Guru Maharaji (the Lord of the Universe, Prem Rawat). New Book

Without the Guru:

How I took my life back after thirty years

Mike Finch

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.

Recommended Oct 20, 2009

“Without The Guru” is a rare and fascinating inside look at the events, thought processes and secret “Knowledge” that compelled Dr. Finch to give everything of himself, his time, love, energy and wealth, to a child guru once revered by millions as the “Lord of the Universe.” One by one, with love and humor, Dr. Finch examines the inner and external influences that “logically” drove him to accept another human being as a divine incarnation of god and live accordingly for thirty years. Mostly, however, it is at once an objective and deeply personal story about forgiveness and the enduring strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to anyone who may be searching for answers to life’s essential questions in the perceived truth and wisdom of others.

Essential reading  Oct 19, 2009

I am presenting this review on behalf of Nik W of the UK:-

Without The Guru is essential reading for anyone who has been attracted to the belief that when it comes to spirituality, `teacher’ and `practice’ are one and the same. Dr Finch puts into stark relief the fatal error of judgment which results from the confusion of a valued spiritual practice with the personality of the teacher of that practice. In Dr Finch’s case the Guru to whom he chose to give so much was to many spectators especially incongruous, a child god who grew into a materialistic teenager, and today dresses in the deceptive garb of `international businessman’. But Dr Finch shows how the seduction lay not merely with the supposed charisma of the Guru, but with the central overriding theme of a belief in a powerful meditation being virtually `one and the same thing’ as his Guru. For Dr Finch, and perhaps many others, the Guru Trap was sprung in quiet contemplation, not in the hysteria of personality worship.

This is not a book about the evils of cults or the failures of New Age thinking; books such as My Life in Orange, The Spiritual Tourist and Serpent Rising have already blazed that trail. What Dr Finch has written is a unique memoir encompassing both meditation and practical philosophy, and how the thinking individual, when faced with the challenge to cherished beliefs, can move forward to a healthy and fulfilling life. A life that, at least for Dr Finch, appears to have become far richer and more fulfilling once he was able to put down the unnecessary burden of “The Guru”.

Whether the reader is long experienced in Yoga, meditation or other spiritual practice – with or without a Guru – or is about to take their very first steps on a philosophical journey, this book should be required reading.

15 Responses

  1. First of all I want to notify Dialogue that I am not the above. Someone else is using the same name.

    “Why would anyone (my leader, my lover, my teacher) do this to me?”

    I would like to clarify that the above does not apply in my case, however, I totally agree with the comment. Well said.

    DI Moderation:
    Will just change the other Angie to Angie1


  2. DI Moderation:
    Will just change the your Angie to Angie1

    People coming out of a cultic group or relationship often struggle with the question, “Why would anyone (my leader, my lover, my teacher) do this to me?” When the deception and exploitation become clear, the enormous unfairness of the victimization and abuse can be very difficult to accept. Those who have been part of such a nightmare often have difficulty placing the blame where it belongs–on the leader.

    A cult cannot be truly explored or understood without understanding its leader. A cult’s formation,proselytizing methods, and means of control “are determined by certain salient personality characteristics of [the] cult leader….Such individuals are authoritarian personalities who attempt to compensate for their deep, intense feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and hostility by forming cultic groups primarily to attract those whom they can psychologically coerce into and keep in a passive-submissive state, and secondarily to use them to increase their income.”


  3. I love that name


  4. The Guru Maharaji followers I got to meet, through a friend, were pot smoking ex-hippies who reminisced about the sixties and always looking for the freebee. A devotee or two hired a hall where they gathered to listen to a load of nonsense as far as I am concerned. One can listen to anything while in a trance state and, hopefully, soak up some energy to make the trip worthwhile.

    Has anybody got a joint?


  5. The human mind is the most devisive thing in the history of mankind, each of us interprets life in our own peculiar way, and that includes the way we see each other. How can you correctly see life or a person through the written word of another, that reduces it to your interpretation of someone elses interpretation. Crazy! To truly know Marharji one needs to receive his knowledge and see how you personally respond to it’s effect on your life which like my own experience is different to the authors, in that it enriched my life beyond measure.


  6. i recieved knowledge in the 70s did not practice. had nothing to do with the organization. i became disabled, unable to work in the 90s. then its as if the knowledge came alive inside me, the teacher within took hold of my life showed me how the breath controlls the kundalini and healed my sick body and transformed my life on every level. it scared me a bit when living energy of the WORD started to heal me, i was unprepared, but grew to love it. at age 70 i just discovered DLM/MAHARAJI on internet. difficult to believe some of it. i would say if you cannot accept maharaji thats OK but how can you turn your back on the knowledge the breath of pure love


  7. Just by spending 30 years with somebody and then complain about their “relationship”. Makes me question how weak of a mind it’s possible to get!!


  8. This is a hate book written by someone who cannot let go of the past.
    Prem Rawat aka Maharaji has matured to be a true teacher who offers a direct experience of peace unfettered by religious trappings. When he first came to the west as a child his western followers embraced all things Hindu–such as devotional practices. When Maharaji decided to strip his teachings of Indian trappings, Finch and his ilk didn’t get it.


  9. I stumbled upon this site after myself commenting at on Finch’s book Without the Guru’ . I was appalled to see the likes of Mia and various other Rawat followers knee-jerk reaction to Finch’s book that they clearly had not read.

    Reading here it would seem that Mia is most likely a fake identity since she/he has actually borrowed entire bits of someone else’s review (Phobos Deimos) on Amazon and here presents that persons words verbatim as if they were her/his own.

    All this just makes me wonder if the Rawat organisation are orchestrating some sort of planned response to the publication of Finch’s book (which is essentially critical of Prem Rawat.) The attempt by followers of this group to tar critics as untrustworthy commentators on Rawat’s past is nothing new. Nor is their desperate habit of churning out this tired idea that Apostates are now universally accepted ‘in academia’ as being these screwed-up losers with chips on their shoulders whom one should ignore. What a ridiculous idea!


  10. We are fully aware of the concept of apostasy, but I asked you to reflect on an example. You seem more concerned push your narrative than actually engage. We are aware of Bryan Wilson who wrote a piece for Scientology in a most disgraceful way and which they put on their web site. It was amazing that the father of the NRM Sociology reflection should put such a piece un peer reviewed onto their web site. No our site is not about apostasy, rather about cultism.
    It is clear you also do not accept the idea of brainwashing or mental manipulation. It would be interesting to learn why you felt the need to read the book? is a better link than you suggested, it led nowhere.
    David Bromley’s analysis is one I would not share, but have heard him at a Conference at the LSE which Eileen Barker hosted in 2001 and had him as a speaker.
    She will be speaking here in Ireland this week end.
    Really I do not need a sociological analysis of apostasy to occupy my time, I have to many victims and survivors of cultist abuse to keep working with.
    So in fact you found, “Finch’s folies de grandeur and saccharine prose was too self-serving for my sensibilities.” So you can’t in fact write a review as you have not read the book, because his experience conflicts with your apostate assumptions. To paraphrase Wittgenstein who resided briefly in Dublin. That which I have not read I will remain silent about.
    It is too obvious and, quite frankly, boring. Not for him though evidently.
    How would you deal with the apostate in this narrative by the same publisher? Our Father, who art in bed: A Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ


  11. Being a blog that supposedly deals with apostasy, you seem not be to aware of the excellent literature available on the subject. For example it is widely reported that the anecdotal stories in apostates’ narratives, are likely to paint a peculiar viewpoint about their experience that is shaped by the apostate’s current role rather than his experience in the group. That is indeed the case here with Finch’s memoir.

    Then there is the obvious problematic issue that when Finch and similar apostates make claims that are tantamount to admitting that they were gullible and easily led persons (in Finch’s case 30 years), their current opinions can’t, consequently, can’t be worth much, can they?.

    And what about the well-know “divorcee syndrome”. You know the narrative: ” I gave him/her the best years of my life, (10-20-30 years) and did this with honesty and unwavering commitment, only to find out that I was duped/cheated. He/She was really not what I believed to be. Now I am “free” and have recovered my life” — a narrative that is usually one-sided self-serving, and inherently apologetic about past decisions and behaviors.

    I see in your blog that you provide “educational services”. I suggest you read the book “The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements” to provide you with a better understanding of apostasy in the context of the religious movements you purport to educate the public about. (Preview here:

    Which brings me to Finch’s book. Yes, I purchased a copy on Amazon, although I must admit I stopped reading after a few chapters. Finch’s folies de grandeur and saccharine prose was too self-serving for my sensibilities. “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned” seems to ring true here, despite Finch being a male and despite his attempts to disguise his “fury” under the not-so-believable cloak of properness in his discourse. It is too obvious and, quite frankly, boring.


  12. Mia as you have read the book which was only published on Oct 6, you might do us all the favour of doing an actual review, which we will publish as a post.
    Also you have quoted something in your comment without mentioning what you are using to make the comment. I would rather listen to the views of Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    than a member of the politburo in regard to what was really happening in Russia= in Guru Maharaji’s world. You just can’t come up with he is an apostate= got a chip on his shoulders etc.
    Please show the evidence from the book you claimed to have read.


  13. Agree with Duncan. I read the book and to me it read as the usual apostate narrative about which it has been written:

    “The clear majority of those who leave of their own free will speak positively of certain aspects of their past experience. While readily acknowledging the ways a given religious movement failed to meet their personal expectations and spiritual needs, many voluntary defectors have found ways of salvaging some redeeming values from their previous religious associations and activities. But there are some voluntary apostates from new religious movements who leave deeply embittered and harshly critical of their former religious associations and activities. Their dynamics of separation from a once-loved religious group is analogous to an embittered marital separation and divorce. […] Long-term and heavily involved members of new religious movements who over time become disenchanted with their religion often throw all of the blame on their former religious associations and activities. […] They magnify small flaws into huge evils. They turn personal disappointments into malicious betrayals. They even will tell incredible falsehoods to harm their former religion.”


  14. In other words cheap grace. His lifestyle was not a challenge, but indulgence.
    Why do you not read the book and tell us if he has moved on.
    This was just published, unlikely a move on, more likely a move on Rawat’s message.


  15. Curious… the power of perception. My contact and experience since meeting Prem Rawat several years ago is completely and radically different (for the better) that that inferred by the commentators above.

    My attraction to Rawat’s message was based on his total lack of interference in my beliefs and lifestyle choices. This non-interference is a consistent core to his message.

    I’m guessing that Finch’s writing is based on experiences some decades ago.

    Perhaps Rawat, like Finch, has moved-on from outdated spiritual modalities.


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