Dear editor and artist,
Many thanks for a good Golden Age. Your efforts are really appreciated. It's good to see an issue without the bright-eyed bushy-tailed junk about the many silly mistakes we made in the past, but now we know how to do it.
I don't know how to do it and never will, and I'm still struggling with frequent amnesic spells during which the Do-er is completely forgotten, and after which l'm faced with humiliating consequences, like a crying child or a freaked-out friend. Mainly it's these painful incidents that induce me to surrender I can't kid myself that I don't have to meditate when I'm staring at a self-made mess.
Most premies suffer a "dark night of the soul" at some time or another, and during those times I've eagerly looked to the latest publication in the hopes of being inspired, but too often the local waffle has even distracted me from Maharaj Ji's satsangs, much as, I would have wished it otherwise.
When I've been just riding a high, it's been all too easy to
No. 35, January 1977
be contemptuous of those "in their minds" and to have no consideration for their pain, and then to call that "detachment". A few months ago I really got backed into a corner where I had no option but to meditate. My new-born daughter had to have surgery for a severe congenital defect, and the following month showed me what life can be if it consists of only service, satsang and meditation. It showed up how much I've sold myself short since taking Knowledge three years ago. Just a side-effect was that I could empathise with people without my usual impatience or irritability. I could feel the pain of a confused person but had the strength to gladly feel it without the fear of becoming confused myself - that fear that causes contempt. The most immediate and real thing was the intense love I was in, much more so than the sensitivity to pain, which in turn was more acute than any I'd previously experienced. Living with a big L. I'd love to say that I stayed there, but when my baby was out of danger complacency set in again, and now I have to summon up determination to practise Knowledge at least at that level of effort if I want to be that alive and awake. When I feel that I just don't have sufficient determination, I half-fearfully hope for more situations that I can't cope with in my present state, to force me out of my lethargy.
I have had the experience that human relationships, efficiency in practical matters, appreciation of natural beauty, improved discrimination, are all facilitated or produced when I've made a sincere attempt to practise Knowledge. But to experience the pure state itself is to hunger for an increased ability to experience more of it regardless of side-effects. The amount of personal effort required, that often seems so massive from a self-indulgent, lazy point of view, is really paltry in retrospect when the unbelievable power of Maharaj Ji's grace is given room to be felt.
I guess I'm not alone in wondering just how much I have to have proved to me before I stop wasting precious time. Last year I came very close to death and found that although I was aware that I'd started to die, and my only desire was to meditate, all I could do was think "I'm not meditating, and I'm dying." The desire to meditate was strong but what was missing was a strong and firm habit of meditation. It was too late for determination. So I got yet another chance and it's beginning to sink in that I must use my will to meditate, not just during or after dramatic events but in apparently small ways during every day regardless of how I feel, whether I'm "up" or "down", and by the grace of Guru Maharaj Ji I'll enjoy dying as well as living.
May I suggest that if you don't have any good local satsang material, just stick to straight reported news of local happenings, rather than "pad" an issue. We need inspiration so much that substitutes are bitter.
Chari Torpey, Melbourne.
What's happening in Hobart is really hard to describe, partly because so much is going on, and also because it's impossible to look at a situation without it being from a completely personal viewpoint. Many people have moved interstate, so the community has shrunk to around 30 members. A great diversity in life style has sprung up, with people choosing to live in the way that suits them best.
In spite of the cut-back in organised gatherings there has probably been more personal contact between premies and aspirants than ever before, with people "dropping in" on one another more, going out together, having having parties, etc. This has had two really differing effects on me, though I don't know how widely my feelings are shared by others in the community. On the one hand, I find that when I'm with people I naturally feel close - the communication is a lot more natural, friendly and down-to-earth than it has been in the past. On the other hand I've become much more aware of any barriers or lack of trust or interest that I have towards other people. Once again, it seems that only the genuine article will do: that if I'm to really feel I'm part of a community of people who are all aiming in the same direction, irrespective of the differing ways that aim manifests in each person's life, then I cannot gloss over any feelings of separation with the slick belief that "we're all in it together". Somehow I have to find in me that openness or love or whatever it takes to go beyond the barriers I feel.
The main thing I've learned over the past few weeks is that unless I really can appreciate having been given Knowledge and the chance to do service, satsang and meditation things really start to go badly for me. It's as if that true part in me that knows life is very important and very amazing starts to waste away, until I find I'm just a cardboard replica of who I really am, not really knowing what I'm doing here or why.
I don't think that in all the time I've had Knowledge I've ever had to face up to the fact so clearly that unless I make a completely genuine effort to do satsang, service and meditation and really try to progress in Knowledge I'm just going to end up with a life that's very, very empty. That's easy enough to say, but to have the determination to fight through all the inertia complacency or pessimism that I sometimes feel and really make a sincere and consistent effort to practise Knowledge is very hard at times; at least, at the stage I'm at I'm finding it that way. Yet making the effort, I get that magical feeling that this is absolutely and precisely what I want to be doing with my life; and somehow circumstances seem to weave themselves into something very rich, very full and very exciting.
Those words of Maharaj Ji's: "and now it's completely up to you" have been echoing through my head lately. I guess that's the way it's going to be from now on; though maybe it's the way it's always been.
I've found that the increased meditation I've been doing over the past few days is helping me to accept the way I am, without labelling it "good" or "bad". Life is so full of contrast and diversity that it seems ridiculous to expect that Knowledge will manifest in a similar way for everyone; yet I know I've been caught out many times trying to use an external guide to evaluate my own progress. Increasingly, though, it seems that Knowledge is something very personal, which continually defies any attempt to predict the effect it should have on my life. Things certainly haven't worked out the way I'd have expected when I first received Knowledge - but I'm sure glad I'm still around. And more than ever, I'm sure glad Maharaj Ji's around.
Lots of love,
Anne Courtney, Hobart.