The Golden Age
CHRISTMAS, NEW YEAR ACTIVITY
There was a feast of WWA activity over the Christmas New Year period with no less than ten institutions being visited by premies spreading the Christmas spirit.
Saturday the 25th of December saw a visit to Woorooloo Prison by the PLA troupe. The program of a play and music from the premie band "Dove" went over so well that many of the 80 prisoners were on their feet dancing for the last half and hour.
That Sunday, Princess Margaret Children's Hospital received a visit from 15 premies singing carols and handing out presents. The sister on charge showed her gratitude by giving the premies a guided tour of the hospital.
Tuesday night saw Christmas dinner at the Alcoholics Centre: a vegetarian stew prepared by premies. After the meal everybody was entertained by a play and music. 30 premies and 40 alcoholics attended the function. On Friday the 26th, three elderly homes were visited by the old time sing-a-long group.
Two more institutions, Karnet Rehabilitation centre and Bandyup Women's Prison were visited by PLA over the next week. A warden at Bandyup summed it up when he said that our program had given the ideal round off to the Christmas spirit.
The entry of the new year, celebrated on the 2nd of January, to demonstrate the illusion of time, changed the satsang hall into "Minskey's Restaurant" complete with tables and waiters. Everybody came dressed in 1920's gear and danced to 1920's music. The highlight of the night occurred when two rival 1920 gangs "raided" the show and demanded to know who supplied the "moonshine". On cue, fingers pointed to the picture of Guru Maharaj Ji.
On average, fifty faces can be seen most nights at satsang, about forty of them belonging to premies. Our satsang hall is looking less like a barn these days, with new ochre coloured curtains and stained wood doors blending with the yellow upholstered chairs which seem to have sprung up like mushrooms overnight. Premies who once reacted with horror at the idea of chairs now seem to have become extremely attached to them. Wednesday night is
Introductory Program night at the hall, so satellite satsang is held at premie houses on a rotating basis. These have a really intimate feel about them and help us to get to know each other.
At the moment, Brisbane has six premie houses and a "bulging at the seams" ashram sheltering eleven premies.
Every second Saturday the clinic happens, with Cathy, Don and Rocky doing the massaging, and premie naturopath Jack Kaiser giving experienced advice on diets etc.
On the subject of food, the Co-op is going strong now that Michael is drawing a wage from the profits and so is able to do this service full time. He's even got an old truck which puts one in mind of those wooden toy trucks kids used to have.
Every Saturday, a few premies supervise the "139 Club", a hangout place in the city for derelicts. The premies fit well there, playing cards and making tea.
One recent WWA venture was a visit by about twenty premies, comprising jug band, choir and serving assistants, to the geriatrics at Sylvan Lodge. Sing-a-long songs like "Ain't She Sweet" were washed down with tea, soft drinks and Christmas cake followed up with more music and carols.
Over the Christmas break, the premies of Brisbane and country centres packed their bags and retired from the city's seasonal lunacy to the peace and quiet of Neranwood. A small group due to the toll of home visits, but nonetheless a close one, meditating, sleeping and swimming in a reserved piece of nature's paradise.
The four days slipped past to the call of bushland creatures and the rumble of skateboard championships held in the assembly hall. On the last night, we were invited to Tweed Heads for a concert arranged by a premie rock band called Rock Steady. Rock Steady is a mixture of One Foundation and Band of Angels. Kim and Lindsay Field, on holiday at the Gold Coast, joined forces with Ross Hannaford, Joe Creighton and Alan Carroll to produce an evening of fun and dance. Premies came from everywhere - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane - taking photos, pouring fruit juices, serving cakes and playing music in what Alan called "the best gig we've done yet".
The editors of the new book The Way Out - Radical Alternatives in Australia, are two ex-Sydney premies Margaret Smith and David Crossley. They now live in Yeronga household in Brisbane. Margaret works as a Health educator, and David s doing a PhD on low environmental-impact living.
As part of David's project they are converting their suburban house to low-energy useage. It will function as much as possible from solar and wind energy recycle water to the vegetable garden, and have a composting toilet. The idea of the project is to use the house as an example to others of what can be done by living a spiritual and environmental harmonious lifestyle.
The Way Out is doing reasonably well - 3,500 were sold in the first two months. Many premies find it useful a Christmas gift to parents and friends. There are 50 contributors of which 5 are premies. The contributions range from articles on helping people in stress to medicinal herbs, to meditation. The emphasis is in people who have changed their lives own, and the editors see the book's main'role as a self-help tool encouraging people to open up their lives.
The premie contributors are Derek Harper and Michael McDonald who joined forces to write on DLM in Australia, Penny Watson who wrote about her path to Knowledge through communal living. Chris Oliver who wrote about the Knowledge of Guru Maharaj Ji; and Ray Milliken on the injustices of our present schooling system.
The Environmental Harmony Co-op has been Jerry Smith's dream for a couple of years now. Jerry is a premie from Mullumbimby, who has recently joined forces with David Crossley.
Jerry and David feel that there is a need for an organisation which can supply information, publications and equipment necessary to live in harmony with our environment and to provide a consultancy service to help people who want to live in this way.
They intend to start the Environmental Harmony Co-operative by selling and installing solar hot water systems. The organisation could then expand into other areas depending on the success of the initial operation.
In order to obtain the capital necessary to start Environmental Harmony, membership by share purchase or by share subscription will be available.
Summer seems to be making a name for itself as natural-disaster time in Northern Australia, with the cyclone in Darwin last Christmas, and regular storms on the Queensland coast. For many people the damage done by the weather means complete disruption of their lives. For premies who find themselves in these situations, it's another opportunity to understand that Maharaj Ji has really shown them the eye of the storm inside them. Here is a report from Margaret Partridge, the only premie in Toowoomba.
On the afternoon of Saturday January 10, the eastern section of Toowoomba was devastated by a 20 minute hailstorm. If you have heard that the hail stones were up to as big as small rockmelons - that's no joke - they were! Not round stones, but jagged ones. At home on my own it was very frightening a experience. The noise of breaking tiles and glass was like a continuous explosion. My thoughts ran to mums with young children and how terrified they must have been. For me? Well I was able to meditate, once again experiencing just how much Knowledge can do for us.
In a few short minutes water was pouring into the house - running down light fittings, running out of cupboards. Smashed plate glass windows showered glass across rooms, a gauze door was almost shredded.
Gardens and trees were stripped of foliage, cars dented, power lines down and roofs laid open. The remarkable thing was that no one was killed.
Sunday found us all drying out as best we could, getting tarpaulins over roofs, pulling up floor coverings. People were being very kind, thoughtful, helpful, smiling. Why does it take a tragedy to bring out the best in people?
When the time came for Divine Sales to close down, Adelaide was delighted that premie Neville Ackland was able to buy the business.
The shop has been renamed "Gee-Em's Recycle and Scrubbed Furniture Shop"… and there are no prizes for guessing what Gee-Em stands for!
A little hard work, ingenuity and plain old dedication have enabled Nev to retain the shop's former function as a money-raiser for the Mission, while making a living for himself at the same time. The shop area has been expanded to include two back rooms, and turnover is sufficient to pay for the running of the business.
Scrubbing work is increasing at a rate which has allowed Nev to employ aspirant Daryl Cocks as a part-time assistant. One of Adelaide's major scrubbed furniture shops has even found it more economical to use Gee-Ems scrubbing than to do their own.
FACE LIFT FOR GROTE STREET
With the lease on the Grote Street satsang hall renewed for another two years, an internal facelift seemed well justified. Stylish new multi-striped curtains cover the windows behind the satsang chair. Premies now have the option of sitting on chairs or on the floor at satsang. Surprisingly, most people are opting for the chairs.
PREMIE ON PAROLE
Daryle Snelling, one of five premies who received Knowledge in Yatala Labour Prison last year, has been released on parole. A letter from Daryle appeared in the last issue of the Golden Age.
Daryle is enjoying his job as a landscape gardener's assistant and has moved into a household of AMP members.
Communications are the lifeblood of community (after communion that is). Guru Maharaj Ji has emphasised how we should be synchronised to make our energies useful to His Mission, so
we're trying to develop ways to see that Adelaide's 130 premie minds are pretty much into the same idea! As well as Sunday morning community meetings, fortnightly staff meetings where everybody involved in some direct service comes together with the DUO Director in helping to plug us in.
The ashram and the pre-ashram household (most of whose members are ashram premies) hold weekly gatherings to share satsang, food, and news of developments.
The first of these get-togethers took the form of a Sunday afternoon workshop on ashram living. Everyone had their first real look at what Guru Maharaj Ji has been saying over the last few months. It was not insignificant that a hunt through both houses failed to produce more than one copy of the ashram manual, although several copies of various scriptures, assorted books on yoga and diet, magazines, umpteen Bibles, and a curious assortment of sci-fi, novels and children's stories did come to light! Both houses are now running on the same lines, as we prepare ourselves for an influx of aspirant ashramers after Ira Woods' visit.
PROGRAMS FOR ASPIRANTS
Introductory programs in Adelaide have shifted from the ashram in North Adelaide to the board-room of the Y.W.C.A. in Pennington Terrace. With upgraded music and better facilities, we're learning to present Knowledge in a way that's more acceptable to the public. DLM snaffled up the "ear-piece" (front page space) of the local newspaper covering North Adelaide and surrounding suburbs and this, together with an ad. in the Saturday morning paper, and premie word of mouth, is bringing a steady trickle of people interested in meditation.
Ten people, several of whom have been through the four-week pilot Introduction to Knowledge Series are attending a "Knowledge Seminar 1". Adelaide is also holding a Community Focus workshop to tune the whole premie community into the importance of the aspirant program.
MEALS ON WHEELS, WWA CAIRNS
Our involvement with Meals on Wheels in Cairns began just before Easter last year. A diligent WWA scout discovered that Meals on Wheels do not provide their service on public holidays. We approached the organisers and asked them if we could use their facilities to supply a special Easter meal for the old folk. This offer was warmly accepted and we were given the use of the kitchen and utensils. We supplied the food, prepared the meals and delivered them together with a hand-painted Easter card for each person.
The goodwill created by this event at first opened the way for regular service involving 7-10 premies premies assisted other volunteers in delivering meals. Then the opportunity arose for them to take responsibility for their own meal run, using their own vehicle one day a week. By September, a second run was offered to us, so two more premies began regular weekly service with their own vehicle. As well as conducting the normal meal delivery, the premies give handpainted cards, and small bundles of fruit with each meal. At times, the organisers have be been reticent about our innovations - such as arriving early to help prepare meals. However as good will has increased this optional extra has become accepted as a matter of course.
As goodwill increased, the Mission was offered the service of dishwashing, which involves 2-3 premies for several hours each day, every second week. On a number of occasions, extra help has been required at short notice and we have been able to oblige. As a result, the Mission is now regarded as a standby pool for people and vehicles.
The week before Christmas was a golden opportunity to offer more love. As well as cards and fruit, each person received a piece of Christmas cake and the meals were delivered to the accompaniment of premie minstrels yodelling traditional Christmas carols. Most of the old
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folk were completely overcome by this - many of them simply cried for joy.
As with everything we do for Maharaj Ji, so much has been learnt in this service. Relating to the old people has been a tricky one. At first we used to bounce into their homes, showering them with blissful enthusiasism, but we soon found that this was too much of a strain on their frail constitutions. Now we have learnt to approach them quietly. What's important to them is that once a week their meal is delivered with a smile and that they are given a piece a fruit which they couldn't afford to buy. Although we don't get to give direct satsang, Guru Maharaj Ji's love has made a difference to their lives.
In early December Melbourne premie doctor, Henry Warszawski, began General Practice in Kew in the heart of Melbourne's premie community. Recently Dr. Henry answered some questions about the clinic, the first to be co-ordinated by a premie doctor, here in Australia.
INTERVIEW WITH HENRY WARSZAWSKI
What is your professional background?
I finished training in Medicine nearly three years ago. During the course I wasn't sure what field I wanted to get into, but since receiving Knowledge two years ago I've come to focus on General Practice because there seems to be a need for that kind of service.
How did the clinic come about?
Dr. Henry: It actually started over two years ago, when Julie Collet was the Director in Melbourne. Just after I graduated we thought it would be a good idea to start a clinic. We had very romantic ideas. I set up a little clinic in Cardigan Street Ashram two nights a week. People would come and we'd just examine them on the floor, until we bought a couch. It was very, very primitive. Naturally enough that whole thing fell through. We got ourselves more into practising Knowledge and slowly, slowly started to understand through Guru Maharaj Ji's agya what had to be done and how to go about doing it.
Through various festivals where we ran makeshift clinics with the doctors and sisters and different health workers not only in the orthodox field but also in massage, chiropractic and naturopathy, we slowly gathered experience and understanding of the communication that is neccessary to do this kind of service full-time. It was only in '75 that we got something stable happening.
What do you see as the aim of the clinic?
Dr. Henry: It's very simple. It just provides a health service for people living in Melbourne, whether they be premies, friends of premies, parents of premies or people off the street.
Is there much premie involvement in the clinic?
Dr. Henry: There is myself and Sister Kitty Thorpe full-time premies. There were quite a few premies involved one way or another in setting up the clinic. They did drawings for the walls, made furniture and curtains, cleaned the place. The premies in DUO are helping with business know-how. Dr. Chris Walker has started to do part-time counselling work.
What services are available in the clinic?
Dr. Henry: It's a run of the mill General Practice situation. If Tommy Bridgford gets a cold and Carol is worried that he's not getting better then she brings him along. We try to see what can be done, given what the mother knows and we know to get him back into a normal situation and normal health.
It's really grass roots care. If I can't handle a situation because I'm not experienced in a particular problem, then I refer the patient to someone who is experienced in that field.
Are you specialising within any particular field?
Dr. Henry: We've become interested in natural childbirth, because there's the need for it. We're also interested in baby health care. It's very beautiful if a baby is born in a congenial atmosphere and there is a consc ions kind of involvement by all the people concerned. But is is equally important to maintain that continuity after the baby is born to ensure that everything is well in its physical and psycho-social development. Hopefully this aspect of our work will dovetail in with the premie nursery and maybe later into the day school.
How do you find premies' health in general?
Dr. Henry: Premies get sick just like everybody else gets sick. Once premies were much less able to handle their illnesses. They'd get sick and space off, thinking it was some kind of cosmic thing with them. Nowadays premies can be open and if something like a disease comes along, then all that's required is to handle it, and use it as a springboard to improve one's health.
I guess premies' health is the up and up nowadays because we're realising that it's a practical thing to be healthy. To do service 8 10 hours a day we need machine, this body, to be good condition. We need to service it, oil it and maintain it, and to get a proper balance of sleep and rest.
A person's approach to health is very important Even someone who is unhealthy, if he's been drugs or something like if he really understands is open to improving his health, then he has within the community every opportunity to do that.
It's amazing how a person. who is motivated can improve his health remarkably within a few months. At the same time it's very easy to trip out on health, to get unnecessarily with it. Health is only important to a premie in that it makes him feel strong and well enough to practise Knowledge.