GROUP MEDITATION will be held on the grounds in front of the main stage. Bring your baragon, blanket and reentry gear. Starts at 9 a.m. sharp.
At 10, there will be a Folk Rock Mass Sunday Celebration hosted by the City of Love and Light, at the Main Stage area. Brunch also at ten.
MAINSTAGE: Today the public has been invited to share our festival with us. They'll be arriving about one o'clock for an introductory program arranged especially for them. Guru Maharaj Ji is scheduled to speak as the highlight of this program, and will be followed by the Divine Light Dance Ensemble doing their classic dance Krishna Lila.
ELSEWHERE: Films are on as usual at the TraveLodge Hotel. Knowledge Reviews begin at 10:30 a.m. (Don't forget to get your ticket first!) Community presentations will be happening … PLA skits, satsang and music from around the country. Check it out. See how your favorite community is doing. (See insert for specifics.)
In the afternoon, the Boston PLA extravaganza, The Hotel, will go on in the Grande Hall of the Carlton.
At 7:30 p.m., we'll all gather together one more time at the Main Stage to have our Lord's darshan and spend the evening in joyful celebration with him.
WHAT WE DID
Sunday. Can it be Sunday already? We wouldn't even allow ourselves to think about it, or anything else, and went right down to the main stage for Group Meditation. After that, we just stayed put for the "Folk Mass" — Sunday morning satsang by whatever name is a welcome addition to our life. By then we were so intoxicated with the simple practice of Knowledge, we completely forgot about brunch and made our way over to the Knowledge Review, which, by his Grace, was happening almost continuously.
We staggered back into the sunshine after a socko two hours with Mahatma Ji and began to wander, with a classic blissed-out expression on our face, back across the field.
The closer we got to the lake and the ma instage, the more we noticed groups of people we didn't know at all. Where were they from? Vancouver? Then we remembered: this afternoon Maharaj Ji was going to address himself to the public! Listening to the premies give satsang we couldn't help noticing how things had changed — no Bolie Shri's or any Lord of the Universe talk. (Let's keep that a secret between him and us.)
The program was capped with Maharaj Ji's satsang. It had been so long since he'd done a public program, we couldn't imagine the effect it must have on the people who'd just come for the first time, to be introduced to the Knowledge by the Perfect Master himself! Then we thought of the public tour he might do next year … and then we decided it best to not think at all.
Try and Try and Try
Raja Ji's Satsang in Minneapolis, Minnesota 1 October 1975
I don't really know what to say. It gets a bit difficult sometimes, you know. This world is a heavy place to be in — to experience Maharaj Ji's Grace and then at the same time experience the world. It's quite heavy, unless we experience Maharaj Ji constantly all the time, which is not really possible for us to do, because we are not all that good in it. I think you know what I mean.
We go to a room, sit and meditate, and then we go out into the street and see everything really heavy happening, the whole trip. Then we see the TV if we want, and the news, and it's even more heavy. So we turn that off and try to sit in meditation, because that's the only place we can go to be somewhere far out, to be somewhere away from all this craziness which is going on in this world.
And, that's what Maharaj Ji really wants us to do — to be in a place in our head where it can really be far out for us. That's why he really came — to reveal to us this Knowledge, to give us this beautiful meditation. Really it depends on us how much we try to meditate and try to get into it. He says, "Give me your mind, and I will give you peace. Give me your worries and I will give you peace." Then it just depends on us how much we really get into the meditation.
A lot of people have a very beautiful excuse for this meditation, which is that they don't have to do it "formally." That's the exact word. "Do you meditate?" "Well, not exactly, because … I mean, not formally. I don't sit in meditation. But, you know what I mean? I am doing it all the time anyway, so I don't have to do it formally." It's a very logical sounding explanation. "Maharaj Ji says you can do this meditation all the time. I don't have to sit under the blanket at my bed to do it, you know." And you can't really argue with him, because he'll say, "But, it's still far out," and buts all the way.
It's difficult. I think that's a problem most premies face once they have received Knowledge — the commitment to meditate. But the more they meditate, the more love they experience towards Maharaj Ji. I mean, no premies can come to me and say, "I am really meditating a lot, but I don't feel any love towards Maharaj Ji." That's a completely illogical experience, because that's what Maharaj Ji is — meditation. That's why you meditate — because you love him. And if you meditate, and you say you don't love him, it's impossible. You have to love him to meditate.
You know, sometimes people really love him, but they don't experience anything in meditation, and even then it's far out. That's the case a lot of times with me. I don't really, honestly, sit and meditate so much, but I love Maharaj Ji and I'll do anything for him. That's my way of seeing it. Because, you know, till when can we meditate? We are so crazy. Who are we to sometimes say that we are together? We are not together.
All we can hope is that Maharaj Ji's Grace is there, and that he loves us. And all we can do is really try to meditate and have that love towards him. We don't even know what love is all about, but we have a certain feeling towards him; we have a certain, very sensitive kind of emotion towards him and we call that love. We say, "Maharaj Ji, we love you," in the unselfish sense of the word 'love'. "We really love you." But we don't know what love is.
That's the point we have to be, to really love him. Meditation is something far out, but it only happens by his Grace. It's just another step. The TV in every country has described the techniques. You can go buy a book and read the Knowledge techniques in it. But you don't experience anything. Because the techniques themselves are nothing without Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace. It's the Grace which counts; it's the love Maharaj Ji has which counts; it's the connection which you establish with him that counts.
Maharaj Ji gave that Knowledge really easy to us. I think when most of us received it, it was really easy. So now it's upon us, it's upon our shoulders how much we try to tune into it, try to get into it.
And it's never going to be enough, you know. I know that, and I think you know that too, but we have to always make the attempt to try to realize it. Okay, I know it's never going to be enough, but I'm still gonna do it. I'm going to try one more step, try one more step. If we have that determination, that sincerity to try and try and try, beautiful. Because Maharaj Ji is so beautiful that he'll say, "He is trying so much I should let him have it anyway," and he is going to give it to us, as much as we need. But that attempt, that sincerity has to be there for him to help us. That real sincerity, that real childlike heart, that childlike sincerity.
Let Us Join Him In His Work
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Already it is the last day of this year's Hans Jayanti — without a doubt the highlight of 1975. And we can just about be sure that we're going to hear the same thing ringing in our ears that Guru Maharaj Ji has been telling us festival after festival: it can be a continuous experience, if we want it to be.
Over the last few days a couple of things have kept recurring to me which are always illustrated when Maharaj Ji calls his premies together at a time like this. First of all, in this whole Mission, and really the whole world, it's clear that no one works harder than Guru Maharaj Ji. His sole purpose in being in this world at all is to make the experience of Knowledge, of true peace and love, a continuous one for each of us. And that takes constant effort on his part. This past year he travelled to every corner of the world to care for his premies and ensure that everyone could have his darshan. This Hans Jayanti festival is his present for us, culminating a year of growth inside and out. And at this festival today he will be giving his first public satsang in the U.S. since Millennium; and it's the first time he's given a public and a premie program in the course of one day since 1972 at the first Guru Puja in America, in Montrose. He is more than willing to make the time and the effort to accomplish his mission, if we are willing to do our part, practice Knowledge and serve him. It's that simple.
Now that Maharaj Ji has arranged for us to gather here with him, how much will we let him take us? He can throw us up in the air again, but will we stretch our wings as he's taught us, so we can fly? The effects of the effort he has put in to this festival and this whole year can be very far-reaching, if we take what we're getting and put it into the practice of Knowledge under his agya … and we can be sure that the festival next year will heighten it all and send us off again!
Last year Maharaj Ji told us he wanted us to develop independently strong communities, something only possible if we are becoming independently strong individuals. And ones who realize the importance of cooperation and coordination among ourselves for the sake of bringing Maharaj Ji's message to the world.
By the grace of Guru Maharaj Ji, we do have another year ahead of us, to grow as he directs us, in which we can start utilizing the potential he has given us with this human life. Let's take from his constant example and join him, all of us together, in his work.
Have a wonderful and conscious year.
Your brother in his service, Lou Schwartz
A Letter From Mike Donner
Dear brothers and sisters,
There is nothing more important than agya in the life of premies; nothing except perhaps the effort to do, to live, the agya that is given everyday. Maharaj Ji has given each of us the agya of Service, Satsang and Meditation.
To put it profanely, Maharaj Ji is not an idiot. He doesn't waste words, doesn't waste time, doesn't take useless actions. Deep in our hearts we know that his plan is perfect. But knowing it's perfect generally and applying his plan specifically are often two different matters.
None of us is special. The game to overcome the mind's influence on us and experience pure love instead, is the same for us all. Simply, it's to live the agya of service, satsang and meditation each day in our lives, and thereby realize Knowledge.
We weave service, satsang and meditation together each day into a coat of many colors that we give back to out' Lord in devotion. Each strand has its importance, its significance, its own color. Together, these strands reflect each of the others' beauty; they reflect the harmony that is worthy of God and man.
For some of us it's easy to give and listen to satsang, for others of us meditation is the most natural of the triple thread, for many of us, service is the easiest. But essentially we must learn to live and use each of these three colors perfectly to feel complete, to be one with our Creator.
I sat down to write about the importance of service. But the words you have just read had to be shared first as a context for what will follow. Seven months in prison after three years of very intense service was like being put in a desert without water after three years of plenty on an oasis. It didn't take me the entire seven months to experience a thirst for service. But each day, I understand a little more what service means to me.
There were many hours, many days when I was doing work within some aspect of Divine Light Mission and thought I was doing Service. When I wasn't coming from meditation, when I wasn't remembering who I was trying to serve, I was serving my own mind and not Guru Maharaj Ji. In my effort to do as much as I could, I sometimes missed the point. Everything we do is not automatically service. Service must, by its own nature, be conscious; then perhaps automatic.
Actually it can become pretty simple. The more we realize Knowledge, the more we know about our purpose in life. The more we realize who is Guru Maharaj Ji, the more we feel the desire to serve him, to help him implement his plan for this world. Service to Maharaj Ji is our purpose, I feel.
No matter what our situation in life remains, or becomes, to serve him is the reason we are in those situations. If we are married and are living in a small town, we are there to serve Maharaj Ji. If we are single and living in a large premie community, we are there to serve Maharaj Ji. If we are in a penitentary for a given time, we are there to serve him. He has us there and it is up to us to turn the life line of that situation into rope holding us to his feet — through making that situation conscious service to him.
It becomes a simple matter of priorities, doesn't it? No matter what the individual situation, ashram or jail-house, the same combination of effort (service) and Grace apply. Do we eat to live or live to eat? We have to have our priorities straight each and every day, in every way. Food is fuel to help us continue to serve. Our community and friends are precious gifts to help us serve him, to help us create his Mission. We should try hard to avoid getting caught in the illusion that the tools of this planet are ends in themselves, no matter how special or idealistic they might seem. When we are one pointed in our priorities to serve him first, everything else follows.
When we call upon faith and remember that Maharaj Ji is completely in control and is not an idiot; when we surrender just enough not to care about the results of our actions; then we will be motivated to take that step into service and find ourselves bathed in the warmth and joy that only practicing Knowledge can bring. Only then will we experience the joy of that pure harmony that is completely independent of the particulars of this world.
And automatically, the Coat of Many Colors will knit itself.
Your brother in His Love Mike Donner
Inner Beauty in the World
When I ran into Justine poolside on Friday and we shared some satsang about her life, I was struck again by this amazing humility that premies find in front of Maharaj Ji. He gives it slowly in just the right doses so that we will be able to do his work. Justine is a wonderful premie who has been very active in the field of cosmetics and beauty for the last ten years. Three years ago she was working with Charles Revson, the president of the Revlon cosmetic company, disigning the highly successful line of Ultima II beauty products. After working in the original conception of the line she traveled extensively as Revlon's star make-up artist promoting the products.
Justine is now "freelancing" as she calls it, working on a variety of projects including a new book that is tentatively called Inner Beauty. The idea for the book came after Knowledge, she told me.
"I always had a feeling that the way a person related to that innermost part of themselves — their soul — was a vital factor in their beauty. But until I received Knowledge, I didn't have any way of talking about it. Because it was not until I received Knowledge that I really could see, touch, taste and hear that inner energy."
Going on to tell some of the things that helped her come to the point of receiving Knowledge, Justine continued, "I used to teach a beauty and make-up class at Vidal Sassoon's in New York. I worked with models as well as 'civilian' women. Sometimes I would get into telling them about the soul. They would often shake their heads in disbelief, but I would give them examples to explain what I meant. I told them that 'say you run into a really dear friend that you haven't seen in ten years. When you see them, you run up and immediately get into hugging and loving each other. This is an experience of your two souls recognizing each other. They could appreciate an example like that. Then I would go on to describe the universal energy. Yet I was operating on faith and theories. I wasn't happy because I didn't have the practical experience. I would pray to God and ask him to help me. I asked him to please show me the way out. I was sick of the ups and downs. I just didn't want to do it anymore.
"Then one day I was coming out of the subway and I saw this poster of Maharaj Ji when he was twelve years old. It said, 'The Lord of the Universe will speak at New York University.' I thought, hmmm, now there is someone who can help me. So I jotted the address down and clipped it in the front of my address book.
"I didn't actually receive Knowledge until about two and a half years later, after I had done the work at Revlon. I loved being at Revlon. When I traveled for them, I would always talk to newspaper people about the spiritual side of beauty. But still I wasn't satisfied. I was looking for ultimate meaning in life. I knew there had to be something better. I don't mean in the worldly sense, I really enjoyed my work. I wanted a spiritual awakening. So again I asked God to please help me. That time, I had a deep feeling that
"Then I took a vacation from business. I started to walk out on ten years' experience. For a while I considered never getting back into beauty and cosmetic work. Gradually, as Knowledge became a strong and real experience for me, I saw that I could go into the thick of it without being affected. Because you can meditate anywhere.
"Another thing that I feel very strongly urging me back into the cosmetic world is that this is my service. The people here are people that I can reach and share the experience of Knowledge with. We're not the only ones who are thirsty for truth. Everyone is thirsty. So many people are waiting, praying just like we were waiting and praying. And I can't believe how wonderful it is to have the honor of telling them. We are Maharaj Ji's hands and feet. It's a most amazing privilege."
I figured it was going to be an effort to write this article. I was all ready to call it Effort and Grace, and hope the grace would show up before the effort became unbearable. But it's been completely effortless, and utterly graceful, from the moment I sat down in front of my typewriter. (Have you noticed that secretaries always sit behind typewriters, while writers sit in front of them? I used to think it was cultural chauvinism, but I found out the other day, it's because secretaries can type with their eyes closed, but writers have to look where their fingers are going.)
Effort and Grace were happily married last eternity. Rumor has it that Effort complains he does all the work, while Grace just sits back and gets things accomplished. It's not an unusual pattern for a successful marriage, and it looks likely to work for the forseeable future. (Have you noticed how little/much of the future is for-seeable these days?)
Seriously though, Effort is rewarded by a cloudburst of Grace. First you learn a formula, a discipline, and then you can put it to work. It happens in writing. As soon as you've practiced the techniques of writing enough, things start pouring through you. It happens in music. As soon as you master the chord sequences, songs start to pop up in your head. It happens in meditation too, but I'm still… let's just say, I need some more effort.
Take rites and rituals. R and R. They don't reach the goal, right? Without the grace of Satguru, right?
Well, what about with the grace of Satguru? Unfair question? First you learn the rites and rituals (they may not seem very alive at this stage) and then grace springs up and fills them (and you). Mind you, I'm talking about Arti now, not necessarily High Mass.
Organization can seem awful at first, but then one fine day Lo and Behold grace comes and uses the organization. And you find yourself pulled out of England and sent to sunny Florida. For a taste of darshan. That can't be bad, can it?
First make the effort, then cash in on the grace. Okay?
Effort underway? Willing to surrender? Ego's Last Stand? Well, look out, 'cause grace is gonna get you. *
See, hear, but most of all participate in a great epic:
The story of human life!
Presented at Hans Jayanti by the Boston PLA
"What I mean to say is have faith in God and meditate upon Him."
— Guru Maharaj Ji, Dehra Dun, 1966
"And do meditation, it's very, very important."
— Guru Maharaj Ji, Rome, 1973
"Those who meditate on this Knowledge, they can never go astray. They will definitely make it, no matter what happens."
— Guru Maharaj Ji, Delhi, 1975
TWENTY-FOUR HOUR CONTINUOUS SHOWING
In the works
for over a year …
the "wedding film" is just the beginning of the
FAMILY OF LOVE
the greatest love story ever told —
and the one that never ends …
* with selected shorts:
& Satsang Cinema
THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO
as featured in Guru Maharaj Ji's Caracas satsang. Continuous showings with a special surprise treat.
"This is the movie we've all been waiting for."
— Maxine Starr, H.J. Gazette
Buster Friendly …
(and His Friendly Friends)
— you'll love 'em
Kim Cantor and the time/breath machine of Dr. Leon
a Science Fiction serial in 3 parts
The story so far: Kim Cantor is a photographer with the power to transmit what he sees with his mind's eye onto photographic paper. In the precious episodes, his awareness was projected into the consciousness of Nuri, a disciple of the twelfth century muslim poet-saint Attar of Nishapur, by means of Dr. Edgar Leon's time/breath machine. In this final episode, Cantor returns to the present, bringing with him Attar's message to the twentieth century.
To Dr. Leon, watching Kim Cantor from the comfort of his control room, everything seemed in order. The subject was responding nicely, his respiratory rate varying from fifteen down to five breaths per minute, with a corresponding slowing of his overall metabolism, and heart rate dropping five points in a minute. There was a notable pick-up as the subject moved into the visitor phase, in which his awareness was actually in synch with that of the remote subject, Nuruddin, back in the twelfth century.
A team flown into San Francisco from the Teheran Institute for the Deaf worked at lip-reading Cantor, as his body registered in miniature the experiences he was having, eight hundred years and nine thousand miles away, deep within his own breath.
His subvocals were taped, and passed to another team of Islamic specialists for transcription. Both teams insisted that their work was no more than a series of inspired guesses, yet a remarkable agreement emerged between them. It proved possible to deduce almost everything that was said in the presence of the remote subject, except when two or more people spoke at once.
Sheikh Attar was speaking about the future: he declared a time would come when people's faces would somehow … be transferred onto paper, and captured in the pages of books. It seemed as though Cantor suddenly realized, still deep in the consciousness of his twelfth century host, that Attar was addressing him. Back in the lab, his EEG registered a series of sudden peaks, his heart rate jumped, and his lip movements became larger and clearer. The saint from the distant past was actually aware that a visitor from the far future was sitting in on his disciple's consciousness: more, he knew the field in which the visitor specialized, actually knew the future, and could read the visitor's mind. To Nuruddin, Attar's words were high sounding and prophetic: to Cantor they spoke direct.
"Love is the supreme experience," said Attar, "and only when Love is imprinted upon every cell of our being can we know peace. People in the times to come will reject Love, as they have always rejected it. For Love demands service from those hearts it would enter, and few are ready to serve.
"Yet in turning away from Love, we are turning away from the very waters that nourish us. We are walking out into the desert, leaving mosque and companions and garden and stream behind. And as we walk away from Love, our thirst grows.
"After some time walking, we are crazed by the heat. Desert and sky shimmer before us, mirages lure us onwards towards oases that do not exist. We chase after dreams, and our dreams evaporate before us. But at last our thirst becomes real, and we submit to it.
"The children of the future, my beloved Nun, will thirst as the children of this day have not. They will seek after the waterholes within and inside us, of which the prophets of all ages speak. And because their lips will be parched, and their hearts dry, Mercy will rain on them, and they will find the peace they seek.
"I have a message for the children of that time, Nuri.
"It is said: There is a means of polishing all things, whereby rust may be removed. The means of polishing the heart is the Name of Allah. And: His light is found in temples which Allah has sanctioned to be built for the Remembrance of His Name.
"Just as you, my disciple, are bathed and refreshed in the soft breath within you, so shall the children of the future be. They shall know the Name, and the Name shall free them. As the scripture says: The earth shall be full of the Knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
"Love will be set loose in their hearts, Nuri. The dams of Love shall be unstopped, and the waters of Love shall swirl through them and fill them. So it is said, and so it shall be.
"But I bring a message for them, Nuri, a message.
"When the waters of Love are unloosed, do not make plans to bottle them up. Let the tide of Love surge through every action you take, every breath that you make. Seek not to turn Love towards your favored channels. Those who would bottle Love, shall be burst by
Love. Therefore flow with Love, and you shall overflow with Love."
It was Kim Cantor's peculiar ability, that he could project what he saw with his eyes or his imagination onto photographic paper. While he was regaining a full awareness of himself and his surroundings, Dr. Leon took the photographic papers that Cantor had surrounded himself with before the experiment, into the darkroom.
When they were processed, certain of the prints showed the group of companions in the garden, before the arrival of the Sheikh. While lovely, they were in no way extraordinary. But it appeared that while Attar had been speaking with Nuruddin, Cantor (sitting perched within Nuruddin's consciousness) had been flashing a remarkable series of shots of the Sheikh onto the photo paper.
In some of the prints, Attar had the face of an old, old man. In others, he had the appearance of a child. In some, he was standing outdoors, the mountains of the Hindu Kush behind him, while in others he was indoors, a seller of perfumes in his shop, with a magnificent Bokhara rug at his feet. In yet another shot, a waterfall was the backdrop. And strangest of all, one shot showed simply the sun. It could as easily have been taken by the Harvard u/v spectroheliograph aboard Skylab, for all the difference it would make.
Kim Cantor looked up from the prints to Dr. Leon, a small smile playing about his eyes.
"I send all my patients to see him," said Edgar Leon.
"I was dreaming," said Cantor. "And now I'm awake." *
Hooray for Spiritual Materialism!
When Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog first showed up in our college dormitory, we received it with the same fascination and glee the monks must have felt when theyfirst got their hands on a mint, hot-off-the-press copy of old Gutenberg's Bible. Like them we thought: At last! Enlightenment for the Masses! Unlike them, we pictured ourselves marching as one body, out of the dorm and into the verdant hills, to order our cider presses and windmills, and begin to shape us a new world.
It was a slight over-reaction, of course. I think it came from having read those Laura Engalls Wilder books in fourth grade, about how wonderful freshly churned butter tasted. In those days I dreamed of a life on the prairie with my own horse. Thousands of disappointments and a good many years later, I think our dorm saw the Whole Earth Catalog as "the door" into that world we didn't quite know how to manifest.
Because we'd been cheated of it, dammit! My pop is a lawyer, and I always felt he let me down, in that he didn't know the first thing about white water canoeing, or taking the lawnmower apart: and consequently, I never did either. Oddly enough, the arrival of the Whole Earth Catalog didn't seem to help much, either. The pages became weathered as it was read countless times in the bathroom, people jotted phone numbers on it, it served as a larger sized caster onto which coffee cups could be placed but precious little butter was churned or cider pressed in our dormitory. And in my travels to penthouse apartments, I would find the Catalog (cleaner and neater) on coffee tables next to Words to the Earth or a similar expensive photobook; similarly looked at, but unused.
My paranoia when I realized that even though we had a guidebook to getting it together on the material plane, I wasn't using it, simply can't be described. By that time, I knew that even if I got my electricity from a windmill, it wouldn't make me happy. Shortly after that I received Knowledge, and did what I thought was the only sensible thing to do (considering the implications of Enlightenment). I gave away every physical damn thing I had (with a few exceptions …) And it actually made me feel very happy (phew!) except for one thing. A little voice way down inside whispered, "You're never going to get away with this …"
On my way to Hans Jayanti 1972, I promised my friends there was very little chance I would be back again, ever. On my way back from Hans Jayanti, I began to consider the possibility the world was not going to blow up after all, not on my timetable, and not on anyone else's!
Well then, if we're not going to "get off" the planet, we might as well "get it on", as Steve Gaskin says.
I was never much for thinking about the whole planet. Neighborhood is more my scale. In fact my scope really goes to about the tip of my nose most days, or wherever I'm putting my arbitrary self-limitations. And really this whole thing of coming to realize we may all be here for years, and I may go bald and maybe even wind up old or something — puts a whole new perspective on things.
My friend Mike Koch (a lawyer who actually built one of those Whole Earth Catalog houses with his own hands … has a neat garden, too) commented (when I told him my fears that the End had been Cancelled), "Well, you can't burn down the school." So if this is the school, after years of underachieving in about every possible learning situation imaginable, I'm ready. I've resolved to apply myself, and learn something while I'm here.
It makes sense. Look at it this way — if janitors and professional dishwashers use certain kinds of sponges, which you can get at the industrial cleaning supply store, why not get them? They are sure to last longer than the little multi-colored guys available from DiscoMart. Then I started wondering about radial tires, and buying toilet paper in bulk. In a couple of hours on the phone I became an expert. I started to value professional opinion. I found out that most professionals were full of it. I got so I didn't start in on something unless I'd found out how the people who do that in the world the best do it, whether it was mopping the floor, or making thirty strangers feel welcome. That was about a month ago. And now I look around, and see it's happening to a lot of us. So:
The Holy Earth Catalog
George Harrison said it and we might as well admit it —we're living in the material world. There are all sorts of things in this world to help us get our act together — Vegematics to slice and dice, Zino pads to comfort our toes, electric toothbrushes, vibrating chairs to soothe ourselves, breath mints, squirrel knobs to help us turn the wheel of our '56 Chevy, little pink plastic scratchers to help us reach the real hard-to-reach places. But what about the things that help us get our spiritual life together? Are we really that comfortable using our knees for a baragon and our sheet for a cover?
Now that Maharaj Ji has brought Knowledge for all of mankind, our material environment can begin to reflect the preciousness of his gift. Which is the most comfortable room in your home? The meditation room? What sort of things do you spend most care choosing? The things that assure you quiet and comfortable meditations? The average person may spend more money and energy on a new bowling ball, than a premie will spend in his entire life on tools that might help him realize God.
Maybe the time has come for a little Spiritual Materialism. Maybe it's time for us to invest in some of the things that overcome obstacles to good meditation — such as aches, cold, heat, noise, etc — and create beautiful and conducive environments which reflect and reinforce the fact that meditation is the way of life for the new age.
So folks, here it is … the first, pirated, bootleg edition, printed in a 100% recycled universe, and read by 100% recycled souls … the First Holy Earth Catalog:
Maybe you don't like gooky wax earplugs or foamy foam ones. In many industries where there is a lot of heavy "industrial noise," employees are required to use protective earphones. These are available from industrial safety supply stores, usually to be found in the Yellow Pages under "Safety." They range in price from $6.00 to $15.00, and come in an attractive variety of science fiction styles. It's worth shopping around a little. Silenta and Straightaway are two brands we can recommend. These phones are also available through hearing aid stores, but the prices are often much higher than for the same item in a safety supply store.
The Sleepshade company manufactures a very good eyeshade, which costs abut $3.00 and is available in most drugstores. Eyeshades are usually hidden away in some obscure corner, since there isn't a high demand for them. To the uninitiated, a group of meditators in eyeshades looks like the What's My Line panel. Seen from the inside, everything is dark and cozy, no matter what streetlights, suns, moons, passing cars, UFOs, etc, may be in your neighborhood.
If Krishna bothers to slip a paragraph or two into the Bhagavad Gita about meditation seats, the subject can't be entirely without interest. His recommendation? "Let him find a place that is pure and a seat that is restful, neither too high nor too low, with sacred grass and a skin and a cloth thereon. On that seat let him rest and practice Yoga for the purification of the soul." (Some versions specify kusa grass and deerskin).
The modern equivalent of a seat which distributes the weight evenly and firmly is a Water Cushion. These cost $50.00, and must be made to order, but nothing else distributes weight so well. They are neat, but a little tricky to build, and certainly not a necessity (unless you like the idea, or have poor circulation and sincere sitting problems). Basically, you just put the water bag in a frame, and use additional pillows to get your rear end in the air.
Other effective seats are Zen Cushions: you can usually find some advertised in the East-West Journal. Don't say you're going to make one yourself and save money, unless it's done by next week. I know people who have been saying this for three years. You might as well just buy one.
This is true of almost any bean bag or foam furniture. The shop's wholesale purchase of materials and use of mass production will usually wind up costing less than your purchase of a million beans plus inexperienced hand labor time. The important thing is not water, zen pillow, zen cushion or sufi chair. It's that you get a "spot" like Carlos Castaneda, somewhere safe and comfortable, and then you follow Lord Krishna's advice, put some time, effort and love into providing for your physical needs, so you can sit comfortably erect for reasonable periods of time, free from pain.
I know folks who quote mahatmas as saying, "you shouldn't use a baragon," and they don't. The trouble is, they don't meditate on more than two techniques either. If you're using your knees or skipping techniques, you ought to get yourself a baragon. Do yourself a favor. Even Lord Shiva is commonly seen with a baragon under his arm.
These days, most cities have young craftsmen back into wood who'd be happy to make you something beautiful for under $20.00. you might as well have nice looking meditation tools, too, since you'll be using them from here on in.
Cloth is a very old invention (fig leaves came first), and by now there are many alternatives to the bed sheet. Some new synthetic materials are very cool and breathe well (you too), yet keep out exterior light. Many of them are very beautiful, too. Even Linus has to surrender his blanket sometime to the washing machine. A shawl or special meditation cover, given care and attention, will have a clean, beautiful vibe with which to inspire you to meditate. Try it.
It helps. Take your time and find a picture of your Lord that you really like, then find a neat frame to go with it. You can often pick up frames in second hand stores (remove the picture of the 1918 Nantucket Scout Troop), and put in a picture of Maharaj Ji.
The Spot Itself
To me, "private" means "not intruded upon by other consciousness-es." If your child always lifts up your sheet … Some people have to go about a thousand miles up into the Himalayas for a little privacy. Others just close their eyes and feel no intrusions. The question is what you require. A blanket may do it, a closet, a room with a closed door, a triple padlocked tree fort on the outskirts of town …
Whatever you have to do physically to make your spot right, it's worth it: maybe you'll curtain off a room, clear out a closet, or build a dome in the back yard. The more time you can spend meditating in a "safe" place — one where you know you won't be interrupted — the firmer your meditation will get, and the easier you will find it to meditate even in less private places. Worrying that the kids may break in on you is just as much a distraction as actually having them do it. And the kids may get bored after a while and go someplace else — but your worries won't be that easy to shake off.
Whatever it takes for you to have an uninterruptable meditation situation, do it; then you can be conscious of consciousness itself.
All right. That's enough for now. All suggestions for future inclusion in the Holy Earth Catalog should be submitted to:
Holy Earth Catalog,
Box 532, Denver, Colorado 80201
Meanwhile, one last question. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT ALL THIS???