No. 36, February 1977
What's going on?
….with two hours to kill in Sydney city and no money to spare-what's going on?
Well, there's the free concert in Martin Place, and there's pigeons to feed. And there's the starving millions to feed-have you seen the man doing the starvation stint on the G.P.O. steps, fasting in order to draw our attention to the predicament of those who, like himself, are not feasting for Christmas?
"What's your secret?" he asks, as I walk past smiling. My smile dives deeper inside me and I feel it gladden, because before I didn't realise it was there.
Smiles are truly amazing. Say cheese, please. What's inside that pretty face that makes it different when you smile, to when you open up for a feed? What is it that happens when you smile and I smile, and the trappings of our lives fall away into quiet obsolescence, and we become excitingly real?
That's my secret, and your secret, and theirs, and his.
And that's what's going on. We are alive, together.
The very special thing about being alive together is that it is something we can consciously know, consciously turn to. The conscious giving of our attention to the Knowledge of our life is what gives it its sharpness, its zing. When I am able to fully give myself to Knowledge there is nothing else there. No particular thought holds precedence in my mind, and instead of the myriad variations of thought-patterns which wander, waltz, jive, tango, twist and outright brawl in the stadium of my mind there is that rock-solid feeling of unity, strength, of singlemindedness, of being whole.
Since I have this experience and since I am reasonably literate and revel in satsang I've often told myself that it would be good to get it together to write something for the Golden Age. However I've never done it because there has always been the little niggle at the back of my brain saying that I have to attain a certain level of consciousness and/or creativity to be able to put down something that is to be of any value to any one. But like practising Knowledge, it's now or never. Much of our energy is spent preparing, readying ourselves for a future condition and nothing is ever achieved by waiting except the waiting itself, nothing achieved by preparation except the preparation itself. The guts of anything invariably lies in the actual doing of it. So I'm doing it - just putting down a few words. What I have to offer is what I have understood and am understanding, and the way it is presented is as an offering of my understanding.
An analogy came to mind the other day when I was talking to someone in my house: the way we respond to our meditation experiences is rather like the way children respond to the exposure of their Christmas gifts. With high expectations and wonder-worlds of excitement I often used to rip the paper away from my gifts only to find-a pair of undies, or a cake of soap…. and a sad, sinking feeling of being let down. What I understand now that I didn't then was that the letdown arose out of my having expectations, and that undies given in love are as beautiful as the most fantastic of presents imaginable. As an extension from this, in meditation, if the application of my attention is sincere then the simplest experience is as fantastic as any fantasmagorical idea of what I should be getting; if I can be satisfied with what is there and really give myself to it, that is what will take me deeper and deeper into the experience of Knowledge. All the way along the line there is an experience to be had. No matter how adept you are at applying
The Golden Age
your concentration, there is something. For as long, and as deeply, as you can hold your attention in that place other than where your thoughts are, that's as much as you will experience. There will always be something, and unless we can accept what there is we will always be peering around the next bend hoping that there will be something there. And it won't be there because we aren't. Similarly when it comes to giving, serving: there is always something to give, no matter how small it seems to be, and it is very important that we have the trust in what we have, to let the giving happen.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling really solid one night and I wrote down how I felt. As what I wrote ties in here I will drop those few lines into this collage of experience as well. I was talking about relating to people, how it used to be and how it is now. And how these days even though I initially bring along my old nervous sense of separate identity when I am coming into contact with people, I have something else which I can't help but bring along too. That is my presence in Knowledge.
My presence in Knowledge is undeniable to me. I could say the presence of Knowledge in me, but that is not really the way it is. It's so much greater than me. I am a simple guest at its door, where it welcomes me unquestioningly and for as long as I like to stay… and being a homeless waif, I like to stay. My personality is no longer my home (if it ever was), though far too often I take jaunts into its enigmatic countryside. My true home goes with me, as the steady old mail. Thus there is no reason to feel insecure, lack confidence, to be afraid or uncertain. Because I am secure: I have the very source of my existence escorting me everywhere I go, and not only escorting me, but carrying me effortlessly. I am its substance, and it is my essence, and together we are perfect. In the experience of this perfection there is a pleasure that is the strength and very joy of life singing to itself.
The most delightful and most rewarding thing to do with this pleasure is to allow it to sing to others, to allow it to spill over into their lives. The mainspring of humanity is the fact that not only do we have life, but that we can share it-in love, the recognition of life in ourselves and others, and the communication of that recognition. Those rare moments when I truly give myself to Knowledge, are those times when there is nothing else there but love-which is peculiarly indefinable and can't be confined to boundaries. I can't be self-indulgent with this love-it is for all human beings. And when it is full and continually in our hearts that is when, in Guru Maharaj Ji's words, "All of us together-you and me-can spread Knowledge in this world."
Something that concerns me quite a lot is that always with Knowledge we have to come back to the question, "Well, what's it all about anyway?" This question tends to draw together some purpose. It has done so for me, at least, in those times when I have allowed the edges to get a little soggy, the light a little too dim-even to the point where I have questionned the validity of the whole caboodle. It has given me something to grip onto to persuade me to make the decision to be with Guru Maharaj Ji, and once again my experience has begun to take root and grow.
At other times when life becomes so easy and relaxed that concentration drifts away into airy-fairy land because it hardly seems necessary to hold onto it any more, it's once again useful to turn around and ask-why, what for? What's the point of my feeling so good? Just feeling good gets a bit spacy unless it has got depth, the depth of purpose and understanding. Not the vague purpose of some distant unrelatable goal, but simply the depth of understanding that life in its most absolute and knowable form is the most precious gift available to us in this world, and that once we are on the way to understanding this then it is our duty to help others come to this understanding in whatever way is most appropriate for us, and them. Our purpose, individually, we are told, is to realise Knowledge. I do not know what the term "realise" really means, but I do understand that there is no end to the process. And that it takes constant rededication every moment of our lives. And that as we get into this we gradually understand more, and become more willing to do our bit, to be Guru Maharaj Ji's hands and legs in his work of making the experience of Knowledge a valid and available one in the lives of others.
It seems to me that we expend a lot of energy trying to convince ourselves that everything is okay and that our daily dealings with the world are okay-which of course is the case if we are doing service, satsang and meditation. I do have a question though. We are involved in this process of getting ourselves together, of making a presentable face for the world, and people are receiving satsang through various means. But how long does this getting ourselves together go on for? What do we do with the people who receive satsang? How do we show them, unselfconsciously and unashamedly that not only is Knowledge a nice thing that happened for us, but a nice thing that will happen for them, through a specific medium, a specific event-i.e. the receiving of it?
Can we bring people to satsang where the lack of unity of purpose seems to be widening rather than diminishing as the gap becomes emphasised between the avant-garde advocates of "let-it-flow, it's cool man," and the brethren of the blast-fromthe-past vintage? We can wait around for an initiator hoping he or she will fix everything up. But I feel that somehow we can lend a hand by really doing our bit and recognising that we do have a common unified purpose.
Guru Maharaj Ji said in Denver (in September 1976) "…you have to understand what this is all about. You know? This is about peace." And it's not just peace for each of us that already has Knowledge. He also said "It's growing. And it'll just keep on growing. It'll just keep on happening. But by the effort of all the premies. When all the premies come together, when all the premies really do it, it will happen."
So please, let's do it. It's too easy to keep putting off the conscious decision to meditate; the conscious decision to give, to serve; the conscious decision to be in satsang, to communicate what's really going on. It's too easy to say "It'll happen." True, it's happening, but for it to happen in such a way that it actually comes together, that the strings of the purse are drawn tight and safe, requires conscious decision and conscious effort. It is in the consciousness of our effort that it's effectiveness lies.
To me this means that we must each do our bit from where we are at, without apology-not from where we think we ought to be at, and not putting off until tomorrow what we can do today.
And keep smiling, because smiles are truly amazing.
- Margaret Petherick