The Golden Age
An Antidote to Fear
Divine Light Mission President Bob Mishler speaking at the Opera House on 19 October 1975.
It's nice to be here in the Opera House with you. It's good to have the perspective to see how Guru Maharaj Ji's mission is developing internationally. There are a few things that I have been able to observe and one of them is that wherever we happen to be, wherever we happen to have received Knowledge - we have also happened to pick up the cultural limitations of the community, the society of the nation we live in. And that carries over into our lives as premies. It's a very subtle thing. Most of us don't really notice it a whole lot because we don't often have the opportunity to break out of the immediate environment of the overall society in which we live.
Faith was saying how she and David Lovejoy used to drive by the Opera House and think, "Someday Guru Maharaj Ji will be speaking there" - and now it's turning out to be true. But it might not have happened, I know I used to think along the same lines, but I learnt very quickly that really there isn't any way to determine how Guru Maharaj Ji is going to do anything, or how fast it's going to happen. Time is just a framework for the experiences we're having in our life, it's not a reality. To get trapped in the delusion of time is just another trick of the mind. Time is there as a matrix for all the experiences of life to take place in and as much time as is necessary will pass until we begin to realise what Guru Maharaj Ji has given us, who Guru Maharaj Ji is and what he's come here for.
Sometimes Guru Maharaj Ji does give me a little peak into the future. I remember the first time I ever really had any prolonged personal contact with him. It was about a couple of days after he moved into my house - which was about two weeks after I received Knowledge. I was driving him around and I said, "Now, Guru Maharaj Ji, you have just given me direction to start the Mission in the United States and get it registered and so on." I said: "Well now, Maharaj Ji, are you going to tell me what you have in mind?" And he said, "Yes, that's precisely what I intend to do." And then he didn't say anything else - at least not then. And he has been telling me little bits and pieces along the way.
A little over a year ago Maharaj Ji told me that it was time to internationalise the Mission. At that time we had just barely established what I felt to be a very fragile national framework within the United States. Taking on the responsibility of getting the premies all around the world to understand the necessity of co-operating so that we could maximise our effectiveness in spreading Knowledge for Guru Maharaj Ji was both an awesome and a terrifying thought to me. Because I'd experienced how difficult it was to get people to agree on just about anything, short of the fact that they were all serving Guru Maharaj Ji to the best of their ability. Of course, everybody that I knew also thought their ideas of how to serve Guru Maharaj Ji were better than anybody elses'. And it was very difficult to get people to see it in an overall perspective where everything can fit in together. And so at that time I really didn't think that it was going to be an easy job. Certainly I wouldn't have guessed that in just one year, we would be able to co-ordinate festivals on an international basis in one extensive tour. I wouldn't have guessed that so much would be possible, so quickly. But yet, at the same time, another thing I have learnt in the process is that, as quickly as Guru Maharaj Ji's movement may be growing, it can never really become a mass movement; even though we may be understanding the necessity of co-operating and the importance of working together to maximise our effectiveness as a group of devotees all focusing on the same point of devotion.
There have been times when I used to think that all the things of the modern age were just set up for Guru Maharaj Ji. It's almost as if everything is being prototyped and tested out now, so that when Guru Maharaj Ji's ready for them they'll be there. The fact is, we've got international communications via
satellite so that an event that's happening in Manila in the Philipines can be watched by seven hundred million people around the world. They can watch two of the biggest brusiest men beat the hell out of each other simultaneously. Obviously we just need to focus the technology we've developed so that ultimately it will allow seven hundred million people - nearly a fifth of the world's population - to hear satsang simultaneously. But then I have seen enough in the past year just among the premie communities that exist in the world to recognise that Knowledge can never really become a mass movement. It's not like all of a sudden it's going to be a mania - Guru Maharaj Ji mania - in the same way there was Beatlemania. He isn't going to click the archetype of people's subconscious and everybody's going to flock to Knowledge. Because if that happened it would really undermine the very thing that Guru Maharaj Ji was emphasising in his satsang last night, and that is that the fact that he's realised Knowledge doesn't do you any good, because that was an individual experience for him. It's not going to do me any good for you to realise Knowledge because that's going to be an individual experience for you. In the same way that each one of us came into this world individually, and each one of us will leave this world individually, we also have to come to this path of truth as an individual. We can't just come like one of so many sheep, following whatever is the mass thing, the chic thing, or the cliquy thing of the day. We can't just be into it because it's fashion. We can't just convert en-masse, as people convert from one religion to another.
Because Maharaj Ji's not here to convert people from one religion to another. We've got enough religions in the world already today and we can see how effective they are, how successful they are at bringing peace into people's lives, how successful they are in bringing fulfilment to people's lives. Not that some people don't derive some fulfilment from their religious beliefs. I don't mean to be disrespectful to anyone's religious convictions. But the point that I'm trying to make is that Guru Maharaj Ji is not here to change anybody's religion. He's not here to convert anyone. What he is here for is for those individuals who have come to that point in their life, because of the circumstances that have taken place in their life, where they've recognised the importance of knowing that power which is within inside of them; which is responsible for life and death and everything besides. That power which is just beyond the grasp of our reasoning. The thing that we can't quite get to Padarthanand was saying we have all kinds of words for it; we call it absolute, we call it infinite, we call it so many things. And by saying "infinite" we have a nice neat little box in our conceptual frame-work to shove something that's a awesome - that's terrifying - into a corner of our mind where we don't have to deal with it.
I remember once as a small child I was lying down in a meadow looking up at the sky. I started thinking about infinity and my mind started spinning and spinning and spinning. And I started really spacing out on the stars, on just how vast everything is. I got so dizzy I got sick. So then I stopped doing that. Because it was beyond the scope of my reason to contain. But somehow, some way, all the experiences that were happening in my life made it impossible for me to ignore that question. To me it is the only question that we're alive to find, the answer to the question is what is that power that's creating life, what is that sustaining energy responsible for life and death and everything else that we don't even know about. What is that?
I know a lot of people of my generation, in my particular country, growing up in my particular culture felt that the patterns that existed in our society didn't allow the individual to come to the point of knowing the totality of his being. That in fact, everything within the cultural trends of our society was intended to condition a person into fitting into a particular slot. You were supposed to have decided what you were going to be for your life by the time you were half way through college, so that you could have picked your major and be preparing for your career and so on. And I know a lot of people rejected this because they saw themselves being pushed along a path that was going to make them very much the same as maybe their parents were at that time. And they didn't like that very much, because maybe their parents weren't very happy with their life. As a result of that it produced a kind of revolution, a kind of attitude of: "Well, I'm of going to get shoved along in this conditioning process in the same way that everybody else is intending to shove me along." But that in itself didn't bring about any real change. It produced what, in the United States, has become known as the counter-culture; the counter-culture meaning just another culture within the society, one which is pretty much the same as the one that was already there - the preceding one: it's just changed around a bit. And is opposed to the one that was there before. But still the question remains unanswered.
There were a lot of people during that period who posed the question very well. There were pop artists who sang about it. There were poets who wrote about it. There were social activists who talked about it. There were all sorts of people who managed to manifest the yearning inside of them to know the answer to the question. They adopted some kind of humanitarian cause or some kind of cause that was less than the whole picture, but was easier to cope with than asking themselves the fundamental question of facing their own life. They wanted to go out and crusade for this or that. It was easier to get concerned about the environment, say, than to get concerned about what we know or don't know about life and death, because that isn't so frightening. It's frightening - but it isn't as close to you. It's one thing to be able to blame Esso, Exxon or whatever, or blame IBM or President Ford, or blame the industrialists, the capitalist pigs, the fascists, the whoever you're going to blame. It's one thing to do that, but it's a whole other thing - it's a real experiment in terror - to bring it home and to see that there is actually nobody to blame. There's nobody to blame for the way the world is today. There's nobody who can answer for the problems that exist in the world today and also there is nobody who is answering the problems that exist in the world today.
And so it takes a kind of very special individual who can come to the point of seeing the absurdities of this projection: "Oh, it's the Americans, it's the Russians; Oh, it's this group; it's the Muslims, it's the Jews, it's the blacks, it's the whites; it's this group or that group causing all the problems in the world today." We're just acting like a bunch of little children when what we really need to be doing is being a bunch of little children. There's a difference between being childish and being childlike. To be like a child means to be open, to be capable of asking the
question, to be open to the answer, to be innocent enough to be able to learn. To be childish means just to behave immaturely, to behave naively, to behave in such a way that we avoid seeing ourselves. Guru Maharaj Ji has told me that every person - it doesn't matter how closed he is - at some point or another has to face himself. At some point or another he asks himself that question: "What's it all about? What is all being? Why am I alive? What is it, what am I here for?" He asks himself that question without immediately being able to accept all of his bad answers: Well I have my family, I have my friends, and I have my job, and I have my career, and I have my crusade, and I have my this and my that.
He is going to ask himself that question at some point when he is not going to be able to satisfy himself with any of the superficial answers that his reason has right at it's fingertips to placate his consciousness or lull him to sleep with.
It's like when I laid down on that bank and looked up at the stars and tried to contemplate infinity and got sick: I eventually had to just go to sleep because that was the only way I could cope with it. I think I was about eight years old at the time. I don't really feel much older now. By Guru Maharaj Ji's grace it seems like I'm getting younger and younger because I'm realising I know less and less.
This world is very, very complicated. We have tremendously complicated our lives for the so-called advancement of the post-industrial revolutionary era of society, this modern technological age. In this world today, this advanced technological society can allow people all around the world to watch two men beat the hell of each other simultaneously, or to hear the words of peace, to hear the satsang of the Perfect Master. Yet we still have people living in the stone age, we have people living in the most primitive conditions known to man. We have this disparity of so-called civilisation, from complete stone-age man to so-called modern-man. And in the process, in the stages of cultural development from the stone-age to the so-called modern man, still the question remains unanswered: What is the purpose of this human life? And, because individual human beings have never been able to understand the purpose of their own individual human existence, humanity as a whole has never been able to understand what it is here for. So it's no wonder the problems we see in this world exist; it's no wonder… and there's no one to blame.
I remember Guru Maharaj Ji said something a few years back. In 1972 he gave a very strong satsang at a festival where he said things are so bad in this world that if God is really, truly our father, our creator; and he's watching and we're all his children; and things have got to the point where we have the capacity to literally, to completely annihilate life on this planet, don't you think that if he's the father, he's going to do something about it? Isn't he going to take some measure to make sure that that's not going to happen? And in fact, Guru Maharaj Ji stated at the time that he already has. There is a power that's holding back the force of destruction, that's ready to destroy all human creation. And that power is here in this world. But in order to be able to perceive that power a person has to individually have come to the point in the circumstances of his own life of wanting to know, of wanting to face that question. Because it's not an easy thing to do - it's a very difficult thing to do. And the people I meet nowadays I don't try to hype up with all sorts of satsang about how blissful and fantastic this Knowledge is. Because really there's absolutely no point in taking this Knowledge unless we intend to dedicate ourselves to this path of perfection, to this quest to know the truth about life, whatever that might be. And, given the fact that everything we know is nothing, everything we think about ourselves is quite likely to change if we are really seriously practising this path of perfection. Because it's not an easy thing. It's easy to receive; all it takes is a sincere heart; all it takes is that moment when you can open yourself up and say, "Guru Maharaj Ji, I want to know." Then the initiator says you can have that perception, and nobody leaves an initiation session without having had that perception.
But then we understand that we have to follow Guru Maharaj Ji's direction, and his direction is to do service, satsang and meditation. And then he takes care of those people who are following his direction, who are doing service, satsang and meditation. Because what he is doing is allowing us to perform the most difficult task in the most easy and gentle way. He's allowing us to completely have our lives transformed from within inside without ever having to directly confront ourselves. Because if we ever had to directly confront ourselves we'd probably freak ourselves out so bad that we would end up in a mental institution somewhere. We would become so frightened that we'd get back into dreaming, back into this sleep-walk that most people do.
And so Guru Maharaj Ji avoids that confrontation by giving us a very, very gentle way of going through the necessary experiences in our lives so that we confront ourselves - but not directly. Because the thing that we are confronting about ourselves isn't who we are anyway. And the identification with an ego which isn't true - which mascarades itself - is where all the pain comes in anyway. So Guru Maharaj Ji gives us the antidote to that fear, he gives us the thing that we've responded to, and that we always wanted: he gives us love. And he gives us love in so many ways. He gives the love that we experienced today when we all had his darshan. The love that comes directly from the Guru to the disciple. But then he also gives us the love that we experience in satsang - and that's why it's his direction to have satsang: it groups us together; he brings us together. We're completely different. Each one of us is individually practising this Knowledge. Each one of us is individually proceeding along this path. And yet collectively we all have the capacity to love one another. Because, in essence, the thing that we are realising is that we are one. And so he allows us to love each other in the kind of love affair that has no fear attached to it. A love affair that is really pure because we're brothers and sisters, we're the one family, we're the family of life. Being that family of life, being that family of love, he coaxes us out of our shells, he coaxes us out of these coffins we have built for ourselves with all the psychological defences we've manufactured through our conditioning to protect us from the world that we live in. But it's difficult. It's difficult to persevere.
Guru Maharaj Ji last night was emphasising a very important point. And really the reason I'm repeating what Maharaj Ji said last night is that quite often when we listen to Guru Maharaj Ji, what he says goes right by us. It's so important
that we catch it. And he says, when you get to a point where you're experiencing grace, you're experiencing love, you're experiencing growth in the Knowledge, that's precisely the most dangerous point for you. Because that's the point where you can become complacent; that's the point where you can begin to think that everything's really good. That, wow, this is the Golden Age. Then what happens is you're right back where you started with your mind telling you, "Wow, you've really got it made! You're a disciple of the Perfect Master, you've got all these premie friends. Now you really ought to get into something." You've really got to get into something like natural childbirth, or you've got to get into surfing, into film-making, this or that or the other thing. Don't worry about the fact that you are not meditating so much any more because you're really cruising in the Knowledge now. You've got all the grace behind you, you've got all this momentum. And you're part of a premie community, you're an active member. And you've got this great big institution that's going to take care of you. Well it's never taken care of anyone yet. And it won't take care of anyone ever. Because each and every one of us has to individually realise this Knowledge in that each and every one of us individually has to continue to make the effort.
I don't mean that you should drop whatever you may be doing. I don't mean you should stop pursuing any endeavours that you may be trying to perfect in the service of Guru Maharaj Ji, or in support of your family, or in your dealing with this world that we're in, or in your attempt to live and learn and spread this Knowledge. But what I mean is that you have to put the focus where the focus is due. And the focus is that we're all disciples on a path. And that path is very, very narrow and very, very sharp. And there's only one way that I know I'm on that path which is sometimes called the razor's edge it's so fine. The only way that I really know that I'm on that path is when I'm simultaneously experiencing a tremendous sense of exhilaration and a completely compelling awesome terror. On the one hand there's exhilaration, there is this bliss - that's true. But its companion is terror. Because you don't know what you're getting yourself into. You've got no idea, it's too awesome. And so really I suppose the easiest thing to do would be to leave reason behind. And to just stay in that experience. But it's the nature of mind not only to confuse us but also to reason everything out.
And the confusion comes when we get our priorities mixed up. Because we have to maintain our reason in order to continue to interface with the world that we live in. But we don't have to be a I art of the limitations of the world the t we live in. We don't have to be trapped in these dimensions of time and space where all these experiences of life are taking place. We can begin to see that that's just an arena for perception to ;row and that the perception is the perception of that power which is the power of life and death. And it doesn't have any real particular affinity with either one or the other: it's not just the power of life. Nor is it just the power of death; it's the power of both life and death; it's the power of all things. It's the thing where all duality ceases to exist. It's easy to get off on love. It's easy to love those who are close to you. You have no difficulty in loving your own children, your own husband or wife, or maybe your brothers and sisters. But how easy is it to love those who hate you? How easy is it to really sincerely and genuinely feel the same love for all living beings that you feel for those who are close to you? It seems like an impossible thing. But only because our perspective is so limited.
The Knowledge that Guru Maharaj Ji has given us has the capacity to really completely unshackle our perception, to allow it to serve beyond all the bounds of duality. Paradoxes exist for a reason in this world. The world is just an arena for our perception to grow in. Because the being that we are - the totality of our true identity - is not limited to this life alone. But the only way we will ever know that is through our own experience, which we will obtain individually.
But then the awareness that we all individually attain will be the same, because there is only one ultimate reality. And that's why we're all here tonight. Guru Maharaj Ji has given us that key to this path. He's unlocked the door for us. We've knocked, Maharaj Ji's given us the key and the door has opened and now we have to go through it. We have to. Sometimes it feels like Maharaj Ji's dragging us kicking and screaming through that door. Because when he opened the door nobody really wanted to know what was on the other side
Because knowing what's on the other side means going beyond everything that you ever thought you ever knew. It's funny that people live their lives as though they were immortal. They live their lives as though they were never going to die. Yet we know that everyone who comes into this world also leaves. That everyone who's born from that moment begins a path that ultimately takes him to an exit from this world, called death. But how often are we aware of the mortality of our body? We live our lives as though we were going to live forever. We must be living our lives as though we were going to live forever or else we'd ask ourselves the question more often. Because Guru Maharaj Ji has told us, those of us here who have had that door unlocked and now have the opportunity to go through it - he has told us that we have to use every moment as an opportunity to realise this Knowledge. Every moment. Didn't he say, don't you remember something along the lines of "Remember the Holy Name constantly and meditate on it?" Wasn't that the direction Guru Maharaj Ji gave you? Remember the Holy Name constantly and meditate on it. What's he saying?
It's so simple. That's his direction. And all he's saying really is take advantage of every moment, of every opportunity. Because you're alive, you have that moment to take advantage of, don't go around acting as though you were immortal. Be alive while you are alive. Experience living while you are alive, because you will have plenty of time to experience being dead when you are dead. There's no point in trying to get to be an expert on being dead while you're alive. So we have to listen to Guru Maharaj Ji if we call ourselves premies.
Last night Guru Maharaj Ji made a statement, a very interesting one. He said, "When I speak, the premies understand what I am saying and to everybody else it goes right by them." And once I asked Maharaj Ji what he meant by "premies", because we have a habit of calling everybody who went through an initiation session a premie. Guru Maharaj Ji said: "Look, the only people who are really premies are people who once they have been initiated, have stayed in my direction. Have made that effort to practise this Knowledge."