(continued from page 3)
A Russian Adventure
When Durga Ji met Danielle Fitzpatrick she said, "Danielle, I've heard so much about you; I wanted to meet you."
Danielle was the local treasurer in Denver for two and a half years, watching the community grow from a handful of premies living in three houses - "One was 1607-1560 Race and the other … well, one day it was just Steve Oakley's house and the next day it was an ashram." - to the community it is now: 20 ashrams, 29 premie houses, 1,000 active premies.
Recently Danielle went to Los Angeles to begin a new service Program Coordinator.
Last month, Danielle's parents invited her to come to Russia with them for a little vacation before going to L.A. In this interview she tells about her experiences there, sharing satsang with the Soviet Union's one active premie.
How did it happen that you went to Russia?
My parents were planning to go on an ordinary tourist's tour of Russia and they invited me to go with them. At first, it seemed unlikely that I would go - I was very busy with my service in Denver and the tour was only for a week. It just didn't seem practical to take time off and go half way around the world to spend a week in Russia. I told my parents I would ask if I could go, so I did. When the word came back 'yes', I began to see that this could be a rare opportunity for me to go beyond myself and my limited experience, and share some real satsang. It worked out just perfectly, because it was such a short amount of time, just five days in Russia with two and a half in Moscow where a premie lives. I was able to just come in and do as much as possible and then leave in a very simple trip. My parents were really beautiful about it; they did a lot of service by their patience and understanding. It was really beautiful for me to watch their slow realization of Maharaj Ji's Mission in this world, just by seeing this whole story unfold in front of them.
When you got into Russia itself, what were your first impressions?
I was struck most by the underlying vibration of fear the people live with. They have an agency called the KGB, a kind of Russian secret police. It seems like they are the real core group that runs Russia, in secret. Nobody really knows what happens to you if you did this or that, or how far the KGB would go. People are always on the brink of uncertainty, and this has really affected the premies alot. Though Knowledge can't be illegal, holy company can. Here, let me read you a bit of a letter from Jim Guidi, a premie who travelled through Russia last year.
"I arrived in Moscow, Russia, on Dec, 18, 1974, and immediately after checking into my hotel (which was prearranged in accordance with the law) I proceeded to call a premie who's phone number I had, from my hotel room. This was my first mistake, let me explain why.
The Russian people are not encouraged to meet foreigners, and are not permitted to bring them into their homes. Anyone who has a number of foreign associations is immediately suspected of being anti-Soviet, and is kept under close surveillance. Also, certain hotels are arranged only for foreign tourists, and any telephone calls from that hotel must go through the hotel switchboard. The hotel staff must have been aware of the fact that I was making a local call only minutes after checking in. This call would have been better made from a phone booth."
Following this advice, I was very cautious and called Natasha, the same premie Jim had contacted, from a phone booth. I was lucky. I got through to her on the first try. She speaks excellent English. When she heard me say 'Jai Satchitanand' her heart just burst. She was so overjoyed. I think she broke down crying right there.
We arranged to meet right away. It was a very, very powerful experience for me, because there was just the two of us, rather than 15,000 people on the grounds of Amherst. Just two premies who were really sharing the consciousness that Guru Maharaj Ji's love is motoring this world.
What did you and Natasha do while you were there?
While we were toegther, we just travelled around to the people who were interested in Maharaj Ji and held satsang. Natasha would translate and would give satsang herself. She sings beautiful devotional songs; she even taught me a lot of American devotional songs to Guru Maharaj Ji.
Basically, that's all we did - we just got blissed out. I brought some tapes, pictures, and magazines in for her. She really loved the pictures. She hadn't heard about Premlata being born. It overjoyed her to see a picture of Premlata. The pictures of Guru Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji meditating were really special to her.
I saw such a sharp contrast between the darkness in this world and Guru Maharaj Ji's light, and what that light can do when it touches just one open heart. Here is this one premie in Russia, and she is completely experiencing full love and faith in Guru Maharaj Ji. She's just above the scene she lives in. It's a pretty dim scene that she has to cope with day to day, but she doesn't reflect any of that; all she reflects is light all around her.
That sounds really beautiful, Danielle, but since you were probably highly visible, did you have any contact with the KGB?
No. I didn't personally, but Natasha has. Ever since Kathy (the first western premie to go to Russia) was there, the KGB had been following premies, following Divine Light Mission. They are suspect of any foreigners, so when Kathy was there, they watched her very closely. They probably know more about the development of Divine Light Mission in Russia than we do. They have quite extensive files on Kathy, who they're convinced is a spy, and on Paula and Jim, the other American premies. They have files on Natasha, all the native premies, and all the people who have ever gathered in groups for satsang. When Jim was there, they followed Natasha and Jim very closely, and after he left, they began calling Natasha and the other premies on the phone. I don't know exactly what they said but it threatened them enough that the four other premies in Moscow became very frightened and they gave Natasha back all their pictures of Maharaj Ji. I mean, they just didn't want to be involved. I could completely understand that could happen. Yet, Natasha is such a shining light over there … she's completely above fear; she's so full of Maharaj Ji's love. It's just like a miracle to watch her.
At one point, the KGB asked Natasha to come down and talk to them, which is nothing that any Russian looks forward to - having to go to the KGB. When she went, she gave them satsang and explained what this meditation was, and how it was practically helping her in her life. One KGB officer said he thought he understood - that he got that same feeling when he walked his dog in the morning … so, I don't know how far through she was able to get. Her phone is now tapped and she has to go through alot of hassle and threats. Her family gets involved in it too, just by having contact with foreigners and premies. It's really ironic that the Russians suspect her - it seems like the governments of the world just can't understand premies or Divine Light Mission at all. In Chile the government won't allow the Mission because they think we're Communists; in Russia they won't allow us because we're not Communists. In America, people think we're extreme because we won't eat meat; in India, they call us "playboys". The only thing they don't understand is that all we're trying to do is share the experience of peace we've found inside of ourselves - no conspiracy, no treachery, nothing; just simple peace within inside ourselves.
What has this trip meant to you now that you are back in the States? When I came home, in myself had grown such a feeling of urgency to do Guru Maharaj Ji's work. I felt, let's go - what can we do? I had really seen the battlegrounds and now I wanted to fight as hard and as fast as I could. But it's funny, Maharaj Ji has taken me from Russia and placed me here in L.A., in the most mellow environment on earth. By doing this, he's really shown me something of what it means to do propagation. The work takes place inside us first - we open ourselves to love, and let more and more light come in. As the light comes in, the darkness just gets squeezed out. Then the light is shared with the next person around us, and then the next person, and the next. And that's propagation. When I came home, I just wanted to do something, to take some action; I wasfeeling so much joy and ease on the outside living with premies in L.A. and Natasha in Russia has such a difficult external environment. I wanted to do anything I could to help her, and to help the premies in Russia help the whole Russian country to get out of that darkness. But what is there? What is there that I could do? In terms of outward communication, there are no letters that can be sent there. There are not more premies that should go there right now. So what could really be done? And that's when I started seeing that prachar takes place in the meditation room. That's the first step in prachar and probably that's all there is to it. This world has everything, it's tasted everything - but it's never tasted devotion. That's what it's thirsty for. To know that there is someone somewhere that they can send their love to, and it will be received and then come back. Premies in America, we really have it easy on the outside, but we shouldn't let that blind us to what the real work is.
(International News continued on page 15)