Groups Can Be Useful
Jun 27, 1996 00:07 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker
>The world is changing and none of us can see where it is going to end
>up, but at the moment all group activities are suffering, not just TS ones.
I'm not sure I agree. Certainly some or many T.S. lodges may be loosing
steam, but that is due to the interpersonal dynamics of the members of
the lodges. Organizations and groups can and do have powerful
influences on their members. Many do so with charismatic leaders or
with fabulous promises and thought control, like cults and ultra
conservative religions. The T.S. is at a disadvantage in this respect,
since it has little of either. With the T.S., individuals are left to
self-devised efforts, rather than told what to do, and often people
have too little genuine interest in the Path to proceed on their
>It is a situation we are just going to have to adapt to.
I'm not a Bailey fan, but I recall that she speaks strongly in favor
of group activities, putting it as the next great evolutionary step
forward. She depicts group work as higher than work done by individuals
Our society has fostered the breakdown of the nuclear family, the
family clan, and the sense of "village" and community, leaving us
alone in huge, impersonal cities. We're left alienated and alone.
There's a natural human tendency towards participation in groups,
with a sense of belonging, caring, and "family" to the groups. In
the most positive sense, a theosophical lodge would be more like
an Esoteric Section group, a close-knit family of people working
to help each other on the Path and to better the world about them.
This is the opposite extreme from a book-reading club where
individuals arrogantly pronounce their opinions as ultimate truth,
angrily denouncing and deploring the views of the great sages and
seers of all time.
>Now I rather enjoy group stuff myself. There is nothing to compare with
>sitting down to a pizza and some beer with friends and discussing
>philosophies of various descriptions, including theosophy.
Fellowship with kindred souls is great. We share food, personal
experiences, and a mutual exploration of things that really
interest us. But there's a big difference between the Path, and
casual interests. In one case, we might picture some friends
deciding which movie to go to tonight. In the other case, we're
talking about changes in us that turn life inside-out and pull
the carpet out from under us, completely unsettling our smug
view of life and the world.
With the first case, someone might be talking a stroll through
the park, because it's a pleasant thing to do. With the other
case, someone may be putting in long hours at the track, daily,
in training for the Olympic trials. It is not arrogant to
recognize differences in interest, dedication, achievement, and
capacity, nor to point out those areas of self-development that
offer ourselves and the world fabulous rewards, if only we'd
make the effort!
>And the internet does create just groups, I am still sort of
>recovering from a gathering of magicians that meets once a
>year and we all met originally on the internet.
I suspect that we'll have many theosophical groups on the
internet, each with it's own personality and "belief".
Hopefully some places with be civil and respectful.
>So I agree that there will always be a role for groups.
>The question is how formal will they be?
Some groups or meetings, depending upon their purpose, need
formality and structure in order to get business done, like
board meetings for non-profit corporations. If an agenda is
not prepared in advance and time not properly budgeted,
important business might not get taken care of.
Other groups, like informally arising groups of friends
that are together out of mutual respect and mutual support,
may not need structure. The groups may evolve their own
way of doing things over time, without having to have
some external rules or guidelines. So I don't think we can
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