In the Horticultural Pavilion during the Sunday Fair and in the following Monday, the premie community came together to exchange ideas and experience in a series of workshops. We've recorded below some of the major information relevant to the different fields of interest:
Environmental Harmony ran all day Sunday with people coming in and asking questions of David Crossley, premie co-editor of The Way Out, a documentary book of radical social alternatives, and Jerry Smith, marine biologist.
A wind generator was on display along with numerous books and articles on living in harmony with the land and people.
A talk on solar heating was presented and slides covering projects such as the use of a wind generator were shown as well as Jerry Smith's presentation of forming an environmental harmony advisory company.
COMMUNITY AWARENESS AND PROPAGATION
This workshop began with John Perry outlining the perspective he had gained from Michael Dettmers - that we should consider all community activities done in service of Guru Maharaj Ji as propagation. That propagation includes all community activities such as introductory programs and Soul Foods because they are all interdependent on each other.
Peter Edge from Hobart outlined some examples of community development including the Sunday Community Day, which begins in the morning with yoga and meditation, and develops into meetings, lunch and WWA service in the afternoon.
Cathy Starrs from Melbourne led discussion on the importance of being in co-ordination with the local DLM director when undertaking community activities, especially as the DLM director can give the latest perspective gained through the connection of national headquarters to international headquarters to Guru Maharaj Ji. She mentioned that Melbourne had opened up new areas of community awareness by developing and maintaining parents' satsangs and household satsangs.
A great deal of exchange followed about introductory programs. Rick Allen from Brisbane made the point that the community is the basis of propagation and that understanding ourselves through meditation, service and sats-
ang gives us the clarity to cooperate with the programs set out by Maharaj Ji.
SURFING AND THE INNER GAME
Ken McNicol initiated the workshop with the suggestion that a means could be found to utilise surfing for propagation. Matthias Bretscher then introduced the Inner Game principle, pointing out our particular sport can be understood and performed more clearly from the standpoint of practising Knowledge. And thus evolved a stimulated discussion amongst up to 40 devotees of different sports: surfing, skiing, athletics, swimming, motocross, basketball and rowing.
The first speaker, Dr. Henry Warzawski, pointed out the various resources of health care in our community and the importance of each resource working hand-inhand to serve the premies.
Kevin Ryan pointed out how naturopathy can help in some way with most illness but also emphasised the value of orthodox medicine. He also covered diet and fasting, and pointed out that sound diet will eventually make the body well but premies should also be concerned with solving immediate problems such as spine misalignment or headaches which affect meditation, service and satsang.
Dr. Chris Walker talked about mental illness and how that the real cure for mental illness is meditation and that Guru Maharaj Ji is the greatest psychiatrist. Dr. Chris is mainly involved in counselling and finds that the best remedy is love. He also stressed the importance of correct diet diet and good environment.
David Kearney explained that most people have been eating wrong foods from an early age and stressed the fact that no-one should expect to turn healthy overnight by becoming a vegetarian. It may take some years for the body to be attuned to proper living after so many years of abuse.
Rosemary Toogood rounded off the workshop by describing the value of a morning yoga routine for cleaning internal organs and stretching the muscles.
WORLD WELFARE ASSOCIATION
The WWA workshop, with about 70 people attending, opened with an introduction by Vanessa Redhead covering a definition of service as an expression of our love. Then followed talks from Graham Swift of Adelaide, Cathy Starrs of Melbourne and Ian Hipwell of Sydney on their experience and understanding of WWA.
The general theme was a very low-key approach, the principal purpose of WWA being a social service program with the intention of serving the community and providing an outlet for premie energy. It was understood generally that WWA was not an overt propagation program but that any people who were interested in what motivated premies should be treated with sensitivity and introduced very slowly and carefully to information on the Mission.
Everyone agreed to the necessity for a calm, centred, unemotional approach by WWA members and a compassionate detachment from what we are doing.
Lindsay Field gave a short talk on the growth of WWA in Australia and the direction in which we should be heading. He explained that WWA as it is is not an organisation but is intended to supply existing agencies with manpower and support. Sensitivity is needed and clear communication between states to avoid repeating old mistakes. He said that we should not be living in future dreams beyond our means but just taking it slowly step-by-step. WWA is an expression of love and of Knowledge itself and thus must be aligned with the present Mission consciousness.
The main group then broke up into small discussion groups covering the various aspects of WWA work:
Mental Health - there are programs in all states in hospitals and with retarded children. Services range from playing with children to supervising socially and mentally retarded adults sheltered workshops.
Community Services - all states are involved in activities ranging from outreach programs of pensioner vim ation through group leader ship training and build- - children's playground (Hobart).
Children and Youth - some work is being done in boys' homes with Sydney premies, being involved in activities for socially and economically underprivileged children,
Geriatrics - most of the in this field is in the form of entertainment - old time singalongs, afternoon tea and friendly chatting. Melboourne has most experience in this at present, Bill Pyman having compiled oldtimes songbooks for use in the program.
Drug Rehabilitation - Perth premies have been visiting alcoholics, talking and listening to them.
Prisons - Sydney and Melbourne undertake similar work, with teaching programs linking to existing welfare agencies. Adelaide and New Zealand have a more direct involvement, with prisoners having received Knowledge. Hobart participates in regular debates with prison teams and Perth is involved in entertainment programs.
About 200 people turned up to participate in this workshop. Dr. Henry introduced the theme - how parents and medical staff can co-operate in bringing children into the world in a peaceful and beautiful way.
Natural childbirth involves a lengthy preparation in terms of exercise, diet and mental attitude so that at the time of labour the woman can concentrate fully on meditation and the method taught in ante-natal classes.
No.24, November, 1975
Dr. Henry urged premie communities to put some of their energies and talent into getting natural childbirth happening in their areas, rather than expectant mother mothers travelling interstate to Melbourne to give birth. He then went on to speak about the relative values of home birth and hospital birth. He said that hospitals had all the facilities at their disposal. Dr. Henry also pointed out that hospital staff must be treated gently in order for them to co-operate fully with premies whose calm hospital births become a means of demonstrating the value of meditation.
A videotape called A Gift of Love - The Birth of Mati was shown, which was a record of a recent premie home birth.
The second speaker, Marion Wilson, explained her role in relating to expectant mothers in her natural childbirth classes. She explained that many women are not really aware of what pregnancy means until the time of labour. She emphasised the importance of natural diet and the Bradley method of exercise in preparing for the time of labour. The Bradley method has two main benefits in that it involves the child's father in the actual birth and that the abdominal breathing techniques lend themselves to meditation
Marion also described the Le Boyer method of immediate care for the newborn, which tries to make the transition from the womb to the outside world as smooth and gentle as possible. At the time of birth there are no bright lights, loud talking or noises; the baby is placed on the mother's stomach straight after delivery and is massaged by the mother; the umbilical cord is not cut straight away; and then the baby is put into a bath, which releases any tension.
Rob Love, a new father, pointed out that parents should be prepared to adapt to any circumstances of birth. He said that their child's birth had to be induced and although they had misgivings about this step, the doctor informed them later that it had saved the child's life. Rob emphasised that every birth situation will be different and parents must remain open to what is happening.
The talks were introduced by Rhonda Lowe. The theme of the workshop dealt with the roles of parents and teachers in helping the children in the premie community to learn.
Emphasis was placed on the need for commitment and communication. The greatest commitment of all is that of the parents playing an active part in their children's education, which should not be left to 9am to 3pm schooling. "Teachers" are also not limited to those who have taught in schools, but can involve any premie active in arts, crafts, drama, music and so on.
Ray Millikin (state school) pointed out that we cannot anticipate the setting up of a premie school for at least a few years, if we are to base it on firm foundations. Until then, parents can become more aware of what they can do to provide their children with the opportunities to learn.
Bruce Campbell (formerly of the Unity School in Denver) explained that it was not Maharaj Ji's suggestion to follow the Steiner method of education. At the Unity School, teachers had come from all different backgrounds and the only approach they could agree upon was the Steiner method which allowed for the growth of the full human being, rather than just developing intellect and particular skills. Bruce described some of the school's difficulties - the long wait before finally establishing it and the tremendous need for parent cooperation and commitment.
Judith Downes (Steiner handicapped children's school) gave examples of the advantages of the Steiner approach and displayed samples of the work done by her pupils. Parents were encouraged to teach their children arts and crafts.
Jan Sobowiak (deputy head-master of a state school in Perth) stressed the need for parent involvement and interest. He encouraged sport and hobbies, explaining that most of the children who were sent to his office had problems rising from sheer boredom.
Jenny Lennox (independent school) made some comparisons between the approach of a progressive system and the normal state school. Recommending one or the other, however, would depend upon the needs of the individual child, the child's family, the family's financial position and so on.
Rhonda Lowe then commented upon the unique situation of children in the premie community. It is actually the responsibility of the whole community in taking the initiative to educate its children.
Some suggestions were made for future children's programs. They were outings to picnics in parks, visits to farms, days at the beach, movie sessions. Afternoons or weekends could be arranged for painting sessions, children's practical workshops in arts and crafts, learning to play musical instruments, enacting plays or satsang stories.
The theme of the musicians workshop was that of understanding music as a service. Lindsay Field introduced the workshop with general satsang relating to the role of players and musicians in the premie community. Geoff Bridgford then gave satsang relating his experience of the Bee Gees, the Anand Band, Blue Aquarius, Band of Angels and more recently, One Foundation to Knowledge and music as a service. Constancy and the need to serve the premie community at regular satsang and community parties etc., were points raised, as well as plugging in via WWA activities.
The need for a PLA co-ordinator in each state became apparent as most musicians found that they needed more direction and co-ordination. The workshop was not so much a specific presentation but was more in the way of laying the groundwork for future discussion.