Prem Rawat's Training Sessions: Introducing the Possibility of Knowledge
This video, titled 'Introducing the Possibility of Knowledge', a Visions International release, was produced in 2000. It contains scenes from two training sessions Élan Vital supposedly held to teach Prem Rawat's "students" how to introduce people to the "possibility of Knowledge." The "invited guests" paid dearly for the chance to be at these sessions as their Master was going to be there. Nearly all of them had been devotees of Maharaji for up to 30 years and so the idea that they needed such training was extraordinary enough in itself. What made it even more remarkable is that most of them had been doing such personal and public recruitment in the '70's quite successfully until Rawat had ordered them to cease and desist circa 1983. During these sessions Prem Rawat appears to have a bad cold and/or be having dental reconstruction work and he has become the Master of the Raised Eyebrows.
While Rawat did take this opportunity to teach yet more concepts which his followers could use to proselytise, the main focus seemed to be reinforcing his own central position and his total power over this "Knowledge", the methods of meditation he claims can contact the source of life within and produce inner peace. He increased the pressure upon them. He continually restated that "Knowledge" is incredible and that "It Works." He told them they were now having to take responsibility for ensuring a 100% success rate in the conversion and retaining of new followers and that any false idea they give could be incredibly dangerous. He blamed everybody but himself for the failures to achieve success in the past. The double bind they find themselves in is that they are aging members (median age mid 60's) of a dwindling band of devotees and Rawat is a very unnattractive and incompetent leader who they consider the "Master" and whom they cannot contradict and must obey and he continually blames them for their lack of success in attracting new followers even though they follow his orders and his methods. The seating at this "training session" was especially weird. Two rows of premies sitting around the walls craning their necks sideways with all the central floor space left empty.
A complete transcript of this video is available here.
(Voiceover) "While Knowledge itself has never changed, the way people have spoken about it over the years has. At the end of July, Maharaji spent two days in Atlanta, Georgia talking to a group of invited guests about how best to introduce the possibility of Knowledge. Then in September, Maharaji spoke further about the objectives of the Atlanta Training in Amaroo, Australia. The following broadcast contains excerpts from both meetings."
'Knowledge' or the combination of belief in Prem Rawat as the Master and the practise of the techniques of meditation he claims to reveal and providing financial support and/or voluntary labour would be more accurately known as the Rawatism religion. The basics remain though the language Prem Rawat uses has altered dramatically and he has altered the meditation guidelines and techniques during his career in the West Rawat's father and eldest brother, Satpal Maharaj,were and are more traditional Indian 'Satgurus'.
"What is it all about? There is a person, there is a Master, who makes Knowledge available. There it is. That's the beginning and the end of it."
"Because to convert a person what fundamentally you have to do is prove everything they're doing is wrong."
Rawat's concept of religion is shallow and ignorant as is his understanding of 'conversion'. Conversion does not require proving "everything they're doing is wrong" but that they should adopt of new opinions or beliefs.
"It would be really nice where the two other trainings, there's this Training, this is about talking about Knowledge and so we can have it in a DVD format and that way we could reach a lotta people and that, this would be going to a lotta people, this, this actual training and uh it would be great to know that everybody is talking Knowledge, about Knowledge the same way."
Pay attention for the "we could reach a lotta people". It certainly seems that he's sincere in that wish. Nearly 10 years later we can see that his wish, which had no grounding in reality, did not come true. Isn't meditation supposed to produce understanding and detachment?
"From the time of Shri Maharaji whether he was sitting by his instructors, whether he's giving an event, it always took a team, it took a team effort to do it so let's not con ourselves into thinking it doesn't take a team."
Since 1982 Prem Rawat has claimed he could do it on his own and he forbade his followers to publicly proselytise. Videos of his speeches have been both the scriptures and the advertisements for his "Knowledge". He has far less devotees in the West now than he had then. He once told a story about his father showing his devotees he didn't need them to propagate either.
I mean, I'll tell you this story that happened with Shri Maharaj Ji. There were a few premies and they said, "Maharaj Ji, you cannot uh you cannot function without us, you know. We helped you a lot." And he said, "Oh yeah? That's what you think? So I'll tell you," he says, "All of you, all of you stay here and let me go out." So he took his dhoti and he just, just kurta, took tilak and he just looked beautiful, gorgeous and he walked right through the streets of Jwalapur. When people saw him, they just flipped out and they said, "Wow, you know, this is just what we have been looking for." When he reached the ashram back again, there was a crowd of seven to eight hundred people who had followed him, just followed him back, you know and it's like, really how Guru Maharaj Ji's grace works, in which ways it works, you know, you just, you can't even describe it. - Guru Maharaj Ji (aka Prem Rawat) Denver Colorado, 12th May 1974
"When no two people in this world, can describe even the process of drinking water the same way."
This is a fallacy that Prem Rawat has clung to for over 30 years and the drinking of water has been one of his most common examples. Interpersonal communication does not rely upon perfection for it's efficacy. The common experience of drinking water and speaking the same language is perfectly adequate for understanding. There is nothing special about this "Knowledge" and it's effects that prevent adequate communication and understanding. The failure of people to respond to Prem Rawat and his students shows that extremely good communication and understanding is occurring. People easily understand the discrepancy between what Rawat says and what his followers believe and what he is and the contrast Rawat's persona and the claims he makes for his Knowledge.
"Maharaji, why don't you come up with a leaflet that we can pass on to people talks about Knowledge, can't be done!. Maharaji, why don't you come up with a video that talks about Knowledge, can't be done! Maharaji, why don't you write a book on the subject of Knowledge, can't be done!"
After 40 years speaking English, Prem Rawat has still not mastered the language and so he may be incapable of authoring adequate media, but he has talented devotees that could easily write them. And he has had all his speeches recorded on video for 40 years and they all "talks about Knowledge". In the last few years, his followers have created a DVD course that teaches everything he claims people need to know. Creating leaflets, videos and books that will make this "Knowledge" attractive and be truthful, now that "can't be done".
"That it is not a subject that can be comprehended by this mind … but in my opinion flying an airplane is like that too."
it cannot be done, simply cannot be done. Experience rules supreme here not facts and fictions.
There's no point to be made by including this clip. I couldn't resist it because it's just so silly.
"Knowledge and all things associated with it are compliments of the Master. The Master doesn't want Knowledge sessions to happen, guess what? They're not happening. The Master changes the rules, creates the rules, disposes of these rules as the Master wishes. The possibility of Knowledge is brought to you by the compliments of your friendly Master."
"If you're borrowing your neighbour's car, the neighbour says, "Yes you may drive it" but one day the neighbour may say "No you may not drive it, I want my car back." You have to realize ownership of Knowledge resides with the Master. Hearing about Knowledge is a privilege."
For decades Rawat has repeated that recruitment is the most important service his followers can do. The "privilege" was given to anyone who might read a newspaper.
"And it would be great to shoot and achieve 100%. So this is where, this is where the difference starts to come up. Every person introduced to Knowledge ends up not only receiving Knowledge but practising as well. Broaden our horizons."
Here Rawat acknowledges a major problem. Many people who go through the long process to be allowed to "receive the Knowledge", who have listened to and presumably believed what they were told about the Knowledge, do not bother to practise the meditation techniques once they know the techniques are sticking your fingers on your eyes, your thumbs in your ears, rolling your tongue back and concentrating on your breath.
"You know there's one person in one of the communities and they've had incredibly succ high success rate in bringing people to Knowledge and of course one of the instructors got interested (mumbles) "How you do this?" and the guy said "Look what I do, I have gone in the Library and looked at all these videos and I choose the video for the person that I think will do them the best." Just that much little homework produced an incredible amount of result. Imagine if that starts to happen in all the communities."
Elan Vital has categorised Prem Rawat's recorded speeches depending upon whether they can be watched by 'new people', 'aspirants' or 'pwks' for decades. Rawat gives no figures or details, but if any homework entailed in communities it failed. My wife certainly came home from Amaroo and started vetting the videos (over 1,000 were stored at our home) they were showing at their local events.
"I think somebody is trying to tell us something. Am I mistaken there? You mean I think that's staring you in the face and saying if we come together, right, do our homework, we can actually change a lot of these outcomes."
While Elan Vital and Prem Rawat Foundation press releases, phony interviews, pamphlets and flyers all portray a growing and successful organisation with a fool proof method for attaining inner peace, here Prem Rawat acknowledges his very poor success rate in attracting new members and retaining the members they do manage to attract.
"There is a lot of people out there that are willing to listen to Knowl the introduction to Knowledge and wanting to receive Knowledge. It'll keep you busy for the rest of your life, don't worry about that."
It is quite likely that there is one premie who has achieved greater success in attracting and inspiring people because the bar has been set so low by the inability of premies to manifest anything that would attract new members. And they have an extraordinary burden to carry in their Master so that the Knowledge would actually have to be the Knowledge of God to convince many people to accept Rawat as their Master.
"When a lot of the mahatmas came to the West they brought with them immeasurable amount of concepts and it kinda went wild and there was no stopping it. The backlash of that I had to directly bear because people would ask me point blank these questions, "Are you this, are you that, you know, what is this, what is that?" Whereas, a event or a question and answer session was very informative for people because the questions were being dealt with, it slowly changed to where you were trying to lay down groundwork of what you are not or what you don't do, what you aren't you shouldn't expect will happen."
Nobody dared to ask Rawat what these "mahatma concepts" were. Everybody in the room knew that it was Rawat himself who had publicly claimed to be an incarnation of God, had publicly claimed he would bring peace to the world and demanded to be supplied with every possible luxury which was why he was being asked difficult questions.
"Well in a way that went on for an extremely long time and this is my key of bringing the history here. That people were very open to Knowledge, that people were very open to me and I really don't think that I have ever felt that that has changed. That people are still very open and when they listen and what they hear they're just as fascinated by it as they were when I was a little boy talking about the same stuff. So that's the good news, the bad news is that the concepts have really gotten us buried in a hole to this day where we're still having to defend ourselves, which I find pathetic, having to defend ourselves and say, "No these things are not true."
Rawat, himself, has been the main impediment to successful recruitment but this is something he cannot admit.
"So we cannot afford to perpetuate any concepts. Knowledge works, look you mean, let's face it, Knowledge works. The Master when given that right environment does his thing and it's great. It all works. Whatever we forge for the future we have to remember where we came from and we have to remember most importantly how incredibly dangerous, incredibly dangerous this stuff is. Shooting your mouth off is not innocent by any stretch of the imagination."
Rawat has consistently extolled his "Knowledge". However it "works" about as well as any minor cult religion. The great majority of people in the West who have tried it have rejected it because it doesn't work.
"What you say in your fuzzy feeling, you know what I mean fuzzy feeling when you're feeling nice and oh oooh so inspired, can be deadly dangerous. What you say cannot have any tolerance for mistakes. What do you think? Does this part of the history make any sense and why I'm bringing this up cause I see you in the same shoes. There's a lot more of you than there were of them. Comprende? Just playing Russian Roulette with a lot more guns. Your chances go up. I don't want to be in those shoes."
I'm not sure what is more offensive in this clip. His shallow derision of his followers' inspiration or his paranoid ranting that any mistaken comment by them is somehow dangerous. Elan Vital members do volunteer labour which they call 'service'. Elan Vital, whose members are mainly nice, peace-loving, middle-class people has probably spent more of it's members' time involved in 'security' that any comparable organisation in the world because of the "Master's" paranoia.
"But if you're gonna have doubts about it, if you and doubts sometimes comes you know even trying to compare other persons' experience "Oh well that person must have better experience than me." That that throws the doubt in there. It's over."
I'm sure, if only for myself, that thinking "that person must have better experience than me" was what kept doubts at bay. There definitely were people who enjoyed their practise of "Knowledge" more than I did, who were more committed and devoted and who were inspiring to me. Without that sort of comparison and belief Rawat would have even fewer followers, many have told me that their experience isn't as good as it should be because they don't practise enough.
"cause if you're not then you're gonna sit halfway half-baked between the belief system and what Knowledge means. Until that happens the history can never really be cleared up cause it still lives in that error, the shade of darkness still looms."
Rawat is putting the people here into a triple bind. He demands they transcend the belief system they have about Knowledge and speak only from their actual experience while they know that his accusations that the failure of his mission is due to false concepts spread by his former Indian followers (the mahatmas deserted him en masse in 1974) and themselves and that if not for this need for him to answer these pathetic questions (he's not allowed journalists to do real interviews since 1974) people would still be responding to him with openness and fascination is bullshit.
Elan Vital does not make a copy of this video available for general viewing and these clips were digitised from a poor quality copy. From here on the video and audio are slightly out of synch which can be considered a metaphorical reflection of Elan Vital and it's attempts to "synchronise" it's members behind their "Master".
"Right now there is something to the tone of 60,000 aspirants waiting for Knowledge. Should that number grow? Yes. How will it grow? It will grow if we become ready to respond."
One of the defining features of the premie community is their acceptance of anything Prem Rawat says. In 2000 there may well have been 60,000 aspirants but over 95% of them would have been in India, the second most populous country in the world where gurus are part of the normal religious background, a country where 10 million people can congregate for a religious festival. There was a period in the 1990s where Elan Vital prepared itself to respond to this future growth creating an organisation stucture in which most of the committed premies had titles and future responsibilities and numerous command structures, templates and formats were discussed and decided upon in interminable tele-conferences. Eventually the chimeral structure collapsed under the weight of First Class internet messages and lack of any aspirants.
"Have you forgotten that once you didn't have Knowledge either? And of all the journeys of up and ups and downs and doubts that you have gone somehow that could have been minimised or eliminated wouldn't that be nice? That when you after you received Knowledge that you would have had the strength not to get caught up in doubts but to be clear and continue to practice and enjoy and enjoy and enjoy and enjoy and enjoy."
Prem Rawat portrays a completely different picture of his followers' lives here in the relative privacy of a small group of his most devoted followers than the rosy picture he portrays in his public speeches. But even here where he is honest about the reality of their lives he contrasts the reality of their past lives with the fantasy of ongoing enjoyment in a never to be attained future.
"I I like I'm not I'm not really trying to say here what you should say and you shouldn't say I'm trying just bring out some understanding this time around because a long time ago I did say to people "Please don't say anything" and it was really a stop-gap measure and I'm revisiting that whole scene and I'm saying OK it is time to be actively involved and let's have this training and in this training what I'm trying to do is not put words in your mouth but try to give you some understanding so that you will understand there is no necessity to go out and say things that are bfsst"
Wouldn't 30 years of meditation and obedience be more than enough to teach these people, his most dedicated followers, not to say 'bfsst' but to talk sensibly, openly and truthfully. Any silly claims that may have been made in 1970 or 1971 had been well and truly forgotten by the mid 1970's by which time premies were avidly studying everything Prem Rawat said and those people who didn't conform to the Divine Light Mission 'party line' had either left or peer pressure had them keeping their "crazy ideas" to themselves.
"Let me make a card, let me make a brochure, let me make a video, let me make a disk, let me put up a web site. Let me say whatever I feel like today."
Those Rawats, they sure got rhythm and bliss. But then doesn't Rawat keep raving on about how this Knowledge is all about the heart, about feeling but yet he wants everything his devotees say about this "Knowledge", his "Knowledge", controlled by his mind.
"I don't know if you can present Knowledge as a course. Here watch 15 videos, it'll take 5 months and then you will be ready. This is much more of a personal journey. We can not start abdicating that responsibility by making it a course."
Prem Rawat was absolutely correct. "Knowledge" cannot be presented as a course on 15 videos, it takes more than 15 DVDs and it is "the Keys". The Keys is a course on DVDs that is just a repackaging of parts of his old speeches with fancy logos in a discreet folder. Elan Vital communities throughout the developed world were charged amounts to be raised by donations based upon their numbers and their country's GNP for the production and distribution costs.
"This is awakening the heart, quenching the thirst, connections that have been broken for so many years to re-establish those connections with the heart, with the thirst, with the want, the fulfillment. So how mechanical can you make a process like that?."
There's most of Prem Rawat's cliches of the last few years wrapped up in a few seconds. How mechanical? Pretty mechanical. People are introduced via watching TV or a DVD while anything personal is replaced by premies quoting material published by Elan Vital. The course to receive Knowledge is on a set of DVDs that must be watched in strict order. You "receive Knowledge" by watching a DVD. The only personal non-mechanical contact with Prem Rawat is filing past him as he sits on a throne and bowing or kissing his feet.
"You know and it's a it's a curious little history because there was a time where people would introduce Knowledge to other people and it was wild, it was absolutely, incredibly wild, I spoke 48 languages, in those days, walk on the wa, walking on water, no problem."
One of his ongoing criticisms is that his early followers claimed he could speak many languages though it was a claim that would provoke ridicule every time the young Rawat or Guru Maharaj Ji Ji as he called himself would speak in the West as he had a very poor command of English, the only language apart from his native Hindi that he could speak. After 30 or 40 years his English is still obviously a second language and he's still complaining that his devotees sabotaged his mission to bring peace to the world by saying he speaks 24 or 34 or 48 languages. He is such a chump he can't even remember how many languages it is that he doesn't speak. Not only couldn't he walk on water, he couldn't even swim.
"And an introduction of Knowledge was not based upon Knowledge not based upon those factors it was based upon 'Let me see if I can dazzle you because if I can dazzle you I got your attention'."
Naturally, there is very little documentary evidence of what premies said in the 1970's to new people though there is much documentary evidence that no-one tried to dazzle people with outrageous promises more than Rawat. However, what little there is and the memories of thousands of people who are no longer followers of Prem Rawat refutes this statement. Certainly, there was youthful enthusiasm, certainly premies said Prem Rawat was the Lord of the Universe. They learnt that title from the films and magazines that Divine Light Mission produced under the direction of the young Prem Rawat and his family and from hearing him speak in person. They claimed it was the Divine Light that was revealed by Guru Maharaj Ji that dazzled them oh and his glowing, glorious face and his feet.
"So then came a time when I said 'Please you know do me a favour don't say anything just pass on a video or something.'
It was a little more than a simple request. It was a direct order and so in the early 1980's premies ("lovers") of Prem Rawat were instructed to destroy all the documents, tapes and videos thay had of Guru Maharaj Ji and the ashrams ("monasteries") where poeple had lived for up to a decade dedicating their lives and finances to Prem Rawat were closed without any compensation being paid and the satsangs ("nightly public meetings") in which premies spoke of their experience of their lives while practising Knowledge were terminated.
"And I feel that the time has come where if we can have a broad spectrum of material that is available to people to pass on that it will severely curtail their fantastic imaginations and they will tend to synchronise their tend to"
Most of Prem Rawat's followers have had 45 years of meditation and for nearly 35 years he has been the sole voice in Élan Vital. They have listened to his speeches at least weekly during that time and yet they can still not be relied upon to tell the truth as he sees it. Their "fantastic imaginations" cannot be curbed but if he can just get them parroting the "material".
"One thing I was mentioning to someone, I said if we could bring, marry, merge, mix the enthusiasm of the 70s with the understanding of today and the technology of today, marry the two together, we'll come out way ahead of the game. (applause)"
The lack of enthusiasm in the applause reveals what a forlorn hope it is. In the 70's the great majority of premies were young and relatively innocent but most importantly they were telling people what they thought was the truth: that "Guru Maharaj Ji, though he looked like a fat brat and could barely speak English, was the incarnation of God, The Lord of the Universe and he was revealing the Knowledge of God and allowing his devotees to live with his Grace transforming their lives through the practise of 'Knowledge'".
"You have to have infinite patience, get it, cause you're gonna make that effort and nothing is gonna happen and you're gonna make that effort and nothing is gonna happen and you're gonna make that effort and nothing is gonna happen and you're gonna make that effort and nothing is gonna happen and nothing is gonna happen and."
then KABLAM! But 15 years have passed since 2000, still haven't heard the KABLAM!
"If they want it they will have it, if they don't want it fine. I'm not forcing it. This is not a religion."
My goodness what a relief. I had visions of roving teams of instructors chasing people down in the streets and sticking their fingers in your eyes, their thumbs in your ears, shouting out "You must concentrate on your breath and poke your tongue backwards but only gently!" while waving their arms up and down a few times in front of their chests and running off with "An hour a day, preferably in the mornings. Go forth and be peaceful or else!"
"I hope you get something out of it and I hope you remember something of it and I hope, most importantly it helps you. I think uh I think it's exciting if even a little bit of what we have discussed and talked about comes true it'll be more than any any fantasy fulfilled."
The hopes that Prem Rawat placed into the Training Sessions were not fulfilled. Propagation continued at extremely low levels and some of his long term followers became so disgusted when they saw Prem Rawat up close for extended periods of time that they apostasised which is why this information is available on the internet.