Introducing others to the Dharma

Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby gingercatni » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:18 pm

I'm no doubt going to get told off by a few of you by the this post but here goes. Myself and a few others formed a small lay society and we would like to publicise it to others. We were going to hand out flyers, but as we live in a 99.9% Christian country, we are banging our heads together on how to do it so that:

A: We are not forcing our faith on others
B: Not insulting others beliefs
C: Actually educating people about Buddhism.

Any ideas how we can do this and what way we should present Pureland Buddhism to others?
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Re: Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:31 pm

You shouldn't. The only thing you might want to do is advertise a meditation group. Once a week - 30 minutes of sitting meditation. No proselytizing. Put an add in the local newspaper. Tea and biscuits.
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Re: Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby Jikan » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:56 pm

That's a great question, ginger cat. The three principles you've laid out are good. So, I'd say you're on the right track in terms of strategy. What about tactic?

One thing I've learned as the organizer of a small Tendai group in a predominantly Christian area is that people come out of curiosity or some kind of felt need, but they only stay if they feel as though they belong. It doesn't matter so much if it's a Pure Land group, for instance, or any other kind of Buddhist practice (or yoga, or anything else really). So it makes sense to start with what we call "sangha building." Organize your meetings in such a way that people feel comfortable; give a period before meetings to orient new people and get to know them by name. Spend a period in practice. Afterward, as Andrew suggested, bring out the tea and biscuits and invite questions. Not necessarily about practice, but about anything at all. It shouldn't feel exclusive, that's the point. Once people feel like they belong, they have a motivation to learn more. Next thing, they're reading on their own and telling their friends...

How to help people find you? We've experimented with different approaches. Fliers were not very effective for us. People just sort of look past them. Advertisements in print media of various kinds didn't go much further. Word of mouth helps a lot (people telling people they know...). Online tools such as Facebook and Meetup do bring people to your door; I would recommend starting there.

I wish you great success!
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Re: Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby gingercatni » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:13 pm

Jikan wrote:That's a great question, ginger cat. The three principles you've laid out are good. So, I'd say you're on the right track in terms of strategy. What about tactic?

One thing I've learned as the organizer of a small Tendai group in a predominantly Christian area is that people come out of curiosity or some kind of felt need, but they only stay if they feel as though they belong. It doesn't matter so much if it's a Pure Land group, for instance, or any other kind of Buddhist practice (or yoga, or anything else really). So it makes sense to start with what we call "sangha building." Organize your meetings in such a way that people feel comfortable; give a period before meetings to orient new people and get to know them by name. Spend a period in practice. Afterward, as Andrew suggested, bring out the tea and biscuits and invite questions. Not necessarily about practice, but about anything at all. It shouldn't feel exclusive, that's the point. Once people feel like they belong, they have a motivation to learn more. Next thing, they're reading on their own and telling their friends...

How to help people find you? We've experimented with different approaches. Fliers were not very effective for us. People just sort of look past them. Advertisements in print media of various kinds didn't go much further. Word of mouth helps a lot (people telling people they know...). Online tools such as Facebook and Meetup do bring people to your door; I would recommend starting there.

I wish you great success!


thanks! :twothumbsup: In the end not everyone follows a Christian life and perhaps the Dharma is something they were unaware of. I don't think its harmful to at least let people know there is an outlet to the Dharma in their neighbourhood though if a lot of people show up I hope i don't get nervous! :smile: :namaste:
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Re: Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby Jikan » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:29 pm

Excellent!

For what it's worth, I wouldn't worry too much about a great crowd coming all at once. For comparison's sake, we're in a city of nearly six million (if you count the 'burbs), and a big night for us is eighteen or so, with two or three new people. We've never had more than four new people at once.
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Re: Introducing others to the Dharma

Postby Osho » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:14 pm

Tea and Biscuits are essential in England.
People will come along to DO something so it could be best advertising a meditation group or some sort of activity rather than just promoting a talk or discussion session.
Friends of ours in Norfolk began their group out of QiGong classes, the professionally produced glossy flyer for that says
Searching for a Path to Happiness? and then sets out the benefits of QiGong.
Some who came for QiGong sessions remained to become the nucleus of a busy little 'Amida-lite' sangha. The QiGong sessions continue seperately and bring in some income to defray sangha overheads such as hall rental.
Being in a retirement area most are fifties and above age group and they get twenty plus to most meetings.
Every success to you . If it is meant to be then your group will flourish.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/
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