Premies from all over America and beyond came to the Festival of Love program held February 18, 19, 20 in Denver, Colorado to be with their Lord, Guru Maharaj Ji. In an effort to uncover the reason behind these apparently mad odysseys, Light Reading asked a random sampling of visitors: "What was your experience in coming to Denver for this program?" and "How does it feel?" Following are the replies:
"I felt complete and total indecision. I got completely in my mind when I first heard about another program, miles and miles away from Philadelphia. But finally I decided, what the heck … I'll go."
Scott Clancy, Philly
"Well, I went to Portland and I had no doubt that I would be here, because I felt that Maharaj Ji wouldn't even ask us to come if he didn't want us to be here. It feels fantastic."
Mary Robinson, L.A.
"The whole idea in coming here and knowing why I came has really put me in a beautiful place, just really makes me remember meditation. I didn't make it to Portland so I'm really glad I made it here."
Steve Bataro, Hartford, Conn.
"I just had a bus ride that took 38 hours and I loved the whole ride. It was really nice having satsang with everyone on the bus. I feel really good being here, just really ready to go through the darshan line and open up."
Chico Backer, Oswego, N.Y.
"I don't want to think about it, it's too much, after Portland – three weeks, then Denver … I just want to be with Him. I only care about devotion, that's all I want, just to be there, that's all I need. It's unreal, how He gives you back everything, everything and more and your mind keeps asking "but whyyyy?" … I don't care about receiving Knowledge. I only care about having devotion. I was worried about receiving Knowledge for a long time, but I don't care about it any more as long as He gives me devotion, as long as He keeps me there at His Feet. When I'm with Him there's just nothing there, just that Love."
George Celesie, Argentina
Following is the story of three premies who were driving from New York and had a car accident in Joliet, Ill. Their car went off the road at 60 m.p.h. and flipped over several times, but the oc cupants suffered only minor injuries. Subsequently, they phoned Denver and the premies on the charter from New York took up a collection to fly their brothers and sisters the rest of the way.
"I had no shoes on so I was wandering around in the snow with bare feet. I think we all just experienced feeling very lucky to be alive. The doctor at the hospital said that it was amazing that we weren't all dead, that it usually happens in wrecks like that. As a matter of fact, he said we should "thank God with all our heart." We agreed."
Doug Ross, N.Y.
"When I woke up we were flying around, the car was flipping over. Then we landed. Any possibility for fear, any possibility for freak-out had been taken away days ago because of our desire for Maharaj Ji. The desire to stay inside was so much more than anything any of us were feeling. When I got in the police car, a blanket was being put over me as if to say, "I'm here with you, it's all right …" We were lying in the hospital waiting to be X-rayed, feeling so much bliss and laughing even though our bodies hurt. When they called up to say money was being sent I was so thankful that we have this family. Nowhere else does it exist that people will just bring you to the Lord, it's just amazing."
Jenny Dowd, N.Y.
"I experienced amazing surrender. Actually, amazing defeat. Guru Maharaj Ji just totally brought me here. He just made a total miracle of my life. It feels beautiful, very right."
Jackie, Berkeley, Calif.
"Just by his Grace, he left me alive and taught me a lesson. I experienced it concretely that material things are nothing because they can come and they can go. This life is really a precious thing. It can go any time. We've got to really make the most of every second to realize what truth is. Every experience you have is something that you can benefit from on this path. I think all of us were so totally in awe of Guru Maharaj Ji and so totally aware that there is a higher power that controls our lives. You can either get in the flow or be against it."
"It was really beautiful. At first, I thought it was just a rumor. I thought, Oh no, I can't go – I don't have the money. And then, it's o.k. Because if Guru Maharaj Ji is calling you, you're going. You know you're going. Then I woke up the next morning with the flu and couldn't get out of bed. Everyone else left in the cars, but it was another one of those stories – everything came together at the last second. I woke up the next morning and my fever was gone. It was so beautiful because people who had the money just let go of it and everyone who really wanted to be there is here. We got to the airport this morning and I saw a few of the faces of people who were just plain broke after Portland a week ago. They had return tickets in their hands with a smile from here to here on their faces. Only for Guru Maharaj Ji can you ever do anything like this. It didn't make any sense when I thought about it – all the debts – but for Guru Maharaj Ji, you don't think about it. It's just such a precious opportunity because for me, I don't know when it will be the last time. I know that Maharaj Ji's not doing it for himself. He's doing it for us. It's something I could never expect. I don't have any way to pay it back. It's impossible but Guru Maharaj Ji makes the impossible possible all the time."
Marolyn Freifield, Montreal
"It still seems very unreal to me. I can't quite believe I'm here yet. I'm not a premie. I'm an aspirant. I really expect this to be a wonderful experience for me. I want very badly to receive Knowledge. I really feel it will help me in my life. Something that I can't define is pulling me to Guru Maharaj Ji. I've been looking for something all my life and I have a feeling that this really is it. I sincerely hope so."
Jean Cidlier, Buffalo, N.Y.
"A whole lot of Grace. It's really unbelievable. Sometimes you don't really, really experience Maharaj Ji directing your life constantly, but when something like going to get his darshan comes up, just doing what he asks, you do experience it."
Jackie Corn, Hartford, Conn.
"It's beautiful. The other times that I had been going for darshan, I was going to be sure if Maharaj Ji was Perfect Master. This time, I'm sure he's the Perfect Master. It's completely different."
Habir, Mexico City
"Much emotion, bliss, bliss, bliss. There are no words to explain that Guru Maharaj Ji has invited us to this program in Denver. I had to just leave everything. I didn't have a passport. I had no way of coming. I left everything, just threw it away to come to Maharaj Ji. I don't know how I'm here, but I'm here."
Socorro Montajiez, Vera Cruz, Mexico
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The Journey of Love
"The only thing I wanted to do it for is to see Guru Maharaj Ji, to be with Guru Maharaj Ji. I was in Portland, Atlantic
City and the birthday party. All I'm here for is to connect with him because when I'm connected, then I can be anywhere. I'm just beginning to feel that I really want to serve him. I felt so relaxed, so comfortable. I drove all the way across the country to move into the Philadelphia ashram and then drove all the way to Portland with my mind saying, "What's going on? What am I doing driving all the way across the country to see this guy?" Each time I see him, my heart opens a little more. I saw how much Guru Maharaj Ji means."
Arne Zucker, East Orange, N.J.
"Everything's working out beautifully. Everything's falling into place. Everything's coming together." Evelyn Kokonis, Milwaukee, Wisc.