March 6, 2014
Sahaj Marg: You Love It Or You Leave It
From a new news article by Alexis on his blog:
The Mission: those who enter and those who leave
Two out of three people leave the Mission
On September 21, 2013, Kamlesh Patel addressed a letter to the CIC and ZIC (Centers in Charge, and Zones in Charge of SRCM), where he stressed the need to surround the newcomers so they are not tempted to abandon Sahaj Marg after a few weeks.
“(…) Thanks to the good work being done by all, the Mission has been growing slowly, yet steadily. The growth of our Mission needs to be well balanced on 2 counts - Quality & Quantity. We need to ensure that we are able to offer the necessary support to ensure that those who commence their practice, get to stay on, instead of dropping away after a few weeks or months.(…)”
The high dropout rate was known, here is a new confirmation. Remember the words of his predecessor Ajay Kumar Bhatter: it takes 3 new introductions to make a new abhyasi! In other words, two people introduced to Sahaj Marg leave the mission some time later ...
Prasanna Krishna, regional in charge of Oceania, did not say anything else during his visit in spring 2013:
“When asked about why abhyasis leave the mission and how we can prevent this, Br Prasanna mentioned that in most cases it is noticed that abhyasis leave after two to three years of practice. They complain that they don’t feel anything happening and basically reach a state of stagnation. (…)“
The situation is the same, only the time scale differs from several weeks to several years.
Following the passage of Prasanna and in response to his words, a local abhyasi added:
“I realised that Sahaj Marg is really like a large family. When we are all together, something changes at a subtle level, we begin to feel that there is no real difference between people inspite of apparent differences which tend to be more superficial in nature than core. Just being together fills us with an inexplicable inner joy. We are all a team of people with our imperfections, working on ourselves, trying to achieve the same goal in one glorious journey together.”
For the magic of Sahaj Marg to work, it is essential that the abhyasis gather around a common goal they share, "like a large family", and it is only then that something "changes at a subtle level"...
So the explanation about the magic of Sahaj Marg: the need for the group life, family life. They call it an egregore, (group think) sociologists speak more currently and especially more prosaically of group effects, or of crowd psychology or collective consciousness.
“(…) Lastly Br Prasanna touched on the topic of pain and suffering. He mentioned that suffering in our lives is important for spiritual growth. Many times apparently what seems to be suffering or loss helps in spiritual evolution.“
As if that were not enough, with Sahaj Marg one must learn to suffer before experiencing a spiritual evolution. We understand better why so many people drop out so quickly, it is far, very far from heaven on earth. At Sahaj Marg, suffering is at the heart of the teaching ...
MeetUp and Natural Path Meditation
Traditionally, the growth of the mission was left to preceptors who would proselytize in all and every directions. But the global market shares of meditation techniques are not infinitely expandable, and there is a plethora of meditation techniques offered globally.
Growth at SRCM has stalled, dropouts are numerous. So, how to bounce back and adapt to the twenty-first century market?
One must adapt: an increased presence on the web and in social networks, focus on stress management and wellness, they obscure anything that can scare an average Westerner: the "guru" suggests cults, Whispers (from the Brighter World) and egregore are too esoteric. So they forget it, they erase it, they white-out! Take out all the rough spots ...
First step, for 2 years already exposed by Michael: the presence of groups of abhyasis on MeetUp.com, the social network where "neighbors who come together to learn something, do something, share something ..." . Proximity and areas of interest are the two main entrances to the network.
By 2010, North American abhyasis were among the first to move in this direction, but the experience grows everywhere, as shown in the example below. A quick search on google returns immediately to no less than 2 dozen local groups of affiliated abhyasis of Sahaj Marg.Thus, we can read in Oceania Echoes of April 2013:
“Over the past quarter, we discussed initiatives in Melbourne to find ways to bring Sahaj Marg to the community. We all know the system is simple, we've all heard about ‘Meditation through Human Integration’. So, it was time to really put it to action. We received approval to trial a site on www.meetup.com.
These days when people want something the first thing they do is to search the internet. So, we found many people were searching for meditation, something that will help them unburden their thoughts, better deal with their stress etc. The site allows us to organize ‘Meet-ups’ with the interested persons seeking to know about meditation and plan to hold an open house called a meet up. We prepared a very simple presentation and for our first meetup, four people attended, all of whom took introductory sittings.
About a month later we had to schedule a second meetup because of the demand of the members at our site. This time ten people attended and eight decided to take introductory sittings.
In the last five months we have had at least twenty introductions. We found the best way to present was to be simple, keep it simple and keep HIM in our hearts. Let HIS fragrance spread. This is our Master's Mission and it is in our hands to take it further.
During Cultural Diversity Week we set up a stall, talked to people and gave out pamphlets. (…) There was a quite a lot of interest with many people taking brochures.“
Second step: Natural Path Meditation has everywhere replaced Sahaj Marg no doubt considered "not catchy" and not enough backbone, they want more cleavage (clinging?).
Replacing Sahaj Marg with Natural Path Meditation on MeetUp is one thing, but we must go further, up to the sahajmarg.org website. Do not worry, the site has undergone a complete facelift in 2013 - a makeover. While nothing has been deleted from the previous content, it is now hidden, concealed. One must now click a tiny link at the top of the second page to really access the site. A link named [abhyasi] a term which is obscure for any newly arrived.
A new access portal has taken the place of the old content. A stripped-down page: "Sahaj Marg, the Natural path, Learn to meditate" is the full text of this new focus on a large and pretty esoteric symbol devoid of any meaning. Arrow [Explore] calls for more ... Change, Balance, Heart, Yoga and Infinity are the only keywords on this almost as stripped down second page.
Operation "seduction of the public vaguely tempted by meditation or yoga". Not a word about the spiritual master or the guru ... (the new CEO and Staten Island Pharmacist, importer of pharmaceutical products, or the "salesmen" the businessmen of the "inner circle" of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM California-1997)
Each keyword refers to another page accompanied by a nice big picture chosen for its evocative and catchy text below: a question, an answer and a few words in relief, that's all.
To these 5 pages, associated with these 5 key words are added only under Learn to meditate, [The Practice] and [How to start]. An ultra-light presentation to attract the widest possible audience.
Not a word about the essential suffering necessary to spiritual growth! Remember, we told you that Sahaj Marg was transforming itself into a globalized and aseptic spiritual product ...
Here is a small portion of the all-new, cleaned out, "natural" and all "laundered" Sahaj Marg "Sales Schpeel" ...
Buyer Beware!! Who are you buying your "god" and "salvation" from?? Nothing is FREE, specially when dealing with "salesmen"!!
Growth - change - evolution
Have you ever wanted to change something about yourself, and found it difficult?
Our life on Earth is one of change and evolution, yet we often resist moving into the unknown and out of our comfort zone.
It is not easy to remove habits, fears, and beliefs. They are like walking tracks or riverbeds - over time they become fixed. The challenge is to remove them in a way that is deep and permanent.
If you are interested in letting go of unwanted patterns and rising above yourself, there is a daily practice called 'cleaning' in Sahaj Marg that helps.
Simplicity - balance - integration
Is your mind filled with thoughts? Do you find it hard to concentrate?
We are bombarded from all sides most of the time, and it is not so easy to still the mind. This affects the very fabric of our lives, our quality of sleep, and our mental and physical wellbeing.
We need to find time for ourselves, and to be in touch with the simplicity and beauty of the inner Self. Then balance, harmony and integration are possible. This is best done through a spiritual practice of heart-based meditation.
As we continue to meditate, we find that we become progressively more balanced and simple.
Joy - heart - feel
How often do we look for happiness in life through pleasure?
We have been taught to look for happiness externally: be it through family life, friendships, work and worldly pursuits. Sometimes we find it, but as soon as the external reasons for happiness are gone, the happiness goes too.
What brings long-lasting happiness and purpose to human life? This question takes us on an inward journey of discovery, into the heart of the human being.
It is a great relief to realise that happiness is not dependent on the outer circumstances of life, but can be found within us. This inner joy is stable, silent, subtle and nourishing, and gives life a deeper purpose. In fact, through the heart we discover a dimension of our existence with limitless potential.
How do we discover this inner joy and purpose? We find it through meditation.
Raja yoga - mind
Raja yoga focuses on the mind, through meditation.
In raja yoga, the mind gradually becomes purified, so that it is a perfect instrument for the heart's evolution.
Sahaj Marg is a refined practice of raja yoga, simplified for modern life. It is designed to be a natural part of your everyday routine, balancing the material and spiritual aspects of existence.
Have you ever tried meditating on your own?
It is not easy to still the mind. In Sahaj Marg meditation, we are able to progressively train the mind to ignore thoughts and turn our attention deeper within ourselves. This is made possible by an ancient yogic technique called pranahuti or transmission, which was rediscovered by one of the guides of the Sahaj Marg system. Transmission is at the heart of Sahaj Marg and gives life to meditation.
Towards infinity - oneness
When have you felt drawn to something greater than yourself?
It is hard to express this pull in words, but the feeling is unmistakable. Human beings have always had a deep yearning to understand who we are beyond the physical existence - to explore our original nature, our essence. This yearning has been at the base of religious and scientific enquiry throughout human history, and is also the purpose of yoga.
The spiritual journey is infinite and full of wonder.
Through the heart, we explore an inner universe that has no beginning and no end. We have been on that journey, without conscious awareness, since the beginning of time. We continue it consciously through a guided individual practice of meditation that becomes part of our daily life.
See Also (in French) by Alexis: