The Golden Age
UP THE COUNTRY
While Brisbane Golden Age correspondent Bruce Parmenter was holidaying down on the Gold Coast recently, he dropped in on a couple of the premies who live there.
Alan and Christine Carroll were both initiated into self-Knowledge three years ago and as Alan puts it, they have seen a lot of water flow under the bridge since then. For the past twelve months, they, son Shannon, and another guy Tony, have lived a house perched on a hill a few kilometres out from Tweed Heads.
Allan is a professional drummer - maybe some of you old-timers will remember him from "Rhythm 'n Bliss." Until recently he has been looking after the live entertainment at one of the local hotels. He's been able to play with some of the bands: over the Christmas period last year he drummed with "Rock Steady", a band which included premie musicians Ross Hannaford and Joe Creighton, now of "Billy T" fame.
At the moment, Alan is taking lessons and practising to, as he says, "better equip myself for my next musical project. To do any kind of service, even mopping the floor, you need a degree of skill." Christine is developing her skill at macrame, and the orders are beginning to come for her work.
Both Alan and Christine have experienced living in more established centres. Here's what they have to say:
"We've understood that Knowledge can be practised in our situation. You have different problems, different time-tables, realisations, and different ways of approaching the same goal. With no established centre you have to arrange everything, and as everyone is spread out all over the place, it takes some arranging. Here, just about everyone has children, so the first consideration of any project is what to do with them. At the moment we have satsang twice a week during the day and three times at night at a hall in Tugun.
"We're planning to hold a little gathering once a fortnight at our place, and we're inviting premies and friends who are open to what we're doing but who don't come to satsang. It won't be directed towards smoking dope or listening to music but towards relaxed and informal truthful communication, in which we don't lay our trip on anyone."
Tony, who can't be classified as either aspirant or premie, was away, but I asked Alan what it was like living with someone not connected with DLM.
"Interesting. It limits the amount of things you can get away with in your speech. It's a valuable way of learning how to express yourself, without leaning on the usual jargon. Tony watches us all the time to see if we practise what we preach. He went to satsang a long time ago, but found things didn't add up. In those days we tried to transpose a little Edmond-stone St. (the Brisbane ashram) to Coolangatta. On the Gold Coast the rituals and paraphernalia went down like a lead balloon.
"Everyone down here works as a team, and we share the duties around. As country AMP contacts, it's our responsibility to pass on information to the premies here and to let Lindsey (Brisbane's Community Director) know what's happening. We've had a personal relationship with Lindsey for a long time, and as we have close personal relationships with the people here too, she can trust that the information she gives us is passed on with the same degree of sensitivity as it's given out. We're glad to do what we can."
The Golden Age
by David Barracough.
Canberra Community has only only really justified its title in the last few months.
Originally, I believe, in the dim mists of ancient times (1972 or '73), attempts had been made to have programs in Canberra and to develop an ashram-based centre. But the public-service vibe proved too strong - or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the "second coming" was received with some scepticism by the bureaucratic intelligensia. Either way, propagation was rather unspectacular. So at the end of 1973, it was felt best to abandon ship and save the remaining brothers and sisters from spiritual stagnation before it was too late.
A tiny band of totally misguided but earnestly "devoted" natives remained, carefully preserving the ancient rituals as they had learned them from the attempted colonizers from the city. Satsang still could be heard (occasionally and unpredictably) three nights a week in Adam Wrigley's bedroom. The scene must have been reminiscent of the early Christian meetings in tiny groups with utter secrecy. But Roman persecution was not the enemy - it was lack of understanding and inspiration, which made propagation ineffective, no matter how earnestly attempted.
But the fire was never extinguished - a spark remained which began to glow a little more. A premie-occupied house became available for satsang mid-'75 after Dave and Margie Barraclough moved down to Canberra, and at last there was a community focal point - physically, at least.
The three to four regular premies and a couple of faithful aspirants slowly started to realise that premies were allowed to talk to each other - and even laugh, provided there was a good, spiritual reason, of course! WWA, which had been going on at an old people's home every Sunday for some months faded out when it was realised that the important need was to realise Knowledge and present an example from this.
Then in October '75, the centre moved to a more central location at Yarralumla. More people began coming to satsang so that between July and December '75 numbers had trebled. Though Canberra was traditionally the refuge of "freaked out" premies; the balance in favour of those practising Knowledge began to tip. Satsang was getting more and more fun.
Then initiator Ira Woods came in January '76 and suddenly it all got very serious - we all became aware of how much of our lives we were frittering away and we were taught how to meditate properly again. Michael Taylor was appointed Community Director and the mission obtained a personal as well as geographical focus.
At last, direct service was available as it became clear that we needed to allocate responsibility for various activities such as the supervision of music, and satsang co-ordination. Most importantly we began to realise our responsibility to our faithful band of aspirants on to whom we had been loading so many misconceptions over the previous months.
Fortunately, there were frequent visits from Sydney premies (from January to April) who were checking out Canberra as a possible site for the convention in November.
This served as such an inspiration that we decided to fly premies down on a regular basis to run aspirant and premie seminars. This began with a visit from Julie Collet and Gregg Sherwood in April, and has continued every fortnight or so with Bob Wright as our regular go-between. These visits have been a beautiful way for us to to get to know many of the previously anonomous Sydney premies, and have also served as a gentle prod for our ever-sleepy community.
Now, we are a bit like a real community, though miniature in size. There are four all-premie-and-aspirant houses with the centre at 21 Charlton Street, Pearce. There is a lot of personal, informal socialising - one real advantage of being so small - and we can see for ourselves. that by practising Knowledge the most unlikely combinations of personalities can get together and really enjoy themselves. "Aspirant" and "premie" divisions are reduced by friendships and informal get-togethers, and satsang has become a more real sharing of experience. All in all, there is a lot going for us, and I have no doubt it will get better and better as we realise more and more the source of this increasing joy in all our lives.
Marna Thompson and her three kids have been living near Mullumbimby for a couple of years now. Before that, they spent several months in Sydney where Marna began her life with Knowledge. Here, she talks about what she's learned of the ins and outs of city and country living.
I've experienced that a lot of premies have had misconceptions about city versus country as an ideal place for practising Knowledge. For myself, I have always had a strong feeling that if Knowledge is simply the experience of our own life force, then where your body is situated shouldn't really matter either way. And I have experienced practising Knowledge in the country and in the city, and also forgetting to practise Knowledge in both places. What I've realised from those experiences is that to feel peace in my heart and to see the beauty of life that surrounds me, I need meditation and Holy Name, I need satsang and I need service and that when I leave satsang, service and meditation behind, I also leave that openness to life behind.
And when I am not feeling life and being fully alive, then it doesn't matter at all where I am. I can be walking over the most beautiful flower and tree-bedecked hill with rivers running past, horses and cows peacefully grazing, and blue skies up above, but miss it all. On the other hand, when I am in Holy Name, I see the beauty and grandeur of this glorious countryside in every little movement of bird or bush or butterfly, and in the city too I miss not a movement of this dance of life in the rustle of trees and flowers, the twinkle of an eye or the sky above me. For even in cities God's nature exists and if you are open to it you are enthralled.
One trap we can fall into here that I have done is to try and capture that love, that naturalness from the scenery, but it's not anywhere out there: you must always be connected first inside, and then the life and love flow into you and out of you. So remember, stay on Holy Name Name in the dirtiest darkest street in the city and stay on Holy Name when you are watching the sunrise and you will become constant in your peace, constant in an everlasting feeling of love.