Centrally located in the midst of the mammoth concrete mountain range which cements the East Coast from the District of Columbia to Boston, is the beautiful community of East Orange, New Jersey. Not that everyone has sprawling backyards with swings for their kids, for there are over 19,000 people per square mile with over twelve percent of the city's residents living below the poverty level. There aren't many nights with rich star-studded blue skies, and the green rolling hills exist only under layers of civilization. What makes this area beautiful is that Guru Maharaj Ji's love is beginning to blossom.
Our community had its beginning in 1971, a week before Guru Maharaj Ji's first arrival in New York City when premies came to Bayonne, N.J., to give satsang. A week after that first program a handful of New Jersey residents received Knowledge. Shortly after, a premie house was formed locally with about ten to fifteen active premies.
In the summer of 1973 a group of people from a farm in Pennsylvania received Knowledge. Among these people was Jim Hession, our present community coordinator. Jim had experience and training in management areas and he began to organize a center. This marked the beginning of our first attempts to come together as a community.
Jim Hession: "Basically, the community was a group of people who came together in one area. Then a bunch of interactions started to happen between those people. Satsang, satsang, and more satsang. People started to open up and really share with each other. A common interest bound all of those people together. We saw that we were all here trying to experience Truth and realize Knowledge. That was our common bond of interest.
"Sometimes people get together for a variety of social reasons. Some for friendship, some for that feeling of belonging to a group, some for love, whatever it is … Guru Maharaj Ji's thing is for all of them. He has constantly stressed that he's revealing the Truth. That is our common interest at the deepest point. That is the thing which really brings us all together. So here we were, all with the same Out. We made sure that we always shared a lot of satsang, and out of that came the understanding that we were here to experience the Truth.
That was the most important point." Satsang is the key point of our focus here. We've seen that the understanding that we need as individual premies comes from satsang. It's been the lifeblood of our community. We've always put a lot of effort into making our satsang programs very concentrated and beautiful with as few physical distractions as possible and an incredible amount of concentration on the speaker. On Saturday and Sunday nights we've been showing videos and films of Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang. Sunday night is also the night for our community meeting which is being attended by practically 100% of the premies. During our community meeting, in addition to satsang, there is an open flow of information as to the latest happenings in Denver and Malibu as well as any other interesting bits of information that have occurred during the previous week.
We have a community center which comprises our offices and satsang hall. We've seen that a central facility has been a very important factor for satsang in that it provides a regular and comfortable situation for the premies to meet. Satsang takes place at this facility seven nights a week from 7:30 - 9:00 pm. At various times we've tried satellite satsang, but we've been feeling that, for us, a regular meeting place seems to aid in concentration and the feeling of togetherness as a community of premies.
In addition to our nightly satsang, we have instituted something that we call "twilight satsang." [his happens Monday through Thursday at the community center from 5:30 - 7:00 pm. This occurred as a natural outgrowth of the needs of some of the premies whose working situations make it difficult for them to attend the evening programs. Both evening and twilight satsangs are well attended, with a combined average of 7504, of the community premies in attendance on any given day.
Surrounding the main community of East Orange there are several satellite communities whose combined membership numbers about 50. Because of our well developed network of support services we're able to provide these communities with information from headquarters as well as tapes, films, and videos of Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang. In addition, a rotating group of premies from the East Orange community regularly attend satsang in the satellite communities.
So, this is our story: live years of growth with the Perfect Master. Not that we've understood the individual steps, for our perspectives as individual premies are very limited. The point of importance is that we can feel the love and understanding growing within our hearts. As one sister in the community put it: "What we're trying to do is experience Knowledge and give satsang to people. That's the real thing. That's the substance of Knowledge … The thing that I really feel is happening here in the community is that there is a good collection of really strong premies who are here to do one thing. They are all individually motivated from within. There's a really good snowball rolling in this community … I just sort of figured that it was grace all along."
- David Delson
Divine Times, March 1977 25