Can't You feel It?
"In all fields of the arts, gifted people who are experiencing the Truth revealed to them by Guru Maharaj Ji are expanding a heavenly consciousness on Earth. Their work is to praise the living Master in all areas of life. And soon even the concept of superstar or artist will fade away, as each person's life becomes an expression of his love for the perfection revealed within him."
- September 4, 1973
Our imaginations sometimes produce elegantly poetic ways of expressing a limited vision of how the Knowledge is going to manifest. But Grace has a way of coming up with more than we expect, invariably in a different way than we expect. Now, Grace has produced One Foundation, and the growing devotion for Guru Maharaj Ji in premies' hearts is taking form in their music.
"Every time we've come together, it's been for something specific; it's really been direct service. Like we had a week to get a repertoire together before Guru Maharaj Ji came to Australia in 1975, and we rehearsed in this old sort-of bomb shelter. More or less, it was really rugged, but it was just so beautiful. Everything just seems to fit really well. There's just no conflict, because there's always been such a direct purpose."
- Lindsay Field,
guitar and vocals
The history of this devotional music group is short and sweet. Rhythm in Bliss was the "National Mission Band" of Australia in early 1974, as described in The Golden Age (Australia's equivalent to the Divine Times). All five of the current members of One Foundation played with that band for some portion of its existence, but as soon as the decision was made to try to "go professional," somehow the Grace that had supported the group's efforts was no longer so supportive. By September, 1974, Rhythm in Bliss had become the rather pretentious-sounding Band of Angels, and according to The Golden Age, was highlighting its performances with "a delightful version of I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," as well as a set of Rolling Stones' songs. It didn't last long.
Since then, the five musicians have been involved in various occupations - some musical and some taking other forms. They have come together to play music a number of times for various events, including a dance to pay the rent for Ross Hannaford's apartment, the title song for the film Power of Love and the music for Australia's latest film, Keep on Truckin'. However, their big chance came on a memorable day this past April, when they got the message that Guru Maharaj Ji wanted them to play at his London and Montreal programs.
"Derek (Australia's former national coordinator) rang me up about eight o'clock in the morning. I was still asleep. And it was just amazing. On one hand, it was blowing me out from the outside, and on the other hand it was exploding inside. I rang Joe up and told him, and he said, 'Uh oh, I have to go back to bed for a while and try to work it out.' But it was incredible; everyone was just right there. It was like Maharaj Ji had just pressed the button and everyone stood up. I had to go down to see Ross because he's not on the phone. And he stepped out of bed and almost got dressed and ready to go there and then."
- Lindsay Field
"Just working as musicians in the world, which all of us had been doing for the previous few months, you can build up all these little plans and desires to do things in the world musically. We suddenly realized that the most real thing is to actually do service for Guru Maharaj Ji. It makes everything else seem insignificant."
- Kim Field, vocals
The months since that surprise phone call have been very rewarding for the members of One Foundation, to say the least. The day after their arrival in London, Guru Maharaj Ji paid them a visit in their rehearsal studio to give them instructions. "He told us how he wanted the music to be in the program, and the whole vibe that he wanted to create was a really natural one. No hyped-up music or anything out of balance," Kim recalled several weeks later. "He just wanted a really mellow feeling in the band, and to carry all the premies along with it. But not to try to direct them in any way. He had our song list and he told us what songs he especially wanted us to play. He said that Power of Love was the hit record that brought us out there, so that we should play it really well."
Guru Maharaj Ji emphasized to the band that its purpose was to play as a back-up group for the premies. He told them that all the premies want to sing to their Guru Maharaj Ji, and that the band should play mostly songs that everyone knew and could sing along with. And if they were to do any songs the premies didn't already know, they'd better be coming from the right place.
Returning to Australia after the Montreal program, the only instruction that One Foundation had from Maharaj Ji was to make him a tape. And when the Guru Puja program was announced, it seemed up until the last minute that the band wouldn't be there. They didn't have any money, and their first trip had been paid for by contributions from the Australian premies. But just in time, the phone call came again: Guru Maharaj Ji wants One Foundation. Another quick fund-raising drive, and they were on their way.
In Miami, a satsang meeting was held with all the musicians who were to play in the program, and initiators Bill Patterson and Ira Woods attended. It was another step along the road to constant one-pointedness among musicians, since musicians' meetings in the past usually had been focused around details, not on the focal point which makes all the details
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take care of themselves. Geoff Bridgeford, who plays the drums and does many vocals, commented on what he got out of that meeting:
"We have to he really in tune, really in tune in ourselves, with the whole program, with the way the program is going. And that just takes meditation, satsang and service all the time, because it's such a changeable thing. One program can be a certain vibe, and another can be another way. Things can be so different, but Bill was saying that musicians should always try and be in tune with what's happening in that moment. And you can sort of feel that when you're on stage. You can really feel, 'Wow, the premies really want to sing,' or 'The premies really want to stamp the floor and clap their hands.' "
Geoff wrote Power of Love, God is Love, At the Feet of the Master and the recently popular Only One Love. "Maharaj Ji feels it really finely and sometimes it even comes through the intercom system," Geoff said. "One time we were told, 'Okay, Guru Maharaj Ji wants you to play Higher and Higher while the slideshow is on.' And then you'd get the direction to play a mellow song. Then later, the direction would come down, 'Guru Maharaj Ji says to really rock it out.' He's really feeling it all the time."
In Italy, Geoff felt an added touch of Grace, for the Palazzo dello Sport, where Hans Jayanti was held, was the site of the last concert he did while playing for the Bee Gees.
But this was different. Doing any service in which Maharaj Ji is personally involved is quite a challenge, and doing the music at a festival is no exception.
"You can't just go on and do your show, like you normally do in the world," remarked Joe Creighton, bass guitar and vocals. "You've really got to center on that point. And then you try to come from that point. Or else it's just weird. So I've learned to play music from Knowledge, actually. Everything I know now has really been taught to me by Guru Maharaj Ji."
* * *
After the Guru Puja Festival, the Guru Puja coordinators' conference in Miami Beach, and visits to Denver and Malibu, One Foundation returned to Australia this year to discover that the jobs they had left were no longer available. (Joe and Ross had been playing with a commercial band and Geoff is still in the middle of a possible album.) There was just plenty of time to practice Knowledge, and to await their next chance to play for Guru Maharaj Ji. It came quickly.
There is a natural inclination among the musicians in One Foundation to rehearse a lot, so that they can be in top form for a festival. But for Rome it just didn't happen that way. After a few rehearsals, there they were again playing music on Guru Maharaj Ji's stage. And it didn't even matter a bit that on the first night of the festival they only had one microphone, "scratching away on acoustic guitar," as Lindsay described it. The power of Love was present, and everyone could feel it.
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