Evolve Asia interviews Yantara Jiro on his personal journey in the last decade through the Asian healing community and his global travels. By Sonia Ong
Tell us about yourself.
I am a visionary, inspirational leader, singer and explorer of Sound and Consciousness. My work is to inspire and spread the message of love and harmony through music and the power of sound; creating platforms for people to step into their powers by expressing their inner voice. I also specialises in coaching on how to utilise the Principles of Universe to manifest what you want and how to shift where you are to where you want to go.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in this field teaching for more than 10 years now.
Tell us how you chose or were chosen for your line of work and the difficulties and challenges you have faced along the way?
Since I was little, I was extremely curious about why i am here on earth because I had a strong sense of knowing that I do not originate from this planet. Having observed the people around me, heard stories and received education from schools over the years, it had placed a strong imprint upon my awareness questioning myself, "Will I have problems when I grow up like the adults around me?" "Why do people fall ill and why are there death? And when people die, why do they feel so sad?".
It came to me clearly when i was teenager that when I am in my thirties, i shall retire from personal problems and begin to enjoy my life emotionally free. And this conviction propelled me to explore the mysteries of life and understanding of the Universe.
The first difficulty faced in this business is about believing and trusting your work that it has a positive impact, influence and result to the people you serve. And while supporting others by providing a space for them to step into their own powers, it certainly is a journey for myself to keep refining what I do and to support myself with a consistent, discipline yet flexible learning practice.
The second difficulty encountered was the approval and acceptance from my mother. It took her sometime before understanding that what I was dealing with was not cult related. I believe that the nature of my work is to refine my mind, heart and mind and in the process should improve my lifestyle in all aspects. The first immediate impact and positive return will manifest within the family and thus it had gained the trust and respect from my family members.
The third difficulty is to trust that the Universe will provide all the physical resources you need even if you have only 3 participants in one meditation sitting. With constant personal training, meditation and the willingness to improve, upgrade and let go of the old, without needing to fit myself into what the society wants me to, success came within merely 6 months and everything steadily and firmly grew within the next 2 years with me teaching abroad a country after another with frequent long-term rewarding invitations.
How has your work evolved and where is it headed?
I started from hosting meditations to concurrently providing private consultations, and it grew to having healing workshops to weekly seminars. The content of my work revolves around developing the power of the mind through meditation but also strongly focuses on the power of sound. It has gone from toning to speaking "The Light Language", to singing and now using Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls and other acoustic healing instruments. I had gone from single weekly sessions to a full-year committed course, to sacred tours and now retreats.
My work is now also available through CDs, book, publications and videos. It is currently moving towards developing towards laying the foundation of what I have taught over the past 10 years and refining them into a complete system which may transcend into a centre sometime in future.
What are the latest trends, advances and developments in your brand of spirituality?
Not so clear with the phrase "Brand of Spirituality", spirituality to me means "Harmony in all aspects of life".
My work is also moving towards live performances which recently in June Summer Solstice played in the Forbidden City Beijing China for the Flower of Life Ceremony Fashion Show. The latest happening in what I am promoting and doing is introducing the Power of Sound Healing to people in Singapore and spreading the knowledge and skills on how to speak and use and Language of Vibration in people's spiritual practices.
Tell us about your understanding of the holism scene, how long it has been around and where it is headed in the near future
Before I started teaching in 2004, years before in my days of exploration, it was difficult to find like-minded people and spaces where we can gather and share freely without concerning people around us would think we are crazy. The holistic scene is evolving rapidly and will continue to do so just like any other industry. But because it is a small network and community, it will take some time before more unity consciousness as a whole in Singapore can be experienced.
The lightworkers in Singapore has been supporting and doing their work to spread the seeds of awakening for so many years and it is all thanks to them that in the near future we will be able to enjoy the vast availability of uplift programs people could attend and upgrade themselves.
In the near future, I foresee collaborators in Singapore of all kinds - organisers and facilitators coming together to share and co-create. It is certainly a wonderful and beautiful time.
What changes have you seen over the years in this business in terms of receptivity, enthusiasm and interest in your work?
There are many who too are interested in the nature work of Sound and seek to discover and practice further. Such interest usually gravitate towards the idea of carving a career in the field of spirituality.
What have you learnt on your travels and retreats abroad?
No matter where I go in whichever part of the world and methodology i use in my work, the subjects people ask are the same. It includes: Health, Wealth, Relationship, Property, Marriage, Communication, Career and Spirituality. Though most of the time the priority on the subject of Spirituality is low. The highest and most asked questions are often related to relationships, Health and Career (Wealth).
As such the application of my work which uses the Universal Laws to explain and resolve has shifted from using esoteric terms to psychological and scientific terms. Using references and examples from their daily activities are of the easiest and fastest response to resolving often a mental issue.
What are the differences between the UK, US and other Asian scenes and the Singapore scene?
In comparing to Asian scenes, the U.K, U.S. culture and people are generally more adventurous and ready to jump into exploring new avenues of self-development. The mindset of theirs are more open and see spirituality as a means to resolve something deeper and are not ashamed or shy to tell a friend about it. In Asian scenes, perhaps in our culture there is a program that indicates if you are attending meditation classes or seeking a private consultation, it is either you have mental issues or depression, or are dealing with negative energy entities in your life.
However now, international traveling is extremely convenient and affordable for many, it has helped made the line between the two much lesser distinct than before. Asians are generally more open now and are willing to mix it up with others which softens the boundary between different races and cultures.An opened heart certainly creates new bridges.
How big is Singapore's demand for retreats from what you understand?
There is a general healthy demand certainly. Singaporeans do enjoy being pampered, and should a retreat give an extra treat with a rewarding bonus in their spiritual and material life, it will certainly be a hit.
What do you think needs to be done to increase the holism market in Singapore?
We need to be able to communicate more openly, honour and respect each group and share within the allowance from each organisation. The unity of individual centres can draw a greater attraction and become a brighter and bigger light bulb where people can see, including others from abroad! Having the local media support by placing the holistic market in the radiant limelight as frequently as possible and adding a new dimension of well-being to Singapore!
What do you see your role as a member in the holism community?
To be an inspiration for others and in their own ways thereafter inspire others in their community.
What is your biggest wish for your work in the near future?
To meditate with as many people as possible in one single sitting for the pleasure and purpose of being and allowing.
How do you hope Singapore will evolve spiritually?
In ways that are so creative that is beyond imagination; Continue to strive to be eco-friendly, nature inspired and uplifting for the citizens here and tourists. To have successful, eventful gatherings and conferences that will serve as a catalyst for many to be inspired for their own growth and path in life no matter how big or small.
Yantara Jiro will be hosting the Stargates of Galaxies-Egypt Tour from 30 November to 16 December 2014. More details and latest updates here: http://yantarajiro.com/sacred-tours/egypt2014.html
Ruby Ong has helmed Reflections Bookshop and Resource Centre under the unforgiving economic climate of Hong Kong for the past 16 years. The sole proprietor started the business initially with partner Jonnie Oden, but tragedy struck four months into their first year when Jonnie succumbed to the cancer that she had been fighting.
Ruby was left to shoulder the young business alone, on top of her other commitment to her own public relations consultancy MV Reach Communications which she had established in 1991 as well as that of Reflections.
We last had this discussion at her Centre in 2013 when I first declared my intention to interview her. We were tucked away high up in an unassuming corner in an easy-to-miss office building on a side street peddling sharksfin and fish maw in Sheung wan. Her centre is exactly one of many conventional office spaces, thin blue carpet, white bare checkered ceilings, partitioned walls to make out three rooms, one office for herself, one room for private consultations and one storeroom.
The main room is lined with low bookshelves packed with new age books. A wooden table and a few office chairs form the centerpiece of this little space. All this is very no-nonsense, very Buddhist, very zen, just the picture of Ruby herself, consistently in shirts and cropped black pants, her face humble and completed with an enigmatic smile.
We are finally having a teleconference to put her whole story on record.
Elaborating on the situation she found herself in and her response:
"After Jonnie died, I decided to continue. Even as I was frustrated and I had no money, I told myself, 'Ruby, don't quit'. I received a lot of signs from the divine at that time encouraging me to keep going.
[Jonnie and i] envisioned a lot of things for Hong Kong. Recently one medium who came through shared a reading on Jonnie. The medium said my partner was happy with what I have done and assured me she’s here to protect me. In a lot ways I’m blessed by the divine.They always guide me."
Ruby contemplated closing again in 2011 when her last tenancy expired and she was unsure where she was to go. From November 2011 to feb 2012, she searched for her new centre, always wondering whether to keep going.
Commenting on the business of
holism, "this is not the business to be in if you want monthly high pay, save a lot of money and live comfortably...With this kind of work, it’s different..we get joy and happiness in different aspects. I’m after the spiritual awakening of people and I hope people will be happy with what they have."
And Ruby knows what big business is like. She worked for PR multinationals like Hill and Knowlton and Edelman twenty years ago in the early days of awakening China.
She was a totally different person back then.
"I never thought of opening a shop like this. I worked in China for 2 years. I was a PR consultant, I never thought of all these things..I was aggressive. I knew I’d grab 1-2 business projects every cocktail party. Business kept coming. I was happy.
That was before the demise of my parents and sister- in- law in 1995. In 10 months, one after another,
my mom got cancer, my father died of old age, my sister-in-law died of cancer. It was shocking and depressing- a big blow that awakened me. At that time I was still wondering about my life, I had my job waiting for me in china for 4 months. I then started to reflect on life...on hindsight, that was my life path, also why I call my shop Reflections, some people never awaken, no judgement about that, they are on their life path."
Ironically, an ex-colleague she met a few years back said she hadn't changed much.
When asked about perceptions and receptivity to new age businesses like her own in Hong Kong, she says,
"We don’t call ourselves new age, everything is ancient wisdom.
More people are open and receptive in HK to this idea of spirituality, natural healing, new age, yoga and meditation. We now know that there is more to meditation than relaxation.
Some think yoga is a physical exercise, yoga can help with the emotional and mental too.
People now are open and receptive.
When you talk to them, they’re open, accepting. People go to extent to research. It’s good. It also doesn't hurt that we have $7m people in HK"
On the the latest trends, advances and developments she has noticed in HK and the region in spirituality:
"I've noticed a younger and younger clientele. More social and civic consciousness. And more interest in spirituality. I have encountered many very spiritual and sensitive young people. There are different people in this market. Malaysians are more affected by religion. Chinese are more Buddhist. Malaysia has a lot of Tibetan Buddhism as opposed to traditional Buddhism. Everywhere is different. (Pause, she adds about having to adapt to technology changes) My Facebook was set up by young clientele. Our website was redesigned by very young clientele. I don’t go into all these things. Recently I got a Samsung smartphone. Now I have Whatsapp, Wiichat, Viber. Sometimes this can keep me very busy. Reading answering.. reading answering. You have no time for yourself."
" [What is most popular in HK?]
We have different categories of customers. Those who come for
readings and guidance. They make up 40 percent. Then we have those who come for learning, enrichment,skills and DIY like Buddhism, workshops to empower, they make up 60 percent."
About the changing scene in HK,
"There are a few very good centres still running. The 'New Age Shop' has changed its name to 'Guidance Light'. Then there is the 'Shakti healing circle'. A new one, 'Sanctuary' is very big. There are
many other centres on Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon side.
Many young Chinese are opening up centres for the young office ladies market. We hope they will bring them to the spiritual market and not focus too much on tarot readings only. We hope it will bring them one step further. Of course it is up to the owner or person in charge. We attract the kind of client and consciousness that are like us. The Young will attract the young.
Young concerns are physical level- love, life, relationship, career
We hope they will bring them more awareness.Everything is related energy
On how to grow the market, "Education as an industry is the key to that.
People have to go through traumatic experience in order to awaken.
We teach people they don’t’ have to feel the pain first or lose something, marriage, a loved one..to turn to spirituality. We pray that people will awaken sooner than later without going through loss or traumatic experience and become more aware on how to make life fulfilling and meaningful. They have to realise they have to live in the moment.
You are most powerful in the moment."
On her principles of price-making,"
We take the opinion of practitioners and my experience with the market.
We check with the divine and trust what is the number.
This is the fee we need to put down
We want a fee that will bring money for traveling practitioners who have high travel and lodging costs, yet is
affordable for clients. It’s a matter of feeling."
[Do you consider the market saturated for centers in HK?]
"A lot of people will still be awakened.There will a market for everyone. No need to fear.
Whatever is yours, divine will send to you.The divine is very good and will send the right people to you all the time.Trust and be aware."
[What advice can you give to aspiring practitioners from your past experience?]
"The more you talk you know you need to be humble. The moment you are teaching you are learning. You realise so many things you don’t know.In face of the divine, we are nothing. Ask for guidance. Humility is very important.
Spiritual teachers are put up on a pedestal. Before long they get mesmerised and fall from glamor.
It’s like a jacob’s ladder
Some up and some down. Our hope is we only climb up. Some will fall or climb down, not aware of it.
They think they are correct and right. Although no right or wrong. Some who are falling don’t know it.
It is important to go home and reflect. Did I say something wrong?
Did I do things wrong? If I feel say something wrong, I apologise immediately the next day if I hurt someone. A lot of people are not conscious. I’m sure you know so many teachers who are authors, who teach and talk. You can feel their Ego immediately. I once had a practitioner who insisted on having a projector in his class. We don't have one so I found one for him. It did not make a big difference to his turnout. Buddha only had a Bodhi tree and a rock and hundreds and thousands showed up to hear him speak.
How can you teach when you do not have visual aids? You need to be flexible and creative.
Everyday is an initiation.
Eventually I want everyone to
go out and do service.
In HK I have 4 master teacher level students already.
In Beijing I may have a few also soon. My father always said Qing Chu Yu Lan (mandarin for the student surpasses the teacher).
When I was teaching in university,
I encouraged my students to be better than me. You may be better than me and it’s alright.
My mom said, "When you are arguing, always leave them a space to step down. Don’t push them to a limit that they have no place to change and turn."
On commerce and spirituality and pricing, "Practitioners always ask me for advice. We know the market
Unless their services are very special, I will tell them this is the price. I’ll ask them their price in their home country and consider if people in HK can absorb it or not or
see if their services warrant the fee.
I will tell them. If they’re not happy, I say ok, it's up to the client if they’ll come or not. A lot of times I notice, and we do our best to promote them, practitioners have to do their bit as well. If they tend to be very tense with money, our clients can feel it. Then they won’t come
They can feel the enrgy of the practitioner when they receive the email. They are not attracted.
The humble and playful practitioners are attractive, clients will keep coming.Things will flow. You have to be very light. And not worry that
things will not flow for your life.
Let things flow. They are always for
the highest good of you and all concerned.
On how she has brought spirituality into her business, " It is a common practice to put the bottom line first.
For me, it’s important to pay bills and to have money to fall back on in case you need it. It does not have to be millions and millions. Just some money to live your life comfortably.
One of our UK practitioners who just left said to me, 'We need to pay bills. We need a roof on top of our head. We need food to keep our belly full.
That’s all, that’s all we really need.'
Personally I feel we still have a physical body, temple of soul, it needs to be fed, clothed. It still needs money.
At the moment money is the medium we use to change and exchange house, food, a piece of bread
Everything has a price.
Anything that is free, people don’t value. Usually our price angelic numbers 111, 222..
It’s nice to have price like that.
There are a lot of good people in HK doing meaningful projects asking nothing in return. They are not aware that their soul is awakened.
On TV I have seen a hawker who offers congee every morning to a group of elderly people, rain or shine..for free. 'I don’t need a lot myself.'He wants to share. This is very simple. He doesn’t know spirituality. He doesn’t have to be sophisticated, chanting om, shiva, or going up to a mountain to meditate.
Personally I feel wishing good morning to the security guard or asking one's mom if she has eaten
are just as spiritual.
When you chase after something, like money, you get very tense.
I told the divine I don’t want to work under pressure anymore.
Help me find a space I don’t have to work under pressure to pay my rental. Really I don’t work under pressure now. Interestingly, without working under pressure，things keep flowing. If January is empty, the center later fills up gradually. Things just happen.
When [foreign] people ask when I’m coming, it’s like the divine asking them to ask me. I need to be asked and I will go. Usually the business will be good for the host and the session for the student, but
I have to be invited first.
The Divine works mysteriously and miraculously. When certain things happen there is a reason. Whoever is not suitable to be my client, I can feel that the divine will make things happen so that they have no chance or time to come. I don’t do much now.
I will not go out and I wait a few days and things unfold naturally. These days I am less proactive. As a result there is less struggle. I am also
very straightforward. I will tell people if things will work or not. It is not personal, just professional service."
Her advice on how to work with the Divine, "Ask the Divine, 'how do you want me to serve you.' Step out if you want to serve. Make it known.
Love who shows up."
On the evolution and changes in her work, "I have been teaching Sekhem since 2002, it’s been 12 years. I also offer healing and mini workshops when I travel.
I am currently teaching the Law of one and immortality exercise. I am
not sure about the near future.
For Reflections, our biggest business has been in Meditation, numerology, ancient Egyptian teaching and living light energy. There is now more openness
to energy healing, more interest in
meditation for forgiveness and distance healing.
Every moment we are going through initiations. Actions you take in the face of initiations depend on awareness and consciousness. Every day I’m evolving and changing. I also tell my students. Everyday we take action and make decisions. What you say and think are important. How you’re feeling is important. Sometimes we evolve up, sometimes we evolve down.
We pray we won’t go back, we pray we get closer and closer to what the divine wants us to do.
[And what do you think the divine wants you to do?] To awaken more people in HK. There are still 7m HK people here. Locally we have lots of practitioners
Reflections wants to provide a platform for local practitioners
and we are here to provide them with resources, sometimes for free, to get them started."
By Sonia Ong