Journeys: Gina

Date: June 10, 2001
Email: None

Hi, my name is Gina (short i); I was a premie from late 1973, right after Millenium, until about 1975, in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm amazed to have stumbled on this's very enlightening to read other people's Journeys. I was telling my youngest son (17) about my experience last night and I told him I had no idea if Divine Light Mission even existed anymore or if Maharaji was still a Guru, so I did a web search today to find out.

I once did inquire for an update about 10 years ago when my husband, an Atlanta drummer, did some recording with a guitar player who had been a premie for years and years in Florida. When I met him I told him I had been a premie back in the day, and I asked him what was new. He was very reticent, oddly snobbish, with me about DLM.

The only other time DLM has come up, really, in all these years, was a few years ago when I was working as a perinatal nurse and I was talking about vegetarianism with one of the doctors I worked with. She asked me how I had learned organic gardening. I told her I had been a housemother at a DLM musicians' house (the band was Mandala) on a farm outside Atlanta. We cleared an acre for a garden and a member of the Atlanta community, an amazing older man who had recovered from arthritis through organic gardening and vegetarianism, came out and taught me. This doctor looked at me in something like shock and she said, "My sister joined Divine Light Mission and we had to get her out and have her deprogrammed. It was horrible." I was so surprised; I didn't know what to say.

But I have just read some of the Journeys here and I'm finding that there is a lot I didn't know about or suspect. I lived away from the Atlanta community, out there on that farm, and when the band went on the road I usually went with them to do their food (I juiced 100 pounds of carrots a week!). I usually didn't see the Atlanta premies much except when I went in to the food co-op or potluck dinner, or if some of them came out to the farm occasionally. So, my experience was somewhat isolated. And I think our house was very different...a house full of rock and roll musicians, devotees in their own way, but also still pretty rowdy.

My first memory of Divine Light Mission is Millenium in 1973, which was my introduction to Guru Maharaji...I was 21 and I had been invited to go out to Houston with my boyfriend and his band, who had just joined DLM. Millenium was simply bewildering to me and I remember being the most impressed by how they managed to feed everyone.

Then about a month later I was sitting in the 15th Street House in downtown Atlanta on a Friday evening, asking Mahatma Jagdeo to receive knowledge. The next day in my knowledge session, when he did the light technique to me, I had such an intense inner experience, visually and spiritually and emotionally, that I literally reeled and gasped. I nearly fainted. Mahatma Ji said, "SHHHH, Gita!" I thought he was telling me to hush AND giving me a new spiritual name at the same time (or mispronouncing my real name, Gina?). But nobody had ever mentioned being renamed so I didn't know and I wasn't sure if I should ask anyone. We'd been told not to talk about the experience of receiving knowledge, so I never said anything about it.

Then in the Spring of 1974, Guru Maharaji and Mata Ji were coming to Atlanta to do a program and the Ashram asked the Mandala Farm if we could turn over that house (a very nice, very new place we were renting) to them for the Divine Digs during the 3 or 4 days of the visit. We were ecstatic! Then we had to completely move out!!! The "carpenter premies" in the Atlanta community came out and did weird things like replace all the toilet seats and doorknobs, repaint the entrance hall. And the Ashram rented a motorcycle and a Masarati sportscar for Maharaji to drive around if he wanted to. (My husband still calls him "Guru Masarati")

Some of the Ashram sisters did bizarre things like go to this huge Atlanta department store and "borrow" fine china for the Divine Dining... they bought it with the intention of returning it after the visit. The band happened to be going out on the road that week, but I was asked to stay to tell people where things were as well as to be liaison with the landlord, who was bemusedly tolerant. He just requested an audience with "The Guru" and Maharaji was very gracious with him. The Mahatmas and staff who came along were great... very nice, all of them. After the Divine Departure we found that the cooks had leftin the kitchen for us some wonderful Indian vegetarian food, with blessings.

But I just never fell completely in. Just like I never fell into Christianity, although that's what I raised with. I don't know why, because I saw other people who did, but they seemed happy and okay. In 1975, when I decided I wanted to transfer my earlier college credits to Georgia State University Nursing School and study to be a perinatal nurse or nurse-midwife, I asked about possible scholarship or financial aid from Divine Light Mission. This didn't seem at all absurd to me given that nursing was a service profession. But I quickly realized that by "service" they meant only service to the DLM community and Guru Maharaji, not for the mothers and babies I felt called to serve. No one was mean to me or unkind in any way, but I realized they didn't get it, that I'd been living in some sort of illusion that didn't match reality at all, so I just left.

I still do meditation, although I never got the other techniques except mindful breathing. One of the guys in the band used to brag about how far he could stick his tongue up in his head to get the "nectar" and I could NOT get what he was talking about. I got it when I took Anatomy and Physiology! YIKES! The breathing meditation, though, has stood me well... it was what I used in my four natural home births, and it has been the breathing/relaxation technique I've used to coach many women in labor.

So I feel like I learned some valuable lessons from the experience. I have taught my four children, though, to be very careful about all religions, to respect the great teachers, spiritual leaders, healers, wise women and men... they are all around us, to learn from as many directions as possible, and to think for themselves... and to always be wary of the middleman.

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