He was in blue jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Both were barefoot. They had been hitchhiking across Colorado when they stumbled onto satsang. "A premie asked us where we were going and I started to cry," he explained. "He asked us where we were going and for the first time I realized that I didn't know.
by Dale Gardner
So the Divine Shelter at 1607 Race Street was born out of necessity. More than a "place to stay," the house provides a complete lifestyle where people with and without Knowledge can come to experience the shelter of Guru Maharaj Ji and live in a disciplined and spiritual environment. The old house still bears the marks of a time when people tried to build dwellings with craftsmanship and love. Inside there is a renovated hall where both Guru Maharaj Ji and Mata Ji have given satsang.
Premies who are temporarily in town on business (e.g. treasurers coming to learn the new financial computer systems), and those awaiting permanent housing now have a place to stay. In addition, those seeking Knowledge now have the opportunity to live in a conducive spiritual environment and experience ashram life even before they receive Knowledge.
"Well now you've seen us," said one premie with a mock-scowl during a pre-Knowledge session.
Denver has become something of a Western Mecca. For the past two years spiritual seekers have been attracted to Denver ("the Guru's City") to receive Knowledge and "to find out what is happening."
Many people come to Denver after reading the book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? The only Divine Light Mission address given in the paperback is that of national headquarters. Quite a few of the 150,000 readers of the book get the urge to receive Knowledge and come straight to Denver.
"I saw the book staring at me from a bookstore window. Two days later I was on my way here," related Bill, a 45 year old construction worker who had flown down from Alaska to find out about Knowledge. That night there was a special showing of the "Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?"' film at the satsang hall. Bill left the next morning to get his wife and return. When they arrived, they found Mahatma Gurucharnanand had come to give Knowledge.
Bill and his wife are not unusual. In fact, the Denver community has a steady influx of people coming to receive Knowledge and premies looking for service. Both need a place to stay. When the Denver community was reorganized after the Millennium festival it became obvious that some kind of permanent facility was needed to accomodate the large numbers of visitors.
One of the most difficult problems for new premies right after receiving Knowledge is that they are confronted with concepts about other premies that they accumulated during the process of receiving Knowledge. The Shelter is unique because it provides a situation where aspirants can see premies in circumstances other than just at satsang programs. The result is that the shelter turns out some of the strongest new premies. According to the Denver DUO office, as many as 75% of the Shelter premies become active members in the Denver community or the community nearest their home.
In addition to following the regular ashram rules, the Shelter maintains the prescribed ashram schedule with amazing punctuality. By 6:00 a.m. 25 to 50 people have gathered to sing arti. While the premies meditate, the non-premies listen to satsang and have their questions answered. At 7:45 sitting meditation ends and the house explodes with activity. Everyone is given a morning chore. By 8:30 breakfast is over and service for the day begins.
*** … missing words *** houses the community has been acquiring. Tere are others who've decided to wait for Knowledge "no matter how long it takes," who opt to get full-time jobs to help support the Shelter. In this way, the Shelter has become entirely self-sufficient - even to the point of making regular contributions to the Denver community.
By 5:30 most of the residents have returned from work to sit for a half hour of pre-dinner meditation. After dinner, non-premie satsang is held in the Shelter's satsang hall. Shelter satsang draws a regular crowd from the Denver premie community because many prefer the feelings that are generated there over the "premie satsang" held downtown.
Satsang ends by 9:30 and arti is sung. After arti, the premies sit for an hour of meditation and then go to sleep. Meanwhile, the non-premies are invited to use the Shelter library which is stocked with scriptures or books like Siddhartha or the Chronicles of Narnia. By 11:00 the lights are out and the house is locked.
There are two permanent residents at the Shelter - the housefather and housemother. In addition, ten ashram premies from the Denver community stay for month-long periods on a rotating basis. These residents provide stability and direction within the Shelter; most important, they are available to give satsang whenever needed. Since they are continually under the scrutinizing eyes of the aspirants, they find themselves making an extra effort to stay centered and manifest love.
Life in the Shelter for "older" premier is often a "revitalization program." One premie noted, "When I first came to receive Knowledge my desire was so strong I could practically taste it. There was one thing I wanted and that was Knowledge. When I am around these non-premies I can feel that way all over again. It is quite inspiring. Besides, I am called on to give satsang here all the time. It keeps me in a very nice flow." Because of this, many of the ashram premies ask to stay in the Shelter permanently.
Premies who do service at the Shelter feel a rich sense of satisfaction. Bill Snow, housefather of the Shelter since January, said, "I've seen astonishing transformations, even physically uplifted faces, on the people who have received Knowledge. It makes me appreciate the Knowledge even more than I did before."
Probably the most beautiful aspect of Shelter life is the personal love and brotherhood that develops as the residents grow together. One premie remembers a night when he stayed up past midnight giving satsang to a group of Shelter aspirants. Toward the end one sister broke into tears, "I've got to have this Knowledge," she sobbed. "I've been looking for something for 22 years and now I finally know what it is. I'm ready; I want it. I need it and I've got to have it." The next morning Mahatma Jagdeo broke his tour and arrived in Denver.