The Golden Age
Reflecting back over the changes that have happened here during the last six months, two seem particularly prominent. For many premies the external pressure to practise Knowledge has decreased markedly, being replaced by the realisation that they want to meditate, not out of fear but from their own inner desire. The other change has been in the form of Mission organisation, which has become far less overwhelming and conspicuous thus allowing people to find their own level of commitment.
"It's really important that people practise Knowledge from their own desire instead of being pressured into it or somehow forced to go through what's called the rites and rituals of practising Knowledge," says Community Director Lou Scott. "That's a mistake a lot of DLM communities have fallen into, making it seem that people have to conform to certain standards, whereas the only standard is remembering Holy Name. And people naturally do that if they understand what Holy Name is."
Just looking around the community, people are definitely relating much more and appear much happier, more easy-going and less paranoid. Golden Age correspondent Gina Brieberger took the opportunity afforded by the last meditation retreat to gather a few comments:
"It used to be such a great effort to meditate, but then I came to a point when I wanted to do it, it was so simple and just a beautiful thing."
"If I have external pressure it helps me but it's better to find that pressure from inside - it may take longer but it's like the tortoise and the hare."
"If we're being forced to do something we're not doing it properly anyway. It all starts to happen when you do it because you enjoy doing it."
Over the last few months this change has been depicted in various ways. For example, last month a week away from the satsang hall was arranged. Everyone split up into small groups which met in their own homes to share satsang and get to know each other more. This event really showed everyone that satsang is not the four walls of the hall, and Knowledge isn't something to take up when you are within the Mission's building. It put everyone in a place where there were no props, rather they were able to use their own motivation to experience Knowledge.
On the organisational side of things, the administration doesn't seem to be trying to move and organise people so much, with the result that premies are trying to move themselves and help organise the Mission a little more. As one premie, Barry Pedlar, put it: "The organisation still exists but everyone is a part of it now. It's not like the DUO Director and staff, then the premies and aspirants segregated off somewhere, it's like everyone organising the same thing."
"People are more open to direction and are more willing to actually apply themselves in giving the direction: being aware of what's needed at a particular time, and taking the responsibility to do it," says Lou. "Instead of a lot of people doing service and not accepting the responsibility, there are fewer people doing service but the responsibility they're accepting is much greater and therefore they're achieving something for themselves, and this is most important."
The formation of our AMP Committee is symptomatic of this change. It's organisational structure has been streamlined so that it is more a natural planning body than an overwhelming force. Slowly it is evolving to a point where it's members are taking an active role in organising and communicating in the community. Our recent meditation retreat was a fine example of their efforts.
Guru Maharaj Ji has said this is the year to get our communities together and it seems that he's shown us that when we want to meditate automatically everything else will flow. It all comes back to understanding - when someone understands what Knowledge is, he'll want to utilise it in his life and so he'll naturally move to realise it. As Perth community member Mandy Jones told The Golden Age, "There's a stage where we become mature enough to be responsible for our own push and drive rather than being shunted and organised everywhere."
One of the main things that seems to be happening in Hobart at the present time is that many of us are taking a long, honest look at ourselves, the depth of our experience in Knowledge and the way we relate to people we contact in our every day situations. In a lot of cases the result of this kind of self-evaluation has been a more conscious awareness of just how little we have really given of ourselves to experiencing Knowledge, in spite of saying - sometimes for years - that Knowledge is "everything" to us.
I guess when it becomes apparent how much we have wasted the opportunity to experience from Knowledge what Guru Maharaj Ji has promised us, there are one of two things we could do. The first is to waste more time "crying over spilt milk" as the saying goes, with the result that the milk only gets more and more sour. But then we do - by some unbelievably good fortune - have the alternative of really facing ourselves with sincerity and making a whole-hearted effort to apply ourselves to experiencing Knowledge more.
And this is what most of us who are facing the fact that we have been so careless of Knowledge are trying to do. There seems to be a genuine feeling of, "Look, I just don't want to go through life having
No. 32, August 1976
a second-rate experience - I really want to find out what I've been given." This ernestness and sense of purpose is an inspiration in itself and is so different from the drowsy self-satisfaction and complacency that we let ourselves drift into in the past.
As well as looking at ourselves as individuals, though, we seem to have extended the evaluation process to ourselves as a group of people. In this respect, an awareness has developed of how much our tendencies to use the community as a supportive group and to lean towards group norms in behaviour and expression have limited both our experience as individuals and the ways in which we relate to people who are not part of the community.
So it seems that the present time is one in which we are looking more critically at what we are doing as individuals and as a community. And the thing that has perhaps emerged most clearly from this whole evaluation process is the realisation that we each have a responsibility for what we do with our lives, and that no-one else can take that responsibility on for us. Being a member of Divine Light Mission guarantees us absolutely nothing. Our own experience of Knowledge and our own connection to Guru Maharaj Ji is all that we have, and all that we need.