There seems no plan because it is all plan: there seems no center because it is all center.
- C. S. Lewis
In the world of finance, the beginning of a New Year is a time to take a look at the gains and losses of the previous year, chart the present position, and plan a course of action for the year to come. As startled newcomers to the world of finance in the early days of Divine Light Mission, the first of the year usually found us still trying to put out the economic brushfires of last year, while accidently lighting ones for this year. And all this took place in the general state of alarm which problems without solutions tend to foster. At certain historic points, our endeavor seemed like the Titanic - sinking so slowly that no one was sure it was sinking, and sinking with so many leaks that no one knew where to start to patch it up. Unlike the Titanic, however, we have managed to bail and sail on long enough to learn a great deal about financial stability and responsibility. Actually, relative to other professional organizations, we have done it in a pretty short period of time. The director of the accounting department no longer looks like he is personally dragging the ball and chain of the Millenium debt everywhere he goes. Through a lot of effort and dedication on many premies' parts, those days of hounding creditors and teetering accounts are largely behind us. And a new skill is rapidly gaining popularity in our lives as premies - PLANNING.
A Matter of Principle
The "business" of Divine Light Mission is serving the development of human consciousness. It's a big job and ranges from introductory lectures to overseeing the development of all our international communities. In order for us, as a family of premies, to do this well, we have to get out of just dealing with isolated problems as they come up, and plan our resources in such a way that we can use the opportunities that we have. This principle applies equally to an individual's life as it does to "corporate business." In business, it's stated like this: "The resources in any business should be largely allocated to opportunities, rather than problems. Focusing the business resources entirely on solving problems can only bring about the status quo, while the harvesting of opportunities brings about the on-going health and development of the business."
The Mysterious Big Donor
The major difference between "harvesting opportunities" and moment-to-moment problem-solving is one of conscientious long-range planning. In the very early days of the North American mission, programs were carried out before it was exactly sure whether they could be paid for. This was due to a mythological belief i n "the big donor." The idea was that anything that couldn't be paid for immediately would be taken care of by "the big donor." Known as "the grace factor" among local treasurers, the big donor is a concept which cannot be found in any accounting books. Yet rumors of the "mysterious donor who is coming to our financial rescue tomorrow," have been persistent over the years; though this bubble was burst in the wake of Millenium, and the myth has gradually subsided. It is true that there are premies who have substantial financial assets, but to be fiscally responsible we had to get past the "mystery guest" consciousness.
When "the big donor" hasn't shown up, our organization has sometimes had to rely upon sporadic emergency appeals to generate funds. Such appeals have manifested $100,000 in a matter of weeks, but our "crisis consciousness," like our mystery guest consciousness is also slowly giving way to a more rational way of dealing with financial needs. For a lot of you, that's meant the active membership program, one aspect of which is helping to provide a dependable source of finances for on-going Mission activities. For us, it's meant sitting down to really look at what we're capable of doing, and what we are doing, and the difference between the two.
The Price Is Right -
How Much Will It Cost?
In the initial planning stages for the upcoming year, several opportunities were evident. It was decided that Maharaj Ji should make a tour of South Africa, a tour of Europe, a tour of 7 cities in the United States, a possible trip to India, and hold a Labor Day festival for the North American premies. But remember guessing how much something cost with the Price is Right panel on TV? One of the most helpful abilities that we have gained in the experience of the past years is an ability to tell almost exactly how much something will cost. The famous Millenium debt was not caused so much by intentionally spending what we didn't have, as it was by finding out the hard way that our estimates of certain costs were inaccurate (to say the least). But we learned a great deal from that experience, and oddly enough the next festival (Amherst) paid for itself, as have all festivals since then.
Using this experience, the accountants and program planners here in Denver were able to come up with a very good estimate of how much the special activities for 1976 would cost. By "special" we mean that it became obvious that all the activities mentioned above are extra, that is, our regular inflow of money is not large enough to pay for them, so they must be funded in some other way.
The figures showed that in 1975 our total cash income was just equal to our expenditures, and that we are presently operating at a deficit. In other words, we will need to broaden the base of support this year and work hard to build a stable financial foundation, but through a relatively small but steady increase in regular contributions from all DLM members, we will be able to pay for our day to day operations. Compared to our shaky beginnings, we are now standing upright and we are even sometimes able to walk. However, we are not able to "run" or really get anywhere - our funds cover the basics for the existence of Divine Light Mission, but don't allow us to grow. So to raise the funds necessary to carry out Guru Maharaj Ji's plans for 1976, two things suggested themselves as possibilities:
1) Encourage support from the 6,500 premies who do come to festivals but are not plugged into AMP. If each of these premies could be inspired to merely increase their average donations by 21c a day (or $75 a year), the entire program of Maharaj Ji's tours for this year could be easily covered.
2) Call on the special abilities of premies who have substantial financial resources and have made themselves available to Guru Maharaj Ji's work.
It was felt that due to the time factor involved, it was unlikely that our basis of support would broaden by 6,500 premies in one quantum leap. That left option number 2.
A group of premies around the country have made relatively large donations in the past, and it was decided that they were a natural place to turn to in generating funds for Guru Maharaj Ji's proposed special programs for 1976. But besides having financial resources, these premies also have a practical knowledge in generating, investing, and wisely utilizing the money which is available to them. Maharaj Ji decided that now was the time to have a conference in which these premies might share their abilities in service to him. So he wrote each of them a letter, inviting them to come to Denver and meet with him.
The conference was beautiful. In pleasant dinners, sharing sessions, tours and presentations, the conference participants and the attending staff from IHQ both felt like guests of Guru Maharaj Ji himself. Every detail was taken care of in a way that surprised even the premies who had helped to set the conference up; and the directors of the mission found themselves as inspired as everyone else by the tour of IHQ and the Denver community.
Maharaj Ji met with the conference participants the day after the tour. He spoke with them about their capacity to do service, and about everybody's capacity to do service. He spoke to them about the plans for 1976, the development of the organization, and their role in that development. Finally, he answered any questions the premies had. Someone asked him if it was possible to serve him completely without living in the ashram. "Certainly," Maharaj Ji replied, and when the question came up again, as if someone was not quite convinced, Maharaj Ji affirmed that all service that is dedicated to him is equal. He then answered a question about how he
makes plans and gave some insight into the meaning of a plan for the development of Divine Light Mission in 1976:
We have never done this before. We have never taken a mission upon our hands to give this whole world Knowledge, you know? And now we are. So, we have to say, "Well look, are we going to just go out in the street with microphones and start revealing Knowledge to people? Or are we going to do it in such a way that this precious seed is not just wasted?"
Maharaj Ji went on to explain the necessity of using our capability to plan what we are going to do in advance:
We have the capability of planning, so we are going to plan so that we don't blow it. You see, we can organize 15,000 satsang programs very easily in the United States. But do we have anything to back up those aspirants with when they receive Knowledge? Do we have enough service available to keep those premies active? Because those things are important, Understand what I mean?
By this time the inspiration in the room was undeniably present, and when someone asked Maharaj Ji a rather philosophical question about pranaming and then eventually worked around to actually asking if they might do pranam, Maharaj Ji laughed and said, "Why didn't you just ask in the first place?" The day ended with all the premies at the conference doing pranam.
What Did We Learn?
What was learned in the fundraising conference? First of all, we all learned that our real resources are understanding and love. This experience among staff and guests at the conference showed that more and more of these kinds of conferences can and should (and will) happen. In realistically confronting and deflating the myth of "the big donor," we saw just exactly how much we do have in the way of substantial funds and what could be expected over the coming year. As usual, the actual funds available to us were less than expected (so much for expectations), but this merely served to emphasize Maharaj Ji's point about Planning - that it is our duty to use what we have wisely, rather than to worry prematurely about more. The premies who attended found that they share common abilities with respect to funding, and many practical steps were taken to set up ways in which they could continue the "conference" amongst themselves and the IHQ staff in an on-going manner. We saw that we have a lot to learn together; but it isn't going to be nearly as difficult to learn, now that we can make real use of each other's resources, talents, and perspectives in planning and carrying out our plans.
Updating the Calendar
Based on the amount of funds which the conference participants determined would be available throughout the year, many of the special activities planned for 1976 have had to be reconsidered. We've learned not to take on more than we can financially handle, so Maharaj Ji's tour of North America was cancelled, while his South African tour has been indefinitely postponed, meaning also that the dates of his European tour have had to be changed. A North American Guru Puja is still being planned, but no definite arrangements have been made as yet.
Plan Your Work -
And Work Your Plan:
This re-arrangement of events according to the resources on hand, or realistically expected, reflects a growing trend in Divine Light Mission. In the past, projects had been approved before we knew exactly how to pay for them and this resulted in the paragraph which then appeared in a letter to our subsequent creditors:
Youthful enthusiasm for the rightness of our cause, and a lack of business experience were the main reasons for our tendency to over-extend ourselves in the first two years of the Mission. Though our enthusiasm and commitment to our Mission have not waned, we have learned a lot about realistic planning and control.
Although many of us might be disappointed that Guru Maharaj Ji will not be visiting our city after all, it is clear that the world family of premies will benefit as a whole much more from our realistic re-adjustment of activities and our refusal to over-extend ourselves where it is irresponsible.
And that's just another step in the story of our growing maturity as an organization, as a family, and as individuals. While the fundraising conference and the development of plans for 1976 for the Mission were done by a relatively small number of premies in a different city and perhaps even a different country, we share it here because the brothers and sisters who did attend participated in a learning experience with Guru Maharaj Ji which reflects a learning experience going on in all of us. In North America, the changes in Maharaj Ji's tour schedule provide us with a practical example. In our individual lives, Maharaj Ji seems to be teaching the same lesson. The heading in the previous paragraph, (a piece of advice to a premie from his boss) sums it up pretty well. Remembering that work is worship and that we are going to be here for awhile, we might as well: PLAN OUR WORK - AND WORK OUR PLAN.
If you've picked up this paper in Canada, you may be wondering how Divine Times made it North of the border.
A while back - around the time of Orlando Hans Jayanti - people began to notice that even though the map showed a distinct line right across the North American continent, somewhere about the level of Wisconsin and Manitoba, there really isn't much difference between the premies and their communities above and below the line. Yet, for all our similarities, DIM Canada and IHQ in Denver were communicating with each other as if they were separated by the breadth of the Pacific Ocean, instead of neighbors next door.
To remedy the situation, an organizational marriage was performed.
What used to be called the Domestic Division of DUO international, is now being called the North American Operations Group, and the previous National Headquarters in Toronto is now the Canadian Divisional Headquarters.
What all these name changes signify is that Canada and the United States are now being considered as one body; to help get us all moving more in the same direction, at the same time and to be more in synch with Guru Maharaj Ji and his plans while we do so.
And with this there's something to look forward to: with more of us, there's sure to be more to share.
- Gary Ockenden
ARE YOU NEW
While most newspapers deal in "current" events, the events themselves are rarely "new." The grey pages of our usual tabloids have had little else to offer than wars and rumors of wars since the days of the papyrus scroll; they report the foibles of human life as it has been fraught with foible since the Dawn. And, though the names of cities and people change, the same old story prevails.
What makes a Divine Times different is its unique subject matter. It is our pleasure to follow the activities of Guru Maharaj Ji, and this is a subject always new and fresh. As a young world leader, with a young organization growing under his direction, Guru Maharaj Ji is making a meditation experience available around the world. The meditation is a simple reconnection to the source of life- energy and loving consciousness within each one of us. As such, it is available free of charge to young and old of any culture or nationality. Just as water universally quenches thirst irrespective of ideological boundaries, this experience which Guru Maharaj Ji reveals, opens to all a practical path of inner harmony and self-realization.
Other newspapers may also follow the development of Guru Maharaj Ji, but in keeping with the editorial eye of the day, they tend to see him in terms of cars, houses, family disputes, or money; and they hint at a fanatical following of youngsters. While we (the fanatical following) did much to help this impression in the early years of Guru Maharaj Ji's work in the west, the times (as usual) are changing. Divine Times is pleased to report upon a very diverse group of people living all around the world: old people, not so old people, families and children; all living with a new and fuller sense of life thanks to the gift of Guru Maharaj Ji.
And that's good news. If you would like more information about Guru Maharaj Ji, his family of followers world-wide, the meditation and the experience he is offering, or this paper, feel free to write:
Are You New
Divine Light Mission
P.O. Box 532
Denver, Colo. 80201
The more you chat about it,
the more you chit about it
the more you think about it
the further from it you go.
So stop chatting,
- M. Rich