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More on belonging

Jun 03, 1998 07:00 AM
by K Paul Johnson

Thanks, Pam and Thoa, for quote and comments.  The passage about
accepting being a stranger is *exactly* what I've been thinking
about.  It seemed as if once I let go of thinking of myself as a
Theosophist (under mucho pressure) the world came rushing at me
with all kinds of other ways of belonging.  And when I look back
on my attitudes in the late 70s/early 80s when I was first
discovering Theosophy, it appears that the urge to belong to the
Theosophists blinded me to all the other ways of belonging, which
somehow didn't "count" much.

As for finding an ideal group, I think I've done that many times
on the local level.  Baha'i communities in my teens, Theosophical
branches since then, Search for God groups, an Integral Yoga
Satsang, all have been the kind of supportive, non-coercive
environment that approaches the ideal of which we're speaking.
Right now I feel that way about my SFG group and the Charlotte
Study Center of the TSA.  Generous, open spiritual communion with
folks who haven't a trace of interest in "laying their trip" on

The problem is that such qualities can thrive at the local level
but when things go a step "higher" to national or international
organizations there seems to be an inevitable decline.  The
higher people are in the organizations the more likely to have rigid
ideas, to want to promote their own specific agenda rather than
support others, to be paranoid about anyone who thinks
independently, etc.  Some sense of responsibility for making the
members think and do what they're supposed to prevails, and it
makes people behave in a much less pleasant way than local group
members do.

That's why I mentioned these thoughts in relation to the ARE.  In
a couple weeks the annual congress will take place in Virginia
Beach.  And even though I've had many years of entirely pleasant
and positive interactions in local groups, *and* have found the
organization's leadership to be far more openminded and
supportive than others... there's still this anxiety.  An anxiety
that tells me that whenever you get a hundred or so people
together on the basis of a shared belief system, a fair number of
them will think they have the one true way of seeing things.  And
a fair number of those will seek to argue with or put down anyone
who doesn't see things that way.  As someone who is known to have
a book coming out about Cayce, I'll be a target for people who
will interrogate me about my views to see if they're sufficiently
orthodox.  And once they find out they're not, they'll warn
others not to read the book, or say mean and cutting things, etc.
Now it will be marvellous if no such thing happens, and not
impossible-- online ARE folks are about 1% as likely to behave this way as
Theosophists.  But for me the struggle is a) not to be naively
optimistic about how these people are going to be; while at the
same time b) not to allow my past painful experiences to so color my
expectations that I attract repeat performances.

Tricky, huh?

Thoa, you're right about freedom, and in this case I'm not
miserable about anything other than the prospect of bashing by a
new kind of fundamentalists, which might not even happen.  But
when you say "you're the creator of your own prison" I can't help
thinking that anyone who writes about a subject that some people
hold sacred is thereby creating a kind of prison for
him/herself, IF s/he has any interest in "belonging" to that
group.  The very people you most want to accept and appreciate your work
are the most likely to throw it in your face and call it crap,
unless it conforms 100% to their belief system.

This anxiety is not just free-floating, BTW, but related to the
upcoming transit of Saturn to my midheaven (good, a peak of
accomplishment) and moon (bad, a sense of isolation, rejection,
and deprivation) which peaks the weekend that Congress starts.
Yikes!  What to expect?

Thanks, y'all,


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