Counselling & Personal Development

" of the most innovative and effective counselling services available
and a wealth of resources for your own reading and personal development...."

Appendix - Community and Spiritual Growth

The stages that groups go through in community building are highly analogous to Peck’s Stages of Spiritual Growth.

Pseudocommunity is characterised by pretence, where the group is trying to look like a community without doing any of the work involved. Stage one people are frequently pretenders. They pretend that they are loving and pious to cover up their lack of principles.

Chaos results when group members vehemently try to fix, rather than accept, one another. At a world level it can be seen in the feuding between various denominations and between the world’s different religions. Stage two people have an understanding of principles, but are legalistic, parochial and dogmatic. The letter of the law is more important than the spirit of the law. They feel threatened by anyone who thinks differently from them and regard it as their responsibility to convert the other 90-99% of humanity who are not "true believers".

Emptiness is a crucial stage where members of the group begin to question themselves. Such questioning is necessary to empty ourselves of preconceptions, prejudices and the needs to control or convert. Stage three people are similarly questioning people. They are willing to experience doubt and scepticism. Sometimes people remain stuck in stage three because they do not doubt deeply enough. They do not doubt their scepticism and become attached to dogmas such as the scientific model - anything that can’t be measured scientifically can’t be known and isn’t worth studying.

Community is achieved where all members of a group have learned how to behave in a stage four manner towards one another. Stage four people practice the kind of emptiness, acceptance and inclusiveness that have characterised mystics throughout the ages. They retain their basic identity as individuals, yet out of love and commitment to the whole they are willing to transcend their backgrounds and limitations. Virtually all of us are capable of this transformation, whatever stage of spiritual growth we may be at. Stage one, two or three people routinely possess the capacity to act towards one another as if they were stage four people. Knowledge of these stages is important because it enables us to transcend where we are and accept others in other stages. So it is that genuine community is so much more than the sum of its parts. It is, in truth, a mystical body.