|dc.description.abstract||This project explored the experiences of ordinary men and women involved in spiritual practices in order to understand the phenomenon of spiritual heart and any implications for outer peace. The primary question asked of informants was what was spiritual brotherhood? Very early in the process the research question refined itself to ask about spiritual brothersisterhood, as the connotation of brotherhood was excluding for the female informants.
In order to understand both the question and perhaps the phenomenon; participants from two communities became involved. Both communities were viewed as having expert knowledge about indigenous spirituality. One group came from a purposive sample of practitioners from the multi-cultural global Sahaj Marg community of Raja Yoga practitioners.
The other group belonged to the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori community and had close whānau (family), kinship and iwi (tribal) connections. An indigenous perspective reminds us all of our roots, when we, in our present day lives, often forget these. The willingness of this group to guide this project and be involved was very welcome.
Informants in this study identified a universal thread of awareness that revealed itself to each one as a practical knowledge of the spiritual heart. Informants in both groups experienced an ongoing transcendental connection through the spiritual heart, to a unified field of consciousness that they called respectively: Master, tūpuna (ancestors), and atua (forces that generate and animate particular realms of reality). This connection influenced relationships and lifestyle practices in ways that were described as peaceful. The researcher conceived an intrinsic space to hold the knowledge shared by informants as a form of dynamic conversation between a universal whānau (family) connected by spirit. It is not a comparative study. As such this thesis modestly outlines the convergences of practices, beliefs, attunement and awareness, that led to a peaceful lens, as described by these participants.
Constructivist grounded theory and methods and Māori centred research perspectives was utilised in this three-year inquiry. The Māori people are the indigenous inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand, and in this study came from South Island Ngai Tahu and Waitaha iwi (tribe), with connections through whakapapa (genealogy) to many North Island iwi.
Interview data were collected from 56 participants (N = 49 Sahaj Marg and N = 7
(Māori). Interviews with Māori informants were of longer duration. In addition, seven focus groups occurred with N = 46 (Sahaj Marg) and N = 6 (Māori). The Māori focus group met three times. Informants (called participants in the remainder of this thesis) represented a wide age span, from eighteen to eighty-nine years, with approximately 30 % male and 70 % female. Informants came from thirty-six different cultures. When contextual data came from participant observation, the researcher used the word ‘practitioners’.||