Apart from festival preparations in Africa and the scheduling of initiator tours, no major "projects" are underway on the international scene. Most countries are concerned with streamlining their organizational structure, and most communities in those countries are coming to grips with the day-to-day reality of Knowledge in their lives. However, from letters sent in to International Headquarters by National Directors, we've excerpted some paragraphs which express their response and adaptability to the inevitable "winds of change":
"Since the whole situation in a socialistic country is much different than in the Western ones, I would like to first describe how things look to a Yugoslay. This was a very poor country before World War II. It was almost completely feudal, and a great percentage of people were peasants. Progressive people of that time started to work on Marx, Engels and Lenin. Their ideas started to spread amongst working men first and after that slowly amongst peasants. Yugoslavia entered World War 11 with a strong progressive movement within the country. The war itself was very cruel and people suffered very much, and so the old tradition of fighting against the enemies who wanted to rule the country was carried on. Slowly, through a long period of time, people got a fighting spirit against all that was not in accordance with the ideals of the new, socialist society.
"Yugoslavia became the leading independent and nonaligned country in the world. Its independence, led by Tito, became very famous especially amongst the countries of Asia, Africa, India, and Latin America, and that all made a certain impression on people's characters. Even though the country got pretty westernized, the primordial spirit is still alive, because it is the matter of heart, not the matter of policy. Many people try to convert it to get some personal profit out of it, but common people do believe in it because they are like all other people: they look for happy, peaceful and honest lives.
They are ready to work hard to realize such a life. But the policy is such that everything that comes from the West or from the East (especially USA and Russia) is dangerous, and for that reason it is hard to show something good to them in an "American trip" as they call the things that come from the States, although Guru Maharaj Ji is not an American, and although Knowledge has no origin in any country.
"Recently I met with community directors and with some other responsible premies, and we discussed the situation here. One of our aspirants is a lawyer and has a lot of experience in policy, especially in foreign policy, and he was also cooperating in these discussions. We finally came to the conclusion that we should completely change the approach to the people, in order to be able to make this Knowledge available to everybody. Especially our terminology and the initiation session. We saw that the terminology we use is completely unacceptable for people of our society. The present initiation session should be also changed to a more relevant one. It is difficult for me (us) to give any positive suggestion since we have very little experience in this field. To us it seemed that the initiator is the most limiting factor in our growth. That is, the initiators of a foreign origin are completely unacceptable for our society because of political reasons. That's why we were very surprised when you mentioned in your letter that Maharaj Ji envisaged initia-
Divine Times, November 1976 17
tors of domestic origin to work at the level of community, and not internationally as it was 'til now. A domestic initiator (a Yugoslavian, born and grown up in Yugoslavia) would solve most of our problems.
"People really look for the way to get free of the bondages they are caught in, and we could get a lot of help from the government (money, halls, etc.) if they could see what Knowledge really is. And in order to make them see what Knowledge really is, and who we really are, we have to completely change the way we present ourselves, because there is a lot of potential in this country. So please convey our message to Maharaj Ji and humbly ask him to review our situation, and take the measures necessary for the solution of our situation. Give him all our love, and tell him that we grow."
- Janko Dolinsek
"Things are stabilizing here now. Gothenburg is very lovey-dovey, and Stockholm very square (a matter of temperament and age, maybe, or whatever). Activity level has gone down if we look at sat-sang statistics, yet community meetings (and in Stockholm, introductory programs) are well attended. Economy seems to stay on a pretty stable level now; AMP donations not increasing much but remaining stable.
"In Stockholm, the two WWA prison programs are being closed down. Reason: lack of interest in enough premies. Got very positive marks from prison authorities, though.
"Many are busy getting some "order" in their private lives, and much energy seems to go towards that. Psychotherapy is popular in Stockholm, and astrology in Gothenburg.
"At times like this those who really want to get somewhere in Knowledge begin to stand out. They are not too many. Right now there seems to be so many other interesting things. Still I have a pretty good feeling about the situation.
"Maybe many got caught in sort of a heavy mood from all the reorganization that is happening - on outer and inner frontiers, I suppose.
"We run five programs weekly now. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday for satsang; Thursday for introductory program, Friday for Community meetings, and Tuesday and Saturday - free activities (we have two hatha yoga groups, and as I said psychotherapy and whatnot these days). For aspirants, there are Sunday nights and for newcomers, a course Tuesday nights in a private home. This is the Stockholm version, and Gothenburg has something rather similar.
"As for our national newspaper, it comes out whenever the local newsletters cannot handle the satsangs and materials we've got. So, "Spegeln" (Mirror) is released once a month (maybe), and the local newsletters twice a month. We found this to be a vast improvement.
"I guess there is really not so much to say, but more to do. I listened to the question and answers with Maharaj Ji, and I must say we tend - as he pointed out - to ask things that we already know well. Sometimes - most of the time really - I'm amazed by his patience. I guess that's what's called love …
Take care of yourself, and say hello to everybody!
- Christina Aaby
"Right after Guru Maharaj Ji's darshan, everything began to go 'wild.' Everybody started to make the point for themselves and as a consequence many found out their lack of real implication in the practice of Knowledge and began to feel like doing ,something out of their own will, not just because they were told. From there it became obvious that they had to be more involved in what was going on. Also, they began to realize that first, things in the Mission were not really as they felt they should be, and second, they were the ones who had to do it on the community level and were directly responsible for it. That's when the 'vibe' became real hard for a lot of people around here, mainly local directors, as they had not only to face questioning and criticism but also sometimes aggressiveness and intolerance. Everything that had been done or that was still happening was questioned and distrusted just as if it were some epidemic disease. Premies were fearing manipulation and dictatorial, authoritative patterns; consequently they would be very reluctant to accept anything else but their own ideas.
"All this went on during the months of June and July. In July I started on a tour and had the opportunity to see many premies and talk to them. Lots of information/explanations/satsang were given and things cooled down a bit. Rather, the questioning became more mature, realistic and constructive. I must say that many times I had to face situations 'hazardous to my health.'
"It is now possible to get a better picture of where everybody is at. Here are a few facts and info:
Individuals in Search of a Personal Balance
"In many cases there appeared a great and genuine desire for sincerity which did not exist before - at least in that extent and manifestation.
"People feel like moving on along the path but only at their own rhythm: that of their understanding and inner motivation. They do not want to be pushed forward anymore by artificially created circumstances, etc., nor do they want to be told anything that could appear as a psychological or moral obligation for them.
"Some even stop practicing for a time and try out old trips. After a while they come back with a greater and stronger determination than ever before. But there it must be said that the fact that someone in the community with some kind of 'strength' stays stable as a reference point and an inspiring example for the premies is determinant.
"Yet a certain number of people over the past month have stopped practicing.
"For many of those who keep the connection, the important step at the moment is to get their life together on a materialistic level. Most of the time, for these people, Knowledge only comes in second place.
Very Tangible Slow-Down of Collective Activities
"The weekly satsang is the only focal point of most of the communities. Some also have home-satsang (satellite) going. But in both cases the vibe is very low and the satsangs in general not very 'sat-sang.' Yet it seems that progressively things are going up in this area.
"Some communities have nothing at all to offer. Not even a tiny piece of satsang. In these, premies are all back to their personal affairs and even some are into old trips again.
A New Type of Behavior and Relationship Appears Among the Premies
"Premies tend to get to know each other more. A real friendship begins to manifest between many of them.
"The kind of relationship induced by the formal type of satsang tends to disappear. Now premies get to know the people sitting next to them much more.
"Mutual invitations are much more frequent, and, for instance, meals taken together are for many a good way of sharing views, ideas and even satsang.
"In general, lots of contacts are taking place within the communities. Premies are behaving much more naturally and tend to adopt the ordinary way of life as many of their blocking concepts on Knowledge, spiritual and mundane life fade away.
"Paranoia and fear tend to disappear as well as the feeling of guilt associated with the practice or non-practice of many accepted 'do's and don'ts' of the so-called 'spiritual path.'
Ashram Premies Almost 'Liberated'
"As you can guess, I am only refering to a 'liberation' re-
18 Divine Times, November 1976
garding their past attitudes, habits, and concepts. But let's get into it a bit …
The ashram premies have gained some relaxation in their way of living the Knowledge. The fact that all the ashram premies went for a three-weeks vacation has greatly helped them in this regard. At first this relaxation meant a fall in satsang and meditation.
"In the province there is much more of a communal life with real friendly ties among the ashram premies than in Paris. Yet everywhere each one tends to be more natural, more mature and realistic in their approach to Knowledge and life in general.
"Compared to some other countries, in France the 'rush out' has been very moderate. Most premies have taken their time to make a sound decision concerning their situation.
"Already the number of premies ready to take part in the new ashram program can be estimated at about fifty-five. That is exactly half of the total number of ashram premies at the beginning of this year.
Conclusion: Quality Takes Over on Quantity
"Whether it be on the individual level or on the collective, on the spiritual or on the material plane (of organization), the care for quality is visible. Is it not what Guru Maharaj Ji wants?"
- Dimitri Basiliou
"What strikes me initially, and which is very heartening, is Guru Maharaj Ji's positiveness about what comes next, and that "all will be OK." Naturally, it is for us to make it happen, and it can be accomplished, as he says, when we heed his direction.
"It is to be seen that Guru Maharaj Ji is causing changes to further insure the growth of premies, and communities as a whole; that to bring this about, the understanding which at the beginning of the year he required us to acquire, through seriously applying ourselves to satsang, service and meditation, appears to have been obtained, to some measure at least; that since it is a growth process, the curriculum has accordingly to unfold itself; that the organization requires as much streamlining as resources permit, to facilitate the numerous as-pects of both the practice of meditation as well as the bringing of more and more people to it; that this latter is surely the key to our own progress and achievements.
"We, therefore, look forward very much to being able to have greater and more open communication with Guru Maharaj Ji, which in itself will insure our proceeding smoothly on the way to realization.
"Our organization is still very much in its infancy, so we are fortunate that we can implement whatever policies are formulated, without having to go through any upheavals that changes sometimes cause.
"So too with the ashram program. As yet we are practically on the starting line. So whatever purpose Guru Maharaj Ji wants the ashram to serve, we should not have dificulties in implementing that. It may be of use here to mention that in Sri Lanka, due to the customs and traditions that still hold, the concept of renunciation for entering the ashram is looked upon as a very grave step that the seeker of Truth takes only when the person has completed all worldly responsibilities, that in fact the person takes on such responsibilities to acquit himself of them as proof of his readiness to serve God completely. This causes parents to resist their sons and daughters seeking to enter the ashram renunciate order. Consequently, a minimum commitment of six months or a year will be very helpful to many a premie, for enabling them to grow strong enough in the practice of meditation to stand them in good stead anywhere."
- Jayatri Fernando
"I listened to the questions and answers with Maharaj Ji … I'm amazed by his patience. I guess that's what's called love."
- Christina Aaby, Sweden
"People feel like moving on along the path but only at their own rhythm: that of their understanding and inner motivation."
- Dimitri Basiliou, France
"I have learned to respect the sincerity and efforts of other people and love you all deeply for your commitment to our common purpose and the Truth."
- Toke Moler, Finland
"As you know, I have worked as an administrator from the early days in the beginning of 1973: first in Denmark, Arhus, and now almost two years here in Finland.
"It has developed me and motivated me to an extent where I have learned to appreciate the work and I experience my service as a real opportunity and a gift. As the situation is, it seems that there may not be a need for as much staff as we all thought some time ago.
"As you also know, I am Danish and I have not yet learned the Finnish language. In the past I have felt that my main job was to work with the group of people here who really wanted to offer themselves to build a foundation for DUO and two communities, and as they all speak English or Swedish, I never got into this Finnish tongue. It has always been hanging in the air that I was never going to stay here for that long - and as you will remember we have often spoken about it.
"Within some months I am positive that Irmeli could take over my service, and Tom who has been working with me on the ashram program could
take over as community-coordinator of Helsinki - which is Irmeli's half-day service at the moment …"
- Toke Moler
And in a letter to Tom and Irmeli, Toke expresses his feelings on leaving the ashram:
"I leave the program with gratitude and a great appreciation for the shelter and growth that Guru Maharaj Ji's guidance and personal concern has given to me. I have learned to respect the sincerity and efforts of other people and love you all deeply for your commitment to our common purpose and the Truth.
"My learnings are uncountable, but as a whole I feel and experience the shelter to be in our own commitment to practice Knowledge in spite of everything, and the human concern and down-to-earth acceptance of each other as human beings.
"I feel that a process of my life is coming to an end, in which Ihave matured and grown up to take the responsibility of my own life and to serve with others to make such a Knowledge available for each person in the world.
"I strongly recommend the ashram program for others who have a deep longing for Truth and a willingness to accept Maharaj Ji's guidance with their heart. I see it as very important to keep developing the program so that it will be easier for any individual to participate, and offer myself to help doing that with you.
I don't feel I am leaving before time is due, rather I am growing into more love and acceptance of reality.
I love you all. Thank you.
Divine Times, November 1976 19