A GENERAL RAISING OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In Australia, Divine Light Mission is just beginning to make its presence known to the community at large. The Golden Age interviewed David Lovejoy, the General Secretary of the Australian DLM, on his return from New Zealand and asked where the Mission stood today.
What is the main purpose of the Mission?
Divine Light Mission has only one purpose and that is to spread the spiritual Knowledge which Guru Maharaj Ji reveals. People think DLM is this or that, and want it to conform with their preconceptions about what a spiritual organisation should be, but all it really exists, for is to spread Knowledge.
Has the Mission changed greatly from its early days in Australia?
Well of course you could say it has; our number has grown from four to fourteen hundred or so, and satsang has spread from one dilapidated tenement in Sydney to all the major towns in the country. Inevitably in such an expansion, inessential features spin off and new ones evolve, but superficial change is no measure of our true direction. The important thing is that as long as we are all joined by our common practice of the Knowledge, external change is no more than a reflection of our different efforts to reach the maximum number of people in society.
Will the recent visit of Bal Bhagwan Ji [Guru Maharaj Ji's oldest brother] mean any changes in the running of the Mission?
Oh for sure. He gave us so much insight into priorities, for example. Really the effect of darshan on us generally is incalculable. You know, one tendency of the human mind is to try to freeze a flowing event into a definite pattern. To fix limits on what is possible so as to feel more at ease with the unknown. So movements always lose their steam and head towards cautiousness. Having a living Holy Family, a here and now Perfect Master, produces a sort of constant cultural revolution within the Mission. No one ever gets the time to erect too rigid a structure of functions, no-one is able to institutionalise the workings of the workings of the Mission, in the way that a church is fossilised for example, simply because every few months or so we are shaken out of our roles and identification by some new lila or paradox, or just by the amazing energy that darshan releases.
What do you think the public attitude to the Mission is?
That's a very interesting question, because I was just talking to a brother who works for an advertising agency and he was telling me the impressions he had received about our "image", using the tools of market research. It seems that DLM is firmly anchored in the "devotional" image, along with the Hare Krishnas and the Children of God, mainly because of our unfulfilled "Second Coming" campaign and the personality-conscious "Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?" theme. Needless to say, most people cannot handle devotion, never having seen anything worth devoting themselves to, and therefore this can be a barrier to their understanding that Knowledge is a definite experience and not a religious faith. A better "image", to use these terms, would be that of Zen or Yoga, so perhaps we should call Mahatmas "Zen Masters" to get them a better hearing!
Goodness knows the words are not important, the realisation is all. But it's very instructive for us to see how public attitudes are formed, because really a great part of our service is just to remain within society and contribute to a general raising of consciousness.
Well how do you think propagation to the public can improve?
The best improvement of all is simply every premie manifesting a pure and wholesome lifestyle and communicating directly on a person to person basis. A sort of grass-roots, back to our origins approach. After all, each one of us first took serious notice of satsang from an individual, not an impersonal medium. Bal Bhagwan Ji said we shouldn't chase the media to try to get widely known too quickly. Press and TV will come respectfully to Guru Maharaj Ji soon enough when there are so many people quietly demonstrating peace and love in their everyday actions that the ordinary social pivots of greed and aggression are threatened. Then it will be a story.
Another thing we can do is recognise the fact that this is a Christian country, Because so many people have fallen away from churches and formal religion, and so many would describe themselves as agnostic or atheist, we tend to forget out culture is permeated by Christianity, I mean that people, whatever they consciously believe, have had their automatic and subconscious beliefs moulded by traditional Christian values from earliest childhood.
And so apart from a few serious seekers who have already largely shed their mental conditioning, it's no use our emphasising the Bhagavad Gita, for instance.
The Bible is this society's scripture and it is to the Bible we must refer, if people need the guidance of religious authority. This means we should all read the Bible, particularly the New Testament, in the light of Knowledge, and be able to swap quotations with anybody. Once again, Bal Bhagwan Ji gave us a very good example by his completely pragmatic approach to propagation. He was saying in effect that if the gospel can only be preached wearing a funny hat, then for the sake of people's souls we should all wear funny hats.
What are the main problems that stall the effectiveness of the Mission's work?
There is only one problem. Knowledge shows us who we really are and frees us from our physical and mental cocoons. But unless we really do trust Guru Maharaj Ji by leaving the empty shells behind and flying, we won't get anywhere. Possessions are a very low-grade hang-up if you've experienced the freedom of belonging to the universe. Opinions are very cheap beside the eternal truth which breathes through our bodies. Quite simply if more premies got into Knowledge and really dedicated their minds as they once promised, then Maharaj Ji's Mission would have enough money and energy to propagate effectively to every class of society, and actually relieve so much daily misery. But the first flush of enthusiasm often gives way to apathy. It's not a new thing! Thomas a Kempis wrote that our initial joyful resolution should continually grow in strength, but now it is held a marvel if a man retains even a little of his first fervour. So we all hold back till the last moment, clinging to a little corner of the cosmos, knowing that total surrender to God is where it's at, and yet pretending that we're our own masters.
Perhaps there's a problem in people regarding those in the "administration" and ashrams as an elite group, as one newspaper put it "similar to the Catholic hierarchy". Is there any reason to assume this?
Only in the sense that the present-day Catholic hierarchy is a faint, faint memory of the Galilean Mission to spread Divine Light two thousand years ago. A few similarities remain, for example the church is not democratic. all authority descending from the Pope. Nowadays the authority is in the office, once it was in the spiritual realisation of the man.
In the same way I suppose you can say that DLM is not democratic, no spiritual association can be. Guru Maharaj Ji is our Supreme Co-ordinator and Administrator-in-Chief and I suspect that premies sometimes don't realise how closely Maharaj Ji guides
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the details of the Mission's work. Here in Australia our official constitution expressly includes clauses which allow Maharaj Ji to alter or veto any decision or appointment we might make. Actually anyone with a contribution to make is welcomed with open arms. And in fact most routine matters are democratically handled. In the recent Annual General Meeting of the Mission in NSW we held elections for officers and committee members, even though the constitution allows for them to be directly appointed.
The fact is that such guidance as the Mission requires from day to day has to be made by people who have not only got over the initial unevenness of tackling the mind, and hence don't space out too easily, but who also have a reasonably continuous awareness of what the Mission exists for. It's not a social club, or an alternative world government, or a business venture. It is Guru Maharaj Ji's instrument for propagating Knowledge through service, satsang and meditation. And as I said before, the unpredictable activities of the Holy Family prevent it from hardening into a hierarchy.
Are there any major plans underway for the Mission?
The most important plan at the moment is to call Mata Ji here after Vaisaki. It really is a fantastic opportunity for us to have Holy Mother visit Australia, and New Zealand and Fiji as well. Then a really well organised and sponsored musical festival in spring could even draw Guru Maharaj Ji himself to give satsang, who knows?
The immediate material plan which Bal Bhagwan Ji proposed is a permanent "Palace of Peace" style headquarters, in older to make us independent of landlords and economic recessions. Also it's good to see something concrete grow from our contributions. The spring festival and satsaang hall funds will be completely separate from the Mission's everyday running expenses.
There were two other things that Bal Bhagwan Ji regarded as very promising. 0ne was to record and promote the Rhythm in Bliss band, perhaps even requesting Shri Bhole Ji to do the final mixing of the record in Los Angeles. The second was this newspaper which should become increasingly important as a propagation medium. We've got some very far-out ideas for The Golden Age, but we have to have feedback and contributions from premies.
As the Mission expands, do you see any danger of it becoming an impersonal machine rather than a large family?
That's up to us. As long as we are all experiencing the same Father I don't think there's any danger of us ceasing to be united in the same family.