yon can shine your shoes and wear a suit yon can comh your huir and look quite cute yon can hide your face behinda smile one tlüng, yon can t hide is wiwn you're crippled inside -John Lennon Aü genuino knowtedge originates in direct experience -Mao Tse-tung Eight months among the premies of Gurú Mahara Ji convinced me that the Knowledge so desperately sought by the Goo's millions of mindless minions leaves its seekers crippled inside. Despite the blissful smiles, premies are crippled by their addiction to the emotional security blanket they cali Knowledge. It is no wonder they medítate under the protective cover of their little flannel blankets. The premies will tel] you that they medítate under blankets to keep secret the techniques of Knowledge revealed in the Knowledge session. And since I was told hundreds of times that I could not comprehend what the Goo was all about until I had received Knowledge - Marsh; and I hung around the Rainbow Inn in Houston for days after Millenium '73 was over at the Astrodome just to receive this knowledge. For the uninitiated, Knowledge is a series of four experiences, taught tlirough four meditation techniques, wliich are supposed to satisfy even the most skeptical person's criteria for proof of the existence of that basic life force or energy which Western minds have traditionally named the Soul. According to the theology of the Goo's Devine Light Mission, only a perfect master can reveal this Knowledge - although some premies will admit that occasional rare saints are capable of attaining it themselves. When I first heard this rap (satsang), I thought that these premies were speaking either from great conviction or from very limited life experience. The answer came one night at the DLM ashram in San Francisco when I heard a fresh, new premie describe his great spiritual quest out of New York City in search of The Answer. He got as far as New Jersey, where he met some premies who turned him on to the Goo. Some premies have done even more shopping than that. Many profess to have been followers of one or more Gurus for the last four or five years. Most have been into some yoga or meditation discipline, but were unsatisfied with it. The Knowledge session "failed" to convert me because Í could not work myself up into the emotional state of the true believer. Something in my mind kept screaming "bullshit". So I was saved from premiehood. The bullshit carne when I was given, both in satsang and the Knowledge session, the prior "correct" interpretation of the four experiences. This is because, as Mao says, all genuine knowledge originates in direct experience You cannot draw a line between four of your experiences and all the rest of them. It just doesn't work. Inside the Knowledge session, I found that most of the Goo's theory is traditional Hinduism, modernized with a potpourri of quotes from all other major world religions that tend to reinforce the basic party line of DLM. The tradition of the Perfect Master and the world-wide succession of Perfect Masters giving Knowledge to their followers in return for total devotion has been wholly manufactured to meet the needs of the Goo's organization. There is no outside evidence to support their fantasy. And there are several other claiments to the throne of Lord of the Universe. The setting for the Knowledge session would be familiar to most people. At the Rainbow Inn, 400 to 500 people waiting to receive Knowledge gather'ed in a ballroom for the selection process. Selection involves a mahatma (high soul) asking questions such as how many satsang sessions one has attended, whether one has a Gurú already and is ready to denounce him (where are the women Gurus?), whether one has had drugs or alcohol in the last two weeks and whether one is ready to dedícate his life to the Goo. About 30 of us were chosen for my Knowledge session. The idea was to process the whole waiting group in batches of 30 until everyone had received Knowledge. Even with 10 or 12 mahatmas and three or four Knowledge session rooms, this took four days; each beginning at 8am and running until 10 or 1 lpm. A typical knowledge session runs five to eight hours, mine ran nine. The 30 of us were herded into a large room with blankets tacked over the Windows and four-inch foam pads placed in neat rows around the room. The main mahatma and his mahatma helper both sat in low chairs. It is unholy for a person to sit or stand higher than a mahatma. The room is dark except for the candles on the altar with some flowers and the ever-present picture of the Goo. Some incensé is burning. We settle into our half-assed attempts at the lotus position and the mahatma begins nis long, low monotone rap that lulls you into the receptive stupor. It's a lot like low level hypnosis, but no deep trance stuff. After four or five hours of non-stop rapping, we have a small break to pee and eat, if we can. I snuck out on the sun roof and had a cigarette because I didn't have a joint. Then we gathered again for the heavy shit - we were finally going to receive Knowledge. Just before the actual initiation began, some other heavy shit went down. Each of us was expected to fall on our knees and stretch out full length towards the altar, while dedicating our life 'to the Goo and swearing never to reveal the secrets of the Knowledge session. Then each of us approached the altar to make some small offering. Most of us gave fruit, some gave watches or other jewelry and a few gave money. Then the main attraction came on. The lights were dimmed, we were asked to close our eyes, then there was a scurrying, rustling sound. I peeked and saw seven or eight mahatmas come in and wait while our main mahatma gave us the rap about the first of these experiences and techniques - the Divine Light. To make you see the Divine Light, a mahatma takes his thumb and middle finger and places them gently on the outsides of your eyeballs while touching the first finger to the middle of your forehead, the traditional location of your "third eye". He then pushes inward and slightly upward until your retina retenes and you see diamond shaped checkerboards of white or yellow and black or blue light. Some people reported seeing balls of light, flashes of lightning and, finally, a merging into a spot of pure, white light of intense brilliance. We all practice the light for 20 minutes, while the main mahatma raps on about its significance and quotes from various scriptures. The floating gang of mahatmas lea ves to assist in another Knowledge session. Next came the Divine Music - the choirs of angels and harmony of the spheres. To hear the divine music, we are instructed to insert our thumbs into our ears, press slightly, and wait. I wait and I wait and finally I hear a waterfall. Then I realize that I am hearing the air trapped between my ear drum and my thumb as it vibrates to the air conditioner. I am also hearing the blood as it pumps through the veins and arteries near my ear drum and I hear somethirïg I cali the "60 cycle hum," which some people cali a ringing in their ears. We practice the music. Then comes the Nector - the mana of the Bible, the food of prophets meditating in the desert. To experience the nector, we are told to reach our tongues back down our throats as far as possible. The main mahatma quickly adds that few, if any, of us will experience anything because this technique takes a long time to master. I tasted what polite people cali "post -nasal drip". Some mahatmas advocate using the first two fingers to assist in pushing the tongue back to the soft palate. The last of the four techniques is the Word. This is the unspeakable name of God, "In the beginning was the Word," etc. The word is the most important of the four techniques because you can do it all day long - and should, we are told, To do the word, we quiet our minds and breathe deeply. The rush of air in and out of the body is the word. This is the same mantra that Allen Ginsburg has been using for years. It's centuries old and contained in most yoga books. Sure, it works. I've been using it for a year in my meditation. Try it yourself - but don't join anybody's anything because of it. The Knowledge session is over. That's it. The fruit has been cut up and put on a píate by a premie who has been attending to the needs of the mahatmas throughout the session. The watches and jewelry are returned to their owners. The main mahatma pockets the money. We get up and depart quietly, alone, as if we were ashamed to look one another in the eye and admit that we had been had by a second rate magie show, taken in bythis spiritual shell game. Marsha reponed the same phenomena in her session. Is this theway one beha ves when he or she has just experienced their soul? Is this the joy of the kingdom of heaven? No body wanted to share their love and enthusiasm because there wasn't any to share. We were tired and hungry and let down. That's it. That's the Knowledge that motivated Rennie Davis and 30,000 other young Americans to receive Knowledge. At least 1 ,200 to 1 ,500 bought the line and moved into an ashram or premie house. A fïnger in the eye, a thumb in the ear, a taste of snot and a deep breath - not much to build a heaven out of, unless you really want to believe or need to believe. . Later, in checking it out, I found that the Light was well known to eye doctors. It is a condition resulting from the shutting off of the blood flow to the main artery of the eye. It's fun to play with once or twice, but it can and does lead to permanent eye damage - which is why my mother stopped me from doing it when I first discovered it at two or three years of age. I don't know how to end this story, because in a real sense it has no end. As I read history, there have always been spiritual leaders, bogus and otherwise, who have appeared to head a mass movement. The Falani wars, the Crusades in the Holy Land, the jihads of the Turkish Moslems, the Middle East today, the Russian Jews, th: pograms, the Inquisition. the Salem witch hunts - all are manifestations of this urge to escape personal responsibility for one"s own life by finding a savior who will "die for your sins" or "take all your bad karma". If you've got bad karma, it's yours. If you sin, you sin. No power in the universe can remove personal responsibility. The devil can't make you do anything. Only you can destroy yourself. And the one thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside. Steve Haines is a f ree lance journalist who has reponed for the Chicago Daily News, the Berkeley Barb, Rolling Stone, the Chicago Seed and was one of the founders of the Berkeley Tribe. Marsha Haines is an artistphotographer who has worked for the Berkeley Barb and was one of the founders of the Berkeley Tribe. A finger in the eye, a thumb in the ear, a taste of snot and a deep breath - not much to build a heaven out of, unless you really want to believe or need to believe.