On communicating the message, building a community and avoiding becoming a cult
On 24th June 2008, Johnny Swift from Manchester U.K. wrote:
Thanks for getting back to me & for the list of recommended reading, I'll be sure to check as many of those as I can. Also, what a huge, comprehensive bibliography (now I've found it) on your website. In answer to your question - I currently live in Manchester and I came across your site while 'googling' Carl Jung & his work concerning mysticism (apologies but I can't remember the precise term I used but it linked to a letter/email you had responded to on your page). Jung is a current favourite of mine & I often enjoy searching for my favourite thinkers on the Internet. Anyway, many thanks for replying & I hope you continue to update & maintain your excellent website. Just an idea, but it would be wonderful if you had a quarterly newsletter or something to help build up a community; I would certainly sign up for that! If it already exists, please forgive me for missing that too!
Good luck & kindest regards,
Sorry about the delays in getting back to you. I've been to Manchester twice in my life, first for a wedding and then for a gig.
It's great to connect with like minded people. I've never thought about the idea of a news letter. Sounds good, will maybe do one in the future. I guess this is the beginning of a long journey, so far the response has been extremely positive. It's funny, the idea that 'everyone is God', or advaita vedanta, non-duality, infinite consciousness etc. is so universal and widespread but there doesn't actually seem to be anybody else out there actually saying the truth as directly and plainly.
Even at this stage, a small scattered world wide network of a several hundred people is organically growing around the ideas contained in the website and public talks. I haven't really been pushing or actively promoting it that much. We're still getting the message, video & written material together. There is a lot in the pipeline. Once I get the book out hopefully things will accelerate. One day in the not too distant future I hope to do this full time and give up my proper job. What would be helpful would be some rich benefactors who'll sponsor me, no strings attached. I'm sure the Universe will provide what I'll need when the time comes.
I was playing with this idea the other day, of people out there all over the planet forming autonomous or semi-autonomous cells or communities of like minded people who will help each other on their respective journeys. And that these little social groupings will help to spread the message all over the World, person to person, face to face. Also perhaps they'll invite me over to give talks, paying my travel costs and providing lodgings. I'll become a wandering voice in the wilderness. Anyway, we're still thinking about how to go about things in the future while finishing the book and website. Things are evolving and progressing steadily. Almost there.
All the best & keep in touch! Wai
p.s. I think I'll post my replies on the website. Do you mind if I use you original mails and details. Else I'll paraphrase you questions and use only your initials.
Johnny S. wrote back:
Sure, as long as my email address isn't published I don't mind one bit. I think part of your website summed up the way I approach both strangers, my friends and good colleagues when discussing this situation perfectly (something along the lines of);
'spiritual development and religious beliefs should be based on experiential self knowledge and not inherited doctrine or dogma.'
I'm always keen to chat about this topic with all people, often I find people have good experience of Taoism or Yoga so that often helps, also lending friends books and pointing them in the right direction is invaluable; however, I find it is important to be careful and not to overload them with ideas and too much information (new comers, friends, family etc) or they might get the wrong idea that you are trying to convert them to some sort of cult. Often I find that once I've put a few thought provoking ideas out there people tend to come back and ask more, the inquisitive side of humans can't be underestimated, obviously coupled with the fact that there's probably a nagging element of truth at what they now feel.
Good luck with the book. I'll keep my eyes open for it on the website!
All the best,
I know what you mean about overloading people with too much information too soon. I used to do it all the time and even with people I just met, I alienated a lot people. And it is a real problem sometimes when people associate anything of this kind with cult. I'm very keen on the idea that people should keep their reasoning faculties and ability to critically analyze fully switched on when accessing spiritual truths or anything to do with religion. I also think and hope that for many people it will be through reason and a path of critical inquiry that they come to accept the idea the everyone is God. Most culty beliefs don't stand the test of reason at all, that's why cults often have to separate from society. I like the idea of an anti-cult, something automonous, decentralized, slightly anarchic, organic and also something that can project into main stream society and can be fully integrated and accomodated within it. I also like the tantric idea of the guru within. That it is our inner judgement and intuition that is the real teacher and that it is thru knowledge, experiment and experience that we fully realize the truth i.e. enlightenment.
I agree, things like yoga, meditation and some aspects of the new age make it easier for some people to go on to consider more mystical notions. Also I find that among the young, things like fractals, the mystery consciousness, the puzzles of quantum mechanics and a general interest in philosophy can be doorways through which they enter into a more transcendent and sacred way of looking at things.
Anyway, till next contact
Best wishes Wai