'We try to lead a pure and simple life'
By EILEEN SHOMO
CONCORDVILLE - "Jai Satchitanand" is the greeting and parting to every visitor to the Premie House of the Guru Maharaj Ji, on Concord Road.
Jai Satchitanand is "Truth is the conciousness of bliss," say the five occupants of the house, the theme which runs through every "Satsang". sessions devoted to the "company of truth."
Living a communal life are Patty Brennan, her brother, Mike, and three other young men, Don Gauthier, John Scott and Emile D'Amico.
"We hesitate to even agree it's a communal life," Patty said, "because immediately everyone thinks 'hippies' and we are not that."
The immaculately clean house and quiet atmosphere of reverence testify to Patty's remarks. Visitors are requested, in oriental fashion, to remove their shoes as they enter through a lower door. Why? It keeps the house clean, of course.
The Guru or "Perfect Master" to whom these five say they have devoted their lives, is the 15-year-old East Indian youth who began a "World Peace Tour" in late 1970.
The "Master" has visited this country twice and claims nearly 50,000 Western disciples and 6,000,000 world-wide.
Guru means "teacher" and "Maharaj Ji", according to the occupants of the House, means "King of Kings," a name also applied to Christ, they remind us. All the earnings of the five, four of whom have full-time jobs, goes into a common fupd to maintain the house, which is sparsely but attractively furnished.
Emile attends Delaware County Community College and works part-time.
After a Guru follower has attended Satsang for as few as three of four or as many as he desires, he may see the Light" and may later gain "knowledge" through a "Mahatma," one of the Guru's five or six apostles in the country.
Literally translated, Mahatma means "Great Soul" and is considered by devotees to be their personal vehicle to the guru. "The Guru Maharaj Ji comes straight through him, he is one of the 5,000 apostles all over the world, the same as Jesus Christ had his own apostles," Emile explained.
The movement is called the "Divine Light Mission" under which they sponsor Divine Health Care Services, secondhand stores, a World Peace Corps for social responsibililies and a host of other interests.
There is also a new "Shri Hans Education Center" in Denver, Colo., where a staff is preparing curriculum for the first school and a "Shri Hans Productions" which produces films, a monthly magazine and records. A new "Divine City" is planned for this country, its location not yet named.
"This is a way of life for us", Don explained. "The only real thing is your soul. We are all regulated by these things we are in now, our finite bodies. When our bodies are no longer there, time doesn't matter anyhow.
"Our goal is to maintain the middle between intense pleasure and intense pain, because all pleasures are illusions," he continued. Although all the devotees radiated an aura of inner peace, they are not trying to convert anyone to a religion. Their "Mission" is an. organization of people who have realized the "Knowledge" that one can be a Christian and still follow the Guru, seeking peace themselves.
Michael Forbes, a well-dressed youth by conventional standards, explained he lives in an "Ashram House" in Germantown.
"This is the way the Guru has directed we shall live and to us it is no longer important how long our hair is or what clothes we wear," he explained. "The House is providing a place where we can center our minds on complete joys.
Michael, born into Judaism, said he spent most of his Havertown high school years taking and pushing drugs. "I saw this 'Light' once when I was on acid (LSD) and knew I had to know something," he said. "I was in a good college at the insistence of my mother but was still pushing drugs. I started reading all I could on meditation and finally went to New York City to hear a Mahatma.
"After I got Knowledge, I went off drugs, I don't need them now. My family doesn't exactly approve but they accept me for what I am."
What are these young people's views on war, death, pollution?
"When you live in a world with people dedicated to destroying our environment or sending people to war, you just know these things are going to happen and you try to live within" Don explained.
"There is nothing you can do. The whole world is a play and we are the players. We can either act in or be like extras in a big production. It's only important what is happening within you."
"Death is an experience, a lesson in growth," Patty said.
All believe in reincarnation and that they will continue to receive another life until they have grown perfect, their ultimate goal.
Several Upper and Lower Chichester youths were attending either their first or one of few satsangs.
"I think I am ready (to gain Knowledge)" said Richard Natale of Twin Oaks. Richard learned about the group after literally following Patty home - from her work at a nearby convalescent home.
All the devotees sat comfortably crosslegged in the middle of a carpeted room, nearly bare of furniture. Most prostrated themselves before a makeshift "altar", filled with flowers and assorted photographs of the Guru.
"We try to lead a pure and simple life," Emile said. "We draw our satisfaction from within, we are in contact with God all the time. Who could be more precious than God?"
The Guru only asks that the devotees meditate twice daily, although most say they can meditate in a crowded room while carrying on a conversation.
"The Guru was once asked when he would bring the peace he has promised," Michael said. "He answered soon and within ten years, if everyone would listen to him."
No explanation was given for the fate of the world if everyone does not listen. Will the Guru select those who believe he is the reincarnated God if the earth is destroyed by a catastrophe as is implied. Or will he be a benevolent God?