Thoughtline  October 1997

The True Meaning of Group Consciousness

(From an Esoteric Perspective)
The following talk by Jeriel Smith was delivered at the Community Meditation Meeting celebrating Peace Day--
Meditation Mount, Ojai, California, September 13, 1997.

Among esotericists, one of the most frequently repeated observations regarding the incoming Aquarian Age is that it will be marked by a definite shift from individual consciousness to group consciousness. In fact, a basic precept in the esoteric understanding of human spiritual evolution is that true group consciousness' once it becomes the predominant context of human activity, has the power to resolve most intergroup conflict, in particular humanity's most persistent plague--the use of warfare to achieve predominance of one group of human beings over another.

The premise for this talk is a simple observation, based upon my personal reflections over a span of some twenty years during which I have endeavored to participate in the service of several esoteric groups, including the constellation of serving groups who are sometimes referred to generically as "Meditation Mount"--our co-servers and hosts of this Peace Day celebration, which commemorates the founding, 50 years ago, of the United Nations. It is my hope that this talk will, in some small but significant way, demonstrate a particular link (one of many) between the service of meditating groups and the prospects for peace among the two hundred or so "sovereign" nations which comprise the United Nations today and the five billion human beings on our beleaguered planet, each of whom is a citizen of one of those nations.

Central to my involvement in the service of esoteric groups, and consequently to the theme of this talk, has been their cooperative efforts to serve in an "intergroup" formation. The most prominent of these efforts of which I have been a part is the Los Angeles InterGroup (of which Meditation Mount is one of the member groups), whose chosen service it is, and has been for many years, the presentation of the Three Linked Meditation Festivals of Spring. Out of that experience, my insight into the true meaning of group consciousness, as that term is used in the esoteric/spiritual sense, is that it involves something more than awareness of one's membership in and identification with a particular group. True group consciousness also involves a spontaneous and simultaneous awareness of the fact that one's group is itself a member of some greater, more widely inclusive, human group. Thus, a perception of the continuously inclusive nature of the relationships among groups of human beings is, I suggest, the defining quality of what is meant by the true "group consciousness" that will characterize humanity in the New Age now dawning.

As is usually the case with new and revolutionary thoughtforms, the incoming " group consciousness" is already well on its way to becoming a very distorted concept--often misunderstood among esotericists, almost universally distorted by the media, and either longed for or feared by much of the general public. The primary source of this distortion is a failure to distinguish between two essential concepts: group identification and group consciousness:

(1) Group identification, is an inherently exclusive concept that has been the defining outlook which has qualified human awareness during the outgoing age of alienating competition and the struggle for domination among groups; while

(2) Group consciousness, is an essentially inclusive concept which is destined to become the defining perspective of human awareness in the incoming New Age of cooperation, peace and plenty.

Based on our experience with the term "New Age," we should not be surprised that a thoughtform as powerful as "group consciousness" is already making its way into the mainstream of public discourse. Given what we know about the universal accessibility of the plane of thought to all human beings, and the prominence of the idea of group consciousness among meditators, it was inevitable that the idea would be taken up by the public in general and the media in particular. Perhaps the distortions of the concept are just as inevitable; God knows they are almost as ubiquitous as the idea of group consciousness itself Most of them, as we shall see, are rooted in efforts to cling to the established and familiar patterns, either out of fear of the new and unknown demands of a truly sharing society, or out of the desire to remain entrenched in a position of actual or perceived "advantage" in the existing competitive system. It is to be expected that humanity will have to progress much further before the average human being is able to realize the benefits of true group consciousness, just as it is likely that some cataclysm will have to be suffered before we are able to overcome human resistance to this radical new way of thinking.

When such distortions attach themselves to revolutionary concepts such as "group consciousness," it is also a signal to workers who aspire to serve effectively in the vineyards of consciousness to clarify our own thinking, and meditating, if the true meaning of group consciousness is not only to come to light, but is to enlighten the dawning New Age of Human Consciousness. This talk is intended to be part of the effort to achieve that clarity.

The need for this talk became apparent to me on the day of the Wesak Festival, during the solar alignment (full moon) period in Taurus. I was listening to KABC "talk radio" where afternoon host Dennis Prager was talking to his audience in one of the largest media markets in the country-- Los Angeles. Dennis considers himself an expert on many subjects, most of them touching on human morality, religion and ethics. His subject that day, one which has become a frequent theme for him and many others, was that America's spirit is being sapped by what he calls "group consciousness"--and I could not disagree with him. That is, I could not disagree as to the harmful nature of much of what he was describing, or with his observation that these problems are proliferating--but I could and do disagree with his observation that the cause of these problems is rooted in "group consciousness." It is, I believe, rooted in group identification, and the troubles that result are due to the lack of a counterbalancing group consciousness.

The "groups" which I have heard discussed in this way fall into four distinct categories:

(1) Cults, whether merely self-destructive, such as Heaven's Gate, or a public danger, such as Aum Shinrikyo, whose members detonated nerve gas bombs in the subways in Tokyo;

(2) Separatist movements, such as the Branch Davidians, whose compound in Waco, Texas was destroyed by fire in 1993, or the self-proclaimed "Republic of Texas" which was in the news earlier this year;

(3) Ethnic rivalries, such as those underlying the bloody "ethnic cleansing" involving the Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda, or the Moslems, Croats and Serbs in the former Czechoslovakia; and

(4) Racial and gender "minority groups" and their quests for redress of group discrimination grievances, both real and imagined.

A common thread among all of these "groups" is that their members define themselves by avid identification with their group, which is exclusive from and in competition and/or conflict with those outside the group of primary identification. I would like to illustrate the differences between separative group identification and inclusive group consciousness with some examples of the kind of groups with which most of "us" identify ourselves as members, and the negative effects such group identifications can have on our attitudes toward "others" outside those groups:

Member/GROUP Effect separative group identification
Relative / FAMILY Clan vs. Outsiders
Neighbor / COMMUNITY Segregationists, xenophobes
Player / TEAM Military conquest
Citizen / STATE International rivalries, war
Human / HUMANITY Men vs. Women

Truly group conscious human beings and their groups are inclusive, harmless, discerning and responsible. These "QUALITIES" may be compared and contrasted to corresponding "shadow qualities" of selfish group identification:

True QUALITIES Shadow Qualities Shadow Examples
Open, Accepting
"Us vs. Them"
All Separatists groups"
Branch Davidians, et al.
Life Affirming
Racial Supremacist
Heaven's Gate, Jonestown
Kazis, KKK, terrorists
Mental autonomy
"True believer"
Racist, sexists
Religious "fundamentalists"
Personal accountability
"It's not my Fault"
"It's not my job"
"What's in it for me?"

The fact that true group consciousness is being practiced within a given group will be most apparent, to individuals "outside" that group, by certain features: to begin with, the members of the group do not make others feel like outsiders or intruders; beyond that, service to a wider group of human beings is the most observable evidence of true group consciousness. This is an example of the tree being best known by its fruits.

Sustaining true group consciousness, such that it becomes the predominant quality of the group's inner thought life and the prevailing context of the group's outward service to humanity, is also very much a product of a certain kind of group leadership. The dominant Piscean model has been for groups to form around a particular dynamic individual. This has been true of mass movements such as most of the major world religions, as well as their many "splinter" groups, from largest to smallest. These groups all engage in a kind of group consciousness; but it is selfish group consciousness in that it seeks to elevate the individual within the group and encourages pursuit of the group's particular interests at the expense of, and often in competition with, "other" groups. This often reflects the personal consciousness of a group's "leader"--who typically seeks both the group's ascendancy over other groups and the leader's ascendancy within the group. This is the outgoing model of selfish individual identification that must give way to true group consciousness during the incoming Aquarian Age. Although a species of "group" consciousness, group selfishness is what, eventually, must be displaced by true group consciousness. The crucial differences between the two must be clearly understood and kept constantly in mind by members of serving groups who would make it their purpose to intentionally and systematically precipitate the advent of true group consciousness.

I would like to illustrate this by another familiar example of group leaders and their followers. Let us compare the relationship of a Disciple and the Master in an ashram, with that of a "true believer" (follower) and the "guru" (leader) of a cult. The Masters of the Wisdom work by conditioning, not controlling, the thought life of their Disciples; they never seek unquestioning obedience or impose strictures on what is read and discussed. The main goal is to develop the Disciple's perception, discretion and sense of responsibility. The result is a capable group server who, as a full member of the ashram, is both autonomous and reliable. The trained Disciple's loyalty is to the Group, and is based upon shared insights and a well-reasoned sense of the group's purpose. The Master neither seeks nor is interested in personal loyalty, or in using the group or its members to seek advantage or domination over other groups.

In contrast, a "guru" of a cult begins by subordinating the follower's judgment to his own. This is often followed, in time, by subverting the follower's judgment or eradicating it altogether. This prepares the way for the individual to acquiesce in his or her own destruction, or to participate in destructive competition against "other" groups or individuals. Among the "other" individuals are usually numbered those who have left the cult, often because they do possess group consciousness and come to realize that it is antithetical to exclusivity and destruction.

War may be defined as human politics by means of deadly force. Separative group identification with a nation and its allies is a prerequisite to war, whereas inclusive group consciousness makes war untenable. Similarly, feelings of racial ethnic or gender group superiority are the seeds of discrimination, fear, hatred and even genocide. The lens of true group consciousness shifts the focus to the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all human beings, without regard for their color, sex, ancestry, language, place of origin, beliefs, beauty, religion, wealth or philosophy. In the sense that I have been speaking of, a nationalist or patriot is one with a strong sense of group identification with his or her country. Such a person is only truly group conscious, however, if they are also an internationalist, which is a natural result of individual citizens' awareness of their country's membership in and responsibilities to the group of nations which share the planet.

For all of our modern advances, the 20th century will likely be most noted in human history for virtually continuous warfare that has twice involved so many of the nations as to give rise to a new term, unthinkable in previous times: World War.

What could be more ironic than the fact that, throughout human history, the worst of wars have been civil wars, including that most perverse of human conflicts, the so-called "holy" war. As illustrated by the bloody conflict between Irish Catholics and Protestants, holy wars do not even require that the belligerents believe in different gods. Indeed, the combatants in many wars, including most civil wars, pray for victory to the same God. Thus, in the field of religion? a devout congregant may strongly identify with the religion of his or her choice and, perhaps, with its institutions or a particular insight into the nature of God; but they are not truly group conscious unless they have a corresponding awareness and acceptance of the fact that there are many pathways to the Father's house and that all human beings are equal in the eye of the one true God.

In a few moments, we will participate, as a group of human beings, in one of the most simple yet profoundly effective services to humanity silent meditation on the Plane of Mind. In this exalted state of group consciousness, we will be aware of ourselves as souls and of all humanity as part of the One Soul. May our efforts take us, and all of our brothers and sisters, one step farther on our long and arduous journey toward our spiritual destiny--out of the adversity and alienation of separative group identifications, into the fellowship and fulfillment of true group consciousness.



Tom Carney, September 8, 1997

I have been peppered with awareness regarding the death of this Initiate. That is correct. I have been watching this person for some years, and she was, in my mind, clearly an initiate.

It is my view that Diana was "taken out," not in the same sense as other recent initiates have been killed, but eliminated or assassinated or murdered by the forces of retrogression. I think that these forces looked at the situation and decided that even though they would have to pay an extremely high price for eliminating this worker, the cost to them of allowing her to go on with her work was going to be many times greater.

The cost of eliminating Diana is being made evident now; however, there will be a long-term cost, too. I think it will manifest in a greater willingness for others in positions of power and wealth to come forward and accept their responsibilities. Of course, they could also be further frightened into silence by this death, but there was something about this woman that seems to incite courage rather than fear.

She bought, with her life, a great deal of light, and her death caused to be released an unprecedented wave of love from all levels of the social structure. For many, many people, Diana was a model of what their higher vision of themselves is. One of my friends thought that the outpouring of love was actually the taking of the first initiation by millions of people that Djwhal Khul talks about.

The forces of retrogression were aware that this would be the result, just as they were aware of the costs for killing John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, to name three other high profile initiates. I think that those of us in the esoteric community need to see that these people, including Diana, are initiate workers-- externalized Hierarchs.

Frequently we cannot see this. There are two reasons for this myopia. Perhaps the most blinding is the thoughtform that says a person who is serving the Light must be some sort of saint. He or she cannot have a normal life, live like a normal person. People who serve the Light cannot fall in or out of love, make mistakes, be victimized by their weaknesses, and so on. This basic thoughtform is the fulcrum which the forces of retrogression use to lift the normal behavior of people into the astral light of illusion and distortion.

The second reason we fail to see these people and others for what they are is this effort made by the forces of retrogression who spend enormous amounts of their time and energy--with, I might add, great success trying to obfuscate the fact that these are servers of the Light.

This is the role of the tabloid press and their little thugs, the reporter snoops and, of course, the now infamous paparazzi. These are the tools which the forces of illusion and doubt use to stoke and feed the existing desire within the human kingdom for astral or emotional excitement. They work, night and day, to discredit, malign, cheapen, the character of these workers. Thus, we are fed a never-ending distorted stream of what, in reality, are the behaviors of most people. The shot of Diana embracing Dodi, for example, was made to appear as some lascivious and disgusting sexual display. It was a woman embracing and being embraced by a man for whom she had some affection. What is the big deal? The same sorts of stuff were done to the Kennedys and even to Martin Luther King.

We cannot say that the behavior of these workers is above reproach. But we can, before we start throwing stones, ask whose is? Any one of us who is seriously involved in this work knows that our personal lives are not without faults, in some cases serious breaches of the light. We all have allowed our emotional excesses to force us into making mistakes. We have all caused damage to the work. This is the Path.

The measure of an initiate is not the mistakes he or she has made, not the damage that the individual's weakness has caused; it is whether he or she allows the faults of the personality life to interfere or stop the service from going forward. It is clear that Diana never hesitated to keep moving forward.

If one is familiar with the life of Diana--and at this point who is not--then one can see that this was an extraordinary individual who demonstrated many sterling  qualities, but above all Diana was a woman of vision, of great vision. She could see far ahead of the little role that had been cut out for her. And then, as an initiate must, she had the courage, the character, and the will, the audacity, the determination to implement her vision. It is my view that Diana was working for Morya.

One does not know, of course, what the extent of Diana's vision was, but it is clear that she was a powerful political force. I would not have been surprised if she had become the Prime Minister of England. With her ability to generate support from the people not just of England, but of the world, imagine what she would have accomplished.

Imagine it, and then let us take up where she left off. Diana serves as a model and an inspiration for all of us. She showed us the kind of courage, the kind of will that we all need if we are to bring about the externalization on a large enough scale to aid the reappearance of the Christ.

Elective Affinities*

What are these sudden kinships,
Forgings towards eternities unborn,

Streaming comets
Bursting through the bars of time . . .?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . Cosmic magnets
For work we are to do!

New seedling sons of fire,
Apprentice artists of the Light,
Creators in a time Beyond the times to be
Beyond the times to be

Gleaming intimations
Of the wonder and the beauty,
The radiant Symphony of Suns,
The spectrum streaming
Singing Sons of God
We are to be
In soon, yes soon eternity.

Oh L i g h t,
Oh infinite, infinite, infinite L I G H T.

Aspasia Voulis, 1980/1
(*) Goethe

by Dan