“Buddha, my heart; Dharma, the language of my heart; Sangha, where the language of my heart is spoken”…
Interview with Maja Apolonia Rodé on the topic of starting an independent nonduality meetup group.
Time cues and tracks with Guidelines for running a nonduality group:
0:00 – 5:53 Introduction to Maja: www.premaspace.com. General topics introduced. Maja describes why she is interested in this project: supporting dharma-flowering in the world. The idea of the teacher at the front of the room perpetuates the idea that the knowing is outside ourselves and that others don’t have the ability to express it. In a small group each person can practice speaking truth and listening to each other beyond the words spoken. That’s the living dharma that speaking and deep listening, and that is cultivated by Adyashanti and some other teachers.
5:53 – 13:00 Maja speaks of doing her own dharma and supporting others. The nature of guidelines for nonduality groups as holding a container, that support mutual opening and appreciation. Review of the themes in the first five minutes of this interview. The guidelines are for allowing freedom not restricting or neutralizing freedom. Comparison to a mandala. Guideline: sit in a circle or around a table rather than as in a classroom.
13:00 – 23:21 Guideline: Begin the group out of a real desire, a sincerity, earnestness. Guideline: come to each other with sincere curiosity rather than knowledge. Guideline: Use meetup.com to manage the practical aspect of organizing your meetup and attracting guests. Or create a Facebook group, which is free. Guideline: form a core group; suggestions from Maja. Guideline: meet with regularity, for example every two weeks. Core group compared to regular members.
23:21 – 27:41 Element of community is missing in our culture. These groups as associated with community. David Hodges discussed: http://outermostvillagegreen.com/. Guideline: consider that your group is perceived as community. The feeling of community can be a reason for attending these groups. Maja expresses this: “Buddha, my heart; Dharma, the language of my heart; sangha, where the language of my heart is spoken”: We have a need for all three and all three come into play in the circle, the group.
27:41 – 40:33 Thoughts on all the independent nonduality connecting in some way so they feel they’re part of a bigger community, a true community brought together by “the glue of love.” Various nonduality groups mentioned. Cities around the world that are hot spots of nondual interests. Adyashanti’s groups mentioned and listed on adyashanti.org. Jerry’s website mentioned: http://nonduality.com/meetup.htm
40:33 – 48:18 How do you introduce nonduality to people who are new to the teaching? Use of videos of teachers. Fort Lauderdale nonduality group mentioned. Maja describes value of using videos and accessing established teachers. Guideline: find a short video of a nonduality and watch it with your group as a theme provider. Jean Klein’s suggestions to start discussion groups. Guideline: Adyashanti’s suggestion to speak from your own experience. Adya gives more guidelines in his book The Way of Liberation, which are posted below.
48:18 – 52:41 Speaking from your own experience, elaborated upon. “I’m curious about your experience and I have the knowing of my experience and I can express that with authority,” Maja says. Guideline: Everyone’s responsible for their own awakening and for how they’re holding the space for other people. Hold each with respect. Guideline: Respect each other. People might apply their authority of awakening to authority in other fields such as relationship or another’s spiritual path, therefore respect for the other as Buddha is an essential guideline.
52:41 – 1:00:20 Welcoming people, nature and importance of. Maja’s experience with Adyashanti’s organization and attendance and involvement at retreats. Nature of welcoming at an Adyashanti retreat and how it is expressed within all the varieties of interaction at the retreat. The nature of interviewing with and without notes.
1:00:20 – 1:07:38 Purpose of this project on forming nonduality groups. When a discussion gets off track. “What is track?” Maja asks. What is the circle or group about? Guideline: Be clear about the circle’s or group’s intent.
1:07:38 – 1:14:33 Guideline: David Zinn’s statement on the importance of describing your group: : “The key to making Meetup work I think is the way you describe the group you are trying to form, putting together a clear description/mission statement. This is a kind of an exercise in clarity which helps put into words the intention and direction of the group. Just taking the time to write this up might be very revealing in understanding what your real motivation is to start and run a group, and this is how people will ultimately become interested enough to stop by.” Maja mentions group of her friend in Boulder and how she started it by expressing herself in a letter of invitation to people she knew. Guideline: Each attendee could write a statement of group’s purpose and of their purpose. Guideline: at each meeting two or three people can talk about why they are there and something about their history. Guideline: Be aware that leadership and socialization qualities are helpful in starting and running a group.
1:14:33 – 1:21:10 As a leader you’re preparing a space and welcoming people into it and that sets the tone. Maja describes the cultivation of the container of silence for Adyashanti’s retreats. Guideline: Welcoming attendees is very important and can be expressed in many ways and at every point of interaction. Maja tells a story of how to throw a great party and how it applies to running a group. Guideline: make every guest feel welcome.
1:21:10 – 1:30:31 Center for Nondual Awareness mentioned. Maja talks about the importance of asking good questions that inspire authentic communication. For example, “What’s been on your mind or in your heart recently and why is it important to you?” Other great questions cited. Guideline: Ask great questions that inspire authentic communication. Guideline: You can start each meeting with a favorite quote contributed by an attendee.
1:30:31 – 1:39:58 Maja asks Jerry what is talked about in his group. Importance of sitting in silence. Guideline: sit in silence at the beginning and end and at various points during a meeting. The interview turns toward that silence. Using a talking stick, even to invite silence, presence. Guideline: Use a talking stick. You could pass it around at the end of the meeting so everyone has a chance to speak as they do at the Auroville meetup group.
From The Way of Liberation, by Adyashanti, which may be downloaded here: http://www.adyashanti.org/library/The_Way_of_Liberation_Ebook.pdf:
The following are guidelines for The Way of Liberation study groups to embody. They are meant to reflect an attitude of mutual openness, compassion, and support.
1. Study groups should be safe and compassionate environments in which to explore, share, and put into practice The Way of Liberation teachings.
2. All study groups should be free of charge, unless the group is renting a space to meet in.
3. No one should act as a teacher or try to dominate a group.
4. When someone is sharing their experience, do not judge what they are sharing. If asked for, give feedback by speaking only from your own experience. Do not try to be the teacher.
5. Everyone who comes to a meeting for the first time should be given a copy of these guidelines. If a study group does not follow these guidelines, I suggest you either stop attending it or form your own study group.