National Director of D.L.M.
Why don't you relate a little of your experience after Knowledge?
I took Knowledge in London in May of 1972. The first real service I did was Divine Sales. I was travelling around about a month after I took Knowledge when I met a brother named Milky Cole. We started Divine Sales by going down to Portobello Road, the market place in downtown London, at five o'clock in the morning and selling jumble. A little while later, Maharaj Ji called Milky to America and I stayed on to manage Divine Sales. After the premies came back from India in 1972, Milky called and asked me to come to America to join him. I came over and travelled around the country opening up Divine Sales stores. (Only to have Jeff Grossberg come around two months later to close them all.)
I went through a couple other services: I tried to market some of Larry Bernstein's inventions before he went down to Houston to work on the Millennium festival. I came to Denver and then to New York to attempt to market AND IT IS DIVINE, trying to make it "the fastest-selling magazine on the market." And when Maharaj Ji decided to do his third world peace tour, Bob asked me to be PRO and work with the press in New York.
Had you met Guru Maharaj Ji at this point?
Not personally. The first time I met him, I was working with Bantam Books developing the promotional campaign fop WHO IS GURU MAHARAJ JI? I brought him the cover of the book. From time to time after that, when he was in New York, I would see him, and our relationship grew a little closer.
After Millennium, I moved to Denver. The organization went through many changes; there was a whole period of cutbacks and I found I hadn't much to do. I just went through changes like all the other premies.
One day, though, some premies called up from Amherst, Massachusetts, saying they had a campus where we could actually hold a festival. I didn't like the idea, but I flew up there to check it out anyway. And it didn't seem so bad. So when Maharaj Ji came to Denver it was at the time when he and Durga Ji got married - Bob and I presented it to him. He got into it. And he suggested that I coordinate the festival.
When I returned to Denver following Guru Puja, Maharaj Ji had shuffled a few things around. Bob was now in charge of the International Mission and Mike Donner became the National Director. My service was to be the Assistant Director.
When did you first get an idea that Mike might actually be going to prison and that you might become Director?
Mike was always kidding with me, even months before, that he was going to jail for this old draft case, but it was always just a joke. But when he got word that the Supreme Court had refused to hear his case, it became apparent that he might indeed face a jail sentence. Maharaj Ji then gave instructions that I was to be responsible for the American Mission and when Mike comes back he would help Bob with the International Mission.
So how does it feel to be National Director?
It's much different than I ever expected. I always looked at Bob and Mike and the way they did things and built up my own conceptions of what it would be like to be Director. It's nothing like my conceptions at all.
It's funny. I didn't think about it in the beginning: I just moved offices. I didn't want to put myself into any kind of role that I would start relating to as something real. Well, the first few days went okay, but then I started going through some changes and it's been a pretty amazing experience ever since.
I get many suggestions on what the leader of Divine Light Mission should do. But I know, for myself, whenever I start trying to think about what I should do as the "Director of DLM", I get into a lot of trouble. Because I'm not the leader of DLM. I can't control anything. Maharaj Ji directs and controls this Mission. I'm just going through the same thing that everybody else is. I'm trying to realize God.
The only thing that saves me is that Maharaj Ji has given me his agya to do this service. When he gives agya, he also gives the Grace to fulfill that agya. This is not only true for the people who Maharaj Ji assigns services to. Actually, every premie has the agya to meditate and practice Knowledge. So every premie who is following that agya of trying to practice Knowledge has Maharaj Ji's Grace and will attain realization.
What is happening with the American Mission now? What kinds of things do you see us needing to focus on in the coming months?
There's only a certain degree that you can talk about Divine Light Mission from an organizational standpoint. What I really see is that Maharaj Ji has intensified the experience of Knowledge in our own lives, especially in the last month. When I talk to the DUO Directors, they say the same thing. There's something really happening - in general I think Maharaj Ji is working miracles within all of us. Premies have learned that the first thing we have to do is to propagate Knowledge inside ourselves. Obviously, if it's working inside of yourself, and you propagate it inside yourself, it will be easy to share it with the people who don't yet have Knowledge.
We took some statistics from the Data Department. In 1974, 5700 people received Knowledge in America. It might be relatively low, but after Millennium Maharaj Ji said, "Don't propagate. Spend 1974 getting your lives together." With the fact that there will be Western mahatmas in 1975, we can expect a lot more people to come to Knowledge. Right now there are Information Centers or ashrams in approximately 150 cities. Some of these cities are less organized than others, but that's a lot of cities.
This brings me to another point: if 1975 is going to be the year for propagation, as Maharaj Ji has said it will be, it will only be possible if every premie recognizes the responsibility he has to dedicate his life to Guru Maharaj Ji's Mission. We can get very excited and optimistic about the year to come, but the plain fact of the matter is that we, as Maharaj Ji's family, are the ones who have to do his work, and we have a lot to get together before we can do anything. I'm not saying, "We need your help," because there is no "We" and "You". Maharaj Ji is asking each one of us to help, and that should be enough.
Someone here suggested we put a full page ad in the paper saying: "It's your Mission too, Jack!" We didn't, but the message is still the same: each one of us is Divine Light Mission, and each one of us has to dedicate our lives to continually and actively supporting it before DLM will ever get off the ground and do the things Maharaj Ji wants us to do.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Just that whoever is reading this paper right now should take time to reflect upon the fact that Guru Maharaj Ji is in this world and he has given you the Knowledge of God. The commitment you make to practice will reflect on how much peace you experience. Everyone wants to experience more truth in his life. And the brothers and sisters in National Headquarters are only here to help you. I personally offer any help I can give, and I know I speak for everybody. If there is any way I can be of help, then just take the time to write a letter or give us a call. People shouldn't hesitate to ask for love.
When I did my tour around the country before Hans Jayanti, a lot of premies came up to me and talked about the separation that they felt between themselves and the Mission. I know people have blocks about the Mission - there are a lot of criticisms that people have that are really valid. It's certainly not a perfectly running organization. It just reflects our understanding. As we understand more, it gets better. The thing to remember is we're just here as the Lord's children trying to serve Guru Maharaj Ji. Ultimately, the Mission is Guru Maharaj Ji's Mission. Guru Maharaj Ji wants it to be something where people can actually feel the love that premies are finding with this Knowledge.
A year ago, Guru Maharaj Ji said in a letter to all the premies, "My mission in this world is to establish peace, but I need cooperation from all. We are very, very fortunate to have received this Knowledge and now it is our duty to spread it throughout the world. The way in which to do this is through Divine Light Mission because Divine Light Mission is the mission that has been created for the purpose of spreading this Knowledge."
Midway through the year, in his Paramount satsang, Maharaj Ji added, "We need every premie's cooperation …
No matter how hard we try, every premie has to help. Remember, one and one in this story don't make two. They make eleven. This is how it works …. So really, premies, this is the perfect opportunity for you to do service. Now, I am not talking about 1975. Many premies think, 'Oh, yeah, I don't know about it right now. It's in a little bit of a hanky-panky situation, this Mission. I'll try it in 1975 when they get a little bit together.'
"Listen. It's not going to get together in 1975 or 1976 until you help it. Until you cooperate with it. If the guy says, 'Listen, this engine isn't any good, so I am not gonna put it in the car,' the engine will never be mended and never be put in the car, and the car will never drive. It will just sit there,' and sit there, 'til evolution comes and changes the whole earth".
When Maharaj Ji said "We can do it," and told us to make it our slogan for 1975, he was making the kind of commitment he was asking from his premies very clear. As many of you know, since late 1973, the Mission has been operating at a deficit. This situation has been compounded by a large debt remaining from the Millennium festival, and the publication of And It Is Divine. The reasons for this are many. The lack of organizational experience that we began the Mission with is certainly a factor, but also many premies have never really taken on the responsibility that Maharaj Ji has asked to support his Mission and work through it to spread Knowledge.
Up to now, the ashram premies have provided the major part of the financial support of the Mission. Beyond their living expenses, which the residents now earn completely by themselves, the 572 ashram members donate almost as much as all the other premies put together, nearly a 50-1 ratio.
It is easy to see: as soon as this inconsistency is overcome and the other premies really begin to support the Mission in a regular and consistent way, we will quickly get out of debt and really do some of the work Maharaj Ji has asked us to do.