A synchronised approach
Instructors work with communities around the world

Maharaji meeting with Indian instructors in April in New Delhi As a resource they're somewhat scarce - approximately one for every 4,000 people who came to a video event last year. There may be more soon, but for now they're scattered around the globe. One even turned up in Kenya last year.

Of the nearly 120 instructors in the world over 80 live in India and Nepal. The remaining 30, the ones you are likely to see in the West, have been busy this past year, to say the least, working with aspirants in over 80 countries, from Trinidad to Norway.

Susan Johnson is typical, or at least her schedule is, of an instructor's travel-filled life these days. "Since May of last year, I've been to six cities in North America, spent three months in Malaysia, visited Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Australia and India." Not that she's complaining: "From the minute I started doing this I felt like a bird let out of a cage."

Since the late 1980s, when Maharaji began holding Knowledge sessions and Knowledge reviews himself, the role of an instructor has been to help make sure that the ground being prepared is as fertile as possible for the seed which will eventually be planted. "Essentially our job is to help support propagation," says David Smith, who among other things works on worldwide event scheduling.

"Our job is to help facilitate propagation in local communities. That means introductory events, follow-up events and providing information and as much inspiration as we can about participation and propagation."

"It's very exciting and very inspiring working with aspirants. They're so open to learn", says Charanand, who has been an instructor for 41 years.

"Maharaji has developed such a simple and beautiful process now for helping people prepare to receive the gift of Knowledge, which for me is the highest gift of human life."

With 30 instructors crisscrossing the globe and helping support propagation in more than 80 countries, the practical realities of coordinating it all can be challenging.

Contrary to what most people would imagine, no one plans the instructors' schedules for them. They do it themselves, assessing the requirements of each specific region, country, city, and community. "We usually get together as a group around twice a year," says David, "to get synchronised in our approach and plan regionally for the coming six months." The last time was in Long Beach at the program last December. "We look at things such as how many people are needed in a particular area, what languages we speak, what special skills we have that may be appropriate for a given region, the resources available, and what travel limitations, if any, some of us may have. It takes a lot of coordinating."

But all for a purpose unlike any other. "At the most recent event in Miami in May there were 450 aspirants just from Florida alone. It's really happening," says David, a point Maharaji made during a Miami presentation. "I'm feeling so much more synchronised these days. He's focused it beautifully so that our role is to simply provide support to allow him to do what he does."

Charanand agrees: "I admire him tremendously for his relentless effort and unwavering commitment to bring this beautiful simplicity to the practice of Knowledge. And I'm so thankful to him that he allows me to enjoy myself by being involved. It's an incredible experience. It is very important to stay in synch with him"

Going global
A look at the possibilities of "live" link-ups

Don't be surprised if soon, at a venue near you, the local MC announces that "the following video event is brought to you live from London - or Long Beach, Tokyo, New Delhi or Mauritius."

"The technology is there, we just need to plug into it," said Maharaji in May in Miami. And immediately an effort was launched to discover how best to "plug into" the communications technology that would allow this exciting step to take place.

With individuals in more than 80 countries eager to hear Maharaji, satellites would seem well suited to play a role in the distribution of live video feeds. They can transmit to large geographic areas and are relatively independent of the telecommunications facilities "on the ground", which in many countries are limited. To receive a satellite feed, all that's needed is the right kind of "dish" antenna (referred to as a "downlink" in industry jargon), a TV display, and enough electric power to operate them.

Technological feat

DishyWhat's also needed, of course, is the "live" event that brings the real magic to this technological feat. Technically speaking, this requires an "uplink" dish equipped to send the signal up to a satellite orbiting 22,300 miles above the equator. Uplinks are more complex, larger, and more costly than downlinks, and typically require more extensive licensing and government approvals. Government regulation of uplinks and downlinks varies widely from country to country and can add a whole other layer of complexity to the already intricate technical and logistical aspects of planning a global satellite feed.

While satellites can have very large "footprints" - the area that can be reached by a single transmission beam - a global broadcast would need to use multiple satellites. For example, if a live event was broadcast by satellite from London, a single satellite might be able to broadcast it to all of Europe and perhaps parts of the US, but the signal might have to be sent back up to another gatelike in the US to get it as far as California or Hawaii. The same might be true for delivering a simultaneous live feed to the thirsty hearts in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.

Grounded in simplicity

Though the complexity and cost of creating a system to support global distribution of "live" video events may seem daunting, the past 25 years has shown that, grounded in the simplicity of what we have come to understand, and motivated by the joy and gratitude we feel, a way can be found to manifest this vision. And, as we've happily witnessed with audio and videotapes, technologies that help us "keep in touch" can become powerful tools to serve that vision.

30 Connect 1998