Some of this Stuff is Infinite
At the time of Guru Maharaj Ji's summer tour of North America in July, six of the initiators presently travelling in the West arrived in Denver to begin a conference on their service and the effectiveness of the initiation process.
This was the first opportunity they had had to get together apart from brief gatherings at festivals. After an opening presentation by Jerry Thrush, a group dynamics consultant, on communication skills and planning, the initiators brainstormed their goals and got to work.
They met with people from various IHQ departments, Unity School, and Denver DUO, touching on topics such as community development and education, but primarily establishing friendships whenever the chance arose. Alongside these discussions, they travelled to the mountains for a retreat, conducted Knowledge reviews in the local community and among themselves, and held forums on satsang and service. But the main focus was on the aspirant program and the Knowledge session itself.
The results of a questionnaire sent out by IHQ to DUO administrations, aspirants and new initiates around the world confirmed the need for a careful review of the aspirant seminars, concepts and expectations centered around initiation into Knowledge, and integration of new initiates into communities. The role of the initiator itself was also under scrutiny, in particular the ineffectiveness of hurried, fatiguing tour schedules, interaction with administrators and unclear definition of the extent of the initiator's responsibilities.
After getting a brief rundown on their activities from Bill Patterson, I looked in on the initiators in their fifth floor office of the Kittredge building. We talked for about an hour and a half, and recorded the following interview:
You went on a retreat together in the mountains. What happened?
Arthur: It was a good opportunity for us to come together in an informal way, to have recreation together, go hiking in the mountains and so on. We also had satsang about a variety of things. It was a chance to come together as brothers serving Maharaj Ji, and to meditate together.
You've been dealing in depth with the aspirant program and the results of the recent questionnaire concerning the initiation process. One national director felt that the aspirant program merely made good members of Divine Light Mission and that it hasn't helped people understand the importance of Knowledge in their everyday lives. What do you feel about that particular view?
Arthur: I think the main thing is that there's strong satsang. That inspires the aspirants to understand Knowledge. If it's just an intellectual presentation of facts about DLM, it doesn't inspire them. One thing that can inspire someone to receive Knowledge is someone who's realizing Knowledge. If there isn't that company of truth, the person isn't inspired and the aspirant program doesn't do him any good. It's like going to classes.
Ira: It's been proven time and time again, as far as I'm concerned, that the best aspirant program is pure, straight satsang.
Bill: It comes back to the question of propagation. What are we propagating? If people are completely into organization, then that's what they're propagating. An aspirant program is going to reflect that. If premies are really experiencing the truth, then the aspirants are going to pick up on it and be really clear, whether there's an officially organized program or not.
Do you think that as initiators you can over-glamorize the easiness of practicing Knowledge because of your own protective environment of satsang, service and meditation? If that does happen would it be valuable to have a change of service from time to time?
Ira: I've seen a lot of premies who aren't initiators, who don't live in ashrams, just regular family people, and they're definitely experiencing Knowledge and they're not having any great difficulties. They don't think it's hard. They came to Guru Maharaj Ji, they want to realize Truth, and they're not making excuses that they can't do it. They're doing what they can.
Jagdeo: The degree of the experience may change from individual to individual. What is required is to appreciate each other's experience with love, and in this way help and encourage everyone, whether one has more experience or less. It is the need of the time to appreciate each other's experience of the Knowledge.
Gurucharnanand: According to my experience, every premie can realize this Knowledge wherever he is, if he's really enthusiastic. When I received Knowledge, I started experiencing this Knowledge right away. I had one deep longing in my heart: to spread Guru Maharaj Ji's message. That has inspired me to dedicate this life to Guru Maharaj Ji. Since he has given me this opportunity to initiate aspirants, I have been enjoying this service, but I am not attached to any particular service. Attachment to any action causes bon-
dage. If Maharaj Ji changes my service, I would love to do that. I have decided to be happy in the way he wants me to be.
The way the selection process works now you come into a community for a few days and you have to select people for initiation. Do you think it's adequate time for you to evaluate the sincerity of the aspirants or do youfind that at times you can be misled by a false sincerity?
Arthur: I feel that the ideal situation would be if each initiator stayed permanently in a community and worked with the aspirants, or at least if he stayed in a regional area where he could get to know the aspirants personally. Then our understanding of each person would be much more in depth and allow us to make a much more thorough selection.
Padarthanand: To select someone in two or three days' time is a really difficult task. I have to spend a lot of time with them every day to really know them. It's a really hard job but still we do it. As Guru Maharaj Ji pointed out about the selection, just seeing the face of a person, you can know it. And that happens. Maybe it will sound strange to many people, but it doesn't sound strange to me and other people doing this service. Seeing the face you can feel where they are, mostly. If we could get some time, it would be more beautiful. After a three day intensive seminar, they are so tense, then the next day there is a Knowledge session, and then there's no time for me to follow up.
Ira: in that time, you can do selection pretty well, but it's very hard to really have the rapport with those people that we would want personally, whereas in a long period of time you build up a whole relationship. It flows so beautifully into a Knowledge session. Ideally, we would like to see the aspirants all the wav through to receiving Knowledge and afterwards as well.
Okay. I'd like to get your feelings on the meeting that you just had with Maharaj Ji.
Ira: It wasn't the main meeting we're going to have with Maharaj Ji. It was just good, old-fashioned darshan. That's what we needed, that's what we wanted. One thing that really sticks in my mind was Guru Maharaj Ji's concern for all the premies. He just wants everybody to understand and realize what this Knowledge is. He's ready to do anything he has to do for that, whatever changes are necessary. He's completely dedicated his life to us. He really conveyed that to me. Like he was saying, all the premies are depending upon him, therefore he has to take the responsibility to help them understand.
Jagdeo: It was as if it was the meeting point of the river and the infinite ocean, of the individual and the infinite one, of the creature and the creator. It happened in such a way that I was completely in a trance of Guru Maharaj Ji, as if I were merged with him. He loves mankind in such a way that it can't be explained.
How do you feel about working together over the last few weeks? How have you changed personally and what have you learned?
Arthur: For a long time, the initiators were in a separate trip from the organization. I think that was harmful because we weren't working together. There was friction with the community directors sometimes.
A person would go to three different initiators for a Knowledge review and get almost a different understanding from each one, even though they were explaining the same thing. So, on every level, we've been able to work together: on the Knowledge process, on how we explain the techniques. So that when we do go out, we're like one body. We'll have our own individual expressions but what we'll be expressing will be the same thing. It's been really good, really positive. I've been able to see myself more in terms ofjust being a servant of Maharaj Ji, not specifically being an initiator. When you're travelling all the time, you're always an initiator. It's almost like you're typecast. Sometimes you forget you're a servant of Maharaj Ji. You're not an initiator, you're a servant. I lost that focus sometimes. Just to come here and be reminded that listen, man, you're just a servant, you're not anything special as an individual. You have something to learn from everybody. You have something to offer, and something to learn. My purpose in life is to realize this Knowledge, not to get stuck in a category.
Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?
Arthur: Somebody said to me "Well, one initiator said service was being plugged into DLM and then Raja Ji said something else and Guru Maharaj Ji said service is being in the consciousness of truth all the time while doing actions." And he said, "I'm confused because I don't know which is service." I told him to just try to understand the whole thing: service is being plugged into DLM, service is being in the consciousness of truth, service is everything, so instead of taking a definition of service and worshipping that, try to take every description of service and integrate it into your own understanding of what service is, instead of taking one statement and putting golden quotes around it and saying "that's service." Then you're looking for the continuity, you're looking for the consistency. That's something each individual has to do. Nobody gave me a strict definition of service which has been my guideline. It's been my understanding as I've been growing.
In the meeting with us, Maharaj Ji said, "Some of this stuff is infinite. What can we do? We can't put it into complete rationality because some of this stuff is infinite."
Ira: Divine Light Mission is about consciousness, about our own realization. You can never put a definition to anything. You can't define this thing at all. All you can do is dance around it. What you can't say, you have to vibrate from your own experience. Go do it yourself and find out for yourself what it is, instead of carrying a big definition on your back or a quote by Guru Maharaj Ji in your pocket.
Bill: One other thing Maharaj Ji mentioned was that surrender was the most important thing. There's that power called God, and he said it's not rational, it's not explainable, and that you can't really understand it until you surrender. Recently lots of people have been questioning Guru Maharaj Ji, and having doubts about Guru Maharaj Ji, and really Guru Maharaj Ji can't be explained. Until somebody surrenders to Guru Maharaj Ji, he'll never understand him.
- Michael McDonald