A manifesto for a culture of deep collectivity in Sahaja Yoga projects
Together is a humble proposal, written by a group of yogis who have lived and worked in various Sahaj projects and have tried to learn how best we should approach governance, in order to truly stand and work together.
“When you love each other is when you really love Me.”
To rise to the challenge that Shri Mataji has set us, to build the beautiful world that She has envisioned, we must do it together. Only by learning how to act as one, united by love as a single global family, can we do as She has asked and transform this world.
Such a unity has never been seen. The ego and conditionings of human beings were too strong. But now, the transformative power of Sahaja Yoga—the kundalini operating inside each of us—can get us there. The task is a very subtle one, but it is also practical. Shri Mataji is the most practical of teachers. She told us to “find the right technique”. This document, Together, is about finding the right technique.
It is time to discover, and live by, the right techniques for working together. We need to rise to a new level of openness, honesty, inclusiveness and mutual respect. Together is a set of promises, written by yogis who have worked in Sahaj projects, which can be adopted by any project where there is a desire for unity. The intention of these promises is nothing but the nurturing of love between us.
Like a new shoot that can break through concrete, Love is powerful yet fragile. When we work together, making difficult decisions, allocating scarce finances and facing all kinds of challenges, it is all too easy to hurt each other, stunting the Love between us before it can grow strong. Because we are Sahaja Yogis, we never lose the ability to laugh and dance and sing together, but we have really seen that we are missing out on something much greater, something incredible—the power that would come from the unshakable unity of a deeper love.
She will take us there. Shri Mataji has planted the seed of Love within our global family. As it grows it will be like nothing we have yet experienced, and will transform this world.
We find ourselves on an incredible journey. Shri Mataji has given us the knowledge, the techniques and the spark of light to guide us, but She has not, yet, brought us to the destination. This journey is remarkable in that it takes place both within and without. There is of course the subtle journey within us, to open our heart and sahasrara ever wider. At the same time we are also working outside, building the enlightened society that Shri Mataji has promised. Sahaja Yoga is both individual and collective. The two aspects are inseparable, like the sun and the sunlight, to use Shri Mataji’s own beautiful metaphor.
As all Sahaja Yogis know, to grow we must face up to our inner failings with great honesty and courage. We introspect and learn. We know only too well that the ego is always there, tricking us, pushing us off course, doing everything it can to postpone the day it finally loses control to the Spirit. As it is within, so it is outside, in the collective. The ego is against us at every step, trying to prevent us from becoming a true family, united in trust, support and Love. And so we must also introspect as a community, facing up to our collective failings with the same honesty and courage. Together is one humble attempt to contribute to this process.
We all know change is needed. We have seen collectives divided. We have seen the great projects founded by Shri Mataji—schools and hospitals—facing great challenges. The spiritual maturity we can all feel growing within sometimes seems missing in the management of our affairs. Are we open and inclusive? Are we taking full advantage of all the extraordinary talent and skills within our collective? Do we fully trust our institutions and leadership?
It can be said that all this simply comes down to subtle problems inside ourselves. While true, this doesn’t mean the solution lies only in meditation and vibrational clearing. On a personal level, we use those powers, but we also strive to change our habits and our actions. One does not carry on smoking while working on the vishuddhi. In the same way it is not good enough to say that the problems in our collective projects will be solved simply by us all meditating more. We must also make the practical changes that are needed. We must find the toxic habits in the ways we work together and stop doing them.
This document describes a series of simple ideas for helping us all to work together better. They are not new ideas, in fact they have been bubbling up in the collective for some time, but perhaps need a little help to become more established. By bringing all of these ideas together into a single, clear document, we hope to make it easier for those involved in Sahaj projects to make a strong commitment to the wider collective; to stand up and say we promise to uphold these principles.
This document is about solutions, not problems. As individuals, we know that focusing too much on our catches is a dead end. We work hard to clear them out but finally we lift our attention to Sahasrara and seek refuge in surrender to the divine. In the same way, let us collectively take our attention off problems. There has been enough complaining and finger pointing. Now is the time to lift our focus higher, to find our confidence in what we are capable of and to work hard to get there. The changes that need to be made are not difficult. We just need a little optimism and energy, followed by some vigilance not to slip back into old habits. There is so much incredible potential in the Sahaj collective. The projects we have seen so far, as joyful and vibration-filled as they have been, are nothing compared to what we are really capable of.
In many ways, the story of Sahaja Yoga is just beginning, and the best is still ahead of us. Shri Mataji no longer walks among us, but She acts within us more strongly than ever. Through us She is going to build a global family so filled with love we can hardly imagine. Everything is promised to us. We are going to taste the fruits. We are going to reach the destination of our journey, by learning to walk together.
A Time of Change
The style of organisation needed in Sahaja Yoga today is different to the years when Shri Mataji was with us. For 40 years, a hierarchy of leaders, at local, national and global levels, was the perfect structure. What better than a top-down hierarchy, when you have Shri Mataji at the top? In this way Shri Mataji was able to lead all the Sahaja Yogis as we grew in number from a small handful to hundreds of thousands of people spread across the globe.
At the same time, when She spoke of organisation, She spoke of something different. She described the way all the leaves of a tree, without any central control, spontaneously organise such that each has its bit of sunshine.
We are in a time of change to this more spontaneous style of organisation, just as the whole world is making the same transition. Businesses are learning how to flatten hierarchies. Communication flows more freely. Top-down structures, like the broadcast media, are being replaced by network structures, like social media. Individuals are more and more free to express their creativity, opening doors for themselves rather than waiting for yesterday’s establishment to invite them in.
We must recognise that, with the Mahasamadhi of Shri Mataji, the very foundation of organisation in Sahaja Yoga has changed completely. We will still need leaders and some degree of hierarchy, and we most certainly must continue to hold in the highest of respect those who were closest to Shri Mataji in Her life. But we must also learn how to come together as a network of enlightened individuals. We must learn the tools of this new era: free flowing communication, openness and honesty, mutual respect, individual freedom.
This kind of deep change within a community as large and widespread as Sahaja Yoga will take years. We have already started but we are just at the beginning.
The Complete Heart ~ Courage and Good Governance
The journey of Sahaja Yoga is taking us from the head to the heart. Any problems we may face in our collective endeavours will end when we truly learn to operate from the heart instead of these limited minds. For this to work, we need to access the potential of our complete heart. Undoubtedly, the Sahaja Yogis have great love for each other. We feel it whenever we are together. But running ambitious projects is hard work, demanding and difficult. Ensuring each one of us is heard and respected amidst all this busyness is far from easy. Sometimes we get it wrong without even noticing. Behind the scenes, negative feelings can start to develop. Misunderstanding can lead to resentment. Trust is a delicate thing and easily lost. Without trust, the heart starts to close.
When joining a Sahaj project, we each take on the personal responsibillity to keep ourselves in a positive mood, open-hearted and trusting. But if, through good governance, we can catch these problems before they start, this is also our collective responsibility.
The heart is beating, but sometimes not the whole heart. After all, good governance is also a quality of the heart, embodied by Shri Rama, the perfect ruler. How can we expand the heart and start to master these right side qualities?
We are fortunate that Shri Mataji has mapped everything out for us in our subtle system. It is plainly obvious which quality will get us from the joyful love felt between us on the left side, to the good governance of the right side. It is the quality of the centre heart: courage.
This is not mere theory based on the chakra chart. We have seen for ourselves how this lack of courage can weaken our unity.
Our enemies, of course, are within, and it is not the courage to run into the battlefield that we need. Instead we need the courage to admit our mistakes, to ask for help, to face up to wrongdoing when it would be much easier to look the other way.
Without great courage, we can never stand together. Without courage we side with the ego, we become defensive, trying to protect our separated self from the world outside, trying to control. To truly become a collective body, we need to let down the walls and give up the illusion of control. We need the courage to be vulnerable. Anyone who can do that will finally discover how much their brothers and sisters want to support them. Our ability to act together will be completely transformed, and our projects will soar.
First Respect, then Trust, then Love
Shortly before falling mostly silent for many years, Shri Mataji, in the Guru Puja of 2004, gave us a clear instruction for how to proceed in the absence of her direct instruction: “The greatest guru that we have is love”.
Love is the solution to all our problems. It's so simple, but it sometimes seems hard to get there. We all know that ultimately, underneath all the difficulties that come between us, we really do love each other, but it can be difficult to fully live by this Love through all the challenges life throws at us.
There was a beautiful speech given by Shri Mataji, never recorded, but remembered by some, where She pointed the way to a solution. You must love each other—very good, she said—but how? Can you just love someone out of the blue? To love someone deeply, first you must trust them. And can you trust someone just like that? First there must be respect. If you show someone true respect, they will come to trust you, and from that trust can be built real, lasting and unshakable Love.
This one idea forms the template for everything proposed here. The beauty is that it gives us a practical starting point: respect. Instead of calling on others for ever more support, we start by giving instead of receiving. To earn the trust and win the Love that our projects need to survive, we start with a deep and genuine respect for the entire Sahaj family.
Together is an expression of such respect in concrete terms: a series of promises to all the Sahaja Yogis of the world. Promises of openness, inclusiveness, humility, honesty, communication and respect.
We will publish details of all salaries and volunteer stipends.
We will publish a quaterly financial report, with easy to understand summaries and visual overviews of how the money has been spent. The reports will include summarised, anonymous information about donations received.
We will also publish financial plans for the coming year.
At the end of the school's financial year (31st July), we will publish our itemized expenditure for the year.
Fairness in Salaries
We make a full commitment to fairness in salaries. We hold ourselves to account by publishing full information about salaries, volunteer stipends and other forms of compensation such as food and board.
Open Hiring Procedures
We will publish a list of every job that exists within the project, the skills and qualifications required, who currently holds the position and for how long. New applicants are invited for any position at any time and these will be kept on file.
When the project actively seeks new applicants for a position, this will be advertised on the website.
All applications will be acknowledged and informed of the decision within a reasonable time.
Once an appointment has been made, the decision will be announced on the website.
The direction a project takes is formed by the combined effect of thousands of decisions, small and large, made every day. To progress in a manner that is to the benefit of the goals of the project, and is respectful, loving and balanced, good decision making is of the highest importance.
We promise to foster an open and inclusive atmosphere in the project, where all voices are heard and taken into account when making decisions. Where necessary, we will establish forums and processes by which project members can voice their ideas, feelings and concerns.
Proactive Communication and Openness
The deeper intention, behind everything in this manifesto, is to run the project in a way which is loving and respectful. We have seen how, in a very busy project with lots of people involved, if we are not careful we can be unintentionally disrespectful, simply through lack of communication.
For this reason, internal communication and information, within the project team, should be open by default. With the right use of technology, information should be available for all project members to access, unless there is a strong reason not to do so, such as legal issues or to protect someone from hurt.
We will adopt a simple and efficient means to share project news with everyone on the team, as it happens. Any project member becoming aware of information that may be of wider interest promises to share that information with others without delay.
Looking beyond the Project members will invest time and energy to frequently share information about the project with the wider Sahaj community. To encourage new volunteers to get involved, it will be easy for those outside the project to learn about activities within the project, both current and proposed.
Principles of Leadership
When occupying a position of leadership in any project, we promise to strive for the following principles:
Openness, transparency and proactive communication
Respect, for our seniors, our juniors and our peers
Recognition and appreciation of individual contribution and expertise
Cooperation and teamwork
We welcome positive change and encourage creativity, dynamism and suggestions from all project members.
We promise to invest time and energy into the improvement of the project.
We strive for continually higher quality.
We recognise that each member may have valuable insights and suggestions.
We promise to include time for collective brainstorming, troubleshooting and reflection.
We promise to face up to problems and difficulties with openness, honesty, respect and communication.