David Passes (and Judy Collins)
Judy Collins, song, "Amazing Grace," was number one in the charts. It was a Saturday. That night, Judy had a sell-out concert followed by a celebrity party at the Albert Hall in London.
I was at the residence outside Maharaji's bedroom listening to him playing "Amazing Grace" again and again, Eventually, I went downstairs into the office, and told the girl who was typing, "Maharaji just loves that song. We should invite her to sing it at his Central Hall programme. Someone said "That's silly, she's far too famous and has probably never heard of Maharaji." The secretary secretly disagreed and typed me out an invitation letter for Judy.
Excited, I set out to deliver it, but first dropped off another invitation at Buckingham Palace that Maharaji had had specially made for the Queen. It was on a blue velvet scroll with gold writing. Then I sped off to the Albert Hall. I mingled with a huge crowd huddled by the backstage area. After being jostled and pushed I found myself outside the door. The doorman came out. "Go away everyone. Judy said she won't be coming out." I stepped behind the man. I was inside the Albert Hall.
"Oy you. Out," he shouted. "Er, I have a letter for Judy Collins," I stammercd. "Out!" he said. I explained. I mumbled. I begged. Eventually he sent for a man who fetched another and another who finally came with an astonished look on his face. "Whoever you are," he said, "Judy wants to see you. Now."
I followed down dark corridors until I bumped full force into a woman on some stairs. "Er sorry," I said. "I'm on my way to meet Judy Collins."
"I am Judy Collins," she said.
"Er, sorry" I said again, and handed her the letter. "Oh dear," she said reading it through, I have a concert that night in Israel. Would your Maharaji like to come tonight?"
Judy dialled the residence. I spoke. Judy did not know that he was an hour away, but he wanted to come. Hanging up, I insisted that Judy give Maharaji a private box. The request was granted, "Bring him to meet me backstage after the concert," she said leaving to go on stage.
While she sang, I ran in and out of the hall, eager to meet Maharaji, desperate that he wouldn't miss her singing 'Amazing Grace'. More than an hour and a half went by. A man came out of the hall and told me that she had sung the song. My heart sank. The next moment, Maharaji pulled up in a car beside me. He smiled.
We went inside, and sat in the box. Judy sang two encores, the house lights went up and people began to leave. Maharaji sat there. "Perhaps he doesn't realize that it's over," I thought, "Perhaps he thinks she's about to do another concert all over again. What have I done? He's come all this way to hear his favorite song and now he can't." I sat there as more and more people left then finally, finding the courage, leaned forward to tell him. Just at that moment, a spot-light hit the stage. The remaining people sat back down. Silence fell. Judy walked out along a central piano, and looked directly up at Maharaji, then round the auditorium. "Would everyone like to sing 'Amazing Grace' with me?"
Maharaji turned to me and smiled. Tears filled my eyes as Judy and more than 3,000 people sang. When the song was finished Maharaji turned and smiled at me once more. I sat there, dumfounded breathless and totally in awe. After a while we went backstage to meet Judy.
Maharaji - when I first met you, you were 11 years old. You told me that you would show me what was true and I believed you. You guided me into my first real inner experience. Then you held me within and without, with your Knowledge and Grace.
I discovered service. Something I could do easily, a practical thing. My way of saying thank you and a constant support and shelter for me. You responded with more love, care and trust in me. You were pleased with my effort and devotion. I was mesmerized by your beauty and grace. We were devotee and Lord, Lord and devotee.
I didn't always make it easy for myself but that's where your compassion came in. Throughout the years I floundered. But you understand the human dilemma. You kindly avert your gaze. You give your wisdom. You wait patiently for my true senses to return.
Now I am getting older and again I seek your shelter, the branches of which always bend low to reach me. I need you as much as ever. I love you more than ever. My true, kind and blissful Maharaji. It's been 27 years. Thank you so much.
The first time that I saw Maharaji my heart knew that it had found the Master. My ideas were very different.
I had hitchhiked to India with Sandy Collier very much with the hope of finding "truth". But my youthful romanticism expected to find an old bearded renunciate living in the Himalayas, probably in a cave. I would become his disciple and live there with him learning the mysteries of the inner self and eventually experience enlightenment.
Almost immediately upon arrival in India we met someone who had received Knowledge and were taken to visit the ashram in Delhi. I had a dual reaction. On one hand I felt in the still atmosphere of the ashram something that I knew I searched for, but on the other hand I rejected the organization, the promotional literature and middle-class Indians trying to tell me what to do with my life.
One part of me said stay. The other part said go. I left to pursue my original intention to renounce the world and find my "enlightened" monk in his cave.
I got as far as Benares where I lived under a bodhi tree which doubled as a shrine to Shiva. During those few weeks many things happened which pointed me back to Maharaji.
So I returned to Delhi and travelled with the ashram premies to where Maharaji was speaking at an open-air event which was part of a tour he was doing in his summer vacation from school. I spent the day wandering among the large crowd that had gathered to hear Maharaji and I was impressed by the love and joy they manifested.
In the evening I was taken to sit on the stage with the mahatmas as various speakers droned on and on in a language I could not understand. I was bored and very uncomfortable. Finally Maharaji walked on stage and began to speak.
I do not know what I expected to happen, but I did not anticipate my reaction to this 11-year-old Indian boy In fact. I did not really perceive Maharaji as a child at all because all that my heart could feel was an overwhelmingly powerful recognition that this was the Master I searched for.
In a second I understood all the actions of my life to that point. My heart knew that from then on everything was going to be fine because I was home. I cried the most beautiful tears of my life and prayed that I would never be cast adrift in the world alone again.
I returned to England with Sandy at the end of 1969 intent on establishing an ashram as a centre to tell everyone about Maharaji and Knowledge. Maharaji had told us that he was sending Charnanand to England but I felt it would be years before Maharaji himself left India. He was still at school and so young.
Eighteen months later in early June I answered the telephone on my way to work. A female Indian voice kept saying, "Maharaji is coming to London on 17 June." It wouldn't sink into my thick skull. It seemed impossible, but Maharaji was coming.