No. 29, May 1976
The whole scene changes
Chris Kelly, Sydney's AMP Committee Chairman, talks about AMP.
When Maharaj Ji first introduced the Active Membership Program in early 1975, I was still preparing for Knowledge. at that time I was having a bit difficulty understanding service. A painful self-confrontation ensued each time I climbed the Wentworth Ave. stairs and self-consciously asked for something to do, only to be directed to the ever-present staircase with the same old broom. It seemedthat opportunities to do service were scarce if you were not in an ashram.
Then Maharaj Ji set up AMP. I'd heard that the object of the program was to enable every person to experience service - which sounded like a good idea - so with the little understanding I had gleaned, I began to contribute ten percent of my dole cheque to the Mission.
When I was initiated I filled out the membership application in the Knowledge packet, and started donating ten percent of the income from my new job. Because of the inspiration I had from receiving Knowledge, I really tried to do my best in whatever was in front of me, and as I did I began to experience real satisfaction from putting my mind into meditation and my body into service.
But still, it was often hard for me because I didn't really understand what a practical and complete thing practising Knowledge could be. I was easily distracted from meditation by the people and situations around me, so although it was sometimes beautiful, at times it was painful, too.
I know that this type of experience is not unique to me. It seems that our understanding often grows in waves, collectively. What I think we've all been realising lately is that to really understand anything that Maharaj Ji gives us we need to go back to square one, to our meditation, because it is there that our appreciation of life deepens and parallel to that, our understanding of Maharaj Ji's goal also grows.
At the beginning of the year Maharaj Ji wrote a letter pointing out the need to strengthen ourselves and our
The Golden Age
communities, and directing us to coordinate our efforts to do so through AMP: "All the premies will have to first mature, seriously applying themselves to satsang, service and meditation. If we do not apply ourselves and have the real understanding of who we are and what we are supposed to do, and if we do not really do satsang, service and meditation, I sincerely feel this makes the premies quite incapable of doing my service properly. And that creates an enormous imbalance in a premie's life, because all premies have to do satsang, service and meditation efficiently enough so that it really shows them the practical results of this Knowledge. I feel this balance can be brought about by synchronising all our efforts through the Active Membership Program. It is so essential that we all get behind our Divine Light Mission communities which are the backbone of this Mission, and which tremendously help me do my job in this world."
From that direction a whole new understanding began as we realised that AMP was more than a financial dedication and a skills questionnaire; in fact, it is a pledge we make, based on our experience, to be "accurate for the love, attentive for the satsang and active for the service".
AMP is Maharaj Ji moving closer to us and giving us more opportunities to really be part of what he is trying to achieve in the world. It is a way for both premies and now aspirants to really commit themselves to following Maharaj Ji's direction, and thereby uncovering the beauty of living as a human being. When we are initiated into Knowledge, we begin to change; we start to experience our life in a much more expansive and fulfilling way. We want to continually add depth to that experience. And we also want to share the experience we are having with other people.
As Maharaj Ji explained in his Paramount satsang in 1974, " … we come, we stay and we leave. But is that it? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Now you have realised Knowledge and it changes the whole story, changes the whole scene. First it was you came, you stayed and you left. But now it changes slightly, it is you came, you realised the purpose of your coming and then you left. There is not much difference from what it was before. But the whole scene changes, the whole story changes, and becomes so beautiful when you come, realise, help others, and then leave."
But, again as we've been realising lately, before we can really share anything with anyone, we need to be clear and strong in our own experience of Knowledge. In a way, the best service we can do is to engage ourselves fully in our own growth process. Because it's then that our clarity will reflect to others the fact that Maharaj Ji has something to offer.
The first part of the Active Membership Program - adherence to Maharaj Ji's direction as set out in the commandments - can be seen in this light. If we're attending satsang regularly, steadily putting our faith and trust in Maharaj Ji, and keeping in contact with him through meditation, then we're open for the Knowledge to work on us. Our experience will grow, and so will our usefulness.
The second part - ten percent financial dedication - is the practical means through which we can take the forty hours per week we spend in the office or out mending the road and make it service to Maharaj Ji. Before AMP it was a question of trying to make your job service by meditating, or just by mentally offering up the fruits of your actions. But the income we receive is actually the fruit of all that work, and by donating from our pay packets to DLM, our efforts on the job are connected directly to helping Maharaj Ji in the fulfilment of his Mission.
Regular contributions are what stabilises the financial base of DLM; AMP is the thing that ensures the Mission's continued growth and allows room for planning and professionalism in our efforts to spread Knowledge.
Love In Action
But of course, AMP is more than just a program of financial dedication. There's a feeling behind it, a feeling of, "I want to help Maharaj Ji, I want to serve him. He's given me love, and I want to give some back." Although every issue of the Golden Age carries a full-page backspread on AMP, that love is not really something we can advertise, or force. The Active Membership Program is really just an outlet for the love that people who are sincerely trying to know more of the beauty within themselves come to feel naturally.
The third part of the program, which involves offering whatever extra time we have in service to the Mission, is where that love can really manifest in a creative and cooperative manner. DLM needs the whole-hearted support of all of us, not only our financial support, but our skills, our time and our sincerity as well. DLM centres around Australia are setting up various programs which run on part-time assistance; when all our efforts combine under the arm of DLM, they can be coordinated and channelled in the most appropriate direction. It's at this time that one and one make eleven.
And service is something that we need. Ira advised premies at at the meditation retreat in Sydney to, "Come to the DUO office and shake people up. Tell them, 'Give me service. I need service, you've got to give me service.' Try to squeeze the service out of them, get them to give you something you can do when you have the spare time, because you need that. It's their responsibility to provide people with service.
As we expand AMP we begin to see the incredible potential it has. Two main streams seem to be developing. One is to do with service: to help people connect with projects that suit the time they have free and the talents they have to offer, AMP Committees are developing in many DLM communities. These committees are made up of premies from the community who act as representatives for a particular neighbourhood or interest group. As the AMP Committee takes over coordination of the various service projects, more people will be able to plug into responsible service. This will be really beneficial, because responsibility is what enables us to grow; through stretching our capabilities, it opens us up to a more fulfilling experience of life.
Secondly, the AMP Committee is providing clear lines of communication within each community through which satsang can flow and Maharaj Ji's life-giving direction can reach our hearts.
So AMP is a real catalyst in our experience of life: a way to set up our circumstances so that our growth can be a constantly ongoing process - smooth and steady. As I understand more I'm seeing how it is really possible for Maharaj Ji to knit us together as a very unique group of people functioning in a beautiful, productive manner from a point of common understanding.
No. 29, May 1976
The family business
With ashram premies' earnings going increasingly towards the support of fulltime staff, AMP has become the major source of financial support for DLM's activities.
Where it comes from
49% AMP Donations
ashram premies' wages minus ashram expenses, e.g. rent, food, clothes.
7% Divine Sales
5% Soul Foods
4% Publication Sales
3% Other Business Activities
Harmony Foods (Melbourne); Magic Carpet Taxi Trucks; clinics, etc. 4% General Donations
other than those made through AMP
6% Special Projects -
registration fees for meditation retreats, etc. 14% Other Income
loans; sale of assets, e.g. cars, trucks, gestetners, etc.
Where it goes
hall hire, advertisements, initiators' airfares, etc.
rent, stationery, telephone, staff airfares, etc.
repairs and maintenance, rates, petrol, etc.
9% Celebration Films
8% Special Projects -meditation retreats, etc.
11% Other Expenses
repayment of loan; purchase of assets.
These percentages were calculated from the figures for Australia-wide income and expenditure for the three-month period from December 1975 to February 1976. The most noticable development within that time was a jump in the percentage contributed by AMP to total DLM income. It went from 45% in December and January to 56% in February.