One of the more intense experiences I had while involved in the cult was at the Lingfield festival around about 1980. The venue was a horse race track in the Surrey countryside a few miles south of London.
Having blown my further education in order to follow the big M, I took up a career in building in order to pay the bills and get to festivals. Being a carpenter was useful to M. Whether the project was the next big stage-set or the new wardrobe at the residence a carpenter never had to sit for long in the service pool.
I quit my job in London, gathered my tools and camping kit together, kissed my girlfriend goodbye and set off. My girlfriend was also a premie so she came to expect my absence whenever there was a stage to be built.
I arrived at Lingfeild about a week before the kick off. A team of premies were already installed and the basic structure of the stage was taking shape. I was put to work immediatly under the instructions of an Amercan co-ordinator, a fella called Speedy, he was a nice guy.
It was an over ambitious project, typical of the designs that were popular then. There was an enormous covered stage upfront of course, but what most premies didn't see was the elaborate living area built out back. Even though Maraji's residence was only a short drive away facilitiess would be provided so he could live within the backstage area with all the comforts to which he was accustomed should he so desire. No effort or expense was spared.
Now, one of the curious things I noticed about these projects was the lack of facilities provided to the carpenters who were expected to create all this. Although the timber was supplied the carpenters would be expected to supply all the tools and plant where possible, by themselves. I had a good set of hand tools but they were not really designed to cut the ammount of timber nessesary to build a massive stage in so short a time period. Because of the lack of heavy power tools much of the work was undertaken using hand tools and so would take far longer than nessesary. There was always a lack of hammers. I was forever having to chase after other premies who were stealing my tools so they could do a bit somewhere else. I remember having a real hard time trying to justify that my tools belonged to me and not Maraji, after all I needed them for work in the real world as well. Surrender brother. On every project I worked on there would be the skilled carpenters and then a mass of unskilled but
enthusiastic premies wanting to do service without understanding what they were doing. They felt they had a purpose if they had either a hammer or a staple gun in their hand. Needless to say it was pretty chaotic throughout the site despite the best efforts of the co-ordinators.
It was hard work and the hours were long. I was putting in at least sixteen hours work a day before crawling back to my tent. All food and drink had to be paid for by the individuals and it wasn't cheap. Because I was working so hard I needed the extra nutrition so had to spend more on food. I didn't realize it at the time but I would pay a much heavier price for this later.
As the countdown to the festival began (the last couple of days of building) a panic was setting in. There was still masses of stuff to do. The living quarters alone had become such a task what with the kids play area, the water features and the laying of astro turf on the raised courtyard, that it had drawn attention away from the stage itself. Nobody was sure if we could complete it on time. Eventually the word went out that M was on his way to see how we were getting on. It was early afternoon when all the carpenters were asked to assemble in a small marquee tent to the side of the stage. We all knew we were about to have a taste of darshan, the excitement was mounting. I had always been told that service was the way to get close to the Lord and now that was to become true, for me.
In the tent our co-ordinators sat us down on the grass and gave satsang as we waited. Some cars could be heard pulling up outside. A couple of fellas looking like secret service agents came through into the tent. They were dressed in expensive suits and wore RayBans. They took command from our building co-ordinators and pushed them further back into the tent to join us ordinary blokes. I couldn't understand what was happening over the next few minutes with all these new security guys rushing around. They all had walkie-talkies and chattered away into them. They insisted that we all stand up and move further to the back of the tent. We all got up and shuffled backwards. The tent had been used for storage and the back row of guys had their backs against a firm wall of stacked timber. We couldn't move back any more. "No, move back further" we were ordered. The shuffling continued, we were like sardines, backs pressed into fronts it was most uncomfortable. The secret service guys were really
getting frantic now. "Sit down, sit down!" they ordered. I couldn't move. We were all so close together there was no room to flex our bodies. The secret service agents were standing the front gesturing to sit as Maraji walked to the open side of the tent. So if you can picture this at one side of the tent, dressed casually in shirt and trousers was Maragi and at the other side, separated by say fifteen to twenty feet (5 meters) were about thirty weary carpenters squashed together and sitting on each others knees. It was a bizarre sight and it was excruciatingly painful. Why the distance? Did Marajy think someone would throw a chisel at him?
The security guys stood to the sides of the tent door. Maraji never really got inside the tent he just stood in the door and proceeded to bollock us all for not doing a good enough job. He didn't speek to us kindly or talk in reassuring tones. He sounded impatient and annoyed at the delay. What I remember him saying best was that after 9 o'clock on Saturday morning he didn't want to hear another hammer bang. We were all freaked out but muffled our emotions.
Most of friday I spent with a brother from my home community installing fixtures like curtain tracks and trims in all the bedrooms and living areas. There were others working on the finer points of the main stage. Around about eight o'clock in the evening Speedy came to us to ask if we could help with sort out a problem that had arisen.
Somebody decided it would be nice if the speaker monitors normally placed on the front of the stage floor could be relocated up in the roof above M's head. This way everybody in the audience would get a good view of the lotus feet. The problem was that somebody had cut so severely into the supporting rafters of the roof in order to make space for these heavy bulky monitors, there was a very real risk that the whole roof might collapse on M's head. My pal and I were assigned the task of rescuing the roof. We were joined by another premie, an American called George. He was a very funny guy, I never saw him after that night. We would have to work through the night to fix it. We were very tired conditions were poor and it was dangerous, but our spirits were still high.
In the very early hours of the morning a guy called Nick Seymore-Jones came onto the stage. He demanded that everybody stop while he say something of great importance.
"Do you know who is coming to sit on this stage in six hours from now?" he cried. I was looking down at the top of his head wondering what would happen if my hammer was to fall. "Well!?" he yelled. "Do you know?"
For a second I was so startled I think I might have answered "Liberace?".
"The Lord of the Universe! That's who! Do you all understand, Maharaji is the Lord of the Universe! And after 9 o'clock he doesn't want to hear another hammer to bang. You guys had better do the best night's work you've ever done. Do you all understand!!" My hand holding the hammer was getting very slippery.
My pal looked at me from where he was perched on another roof beam. "He's in his head Charlie, forget about him". We plodded on and completed the reinforcements by dawn.
As the birds began to whistle in the morning light, exhausted I dragged my toolkit back up the hill to my tent. My girlfriend had arrived at sometime during the previous evening and was asleep in the tent. I crawled in along side and passed out.
Saturday morning I was a wreck. My girlfriend had gone on to register while I was still spark out. When I awoke she was gone. I gathered myself together and headed off to join the crowd of premies assembling at the main gate. During the night the final security fences had been put in place and I had to get in the line with everyone else to register for entry. It was at that point that I realized that when I had been buying extra bowls of brown rice to keep me going through the stage building, I had been eating into my 30 GBPounds registration fee. I only had fifteen remaining.
I explained at the desk that I had been working for over a week building the stage and had run low on cash. The girl at the desk told me that wasn't a good enough story. "You need to pay to get in brother. Can you raise the money some other way?" she asked. "No, my girlfriend has already gone in, I'm by myself" I explained. "I'm sorry brother, you must raise the money some other way" was her response.
I went back outside the registration office to consider my next move. I was too tired to explode with anger but my emotions for freyed. I was very mixed up and feeling quite sorry for myself. What has happened. I've worked my arse off building a luxury stage for over a week, putting in hours that nobody would be expected to work in the real world. I did this work for no pay plus I had to support myself. I've been bollocked by the boss and now I've been told to fuck off. All I wanted to do was to go home. "No, I must surrender more, it's a lila" I told myself "this is a lesson in humility".
I walked to the edge of the road where premies were entering the site and began to beg for my entrance fee. "Please, can you spare some change so that I can get to see Maharaji" I said over and over as they filed by. I half expected symathetic premies to come running to my aid but nobody wanted to look at me, eyes flitted away like they do on public trains and buses. Sorry brother I've only enough for myself. I can't really remember how long I stood there with my begging bowl but eventually with only the price of a can of Coke it all became too much. I began to tremble and my eyes filled with tears. I was a heap of garbage on the roadside. In my emotinal outporing I had the most peculiar thought. Are these hot tears or cool tears that I'm crying? I was told that the tears we cry for the world are hot but the tears of love shed for Maharaji are cool. It was clear to me I was cracking up.
I was on my knees when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see who it was wanted my attention. "Charlie, are ye OK?" came a friendly voice. It was Bo, a Scottish aspirant I knew from London. I explained my predicament to him. "Don't worry about those cunts Charlie, I'll help ye get in." He showed me how you could get somebody to go into the festival, who would then persuade somebody else to give up their entrance bracelet which they would bring back out to you. I thanked him for his kind thoughts but I couldn't get my head around the idea of breaking into the festival that I'd just sweated a week of my life away trying to build. "No Charlie" he assured me "the security don't check if the bracelet is damaged, it's fuckin' easy man". I thanked him again but just couldn't go that far. Right about then another premie who had been watching came across. "Come with me, we'll get this straightened out." She took me back into the ticket office and stood with me while I explained again.
After some time I was allowed to make out an I.O.U. to Divine Light Mission for the fifteen pounds outstanding. I was given my entrance bracelet and was free to go on in.
It was all explained to me that Maharaji had nothing to do with my bad experiences it was just bad luck and dealing with premies who were in their heads.
It was a wretched festival.