simply announce it as a fact, but Mrs. Tolhurst, another extremely tactful personality, always managed to soothe his ruffled feathers.
Our main difficulty during this time, was our choice of program. We were divided on how to conduct the meetings. Some wished to have the Master's discourse read, then no discussion whatever, but a silent meditation. Others felt the question and answer period was vital, especially for newcomers; free discussion was to be allowed, but not getting out of bounds on irrelevant subjects. Here came the rub. We had decided that any person genuinely interested in the Master or what he had to teach, was welcome; but inevitably, people with all sorts of religious backgrounds, or with diverse motives turned up, and were apt to monopolize the conversation with their own opinions and views. There were those who wanted to talk for a good half-hour on their experiences in the séance-room; or their occult powers; or other sidelights, which aroused, let us say, the pet prejudices of someone in our ‘regular' group, who, in turn, had to put the dear fellow to rights! Then those, who liked only the 'silent meditation' or only to hear of Baba himself, would stalk off and threaten never to appear again. It is odd how many people seem to lack humour at such moments; who cannot sit through or talk through a discussion amicably, with someone whose ideas are radically different from their own. The subconscious fear, it seems, of every religious, or perhaps every new religious group is, that it will be 'colored' by too much outside material; and we had indeed such a debate among ourselves on this point, that even today it is not solved. For example, may one read other material, from other writers, or from other scriptures, to illustrate a text of Baba's? We voted on this, finally, after much debate; the result, was disappointingly to my taste, No. We must keep always and only to his own teachings. In one respect it is psychologically sound, given a limited time; we are not offering a comparative religious study, but the study of a living Master and his word. We are also what is called a devotional group; that is, the atmosphere is definitely one of love worship and devotion toward a spiritual Master, a definite personality, whom the majority of us believe to be an Avatar, or Christ of this age. Having such a startling theme to offer, with so much detailed evidence and proof, is a great challenge to us all, all of us who are in the Group today as it finally survived.
For we did survive many a crisis which, through limited space, I cannot go into; those who tried to start 'rival' Baba groups, but who failed, for the very reason which we might have failed, too; by imposing an authority and rigid exclusiveness on others, without the genuine capacity, or psychological necessity, to do so. In the end, those dissatisfied with the 'other' groups always wound up in ours, because we were free.' No demand was made on anybody. Anybody could come, anybody could go. There were no dues, no fees, no interviews, no joining and no rituals; the nearest thing we have ever developed, which is close to a ritual, is to meditate together, with the lights off, for fifteen minutes, presumably on the Master, or on one's own concept of God. "Religion is what one does with one's solitude," Whitehead has said; not reckoning with the genuine communion developed in a group meditating on the same divine object. Communion — at its highest, the communion of saints — is an essential of all religion, presupposing the very basic common 'Ground' as Huxley calls it, of all separate discrete minds, and which Whitehead himself elaborated.
I have not gone into the occult side of religious group work, but have tried to follow only the few points of social 'interacts' of sociological interest. As I said through many vicissitudes and personality conflicts, inevitable in a tightly knit group as we are, we have evolved a workable formula for our group work. We now meet in the home of a devoted couple, Mr. and Mrs. Winterfeldt, who offered us their home when Mrs. Tolhurst returned to Europe. We now alternate our readers in turn, giving everyone who has a reasonably good voice and intelligent grasp of the Master's teachings, a chance to read, and which has proved psychologically valuable, as I always stressed, in giving each one a sense of participation in the work. When we do have problems to solve, we do meet and try to vote, though Mr. Bass does still assume 'leadership’; however, he has mellowed with the years, and with the opposition of younger people in the group who have the typical feeling of our American culture, that ‘my opinion is as good as yours.’