Contagious enthusiasm spread before me when telling people about 13-year-old Maharaji. At last I had been shown the abode of the eternal and wanted to tell anyone who would listen. After six months in Prem Nagar and inspired with direction to return to Australia to start an ashram and call for an instructor. I was alive with boundless energy and unclouded joy.
Arriving in Perth in a enthusiastic mood I spoke to the president of the Theosophical Society who seemed touched by my conviction. He asked me to give a talk about Maharaji the following evening to the annual meeting of members. I had never spoken to a large group before, but I felt no fear. My faith was unshakable.
I was surprised by the size of the meeting but undaunted I began by singing, which upon reflection was quite a feat, because even by the wildest stretch of imagination I could not be called a singer. Although my inner experience and understanding were rather limited, it was enough to allow me to sing.
Arriving in Sydney a week later, I started working at a health food restaurant where I proceeded to tell all and sundry about Maharaji. I worked like a slave, but at night going home I would look up at the stars with a heart full of bliss and feel my great good fortune at having found Maharaji.
After a week I was told of David Lovejoy, a premie living nearby. I went to see him, and the following week the ashram was established and satsang began nightly. Sixty people arrived on the first night, largely made up of the owner of the restaurant, his relatives, the waitresses and patrons. Within six weeks many people wanted knowledge, and Maharaji sent Charnanand. Very quickly Knowledge sessions were held.
On 5 October, Maharaji arrived in Sydney to be greeted by a large group of people. The press were there en masse, and Maharaji was assuring them that he was a "humble servant." We drove Maharaji in an antique Rolls-Royce to a large suburban house in Killarney Heights. I remember vividly a well known TV reporter sitting shoeless and cross-legged at Maharaji's feet asking how a 14-year-old boy could bring peace to the world. "Fourteen years is fourteen years. It's the Knowledge that teaches you the Knowledge," he replied.
In the evening we would crowd into the TV room with Maharaji and wait expectantly for the evening news.
During the day he would answer many questions, some rather peculiar. He spoke to a large public gathering of 1,200 people. The atmosphere was one of feverish excitement. People later remarked that it felt like they had at last come in from the darkness, and how charmed and fascinated they were by this young boy and his message.
His presence ignited an enormous amount of inspiration, and we were and are fortunate to be a part of this.
Jack WittenThe Divine Times Special Edition 17 July 1996
It was the summer of 1971 in Los Angeles. California. I had just been released from federal prison for refusal of induction into the armed forces. I was searching for something - but did not know what it was. I knew it was inside of me, but did not know how to access it.
LA was awash with different gurus. My friends would call them "Swami Gimme-A-Buck." But Maharaji fascinated me when I saw him at the first programme at Wilshire Ebell Theatre.
What really struck me was when he said, "If you have any questions, come and see me and I will try to answer them." I had questions that needed answers, so it sounded good to me. I was intrigued by the young man.
During the quieter moments of my imprisonment I would write and when I saw the poster for the programme, I recalled this passage, "A child playing pretending games, drawing faces in the sand, in the wisdom of his playful eyes he knows his time is at hand. While the older folks just stand and watch, and build their separate walls to the sunlit shores of another world his eyes would guide them all" I just started telling people about the programme before I even knew what it is all about.
After the programme, my business partner and I had to rush to a meeting as we were opening, an organic sandwich stand on the UCLA campus. But on the bus we met Andy Crane who had been in India with Maharaji. He started to tell us stories and we became so captivated that we missed our destination.
We changed buses for Hollywood, heading for the address I had scribbled down the night before, to climb the 150 steps to the small two bedroomed house on Alta Loma Terrace overlooking the Hollowed Bowl where Maharaji was staying.
I spent the next three days listening to him. I asked him, "Can I directly experience what I have heard about, that nirvana, that enlightenment? Or do I have to go through a whole roller-coaster of experience to achieve it?" His answer was, "I can put you in touch." That was the answer I was looking for.
So when Charnanand asked three of us if we wanted to receive Knowledge, we all said yes. And he took us to Maharaji's room where he was squirting someone with a water pistol. My mind tuned to its most sophisticated mode. "Jack, you have seen some things. Don't let yourself go too easily." Meanwhile Maharaji asked the other two if they wanted Knowledge, and then he turned and looked me squarely in the eye and said "Well?" And I just blurted out, "I love you."
I just freaked right out. I was so embarrassed. How could I say that to a 13-year-old boy 1 had known for three days. Yet I had a very beautiful feeling inside.
Maharaji laughed and said, "Yes, yes, yes." before squirting Charnanand with the water pistol with drops falling on me. Once again a wave of bliss overcame me. Maharaji asked us to leave and as I walked out of that room I knew that a lightning bolt had just struck between my mind and my heart. No matter how cynical, skeptical and aloof I felt, the good feeling was now the prevailing force. I knew whose hands were on the controls. I felt nothing but gratitude.
After receiving Maharaji's Knowledge in 1972, I went to an event that Maharaji was having in Colorado. On a grassy field I heard Maharaji tell his message me for the first time. I don't remember the words he spoke now, but what he was talking about, his understanding of the clarity in the way he communicated and his presence of being made me pay attention.
Maharaji was talking about life. He was talking about it with more understanding and clarity than I had ever known. He was the wisest person that I had ever heard and the message that he was telling was the condition of my life. I knew that he was speaking just to me.
Since then, I have seen everything in my life change over and over again. However, there are two things that have never changed. The beautiful experience that can hold my attention and allow me to feel the stirring of my heart is the same today as it was in the beginning when I first received Knowledge. And Maharaji, who is constantly there, teaching me with absolute kindness, showing me what is most important and offering the way to live with love, fulfillment and joy.
In receiving Maharaji's Knowledge I have found a place that I go to for both comfort and fulfillment within me. I have found my best friend as well as the teacher who will always provide the truest information for me to find my way back to my heart. I can only express my thanks to Maharaji for accepting me as I am and showing me dignity and the real meaning of love. He has given no the key to choose fulfillment and a joy that overwhelms me.
I was asked about my experience of Maharaji in the early days. Being in Rome in June and hearing some of the old songs triggered such sweet memories. I was so grateful to be there celebrating this anniversary event. I was so happy to be singing to Maharaji, expressing love to Maharaji.
Feeling that love, and expressing that love, feeling that trust and letting it take the weight off me, these were gifts that were given, and are given time and again in their own beautiful ways. When thinking of my early experiences with Maharaji, different sweet encounters come to mind. They are so precious, and so personal. There was a time when I saw Maharaji sitting in his car parked on a crowded street. I walked over and stopped behind it. I felt in my heart, "I love you Maharaji." And when I looked up, Maharaji was looking at me in his rear-view mirror.
I felt a drop go from my heart to his, and when I looked at Maharaji, it felt as if an ocean had come back to me. It seemed that this bit of love meant so much to him. It was as if he had waited forever for that love and it was so precious to him.
Though there was an entourage of others around, I felt as if it was only me and him in that moment. I felt so precious to him. I was so surprised at how much that love meant to him. He was so humble. He seemed to be the servant. He seemed to be the most incredible servant because he was so responsive to that love.
There was a time when Maharaji had returned to Los Angeles, as he did so many times. I cleaned the ashram where I was living and got it ready for Maharaji to come. And he came the very next day, and I was able to again share a sweet moment with him.
It was from the beginning that I experienced how Maharaji responded to the prayers in my heart in his own way. It was from the beginning that I learned to trust. I thank Maharaji for letting me be a part of this story, a true story, a living story, a story that is so sweet.