David Lovejoy has been DUO Director of Australia since the Mission's small beginnings in 1972 as an ashram in Surry Hills, Sydney. On his last birthday, he received news of an unexpected gift. He is to become the national servant of a larger premie community - the British Mission. David's Australian duties will now be taken on by Derek Harper, former finance director. The Golden Age interviewed David shortly before his departure.
What was your first reaction to the news of your change in service?
Stark terror! No, really I was a bit surprised at first, but then I felt a flood of gratitude that Maharaj Ji was entrusting me with a service that would most probably bring me closer to him physically - after all England is larger, numerically speaking, than Australia, and closer to Maharaj Ji's American base. Then I realised that in itself that was not so important as the opportunity to grow stronger in Knowledge through accepting a more demanding responsibility.
You once mentioned that the Mission's history is full of perfect coincidences and split-second timing. What measure of aptness and timing do you see in this change, for yourself personally and for the Australian and British Missions?
Well, for myself personally this change comes, just like all the things Maharaj Ji sends us, at a significant juncture in my life. As you know, this is a very happy time for us because Wendy has just had our second child, Claire, so for us the family trip is pretty well established, and leaves us looking for more and more avenues of service. And then again the initial object of my coming to Australia seems to have worked out, and so maybe my role here is tapering off anyway. As far as the British Mission is concerned, I don't have enough first-hand knowledge to guess what I might have to contribute. As a matter of fact, things in England sound more mellow and together than they have for a long time. So perhaps this is really just a quiet retirement!
I guess we all feel at times that we have our certain niche in propagation, one particular role to fulfil. The unexpected news of your departure holds lessons for all of us. What major lessons of a surprise nature has Maharaj Ji taught you during your time as Australian DUO Director?
Never to predict what Guru Maharaj Ji is going to do next, and never to hold concepts about what I think he ought to do next. We've all been through so many changes in the last few years, had so many surprises, and all of them have had the effect of throwing us back on Holy Name as the only ever-present element in our experience, and Guru Maharaj Ji's agya as the only dependable wisdom. I'm sure I'm not alone in learning that lesson, and come to think of it there aren't really any individual lessons at all. We're all enrolled on the same course with the same syllabus: only the external circumstances and sometimes the order of the lessons vary. And I suppose that in a way all lessons that you recognise as such are surprise lessons; the other sort steal too softly and gently into your life for you to remember when it was that you didn't know what you've since learnt.
In my service as DUO Director, one thing I used to notice was how amazingly interconnected all events in the Mission are. At the time Maharaj Ji started internationalising us, for example, and we all had to begin cooperating more, and indeed submitting more to a central organisational structure, whenever I felt like digging in my heels and saying, you know, we can do that better here, or why should we have to consult Denver on this, then immediately someone here in Australia out in the bush somewhere would say the same thing to me about cooperating with Sydney. And the point is that I'd be in a position to know, from a dozen different angles, why it should be handled in a national way and I could see exactly how and why the local centre was caught up in a lack of overall perspective. So it wasn't hard to catch the lesson: trust each other on all levels and Maharaj Ji's perfect direction will flow down into every part of our lives.
And if we've learned to trust each other, how much more should we have learned to trust Maharaj Ji. You know how it is: we can all remember times when our limited perspective has made us see something one way but Maharaj Ji has said that it's another. So we trust him and pretty soon he's taken us to a place where we can see that it's as he said, because we've got higher and can see further. On the other hand, if we don't have that trust, and just say wait a minute I'm not going any further with you because I don't like what you're telling me, then it amounts to judging the Guru and in that case we're in no condition to learn anything. lf we want to have a Guru who conforms to our ideas and notions about the spiritual path, we can take our pick: there are thousands in India ready to please our minds. There's even a fair few in Australia these days. But there's only one Perfect Master, one Satguru, who has the strength, the insight, and the love for us, to keep leaping over all customs and appearances in his efforts to bring us home. And when we put our trust in him, it is repaid a thousandfold.
It's been said many times (and is obviously true) that we are all just little children in this Knowledge. Is it hard to maintain that perspective and at the same time serve out an administrative role which demands responsibility and entails giving direction?
Well, it's hard to do anything if you think you're really doing it. It's true that in administrative matters, while following the overall international direction, we have a great measure of autonomy. There has to be, in order to respond appropriately to the Australian condition. But that doesn't mean that the so-called administrators in Wentworth Avenue have to be managerial wizards. We all have to be devoted, just like any premie anywhere, and meditate a lot. So I don't think it's hard to keep the perspective of being little children on this path - who would ever believe otherwise! As a matter of fact I have a theory about administrators, and older premies in general, the famous "wet logs" theorem which I believe came originally from Maharaj Ji himself, Just as you bring the wettest wood closest to the fire first to dry it out, so the first premies that Maharaj Ji collected in the West had the freakiest minds and the furthest to travel towards peace. Of course there are just as many younger premies doing responsible service these days as there are "wet-logs", but I know that for myself the analogy still holds good. Doing this service I naturally get to hear many people's stories, and so I am constantly confronted with examples of Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace and compassion and furnished daily with proof of the power that Knowledge has to completely rehabilitate and spiritualise the most hopeless lives. So I wonder whether perhaps I might not be the wettest log of all to be the recipient of such tremendous external support!
It sometimes seems as if from overseas the Australian Mission looks together. To what extent do you think this is true, and what else can we do to make our communities strongholds of devotion to Maharaj Ji?
There's a saying isn't there, "Distance lends enchantment to the view"? Missions are very much part of whatever country they're in, and Australia has so far, through fortunate geography escaped the worst of our planet's problems. And anyway, the extent that DLM here is together or not is the extent to which we've obeyed Guru Maharaj Ji's agya to us. You remember when he was in Sydney last October, he said we've got to do it on our own because we're too far away from help! And the extent to which we keep obeying his agya will determine how our community develops in the future.
Someone was saying in satsang the other night how Guru Maharaj Ji derives immense strength simply from follow ing the agya of his Guru, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj. He was told to take this Knowledge to the world, and by goodness he's doing it. Without hesitation, without fear for his reputation, he is making sure that everyone gets a chance to hear about Knowledge. And he is telling us too that we must propagate. If we obeyed him a hundredth so well as he is obeying, we would turn this continent upside down. We should discover such strength in ourselves that would overcome all obstacles. And really propagation is the only way to make our communities stronger: it's the whole reason for our organisation. What we anticipate in Australia for the rest of this year is a thorough development of introductory satsang programs and pre-Knowledge courses, backed up by a whole range of new literature. The WWA activities have cleared the way for this splendidly, just as Maharaj Ji said they would.
Of course you'll be seeing all this from the enchanted distance?
Yes, insofar as distance has the power to separate us. I confess it will be strange for a while to interchange national identities once again, just as I'd become used to being an Australian. I like it here. There are many brothers and sisters who will be sorely missed, not the least being Mahatma Ji. But you know we are all present together all the time at His Lotus Feet, and where we park our bodies is entirely at his disposition, and in the last reckoning unimportant. And of course DLM Australia is going to be well served by having Derek as the new Director.