Patience wins on Philadelphia's city line.
After a year of unprecedented hassles, Philadelphia premies finally have what they've always wanted - happy neighbors, ashram residents all together in their own ashram home, and a convenient place to have satsang.
When the Philadelphia ashram was on the prestigious City Line Avenue, the neighbors used to watch its residents like hawks; not because they thought they would see an example of true spirituality, alive in the 20th century, but because they wanted to get rid of it. Hugo ("H") Hanson, the Philly DUO director, had been in and out of the zoning board of appeals on quite a few occasions. Neighbors kept bringing up cases; they just couldn't see how a house full of so many young and unrelated men and women could benefit their community … even if they all were living a monastic lifestyle and even if their leader, Guru Maharaj Ji, had received citations on numerous occasions for his work "relieving inward human suffering."
Finally, about four months ago the City Line ashram was forced to close. Announcing the move, the area newspaper summed up in a happy mood: "We have finally beaten the Gurus." Unfortunately, things weren't so happy for the premies. As they were packing up their furniture and clothes, no prospect of a new ashram home was near. The "helpless orphans" were split up and stayed in the houses and apartments of local premies. At first, hopes for relocation ran high, "It will only be for ten days," "H" said. But ten days soon stretched out into six weeks, and then into four months.
"One phrase people give a lot of lip service to is that you can't depend on anything in this world to bring you peace. Only Guru Maharaj Ji can do that. So this is what the ashram residents here found out as they were yanked out of their settled, routine life and thrust into apartments, premie houses and their minds. For someone who is accustomed to waking up to arti and going to bed after a quiet, concentrated meditation, waking up to meditate while a playful kitten uses your barragon as a scratching post and then trying to go to sleep while Led Zepplin comes crashing through the floor of the upstairs apartment is not exactly the most ideal exchange. The cramped living situation made for a lot of opportunities for growth for all premies involved and it was not unusual for ashram premies to move 2 or 3 times in that four month period.
"The changes, of course, all had their rewards. Many times it was simply inspiration to dive a little deeper into the Knowledge, but there were also the outright beautiful changes which happened as a result of the ashram being separated. Actually, because of a court order, satsang stopped happening at the ashram around the time of Hans Jayanti '74. So we had to develop a pretty extensive satellite satsang program which really helped to pull the community together. These satellite satsangs helped to bring satsang out to the premies in all regions of the city so that they could attend more often."
During all of this growing and changing, the search was on for a new house, but one promising deal after another fell through.
"At first we were only considering renting something, but after losing hope on that we turned to the alternative of buying. It was then that Ted Levitt stumbled upon the beautiful home we now occupy. It became apparent how much grace was involved as the deal developed.
"First of all, the house was only about 5 blocks away from the old ashram where we had been engaged with legal hassles with our neighbors for over a year. Our first reaction was to snicker as we had been moved a mere five blocks away, but at the same time there was a feeling of apprehension about whether a new battle might ensue. Therefore, we started taking precautionary measures to get proper zoning, etc., ahead of time.
"Next, and probably even more paramount, was the need for money. Originally, the owners were asking $65,000 which was really reasonable considering the size and location. Being young, naive, inexperienced, typical premies we had no idea if the house was in good condition, if the price was fair, or anything. It is beautiful to be blissful, but the business world deals in practicalities, so we couldn't bank on ear to ear smiles to settle all of the necessary arrangements. It was then that Guru Maharaj Ji had Steve Clofine, a premie real estate broker from Reading, Pennsylvania, enter the scene. He came in and made a thorough examination of the house and then told us to make a jaw-dropping bid of $45,000. They accepted. Now all we needed was a down- payment of $13,000.
"Premies are never known to be bathing in riches and $13,000 is quite a lot of money to get together, especially in a two month period. But after being without an ashram for several months, everyone was eager to do their part in raising the money. We were able to raise the money through personal donations and special fundraising events such as several videos of Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang, a smorgasbord dinner, a meditation retreat and a project of putting up posters for a Carnival coming to town. Actually, as you can see, it was not difficult to sacrifice money for such blissful events, but many people went beyond the admission price and gave sizeable donations, finally totaling $14,835.85 with extra money used for repairs, etc.
"Then, as we got the money together, it came time to move in. Again, the community came together to fix up their ashram. Painters, carpenters, and general hard workers came and began to put the premie vibe into the old place.
"Finally, our relationship with our new neighbors is A-OK. We just want to really keep up a good image and cooperate as much as possible.
"The premies here love our ashram and really have come to realize its great value. The first night of satsang at the ashram in 9 months brought 125 people and attendance continues to be good."
Denver premies start hotel.
Suppose you were planning to move to or pass through Denver? Or perhaps you live in Denver and are "in-between" living situations; or perhaps you would just like a meditation retreat. Then again, maybe your parents are coming for a visit. What to do? Why the Premrose Hotel is just the place for you! Opened in September, the Premrose is owned by, managed by and run strictly for premies.
Located at 1456 Vine Street in the heart of the Denver Community, the large three-story house has twenty-three rooms and accommodates twenty-eight guests and a small staff.
The rooms are simple, yet cozy; with a nook, a cranny, or a sloping ceiling in almost every one, they seem to almost pull you in. There is a meditation room where people can gather morning and night, and a dining room for family meals.
The house itself (built around 1895) is very sturdy with beautiful wood paneling and a number of fireplaces. The former owners used it as a boarding house, so the basics for a hotel were there; the premies having to make only a few repairs and quite a bit of cleaning and painting before opening up.
The idea for the Premrose first came about when a Denver community premie, Tally Sorenson, was working with the DUO office trying to find places for premies to live. She was on the phone so much that the premies she lived with used to answer the phone "Tally's answering service … Do you need a place to stay?" It seemed that her premie house was forever overrun with people staying "overnight." So, she and some of the premies living with her (Jim and Pat Crozier) thought "… maybe a bigger house" then, "why not a hotel for premies?"
A wonderful person with a long white beard received Knowledge last winter, and soon after agreed to finance the venture. They soon found the Vine Street house and were on their way. As Jim Crozier, now the Premrose manager, said, "It's about time. Every small town has a school, a grocery store and a laundromat, and so does our community. This is like the first hotel."
A beautiful clincher, the Premrose only charges $6.00 per person per day, including two delightful vegetarian meals. If you're coming to Denver and plan to stay at the Premrose, make advance reservations so you'll be sure to have a room. There is a two week limit for guests. Aspirants are welcome, of course.
Guru Maharaj Ji, born December 10, 1957.
Divine Times would like to join premies around the world in wishing Guru Maharaj Ji a happy 18th birthday, and in pledging ourselves on this occasion to work in every way we can to help Maharaj Ji succeed in his mission of bringing peace on earth.