As everyone probably knows, Julie Collet accompanied Derek to the Frankfurt conference. There she joined with many other candidates for the initiator development program, spent a day sharing satsang with them, and spoke with Guru Maharaj Ji about her potential new service. Shortly after the conference where she spent Christmas with Padarthanand.
At that stage, Julie's plans were tentative: following the Frankfurt conference, Guru Maharaj Ji had placed the initiator development program on hold. Then, just prior to the new year, we received word that Julie, together with two English premies-Peter Pont and Nick Seymour-Jones-would soon be on her way to Denver to begin her participation in the initiator development program.
What have these last few months been like for Julie? In an attempt to answer that question to at least some extent, I've printed some excerpts from a letter Julie wrote to Derek and Faith in mid-December.
Dear Derek and Faith,
Just a line to let you know what's happening and how I'm going. Well the good time at Frankfurt certainly hasn't stopped. Seeing Guru Maharaj Ji was quite an incredible experience; the whole day spent with the initiator candidates was also something else. The satsang we had together opened us up to each other in such a way that when we came to say goodbye it was like we had known each other all our lives. The satsang we shared was really honest - we were all saying what we had experienced at the conference and what we were experiencing there and then. It was just like one continual satsang coming from different mouths and it was such a relief to be able to sit down and meditate after spending the whole day waiting.
Anyway everyone got blissed out after seeing Maharaj Ji. For me it was certainly good to be with him again and just being with him took me to a place where it was perfectly natural to let go of all my ideas about my life and being an initiator etc. etc., and made me feel that I could do anything he asked me in whatever way he asked me. It was certainly good to feel like that again. But afterwards, my mind started its old tricks and started questionning, analysing and generally wanting to do its own thing. So I just kept myself meditating - like never before - and almost day by day I could feel the junk going. The whole thing showed me how powerful Maharaj Ji's darshan is. You have to work so hard in your own meditation to get yourself where he can take you in a matter of seconds. But you can get there as I'm experiencing more each day. So actually I'm feeling pretty positive about the whole thing.
So that was seeing Maharaj Ji, and seeing Padarthanand was almost as good. He's a really amazing person. The first thing that struck me when I saw him was just how centered he was, right into his service. It's like when he looks at you really looks to see where you're at, and completely bypasses the personality bit, but he somehow does it in a warm personal way. Everyone in England is really impressed by him - you can imagine, especially in the light of the English mahatma history. But one thing I saw was that it's really easy to ride Padarthanand's vibe - which is so mellow and joyful (happy isn't quite the right word) that it's easy to forget to meditate. That's where Ira was really good. He wouldn't let you get away with not meditating. Each
No. 35, January 1977
initiator has his own particular qualities but Maharaj Ji has the lot, plus.
In England there are a lot of premies who are really into Knowledge, but there are also a lot of premies who have gotten into either just meditation, or Maharaj Ji, and who are therefore still into themselves. The English scene is more extreme than the Australian one. At times it can be really high when satsang takes off, but at others really spacy when when you come up against premies who just can't get out of their misery bag. However with an initiator in the country and in the momentum (to use the latest word) of Frankfurt, you can see many premies getting into realising the purpose of the whole trip. The little satsangs I've been to around London have been really good - small, warm and intimate, honest and relevant; and the whole aspirant scene is quite alive.
I guess the thing with us in Australia is that because we had it so easy, and so good, we can take it all for granted and again ride the vibe.
Anyway, that's probably enough for now. So my love to all. See you some time,
I also spoke to Julie about a week before she left Australia, to work out what, if anything, she would like to convey through the Golden Age.
"I'd like to say something," she told me. "I feel that people have a right to know how I'm feeling at this time, what I've been doing, what I've been going through. Because it's really the community that's sending me to Denver - it's their money …. and it's their trust." So one afternoon I picked up the casette recorder, put it in the car, and drove out to Linley Point where Julie has been living for the last couple of months.
I like Julie. She really is one of my best friends, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. I love her honesty about herself and the faith she has in people, in the ability of Knowledge to work through us all. I like the way she says what she feels, openly, with sensitivity but without trying to cater to concepts. And most of all, I love her love for Knowledge: her constancy in meditation, her willingness to talk with anyone, and the way she takes on whatever is in front of her, be it an aspirant program or a pile of dirty dishes.
How does she feel about her new service? "Well, I can't say for certain whether I will become an initiator - that's something that will come out during the time in Denver.
But I feel really positive about it all. I'm really looking forward to having an avenue where I can channel my energy. For myself, I really need that. I couldn't just sit in a cave and meditate. That energy really needs to come out of me, I really need a way to serve Maharaj Ji.
"At the same time, I no longer feel that it would be better to be doing any particular service more than any other. There was a time when I considered that to be an initiator was the best thing I could do with my life. But I really don't see it that way any more. It's like, whatever we do, it's limited, because we're limited, we're not Guru Maharaj Ji. It's as if I really had to decide this time 'Am I going to do this?' Every service I've had before, I've wanted to do it, to do that particular thing. But now, I don't care. I know I want to serve Maharaj Ji, and I know I need something to channel my energy into, and I'm just waiting to see what channel will come along. If I end up as an initiator, that will be beautiful."
I can sympathise with Julie's desire for service. Personally, I've been grateful that I've had a newspaper to produce through all the changes. Since Julie stopped working at NHQ and touring as a full-on O.T., what has she been up to?
"Well, I spent a while in Brisbane, with the premies there. And then after Derek's wedding I stayed in Melbourne for a couple of weeks. Otherwise I've been in Sydney, living here. So I've been baby-sitting, and washing nappies, and making some clothes for the girls." (Linley Point's inhabitants nowadays are Chris and Kika and their two-month-old baby, Matthew, and David and Carol and 2 year old Cristel Ransome. The fourth member of the Ransome family is due to emerge into the world within the next three weeks). "I was going to get a job, but it really didn't seem worthwhile with the conference coming up. I've been meditating a lot. And people ring me up, or come to see me if they've got something they want to discuss. And that's beautiful.
"It's been really good to just live in the community, as an ordinary premie, making friends with people. Being an O.T., or a member of the national staff, or a community director (Julie was Melbourne's community director for a couple of years) it's so easy for your relationship with people to get coloured by some idea - yours, or theirs - of that role. But that's really breaking down. Like on the way up from Melbourne we stopped in Canberra for a couple of days - it was almost like a holiday because Dick was very tired from travelling around. And rather than it being 'Oh Julie's here. Oh Julie, give us satsang,' everybody just dropped over, and had a cup of tea, and talked to each other … to each other, not just to me.
"It's really coming around to that. To people realising that they have the potential, as much as anyone else, to experience Knowledge, to understand it's importance in their own lives, and to express it. I can really see how, as Knowledge becomes more and more real to us, more and more integrated into our normal lives, we'll be able to propagate in a much more natural, less hyped-up manner. Because people will be able to see the benefits of meditation in premies who are living just like they are themselves, and will be able to find out what they need to prepare themselves, simply through contact with their premie friends.
"Maharaj Ji has so much trust in us. He trusts us with his whole Mission. It really is amazing …"
Silence. A small green beetle clambered through the grass at our feet. Yes indeed: amazing.
"There's one thing I feel very strongly, and that is that I need to be accepted for myself. If I became an initiator, I'm really going to try the best I can to do it well. But I can only try as myself, I can't act out some concept of an initiator. I just hope that what I can give will be enough."
"Hey, it's five to five. Don't you have to be back in town by five?" Chris yelled over the balcony. He was right - although I would have loved to stay. As I started the car, Julie ran out with a farewell gift - a furry bunch of comfrey.
How do you describe it? Sometimes things just feel so right, so beautiful and so natural all at once, that there's really nothing to say. Except, perhaps, "Bon Voyage, Julie. We're all with you.
- Penny Watson.