Journey of a Lifetime: A Group Story is an account of the journey of a group through more than thirty years’ work. From February 2018 a chapter is being posted each month. Here is this month’s chapter. Please Note: Copies of the book are available from Sydney Goodwill.
CHAPTER TEN – Unfolding Phases of the Group Work
Progressively through the unfolding phases of the Group we have developed a clearer sense of responsibility in implementation of the work. When we understand that the outer group is simply an externalized point of the inner group then we realise the necessity to be identified in conscious awareness with and within the inner group life.
The work that is done on the outer plane, if we have sufficient understanding, is in exact concert with the inner group’s intention. There is really no separation, no distinct inner and outer group. When standing on the inner plane the outer plane is just the skin. Wherein do you see the outside of the physical body as separate from the inside? You cannot see your blood stream and yet it is the life force in your body and you accept that fact. The outer group counterpart of the inner group is nonetheless part of a complete whole. Can our breath be any less when it goes out than when it comes in?
We know ourselves consciously to be members of the inner group, currently working on the outer plane. We offset the need for considering this in terms of alignment between the inner and outer groups. In the past an outer group was successful to the degree it stayed in such alignment. We are an inner group functioning in an outer body. The outer group is the external form of the soul group, just as the individual soul functions through a human body, its outer instrument. If as individual disciples we see the need to remove emphasis from our outer forms of expression and identify with the spiritual self, then it is only an extension to understand this in the group sense.
Herein is the value of working with a fully conscious focus and identification with the inner group. We participate in the Ashramic thought and understand the next phase as it is held within the inner group consciousness, defining and encompassing the work for any particular moment. This enables the Group to take responsibility without requiring instruction from the inner level. Without the necessity for instruction, we take responsibility in response to that sounding, and implement the purpose of the moment through our specialized area of focus in the outer world of the work.
Neither is there any necessity to believe that any senior Ashramic co-worker needs to be referred to (and accordingly interrupted) in order for us to know what we should understand or do in the work at any time. Rather we take responsibility to apprehend this ourselves. There is then no distraction or wastage of energy. We operate from that which we know. We move beyond that old thought ‘the Master told me’ which really is only the seeing of a ‘gap’ in consciousness, a thought that we do not know without reference or being told.
Overview of Phases
At this point it seems useful to review the journey of the Group thus far. It has always been recognised that this is not a group where people take training, per se. It is not a group where we are endeavouring to help people get over problems, or to bring them to certain levels of development – or even to tap their potential. Group work takes care of that. This is a group which has accepted a particular task, and its entire attention is focused upon this purpose.
The journey thus far has taken us:
From the first phase of the Group where it was clear that the individual needed to learn to leave the personal or individual life outside of the Group and thus maintain a focus on the work and develop a subjective focal point of energy.
To the second phase of the Group’s moving outward in service to the public and the wider world group and recognizing the value of relationship within and between groups where there is a freedom to interact in harmony and the capacity to bring life to the new work.
To the third phase wherein the individual recognised the necessity to address his or her own challenges, outside of the Group life, and merge with the Group as it, along with the world group, addressed the nature and effects of the incoming Will aspect.
To the fourth phase where it is realized that it is not we as individual in the Group who receive the injunction ‘to move’, it is the Group entity so instructed, and that the Group will only achieve this to the degree that we as individuals are so immersed, so submerged, so integrated into the Group entity that there is no longer any inclination to think of oneself as a separated individual when together in the group meetings principally, but even outside of that.’
Group consciousness is a continuous state. We have each taken such responsibility for the work and the movement in the work that we are not looking to someone else to sound the note in the Group. We all have taken absolute responsibility as part of that entity that is the Group itself to maintain a point of tension and an undivided focus.
The Fourth Phase of the Group
What is the fourth phase? The fourth phase engages the group in identifying the next stage of revelation. The Group has always understood that the task is to help reveal the nature of oneness which knows no separation. The fourth phase extends the revelation of oneness, a movement from soul to spirit, from consciousness to life, from unity to synthesis. We come to the point where we know, beyond theory, that within life we are inseparable from all other selves.
Oneness is only revealed through a group when and because it has become a way of life. This is a major demand of the work of this time. Until a group is consciously demonstrating this capacity they cannot move into and reveal the next phase. Anyone who has realisation cannot help but make revelation.
The group participates in life’s unfolding purpose at this time and we apprehend what is emerging, but the details of its appearance are not clear. It is life’s show, not ours. The ‘details’ are our responsibility to work out. The revelation of the oneness of all life is the motivating impulse. Rather than thinking up projects to do we move with the flow of life energy into outer expression, taking action according to the needs of the moment.
We are actually in process of seeing the incarnation of the inner group on the outer plane. We see an externalization of the inner groups into outer activity. It is a continuing story as the Greater Group externalises.
As we approach the fourth phase of the group work it is imperative that each individual becomes fully available within the Group’s work and leaves behind any personality issues. The pressures of the entering force upon the individuals and upon the Group are making this possible, in fact, imperative.
To the degree that any individual holds back, to that degree is the energy focus pulled off centre. It seems a simple matter with our understanding of the importance of the work, and of the time, that we drop anything of a personal requirement and merge with the group thought and purpose which can then guide our lives. Once merged with the group, individuality is an asset.
One mistake often made by the individual in the group is in taking the above requirements to mean that they need to find their own personal contribution to the work of the group. It is more important that they take the responsibility to stand within the group in spiritual being together with their o-workers, holding the point of tension. Personal emphasis results in a distraction from group purpose and separation of themselves from the group’s essential being of unity, while identification within the group purpose releases the flow of energy into expression wherever it may be needed.
In fact, the most inhibiting thing in the new group work is when people still cannot get their thought off themselves. They do not realise this. They are in a group because they respond to the work to be done and want to be part of it and they say, “I would really like to be making more contribution.” Then let us ask, “Where is their thought?” Still upon themselves. The driving force is the work and nothing else. The injunction is to forget oneself completely and integrate into the group life and its expression.
This does not rob one of individuality. If anything, individuality is intensified in that focus as they add the sum total of their energetic capacity to the work at hand. That focal point of energy, the laser beam with which we work, is the sum total of all that is available from every individual in the group. This is qualified and enhanced by the unique qualities of the individuals concerned. So, far rom robbing the individual of individuality, their entire capacity or potentiality is called forth and directed into the through the work in hand.
It is not always easy for people to identify within the whole and to understand that this living focus governs all expression. There is then a truer understanding of Christ’s words of being ‘in the world and yet not of the world’. Our expression in service is governed from an inner realisation and not an outer search.
One night just before the commencement of a meditation meeting a member joining us from another group asked, “How do you integrate a group like this? Our group hasn’t arrived at such integration.” A group member replied, “In one word, self-forgetfulness.”
Then with understanding we enter the fourth phase of the work. Then there can be a true understanding of group work. There are those individuals and groups at this time in the world work who, recognizing the indissoluble unity existing at their subjective point of focus, are enabled to carry this realisation of unity into their outer world of intergroup work. When the world groups recognise that they are part of one great movement and there is no contradiction between them then they stand together on the outer plane in the same unity of consciousness as on the subjective plane. This is an outer statement of inner intention and need not necessarily result in an overlap of work on the outer plane.
Identical At-One-ness in Operation
As the world groups arrive at the recognition described above and produce a network of true cooperation across the planet, the synthesis of life and of knowledge will be realized rather than a synthesis of people. This is a new experience in group life recognizing the life aspect. In the past we have understood group interaction in terms of the second aspect, soul relationship, rather than life-sharing, the first aspect. When soul relationship is established within a group or between groups there is a movement onward to the life-sharing experience. This is implemented by love but it is life itself expressing.
On the other side of the planet a member of another group entered into a cooperative working with this Group. While their outer service is of a different nature, the groups are similar in that they hold a deeply subjective focus. The member of that group spoke of an experience of ‘merging’ – or the realisation of identical at-one-ness – subtly influencing the work at hand and resulting in an expansion of possibilities, including increased knowledge, capacities and understanding. There was a sense of inner co-working made manifest in a peculiar way.
The following is a communication from this co-worker.
“The profound depth of inner contact, shared presence and knowing extends outward through the thought, feeling and action life in the three worlds of everyday life. While working in a particularly challenging situation, the intensification of energy was quite an experience, as also was the awareness of your immediate presence. It was startling when initially experienced as there was a redirection of energy within the situation which reminded me of the eleventh Labour of Hercules in Aquarius when he was face with the seemingly impossible task of cleaning the stables. Yet when the surging current of the river of life was consciously re-routed to combine with the river of love he met the challenge, saved the day – and gave us a great hint.
“There is an increased capacity to meet everyone where they are, intimating to me an increased awareness of experience, knowledge and wisdom that can be explained by the combined lives/presence of two or more working as one. This experience of identical at-one-ness goes beyond knowing someone’s thoughts, feelings, or even exactly where they are or what they are doing in a given moment in time. We know we are encompassed by Life itself and are assured that we are part of that great Hierarchical chain as we are offered glimpses of the mystery of isolated unity and that Those beyond us can actually be in two places at once and have access to all knowledge.
“In another instance, while in group meditation, this merging was experienced as a descent of fiery energy, deepening the meditation, and held within a vast silence, there was awareness of an expanded consciousness. I experienced an intensification of the group life itself and an inspiration that touched the group members as inter-group work was discussed.”
The Group has participated in similar experiences of life-sharing with other groups. However the work of each group may manifest in the world of service as groups work with groups from their point of inner life-sharing they become aware of an intensification of energy, deepening their insight and increasing inspiration in service. At group meetings there can be an awareness of oneness, without any element of intrusion, that demonstrates the life-sharing that operates throughout the world groups.
Within the fourth phase of the Group we have to come to a deeper understanding of the nature of freedom. One of the young people related to the Group has shared this thought, “There is a freedom, a oneness that we and everyone else for that matter can share if they were only aware. They may have knocked on the door, but they have not entered it.” This young woman experiences freedom as oneness. So it is and more than this.
Another young person on the other side of the planet responded, “You can work through stuff to infinity but when do you stop knocking and enter through this door? It is a necessity to accept freedom. What is oneness but freedom within life? What is it to be fully present? What is it to live in the moment? It has nothing to do with ‘not living in the present’. It has nothing to do with focusing in the past. It has to do with our expression of the reality of life. That is the only way we can live in the moment. If we entertain anything less we are not living in the moment. We are merely ‘putting in an appearance’ in the moment.”
When within the individual life or the group life the vision of freedom opens before us, at the same moment we are uncomfortably aware of all those things that stand in the way of our entrance into the vastness that freedom offers. We cannot cross this threshold carrying such burdens but it often seems easier to carry on in our confined way of living life than to accept the challenge of stepping unencumbered into such freedom.
The reluctance to move, if it were seen clearly, is caused by the fear to let go of those habitual separating forms of expression that have become a protection against the frightening possibility of entering a new and as yet unknown state of awareness with all its demands upon the individual or the group, of releasing all personal requirements and of accepting the responsibility of extended service which appears in striking clarity across this threshold. On the other hand, once we have stepped across the threshold we discover a freedom indeed. We obtain a great facility to work without limitation and without syphoning off thought into unnecessary digressions or extensions.
Having once even glimpsed the vision, but endeavouring to maintain those protective yet illusory forms, we find that a constant fund of energy is consumed in this effort rather than being made fully available for a true expression of life within the field of work. There are many disciples in this dilemma and it is interesting to watch the lengths to which they can go to deceive themselves and, if possible, those associated with them in order to delay their day of movement. Actually, what is delayed is the progress of the work as others in the group must make allowances for those who are still focusing upon themselves. These workers are evident in their constant self-reference in speech or in thought, whether requiring or demanding personal recognition of their accomplishments, capacities, difficulties, wants, or sundry other factors that distract their attention from an entire focus upon the work.
A group needs the conscious focus of all its members within the group purpose. All members are held together within the life of the group. A group can incorporate any individual’s limitation resulting from the point on the Path or degree of understanding. However, where there is already recognition of the next step and yet the individual fails to move on, then this presents a problem to the group which must be resolved for the sake of the work.
At this point there is a necessity to understand the distinction between ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’. It is all a matter of focus. While our thought is constantly upon extricating ourselves from some problem or another then we deprive ourselves of the freedom to work with undivided attention. When our focus is upon the freedom to serve then our thought is in and governed by the work. We make the choice between one or other of a pair of opposites.
In truth however, Freedom is more than this. It is a mighty Energy, a cosmic Law. It is this Law which drives humanity to seek freedom progressively from one confining form after another. We live on a planet where growth is achieved through a choice between the pairs of opposites. Without the existence of opposites or opposing forces we could not experience the force, the friction, the conflict necessary to move us to achievement.
Well we may start on this journey as ‘apparent victims’ of this system, but when we recognise that we are in truth spiritual beings incarnating in this planet, developing our full capacity as sons of God, bringing spirit into matter and raising matter into heaven, then we keep our eye on the goal and use the forces of the planet to hone our instruments of service and cooperate in the working out of planetary purpose. All the time the energy of the principle of freedom is urging us from behind the scenes. It is the power that brings the prodigal home.