I used to think it would be great to live in a community and I wondered why my own teacher would reject requests from people to set up a community for those following his teaching...
After all, surely he would like to live amongst like-minded people who, whilst probably not being Enlightened like himself, would at least be progressing consciously along the path and be more sensitive than most? Wouldn’t it be nice to live amongst a group of people who were devoted to putting love and consciousness first above all else?
Sally & I have lived on a community estate for a few years now. It’s not for any religion or teaching, but is a private estate with covenants, rules and restrictions, and the entire 15 acre estate with the 141 properties was designed by a famous architect in such a way as to promote community living. There is a monthly service charge which must be paid to maintain the estate and legal action is taken against residents who fall behind on the payments, and against those who breach the extensive covenants.
For the last 3 years we have been on the committee of residents which manages the estate, and we created the estate website and run the newsletter. We attend monthly meetings of the committee and have been involved in projects, planning improvements to the estate. We feel we have given the community bit a go and are coming to the end now. We are getting ready to move away.
The people on the estate are generally very nice and we get on well. Sally and I are popular as have made a positive difference to the estate, and when we tried to resign from the committee last year we met strong opposition, with the comment made that it would be like ripping the heart out of the organisation. Thus we agreed to stick it out another year. However, we are starting to feel a little trapped, shut in and need our space...
We want a view besides our own back garden or the side of another’s house. We want our own private car parking space. But we also want to feel we are not near other people and that we can get away; we really no longer want to be part of a community, of any sort.
With regards to a community specifically together for a spiritual purpose, someone may suggest that things could be different from the above. But my own view is that people would be more inclined to lean against each other; to use others as an emotional crutch which can save them from having to actually face and address issues in their life. Thus it could also reduce the amount that a person takes responsibility for their own life, actually inhibiting their personal development, not enhancing it as is often claimed.
It could also be that a spiritual group is set up around an individual, as if often the case with spiritual or religious communities. This means that either, one person has the power over all the others; or another individual, or a select few take charge and run the group in another’s name. Either way, it serves to disempower the other members of the groups who are ‘following’. Then again, the same could be said of all communities, our own included, which is why one either signs up to the rules, or leaves. In fact, as we know, society in general has set rules, traditions and expected behaviour, by which one must comply in order to avoid possible consequences; thus one always has imposed restrictions, and perhaps it comes down to finding an area which most suits you, or withdrawing as far as one is willing and able, and living pretty much alone on one’s own terms.
But what about, if you are going to live near others, living near those who share the same aims, such as living an Enlightened life? Well, my own experience, both when interacting with my teacher as well as with those whom I have taught, is that the student tends to want to challenge the teacher, at some point at least, almost in a sort of defiance: ‘I don’t need you anymore. I know what you know! I can be the teacher too!’ Thus, even the most devoted and courteous student can turn at any point, demanding from the teacher that they be recognised as being Enlightened and as being equal. To the truly Enlightened Master, equality does not come in to it, but for the student, they see Enlightenment as being the Holy Grail and they want it. So, it’s very much like the animal kingdom, where the young males reach a point at which they challenge the alpha male, usually resulting in them leaving the safety of the herd and going alone.
And in The Truth, this is perhaps how it should be, since every woman is the embodiment of Love and every man is the embodiment of The Master. The student can feel the drive to become The One and sees the teacher as the hurdle over which they must pass. Of course, this is not the truth. There is no competition from The Master. They have nothing to prove. But it is still a little frustrating when a student who has been doing well, suddenly turns and demands teacher status, when they are still learning; and invariably becomes indignant when it is not forthcoming. This can happen both within a community and outside; but personally I would prefer not to put myself in that position in my home life.
Considering all the above, I prefer to withdraw as much as we are able, while still keeping our jobs as it suits us to do so for now. It is just important to us at this time to have somewhere to go, after work, which is our home, and feels like a sanctuary away from people and the hustle and bustle of daily life. We are still happy to teach when we do, writing articles and giving the occasional talk, but I teach people to stand on their own two feet; to not rely on others to carry them or make their decisions for them (not me, or anybody else); and ideally we want less to have to consider others or live with the inconsiderations of others, within a community. This is your life (as it is mine). I am neither a leader nor a follower. I am The Master (of my own life) and I live that truth. I don’t lean on anyone else, and I don’t allow people to lean on me. I am very willing to teach people to stand up straight and face what life throws their way, and how to learn and play by the rules that govern what happens here, but living in a community, whether running it (in whatever sense) or living in a community run by others, is not for us. Is it for you?