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The FWBO and Outside Groups - Order Weekend Discussions 1979

by Sangharakshita

... you a situation of security, which means also a situation of harmony. But suppose
while you are dependant, perhaps equally, on mother and on father, a difference arises
between<D> mother and father. When that happens how does the child feel? Can
anybody tell us?

Asvajit: Anxious.

__________: <D>Insecure.

—————: Confused.

S: Anxious, insecure, yes, confused, threatened. Anything else.

—————: Split.

S: Split, yes. So why does the child feel like that?

—————: The loyalties lie on both sides.

S: The loyalties are on both sides, because actually the child doesn t think in terms of
sides. It s as though mother-father are a sort of common hyphenated entity. It s not
mother, an individual, and father, an individual, it s this conglomerate mother-father, but
this mother-father splits and one message is coming from mother, another message is
coming from father - the child is thrown into a disastrous situation. I think that by means
of some such analogy, and I think it s probably more than analogy, you can explain
people s unease and feeling of insecurity when religious authorities as they take them,
religious parental figures, whether mother churches or father patriarchates them or not
differ among themselves. So they do not want to accept or recognise that there is
difference. They don t want to have to choose because they are not really
psychologically and spiritually mature enough to do that. So I think the explanation lies
at least to some extent along some such lines.

Devamitra: Why were they more ready to choose in a traditional society?

S: Well there wasn t a real choice. Because the general unanimity was so strong that
there was a god, that the church in one form or another represented god, that the priest
represented god - you had such a big majority on your side, you could afford usually to
dismiss the dissenters with contempt. They were of only fringe significance. But this is
becoming less and less possible because you ve got a growing awareness of these great
monolithic alternatives. You ve got let s say the Anglican church, the Catholic church,
the Presbyterian church, but interestingly the Pope has been making ecumenical noises in
the direction of Islam, on the grounds of a common mono<D>theism. Well in the Middle
Ages they felt so solidly sure about themselves - they were of course relatively less in
contact with the Islamic world - for them to be able to dismiss Islam more or less as
almost something diabolical. Muhammad was referred to as ‘Mahound usually, and the
Muhammadans were usually regarded as worshipping some monstrous idol called
(Bafelmet) and so on.

But now they know too much about Islam to be able to do that. They can t
just dismiss it as an abhorrent form of Christianity. So they take refuge in the common
monotheism and stress that. But then again in comes well relatively monolithic Marxism
and Communism with another alternative, another great mass, another great block of
people. So some people, even within the church, can t bear to recognise a split between
these two great authorities, so what do you get? - you get Marxist Christianity. What do
they call it? There s some special term for this going around nowadays? There s a
special type of theology - liberation theology - which embraces both, they hope,
Christianity and Marxism, so that this split does not have to be tolerated because there are
some people who feel pulled very strongly in these two directions and they feel unable to
choose.

So I think that a lot of this unease which is created, and out of which people don t like to
choose, or on account of which they don t like to choose, and they don t like you
disrupting the ecumenical harmony, is a sort of infantile dependence on authority figures,
and they want all the authorities to agree. So in a way the FWBO is the odd man out in
the ecumenical harmony. Well there are a few other movements which are also out of
harmony but they are rather different from what we are and they differ for different
reasons I think.

Kulananda: Even though we may seem to be out of harmony at that level, I went to see
Sagaramati giving a talk to the Yoga Circle in Manchester and there were a lot of women
there who were insistent that all was one and that Sagaramati had to agree with them and
approve their belief that it was. It was quite clear that what was going on was that
Sagaramati was now a new authority figure and they needed his approval and so they had
to get him to agree to what they were saying and that he could be seen to approve of
them. So he was being treated also as an authority figure in the same sort of way.

S: So if one authority doesn t agree with the other authorities, well it puts people of that
sort in a real dilemma because they re obliged to choose which means they re obliged
to think<D>. They re obliged to think things out for
themselves which they don t want to do. They want to feel that there s this vaguely
beneficent authority just looking after them in a very general sort of way though without
actually interfering<D> with their lives of course. [Laughter] Just vaguely sort of
blessing them and making everything all right while they just get on with doing whatever
they want to do.

Uttara: In Glasgow they have this sharing of faiths, and it s like the Christians organise
these. It s a bit like maybe they take the steam out of the other religions.

S: They take the steam out of the challenge.

Uttara: Right so they have this gathering and it s all one again.

S: But it s all one under the general auspices of Christianity. You see, just as the Hindus
want to have everything as one under the general auspices of Hinduism. It isn t even a
genuine oneness, it s only a sort of manoeuvre.

Alaya: I would have thought that with a group that any other group which has power as
an authoritarian structure would increase the power of the other group in that there would
be a feeling of solidarity in opposition.

S: Oh yes, this is true. I remember some years ago I was invited along to some working
party which was a sort of sub-committee of some bigger committee dealing with the
question of religious education in schools. I went along to four or five meetings. I found
myself sitting around a table with two rabbis, Jewish rabbis, a couple of Muslim mulvis, a
Hindu swami who happens to belong to the Ramakrishna Mission but was of American
origin, and a Catholic priest, a Catholic nun, I think a Presbyterian minister, and in the
course of our discussions I got the impression that - it slowly dawned upon me - that
these people all belonged to the same thing. They belonged to the same Trades Union.
There were minor differences between them but what they had
in common was far more powerful and more important, and they were in fact tacitly
agreeing to divide the cake, the cake being the congregations, ‘if you won t trespass on
my preserve I won t trespass on yours . That was the clear sort of tacit understanding,
that if you will allow me to rule my flock as I think best I will allow you to rule your
flock as you think best, and this was the basis of the whole approach. It was just a sort of
ganging up, so to speak, of the people occupying the positions of power.

And this came up especially strongly and especially unpleasantly in the case of the two
Muslim mulvis and the two Jewish rabbis. I must say that the Catholic priest was
somewhat better. He was the only person who ventured to suggest that the children might
be given some voice into what sort of religious education they had. The others assumed -
especially the Muslims and the Jews - that the children were purely passive and that they
had an absolute right over the children born into their religion. That was the assumption,
and everybody agreed upon that, with to some extent the exception of the Roman
Catholic priests and of course myself. I also raised my voice, but I thought that quite
interesting. Everybody more or less agreed, in most cases agreed very strongly, that
children born of say Jewish parents were the exclusive property of the rabbis; children
born into Muslim families were the exclusive property of the mulvis and so on. So they
had far more in common than they had to differ about.

Uttara: Isn t it maybe when they come over to this country they get away from the
conflicts and others who are battling against religions, are battling against each other, so
they come over here and they still feel themselves to some extent that that casts their
religion. They sort of like to keep it all nice over here. They are fed up with wars or
whatever.

S: I think religions generally feel a bit threatened, especially they feel threatened by
Marxism and Communism and they are in a sense ganging up in self defence. I don t
really see it as a spiritual phenomenon, not on this sort
of organisational level. It may be that there are genuinely individuals ...

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