THE PERFECT HOST
Father's Day. A day to spend lounging about and talking and partying and showering good ol' Dad with presents and love and kisses. It's a tradition.
Partly because Guru Maharaj Ji just arrived from India and partly because two years ago when he had just arrived from India he gave a Father's Day program in Los Angeles, and partly, because at the beginning of the week he told the premie band Jiva to practice extra hard, but mostly because we know Guru Maharaj Ji to be our first and eternal father, we dared to hope to be with him on Father's Day.
But we never expected a party. We never expected to find ourselves milling about in Maharaj Ji's residence in Malibu with a thousand other west coast premies while Maharaj Ji strolled casually among us.
A word from Guru Maharaj Ji changed everything. At nine o'clock Saturday night he told Bob Mishler to get on the phone and invite everyone within driving distance, and a few Denver premies as well, to a Father's Day - Welcome Home Party at his home in Malibu.
In Los Angeles Sunday afternoon the weather was almost cool, and the premies were meditative and organized. As travellers trickled into the Larchmont satsang hall, directions to Malibu were given and Maharaj Ji's wishes for the party were explained: no pranams, no pets, no non-premies, and no worries would be allowed. Dress as beautifully as possible and bring lots of food. Durga Ji said that if this works out well, then we'll have more of these things.
Finally we reached a crossroad with gas stations where premie cars were lined up in a big parking lot. Maharaj Ji's house, sitting like a castle with white battlements around it on top of a huge hill, seemed very far away.
Most of the premies parked their cars near the bottom of the hill and walked up to Maharaj Ji's house. The first part of the road was very steep. It made us work and struggle and huff and puff till that huffing and puffing had blown every thought from our minds and we were deep in meditation. Just after the steepest part we were halted and found ourselves gazing through sprays of yellow and purple wildflowers across a small valley at Guru Maharaj Ji's residence. Soft sunlight of late afternoon would soon fade, and dusk would quiet the hills.
Walking again, we followed the road through its switchbacks and meanderings, sometimes wondering if it would ever reach Maharaj Ji's gate. The road became steep again and demanded more effort than some premies could muster. They wilted by the roadside, only to be picked up by cruising shuttle vans sent especially by Guru Maharaj Ji to rescue stragglers and those who could not walk. But most were able to continue. After another steep stretch the road was gentle and the climb became a stroll. We followed the road step by step like we follow meditation, up little rises, down little hills, knowing that presently we would arrive.
Maharaj Ji's gates were wide open. Inside were lawns and a fountain and his house. We wandered along a shady walk below the house to the swimming pool where Jiva was playing loudly enough to encourage the long file of premies still walking upthe road.
After a while Guru Maharaj Ji's voice, broadcast over an elaborate PA, welcomed us. He told us to dance and to eat and to enjoy ourselves "because that's what you really need." He said that grace and bliss surrounds this place twenty-four hours a day.
Dad's party was on.
From the pool and the tennis court below we looked up at the square white house shaded by wistful trees. Off on one side the new wing was already a skeleton of criss-crossed beams. Then Maharaj Ji came, and began to stroll back and forth like a captain on the deck of his ship. Durga Ji, and Raja Ji and Claudia and a little cluster of premies trailed behind him.
Rumor always had it that if you just practice Knowledge Guru Maharaj Ji will come to you. But maybe after years of straining on tiptoe to catch the briefest glimpses of him at airports, and after scrunching in with thousands of other premies at festivals, waiting for hours for him to come and sit on a stage so far away he seemed only as large as your thumb, and after being jerked away from his feet after a half-second pranam - maybe after all that we had begun to believe the rumor to be only one more divine metaphor: dreamy and delicious, but never, never to happen. But on Father's Day Guru Maharaj Ji did come to us.
Premies stayed where they were, calling him in meditation, and he came to them and passed by them like a gentle ocean breeze. And that breeze touched us inside and purified us so that time became timeless, and bliss became infinite stillness.
Maharaj Ji was available for the looking, sometimes dangling Premlata in time to the music or tweeking her nose, sometimes standing in front of his house near where premies were waiting in line for dinner, sometimes asking mothers to bring their children to him. Maharaj Ji was with us as much as we could allow ourselves to be with him, and loving us as completely as we were able to accept his love.
All the premies had brought food. In a garage, the residence construction crew were building sandwiches and architecting plates of food. Nobody really cared if they ate, but the food line was endless.
Between eating and embracing, dancing and bathing in darshan, hours and hours seemed to pass, night stole upon us, and yet we seemed to have passed into an eternal moment. Perhaps only two or three hours actually passed. But only when every one of us felt naturally at home at Guru Maharaj Ji's house, and only when we could hardly yearn for even one more glimpse of him, and only when the party had become timeless and in our hearts could never end, and onlywhen we understood that Guru Maharaj Ji would always walk among us - only then did Guru Maharaj Ji suggest quietly over the PA that we should all gather on the tennis court to watch the film The Power of Love before we went home. Breathing the damp ocean air, we snuggled together like kids and watched the movie. It seemed that we were acting it and that Guru Maharaj Ji had shot the film that very day.
After the movie, the PA crackled, "This is Guru Maharaj Ji. Thank you for coming." He told us that we would be having more parties with him, that he would give a program soon - next week or next year or next century. He said that the only way to experience and really understand such a party as this was through meditation. Durga Ji spoke to us. Then Maharaj Ji spoke again, saying that Premlata says good night and that she is asleep. It seemed that he did not want the party to end; he kept speaking to us again and again, repeating his thank you, he the loving father who hates to see his children leave him even after the fullest of days. His last words were "thank you".
The party was over. Earlier it seemed as if leaving might bring a pang something like what Adam and Eve might have felt wandering sadly out of the Garden of Eden. But we felt no pang and no real leaving from the place we had been shown.
Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji had been gone for two months, but it seemed more like two years. So much had happened in this short time. Each week the media would flash news back from their offices in India, and we would in turn strain our ears toward our own sources trying to discover what was really going on.
Ellen Saxl and Ron Colletta came back first. Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji sent Ellen back to deliver a special message to the premies attending the Denver Sunday night community meeting. Ellen landed in Denver at 8:30, having just spent 23 hours in flight from Hong Kong, where Maharaj Ji was giving darshan to the tiny group of premies living there. By 9:00 she stood before the Denver family: "Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji sent me here to tell you all that they really love and miss all the premies and they'll be seeing you very soon." Even this hardened reporter began to cry. Maharaj Ji was coming home.
Maharaj Ji, Durga Ji and Premlata arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, June 7. A few premies met them at the airport and accompanied them to the Malibu residence. As soon as they were settled Bob Mishler told Maharaj Ji he wanted to get back to Denver, "just to see what was going on." And Maharaj Ji said he might be coming there too - though not for a week or so. I want to get my body back on schedule, he said.
In Denver, Bob arranged a meeting with all the international staff. "Premies are the only people two months can seem like an eternity for," he said, "and really, that time in India seemed like an eternity." As Bob went on to describe, the trip to India was the end of what he called "phase one" of Maharaj Ji's efforts to organize DUO. Bob told the story of a conversation way back in 1972 when Maharaj Ji first began to talk about Divine United Organization. Even then, there were hints that there might be some problems with India. The people who were in the leadership of the Mission at that time opposed the whole idea of DUO. They just couldn't face the thought of an international organization that spread so far from their "mother India." Maharaj Ji told Bob then that India would be last to join DUO.
"So going to India this time - India was last," said Bob. "it was like a flashback on what Maharaj Ji had told me. Here we were two and a half years later - going to start DUO in India. What an incredible trip that was. Now, coming back here to America, I'm seeing the beginnings of the second phase of Maharaj Ji internationalizing his movement to bring peace on earth." Stay tuned.