Dear AJW and all others in this conversation including Glen,
The only one of you I remember personally is Glen Whitaker. I am Katie, formerly Jones and then Baier and now Darling. I was an English premie (now living in U.S. for 20-some years) who was sent by MataJi to Spain and then by Maharaji to South America. Remember me Glen?
My story is in journeys under Katie Masters-Darling, I think. My website is www.motherwave.com.
Thanks, all of you, for having the courage and stamina to go into these old "secrets" in an articulate, and as someone mentioned, non-attacking, way. After leaving the cult in the early 80's I became a therapist and as part of the unravelling of my experience and those of others who came to me, who included many premies and instructors, I became very interested in the whole subject of how cults parallel dysfunctional families. There is a lot of good writing on this which I have found very helpful. One of the best sources of this information is some old isues of the magazine Yoga Journal, who pioneered a lot of the "outings" of abusive gurus and cults. There is also incredible information somewhere in cyberspace (it's been years) in which various cults debate their gurus' abuses. I have read long threads in the noticeboards of Sogyal Rinpoche and also followers of Sidha Yoga, in which people argue with each other. The discussion goes something like this: Former follower: "I got diddled(sexually abused) bythe Guru, or by his representative." (Reply from faithful follower:" Why do you have to be so negative, why can't you put it all behind you?" OR: "You liar, this is literally impossible since he/she is God!"
I read these threads many years ago, but I'm sure many similar discussions are still going on. I recently spent 2 weeks in a yoga ashram to have a rest. A newcomer asked the swami about their late guru's sexual abuses and the swami started lambasting her--even though in this particular case it's a well-known and acknowledged fact, reported by about a dozen teenage girls, that their "Satguru" had this hidden flaw. The whole room was snarling in palpable hostility towards this "troublemaker."
It's interesting to see this dynamic starting to emerge around our Ex-Lord! I am really interested in supporting anyone who feels they were abused in any way in having a place where they can speak it out. Not necessarily to bring legal action (unless it's really appropriate) but to bring the healing that is still needed, even 25 years later. Things don't go away with time, by being covered up, much as abusers and their enablers might wish so. (Glen, don't be the enabler to an abuser!) I've worked with clients in their 80's who are still suffering from some abuse from their childhoods--and it's not so much the FACT of the abuse, but the denial of it, that causes it to stick in their throat, or somewhere in their emotional body.
I remember in London in the old Palace of Peace days, when I spent a few months in a Dulwich ashram between being in Spain and South America, there was a Mahatma who came over from India, who was being waited on by a female premie. He sexually abused her in some way, and was immediately sent back to India. I remember her telling me this, and the strongest part of the memory is the anguish that I felt from her. She was definitely not receiving any support at all, emotionally, and the emotional climate, as I recall it, was pretty unbelievably chilly. I wonder how she is doing? I can't remember the Mahatma's name, or hers, although both are on the tip of my tongue. I am mentioning this because I have all kinds of memories of various kinds of abuse, and I want to invite people to express theirs. This was a huge cult that we were part of. Sometimes the Western programs had thousands of people at them. Lots of major and minor abuses happened. While there is now in our culture a fairly well-established forum forpeople to get help with clearing old memories of family sexual and other abuse, it is much less well-known that there is a whole slew of people who lived this out in cults, with the abuser that everyone is protecting being not the physical but the spiritual father. In families, siblings also often abuse each other, often acting out the abuse they are receiving from a parent, and this is another kind of abuse that occurs in cults.
My personal memories of 12 years of full-time service, satsang and meditation contain hundreds of examples of what might be called "sibling" abuse--situations where people in charge of other people's lives, on behalf of the Lord, as it were, treated me and others with incredible cruelty and heartlessness, in the name of detachment and service, no doubt. This inhumanity between people is probably the biggest traumatic memory I still carry traces of even after nearly 15 years of working with quite leading edge therapeutic and, yes, spiritual technologies to clear this imprinting out of my nervous system. I feel pretty clear, but sometimes I have these dreams where a bunch of people are fighting each other to try to get close to the central "Source person" (who was Maharaji for many of us for a long time).
I have some suggestions of kinds of abuse that people might be healed by "coming out" about.
Ultimately we're all responsible for our choices, blah blah blah, and it's all a big learning experience, blah, blah, blah. But part of getting the real learning out of the whole thing is to unravel it, not just leave it as a knot somewhere deep inside you, sapping your energy and perhaps eventually killing you off, or at least diminishing your joy and aliveness. All the bliss and joy and hopeful vision that you ever experienced with Maharaji came from inside YOU and is still available. You can reaccess it. Part of the journey is to tell the truth about what happened. That's the best way to really "put it behind you."
- If you lived with Mahraji you know that he treated many of the people around him in tyrannical, often shaming ways. For example, if you were gay and lived with him, what did he call you?
- If you were an initiator/instructor, you were terrified to your very soul by Maharaji in the name of "For Your Own Good" (read this excellent book on child abuse by Alice Miller). Remember the Tucson Initiators meeting? (I happened to be sort of half-there, and I saw and felt you when you came out of it, and some of you told be the verbal abuse you had received, and you probably have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from this unless you've done something about it).
- Were you an ashram premie? Were your basic needs met? Did you have your health needs met? Were you made to feel that your health needs were costing too much when the money ought to be spent on a new luxury vehicle for God Incarnate? This is incredibly demeaning to your human value! If you don't see this as abuse, you are still in the middle of it!
- Did you live around Maharaji and observe his alcoholism? Were you part of the crew who was allowed to see the "X-rated" stuff that Maharaji did (this phrase, "X-rated" was the code used by the people around Maharaji to designate something like your "security clearance"). The X-rated clearance people were allowed to see (or actually prepare) the bottles of brandy and other drugs that Maharaji had to have laid out after a program. I learned all this from someone close to Maharaji that I was very close to for a long time. If you were there, come out!
- If you lived with Maharaji, did he ever physically abuse you? Example: in India, he would play "lilas" in which he fed food containing stones and rocks to his devotees, who were, of course "blissed-out" at this divine game. I travelled with a BaiJi who recounted this, and was clearly confused between the pain and rage from the abuse, and the need to realize that it was "for her own good."
- Do you know about Maharaji's financial abuses? I have friends who worked in accounting positions who roll their eyes at the memory.
- When Maharaji reopened the ashrams in the late seventies, did you feel coerced into leaving your family to be a true devotee? What effect did this have on your life, emotionally?
- When the ashrams closed, did you find yourself lost, without financial, emotional or mental resources to cope with life, having given up everything, you thought, for life, and understood that the deal was that by doing this, Maharaji would be your lifelong refuge. Are you still recovering from this? Had you foresworn education or an inheritance or relationships which has made it hard for you to function successfully? Do you feel ashamed about this, like something is wrong with you? YOU WERE BETRAYED AND ABUSED!
Hope this helps someone. If you e-mail me, please put the name KATIE in the subject line, as AOL has so much junk mail I don't know what's real.
Love Katie Masters-Darling