No. 28, April 1976
Doing It For Maharaj Ji
A report on Community Development in Australia
What are premies doing to open themselves up to the point where Maharaj Ji can really use them? This month, Golden Age correspondents in several communities around Australia have been looking for some answers to this question. In this article, their findings are revealed.
One striking thing about the accounts reaching the editor's desk in Sydney was the remarkable similarity of activities and realisations they had to report. Even though Australian premies are spread over a wide geographic area, when it comes to growing in Knowledge, it appears we're all pretty close.
Each correspondent saw the recent development in their community as coming from the same point: the growth of each premie's individual understanding and practice of Knowledge catalysed by Ira's tour. We'll let Dort Burley, Golden Age correspondent in Tasmania, speak for everybody:
"Here in Hobart, the 'year of understanding' really began with Ira Woods' visit in January. This visit was not just a short-lived conquest of inspiration and love, leaving us hungry again a week later. Instead it was a lift, a push that set us rolling; and we're still gathering momentum. What actually happened was that the motivation and the desire to know became internalised. And as Maharaj Ji said in Lima, it's that inner motivation which will push us to realise fully."
Then everyone went on to talk about satsang; about how their whole community is getting into it, spurred on by the understanding that giving satsang is something every premie can do, and by the obvious need - and opportunity - for people to give satsang in the aspirant seminars.
"With three Knowledge Seminars Part 1 running concurrently these days," Kari Kristiansen, Melbourne Golden Age reporter, remarks, "there will soon be a real need here for premies who are experienced in giving satsang. From all reports, these seminars have a completely transforming effect on the premies involved, simply because they involve sharing so much satsang."
The Golden Age
Satsang appears to be flourishing in all communities. In fact, the forms in which satsang comes nowadays are multiplying rapidly. Some centres have set aside one night a week for five-minute satsang. Another evening is reserved for a 'community night'.
"We hold five-minute satsang every Wednesday night at Grote Street now," Liz Gilbert from Adelaide reports. "It's a wonderful opportunity for people who, for one reason or another, don't often make it to the satsang chair. Having a wide variety of people giving satsang helps everyone to realise that their difficulties aren't theirs alone. We can see that we're all in the same classroom learning the same lessons, and that we can all help each other."
Satellite satsangs are gaining ground, too, especially in the larger communities:
"Because opportunities to give satsang at the Melbourne satsang hall are limited," Kari says, " the satellite satsangs in the suburbs have begun to thrive. A resourceful premie can find himself in a household satsang from Kew to Noble Park, from Rosanna to North Balwyn. Even Geelong is starting up satsang in the near future. In the Kew area, where there are quite a few premie households, satsang is held on a rotating basis once a a week."
And then, there are the workshops. The Adelaide community comes together every Monday evening for a 'Community Focus' night. In Melbourne and Hobart, Sunday morning meditation is followed by a 'Community Education' workshop. These workshops give premies a chance to find out about developments in the Mission, and to share satsang with each other around a particular theme.
"When everyone is aware of what is going on in the Mission, the understanding of how best we can play an instrumental role in the task of spreading Knowledge can really grow," Kari points out. "The first workshop we held in Melbourne concentrated on service. Co-ordinator Lou Scott gave a resume of all the service opportunities available within the Mission. These turned out to be endless, from gestetnering to nursery service, from looking after the cassette library to packing in Soul Foods. Everyone could really see that the chance to commit themselves to some kind of regular service was there. Following on from this was a workshop on satsang, which included a video of Ira's satsang to the satsang coordinators here in Melbourne. We've also had workshops on agya and one on premie living situations."
Many communities are finding the written word a means of communication quite complementary to spoken satsang.
"Our fortnightly newsletter is a real indication of how much the Melbourne community is growing. Often up to a dozen pages in length, it conveys all news of forthcoming events interspersed with satsang. Recently, we've started a newsletter for aspirants, which contains news of community and aspirant activities, and stories of how people came to Knowledge, as well as Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang. The first issue contained an interview with Vivien Stevenson, one of the three premies who just received Knowledge."
Adelaide premies are discovering the possibilities of their newsletter, too. The latest issue was thirteen pages long, and consisted almost entirely of premie contributions.
Another communication link, the AMP Committee, is in it's embryonic stages in Australia. Since Guru Maharaj Ji mentioned AMP so frequently in his letters to premies at the beginning of the year, the growth of this aspect of the Mission promises to be something well worth watching. In Hobart, the premies are already starting to see some of the Committee's advantages:
"Recently we have seen the formation of the AMP Committee and watched it slowly grow into being the nerve centre of our community. It's really simple. If we had thought about it, it would be the obvious way to link all the premies closer to the centre, relay their needs and ideas as well as organise the service and satsang according to our local situation. Each AMP rep is responsible for a particular section of the premie community. Via the community reps comes the direction of Guru Maharaj Ji; through them, the plans and programs for his Mission are brought forward into individual premies' lives. Although we only just started to use this channel, already we have felt its benefits."
You don't have to live any particular lifestyle to be dedicated to Guru Maharaj Ji. But a good environment can sure help. More and more premies are finding that by living together, they can inspire each other to practise Knowledge, and pool their energy so that it can be used a little more efficiently in service.
In Melbourne, four Community Centres, three of them made up of premie couples with children, have started up recently. Sydney has two Family Community Centres, and a Community Centre for single people. Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide all have very active pre-ashrams, too. Melbourne has set up an aspirant shelter, where six aspirants are preparing for Knowledge under the guidance of a housefather and mother from the ashram.
A good environment can help. but ultimately, dedication is an individual thing. From all reports, ashram premies all around Australia are waking up to this understanding.
"One thing Ira stressed often here was that the centre of a healthy community is an active, inspired and one-pointed ashram," Dort comments. "With weekly spin-thebottle ashram satsangs, and constant reminders from our ever-watchful supervisor, the ashram here in Hobart is beginning to buzz with enthusiasm to do it for Maharaj Ji. It really feels like we're moving."
With individual dedication growing, and true communication alive and well, Australian communities are starting to generate the energy they need to fulfil their function as Guru Maharaj Ji's front-line contacts with the world. At present, there isn't much direct outreach being done anywhere in Australia. Instead we're finding lots to do right on our own doorsteps, developing ourselves and looking after the aspirants who still seem to keep coming even when we don't do public programs. It's easy to see that once we've got ourselves stabilised in service, satsang and meditation, there's going to be plenty of people interested in Knowledge.
"Many premies in Melbourne are realising a lot more about service and the responsibility it entails. This is reflected in the amount of activity around the satsang hall and offices, particularly on the weekends. when many premies and asp-
irants come in to do service for the day," Kari reports. In Adelaide, premies and aspirants are so eager for service, that a current service availability list is kept permanently in the satsang hall.
It's really real So, Maharaj Ji's communities, his vehicle for offering peace to the world, are also acting as tools to help each premie come to the understanding necessary for that process to take place. As Dort says:
"It is starting to dawn on us that this Knowledge isn't a theoretical thing. It really is everything we've been hearing and saying; the living, breathing, knowing experience of our life. It is an experience to be constantly striven for. And it's obvious we are all travelling together, towards the same goal. Lately the feeling in the Hobart community has been one of movement and activity. Through service, we're seeing that we're a family doing it together. And doing it together is inspiration for meditation and satsang. What could be better?"
And that's a little of what's happening in the Australian premie communities now. Not that the story ends here.
Really, it's just the beginning.