It Takes A Lot of Grass Roots to Make A Lawn
Mini-conferences and workshops are being set up in all the DUO communities across North America. For some this is nothing new, they have been meeting like this for almost a year; but for others it is a completely new experience. These conferences are organized for anyone who thinks of himself as a premie. They have no special organizational or educational objectives - no goal of teaching the participants to run a DIC on a shoe string or other such practical affairs - the people who come are drawn by their simple desire for understanding. They don't need to be invited and their presence is not required. The atmosphere usually feels a bit like night school: everybody wants to be there and has a real gusto for learning; they hold a job in the vast world during the daytime and this is their main opportunity to explore and experience some new growth.
The workshops have been set up in direct response to Guru Maharaj Ji's challenge that premies develop understanding. That challenge has at last broken the long reign of a favorite religious concept, often turned to for solace in hard times. It goes something like this: "We can never understand what Maharaj Ji is doing to us now that (fill in the appropriate circumstance), so we should just have faith that it is all for the best." I'm not putting down faith, just blind faith, and blindnessof all sorts. The point is that Maharaj Ji is telling us we're not only capable of understanding what is going on and basing the decisions in our lives on a solid foundation of clarity, but it is about time we started doing it. For many premies, these local workshops are the beginning of this process.
The workshop approach got off to a good start in Minneapolis last summer when Allan Imbarrato, the community director there, started looking at what was necessary to help that community share Guru Maharaj Ji's message. A series of meetings were set up to see exactly what premies understood about Knowledge. You have to be clear about something before you can tell anyone else about it; and with something as beautiful as Knowledge, you'd want to be sure the person could understand what you are saying as well. In the first few meetings it was apparent that there was a lot of controversy surrounding what seemed to be even the simplest points. The group discovered that, separately, they didn't know much, but
Within these pages there is much talk about conferences. The people at General Motors have conferences, but - you may be wondering - what are we doing having them? First of all, the way I look at it, a conference can be a great way of sharing information and creating unity among the people who are there. When the guys at GM get together, they develop some pretty tight unity around their pretty specific goals. Our goals are different than theirs - a bit more far-reaching, I would think - but as a group, we need to develop the same unity and common understanding that GM's many long years of successful existence have taught them to need. Imagine the people at the General Motors conference leaving the meeting: each has a clear picture of what he individually must do and what the others in the group are going to do. They have made a plan, and if they all do their part in instituting it, it will work.
So what is our plan; what do we want to do? Right off the bat, I think most every premie wants to realize Knowledge, to make his life - however he chooses to lead it - deep, joyful and conscious. As a movement of people trying to realize Knowledge together, I would think again that most premies want to pool their efforts to help the same realization become a practical possibility for the rest of the human community. But how? What actions can we take to make it happen?
Unlike GM, our conferences are full of down-to-earth, heart-to-heart talk about these deepest kinds of issues. Here and there, answers are emerging. But most of all, this special sharing affirms our feeling that collectively we have a greater understanding and potential than any of us do separately. It is the same feeling Peter Townsend had when he admitted, contrasting his movie career with his part in The Who, "I have to face it, the one basic truth; The Who is much bigger than anything I could have created on my own."
through the process of honest satsang and sharing together, they could know a lot. So they set out to share. The first thing to be examined was meditation: "We had a kind of group Knowledge review," one person explained. "It cleared up some questions; not so much by giving me the answers, but by reawakening my desire to experience meditation in a deep, continuous way."
Other communities heard about the way the "getting ready to propagate" workshops were going in Minneapolis and picked up on the trend. Before long, there were all sorts of innovations and different styles of coming together. But the important thing was always that premies were coming together.
Then, after Orlando, Maharaj Ji endorsed the whole process by holding his own series of workshops and conferences. The most recent one was the fund-raising conference. Here, again, he emphasized understanding as well as his personal role and commitment to each premie's growth.
In one interchange during the conference, Maharaj Ji was asked, "Do you know how much the premies love you?" He answered: "Well, frankly, no. The reason is that the love they love me from is infinite. So how can I put my finger up to it and say, 'Okay, they love me three quarts? It is just that the love is there and I can definitely feel it, and that's why I do the programs I do, that's why I have dedicated my whole life to this. It could have very well have been, 'Look, I have got nothing to do with premies. They have received Knowledge, they should meditate for themselves and that's it. I'm moving on to other people who don't have Knowledge.' Instead I just become involved with them more and more and more.
We're becoming more involved with him, too. Workshops, conferences - in fact, any group of premies getting together in any way to have real satsang - are all just ways of helping ourselves understand what we are doing here and how we can come closer to Maharaj Ji and the experience of Knowledge.
The first "continental congress" of Divine Information Center representatives will be convening this month. 110 DIC's and 70 applicants have been invited to the meetings, to take place in five regions during three successive weekends.
The people coming to this conference are the grass roots of Guru Maharaj Ji's movement. They represent premie communities ranging in size from a small town where a young premie couple is living in a small apartment with their newborn child, to large DIC communities where the premies run a food coop and hold satsang programs every night in their own hall.
The weekend conferences have been designed to give people the maximum amount of time to participate in group interaction with the premies who come. "This is the easiest way for each person to develop his own understanding and then see how that understanding can be practically implemented in their lives," explained Cliff Bowden, one of the conference organizers. Over the last few months, Maharaj Ji has told us time and again that this mission works when the premies first share a common understanding and then try to synchronize their activities. "The way we get to this understanding is by actually joining together, like we're doing at these conferences, and expressing what we feel," Cliff said. "But these things work only to the extent that everyone participates fully, giving their attention, concentration and love. Then, after we have reached some common understanding together, we can take it off the theoretical level, get down, make some decisions and develop some workable programs and solutions to the problems we've been facing over the last year. Becoming 'synched' means making every effort to live in a state of cooperation based on our common understanding."
One of the most important things this first "continental congress" will be focusing on is the "inner game of working with limited resources." As we become more mature, we begin to see the need for a realistic evaluation of what DLM is doing and why and how much. These kind of questions will be dealt with by the people at the conferences. - As a final note, we might take a hint from California's governor, Jerry Brown. Explaining his news-making non-deficit budget for 1976, his limitations on state-funded social services, and his decision to close some governmental committees, Gov. Brown said succinctly: "We'll collect all the taxes, we'll use the talents of the people we have, and then, when that's all spent and done, that's it. That's all we can do."
Happy Birthday Premlata
A year ago on March 9th, Guru Maharaj Ji sent a message to every premie that was in contact with him, asking each of us to sit in formal meditation until we received a second phone call. Within 45 minutes, premies in every corner of the world had heard: Durga Ji was in labor.
A few hours later, Premlata was born. Even the first few moments of her life had been an incredible catalyst for making a stronger and deeper connection between our whole family.