A call from inside
The falling of the Iron Curtain paved the way for Maharaji's first address in Eastern Europe on July 12, 1990, in a Warsaw hotel. For those who attended, it was a historic event. More than once he talked of the transience of great civilisations–ancient Greece and Egypt were his examples.
Instead of pursuing immortality and fulfillment through external means, he advised the audience that they could quench their inner longing by listening to "that call from inside" to know themselves.
Extracts from this memorable address follow:
"It's very interesting that I finally made it to Poland. This evening we have a chance to hear a little bit about what this message is all about
"The message is very simple, because it doesn't deal with anything except a feeling. And the premise for everything that is being said is based upon just this: have we ever felt a longing in our lives? Have we ever felt this thing, called the heart, in ourselves. If you have ever felt that feeling, then you can understand everything that I have to say. It doesn't matter when you felt that feeling, or how many times you felt it, or if you only felt it once in your life.
"We are such creatures of just thought and not of feeling. So it has to start from a simple feeling that says: 'l must understand what my thirst is' It begins with that. It doesn't end with that, it begins with that. That becomes the very first step. And then, you begin to feel.
"If you can feel that thirst, and if you can imagine what it would be like to have fulfillment in this life, then it all makes sense. All of a sudden, the possibility becomes real. And it is that possibility that we can all pursue in our lives. I am not here to offer anybody a religion, or a doctrine, or a dogma, but just to offer the understanding of that possibility in this life.
"The possibility does exist. And to reach out and to grab that moment in our lives, that's what it's all about. To take that challenge and say: 'Yes. I want that feeling in my life'."
Translation is helping it happen
In Prague in the Czech Republic, video events happen in Jaro Svitok's apartment. Jaro is seated on the right
Since 1990, barriers have been coming down in Eastern Europe in more ways than one. Following the dramatic political changes, Maharaji was able to visit the region for the first time that year.
"No matter what generation, no matter what civilisation, no matter who, when, where, or how, there has always been a thirst," Maharaji told the audience of over 600 in Warsaw, Poland, on July 12.
"And yet, today, in 1990, things are changing so rapidly. Things are evolving so rapidly, but the question is still there. Is that quest for fulfillment still within us, or not? And the answer is: yes, it is, because it is nothing that we can resist."
Over the last few years, more Eastern Europeans have been able to travel to see Maharaji. And the new climate has also made it easier for instructors to visit and for video events to happen. The number of people with Knowledge is still relatively small in these countries, but there are aspirants in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, and, Bulgaria; and enthusiasm is great.
With the help of Elan Vital associations, bOth in Germany and Austria, videos are made increasingly available, some with translation into local languages. Contacts now exist in most countries and more effort is being made to communicate and share information. This means that people can now find out where videos are being shown when traveling from country to country.
Natasha Filatova, who speaks Russian and lives in Germany, is able to provide translated videos for the six people with Knowledge and seven aspirants in and around Moscow whose ability to travel out of Russia is restricted. Translated videos also go to interested people in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Moldova. Others in Russia will also soon benefit once they know the translations are available. One dedicated aspirant from Ukraine has been collecting videos from Germany during his annual trips and is showing them to four other aspirants in his country, painstakingly providing his own live Russian translation from German.
In Bulgaria, two aspirants like to watch videos every night, seven days a week–from a small collection. It is hoped that new stocks will arrive soon–by which time they may well be able to remember current ones word for word.
In Poland, an average of 14 people attend weekly local events in bothe towns, and around five to ten people are introduced through videos every month in Hungary. In both the Czech Republic and Hungary, a single person with Knowledge awaits requests from anyone interested in watching a video.
Piotr Kress reports from Poznan in Poland that they have now 29 videos already translated and are working on getting more done. They have just upgraded their distribution system to get the new ones around their communities more rapidly.
For contact telephone numbers in Eastern Europe, please ask at the information table at your local video event.
Nothing celebrates life … like life" This quote on the cover of the new introductory book, produced by Visions, does what no title can. It prepares the reader for the excerpts inside which take you simply, step by step, towards a greater understanding of Maharaji and Knowledge.
The book, along with an ever-growing range of other products, is available from Visions International and Elan Vital sales areas–one of which is always present at international events, and sometimes at local video events.
Much of Visions' new material is introductory, such as the video: Introducing MaharajiFulfillment, launched at the Wembley event in London. This has a historical perspective and includes narration set to a colorful montage of daily life.
Videos showing footage from Maharaji's 1998 tour are now also available, including two from the February participation meeting in Miami: Like a watch and One by one
A couple of real treats are the Long Beach '97 Special, a feature length video of last year's three-day event, and The Connection, containing scenes of some very happy Africans spending time with Maharaji, released in response to popular demand.
If not for you
Music recorded live at Long Beach 1997 is now available on CD or cassette. This includes the upbeat Feel like a king, Daya's beautiful rendering of Bob Dylan's, If not for you, and Rhythm of life, sung by Wadi on the last night of the event.
Another new release is an instrumental collection by classical guitarist Manuel Iman, Songs from a grateful heart. These songs are a reflection of heartfelt feelings and gratitude and some are evocative of the early days, when Maharaji first came to the West.
Gifts, designed and manufactured with unusual care and flair, are also available at three-day events, and through mail order, at a wide range of prices. If you like flying, try the rainbow lotus kite. It's designed by an expert, and built to withstand high winds.
The sales area, which seems to get bigger and brighter at each event, is always worth a visit, even if you just like to browse.
6 Connect 1998
A new publication was launched at Long Beach last year. Each evening, excerpts from Maharaji's latest address were rapidly transcribed, proofread and laid out to fill the front page of a one-sheet newspaper.
Further stories, relevant to the event, were gathered by a team of reporters roving around the auditorium. These comprised the bulk of the back page.
Once it had been completed, the master copy of Event News was rushed to a local printer and produced overnight, in time for people to read it on their way into the hall the following morning.
In April, a further three editions of Event News were produced for the Baisakhi program in Delhi. These editions, entirely in Hindi, involved a truly international collaboration between members of the original team and a group of Indian volunteers. As at Long Beach, the first day's version was prepared in advance using material from previous events at the same location. Though this was received with much enthusiasm, the second day's paper in India was not, at first, in such great demand. Many people simply didn't realise that the paper was totally different from day to day. Until this was pointed out to them, they felt reluctant to buy it on the grounds that "they already had a copy:'
Editor Mark Winter commented: "In Miami, readers could believe that we had managed to get last night's speech in print for the following morning but not everyone realised that the photos, too, were fresh. Using digital technology, we were illustrating each page with pictures taken only hours before."
May's Miami Beach editions of Event News represented another technological achievement. Once they had been completed, the finished pages were emailed to Delhi and rushed to a nearby printer. There, they were produced in time for local program-goers to read them at the next night's video event
There will be three editions of the paper at Wembley and limited supply of Miami back issues will be available at Visions sales area there.
The second of three Delhi issues of Event News
News from Granada and Zaragoza, and memories from Barcelona
In Granada, where the enchanted castles seem to come straight from the Thousand and One Nights, magic is also in people's hearts.
Javier Carmona, who lives there, describes how interest in Maharaji and Knowledge has recently grown. "We had been holding video events in a small office but when we returned from the Long Beach event in California ,at the end of 1996, we felt that we could take a step forward and began looking for hotel meeting rooms. We had barely started when seven people became interested in finding out more.
No longer was it just Teresa, Juan, Lola, and Javier. Now they had Joaquin, Maria, and Amanda. One day the hotel manager said the price of the room had gone up. Fortunately, that same day Javier discovered there was a possibility of holding events in the Granada Convention Hall, a prestigious venue in the city.
Now they have 10 video events a month instead of four and 14 aspirants instead of five. Videos are shown in the Press Room, which is widely known throughout Spain. At the first introductory event most of the 40 people in the audience had come for the first time or were aspirants.
"If someone had told me a few years ago that all this was going to happen, I would not have believed it," says Javier. "But I recall when we first booked the Convention Hall, someone told me that it was a very important place and I answered that we had to aim our sights high."
Breaking new ground
Traveling north from Granada you will eventually come across a town surrounded by flat, dry land. This is Zaragoza–famous for being the toughest place in Spain for breaking new ground. Because of this reputation, when firms want to test a new product into the Spanish market they always launch it there first. They know that if they can make it in Zaragoza they can make it anywhere.
Currently there are 20 people with Knowledge and last September they made an effort to step up propagation. They shyly invited new people and carefully selected introductory and follow-up videos and improved their brochures and invitations.
The result is that there are now 30 aspirants-25 of them regular and 16 of these have been watching videos for more than five months. The numbers are growing every month.
So, there may be a lesson to be learned here. As they say in Zaragoza, "If it works here, it can also work for you."
Cast your mind back to 1975 when the first Knowledge session took place in Spain. Ana Picque, currently living in Barcelona, remembers it well. "I remember when I was an aspirant. I would go to listen at the Cardedeu center," she says. She recalls the surprising sight of piles of shoes in the hallway and the strong smell of incense. Those were the years of underground activity as, under Franco's dictatorship, gatherings of more than eight people were prohibited. However, the message gradually spread and in 1976 Maharaji came for the first time, speaking in Madrid and Barcelona.
Ana has particularly vivid memories of the Marbella bullring in southern Spain in 1978. With little organising experience but a lot of enthusiasm, they managed to pull off an international event. The following year, Maharaji accepted an invitation to come again. For Ana it was unforgettable.
Since then Maharaji has accepted an invitation each year, sometimes to Madrid, sometimes to Barcelona, and sometimes to both cities.
For the nine million people who live there, Bulgaria is not just another chapter in the dark tale of 20th century history. It is home. And most Bulgarians never get a chance to travel anywhere else.
Roumiana Beck was born in Sofia, the capital city. Thanks to a family connection in Australia, she was able to go there in 1967 and, some while later, she was granted Australian nationality. She received Knowledge in Sydney in 1974. A keen student of art, Roumiana painted murals and frescos, eventually starting an arts center. Later, she journeyed to America. Throughout her extensive travels though, she nurtured a dream: she wanted, one day, to return to her native land and let others know about her chief source of inspiration - Maharaj Ji's Knowledge.
"This magic," she says, "has affected me very deeply."
"For three years, I went back to Bulgaria periodically. And each time all my friends came over to visit me. I found myself translating tapes from morning to night. So then I began to feel I had to go back to live there. It was a heartfelt feeling."
Two years ago, Roumiana returned permanently. But throughout her first year back in Bulgaria, Roumiana had no video player of her own. She had to borrow a machine from a friendly neighbor. Now, though, on her own equipment, in her own apartment, she is able to show tapes seven nights a week. Still though, Roumiana has to translate those tapes herself.
Many of Roumiana's friends and neighbors watch the videos frequently, with fascination, but it is not easy for them to take that interest any further. Even the nearest international events are a prohibitive distance away - and not only must the travel be arranged, but an exit visa must be applied for.
For Roumiana, who still has her Australian passport, this is not such a problem. When one interested person decided, last year, that she really wanted to make Knowledge a reality, a great deal of effort had to be gone to.
"This lady was determined to see Maharaji while he was in Europe. And not only did she hear Maharaji speak, she was selected to receive Knowledge. I felt really happy that she was ready–for the only events she had attended, prior to this, were those little gatherings at my home. It's real proof of how the videos alone can do it for you."
Connect 1998 7