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Purpose of Regular Meetings

by Idries Shah

from Knowing How to Know

The purpose of regular meetings is to maintain the special contact already established between numbers of people, each body of people being in a sense distinct.

This special contact is inhibited by an over-development of the social element. These gatherings should be harmonious, but should not be allowed to become "clublike" or gossipy.

The special relationship is harmed by the assumption of status by individual members of the group. Each member should discharge the functions for the time being allotted to him, if any, as a communicator of material, as an organizer, or whatever it might be. The community has to develop a sense of unity of purpose learning and development in which each member is to be regarded as important for the success of the whole.

The special relationship is crippled by the exploitation of one member by another, so that co-operation between individual members must be kept within reasonable limits. The development of smaller, informal relationships between small numbers of people from within the grouping must not be encouraged, as such "sub-groups" without official sanction start to cause the group to operate in an unbalanced manner. The group will in such cases operate as an ideological, social, intellectual or other entity, of which in any culture there are enough already.

Each group is a sensitive organism.

Members of the group meet:

  • As if there is a special current passing through them. They have been chosen for the group in order to be able to function in this manner, and people leaving or joining the group altering its composition must maintain the same capacity of the group to be an instrument.
  • In order to observe their own reactions to meetings. They have to realize that great enthusiasm or any degree of dislike of meetings are symptoms of insufficient integration into the sensitivity of the group, and not bases for decision about the group, the materials or its members.
  • In order to be exposed, under correct circumstances, to materials which suit that group and from which they can profit. These materials may be written, recorded, handled, experienced in a variety of different ways.
  • In order to realize, through practical experience, that there is an almost inevitable tendency for groups to become ossified or mechanical, and to observe that there are possibilities in this specific group for a current to enter and be maintained which is manifested by a relationship between members which is quite unlike customary groupings.
  • In order to prepare themselves for selection to carry out more advanced studies.
  • In order to maintain their contact with the Teaching, and their ability to profit from it, so that the Teaching may be able to select them for special activities and higher understanding at the proper time.
  • In order to shed the emotional and intellectualist approaches which constantly creep into all studies, our own included, when carried out without due regard for time, place, people and also the statement that there is "another way".
  • In order to see and sense the special flavour in our kind of relationship and work, for the purpose of recognizing it instantly, just as one can recognize more customary atmospheres.