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  The Collectively Guided Path?

Self Realization Posted by <Xnoubis> on Sunday September 03, @06:40PM
from the hivey-league dept.

There's an issue that arises when trying to combine Gnosis and Democracy.

Many traditions are crafted through the guidance of a great Adept. Students of such traditions are expected to feel confidence in their Ways in conjunction with the confidence they place upon the attainment of their “Master.” This is in contrast to a tenet underlying Democracy, that since no one is in possession of the ultimate truth, we can approach that truth most fully through communication amongst many individuals.

Can the Democratic approach be used if we hold that Gnosis is real? Suppose that an assembly is dedicated to the furtherance of Gnosis, and the members are of varying levels of attainment. Someone from a more monolithic tradition might assert that such an assembly could only produce muddled results, reflecting the respective levels of each of its members. But maybe it's the case that under certain conditions, assemblies could overall reflect the highest level of its membership, if not better. Or is this just a populist pipe-dream?




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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.


**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by <Craig> on Sunday September 03, @11:12PM

this is an automatic response…

Gnosis is a kind of contained Chaos
Democracy is the outcome of the
channeled information, of gnosis
or unity…initiation is the
experiance of this direct knowledge
based on the science of the soul…

perhaps the idea of Demorcacy
based as it is on the absolute
principle of Truth and Justice
is a contradiction in terms
that nevertheless contains
it's opposites…therefore
the alchemic process is
truely a serpent eating it's
tail, perpetual balance
within the contendings
of light and dark forces…
this observation of nature
and a mythos based on birth
and all the cycles between
death, and symbolic resurrection…
this could be a model for democratic
thinking, an outcome of many cycles
of becoming, which is only a constant
recycling of the elements in the cosmos
in as many different permutations as
possible, symbolized by the mythic
force, or psychic force that is ever
present yet ever changing its appearance
in an outward display of the ritual of
it's essence, transmuted and enigmatic

this force of life would compel us to
constant acts of magick and creative
imagination, thus the archytype of
life, love, liberty, and light
when we move away from this natural
process, then the question would be
is civil Democracy a mirror to
our ability to maintain an effective
gnosis making ritual?

considered from a purely historical
perspective is the experiment of
Democratic thinking an active principle
that is in constant danger from being
overwhelmed by its own inherent weeknesses
or is it a constant revolution of ideas
that must give way to the intire cognative
momentum of mankind as a whole?…

and so it goes, we are doomed or redeemed
by our own language, as if the very concept
of 'direct knowledge'is no more then a
figment of the imagination in the modern world
or a secret word to be passed on from generation
to generation, with the diminishing memory of
our collective will, the value fades, but so
does the reason for creating an artifical
adjunct to consciousness, we sort of trick
ourselves into remembering the impossible, the
forbidden, and the hidden, our perspectives
are lost in relative equivocalness, so in
the many possible interpretations of who we
are and where we have been, we have the everpresent eternal now to come to grips with..

..so we need to find better and better ways of understanding this natural process and how
to generate understanding of the current
paradigims we find ourselves involved with…

perhaps we can consider what Giordano Bruno spoke:
“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to
wish to think with the masses or majority, merely
because the majority is the majority. Truth does
not change because it is or it is not believed by the majority of people…!

or “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, dosen't go away” Philip K.Dick

once again, the understanding of these two different but strangely similar quotes is
contingent upon your perspective…

or this jot…the womb word haunts through us and fades into the oblivion of remembering
the multi-faceted opening of object gyphs
gathered to themselves in symbolic prophetic
utterances…along the empty facades of power
in the dusk of empire…sparkeling on the
ocean of stars, through the taboo eye of chaos
like the rain of everchanging runes of night
yet ever the same…the immortal speck
the oldest ritual of life…panpipes playing
into the dark point outside time and space…
…in the abyss of burning mirrors, the wild
card of the unknown standing shock still…jinngyp

…so we must liberate the parxis of our disalienation, and unlock the poetic principle
from pseudo-revolutionary mystification, and
locate the liber of All in the paths of our
previous association…
are chaos and revolution random acts, mere
“coincidences”…?

we must refuse to accomodate ourselves
to the homogenation of our body and souls
we must make a war of images on what oppresses
us magickly and creatively…

we must release the Al Aletheia of the object
of our conscience…

“The individual lives the universal fate of mankind”….
William Blake

or Whitman's…“Democracy of soul, a primordial
Democracy, I speak the password primeval I give
the sign of Democracy”

or Yeat's…“The artiface of eternity”

…we are gnostic simply because we yern to be free !


**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by Mordecai Shapiro on Monday September 04, @11:29PM

Can the Democratic approach be used if we hold

that Gnosis is real? Suppose that an assembly is

dedicated to the furtherance of Gnosis, and the

members are of varying levels of attainment.

Someone from a more monolithic tradition might

assert that such an assembly could only produce

muddled results, reflecting the respective levels

of each of its members. But maybe it's the case

that under certain conditions, assemblies could

overall reflect the highest level of its

membership, if not better. Or is this just a

populist pipe-dream?


I'm not quite getting this. As I see it, the gnosis is the interface between individual and totality (“continuity” if you will), and though organizations may dedicate themselves to “the furtherance of Gnosis” they cannot themselves experience gnosis. To my mind the best that they can do is to provide an environment in which gnosis is not hindered, and let those within the environment work out their own destinies. This seems perfectly consonant with a variety of organizational structures, including democratic ones. I don't follow your argument about the “contrast” between democracy and gnosis; it seems more apples-and-oranges than oil-and-water.


  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Xnoubis> on Tuesday September 05, @09:30AM
    |

    > I don't follow your argument about the\\
    > “contrast” between democracy and gnosis\\
    \\
    Note that I speak of the contrast between the approach of “Master” led schools and the tenet that many minds are overall more reliable than any one mind, not of the contrast between democracy and gnosis themselves.\\
    \\
    > the best that they can do is to provide an\\
    > environment in which gnosis is not hindered\\
    \\
    That may or may not be the case. But either way, the point I'm driving at is that a partisan of the “Master led approach” would likely maintain that guidance from someone who has attained is required in order for an organization to really do its best. I'm inclined to think otherwise, and I suspect that you are, too. But the old adage that “Ignorance cannot cure ignorance” has many adherents, so I think the point is worth discussing.\\
    \\

**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by <Alobar> on Tuesday September 05, @03:30AM

I have been involved with organizations of both types over the past 25 years or so. I can see that the traditional system works iff (If & only if) the head of the local temple is indeed one who has attained Gnosis (at least in part). Problem is, most of the organizations I was a part of did not have living Masters (at least none I could find). The leadership had apostolic succession from a living Master (e.g., Crowley) but the non-Democratic “leader” in most groups I have been involved with, was just a student of Gnosis following orders from some person or committee. Without a living local Master, the traditional non-democratic model easily falls into tyrany. Wizard of Oz behavior (don't look at the man behind the curtain). “Such-&-such is beyond your grade. Do not bother your head with that. Just do your gradework.” Etc. The one time I saw the trad system work well was with Sufis led by Pir Valyat Khan. He was (in my opinion) a living Master. His local representatives were students. Not just political appointees, but real sincere students of Gnosticism.

On the other hand, I have also been involved with Democratic groups which did not satisfy much either. The politically correct pretense that “we are all just seekers here & none know more than others” does not fit my experience.

The most successful model (in my experience) lies somewhere between these 2 extremes. There are people who know more than others & indeed do have much more experience in grasping Gnosis, whether they are full-time “Masters” or just really dedicated seekers. These are the trip guides.

I use the term tripguides in its most general sense. Sometimes a genuine psychedelic shammanistic trip guide. But sometimes a ritual or meditation fascilitator. Sometimes as a mentor for someone interested in Alchemy or ritual design. The group itself is relatively democratic. No real leaders. Lots of discussion in which everyone helps to create & perform rituals. Much discussion to iron out differences. But the person who owns the temple always has the final say about what goes on in his/her/their space.

Temple space is rotated, some people hosting events weekly or monthly while others do it only once or twice the whole time they are involved with the group.

Some people will host a drum circle with no psychedelics or open sex. Some will host a ritual involving Mushrooms or MDMA along with formal Wiccan or Thelemic Some will host a series of classes or meditations. Others encourage open sexuality. Some rituals or drum circles or trip circles are more attended than others. One always has the right to not attend any “event”. Some kinds of events become more popular than others. Some people spinter off & others join up.

Not speaking in the abstract here, I was part of an eclectic multi-disciplinary group of this kind in upstate NY for about 5 years. Sometimes we had half-dozen or so die-hards & sometimes our group grew to over 50 people. We never did have a name for the group. Nor any by-laws or official Priestcraft. I was one node of this group & hosted many many events. Seemed to work quite nicely.

Alobar


Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Xnoubis> on Tuesday September 05, @10:27AM
> The one time I saw the trad system work well\\
> was with Sufis led by Pir Valyat Khan. He\\
> was (in my opinion) a living Master. His\\
> local representatives were students. Not\\
> just political appointees, but real sincere\\
> students of Gnosticism.\\
\\
This makes me want to track down the organization and ask how they encourage sincerity in their local represtatives.\\
\\
> There are people who know more than others &\\
> indeed do have much more experience in grasping\\
> Gnosis, whether they are full-time “Masters” or\\
> just really dedicated seekers. These are the\\
> trip guides.\\
\\
[…]\\
\\
> But the person who owns the temple always has\\
> the final say about what goes on in\\
> his/her/their space.\\
\\
Are you saying that in this system, the trip guides are the people who own or rent the space in which the event takes place? Having a space large enough to hold an event seems like a strange qualification for a spiritual guide.\\
\\
That aside, the situation you describe sounds delightful.\\
\\

  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Alobar> on Tuesday September 26, @12:50AM
    |

    > Are you saying that in this system, the trip\\
    > guides are the people who own or rent the space\\
    > in which the event takes place? Having a space\\
    > large enough to hold an event seems like a\\
    > strange qualification for a spiritual guide.\\
    \\
    ha! No I did not mean to imply that. I meant to say the owner or renter of the space decides what is appropriate on their turf. Some folks had apartments in which drum circles are not appropriate. Some people did not want illegal substances around their home. Some hosts were much more inclined towards open sexual expression than others. Etc.\\
    \\
    Beyond that, things were pretty open & egalatarian. Heavy handed guides occassionally got put in their place.\\
    \\

Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by Mordecai Shapiro on Tuesday September 05, @11:58AM
>Not speaking in the abstract here, I was part of\\
>an eclectic multi-disciplinary group of this kind\\
>in upstate NY for about 5 years. Sometimes we had\\
>half-dozen or so die-hards & sometimes our group\\
>grew to over 50 people. We never did have a name\\
>for the group. Nor any by-laws or official\\
>Priestcraft. I was one node of this group &\\
>hosted many many events.\\
\\
In late 1988 I met a group in Buffalo named Starwell. They had this big multistory house where they had drum events, groups and individuals drumming throughout the building, creating a resonance with the entire structure, and radically different depending upon where (whether inside or outside) you were listening from. They sure knew how to throw a party!\\
\\

  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Alobar> on Tuesday September 26, @12:57AM
    |

    > In late 1988 I met a group in Buffalo named\\
    > Starwell. They had this big multistory house\\
    > where they had drum events, groups and\\
    > individuals drumming throughout the building,\\
    > creating a resonance with the entire structure,\\
    > and radically different depending upon where\\
    > (whether inside or outside) you were listening\\
    > from. They sure knew how to throw a party!\\
    \\
    Interesting synchronicity. About the same time I was close with a group in Buffalo known as _The Well_ which also had a large house with many different kinds of events including drumming.\\
    \\
    Alobar\\
    \\

**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by Patrick Crumhorn on Tuesday September 05, @01:47PM

Of course the democratic (small “d” please) approach is not incompatible with Gnosis. Mostly because democracy is a system for resolving *political* issues, and frankly has nothing whatsoever to do with Gnosis, which is a term implying some form of *individual* awareness or perspective. If 20 Magisters Templi live together in a commune, someone will still have to take the garbage out, feed the cats, etc. Whether they choose to make these decisions via a democratic process, a dictatorial one, or anything in between, is up to them, and those who disagree with the chosen system will go elsewhere. These issues have diddly-squat to do with Gnosis.

In terms of ashrams, intentional spiritual communities, etc., the same considerations apply. There are individuals who may find their spiritual practices easier in a group in which the minor decisions about who digs the sewage trench are decided *for* them. Others will chafe at that type of affair, and will seek a more “democratic” school. Both, either, or neither will attain to Gnosis.

Anyway, from a strictly political POV, democracy is a nasty thing, since the majority can run roughshod over the more individualist members of the group. A republican (small “r” please) constitution in which rights are guaranteed to the individual that even the leader cannot overturn, is far better, in that it allows individuals greater latitude to attain to Gnosis in their own way. In a democracy, if the neighbors don't like you taking wine & strange drugs, thay can take a vote to stop you. In a
constitutional republic, all they can do is be pissed off about it.


Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Xnoubis> on Tuesday September 05, @02:31PM
I had always been under the impression that a republic is defined as a system whereby the people elect representatives to govern them. Whether a government has constitutional protection for the rights of individuals is a separate issue.\\
\\
Also, it isn't so much “the minor decisions about who digs the sewage trench” that I'm referring to here as the crafting of the curriculum, the means of transmission, and other circumstances central to spiritual practice and development. I think that this point is being missed because within Thelema, the overall inclination is that OF COURSE the conditions for attainment are determined by the individual aspirant.\\
\\
But there are many traditions that don't operate this way; that would in fact be highly skeptical of an “unguided” tradition. And it's easy to see how one might come to that conclusion. Suppose that one wished to learn medicine. One school has been founded by a gifted doctor, who set up rigorous conditions of training and facilities for developing a detailed understanding of the field. Another school is a cooperative of those who have interest in medicine, but no knowledge. Over time, the doctor's school develops a reputation for exclusivity and being bound to a monolithic vision of what medicine is, whereas the cooperative is hailed as inclusive and nurturing. Yet the cooperative might never acquire any real knowledge of medicine for all that.\\
\\
This, I think, is something like the argument in favor of the “Master led” approach. One democratic rebuttal is that we may in the long run be better off with the multiple minor errors of a collective than with the entrenched blind spots of one person's vision. The trouble with that rebuttal is that we can only assert “we may be better off,” and the “Master led” can then smirk at the “may.”\\
\\
A better rebuttal is to just do it – and succeed.\\
\\

Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by Mordecai Shapiro on Tuesday September 05, @06:41PM
>I had always been under the impression that a\\
>republic is defined as a system whereby the\\
>people elect representatives to govern them.\\
>Whether a government has constitutional\\
>protection for the rights of individuals is a\\
>separate issue.\\
\\
“Strictly” speaking, a republic is a government that is not based on heredity, but it's usually also used to indicate a government that is constitutional as well. It need not be a democracy at all, oligarchic republics like the ancient Roman Republic or the early modern Dutch Republic had very few democratic procedures and certainly wouldn't be considered democracies today.\\
\\
>Also, it isn't so much “the minor decisions about\\
>who digs the sewage trench” that I'm referring to\\
>here as the crafting of the curriculum, the means\\
>of transmission, and other circumstances central\\
>to spiritual practice and development.\\
\\
There's an assumption here that curricula and transmitted practices can and do lead to spiritual development which is an assumption shared by many religious people. There is also another tradition, connected with various mystical “schools of thought” which assumes that all the disciplines and practices, whatever their virtues and faults, are beside the point, which realization is a stage along this particular style of path. So the very real value of all the practices is as a way to occupy oneself until realization “occurs”. It is also invaluable in providing a social niche for gnosis to occur, incorporating its effects into our cultures, for good or for ill.\\
\\

  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Xnoubis> on Wednesday September 06, @09:45AM
    |

    > There's an assumption here that curricula and\\
    > transmitted practices can and do lead to\\
    > spiritual development which is an assumption\\
    > shared by many religious people. There is also\\
    > another tradition, connected with various\\
    > mystical “schools of thought” which assumes\\
    > that all the disciplines and practices, whatever\\
    > their virtues and faults, are beside the point\\
    \\
    I think that it's possible for a school to be of the latter tradition and still feel it necessary to be Master-led. I can think of one that teaches, “The best way to attain Liberation is to do nothing that prevents Liberation.” But they are very serious about how their groups are set up, presumably so that they don't inadvertantly prevent Liberation.\\
    \\
    But I think that what you are saying is that it doesn't require exceptional discernment for a group whose members seek realization to conduct itself appropriately. It requires (at most) a degree of discernment that one could reasonably expect from a self-guided group.\\
    \\
    This is one view, and I'd be interested to know whether others agree or disagree with it.\\
    \\
    (One of the issues this brings up for me is: those of us who don't agree with all of Crowley's trip don't agree with each other much, either. It almost gives me sympathy for those who hold with Crowleyan Orthodoxy. Almost.)\\
    \\

**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by <Xnoubis> on Wednesday September 06, @09:54AM

I've just read something in the new Crowley bio, Do What Thou Wilt, that brings Crowley's anti-democratic bias into a new light. It appears that the Plymouth Brethren were extremely egalitarian in outlook, and that this greatly annoyed the young Crowley. No wonder that he always set up extremely hierarchical organizations throughout his life: he was rebelling from the very Congregationalism that many of today's Thelemites are rediscovering and being drawn to!

I've always found Christianity most attractive when I could view it as a rebellion from (say) established Roman paganism. I wonder if I could view hierarchy as more attractive when seen as a rebellion from entrenched egalitarianism?

…Nah.


Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Diancecht> on Wednesday September 06, @10:47AM
I'd no doubt be attracted to hierarchical government if it reached on all of my views.\\
\\
But that's a long shot, trying to collect a mass body of peoples who are all spiritually and practically advanced.\\
\\
\\
I consider that gnosis is already in effect, if you looked at culture as having founded a truth, but which truth is the truth? Just as the drug issue, pot-smoking enables laziness-addiction, so we label it bad. Look at the government, it produces corruption and crime, thus we should under the same logic, ban government as well.\\
\\
But the worst societal acceptance yet is the notion that life = business. If we incorporated your gnosis with democracy here then it is obvious that rigid advancement in technology and the economy would become (as it is already) the road to salvation. Therefore to be saved, one must slave over education and the workplace.\\
\\
Where do we draw the lines of value and emphasis within the republic and our cultural views? -as these are the issues that interconnect and weigh down hard on the judgment concerning them.\\
\\

Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Xnoubis> on Wednesday September 06, @10:57AM
> If we incorporated your gnosis with democracy\\
> here then it is obvious that rigid advancement\\
> in technology and the economy would become (as\\
> it is already) the road to salvation. Therefore\\
> to be saved, one must slave over education and\\
> the workplace.\\
\\
Can you enlarge on this? I'm not following you at all, but it sounds potentially interesting.\\
\\

Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Diancecht> on Wednesday September 06, @02:06PM
(A bit tipsy now, lemme see if I can't break a few things here - hell if they dun fit!)\\
\\
If I understand correctly, your article states that if there were to be a greater universal and spiritual goal incorporated into the aim of a governing democracy, then we would see more progress in the system. …I completely agree with this statement (if this is what you meant or not), yet as always there would be a question of which goal do we value most to achieve, and what is the best means of attaining those results.\\
\\
Looking back, the first comment which I wrote was a very short visit to such a process, that is, in finding this goal would it be necessary to discover what people value most. Be as it may, psychological, spiritual, peaceful, or successful and strict of business.\\
\\
It is clear our present situation of morals rely strictly on business. When most wowsers condemn drug-use, it is because in their minds, drug-addiction is rampant from which laziness and misdirection from education is associated. Based on their formula, Education = job, job = a life. Thus anything that potentially could restrict one from getting a good education would restrict life.\\
\\
It seems this process is extensively connected with the 'escape' from normal routines, that is rapt in drug-use, sex, and entertainment insofar as the farther away from the norm one gets he is thought liable to commit a crime or a sin of religious nature.\\
\\
But this has always been the train of thought by those of small mind, when in the reality of it, as far as one is not a complete addict, that 'escape' itself is the actual religious experience, and not the false one, which has for long been degraded to the world view of standardized life = job + education.\\
\\
Society has become spoiled, more or less, by the perverted formula…you see how technology of television, cell-phones, microwaves, the computerized generation, modern medicine is what drives the well-being of the nation, here in the states. (I think it reflects the mindset and daily conduct over one's life. Most of the population are developing a cut-throat business savvy, yet psychologically and spiritually they are distraught and barren.) If not morally as well. And in the minority, anyone that is the least bit opposed to all this rigid business era would inevitably enter into a state of shell-shock, thereby getting caught up in crime, addiction…\\
\\
I'm ranting a bit here on this dreamily endless topic, but it is just to show a wider perspective that is seen by both sides of the parties.\\
\\
Don't know if this helps <;)\\
\\

Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
by <Xnoubis> on Wednesday September 06, @02:38PM
> If I understand correctly, your article states\\
> that if there were to be a greater universal and\\
> spiritual goal incorporated into the aim of a\\
> governing democracy, then we would see more\\
> progress in the system.\\
\\
I intended to convey the reverse: can we incorporate democracy into schools of realization, or is such an enterprise inherently non-democratic? But now that I see how you're framing the issue, I get the sense of your comments instantly. Thanks!\\
\\

  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Diancecht> on Wednesday September 06, @04:27PM
    |

    This came out quite interesting, to my surprise. For if it were truly good practice to invoke democracy into gnosis, then I would think the reverse would be true as well…(you think?) Since the only existent means of testing this _is_ from that section of government.\\
    \\
    Perhaps I've always thought gnosis was more cut-and-dried, if defined as theoretical science, although when it comes to a certain dualism theory, of the moralist, or of a nonsensical dictator, I laugh at the theatrical presentation that was started by this thread, and I think it strange how such correlations could come about!\\
    \\
    Another thought provoking and insightful article.\\
    \\
    My conclusion is democracy is a reliable start, which should be considered by all truth seekers, but not near enough to a desirable end.\\
    \\

**Re: The Collectively Guided Path?**
by Tim Maroney on Wednesday September 06, @11:19AM

In any educational or developmental group there needs to be some hierarchy of leadership. If one tries to have none, then hierarchy will form tacitly, and it will be less amenable to review than overt hierarchy would be.

The person who teaches Meditation 101 needs to be someone who has spent some time with a variety of meditative techniques, for example. It would be foolish to be “non-hierarchical” and put people in instructor roles where they had inadequate expertise. A tacit hierarchy would form in which most people went to a class only when it was offered by certain instructors, and in which one was socially considered to have taken the instruction only if one had taken it from the “real” instructors. Better to have this ranking of instructional competence out in the open where its strengths and failings can be examined and addressed, and where problems can be solved rationally when they arise.

A characteristic error of spiritual communities is the conflation of organizational and spiritual roles. The OTO is particularly bad this way. The OTO initiatory metric is primarily about spiritual development (at least ostensibly), but attainment of degrees is also accompanied by qualification for administrative roles which have little or nothing to do with the spiritual content of the degrees. Having proceeded to the point where one can work some particular mystical formula is not related to whether one is able to be a member of a governing body in charge of dispute resolution, for instance, but in the OTO these are one and the same.

This conflation results from a more basic error, the myth of ultimate human worth as a result of spiritual practice. The attained person is not recognized in most systems as someone who has merely made spiritual progress, but as someone who is everything and can do anything – a savior, a guru, a god. Naturally it seems that an Nth degree is able to be a judge, and a teacher, and a secretary, and an accountant, and an investigator, and to hold every other office in the organization, because to reach that degree one has attained an ultimate self-worth. We fail to realize that spirituality is not all-encompassing but bears on a particular set of human faculties which can be developed through exercise, but which do not automagically confer value in other spheres.

In fact, the spiritually developed often have radical deficits in other areas, especially social areas, and social areas are precisely those where the administrator must excel. Someone who spends four hours a day in deep meditation may get important spiritual results, but among them may not be the ability to balance a checkbook, make a positive impression on a reporter, or gather a wide variety of perspectives in a complex social situation before rushing to judgment. To put this person into a role which requires these social skills, with autocratic power over these matters and none of the external review that would be part of a more “democratic” process, is a recipe for disaster.

To summarize, there is a need for hierarchy in order to have instruction, but hierarchy does not mean autocracy. One can recognize and take guidance from those with superior skills within a humane structure of checks and balances, of review processes and ombudsmen, and of competent administrators in roles befitting their talents. Unfortunately, this would require revolution in groups (like the OTO and many others) where administrative competence and spiritual competence are conflated.


Tim Maroney tim@maroney.org


  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by <Xnoubis> on Wednesday September 06, @02:49PM
    |

    I'd prefer to not get into matters of OTO policy. (See the posting guidelines.)\\
    \\
    That aside, I think you've hit it on the head. Being competent to teach Meditation 101 isn't quite the same as being competent to craft an entire curriculum, but I think your argument applies in both cases: it should ideally be done by a person (or persons) competent to do so. This addresses the concern of the Master-led.\\
    \\
    And if the administration is a separate function answerable to the community, then there is a distribution of power that addresses the concern of the democrat.\\
    \\
    The problem is then reduced to “How can a community recognize the competence of its prospective teachers?” That's a hard, but more manageable, problem, rather along the lines of “How can a small town find a capable architect for its city hall?”\\
    \\
    The objection could be raised that a Master could compel a group into undergoing a course for its own benefit that it would never have consented to if given a choice. But I'd risk that error rather than risk being compelled into a detrimental course by a Master who had gone astray.\\
    \\

  • |Re: The Collectively Guided Path?\\
    by Mordecai Shapiro on Wednesday September 06, @11:26PM
    |

    >a more basic error, the myth of ultimate human\\
    >worth as a result of spiritual practice.\\
    \\
    This is perhaps the basic error when it comes to organizing religious groups. From the perspective of society various species of madness may be part of an individual's path of development, and when an individual is given autocratic power Jonestown may result. A subtler error is the connection made between proficiency in a group's particular spiritual practice and so-called spiritual development. As Tim points out there is no readily apparent correspondence between spiritual 'proficiency' and moral “worth”, but one may have a concept of spiritual development that values moral elevation more than levitation in one's asana.\\
    \\
    \\
    \\
    >To summarize, there is a need for hierarchy in\\
    >order to have instruction, but hierarchy does not\\
    >mean autocracy. One can recognize and take\\
    >guidance from those with superior skills within a\\
    >humane structure of checks and balances, of\\
    >review processes and ombudsmen, and of competent\\
    >administrators in roles befitting their talents.\\
    \\
    This is an excellent description of a democratically operated religious society which wishes to “further the gnosis”, but societies which believe that the gnosis can be dispensed will probably ultimately have difficulties with democracy, at least to the extent that schisms would probably occur whenever any especially charismatic personalities ran afoul of the “popularity contest” aspect of democracy.\\
    \\


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