As premies in Montreal filed slowly and reverently through the blue darshan tunnel on April 30, two coordinators were busy driving around visiting ski resorts.
It may sound like an odd thing to do at a time like that, but that morning they were told that Guru Maharaj Ji had given the go-ahead for another post-festival conference. The only appropriate location seemed to be a ski resort because the conference had to be held somewhere near the residence Maharaj Ji used during the Festival: Peace Flight '77.
The actual site turned out to be the Auberge Mont Gabriel. The resort was between its ski and summer tourist seasons and, as a result, offered a solitude it rarely could provide. Nestled in the Laurentians, it sat on the top of a small mountain and at night, its lights were visible even from Maharaj Ji's temporary home several miles away.
On Monday, about 230 premies from countries all over the world arrived at the resort aboard four buses. Appropriately enough, the resort had a long row of flags from different nations lining the top of a long, winding upgrade that led to its entrance. The flags seemed to lend an additional international flavor to an international gathering.
Everyone had initially assembled at the Sheraton Mt. Royal in downtown Montreal at 10 a.m. but it was close to 8 p.m. that evening before Guru Maharaj Ji entered "La Grande Salon," as the conference room was named. And as Maharaj Ji sat and beamed before the assembled premies, one couldn't help but feel just how "grande" the room was.
"Pretty much, those who are here have been to quite a few' conferences," Maharaj Ji began as he surveyed the gathering. "And the only thing I wanted to emphasize is that
20 Divine Times, July 1977
now a very strong follow-up has to happen.
"Now, what's going to happen? Is it all going to deteriorate? Are we just going to wait? Or is there going to be a real strong follow-up really happening, a real sense of security in terms of satsang, service, and meditation?"
Maharaj Ji made it clear that the feeling premies felt at the highest point in the program is the feeling he would like to have premies experience all of the time, "even when two premies get together." He said he would like to feel the way he felt at the program even when he is alone in Malibu.
"How is it going to happen?" he asked, then answered: "satsang, service, and meditation." If we give our attention to Guru Maharaj Ji, it can happen.
Maharaj Ji went on to speak about propagation but emphasized that "there is a lot of groundwork that has to be done.
"You have to grow in Knowledge. And all the premies have to grow in Knowledge. Maybe we have incredible experiences in Knowledge. But all those experiences have to stabilize in our life. It just can't be that one day we sit down in meditation and have an incredible experience and the second day it's all down the drain and the third day we're confused."
When we propagate, he emphasized, we have to be ready to answer questions from our own experience, not from what we have heard someone else say or read in the And It Is Divine.
Then Maharaj Ji spoke about the ashram and asked: "Is your community ready for an ashram?" He stressed that he is not interested in the ashram the way it used to be with everyone doing whatever they wanted and with "fifteen people in one room."
"I'm talking about a very, very relaxed system where ashram is not a crash pad. I'm talking about good living accomodations for everybody. I'm talking about togetherness."
Maharaj Ji said that "in every way" he wanted people to take responsibility "within themselves" to have the respect for the ashram and the ashram rules.
"And then the product of that ashram will be strong premies which the community can rely on. And then the community knows that there is that place where they can go to have satsang, day and night. They know that there is an initiator there. A person who is lost and who needs that help at that moment has a place to go."
Maharaj Ji mentioned that he is looking at preliminary plans for an international festival but said he was disappointed by questionnaires taken in the U.S. that indicated that many premies would not attend if it were held in India. And Maharaj Ji also made it clear that the festival is a long way off and, if he said to go ahead with it today, it would still take a year and a half to prepare in order to make it successful.
But for all of this, Maharaj Ji asked, "where do we begin from? We begin from one place: within our hearts."
After giving about 45 minutes of satsang, Maharaj Ji smiled and joked that "here comes the hour of craziness." Usually, Maharaj Ji is barraged with questions. But this time, it was very different.
For almost two hours, premies simply stood up and told Guru Maharaj Ji how much they loved him, how much they needed him, how much they felt they wanted to thank him, and how much they would like to have him visit their city or country.
And each time, Maharaj Ji just answered by saying something like: "that's not an impossibility at all. I might show up. It's always open."
At one point, Maharaj Ji stated: "I know I can do programs anywhere I want. I might just show up anywhere."
The exchange between Guru Maharaj Ji and the premies at the conference was unique in comparison to conferences of the past. Several times, it seemed as though everyone in the room, including Maharaj Ji, might just cry with the love they felt. One woman nearly melted as she said thank you: "I'm yours. My house is yours. Daytona Beach is yours." Everyone laughed and cheered.
And Maharaj Ji finally let everyone do pranam, even stepping down from his chair so that premies could build a small stage suitable for the purpose.
Premies need "strong determination," Maharaj Ji told the coordinators, "to grow evermore with satsang, service, and meditation, with the Love, with affection, with Guru Maharaj Ji, with Grace, with everything."
And all of that was happening at the 'conference on the mount.'
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