Unity: Old and New
by Alan Cunningham

p16a (45K) The sun goes up, the sun goes down,
The whole world keeps spinning 'round.
I love you and you love me.
And that's how simple life can be.

* * *

There is something special about the children. If you hadn't noticed. Watch them play. Watch their faces. Listen to their laughter, observe the now-and-then tears and even the fights as they come. Just watch and listen.

The children. They are already here and now.

Build a world that's clean and fresh and nice and new, the way we all wanted it to be all along. Build it gently and carefully. Not too fast, not too slow. Just carefully, with love. Look around for the elements that need to be treated with the most care.

The children, of course. And the flowers.

Take a child. Nurture her. Let him be. Allow her to flow through the wondrous stages of natural growth. Love him. Shelter her, care for him, let the energy work inside. Let stillness surround her. Let him be a flower, a bird, a tree.

Let her be.

Out here, in the Big World, where we Do Things, we pretend to be doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs. And teachers. How do you learn to be a teacher? Thousands of books have been written. Millions of words. College courses and college degrees. Theories. Systems.

Can it be we'll find that the Ultimate System, the Perfect Theory is … just … to let the children grow, inside and outside, without getting in the way?

* * *

p16b (53K) It has been more than a year now since the Portland festival, when a sister from nearby Eugene, Oregon, passed through the darshan line and handed a small note to Bill Patterson.

Karen Gottlieb, director of the New Day nursery school in Eugene, had written: "Thanks for the beautiful service. Thank you and I love you."

Premies in Eugene hoped Maharaj Ji would visit the school and the retreat in that city not far from Portland. He didn't, but he responded to Karen's note with one of those offhand-yet-significant comments which can completely alter the course of premier' lives.

"They should just start calling themselves Unity School," he said, "and they should get in touch with Denver and communicate."

Word of this brief exchange got back to the faculty at Denver's Unity School more quickly than it reached Karen Gottlieb and the New Day staff. For reasons probably understood only by Maharaj Ji, Bill didn't get the chance to tell Karen about it until five months later, just before a week-long teachers conference in Denver.

Meanwhile, the Denver teachers were struck with the realization that only Maharaj Ji understands what it takes to make a Unity School. By comparison with the relatively simple daycare project in Eugene, Denver's Unity had become a large and well developed program.

Yet the two had something vital in common: Each was staffed by teachers who were strong in their devotion to Guru Maharaj Ji and their practice of his Knowledge.

Karen got the word from Bill just as she and the other teachers in Eugene were putting the final touches on a detailed report they'd been preparing for Maharaj Ji. Hastily, she prepared to leave for Denver.

Now, she had agya to communicate with Unity School. And, in Denver, this same agya caused the planners of the teachers conference to ask themselves a question: What did they have to share with

The answer came back loud and clear: All they had to share was satsang.

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p17a (56K) Since then, the school in Eugene has come close to completing its first year under the Unity School banner.

So what is a Unity School?

In Denver, it's a program which began in the fall of 1973 with a first grade and sixth grade in a little cluster of cottages. Now, with grades one through five, it operates in a beautifully remodeled apartment house at 1225 Emerson Street.

Early this year, it also took over a nearby building which had been the Denver community center for the past year and a half.

With the purchase of a new and much larger community hall several miles to the south, various Mission coordinators pondered whether to sell the old center or hang on to it.

As always, Grace settled the matter. The school dipped into a reserve fund, arranged a refinancing plan for the building and - with encouragement from Bill Patterson - moved in.

Michael Blakemore, the principal, is delighted. The building needs work, and the school will have to launch a fundraising drive to get it done before next fall, but when the work is completed, the new facility will more than double the amount of room available to Unity.

Its main hall will be an auditorium. And the teachers plan to take their classes there for afternoon projects. They're also hoping to build a science laboratory, a woodworking area and a pottery shop.

Michael envisions the building as an ideal location for classes in drama, speech, music and movement, as well as gym classes in cold weather. It also seems likely that Unity's sixth and seventh graders will be housed there when Unity expands to fill all the space in its present home.

In Eugene, Karen and her six full time teachers, aided by eight assistants, a cook and others who do various forms of service, are learning the same lesson that keeps coming home to their brothers and sisters in Denver: Grace will take care of the physical needs, but something subtler and much more beautiful is what really sets Maharaj Ji's schools apart from all others.

Currently, they're operating under a $21,000 federal grant, and most of the 36 youngsters from ages 2½ through 6 are from non-premie families. The school declares in its literature that it "is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a religious school.

p17b (78K) "We do not intend to teach the children meditation. Meditation is not for children. It is a difficult discipline for adults."

At the same time, the Oregon premies explain to newcoming parents that the staff is made up entirely of people who practice Maharaj Ji's Knowledge. The effects of this, they explain, are positive ones. They make the children feel secure, enjoying the company of their teachers and feeling good about themselves.

As members of a community council which brings together teachers from other daycare programs in Eugene, Karen and the others have discovered that their associates speak of Unity School with great respect.

Inside, they know the praise really goes to the one who is keeping it - and them alive.

"It's just our incredible pleasure to do it," Karen says. "We are 15 people, all together, doing service."

Every day, the children in Eugene enjoy an art project and a story. Once a week, the story blossoms into a play or a puppet show. Sometimes, the fairy tales spark a spontaneous discussion among the youngsters about the meaning of life.

The oldest children, who are at the kindergarten level, are encouraged to concentrate their exploding energy. And sometimes the little folks get simple but perfect lessons in such things as sharing.

And, all the while, the premies there see the fruits of meditation flowing into a continuing experience of love.

Michael Blakemore says he gets hundreds of letters from premies everywhere - most of them parents who want to keep track of what the Denver school is doing. He feels his job is to assure that Unity remains "impeccable, with a fine curriculum - and to make sure the children keep on having that beautiful experience."

In another of those offhand comments to Bill, Maharaj Ji

March, 1978    17

p18a (69K) said last fall that he hopes, in time, to see a country boarding school developed under the Unity School banner. As he always has, Maharaj Ji continues to send his love to the school in the form of gifts, messages and initiators who drop in from time to time.

Referring to Unity as "a very special place," Michael says Maharaj Ji's directions haven't changed over the years. He simply wants a school where anybody can send their children to get a good education.

Denver's Unity remains unique in one respect.

"It is still the prototype, the only elementary school in the world that exists by Guru Maharaj Ji's agya."

But a funny thing is happening. Premie parents in Eugene have expressed interest in seeing the daycare program grow into an elementary school. And, in Denver, Unity is looking at the idea of setting up a daycare center in the onetime community center.

Last year, soon after learning that the New Day school was going to start calling itself by a beautiful new name, Karen Gottlieb wrote these words from Eugene:

"Being Unity School doesn't change anything. It's not like we are to be like Denver or they like us. Just to share our common experiences as individuals realizing Guru Maharaj Ji together."

She went on to say that, as premier and teachers, "We believe, and experience, love is the most effective method, love that is more than sentiments, concepts or emotions. The love that sustains our lives, breath to breath. The love that sustains all of creation.

"We have discovered there is only one way to nurture this experience in each child and that is to realize this consciousness moment-to-moment, ourselves, by practicing this Knowledge an taking advantage of his Grac and darshan."

In putting together her report for Maharaj Ji, Karen asked parents how they felt about New Day. The parents talked most about the love, the "warm vibration," and the "attitude of peace, calm and responsibility" which they say in the teachers.

To Karen, such comments were only a reflection of the Grace and Love put forth by the one person who really understands what it takes to make a Unity School.

In the end, the kids often have the last word. That also seems to be true at Unity School in Eugene, where the often sing the little song that appears at the top of this article:

The sun goes up, the sun goes down,
The whole world keeps spinning 'round.
I love you and you love me.
And that's how simple life can be."

* * *

Build a world that's fresh and clean and new. Build it gently and carefully, with love

Especially for the children. Maharaj Ji's children.

p18b (92K)

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