No. 29, May 1976
Carol and Josie with the rest of the family at Linley Point - Lindsay and Kim Field (Lindsay's the one with the cat, Kim is next to him holding Josie's baby Alice); Josie Macgregor with husband John behind; Carol and David Ransome on the right with Cristel. The only family ashram in Australia, Linley Point came together about a year ago, a few months after John and Josie moved to Sydney from Adelaide where John had been Community Director. John now works at National Headquarters, as do Lindsay and David. David and Carol, two of the first premies to arrive in Australia, are old timers on the Sydney scene.
"Rowan? Where Rowan?" The scene is Cheryl Sharpe's flat in Bondi, Sydney, and the speaker could be any of a dozen or so two-year-olds who gather together every Friday morning to socialise while their mothers attend satsang in the room next door. It's lunchtime now, and the mellow feeling generated by an hour and a half of sharing our experiences is still intact as we guide the cookies Cheryl has made away from the mouths of those without the teeth to chew them.
There's something I really like about being here - these mums seem to have an honest and down-to-earth quality. I guess when you've got kids there isn't much time for daydreaming about Knowledge or anything else. You've got to make it real.
Lunch completed, five adults and four kids settle down to record this interview. There's going to be a few background noises on the tape, but I decide it won't matter too much. And it doesn't: the babies are mostly pretty quiet. They seem to catch a little of what we're feeling from the understanding that grows as we talk on: the understanding that despite our different situations we are all travelling together on the most exciting adventure we could ever hope to find, an adventure that involves our whole lives no matter who or where we are.
Jean, you learned to meditate just before Rowan was born. Could you say something about that time - what effect did your pregnancy and Rowan's birth have on you?
Jean: Actually it was while I was in hospital waiting for Rowan to be born that I first really experienced what meditation was all about.
I came to Knowledge around the end of 1973. At first, I was sort of going to satsang because Clive was. It took me a while to understand for myself - I went through quite a bit before I finally realised what I wanted.
My being pregnant didn't really have anything to do with preparing for Knowledge. I hardly thought about the baby at all, it was just happening and I was really pleased about it.
Then when I received Knowledge, straight away Clive said, "Right, we'll move into a household." I could see that he was really going into it, and I could see me being left
The Golden Age
behind. He went looking for houses, and I went trotting along. He found this great barn of a place in Bondi, and I said, "But it's so big" - it was dirty and full of cockroaches - and Clive said, "Never mind, just trust in Maharaj Ji and we can make it beautiful."
So I found myself on my knees ripping up old lino and scrubbing walls. I was doing it all with so much energy, and I suppose I thought that was what practising Knowledge was all about. I was trying to meditate, too, but I wasn't experiencing anything. I was just doing this cleaning thing.
Danielle and Larry Kearney at home with the kids - Yan (9) and Melanie (1M). Danielle, who was born in the New Hebrides and spent much of her childhood on a boat her father used to trade between Australia and the islands, met Larry thirteen years ago, when she was 22. They heard about Knowledge through Larry's family - his mother, two of his brothers and his sister all meditate.
Jean, Clive and two-year-old Rowan Lane have recently moved into a family community centre at Cammeray. Since they were initiated in early 1974, Clive and jean have lived in some varied environments, ranging from a household with ten other people to a flat by themselves. The other two couples in their present household include Chris Kelly (author of the article about AMP on page 2) and his wife Kika. jean and Kika share a part-time job, and the housemothering.
And then what happened was I had to be put in hospital because my blood-pressure went up so much. I went in for a check-up and they wouldn't let me leave; they had me on a trolley up on the ward before I knew what was happening. And I had to stay there until Rowan was born. All I could do was lie in this bed, and meditate.
Then one day I started having contractions, and everyone freaked out because it was too soon; they tried to give me all these things to stop the contractions. But I knew he was going to be born, and all I had to do was meditate, and just wait. And so, early next morning Rowan was born, and the dawn came, and it was so beautiful.
Then after a while I got to go home. I went back to the house and it was so different. All these people had moved in and they were cleaning the house; the meditation room looked like a meditation room. And we just started to do it.
Because he was born almost at the same time as I received Knowledge, I've really seen that we're going through it together. When I think of my life with Knowledge, I can look at Rowan, I can see this person, and I can see us both growing.
How about you, Danielle? You had two children when you received Knowledge, didn't you?
Danielle: Yes. Melanie was born a couple of months before I heard my first satsang - which was Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang at the Chevron in 1974.1 was really content with my life at that time. But I knew that there was something more, and satsang really struck home to me.
From the experience we gained bringing up Yan, we'd learned a lot that we felt could help us with Melanie. For myself, I'd realised that love was the most important thing to give to a child. But I found that no matter how much I wanted to give love, I couldn't find it that often.
Satsang helped me a lot: I became calmer, and I had more energy. Then, from the time I began to meditate, it was beautiful because I could give love, I knew where the source was. There was no more trying to find it; I quickly realised all I had to do was meditate.
It's been a two-way thing all the time - I think Melanie's helped me meditate as much as meditation has helped me take care of her.
Is it harder to practise Knowledge with children? I know that sometimes people think that it is.
Josie: Yes, I went through that one. When I got pregnant. I wasn't unhappy or anything like that, but still in my mind I was thinking it was something to take me away. Because when I would sit down to meditate it could always be an excuse, like to listen for the baby, or to think about it. But it's just a trap, same as any other thing can be a trap.
It can be a problem if you think it's a problem; if you think that having a child is going to stop you from meditating, then it will. But if you believe what Guru Maharaj Ji says - that you can practise Knowledge anywhere - well then you can do it. It's the same thing for everybody, you've just got to trust what Maharaj Ji says. And Durga Ji said it so, so clearly now, that it doesn't matter if you've got five children or you're pregnant or whatever, there's only one thing that can stop you, and that's the block in your own mind.
And there's always time to meditate, there just always is.
No. 29, May 1976
If you want to meditate, the time's there.
It can be really beautiful. The children are a gift to us, and when we think of it that way, it's incredible.
Do you find that you learn from them?
Josie: For sure. For one thing they teach you trust. The baby just completely trusts for everything, it looks up to you and it's completely open to you. Like I look at this example of me and my baby all the time, because that's how I want to be with Maharaj Ji, completely open to him, to whatever he wants to give me.
They're really forgiving and simple, and they can teach you that. And also, because you have to be watching for them all the time, serving them all the time, they can keep you centred as well. I find that having a baby gives me that responsibility to keep myself together by meditating through the day, because I know that whatever state of mind I'm in she picks up on it.
Carol: It's amazing actually, how they pick up on the subtlest vibration. If I'm ever angry or confused Cristel will cry, she won't go to sleep, she Just annoys me all day. But when I'm just having a really good time in Knowledge, then there's no problem, she's just completely a reflection. Like Durga Ji says it in her satsang: our first responsibility as mothers is to ourselves, because we've got to be really clear channels to give that love.
How about getting to satsang when you've got kids?
Danielle: Larry and I take turns babysitting. I find that even though it means that I don't get to satsang at William Street every night I can still -:ad satsang at home, or listen to a tape. And there's time to do a couple of hours' meditation, as well.
Josie: For Carol and me there's no problem, because we live in a household where everybody shares. Everyone takes it in turn to stay home and mind Cristel and Alice; I only miss satsang one night a week. And we have satsang at home twice a week, as well.
Jean: We do the same thing. It's best for Rowan to stay home, because he should be in bed at that time.
Josie: Also, we're making more opportunities for satsang during the day, where parents can come together and help each other: there's daytime satsangs happening three times a week now. And for night-time satsang, we're trying to get a baby-sitting co-op happening. It's just started up, but eventually we hope that every child can stay home, and premies from the community - anyone who wants to do that service - can just go there and meditate while the children are sleeping.
It really all depends on the community. I really feel that we all go together; you can't leave anybody lagging behind. So if there are single mothers who have nobody to help them with their children, the community should try to help them. And it's happening: people are realising that the children are Maharaj Ji's children, that they're affected by the whole premie community, and that we're all somewhat responsible for what they're going to be like. Of course, they're the parents' main responsibility, but everybody needs to cooperate.
Carol: We tried for years having the nursery at night, but it was really bad for the kids. They would just get over-excited, and then when you would take them home they wouldn't sleep. But it's still good for them to get together in the daytime, and that happens during and after parents' satsang. We're also getting a Saturday afternoon play-group organised.
Josie: We're having workshops regularly now with the parents and everyone who is interested in the children, just getting everything out about the playgroup, and about parents' satsang. I just feel really enthusiastic at the moment, because there's more cooperation than ever before.
How about service?
Danielle: Service is really just grace, it's just a matter of wanting to do it. I remember really craving for it, I knew it was going to happen, and it did. First I was trying to do little things like clean the nursery. Then one night Kim announced that she needed a place to hold daytime satsang, so quickly I went to her and asked her for my place to be the place. It was accepted, and that was really beautiful. When something happens in your house like that, when you get involved, it changes the whole outlook on housekeeping. Now I feel like it's not my place any more, it's Guru Maharaj Ji's place, and it's part of my service to keep it clean. But still I wanted to do more. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Kim rang up and asked could she use my flat for a Community Workshop. Then I got to give satsang at the Introduction to Knowledge Series. Really, if you want to do something it will happen, you can see it.
Carol: Service can really fill your day. At the moment I'm lucky because I can do typesetting at home. And when I can't do that there's the house-mothering. Also I've been coordinating one of the aspirant seminars: that was a real opportunity. Being able to give satsang two nights a week and be with those people was really incredible. I really learned a lot from doing that.
Josie: Durga Ji's satsang really helped my understanding of service. I went through a whole thing in my head when Ira told us that kids were our duty and not service. Because I really wanted to dedicate, and I was finding myself thinking, "This is service when I clean the house, and this isn't service when I'm bathing Alice, and when I mind Cristel then it's service because then Carol can do service, but when I'm minding Alice, that's my duty … " I was goingthrough this stupid thing in my head, but somewhere I felt that if I was meditating and really practising, then I could surrender every action to Guru Maharaj Ji. And then Durga Ji's satsang said exactly that, that your duty can be your service if you're meditating, and dedicating every action to Guru Maharaj Ji. And it was just beautiful to hear her say that.
Danielle: I remember going to the beach one day, and saying to myself, "I shouldn't be going to the beach, I should be doing service at William Street." But Yan and Melanie wanted to go to the beach. So I went there. And instead of feeling bored, which I usually do on the beach, I really remembered Holy Name, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and thoroughly enjoyed Yan and Melanie. When I got home, I was so still from that meditation, that after I put Melanie in her cot, I sat down on the floor and meditated, and had such a beautiful experience.
Josie: You can really be doing things for your kid from a selfless point. And you know when that's happening - you can really experience that love. You've just got to use each moment - do direct service whenever you can, try to surrender every action wherever you are.