The author nicely expresses the reality of becoming a member of DLM. With at least 2 hours meditation every day and at least 2 hours satsang every night and service as well there is no time or energy to pursue other religions or paths. "While the Guru Maharaj J1's teachings are reputed to be compatible with any occupation, any social structure, anything, it's effect on devotees causes such pronounced changes in character habits that its versatility is never really tested.quot; There were 400 members in November 1972 and by November 1973 there were 1,000.
November 27, 1972.
WHO'S THIS BASTARD TRYING TO BAN SEX
The air outside the Brunswick St (Melbourne) chapter of the Divine Light Mission is indeed as blissful as a Melbourne winter's night will permit. As evening satsang comes out there is much jocular nodding to the rows and rows of knowing smiles bopping by. The self-contained premies (literally "lover" - one who has taken the Knowledge) and aspiring premies wend the way home, some just bearing badges of Him, others toting their bragons under their arms. (A bragon is a T-shaped wooden construction colloquially known as a meditation prop. Elbows are rested on it to assist the slovenly western back from collapsing during the daily two-hour meditation session. It looks rather like a peg-leg for a 36 inch thigh).
While the Guru Maharaj J1's teachings are reputed to be compatible with any occupation, any social structure, anything, it's effect on devotees causes such pronounced changes in character habits that its versatility is never really tested. It wipes out free will and substitutes a complete obedience to the energy of this 15 year old lad who seems bent on abolishing sex. "When all the world listens, He will give it peace."
"This is not just another Guru trip," claims Julia Collet, Regional Secretary for Victoria. "It's a most perfect lifestyle." The cbosen lifestyle for at Least 50 of the 400 (approx.) fully-fledged premies in Australia is the ashram: a live-in temple where one of the three or four pieces of permanent furniture is a modest but spotless palias and an otherwise bare and equally spotless room kept aside for the Perfect Master should he happen to drop by.
This sacred bed is usually laid upon by the Mahatmas, the loyal disciples of Guru MJ. It is the Mahatmas who physically dispense the Knowledge. Mahatma Podarthanand Ji is currently touring the country dispensing Knowledge in two daily sessions. Unconfirmed reports cite the Mahatma as harnessing 60 new spirits in the Mullumbimbi/Byron Bay (NSW) area - watering ground for freaked out city folk trying to find peace on a farm. The Mahatmas could easily pick up 200 on this trip.
Living in ashram means adhering to certain conditions. Staying away from movies and general "entertainment," never swearing. surrendering all worldly possession to DLM and maintaining celibacy. While these conditions are unwritten, and there is no reason why you can't dart off to a sea-side lodging house for a happy fuck, the premies at the Carlton ashram (the first in Melbourne) claim they have lost all desire, The Guru's grace provides "something much higher, much more pleasurable than sex." Their interest just "dropped away. Sometimes they brave a hot chocolate at Joanna's, a folky coffee house on the Fitzroy side of Carlton.
For those who find the cloistered frugality of the ashram unmanageable, there are centres where premies can live in family units or whatever conmbinatinos the bliss rune to. The five rules are
- 1. Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today.
- 2. Never delay in attending satsang.
- 3. Always have faith in God.
- 4. Constantly meditate and remember the Name. (The Name is The Word is The Vibe is God).
- 5. Never keep any doubt in mind.
The premies run a tight schedule which includes two hours conscious meditation a day (they claim to be subconsciously meditating all the time) and about five hours sleep a night. The catch cry is Meditation, Satsang, Service, a fairly stringent program.
Every ashram has a housemother who cooks, cleans and washes. The white ashram on the corner of Faraday and Cardigan Streets, Carlton has Poppy, a beaming young woman in her mid-twenties with auburn hair and high, glowing cheeks. Poppy is one of the most enthusiastic and gleefully earnest of all the Melbourne sisters. She speaks of preparing food with love, and modestly submits a written request to her housemates (most of whom have executive functions with DLM) for a little extra shopping money to get in a few goodies for when the Mahatma comes.
One commercial arm of DLM is Divine Sales — a retailing chain. Then is one such shop in Melbourne - an op shop of pre-owned articles collected door-to-door, in service of Him. There are 50 Divine Sales stores in the US. DLM in Victoria also have a florist shop beneath their headquarters in Fitzroy. With such low overheads, they do all right. But nothing like the US where individual donations of $50,000 are not uncommon and total contributions will have exceeded the $1,000,00 mark by now.
The Guru seems to be causing people to surrender at a steady rate. All members of the Sydney rock band Home have taken Knowledge. Their forthcoming single "What a Buzz" testifies to that. The brothers who man the cloakroom at 322 have a grant from Swinburne Tech which they intend to use on a film in praise of His energy. Another friend of DLM was able to exert the necessary influence on the Immigration Department to grant a visa to a Mahatma with little command of English, by ringing up a few old acquaintances. And yes, in the States melancholy balladeer James Taylor is reported to have taken Knowledge.
The Perfect Master has always found women in DLM to be more suited than men for domestic servces. A possible confrontation with the womens' consciousness thrust is side-stepped since service for Him is by definition selfless. The occasional premie will refer to a fellow "chick", but when you've given up sex and you're living within yourself, social foibles and relations of every sort quickly seem irrelevant. How the sisters are referred to and whether or not the guys keep offering up their coats seems to depend on what he/she did before partaking of the bliss-bomb. Ditto for the variety in what they see and hear while living completely inside themself.
One woman who sees and hears organised things is Julie Collett, Regional Secretary for Victori. Julie was in India for the Hans Jayanti Festival in November '72 the annual celebration of the birthday of Guru Maharaj Ji's father, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj. Shri Hans who died when his son was eight years old, was also a Perfect Master and the actual founder of the DLM. To be in the presence of any member of the Holy Family is described as an exquisitely enlightening experience known as darshan. Such moments are to be treasured and this added to Julie's bliss while receiving the Knowledge.
She returned to Melbourne in March '72 and gave spiritual discourse to friends in Eltham - a country suburb of Melbourne. In June '72 she acquired the dilapidated slum which once stood where the renovated ashram now beams in Carlton. She has guided the DLM in Victoria ever since. She was once a married council worker.
While Julie still lives at the ashram, her office is above the flower shop at 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. This is the centre for DLM in Victoria. Along with ofice space, a large darkroom, a nursery and a smaller meditation room, they have converted the top storey into a mass meditation/satsang hall which could comfortably accomodate fifty couples. There's a red velvet throne for Him (should he call), a twenty-foot mural which places you at his feet, a brace of guitars, mediocre PA equipment, two expensive tape decks and an electric piano.
The largest single financial contribution to DLM in Victoria has been $3,000. There have been numerous insurance policies cashed in and donated by premies, most in the $500 range. Other premies, who still maintain contact with the outside world, donate a healthy percentage of their earnings.
Before you can receive Guru Maharaj Ji's Knowledge, you must endure a healthy whack of satsang, or spiritual discourse). Satsang is given, and taken, by the premies (the "lovers" of the Perfect Master who have received Knowledge) every evening. Satsang is the flow which ever semi-conscious stream of praises springs from the premie's tongue as she reflects on the wonder of it all.
Every practising premie will readily give you their word that they have "found it" they are not searching any more. And while their ecstatic ramblings may sound like "insane babblings," they recommend a course of receptive silence during satsang - the answers to all questions will eventually come.
Sister Poppy led off the evening's bash. There were about 30 or 40 people dotted about the carpet in self-conscious variations on the lotus squat in a room with no furniture. Life-sized pictures of Him gazed benignly down on the potential flock. The only common physical characteristic among the crowd was that no-one there looked very opulent.
There were a couple of sleepy children, a handful of studious looking hippies, a few guys who could be freak gas station attendants, someone's mother (who got the giggles shortly before the end), a salty old digger with a booze-red walnut nose, an assortment of bespectacled young women who could've come from a potters' colonay and any number of oddballs from the floor of some provincial printer. Collet had said earlier that the Melbourne chapter of the Mission isn't the most financially bouyant.
At satsang the premies say the first things that pop into their blissed-out heads so that there is often very little to link the ideas other than the common adoration for the Perfect Master. Poppy began with the tension of a dual existence. That is, from the moment of birth we stop living within ourself and have to start relating to the external world. The Guru, said Poppy, reverses the senses from the outside back to the inside, and shows how to dwell inside. The effect seems to be fiercely introspective in that you can see yourself face to face - or, as Poppy would have it, seeing God face to face, seeing your soul.
Then came a splurge of rapturous choralling about how fortunate we are to be at the feet of the Perfect Master, on the express train of knowledge. That led into a devotional song of the "repeat chorus joyfully" variety, to a loose, folky accompaniment of a guitar strum. (The hymnal, Lovesong, included "Morning Has Broken," "If Not For You," and "Amazing Grace" amongst its 30 more evangelical titles.)
This time last year, satsang had a more Indian flavour. The premies all wore white robes and waded through smoulderng fields of incense and candles. But then Guru MJ spread the word that his devotees were to appeal to the Western world. He expected his resolution to bring peace to the world to be realised through a very professional revolution. Consequently, the men premies have affected a style of dress that captures the disarming modesty of a happily secure bank teller.
I have no previous history of favorable response to evangelists. (In fact we used to meticulously terrorize the hapless Jehovah's Witness freaks with their thinly-veiled threats of never making it into the Emperor's Inner Council.) So the second witness at satsang, a clean-shaven bloke in his mid-twenties seemed to be blissed right off the air. "What do we really know?" Pause. "What are we experiencing?" Pause. "You experience knowing." Pause. "You're not dependent upon externals." Pause. He said that if you take enough of this satsang, a wonderful clarity will eventuall descend upon you and all questions will be answered.
Another hymn and a round-off from Julie Collet. He stream of thoughts tended further towards the frugal than the others. She repeated that the way to prepare for the taking of the Knowledge required constant exposure to masses of satsang. However, she continued, there is a small matter about service. Selfless service of the variety that knocks the ego. And we all want to get out of our egos, she observed. The clincher though, was her Santa clause: - Mahatma Ji, when he comes on the 14th, will ask me to bring forth people to receive the Knowledge. And he'll ask me if the person has done his service. And yes, she'd be telling him. (Service can range from folding thousands of pamphlets and wiping down the loos to typing, PR, house mothering and artwork. While Julie painted a vision of noble martyrdom, service is more a demonstration of committment than anything else.)
This Knowledge is described as the perfect form of meditation. It claims to be the same Knowledge that Jesus had and the Bible describes. that Buddha gave and the Sutras describe, that Mohamed gave and the Koran describes and that Krishna gave and the Bhagavad Gita describes (et al). It is meant to bring you into direct contact with the spirit or soul, which is cosmic energy.
Guru Maharaj Ji was, like other Indians, given two names at birth - Pratap Singh Rawat and Balyogeshwar. His father is reported to have said at the time "Perfect Master has finally come who will be able to do the fullness for which he has come. He is so great I can but prostrate myself in front of him." Every son should get a refernce like that. His following in India has grown to 5 million, including numerous members of the Indian parliament.
He has three brothers - Bal Bhagwa Ji, 21, (acclaimed for a super-intellect), Bhole Ji, 19, and Raja Ji, 17 both students in London. Their mother, Shri Mata Ji, tends to the family ashram at Prem Nagar, a city built for the family by devotees of Shri Hans Ji Maharaj. Shri Mata Ji welcomes thousands of visitors to the ashram every month.
This year's Hans Jayanto festival is being celebrated at the Houston Astrodome (Texas, USA) with Millenium '73 - a world assemblage to save humanity." The event is being co-ordinated by Rennie Davis and something like 60,000 followers of the Perfect Master are predicted. In a recent letter to the Carlton ashram, Davis quoted a dream the Perfect Master claims he had. In this dream every visitor to Millenium '73 had a bed. The notion drew beatific smiles from those premies who can remember previous festivals where they unquestioningly slept amongst dysentry on rocky ground. The size of the Australian delegation will depend on available finance.
The festival plans to provide free food for the the visiting thousands. Also there will be exhibits of cosmic conscioousness through the centuries, mystical arts and new para-psychological discoveries. The main attraction is all the darshan which will be there to be basked in.
The Australian chapters of DLM tend to feel a bit left out of things. However they do manage to affect the trappings of a fairly glossy propaganda machine with their production facilities, rapturous ravings and condescending goodwill for the skeptics. Stage one of the plans to acquaint the world with His grace is to flog the theme "Who is Maharaj Ji?" They intend to buy television adverts during prime time. They've got posters, PR ladies, and ideas of screening 2001: Space Oddyssey to point out how perfectly it fits the Guru's grace.
They are offering a real-life, loving protector helmsman who offers a safe passage through eternity, a comfortable existence right now, totally peaceful in that the outside world hardly exists anymore with no necessity to feel the desolation of that old alone, alive and naked flesh.
Just hand over your free will.