LETíS NOT FORM ANOTHER GROUP
The paradox about the unfolding of our evolutionary process is that even though it is a transformation that eventually impacts our whole human group, it cannot be accomplished by the forming of specialized groups within our collective human experience. Authentic evolution is not triggered by specialized group activity but by individuals transforming themselves despite the activity of our collective mentality. Evolution is the consequence of an individual honoring their authenticity in spite of the tides of collective mentality.
One of the obstacles retarding our present evolutionary development is that we are addicted to manufacturing inauthentic experiences on the pretext of trying to become authentic. An example of this behavior is our desire to form specialized groups as a means to regain authenticity. We then become addicted to these groups and this in turn retards our evolutionary development by seeding and reinforcing collective mentality over and above individual authenticity. Evolution always comes from "difference" not "similarity".
Support groups are disguised addictions that seduce us into living in denial. They cannot assist us to grow up emotionally while we require them to remain in balance. They are our hallowed hallways for perpetuating our drama. They give us a feeling of exclusivity, special-ness, and subtle superiority. They enable us to consistently resurrect the tired old stories we have been telling ourselves for years. By giving us a supposedly legitimate forum to tell our stories to others support groups mistakenly bring a sense of reality to these manufactured illusions.
Support groups are invariably birthed out of one personís experience. This forum then becomes an avenue through which that individualís unique experience becomes calcified into a set of concrete rules for everyone else to follow.
Support groups are also birthed out of one persons unintegrated "needs and wants". This individual then reflects these issues into a forum made up of others who share these emotional dysfunctions.
In this light they are the potential seeds of the insidious religious energy that inevitably becomes an opiate for those who need and want to follow somebody or something. They are an attempt to orchestrate and organize the eternal moment. More often than not they are an opportunity for individuals who have little courage of voice to hear themselves speak, to feel as if their reactionary opinions mean something, and to justify the continuation of their inability to grow up emotionally. Because their very structure short-circuits the possibility of authentic individual emotional development, they invariably become cesspools of blame and therefore support the weakness inherent in victim and victor mentality.
How many support groups have an inbuilt mechanism to release their members from the group so that they can learn to function freely and independently of the group?
Are those caught up in the experience of alcohol and drug addiction ever freed by their support groups, or is the group a camouflaged addiction that holds its members paralyzed and imprisoned within its web of organizational self-preservation?
Do present moment awareness groups assist us to experience present moment awareness, or do they simply highlight our frustration at not being able to?
Just because a support group enables its members to tread water, to live in quiet desperation, to find companionship for misery, or to discuss spiritual concepts at great length, does not mean it accomplishes anything real and therefore lasting.
If the intent of a support group is not to free itís members of itself as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is a tool of dependence that breeds perceptual imprisonment.
Support groups cannot assist us with emotional growth because all emotional growth approached within the context of "an audience" (which is what a support group is) is "a performance". A performance, no matter how subtle or well-disguised as an authentic experience, is an act of pretence. Performers are always pretending. Presence cannot be regained through pretence just as peace cannot be "enforced". A performance is always by its very nature reactive behavior; a behavior motivated and steered by outer circumstances. Emotional growth, to be authentic, must be responsive, and initially authentic responsive behavior is only possible when we are absolutely alone.
Only when we are able to be consistently authentic unto ourselves, for ourselves, and by ourselves, can we conduct ourselves authentically in public in any manner that is consistent.
Even when we form support groups for so-called "higher purposes", like discussing oneness, or other such lofty mental concepts, we are still kidding ourselves. We cannot form an exclusive group to activate inclusivity. We cannot discuss oneness with another human being and expect to authentically experience this state. The moment we discuss oneness with another we have initiated an experience of separation. By discussing oneness we have steered our experience into one in which there is "another", and therefore closed the door to experiencing oneness. Oneness means "there is no other". It means there is no special group to belong to. Oneness means everyone and everything is part of our group. Then the concept of "group" also dissolves. "A group" is only possible within separation-consciousness. "A group" to exist requires "the others". In oneness there are no "others".
The act of forming or joining a group simultaneously dismantles the experience of perceptual oneness.
Another peculiar thing we do these days is gather in groups to sit in silence. Some people fly right across continents and even from one country to another and pay large sums of money to sit in silence! 15 years ago such behavior would have been juicy fodder for a ridiculous skit on Monty Pythonís Flying Circus. John Cleese can easily be visualized giving the required instruction:
"Right. Come on in everybody. This is The Sitting Still In Silence Booth. Pay your five pounds at the door and you can sit still in utter silence for the rest of the bloody week. If this is not your cup of tea, you can of course go across the hallway to The Banging Your Head Repeatedly Against Your Right Knee booth, which by the way is having a special today: Only three pounds to bang away until you knock yourself out. No Sir, please, once you have paid your five pounds there will be absolutely no talking, thank you. Madam, do please shut up and try to appreciate the immensity of the service we are performing for you or else your money will be refunded. Right, now letís have some bloody silence in here. But first I have some announcements to make regarding the type of noises, bodily and otherwise, that will not be tolerated. RightÖ"
Yet this is not comedy; people are doing this! We are actually manufacturing special group experiences so that we can sit still and quietly together, and we are even paying people for the privilege of organizing such occasions. Of course part of the experience is that there is an individual present acknowledged as so spiritually advanced that sitting still and quietly in their company is worth every penny. Consequently, in order to enter the free and unlimited experience of silence, we become dependent upon somebody else, some idyllic location away from our present circumstances, and the presence of a whole group of "others". How far have we strayed from common sense and authenticity? How is this behavior supposed to empower us in a real and lasting way? This is the consequence of mixing spirituality and commerce; some people are obviously making a lot of money out of humanities current level of inner discomfort, emotional immaturity, and child-like naiveté.
The question to ask ourselves is: Are the consequences of such group practices real and lasting? The answer is simple: If we have to go back again, or even feel the need to repeatedly enter such an experience, then the answer is "No". Under such circumstances, whatever experience we appeared to have encountered is based on "set and setting", upon the artificially manufactured stage upon which we were able to conduct our performance of pretended silence and stillness, and therefore its impact on us inevitably diminishes and becomes nothing.
The benefits of silence and stillness cannot be harvested reactively. Silence and stillness only have real and lasting merit when gathered alone, unseen from the world, and in a state of freedom that is only possible away from the exchange of monetary currency. What we may not yet realize is that whenever we are charged a specific fee for such group activities, this is the precise value our unconscious places upon it. A "silent retreat" therefore places very limited and quantifiable value upon the treasures of silence and stillness and therefore deprives us from experiencing their priceless, unlimited benefits. And, the moment we feel the necessity to sit before another human being as a catalyst for such an experience, any experience we gain becomes unconsciously associated with their presence. So the question remains: How exactly is this supposed to empower us?
The reality is that what we feel when we sit before another is always ourselves; a reflection of the magnificence of our own Inner Presence - a feeling that is open to us 24 hours a day if we care to turn inward and touch it through consistent application of discipline. All we can ever feel is ourselves. Yes, there is great purpose and great benefit in entering the Presence of One who can reflect this forgotten radiant state for us. However, if such a Being does not simultaneously direct us into ourselves and impart the dangers of addictively seeking and becoming reliant on this experience outside ourselves, such a profound encounter simultaneously disempowers us.
To touch this authentic state of radiant Presence within ourselves in any real or lasting way requires initiating the consistent and disciplined inner work. This inner work commences with growing up emotionally.
Group-mentality cannot assist us to grow up emotionally because the group never grows up.
Growing up emotionally requires awakening an inner strength that neutralizes the individualís need and want for a group to lean on, to receive acknowledgement and support from, and to gain direction from. Growing up emotionally automatically dismantles an individualís role within the group, and if the individual remains within the group, can result in the dismantling of the group. Growing up emotionally is therefore not part of the group agenda. Out of self-preservation the group automatically turns on or turns away anyone in the group who grows up emotionally, and if it cannot do this, it confines them to the group by promoting them to a higher level of prominence within the group. If a group promotes anyone into leadership status it is shooting an ego dart into that individual intended to paralyze all further emotional growth. The higher the individual climbs up the group ladder of prominence, the less grounded and authentic they become. The prestige of leadership is a veil to hide the deviousness of the subsequent perceptual imprisonment. The higher one climbs within the confines of any group structure, the harder the inevitable fall. It is only a matter of time before the seemingly encouraged individuality becomes savaged and annihilated by group mentality.
Of course, all this being stated, it is still recommended to practice "balance and mercy over sacrifice"; to approach our liberation from group-mentality with responsibility and gentleness. Some of us reading this piece may presently be immersed in support groups. This piece of writing is not encouraging us to leap up and run out of all support group activity. We are not to react; we are to awaken to our predicament through awareness of it. Let us keep in mind that this particular discussion is about "why THE PRESENCE PROCESS approach to emotional cleansing discourages us from forming yet another group".
"God, please save us from another group!"
If we are presently moving through an experience of addiction and are "in recovery", as it is called in support group terminology, our group experience will now be our addiction. To overcome this predicament, to evolve beyond this perceptual confinement, it is vital we do not blame our circumstances on the group; this is about our experience of the group and not the nature of the group we have become addicted to. We cannot blame a group for being a group; that is its inherent nature. It is being what it is supposed to be. A group is like a life raft: It can rescue us from rough seas and save us from drowning, but if we do not leave the life raft we will not return to an authentic life experience. If we are not ready to explore what it really means to live, it is recommended we remain in the group structure so that it can carry us upon its interpretation of what "a healthy life" is.
When we are ready to re-enter an authentic life experience it is up to us to ask ourselves if we really seek discovery, if we are ready to leap from the life raft that is the quiet desperation of recovery and begin swimming into the emotionally turbulent waters that will build the "growing up" muscles. While we are in recovery we are actively, whether we are conscious of it or not, re-covering up the causal point of our discomfort through excessive talking about it, blaming others for it, blaming the world for it, and blaming some "chemical imbalance" for it.
There is an endless list of excuses to justify remaining in a sedated and controlled state emotional paralysis when we are not yet ready to leap back into the arms of life.
If you are reading this and you are a recovering addict or a support group junkie, you may feel like this piece of writing is in some way diminishing your present predicament and judging you cruelly for being in it. This is not the case. You are where you are and the only way you will muster to the momentum to liberate yourself from "recovery mentality" is by seeing your predicament through a perspective that will not be offered up in any support group. If we do not integrate where we are now, authentic movement into another state of being is impossible. Just as an addict must admit to an experience of addiction to benefit from assistance, a support group member has to admit to "being in recovery", and what this really means, before leaping into the state of discovery.
"Recovery" is emotional paralysis. Nothing changes in recovery; as a "recovering alcoholic" we instead drink copious amounts of coffee and chain-smoke, and as a "recovering heroine addict" we instead pop pain killers. Support group dependency is simply transference of addictive tendency. We are told that "as long as we go to our support group meetings we are making progress". Yet, the only progress we are making when treading water is delaying the point at which exhaustion opens the door to drowning.
Recovery, no matter how we dress it up, is treading water.
Discovery, on the other hand, is choosing to dive down into the depths of the water and face the deep darkness of our suppressed emotional condition.
Support group meetings are a valid point of transition, not a place of arrival. We all move through this type of experience at some point in our journey. However, the moment group-mentality becomes "a destination" it imprisons us in quiet desperation. Our task, if we seek authentic liberation, if we seek to discover, is to feel the authentic condition of our own heart, and through the process of "feeling", to transform the uncomfortable emotional signature that is perpetuating our addiction or dependency. No one can do this for us. All addiction and dependency is driven by an uncomfortable emotional signature and release from such a condition requires facing our own suffering.
Our suffering is our liberation.
If we do not turn inward and face this causal aspect of our experience, our attendance of any support group is "a performance". If the group we are in is not motivated to set us free of it, it is our heroine or alcohol in a different guise. It is our tragedy wearing a different face.
If we are presently in such a predicament it does not serve us to reactively run from it, because we will unconsciously and automatically run into the embrace of another sedated and controlled group experience. It is preferable that we take some time to sit consciously within our experience of the group and see it clearly for what it is.
Bringing awareness to any experience transforms it.
When we see support groups for what they are, it does not benefit us or the group in any way if we then reactively turn on the group or to attempt to awaken others from their hypnotic predicament within it. Always be compassionate, gentle, and responsible. We are to stay in tune with the tenet of authentic alchemy as taught by THE PRESENCE PROCESS:
"We do unto ourselves as we would have others do".
Remember that a support group is a life raft for anyone who is not yet mature enough to grow up emotionally. This compassionate, gentle, and responsible approach applies to us equally if we are in a "spiritual" group and become aware that "no amount of discussion can ever be a substitute for personal experience". Discussing spirituality extensively is also highly addictive and renders actual spiritual practice impotent. Once we awaken to these realizations about the inherent limitations of group activity, our task is to gently and gracefully excuse ourselves from the group without any debate or discussion. Remember, this is not about the group; it is about fertilizing our continued journey beyond the confines of its limitations. When we choose to grow up emotionally, at some point we have to move through and beyond the necessity for outer agreement, support, and acknowledgement. Doing so gracefully entails doing so gratefully.
When a caterpillar is ready to awaken into authenticity, integrity, and full intimacy with life, the group-mentality addiction must be shed like an old skin. The caterpillar must then cocoon itself from the outer so that it can feel the fullness of the inner. From this point of the journey solitude is the spice that flavors the required nutrition for continued growth. We must be able to feel our fear, anger, and grief, and stand in the midst of these energetic circumstances with no outer props.
No group, no matter how conscious its members appear to be outwardly, and no matter how evolved its leader appears to be to us, can be a substitute for this part of our evolution. The butterfly is always born alone, breaking courageously through its own efforts out of an encasement of its own making. The group has no wings. It cannot fly. Therefore any promise it makes to lift us up is always an illusion. It can hold us while we are weak, but if we become addicted to being held, we weaken further.
So the answer to those who ask about starting a PRESENCE ROCESS Group remains, "No". Of course, we cannot stop such arrangements from happening; those still addicted to group-mentality will impose their will on all that crosses their path. They will also adamantly defend their caterpillar group-mentality from any such liberating "butterfly" talk. We are to be grateful to them because they hold together the groups that serve as life rafts for the drowning.
The intent of THE PRESENCE PROCESS is a paradox in that it liberates us from our addiction to group-mentality by encouraging us to consciously acknowledge, embrace, and engage our authentic group. It calls upon us to "work out our own liberation by working within the group in which our life experiences place us in each given moment".
Our birth family is our group.
Our companion and lover is our group.
Our children are our group.
Our pets and plants are our group.
The cashier at the store is in our group.
The individuals we deal with at and through our place of work are our group.
Every human being with which we interact on a daily basis is part of our authentic group.
Can we be in oneness with all these human beings? Can we carry inner silence and stillness into our encounters with them? Are we brave enough to process the emotional discomfort triggered by having them pass through our personal experience of time and space? Can we include them in our life as fully as possible and see the value of their contributions to this eternal journey we are on? Or can we only interact comfortably with people who are operating out of carefully manufactured, controlled, and sedated circumstances? Are we only interested in working out our liberation with like-minded people, with those that usually agree with us, and with those gathered only for that specific purpose? Authenticity, integrity, and intimacy ask more of us than growing only through such orchestrated convenience.
The reality is that we are and always have been in a group; the group that makes up our every-day life experience. This is where the real work happens. This is where the priceless jewels of Presence are gathered. This is where our life bumps up against endless possibilities to deepen our experience of personal authenticity, integrity, and intimacy with all that is. We therefore do not need to form "another" group; we are always right in the middle of our authentic group. Nor do we need to go on some retreat. How can "retreating" be any way to advance? Silence and stillness follow us everywhere like an inner shadow. Silence and stillness are the essence of what we are; they are not determined by where we are or whom we are with.
Only when we stand as consciously as possible in the center of the group in which life places us, and bravely face the fullness of each moment with a heart willing to feel everything, do we enter an authentic life experience. This approach is our authentic platform for flight. Our day-to-day life is the experience deliberately intended to unfold our beautiful butterfly wings. Forming a group to try and replicate what already awaits us within our day-to-day experience is like putting on a play; it may be thoroughly entertaining, clever, witty, even deeply provocative, but there is nothing real about it at all. Nothing worth talking about anyway.
I do not recommend or support the formation of "Presence Process Groups" anywhere, by anyone, or for any reason. In my experience, individuals eager to form a group around THE PRESENCE PROCESS are unconsciously gathering others as a means to subtly avoid their unintegrated emotional condition by projecting it outwardly upon the world. "Groups" are one of our biggest addictions and also the source of many disguised and unintentional forms of segregation upon this planet. Historically, groups perceiving themselves as "spiritual" are vulnerable to being guilty of a subtle arrogance which invariably lights the fuse to the religious mentality which consistently leads to war.
The nature of emotional body cleansing and the reawakening of emotional body awareness is that, in the final analysis, the act of adjustment within the emotional body giving rise to authentic inner transformation is only possible when initiated by oneself, to oneself, and for oneself. In THE PRESENCE PROCESS we "do unto ourselves as we would have others do". Wherever and whenever we mistakenly rely upon "a group" as a means to initiate this inner adjustment is always the exact area within ourselves where we experience no authentic and therefore lasting growth because of doing so.
I do not have any issue with "groups" per se, as they are necessary in various parameters of human life experience. For example, they are a wonderful medium for communicating the necessity for emotional growth. However, they are not useful within the experiential journey of THE PRESENCE PROCESS. THE PRESENCE PROCESS is "a self-contained tool of self-facilitation". For this reason it is not for everybody; it is only for those who seek to authentically grow up and who have the capacity to make such an emotional exploration without reliance on outer support. THE PRESENCE PROCESS is for those who seek to authentically lean within upon the strength of their own heart, as opposed to finding yet another disguised means of leaning outwardly upon the world.
I do real eyes that individuals have formed Presence Process groups in different parts of the world. I do not suggest reactively dismantling these groups. Those having formed and joined such groups obviously have something valuable to realize from the experience. One of the lessons will be this: Because of the authenticity of the work initiated by THE PRESENCE PROCESS, all groups formed around this experiential procedure will inevitably be dismantled by the awakening of the inner guidance of the individuals within that group Ė an inner guidance requiring no outer support system to validate the authenticity of its experience. Once any individual's awakening occurs authentically, the group structure automatically reveals itself as an empty shell that only supports the externally driven agendas of the ego.
Michael Brown ©