By Sheldon Jaffe
"I just flew in from New York, and are my arms tired!"
I was never a very spiritual person. In fact, I spent a great deal of my free time being unspiritual, since there seemed to be (at least in my crowd) more mileage with that attitude.
Not that I was an atheist — far from it. I had a distinct understanding that there existed a power in this universe (which we shall call God for want of a better word) which was in complete control.
But it was also my understanding that this power not only had a strange sense of humor, but seemed to have it in for me personally.
I tried everything: prayer, offerings, bribes; even, when cornered, faith — but nothing seemed to work.
I used to picture God in joyous asides to his celestial cronies: "Well, what's happening today? Enough injured in Vietnam? Plenty of lynchings in Mississippi? Lots of pestilence in India? Well, let's throw some garbage at old Sheldon."
Yes, just ego I know, but somehow it was comforting, and after all, isn't that what religion's about?
In time, I became adjusted to the situation, and even began to relish it. You see, I was an artist. And, to be an artist, one must suffer. So my existential dilemma was actually very convenient material for my great American novel (or at least my next speed rap).
By the time I entered college, I had become quite content, in fact attached, to my suffering. I was in ecstatic misery.
However, no state in this world is constant, and my own personal brand of pain was no exception. So, in the early winter of 1972, I was faced with a moral dilemma: should I receive the Knowledge of God or continue writing poems about the New York City subway? This choice came to me, as Nietzsche would have it, not with a crash or a roar, but on the footsteps of a dove. While hitching home from school I discovered myself in front of a friend's house, and upon entering for a little snack, he informed me that: 1) the Lord was on the planet, 2) He was revealing God, and 3) He asks for nothing except love.
In nineteen years of rather riotous living, no one had ever said that to me before, so I listened as this friend told me more and more, much of it incomprehensible since he himself had only heard once about Guru Maharaj Ji and the Knowledge he reveals. I didn't know why, or if I did, I couldn't ex plain it, but I sensed that Knowledge was the answer.
At twelve noon the next day, I jammed myself into a lecture hall at Brooklyn College. In the front row was a series of assorted human beings, some with long hair, some with beards, and one gentleman wearing a turban and a dhoti. "Aha," I said to myself, "the speaker." The speaker proved to be a clean-cut blond with a definite mid-western slang.
Now, despite the overwhelming recognition of the presence of Truth that had seized me, I had no intention of giving up without a fight. I had my notebook out, my pen 6oised, ready at a moment to take the necessary notes so I could hurl back unexplained facts to the speaker.
I don't remember a word that was said at this, my first satsang. I don't recall what stories the speaker told, what experiences he described, what scriptures he quoted or what promise he made.
I remember his eyes.
For at every statement made, I was too busy jotting down notes. "Stoic," I would muse. "That's very stoic … platonic, how fascinatingly platonic! … Sophic, quite Sophic … Socratic … (hmmm, how can he be both Sophic and Socratic?)"
But, when I would let go of my pen and lift my eyes from my argument on paper, this brother's eyes called out to me. Beyond his words, beyond his voice, beyond them all was Truth. And when I allowed myself to look into his eyes, they told me what I already knew. This is true. True. I speak not from notes or philosophies or scriptures, but from direct experience.
This is true.
It scared the hell out of me. And yet it attracted me as well. I felt love calling me, saying, "Come on — here it is.
Open up to it."
I went out to Flatbush Avenue and stuck my thumb out trying to reconcile what I had just heard with what I already knew. It all came down to one simple thing. These people were telling the truth. There really was something more to life than ideas and philosophies and thoughts and plans. Even something more than pain. And I could find that thing if I really wanted to.
Stopping at a pay phone, I made a call to my closest friend. We had gone through so much together and I just had to tell someone.
We began to talk and I was laughing hysterically, laughing so hard that tears came down my cheeks.
"Hey, guess what!"
"What?" he asked.
"You know the latest? There is this fourteen-year-old kid, see, and he's got all these followers who think he's the
Lord, see, and … see … and … see …"
I continued to laugh and my friend began laughing with me as I repeated everything I had ever heard of Guru Maharaj Ji and the Knowledge, about God and about Truth.
And then I said, "You know what?" "No, what?" my friend replied, waiting for the punch line.
"I'm into it."
There was a stunned silence, a mumbled apology and very soon the end of the conversation and our friendship. I still don't know why.
Yet, despite it all, a week later, I found myself in a hall with 125 other people waiting to receive this Knowledge.
It took a month to understand what had happened. For a month, I had no idea, no inkling at all as to what was happening. My life had changed for sure, but in what way?
And then I understood. Guru Maharaj Ji. That was the link between me and Knowledge. Guru Maharaj Ji. MY Guru Maharaj Ji. My Master.
Now, five and a half years later, I still am not very "spiritual." When I tell people I have a Guru, they can't believe it. "You?," they ask. "You?"
But I've stuck it out and I'm glad. There have been hard times, many times I've wished Knowledge was easier, many times that I've wished it was different.
But through it all, there seems to be some experience that remains constant. And for want of a better word, let's call it Guru Maharaj Ji. I am into Guru Maharaj ,Ji. He is my Master, my teacher, my lover and friend. He is the one who has shown me true peace and for that I am ever grateful.
The Power of Love
By Paddy Coleman
The "Wizard" came to us when we were nine. He had an accent, long white robes, a grey beard, and the most twinkling eyes I had ever seen — as if he knew the answer to all the riddles. We were just children on the beach when he rounded us up chanting stories of the sun, the moon and the stars, exploring how we were all made in God's creation and how we all followed one singular law. We loved him. And the day after, he'd always return. But then the police came and took him away for preaching without a license. Our parents smiled knowingly. I remember standing there crying with a rock in one hand, the Ater empty of one I had hurled … crying and I didn't know why.
Like the ping and pong of tne little white ball I'd go from tears to laughter, crying myself to sleep, begging "why" to someone called God, and the next morning yelling with laughter as I chased four of my sisters and brothers down hallways and stairs. In the third grade I started writing poetry to express what I was going through, and in high school I was nicknamed "doubting Thomas." I just couldn't swallow all the religious dogma handed down. The roller coaster I was on only got larger in college. The highs on drugs, the depressions after freedom marches — everything served the illusion I had that in order to feel alive I had to have an extreme experience of life.
The birth of my first child showed me that the schooling I thought I'd finished hadn't really begun until now. Experiences were coming fast and furious and the seeker in me awoke, more diligent than ever. Living in an artists' colony, there were many to share my quest for the meaning of life. But I soon found that the older artists and writers had found a philosophical niche for themselves, and if I couldn't accept their way, that was it for me. They knew they wouldn't change and I knew I had to. Not being happy with myself, I wasn't at all happy with my situation. Unable to see clearly enough to change myself, I changed the external and separated from my husband, returning home with my two-year-old son. After a few months of watching me work in a factory, my mother smiled and said, "Paddy, what do you really want?'' Quickly I answered, "Europe." And so, after long talks into the night, she bought me two tickets, and my son and I left for parts unknown.
At first I was the fearful stranger in Spain, but soon I fell in with a group of psychiatrists and writers, astrologers and poets from all over the world. Love was strong, and the process of growing was given a lot of respect. After a year, my son and I, along with my boyfriend Phil, left and traveled north to Belgium. There we took hatha yoga classes, played a lot of music, and met many people sharing the same search for happiness. In yoga class I would sometimes experience seeing bright light, as I had done in Spain or before, but only on LSD. I felt I was beginning to come in touch with the energy that was moving me. At one point we were told of a thirteen-yearold boy from India who was in London, and was very clear and wise and seemed to have the answers" to life. But being so involved in our search, we never thought we would find the answers. So we didn't pay much attention. It was two years later in Ibiza, Spain when we heard of him again.
An initiator had come to the island and was speaking of a young boy who was revealing Knowledge of God through the direct experience of the light within. She left alter initiating some of our friends, and we were happy to talk to them of their experiences in meditation. I remember one friend sitting up late with me one night talking by candlelight. As the light flickered, he asked me, "What is that still place where you can go inside and feel peace? See how our words make the candle flame flicker?" he said. "That is how our minds disturb us and keep us from happiness." I was struck by how simple his truth was. When Phil later suggested a trip to Barcelona to investigate the group of meditators there, I at first totally rejected the idea. But as my mind ranted and raged, turning me from a nag to Shakespearean shrew, I grew tired of its ceaseless banter and agreed to go.
In Barcelona, we found a group of people listening to the words of a young Indian man who was just radiant with love. It felt so beautiful to listen to him. "The openness and the happiness completely filled us, satisfying a thirst that seemed centuries old. In a few days our understanding grew, and when we came to a point of much openness and humility, we received the techniques of meditation and began to recognize the power that Guru Maharaj Ji had — a power of love so great that he sent people throughout the world to reveal his Knowledge, that experience of God inside. No longer was there any doubt. To be able to experience the light and music within, to be able to feel that music within, to be able to feel that eternal vibration called Word, was all I needed to recognize that God was alive and loved us dearly. My crazy mind grew quiet. Though it is still able to carry me away into useless worry, I am now able to control it and use it as it was meant to be used — to recognize the beauty and love in life in myself and in those around me. And especially to praise the One who has shown me how to love.
Taking a Good Look
By Phil Bailey
Part of the answer to the question of how I came to Knowledge lies in another question. What is the experience of my life without the practice of this Knowledge? Or, after having been shown the source of all life, what is the source of unlife like? After having drunk from the clearest, sweetest-tasting stream, what is the experience of the Hudson River right after an oil spill?
The contrast between life with the practice of meditation, and just trying to strive for a "better" life for myself is very profound. The feeling I receive from that contrast simply leaves me very grateful to the Master, Guru Maharaj
And yet, when I first encountered this Knowledge, and the "Guru," this was certainly not my feeling at all. I was a young man (still am for that matter), fairly self-assured, but in truth, not much of anything. I was more like half-this or half-that, half-intellectual, semi-alternative, semi-business, and wanting to be in love with a woman and share with that one special person all the time. When it came to anything that was the least unusual or "spiritual- (God), I would just say (with my best European air) "God is irrelevant." This was true; I was closed, not receptive to God, so how could I be aware of that presence in my life? I never asked myself, "Why am I alive? What is the purpose of my life anyway?" I just figured that it was trying hard not to feel too bad most of the time.
I remember one very clear scene on my way to requesting this Knowledge. My sister and I were very close. When she received Knowledge, she was working for the telephone company as a "customer representative." (That's a euphemism for: "I listen to complaints all day long.") Now her one complaint was that when she came home, many times she felt so bad that she couldn't eat dinner. Then one day she was sharing with me about her experience of meditation. She said, "When I'm meditating on this Holy Word, I don't have knots in my stomach." I just could not relate to "Holy Word," but I could understand not wanting to have knots. That I could appreciate very well. Gradually, I started attending satsang, and in a short time received the techniques of meditation.
That was almost six years ago and the various changes that I have experienced on every level of my life have only added to my deep appreciation of this Knowledge and Guru Maharaj Ji.
Throughout our lives we receive all kinds of gifts, some useful, some not. If our sense of well-being depends on the gift, then all we will experience is a mixture of pain, frustration, desire and occasional joy. But if we know who and what the giver is, then every part of us experiences wonder, love and gratitude, whatever the gift may be.
At this time in my life my exterior role is to be the manager of a new, classy restaurant. My interior, that which connects me to the experience of meditation, is still at peace, still full of the beauty of life, and indeed, when I am meditating on this "Holy Word," there are no knots, no problems. Guru Maharaj Ji has said, "This world was not made for problems, that's why there are no solutions." We have the potential to truly understand our lives, our situations, know ourselves and have an inner experience of life. And it can be a constant experience. By Grace alone, I can "manage" a restaurant without it "managing" me, without facts and figures, labor and food costs dominating my every thought. By Grace alone, I am able to experience the source of life and therefore really feel the presence of liberation.
So if I may make so hold a suggestion: no matter where you are — sitting, riding, thinking, judging, loving or laughing, just stop. I know that it is possible to experience a world of love within inside us. I know it, and I know that it can be shared. I'm not saying this to proselytize. It's simply the experience I have had in my life, and certainly if it is possible for me, it's possible for anyone. So, just consider that the person who's writing this is not much different from yourself and that the experience called "Knowledge and Guru Maharaj Ji" is worth taking a good look at.
I Call It Grace
By Rennie Davis
The story goes that Lao Tsu refused to the end of his life to write down his teachings. When he was finally persuaded to begin his Tao Teh Ching, he wrote:
Existence is beyond the power of words
Terms may be used
But none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and
earth there were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If names be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
My own story has this great divide: before Knowledge and after Knowledge. It is four and a half years since I crossed over to Knowledge. Before I had many things to say. Now words have lost their capacity to convey my experience.
It's not that I want to keep the secret private. I would gladly tell anyone. But who can imagine something like Lao Tsu reappearing in the 20th century, bringing an experience that completely changes people? If the most profound event in history were happening, wouldn't we expect some scientific institution, government, university or church to be at least vaguely aware of it?
I have no idea. But I have learned that Maharaj Ji has his own way in the world and his own perfect thing. I used to generate endless ideas and projects for broadcasting the incredible news. But they all turned to dust and became the means for humbling me. It was slow and hard for me to appreciate that Maharaj Ji had come not to give us new platforms of self-importance but to sweep away man's ideas and trips. Maharaj Ji dispells the products of restless minds. Coming to him is like coming to a full stop. He really means us to understand that the very mind we thought would dig us out of ignorance is ignorance itself. Maharaj Ji stands beyond the mind and beckons.
I love trying to follow him into his bottomless places. Maybe the requirement that ego and pride be left behind is not always easy. But, really, giving up self-importance to be free is not so hard a trade either. Going deep inside where life is drawn is more beautiful than anything in the world.
The movie "Star Wars" speaks of the Force that binds the universe together, making all creation an expression of the Force. The Bible quotes Jesus saying, "I and my Father are one." But Maharaj Ji takes this old idea of the pure and perfect Consciousness out of the realm of movies and books and reveals the experience of the Force inside a person. Can we imagine that? Can we imagine that someone could be doing that and it remain a secret very long?
Recently I was sharing some experiences with Jerry Rubin. Jerry said, "If you were to die right now and got to heaven and God came and said, 'No, no, you must go back. It's not your time. But you can choose. Either return to the sixties and play the role of student leader or go back to the seventies, and loose all your friends and never be heard from again.' " Jerry asked, "Which would you choose?"
Of course, I would choose whatever time the Perfect Master was in the world. Anyone would who has experienced Maharaj Ji. It's like asking, would a person choose illusion or Truth, suffering or love? But how does one come to find Maharaj Ji and choose to experience his Knowledge? Most probably the same way we "choose" to come into this world in the first place. I experienced "finding" Maharaj Ji to be a gift not of my own making. I recall being too "political" and "hip" to have believed an Indian teenage Guru understood the basics better than any human being in the world.
I call it Grace that opens our eyes to Maharaj Ji. Knowledge confirms he is the Perfect Master. Devotion brings us to a place of peace and unspeakable joy.
So, I really wish I could share more with you. This experience goes beyond the range of my expression. But I do have a wish: "May all the world soon discover Maharaj Ji is again on the earth."