Reflections on a day sharing the experience of self-realization in suburban America.
Today was Black Friday. A day when most Americans were at malls and retail stores trying to score discount merchandise, few straggled into a large warehouse at the outskirts of Detroit, known for gun shows and monster truck rallies in the summer. A few folks wandered into the exhibit section of the Body Soul Expo at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Mt. Clemens, seeking everything from aqua massages for the body to enlightenment for the soul.
One of the biggest disconnects one has, as a seeker, is to fully understand the implications of a spiritual system where one does not “pay-per-view”. It’s hard for anyone in a capitalist culture to wrap their heads around the concept that one can be a perfectly normal human, without trying to sell goods, services, or a way of thought.
The search for truth: Seekers and finders
A small percentage of those who walk by do decide to experiment with the meditative experience. Some are more forthcoming, given their history of seeking. Some are reserved, yet driven to find a new mode of living in balance. It is the latter who are likely to sustain the practice and grow into their full potential, while the former go from one booth to another, from one guru to the next, from one philosophy to the next crutch, seeking, but never finding.
New and improved, but trustworthy?
In the history of bright ideas, there are more good ideas that have failed the test of mass adoption, even when proven on the laboratory bench, and in small groups. Spiritual centers, commonly called ashrams, were the laboratories of spiritual innovation. The immersive experience of an isolated spiritual home is great for building foundations. Most learners were encouraged to go back into the society, because that is the correct use of spiritual learning: letting the light enlighten the society. Society, on the other hand is primed and prepped to respect spiritual innovators, because the default is to doubt all that is new. The certainty of old ways is always preferred over the uncertainty of new. Perfectly rational people, in dire need of a true spiritual solution will continue to ignore answers staring them in their faces. Unless they encounter a special kind of person: the peer mentor.
The missing piece: peer mentors versus role models
Mentors are a little different than role models. Role models inspire from a distance. Role models can be higher personalities, who live a life of constant innovation, challenges, and success. They show the masses that the world is not as inflexible as it appears to be. Peer mentors are more accessible, speak the local dialect, act in ways familiar to the learner, and are only slightly different than the populations expected to embrace the innovative idea. They are thought leaders, as against bold innovators, and are more effective at making an innovation more accessible, inspire action, and create a safe environment for adoption through trial and error (see Influencer by Grenny et al).
Paying it forward, rather than backwards
Through the learning model that inspires the learner to pay-it-forward, rather than something silly like pay-per-lesson or pay-per-mantra, Shri Mataji has guaranteed every individual on this planet access to Sahaja Yoga knowledge and practice. About six such individuals from Chicago and Michigan will continue to give the experience of Kundalini awakening, not because they are contractually bound to perform this task. It’s because they have experienced the benefits of Sahaja Yoga. And when the learner makes their first appearance as a peer mentor at one of these events, to give self-realization to others, and experience the joy of sharing a common experience – she or he has crossed an important milestone in their journey towards becoming a complete yogi.
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