The Power of Love: Guru Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji return to Australia to attend Guru Puja festival (photo taken 10/74 in Sydney).
Pacific Guru Puja
excerpted from the September issue of The Golden Age
"I love them, they love me" was Guru Maharaj Ji's simple answer to a reporter's obvious question: Why do all these people come to see you? And over the last few years that love has been manifesting throughout the world in a festival celebration known as Guru Puja. Many countries have played host to this high moment of love: Guru Puja in London, Copenhagen, Amherst, and most recently of all, Caracas, Venezuela and Essen, Germany. Now Guru Puja comes to Sydney, Australia in an October Guru Puja festival shared by premies from Australia, Fiji and New Zealand with Maharaj Ji himself.
Australia has seen two Guru Puja festivals without Guru Maharaj Ji's personal presence: one in Adelaide ('73) and Melbourne ('74), both rainy and cold, yet imbued with the special warmth of a family gathering together. Both hastily organized, yet splendid rehearsals for the events of the coming October. As premies are assembled to prepare the festival organization, the golden opportunity dawns upon them: to do service for Guru Maharaj Ji by preparing his Pacific Guru Puja; to serve as hosts at an international party. The sense of a game and a challenge is also evident as the organizational intricacies pile upon each other, threatening to topple over unless supported by constant effort, once again made easy by that indefinable force of love called grace.
Preparing for the Guru Puja festival carries DLM Australia into another dimension of consciousness. Although not nearly as large as some overseas festivals, catering for 2000 people makes it the biggest event so far on the local calendar. It means setting up an organization much larger than Divine Light Mission. It means forming new departments to handle new events - to look after Guru Maharaj Ji and his entourage, to manage programs, to provide transport, to supply information, to hire buses and charter planes. Each week the number of premies needed grows, and as the festival grows closer, more and more meetings are held between the organizing commitee and the various departments, between the departments and their different sections, to fill in all the empty spaces, to provide for emergencies, to ask and answer the little questions: where do 1500 people have breakfast, who opens Maharaj Ji's car door at the Opera House? For the play to go on smoothly and beautifully, a lot of marvellous events take place behind the scenes.
Perth and New Zealand get an early start to the Pacific Guru Puja when their planes arrive on Friday, October 17. The following afternoon everyone else arrives and most go to their hotel accommodations in the Kings Cross area. And Saturday night is the first darshan program at the Capitol theatre in the inner city area of Haymarket.
After sufficient time to recover from the previous night's revelries, Sunday began at the Sydney Show-ground with a full-scale fair, featuring music, plays, films, games, learning exchange workshops, bazaars, and the long-awaited darshan line with Guru Maharaj Ji. Then the whole day culminates with Sunday night at the Opera House, its concert hall ringing with satsang from the Perfect Master. Monday rounds off the festival with more workshops and the premies returning by charter flight to their various states and countries.
When we come together the love that manifests reminds us of our simple reason for receiving Knowledge - to have peace and happiness in our lives. What has the Pacific Guru Puja meant for us? It has meant a unique chance to serve Guru Maharaj Ji, to get to know each other through play and co-operation, to gain a greater insight into the personal link between devotee and Master.
From Divine Times, Canada.
"One evening after a particularly high satsang program, Gary Ockenden, a volunteer, was taken aside and interrogated by the guards. 'Look,' they said. 'We see how people's faces look when they go into those programs and how they look when they come out. We know you're bringing something in there - now what is it?"
Since it became the focus of an early WWA project back in the Millennium '73 days, Matsqui Prison has seen the spiritual rebirth of 60 to 70 people. It has been the scene of hundreds of satsang programs and 20 mahatma visits, and in their wake a variety of projects and enterprises have sprung up.
Today 25 premies remain in Matsqui, the others having been released or transferred to other B.C. prisons.
You would think that in a prison, where spare time comes easy, a lot of meditation would be no problem. But in a place where frustration, boredom and bitterness make up the mainstream of the vibration, maintaining a calm, peaceful and loving center has its difficulties. The occasions, however, forturning obstacles into opportunities are many.
Premies' cells are decorated differently than other prisoners'. One will find spiritual quotes, pictures of Maharaj Ji and premies, and half-finished pendants scattered around; much different than the pictures of girlfriends and other ladies standard in most cells. In some instances premies have even been classified as "psychologically abnormal cases" by the prison administration. As when a premie turned down a chance to go out on a pass to Vancouver rather than miss a WWA program. In another instance a premie prisoner received a visit from a relative, but he couldn't be located. He was finally found sitting in his cell with a sheet draped over himself. Other premies have been called "unrealistic" because they didn't show bitter disappointment when told that their parole had just been denied.
Then there was the time that Larry got three days in the hole (solitary confinement in a tiny empty room) for breaking a rule when he wasn't on the Word. After the third day when they came to release him, he didn't want to come out. He just sat there smiling, describing the light you could see inside.
The premies in Matsqui form a regular DUO community, and sat-sang and service are organized with the help of Vancouver volunteer premies. Each week there are three different programs; one is held in the Protestant Chapel, open to the entire prison population. Another is for premies and aspirants only - some of whom are not inmates but live nearby the prison. And the third is for inmates only, where the more quiet ones feel easier about opening up. Three evenings a week, Angie Basset, an outside premie, holds yoga and massage classes. Once a month at the prison's open houses, outside premies and inmates can socialize on a casual level along with other visitors. In August, for example, Divine Light Mission will sponsor the open house, and will not only offer skits, workshops, and square dancing, but Vancouver's premies will take over the prison kitchen and cook enough food for over 650 people. From time to time, tours are arranged so that outside premies can see what's actually going on "within inside."
And a lot is going on. Dave Ealing, otherwise known as the Jolly Green Giant when he turns out in his green prison garb, has most of the premies engaged in making wooden pendants and barragons in their houses (cells) - and they're silk-screening T-shirts as well.
Matsqui Premie Products will soon become a legal business, which will mean that premies can work at this full time. There is also a video crew which has taped a visit by Mahatma Gurucharnanand and the open house programs. They are hoping to compile a video tape which can be sent outside. Income from the projects goes into a group fund for propagation materials.
Propagation comes naturally at Matsqui. There's a constantly changing population, only a few places to poster and just one main street corner!"
After emerging from his cell after a few hours of meditation, one premie found a guard he knows, gave him a hug and said, 'I love you.' 'Not so loud!' came the quick reply. 'What if somebody hears you!'