Yesterday, June 17th, was a significant day in my Young and Old Life. I would like to share the significance of that day with you.
Thirty-seven years ago, I ran into a man who was -at the time – a seventeen-year-old boy. I was twenty-one.
I had been studying Yoga in the mountains outside Sacramento, California with my girlfriend of the time, an aspiring Yoga Teacher. By ‘mistake’ (although nothing is a mistake, really) I ran across a communal house-type information center about the work of one young man from India who had mixed reviews as the sensational child-guru, a man who was named “Maharaji”. I thought I would check this out; why not? I was into checking out anything with a spiritual twist, anything from the East … anything which acknowledged the inner journey in life.
Well – that was the beginning. What I heard and what I felt and what I knew from spending that time in that old house in Sacramento, was the beginning of a lifelong commitment for me: a journey of the Heart, the longest and most significant relationship I’ve had in my life.
Prem Rawat – given the honorable title “Maharaji” at a young age, became my Teacher. He had come over to the West from India at the age of twelve; initiated as a teacher by his Father/mentor’s passing at the age of eight; instructing and inspiring as early as age four.
And now: I’ve been a student of this Master, this Teacher, for 37 years. Yesterday marked the 40th years of Maharaji’s work in the west. From a humble start of a few hundred western students in 1971, there are now over a million world-wide who practice this gift of Knowledge, and who have seen it transform their lives from the inside out.
Maharaji – literally “Great Teacher” – is celebrating 40 years in the West, as of yesterday, and what an amazing 40 years it has been. What a miracle, in a world of hype and packaging, a world of innuendo, protocol and sales pitches, that this timeless message – both ancient and contemporary – is not merely sustained and kept alive by a privileged and eclectic few, but is practiced, available and acknowledged all around the world – in every nation, in every walk of life. From prison colonies to pastors to prestigious colleges and seats of government; from winning awards in community TV programming years in a row; broadcast on thousands of networks across every continent as Words of Peace Global to addressing record-breaking crowds of a half-million in India who sit in pin-drop silence, drinking in pure inspiration, word by word.
For a world saturated with violence, deceit and struggle; for cultures inundated with valueless material and commercial gratification; for individuals perplexed by a myriad of convoluted “spiritual”, religious and philosophical offerings; for societies in which position and acquisition become the calling-cards of merit — what an amazing gift it is that this man humbly presents to us: the gift of an inner connection to one’s own heart. A sanctuary, an oasis, a well-spring of nutrition and wisdom that each of us can draw from, thrive from, express and celebrate in our own unique individual ways. A sweetness, a sense of purpose, meaning, and direction that we can truly own and call our own.
Prem Rawat continues his work around the world, gifting both individuals and societies with the products and by-products of consciousness and humanity. The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF.ORG) has been awarded the highest merits of all charitable organizations, both transparent and effective in its mandate, and operating in and out of partnership with well-established institutions in providing disaster relief and food and medical support to some of the poorest communities on earth.
Prem continues to inspire, instruct and remind us of the most important connection in our lives: the connection to our own hearts. Whether in an intimate group of 200 or a vast throng of a half-million, the relationship between student and teacher remains paramount, and the one-on-one connection magically triumphs: a unique grain of sand in an ocean of love. One of the few connections in the world that truly deserves the title, sacred.
Although Maharaji doesn’t need or ask for acknowledgement – he’s doing this selflessly as service both to the human race and to his father & mentor – I need to acknowledge him. His work, his excellence in everything he does, his patience, compassion, humor, respect, kindness, wisdom, insight … and his ability to “show up” to the nth degree, to bring unending sparks of light into the cauldron of seething darkness that this humanity is emerging from. This is my gift and privilege: to share the same gift and privilege that has been bestowed on me.
Thank you Maharaji, for all that you are, all that you have done, and all that you continue to do: the gargantuan effort, the mandate of forging a pathway through what no one else in the world could even conceive of. A pathway, not just for your footsteps, but for all of us who seek clarity and inner purpose. A journey of potentially unspeakable difficulty has been made attainable and enjoyable by the work that you’ve dedicated your life to accomplish.
And for me, I’m reminded every day, that no matter the shape of the “world”, no matter what storms come and go – fair weather and foul – there’s a safe harbor inside me: warm and dry. There’s a beautiful rain falling every moment – for the thirsty – a rain of Gold, a rain of Sweet Music; a small and huge Womb in the arms of the Infinite, that I have the privilege of entering – through the most intimate of doorways.
It’s there for me. It’s there for you. And because of the efforts of this amazing human being, it’s there for the whole world.
Thank you Maharaji, for turning my hovel into a Mansion. Thank you for revealing the gold mine inside, and for injecting true meaning, sweetness and clarity into my humble existence.
Maharaji’s personal website contains short samples of his writing and music: www.maharaji.net. Words Of Peace Global (www.wopg.org) is a resource for introducing his teachings on the inner journey. TPRF.org (The Prem Rawat Foundation) spearheads charitable work and disaster relief in ongoing projects, world-wide.