The following report on the Hans Jayanti program with Guru Maharaj Ji in Los Angeles flowed from the pen of Dan Hinckley, editor and writer for Divine Times for three years, now a citizen of California.
Are you an enjoyer of late-night adventures? Sometimes after an exquisite meditation, do you suddenly scramble for your jeans, pack a knapsack and head for a weekend in the mountains? Do you occasionally get off a bus three stops early just exactly for no reason at all? It seems many people I know do. When we heard about a program to be held in Los Angeles in Maharaj Ji's honor on a Tuesday night last month, it bothered us little that it was already late Monday night, and there still lay a seven hour drive ahead of us. Plotting from our San Francisco apartment Just how much of our precious little money would this adventure cost us?), we all agreed to share gas, food and other side-treks familiar to adventurers, and to head out at shortly before nine, no make that ten, in the morning.
Oh, but what and adventure it turned out to be.
I live with a small community of expatriate ashram residents. We've come to the coast of California to San Francisco and to Berkeley, a town they call "the open ward." Each day we go to our respective employment arenas in search of The Job.
And these are some of the things we discuss after a hard day of un-work: what was our experience with Divine Light Mission all about, and where are we going from here?
Who knows why we or anyone else would travel such a distance on such short notice on the mere hope that Guru Maharaj Ji might make and appearance at a program held in his honor? The list of similar occasions at which Maharaj Ji has not appeared is lengthy, and regardless of the number of times calls were made to different sources in L.A., to friends, to the DUO office, there was absolutely no guarantee that Maharaj Ji would attend.
But it was November eighth. And Tuesday was the ninth. For the last three years of my life, without doubt the most phenomenal years of my life so far, I have spent the evening of November ninth with a person very close and important to me: Guru Maharaj Ji. The ninth is, of course, the occasion of Guru Maharaj Ji's father's birthday, and event known as Hans Jayanti.
The fastest route to Los Angeles from San Francisco is on California's route 5. It is also the most boring route, sacrificing the majestic vision of the Pacific Coast for a three hour margin. But we needed that margin to make our way to Maharaj Ji's program in time.
Later, after a stop for something to drink (leave it to California to have a health food store in the middle of nowhere), Steve and I began to talk again: "The other night," he said, "You made a point out of saying you weren't into devotion; why are you coming all this way to see Maharaj JI?"
"Because I love Guru Maharaj Ji very much," I said, and surprised myself with my brevity. We fell silent for a while, and I began to think about that answer. Once your partner has fallen asleep on a long drive, there's a lot of time to think about your life, to try a little meditation and to reflect on the meanings of the statements you've heard and said. … Because I love Guru Maharaj Ji very much. Yes, the point is to discover a communication with Maharaj Ji that transcends cultural and conceptual frameworks. Yes, but I also meant something deeper in making a distinction between today's feeling of love and what we call "devotion."
I tried to understand some essential, wrapped in this distinction: when I relate to Guru Maharaj Ji in one sense, what I'll call a devotional sense, my concentration goes out to Maharaj Ji. Literally. There is some sense of emptiness, of incompletion - some feeling that I have to travel great distances to find someone to answer my confusions.
But this year, for me that feeling is unquestionably changed. Unlike the wild mirth I felt climbing aboard a Jumbo Jet in 1972, unlike the fervor of the Astrodome or the introspective passion of last year's Orlando festival, the drive that day felt quiet and peaceful; only as special as every day is becoming more and more: Just another day. I lacked the sensation that my will was supplying the fuel to the truck; there was little anxiety of needing to see Guru Maharaj Ji, only a tranquil happiness that we might.
Leaving a working acquaintance after a long project is often a sad event. There's a feeling that you should have appreciated each other's humanity earlier, and there's a sudden, passionate parting that almost speaks: "Let's try to squeeze all our missed moments into this one moment we have left." But when that same goodbye takes place between two lifelong friends, those cherished, unique individuals who only pass through your life a few brief times - when that goodbye takes place - often no goodbyes are said at all. Such a friendship surpasses parting; away or together, there is a feeling of unity. And this year - on the road to see Guru Maharaj Ji and to celebrate Hans Jayanti with him once again this is the emotion I felt. Doing eighty, passing a double-semi, I shed a confirming tear: "Maharaj Ji, I love you very much." Through all the changes, spiritual self-righteousness, pseudo-religious babbling and corporate bungling, there is something that's remained constant.
Later, sleeping in the back
Divine Times, November 1976 5
of the truck, an old Toyota with some manner of camper attached, I fell asleep to the rhythm of the highway, the sound of the evening and a stint at the wheel.
Shot awake by the sound of the engine being turned off and the rocking being stilled, I could hear the familiar voices laughing and shouting "I don't believe it." But yes, of course it's true. Who else would be crazy enough to drive here on only a bet that we might see Maharaj Ji? And now there were some of those utterly and intimately special best friends right in front of me. "It's times like these," someone remarks, "that I appreciate what Maharaj Ji is trying to do the most." And understand it the most, too.
What a family. Parking, then climbing the steps to the hall where the program was being held. Up at the top the Pacific appeared as a magnificent sensation; the air was thick with fog, the ocean was a darkening mass, and the wind carried a chilly, wet and salty vastness. I stopped and for a moment let that vastness take me, and show me the infinitesimal smallness of my being; I was the breath of night air, breathing me full of life …
Cascading through the door, I found myself again among my friends. Ah, celebrate the day that we found friendship, the day we were born, and today.
Kathy Sullivan, we haven't seen you in white for some time. How have you been? What's it been like working with Guru Maharaj Ji? She began to give satsang, and did. Kathy talked about this being the beginning of a new age. And how, though it sounds corny, it really is …
At some point the activity around the stage became irrelevant and Guru Maharaj Ji was suddenly there, dressed in smiles and a flashy suit. There's always a joy in being part of a crowd that sits down with Guru Maharaj Ji in this way. It's a powerful movement of a body of individuals retaining their individuality in the midst of an overwhelming merging of consciousness.
Maharaj Ji's satsang this time was a sensation of fine tuning to my ears. He began by having us imagine ourselves in a time when Shri Maharaj Ji was in India and the Western world hadn't a clue such a thing existed. And then to the time when we were nothing but (and we are still nothing but) simple premies; forget about DLM and IHQ and how "together" a person you are that you are practicing Knowledge; just recognize what our purpose is. The purpose, both then and now, is the same.
For a while I thought Maharaj Ji was being a little fuzzy on the issues (a habit that's been plaguing me lately), but he soon followed through with incisively clear and concrete language: "You know this saying I have, 'Give me your love and I will give you peace?' " (Yes, I thought, what ever happened to that one anyway?) "Well, what do you think? I ask you to give me your love so that I can channel it back to you."
"All rriiight …" I heard someone say, and whistles softly in the background.
Much of Maharaj Ji's satsang had strong but subtle implications for the future of Divine Light Mission; but what beautiful implications. Maharaj Ji gave the best definition of Divine Light Mission I've heard yet:
"It's like I went over this jungle in a helicopter, and it was all complicated, but I said, 'I don't care, I'm going to go and build a road.' Now, the road is there, the last section has been completed and the connection is being made. Because of this organization we have created, we can all communicate with each other; and that's all I really wanted, that communication with you.
And what else? Fragments of the satsang will continue hitting us, ripened with meaning and emerging as the seed of some new understanding.
Maharaj Ji said how obvious it was that some of us hadn't been meditating, and then turned right around and hinted at that awareness again, by saying how obvious it is that premies are nearby when he's travelling around town: because the connection is so obviously there.
He then stood up, took one last glance at the audience reaffirming a gentle hello that reverberated throughout the program. Some band began an obscure melody in the front of the hall: "My ears are ringing," said someone next to me. Both me and the friend I was talking to nodded. Too quick a visit to say hello, no heavy goodbyes passed as we left, just a companionship entirely electric.
By eight o'clock in the morning, almost precisely twenty four hours from when we started off our adventure. we were back home, standing in the living room.
"Damn, Dan, don't you think that trip was worth it?" I smiled while I replied: etc, etc …
6 Divine Times, December 1976