I would like to share with you some of the things we are doing in Queensland, Australia. Our main centre is at a tiny village called Wamuran, about 60km north of Brisbane.
This property of 13 acres, was selected and bought by Shri Mataji (with Her own money), for the purpose of building an ashram. From 1992-96, the ashram was built from mud bricks and timber from the property. Many yogis and "golden builders" came and lived in a shed while the ashram was being built.
Today, we not only have a wonderful ashram of 6 bedrooms, 2 large dormitories, large kitchen and dining area, but a large meditation/puja hall, worksheds, and gardens and even though it is one hour's drive from the city, yogis come for the collective program every Saturday night.
Once a month we hold a new people's seminar where people who have been attending the weekly public programs are invited to learn more and go deeper. The seminar lasts for 2-1/2 hours and includes dinner. We have a database of thousands of email addresses collected from all the programs and invitations are sent out a week prior to the seminar.
Over the years we have attended many multicultural festivals around the state as we have found these are ideal places to spread SY. We normally have a small 3m x 3m marquee, with a small altar, large pull-out chakra chart, carpets on the ground, a few small stools and some musical instruments. I guess the same technique is happening in many countries around the world.
As well as the self realisation tent, our music group has performed many times on the stage at these festivals. Music is just about the best way of giving self realisation, as it opens up the heart and attracts people to our tent.
Then we have done country tours to various other towns which have not had Sahaja Yoga. If there are Sahaja Yogis living there, they can do follow ups but generally we have to give them DVD's and follow them up by email, phone, internet etc.
Our goal is to reach every town in Queensland so we are marking on the map the places we haven't been to, for the next tour. Only trouble is, the further you go out West, the longer it takes to get back. It's 4 days to Mt Isa and back!
Queensland, being the second largest state in the country, means there are vast distances to travel. These are usually fun times and on our last tour to Rockhampton, Gladstone and Yeppoon we rented a 25 seater bus and stayed in some cabins at a caravan park, had a BBQ' dinner, sang bhajans and meditations on the lawn. Even though everyone was dead tired, we sang bhajans all the way home and entertained (annoyed!) the driver.
Once a year at Christmas time, there is the Woodford Folk Festival which is only 20 mins from Wamuran. The festival, from December 26th to January 1st, attracts thousands from around the world. For the past few years, the yuva shakti from around the country have converged on Wamuran where the Brisbane collective plays host while the yuvas attend the festival and give self realisation. It is a great training ground for the yuvas, as they have to get out of their comfort zones and give self realisation to hundreds.
Someone mentioned why is it that only a few stalwarts do most of the work? I think its the same everywhere not only in SY. Most clubs, groups etc have a core group of dedicated people who do all the work. But maybe if spreading SY is "fun" - which it is - more people will want to participate?
Recently we had a large banner made up with a photo of Shri Mataji and the words "Mother, please give me my self realisation." It was placed on a large billboard in Brisbane city for one month. It was hard to assess whether this had any large impact but who knows how this works out? Perhaps seeing the banner would trigger off something later in people's lives.
We've also done a few of our own large "Music and Meditation" evenings at large halls or entertainment centres which didn't come cheap.
A few years ago we did special presentations for kids with ADHD (not very successful unless parents participate). A program in a womens prison. School programs.
So basically the methods we have been using for spreading SY are, 1) regular weekly public programs. 2) multi-cultural festivals and fairs. 3) monthly seminar/workshop. 4) country tours. 5) music performances. 6) one-off programs for special needs 7) banners, flyers and letterbox drops
Please come and visit us some time!!!
Jai Shri Mataji