It is easier to recruit newcomers or people in need than it is to retain them. Retention requires persistence and patience. It is a commitment to understanding how someone is functioning in their position, if they should remain in that occupation or be promoted.
In spirituality, as in school and business, recruiting potential members is of high priority. Not only to increase the numbers of individuals and possibly monies coming in, but to validate the efforts of the practitioners. You build community. Bring a friend. Find out how that friend feels or who they truly are and vice versa. Because you might discover something about the people around you that you didn’t want to know. 😉
For example, as an open minded youth, I left the Church when I was a teen. By the time I graduated college I knew many people with varying religious or spiritual practices. After a brief but trying stint in New York, I moved back to California to pick up the pieces. The pieces were never in one bag or even an old game box with tape on the corners.
Once the turbulence settled, after a year or so, my cousins invited my brother to hang out in Hollywood. He invited me. They were trying to talk to anyone they could about their new spiritual practice as they ordered margaritas. But my brother is not the type. You want to see the work of God or the Universe, watch him sketch.
I, on the other hand, was on a spiritual journey but didn’t have a destination or a name for it. I was the one that took them up on the invitation. I’m the one that studied the texts. I’m the one that read outside information. I’m the one who was already READY. I was the youngest in the group and became the go-to for processing the information.
But I’m not a culture-fit. For my family. So despite participating in an act of bringing someone into a spiritual and healing practice, they couldn’t keep up the support. The very person that took responsibility for bringing me in and handing me a sacred scroll was also someone that did not want the responsibility of helping me continue my practice. We both moved to New York.
She arrived first, worked in fashion, and moved to every pretentious neighborhood you can identify in the boroughs anyone cares to talk about. I joined a program to get my Masters to become a teacher. Our experiences seemed like night and day. She could still party and discuss her life in a superficial way that I could not. We didn’t live in the same area so we wouldn’t be practicing in the same group. I began to recede into my old, isolating ways. But I still practiced.
I claim my retention rights! My spiritual practice was always in me, it finally got a name. But for a while I felt used.
Shakubuku or recruiting potential practitioners is supposed to be a great benefit. GREAT benefit. Some people use this method to improve their karmic outcomes. I mean, you are bringing people to a practice that is non-harmful and should bring you happiness. I finally asked the “Shakabuku Queen” at a meeting where are all the people you brought in? Are they well? Are they still practicing? Are y’all still talking?
Imagine asking an employer these questions?! You’d be investigating their employment practices while simultaneously discovering where their personal biases exist. Are you still hiring and hanging with people that look and think like you? Are you asking people different from you to do more for the same amount? Do you even ask them how they’re doing?
To inquire, from a long term practitioner, about their accountability to others—was clearly a moment no one was expecting. But the answer was honest. They had not taken care of those members. They were like a train just picking people up and dropping them off at Buddhaland. There was a degree of irresponsibility in the hype that when you introduce someone to the practice you get a 1UP, 3 gold coins or an elixir.
The hardest lesson is understanding that no matter what happens, your practice is your own. But we are not meant to practice without support. We may be separated or isolated, but there are ways to reach out. When we decide someone isn’t worth the effort anymore, make sure you are certain as to why you create that boundary.
*Note: the term Shakubuku translates as “to break and subdue”