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Cooperation from the cradle onwards
by Benjamin Creme

Questions and answers clarifying Creme's analysis of cooperation's role in humanity's future. 

Q. Cooperation begins as an idea in the mind. Could you talk about the inculcation of cooperation as an attitude of mind?

A. Cooperation has to start somewhere, and the best place to start is in infancy. That means the parents must believe in cooperation, must be so soul-oriented that they see cooperation as the better way of living, not only in the family but also beyond the family.

Most families will find, when they take little William or Nancy to kindergarten or nursery school, that their child either fits in or it does not. If it fits in, it usually does so because it is not over competitive and has already learned, somewhat, to cooperate. It realizes that at dinner time you have to be reasonably quiet and not throw too much food around. If you are playing together in the sand or water, you can do it competitively -- you can splash and throw sand and have a great time in overcoming your enemy, or you can do it cooperatively and probably get much longer-lasting, if not quite so exciting, fun out of the exercise.

It is something that the parents have to inculcate. The first child is easy because there is no competition but as soon as the second child comes along there is immediately some competition. The first child will think: "I was the apple of Mummy's and Daddy's eye, and this little brat has come along and stolen my Mummy's and Daddy's affection and time and attention. It is not fair."

Jealousy and competitiveness are based on fear. They are the outcome of a lack of total trust that your mother and father love you just as much as they love the others -- and the ability to share that love. Most people find it very difficult to share love. That difficulty comes from childhood. You have to share your mother's and father's love with your siblings and, if that is a problem, it is very difficult as adults to share love with other people. You want the people whom you love to be totally there for you -- to show an absolute, total love, fixed on yourself. The fact that they might want to share it with other people is terrible, anathema. Most of us are not sufficiently well brought up, tolerant in that sense, cooperative, to come out of that competitive cycle which the parents set in motion. It is everywhere around. You see it on television and film. It is in the air we breathe -- the competitive holding on and making sure that we have all the love and attention, all the things that we desire and think we need.

That is why competition is rife, and stress likewise. People die far earlier than they would normally do because of the stress of competition which kills the spontaneity of life. Most people just watch the world go by; they are not involved in life, they have no part to play in it. They can only react, do their job, and never spontaneously create anything except, perhaps, children.

To cooperate is extremely difficult. Parents have to decide to bring up their family in cooperation however they see that. Cooperation is a soul quality -- the energy of goodwill expressing itself in a social format. You either have it or you do not.

Inculcating cooperation is the most needed thing but it is up to the parents to do it; that is where it ought to start. Of course, every group should see itself as self-educating, every member of the group being part of a self-educating process. No one in this room has come to the end of the educational phase of their life -- it should go on from birth to death -- but many people say: "I have gone to school, I am educated," and stop at that. They never try to educate themselves and expand their consciousness. A huge educational opportunity will present itself to humanity as soon as we take the steps to change the political, and especially the economic, structures. Then cooperation will be seen on all sides because governments will cooperate, great institutions, the nations, as nations, will cooperate. It will then be much easier for individuals to cooperate; it will seem the normal thing to do.

Q. How can we create an environment, in this very competitive society, in which the new generation can develop their own skills? How do we communicate with them? This question was a result of the generalized thought that the new generations will inspire us to cooperate.

A. If that is the case, if we are going to rely on the new generations to inspire us to cooperate, you can be sure that the environment has already been set up in which they will show us how to cooperate. As I have said, children are usually competitive for the love and attention of the parents. I suggested that it is necessary to teach children the art of cooperation. I believe that to be true, but I do not think that cooperation on an adult level can be taught. I believe you either compete or cooperate. It is not a movement from competition into cooperation, it is an alternative mode of approach to life; it needs a change of heart.

The fundamental basis of competition is fear. We see, through fear, every person as a potential enemy -- someone to put us down, to make us afraid, someone who reminds us of our father or grandfather whom we did not like, who is threatening to us in some way. Where there is total trust, total acceptance of life as we have experienced it, and are experiencing it, competition, and the fear which drives it, does not raise its head. We are either demonstrating who and what we are, or we are not; it is one or the other. If we are constantly demonstrating who and what we are, which is a soul in incarnation, then inevitably, at whatever point in evolution we may be, that quality of soul will demonstrate.

This is what we see in the infant who as yet has not come up against the competitive spirit in, perhaps, an older sibling. There is a total acceptance and simple moment-to-moment awareness of being in the world. There are beautiful, loving parents ready to give their attention. It is felt as a kind of state of bliss, which is immediately lost when that child begins to think: "I want Mummy. I need Daddy. I hate that person who is called my big brother. I cannot stand his coming between my Mummy and me, my Daddy and me." And likewise for the older child.

Either this soul feeling, sense of Self, is there, or it is not there. And while it is there competition does not arise. Competition arises when fear comes in -- when there is fear of loss, of someone intruding on this total, accepting sense of being at one with all that is. This is an ongoing experience which, from time to time, depending on the point of evolution, is interrupted. It is the state in which that which we call God manifests itself through a human being at the physical-plane level. While the awareness of that connection is held, competition cannot enter because fear is not there. When we talk about competition and cooperation, we are talking really about fear and the absence of fear.

Cooperation is the result of the absence of fear, and it has to be introduced to the child. The child has to be shown by example how to cooperate -- the demonstration of the soul quality which we call cooperation, which is the existence of the divine in everyday life. It is that which inspires the child to do likewise. Every child follows its parents, walks behind its parents, does exactly what the parents do, talks in the way that the parents talk, approaches life and other people exactly as Mummy and Daddy approach life and other people.

When we talk about the responsibility for our child's upbringing in terms of cooperation, we have to know ourselves. We have to do it ourselves. We have to be who we are -- the soul in incarnation. The Master says: "You can divide the world into two types of people: those who compete and those who cooperate." It does not mean those who believe in a certain type of competitive economic system and those who do not. That is an effect. It refers to those who in their life are not afraid, and those who are. If you are the one who is afraid, inevitably you will compete. That might be in economic terms, but it can be in human relationships and so create wrong human relationships.

Cooperation is something that has to be done. It is an action. It is the result of being who you are, and giving that expression. That will be different for different people because the souls are different; they are individualized, and come in under different ray energies. The quality and manner of that demonstration of cooperation and right relation will be different but it will be recognizable for what it is, as right relationship. Every time you say cooperation you have to think equally: "That is right relationship." Create right relationships and you will find you are cooperating. Cooperate and you will find you are creating right relationships. They are synonymous terms.

How can we create a cooperative environment in this very competitive society? That is the problem. We live in a society in which competition has become like a god. It is accepted as an essential quality of life needed to increase the production and sale of goods. In economic life it has no other function. There is no place for competition, in economic terms, unless it is to produce more goods, more cheaply, and to sell them more cheaply and more consistently than your competitor. What it really means is that we have replaced our sense of ourselves as human beings, as souls in incarnation, with a mechanistic view of the meaning and purpose of life.

It is in Revelation in the Bible. The Great Whore has taken over the throne and we worship at this altar, the altar of competition and greed. It is not less than human greed. We must recognize this, and nevertheless consistently, at every possible moment, try to produce right human relationships, without sentimentality, naturally, logically, because of who and what we are: a soul in incarnation who, on its own level, is already existing in right relationship. The soul only knows the other, the sense of the whole.

We can leave the new generation to itself. Every generation brings into incarnation those equipped with the answers to the problems that they will meet. It is not possible above a certain age to deal with the new situation. The new generation cannot expect their fathers or grandfathers to deal with their problems. The fathers and grandfathers can learn from the young how to solve the problems, and I think that is actually taking place. Many middle-aged and older people may regret much of the activity of the young but recognize also that they have a freedom, a self-confidence, an awareness of the possibilities in life which they themselves only too often did not have or recognize.

Q. Can sports teach children cooperation, unity, and teamwork?

A. It can teach them teamwork and therefore cooperation. It can teach them unity as a member of a team, and as they identify with the team. It can teach them cooperation because you have to cooperate to play the game.

The best game ever devised for that is cricket because it does not really involve competition; there is no tackling. The competition is symbolic only, between two noble groups -- one English and one New Zealand, Australian, West Indian, Pakistani, Indian, Zimbabwean, Sri Lankan or South African. Wherever the Union Jack has travelled, the noble game of cricket has flowered -- and cemented there a certain fair and just approach to life, a sensitivity, a refinement of taste and culture. It is an ennobling game. If you can allow your child to join a cricket club, on whatever scale, I would encourage it, because I think there is no greater refining pursuit for the soul in incarnation than the game of cricket. I joke (slightly) of course. Team sports are very good for children. Sports are the sublimation of war. Far better to play games than to play war.

Q. Are people basically competitive and combative?

A. People love fighting. I believe that we are only a tiny bit civilized. I think the civilized veneer on humanity is very, very thin. I think we really are, mostly, intelligent animals. I think most of humanity are mad because they are souls in animal bodies. The human bit, the soul aspect, does not fit well yet with the animal aspect. That is the crisis, the spiritual crisis for humanity.

Cooperation in the political and economic fields

Q. Is there such a thing as healthy competition in order to make a better, more efficient product or a better medicine?

A. That is the big lie which underlies every competitive, greedy, selfish action by anyone who believes in competition.

'Healthy competition' simply brings down the price of a product; that is all it does. If you want cheap products, then you must be willing to put up with the effects of 'healthy competition'. There is no advantage if a product is created cheaply by the competition between hundreds of firms, all producing the same thing, if the process involves the commercialization, thus diminishing the quality, of life.

We need inexpensive products and if, for example, nations did not spend their resources on arms and in strategic reserves but put the money into producing products at a price people can pay, that could be achieved. You do not need 100 firms all providing the same service and competing 'healthfully' among themselves to bring the cost of production down. It might be inexpensive in terms of the dollar tag on it, but what is its cost in social terms? This is the real cost.

You cannot cost a product only on a dollar index; you have to look at the social result of producing it. Is it right to squander and misuse the resources needed to build 100 different types of automobiles, drain-pipes, doors, or whatever, in order to get down to the lowest possible price, if the social, global, and ecological costs of that are devastating?

There is no such thing as 'healthy competition'. There is either cooperation or competition. Cooperation is pro-life, pro-evolution, and competition is the very reverse. It is the opposite of life; it is against evolution. In time, with the use of robots, and in particular with extraordinarily refined manufacturing processes by those robots, every nation will become self-sufficient. Today we will start with the process of sharing by redistributing the resources of the world, which are produced manually or with instruments of various degrees of efficiency.

'Healthy competition' makes an excess of everything, and then the producers compete to sell the product. However, we cannot buy everything that is produced. This is where the myth of choice comes in. Do you buy it because it looks good? Because it lasts a long time? Certainly not for that, not today. Because it is inexpensive? Yes, that is the major consideration. It looks good, and is inexpensive. That is the result of so-called 'healthy competition'.

This process is repeated throughout the world. There are 250 million people in the US. China has 1,000 million people, India 900 million, Europe some 350-400 million and Japan 120 million. All of these nations are producing the same goods -- some slightly better, some not quite as good, some more or less expensive. Everyone, however, is misusing the resources of the planet. You cannot have this so-called 'healthy competition' and infinite choice, producing the same goods multiplied 1,000 times without squandering the resources of the planet.

Q. How do we move from having a whole bunch of countries producing the same product? Where do we go from here?

A. It is a question of rationalization. Every nation overproduces something -- except some nations of the Third World. Every nation will be asked to make over in trust for the world what they have in excess of their needs, and from that common pool the needs of all will be met. The process of redistribution, and therefore the rationalization of our economic structures, will itself rationalize the overproduction processes. So we will not have 50 huge firms all producing aspirin, for instance, under different names.

Q. This seems so far off.

A. It will not be done tomorrow but we could do it tomorrow if we wanted to. A country like America could rationalize its production so that it was not creating, through competition, a multiplicity of the same things -- and therefore misusing the resources of the world. Go to any big store, any reasonably-sized shop, and you find the shelves loaded with goods. Where did the goods come from? From the finite resources of the world. Why are they all in this one big store? Why can we buy 50 different types of handkerchief, or migraine pill, or whatever? We do not need that multiplicity.

In the US, because it is based absolutely on the competition of market forces, there is an emphasis on what they call choice. You are given infinite choice -- which only wastes your time. They are all there for this greedy, child-like population that wants, or has been conditioned to want, this infinite variety so that one day it will want one thing and the next day something else. It feels as if this is the great life, that this is Abundance. America is about abundance. Every country -- Europe, Japan, Australia and all the others -- have 'bought' this idea of abundance. This is what market forces are about but the toll in human misery is terrible. There are 33 million people in the US alone living under the poverty line. You have hundreds of thousands of people sleeping in the streets. The social cost of this abundance, this multiplicity of choice, is so great that you cannot take it in. Someone should do a study, publish it in a major newspaper, and show what it costs the world for you to have 50 different brands of cornflakes. We can rationalize that tomorrow, and it does not need Maitreya.

Q. Many people of goodwill who have heard our message fear that the ending of competition and the beginning of sharing will mean the loss of their livelihoods or status, or even their mode of personal expression in the world. How can we communicate our information to them in less esoteric ways so that they may be less fearful?

A. Tell them that the principle of sharing does not take away their livelihood; it may well increase it. If you are a multi-millionaire, you are perhaps going to have to put up with a nine-hole rather than an 18-hole golf course in your garden. If you are working as a truck driver, however, you might get a far better life from sharing.

Sharing the world's resources will restore sanity to the world. It will make life happier for most people. Some people in the beginning will feel loss, obviously, but -- under the influence of the Masters and the extraordinary spiritual and mental transformation, the loss of tension which will accrue from sharing -- we will create a world in which people will say: "It is good. It is really good!" Every day the media will put out information on how it is happening and what effect it is having. The entire world will be kept involved. Every day we will see Maitreya on television, and He will answer questions. People will say: "You know, I have a bit less money, but I am happier. I am really happy." You can be happier with less when everyone is the same, more or less, when you are not saying: "Oh, I wish I had a million." Because there are those with millions and you have only a pittance. These divisions create greed, the sense of not fully living life to all the possibilities.

There is no reason why people should think they will suffer from the principle of sharing. Tell them that, on the contrary, most people will live better, happier lives. The people who may not live better will be those who, at the moment, are living at a level which is unreal. You do not need $1 million to live a good life. If they make $1 million, and give much of it away to charity, that is fine. There is nothing wrong with making $1million a year if you are giving away $800,000 of it to charity -- to the Third World, for example.

Q. In His article the Master says: "Man can be said to have reached maturity, a maturity discernible to Us, albeit well hidden from man himself." Can you elaborate on this? In what sense have we already reached a degree of maturity?

A. Every disciple, every initiate, is altogether more mature, more advanced in terms of spiritual maturity, in the Masters' eyes than that person is to him or herself. It is difficult for an individual to know precisely his or her state of spiritual Being. A Master does know, and that state can oscillate between one pole and another. It can be intensely radiant at one point and, perhaps, less so, clouded, at another. This is determined by the service activity and the various karmic difficulties which arise, cyclically, in everyone's life. As you are able to cope with karma, so that karma is loaded on to your back. No one, however, has more karma than they can deal with.

What makes karma a major problem for people is their inability to deal with it, to recognize their own responsibility for it, and to do something about it. Most people blame their problems on other people or on circumstances: it was their upbringing, the fact that their parents did not love them, or got divorced, or left them wanting, or that their husband left them, or did not leave them. All these experiences are loaded off on to someone else, but of course it is all to do with karma, our own responsibility.

We have to learn to deal with karma equitably and say: "That's life; it is, simply, life. C'est la vie." Life is another name for karma. What we call life is a flow of karma, good and bad, pleasant or unpleasant -- it is all one flow of life. When it is unpleasant we say: "Oh, what a life!" When it is pleasant we say: "Isn't life great?" It depends on how we feel, how we respond to this load of karma which we all have to bear. What holds us back in evolution is the karma which is always sitting on our shoulders and is not burnt away in the fire of service. Burn up the karma in the fire of service and you will go like a rocket to the top.

Q. How about humanity as a whole? How is our maturity evidenced?

A. Our maturity is evidenced by our beginning to take responsibility for our planet on a global scale, albeit in a very tentative, barely discernible way. We are beginning to realize what we are doing to our environment -- that we are gradually killing off the planet as a living, breathing, evolving, body of expression of a Great Cosmic Being which, of course, the planet is. We are beginning to see that we cannot go on, willy-nilly, despoiling the planet, polluting the air, rivers and oceans. We know this. More and more concerned groups have brought this to the attention of governments. At long last, governments, or their representatives, meet on a more or less regular basis to analyse the problems and to see what can be done about them.

That is a new maturity. It is to do with a growing sense by humanity that it is One. The maturity lies in the recognition of our oneness -- brothers and sisters of one humanity, on this planet to carry out some plan, some role, which is as yet dimly felt by most people. That we are, at last, taking seriously what individual groups have for long brought to the notice of governments is a sign that we are recognizing our vulnerability and also our oneness. We are maturing.

For about a century and a half, we have thought it perfectly in order to ravage and despoil the planet for short-term gains -- making money, driving industry, all the forces and ideas which brought about the industrial revolution. Now we are faced with the post-industrial revolution, which is a new concept. We are past the age of 19th century industrialization, and its refinement in the 20th century, and we do not know what lies ahead. There must be some kind of creation of goods, but most people do not know that it will take a completely different form, using completely different methods which will not despoil the planet. We are now awakening to the urgency of this planetary, environmental, ecological problem.

We are even beginning to recognize, on a mass scale -- not everywhere but generally speaking -- that war is not an answer to our problems. If America wants to go one way and the Soviet Union (as it was) wants to go another, they have to accommodate, find some compromise, and not just destroy everything in their path to prove a point. Cooperation is beginning to take place. Competition in economics is still there, but in a deeper sense cooperation is raising its beautiful head. The Masters see that, and They nod Their heads with pleasure and joy. The Masters see that everywhere people are beginning to realize the fundamentals -- that cooperation will succeed when nothing else will. We are not yet sharing the resources of the world but we are talking about it.

Maitreya forecast in the late 1980s that the developed world would cancel the debts of the Third World, as the only way forward. There is no possibility that the Third World countries can repay the debts. Just recently the British Government reached a conclusion that this was indeed the mode to be followed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Minister who deals with money and taxes) is starting a world-wide initiative to address this problem, advocating the cancellation of debt. Up until now, the British were one of the most recalcitrant governments relative to the debt problem. America, Britain, and a few others were well behind many governments in advocating cancellation as the only way to deal with the debt of the Third World. Now the British are opening an initiative which, I believe, will end eventually in the fulfilment of Maitreya's prophecy.

Everything ends in the fulfilment of Maitreya' prophecies. He knows what He is talking about because He already sees it taking place. It could be said for humanity that just as individuals are more mature than they think, the Master sees that the soul itself -- the soul in incarnation, that is -- is learning, growing and maturing.

Q. Competition seems to be particularly prevalent in the US. Do you think that is indeed the case?

A. The USA is a strange country. Because of the extraordinary power of the 6th-ray idealism of the US, there are communal experiments going on throughout the nation that foster cooperation and goodwill. Comparing the US to any of the European countries, including Britain, there is more communal sense, more real desire for cooperation and the expression of goodwill, more manifested love at the goodwill level, in communities in the US than perhaps anywhere in the world. There is, probably, better literature written in the US about creating cooperative communities than anywhere else. But you have to export it. Instead of exporting the concept of competition, you have to export the concept of cooperation. That idealism is the strength of the US.

At the same time you have the opposite -- a terribly competitive spirit, the demonstration of competition as nowhere on earth. Competition is the very nature of political and economic life in the US, and, of course, for that reason is extremely powerful and infectious. So, too, could be the cooperative spirit, which is being exercised in communities throughout the nation. Cooperative communities are always the result of experiment. They are idealistic, but also pragmatic. People have found that by cooperating they get better communities; they get the facilities denied by your Government.

In the US you have one of those 'hands-off' governments which believes that the government should not intervene -- which means pay for the services of civic life. I believe that the government should be responsible for the services of the community. But in the States you have 'right-wing' governments, even if Democrats are in office. By comparison with a democratic European state, it is not democratic at all. It is extremely 'right-wing'. We have the same kind of governments in Europe and elsewhere, but the US right-wing is against spending money on services: it believes all of that should be in private hands, a private industry. It is only a theory and either you believe in the theory or you do not.

We can go on 'till kingdom come' discussing the benefits or otherwise of these different theories. I personally think that the people of any country, by participatory activity, should provide for their needs. "We the State" -- that is us, not the State up there, the Government and its entourage, the Prime Minister or the President and his entourage -- should provide for the people's needs. I do not separate the state from the people who make it up, provided they have a real degree of participation in the government, in the say-so of how the money is spent.

The entrepreneurial spirit, the tendency which especially right-wing or Republican politicians support, should be limited, I believe, to more or less the luxury aspects of society. I think that transport, coal, gas and electrical power (or whatever kind of power we use in the future) should be state-run. They should be national enterprises, run for the benefit of all. One day, I believe, that is how it will be. The 'embroideries' on that, the cultural and service industries, should be in the hands of entrepreneurial activity. It is the creative action of individuals that can best cater to the refinement of such needs.

Cooperation and group work

Q. What does it mean truly to cooperate as a group?

A. It means not to be destructive. It means to do things with a common sense of purpose, with a consensus of opinion on direction and policy.

Q. Is the energy of competition really a problem in group work?

A. I think it is one of the major problems. People compete for 'success' within a group. They compete for prestige or status. I do not know how you function here, but in London, from the very beginning, we have had no offices. No one has a title, so there is no kind of status in that sense. There is status in the sense of effectiveness. Some people work harder, more assiduously, and more efficiently in making the information known, or just in the general office work that goes into putting out the information. Whether selling cornflakes or making known the Reappearance, you still have to package it in some way, and that is office work. Some people are very good at office work but they get very little kudos out of it.

Other people make approaches to the media, and they think they will get more kudos. Everyone wants to talk to the media, except 2nd-ray types. They want to but are frightened. In every group I have ever known there are people who say: "I would love to talk to the media, leave it to me." They are always the worst possible people to do it. They have no idea what they should say, no idea of what we really are about, little idea of how every word given to the media will be twisted and distorted. From long experience, I just have to listen for five minutes, and I know that here is someone who should be kept away from journalists. It is a funny thing because they are just the people who want to talk to journalists. The people who really can talk to the journalists tend not to realize it, perhaps, and do not come forward.

Competition in group work is, perhaps, not always voiced, but it is there and you have to recognize it. Every group has its problems, and competition voiced, or not voiced, subtle or otherwise, is destructive in a group.

Q. We know intellectually that we should not compete, but a competitiveness creeps in subtly ...

A. Who said it was subtle? I think it is anything but subtle. It just storms in. I know individuals, every group has them, who cannot do anything from other than a competitive spirit. Three-quarters of the year they do nothing, but then they suddenly get a little bit inspired. They do a little bit: they approach the media and everyone has to hear about it. We have to know everything that a certain individual does. We have to know how hard they are trying, how well they are doing, how much the group depends on their visit to a bookshop. Everyone has to know that a certain bookshop might take some books. It is already an achievement!

It is competition with the other people in the group, and has to be rooted out. It is not only deadly boring, it is very destructive, because people make their alignments, and then cliques develop. There are people who like that person and so there is a clique around them. Others cannot stand that person, because of this competitive spirit. Competition is not attractive. As like attracts like, those who are competitive attract each other. Those who are cooperative are repulsed by that competition. And so the group loses its coherence when you get that kind of activity. That is why it is absolutely essential that the competitive spirit be replaced. If you cannot get the individual out of the group (sometimes they are more destructive out of the group than in the group), you just have to make do with them, and try in time to get them to change. I do not know how you do that except by paying them so little attention that they do change.

Q. It is imperative therefore to be watchful of one's own motives and the tendency to compare and compete.

A. Absolutely. Comparing, of course, is the essence of competition. You compare yourself and your miserable little achievement with others who are doing rather a lot of work. If they are rather good-looking and energetic, you say: "I hate that person, thinking she's the top." In every group there is someone like this, who comes in and does work that makes the old hands feel inadequate, because he/she is effective, and does not have the old hang-ups. Maybe they are younger, and have had less time in the work so they are not so blasÈ. They have not lost the impetus and enthusiasm and so they make the others feel inadequate. Then jealousy comes in and, with that, the competition. It is the same with children. The elder brother and sister are always competing with the younger one. The younger one is always jealous of the older one. It is in the nature of the sibling situation, and a group becomes rather like a family, so the same situation pertains.

As the questioner says, we must look at our motives. You have to be very pure, which is not easy. You have to be pure, too, in the sense of really looking at your motives, even if you cannot change your actions. If you continually look at your motives, and assess the true, underlying intention behind everything you say and do, you gradually become pure. You act spontaneously in the right way. You are not competitive.

You have to learn when not to say anything at all. I have found in every group there are those who protect the group. They would like to be more open, more powerful, more efficient, but they do not want to do so because it always arouses jealousy and competition from the others. They have to keep themselves somewhat sotto voce, hold themselves in, not say too much because they will be branded as a big-head or loud-mouth. These are the dynamics in every group. They have to be faced, to be seen, because the people involved are just ordinary people. They are also disciples of some degree, and so the whole aspect of motive has to be carefully looked at.

No one is totally pure. I meet people in every group who, when they speak to me, are not speaking to me straight. They are saying what they think I would like to hear, or what they would like me to believe. It is better that people say simply what they have to say. If it is destructive, it might be better not to say it, or it might be better to say it. It depends, because there is constructive destructiveness; there is a time for criticism of a constructive nature. But there is no time for destructive criticism coming from jealousy, fear, hatred or maliciousness. We have to watch our motives in all these situations. This is a must, fundamental. Until we really are speaking from the centre of ourselves, acting as a group from the centre of ourselves, without these motives of competition, jealousy, fear and sullen resentment, we will never achieve correct cooperation. That destroys the goodwill which is at the basis of cooperation.

Q. When we recognize a competitive edge in ourselves, we tend to put ourselves down, or suppress it, but it is still there. We focus on the work, on the goal, but our conditioning is very strong. How do we "cleanse the heart of the stain of competition?" Shift from astral to mental? Mantras? Soul light? Transmission Meditation?

A. All of these. The best, the real way is to rise from astral to mental polarization, and as that is achieved, as soon as possible, from mental to spiritual polarization, because the higher you are polarized the more the soul can influence the personality-life. It is the soul which is cooperative. The soul does not know what competition is. It knows only goodwill, and it is through goodwill that cooperation comes. If goodwill is not there, you can talk about cooperation, you can try, intellectually, all your life but it will not be there, because goodwill is fundamental.

The first thing that everyone has to have in a group is goodwill towards each other. Goodwill is the cement that holds the group together. The more you can see people in terms of the soul, rather than in terms of the edgy, difficult, unlikable personality, the more you will be able to act cooperatively without resentment.

Q. Is the energy of goodwill the lubrication for group work?

A. The energy of goodwill is not only the lubrication of group work, it is the very basis of the existence of the group. This is what people perhaps do not understand. There are only groups. We talk about group initiation as an unusual thing, but actually initiation has always been a group activity, only we have not seen the groups. The difference is that now, under the incoming energy of Aquarius, people are forming themselves into groups. So the idea of group initiation can become a real image in people's minds. Actually there has never been anything else. It has always been group initiation. But it has always been a man here, a woman there, slowly, in an individual way. Now the same numbers of people, in group relationship, will take initiation. It is a different mechanism because the inner groups are being replicated on the outer physical plane. They still remain the same groups on the inner plane -- groups to which all these individual people belong. The difference is that it becomes a conscious group activity.

Q. How difficult is it to achieve this kind of cooperation in a group sense?

A. It is difficult, because of the conditioning which we all are under, and because of our point in evolution. Change is slow, and we have to accept that. However, we are working in groups, and in conditions of experimentation. We have to take that as the basic reality and seek to put into our work what we know.

We are very lucky as a group. We are not working vaguely for self-advancement or self-development -- at least I hope we are not. I hope no one here is simply in these groups for possible self-advancement or self-development. We are here to serve the Plan of Evolution in so far as we have been presented with an aspect of that Plan -- not only an aspect but one of the major aspects of that Plan: preparation for the externalization of the Spiritual Hierarchy on to the outer plane. That is momentous.

We are living in momentous times; I cannot say it strongly enough. This is a time unlike any there has ever been before. I doubt if this particular opportunity for service has ever been presented to a group before. Many, many times in His Messages Maitreya has said: "This is an opportunity for service unlike ought seen before." If He says it, you can be sure it is a reality. Never have so many people had this opportunity for service, this opportunity -- at their level -- to do something of major importance. That is why groups like this should recognize the opportunity, and the privilege given by it, to do their very best to live up to the opportunity presented and not to waste it in competition or greed, or simple self-awareness and self-contemplation -- which everyone has moments of but which, with dedication to the work, should be very rarely seen.

Q. Does an understanding of the wider mission of the group help in the process of cooperation?

A. If you are idealistic, it should. If you are competitive and therefore destructive, if you do not see the wider implications of the group, then you might end up being very destructive. Perhaps you should be put out of the group if you are very competitive and destructive. It is up to the group itself. The wider mission of the group should tend to make you think twice before being destructive. It should help you to look at yourself with greater insight and to bring a more cooperative attitude to bear, even with people with whom you are normally competitive, and do not like.

Q. How do we deal with criticism in group work in a constructive way?

A. There are two kinds of criticism -- destructive and constructive. Destructive criticism is what everyone applies to everyone else. Constructive criticism is relatively rare, because you have to be in a position not only to see the break in the rhythm of an individual which makes him or her open to criticism but also to be the healer. You have to give the recommendation for its correction. That is not easy when you are dealing with other people. It is not easy when you are dealing with yourself.

In dealing with other people you have to be very sure of your ground before you can give constructive criticism. Any other kind of criticism should be abandoned, not given voice. It destroys right relationship and trust, it demeans the person who is criticized and the person who is criticizing. I know that everyone does it. There is not an individual in the world, probably, below a 4.9-degree initiate, who is not capable of this kind of criticism. But we should all eschew it as much as we can.

I believe that there are times in everyone's group activity in which criticism of a constructive kind can be useful in reorienting that person to a more correct, more consistent mode of activity. In which case everyone has to be open to this kind of constructive criticism. You will find that this is not so. Constructive criticism is taken, almost always, as negative criticism by those who receive it, unless they are particularly, unusually, detached.

If a person is detached, they will take any amount of criticism, whether justified or unjustified, destructive or constructive; but how often do you meet a person so detached that they can take with total equilibrium, even amiability, that kind of criticism? Everyone believes that they should be treated with total respect, and in group work everyone should trust, as a matter of course, that fundamentally they have the respect of every other member of the group. That is a number one requirement: a basic, unspoken, but nevertheless recognized and felt, respect for who and what they are, and the belief that everyone is doing what they are doing honestly, to the best of their ability, and for the right reasons. It is not always true, but they have to feel that it is there.

Everyone approaches the work we are doing with mixed motives. The first motive is an awareness that this is probably the most important work (I believe it is the most important work) that anyone could be doing in the world today. Of course, a high-powered surgeon would think that there are other, just as important, things to do. In a relative sense that is true, but speaking in world terms, in terms of the effect on the future of the race, the Externalization of the Hierarchy, and the work connected with that, is, beyond any question, to my mind, the most important work that anyone could be involved in.

That is why the number of people involved is relatively small, because it demands so much. If it is the most important work, it demands total dedication to it. How often do you get someone totally dedicated to something they cannot see, can only read or hear about, can only take as a possibility? .That is why certain gurus in the world are followed and adored, and others, unknown, are neglected, ignored.

The question is: how do we deal with criticism in the group work? There is, inevitably, criticism in every group, because, inevitably, in every group there are mistakes. Who is to say which is a mistake and which is not simply an experiment? There is room for experiment in every activity. On the other hand, although there is no such thing as time, there is a time factor at work. There is a time to do certain work, and there is a time when it is too late to do that work. Much of the work connected with the Reappearance of Maitreya and the Masters is too late to do. The time is past in which that work could have been better done.

You have to concentrate on the meaningful work at any given time. However, that is where criticism comes because people will disagree on what that is, how you evaluate it. When you have these differences of opinion -- because of different points of view, different rays, different ways of looking at the world, different points in evolution to some little degree -- different emphasis is given to different things. You have to arrive at consensus, and consensus is the result of cooperation.

Q. How can we come to a consensus? Could you comment on that?

A. There is only one way to come to a consensus: cooperation. As soon as you cooperate, the consensus becomes possible. While you have competition in presentation of points of view, you get no consensus, because everyone wants their point of view to be taken up and made the general view. Then it becomes a majority, which has nothing to do with consensus. Consensus is the intuitive, and therefore soul, understanding that a certain process, given realization, and therefore action, by a group is the one and only action for that time and place. In this way consensus becomes a very dynamic force. As soon as you have true consensus you have the entire energy -- the will, love, and intelligence -- of the group as a whole behind it. It is as if another thing, a synthetic voice, has been created, a voice that brings together all the disparate points of view, all the different nuances, reservations. All of these suddenly coalesce in an intuitive way in the group which is really working in total cooperation. The end view is known, accepted, and realized in the same way by all the people, and consensus suddenly descends into the group with all the energy of the soul behind it.

The action coming from consensus does the work. That should be the aim of all the actions of the group: to make them so fused and blended together that they produce, as it were, a rod of steel, hard and sharp, which goes straight to carry out its task. Otherwise it is a question of trying a little bit here, and a little there. It is diffused, and therefore relatively ineffective.

In my experience -- like everyone else I am experimenting -- most of the actions around the world in the work of the Reappearance have this diffused quality. Just from time to time a kind of inspiration acts as the synthesizing fire which brings about a red-hot, natural action which goes straight to the heart of the journalists or the people of the world. You can recognize it when you see it. You cannot think it up; it simply happens when the group cooperates to such a degree that their minds, their intuition, fuse together an action which is self-evidently the natural, best way to proceed. That is a better way to work than the average. It leaves out the entire question of criticism or questioning. The action itself becomes a crucible in which all the ideas, the intent, the intelligence and creative ability of the group fuse together. That is a group thought, a group action, and nothing can compare with it. Nothing that we have known before can compare with that direct action.

Q. How much patience must we show towards people who will not respect what is being done within the group? Sometimes you have to draw a line.

A. How much patience should we show? As much as is necessary. You have to assess how much that is because every problem and situation is different. I know there are impossible people in every group. The impossibles you have to live with, or kick out, one or the other, leaving the others to enjoy the group work. Group work should be enjoyment. Someone mentioned the joy that can come out of a satisfactory, full-blooded group activity. It is true. Group work should be the most joyful work that exists, far better than working alone, although personally I love working alone -- that is, as a painter.

Q. Are group working sessions useful to clarify individual's points of view and try to achieve a common group goal?

A. If you like group work sessions, by all means do it. You have to try, see what works. Some people like bringing up different points of view in a group situation, mulling over and putting forward the different points. Many people get a lot out of that. Many people like it, so why not do it?

Q. How can detachment be utilized to deal with the effects of competition within the group?

A. Become more detached. Ask yourself: "Who is competitive," not "Am I competitive?" Of course you are competitive; everybody is. Find out who is. If you distance yourself from the competitiveness and identify with the "who", then you become more detached. The more detached you become the easier it is to be detached; it becomes a habit. The thing is to look at what is happening, and to detach from that by not identifying.

Ask yourself: "Who is competitive? Who is hurting? Who is upsetting the group? Who is destructive?" Find out who it is, which of the demons, because it is one of your demons. We all have lots of demons. But if you just say: "I mustn't be, I must try not to be," you do not do anything. The demons have many heads, and every time you cut off one head another one takes its place. You may cut off a demon's head for a couple of weeks, but it will grow another. The more effort you put into not being competitive, the more competitive you will become. You have to replace it with something -- cooperation. That comes from the soul, from meditation, through right identification.

Q. Do we learn to cooperate by developing detachment, sincerity of spirit, honesty of mind, awareness, unconditional love, etc, or do we learn these skills by cooperation, by being cooperative?

A. It is really a question of both. If you are detached, it is easy. But how many people are detached? You can develop detachment, and as soon as you act from detachment you are already cooperating, you are already in right relationship. It is not something you have to learn. Detachment, sincerity of spirit, honesty of mind, awareness, are themselves the result of a cooperative attitude, and, demonstrated, lead to cooperation. You cannot separate these things: right relationship is another word for cooperation, which is another word, as the Master put it, for unity. Unity, cooperation, and right relationship are three different ways of expressing the same thing.

Q. Does Transmission Meditation bring cooperation within a group?

A. Anything that brings you into contact with the soul, anything that energizes the vehicles of the soul, will tend to work in that direction. I cannot say: "Do Transmission Meditation and you will learn to cooperate." It is not as simple as that. Cooperation will become more and more part of your nature if you do Transmission Mediation correctly, assiduously, with your attention in the head. It will bring about the reorientation which is needed.

Q. The Master says that the people in the world can be divided into two groups: those who compete and those who cooperate. Is this division not too strict? Haven't we all both types of attitude in ourselves? Does it not depend on the situation we are in?

A. Of course the answer to that is yes, but it does not mean that the Master's division is too strict. It means that we all have both types of attitude in ourselves, depending on the situation. If we are in a favourable situation we will be as competitive as we are allowed to be. If we are in another situation, we will be as cooperative as we feel we need to be -- at least just the minimum we can get away with. To be honest, to be realistic, that is how most groups work.

Everyone is both competitive and slightly cooperative, alternately. It is not as if competition becomes cooperation; it cannot. They are two opposites, and cooperation can never become competition. It is simply that the mode of response to any situation becomes the lever which you bring into play. If you must, you will be cooperative. If you can get away with it, you will be competitive, until somebody says: "No, no, that is too competitive. We are not having it."

It is the human psyche which is trying to dominate every situation. Some people handle all situations in a devious way, manipulating stealthily behind the scenes, bringing this little thing into play, and getting an ally here and an ally there to back them up. All groups have this kind of activity because all this is human. That is how the bulk of humanity live -- by the demonstration of the personality. Everyone is a personality; everyone is working through the personality, more or less.

The problems come out of the personality, the misuse of this manipulative aspect by the personality. That is the quality that you generally see in groups. From time to time the other qualities demonstrate, depending with whom you are dealing. These are things which you will recognize, and you should recognize, in yourself.

I do not mean that all are manipulative, but those of you who have 3rd-ray minds and 3rd-ray brains, watch out for your manipulation! Just keep your eye on it. I am not saying change it, frustrate yourself, but just keep your eye on what you are actually doing, and in that way you can become detached from it. You can only detach from something if you observe it, recognize it. Just look at it, and if you observe it without trying to change it, without justifying it, without rationalization, just simply looking at it, you will find that you become more detached. This is true for every single glamour.

We all have both competition and the possibility of cooperation, because as souls we are instinctively cooperative. It is the nature of the soul to want to cooperate. It has a broad, generalized, inclusive view of life, which can only be expressed in cooperation. The thing to remember is that, in the new age now beginning, the energy of synthesis, the energy of Aquarius itself, can only be sensed, apprehended, used, in group formation. It does not pertain to the individual but only to the group. The group needs the individual -- potent, aware, intelligent, active -- who can give his or her service to the group. Then we can act in terms of the new age, the new Aquarian energy, that fusing, blending and synthesizing force which one day will demonstrate as the one humanity. That should be our aim.

Q. Is it the energy of love brought by Maitreya which will truly solve the problem of competition?

A. Yes, but not alone. Maitreya cannot do it for us. If He could, He would, I am sure. We have to save ourselves, go through the whole process of self-salvation. No one on earth, not even Maitreya, can do it for us. This is a one-to-one dialogue with our soul. We must allow the soul to speak through us, more and more, and call on the soul's energy, insight, and awareness by identifying with it. If we never identify with the soul, how can we know it? We have to experience ourselves as a soul in incarnation, and, more and more, see that as the reality. When it is the reality, the lower man or woman tends to take second place.

The personality will always be there, but it becomes negative in relation to the soul. The soul needs an instrument, a vehicle, a powerful, clear-cut personality through which to demonstrate. It is not a question of negating the personality, putting ourselves down, losing all self-respect. We have to not put ourselves down, talk ourselves down, self-deprecate all the time. It is a question of becoming more altruistic, more impersonal, more objective.

Q. Do we promote cooperative activity in our group by striving towards mental polarization?

A. Not striving towards. You cannot strive towards mental polarization. You can become mentally polarized but striving is not the way to do it. One way is to put more time into Transmission Meditation. It is not so much more time as a higher focus, keeping the attention at the ajna centre for more than the three-and-a-half minutes per hour that, probably, you are doing. Last night, for example, four minutes per hour was actually spent transmitting. That is not a lot. Since we are into competition, if it were a Japanese group it would be probably 20 minutes per hour. Sometimes the awareness of that, not for competitive reasons, but for putting things in perspective, is useful.

Q. By not underestimating ourselves and one's abilities?

A. I quite agree. It is true that you should not underestimate yourself, because you never know what you know until you start to speak, and you never know what you can do until you actually get to work and do it.

Everyone thinks of themselves as they are now, but everyone is the sum total of hundreds of thousands of incarnations -- think of the number of times you have had all the different rays, the number of experiences everyone in this room has had, all of that is there. You have only to tune in to it, bring it out, try it. It comes back, and you will find you can do things that you never knew you could do.

Q. The Masters are trying to demonstrate something as a group, so we should remember that it is bound to be difficult for us.

A. Really? The Masters are trying to demonstrate something as a group? That is not accurate. They are quite good at it actually. Demonstrate the Love aspect of God, that They can do; They really know how it is done. They have been doing it for a long time. Even the most recently-made Master is a Master because He can do it. That is the point. They are demonstrating, as a group, what for Them comes naturally as Masters. It comes naturally to Them to demonstrate total, unconditional love. It comes naturally to have the wisdom of all the ages at your fingertips, because that is the nature of the expanded, illumined mind of the Master. They really are good at it. It is bound to be difficult for us, because we are only half animal, half man.

Q. Is there anything positive at all within competition that we can use as a way out of competition? Or should we just ignore it and start from the position of right relationship?

A. If I have been able at all to give my view of the nature of cooperation as against competition, you will see that that is not a real question. Where there is competition there is no cooperation. Where there is cooperation there is no competition. They cannot co-exist. They co-exist in individuals, as that individual changes his or her response to any given situation but they cannot co-exist in themselves. If you are cooperating, automatically competition does not exist. If you are competing, cooperation, right relationship, goodwill, soul expression unfortunately go out of the door.

Q. How do we get the word out without competing with the fundamentalist religious groups?

A. There is no sense in competing with the fundamentalist groups; it does not enter into the picture at all. If we were competing with them we could just acknowledge we are beaten before we start. They have a Bible, the word of God, they believe, hand-written by God over several centuries; they own the 'one and only' Son of God; and they have a 2,000-year start on us. Also, they command media and money.

We have a different message from these groups, or a similar message couched in different language. If you have been going out there competing with the fundamentalists then no wonder you got nowhere.

We are not competing but giving alternative information. There is no cooperating with them, but there should be no competition. We are not converting, merely informing. Try to convert a fundamentalist!

Q. Noting that the title of the Master's article is 'cooperation', we observed that this group appears to have realized the 'Co-' part as in cooperatively recognizing its task, and in non-competitively trying to accomplish it, but that we tend to fail in the 'operation' part, putting theory into practice. How can the groups around the world better cooperate in total to accomplish their task?

A. If you find it difficult to cooperate effectively in your own group how can you possibly expect to cooperate with the other groups worldwide?

Actually, that world cooperation is already taking place: the production of Share International, together with The Emergence Quarterly and my books in translation, and the fact that some of us are in constant contact with these various groups demonstrates and ensures that global cooperation in this work is a reality.

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005