Questions to Ask
If there are any students contemplating entering or leaving "The Work," we simply ask you to consider the following questions, which are based upon a document from Jim McCabe's website at http://jmccabe.com/nawaware/):
- Ouspensky says only you can find your own chief feature. Did you find yours, or was it told to you by the teachers?
- Do you feel afraid when anticipating a meeting with the teachers? Do you feel afraid when they come back to class after a prolonged absence?
- Do you really feel that your payments help you to "value your work" more? Do your payments increase your understanding? Have you ever seen the full financial records of the school? Would you feel uncomfortable asking? If so, why? Why do you pay in cash? Do the teachers themselves pay "the school" a monthly payment? Or, instead, do they get paid? Is there any financial distinction between "the school" and "the teachers"?
- Why do so many work octaves involve making improvements to properties owned or controlled by the teachers?
- Have you noticed that, regardless of a student's chief feature, to actively work against it they inevitably end up sacrificing themselves for the benefit the school? For example, to work against "vanity", a student must be more selfless. Or, to work against "greed", a student must be willing to give the school more time and money. To overcome "dominance" or "power", you must do what the teachers say. To work against "nonexistence", you must take a more active role in school activities. Or, to work against "superficiality," you must go into greater depth with your commitment to the school and its activities. Who really benefits most from this work?
- Since joining the school, do you feel more connected to other people outside the group, or more detached? Do you have friends outside the school? Are you hesitant or embarrassed to discuss certain aspects of the school with your friends and family?
- Observe the "older students" who have been in the group for years. Do you admire them? Do you want to become like them? Are they happy? Do they understand themselves any better than you? Are you happy? Do you enjoy life?
- How do you feel about the possibility of being in the school for the rest of your life? If that possibility makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, do you interpret that emotion as laziness?
- Do you have ways to express your creativity? Have you had to discontinue previous creative activities (such as music or photography) because you no longer have time for them?
- Do you know the true lineage of the school? If you ask this question of the teachers or older students, what is their usual response? Would you feel uncomfortable asking this question? Why do you think this question would be taboo?
- Do you view this life as just one of countless lives that continue to recur? Have you verified this? Does this attitude affect your valuation of this current life? Do you feel that the belief in recurrence makes you more willing to devote your life to the school?
- Do you believe you are part of an elite corps of individuals who are superior to other humans? Do you think that, someday, if you are lucky, you will reach another level of existence whose role it is to influence the lives of ordinary humanity?
- Do you get enough physical rest and sleep? Did you know that lack of rest can make a person vulnerable to suggestion?
- What happens when a student leaves? What kinds of comments are made about them during meetings afterwards? Why were those comments not made to them before they left? Are they treated with compassion?
- Why are you not allowed to communicate with people who have left the group? Does this really help those who have left? Does it help the teachers in any way? Can you see any reasons why the teachers might not want you to communicate with ex-members?
- Did the teachers suggest that you would lose all that you had gained psychologically if you left? Did they suggest that everything you'd learned would "turn into something bad"? Have you ever known this type of disintegration of understanding to happen in any other branch of knowledge? If not, why do you think this would be any different?
- If you have cut off relationships with friends outside the school, are you aware that part of you might want to stay in the group because you fear the loneliness of being on your own and being unable to communicate with your friends that still remain in the school?
- Can you see any reasons why the teachers might want to pressure you into staying?
If you can find the courage to ask these questions of yourself and others in the group, you may begin to "wake up" and truly see the light regarding what this group is really all about.
- Do you think that it is healthy to have these artificial pressures placed upon you? Do you think it is necessary? Do you think you would be able to judge for yourself whether the school has been a positive experience, without the additional fear imposed by these policies?
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