For 30 years Mike Finch gave his total allegiance, his energy, his devotion, his dreams, and his love to Guru Maharaji (the Lord of the Universe, Prem Rawat). He also gave Maharaji and his organizations two inheritances, a house, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. As Maharaji's former chauffeur Mike was close to him personally; he lived as a renunciate in Maharaji's ashrams, and was authorized to reveal Maharaji's secret teachings. The book is a narrative of Mike's time with Maharaji, and his struggle to surrender his life to Maharaji, and to achieve the liberation that Maharaji promised.
It is a story of being confined within a rigid belief system, realizing it, and learning how to break out from it. It is a story of how he came to live, think, feel, behave, and love, without 'the Guru', meaning both Maharaji, as the actual guru in his life; and in a more general sense of learning to face oneself and the world without any intermediary or negotiator, of any kind, in between.
Recommendation from Steve Hassan
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!