Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Heart of the Cult Experience

It happens so slowly. So insidiously. At first it is like winning the lottery: You finally found someone that understands you. Someone that seems like s/he knows what it is you've been looking for. S/he sees the true you, the bigger you that you know is hidden inside you, but that no one else can see…the you that was meant for greatness. You sit in front of this person and you feel so much Light; you feel…God.

S/he showers you with love. Showers you with attention. Builds you up. Suddenly you are doing things you never knew you could do. You are growing and expanding. You are finally meeting like-minded people. Suddenly you have a purpose. You have a guide. You have someone that gets you. Finally, for the first time, you belong.

You're filled with new energy. Life takes on a magical quality. Every day is a new adventure. You are filled with love and with light. You want to tell everyone about your new teacher, your new friends. Many of them react strangely. Not the way you had imagined they would. "They just don't understand," you tell yourself. "They're not wise enough to see," you say inside your mind.

You continue your love affair with this new group, this new teacher. You spend more and more of your time following the teachings. You spend more and more of your time with the other group members. Your life is changing in fantastic ways and you soon find yourself not wanting to be with old friends that don't understand this new you. You feel more comfortable with the other group members. You feel best when you're with your teacher, the one person that truly gets you.

Your life slowly becomes filled with these new activities. There may be a long meditation practice to follow morning, new tasks to do, books to read, movies to watch. You find yourself going on "field trips" with the group, outings with the teacher. You stop returning calls from your old friends. They don't "get" you, anyway. Your family starts to annoy you. Your teacher tells you that your family and your old friends don't want you to change; they want you to stay small…maybe it's best if you distance yourself from them so they don't "hold you back". You agree. Your family has always seen you a certain way, they don't know this "new" you. Your old friends seem annoyed that you're different. It's easier just to avoid them. You change your phone number, change your email address. Old friends cannot find you.

It happens so slowly: Slowly you surround yourself with the new teacher, the new group of students. Slowly you distance yourself from your old friends and family. They don't "get" you, anyway. Slowly your life becomes filled with the new teacher and the new group. Slowly, but surely, all the old things that made you "you" get dropped from your life. In your excited attempt to grow and try new things, you allow all your old favorite friends and activities to fade away. Before you know it, the group is your whole life. No one outside of it understands. And then the teacher starts showing you your "ego". The ways you need to "change". Slowly, but surely, s/he points out all your flaws. "Only a true Teacher will be this honest." The flaws get pointed out one by one…the self-doubt starts to set in. Next comes "the occult"…or some sort of dark force…maybe "the devil". Anytime your intuition tells you to run, get away from the teacher, get away from the group…you get told it is "occult forces" trying to "knock you off the path" or "make you fall." You start to see everyone outside the group as the enemy. Friends and family become the enemy. You believe "they want to knock you off the path". "They don't understand". By this point your entire foundation is gone, your entire sense of self is gone, your intuition is gone, your life is gone…and you cling desperately to the only thing you now trust: your guru.

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