Last year Maharaj Ji planted the seed of community in our hearts and this year returned to see it blossom into the flower of an international family. Pacific Guru Puja '75, the festival for premies from "the bottom of the world", as Maharaj Ji described it, took us into the realisation of a unity beyond all geographical and conceptual barriers.
Five days before the festival begins, noticeable signs of its imminence appear - less pieces of paper in the "In" tray, larger crowds at satsang, the arrival of international guests. Marino Amico flies in to check out the security; Michael Dettmers, assistant international director of the Mission, fathoms the strength and weaknesses of the festival organisation; Mahatma Padarthanand Ji and Julie Collet OT increase the shine on already beaming faces. Obviously something is about to happen.
Meetings become a way of life as the tailend of questions is resolved: how should the premies get from their hotels to the Showground, what colour should we print the festival program? Big events have a momentum of their own. and once put into motion the repair of misplaced details must be left to Grace while the organisers just go along for the ride. The last few meetings become general satsang - not to worry if someone sends Maharaj Ji's chairs to the Suttor Kitchen instead of the programs, but to remember who you're serving and fix the problem yourself.
Early Friday morning, October 17, Perth touches down at Kingsford Smith airport to be greeted by the TLC ushers who escort them through breakfast at the airport restaurant and on their coach ride to the Grantham Lodge Hotel, part of the arranged accommodation for interstate and overseas guests. Perhaps the most most envied touchdown of the day is those New Zealand premies who arrive on the same flight as Guru Maharaj Ji.
The festival system tests its reflexes: meals get underway at the Suttor Kitchen; the information centre at William Street begins answering a stream of questions that in two days will seem endless. A mellow program, featuring satsang from Mahatma Padarthanand Ji and Choutubai Patel, director of the Mission in Fiji, is staged at the Ford Pavilion in the Showground.
Late Friday night (11 pm.) work begins on the Capitol Theatre. Where Maharaj Ji is to walk to the stage, a tunnel is built, bright orange cloth draped onto a wooden framework. Those working on the festival take on tired eyes but something very awake lightens their heart as their efforts become part of a festival not their own but a gift of Grace.
Saturday the rest of the states arrive; an afternoon of smiling faces and renewing friendships at the airport. For some it is just enough time to change into fresh clothes at the hotel and catch the bus downtown to the Capitol Theatre program
One Foundation Rock'n Roll and Reggae at Balmain Town Hall
THE CAPITOL THEATRE
The Capitol roof is painted blue for sky, and various plaster logs and lintels project from the walls to create the flimsy illusion of a Spanish courtyard, peopled by Greek statues. With the seats hidden by premies and some up-tempo music from One Foundation, the theatre takes on a less unreal aspect.
The Pacific premiere screening of The Family of Love, introduced by Michael Dettmers, brings home the reason for us gathering together. The film portrays Maharaj Ji's and Durga Ji's wedding, the newly-born Premlata, the colours and joy of the Holi festival, the family of love. The satsang this night, featuring Mahatma Padarthanand and Derek Harper, Australian director, reflects the growth of the family, how Knowledge can take us beyond limitations of country and idea. We're not really Australians, New Zealanders or Fijians, but citizens with passports to the ultimate source.
This night only one limitation seems to matter - the short mile and the heart's impatience between a certain hotel and a crowded theatre. 10:30 pm see the barrier removed - Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji arrive to renew a visual bond still held vividly by older premies and to give the first glimpse of their love to the recent year's gathering of devotees. And a new joy to us is to watch Premlata playing on stage with a yellow toy elephant, with microphone leads, flowers, anything within reach.
In his opening satsang of the festival, Maharaj Ji welcomes us all to the first Pacific Guru Puja and explains the importance of Guru worship. He then goes on to describe the well in which we trap our ourselves by building with the rocks of our concepts and and throwing away the ladder of Knowledge. After all, he explains, it is the mind's service to freak us out, it is the spider's tendency to trap itself in its own web. That's fairly obvious. But there is one thing that Maharaj Ji declares he does not understand. Man thinks he is so intelligent with his fantastic technology but he is like a swinging pendulum, making the mistake of forgetting how it really is "again and again and again".