Face-to-Face in Amsterdam
From frustration with a panel discussion format to dancing with the Amsterdam community, The European Directors' Conference this March covered a wide range of experiences in only eight days. Participants from fifteen countries and DLM International Headquarters faced important issues and themselves in a series of workshops and one-to-one discussions.
Prefaced by a videotape of Guru Maharaj Ji's IHQ staff conference in December, the workshops then asked the participants to express their expectations of the whole exercise and their feelings towards being part of an international team. The basic goals of the conference involved learning to work together, organizing Guru Maharaj Ji's upcoming European tour and examining the relationship of IHQ to the various countries.
Group discussion began in an uninspired way until the participants opened up during a workshop on team skills building. Some directors expressed impatience with the classroom atmosphere surrounding certain topics yet became involved in intense discussion on subjects such as Guru Maharaj Ji's image and the need for Mission members to understand realities rather than concepts in their lives.
The desire for real communication seemed the first concern of the conference. The directors called for more participation in planning and decision-making, an interchange of resources and perspective, and greater honesty and friendship amongst directors and IHQ - devoid of white-washing and self-congratulation. By the end of the fourth day, Willow Baker of IHQ felt that "something clicked, interest rose, and we started to come together as a team."
Day five saw the countries trying to evaluate the purpose of the Divine Light communities. Most felt that the community purpose was to create an environment where its members could practice Knowledge and become friends, or in similar terms, to manifest a society based on the growth of individual consciousness in an atmosphere of love and openness.
When it came to describing the building blocks of community, the workshops dealt with fostering human qualities such as loving interaction, and with the necessary support systems such as financial and legal structures. The day finished with a videotape of Guru Maharaj Ji at the IHQ fund raising conference which many participants felt had a great impact on their understanding of Maharaj Ji and the nature of service.
Guru Maharaj Ji's coming tour of Europe occupied most of day six and dealt with preparations, programs and follow-up. A feast of brainstorming opened up the next day which finally centered on two main topics - the ashram (general trends and Maharaj Ji's instructions), and the initiators (specific difficulties and the importance of close communication with initiators). Brainstorming was followed by a group evaluation of the conference and the day ended with a feast of another kind - an Amsterdam community party, with food and entertainment provided by the conference participants. The last day was left free and many took advantage of a chartered canal boat, the beach, and Amsterdam at night.
On her return from the conference, Willow Baker felt that the workshop environment created a welcome contrast to the Orlando conference and the previous means of communication between IHQ and the national directors. What did the directors want? The main issues seemed to be more two-way feedback and an interchange of evaluation on the programs implemented or planned for the near future within different countries. Perhaps the most progress at the conference was made in regard to interpersonal contact and a greater awareness of what we have to be rather than seem to be.
The conference pointed out the difference between living according to a strategy and living from actual experience. Communities have too often been told to seem more normal rather than the individuals discovering their own humanity. Willow said that "We're not creating an image for ourselves to have people relate to us so we can con them into Knowledge. We have to work on actually becoming human."
As Americans, we are schooled from an early age in paternalistic tendency to think that the rest of the world is somehow "behind" us in it's development. Our educational programming has evinced a kind of nationalistic and modern scientific prejudice. So many textbooks and issues of "My Weekly Reader" convinced us that progress
This attitude, unfortunately, has often been carried over into DLM, and usually stems from comparing organizational systems. DLM, however, is not an organization of systems, but of consciousness. This point was convincingly made by Francisco Arce in an interview with DT this week. Francisco, originally from Chile, is acting as Director of DLM International Operations while Jos Lammers is on tour in Europe in preparation for Maharaj Ji's upcoming visit. He told us that there is so much focus within DLM on the Mission in the U.S., that premies here have difficulty realizing that Maharaj Ji's Mission has also been developing for just as many years in many other parts of the world. The consciousness and understanding of our premie family is very similar the world over. It is primarily the forms that organizational development has taken that differ. Some countries are, in fact, more developed than the U.S. For example, Australia now produces perhaps the highest quality newspaper and films, while Latin America has the highest percentage of active premies in relation to people initiated, and maintains the highest number of aspirants. What has often happened isn't a lack of development, but a development peculiar to each country's needs. What is taking place now is the formation and stabilization of an international communication system which can help to coordinate the development of DLM worldwide.
This task is becoming more and more the function of the International Headquarters in Denver. While Maharaj Ji has left the primary responsibility for the development of each country in the hands of the premies who live there (see his sat-sang in this issue), the link of communication and coordination between all of them is IHQ. It was less than two years ago -- at the Copenhagen festival in the summer of 1974 -- that Maharaj Ji began to stress to the National Directors of different countries the need to coordinate their activities through one central headquarters. Since that time, a tremendous amount of energy has gone into making that possible.
It may have seemed to some of us that in the past year there hasn't been much energy or strong direction coming our way, certainly not as much as the constant programs and campaigns of the pre-Millenium days. And while most of us (at DT) have busied ourselves by focusing on the development of our own individual lives, occasionally we have wondered what happened to that furious organizational steam we were getting used to. Apparently, as Francisco pointed out to us, it has gone into the development of a global family. R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller, a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," is fond of saying that mankind is now preparing for a "small one-world town." Certainly Guru Maharaj Ji is an anticipatory design scientist in the sense that through his efforts in the past year, the family of premies worldwide has become linked into one working body.
As Francisco Arce pointed out to us, our organization isn't big, but more and more it's international, it's synchronized, and it's in the hands of Guru Maharaj Ji. What better way to start a small one-world town.
- A QUIZ
1) Close your eyes and picture Australia. (1200 active premies live there) Do you see: a) a desert with a kangaroo b) an aboriginee with a boomerang c) the bustling harbour at Sydney d) other
2) Picture a Latin American DUO office. (5-6,000 active premies in LA) Do you see: a) adobe walls and dirt floor b) dog-eared back issues of AIID c) an IBM selectric typewriter d) telephones
3) Generally when you think of DLM in other countries do you picture: a)1973 level premies struggling to grasp DUO b) mature long-standing communities c) premies just getting started d) premies with years of experience with Guru Maharaj Ji.
Eleven cities in six weeks lie along the route of Guru Maharaj Ji's European tour, scheduled to begin in May. Final preparations for the tour were begun at the recent European conference in Amsterdam. Amsterdam members will host Maharaj Ji's visit along with those in Athens, Geneva, Barcelona, Madrid, Milano, Hamburg, Paris, Lisbon, Stockholm and London. Before Maharaj Ji's arrival, community directors will focus interest throughout their countries on the tour's potential to inspire personal and collective growth, and for developing an increasing sense of Europe working together as part of the international community.
Each city's program will feature one nighttime event with Guru Maharaj Ji, followed by darshan. Throughout the day, groups will come together to discuss the "twentieth century premie," the DLM community and its relationship to the community at large. After the tour, these themes will be followed-up in the different countries as they begin community workshops dealing with the individual's commitment to Knowledge, Knowledge as a real experience, and the role of Guru Maharaj Ji in each person's life.occurred in the U.S. and was then rudely copied at a later date by "underdeveloped" countries. And now, even while immersed in the problems of "progress" (pollution, urban sprawl, media overload) and even as we begin to appreciate that "primitive" cultures (such as that of the Native American Indian) often exhibit culture superior to that of the Pepsi generation, we still labor under the conception that by being a citizen of the U.S. we are somehow "advanced."