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The DECA Timeline My story summarized
 Posted by: Joe
 Date: 03/15/2005, 15:36:54
 Original URL: Click here (However, the link may be stale.)

I think I've talked about this in pieces, so here's the lurid, sensational, sad and ironic history as I recall it.  I'm sure I did meet you, and I actually have an image of someone I think might be you, but there were so many people in Miami at that time.

In 1979, I was asked by Dennis Marciniak (then President of EV) to quit my job in Chicago and transfer from the ashram there to Miami, to be part of IHQ of EV.  I had been in Chicago almost 3 years at the time, and had a good job with a law firm downtown.  I was ashram housefather, but also having a hard time as it was Rawat's Dark, Catholic, Devotional Period as you know.  Since I was not a gopi, and had a hard time relating to Rawat the person, was kind of repulsed by his form and his incoherent speech, I had a hard time listening to all the satsang about "longing for" and "loving the feet of" Rawat.

When I got to Miami I lived at the Broadripple.  My "service" was supposed to be to help develop cult businesses, but everything got sucked into the plane project at that time, so I spent most of my time trying to find people to donate money to the project, help the communites figure out how to raise money for it (they were lied to and told it was for a "world tour" but they were busily doing bake sales and car washes), and trying to find people (ie "bodies") to come work at the plane project and a couple of the other businesses that were beginning in Miami. (Tofu factory, security business, construction company, etc.).  EV was also  just moving to Miami from Denver.  I also looked for a building to house EV and I actually found the Alton Road office where it ended up.  It was an old A&P Supermarket building that had later been a savings and loan (one that probably went under).  So it had this kind of banking lobby and then offices in the back.

I remember spending time at what became DECA, and this was before they were in the big complex in Hialeah.  I dealt a lot with Michael Black, Randy Berringer, Hession and others.

Anyhow, EV was in crisis mode because the were flat broke.  All the money was going to the plane and to support Rawat's lavish lifestyle.  For example, there now had to be a palacial "residence" in Miami for Rawat and his brood, as well as for the sychophantic and clueless, and almost completely out of touch with reality,  Raja Ji and Claudia.  Took huge megabucks.  Plus, many of the ashram premies who were making money in the provinces were sent to Miami to work as slaves, and were no longer bringing in dough, and had to be fed.  So not as much money was coming in either.

So, after being at the Broadripple for a few months, and doing my "service" such as it was, IHQ made some cutbacks to save money, and I got sent to Washington DC to be the community coordinator.  I liked being in DC, and the people there, SO much more than Miami.  I had a relatively good time there.

Anyhow, at some point, Jim Hession flew up to DC to arrange for Rawat to fly back into the US from Europe with some private jet they had rented, and we spent time going to Dulles Airport to find out all the landing arrangements.  Hession looked like he was completely fried, probably hadn't slept in months, and I remember he slept in the car as I drove him around.  Anyhow, we also arranged to get thousands in cash from some premies, to have it available so Rawat could be properly treated to the luxuries he was used to, should he have to sustain the difficult hardship of having to stay overnight in the DC area, in the most luxurious hotel suite available.

Turned out that Rawat was able to fly directly back to Miami, so none of that came to pass.  Anyhow, Hession was "impressed" with me and asked Marciniak if I could go to DECA.  I remember when Dennis called me, I DID NOT WANT TO GO, but of course, I was an ashram premie, and I was to do what I was told.  I also want to say that Dennis was a helluva nice guy, very moral and ethical from what I ever saw, and he was very nice about all this, but at the time Rawat was criticizing EV and promoting DECA, and so Dennis really had no choice. 

So, I arrived in Miami a few weeks later, and was assigned to sleep on the floor of a room with FOUR other prmies in the particularly scummy "Algiers" Hotel.  What a pit.  I slept on the floor for a few months.  Not even a foam mat, just the carpeted (dirty) floor. At some point I moved back to the Broadripple where I actually slept in a bed..

Anyhow, I was assigned to the "legal department" which then became "finance/legal" at one point. It seemed to me that Hession and a few of the other honchos spent at least half their dime doing organizational charts, changing boxes, names, and Hession was absolutely possessive of those charts.  They were like holy scripture to him.  It did not appear that a whole lot was actually happening, but there seemed to be premies everywhere running around doing...whatever it was.

I worked with this nice, but completely-out-of-his-league hippie lawyer who got sent there from Boulder (I think he did landlord tenant law or something there), and with Linda Gross (who was then an attorney for the "office of Guru Maharaj Ji" and now President of EV)  in doing a lot of the corporate law arrangements  for DECA, which was at first "IMMCO" and then became "DECA" and the plane was owned by a bunch of shell corporations, etc., etc.  Linda did most of the corporate minute stuff.  Linda was also a really new lawyer, and I think a somewhat new premie.

I and the hippie lawyer used to also do aviation law research and we used to go to the University of Miami Law Library for that. 

I was also personally assigned the job of finding out what licenses and permits DECA needed to operate legally, since it had NONE.  I remember it was hard to do the work, because often the phones didn't work, you had to scrounge to get a car to go to City Hall (the cars seemed to be used for almost nothing than to get people to the chiropractor), etc.  It was nuts, completely inefficient, and would not in any way have existed if they had to pay wages or expenses.

So, I spent a lot of time on the phone, and at various govt. offices in Dade County.  I reported dutifully to Hession, that DECA was violating every law in the book, and that operating with, for example, no workers comp insurance would get us shut down in a second if the state ever found out.  We also lacked all the proper permits to do the kind of work being done, OSHA reporting, etc.

Workers comp. insurance (or proof of it) was required to get almost any permit.  And workers comp. insurance required an employer ID number, and the premium is based on payroll, and well, DECA didn't have any, nor was it withholding income taxes, paying social security, you name it, DECA was NOT doing it.  I reported all these problems, all of which would have been expensive to deal with, and DECA was just scratching by with big influxes of cash from Elan Vital's fundraising (partly coordinated by me in my earlier EV incarnation.)

Plus, if Florida found out that all these people were ostensibly working as "volunteers"  they would have investigated, and even in Florida, slavery is illegal, and even "volunteers" require workers comp insurance, etc.  The problems were endless, and we were trying to play catch up, and all we could really do is just try to raise more money to keep the lights on, and try to give the Lord what he wanted.  Obviously, Rawat did not bother his big head with any dangers his premies might be encountering.

So, a while later, Hession "fired" me (he didn't say "fire," he was saying that I didn't know how to "serve Guru Maharaj Ji" and how I was more interested in serving the other premies than Maharaji and that I was better off in "a community.")

I don't know if you recall, but Rawat was at that time saying that the premies at DECA were better than other premies, that they really understood service, or something.  This was repeated over and over, and really made me kind of ill.  So, many of the premies at DECA felt better or special, or privileged, and I think this was really internatlized.  So, being fired from there was a real put down, but I was secretly glad to get out of there, to tell you the truth.  It was so nuts, and I saw so many premies being abused in the way they were expected to work and the demands put on them.

So, by the end of 1979 or early 1980, sometime after the 1979 Kissimee swamp festival, they made me the community coordinator in Miami, replacing Booth Dyess, who could not wait to get out of that completely thankless job.  I remember Booth didn't even meet with me for any kind of transition.  He just split and went to work for Joe Anctil and his premie travel agency "AITTA," and the next time I saw booth he was delivering Joe Anctil's dry cleaning.

I did have two wonderful people on the staff, who became good friends.  Two wonderful people, Nancy Bloom and Eric Bergland.  They both were really funny and could make me laugh.  Those people really helped in an otherwise pretty awful situation, which I won't go into.

 I still went to lots of the satsang at DECA, when Rawat came there, and for other "events," but I actually began to kind of despise DECA, and way it kind of bulldozed over everything, and looked down on the community premies. 

As CC my office was in the IHQ building on Alton Road, and so I was kind of still in the belly of the beast.  That's where I saw, all the illegal emergency fundraising, when people came back to the office with briefcases full of cash (hundreds of thousands on a couple of occasions) for the plane project, and we depositied it no more than $10,000 at a time to avoid reporting under the treasury rules.

And I still lived in either the Broadripple or the "Surfside" hotel with all the DECA people, until some time later I found ashrams in Coral Gables for the official "Miami ashram."

Near the end of 1980, I got sent to San Francisco, and I was kind of on my way out of the cult by then, although it took a couple more years.  At Rawat's birthday party celebration in December, 1980, (or was it Holi in 1981? it was definitely at the Miami Airport) I was given a tour of the plane, which was almost completed at that point.  That's when I saw the gold toilet, the computerized shower, the vaguely Middle Eastern motif, and all the rest.




Re: The DECA Timeline My story summarized
 Posted by: Cynthia
 Date: 03/15/2005, 20:56:58
 Original URL: Click here (However, the link may be stale.)

Thanks Joe.  I think that should be on EPO.  There isn't enough about DECA on EPO, and I'm almost finished with mine.  It's close to a final draft, but (you know me) it would never fit in one post!  It has been hard for me to write so I wasn't able to do it all at once and I dropped it for a long time.  That belongs on EPO too.

The whole DECA era is key to how Rawat got premies to do exactly what he wanted, using illegal means, to enslave us even physically --all for his personal gain.  It was so unbelievably sick.

You mentioned David Coyne in anther post in this thread.  He used to drop by at DECA but I was always vague about what he did.  I know his famliy had money and he definitely was a hanger-on PAM type, but he also was an ashram premie living at the Broadripple.  What did David ever do, if anything?  I could never get a straight answer out of the guy and he NEVER did a thing when he hung out at the little IMMCO warehouse.  And I mean nothing.

But, back to your DECA story.  Was it May of 79 that you first went down to Miami or was it later, because if you came to the IMMCO/DECA warehouse after April, 1979, we had to have met?  It was pretty tiny. And my desk was two up from Randy's near the front door.

So, I arrived in Miami a few weeks later, and was assigned to sleep on the floor of a room with FOUR other prmies in the particularly scummy "Algiers" Hotel.  What a pit.  I slept on the floor for a few months.  Not even a foam mat, just the carpeted (dirty) floor. At some point I moved back to the Broadripple where I actually slept in a bed..

There was a lot of shuffling around all of the time.  Once I was out of DECA, but still around DLM (it was still DLM then, not EV yet, right?) I got moved a lot to those scummy cockroach, mold-infested Miami Beach hotels.  Even the cleaner ones stunk.  I did a little stint at the Algiers, too.  They tended to move us around a lot when Initiators came to town so the initiators could stay at the Broadripple, I think.  I moved more times in my life than I care to remember during the time I was an ashram premie.  No wonder I'm such a home-body now! 

I was never told the words "your fired" either, but I was just told that I was out because I was so sick.  It devastated me because I was one of the first to become sick from total exhaustion and I really felt that I was a total failure to Maharaji and every other premie was a better devotee than me.  Of course that was really reinforced when I started processing divorces at DLM so premies (fresh bodies) could move into the ashram and work on the project for no pay. It took me a long time to recover just from feeling like a failure, not to mention getting so run-down.

I still went to lots of the satsang at DECA, when Rawat came there, and for other "events," but I actually began to kind of despise DECA, and way it kind of bulldozed over everything, and looked down on the community premies. 

It's interesting you mentioned that Maharaji told the DECA premies they were better premies. I know he did.  He propped us up to use us.  But, we did get pretty inflated spiritual egos from it too, and I'm sure it showed.  Think about it.  The center of the Lord of the Universe was the DECA complex and we worked there. He gave us all of his attention, on purpose, to get his needs met.   I completely lost touch with the community premies and I was so out of it, I rarely went to satsang in Miami.  I was pumb too tired.  We did think we were "extra special" though, some more than others, too.  I remember there were a bunch of DECA folks that liked going to Miami for satsang and avoided satsang at the Complex.

Now, Joe, the extreme irony your being sent to SF is that when I was transferred to Gainesville, after DECA and my DLM stint, they came so close to sending me to San Francisco.  They told me it was either Florida or California. Damn it. I really wish they had sent me to SF, because Gainesville was such a boring, boring town!  Oh well, just rambling now...

Cynth 

 




Rawat's dehumanization of people -- setting the record
 Posted by: Joe
 Date: 03/16/2005, 13:09:43
 Original URL: Click here (However, the link may be stale.)

You mentioned David Coyne in anther post in this thread.  He used to drop by at DECA but I was always vague about what he did.  I know his famliy had money and he definitely was a hanger-on PAM type, but he also was an ashram premie living at the Broadripple.  What did David ever do, if anything?  I could never get a straight answer out of the guy and he NEVER did a thing when he hung out at the little IMMCO warehouse.  And I mean nothing.

The short answer is I don't know, but I always had the same question.  It always seemed that people like him, and Randy Prouty, and _____ Knight (what was his first name, this really elitist initiator?), Ron Coletta, John Hampton and a few others, were always vying for the position as Rawat's "friend" or something.  Clearly, David got to where he was because of his money, let's face it.  I remember he bought Rawat a Rolls Royce in the early 70s.  I assume that got the Lord's attention as expensive cars were always Rawat's thing.

But, back to your DECA story.  Was it May of 79 that you first went down to Miami or was it later, because if you came to the IMMCO/DECA warehouse after April, 1979, we had to have met?  It was pretty tiny. And my desk was two up from Randy's near the front door.

Well then, we did meet because my first intro to the plane was the IMMCO warehouse, getting a tour from Michael Black and I remember Randy Berringer up in front, well, because she was "up in front" (sexist I know, but I can't help it, and I'm gay so it can't really be sexist ), and I remember at the time they were doing a "mock up" of the plane for Rawat to play with, or something.  It was all in cardboard.  Useless, actually, but Rawat always was asking for stuff like that.

I can't recall the exact dates, because I was contacted by Dennis first, earlier in 1979 and told to quit my job and get ready to come to Miami (I think he wanted to get IHQ to Miami first), and then after Holi Festival, I met with everyone, and that might be when I first came to the IMMCO warehouse.  I was still believing the cult lie that we were all fundraising for a "world tour."  It was at Holi that I was told about what was really going on with the plane and all.  Of course, I felt privileged and special to have this "secret" information, which I was told to tell no one about, and I didn't.  I think I went back to Chicago briefly and returned right away, so it might have actually been April that I got there.

Actually, you mentioned "Sam" the woman from Chicago who was the interior designer doing furniture design for Prem and Raja Ji.  Since I was going to Miami, I was actually asked to drive a U-Haul with her furniture and belongings for her and her kid, since they were now living in Miami, doing that "service."  It was also a way to save money.

I think she was living with Janet Maggio (I will say nothing of her appearance lest you give me the "police" label again ) , who was also from Chicago, and was sort of the Hedda Hopper, or Rhona Barrett of the cult.  She always knew all the gossip on everyone and everything, and she worked for Joe Anctil, so that sort of fit.  I thought it was interesting because when I was in Chicago, Janet rarely spoke to me, preferring to cultivate friendships with people better connected in the cult.  When I got sent to Miami, and possibly had connections, Janet actually sought me out.

Actually, it was Janet who informed me, at the Kissimee swamp festival, that I had, in fact, been selected to be CC in Miami.  She knew well before I did, that's how "connected" Janet was.  (Of course, Janet had been a witch before she received knowledge, so maybe she had special powers.)

There was a lot of shuffling around all of the time.  Once I was out of DECA, but still around DLM (it was still DLM then, not EV yet, right?) I got moved a lot to those scummy cockroach, mold-infested Miami Beach hotels.

Yes, the FAAMM, (the Florida Association for the Advancement of Mold and Mildew) requires that all hotels more than 10 years old be properly mold infested, especially in carpets, drapes and mattresses.  I can testify that the DLM/EV hotels met all the requirements.

Actually the Surfside, which arrived somewhat late on the scene, was the nicest hotel I lived in, although it was pretty basic.  It had nice views and no EV/DECA honchos strutting around.  It was just the lowly folks who worked as carpenters at DECA and us lowly community people.  I rather enjoyed that place.  I remember during the winter, it actually got cold in Miami Beach, and I opened my window and let the cold air blow in from the ocean, longing for more temperate climates.

BTW -- did you recall that the Hare Krishnas lived in the hotel next door?  They actually came by a couple of times to do "outreach" as we ate breakfast.  Yes, that part of Collins Avenue, I think due to the delapidated hotels and cheap housing, could easily have been called "Cult Street."  But I think the Rawat cult had the most hotels, at least about 4 at any one time as I recall.

I was never told the words "your fired" either, but I was just told that I was out because I was so sick.  It devastated me because I was one of the first to become sick from total exhaustion and I really felt that I was a total failure to Maharaji and every other premie was a better devotee than me

God, I can relate.  The truth is, we were totally expendable, just commodities to serve the Lord and if you wore out, they threw you away and somebody else was in line to do the service they thought would be so blissful.  It was totally dehumanizing and it happened to lots of people.  Frankly, I think one of the reasons I was "fired" wasn't only that I was the bearer of bad news and was too concerned about the safety of the premies and not enough about serving Rawat damn the cost, but also because I refused to act like a chicken with my head cut off in doing "service."  There was this vibe that if you didn't work around the clock and crash out on the floor at DECA, you really weren't doing "service" or even understanding what "service" was.   You just weren't a real devotee.

I remember one time the fanatic David Smith told me (a couple years later), that I had failed to properly "take up the sword of service." (Exact quote.  I remember I told my friend Richie Azzarone what Smith had said, and he laughed so hard he acutally had tears running down his face and choked on something.  Thanks to Richie, for stopping my feelings of guilt cold.)

I saw a lot of energy at DECA accomplishing nothing.   A lot of it was meaningless busy work with no management whatsoever.  So, you took a step back, you tended to not get caught up in the whirlwind, and that's partly what happened to me.  I can't tell you how many times at DECA that I delayed in doing something I was told, because I knew that by the next day, it would be either useless, or counterproductive to have done it.  Things changed daily, there was no plan.  This is partly because Rawat was micromanaging, changing everything and asking for reallly stupid stuff, unrelated to the plane, just because he could, and he would not be questioned.  He was always asking for reports, for example, that made no sense whatsoever.

But the fact is, a cult that could make you feel guilty for being a human being is completely destructive, and that's the kind of cult we were in.  So, I can really feel for what you went through and even just thinking back on it, it makes me angry that people were treated like that.

We did think we were "extra special" though, some more than others, too.  I remember there were a bunch of DECA folks that liked going to Miami for satsang and avoided satsang at the Complex.

I actually tried to really liven up the satsang programs in Miami to get more of the "special" premies to attend.  If Joan Apter, or Jagdeo, or Charanand were there, then more would show up.  But Miami was such a huge premie community, that we regularly had 800-1000 premies show up for nightly satsang, in our decrepit, fire trap, former Baptist Church on Biscayne Boulevard.  But I don't think everyone at DECA was feeling superior to the other premies.  Some people really were kind of humble -- I guess those were the saints.

Actually, I think some premies who look back on the dehumanization that was DECA and aren't appalled, do it from the standpoint of still thinking they were some kind of special devotee for having been there, and how lucky they were and, again, it was for Rawat and therefore exempt from the values you would impose on any other situation you would look at..   Of course the cult itself would really like to erase DECA from the history books.  That's why you, Cynthia, are one of their enemies.  Thorns in the side come to mind, and you do a very good job of it.

I have to say, getting sent to San Francisco, was one of the good things, in the long run, that happened in the cult.  Even after all these years, I do love it here.  But even at the time, I wasn't so much thinking about how great it would be to go to San Francisco, I wanted to leave Miami because I was terrified that if I stayed there, I would leave the cult.  I felt that if I got sent away from the madness there, away from the misery I saw so many premies going through, I could once again be a devotee.  In the end, that didn't work.

 


5 Brighter than 1000 suns as seen through night vision goggles
4 As bright as the lights on Maharaji's jet
3 As bright as a 60 watt light bulb
2 As bright as a pile of burning ghi on a swinging arti tray
1 As bright as the inner light as seen by the third eye

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