Men’s group. Earl started off with a question about passion with detachment. He did his usual trick of discounting himself, saying that if his question isn’t relevant then he can bring it up later. The thing is – and this is always the case – whatever subject or issue is raised, everyone benefits. I have lost count of the time that people’s own agendas have been sorted without them having to raise their issues because their answers have come from someone else’s issue.
Passion becomes dangerous when we try to convince others – we draw people in by telling them things we are actually saying to ourselves. I tried my damnedest to wake people up to the state of the planet when all the time it was me who needed to wake up. It is okay to be passionate but that passion must be released without any care about what happens to it. Passion is a basic instinct, as seen in the mob mentality of football fans. It is animalistic and we have to rise above it to higher things. Detachment is one of those things. Not caring about results, outcomes or whether people listen or change as a result of what I say, does not make me a bad person. The paradox is that not caring means that whatever I say comes from love.
Sucked Into A Game
We began the review of the year with an extract from Robert’s appraisal in January. He recalled a dream he’d had about his house falling down around him, running into the cellar to try and find his cheque books, rescuing a small boy and finally being thankful that it was all over. What foresight. Already, at the very start of the year he was predicting that the life he knew would come crashing down around him and also that he would struggle financially. In the dream he was both the adult and the child, saving himself from himself. Unfortunately, for the rest of the year he chose to ignore all the information in his dream and it struck me that this is what he does with us – the stuff he really needs to hear, he blocks.
We split up into pairs and discussed what it all meant for Robert, and then gave our feedback to him. He responded by saying that we had all been sympathetic but that Ishwar’s comment about all the information being there was the one which interested him the most. Immediately, Karaj sent us back outside to determine what it was that Robert had done with those words and how he had sucked us all in – it is something Robert does all the time.
What he had done was to sweeten Ishwar up so that he could later destroy him. By doing this, Ishwar’s ego becomes inflated and he is vulnerable. In addition, we are all supporting Ishwar (we agree with him) so by attacking Ishwar, Robert will be attacking and undermining us. Calvin was confused by this and Karaj explained that because he (Calvin) is straight and uncomplicated, he is unaware of the tactics and games which Robert and others employ and therefore, Robert can run rings round him. Robert had elevated Ishwar only to bring him crashing down. The best thing to do if someone puts you on a pedestal is to climb down, or as Karaj put it, jump on them.
Be Firm & Sort Ourselves Out
George attempted to advise Robert on what he ‘should’ do. This is passion with attachment – he is rescuing Robert instead of sharing some of himself with Robert, thereby creating a context, a contact and a relationship. It is the same with all of us. Rather than waste our energies trying to rescue others, we need to be firm with them and come from wanting to sort ourselves out first. ‘I am here to progress and if you are going to mess around that is no help to me, so cut it out’.
This led on to a discussion about Robert’s intellect. He considers himself above us all in intelligence but does not share that intellect with us. I told him that there are at least seven definitions of intelligence and we all have something to offer. I continued, telling him that there are things he can learn from us. In Sicily, for instance, he did something he had never done before – he went to a bar, drank beer and played pool with men. We did not shun him because he had never played before. We included him and shared our experiences with him. In the end, Karaj summed it all up very well by asking the question, ‘If Robert is so clever why has he messed his life up?’ It comes back to another thing we all do – when things are going well we sabotage our lives. Cut it out.
Spotting Leon’s Mood
After lunch there was a challenge to Robert about him needing to be focused on himself and his path. Whilst all this was going on I noticed that Leon was looking serious. Karaj had introduced some levity into the proceedings but Leon was not enjoying any of it and there was something in his eyes which was more than disapproving. I asked him whether he was okay and George said, ‘I’m glad you said something’. There were also murmurs from Dev – a few of us had spotted Leon’s mood. It was difficult to miss. The answer he gave was something about feeling below par. It didn’t quite tally with the way he had looked at Karaj but the ensuing conversation seemed to lighten his mood so I left it.
[Karaj: Sometimes you leave it. It is the best course. But what you noticed and your analysis are accurate.]
Reviewing, Evaluating, Planning
We spent the rest of the day reviewing the year, evaluating what has happened, using the goals from last year as our criteria, and planning our goals for the forthcoming year. It is important that I am stretched by my goals. They should be defined as follows:
- Management targets – those which must be met
- Potential targets – those which I would like to meet
We split up for an hour to work on the review. I sat with Sunil and Earl and took the initiative to prompt the others for their contribution. When we reconvened, Karaj asked for comments and explained that this request was necessary after such deep work because it brings us back into the world. It gets us out of ourselves and encourages contact with others via pastiming.
In the final round there was another challenge to Kuldip who expressed doubt about his attendance at next year’s group. Karaj told him straight that he has a commitment to Kuldip and asked him what he is going got do about that commitment. Kuldip lacks his own commitment and he also lacks focus.
My year has seen me grow up more than I imagined possible. The bang on my head in Sicily finally showed me how I sabotage myself when things are going well. I am also seeing that I can do the things I have always told myself I can’t. There was the hospital episode which, as Karaj pointed out to me, I survived without any help from mum or dad, and when I took the decision to return to the group I reclaimed my space with strength, determination and commitment. I have taken back that which I nearly lost, with the result that I now own what I have achieved.
Karaj had told everybody that I was not coming back. He was sure I would not return but I have. He told me that I was lucky that they did not produce a newsletter without my column as they had planned to do, because if they had then I would not have returned. When he said this Sunil, who was sat next to him, nodded and I felt something that I could not quite put my finger on. Was it betrayal that they were plotting my downfall or was it a belittled feeling that I am still here only because of their merciful generosity? Either way it doesn’t really matter because the truth is, I was very close to leaving and I didn’t. That is what matters.
Anything Is Possible
We rounded the evening off with a meal together. Towards the end of the meal the television in the restaurant was turned over just in time to see the credits roll from tonight’s football. I expressed some disappointment that it had finished and Ishwar said that I could watch the repeat programme tomorrow morning. It was at this point that I uttered a sentence I never thought would enter my had let alone be verbalised. I told Ishwar, ‘I won’t be able to watch the football because I am going to church’. Anything is possible.