After many years of faithful service to School, I found myself disillusioned. I don't use this word lightly. Dis-illusioned. And so I had no choice but to leave the illusion.
In School, I was exhorted to think for myself. I tried in every way I could, but found myself so busy checking to make sure that my thoughts were approved by teachers, that I had become a stranger to myself. I know I am not the only one.
Here are questions I constructed, only after I left, that I wish I had had the courage to answer many years ago. Maybe these questions can now help others.
What was it you were after when you agreed to come for a one-month experiment to the group?
What were your interests and activities before you came to School? Do you still pursue them? If so, how much?
Are you in touch with other people in your life, those important to you before you came to School?
Do you feel it is difficult to maintain friendships outside the group, because of the secrecy about class two nights each week?
Did being placed within a hierarchical situation reassure you?
When you first came to School, what did you think of the confrontational and confessional atmosphere?
Did it disturb you to hear the way the leaders of the group treated the "students"?
In the beginning, when you made an effort to participate, were you told to be quiet or to sit down, because you didn't understand these ideas yet?
Did you change the way you dressed or wore your hair?
Did you change your diet?
Did you cringe when you first read about submitting your will to the will of your teacher?
Do you know people in School that have demonstrated some talent as musicians, writers, performers, dancers, or artists? Are they developing those talents? Does school really provide the conditions for them to pursue their craft?
Do you believe that since "almost all art is subjective, and not objective" that it is not worth doing?
Did you feel intimidated or put down "by the label of 'artiste'"?
Have you ever denigrated your own, or someone else's efforts regarding an aim, because the accomplishment couldn't successfully be communicated in 3 minutes?
Does doing things for school or for individual teachers seem to validate your existence and/or worth?
Do you feel special when you are praised publicly?
Has it been your perception that the more responsibility people in School are given, the more closed off and superior they act?
About people who have left, can you recall past students who were compassionate and loving? Have you ever wondered why they left? Did you ever ask? Do you believe what you were told? Did it ever occur to you to call them yourself and ask why? Are you afraid to? Do you sincerely believe that if you pray for them, they will make their way back to School? Do you think this is what they want?
Why do you think some people who leave are vilified?
Are you afraid of life without School?
How's your financial life?
Is this a familiar scenario: You live in a 4th or 5th floor walk-up apartment, which you can barely afford, because you are busy paying tuition and other fees to School. You've lost your day jobs one after another, because you were too busy trying to do other lines of work for School and you're too tired and stressed to focus on your job. You are on the phone all the time, or running around town for third line of work meetings, etc. You tell yourself 'it's never a matter of money or time' but you're always worried about money and pressed for time.You are so exhausted that you can't keep your eyes open at work because you were instructed to go work at the flower market, or waitress in a diner, from the middle of the night through early morning to make extra money to pay school, and because you've been told you have to work against laziness.
What time do you get to bed on class nights? How many hours of sleep do you average per night? Do you know that it's medically proven that sleep-deprivation makes people suggestible?
Do you believe medical science is pseudo-science?
Do you feel as though your "real" friends are your friends in the Work, and therefore more important than other people in your life?
Have you ever imagined what would happen if you wanted to leave? Does being cut-off suddenly, from everyone in the Work, frighten you? Do you have a supportive community outside of school?
Do you have children who are close with and play regularly with children of other students? Does it bother you that your child could no longer be with his/her friends if you decided to leave School? How would you explain the sudden loss of contact to your child? How would your child feel? Do you think this forced separation is protective of essence? Do you think this would be the right thing to do to a child?
Are there circumstances in your life which keep you emotionally hostage to school, such as your marriage, your children, your work or money situation?
How many times have you betrayed yourself profoundly? Your family? Your friends?
What do you think it means that you are not in touch with "Conscience"? Does that mean conscience, as the word is used in life, has no value?
Have you ever been given an "instruction" or "suggestion" to tell someone you were dating, that you want to get married right away, when you didn't feel it was time to do so? If you obeyed, did the relationship survive?
Why do you think it is practically forbidden to go away for more than 10 days on a trip, or to stay with family for more than a few days, or leave without giving a phone number where you can be reached?
Have you ever wanted to unplug from contact with school? What keeps you from taking a break? What keeps School from taking a summer break for two months? How many people do you think might not come back after a break like that?
Do you lie regularly to your partner about progress on your 5-week aim?
Do you lie regularly about how many third line of work meetings you had? Do you really believe that your "candidates" are viable? How much emotional energy and money do you spend per week on third line of work meetings?
Do you wake up on class days dreading that you have to go?
Do you practice Tai Chi 6 times a week, 20 minutes each time? Do you regularly record observations in your notebook at 10, 2 and 6? Do you self-sense in the morning and recollect at the end of the day?
Have you noticed that the people with the most money get special treatment, and can go on and on in class, or on retreats, about whatever they want, and are then coddled and stroked?
Do you believe that when teachers become volatile and express anger it is justifiable, because they are more "conscious" than you are?
Did you ever think that a "shock" could be used to justify anything?
Do you feel that no matter what you do, you can't get into the inner circle?
Do you believe something that is truly beyond you goes on within the inner circle?
Are you afraid that if you leave you will have lost years of your life, you will forget everything you've learned in the Work, and your life will be meaningless?
Do you ever imagine being 55 or 60-years-old and going to class two times a week? 65 or 70 and doing the same?
Do you feel superior to most people in life (those in your workplace, neighbors, or \"life friends")?
If you are single, can you imagine marrying someone who is not interested in esoteric ideas? Are you waiting for your teacher to match you up with someone?
Have you ever witnessed a teacher being unnecessarily harsh with a student, and felt conflicted, because your impulse is to comfort your friend. Yet, subsequently you assume the teacher knows more than you, and/or you are afraid of being yelled at so you say nothing?
Do your teachers inquire about your sex life? Do you feel it is their business to know intimate details about your marriage/relationships? Do you feel that you are lying if you don't tell?
Why is it okay to be cleverly insincere, but you must never lie to your teacher?
Do you believe that there is something wrong with people who are gay? Do you think the Work can "fix" them? Do you have homosexual tendencies, and feel guilty about it? Are you afraid that if you are gay that you are "passive" and cannot evolve?
Did you encounter School at a low point in your life when you were in bad relationship, doing drugs, drinking too much? Do you feel you owe your sobriety to School and/or to your teachers?
Are your teachers sober?
Have you ever been strongly encouraged by your teacher to either have, or refrain from having children, or to give up a child for adoption? Did you feel you were able to come to your own decision on the matter?
If you are or were a single mother who had a child, were you "instructed" not to tell the natural father?
Have you been diagnosed with cancer, or another serious illness, and then been instructed not to tell anyone in the group?
Have you ever been asked to travel on an airplane under a false identity?
Have you ever been away on a retreat and come back to find a family member or close friend had died or was terribly ill? Do you feel that an incoming phone call from someone to inform you of this, or anything else during your retreat, would have hindered your spiritual growth?
Why are you taught to shine the light of consciousness on everything, but the school you attend? Did it ever occur to you that the secrecy necessary for school's existence might be hiding things you need to know?
Why don't you have a right to know about school?
Why do you think there is such a preoccupation with "security"?
How many times have you multiplied the amount of your monthly payments by the number of students in your class?
Do you think your teacher needs a retirement fund from you?
Do you have a retirement fund?
How many weekends do you devote to lines of work? How many weekends do you devote to your family?
What do you think School is actually doing for the planet?
Do you really believe wars are caused by planetary movements?
How come after you pay your tuition, you are made to feel that you still owe more?
How much more of your time, money and energy would be enough?
Why is everything good in your life somehow attributable to School? Why is everything bad in your life a function of your own weaknesses?