The festival at Amherst offered the opportunity for premies to participate in the practical programs and support systems of DUO by attending workshops and seminars. By creating this educational environment, premies began to see more clearly that the feeling of love and devotion can be a constant experience if we practically dedicate our lives to serve him. These workshops opened up the understanding of how all of us can work together in doing service and experience the Grace of Guru Maharaj Ji.
Workshops were available in the following areas: Third World Prachar, Shri Hans Humanitarian Services, Shri Hans Educational, Community Development, Propagation, DUO Business and Investment Opportunities, as well as Filmmaking/Audio-Visual and Graphic Arts. In addition to these, local and national department and agency heads from DUO were brought together in scheduled conferences throughout the 3-day affair.
Premies were informed about propagation to minority groups at the Third World Prachar workshop (above). Shri Hans Humanitarian held a workshop to inform premies about the mission's involvement in medical care (top). Entertainment as a form of satsang was the emphasis of the Performers of the Living Arts workshop (below).
The following is an edited excerpt of satsang given by Bob Mishler at the DUO Community workshop.
When we come together at festivals like this we can see the potentialities that we have as brothers and sisters to find ways of being able to live together. Because the love that we feel at these festivals can be shared all the time. Today we want to present a picture of how our communities have developed, the point we are at now, and an idea of how we can go forward together.
Before Guru Puja in Copenhagen, Maharaj Ji had a meeting with all the Secretaries of the European mission - about fifteen or twenty different countries were represented. He said he was pleased with the way the communities developing here in America. He wants the same approach taken all over the world.
We've had a lot of grace in that Maharaj Ji has spent a great deal of time with us here in the United States and has chosen to make the U.S. the center of his activities and the headquarters for his worldwide movement.
Guru Maharaj Ji is our father and we're all brothers and sisters. We are all his kids and we have to learn to get it on together. It takes awhile to work it all out and that is the job of Divine United Organization.
During the first years of development of the mission, DLM became synonymous with the ashram structure. That was pretty much the limitation. Other than the sat-sang we gave for the public, the only way we had to accommodate premies was the ashram. And the ashram was a very restricted kind of social system that allowed only a small percentage to practically dedicate themselves.
Consequently, a lot of people just got left out altogether. They were given no instructions as to what they were to do in order to really get their life into a flow of dedication to Maharaj Ji and serve in his movement.
At Millennium, Maharaj Ji called the first international meeting of Divine Light Mission. He said we have successfully been able to take the first step in propagating this Knowledge. That is, actually reaching out to people and communicating the fact that Maharaj Ji is here and that there is a possibility of receiving Knowledge.
But he said we had not been successful in taking the second step which was to build an organization that could help people in being able to practically realize this Knowledge in their life.
He redefined our priority. He said it was not to do prachar but to take care of the people who had already received Knowledge. He wants us to develop a social structure that could actually serve the needs of the premies. Otherwise it's like a farmer who plants fifteen acres but can only care for one acre. Why plant the other fourteen? In the same way Maharaj Ji doesn't want us going around giving Knowledge to people and not really following through. So we have recently put a lot of emphasis on developing the communities throughout the country.
If DLM exists to establish peace on earth we should start with that segment of humanity over which we have the most control…ourselves. We need to come together with the people who have this Knowledge of our common unity and create a community that can be an example of how we can live together in love.
So here we are, this one great big family. What are we supposed to do? How are we gonna get it on? We must find a starting place because that is where we usually take the first step.
The first step is practical dedication. The first step of practically manifesting our devotion is to support Maharaj Ji's mission and the most tangible way to do that is to support it financially. It shouldn't be the limitation of how we involve ourselves but it should be the first step. The first step is dedicating ten per cent of our income to his movement. Once the mission has a broader financial support it can develop programs that are going to serve the premies better.
Guru Maharaj Ji was talking about how each community should have a "DUO Community Club." It would be a place where all the premies could come together and not only have satsang but also have training programs for your children, recreational activities for the premies, meditation rooms, workshops and so on. Maharaj Ji wants us to be together as a family.
There is no limit to what we can do if we work together. If we don't lay a strong foundation of financial support we can't do anything else. Because we can't do anything in this world that doesn't cost money.
Are there any questions?
You can put a premie in any situation and he can work in any political system, economic structure or program in this world. He can wear any kind of costume or play any kind of role in order to relate to the people of this world and it won't change his essential nature.
Bob Mishler, International Divine Light Mission President, answered the followiing questions from premies in the audience:
As a student I'd like to get some tips on propagating in universities.
Bob: Good. We have a system set up to provide you with information. If you get in touch with our "Centers" Coordinators in Denver they will give you the propagation manual. If you explain that you are a student they will give you specific information about propagating on a university campus. Also, it's possible to be a Divine Information Center by being one premie living in a dorm somewhere. All you have to do is take the initiative to become activated, become alive.
I want to find out how to coordinate rural work with premies. I mean in the cities there is a DUO office to go to, but with agriculture it's different.
Bob: Once again, our national communications system can help you. Our Centers Coordinators are in contact with people not only in urban areas but also places where there are no DUO offices and ashrams. We have working farms in many parts of the country so if you want to plug into that kind of community just get in touch with us.
I can see the point of dedicating ten per cent of my income but I have a fear that the money will go for a third or fourth car for Maharaj Ji instead of say, the carpeting he needs in his bedroom right now.
Bob: This kind of thing comes from not having enough trust in each other. We have to earn that trust but we also have to work to develop that trust. Part of the way we do that is to work together. I don't think we'd be so stupid to spend money on another car if Maharaj Ji -needs carpet for his room. Quite often, out of immatruity on a lot of different levels we have spent money unwisely. But you learn from your mistakes and we've made enough mistakes to learn a great deal. I would hope that nobody holds back in terms of their personal dedication for fear of how it's going to be spent. First of all, the ten per cent is a dedication and you shouldn't have attachment about how it's going to be used. It's going to he utilized to continue the existing programs of DLM which are presently running at a deficit. The money will go to expand those programs to help facilitate the spread of this Knowledge and the realization of this Knowledge by building our communities. The overall direction of this movement is the responsibility of Guru Maharaj Ji. The people who are in positions of responsibility and trust in the Mission are there by the agya of Maharaj Ji, by his permission and with his awareness of their limitations.
If all premies take the responsibility to become active then they can take the initiative to use their professionalism to help us from making mistakes in other areas.
Do you think it is practical to work together with different church community services?
Bob: I think it is practical to work together with anybody that we can who has at least enough conscious awareness to be participating in some sort of program that is uplifting humanity. If you look at the brochures here about the World Welfare Association, the social service arm of DUO, you will see we are already working with a number of existing programs. Our only purpose is just to bring a little love into people's lives. This is one thing that premies are especially good at. Once people have contact with premies they really value DLM, they value Guru Maharaj Ji because they value the experience of love that they found with that person. So if anybody is interested in working with us, we are interested in working with them just so that we can show them the love that Maharaj Ji is unfolding in our life.
We don't have any axe to grind with people of this world. What we have is so perfect that it's like water in many respects. You can take water, pour it into any vessel and it will take on the form of that vessel but it won't lose its essential nature as water, as H20.
Same with premies. You can put a premie in any situation and he can work in any political system, economic structure or program in this world. He can wear any kind of costume or play any kind of role in order to relate to the people of this world and it won't change his essential nature.
What is the truth about the Mahatma Fakiranand incident in Detroit?
Bob: Some of you may not know what he is talking about. He's talking about a reporter in Detroit who threw a shaving cream pie in Maharaj Ji's face last summer. Subsequently after that he was beaten up pretty badly. Two of the people suspected in this beating were premies. In fact, one of them was Mahatma Fakiranand. Whether they are guilty or not is for a body other than ourselves to decide.
Guru Maharaj Ji's response when Pat Haley threw that pie was "Don't hurt him; don't bother him in any way, he shouldn't be held or prosecuted." The city of Detroit, the Common Council, was going to have him arrested for an act of civil disobedience. But Maharaj Ji said no, it is our job in this world to make people understand. It is not our job to punish people.
So Maharaj Ji's attitude toward this person who assaulted him was compassion. That doesn't mean that the action that Pat Haley took was justified, nor does it mean that the act of the other two was justified either.
If, in fact, it was Mahatma Fakiranand that did it, what does that mean to us? It shows us that this Knowledge, unless practiced, unless it translates into love for one another, is of absolutely no meaning to us whatsoever. It doesn't matter what service. we are performing to Maharaj Ji, or what responsibilities he has entrusted to us. If we translate that into fanaticism that causes us to lose our perception of what's true and real, then we've lost the essence of what this whole thing is about.
This brings up another point and that is about mahatmas. If a mahatma does something that seems irreconcilable with this Knowledge, we just have to recognize the fact that mahatmas are just human beings. I know for a long time premies would say, "Oh, a mahatma is a perfectly realized soul." This was because they didn't understand the meaning of realization. They projected it as some point that we reach eventually through meditation where all of a sudden we become realized and then everything we do is perfect.
But realization is a constant process of becoming a real human being. If this Knowledge is going to be real in our life we must practice it in our life. We must be real human beings constantly. It doesn't mean that we sit under our sheets and then boom, presto we come out as realized human beings.
Mahatmas are premies like you and I. They have a particular service assigned to them. Maharaj Ji used to say to me, "Look, mahatmas at that point that they're giving Knowledge are just a channel for me to work through. It's not like they have magic fingers or anything. It's Guru Maharaj Ji's grace that reveals Knowledge, not the mahatma." They have their personalities and they have all the hangups like everybody else. If they don't do meditation they're gonna fall into confusion and fall off this path as well.
The DUO workshop was held next to the pond at UMass. The day stage was a miniature of the main stage on which Maharaj Ji gave satsang.