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|Back Cover Text
For thirty-one years I gave my total allegiance, my energy, my devotion, my dreams, my time, and my love to Guru Maharaji (the Lord of the Universe, Prem Rawat). I also gave him and his organizations two inheritances, a house, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. As Maharaji's former chauffeur I was close to him personally; I lived as a renunciate in his ashrams, and was later authorized and empowered to reveal his secret teachings (the 'Knowledge').
'Without The Guru' is a narrative of my time with Maharaji, and my struggle to surrender my life to him and to achieve the liberation that he promised. It is a story of being confined within a rigid belief system, realizing it, and discovering how to break out from it. It is a story of how I came to live, think, feel, behave, and love, without 'the Guru', meaning both Maharaji, as the actual guru in my own life; and in a more general sense of learning to face myself and the world without any intermediary or negotiator, of any kind, in between.
Mike, you have grown a great deal through the ordeal of leaving Maharaji, so he helped you flourish after all, though probably not in the way that he intended.
– Larry Rosenberg, author 'Breath by Breath' and 'Living in the Light of Death'; founder and guiding teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre MA, USA.
|Contents and Sample Chapter
You can see the front pages, contents, and chapter one, in this PDF.
|Library of Congress:
||Babbling Brook Press|
On December 07 2009, this press release went out in the USA.
|Review by Steve Hassan
Steve is well known as one of the leading experts on cults in all their forms, and his Freedom of Mind Center is a wealth of information, hope and wisdom. He kindly wrote this review of my book:
I have recently made the time to finally read this fine book, although I was sent a review copy over a year ago. I am glad that Mike followed up and sent me another copy, and that we had the chance to sit down for lunch, along with a brief addition of his lovely life-partner Gail.
I have been doing my 'work' of helping former members and raising awareness since I left my own involvement with the Unification Church (yes, the Moonies) back in 1976. I say this here, because it is rare that I get to learn from a fellow traveler, a former member from another totalistic group, with insights and perspectives that dovetail with some of my own conclusions, but from a somewhat different orientation.
I heartily recommend this book for people to read. Not just former members of Guru Maharaji (aka Prem Rawat), not just former members of other eastern 'guru' groups, nor even other cult groups of every shape size and orientation. It is a book that the general public can benefit from reading - especially the last fifty or so pages. I also think people who have been devoted to a religion of any kind who have left it would find this insightful - but particularly former long term members of high demand groups and cults.
In my cult experience, my recruitment and indoctrination to have utter and complete belief in Sun Myung Moon as the Lord of the Universe paralleled Mike Finch's. They achieved my total submission to Moon and his beliefs and practices and organization within a few months. I dropped out of college, donated my bank account, turned my back on poetry, art, my family, friends to work for the Messiah and to 'save the world.' I was prepared to die or be killed for Moon. I was also absolutely sure I would spend the rest of my life doing his 'will.' That ended abruptly when I fell asleep while driving a fundraising van, and my family did an intervention and rescued me. When I learn about Lifton and brainwashing, Jonestown and other cults - like Scientology, Krishna, TM, Children of God, DLM - it became clear that all of these groups were deceptively recruiting and using social influence techniques and other mind control methods to enslave people. And so I began my crusade which has lasted these several decades.
Mike Finch: He walked out on his own, with the help and prodding of his life-partner Gail, who had woken up herself to the realization that not only was Maharaji not the Lord incarnate, but also that he was extremely abusive and harmful. She helped him see what he knew from his experience was true.
This book, and his web site where he continues his exploration, restarts his life and continues to evolve, surely is a very important guide for the multitudes of people who are still in cult groups after twenty or thirty years. He also offers them hope, that you can come out, and reclaim your personal power and move forward.
Read this book and share it with others!
|Review by ICSA
ICSA is the International Cultic Studies Association. Here is their review:
Dr Michael Finch has done an excellent job of cramming more than 30 years of his life into one book with 37 brief, clear, and readable chapters. Mike, as a vulnerable 22-year-old in 1970, began following Prem Rawat (Guru Maharaji) and joined a group that was known at the time as the Divine Light Mission. Those unfamiliar with Eastern religions will find that this book is written in such a way that a prior understanding of meditation or Eastern philosophies is not needed. Mike had spent 8 years out of the group when he wrote this insightful autobiography.
Mike unpicks and logically analyses aspects of his life and the dynamics in place in Prem Rawat. He delayed his education because of his group involvement, but he visited many different countries in the world. Despite having his "cynical observer well battened down under the hatches by this time" (p. 43), he completed both an undergraduate degree and a Ph.D. in math and theoretical physics while in the group.
A number of reoccurring themes run like threads through this book. Similar to some other first-generation autobiographies, one central theme of the book is Mike's desire to fully understand and explain why he stayed so long in this group, and why he did not leave sooner. In places this book is slightly slow and laborious, but overall it is well written and worth taking the time to read.
Mike does not paint himself in a rosy light. Rather, with at times painful honesty, humility, and vulnerability, he recounts many different experiences and emotions; and, as the reader, it is difficult not to feel moved. In addition to his work for some time as Prem Rawat's chauffeur, Mike details a number of meetings with him, including his first when Prem Rawat was just 12 years old. Mike experienced Prem Rawat being more interested in the gift he had given him, a tape recorder, than the giver, Mike. Prem Rawat retreated into his home, and as Mike went to follow, the door was slammed in his face.
Regardless of my being a second-generation former member of a non-eastern group, I found parallels to my group and certainly found Mike Finch's insights beneficial. As such, I think this book will appeal and be beneficial to former members of many different groups, particularly anywhere the leader has God-like status or, as Mike makes clear, is perceived to be the "Lord of the Universe." Mike explains well the cycle of reinforcement between a guru and his followers, and the seductive nature of adoration.
Mike's concluding chapters detail how, once he was "prepared to admit the possibility that he (Prem Rawat) was not the Lord, the whole thing came tumbling down" (p. 220). He recounts the steps he took to free himself from 30 years of dependency, how he grieved, and how he rebuilt his life. He also briefly describes his return to Buddhism. Dr Finch graciously concludes his book by thanking the guru for what he learned as a result of his time with him and finishes with these words: "I learned a lot from him, although as this book makes clear, the lessons I learned are not necessarily those that he was trying to teach" (p. 250).
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