The Golden Age
An editorial comment
We considered titling this issue of The Golden Age "Understanding". The reason we didn't was because Julie Collet vetoed it. Nevertheless, the theme does have to do with something that could be termed understanding: it's about our awareness of what's involved in being a human being with Guru Maharaj Ji's Knowledge. The reason Julie rejected the title is interesting, and may help to throw some light on what we're trying to do, in this issue, in the Age in general, and in our lives. Her grounds were that the word "understanding" had gathered so many connotations and implications that it had become useless by now. She didn't want us to bill a well-worn idea, she wanted us to be able to offer you something with some real substance behind it.
I guess the main message is that it's easy enough to say something, but it's quite another thing to do it. It's easy enough to call an issue of DLM Australia's national newspaper "Understanding", it's even easy enough to string together an essay on the subject - after all, what with Maharaj Ji's satsang, and satsang every night, we should all be pretty clued up on an intellectual level about these things - but it's another thing to be writing those words from a place where they're real. And it's also another thing to read them, and really apply them in one's life. It's one thing to talk about how "community" is each individual's dedication to Maharaj Ji, but it's another thing to do your bit in meditation towards making the community what it's supposed to be.
What I'm saying here isn't new. Especially over the last few weeks, the cry had been sounded throughout Australia: Derek to the south and Julie to the north have informed us of the dangers of "pseudo-Knowledge". For those who haven't heard, pseudo-Knowledge is a term for doing all the external activities associated with the practice of real Knowledge - going to satsang, working for Divine Light Mission, sitting down for an hour morning and night, speaking softly (or loudly, depending on your concept), eating vegetarian - without really meditating. The thesis on which this alarm has been sounded runs thus: Guru Maharaj Ji says, and certain premies experience, that through the practice of (real) Knowledge, one's life becomes balanced, fulfilled, exciting and full of love. In other words, mind doesn't effect you, and the Knowledge does. However, many young Australians who have supposedly been practising Knowledge for two or three or four years, still find their lives going violently up and down, still experience paranoia, still have trouble giving satsang, still find it hard to get on with this person or that person. So something, it has been surmised, is wrong: either Maharaj Ji's got his wires crossed and Knowledge isn't what he says it is, or else we're not practising it properly.
I don't know what effect the presentation of this argument has had on anyone else. When I first heard it several months ago - from Derek at a Sydney ashram meeting - I got very upset. And where a small fraction of my consciousness recognised that the very strength of my reaction and my inability to control it were proof that what I'd just been told was true and that therefore I should meditate, the large majority of my energy went into rationalising my position - an activity singularly unconducive to meditation since it involved a lot of thinking. Over successive months and successive exposures to the pseudo-Knowledge thesis, this balance of consciousness slowly tipped. Until, after one glorious battle during which my mind simultaneously scanned every alternative to DLM and almost drowned me in paranoia, the realisation that something was wrong with my practice of Knowledge came out on top.
Or rather, the realisation that there was something wrong with my practice of Knowledge and that I could and should do something about it, came out on top. Because I had known there was something wrong for a long time, but I had never been willing to face it, simply because I really thought I was trying as hard as I could. And I feel this is an important point … another title suggested for
No. 31 July 1976
this issue was "Don't be afraid of not experiencing Knowledge". Because I think a lot of us get held back through fear of our own limitations. We feel that if we admit to ourselves that what we're experiencing from Knowledge isn't what we could be experiencing, then we'll also have to admit ultimate defeat. We'll have to admit that we can't do it. When you know there's really nothing else you can turn to, and you're doing your best to practice satsang, service and meditation, being told you're blowing it can make you feel like Alice through the Lookinglass trying to run with the red queen - no matter how much you put in, it seems you can't move any further forward. So you close up, you don't even want to listen to satsang, it's too heavy, too threatening.
Again, I don't know if anyone reading this article is pinned in that feeling, but I can tell you from experience - it's not worth staying there. Openness is the name of the game around here.
The thing I feel we need to realise is that nothing - not your image of yourself, not the way your friends see you, not your particular little service niche, not the comfortable lovey-dovey premie world - nothing is worth preserving if it's holding you back from progressing in Knowledge. When you understand that all you actually want in life is to experience Knowledge, then you can afford to be open, then you can accept the kicks in the backside with the love that they're given. And when you min do that, you'll find that there are other advantages to openness. You'll find that you're also more open to meditation: because your mind is not as busy bolstering up your ego, it has more time for Holy Name. And you'll find you're more open to Maharaj Ji, to trusting that even if you can't do it, he can do it for you, to finding out exactly what he's telling you to do. And what he's telling us to do, it turns out, is very practical. Remember those commandments? They're worth looking at again, worth relating to your own life. Because they're the key to the practice of Knowledge. They're the way you can do more without killing yourself trying, they're the way you can hand over to Maharaj Ji and let him do it.
The way I see it, it isn't that the service, satsang and meditation we've done to date has been wasted. But for a lot of us, a good proportion of the effort we've made to date has been taking us to the point that present-day aspirants get to before they receive Knowledge. A point where we're open and where we're aware that the pure experience of Knowledge is in fact what we want. I know it's taken me years to practically understand that Knowledge is more than just a tool to make my relationships run smoother and work less boring. It's taken a long time to realise that it really is all inside, that basically it shouldn't matter who I live with, or whether DLM does what I think it should do or not.
So presuming we have opened up a little lately, and we have become somewhat aware of the existence of pseudo-Knowledge in our lives, what next? For myself, I can see the need for several things. The most basic is trust, is the understanding that if I do what Maharaj Ji says, then the process is on its way. And of course, the next is meditation. And if that's to be something other than what it's been for the past three years - which is obviously what's called for - I can see that it's got to be done much more consciously now. So I'm looking out for any help I can get to maintain my awareness of what I'm doing … and that means I'm looking for satsang. Satsang about meditation, satsang about the process that occurs when you step up your meditation, satsang about not going back to sleep. And another thing I can see III be needing is a lot of individual determination. Because I'm finding that satsang can only take me a little way. That ultimately, whether I do it or not is up to me.
What we are hoping to do with the Age is to come in on the satsang level. Since its inception over two years ago, the main function of the Age - after that of being a vehicle for Maharaj Ji's satsang - has been to give an overview of DLM Australia, to help tie our community together across the continent. But now I can see it's role changing as the emphasis in the community shifts. I can see it in months to come as a provider of back-up material for people around Australia who are trying to overcome the concepts they have of Knowledge and get into experiencing the real thing.
Which brings me back to what I was saying about the theme of this issue. We've tried here to include satsang that's particularly relevant to the Australian community at this time. And that, I feel, means satsang that's got to do with our awareness of what Knowledge really is and what it isn't, and of what we need to do to develop that awareness so it becomes more than a "realisation" that comes and goes, so that it becomes an understanding which will act as a baseline for whatever we do from that point forward.
So this month there's one of Maharaj Ji's satsangs from his European tour, and Bob Mishler's satsang at the Opera House. There's a discussion between Julie, Kim Field, Tony Lunn and Terry MacKinnell around the question: "Why does Maharaj Ji keep telling us to realise Knowledge?" (I like this one - it's a beautiful example of how real satsang can happen outside the satsang-chair you-speak-and-I'll-just-listen situation), and a letter from Julie.
So anyway, to me it looks like there's quite a climb ahead in order to really get out of all our ideas of Knowledge and into one-hundred-percent-attention constant meditation. But for once I really feel like I want to go climbing. And I guess that's a gear-change. The reason I say "I guess" is because I've learned to be cautious of announcing realisations as if they were absolutes. When I look back over my and my friends' last three years of practising Knowledge, it appears that progress that's real generally happens progressively rather than in jerks. But definitely we seem to have reached a point where we've got the potential to start moving a little faster. That is, if we don't fall back to sleep. That's always a danger… remember what happened after Ira's visit? But hopefully, this gear-change is here to stay. One interesting thing about the latest "leap-forward" is that it wasn't stimulated either by Maharaj Ji coming here or by an initiator visit. It may have had some roots in the Autumn conference, and in Derek and Julie's tours, but at least that's getting nearer to home. Because what we really need, like Maharaj Ji says, is to be self-motivated, rather than depending on someone else. Because who's under the blanket to tell you to keep your attention where it should be, who's standing beside you at work or in the shower to tell you to meditate? And that's what really counts.