Edited by Jerry Katz
This issue continues the topic of starting and running your own in-person nonduality group. I’ve included two interviews already recently posted in the Highlights, in order to keep the interviews together on one page, and have added a new one, an interview with Anamika. There are a few more interviews to come:
Anamika, along with Didier Weiss, runs the Auroville Nondual Meetup Group located in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India. http://www.meetup.com/Auroville-Nondual-Meetup-Group/
The interview was conducted on March 9, 2014.
0:00 – 8:20 Some light-hearted banter between friends. Speaking from one’s own truth “when the space is there.” Guideline: Allowing the space.
8:20 – 12:13 There really isn’t a list of guidelines, they show themselves once you start the group and as it unfolds. Guideline: there are no guidelines, no set of rules to fit into. Guidelines emerge. Guideline: start with a feeling of honesty.
12:13 – 15:55 Influence of well-known teachers visiting Anamika’s group: Unmani, Paul Smit, Lisa Cairns. Goal of the group is to see what we are already and it’s good to keep the edge, to keep the inquiry alive. Guideline: be aware of whether you are coming across as the authority.
15:55 – 19:05 The case of a group member being conceptual or seeking psychological assistance. Guideline: You don’t have to indulge in the concept or the story but return to self-inquiry. Take the role of initiator. Guideline: It’s good to have several people in your group who can keep the focus on self-inquiry.
19:05 – 24:00 The core group, meaning of. How do you keep a group alive? Guideline: Present different points of view around a particular question. In this segment there is a little irrelevant digression.
24:00 – 25:51 Screening of members is provided by Meetup.com. Guideline: You may have to screen members who apply for membership, as some people may have objectives unrelated to the topic.
25:51 – 46:46 Discussion on the guidelines on dialogue from the Krishnamurti Foundation of America, as well as other topics. Guideline: Consider using a talking stick. Guideline: Don’t rush people out after a meetup, people like to socialize afterward. Guideline: It’s best to meet in a neutral place rather than in a member’s home, since there is less fuss. How Anamika and Didier Weiss started their group.
46:46 – 49:50 Anamika asks Jerry how his group is kept “alive.” Focus on self-inquiry.
49:50 – 56:56 Jerry asks Anamika about the structure of her meetups and about the community of Auroville, as well as her work and activities there. The Newcomers process as part of eventually becoming an Aurovillean.
56:56 – 1:04:08 Addressing differences between members of the core group. Guideline: try doing exercises from different books/teachers. How members benefit from the meetup. Final chatting.
March 5, 2014
What is meant by an independent nonduality meetup group? What are some aspects of its nature? Only qualifications to start a group is your passion and your interest in exploring the true nature of being.
Maja Apolonia Rodé contributes the following to the discussion: “Everybody has the dharma within them, not just the one at the front of the room.” Some principles are necessary for a successful group. Leadership is based in asking good questions and coming from a place of not knowing the answers. You have to have leadership that holds the container without taking over the group. Can the love of the teachings, the love of truth hold the container? How do you deal with dominating personality or getting too much into concepts or self-help? Addressing someone new to inquiry and defining the function of moderating a group. Include tips and tricks that are unobtrusive such as the talking stick.
A group at the beginning can be like learning to play a musical instrument, it takes time to get smooth, practiced, and skilled. Bringing together people along in their process.
Discussion on having a core group. Power of openly sharing. Do you have any special way of leading new people into self-inquiry and being comfortable within a group?
Engaging within a group is like going on a first date. The open, live, vulnerable quality, and exploration. Importance of moments of stillness and silence. Leadership re-addressed.
Starting and Running a Nonduality Group – Interview with Mark Hovila
00:00 – 4:51 Early days on email forums. Start of Mark Hovila’s in-person group. Greg Goode mentioned. Dr. Jean Klein’s thoughts on starting a local discussion group. How Mark started his group. The shortcomings in watching videos in these groups.
4:51 – 7:42 The mall food court as a meeting place. Other non-traditional meeting places for “satsang.”
7:42 – 12:15 The basic idea behind starting his group. Mailing list. His newsletter. Using a quote to help structure a meeting. Why a meeting can always be fresh even though much of the same themes ae discussed.
12:15 – 15:55 Dealing with discussion with things get conceptual. Moderation of his group, or lack of it. Nature of moderation.
15:55 – 21:14 James Traverse and Jean Klein discussed. Influence of other teachers. Does a group hold a presence that’s beyond the individuals? Online groups and in-person groups discussed. Using meetup.com to host his group.
21:14 – 27:35 Optimal size of groups. Structure and moderation of Jerry’s group and where we meet at the George Wright house and taverns. Introducing new people. The basics of meeting reviewed. People who want to try to take over a group or argue.
27:35 – 35:07 What is meant by a “core group.” Thoughts on a mission statement for a group. “What are we doing here?” “To me it’s a reminder to be present…” Social aspect of truth inquiry. How do members of the core group handle disagreements? When is disagreement a strength? Remembering what this kind of group is all about. Mark encouraging people to start their own group: you don’t have to be an expert.
35:07 – 37:40 Simplicity of starting a group like this. They’re not focused on a teacher, tradition, or teaching. Making people feel welcome.
37:40 – 41:37 More thoughts on starting your group. How members could benefit. The dynamic of sharing between group members as far as teaching and learning. Dealing with psychological problems that arise by suggesting a new perspective.
41:37 – 43:10 Trying to explain nonduality to people not familiar with it. “Not seeing yourself separate from the rest of the world. It’s not me vs the rest of the world, it’s all this.”
43:10 – Value of stillness and silence. Auroville nonduality group. Other groups in progress. Jerry’s role in encouraging developing of nonduality groups.