At the end of November, just before he attended the Frankfurt conference (see Page 4), Guru Maharaj Ji celebrated Hans Jayanti in Swaziland, a small kingdom adjacent to South Africa. Chris MacIlrath from Mullumbimby, who attended the festival, sent us this news:
It was such a small festival, about 700 people, that when Maharaj Ji spoke at the two evening programs it was rather like being in his lounge room. He spoke to us directly but also casually, as to friends, "… I guess I'll see you guys tomorrow …"
The festival site was a football stadium, and Maharaj Ji gave satsang from an open-fronted hut which was built just in front of the centre part of the grandstand. More than two-thirds of the premies who had come to Swaziland were 'descendents of Indians brought to South Africa as cheap labour or slaves in the nineteenth century so we were treated to a chorus of several hundred South African Indians chanting religious Hindi hymns. It was beautiful.
Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang was basic - the timeless message of man's search for peace from his mind, of the way to discover that peace within: "So premies, this Knowledge is really beautiful and it can work for you, it has worked for a lot of people and it can work for anybody, but first of all you have to open up your heart to it. Because what is the trade, what is the price? It is love."
Darshan hit everybody differently. For me it was a shock. Unusual. I saw Guru Maharaj Ji and me and the space between. The festival gave me my first conscious experience of Guru Maharaj Ji. He's got there and is waiting for us.
"So premies you just have to be strong, just have to be really really strong in the experience of service, satsang and meditation to plough through the mind and not get stuck in it. And if you can do that, if you can really get yourself together with satsang, service and meditation, there is nothing in this whole world, in this whole universe that can shatter you off the track of this Knowledge. If you're strong. Not even mind, if you are really strong. But if you're weak, if you are the sort of person that goes, "Oh, today I can make an exception," then tomorrow you can make an exception, and the day after tomorrow you can most definitely make an exception. You can keep making exceptions all the rest of your life, and miss out on this opportunity."
Interview with John Miller
Reprinted with thanks from Denver's community newspaper "Light Reading".
John Miller has travelled and lived with Guru Maharaj Ji for most of the past three years. He was born 27 years
ago in Maryland, U.S.A., and later earned a degree in business. But instead of launching a career in that world, he found himself drawn to the young Guru Maharaj Ji. He was initiated in October 1972, and the "career" which followed is part of what he talks about in this interview, which took place in Denver recently.
Does your service have a title?
I'm called, for practical purposes, Maharaj Ji's private secretary. I take care of his personal needs. When he travels, I take care of his clothes. I help him with his correspondence and take care of purchasing around the household. But sometimes I do anything from painting a motorcycle to building a darkroom, and I wash the dishes. My service is so varied that, if I just said I was his personal secretary, it would be too simple.
It's very beautiful around Maharaj Ji. Service is really free-form. It's not rigid and organised. Maharaj Ji's aim for people is coming from where they are, just expressing themselves through service, which is a conscious action because of what we've experienced. Actually, it's very efficient.
Have you found that the experience of being around Maharaj Ji has changed over three years?
The difference is in my experience. It's in what I've realised and understood of Maharaj Ji. In a way, he never changes.
But, because my experience grows I see what he's been doing all along. So, everything is changing, but it's just from my perspective and my experience. It's getting more steady and constant and deep. Still, the changes take place, almost as a constant thing. There's two constant things in my life right now: the Knowledge and the changes.
Is it possible to be comfortable that close to Maharaj Ji?
Yes. I'm just able to say that now. Being around Maharaj Ji is like having that mirror all the time, and just to be able to look at yourself all the time is kind of hard. But now I'm starting to surrender. In the last two months, I've found out what service is, and I'm discovering what is surrender. Through this surrender, I'm starting to feel very comfortable with Maharaj Ji, comfortable within my own experience.
We as premies have one thing in common: we're always taking a look at our life, seeing where we are, what's happening. In doing that a lot, I used to be really puzzled about what was happening because of the turmoil in my mind. But now, at that point, I can meditate and go into that experience open and really have Guru Maharaj Ji there to protect me, to show me the way. I feel very small.
I can relate to Premlata and Hans (Maharaj Ji's two small children) because they have so much trust. Premlata will just jump off the table into his arms, with no doubt whatsoever that Maharaj Ji will catch her. In the same way, he'll ask something of me and, in a way, it's like jumping off. But now I just jump.
Can you describe a day in the life of Guru Maharaj Ji?
Maharaj Ji really lives in the here and now. If I foresee a problem in the future, I'll sit down and think about it. I'll sit down and rationally preplan in order to feel comfortable when the situation comes. Maharaj Ji takes everything in the moment. He doesn't think, "I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that." He's just right there. He's constantly relying on grace and on his experience of the Knowledge. It's really incredible.
Is there any activity he's really interested in right now?
Right now he has two young children, so he spends time providing a beautiful place for them to grow up in the world. But his foremost thing always is coming out to the premies to give satsang.
People have learned some very incredible lessons in the last six or eight months - really downhome lessons. Maharaj Ji's been giving a lot of satsang about it. The satsang he's been giving is, first of all, ask yourself "What am I doing?" "Why did I receive Knowledge?" "What do I want to do with my life?" He's been telling the premies that they have to know what they want. They have to sit down and have satsang with themselves.
A lot of people want his personal direction but what they really need to do is make some decisions in their life. They feel a little insecure about making the decision. And that's okay. It just means that they should be patient, do more satsang, service and meditation until they feel really comfortable with their decisions.
Do you have any idea why one relatively small group of people happens to be in the position you're in?
No, I don't know why. Maharaj Ji really wants to meet more premies and talk to them. Maharaj Ji has to know what premies are feeling so that he can give to them.
It makes me understand that I have a service to do, that if I'm not realising this Knowledge, if I don't understand satsang, service and meditation then even if I'm two steps behind him 24 hours a day, I'm wasting my life. In my subconscious I had a few feelings that, if I were just around Maharaj Ji, maybe by osmosis he'd give me some spare realisation. But he's allowed me to understand that it's a process and there's no short cuts for anyone. It's one path. One very direct path.
Tell us a little about the baby.
Hans Pal had a very quiet birth. He didn't really cry. Just cried out, cleared his throat a little bit and opened his eyes. He is a very mellow, calm child. You look into his eyes and you can experience within yourself a real peace. But he's just a baby. Drinking milk and getting used to his system and sleeping. He really likes to look around. My experience of him is that he is calm. Premlata is very outgoing and very smart. He seems very quiet, very satisfied. Put him on a pillow and he just looks around for 10 minutes.
How does Maharaj Ji feel about the individual growth of the premies?
I think he's very pleased. Maharaj Ji now wants premies to get strong in the practise of Knowledge. And, if it means taking a responsible place in society or whatever, that's fine. He says, first and foremost, "What do you want to do with your life?" What you want to think of is: What can I do to help allow me to realise this Knowledge? To allow me to experience satsang, service and meditation to the fullest and yet take care of any responsibilities.
One thing that Maharaj Ji's into, he really feels that people need their freedom, to be able to experience Knowledge and to surrender. So he gives people a lot of freedom. We live the way we want and then he gives a lot of satsang. He's always giving satsang, always making his life an example. It's just his life, his presence, his consciousness. It helps me in my efforts to realise this consciousness.