It's hard to believe but when you put together enough grass roots, you get a lawn. Although there are only 572 members of Monastic Divine Light Mission Inc., you will be happy to note the growth of DLM UNincorporated. In 1974, 5700 people received Knowledge in the United States bringing our total records of U.S. premies-at-large up to 32,000. But since we only started counting somewhere in '72, there are probably another 18,000 of us out there someplace whose names somehow got lost in the bliss of it all between their hometown and Denver's Data Department.
STARS, STRIPES AND SAFFRON
Western mahatmas? Here's the scoop from Lou Schwartz: "Any ashram resident in America will soon be able to fill out a mahatma application form and submit it to Bob Mishler for preliminary review. Bob will narrow down the list and give it to Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji, who will personally interview each applicant. Together, they will choose the right premies and assign them a service to do until they are ready to impart Knowledge. Maharaj Ji said that it might be anything from washing dishes in the ashram or giving satsang to working in the Kittredge Building … Mahatma Gurucharnanand has been given agya to work with those premies who are chosen."
MAHARAJ JI IN VERMONT
A belated story about how Guru Maharaj Ji brought Christmas into the Waterbury State Mental Hospital: eleven premies worked together over several weeks collecting and recycling one hundred dollars worth of bottles and papers. They donated the money to the hospital's "Project Remembrance" which funds Christmas Parties and gifts for patients who would normally have no Christmas. The donation was the largest in the hospital's history and came at a beautiful time when there was only $7 in the account for this year's holiday.
"BRIGHT AS LIGHT" DIVINE LIGHT MISSION IN THE LAUNDRY BUSINESS
Wanna clean up your act, but don't think your '48 Maytag will do the job? In Denver, premies can now go to "Bright as Light Cleaners" located in the heart of the premie community, just two blocks from 1560 Race Street which was Denver's first ashram, residence and National Headquarters. Open since June, Bright As Light is both a Laundromat and a complete dry cleaners, giving a 10% discount to premies. "It's really just an ordinary laundry, except for one thing," said manager/handiman /s teampresser and janitor, Jim Hopkins. "When Maharaj Ji was here in October, he sent us some of his clothes to be cleaned. We did them with the greatest of care and returned them with a note in the pocket asking him to please visit. The next day he came and everyone, including the non-premie customers, had darshan. 'Was that Him?', one of them asked."
POST-NATAL SATSANG & MEDITATION PROGRAMS
In conjunction with the Divine Shelters and Knowledge courses that are developing around the country to help aspirants along their path to receive Knowledge, the premies of South Bend, Indiana have begun a five-week program of post-natal satsang care, covering such basic and practical subjects as: meditation and satsang, the importance and local availability of service, "how does Guru Maharaj Ji fit in?", and re-evaluation of lifestyle after Knowledge. Another recent adjunct to the national nightly satsang schedule is the meditation program, now taking place weekly in almost every area of the country where there is a major ashram or D.I.C. Maharaj Ji suggested it in April … "Really, I've come to such a point that I think it would be a lot better for premies to have meditation programs, and maybe once in a while some satsang programs." (April 21, 1974, L.A.) … And we're only now catching on.
DO YOU REMEMBER …?
Do you remember those little golf carts that carried festival organizers around the Astrohall at the Millennium '73 celebration in Houston? Well, riding around on them were two brothers, J.D. Via and Steve Wheeler. Since "the greatest event in human history", they have both come down to earth. They are working with several others on a unique and fascinating new invention which makes fertilizer out of gravel by a superslow high- pressure crushing mechanism that grinds the gravel so finely that the minerals in it can be directly assimilated by plants. Another Millennium festival organizer, Steve Ornstein, has also got his feet on the ground. He lives on a small farm in Charlotte, Maine.
"THIS AIN'T NO WAX BANANA"
Dusk is falling. The scene is the ashram basement in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Two tired premies have just finished dividing up the food orders. John Shackford, DUO Director, is sweeping the floor; Leslie Ferro, Coop Coordinator, is sponging off the honey containers. Ace Townsend of the premie Dairy, Woodland Farms, walks in. Just returning from the first leg of her and her husband's premie farm tour, she is full of hot news. "Ya know what I found out in Denver?" she says. "Shri Hans Food Service does 1 ½ million dollars worth of business a year." John Shackford drops his broom in astonishment. "You kidding?!" he says.
Ace wasn't kidding, but SHFS isn't any ordinary grocery chain. It is an affiliation of 31 legally and financially distinct food services, ranging from a tiny buying club in Omaha, Nebraska serving four premie households to a retail store in Boston, successfully open to the public for over a year. Though each of these food services is as unique as the community it serves, they are all linked by their united purpose and direction. They exist only to serve, first the local premie community, and then if roesources allow, the larger local community. They are not owned by Divine Light Mission, but each operates within the guidelines and on-going direction of National HQ, communicated by three travelling regional coordinators.
"Working together and trusting each other is the key," said Brad Brown, former manager at Boston's Rainbow Grocery, now eastern regional coordinator. "Recently in Boston, we had a very good example of the benefits of our National communication and organization. The price of rice, like almost everything else, had been rising enor-mously, particularly in New England. Another coop in Boston called NEFCO was trying to put together a deal to buy a whole boxcar load of rice from a farm in California. The commercial wholesaler for this rice in Boston was dealing with the same farm and asked them not to do the deal with NEFCO. The farm, wary of losing the commercial business, agreed. When we found out about this, we figured we could put the deal together, FOB Denver Divine Light Mission. It worked out very well and now we're working a lot closer to NEFCO, using our combined buying power." Brad smiled, "One thing leads to another, you know, working and buying together leads to trust and loving each other and real satsang."
This premise has held up even inside the premie community. A strong united community usually has a good food service. Most of these are "buying clubs" charging a minimal mark-up and open only to DLM membership, but a number of cities are now pushing to open stores to the public. At present, the only cities with Shri Hans Food Storefronts open to the public are Boston and Kansas City. Backed by a great deal of community enthusiasm the Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Chicago premie communities will open up storefronts by spring. Don Johnson, midwestern regional representative, said, "It's really all a matter of community support. If a premie community really wants a storefront and they are willing to work for it and pay for it, it will probably happen. But if the support is limited to a small group it just won't work. These storefronts are community services, centers for subtle propagation, not individual businesses. So if the premies don't really want one, they are not going to get one."