A Journey In Consciousness

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Learning to share the Dharma

I began sharing the Dharma in earnest in 1981, after spending 5 years at Osho's Ashram in Poona, India. Those 5 years were dedicated to the practice of meditation, the central pillar having been the two hours of meditation in the direct presence of Osho, which only could be described as indescribably enriching and luminous. Meditation activities at the Ashram started at 6 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m. To spend a minimum of 5 or 6 hours a day in meditation was easy. However there were many opportunities to engage in practices upto 12 hours a day. Once a month there was a 10­­-day meditation camp which shifted meditation to 8 hours a day. Then there were groups like 10-day Vipassana. There meditation was practiced about 12 hours a day, if one included the two hours with the Master. Other groups like Soma presented various esoteric practices, they ran up to 14 days. And again other groups like Enlightenment Intensive plunged the practitioner into asking himself "Who Am I?" upto 16 hours per day.

This should give a basic idea what an intense place Osho's Ashram was, if you were ready to practice and work on yourself. 

Before living at Osho's Ashram I spent 3 years in direct training with a traditional Indian Yogi by the name of Mahindra who taught me many yogic sciences, including Mantra and Kriya Meditation. That was followed by continuing the training in the Himalayas. I spend time with yogis in ashrams and caves at the Ganges. There, in 1975, I met Swami Charanananda, a disciple of Nityananda and most noteably, Swami Paramananda Avdhoot, who lived in Badrinath, close to the Tibetan border at 11,000 feet. Spending time with those two yogis was precious.

In April 1981 I went to Tokyo and I began sharing the Dharma by running workshops and meditation intensives. One could say that I began learning what worked and what didn't.

What works most emphatically is to practice meditation with people, to create a opportunity for direct experience.

What didn't work too well was to ask people to ask questions. One should think that to create room for that would be important, but I discovered that many people actually didn't know or didn't dare to ask questions that had actual relevance to them.

Their existential question would be, "I am miserable and depressed. Why am I suffering so much?" But instead they ask some superficial intellectual question, which if one attempted answering it, would bring no relief to the questioner whatsoever. I soon learnt to ignore many intellectual questions and either to start talking about the dynamics of suffering and what caused suffering (almost impossible to go wrong with that) or push people to ask a question that was authentic and expressed their vulnerability. 

What works well also is to talk about my direct experiences in meditation. This works for a number of reasons. First, I share my own being directly, no quotes from any books, and this seems to inspire very much. And then there is another factor that I began to notice over time: When I talk about my own experiences of meditation practice, it is as if the very air in the room changes. Talking about Samadhi creates the scent of Samadhi in the room. This initially surprised me and I then noted when I share direct experience, some people in the room actually catch it. This seems a valuable avenue of sharing the Dharma.

Looking back over the last 32 years of teaching, I can safely say that my teaching modalities have dramatically changed in the sense that the fluidity of presentation has greatly amplified. I considered it a compliment one day when Julia said, "You know, they come back not because you are so spiritual, but because you are so funny!" Perhaps I have advanced from being a spiritual teacher to being a spiritual comedien. That would be a good thing.

One other enormously important aspect of sharing the Dharma well is to be authentic and vulnerable. I have seen many spiritual teachers succumb to the temptation of allowing themselves to appear a little more than they actually are. To me that represents the first step into a very wrong direction. I consider it very important to let people know that I am not Superman, that I am quite capable of lots of mistakes and that I have many things to learn. In fact, through the practice of meditation I have finally figured out how many things I don't understand and don't know. I allow myself to tell people that I am very unenlighted and that I have lots of work to do and that when I go home after teaching, I practice, I invoke and pray just like they do.

And having said that, I allow myself to share with people my very own longing for liberation. I let them know that I am on the journey just like them. I offer my friendship. I declare that I have not mastered anything, but have so much to learn myself. I am being myself, my very human self, without any pretension of having found what I know I have not found. This seems of pivotal importance for a Dharma teacher and I see many failures there. More often than not I remind people of their own intuition to solve problems and when I don't know the answer to a question, I say that I don't know. 

What works for me is to be myself. 

I might add that recently I have started to reduce the time that I talk about the Dharma in favor of spending more time to practice meditation with people. This creates lengthy meditation sessions, but the results are tangibly encouraging as people are actually going into deeper modes of meditation and feel very uplifted. 

And I feel very privileged to have learnt one of the most powerful methods of accessing meditation at Osho's Ashram in Poona. I call it the Mantra Transmission Circle. In this method we create a circle of people who sing mantras. Singing mantras is a very powerful tool of transformation. However, this method amplifies the power of mantra even further. We have a circle of people singing and then we place a number of people into the center of the circle. Being in the center, the effect of the mantras is most powerful there and the depth of meditation that is reached is utterly amazing. The deep peace and beauty that arises on the faces of people is just marvellous to behold.

Our innermost being wants to return to the Peace beyond understanding. We want to reconnect with that which is Eternal Beauty.

The wonderful news is that it is possible for all of us.

Yours in the Dharma,
Andreas Mamet


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