The Golden Age
Interview With Faith Healy.
National Director Faith Healy was one of the three people from New Zealand who travelled to Australia for the Autumn Conference. She spent her first few days here in Melbourne where Golden Age correspondent Kari Kristiansen recorded this interview.
Can you tell me a little about how you came to be in New Zealand?
Well, I had been in the Mission in Australia for two years when Maharaj Ji's brother, Bal Bhagwan Ji came to Australia. I was his cook and when he went to New Zealand, I went too. Then towards the end of his visit it was suggested that it would be a good idea if I were to stay in New Zealand and help out there, and I've been there ever since. That was nearly two and a half years ago.
What about the communities in New Zealand, how are they developing?
Well, I think we have probably experienced much the same thing as you have in Australia. At the Orlando Conferences, the National Directors were given very clear direction from Guru Maharaj Ji about what he wanted to happen. He put a lot of emphasis on our personal responsibility, and said that we had his direction and his grace to do this service confidently. That really shook the cobwebs out of people a little bit.
Since November our Aspirant Programs have started and people have really been plugging in to the Active Membership Program. I just really feel that everywhere I've been - Denver and Australia and New Zealand -people are personally experiencing Knowledge a lot more because they are really understanding the importance of meditation. I think people generally are doing a lot more meditation, and when we do a lot more meditation there is a lot more co-operation. When there's co-operation there's more behind activities, and it just snowballs from there. We hear so much satsang about community development. Everyone's talking about it, but all the time it comes down to us individually meditating and experiencing the depth of this experience. That radiates out of us, that clarity comes through our satsang, the love manifests through service and it's really, really simple. Because when we have a whole body of people doing this then there's a natural cooperation there. There is a friendship like Maharaj Ji said, just a friendship.
In the Auckland community, we have about 127 people who have received Knowledge. About 100 people come along to initiator programs, 80 people are in AMP, and 70 people do service. There's a remarkable amount of activity there, considering the size of our premie population, and that's very beneficial because everyone can really plug in. Then we have Wellington and Christchurch which are ashram communities; the ashram is like the focus, we have satsang there.
On Ira's last visit 19 people received Knowledge in Auckland, and that to me is an indication that the Auckland community must be pretty together to be able to incorporate and look after those 19 new premies. Really it's just like here, the only difference is that you have more people here; but in New Zealand the story is exactly the same - the growth and the understanding is just developing very slowly, but in a very sound way.
We've been holding community workshops since November. The whole community, maybe 80 people would get together on a Sunday afternoon. We would break up into groups of say ten to fifteen people and have a specific topic. In the early ones it was meditation, satsang, and service. You would have a group leader whose job it was to keep the focus of the workshop; not to really lead it but to make sure there was a lot of interaction and that the focus was kept. A lot of understanding developed out of the workshops - we found they were beautiful as a way for us to interact with each other and to open up. But still, you car talk and talk and talk, but eventually we reached a poin where we had to practically provide the opportunity for people to get into service. Because it's no use just meditating, meditating, meditating and saying, "Wow, I really understand the depth of the experience." We also have to do service to really go under, so that we can move away even from our concept of the depth of the experience of meditation. We have to keep on going, keep on going, keep on going, ink the experience, and the only way we can do this without our mind coming in and trying to box the experience is by surrendering ourselves in service.
No. 30, June 1976
What about the Aspirant Program?
Well, at the moment in Auckland we have about 45 people who are seriously preparing themselves for Knowledge.
We've changed our approach so many times. We started off with a seminar approach -one person giving satsang for a long time - but we found that was a bit formalised for New Zealand. Then we got into a workshop format with satsang incorporated. Just before I left for Australia what we were doing was breaking the seminars up into groups of five or six, with three co-ordinators covering the same topic. Everyone would come back towards the end of the evening and discuss what they had learned or what they were feeling. The main emphasis with us is individual. Some people feel completely intimidated by questions whereas others long for those questions, so we found it was very much up to the sensitivity of the person who was co-ordinating the seminar to really understand each aspirant's personal need.
We have in-service days as part of the Aspirant Program. All the people who received Knowledge on Ira's last visit were plugged in to regular service. They were doing a lot of service, and they were so clear and so open.
Basically, it boils down to the community. The aspirants can onily be as strong and as clear as the community is. You can have these beautiful seminar programs but if the back-up is't together, if the satsang is weak, if the community is spaced out, then it's silly aging any seminar. So we can see that everything has got to be completely integrated. And in Auckland, that is very slowly starting to come about.
How do you see us developing that understanding that Maharaj Ji has been emphasising recently?
As I experience it, the primary understanding that each one of us has to have is that the purpose of my life is to realise this Knowledge. Because you see if we don't have that basic understanding, there is no way in the world that we're going to be motivated to meditate. The real test of how much we understand is when we sit down to meditate. Can we connect our mind to Holy Name? How long do we actually sit there and meditate? If we think there is something more important in our lives than meditation then we don't understand a thing about this path. And so, the understanding that we need initially, is that this is our life's goal, to merge into this perfect thing.
Then once you start meditating, the other types of understanding start to flow into you, you just start to understand so many things. You understand that you are serving Guru Maharaj Ji, that individually we are serving, that collectively we are serving. You stop putting up excuses like, "I can only meditate one hour a day, or two hours a day." Because any spare chance we have, we can sit down and really experience the fullness of Knowledge. And in whatever we're doing we have to try to remember to do nectar, to do Holy Name. Because the only way our consciousness is going to be effected is when we have consciousness of Holy Name. Not when we have consciousness of spiritual concepts or consciousness of this or that. We have to have God consciousness and this is what we have to understand more and more, that this is our purpose, to realise Knowledge, and to focus completely on Guru Maharaj Ji. Because if we understand "I am here to serve Guru Maharaj Ji," then everything is really easy. There is going to be so much love there if we just have that point of understanding. When we are coming from the inside we can see all of the panorama of trips that is happening on the outside and we can really understand the plight that human beings go through.
What about the changes which are taking place externally in the Mission?
As Jos Lammers was saying, when Maharaj Ji changed the name from Mahatma to initiator, behind that was much more than a name change. It's like Guru Maharaj Ji was feeling that we were starting to become a little bit more mature and that he could really start utilising that. We can already see that in the past, the way the whole thing has been propagated has led people to believe that we are a cult, we are a religion, we are recluses doing some very peculiar things. And Guru Maharaj Ji said that anything that is going to stand in the way of propagating Knowledge, he is going to take it out of the way. Whatever Maharaj Ji wants will happen in good time, and if we are meditating then no matter what he wants to call anything, it won't make any difference. Anything that Guru Maharaj Ji does is just to help us to break out of the really limited perspective that we have of this whole thing. In due course the whole thing will be completely changed. But it's a process, nothing just happens overnight. We don't just take Knowledge and boom - we immediately understand. And the community doesn't just happen in one day. Everything is such a process, including changing the appearance of the Mission. I just see it becoming more natural: just a group of human beings understanding the purpose of their lives and being able to give that love spontaneously to people. We are moving away from the whole instant hippie type of thing. We are becoming more mature, more easy to believe.
Anything else you would like to add?
One thing, which is that I know from my own experience that it is very easy to just cruise along and not really do a great deal. But lately, I was fortunate enough to travel with Ira for a month and he really showed me by his example that it is very easy to do quite a lot of formal meditation during the day if you get up a little bit earlier, or skip a meal here and there. We can really do a lot more meditation, really just sit there, sit there, sit there, even if you feel like nothing is happening for maybe one or two hours. Your mind is screaming and raging, but you should definitely sit there until that breaks, until your mind cools out and you are really experiencing the incredible beauty of this Knowledge. It's really there. Really experience when you see that beautiful light and you experience that love inside of yourself. You feel so connected to Guru Maharaj Ji and it's such an exhilarating feeling. You know there's nowhere else to go, that you just have to keep going deeper, deeper and deeper into the experience of Knowledge. I know for myself that when I'm doing a lot of meditation it really makes a difference. You feel in such a different place. To be able to serve anyone properly you have to be having that experience. When we are giving satsang if we are not really meditating, our words can be coming out but they won't be synchronised with our consciousness. It's such a beautiful feeling when what you're experiencing and what you're saying is just one continuous flow. Really, nothing else should come before meditation