Edison – Swami Prem Rajesh

Sheela is an eastern Indian woman, the head of the commune, and Bhagwan’s

devoted secretary. Bhagwan has been in public silence for several years now,

and Sheela is his mouthpiece. She’s notoriously fiery and outspoken, and uses

four-letter words regularly in interviews with the media. At times, she glows

like an innocent child, radiant with reverence for Bhagwan. At other times, she

flames like a hell-hound, ferocious and defiant in the face of the government’s


Sheela can be a tyrant too.

Julian pops his head back in the door, adds quietly, “Just keep yourself

mellow, Whiteboy. Easy does it. Ciao.”

I sit, glazed, distracted.

Once again, I am left alone with my questions.

The clandestine things I’ve done up till now were purely defensive. I’ve

been gathering information to protect Bhagwan, and our commune. But this

mapping of a town’s water supply, and their electrical grid, and their fuel


If this is not an overt attack, it’s certainly indicative of…


I think they call this terrorism.

Today it has all changed.

Oh Christ, here I go again.

I tell myself to surrender, like a good disciple should. Forget this


But I don’t feel good.

I came here seeking peace, and I find myself at war.

Where is this going to end? Where is love in all this?

Where is Deborah? Why do I avoid her?

Maybe later.

Rousing myself, it dawns on me that I have yet to make a night deposit

into my digestive tract, and I need nourishment.

But I can’t actually feel my stomach.

Rather than seeking food, I fix a cup of tea, very strong- my usual

stiffly brewed dual-bag concoction- suffused with lots of milk and honey. I

choose my monkish solitude, and an artificial energy burst, over the threat of

human interaction at the ranch cafeteria.

Caffeine, and a Camel cigarette.

I smoke the unfiltered Camel straights, because I cherish the actual

taste of tobacco, if it can be discerned among the appalling preponderance of

toxic chemical impurities kindly included by the manufacturers.

The ranch rules stipulate that I have to smoke outside. Perched on the

black iron railing of the fire escape’s top landing, I watch stars appear in

the early night sky. That superb Prussian blue that saturates you with calm,

dotted with pinpoint twinkles.

Suddenly it is very quiet.

For a moment, my mind, still.

A wave of bliss, like a cool breeze, passes through.

These spontaneous moments of meditation- they’ve been happening since I

started using Bhagwan’s techniques. Before I found him, I spent ten years

reading about the bliss of the no-mind state, but I never felt it. Now it is a

real experience, albeit unpredictable.

But there is work to be done.

Back inside to the spy den.


Twelve hours a day.

Seven days a week.

Three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Sometimes twenty-four hours a day.

My list of tasks fills three single-spaced pages. At the ranch, work is

our meditation.

Work is our worship.

I can work.

In 1979, during the year I spent at the ashram in Poona, India, I was a

dedicated worker in the tape department, always ready to make the extra effort.

Maybe that’s why I was invited to live at the ranch. There’s only a few

thousand residents here now, and when I first came here two years ago, there

were a few hundred. Not many people, but we’ve built an entire city- small, but

a city nevertheless.

The mechanics of the commune’s decision-making most often remain a

mystery, so I’ll probably never know why I was chosen out of the hundreds of

thousands of sannyasins worldwide. Maybe it’s because I’m an American. But

whatever the reason, it’s an honor and a thrill to be a part of this

“experiment to provoke God,” as Bhagwan calls it.

Back in India, we focused mainly on meditation, moving along the pathways

of the inner pilgrimage, experimenting with various techniques, zen koans,

therapy groups, a myriad of consciousness-raising practices.

We sat for hours every day in meditation at the feet of the master,

sinking into an inexplicable nothingness, silent yet alive with awareness. Now

it is time to bring that meditative quality into our daily work.

To do anything, in the presence of the master, is a blessing.

We may look like slaves to the uninitiated, but we’re just deeply in love

with a presence who shows us ourselves.

-Swami Prem Rajesh

Excerpt from The Day We Got Guns, Chapter One: Edison

Here you can can be download a PDF copy of the entire book The Day We Got Guns.

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