In a remote and beautiful corner of Venezuela lies a cluster of small towns connected to the world by a single road which reaches out across one of the world's great nature reserves, the Henry Pittier National Park. Despite its isolated location, surrounded by rain forest, mountains and the ocean, in this small community of simple lifestyles, Knowledge thrives.
Local fisherman, Miguel Bolivar, talked to Connect about his life with Knowledge.
Puerto Colombia a tiny port, inhabited mainly by fishermen. In season it plays host to tourists who stay in the luxury hotels, once the haciendas of wealthy coffee and cocoa growers. The historic town of Choroni stands a little inland and the more remote and insular Chuao is reached only by boat.
The whole area is awash with history listing dictators, slavers and pirates among its former residents. Many of their descendants still had been living ine in the same places today.
Mariana Piekarski and Karim Corrales moved to Choroni in 1992. Glenda Myerston had been living in the area for more than 20 years and their children went to high school together. They started watching videos in her house and a local restaurant in Puerto Colombia, and when Glenda moved to Chuao, Mariana and Karim would take videos there once or twice a week by boat to continue the tradition.
"Sometimes it was a miracle the equipment got there in one piece," said Mariana.
"When the local fishermen started to get interested, the videos had to be shown to them almost at any time, because none of them had a watch," she continued. "They would just show up and say, 'Could you let me see a video of your master?' So we decided to accept this irregular way of doing things."
By the end of 1992 more than 30 people were watching videos like this and there were 20 aspirants. When the Margarita event was announced, the aspirants, most of whom had never worn shoes on their feet or even been outside of their own town, began saving.
Two weeks before the event they had not caught enough fish to raise the money needed. So Glenda, Mariana and Karim stepped in and chartered a bus and 35 people attended the event.
Twelve of the local people received Knowledge. One of those was Miguel Bolivar. He works as a fisherman and a farmer and lives in much the same way as his family has for generations on a hacienda in Aroa. Miguel's enthusiasm for Knowledge is well known, as Maharaji referred to his letter of thanks at several events last year. Connect arranged an interview with the help of Glenda and Mariana.
Miguel is well known locally as a singer and carries many of the traditional songs in his head as he cannot read or write. He is at least 80 years old
He introduced himself in the characteristic sing-song of this part of the Venezuelan coast: "I am Miguel Bolivar, born in the hamlet Aroa at 6am on September 29, Michael the Archangel's day. I am the son of Juanita Bolivar and Nerio Fajardo. My father was a man from Cuyaguero who used to sell charcoal."
Q: How and when did you first hear about Knowledge?
"I learned about Knowledge years ago from Mrs Glenda. She used to talk to me about the goodness of Knowledge. Mariana showed me the first video I saw and I liked the speech very much. I am grateful to her and her friends for telling me about this and arranging the journey to Margarita."
Q. What convinced you to give it a try?
"Well I began to see him on TV and even though I did not understand very well I knew I would like this Knowledge a lot."
Q. What were your doubts or misgivings if you had any?
"None at all. From the beginning I liked to practice this_ Knowledge. Since I received it I have felt very well and I practice it every day. When I went to Margarita I did not expect such a beautiful thing. I am very grateful to the master for giving me this Knowledge."
Q. How did you feel on the day you received it?
"I felt very good. It was as if I already knew it and then I began to merge with the delicious experience of this Knowledge. I felt lightened, my body joyful and my mind awake.
Q. How easily did you settle into practicing?
"To me it was easy. From the start I felt very good. It tempted me in the morning and in the afternoon and after dinner. I practiced my horita (little hour) as he told me, and sometimes again in the afternoon. I like it more every day."
Q. Have there been times when you have felt distant from the experience?
"Not at all. Sometimes, when I feel far off, I sit down and there is a little voice inside me that makes me feel sweetly refreshed. I always feel very close. I have faith in my master and in this Knowledge."
Q. What helps you to reconnect to the feeling inside?
"I remember my master and I practice again and again. I hear this little voice inside me; it always refreshes me. Through this Knowledge the master himself makes me remember him. This is what makes me feel so grateful."
Q. How do you feel about your life with Knowledge?
"I feel joy and faith. Sometimes after my little hour I start to sing. I feel so happy. I have found myself. I don't pursue money or material things. I talk a lot with my wife Benita, and she is delighted to learn about this Knowledge."
Q. Do you have a special hope for the future?
"Yes, of course. I know that through this Knowledge something good has to come and that I will keep it until I depart. I would love to see him again and hear him speak about the Knowledge. May God bless him and take good care of him.
"I know now that I have not missed the boat. I have jumped in it and know that I will stay glued to it forever."
32 Connect 1998