A Festival of Knowledge
To the 9,000 people who came from 40 countries for the Festival of Knowledge this summer in Miami, Maharaji made his point simply and eloquently.
"Knowledge," he said, "is for everyone.
"The problems of society, of individuals, of nations big and small stem from the same thing; keeping our eyes closed. Open your eyes and you'll find every single answer."
Festival goers arrived in Miami for the huge three-day convention from North and South America. Europe, Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, as well as from many other points on the globe. The program was the first international festival to he held outside of India in the past 10 years.
Responding to the first announcement of the Festival in early May, over 300 volunteers from many nations joined their efforts to make the necessary preparations for what turned out to be a very major international project.
Georges Legere of Montreal was in charge of global communications. "At a certain point," he recalled, "I had the sensation that the whole world was waking up and moving. It was very exciting."
Planners handled the staggering jobs of coordinating convention registration and hotel arrangements for the mammoth crowd. The program had to be translated into 12 languages and, at the Arena, a state-of-the-art infrared interpretation system was set up to broadcast Maharaji's message to some 1,800 foreign guests.
Due to the rioting that had taken place earlier this year in the neighborhood surrounding the Arena, considerable attention was given to security. Shuttle buses and Miami's new elevated People Mover whisked attendees between their hotels and the hall.
Responsibility for almost every element of the Festival of Knowledge was in the hands of Ted Levitt, operations coordinator from Miami. "Maharaji," he said, "wanted people to be cared for, to have a wonderful experience."
In contrast to the complexity of the arrangements, Maharaji kept emphasizing the simplicity of Knowledge. "Knowledge is simplicity at its best," he said.
A newly released documentary videotape, Windows of Time, took the 9,000 viewers on a spellbinding trip with Maharaji around the world as he offered Knowledge from the late 1960s to the present.
The Festival reached an unforgettable peak on the morning of the final clay when Maharaji read a series of his own poems expressing his profound feelings of love and respect for Knowledge and his Teacher.
To the many people waiting to be instructed
"KNOWLEDGE IS SIMPLICITY
AT ITS BEST."
in the techniques of Knowledge, Maharaji acknowledged that the preparation process has been taking a long time. "Aspirants come to me, and they're very nervous. And I say, 'Relax! You will have Knowledge.' Knowledge is a process. If you take something beautiful and throw time at it, that thing becomes a fiasco."
For Festival of Knowledge guest Alan Aaronson, formerly of Manchester, England, and now living in Miami, the Festival was the first program he had attended in years. "I didn't know how dry and far away I was. I was deeply touched. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it's like everything was being directed just for me. And to see many shiny faces from back in Europe and other countries was like seeing old friends again."
On Sunday evening, as the Festival drew to a close, Maharaji spoke specifically to people who say they are having difficulty practicing Knowledge.
"It's a struggle that's not even needed. Just remember," Maharaji said, "how good you feel after you've done it. Practice this Knowledge for yourself. Don't do it for me, don't do it for your wife, for your husband or for anyone else. Enjoy it. Run with it."