The Satsang Party
by Charles Cameron
The Pacific Coast Highway must he one of the loveliest stretches of road in the world. As Maharaj Ji said at Guru Puja, "It wasn't just perfect enough to have just ocean and waves; they had to crash on beach, on beautiful rocks, and make beautiful formations…"
Normally, a traveller's eye would be caught up in such majesty of rock and wave. Today, however, the Pacific Coast Highway has nothing to offer. Our eyes are not drawn outwards. The siren beauty of creation cannot lure us. Like Picasso at an exhibition of his sketches, the Creator captures our full attention, and we hardly notice his creation.
The coastal highway seems like a painted backdrop, picked up from a studio in Hollywood long after the film it was made for has been seen and forgotten.
We have eyes only for our destination.
* * *
The road up the hill that leads to the residence must be another of the most amazing places in the world. Not this time because of any physical beauty, but because the eyes of Maharaj Ji have spilled their loving gaze on each rock, each fern, each sapling on that hill so often, they have taken leave of the realm of plant life, and entered the kingdom of heaven.
We are walking up the hill to Maharaj Ji's residence, we are approaching the one whose presence melts each slight resistance of our timid hearts. And as we approach, it is as though a tide turns inside us, and comes in. The air is thick with love.
Already we are feeling a clarity and joy that is unheard of in the world below and behind us, the world of supermarkets and highways which we so recently left behind. And we still have three quarters of a mile to climb.
At last the residence comes into sight, festooned with two great arcs of balloons, white like a mosque in the desert sun, its walled garden green and lush like the secret garden of the heart.
We enter in at the gate. We enter the celestial city, paradise, garden of the gods, we enter the Beyond by a small gate set in a white wall. We stand there, breathe, perhaps smile. We have come home. For once, there is nothing to say.
* * *
Is that Maharaj Ji in the helicopter, silver and blue like his Lagonda racing jacket, taking off from the other side of the house, metallic colors glinting against the sky? Is that Maharaj Ji waving? How can the eyes tell? How can the heart fail to leap?
Maharaj Ji comes out of the house. He is wearing a chocolate brown open-neck shirt and tan sweater, warm and rich as the soil, he is standing there calm and poised and relaxed and noble and sure and proud and humble and gorgeous and regal and real and divine and perfect and so present and personal and he speaks to us, "Dear premies …"
I can only tell you my own feelings. Maharaj Ji is at once lion and friend and brother and teacher and dove and eagle and savior and ocean and sky and breath and mirror and gentle lover and ruthless truth unmasking my every weakness.
And as I hear his satsang attend, I strain, I crane my neck, reach out towards him. But I do not cross my threshold. I do not feel that amazing, that other love, that only comes when my efforts to contact him come to rest. The love that comes when I am stilled, and his own gift of love to me within me begins to appear.
It is a matter of the water settling, before the face of the moon can be seen. It is a question of the heart being pure, before the unicorn can appear. It is simply that the mind must be still, if the silence is to be heard.
And there is a threshold, a transition I go through when my own attempt to reach Maharaj Ji, my attempt to extend my eyes as if on stalks, to look more, to see further, fails. And I glide to rest.
I know that threshold, I know that transition better than I know my own name. Because it is the curtain lifting, the body consenting, worries evaporating, the heart arising, the waters stilling, and the perfect kingdom forming within me again.
So to be before Maharaj Ji, listening intently, and not to feel it, not to pass through it, not to brush that curtain aside and enter his kingdom … To be in the garden of the residence of my beloved, in his presence, and still feel a separation … that is almost too much to bear.
And he is sitting not forty feet away from me, radiant as a young sunrise, speaking.
* * *
Maharaj Ji finishes his satsang and goes into the residence.
He sends Bill Patterson out to give us satsang. We are all milling around, forming lines, collecting plates and eating the food that has been provided for us. Food, provided for us inside the grounds of Maharaj Ji's own private house. His care for us is so astounding, he lets us picnic right here in his own garden, he offers us food to cat.
For myself I can say I am one third focused on Bill's satsang, and two thirds on the food. The satsang lasts a while, then Bill goes into the residence. Maharaj Ji sends Michael Dettmers out, with a special message for us. Maharaj Ji has been watching us from behind a curtain, and has noticed we are not paying very much attention to the satsang.
8 Divine Times
It is a dart, a reproof directly to me, to us all, from the hand of the Lord. And it reaches us. There are no defenses against his darts.
Satsang, Maharaj Ji tells us, is the most precious thing in the world.
Wounded, sobered, quieted, mellowed, we listen more attentively now. Joan Apter gives satsang, tells us how a premie in Missoula, Montana was in tears as Maharaj Ji's satsang was broadcast over the telephone feed. We, who were present before him and heard him in person, were not. It is the second dart, and again it reaches me.
By now, Maharaj Ji has indicated that we should tiptoe onto the grass and sit down to hear the rest of the satsang. It is getting cold, and quite dark. I have closed my eyes by now, lost track of time and place. I have quite forgotten that I am in Maharaj Ji's garden, that it is his birthday. I am only aware of the current of John Hampton's words.
A tap on my shoulder. Maharaj Ji has come back out. I open my eyes, remember where I am. And then the third dart.
As Maharaj Ji looks on from his balcony, John Hampton is telling us it is possible to be fully connected, fully one with Maharaj Ji while on the other side of the world from him physically … And, the story runs, equally possible to be distant, separated from him, while standing before his face.
Maharaj Ji is not throwing a party, he is giving a teaching. He is holding a satsang program, and telling us that darshan depends on the strength of our connection within.
We have been before him and not opened to him. We have borne his threefold reproach (I do not believe I was alone in feeling this). And now that satsang has brought us into focus, he can open up our hearts.
* * *
Maharaj Ji emerges from the house wearing his tuxedo. It is quite dark now, and the fairy lights that decorate the house add a warm glow to his smiling face.
He seems glad now of any excuse to linger with his premies. He hands his microphone to Hansi, Premlata, Claudia and Raja Ji for their comments, thanks us over and over again for coming, and says "good night" to us at least three times.
And then, after repeated requests, he comes down the little slope in front of his house, right into the middle of the assembled premies, blows out the candles and cuts his cake.
Maharaj Ji in his tuxedo, a warm gold against the black of the night.
I trembled, I laughed, I cried. I am sure we all loved him, loved him beyond words. beyond all reason, loved him for all he has given us, then loved him some more.
We stood there in the cool night air, and we watched enraptured as Maharaj Ji joked and played with a few of the children who had come to be with him on this special day. He must have stayed talking with them twenty minutes, half an hour.
D'you think you're Buggsy Malone? Do you like girls? You don't? You prefer cake? That helicopter I was flying in today does 140 miles an hour. If I invited you back some other time and gave you a cake the size of the house, would you eat it all? You would? How would you like to take a bath in a tub of yogurt?
It was incredible to watch, and time seemed to stretch for ever. But at last Maharaj Ji went back inside, telling us to have a beautiful walk back down the hill, and bidding us a final good night.
And so we walked down the bill in his agya, hearts filled to overflowing, under a canopy of his stars.
November/December, 1977 9