While in Denver, David Lovejoy also obtained an interview with Rennie Davis, who helped in organising Millennium '73 and currently has an interest in a new branch of DUO, the World Welfare Association …
What are your impressions of this year's Guru Puja and what it means to premies?
My impression was almost completely centred around the change that's taken place and continues to take place in ourselves. I was just walking through the crowds of people and meeting old friends that I had not seen since Millennium in November. The image that came into my mind was like someone had come along with a sandblaster and blasted away dark lines on people's faces. We were all on the same level and the level had changed very dramatically and the internal changes were expressing themselves so much; how we were relating to each other as a family relates to each other. When Guru Maharaj Ji first came to America, there was so much enthusiasm among the premies, to let everyone know that the Lord was here and that he was in this country. We were pretty outrageous at the time. At first we had long hair and people were coming out of a drug background; they had maybe been to India and received Knowledge and come back and now they were wearing Indian dhotis and parading up and down the streets saying the Lord is on the planet, and not really making too much of an effort to communicate.
That phase continued right up to Millennium. But after Millennium, Guru Maharaj Ji seemed to take us out of action for a while, and put us in a repair shop and he really went to work on the premies. And I think Guru Puja for me was a fruit of that work; of seeing that we have come to a new place where our propagation is going to be based on just being ourselves, not so much trying to twist people's arms or lay trips on people, that we have the way, but by just demonstrating in our own lives the love that Guru Maharaj Ji has revealed to us, through working in the world on a totally new and selfless basis. This to me is where the premie community has come. So I guess my feelings are just being happy with the upliftment Guru Maharaj Ji has given the premies and seeing all of this come together at Guru Puja. We're going to go back into the world again and begin to propagate this Knowledge on a new basis.
Which brings us to the World Welfare Association.
I think the World Welfare Association is one of the major and important expressions of this new direction. Guru Maharaj Ji actually spoke to me about the World Welfare Association back in December, but then we were just speaking about an idea, and he was telling me that he really meant what he said in the Duo film when he declared that we were to feed the people in the world, clothe and shelter everyone. He felt there needed to be a separate agency that could focus just on social service; on improving the material conditions of all the needy people of the world. He stressed that it would not be an organisation of one country, that it would be a truly international effort, and that an international effort was required in order to alleviate the suffering on the planet. He compared it to a peace corps, where people from different countries would go to another country do service and that we would really interconnect across boundaries in international teams to go into economically poor areas and do service, and of course do service in our own areas. That we would build projects for the aged, for migrants, for welfare people, for prisoners, for people who have really experienced a heavy burden. Not so much to go in as religious missionaries, just to go in because we love humanity and out of this expression of that love, work for people where they're at and by that, bring people the Knowledge.
How much groundwork has been done so far, what projects are actually happening at the moment?
Well the idea of social service began in a concrete way in January in the US, and I think in most countries social service is just beginning, or at leml there's an interest in doing social service. In the I IN we've had about 850 volunteers working in about 30 cities. And the projects have ranged to most everything.
We've had our biggest success in prisons, and maybe the second largest area is noticeable results in drug rehabilitation programmes. And it's interesting to me that these have been the two areas, because most welfare workers in America generally agree that prison and drug programmes are the two areas where nobody has any solution, nobody knows what to do. What we found is that the therapy, if that's the word, that has the greatest success is love. When premies go into a prison they don't go in with any preconceptions about prisoners. To a premie, a prisoner is simply another human being, and we have a tool for a gaolbreak in a sense only it's an internal gaolbreak. We don't have to lay a trip on anybody, all we do is just be with them. Prisoners are very conscious people, very hip to whether someone is real or not. And when they meet the premies there is just that instantaneous recognition that this person is real, this person is genuine and this love that they're expressing is not a put-on.
continued on page 8
As a result, the prisoners have just been amazing. They keep asking for Divine Light Mission to come again, again, again. There are prisoners all over the country just waiting for Mahatmas to come into the gaols to give Knowledge. The effect of the Mahatmas giving Knowledge is so positive to the prisoners, that the officials begin to warm very much to us. Now in California, the California Penal Institution wants to work exclusively with Divine Light Mission as their Meditation Group, they call it. It seems like to us the reason we received this Knowledge is to do this service. To manifest this love in the world.
Has Guru Maharaj Ji given any guideline as to how the World Welfare Association will fit into DUO?
I think that Guru Maharaj Ji has seen DUO as a coalition of affiliated agencies all coming from the same point, which is Guru Maharaj Ji and this Knowledge. And so Shri Hans Education and the whole variety of agencies developing here and in other countriem, make up the composite DUO.
The World Welfare Association is the new agency in which all of the social service programmes of the Mission will be centralised and co-ordinated. I think the first step is that each Mission in every country needs to formally set up a World Welfare Association, find a co-ordinator, bring together a staff and decide where just that kind of social service could begin. Then I think what we will have to all do is to be in communication with each other about our mistakes, our successes, where we're finding the greatest response, what kind of approaches work the best.
We tried in the US a very straight approach of Satsang, films and literature about Divine Light Mission. In certain areas, like prisons and drug rehabilitation, there's such a thirst for contact with real human beings, that it went pretty well. But in other programmes we found that people felt they wanted more. It wasn't enough to come to a film of Guru Maharaj Ji, and we found a lot of the skills we have, the Knowledge we have of things of the world, we can apply in our social service work. So we are offering massage classes, nutritional courses about why we're vegetarians, home economic courses at high schools, and we're trying to apply skills that we have to our social service work. And what we discover is not so much that we have a unique contribution demand in this area, it's not so much what we bring into a programme, but it's how we bring it that really counts. Fundamentally it's the love, the genuineness of the premies who bring these skills and programmes into an organisation that in the long run really wins the organisation to Guru Maharaj Ji.
One of your experiences and skills that might be useful is that you've travelled in North Vietnam, and you probably, as well as any premie, know the situation of Communist countries like Vietnam and China.
When I first went to North Vietnam, it was 1967. The thing that struck me the most was not the terror bombing; the horror of the air war was really beyond description, but it was not the thing that made the deepest impression on me. The people underneath the bombs were beyond description, they came to represent to me an example of the most dedicated group of people who had actually come to a point in their culture of seeing the power and the beauty of selfless service and community effort. I think in many ways they are one of the great jewels on the planet. They're very inspiring people with a very reaching and beautiful culture. I cannot figure out how one might approach Vietnam with this Knowledge. There's been no people on this planet that has suffered more, and one would think that this Knowledge would be received from the top of the country to the bottom.
I guess my hopes about Vietnam and China and countries such as these are very high. It seems to me that the most conscious people in the world would be open to consciousness itself. The thing that I realise in my own service is that the question of timing is completely in Guru Maharaj Ji's hands and when an individual or when a people can actually hear Satsang, be open to Satsang, to me it's completely a matter of Grace and all we can do is be the instrument, is be open to serve him with this Knowledge when the time is right. But I see that this Knowledge is going to spread to the whole world; it may be that Knowledge has come to the darkest places of the planet first, maybe that's why Guru Maharaj Ji is spending so much time in the US. I don't know.
I think there's going to be a great joy among the people of Vietnam and the people of China when they see the Lord has come, and that he's brought a tool to transform the human race. Without a tool of this sort, they have made the most dramatic and impressive efforts towards trying to deal with the cause of suffering, and trying to understand that in the realm of consciousness, both individual and social consciousness, we have to find the solution. It's not to say that they won't have all the resistances and all the cynicism that many people have, who have a -view of how it's supposed to be. The concepts that they have are the ways they worked in the past. But certainly the people of China and of Vietnam have been very much involved in the search for peace and I think have been limited. Perhaps out of those limitations they'll be very open and receptive to what is really the way.
I've gathered that since Millennium you've been re-contacting friends and mending fences a bit, and showing people maybe that it's not so weird to be a premie. But how do you experience having found the politically aware people in America this year, because it seems from abroad that nothing's happening?
I think that's what we're finding; that people, especially young people in industrialised countries after the event of a nuclear bomb, seem very much to be of a common mind. There was really a vision that we shared, that we could bring peace, that we could stop the insanity and madness of nuclear holocaust. That vision I think was especially strong in America. It caught up the lives of millions of people. I just see people who can't quite understand where everyone went, what happened to that dream, why the vision was broken, and it seems like every effort we made was blocked or frustrated. It just seems like the dream itself was washed away.
But premies are completely alive with that vision are confident now as never before. More and more Guru Maharaj Ji seems to be bringing the whole world to a place where we can talk again, and where once being a premie or being a devotee of Guru Maharaj Ji was seen as completely outrageous, ridiculous, a cop out, now people no matter how they feel, really want to talk. Everybody wants to sit down and find out why we're doing this and what we really think. I feel very hopeful that the generation will be reunited again and the vision will be completely reborn.
I think that we did come to the earth for this purpose and Guru Maharaj Ji let us try it ourselves first, to bring us to a place where everyone can experience in their own life that we can't do it by ourselves. That it requires another way, the way of devotion, the way of humility, the way of surrender, letting life itsel manifest itself to carry out the dream. When we c become complete instruments for this dream, the will express itself. I think we're right now where all the trips have run out and everyone is at a place where they're ready to talk.
Is there anything you would like to say that I haven't covered?
Well, I've been very moved by the devotion of Australia for a long time. I don't know if it was an organised effort or not, but it seemed like the heart of every premie in your country just poured out in streams of callings and letters to Guru Maharaj Ji and Bal Bhagwan Ji. All the members of the Holy Family and both Guru Maharaj Ji and Bal Bhagwan Ji spoke to me about the devotion in Australia and showed me letters they were getting. The letters were really beautiful and I was really moved by that. There was this feeling like if that love that we feel when we're experiencing separation from the Holy Family could just be directed 24 hours a day in service to Guru Maharaj Ji by serving humanity, then it would be no time at all before you bring the people of Australia as a nation to the Feet of Guru Maharaj Ji. And this, is just true of us all.