of people from the back, a couple from the front. He asked a premie who was sitting up front and who lived in the house, how many he had so far. The premie said he needed two more.

Though he had picked no people who sat adjacent to one another, he scanned the room quickly and then pointed to Trudy and me. "You and you!" he said, as he smiled broadly. Trudy and I exchanged wide-eyed glances that confirmed we were thinking the same thing. Magic!

Then looking right at me, Maharaj Ji said, "You shall be my Peter." He hesitated, and then asked, "Or will you end up being my Judas?" He chuckled and the crowd parted as he walked with his entourage out the front door, the enchanted crowd following him outside.

Mahatma Rajeshwaranand took the podium and, in excellent English dusted off with a fine Oxford accent, asked the 12 chosen ones to follow him into a back room of the house.

It was obviously a meditation room, with photographs of Maharaj Ji and his family adorning the walls and icons of all the major religions joining them there. There were pillows scattered on the floor. Mahatma Rajeshwaranand politely ordered one of the members of the household to pile the pillows against the wall and to find 12 folding chairs.

When he and two other guys brought in the chairs, some of us helped unfold them and place them in a straight row across the room, following Mahatma's directions. All three premies sported close-cropped haircuts and wore sports jackets. One even wore a tie. This scared me. They looked so Mormon-ish or Jehovah's Witness-ish. What was with the clean-cut look, when most of the people in the audience were freaks and flower children? Were they going to turn into these robots after they got the Knowledge?

The chairs were all set up. The three premies smiled at us, and then at Mahatma, who turned to them and said, "Jai Satchitanand." That was their cue to leave. In unison they replied, "Bhole Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai!" They left the room, closing the door behind them.

The premies sounded just like altar boys responding to a priest's Gregorian command. I felt like an altar boy. An altar boy in training for the Mahatma as the priest and Maharaj Ji as the pope. I so easily recognized and denied my strong Sicilian Catholic indoctrination at the early age of 16 that I never went to mass again, much to my parents' constant chagrin, and now here I was, watching rituals, rules and regulations resurrect themselves around me. I made a vow never to let that happen.

It was bad enough Sister Penetrate of the Wood, or whatever the hell her name was back in Catechism class, told us that if we were ever kneeling on the pew during Mass and our ankles were crossed, then our prayers didn't count and we would have to stay and go to the next Mass. And that was true as well if you happened to think a dirty thought or swear word while you were saying the Lord's Prayer or Hail Mary. Then the prayer didn't count and you'd have to start all over again. And so it took me forever to say my bed-time prayers. And getting through a rosary? Forget it! Sister Penetrate is the one who gave me an extreme aversion to anything that smacked of religion. The aversion served me very well so far to keep me cult-free and perennially skeptical.

These Sanskrit greetings and praises might have been Heil Hitlers in disguise, spoken by brainwashed Hitler Jugend. I immediately went into my averted and skeptical mode. I didn't go into the "session" with a very good attitude, though Trudy already looked "blissed out!"

Oh, the power of suggestion. The power of mass hysteria, mob behavior, peer pressure. I am above all that. I just want the facts. Just give me the fact's, ma'am, just the facts! And that of course means the Knowledge. Just give it to me. That's it, just hand it over. I'll take it from there.

This is what I was thinking as the Mahatma walked around the room lighting candles and incense. He spoke to us in a very serious and intentional way.

"Prem Rawat! That is his family name. He was initiated in the Knowledge by his father, Satgurudev Sri Hans Ji Maharaj, at the age of six and became Satguru, or Perfect Master when his father died in 1966. He is now Guru Maharaj Ji. But premies, which is what you will be after you receive this gift, affectionately call him Maharaji."

Mahatma suddenly stopped and turned to a young woman at the end of the row. He asked her in an offhanded way, "What did you bring Guru Maharaj Ji as a gift for this Knowledge you are about to receive?"

She answered, "I brought him a painting I did from photos I took of him last year at the Celebration in Miami."

"And you?" he asked me.

"I brought him these blades of grass from the lawn outside," I answered honestly and without a hint of sarcasm because I meant none.

Mahatma smiled at me. The kind of smile that says, "Hey you, I've got your number."

My smile back said, "I'm still looking for yours. But if I find it, watch out!" We definitely had a gentleman's agreement.

After we were seated, Mahatma told a bit about his own life. Affluent. Studied abroad. A successful lawyer and judge in Bombay for 20 years. Then he received Knowledge from Maharaj Ji's father. "I gave up everything to devote my life to helping my master's family after he died," Mahatma confided. "I could never show enough gratitude for the Knowledge. Never!"

"And just as Christ sent his apostles forth to spread the word that "Heaven was at hand," once we receive Knowledge, we want to propagate it so eventually the nations of the world will realize peace. And Maharaj Ji has declared you 12 to be his apostles. It is a wondrous honor! And I am honored to be giving you this Knowledge."

Oh shit, I knew there was a catch! By the way, Mr. Mahatma, no way am I going to be an apostle for the Goomer. Not Peter nor Judas. So don't expect me to start propagating for you! Just give me the damn facts and let me out of here!

"Giving the Knowledge will be easy to do," he said as he walked behind our chairs, "because the Knowledge is an immediate and direct experience of the truth, of pure consciousness, of pure love. There are no rites or rituals to perform that separate you from the path. There are no mantras to occupy the mind. Mantras help focus the mind, but it is still a process of thinking, which does not help achieve mindlessness, only concentration."

Hmmm. Nice! I like the way he put that. He's saying all the right things. Like he knows what works on me or something! The way he says them. The references. He's a fucking intellectual! No talking down! Right on!

"The Knowledge is a physical experience. You cannot attain it by reading about it or hearing about it. It must be demonstrated for you and there must be a laying on of hands Maharaji has ordained, such as mine. If you do as I say, you will have a physical response to the Knowledge. Responses vary. Yours may be brief and modest, or it might be overwhelming. The true understanding of the Knowledge comes to different people at different times. It is only with practice that you will truly understand this gift Maharaj Ji gives you."

OK. Are you through with the disclaimers?

"But it is immediate and you will recognize it. It will be an 'aha' experience. Your ancient souls will recognize it and you will call it Divinity."

Alright! We are ready! Lay it on us!

"This is the Divine Yoga. There are four kriyas, or techniques. And each technique will produce what seems to be a different sensation. But I tell you they are all part of the one vibration that sustains you, all life on earth, and the universe. It is the energy that permeates everything but you will feel it in different ways. You can use one technique at a time, all four, or in any combination."

But wait! There's more!

"The more you practice the kriyas, the more internalized they will become, to the point where they will be second nature to you and that is where you will retreat when there is imbalance or disharmony in your life. The more you practice the techniques, the more you will understand them. You will be able to meditate while you are working, while you are studying, while you are driving, even while carrying on a conversation."

And that's not all. If you call right now…

"And at the moment of death, if you can be in the Knowledge, your passing will be seamless into pure consciousness and bliss. This is the real reason we practice the Knowledge. To be prepared at the time of our deaths."

You now have my undivided and total attention, Mahatma Rajeshwaranand, Sir!

"But I stress this point. The Knowledge is beautiful, it is everything, it will bring you the answers to all you ask, and it will bring you peace. It is direct, immediate, simple … and a secret!"

Aye, there's the rub! This is where there's going to be trouble. I can tell already!

"Guru Mahara Ji asks that you promise only three things before he gives you this gift." Mahatma walked in front of each of us, making eye contact. "One, to attend satsang whenever possible. Two, to give Knowledge a fair chance. And three, not to share these techniques with anyone. Is there anyone who can't promise that?"

Hmmm. I can promise that. If I want to. You didn't ask will I promise that! Hey, you're the lawyer. You should know the loopholes!

"Are there any questions before I begin?" Mahatma asked, having finished circling us and standing once again before us.

I spoke up. I could feel Trudy burning. "Mahatma Rajeshwaranand, if this Knowledge is for everyone, and if it transcends religion, why is it a secret? Why do you make people jump through so many hoops to get it?"

Trudy kicked me, and the other 10 people gave me odd looks, like they were afraid I was going to blow it for all of us. But I figured I was really asking something everyone wanted to know.

Mahatma stepped up to me, squatted down until he was at eye level, and gently said, "The reason it is a secret, is precisely because it is so simple." Then he looked me in the eyes a long time, as if trying to pass on information. Maybe he was just wondering what Maharaj Ji was thinking when he picked me of all people. Trying to figure me out. Trying to convince me he wasn't a hoax.

He stepped back, stood tall, and in a louder voice stated with absolute certainty, "If anyone, who is not directly appointed by Guru Maharaj Ji to do so, shares these secrets with others who have not been initiated, they will spend their next 10,000 incarnations as a cockroach!"

Well, that was a low blow, and a rapid devolvement from lawyer to practitioner of voodoo and superstition! Shades of Sister Penetrate! You bastard! You know a recovering Catholic like me is going to have a hard time with that one! Just for that, I'm gonna take your damned Knowledge now, and figure out what to do with it later! And think about what you said later! Much later! Maybe later than you think! Now let's get on with it!

Chapter 81

October 3, 1973

"Remember, every time someone takes your breath away, they kill you and your ego does not exist. If it is only for a moment, it may be an infatuation. If it is for too long, it might be murder. But if you are in control of your own breath, you may kill your ego at will, and with great practice, your body as well, when it is time. Now close your eyes and follow my breath. Get your breath in time with mine. To help you, listen to how my breath sounds. Then listen to yours."

He inhaled deeply through his nose but not strenuously. He paused noticeably before he exhaled, again, through his nose. He paused. He inhaled a little bit slower. A longer pause. Then the exhale. Another pause.

"If you have trouble finding the sound of your breath, think to yourself 'soooooo' on the inhale, pause, and then 'huuunng' on the exhale. Like this." And Mahatma audibly imbedded the sound of 'soooooo' within his inhale. He paused slightly longer than the previous breath. Then he slowly sounded the 'huuunng,' hardly noticeable within his exhale.

"Soooooo." He breathed in. Then an even longer pause. "Huuunng," with the exhale. "Once again, I tell you this is not a mantra. Forget it as soon as possible. This is just for now, in the beginning. To get you used to the sound of your breath. Once you are used to it you must drop this 'soooooo' and 'huuunng' and just let the sound of your breath guide you."

If he says soooooo huuunng one more time, it's going to be impossible to take this seriously! In fact, now I'm so horny, I just want to get it on with one of those buzz-cut premie security guards out front! Hey! Giacco! Stop that! Pay attention! Fuck, I am more in my mind than ever. What am I gonna do with myself? I should be flogged! I gave Josie the benefit of the doubt back in Laguna. Why am I giving this guy such a hard time? I just don't … Soooooo, (pause) Huuunng. Soooooo, (longer pause) Huuunng.

I was getting the drift. I was getting into a nice rhythm. My breaths were very even, slowing slightly each time. The space between my exhale and my next inhale was getting longer and longer. And the "soooooo, huuunng" really did help my whole body find the sound of my breath and not just my ears.

"Continue breathing so," Mahatma said softly. "This space between the breaths. This is where it resides. The universal vibration. It is very subtle. But as you practice this technique, you will begin to feel the vibration more and more. Between the breaths as those spaces lengthen, you will come to recognize the vibration immediately. You will get to glimpse pure consciousness and love. If you should ever stay there too long, you will die. But with a smile on your face."

Yikes! Tell it like it is, Mahatma! Now this was more like it! Finally, some confirmation I was on the right track all along. I knew it had something to do with the breath! I even knew it had something to do with the space in between the breaths! Damn I'm good. I was so close. I didn't need this. Couple more acid trips under a blanket and I would've had it.

"This is the 'Word' of Judaism and Christianity," the Mahatma explained. "This is what is meant in the Old Testament, when it says, 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'

"This is what Jesus meant when he said, 'The Kingdom of God is within you.' He meant it literally, as he did so many other things that have been interpreted merely as poetic metaphors. He meant the simple reality hiding just beneath the surface of the metaphor. He meant that spot just below the solar plexus. The vacuum there created between the exhalation and the next inhalation. That vibration. You can feel it. Become it. This is where pure energy, consciousness, and bliss reside. This is the Kingdom of God. And you can go there with the Divine Word."

Damn you're good! Man! You just made a whole bunch of books and a whole lot of acid trips make perfect sense. I like that intellectual approach of yours. The way you talk and the way your voice sounds. Like we're all smart! It turns me on. I can relate. Now if you say something about walking in the way of the lord, I'm gonna freak out!

"This is the first and most important of the four kriyas, or techniques. The other three are all facets of the same energy in different forms. Once you understand how to use the Knowledge, it will put you in touch with that which connects us all. That which sustains the universe. That which makes us one. But only if you use the techniques! Only if you practice them!"

Mahatma walked up to the first person in the row. "Keep your eyes closed and keep breathing, slowly, steadily, meditating on the Word. I will place my hands on each of you in turn. You will feel some pressure, but do not back away. When I know it is time to move on, I will replace your hand in the same position where mine was. Keep it there and be amazed."

As he went down the row, I heard some quiet gasps, a man started crying, and a young girl giggled like a three-year old.

"Look through the center of your forehead. Some of you may see fireworks and stars, others a bright sun, still others a donut with a black hole. Concentrate on the sun. Let it burn as colorfully and as brightly as it wants to."

I felt a strong hand grab my head from behind and a thumb and middle finger each firmly press an eyeball in and toward the tip of my nose between my brows. I felt an index finger come gently down upon my forehead and press the center of it just above my nose. My attention was immediately drawn there.

"If you see a black hole, fall into it. Just stare into it. Keep breathing the Word. As your thoughts slow, the black hole will fill with light. It will become the sun. Stay there. Be the light. This is the opening of the Third Eye. This is Divine Light."

Or was it just the stimulation of a plexus of nerves? Phosphenes or something. I'm always seeing things behind my eyelids anyway, for chrissakes! Floaters and stuff. And Mahatma, if anyone is into the Third Eye, it's me! But I'm just seeing some nerve endings being bullied. And what's about if I don't have any hands or arms? Huh? What happens then?

"Some of you may be thinking that this light you see is nothing more than the stimulation of the nervous plexus where the three principal nerves of the body converge. But I assure you, that with practice, you will see this light brighter and brighter, and without using your hands or stimulating the nerves in any way. It isn't needed. This is the opening of the Third Eye and it has always been there. You just had to be shown."

Damn! Can he hear me thinking? I can see why it's a secret. You really have to want it badly for it to work. This stuff's just too easy! It's begging to be mocked! By anyone with half a brain of how the human body works!

"Once again, this is all part of the vibration that is the Word, but a visual one, the Divine Light. Jesus said, 'If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light.' This is what he meant by the single eye, the Third Eye, the Divine Light."

Too much, man! All those acid trips back in New York when we spent hours tripping underneath those blankets. Shit. I've seen that light. So what if I didn't know what it was or what to call it? I know what he's talking about. Does everything have to have a name? This news is no news! Especially since I already read about it in the "Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ," for chrissakes!

I could hear Mahatma coming around the back of the chairs. Once again he went down the row, letting each person experience his hands on them. When he came to me, he arranged my thumbs just so in each ear and then placed what remained of my hands on top of my head. There they rested quite comfortably. I could almost intertwine my fingers. Then he pushed gently on my thumbs, which pressed on my eardrums. At first, I just heard my pulse beating loudly. Then it quickly became more complex.

Hey fella! This isn't subtle at all! I can hear layers of sounds! No problemo. You can't sing to it, though. That's too bad. And I wish I could adjust the volume. It's a bit loud. It sounds like stuff we might be listening to in the year 3050. Music of the spheres and all that. I bet it's just the aural sensation of blood circulating through the brain, but I say, so what! This is cool!

"This is Divine Music. The more you meditate on Divine Music the more you will hear the richness of the cosmic symphony. But, again, this is just another manifestation of the Divine Word, of that vibration which causes all things to be. None is separate from the other. They are all the same thing, the same energy."

Hell, I knew this back in New York! The place between the breaths, and the trippy light shows behind the eyelids, and when I put Kleenex in my ears to drown out the traffic, the sci-fi music waiting for me just behind my eardrums. Damn. I should've had more faith I knew what I was doing. At least he hasn't said anything about the blankets yet!

I could feel the Mahatma looking at me. "The last kriya is Divine Nectar."

Hmmmm. Nectar, eh? I don't know about this one! It had better be good!

"Simply place the tip of your tongue as far back as it will go along the roof of your mouth. Stretch it until it can go no further. If you keep it there long enough, a sweet, electric-tasting juice will begin to flow. Use this technique with all the others. Especially when meditating on the Word. Soon, your tongue will be reaching back there without even thinking. The Nectar will flow and you will instinctively meditate on the Word. Whenever you are in need of centeredness in the midst of chaos, that is where your tongue will instinctively go. To the back of the roof of your mouth. And the Nectar will remind you to become the Word.

Well, I have to admit he had me on that one! Nectar? God! Would've never thought of that one! But three out of four? Not bad. Not bad at all!

"And a personal tip," Mahatma confided, "In the beginning of practicing the Knowledge, it will help to remove as many distractions as possible. Until you have truly internalized all the kriyas, you should find a quiet place. Create a meditation room in your home. And if that is not possible, sit underneath a heavy blanket in your room."

Damn him again! Will he leave me nothing to claim as my own? Not even a damn blanket?

He said a few more things about attending satsang often, and only hanging out with other premies, and something about doing service for the mission and propagating the Knowledge and stuff, but it sort of went in one ear and out the other.

I got what I came for. Thanks so very much. Really. But I think I must be on my way now. Later, brother Goomer. The Knowledge seems harmless enough, but you gotta get a new ad agency and campaign going! Please! As far as the Knowledge goes, cripes, call it something else! But I will admit, nothing happened to me today that aren't experiences every human on the planet has in common whether they know it or not. So I guess you could say the Knowledge is the lowest common denominator of humanity. At least we have something in common!

"You are now premies, devotees of Maharaj Ji, keepers of the Knowledge, the highest common denominator of humanity. Some know it; some are waiting to be told. As long as everyone is aware of its existence and how to get it. That is all we ask.

"You must keep this Knowledge a secret. Some of you will have friends that will bother you until you give in and give it to them. And maybe you think some of your friends are ready to receive the Knowledge. Only Maharaj Ji can say who is ready and who is not. You may think you do your friend a service when you give him the Knowledge. But no! You do him a disservice! He may not appreciate it because he may think it too simple, too mundane, or too subtle. So he may never use it. He will never learn of its infinite depth because it can only be realized by diligent practice. And if he doesn't practice it, you have deprived him of being prepared when he is on his death bed."

On that jovial note, a young man neatly dressed as were they all, walked in and said, "Mahatma Rajeshwaranand. Excuse me. We are late. We must go." We all stood up and gathered around him. I felt him looking obliquely at me.

OK, for the time being I'll compromise. I won't give away the secret, but I also will not spread the word. Deal?

"And so I must go, my dear premies." The Mahatma bowed before us and pressed his hands together in the namaskar mudra. "Jai Satchitanand!"