"DUO will be the backbone. We must start operating on the same systems throughout the world. This is the perfect time to start. Everything must be stabilized. I want to make it perfect. This organization was started by Shri Maharaj Ji and this is a service I am doing for Him. It must be perfect. We must get to the point where we are one million minds, but only one idea. All decisions will be made by Guru Maharaj Ji and orders will be given to each country so that all we have to do is follow them."
The Capacity to Unite
With the stated aim of creating a world with "millions of minds but only one idea," Guru Maharaj Ji instructed Divine Light Mission leaders during the Millennium festival to consolidate the various missions into one international effort. In doing so, Maharaj Ji was working to fulfill his promise to Shri Hans Ji Maharaj to make Knowledge available to the whole world.
Until recently, Divine Light Mission was an almost exclusively Indian organization with some propagation being done in Nepal and other neighboring countries. It wasn't until 1971, when Maharaj Ji first visited the West, that Knowledge began to be spread globally. On his first venture outside of India, Maharaj Ji visited England, America, S. Africa, Australia, Europe and Japan, sowing the seeds of new missions. Premies inspired by Maharaj Ji's grace went from there to almost every country in the world giving satsang. Today, DLM is recognized in 49 countries and has approximately eight million members.
Although the Mission became international almost overnight, there was little coordination between the various national missions until 1974. Then, Maharaj Ji gave Bob Mishler the agya to take over as International Mission president and begin the process of uniting the Mission. Bob explained that the first step in internationalization was developing the awareness that we, as premies, are an international family with the capacity to unite despite physical boundaries, language barriers and differences in culture.
In an aside, Bob noted that historically the basis for cooperation between people has been fear of a common enemy. In contrast, DLM is based on a common experience of love.
Bob explained that, through internationalization, Maharaj Ji wants to balance the efforts of the world Mission so that propagation is going smoothly in all parts of the world. Development of DLM has been uneven so that in some countries we find that before internationalization can be a reality, nationalization must first become a reality. According to Bob, Guru Maharaj Ji has concentrated his attention on the U.S., and particularly Denver, because he has chosen this place as his International Headquarters, the hub of his organization.
Bob defines Mission growth in terms of regions. There are major areas of propagation including N. America, Europe and India. Then there intermediate areas like Latin America, the S. Pacific and Africa, plus minor areas like the Far and Middle East. Some of the smaller missions consist of only a handful of premies giving satsang, while in the major areas, the mission is a ashram-based community with many elements.
Today the most rapidly developing areas are Latin America and the S. Pacific. The premies "down under" recently got a shot in the arm as Maharaj Ji toured Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. The Australian mission is reportedly blooming. Latin America is doing well also despite government opposition and the fact that Maharaj Ji has never visited the S. American continent.
Africa is becoming more solid despite government interference. An extensive mahatma tour of the African continent is planned for next month. One saffron soldier will visit Morocco, the Canary Islands, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, S. Africa, possibly Angola, Madagascar, Kenya and Egypt. After that Mahatma Ji will stop off at La Reunion Islands on his way to Israel and Lebanon.
Missions were founded in Taiwan and Japan a couple of years ago. Now it looks like propagation will be stepped up in Eastern Asia with a tour. Also, within the year a premie is expected to move to mainland China where he will live and give satsang informally.
Premies in Europe are overcoming language and cultural handicaps and becoming more centrally organized. For example, in Scandanavia the Mission works as a unit although it consists of four countries with four distinct languages. The German mission has been working closely with premies in Austria, Greece and Yugoslavia.
Above all, premies of the world have begun to recognize that they all share one thing in common and that is Knowledge. To serve the giver of Knowledge - Guru Maharaj Ji necessitates cooperation. Through cooperation, Maharaj Ji's promise of a united world family can become a reality.
And Nobody Even Knew!
Guru Maharaj Ji came to Denver last month - and was back in Los Angeles before most of the premies had a glimmer of what happened. Maharaj Ji phoned Bob and told him he wanted to come to Denver for a "very short stay," for the express purpose of getting some business done with the Mission directors.
Just before Lou Schwartz left his ashram that morning, he turned to the other premies sitting at the breakfast table. He couldn't hold it in: "There's going to be a surprise today. I can't say what it is, but it's going to be a very special day."
One sister was leaving the elevator in a hurry to catch a bus when she brushed by Maharaj Ji. By the time she realized what the strange sensation had been, the elevator door had closed behind him.
The trip up to the 6th floor felt like a giant chill running up the spine of the Kittredge building. Within minutes everyone was rushing around telling each other the news they already knew - hardly anyone saw Maharaj Ji, but suddenly all the trips, the frustrations, the confusions that had been with us began to dissolve. Guru Maharaj Ji was in town.
For the next three hours, Maharaj Ji met with the directors, discussing the state of the Mission's affairs and premies lives in incredible depth: "Maharaj Ji answered more questions and gave more pointed direction than ever before," said one premie who attended the meeting. He packed the meeting, giving guidelines for the premies' lives and outlining many of the projects we will be getting into in the coming year.
One of the major themes discussed was the shift the Mission will be undergoing this year as we again turn to the world to share the Knowledge. Maharaj Ji himself has branded 1975 "The year for propagation." At the meeting, one sister, Kathy Sullivan, posed a question to Maharaj Ji: "When we were into putting up posters before, our efforts got to a point where no one came no matter how much energy we put into it. When you say this will be the year for propagation, does this imply that in 1975 people will be more ready, and will listen more?" "No," said Maharaj Ji. "It means you're more ready."
Maharaj Ji's surprise visit to Denver ended with an evening flight to Los Angeles - less than 24 hours after he had arrived.