People who found Peace.
Guru Maharaj Ji says that people who look for peace get it, and it seems that even if you don't know you're looking for peace, still his Grace is such that he gives you his gift of perfect peace. At the time when Guru Maharaj Ji found me, I was in the middle of what I thought was the most perfect adventure of my life, and yet it was only the last step leading me to the beginning of the real adventure of life, the journey back home to our Father.
My father was a British Army Officer, and until we emigrated to Australia in 1959 we travelled a lot, living in Germany, North Africa and Scotland. I was a shy child and found it very difficult to make friends
I lived most of the time in a fantasy world out of the latest Enid Blyton book I was reading. When I was nine I was sent from Scotland to an English boarding school. I didn't realise what was happening until after my mother had left me, and then I cried for three whole days. I never quite recovered from the ignominy of that, and was only too happy to leave a year later when we emigrated to Australia.
My father bought a farm about 80 miles from Sydney, and soon I was sent to another boarding school. It took me a year to make any friends there. Because I was so shy and found it so difficult to make friends, I began to feel that the people who were happiest were those who had lots of friends around them, and these were the sort of girls I wanted to be friends with at school. But somehow I never quite made it to the level I aspired to until I left school, and to fill in a compulsory year at home in the country, did a secretarial course at the local tech. There were only about twenty girls there, and to my incredulous joy I found myself being accepted by the three noisiest (and therefore to my mind, the happiest) girls there.
The following year I went to live in Sydney, and again found that I was being accepted, this time into a crowd of very cynical, drunken, people. I was deliriously happy, life couldn't have been rosier. For a long time I overdid the drinking, the looning around, still feeling that I had to do something to be accepted. Finally in early 1969 I left the person I had been living with and decided to go to London.
For the first month or so in London I again experienced the loneliness of not knowing anyone, of having no friends to rely on. Then an old friend from Sydney returned from Morocco, and stayed in my flat for a few days before flying off to America with a couple of kilos. I had smoked a little dope before, but this was my first adventure into heavy smoking.
After Hub left I started to meet English and Australian freaks who introduced me to the "hippie philosophy", and I felt that this was what I had been waiting for all the time. I moved into a basement flat in Earls Court with eight others and jumped head first into being a freak. We used to go to the big rock festivals like the two at the Isle of Wight, and at Bath, and for me, more than the music, it was the feeling of unity with all my brothers and sisters there that I would flash on.
I really felt a part of the new brotherhood of man growing up in communes and festivals all over the world. During the summer I used to travel in Europe and Morocco and I really loved the feeling of being on the road, and the instant brotherhood with all other freak travellers that you met.
At the beginning of 1971 a brother from New Zealand, Steve, moved in with us. Although he was really quiet and gentle, he had a very strong effect on us. He was a vegetarian and was into yoga and pretty soon we were all vegetarians and doing yoga together every night. After we'd done hatha yoga, we'd all try to meditate together, usually on a candle flame, and we found ourselves all getting very spaced out. So we added yoga and meditation to the long list of things that got us high.
That spring everyone was leaving London - our flat was breaking up and people were heading for distant places - Canada, India, America, Australia. I didn't feel I was ready to leave London for good yet, and was going to go to Morocco for a couple of months. Then one Sunday afternoon a friend and I were out looking for some dope and he started talking to me about his travels in India, and said, "Why don't you go Susie, I know you'd really love it there." And I just knew that I would go - it suddenly felt really right.
Sometimes you don't know what you're looking for until you stumble over it.
Susie Gardner-Brown retraces her steps to Knowledge …
So finally in June 1971 I fly to Delhi. As it happened, I find out later that I flew London-Delhi exactly one week before Guru Maharaj Ji flew Delhi-London - even then he was looking after me, giving me time to get sick of my toys!
From the moment I step off the plane in Delhi, I am in love with India - it really feels like I'm coming home. I have always loved Eastern countries and can't believe my good fortune in being here. It is so incredible. I am only going to stay for three months, but quickly wipe that idea from the slate. One of the first things that happens to my head is that I realise the futility of making plans. It was hard enough to know where the evening would take me, let alone tomorrow or next week. My whole life slows down dramatically and I realise the value of living in the present moment, or as close to it as I can get.
I stay in Delhi for a couple of days and then head on up to the mountains where some of my friends from London are living in a tiny village 30 miles from Tibet. We smoke ourselves sick, meet various beautiful and exotic freaks and generally play all the games that freaks play in India. After a couple of months of wandering round northern India I find myself in Nepal. Again it is like coming home - I feel I could live there for the rest of my life. I settle down in a house in a village with some others, and it is there one night over the usual chillums, Tarot cards and I Ching that I first hear a mention of Guru Maharaj Ji. Someone says something about a 13 year old child guru, but my head is too doped out to pick up on it.
When Love Beckons
One day I am sitting in a friend's house and pick up a book that is lying on his bed. It is Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, and it just blows my mind. I have never read anything so beautiful before. I read "When Love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep", and something happens inside me. I really want to find that love, to know it. But once again I sink back into the dope-filled semi-oblivion, and don't get it together to do anything about it.
In October it starts to be moving-on time again. Everyone is starting to head off for Goa for the winter. Two friends of mine, Pepe and Bruno, leave to fly to Europe with some dope and then back again to Goa. Another girl I know, Cookie, leaves and we make arrangements to meet up in Goa. Finally at the beginning of November it is time for me to make a move too, so I go to Delhi, en route for Bombay and Goa. I am determined not to waste time hanging around in Delhi this time, but just to collect some money and go. The day after I arrive there I walk past a hotel where Cookie had told me she always stayed when in Delhi. I know she won't be there because she left a month before me, but for some reason I pop my head in to see if she is there. And she is, with an English boy, Mark, who I am told is studying at Benares University. At first I understand he has come to Delhi to go to some Indian musical concerts, but then I discover he is a member of a spiritual group and about 500 others are staying in a campground in the middle of Delhi. Mark has come to attend this festival. He doesn't tell me much about it, but says, "You should come along Susie, there's a lot of love flowing there." And I think, well that sounds quite groovy for the afternoon, so the three of us head off for Ram Lila Grounds.
I'll never forget walking into Ram Lila Grounds tha afternoon. I discovered later that Guru Maharaj Ji had arrived back in India that morning, but at the moment all I knew was that when I walked into the campsite a wave of incredible love hit me - so tangible you could have cut it with a knife. There in front of me were about 500 Westerners and 5,000 Indians, and all of them were just radiating love. People were walking around with stars in their eye - quite literally. There was a group of people sitting in the middle of the grounds singing, "The Lord of the Universe has come to us this day". And despit the confusion of Old Delhi and quite a lot of activity at the campsite, there was such peace, s tranquillity.
Premies started to give us Satsang, and I couldn't understand a word - my mind couldn't grasp the words - but inside my heart was exploding with joy. Whatever it was they were talking about, I wanted I couldn't bear to leave the campsite - someone lent me a blanket that night and the next day I made a lightning dash into the maya of Delhi to collect belongings, and after that I didn't leave the company of premies. It was such an incredible three days. About five people I had known and loved in Nepal appeared at Ram Lila Grounds.
I became so thirsty for Satsang I would pester people and Mahatmas for Satsang until 2 am or later. An then at about 4 am we would go singing through the sleeping tents, "Rise and shine and give God your glory, glory, children of the Lord", waking every one to go on incredible long processions through the waking streets of Old Delhi, singing the praises of Guru Maharaj Ji in English and Hindi.
Finally the time came to go to Prem Nagar. Cookie and I arrived a day or so later, and when we walked up the drive of Prem Nagar it was really like coming home. It was just like Paradise, with angels walking around in the Garden of Eden, singing the praises the Lord. And so we settled down to get ourselve ready to receive this priceless gift.
Premies told me that I should wait to receive Knowledge until I had a really burning desire and I knew this was right. But then about three or four days after we had arrived, it was announced in morning Satsang that those people who had not
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come from the West especially for the festival should leave and come back after the premies from the West had left, as Prem Nagar was very crowded. And my only thought was that I just couldn't leave without Knowledge - I couldn't face the thought of having to go back to the way I had been living before because I could see how empty my life had been. So I decided I had to get Knowledge, ready or not.
And after a day of Satsang on the roof of Prem Nagar, finally the six or seven of us were taken into Mahatma Guru Charnanand's room. I knew I wasn't ready, but I forced myself to stay anyway. Just before we actually received Knowledge, a premie assisting Mahatma Ji told us that Guru Maharaj Ji's given name, Prempal, meant Love Giver. And then he read Khalil Gibran's words on Love from The Prophet. "When Love beckons you, follow him …" And it just blew my mind because everything was clicking into place, and I just knew that everything would be all right. However, my mind made a lightning comeback, and by the time I came out of the Knowledge session I was crying, sure that I had missed it.
But Guru Maharaj Ji, in his infinite compassion, kept me in the company of his saints and himself, (of course we didn't have to leave Prem Nagar in the end), and slowly, slowly as I started to put the Knowledge into practice I started to realise that I hadn't missed it. Life at Prem Nagar was just a fairytale, more and more magical every morning. One morning I woke up with an incredible warm feeling in my heart, and I realised that I loved Guru Maharaj Ji. Just a few days after that it was Guru Maharaj Ji's 14th Birthday, and we prepared such celebrations that they overflowed to the day after. And on the evening after his birthday, finally Guru Maharaj Ji really burst this little heart wide open - telling us that when the Perfect Master came all that he wanted was our love, all he was hungry for was our love. And I realised that all I wanted out of my life was to love and be loved by Love Himself.
Sometimes you don't know what you're looking for until you stumble over it. Susie Gardner-Brown retraces her steps to Knowledge …