The Golden Age
Looking up from Sydney DLM headquarters at 63 William Street to Kings Cross at the top of the road, you could imagine that you're being revealed the one thing that is true. All day and all of the night it's there in neon glory: a giant sign that proclaims Coke to be the Real Thing.
As a premie living in Sydney you can see how hard people are searching. Kings Cross, with its ladies-in-waiting, strip joints, and all-night coffee lounges is there to entice every sailor, tourist and trendy in Sydney. In the city, there's people running in and out of shops, buses and cars screaming past, music blasting out of boutiques. It's non-stop!
And yet these are simply human beings who are trying to fill the gap in their lives with whatever society can provide. All they lack is the simple understanding that what they're looking for is inside.
We as premies are Guru Maharaj Ji's hands, and lately in Sydney we have started to really feel that connection. Looking back over the years from the Second Coming campaign to Guru Maharaj Ji's program at the Opera House, you can see we've changed. The Sydney community has moved from simply a bunch of ex-freaks practising Knowledge to what a community should be - 'a friendship between premies - premies who are dedicated to Guru Maharaj Ji.'
Gone are the bholie-shris after after every song, the nosedive pranams and the WPC. Going, also are the distinctions that used to exist between 'The Administration' and the rest, 'The Ashram Premies' and the rest.
While so many of the early frills have disappeared, Guru Maharaj Ji's direction has remained. When you look at what's made the community evolve, it's service, satsang and meditation. And when you see what it's evolving towards, it's to a point where service, satsang and meditation are available to, and being done by, premies in every life-style.
The Sydney community took a large step forward with the separation of national and regional headquarters in July 1975. National stayed at 14 Wentworth Avenue, while regional shifted to 63 William Street, Kings Cross. With room to move, we naturally grew.
The regional administration has changed somewhat since then, but basically it consists of the Community Director, Communications Coordinator, Programs Coordinator, Treasurer and Operations Coordinator,
Paul Mayberry is the new Community Director, taking over from Gregg Sherwood, who recently moved to Hobart. Paul's service is to oversee all the community, making sure that Maharaj Ji's direction is being carried out through his administration, so that every premie can tune in.
Pauline Philipp - The Communications Coordinator - is the link between the community premies, the DUO staff and the Community Director. She's not so much responsible for the contents of communication as for the actual systems of relaying information. She uses the newsletter, community meetings, and AMP to make sure that the premies stay in tune with what's going on.
Kim Field is the Programs Coordinator and this involves her in coordinating all programs within the community. These are the outreach programs including public programs, nightly and satellite satsang, WWA and PLA, the aspirant program and community services. Kim admits that at the beginning of the year, she was concentrating too much on the aspirant program and as a result there weren't enough premies who were sufficiently clear to handle the influx of aspirants. The lesson came through loud and clear that the community needed more attention before outreach could be done effectively.
To help the community to develop, two Premie Education Workshops are being held. They run for four weeks, two nights a week, with about twelve premies in each workshop. Topics covered include service, satsang, Guru Maharaj Ji, and community awareness, and there's an in-service day planned, as well. At the end of the seminar there will be a Knowledge Review with Julie. These seminars aim to provide a place where premies can come together to share satsang, thereby deepening their appreciation of Knowledge and strengthening their connection to Guru Maharaj Ji's guidance. Because there are many more premies who are wanting to join in, more workshops will be happening in weeks to come.
As the Treasurer, Peter Murphy is the person designated to record financial information in an appropriate accounting system, and to provide financial management reports as they are needed. He works closely with Paul to give information, counsel and feedback on financial planning and decision-making.
David Johnston is in charge of Operations, which entails coordinating security, transport and distribution. He's also been responsible for organising the service pool, which has been set up for premies who want to do service, but can't quite see where they can fit in.
Other activities that happen around 63 are prenatal classes, yoga lessons, cooking classes (at Mosman ashram) and a massage clinic. The massage clinic is very popular: for $2 you can be massaged by one of many enthusiastic premies, and generally you have to book at least a week in advance.
Rotating satsang has been introduced every Monday night with venues on both sides of the Harbour Bridge. It can take place at any premie household which is suitable, and has been so successful that quite often there's not enough room for everyone to fit in. Lisa and Peter Foster have a flat near
Bondi Beach, where satsang is held once a month.
"It began with Gregg coming over one night for tea," Peter explains. "He just looked around and said 'This is quite a big place you've got here.' and next we knew he was phoning up to ask if we wanted to hold satsang. I was really pleased because I needed a push anyway; I've been wanting to become more actively involved. It's been as if I've been sitting in the car with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake, not really going anywhere. And this is really helping me to move forward."
"It's brought me closer to Maharaj Ji," says Lisa. "Living with one other person alone in a house I have felt in the past that we had to go to the Mission; I never thought of our place as part of DLM. Then we had some people from the centre at Terrigal staying here, and I realised that ice were the Mission; that it's us, not the buildings that count. Having satsang here has strengthened that understanding. And also, it's strengthened my bond with Maharaj Ji, and my devotion in practising Knowledge. It's thven me more of a desire to meditate, to do it and be really strong in Knowledge."
On the weekend of April 3rd and 4th, two hundred premies and aspirants went on a meditation retreat. The days were filled with plenty of meditation, service and satsang as well as time for swimming in the river.
With Ira there, premies were inspired to put more effort into their meditation and the whole weekend went so smoothly that you could easily have believed that we had been living there all our lives. It felt like a community: there were no distinctions. All that existed was Guru Maharaj Ji. And that's the only real link that exists between us, because that is love.