Dec 9, 2020
Group Synthesis, Part 7
(D) Erroneous Teachings
No group is perfect, neither is any teacher or member of the group, but many aspiring students see things in terms of black and white. Either the group is completely rejected or completely accepted by some. The same goes for its leadership.
Therefore, once a black and white student joins a group and feels good about it he often sees himself as in 100%. If contradictions are run by him or her they will be oblivious to them, almost like they either did not exist, or espousing a feeling that it would be wrong to question anything.
Many of these black and white types are so embedded in their group, its teacher and ideology that attempting to change their minds is a waste of time. Such individuals will continue with the all or nothing approach for lifetimes to come, or until they reach some type of painful crises that causes them to seriously reflect on their approach.
The seasoned seeker though is not black and white. He realizes there is no such thing as the perfect group and people and merely seeks out the one that is the best for individual and group progression.
There are a number of flaws that the astute student may see in his chosen group.
(1) Teachings that he believes to be either not true or questionable.
Perhaps he likes most of the material presented. In other words, there are enough positive teachings and activities that the few which are questionable are not enough to cause him to withdraw support. The group does not seem perfect but it is the best he can find.
How then should he handle those teachings which do not register with his inner self.
First the student must make sure he understands the material correctly. As a teacher myself I have often found that this is where the problem lies. The seeker has misunderstood what I was saying and a little clarification and further explanation solved the problem.
Therefore, if the seeker senses that further details may help him to be more unified with the group then he should ask questions and study any additional materials available.
Then after doing all that is possible to understand the teachings, but some still do not correctly register, what should he do?
At that point he must weight the positives and negatives. If the group overall registers as 90% or more positive he may want to stay and support it despite the problematic 10%. After all, there may be nothing he can support 100% and everything else out there seems inferior.
If he decides to stay then it would be disruptive for group unity to focus, especially in any group conversations, with the negative 10%. He would be better off to focus on the 90% he can support.
Does this mean he goes into denial on the 10%. No. He should continue to keep his eye out for further resolution in a positive way, but resist the temptation to inject complaining and arguing in general group conversations.
If he comes up with new information that would shed light on the questionable 10% then it may be beneficial to bring it up to the leadership with a non critical attitude.
(2) Various teachings that are accepted by the group yet seem to contradict each other.
This appears often in many belief systems and group teachings.
Maybe the leader is teaching that the world will end in five years yet they are making plans for decades ahead.
Maybe one set of teachings seem to indicate we live only one life and another supports reincarnation.
Perhaps one part of the teachings say that in the true reality there is only one life and others seem to teach there will always be many lives, but just eventually unified.
In the ideal group the student should be able to ask any question that he desires as long as the tone is civil. However, most groups are far from the ideal and in many groups such questions may bring frowns from leaders and black and white members.
The student must therefore survey the situation.
If he senses that the leadership and the group are open to such questions then he should ask away.
If he senses the questions would create a disturbance then he needs to make a judgment call. Perhaps he may want to bring it up first with an individual group leader.
Perhaps he is willing to ask his questions and let the chips fall where they may.
Perhaps the suppression of questions will be strong enough to cause the student to reevaluate his membership and depart to greener pastures.
Overall, in the eyes of many serious students, a group should be open enough to allow awkward questions to be asked.
(3) The leader seeks too much control over the lives of members.
This is a common problem that is not always obvious at the group’s beginning. Maybe at first the leader seemed easy going but as time progressed he or she became more demanding.
If freedom is threatened then the member should speak out, even if frowned upon by others. If the problem is not resolved the member should consider moving on for a lack of freedom is not a problem that self corrects.
(4) Other members are creating problems.
If this is seen as a problem the first thing the student must ask is how widespread this view is. Are you, or maybe a very small percentage seeing this is a problem or do most members see it this way? If only you see something to complain about then perhaps the problem is in the jaundice way you are looking more than the members that irritate you. In this case you may not have enough traction to bring up the problem to the group as a whole but it may be helpful to discuss your feelings with the leadership.
If a large percentage of the members agree with you then you have evidence of having a valid point. In this case, it may be helpful to bring up this or any other agreed upon problem with the group as a whole.
Criticism within a group can be a very destructive force that can spread like a virus. Therefore, the wise group member will only criticize when it is absolutely necessary, as most criticism is met with a counter criticism that can lead to endless rounds of negativity.
Here was DK’s advice to a critical student:
For several years and more, you have consistently taken the position that one of my disciples has failed to measure up to his opportunities and that my entire group of disciples has not given the service which was demanded of it. You have so stated to a number of people and have also asserted that my work—as indicated by me in my various pamphlets and books—has not been properly done either by the group or by those who have pledged themselves to do it. You have criticised openly all that has been attempted and have steadily belittled and openly under-rated the work that has been done. You have misunderstood the attitude of my entire group. You have not helped in any way constructively. You have interjected a spirit of criticism everywhere.
Why is this? There are two reasons, my brother, and I care enough about your unfoldment to tell you with frankness what they are. One is that your fluid, uncontrolled, lower mind reverts with facility to criticism, to the formulating of group plans which are impossible of accomplishment, changing such plans at frequent intervals and using speech as a means of spreading distrust and criticism. Secondly, you are mentally and spiritually ambitious and yet you do not have the personal magnetism or the executive ability which would enable you to form your own group. It is easier to undermine another group.
Can you train yourself to overcome a critical spirit? I would remind you that habit is potent and that you are facing your life task and your major problem. You are adequate to the task, but only if you become truly convinced of the need.
Can you begin to concern yourself with constructive work which will meet the present need around you? You have talked much. Can you now begin to work? Discipleship in the New Age, Vol 1, Pages 588-590
Copyright By J J Dewey
JJ’s Amazon page HERE
Gather with JJ on Facebook HERE