Ah yes, beautiful Santa Barbara, California! Nestled between stunning mountains and the blue Pacific. Located approximately 80 miles north of "you-know-who's" house.
Population of 80,000, no traffic jams, hardly any smog, no dirty streets, low incidence of crime. It's really hard to believe this city is part of the United States. But the Taco Bell a few blocks away blows the whole cover.
All in all, one would think that the realization of Knowledge would be fairly simplified in this environment. Well, it takes as much effort here as on 5th Avenue in New York City. Santa Barbara has a tendency to swallow people up in its beauty. Sometimes it takes the utmost concentration to realize the real beauty is coming from Holy Name. The other day while I was pedaling down one of our picture- postcard streets, a car just missed creaming me: I was centering my being on that wonderful palm tree to my left. Needless to say, I suddenly found myself meditating.
With the inspiration of the wonderful premies in this town, Knowledge can be made fun and easy. [he community has satsang every night, with five nights at a local house. Even though attendance has been sporadic lately, there is a core group of ten to fifteen premies who show up consistently. The inspiration is always available for those who want it. On a "hot" night, twenty-five to thirty people will appear on the scene.
We've had our share of space-outs here, as I guess every community has. Some of the strongest premies (or so we thought) are no longer active, and some who hadn't been involved for months are now the hub of the community. As Maharaj Ji said, "This Knowledge is a very personal thing." So we all try our best to be centered inside our own hearts. Then we can deal with the world.
A recent trend of the community has been a sudden influx of little saints. Within the last two years about ten new babies were born here. Accordingly, a large percentage of the community are householders. About one quarter are students at the nearby University of California or Santa Barbara City College. We also have our assortment of good surfers and heavy-duty guitar players. The community also has several persons deeply into the health scene, some specializing in nutrition and holistic medicine.
Service projects have been centered basically around fund-raising, childcare, satsang co-ordination, the phone tree, etc. We have a community coordinator (Juanita Chatham) who can be contacted by anyone interested in more information. Hopefully within the next few weeks we will have a community newsletter. We have started to have monthly community meetings.
A warning to any premies interested in moving here: employment is very tight, finding an abode for children is very, very difficult, and rent prices will inspire you to meditate more. But it is possible to live here comfortably (with a lot of luck) and everything is within a few miles distance.
Well, I guess that's about it. No matter where you live, try to stay on Holy Name and let our Lord show us how beautiful our life can be when we don't let our intellects tell us what to concentrate on.
- Alan Feld
Here it is December 9, 1976 - my birthday - and tomorrow I'll be taking a beautiful drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to be with Guru Maharaj Ji on his birthday. That is sure a nice present.
But the best present that I have ever received is this precious gift of Knowledge that Maharaj Ji reveals. This Knowledge is the basis of my life. Since I received Knowledge way back in '72 at Montrose I began to realize the purpose of my life. And to really begin to live my life.
I just happen to live in the most beautiful town around. The people are very friendly. I can walk to the beach, drive five miles to the mountains, or take a slightly longer drive to see Guru Maharaj Ji.
The Spanish influence is very pronounced. We have beautiful Spanish buildings and most of our streets and a lot of our residents have Spanish names. We also have the Queen of the California Missions here, which was built in the late 1700's. Our streets look as if they just popped off of a picture postcard. They are lined with palm trees, olive trees, and all sorts of beautiful green vegetation. We have dance schools, Tai Chi Chuan masters, a university, a city college - so many, many things.
All of these things make it very easy to get distracted from our main priority - practicing this Knowledge. So what I have realized is that I am happier and my life flows the smoothest when I do meditation, service and satsang. To be made aware of the center of my being is such a beautiful gift.
I guess that what I am saying is that other things have a place in my life, but Knowledge has the first place (most of the time).
- Juanita Chatham
16 Divine Times, January 1977
The Ballad of Lawrence, Kansas
The Lawrence community: "We have love for each other and we have a dedicated and effective master who loves us."
Ruth: Here we are. It's Maharaj Ji's birthday and our present to him is to write an article about our community. Lawrence seems like such a pressure cooker place as far as one-to-one-relationships go.
Dixie: The community here in Lawrence is a loose net of highly individualistic people bound together by love and gradually learning - not without conflicts - how much we need each other and how much we need Maharaj Ji in order to walk this path.
Bruce: Life is becoming so simple now. I'm here in Lawrence, practicing Knowledge, practicing life, learning how to love, learning how to flow through difficulties, learning, learning. I'm stumbling too and there's learning there.
Dixie: All in all, Lawrence is a good place to live - small enough to live simple, comfortable lives, but large enough, thanks to the university, to have a stimulating variety of events, people, and lifestyles. Many of us feel that we may be here for quite a while just trucking down the line and trying to realize …
Chris: Lawrence is a convenient spot to practice Knowledge from. It occupies ground on both sides of the Kaw (Kansas) River and is surrounded by the wooded hills of Eastern Kansas.
Of the 45,000 people who live here, 20,000 are students and probably several thousand more are former students who liked it and stayed. There are 35 premies living here, most of whom take advantage of the Community Mercantile, a cooperative grocery store, and Sister Kettle, a non-profit vegetarian restaurant.
Gumer: To practice Knowledge is not only to try to find a place where one can rest and stay but to know how to follow the roads that Knowledge opens up to us. Recently, life changed her raiment before me ( a move from Spain to Lawrence) yet I wasn't bothered because this is where the lesson is occurring.
Dixie: In the past two years, the community has been through periods of relative stagnation, wild enthusiasm and a whole lot of growing pains. Energy flows through us, congeals into temporary patterns and then flows again into new and sometimes scary shapes.
Robyn: Some of the nicest changes I've become aware of in this community were brought to mind when Raven was born (three weeks ago). 1 was freaking out because I was losing a lot of blood, called the center to ask for the support of everyone by meditating with me. That loving vibe became real apparent and that helped a lot. Later, after the birth, I received lots of love and practical help from many premies. This was so different from the birth of my third child, Kyja. When she was horn no one really knew about it or seemed to care and that was only a couple of years ago!
Dixie: About a year ago we were into workshops and had an encounter night. Many of us realized then that we needed to see and know each other as whole individuals. Some of us had fallen into playing "premie roles" with each other and related only in situations of formal satsang and service. One of the nice things about being premies, however, is that with Knowledge we suddenly have a basis of relating to other people on a level more fundamental than the interplay of personalities.
Ruth: One problem that seems to come up reoccuringly is how we can become more of a family in the organic sense of the word. Four new babies came this fall and we are all learning better how to relate to these small saints. It's interesting but it isn't easy. We don't want to raise everybody else's kids but we're responsible to help each other do satsang, service and meditation.
We now have three houses within a two block area on Kentucky Street. None of the other premies' houses are very far away and it seems to happen pretty naturally that our work situations occasionally coincide. We're getting together for dinner and tea a lot, too.
Dixie: Gradually more connections of personal friendship and shared living situations as well as service projects such as our monthly newsletter are being formed. As we become involved in all levels of each other's lives, understanding grows and formal organization, committees and so forth often relax into an intuitive understanding of how we need to serve each other. This is especially true of areas such as childcare, which is a growing concern in Lawrence.
Gumer: The road has brought me to realize that each one of us is part of the rest and that we come together to recognize each other: and that which gives the reason to it is that this group of beings has the same goal: to serve our Master by means of the world or to serve our world by means of our Master.
Dixie: As we all continue to practice Knowledge, concepts continue to form and fall, compassion grows, and the illusory harriers of superficial differences between householders and "center premies," between rural and city lifestyles, even between men and women grow ever thinner. As our little community grows stronger from the "center" out, even barriers between premies and non-premies are falling and many of us are becoming involved in projects of the community at large.
Chris: There are a lot of aware and aspiring people in Lawrence. We aren't the only meditation group in town and we aren't the only together community here. We have love for each other and we have a dedicated and effective master who loves us. We have Maharaj Ji's direction to keep us focused and the freedom to learn from every experience. We have grace.
Ruth: I'm glad Maharaj Ji has a family - it makes it easier for me to understand.
Bruce: Life with Knowledge is so dynamic. I'm not even minding the bumps so much these days because I'm sincerely beginning to feel like it's not me (the real me) that's getting knocked around.
Dixie: Sometimes everything seems very chaotic, but at least for me sometimes, I look around the room at satsang and I see Knowledge shining from every face, and the gratitude I feel from being part of this whole process is very deep.
Divine Times, January 1977 17