Group Work

105 QUESTION: Would you comment, please, on the progress of our group work and show us a way to make it an even more dynamic experience for us, that is truly group work?

ANSWER: Yes, my friend. I believe most of you can begin to sense and experience that this group work is of immeasurable importance. How else can you safely allow your negative emotions to come to the fore? To allow them an outlet that will not only be destructive for an environment that does not understand, but will even be fruitful for everyone else’s further insight?

How else can you rid yourself of the pressure of repressions? How else can you learn to understand yourself in the mirror of the other? How else can you, best and fastest, learn to communicate on a deeper level of your being, rather than on superficial ones? All this has begun and can be furthered in the years to come if you keep this in mind.

Provided you continue to grow in the future, as you have this last year, the group work will prove more and more fruitful, an addition to the private work that is one of the greatest assets you will not want to miss under any circumstances. The progress of the various groups depends primarily on the individual’s participation and willingness to penetrate the surface defenses; on his willingness to let go of resistance; on his willingness to see the truth within; on his willingness to dispense with justification, moralizing, rationalizing, intellectualizing. All that you know.

You have made tentative beginnings in this respect, in some instances very good progress in this particular area. But as yet, there are many guards and much pride that prevents the true opening of the channels that will yield the results it ultimately will. Too often you do not see yourself. You do not want to expose yourself. This will undoubtedly improve as your sincere will does not falter, as you face these emotions within, in the candor I so much advocate.

So I wish to remind you, once again, also as far as the group work is concerned, learn more and more to bring out your feelings. Learn to observe your own reactions. Observe your tendency of always explaining your reactions away. Observe your subjectivity. And gradually you will come to the point when you will be capable of expressing unreasonable, childish, imperfect emotions without explanations. Then, and then only, can you begin to examine and understand them in their true light.

As long as you are ready with an explanation before you express them clearly, you cannot gain the self-awareness you wish and which is so essential for your liberation. As you become aware of your own defenses, you will learn not to strive away from it, but rather that of experiencing yourself, in awareness, in your defensiveness. This then, is the right approach. This is more progress. In the real sense, it is more enlightenment, it is more constructive, than trying to force yourself away from something you cannot feel.

I know, my friends, that I am being very repetitious. But it cannot be emphasized enough. It is always forgotten, and needs constant reminding. This emotional experience, being in what you feel, seeing it for what it means, this is the way of the group work, also. This will then make a more fruitful interrelationship. It will contribute more to your individual progress than anything you are capable of imagining at this time.

You have made a very good beginning in this direction. The first year of this particular group work has gone better than expected. But that does not mean that you cannot do so much more. In the following year, so much more benefit will derive for each of you who is sincere in this endeavor. More interaction will be established from one soul to another, not from one intellect to another.

 

108 QUESTION: We are planning to make some changes and improvements in the discussion sessions. Would you have any suggestions?

ANSWER: Yes. I will not go into technical details. This is something my friends can work out among themselves. The laborious road of trial and error is a test from which each individual can learn. When you build something together in this way, you will gain a sense of accomplishment that has much more value than simply following advice. Then your spirit will be in it. This, after all, is the only thing that matters. Therefore the question is really, how to go about it so that your spirit is in it together, with as many participants as possible.

To help in that direction, I will remind you of the purpose of these sessions. The idea of these discussion groups is to help you put into practice, to assimilate, a theoretical knowledge and to apply it to your private lives. If you approach the discussion with this outlook and you constantly remind each other of that, it will keep you from abstract theorizing.

You would not really need meetings to just theorize, which comes easily for most of you anyway. Let your aim be to voice where you do not emotionally understand something. Then through private and group work you will first verify that such emotional understanding is still lacking.

You know so well that the first step toward understanding is always acknowledgment and concise verbalization of what one does not understand. This is half the battle. Let each person pronounce what may be intellectually, but not yet emotionally, understood, what is not yet a living experience. Then the others may help with clarification, perhaps by way of examples.

Personal exposure is not necessary unless desired by the person; the discussion can be kept general. This should not be confused with the group work. The important thing is to help you toward an emotional assimilation. Others who have the experience, perhaps through having worked out a particular point under discussion, may show how to arrive at this assimilation.

However, if here or there something is not intellectually understood, then, of course, these study groups are the place to air it. If your pride prevents you from doing so, it is not only to your own detriment, but also to the detriment of the entire venture. The right spirit, humility and honesty, will make your discussions a living, dynamic experience. Otherwise, they will become dull and dragging.

The speed at which these study groups can grow into a meaningful venture depends, first, on the pride of the timid ones who do not wish to expose their ignorance, and second, the pride of the boisterous ones who show off their knowledge to impress others. Both have burning questions. Some of these are quite conscious, others are unformulated, vague, out of laziness and pride.

Such inner nonparticipation is a passive pretense that hinders the quality of the discussions. If every participant prepares questions by voicing what he or she does not understand, both intellectually and emotionally, I can promise that these discussion groups will turn out profitable for all concerned.

Let these discussions also serve as opportunities to probe yourselves. What is the motive for sharing? What is the motive for not doing so? To the degree that you voice your confusions, these discussions will prove of immeasurable value.

Help will then be given as much to those who pronounce their confusion as to the others, especially by the example that is set. Then your group will truly become a school where each person is pupil and teacher at the same time. If you keep this in mind and try to live it, all the outer details will easily fall into place. They are unimportant.

Trial and error, and the improvements you will make along the way, will come easily and without friction. If this basic spirit prevails, it will draw others along, because it is the strength of the spirit that matters. And even those who are too timid and blind and lazy will be swept along by the truthfulness, the self-honesty, the humility of those who actively participate. This will make the venture blossom.

 

QA138 QUESTION: When I’m by myself, I know I can act real – I can be myself. In connection with one human being, I can also be myself. When it comes to a group of people, two or more, I find great difficulty in being myself. I have terrific anxiety about pleasing them, about whether they are happy.

ANSWER: I’m very glad you bring up that question, because it is so much more frequent than people realize. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I advocate why group work is so tremendously important, for it is so easy to deceive oneself into a freedom with one’s Helper, who is after all, by necessity, a person who will not criticize, who will not judge, who will not reject, but who will help you understand.

But in a group, any group, you are not that sure about it. Therefore, as long as you have not experienced in group work the unmasking, you can never totally be free in your life outside, in the outside world, in the way you meet people. This is why this is so important, and fortunately for you, you have recognized this element. You have not kept yourself blind to it.

Now, what is behind it, why you feel anxious, is implied by what I said, namely, the fear of criticism, the fear of rejection, the fear of not being liked and approved of for your errors, for your negative feelings. The more you hide these feelings, the more you defend, the more you will really create rejection. You know that.

The more you own up to what is in you, you will learn to cope. In your group work, this is the best way. In your outer connections with friends, you sell your soul for this acceptance, because criticism is so unbearable. It means total rejection. And it only means that because you believe that anything that is not quite as it should be, means you are worthless.

You cannot accept yourself on the ground of what you are – a mixture of many things. You have not discovered your worth yet in a real sense. And you know why you have not had a sense of reality about this? For one primary reason, and that one primary reason is that you continue to strive for the acceptance as a child does of being accepted by the adult world, instead of taking the reigns in your hand – instead of not waiting for what is given to you, but taking the initiative by giving it to others whatever it is you want from them. Or by choosing a course, any course.

In other words, when you will be totally self-dependent and autonomous – which does not mean alone and lonely, not by any means, quite on the contrary – you will not have to submit and appease. You will not put yourself in a trap in which you either have to please others and despise yourself and weaken yourself, or you have to defy them. You will not have to use submission as a way of forcing people to love you, for that is exactly what you are doing.

Your psyche says, “You must love me; I cannot bear not for you to love me. And in order for you to do that, I will do anything.” It is that which robs you of your self-respect. And therefore you get yourself negatively entangled. Do you understand?

QUESTION: Yes, I do. You said we are a mixture of things – I never thought of that.

ANSWER: As you cannot see others as a mixture, so you cannot see yourself as a mixture. Every human being is a mixture. The emotional acceptance of this means real maturity and real awakening. And it means a great deal to come to this realization. It sounds much less than it actually is.

You see, it is perhaps not without significance – and I’m speaking generally now here – that these meetings we have once a month have taken on such an entirely different character from only quite recently before. There is so much more honest self-revelation, and that is why everyone is helped by this. And the same begins to happen in your groups.

This is why the progress will be, this year, so much more than ever before. Because for the first time, my friends learn to really shed the masks. For the first time, my friends, you are not content with making recognitions, but to act upon them by being what they are and how they are. And this is why something real is going to happen. And this trend is great.

Anyone opposing this will feel very slighted. But this slight will go away the minute it is recognized, and one goes with the general trend that this work is now taking, where it becomes less and less theory, and more and more reality.

The next step of recognition would be to find out why is it so difficult to be yourself with others. Why can you not shed this other self? Why are you so frightened of exposing and being really in an intimate, close contact with another person? Why is that so frightening for you? And there is a definite answer, a very definite answer. It is of crucial importance. And wherever the answer is not found, it will mean going around in circles.

This is why so often analysis and therapy is only partially successful, and does not often enough go to the root. The root is: you can only fulfill your spiritual or cosmic destiny – namely, what I said at the beginning – to connect this intimately and as truly being yourself as possible, when you are free of the shames that your own inner negativity create, particularly in connection with the pleasure drive.

The sexual fantasies always indicate where the pleasure drive is negatively attached. To that extent the individual must fear intimate contact. That goes so far as even on a very close contact, not on a necessarily sexual contact, but in any close contact, one would always be on guard. One must fear losing the control. The sequence of the last lectures [Lectures #135-138] point to this entire subject. Everything that I said here in a few sentences has been explored in detail in the sequence of the last lectures. And therefore all your work goes in this direction.

Now, when you see where the pleasure drive is negatively attached, you will understand your shame and your fear, and your need to hold on and not give up control. Now, at the same time, these negative attachments of the pleasure drive, the fantasies, must be understood on the basis of what do they symbolize, not sexually but otherwise.

For instance, if there is a masochistic trend, it must be because you somehow feel you ought to be punished. Now, you have to determine exactly where and how – where do you actually lose integrity, where are you actually in a hostile, destructive way toward others – and this is why you need to be punished.

This is why the attachment between the negativity and the pleasure drive exists. Now, when in the work this is unrolled, then you come out of it. Then freedom is gained. Then, automatically, an inner shift takes place. Then the emotions truly begin to change; the attachment becomes more positive, little by little.

QUESTION: When you’re in that situation in which you are facing a number of people, you have to talk to them and you are embarrassed. What do you do in that particular moment? Can you enlighten me on that?

ANSWER: Well, I would suggest before you get yourself into such a situation that you meditate, that you request guidance, that you request you want to meet the situation honestly, without pretense, and be activated by your real self. If that is done beforehand, you will find it eased.

But when this is a consistent thing, it should be viewed as a symptom, and the symptom is that you are masked. And you have to find – in a way that you are not yet quite aware of – exactly in the particular way what do you mask and how do you mask it. What is the procedure by which you mask?

The anxiety must always also create hostility. And in some cases, the hostility is then turned back to the self. In some cases the hostility toward the self is so painful that another object is looked for. But whatever that is, it is not clear to you to what extent and how and why you mask yourself, and that should be taken up in your work.

If you were in a group it would be easier, because you would have these gauges. But at the moment, try to use it in your private work in connection with outer situations where you can observe such feelings.

QUESTION: I didn’t realize that I hadn’t discovered fully the outlines of my mask yet. I didn’t know that.

ANSWER: Well, you may know the cause, but you may not be aware of the fact that you use, in these moments when you meet others. What does it express, that mask? What do you want to hide in these moments? What impression do you want to give? And what do you fear underneath? Why do you fear the impression you want to give you cannot make, so that you have to mask yourself? This you are not aware of at that moment.

You may be aware of the underlying causes. This is what I said at the very beginning today, generally. It is so often that my friends make wonderful insights and recognition in their private work, and then they completely overlook where these same elements manifest They do this by being either not aware of what certain reactions mean, or by overlooking that reactions exist, by not really looking sufficiently in their daily review at their reactions. This is exactly what I meant.

But this is very good if you see this. Then you can merely acknowledge at the moment, “Here’s my mask.” And then when you go home and are alone, you can quietly investigate. Of course, not while you are in the situation. That would not be possible.

Also, of course, the part of it that I may add here is – of course, this is more unconscious than conscious – the absolute conviction that you would be disapproved of, that you would be disliked or criticized. Now, why this conviction exists comes, of course, from the problems and all what you know already.

But this conviction will exist as long as you somehow violate or impair your own integrity. And when these points are found – where and how your integrity is impaired, where and how you do not fully give of yourself to life – when you find them, then you will no longer expect that others will disapprove of you when you are yourself.

I speak now generally to all of you here, to tie this up with another question I’ve been asked before tonight. You know, my friends, there comes a point when you reach this insight of the tiny, little, more or less dishonest, ways you encounter life. Therefore you expect disapproval and criticism, and therefore you mask yourself and you defend yourself, and therefore you lose a sense of your own value. You feel guilty and undeserving. This is roughly the situation.

Now, when you gradually unroll this process, when you more and more meet all issues of life honestly and fully and constructively, wanting to really meet and give of yourself, meet the issue and give of yourself, then there comes the moment, before and while you gain a sense of your real value, when healthy anger exists. And in this, healthy anger is liberating.

In this healthy anger, it is as though you throw off a cloak and you say, “Why do I need to kowtow and to cringe? Why do I have to appease and to impair my integrity? I am me. There is nothing wrong with me. I am doing my best, and I have to fear no one.” And anxiety disappears.

When this happens, you truly come into your own. And that is healthy anger. And when others want to take advantage of you because they’re so used to certain relationships, to make it difficult for you because of your appeasement, because of your guilt, you will express this healthy anger without hostility, and you will be free.

 

QA185 GUIDE COMMENT: This evening is dedicated to finding out more about the approaches and dynamics and aim of group work as one of the aspects we employ in our work together for the purpose of liberating the self. A lot of the things I have to say have, of course, been discussed in the past in connection with the lectures I gave.

But I want to shed particular emphasis on the approach of group work so as to consolidate and concentrate the aim and make it more clear, both to the group participants and the group leaders. And from that point of view, a clear-cut emphasis will be very helpful.

In the first phase, the primary aim a person must deal with is his defenses, pretenses and idealized self-image, which, whether he knows it or not, he habitually sets up as a front. Sometimes individuals are anxious and worried when they meet people in their outside life. Sometimes they are not.

Now, if they are anxious and worried and timid, it is because somehow they do not have enough confidence in the efficacy of their pretenses and defenses. If they are not worried, not anxious in their everyday contact, then it is because they feel quite confident that their mask self or the idealized self or the defenses and pretenses work quite well.

Therapy – and this Pathwork in specific – aims at helping the person to rid himself of this defensive, pretentious self, whatever it may be. Whether this is concisely and articulately known, or whether this is only vaguely perceived by the person, it is always a threat. And this accounts for the initial anxiety that often lingers on, until such time as the person is reconciled and able to drop his defenses, and begins to see that there really is no danger.

This is a very important thing to understand for everyone – group participants and group leaders. What does the anxiety mean? In this particular phase, the group is concerned with making the person acutely aware of this defensive self. What invariably happens is that this defensive self, which is supposed to be the safeguard against rejection, humiliation, exposure, does exactly the opposite.

In ordinary life, this often is totally lost to the individual. In group, this becomes very obvious. And whenever a person is disliked, it is precisely because of this mask and defensive self he puts up. When the dislike comes in ordinary life, it will only reinforce the imaginary need to build this defensive wall. But when the courage exists to explore the reactions of others and really go into this question, the person will find that he is disliked and rejected precisely because of the pretenses and defenses.

This is known in theory by everyone here. But it is not sufficiently known yet to make the group experience a more focused and more alive one. This is, roughly speaking, the first phase.

I want to interject here that the phases often overlap – it may very easily be that in one respect, the person is in the second and third phase, when in another he is not through yet with certain aspects of his defenses. So this should not be interpreted to mean you go sequentially and precisely from one phase to the next.

The second phase is the free expression of the irrational child, of the negativities, of the destructiveness, of the evil in man and the individual, of the very self-centered little wishes and demands. When this can be freely expressed, to his amazement, the group participant will find out he is infinitely more liked with that. This is because it is honest and unpretentious, while the mask self is always projecting it onto others.

He is disliked not only because of his judgmentalness, which is a by-product of the defensive phase, but also because of the dishonesty involved, as long as the defensive self is involved. The second phase is, of course, in many ways, almost as difficult as penetrating the first. But I would say the first is the most difficult. Once you are in the second phase, it becomes a relief and a release and it feels natural – if you give yourself only half the chance.

This second phase has to be gone into in many details. It takes a great deal of time to explore the variety in which all this irrational self exists – in its most negative, most childish, most self-centered, and most subjective and partial ways – that always pretend to be impartial and seek reason. And group is the ideal arena to do so, because you can truly live out without acting out the second phase.

You learn in the transition from the first phase to the second phase that great art that is so difficult to describe, wherein lies the difference between destructive acting out and honest admission of the most negative within the self. This has to be practiced. Nothing can be as helpful as the interaction between the various participants to mirror where you are in this respect.

The third phase is when you are fully reconciled with the irrational, destructive layer of your being and can, without inhibition, give voice to it, without excuses, without escaping. Then you could come to the third phase in whatever area you are least freed, and expand your reaching into life in a positive way.

In other words, instead of containing yourself with a narrow margin of limited life experience, which is a constant climate in your psyche and which creates the limited life experience you deplore in your life, the group will afford you to expand, to try out how it feels to know you can be loved, to know you have love in you, to try your hand, as it were, to understand others as they really are, and not simply demand to be understood on the terms of your childishness.

This is the playground in which you can truly begin to communicate and help others to understand you, rather than silently demand of them that they do so, not only without you giving them a helping hand in this, but actually while you conceal yourself and misrepresent yourself constantly.

Yet, when understanding is not forthcoming, you withdraw, you contract, and you resent them. And you use this as a case to fortify your defenses. All of this can become, and must become, a living experience you observe in yourself and others in a group situation. Therefore, others become a mirror for you, and you become a mirror for them.

Also, in this expanding phase where you learn to not pretend but actually experience your feelings of love and understanding, where you do not even have to prove it and show it but just feel it and be it, in that phase you also learn many, many other things that are part and parcel of true human relationship.

In that phase you learn, for example, to trust your intuitions, even if they are wrong so many times, along the way to finding your inner health and stability. But you are then no longer in the idealized self-image compulsion that you must be right, and if you have a slightest doubt that what you perceive may be wrong, you’d rather keep quiet.

You deal with exposing yourself, if I may even use this exaggerated word, to try out your intuitive perceptions of others, and you don’t have to be right about this. If you are that way a mirror to others, you will allow others to be a mirror for yourself. You will learn to weigh what they perceive and not need to battle it. You will begin to observe what you are doing in a dispassionate way, in this wonderfully healing way of self-observation that is never devastating.

This is what health means, and this is what the group can help you to accomplish as a living experience that is never a substitute for private sessions any more than the private sessions can be a substitute for the group experience.

There are many more details which I may not go into at this moment, but I will just shed light now on the most important ones. Still another vital aspect that cannot be duplicated in the private work is that the group experience will inevitably and without fault, sooner or later, mirror precisely your problems on account of which you seek help and are generally unhappy with in your life.

In other words, your attitudes and behaviors, what you send forth and how you reinterpret and deal with other people, must reveal your main problem. It must be a parallel. I have indicated this many years ago and I say it again, because it is often not sufficiently heeded. And even if the group leader knows it and tries to guide the individuals toward that, the individuals have a specific resistance and defense against wanting to see this.

They still pretend as though the life problem and the group behavior are two totally unrelated things. And this is why I say to every one of you here, there is a wealth of unexplored material in you, because you have not fully allowed yourself to see and really want to work this out – how your group behavior echoes the main complaint you have in your life.

If you really begin to look into it, deeply into it, you will understand your main problem, your main frustration, your main unhappiness, in a totally new way. You will see yourself in a totally new light. And that sharp focusing light of truth, although it is so rebelled against and everything is done to avoid it, is the most healing and liberating experience you can ever hope to have.

Every one of you here, and those who are not here tonight and who are in group experiences, should make more of this. They should go behind the obvious and look deeper. Of course, this is only applicable as long as a person has still not found it possible to shed his defenses, to shed his insistence to guard his pretenses and his facade with which he meets the world.

When this is no longer the case, the problem will be recognized retroactively – which is not to be negated either – as a terribly valuable experience. For you will see yourself as you are now, to whatever degree you are without the defenses, as opposed to your previous way of presenting yourself. You will then understand perhaps what you do not even understand now – when you no longer have these defenses – and that is: What did the old behavior pattern do and how did it contribute for your main unhappiness?

So this is a terribly important aspect of group work that still needs a great deal more exploration, because there’s a lot of material here with every one of you here, and those who are not here, that has not been explored.

 

QA185 QUESTION: In a month, all our groups will be united. Can you please give us some advice about how to conduct this?

ANSWER: Yes. I have one specific advice for this venture which can become a very important, additional, helpful expression and tool for all of you to work with. It can indeed be a very, very meaningful experience. I have actually two suggestions. One suggestion is a personal one for everybody who attends. and the other one is a suggestion of something on how to conduct it.

The personal one for everyone who attends is that everyone comes with a very concisely expressed inner thought of “I want to give something in my inner way of being” – not necessarily anything you can outwardly see or hear – “in my inner attitude. I want to contribute to this venture and I want, perhaps by being open enough, to get something out of it for myself, and not sit here with all of my defenses defended against.”

If the defenses are seen and exposed, you cannot whisk them away of course. But if you are ready to expose them, you contribute to yourself and others. That is why I say, if you come with this attitude, you have every reason to expect a very wonderful, unique experience from which you will carry away a lot more future material.

The other advice of how to conduct this is this. I would suggest for this particular experience to very deliberately – and even to announce this ahead of time, if you will, to the participants; it does not have to be before; it can be right then and there – let the tension and the anxiety build and build and build and build, until it explodes by itself.

Do not interfere with conducting anything. Do not even start at this occasion with breathing and vibratory exercises. These things are very good for the lectures, because there you should be open and relaxed so that you can take in. But particularly for this group experience, as well as for the smaller group experiences, occasionally come and make use of the negative energy so that it can become positive.

Become aware of your individual anxiety and tension and how you hope that it be broken from outside, and what the underlying thoughts and feelings are. If every one of you is aware of them and does not resort to any measures to distract from that, and really let the room sit quietly until something spontaneously happens – until someone lets it go and comes out with his thoughts, with his feelings, with his emotions, with whatever it is – if this happens, something will be set in motion that will then be carried on by itself. But it also requires that you can stand it as it “be”, really stand it. And do not feel called upon to do something with it, every one of you.

 

QA185 QUESTION: About the tension building up in group – you said this is good for all groups, right? {Yes} I had this experience in the last group where I felt something building up, but it never exploded. It was very frustrating. Well, I’m just wondering what I should do.

ANSWER: What you should do here is that you observe the means you use in order to avoid coming to the crisis of the tension. You have many little habits and patterns of behavior that you use automatically, which do not only serve as a defense to hide behind, but they also serve to avoid the crisis of your tension. If you observe this in yourself and are not pushed into acting out these behavior patterns, you will allow the tension to build and come to a crisis. Does that make sense to you?

QUESTION: Yes, it really does; I felt it as you were saying it. I’ll think of it.

 

QA185 QUESTION: One of my people I’m working with maintains that when other people in the group try to get her to express her feelings, and provoke her and attack her rage and anger, that this amounts to manipulation, which she rejects and is very upset about. She claims she will get into the expression of these feelings on her own, but she very rarely does.

ANSWER: Well, the word manipulation here is just a word. What is it supposed to mean? In this particular case, it is used because it has a negative connotation, and by that negative connotation, the defensive self hopes it can go on hiding. What is the group trying to do? To get to the real feelings behind the facades! They do this not only out of sheer unselfishness toward that person – if it is any reason, it is only a minor reason – but also because it is very constricting and very anxiety-producing to be in the presence of someone so constricted.

Everyone seeks to break this wall, not only to let the other person free herself but also for themselves to get more freedom and relate on a real basis. So what is being accused here of being manipulative is like a cry out of the prison, for anyone’s prison is the prison of the self at the same time. It would be more helpful to really concentrate on what is felt by that person when he or she is invited to let out, to let go of the defenses.

Why is that need so great, and could the person come to the point of, instead of defending the defense, admitting the defense. As I’ve said in one of the recent lectures [Lecture #183 The Spiritual Meaning of Crisis], it is always the snowballing, the self-perpetuating aspects – the fear of the fear of the fear, the anger because one is angry that one is angry. So it is here.

If the defense is defended, it is a tremendously painful state to be in. But if a defense need no longer be defended but can be honestly admitted, one is already so much closer to home. So if this person, for example, could say “I am defensive. I am afraid. I cannot yet let go,” rather than battling and denying this fact, much more ease would be established and the prodding would cease.

 

QA185 QUESTION: In the group, I often find myself in a situation where I am uncertain whether to express that someone who’s having a fit of anger, that I think that he is going through something very theatrical.

ANSWER: You do not believe it, in other words?

QUESTION: Exactly. And then, of course, what happens is that I accumulate lots of impatience and it’s not constructive, really, and I end up by either shutting off completely or bursting into my own theatricals. [Laughter] Could you help me there?

ANSWER: In the first place, I would examine myself very carefully about what it is in you that makes you react that way. And I would gather there are two things responsible for this. One is your own irrational child that you have to allow in the open again. You have to admit that you do not like not to be in the limelight. No one likes that.

Everyone has this irrational baby that wants to be in the first place. And when you are not, you become impatient and your not believing the genuineness of the other person is an expression of your denial of saying, “I want to be there.”

Another possibility that may also occur is that, as far as you are concerned, whenever a person is not able to express or reach certain emotions, he cannot believe that others have already gotten to this point. He cannot accept that this may be so. He must say, “This is not true; this is an act.” So this is also to be examined.

If you really honestly examine these two things, your impatience will wear off and you will be able to deal with your own emotions while this goes on. And you may then give expression to it to the group.

Of course, there is also a possibility that sometimes people do dramatize because for them it is a means to be in the foreground. Now, then, this has to be examined in them. And they themselves have to be willing to examine it. And sometimes it may be a connection. There may be a combination – the combination of a little bit of histrionics with some genuine feelings, and the others may just be affected by the one because of their own unmet, personal, subjective feelings about it. There is not just one reason. There are many, many, many things that play a role, and all of this has to be examined.

QUESTION: Yes, what does one do when one is in this situation, uncertain whether to express this or that feeling? One can’t sit there and start meditating on the intent, you know?

ANSWER: You can! You can in the first place send the thought inside and say, “I want my own truth about why I feel that way, and I want to express it.” Then when the next opportunity arises, you can say, “This and this went on in me. I want to find out the truth. Group, help me! I do not know yet to what extent do I actually intuitively pick up something, or to what extent I may even exaggerate what I pick up because of my own negative feelings.” Why should you not express this to your group?

 

QA185 QUESTION: In terms of the individuals as energy systems, is there any specific number of people that will form a group that would be optimum for development?

ANSWER: There is no limit to the many, many ways a group can be conducted; there are no rules about it. Each group and each number in the group and each approach has its own dynamics and its own life and its own reality. You may form a group of four, and you may form a group of fifty. Each has its own lifestyle. Each must build its own truth. And there is no ideal number. There are only ideal attitudes and ideal aims, which are the ones I’ve given.

QUESTION: Can we comfortably say that we shouldn’t go too deeply into personal problems in the group, because I’ve always been of the opinion that one shouldn’t.

ANSWER: [Surprised] One should not?

QUESTION: One should not go very deeply – otherwise it becomes a private session.

ANSWER: Oh! Yes, in that sense, yes, you are right, of course. The group should not substitute for private session by remaining with one person, analyzing and discussing his problem. That is not the aim for this particular work here, because for that you have the private session. That might be another approach when the group is used instead of private work. The aim here is the interaction, the expression of feelings – right here and right now, how you react in the group. That is the aim.

 

QA185 QUESTION: I’d like to ask a question about the couples group – how you apply the three phases you gave in terms of the couples group, which is presenting your problems as couples, first of all. But in that, do we also get into the kind of thing that we’re in in the other groups, where you react to individuals as individuals?

ANSWER: I would say the aim in the couples group is primarily the relationship between the couples. There too, the levels in the relationship must exist and that can be explored in the couples group. To what extent are the defenses and pretenses and idealized self-image – the façade – still up, and is the relationship based on this façade.

To what extent does the destructive self come in, and is acted out upon the other person and in an accusatory projecting way, or to what extent can you come to take the responsibility for the destructive, irrational self on yourself, and open up and expose yourself right there in the relationship.

You will find that between the couple, the same thing will happen as what I said for the group – instead of being more disliked, you’ll be more loved, you’ll be more respected. And only then can the good feelings be built up. Any relationship where these phases are not gone through must sooner or later falter, must crumble, because it is not based on reality. It is based on illusory aims and it is built on sand. It must therefore leave a great deal to be desired, and cannot be maintained in the long run.

But in the couples group, the main thing will exist between the couples and not so much between others. Of course, you cannot exclude this, because that is the nature of a group. Others can be helpful in this, in pointing things out, so that as the individual couples learn to confront each other, others will be helpful there, either by identifying or by perceiving and expressing their own reactions.

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