Stepping into Leadership
After I received the message to continue the weekly Agnihotra gatherings, momentum quickly picked up.
A friend of mine suggested that I make weekly Facebook events. I did so and more people started showing up. We were starting to have 15 to 20 people regularly attend, and we had regular attendees as well.
To the extent possible, I wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to make an offering to the fire. I bought extra Agnihotra sets for the gatherings and I made sure to sort enough brown rice and soak enough gomai in ghee to have multiple fires.
Between sorting the rice, preparing the gomai, packing the sets, and traveling to the community center, it took three hours of preparation time. It took another three hours to set up at the community, explain Agnihotra to newcomers, make the group offering, and facilitate discussion afterwards.
It was a lot to juggle each Friday with work, but work seemed to slow down just enough to give me enough time to sort the rice, prepare the gomai, and pack.
As time went by, I became mindful of the fact that we had newcomers each week, but also returning attendees. I was happy people were connecting with the fire and returning, but I didn’t want them to feel it wasn’t worth returning if they kept hearing the same explanation on Agnihotra.
How was I to give newcomers a sufficient explanation of Agnihotra, while keeping it new and fresh for returning members?
I simply prayed for the words to come to me each week, and I was pleasantly surprised that it became natural for me to explain Agnihotra to newcomers each week, but differently enough for returning members so they would get something new as well.
But I remember having difficulty after the meditation. Near the beginning of our gatherings after the fires had naturally extinguished and I concluded the meditation, I remember the group looked at me, expecting me to say something.
I realized the group was naturally receptive and open to a group discussion, but I didn’t have a sense for how to facilitate it. I simply asked if anyone had an experience they would like to share with the group, but the discussion felt stuck and didn’t seem to flow.
In that same circle, I recall a young lady asked a question to the group and the discussion seemed to naturally pick up and flow.
I thought to myself if there are others who are better at facilitating a group discussion after the meditation, I was happy with sticking to facilitating Agnihotra and having others lead the discussion.
I invited others to lead the group discussion each week.
It seemed to go okay at first, but after some time different people were giving different suggestions on where to take the discussions. Some wanted to chant OM, some wanted to sing, some wanted to speak on subjects that interested them.
The more I opened up others to lead the group discussions, I noticed some were even bringing their own politics into the group, going so far as to ask me to exclude others from attending group sessions.
I soon began to feel I was getting pulled in so many directions, I wasn’t sure which was the best direction for the group.
I became so confused as to the right thing to do, I needed to turn to my spiritual teacher for guidance.
At this point, I haven’t spoken much about my spiritual teacher, for reasons I won’t disclose at this time. But he was the one who had taught me Agnihotra, initiated me into the lineage whose mission was to resuscitate Agnihotra and the Vedas, and empowered me to share Agnihotra.