It will be obvious to you that the first and most important of these difficulties will be those arising from group criticism, either voiced or strongly felt. This criticism can be based on many things, but is usually rooted in jealousy, thwarted ambition, or pride of individual intellect. Each member of any group, particularly those in the immediate circle of the leader or leaders, is prone to sit in judgment. The responsibility is not theirs; they know not the problems as they truly exist and criticism is, therefore, easy. It should here be remembered that criticism is a virulent poison. It damages in every case eventually the one who criticizes – owing to the fact of voiced direction – it hurts still more the one who is criticized. Where there is purity of motive, true love and a large measure of detachment, the subtler bodies of the one who is under attack may remain immune but the physical effects will be definite and where there is any physical weakness or limitation there will be found the localization of the projected poison.
Unvoiced criticism is very dangerous for it is powerfully focused and strongly, though not individually directed; it issues continuously and as a steady stream, sent forth on the wings of jealousy, ambition, pride in a personal grasp of a supposed situation and a belief that the one who criticizes is in a position to understand correctly and could – given right opportunity – take right action. Where the criticism is voiced and expressed in words, it is consequently strengthened by the cooperation of those influenced by the criticism and the consequences of this group-directed thought may result in the physical undoing, and disruption of the physical body of the leader or leaders. This may be a new thought to some and should cause many in the New Age groups to arrest their thoughts and so release their leaders from the disastrous impact of their criticism.
I refer not here to hate, though that is often present, either consciously or unconsciously, but simply to the “sitting in judgment” and to the idle critical gossip which seems necessary to the average group member. It is like the very breath of death and it can not only kill the leader through accumulated poison and distress but it can also kill the group life and render abortive the efforts which could, if given cooperation and time to develop, prove constructive agencies through which the Hierarchy might work.
From every side and in every group there streams in on the group leader directed criticism, poisonous thoughts, untrue formulated ideas, idle gossip of a destructive kind, the imputation of motives, the unspoken jealousies and hates, the frustrated ambitions of group members, their resentments and their unsatisfied desires for prominence or for recognition by the leader or leaders, their desires to see the leader superseded by themselves or by someone else and many other forms of selfishness and mental pride. These produce results in the physical bodies of the leader or leaders and often in the emotional bodies. The responsibility of the group member is, therefore, great and it is one which they seldom recognize or shoulder. It is hard for them to appreciate the dire effects when one person is the target for group criticism and when the directed thought of a number of persons is focused on one or two individuals.
The more highly evolved the group leader, the greater the pain and suffering. First ray people who have naturally a “technique of isolation” suffer less than many for they know how to shut off these directed streams of force and how to deflect them and – when they are not deeply spiritual people – they can return them to their originators and thus wreak havoc in their lives. Second ray persons do not and cannot work this way. They are naturally absorbers and magnetically attract all that is in their environment which is directed towards them. That is why Christ paid the penalty of death. He was killed, not only by His enemies, but also by His so-called friends.
You might here ask. What can a leader or a group of leaders do in these unfortunately normal and usual circumstances? Nothing, but continue in the work; retreat within themselves; speak the truth with love when occasion occurs; refuse to become bitter over the pain which the group occasions and wait until the group members learn the lessons of cooperation, of silence, of loving appreciation and a wise realization and understanding of the problems with which all group leaders are faced in these difficult and individualistic days. That time will come.
Then there is the reverse of this problem and one that must be faced by many group leaders. In this reverse situation, the leader is overcome and (if I might use such a phrase) is “smothered” by the devotion of certain of the group members. Group leaders can be almost annihilated by the personality love of people. But this is not of such a poisonous nature as the difficulties above referred to, for – though it is handicapping and leads to many forms of difficulty, misunderstanding and group reaction – it is along the line of love and not of separation and hate. It produces what is esoterically called “the crippling of the one who seeks to serve and the binding of his hands and feet.”
One other difficulty I will touch upon for it is important in so far that it is a group activity, carried forward as a whole and is not the act of one individual or a small handful of individuals within the group. I refer to the way in which at this time a group drains the life of its leader or leaders. The umbilical cord (speaking symbolically) is seldom cut between the leader and the group. That was the major mistake of the groups in the Piscean age. Always they remained attached to the leader or – when aroused to hate or dislike – they violently disrupted the tie and severed the relationship, causing much distress and unnecessary suffering to the group as well as to the leader. In the New Age the cord will be cut early in the life of the group but the leader or group of leaders will remain for a long time (as does the mother of a child) the guiding inspiration, the loving protecting force and the source of instruction and of teaching. When this is the case, the group can proceed upon its way and live its life as a self-directing agent even when the leader passes over to the other side or there is a change in leadership for some good reason or other.
According to the general flow of group life and activity so will be the effect – emotional and physical – upon any sensitive group member; the more frequent the physical contact between the group members the more definite will be the group problems and difficulties, however. Groups in the New Age will be held together by a subjective link and not so much by the emotional reaction induced by outer contact. I would ask you to ponder carefully upon this last paragraph for it holds the clue to the successful working of the new groups. It is from group life and group atmosphere that much infection arises, leading to difficulties of a physical nature. Disease is largely of group origin and the mystics and sensitive of the world most easily succumb. In these early stages of true group work, the difficulties which arise from group contacts are frequently of a purely physiological nature and are not so deep seated as those with which we have earlier been dealing. This is a point to be remembered. Physical trouble and disease is not of so serious a nature as psychological.
Esoteric Psychology II – Chapter II – The Ray of Personality – Problems of Disciples and Mystics
Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul