Mahatma Gurupujanand aka Initiator Ira WoodsNATIONAL


The change from 1975 to 1976 will be remembered by Sydney premies for the change in consciousness which accompanied it. On New Year's Day, Ira Woods, Guru Maharaj Ji's first western Initiator to visit Australia, arrived in Sydney For two weeks we experienced the clarity and power of his satsang. With amazement turning to delight we watched as he showed us the limits our minds had been placing in our experience of Knowledge, and turned us back towards the understanding we need and want constantly - that the love we're seeking lies within our own hearts, and that one hundred percent surrender to our Guru Maharaj Ji's guidance is the only means to reach that goal.

Ira was flying in from New Zealand with Julie Collet, our Initiator-on-training. The plane wasn't due to arrive until dinner time - probably not in time for satsang.

But that evening Derek Harper was on the chair, million dollar smile fully extended beneath his moustache: "Today we're very lucky, because we've got Mahatma Gurupujanand (now Initiator Ira Woods) -". And so we had no saffron garb or especial haircutting, but as our brother Padarthanand told as so often, external trimmings do not make Initiators. Guru Maharaj Ji makes initiators, to carry his message throughout the world. And on New Year's night message came to us, strong and clear. Mind reeled back as we experienced afresh the power of satsang. "This whole universe has been created for that purpose, just for the perfection of our soul. If we don't try to get satisfaction from within ourselves then we're only going to try to get peace and satisfaction from outside. One is the right method and it works, one is the wrong method and it doesn't work. One is a complete waste of time and one makes every moment, every second of this life valuable. So this is what's in front of us. Those of us who have received Knowledge, we can realise this practically if we want but it's going to take complete concentration and one pointedness of mind - this is the only way".

"It'll be the same old story again tomorrow," Ira told us that first night. "It's just a question of how many different ways I can say it". And indeed it was the same story over the next two weeks, but our understanding deepened with each telling. Maharaj Ji, through Ira, seemed to be running a TLC course for three-quarters-asleep premies. Beginning with a swift kick to our minds - which we realised had the upper hand for a long while - he followed through with love and inspiration so powerful that premies were to be observed jumping under their meditation sheets at four and five o'clock in the morning, to discover the reality for themselves. Nine Knowledge reviews, much satsang, and some concentrated meditation later, we began to see what Ira meant when he compared the choice a premie must make between Knowledge and the world to that of a gourmet faced with one large mango smoothy (a drink somethin thing you make from from fruit, yoghurt, honey and whatever else you fancy). and another equally big cow-dung smoothy. Some premies, Ira explained, complain of having to sacrifice the world in order to experience the bliss of Knowledge. But really, who in their right mind would worry about the cow-dung smoothy they've abandoned in favour of a mango treat -mango smoothies are so great.

When premies start to understand Guru Maharaj Ji's gift, propagation becomes possible. In his five introductory programs, Ira explained clearly that satisfaction, the thing man is searching unsuccessfully in the world, can be revealed inside each and every person by the Perfect Master. His stories of life in New York were so easy for us to relate to, his explanations so clearly based on experience, that premies and newcomers alike were enchanted. After the programs, forty people signed up to attend an Introduction to Knowledge Series.

On Thursday night, Ira was in Hobart, but his message - Guru Maharaj Ji's message - is still with us and satsang is beautiful. Every premie seems to share the same desire - to dive into a deeper dedication to service, satsang and meditation.



Initiator Ira Woods' visit was a strong injection of love and inspiration to the Hobart community.

Since his visit, the unity which has been developing in the community is more than encouraging and the enthusiasm of premies to really experience Knowledge and dedicate more to Maharaj Ji has blossomed. There is a feeling that we are just be ginning to know what we are meant to be doing with our lives. There is a feeling of excitement which comes with knowing that it is incredible, and it will be more so.

As Durga Ji said, "Maharaj Ji is waiting for us to be ready; to be clear; to be really experiencing the supreme peace of Knowledge so that he can begin his work". We feel that it is just beginning, and long to be made able to carry his Grace.

During his week-long stay, Ira held three public programs, two premie-public programs and two premie only programs at the ashram. The attendance at the public programs were high for Hobart. Up to 30 new people attended each night. We were able to provide them with information about Divine Light Mission and further steps to take towards Knowledge. Many left their names and addresses, to be contacted later for the Introduction to Knowledge Series, being held one evening per week for four weeks. After one program, an elderly man came up to Ira, and patted him on the back, thanking him.

Ira's love and unpretentiousness put a lot of things into perspective for us. So many of his actions were examples of the simplicity and honesty we should experience all.

He told us, "…we should really do meditation because that's the thing that really unites us. We do service, we do satsang and also we do meditation. And there is something to do. You've got to concentrate yourself. You've got to try and meditate. You just can't sit there and just let your mind wander around. We really have to fix ourselves inside and try and see it. And it doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt to try. Try, try and experience Knowledge. It's beautiful. And if we put that effort in, we will experience it. We have to - because it's there. If it wasn't there it would be a different story, but it's there. And now we have the Grace to go ahead and experience it. And that's exactly what we want".

At the premie programs held in the ashram satsang room, we all felt the relaxation and easiness a family feels when it's at home together. Ira's satsang was strong and powerful. In it he said, "Never be afraid to give sat-sang. Never be afraid to stand out as a devotee of Guru Maharaj Ji. Have faith in him. Have faith in this Knowledge. Trust it. And if we have faith in Guru Maharaj Ji, we'll be able to experience this Knowledge." He went on to say, "The thing that makes a community a community is when people have faith and dedication for Guru Maharaj Ji. Because we're all one family. We have to see it this way. We're all premies of Guru Maharaj Ji. We're all devotees of Guru Maharaj Ji and we have one aim. We're trying to realise this Knowledge for ourselves. And we're trying to work together and cooperate together as brothers and sisters, to propagate this Knowledge".

The remainder of Ira's time was easily filled. There was a morning interview on local ABC radio and a 1 ½ minute TV news interview. Although he felt sure he had blown the interview and didn't want to watch it, we were delighted to see him saying clearly - in 90 seconds - that Maharaj Ji's meditation is Truth and Maharaj Ji is bringing peace to the world.

In three Knowledge Reviews, 64 premies again were reminded that to really understand, we must strive to plumb the depths within ourselves.

Two local videotapes were prepared and recorded at the ashram. One was introductory which we used for the Introduction to Knowledge Series, and the other being a half-hour powerful satsang on the Perfect Master - for the Knowledge Seminar.

It's very difficult to put into words the lift in consciousness, the change in direction and the increased energy which just one week has brought to us here. We know we must act from a point of inner motivation and sustain our effort every moment to realise the glory of our lives with our Perfect Master. In one of his sat- stings, Ira said, "…the thing we really feel from Guru Maharaj Ji is his together ness. If everything was falling apart and you had to run to one person in this whole world, who would you run to? It's like you'd think "Well, Guru Maharaj Ji seems the only one that's got it together." I know for myself that's where I'd run. If everything fell apart and everything is falling apart and that's where I ran anyway. If just physically you had to run someplace, you'd just run to Guru Maharaj Ji's feet and say, "…Wow, phew … help.

Please let me stay around you because I don't know what's going on". Because you know that at his feet everything's together. He's always got it together. Guru Maharaj Ji always, always has it together. And that togetherness that he is, is what he's trying to rub off on us".

One person of the five who did the three-day Seminar was chosen to receive Knowledge. The Knowledge Session was combined with a Knowledge Review and from all reports was a very high experience. This premie showed the benefits of a long and thorough preparation. Her experience in the Knowledge Session was very beautiful and Ira later explained that he loves to give Knowledge when it is like that. He also pointed out how much energy we had expended just so that one person could receive Knowledge. As the purpose of the Mission is to propagate Knowledge, all our activities exist for that purpose. Whether it was a housemother cooking, or an AMP member contributing - all this for one person to receive Knowledge and receive the seed of love from Guru Maharaj Ji.

One sister asked Ira about Guru Maharaj Ji's love, he replied, "We haven't fully realised that, it's so hard to realise. To understand Guru Maharaj Ji's love, it isn't an emotional thing. We have to go to that Knowledge to understand that love. This love is never ending. Guru Maharaj Ji's love is so big that it takes up this whole creation and he loves everything. But we have to realise what that love means and if we experience that love, we end up loving much much more than we did before. A person who loves Guru Maharaj Ji, ends up loving everything".