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Invisible Hierarchies

May 19, 1997 12:08 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

This is inspired by Thoa's discussion of personality connection
in spiritual organizations.  I recently visited Pasadena after
a hiatus of six years, and have been having lots of personal
contact with ARE people.  Within the Adyar TS have also seen
most people I know in the Baltimore/Washington area lately.  My
general observation is that the interactions among local
Theosophists tend to be on the harmless side of the continuum
of cult social settings.  Theosophists never pressure you to
believe anything.  But by believing in an invisible hierarchy
of Masters, they set up invisible hierarchies in their own
organizations to reflect this.  In the Adyar TS the invisible
hierarchy is the ES.  One becomes more "personally" involved in
the TS as one ascends a spiritual hierarchy, and the
interaction of these two factors makes for a strange group

Pardon me a moment of progaganda for the A.R.E.  Even for a
person whose belief system is much more dominated by Blavatsky
than Cayce (as I was in 1977-78 and again in 1988-89 when
active in two Search for God groups) the ARE study group format
provides a healthy level of personal involvement that has
always felt more satisfying than anything in the Theosophical
movement.  (The Pasadena TS Headquarters has a very positive
atmosphere without the kind of personality conflicts found in
the Adyar TS.)  The Pasadena TS branch I was active in
throughout the 1980s had as many ARE members as Theosophists in
attendance throughout the decade, so Caycean influence was
always present in my local Theosophical experience.

People in a study group focus on two series of twelve lessons
on spiritual awakening.  They can relate it to whatever is
happening in their lives.  Never gets too personal like group
therapy, but is much better at connecting people in a common
spiritual purpose than lecturing them is.  Plus the group
meditation creates a kind of organic link among the people.

For all I know you live someplace like Berkeley and have a
gazillion options of New Age groups to belong to.  But if
you're looking for something where people maintain a proper
distance, but work on a personal basis together in a way warmer
in tone than Theosophical groups, check out the Search for God
material.  Groups are usually between 8 and 18 people in my


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