Hi Helen - and what a revealing thing for Joan Aptor to say.
This discussion reminds me of community satsang and the way premies would use their 'opportunity to share' as a kind of pressure valve for the mind. Every night some maya-bruised brother or sister would take to the satsang chair and go:
'...and it's like... my mind just comes in and says 'This whole trip is crazy ... that Guru Maharaj Ji is only in it for the money ... that it's just brainwashing or something...''
(At this point the whole satsang room chuckles merrily in recognition of a shared, all-too-familiar experience and each premie thinks 'What a relief - I am not alone in my confusion.')
Premie Ji continues: '...but then I know I just have to turn inside and find that focus, that inner connection, that love, that thing which is perfect..(blah blah)... so I can see my mind for what it is - something that is trying to take me away from that Perfect Master ... that Perfect Love ... that presence... that incredible
(Mixture of smiles, sighs, nods and more shared relief that there really IS an escape from the burden of our minds - and we are so fortunate to have found it, and so fortunate to be here right now being reminded of it... just to have this precious opportunity... thank-you, Maharaj ji...)
Or you would get the premie who was really going through something and finding it all a bit too much:
'...and sometimes my heart just feels so bleak as if Guru Maharaj Ji has deserted me... and I am just so deperate... sometimes it is just so hard to find that connection... And I don't know whether I will be able to stick the course... my mind is just SO powerful trying to take me away from his Lotus feet... And I just know I am so unworthy of his love... so unable to practice this perfect knowledge... I look for the experience but it doesn't seem to be there...'
(Brotherly/sisterly concern on premies' faces, though the odd trace of a frown here or there when it is remembered that
the spacer sharing hasn't been in satsang for the last two nights or contributed a button to community funds, so what can they expect..?!)
But all's well that ends well...
'...but I just know that I have no choice. Even if I can't feel that connection to Guru Maharaji right now, I just have to hang on in there and keep making that effort, keep praying for his Grace to deliver me from my confusion... I mean... (slight moistening of the eye)... NONE OF US is worthy of this experience and none of us should take it for granted that it will always be there or and it will always be blissful. We have to ask ourselves what is Guru Maharaj Ji teaching us? What is he trying to show me...? And it's just like Guru Maharaj ji saying what he always says: you HAVE TO get rid of that crazy ego. Stop thinking that YOU can do it, because you CAN'T DO IT. Did Maharaji really let me down, or did I turn away from him to do my own thing... because if we walk away from his shelter thinking we can just walk back in
again we must face the consequences...because the mind will get us, every time. So all we can do is make that effort - so much MORE effort - pay to Maharaji for the Grace to make more effort...and then only by his Grace will that experience come...'
(Premie does quick shamefaced pranam to the altar and slips quietly back to the cushion in the corner. Chastened, the assembled gathering make internal note to make more effort from hereonin and silently thank Maharaji for the timely reminder of their wretched inadequacy in the face of his everlasting gloriousness. Then they all sing Arti, solemn-faced and hurry home to meditate with a bit more effort than before.)
Don't you think the communal-therapy was a major factor that provided the social glue for the cult? And that Margie made a serious error of judgement when he imagined that premies would prefer a video-only experience. The mass fallaway in numbers around 1982 certainly coincided with the end of satsang as we knew it. (Prehaps premies finallysuccumbed to their minds - praise the lord!)