Every month International Headquarters in Denver sends out a mailing to all the 67 countries where Divine Light Mission is represented. In the last one, Divine Times put out a call for international correspondents. The response has been wonderful. And the enlarged space of International News is the result of their efforts.
With Guru Puja only a few weeks in his wake, Guru Maharaj Ji will fly to Germany for a post-Guru Puja festival in Essen, his first visit to inland Europe since 1972.
Hints that Guru Maharaj Ji might come to Germany started to pop up as early as the end of 1974 when Raja Ji and Claudia made a European tour. Everywhere they went, from Barcelona to London, bright eyed premies asked, when is Maharaj Ji coming; when will we have darshan? Raja Ji and Claudia would answer, be patient, Maharaj Ji knows when to do things at the perfect time. When they got to Germany they said, yes Maharaj Ji would probably like to do an international festival here.
Right away, with just this one glimmer of hope, the premies started looking for halls, checking out hotels and researching prices to report to International Headquarters. "We didn't even know what date to ask about or anything," said Buschi (W. Burghartz), National DUO Director in Germany on a recent visit to Denver, "So first we were thinking Guru Puja - the full moon in July. The more we got into it the more Bob Mishler said, OK, good. Keep looking.' "
Then in February Bob wrote to Germany and told them Maharaj Ji would be doing Guru Puja in South America and he wouldn't be coming to the German festival until August. "This changed our plans completely," remembered Buschi, "so we had to start looking all over again. We tried places like Munich and Franfurt but they were already booked up. We were a little discouraged but there was still one place we hadn't looked - Essen. Essen is a rather industrial city and when we were talking about it we thought the sun would never shine there."
A little bit of practical experience completely changed their minds. The only unbooked hall that could hold the 8000 expected festival-goers was in Essen. So one day everyone loaded up in a car and went to check it out. "It was beautiful. When we went there it was a really nice day. We noticed right away the facilities were good and when we went into the hall everyone was clear that this was it, this was a perfect place for the festival."
Right now in Europe quantums and quantums of premie energy are going into festival preparations. Premies are cooperating across national boundries in a way never done before." Countries like France and Germany have been enemies for thousands of years," Buschi recounted. "There is hardly any tie at all between their people at all. But though their ways are different, I see this festival really bringing the countries together by joining the premies with that something which is deep within everyone, beyond concepts of nationalism. Because even for premies there is a problem of communication. You say, 'Oh, there wouldn't ever be any problem.' It's true, in meditation and satsang there isn't. But when it comes to service, practical things, practical solutions, we have different ways of looking at things and there is a problem. Service, it seems to me, is that place where Maharaj Ji really works on a person, molding him into the kind of being who can live in a new age of love. Satsang and meditation give us the inner strength to make this transformation."
The most significant part of the Essen festival is that Maharaj Ji will be there himself. Many premies from Europe have never seen him at all. Anneke Haverkort, from Holland writes us about this aspect of the festival for the premies in her country:
"The premies in Holland are longing for darshan very, very much. We are really focused on Guru Maharaj Ji's coming to Essen. It's about 120 km. from Amsterdam, or two hours by car, so we are really hoping Guru Maharaj Ji will maybe come to Holland, too. We are preparing each other and the other premies, helping realize that Guru Maharaj Ji is really our Guru, our leader, and that we really have to have a personal relationship with him. In America, Guru Maharaj Ji is there so many times to give darshan and it's so easy for American premies to relate to him, because they've seen him so much, but in Holland, people can have Knowledge for a year, only seeing Maharaj Ji as a spirit. They never really see that he is really alive on this earth, and that we really can do something for him personally."
The Whirlwind Tour of Mahatma Rajeshwar? "Full-of-surprises," was the keyword of this month's adventures of Guru Maharaj Ji's touring ambassador–the premies in Africa report:
"How would you identify a mahatma if you had never seen one before?
"Most likely you would look out for an Indian with a shaven head, dressed in a saffron robe, with the aura of a saint radiating around him.
"However, it's not so easy when it comes to Mahatma Rajeshwar! Dressed in a light grey western-style suit and carrying an attache case, he looked more like an Asian businessman coming from a business convention in Cairo when he arrived in the Nairobi airport, than an ambassador from the Lord of the Universe. In fact, even on the passenger list, our guest was listed as 'Mr. Rajeshwar.'
"This was our first encounter with a 'suited' mahatma, and we had to refer to a photograph in the 'Premies' newspaper to make double-sure he was indeed the man we had come to meet, in case we were faced with an imposter.
"Smiles. A brief exchange of Jai Satchitanands. Mr. Mind sits on the fence dangling his legs and trying to figure out our new guest. Reports about him said he was 'cool and easy.' Out stepped the ex-judge of Bihar. He was a man on divine business and he was determined to do it well … and in the true manner of a lawman, he shot out questions like arrows reaching for the bull's eye. Nervously, Tess, our General Secretary, dove into Holy Name, hoping to surface with the correct answers.
"And here I was, a simple premie, rooted out of my comfortable life and hauled into the ashram to cook for a mahatma. Mahatma Ji strolls around the kitchen, hands clasped behind his back. He pops his head into the larder. Nothing appetizing greets his eyes. He brushes aside a black curl over his forehead, and looks into the vegetable basket. 'Well, that's good,' he says, smiling down upon the uneasiness hanging over me, 'at least you've got some good vegetables here. Get them ready and I'll come down later and cook them' 'What?' I thought, 'he's going to cook his own meal? Isn't it traditional that the disciple serves the saint, and not the other way around?'
It was evident from the beginning that Mahatma Ji loved good food - Indian sweetmeats ('Raasgulab' was his favorite), mangoes, maize and sugar cane. Quite often before bedtime he'd come down to the kitchen and look around for a bit to eat. How down-to-earth and unpretentious he was! He never feigned holiness by avoiding a food-trip the way premies often do. Centuries ago Lord Buddha discovered that starving oneself does not help one to realise God, and our dear saint happily understood.
"Here was a man who besides being a mahatma, was an excellent diplomat, taking a very keen interest in the duties assigned to him by his Lord. In fact, soon after his arrival, Mahatma Ji said to me, 'I have come here for the sake of you people. So make the maximum use of me while you can.' And indeed, he always made himself available to listen to our personal problems and advise us accordingly. 'It is better to talk when you have a problem,' he said, 'rather than keeping it inside.'
" 'Premies should not try to find perfection in one another,' he advised. 'To do so is foolish, because we're all imperfect. We're all on this path to try and eliminate our imperfections and become perfect. So we should try to correct our own faults before we find fault in others.' "
A few weeks after this visit in Nairobi while Mahatma Ji was in Malawi he received the unfortunate news that his wife was sick in India and he was needed there. His return flight was the source of delightful escapades for some of the premies in Nairobi:
"Mahatma Rajeshwar's recent 'non-appearance' in Nairobi while enroute to India is the biggest divine mystery the Kenya premies have yet to solve. After a phone call from his travelling companion, Chris Shorter in Malawi, we rushed to the airport to meet Mahatma Ji only to discover that owing to some misunderstanding over the arrival time, he had got in an hour earlier on Air Malawi. After checking the flight list for Air India, which left for Bombay an hour after Mahatma Ji's arrival at Nairobi Airport, we found no sign of his name on the passenger list. So we assumed that Mahatma Ji had waited around and didn't see us and so had
checked into a hotel because he didn't know the ashram address or that of the satsang hall downtown. So, we telephoned all the hotels and inquired if a 'Mr. Rajeshwar' had checked in that evening, but to no avail. That was Monday.
"So, the question is, did Mahatma Ji stage the first divine stowaway by flying to Bombay on an Air India flight? Or is he still lurking somewhere in Nairobi quite unknown to us?"
(Editor's Note: Actually what happened was Mahatma Ji caught a direct flight by-passing Kenya and due to the poor phone system between countries the premies were not told in time. We now know that Mahatma Rajeshwar's wife is in much better health and he or another mahatma will be visiting the remaining African countries after Guru Puja.)
In Ghana, Africa, a little further along Mahatma Ji's cancelled tour route, the aspirants are also undaunted. In a recent letter, Samson William Osei, the General Secretary there, writes, "Due to the poor communication systems in Africa, all the brothers waiting for Knowledge could not be contacted beforehand and many marched to the airport despite the heavy rainfall all day to meet Mahatma Rajeshwar. We were all ever anxious to get the Knowledge and felt a cold chill in our spine when we received the news.
"However, we met in our numbers and meditated for Mahatma Ji and his family for good health and vitality. We shall be most grateful if Mahatma Ji's visit will be rescheduled to enable him to come over to quench the thirst of all the hungry souls.
"Yes, brother Odura at Koferidua with all his able supporters are even prepared to pay for the full fare of a mahatma if one can be sent now. This shows the seriousness of the brothers there. Koforidua is the Eastern Regional Headquarters of DLM in Ghana.
"We in Ghana never cease or relax in praising and thanking Guru Maharaj Ji for his grace and love for us. We wish you all God's love and blessing for the valuable service you are rendering to humanity."
Seven or eight years ago, in a Hindi Knowledge session in India, one westerner received Knowledge. Not understanding a word of Hindi, he had no idea that Knowledge involved any meditation. He did fall completely in love with Guru Maharaj Ji however, and he scoured the world looking for beautiful places that Guru Maharaj Ji might enjoy visiting. He settled in Amsterdam, where four years later he was given his first Knowledge review by some Dutch premies.
Blissed out to discover that there was more to Knowledge than had met his eyes, he joined them in setting up DLM in Holland. Since then, the Mission has grown into a small, tight group of active premies who together operate two Divine Sales stores, a Shri Hans Construction company, and a garage. Anneke Haverkort, the head of Shri Hans Productions in Holland, sent this, her first report on the Mission's activities there.
In Holland, April 30th was the Queen's birthday. On that day everyone had a holiday and joined in festivities of celebration. For a group of Dutch premies this was a natural situation where we could do something for all the people and share the love we feel in meditation.
A group of 20 ashram and community premies from Amsterdam went to an old age home, dressed up in costumes to make the old folks laugh and start things flowing. We felt a little bit nervous, like we often do when we go to WWA projects and don't know exactly what will happen. But as soon as we began our first song, "Hole in the Bucket," a nonsensical old Dutch folksong, the people began to open up and enjoy themselves. At first they were looking at us as though we were artists or entertainers, but when we began to spontaneously sing this folk song the critics faded away. A few people became interested in hearing about meditation and Self-Knowledge, but we mostly found ourselves talking about things like the kind of cookies we had with the coffee, what life was like at the nursing home, and how they liked the people there. It was difficult to discuss the goal of life or ask if they were searching for something or what they had found in all their years.
A week later the same group came together and had satsang about our experiences at the nursing home. While it's beautiful to sing and talk and reflect love, we felt it's essential to remember why we are doing WWA programs in the first place. It's too easy to get them lost in singing and forgetting their problems - we need to find a way to meet people on a deeper spiritual level and help them look at their own life in a new light.
The premies in Switzerland report on their recent national meditation retreat: "The army here gave us use of their barracks in Grindelwald for our retreat. Grindelwald is a well-known mountain village catering to the tourist trade, located us amidst a wondrous mountain world with snow peaks stretching up more than 4000 meters into the sky. 250 premies came equipped with colorful meditation sheets and barragons instead of uniforms and guns, preparing themselves for the age of peace rather than a new war. For the holiday-makers in the nearby hotels, the scores of people sitting under colored sheets just outside their windows must have been a sight for their sleepy eyes!
"This mini-festival gave our big, nation-wide family the opportunity to see each other again and come a few steps closer as a real family. All the heaviness and constraint which we felt to some extent at previous premie meetings were gone for good this time. No longer did anyone feel they had to do or express something particular, other than to simply and naturally concentrate on Knowledge; and that's when everything else happens automatically and in the manner it should. During the day most premies went out in hiking groups or on expeditions in the nearby mountains and gorges, or played games under the warm spring sun. The quiet majesty of the mountains really let us recognize how small and meaningless we are as individuals with all our different ideas and concepts when compared to the immeasurable grandeur of nature. And how much bigger and more beautiful still is that thing which gives life to us and all of nature's wonders."