The Golden Age
Community in the Golden Age
Four years ago, there were two premies in Australia. David Lovejoy was living in an overcrowded terrace house in Surry Hills, Sydney, telling everyone who knocked on the door about his fourteen-year-old guru. Julie Collet, back from India, was giving satsang to her friends in Melbourne.
Since then, something has definitely happened. From two premies in two cities five hundred miles apart, Divine Light Mission has grown to a family of over a thousand, and spreads from Perth to Cairns.
The experience of Knowledge is very powerful. It changes people; changes the way they live, brings them together. Even though many of us didn't have a very deep understanding of Knowledge when we received it, we had picked up on satsang enough to see that we wanted Knowledge. And we had understood at least a little that the way to get into it was to do service, satsang and meditation. So in the Knowledge session we experienced something beautiful, if somewhat incomprehensible, and set about reorienting our lives so that we could explore this thing we'd stumbled across.
For some of us, this reorient-
ation meant leaving behind half-manifested dreams of life among the gumtrees for the city, where satsang and service would be available. Others of us found that eternal rather than external orientation was necessary: ideas such as "I'm too old to do meditation" were left behind. We came from many different points - physically and mentally. And formed what have become known as premie communities. Groups people held together by an experience inside them, by a desire to see where that experience would lead.
We found that practising Knowledge gave us a lot of energy. That experience wasn't something we could keep to ourselves, it was something we wanted to share with people. So we spent a lot of time trying to tell other people about it. In 1973, that meant we wore Guru Maharaj Ji T-shirts to work, stuck posters announcing "The Second Coming" over every railway embankment in sight, shouted "The Lord is Here" to Thursday night shoppers from the back of jumble trucks.
People certainly came to find out what the fuss was about. Padarthanand had his hands full - there were Knowledge sessions every week. But after a while we began to notice that not everybody was sticking around for long after their Knowledge session. And slowly, we began to realise that this wasn't necessarily due to their own stupidity. We started to see that we, as a community, had a responsibility to give those who wanted to receive Knowledge the understanding and the environment they would need to practise it.
First of all, it came back to the experience of Knowledge in our own lives. Responsibility, Bob Mishler pointed out to us in 1974, literally means 'ability to respond'. And potentially, every premie has that ability, that responsibility, all the time. Because when you're firmly planted in Holy Name, you've got the sensitivity it takes to communicate with another human being. And if Knowledge is something you practise regularly, you understand a little of what it can do. And so you've got your own experiences of life with Knowledge to draw on whenever there's a chance to help someone open up to the love that's inside them.
Once that individual experience of Knowledge gets going, the basis for community is there. As one Sydney premie was heard to remark after Ira's first visit "everybody started doing half an hour's extra meditation, and suddenly we had a community." What remains is to get ourselves organised so that all our energy and understanding can be used in the best way. Through organisation, we can give aspirants access to the satsang they need, we can make sure that service is there for everybody.
Community grows with the premies who make it up. In January, Maharaj Ji told us this was the year for understanding and community development. Now it's April, and it feels like we're somewhere at the beginning of a process of being unfolded into that understanding and community. Every day, we're moving. Every day, our understanding of what we're doing, as individuals and as a community, grows.
Because community isn't something that stands still, waiting to be boxed into thirty-two pages of pictures and words, making a paper up about it isn't easy. In this issue of the Golden Age we've tried to take a picture of where we're at, now; a snapshot of something in motion.
So in addition to the normal news and satsang, there's an article on community development around Australia on p. 9, some news along the same lines about premies overseas on p. 6, and on p. 12, Andrew Avramides, Sydney's Golden Age correspondent, takes an in-depth look at his community.
We've included some of Ira's satsang to the Melbourne premie community - that's on p. 32 - and excerpts from Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang to the North American Community Directors late last year (p. 8). And since as David Lovejoy used to say, communication (along with communion) is what DLM communities are all about, on p. 24 we've taken the opportunity to share some satsang about the way we can present Knowledge, and ourselves, so as to relate to people as clearly as possible.
We hope you like it. The Golden Age gang.
Are you new to this?
If so, let us try to explain a little of what's going on behind the scenes here.
The Golden Age, as you've gathered by now, is a community newspaper. It's written by, and for, people who share an experience. An experience which we contact through a form of meditation taught to us by Guru Maharaj Ji.
Meditation is a way to tune in to a bit of yourself that often gets forgotten - the part that is peaceful, and constant. Constant in that it's always there; and once you've been shown how to meditate, you can tune in to it anytime. And constant in that the experience of that peaceful place inside is the same for everybody, regardless of superficial differences, like nationality, or skin colour, or philosophy.
So meditation really provides a strong basis for a community. For a start, once you've discovered a way to stay peaceful regardless of what's going on around you, you become much less demanding on your environment in general, and on people in particular. You're more likely to have something to give; there's room for cooperation. And when you know that the person next to you is experiencing the same beautiful place inside themselves as you are, there's naturally a bond between you. It's a bit like watching the sunrise with someone - you're just glad that you're both alive and able to experience something so big, and so still.
That bond isn't something you feel only for other people who do meditation. It extends to everybody, really. Because that peaceful place is inside us all, and it's easy to see that we're all simply trying to uncover it. One function of Divine Light Mission communities is to assist anyone who is interested to find out more about meditation. Because we feel it's something worth sharing, something the world can really use: a way to experience peace, individually, and together.
For further information, contact:
Divine Light Mission National Headquarters,
14 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney, N.S.W. 2010.
or your nearest Divine Light Mission centre.