(The following is collected together from messages written by Pawanji on a WhatsApp group)
In the retreats that SIDH has been organising over the recent past, we have tried to invite only those who in our opinion are more or less aligned together. More or less on the same page in terms of self-enquiry and a genuine desire to Know (to know what is it all about?). The retreats are broadly about exploring the inner world, the self and the external world. We do not use any scripture, any Guru for this because we believe in this process of delving within in togetherness. We have no issues with scriptures or genuine Gurus, for them we have the highest of regard, but we think our retreat process, which is non-hierarchical, is better for self-learning. Authority has a tendency to lead us towards belief rather than learning.
Why saman-dharmi or people on the ‘same page’? The entire retreat process is a means to go deep within and get answers (from within) rather than from someone else. When people are on the same page and are sincere about the enquiry then they are deliberating (speaking and listening), but not with the other but with themselves. Samandharmita is supportive, or rather a pre-condition, of the other becoming a catalyst in our journey of diving deep within. Otherwise, the deliberations tend to be argumentative and opinions, facts and information start dominating rather than Truth. Arguments are aligned with opinions. Self-enquiry and authentic questioning (as different from rhetorical questions or challenging questions) is aligned with Truth. Opinions, by their very nature, will always differ, while Truth tends to converge even if different people come from different directions.
Another essential requirement, in line with the above, is the importance of authenticity in such a process. Authenticity is with oneself, honesty is with others. Honesty is certainly a virtue but authenticity is even more difficult. The ultimate lie is with the self not with the other. In the process of self enquiry and for “stepping out”, authenticity is essential. Authenticity to acknowledge our inauthenticity with ourselves (nothing to do with the other) and not feel depressed. No justification and no guilt. No blame and no complaint. No feeling sorry for oneself. No victimhood. All of these are escape routes – mind games to keep us away from going deep within.
To understand modernity we need to acknowledge that all of us – to a larger or lesser degree – are afflicted by it. This is painful to acknowledge because our tendency is to justify all our actions. To be rid of the trap of modernity we need to see its totally illusionary nature. The gap between what is professes and its reality. This leads to भ्रम मुक्ति and मोह भंग। if this happens, we step out of the trap of modernity. This is what we are trying to do in our retreats.