Soul Rush by Sophia Collier SOUL RUSH  'The Odyssey of a Young Woman of the '70s',

by Sophia Collier.  Published New York : Morrow, 1978.

Here are some excerpts from the last 9 chapters of Sophia Collier's memoire, presentation of which will hopefully not contravene copyright. The first 8 chapters are related to her childhood and her life before meeting premies and being introduced to Prem Rawat's 'Knowledge'. She was precocious and idealistic with a facility for dissociation and altered states of consciousness and appears to have come from a happy, wealthy, arty, intellectual WASP family.

She says that "it is so easy for people to feel identified with a spiritual organization even when they have considerable differences of opinion with the leadership" and she is perfect example of this possibility. She became initiated knowing very little about the guru or Divine Light Mission and did not accept the Hindu concepts on which it was based but moved into full-time service in a DLM ashram because "Knowledge worked." She claims to have enjoyed 8 weeks of bliss after being initiated and on the evidence of this book she followed this with 3 years of aggravation and self-importance. She makes astounding claims for the effects of the meditation techniques. Judging by the following three years of her life and the history of Rawat's career, these appear overstated. It takes a remarkable amount of chutzpah to believe that you have been revealed the secret of life and that all the explanations are Hindu mumbo-jumbo and that at 17 years old you know better.

She routinely broke her ashram vows: she admits to rarely attending the nightly satsang meetings which were obligatory for ashram members, she used drugs which was not allowed for ashram members and she had sexual liaisons although celibacy was obligatory while championing the beneficial interpersonal effects of chastity. She even led a saintly young mahatma candidate astray with her allure and she makes it obvious she was not alone amongst the DLM Denver administrators in this type of illicit and hypocritical though completely normal and understandable behaviour.

Much of the book is taken up with attacks on Rawat's mother and eldest brother whom she blames for nearly all of DLM's and the young guru's troubles. DLM's period of success ended and the troubles really began once they returned to India so I'll ignore all but the most egregious of those comments. Sophia accepted Rawat's deception of his family and his followers, his laziness and his materialism and his alcohol abuse but she didn't understand what the guru was teaching and the direction he wanted Divine Light Mission to go. She was too independant to be socialised into the Divine Light Mission cult and, although she appears to have little insight into her situation or the guru, the book still contains much useful information about Divine Light Mission from mid-1973 to March 1976 when she finally had enough and went on to new experiences. Sophia usually refers to the guru as "Maharaj Ji" (Sir Ultimate Ruler). I consider this an unwarranted title so I usually refer to him as Rawat, his surname equivalent or Guru Maharaj Ji, the name under which he was best known. Sophia Collier has a Wikipedia page as does this book.

Excerpts from Soul Rush:

Lifestyles of the Drug Free and Celibate: DLM publicity claimed that practising the Knowledge made the young devotees living in it's ashrams so blissful they could forswear drugs and sex because they were so high. This turned out not to be the case for many if not most of the premies and not just for Rawat and his brother, Raja. Sophia gives some examples in passing.

When some people hear I have written my autobiography they look at me in surprise and ask, "What does a twenty-one-year-old have to say?" It is easy to ask this question, if you think toddlers are vacant-minded cuties and teen-agers are distinguished by their gawkiness and lack of confidence. My book shows that it is possible to get a great deal done, even in your first twenty years. I wanted to prove through the example of my life and the lives of my close friends that the frequently baffling activities of young people in recent years have often been motivated by serious thinking and insight.

Webmaster's comments in parentheses.

This increased sympathy toward organized spirituality first made me begin to pick up Tracy's copies of the Divine Times, a newspaper put out by Divine Light Mission. In general I found the leader of the organization, Guru Maharaj Ji, to be a witty and interesting character. I identified with him. For a sixteen-year-old spiritually minded entrepreneur like me, there was an undeniable charm in a fifteen-year-old guru who drove around in a Rolls-Royce. He seemed like a marvelous yippie. Even though I didn't agree with all of his ideas and concepts, I had to respect him just as I had respected Abbie Hoffman in his days of outrageousness. After a month or so of casual perusing, I ran across an article that said Rennie Davis had joined the organization. I remembered Rennie from my political days, so I read the article with great interest. (p110) … Maybe Divine Light Mission could help me with both my personal spiritual aspirations and my hopes for the world. p111
(Hoffman had no respect for the 15 year old Godboy famously saying, "If this guy is God, this is the God the United States of America deserves." Hoffman had a very low opinion of the USA. I suspect most people consider a fat 15 year old guru in a Rolls Royce was ridiculous and dodgy rather than charming.)

Although I was dubious about a balm with such universal effectiveness, a panacea for all ills, I was struck by the honesty and sincerity of the people who testified. … "You are about to learn the holiest of all secrets," he said. … "The aim of human life is to realize God … to feel the love and wisdom of God within oneself, with every breath and action. … 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." … "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. … 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." … 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. p113-114
(Sophia ignored anything she was told that she didn't like. She thought she knew better. The three techniques were simple alright. Squeeze your eyes to see light, push your thumbs in your ears to hear internal sounds, roll your tongue backwards past your uvula to taste. It seems unlikely that they were the cause of the wonderful calm and joy, especially as they soon lost that effect for Sophia.)

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. p114-5
(Sophia was only 17 when she decided this technique is both soothing and exhilirating. At that age everything is exhilirating but in the three years of her involvement in DLM she reports very little exhiliration after the initial conversion excitement except during love affairs. I doubt she has spent much time since then actually thinking about her breathing.)

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. p115-6

The Divine Light Mission plan for God-realization did not consist of meditation alone. It had suggestions on how to approach every aspect of daily life. The first and most basic part of the prescription was meditation in doses of an hour in the morning, an hour at night. Then came service. Service was roughly equivalent to the Buddhist idea of "right livelihood." Any activity you did should be spiritually elevating. You should not engage in any employment you found immoral or that hampered your spiritual growth. Ideally, everything you did should be selfless. After service came satsang. This is a Hindi word that means "the company of truth," and it generally refers to conversation about the spiritual realization and experiences of the conversants. Satsang also is used to refer to meetings of groups of premies for the purpose of talking over spiritual subjects on a more formal basis. All of this comprised a way of looking at life, rather than any particular doctrine. If people practiced meditation, service, and satsang, in whatever form these might take in their life-style, they certainly would have a beautifully focused spiritual life. And this was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. p116
(Sophia was not paying enough attention. 'Service' was defined as voluntary labour and donating money to DLM and the guru with the right attitude of humble devotion. 'Satsang' was defined as talking about spiritual realisation from Guru Maharaj Ji's Knowledge especially at the nightly meetings which you should never delay in attending. And then there was darshan)

AFTER MY INITIATION INTO KNOWLEDGE I FOUND MYSELF IN an uncompromised state of bliss that lasted almost eight weeks without pause for a tear or sad thought. Day after day I woke up to discover I was still overjoyed. The smallest things - walking to the Good Day Market with the cold on my face; drinking a cup of hot tea, smelling the steam; or seeing a tiny place where the ice on the street was melting, making beautiful colors as the light came through it - all were rich, precious experiences for me.
The Knowledge was turning out to be everything that it was chalked up to be, and more. (p118) … By the time I received Knowledge in February of 1973 an estimated 35,000 people had learned the meditation and were happily watching their breaths with their new guru. p124
(In fact, the majority of people initiated dropped-out quite quickly as everyone would discover at Millenium '73. It took Sophia 3 years before she dropped out.)

Upon joining DLM I did not accept all DLM ideas as my own. One of the ideas I couldn't go along with was that Maharaj Ji was the Perfect Master, the current incarnation of a divine lineage which included Krishna, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Jesus, Ramakrishna, as well as other luminaries. (p124) … Premies who believe that Guru Maharaj Ji is the Lord have at least some actual basis for their belief. Through the Knowledge, most premies were experiencing an unusually great degree of happiness and peace of mind. Given my own experiences in Knowledge, if I were a religious person, I might easily have thought Guru Maharaj Ji was the Lord. After all, through the Knowledge he had taught me to do something I had wanted to do all my life and had never been able to. He taught me to consciously unlock the kingdom of energy, power, and love inside myself, to get back inside of the East Hampton wave on a permanent basis. Now from all signs, that deepest want in me was satisfied. At any time I wanted to, I could meditate and be right there. For a religious person this could easily seem like adequate proof for identifying a divinity. p125

As you may have noticed by now, I had a very positive outlook, but I knew a more serious involvement in DLM wouldn't be all roses. I knew that Divine Light Mission would need a lot of work in order to get into fighting shape. The mission's biggest problem wasn't hard to miss - it was the overwhelming Indian influence pervading the entire organization. The least dangerous way this influence was exerted was in the Indians' predilection for things which struck me as tasteless and gaudy. Their tinsel garlands and crowns for the young guru were not my idea of haute couture. I did not share their enthusiasm for rooms whose primary decoration was a huge altar with pictures of the "holy family," Guru Maharaj Ji and his kin. p144
(Gaudy fake jewellery and tasteless tinsel remained the hallmarks of Prem Rawat's costumery after the "Holy Family" demoted and disinherited the young guru and went back to India along with nearly all of the mahatmas. As the Indian influence diminished so did the success of the enterprise.)

… decor was not where the Indian influence ended. As mahatmas, or close disciples of Guru Maharaj Ji, they felt they had a certain authority which they could use to spread their views on every subject. Since few of them were actually renaissance men or women-people with a wide understanding and education in the arts and sciences-the opinions expressed by the Indian faction were rarely the last word on any subject. More often the ideas were simply Indian folklore, quotes from the scriptures, prejudices from their place in the class structure of Indian culture, misinformation, Indian nationalism, or Indian mythology applied to modern situations. One thing that amused me and many of the Western premies was the Indian fascination with systems of numeration. I have heard mahatmas expound with great authority on: The Nine Grievous Errors, The Four Graces, The Eight Million Four Hundred Thousand Forms of Living Things, The Sixty-Four Powers of the Guru, and the Five Manifestations of the Satguru. This last one was a particularly potent and popular idea. And, as far as I can tell, it is one of the few bits of original cosmology developed by DLM in India. Most of the mahatmas were of the opinion that not only was Maharaj Ji divine himself, but so were the four other members of his family. I think it was Mata, Guru Maharaj Ji's mother, who came up with this idea and then spread it around. In this scheme, Mata embodied the compassionate characteristics of God. She was the Holy Mother, Mother of Creation. Bal Bhagwan Ji, the eldest brother, embodied wisdom and intellect. Bhole Ji, the next brother, embodied art and music. (This was a singularly unappealing idea, because Bhole Ji's appearance and speech were not very graceful. Believers in the "five fingers of God" idea, ever inventing ways to patch up leaks in their cosmology, excused his lack of aesthetic appeal by saying Bhole Ji "hadn't gotten out of his deep meditation yet.") Raja Ji, the third brother, was supposed to embody courage or the qualities of statesmanship. In the future world the mahatmas envisioned, Raja Ji was the King. To offset all the bad taste and the fascination with numbers, the mahatmas did have one redeeming social value that made their other qualities tolerable, at least in my mind. The mahatmas did understand, after all, that Knowledge worked. Their complex other ideas concerned the explanation behind the experience. Even if all of their explanations were just crazy mumbo-jumbo, they had understood the most important part about Knowledge well enough to teach it to me, to help me open the door into my own inner world. … I respected the mahatmas for their Knowledge. Beyond this I admired their dedication. They were not paid, receiving only expenses in exchange for their work; but still they continued to travel and teach people the one really great thing they knew. p145-6
(Sophia has no evidence, except the strength of her dislike, for saying Mata Ji invented the idea of the "Holy Family." Nearly all of these mahatmas, who knew "Knowledge worked" disavowed the young Prem Pal and went back to India with Mata Ji.)

It was around this time that I met Guru Maharaj Ji. He had recently arrived in the United States from India and was stopping over in Houston on his way somewhere else. The dance troupe which was to perform at the festival had also arrived, and had arranged an audience with him. Since I had never met my guru before, one of the dancers suggested that I come along. We gathered in the large room where we had our evening lectures, and waited. And waited. In the three years I was involved with DLM, I only heard of one occasion when Maharaj Ji arrived at a meeting or program on time. I believe Maharaj Ji came late on purpose to create a mood of anticipation, but not so late as to make anyone really mad. After forty-five minutes he pulled up in a Mercedes-Benz p149 … He wasn't as fat as people said. p150

I could write anything I wanted to, with the tacit understanding that it would portray Guru Maharaj Ji, DLM, and the coming festival in a favorable light. The way I planned to approach my position as propagandist was to examine whatever I saw as negative in the organization by severely confronting whoever was perpetrating the problem. I would weigh what I learned against my sense of DLM's overall worth. Since I had a high opinion of DLM's potential, I assumed it would take something pretty atrocious to make me arrive at a negative net worth by this analysis. p151-2

In the course of preparing the article I spoke with one of the festival organizers and mentioned the disorganized manner in which medical care was handled. He seemed genuinely surprised that I saw a problem. "Well, it may not be so together now. You know we are sort of low on cash, but after Millennium we won't have to worry about anything." "Oh, really, why not?" I said, expecting to hear that DLM was getting a national health insurance policy. Or starting a clinic with premie doctors while financing interested ashram residents through medical school. He looked at me with sympathy, as if I were hopelessly uninformed. "Because," he said, "after the festival is the New Age." p152
(Sophia blames BB for the Millenium madness but the TVTV documentary "Lord of the Universe" shows there was plenty of craziness to go around.)

there is one thing which particularly strikes me. I find it curious that it is so easy for people to feel identified with a spiritual organization even when they have considerable differences of opinion with the leadership. p154
(Well Sophia is a perfect example of this curious behaviour though I'm not sure she realised it)

By the time BB arrived in Houston I had pieced together his whole prophetic scheme. All of BB's ideas had one central focus: the festival we were planning for November would be "the most holy and significant event in human history." It would not be a private great event - an Astrodome official told me that every religious group which has a gathering there secretly believes the dome was built for them - everyone would know. p156
(In fact it was Rawat himself, not his eldest brother, who declared the festival would be "the most holy and significant event in human history.")

I was not the least bit surprised when Maharaj Ji came down with an ulcer. p162

That summer (Jun-Aug 1973) Maharaj Ji had been touring the United States and Europe. From what I could see, Maharaj Ji's style of "leadership" was to leave all of the nitty-gritty decisions about DLM operations to the headquarters in Denver, while dividing his own time between giving lectures for the membership or the public and "resting," a euphemism for his long periods of inactivity. At his speaking engagements he rarely spoke about the organization, but rather concentrated on subjects with which he was more familiar, like meditation and Knowledge. p162-3
(This is particularly telling example of Sophia's ignorance. In fact, Rawat has never displayed any expertise in meditation and according to the evidence of those close to him in the 1980's was never seen to meditate. That this supposed expertise has never helped his followers is shown by his constantly berating them for their lack of realisation, their need for "Knowledge Reviews" throughout his 40 year career in the West and his agya that they not discuss their personal experience of "Knowledge.")

His itinerary was packed for the summer's tour. He had public programs in several major cities, TV appearances, and some appointments to receive awards and keys to various cities, as well as more intimate premie programs for the membership only. Things were going well until he got to Detroit, where he was to receive a civic citation. After he accepted the award, an underground-newspaper reporter came rushing up to Maharaj Ji and, in what the reporter described as "a protest against God," hit Maharaj Ji in the face with a shaving cream pie. This in itself was not a tragedy. But what happened afterward was. Two premies sought out the pie-thrower, Pat Halley, and creamed him with a steel pipe. This was a dreadful and pathetic example of fanaticism at work. What makes it worse is that I know, from a very good source, that one of the premie assailants was a mahatma, a DLM figure who initiated many thousands of U.S. premies in 1971 - 1973. Maharaj Ji did not know of this mahatma's plans beforehand, and afterward when the incident came to his attention Maharaj Ji stripped the mahatma of his rank and urged him to turn himself in to the police. However, the mahatma did not follow this advice and quietly slipped out of the country. The other assailant, Bob Mishler believes, was an American and still even today lives in a DLM ashram. If this is true I feel Maharaj Ji is at fault. He should have pursued this matter more aggressively and made sure the perpetrators were apprehended and tried in a court of law. p163
(Rawat did not strip Fakiranand of his mahatmaship and DLM sent him out of the country where he continued to give satsang and initiate people until the family split when he was loyal to the Indian organisation. The other assailant (Richard Fletcher) was no ordinary ashram premie but one famous for his spiritual attainments and lengthy meditations and exceptional former lives.)

In the morning I went to the Dome for the beginning of the festival. As I expected, there were not 400,000 people there. There were plenty of premies, about 20,000, but even this number, impressive in an open field, seemed small in the vastness of the Astrodome. In general the festival was a bore. I enjoyed seeing all of the friends I had met in other parts of the DLM community, but from a theatrical point of view, I was disappointed. Maharaj Ji's remarks were undistinguished, and I noticed his words were slurred. … The high point of the event for me was some beers I had with Lola and the Village Voice reporter, Marilyn Webb. As I sat and sipped, the two of them ranted about what a disappointment the Millennium event had turned out to be. (As I discovered later, we were not the only ones for whom some alcohol was the festival's high point. Bob Mishler told me Maharaj Ji got "sloshed." p174-5

WHAT A BOMB, WAS THE FIRST THING I THOUGHT ON THE morning after the program was over, as I woke up in the dilapidated old Coca-Cola plant. "What the hell am I doing here?" I rubbed my tired face and took a deep breath. Even though I understood the complex circumstances which had made the festival into such a failure, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. It was not only a failure because few people enjoyed the three-day program. That would be tolerable, an unfortunate occurrence on par with a play bombing in the bush leagues - the theater company can always practice more and make a comeback with a better script. But Millennium was a media event. We had promoted it actively. Journalists from all over the country were in attendance to hear what Rennie had promised would be a "practical plan for world peace." Instead of any new thoughts on a workable plan for a better world, these visiting media people found a confused jumble of inarticulately expressed ideas. … One news story caused me great personal embarrassment. p176-7
(The Village Voice article is available here. Ms Webb seems more credible than Ms Collier.)

I had come to Denver to be in DLM. And DLM was in Denver because Bob Mishler was there. Back in 1971 when Maharaj Ji first came to the United States, he went through Boulder, Colorado, in the late summer. Bob, a local yoga teacher, had gone to see Maharaj Ji because one of Bob's former students had given the young guru rave reviews.

Bob offered his house, down in Denver, for the traveling mahatmas to stay in when they were passing through town. Maharaj Ji must have been quite impressed with Bob, because when Bob showed him the house, Maharaj Ji asked if he could move in himself and make it DLM headquarters. From that time until late in 1976 Bob was the president of DLM and an intimate associate of Maharaj Ji. p179

Maharaj Ji did not want to attend the party. When conventional methods of invitation like flowers and phone calls failed to attract him, Mata and BB tried another tack. They sent a message to Maharaj Ji that Mata was on her deathbed, using a weeping premie as the courier. Maharaj Ji would have to come immediately if he wanted to see Mata before she died. Finally, at the last minute, Maharaj Ji got on a plane and went to New York. When he discovered Mata was not on her deathbed, he seemed furious, according to a friend of mine who was there. … Amazingly, nothing Maharaj Ji did in public that day gave them any inkling of the troubles p184

From my vantage at headquarters, I saw the real story which was hidden from the majority of premies. This private information put me in an awkward position. Since I was supposed to cover the "holy family" news for the premie paper, I thought I should write something about it. But I knew what a delicate situation existed. I did not want to jeopardize Maharaj Ji's position. If push came to shove, I knew Mata would try to use her power as Maharaj Ji's legal guardian and make him return to India, never to be heard from again. Then I would have lost my friend and guru. After talking with Matthew Austin, the Divine Times editor, we decided to go ahead with some sort of series on the situation. But when Matthew proposed this idea to Bob Mishler, Bob nixed it, saying, "It would confuse the premies; besides, it is not what Maharaj Ji wants." p185

Matthew (Matthew Austin, the Divine Times editor) joined DLM in 1972 and toward the end of that year he took over Divine Times for the mission. 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 with some of the other people on the DT staff. On our morning walks downtown we sometimes stopped as many as three times over the twenty-five-block distance so that Matthew could have coffee and a cigarette on his way to work. p186

Leaving New York a few hours after the party was over, (December 10 1973) Maharaj Ji returned to California and his sweetheart. Raja Ji, the brother most close to Maharaj Ji in age and temperament, was also having a love affair - a fact which infuriated Mata all the more. Raja Ji's romance was with Claudia Littmann, a European model whose father was at one time chief of police in Frankfurt. … Claudia and Marilyn lived together in an apartment in Marina del Ray, California. A few days after Maharaj Ji got into L.A., Mata, BB, and Bhole Ji also arrived, making themselves at home in Maharaj Ji's small house on Sunset Boulevard. … Meanwhile, back in my life, 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. p187

For instance, Raja Ji, Guru Maharaj Ji's still-faithful brother, told me how he had secretly married Claudia while Mata was away on tour with Maharaj Ji. Then when Mata returned from touring, Raja Ji said, he no longer felt able to keep up the charade and went to face his mother with his new wife. Raja Ji said Mata was livid with rage and would not allow him and Claudia to come inside Maharaj Ji's L.A. residence. Instead, she ordered the mahatmas who were present to go outside and beat up Raja Ji and Claudia while they stood in the driveway on Sunset Boulevard. p191-2
When Maharaj Ji returned and saw his brother black-and-blue and his brother's wife with a bloody face, he became extremely frightened, according to Bob Mishler. He called Bob on the telephone and finally took a strong stand in regard to his family. Bob remembered the conversation this way: "Maharaj Ji was extremely upset. He told me 'Get them out of the country. Deport them, anything. Anything. I don't care what you do. Just get them out of here.'" Bob was glad to do it. "I'd had enough of their tricks." So using what Bob described as a "variety of intimidation tactics," he convinced them to go back to India. … "Finally," Bob said, "I arranged for Bal Bhagwan Ji to speak to Maharaj Ji on the phone. Maharaj Ji told Bal Bhagwan Ji that if he would go back to India and take Mata, then he, Maharaj Ji, would return to India himself on May 24." p192
(Rawat did not return to India until May 1985 after Mata Ji announced she had deposed him and then did not return until 1980 (Peace Is Possible p229))

On May 24, 1974, Maharaj Ji and Marilyn were married in a small chapel in the foothills of the Rockies. The next day the news appeared all over the world. For most premies, this was a very happy day, but for Mata and BB, Maharaj Ji had committed an act of war. Sitting in India, they planned a full-scale campaign against their youngest kin. p192
(Sophia's animus against Rawat's mother and eldest brother has morphed into full blown paranoia - "planning a full-scale campaign" - puhleese.)

I could see that Raja was not taking it well. With the lines so clearly drawn he 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. This sort of incident and the seemingly endless difficulties Guru Maharaj Ji had with his family were wearing me out. p192
(Rawat was having difficulties with his family because of his drinking, meat-eating, flashy lifestyle, etc. It bothered them much more than it bothered Sophia).

I didn't like the idea that people who might have benefited from meditation would never hear about Knowledge because our Guru's life was so flashy, his family so greedy.
(At this time Rawat was taking at least 50% of the DLM cashflow. How much, if any, he was passing on to his "greedy" family is unknown. However, there is no doubt about Rawat's greedy, flashy lifestyle.)

"The paper's going back in print," he said. "Somebody donated $350,000. Come on kid, cheer up. Let's go out dancing to." That sounded like a good idea. … I was in a fine humor and stayed out until three in the morning. When I got up the next day I knew what I should do. The time had come for Sophia to take a vacation. And let me assure you, after a year of poverty, chastity, and obedience, I was ready to make money, make love, and make decisions. p193-4

Back in April 1973, before all the Mission's activities and plans were supplanted by the Millennium festival production, Guru Maharaj Ji had made a film about his vision for DLM. In it he proposed a new organization, to be called Divine United Organization, and outlined its humanitarian goals. DUO - the name is pronounced rather than the letters spelled out - would work in many areas: health care, education, food co-ops, the arts, as well as the traditional social service areas of emergency relief and visiting the sick and institutionalized. … Social service was an area of special importance in DUO. Rennie Davis, now recovered from the festival, was working on an idea called "Day of Thanks," a Thanksgiving Day effort to involve several thousand premies across the country in hospital visitation programs. "Then," Susan Gregory (one of Rennie's past lovers) said, "once the premies realize what a joyful experience it is to do this kind of service for others, they'll want to sign up for many more DUO social service programs." p197-8
(These ill-advised and unrealistic ideas and sub-organisations (Divine United Organization, World Welfare Association) never really got off the ground and were quietly dropped in 1976)

Many premies were getting married, settling down, and buying homes. Maharaj Ji and Marilyn were expecting a baby. They even had gotten themselves a new nest in Malibu, California. While looking for news of the L.A. area, I heard several stories about Maharaj Ji from one of the people who lived in Malibu with him. … "Oh, then he's in good spirits," I inquired of this correspondent. Maharaj Ji had seemed very happy when I had seen him during a business trip he had made to Denver a month before; but since I remembered how he had hidden his feelings about his family, it was hard for me to know his true mood. p200

(Despite her bumptious self-confidence, Sophia has never known Rawat's true mood, how could she with the little personal exposure to him she has had and she does not know what his feelings were about his family but she is correct that he had hidden them. As Rawat had claimed to be always high, higher than the Apollo rocket can reach with a constant LSD, it's interesting that his devotees thought they could discern changes in his mood. The "nest" in Malibu mutated into the current monstrosity).

SO I called up my friend Michael Donner, who was now U.S. National Director, and told him the situation. An old-style radical, Michael had no taste for bureaucracy. p199

Again I benefited from the one advantage of the ashram's chastity vow: it allowed a person to develop strong relationships with persons of the opposite sex without a jumble of complications. p199

Maharaj Ji had bought a book at a novelty store which to all external appearances was a hardcover called Sex Handbook; but when you opened it, you received an electric shock. He spent several days "souping up" the wiring so that it would give a more powerful shock, and then one day when his brother, Raja Ji, came to visit him at his Malibu estate, he thought he'd try it out. In the car with him Raja Ji had brought several other people, including his wife, Claudia. "Raja Ji! Raja Ji!" Maharaj Ji ran up to the car to greet him with the book in his hand. The others were still in the car as Maharaj Ji said to Raja Ji, with a tone of deep tenderness, "Look what Marilyn has just given me," pressing the book into Raja Ji's hands. "Oh," said Raja Ji with much interest, and then, "Ahhhh!" when he opened the book. Just then Claudia came up. "Oh, Claudia! Look what Marilyn has just given me," he said to Claudia with the same tender tone. "Oh," she said, and then, "Ahhhh!" Each of the next three people arrived and they in turn fell for the trick. Then when there were no more, Maharaj Ji took the book back and walked into the house, satisfied that he had shocked enough people with his Sex Handbook. p201-2
(He spent several days "souping up" the wiring so that it would give a more powerful shock! So he's not only a nasty mean spirited shit who alters a practical joke to deliver a powerful electric shock he's also so irresponsible that he spends several days on the project while he's supposed to be bringing peace to the world and he's so incompetent it takes him several days to do it.)

the arrival of Michael Dettmers, a former junior executive in one of the larger American multinationals. His ideas were all management-textbook stuff: organizational charts and management-by-objectives. He came to Denver to set up some systems for managing our money, but when he arrived he got to work on other areas. … But as I considered Michael's ideas, I had a vague bad feeling. I didn't know exactly why, but I felt fairly sure his were not the best guidelines for running an organization whose goal is to raise consciousness.
(Rawat often spoke of the purpose, goal and aim of DLM and human life. He never once said it was to raise consciousness)

Saul edited Guru Maharaj Ji's lectures for publication. When a particular transcript showed Guru Maharaj Ji's philosophical remarks "waxing incoherent," as Saul said, he would simply throw up his hands in the air and cheerfully, mischievously, declare, "Oh, he didn't mean that." Then, licking his fine editing pencil, he would squint his eyes and write in something that sounded a little better.
(The extent of editing can be seen by comparing word for word transcripts of some of Rawat's speeches with their published counterparts)

The man who preceded Michael Dettmers as financial director was a good example of a popular DLM figure. A1though he handled DLM's three-and-a-half-million-dollar budget from 1972 to the middle of 1974, when he retired, he was most widely recognized for his lighthearted approach to the heavenly life. His philosophy was that there was no reason for guilt or fear; that God-realization was beautiful, profound, and even fun.

our most itinerant comrade also came to town. This was Charles Cameron, the DLM writer who edited Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?, a paperback put out by Bantam in 1973. Though Charles thought of himself as a poet first, I got the impression that he didn't really like to write at all. What he really loved was touring the country and speaking on college campuses about art and spirituality. He loved to read his poems to big audiences, tell stories, do impersonations. He was very good at this, too. Telling a sad story, he could make me cry. Charles was British. He had gone to Oxford and his poems had been published in the volume The Children of Albion. Another quality I distinctly remember about Charles was his insatiable admiration of women. Though when it came down to "Shall I or shan't I" have sex, he confessed that he almost always backed down and kept his monastic vows. But to hear him talk publicly you'd get quite the opposite impression. p207

In March 1975, Bob Mishler-still DLM president through all the organizational shifts-came back from a long tour he had been on with Maharaj Ji. During the whole reorganization he had been out of the country.

Guru Maharaj Ji was back in the headlines in newspapers around the world. While Maharaj Ji was in India, Mata had denounced him as a "playboy." She declared that it was really BB who was the Satguru, Lord of All. Now sure that God was on her side, she also started out trying to gain legal control of DLM and sole rights to the actual name, "Divine Light Mission." Let her have it, I thought.
(Sophia is mistaken. Mata Ji had denounced the young guru before he went back to India to try to gain control of Divine Light Mission (Divya Sandesh Parishad) in India. Mata Ji already had control of DLM in India and Sophia knew nothing of Mata Ji's thoughts.)

One of my assignments for this issue was an interview with an old friend of mine, Ellen Saxl, who had escorted Maharaj Ji on his trip to India. Incidentally, Ellen was one of the first people from an Eastern-oriented spiritual group to be kidnapped by "de-programmer" Ted Patrick, whose usual quarry was Christian cults. However, Ellen was not "de-programmed," and later her court testimony helped to convict Patrick of kidnapping. While my interview with Ellen seemed, at first glance, to be a simple assignment, it brought up some disturbing questions. Ellen and I had lunch together and then sat down with the Sony to talk. She described the trip in glowing terms: The scenery, the people she met, the beautiful premies, Maharaj Ji's one triumph after another over the Mata mafia. However, as she spoke, her looks and gestures and tone told another story. She fidgeted, seemed uncomfortable. "Is there something wrong?" I asked her. "Don't you feel well?" "Turn off the tape recorder," she said urgently, as if I was about to be let in on some of the state secrets. I obliged. "Sophia, the trip was awful. Premies were beaten. Maharaj Ji was in hiding for a week in this crummy hotel. And the lawsuit which Mata brought, I don't know if we won. Raja Ji may have to go to jail if he ever goes back …" Ellen continued unfolding a tale of horror. "But why are you telling me this other story? Why were you giving me this baloney?" "Because that's what Maharaj Ji wanted. I asked him, 'When I return, Maharaj Ji, what shall I tell people?' And he said, 'Just talk about the grace.' Sophia, there were good things that happened. The huge second wedding celebration Maharaj Ji held. About five thousand premies were there … good things and bad both." "But why not give the whole story? Premies can handle it. It's no big deal." "I'm honor-bound," Ellen said. "I promised Maharaj Ji. 212 Sometimes we don't always know the reasons for things he tells us to do, but from my experience, if I just do them, I get good results." "All right then, I'll turn the tape recorder back on and you tell the story however you like. I can't compel you otherwise." And so Ellen continued weaving a bright tale, rich with cultural references and local color. She remembered so many beautiful things-the filigree on a certain building, the oxcarts and peasants in a certain town-but this story did not move me, now that I knew the other side. When Ellen left, I sat alone. I wondered why Maharaj Ji did not want the truth known. Already AP, the wire service, had carried parts of what he wished to suppress. Unlike Ellen, I did feel the need to understand the reasoning behind an action before I took it. I could not see any good reason for Maharaj Ji's request "only to talk about the grace." p211-3
(What a strange concept of honour Ms Saxl had. She must pretend and lie to remain honourable. Rawat orders his followers to lie about events that occurred in India where his mission was a failure. It is unlikely that these are the only lies he has insisted upon. Sophia accepted the tacit understanding that everything in DLM media must be positive, she accepted having her articles edited due to her irreverance and now she accepts publication of material she knows to be completely false.)

It was "Maharaj Ji's paper for his message." The executive group didn't want to print "any old thing" premies sent in. They wanted to "guide" the development of the communities nationwide. p213
(Within a few years nothing but Rawat and his family's speeches would be printed in DLM publications)

Jeff (Grossberg, Divine Times Executive Editor) recruited someone to act as his assistant and to be in charge of our writing staff. The person he found was Sharon Stokke, a young organization woman, similar in style to himself. … Her comments, like Jeff's, were most often not in the area of art, taste, or style. A Harold Ross she was not. Instead, her criticism was largely of my ideas. I was too irreverent with Maharaj Ji, she said. "He's not an ordinary man with ordinary motivations such as you describe. He's special, superhuman in a way. You have to portray that." I was too casual about Knowledge. "Our path is actually the only one that will lead people to truth, you know. We don't want to mislead anyone by making them think differently," Sharon told me in one of these "approval" sessions. The whole business struck me as psychic brutality. I defended what I had written on the basis of my experience. Sharon was ready to put aside everything I felt if it did not fit into her version of the Divine Light Mission theology. Sometimes leaving Sharon's office I felt so confused I broke down and cried. I stopped in to Dan's office to be comforted. Resting my head against his big chest, I wondered why things were going like this. p215-6
(To paraphrase George Orwell, all experience is equal but some experience is more equal that others. Sophia doesn't understand that she is in a cult with set concepts and rules of behaviour but eventually her stubborn strength in her own vision and DLM's increasing regimentation will eject her though she may not know why or how it happened.)

"Do you think this is what Maharaj Ji wants?" I asked Dan one day in frustration after some of his and my collaborative articles were "edited" by Jeff Grossberg in not only a gross but also apparently propagandistic way. "I don't know, Sophia. My general feeling is that Maharaj Ji doesn't pay much attention to what's going on here in Denver. His 'hands off' policy about our day-to-day work says to me, 'Okay, kids, you have the Knowledge. You know how to tune into the wisdom inside yourself, now try and do it!' " "I hope that's right, Dan, but after what happened with Ellen I've been wondering if 'hands off' is just a way of avoiding the problems he doesn't want to deal with. Maybe Maharaj Ji is behind these people - Sharon, Jeff, and the others - but he doesn't come out and say it. He lets them do the dirty work."
(Sophia still does not understand that her vision of Divine Light Mission and the Knowledge are not those of Rawat or his dedicated followers. Unlike Sophia, Sharon Stokke remained a premie writing for Rawat's publications until at least 1989 and is undoubtedly still a devotee to this day (2015) according to her facebook page and her mentions on WOPG internet sites)

In September 1975, it was a year since I had decided to come back to DLM and give it a second try. Looking on the bright side, I could hope, like any employee who wants to keep a job, that things would improve; that the corporate closed-mindedness would pass, as the Millennium Fever had. It did not occur to me until later that what afflicted Sharon/Jeff/Michael Dettmers et al might be the Millennium Fever in a new form.
(In fact Sophia was the "spaced-out" premie and Sharon/Jeff/Michael were paragons of premiehood.)

Toward the end of the autumn our main project was the publication of materials for a large festival we were planning for Orlando, Florida. We worked very hard and enjoyed a good relationship with Sharon. Schedules were so tight, we didn't have time for the same "approvals" process we had during the production of the public Divine Times. Most of our lighthearted copy was okayed without a question. The festival was completely different from Millennium; BB wasn't there. It was held in a big field in Orlando, and about twelve thousand people attended. There was no hype. (Oh yeah!) It was not billed as anything other than a nice time to get together, see Maharaj Ji, see your friends, take a vacation in Florida. Saul and I went to Disneyworld and spent a day, playing on the rides. It was lovely to be in the sun, relax, swim, and see old friends. Maharaj Ji gave beautiful addresses on three successive evenings. The third I felt so moved, I cried. I forgave him for his lack of ability to manage DLM more effectively. He was trying, I could see that p217-8.
(Decide for yourself how beautiful his addresses ie satsangs were:)
  • Here We Go Again - Prem Rawat (Maharaji) speaks at Hans Jayanti Festival in Orlando, Florida on November 7, 1975
  • A Dream in a Dream - Prem Rawat (Maharaji) speaks at Hans Jayanti Festival in Orlando, Florida on November 8, 1975
  • The Missing Peace - Prem Rawat (Maharaji) speaks at the Hans Jayanti Festival in Orlando, Florida, on 9 November, 1975.
  • That Lord, That Power - Prem Rawat (Maharaji) speaks at Public Program, Hans Jayanti Festival in Orlando, Florida, on the afternoon of 9 November, 1975.
  • All Together - Prem Rawat (Maharaji) speaks at Hans Jayanti Festival in Orlando, Florida, on the evening of 9 November, 1975.
Thinking about our situation from this angle, I went down to one of the nightly programs DLM held. At these programs almost anybody could arrange to speak for a few minutes if they made an appointment weeks in advance. Usually I did not attend. Instead, I liked to spend my nights at home reading or talking with Barbara-Casey, my roommate and co-worker in R&D. p218
(One of Rawat's four commandments was "Never delay in attending satsang." This was accepted by premies to mean that where possible, a premie should attend the nightly meetings every night. Rawat stressed it was one of the four absolutely necessary activities required to "experience Knowledge." On the 31st November thinking of William James' ideas of religion's base spirit of dogmatic dominion she attends satsang and is throughly disenchanted with DLM.)

all Maharaj Ji was doing, as far as I could see, was sitting back in Malibu and getting fat. p219

Chapter 17: A Placebo Called Knowledge.

DLM was already showing the signs. It had become an "ecclesiastical institution" beset with all the maladies James described. But for me and Dan it was different than for James or my friend who sends me The New York Times. We were in the middle of it. We had devoted three years to building something which was turning out to be nothing more than another religion. We had made a noble effort to turn the tide with yippie tricks and reasoned talk and even tears, but still, we could see what had happened. The organization had tens of thousands of solid members, people who had joined in good faith, attracted by the promise that meditation would tune them into their inner nature, but who had become rank and file in a new religion. p222

"But it seems to me, Dan, that despite all this, premies are always able to have access to the original material, through meditation, the wordless reality. You'd think a cosmology wouldn't be formed. You'd think the continual direct experience in meditation would correct false religious ideas … " p223
(They had no evidence that practising Knowledge gave you direct access to "a wordless reality" nor that this would correct false religious ideas. The evidence against this was pretty well all the other premies whose understanding they considered inferior and who were wallowing in religious ideas.)

I thought about this and felt it was true. At the nightly programs DLM held in Denver, I heard people get up day after day and say the same things. People felt they had realized something when, finally, after much struggle, they had been able to accept the consensus; when finally, they believed. They accepted Maharaj Ji as a superior being, they saw themselves redeemed in his grace. … p223-4

After the festival (Hans Jayanti, 9-11 November 1975) many people were beginning to talk along the same lines. In the letters I received from my national news correspondents I sensed a mood of dissatisfaction in the DLM membership. Not only were they dissatisfied with the way the Mission was being run, but also with the quality of their own spiritual experience. I remember one particular letter from the retired financial director whom Michael Dettmers replaced. He was working in the Portland, Oregon, DLM office as a part-time volunteer. (Unfortunately I have had to reconstruct this letter from memory, as I lost the original; it is impossible to duplicate his charming style.) We started by asking each other, "Why did you join DLM?" From this beginning we have traced through our whole DLM experience. Immediately it is evident that many of us have deeply entrenched religious concepts, almost totally without basis in experience. The people working in the local DLM office translate these baseless concepts into programs that encourage guilt and fear as the primary motivators, rather than love and clarity. Sometimes I wonder if it might just be better to cancel DLM and start again. I've heard several people say this here in Portland. p224

It had all started the month before, when Maharaj Ji came to the Denver community meeting and said that all the people in DLM should have "understanding." He seemed very emphatic about this, although it was rather vague just exactly what he wanted people to understand. Each person, according to her/his nature, interpreted Maharaj Ji's statement differently. Michael Dettmers and some of the other executives assumed people on the HQ staff needed to understand the organization and their commitment to it more fully. To this end, in the middle of December, they set up a large conference for the entire staff at the Hilton Hotel. They secured the services of a premie who was a professional in group dynamics. Maharaj Ji came to the conference and told everybody that he was completely behind this effort and the premies should relax, cooperate, and "not be paranoid." p224
(Click here for a fuller treatment of this disastrous episode in DLM)

My personal question was, does Maharaj Ji actually think he's a divine figure? This seemed like the crux of the whole matter. Back in November I had written a little blurb for a brochure advertising the festival commemorating Hans' birthday. I had said, "This is a special occasion because it gives us a chance to see that Maharaj Ji is not only a Guru but also a premie, a person just like us." Somehow this slipped by Sharon and got printed in the Divine Times. Once it had been run off ten thousand copies' worth, Jeff came into my office and said, shaking his head, "You really blew it this time. You really did." "Why, what's the trouble?" "Maharaj Ji's no premie, stupid. When Bob saw the newspaper, he called the Boss. There's no way he's going to release that issue of the paper saying he's a premie. We have to reprint and recollate." Shaking his head, Jeff walked out. On one hand I felt sorry I'd insulted Maharaj Ji, but, wow, did that sound like ego. Thinking about it now, toward the end of January, it seemed to be rather indicative. If Maharaj Ji wouldn't step off the stage for a minute, then maybe he was afraid - if the premies got one close look, it might ruin the magic. p228-9
(The humble servant of God won't allow himself to be portrayed as just a normal person. Sophia gets a reality check but it's still not enough to enlighten her … yet.)

When Maharaj Ji saw this film, (The Mouse That Roared) he was thrilled. "This is exactly what I am doing," he said. "I've got the Knowledge Bomb." This story indicated to me that Maharaj Ji did not think he was God; he understood that he was a bumbling prince whose claim to power was a placebo called Knowledge. In order to get Knowledge to work he had to talk it up, act as though it were a cosmic mystery, "the holiest of all secrets." This approach had some merits. Peak experiences of the sort I had in early spring of 1973 are completely different from ordinary consciousness. When someone has one of these experiences he usually believes it is beyond his ability to have it again. He attributes his temporary high awareness to luck, fate, the stars, or perhaps he is just baffled by it. A guru knows that most people have great unused potential. Essentially, the guru tricks the people who come to him into doing what they are already able to do. p230
(Sophia takes any opportunity to explain any of the young guru's actions in a way she considers positive even if it is in a way that He would completely disavow as you can easily see by looking at some of things he says about "His Holy Knowledge." This concept of a "trickster guru" is one much used by people whose gurus openly flout conventional ethical mores but is completely at odds with Rawat's 1970's style. He secretly got drunk and smoked marijuana and openly did nasty practical jokes but he claimed His Knowledge was Knowledge of God not a placebo and claimed that it required His Grace and the premie's obedience to work. He did describe the movie "What's So Bad About Feeling Good?" after seeing it.)

Another fact in Maharaj Ji's favor was that he seemed to be encouraging a spring revolution, graduation in June. Or perhaps he was sick of being a big-time guru and wanted to settle down and be just folks. … All of this controversy made me tremendously happy. Dan did a whole issue of the newspaper about "understanding," encouraging everyone to throw out their assumptions, question all their premises, and get back rooted in their real experiences. p231
(As it turned out the real experience of many premies, possibly especially so for those in the Denver headquarters' administration, was as bad as Sophia's. For many others it was the very religious experience that Sophia disparaged but Rawat later expressed his disdain of the "revolution" and he had told the Mission directors to make 1975 a "year of propagation" as he wanted to become a bigger-time guru. Rawat's understanding of 'understanding' was that everyone should understand that is is their duty to obey him. He was after all quoted in that very issue of Divine Times on 'understanding.')

By the middle of February, Jeff wanted to get in on this new open awareness which was surging through his department. … Dan understood the conflict as a struggle between an authoritarian style of management and a participatory style. "An authoritarian style will naturally inhibit the growth of consciousness. The Chief lays down the law for the workers, and they better do it no matter what they think. The Mission has been dominated by this style since it began. Now, Jeff," Dan spoke powerfully, "you have reached a point where you realize this is contradictory to our goal of promoting the growth of awareness. … Two weeks later, I was meditating in my room before dinner when I heard Barbara-Casey crying under her meditation blanket. … "Sophia, promise not to tell anybody until Thursday. Jeff's been fired." Tears streamed down my face, too. I could see the executives were never going to relinquish their power. There would never be any participatory management structure in the Mission. … This must be the way Maharaj Ji wants it - after all, he keeps these people in power, I thought p233
(Sophia and her Divine Times accomplices were basing their 'rebellion' on the concepts that Knowledge gave you direct access to "a wordless reality" and that this promotes the "growth of awareness" that required a participatory style of management. They had no evidence that this was true nor that "wordless reality" or "growth of awareness" were actual possibilities except for their wishful thinking.)

I was about to join them when Terry, one of the artists, asked to walk with me. I'd felt a great deal of affection for Terry ever since 1973, when we'd met in one enchanting moment across Saul's desk. For two and a half years I had kept this attraction to myself, trying to keep in mind that I was a nun. Because Terry showed a "saintly" character, often meditating long hours and giving inspired talks at staff meetings, he had already been selected as a candidate for mahatma. (Maharaj Ji had recently chosen four western mahatmas.) I was surprised and happy when I found I would have his company. I'd felt a great deal of affection for Terry ever since 1973, when we'd met in one enchanting moment across Saul's desk. For two and a half years I had kept this attraction to myself, trying to keep in mind that I was a nun. p233
(But not a very good nun, thank goodness. At the age of 15 Rawat began a secret, sexual affair with a woman nearly 10 years older than him. He could manage this incredibly unlikely affair because she thought he was an incarnation of God. Despite this experience he demanded celibacy from his most devoted followers for another 10 years before suddenly disbanding the ashrams.)

We kissed again and walked back to the lodge holding hands. The next day was warm. We walked way up high on a ridge where the snow was gone. The ground was dry and we lay down to make love on the hill in the sun. Once we got back to town, I was not sure whether we should continue our physical relationship. I felt as long as I was in the ashram I should try to keep my vows, but soon I abandoned this line of reasoning. The relationship with Terry had such a beautiful effect on me that I wanted to feel it deeply in every way I could. The feeling of lying in this lover's arms was so soothing, it made me forget all the disappointment I had suffered with the Mission. In an astoundingly short time, I felt like a completely new person. p233-4
(That certainly puts the "blissful experience of Knowledge" into perspective)

In the next few weeks, I had no heart to fight North American Operations, quibbling over phrasing, when I went to work. I wasn't bitter or weary. Suddenly I felt it had nothing to do with me. Sitting in a meeting with Dan and the NAO director was like listening to a family fight among neighbors that came, muffled, through the walls of an apartment. I might listen, but more often I wouldn't. It didn't concern me. If Maharaj Ji wanted to run a little religion based on his father's teachings and he was able to find people to join, so what? That was his business, not mine. It all seemed so simple. When I walked around the office I felt peculiarly free. I had great affection for many of these people, but my destiny was no longer tied to theirs. From this detached and happy perspective, it was easy for me to see the trouble wasn't so much in the way DLM was doing things, but in what DLM was doing in the first place. By teaching people meditation it was encouraging them to be individuals of spirit, but in trying to organize them to specific tasks, it was not giving them room to be individuals of action. p235-6
(It is true that most people who become involved in Prem Rawat's Knowledge cease their involvement in any of his activities, after a shorter or longer time, but this appears to be related to their disenchantment with the Knowledge rather than any greater individuality caused by it.)

Bob Mishler left the organization toward the end of 1976. I visited him in Denver and we spent a week together talking about what had happened to our original vision for Divine Light Mission, and why. His insight and candor were invaluable to me in preparing this book. … Rennie Davis is still one of the DLM faithful, although he no longer lives in the ashram. He is married and has a job selling life insurance. Guru Maharaj Ji, himself, is up to the same old game. Struggling to keep the movement together, he has been touring extensively within the United States. p238-9

Soul Rush by Sophia Collier Back Cover

"Sophia has given us a precious story full of candor and humor" - ROBERT MISHLER, former President of the Divine Light Mission.

Sophia Collier comments on Guru Maharaj Ji's divinity …
"In the Divine Light Mission there are two groups of people. There are those who sincerely believe that Guru Maharaj Ji is the Lord of Creation here in the flesh to save the world.

"Guru Maharaj Ji, though he has never made a definitive statement on his own opinion of his own divinity, generally encourages whatever view is held by the people he is with. Addressing several hundred thousand ecstatic Indian devotees, prepared for his message by a four-thousand-year cultural tradition, he declares, 'I am the source of peace in this world … surrender the reins of your life unto me and I will give you salvation.' On national television in the United States he says sheepishly, with his hands folded in his lap, 'I am just a humble servant of God.' "