Cults in our midst
It seems there have been a whole lot of self-appointed messiahs and gurus throughout time, summarises Dr Margaret Singer in her Cults in Our Midst (2004), adding that these types only get substantial followings in periods of breakdowns in the structure and rules of the prevailing society. They attract only modest followings in eras when a society is functioning in a way that conveys structure and a sense of social solidarity, she tells further (2004, 29).
However, when segments of society cannot see where they fit in, what the rules are, or what the socially agreed-upon answers to life's big questions are, then, like a dormant disease, the ever-present potential cult leaders take hold and lure followers to their causes. (Singer 2004, 29)
Determined self-designated gurus seem to have the only and sure way of life. They induce people to follow them by touting a special mission and special knowledge. The special mission is to preach the contents of a supposedly "secret" learning, which the leaders assert can only be revealed to those who join them. (Singer 2004, 29-30)
Cult leaders usually claim a special mission in life. Whether the lure is warmed-over ancient lore or the most avant-garde secrets of the universe. To step into the elite sphere usually means leaving behind family and friends and forsaking most of the ordinary world. In return, followers are told that they will be let in on the special knowledge, and are recruited as followers. So people at a loss and who look for direction, become victims of the manipulations and exploitations of the skilful con artists. Masses of people are showing they are vulnerable and susceptible to the cults' lure. (Singer 2004, 30)
Many seem to sell their independence and a large part of their happiness to be members of something bigger than a family. That could be a mistake, but we are not all alike. Still, "Do not fall away from happiness," teaches Buddha.
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace . . . If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." (Buddhist thought, in Kyokai 2004, 80)
A word of warning:
Charity bestowed on those who are worthy of it is like good seed sown on a good soil that yields an abundance of fruits. But alms given to those who are yet under the tyrannical yoke of the passions are like seed deposited in a bad soil. The passions of the receiver of the alms choke, as it were, the growth of merits." (Buddha, as rendered in Carus 1915, 97)
Accordingly, it should more worthwhile to caution against an undemocratic yoke than to sow good and fair seeds in those under it and upholding it by their passions (id-linked hanky-pankies, neuroticism, authoritarianism, or whatever). Probably.
Use the many following points in a check-list and tick off
To develop the understanding further, sort the answers into five groups instead of two, and you will most likely be rewarded with a more nuanced picture - and hence better understanding of what might be at work against your deep happiness-and-great-freedom, Self-actualisation and happiness hand in hand.
Happiness wells up from deep within. If this spring gets stifled - by repressions, subservience and "guru clogging", unfairness - whatever - then things are not working all right. SRF-members and other sectarians - who have pledged devotion and loyalty to the SRF gurus no matter how mistaken they might be or how badly they act, have been heedless, to say the least.
Right involvement means a lot
Some former group members and similar may blame their group for much badness, without considering what enticed them to join it. Self-inspection may work well in such cases, but you never know. Some were fooled to enter also.
Authoritarian groups and setting tend to produce authoritarianism in members, if they were not so from the start.
Run through a set of opportune questions and see how many "yes" points you may grant yourself. Don't swerve from looking twice and looking better if it gives help for life. The reason why thinking twice could help some, is that straight answering requires honesty, and it may take a life-time to retrieve it, if possible at all, after rigid sect involvement. If you write down your points you may not forget or push them aside so easily, so writing them down is recommended.
If you consider that "yes" is a fit response to half of the questions above, try not to get into a further, subservient role in that setting (group). The group appears to have traits that mark authoritarianism, which cults express in their own ways, openly or secretly indecently, as the case may be.
The suggestions below pertain to SRF only:
Being lorded over, also in the private life, spells being deprived of autonomy. Governing others by a low faith works against fair and fit fact-findings and may form neurotics also.
Fares are Good if They Bring Lots of Good Opportunities
Learn how to live well and hope for conditions that follow suit. You can hardly have the one without the other.
Stay away from silly fares in order to breed good opportunity also.
Stick to What Helps You on and Up
What about a Balanced Mate and Good Ideas?
Some monks and nuns and simillar are allowed to have many children in their settlements. [see Pevsner 1972; and Nyingma Buddhism]
It is unwise to leak out your own basic frivolity; keep it well guarded. Much nobility shows the way here. What do you think?
Be still very fit for bland, local applications if fit and systematic. Think well in deep, private matters; it may be the best you can do.
Maybe your basic grounding is too scarred for you to cope well.
To Have Assets to Help You Remain Sincere, Is Good
Don't Let Weird Teachings Be Your Lot throughout Life
Cults Considered and "Fever Lessons"
To obey is "always" an option for a small being. Maybe to get neurotic too.
Recruitment of new cult members under the flag of original quack Christianity had better be stopped. Hopefully those who haven't been initiated may feel free to leave.
The boss who started the church that came to be called a cult, may at times call those who leave "quitters or traitors", without finding fault with his own inconsistent sermonising and bullying.
Many cults claim their self-contradictory guidelines to be infallible or God's will and things like that.
It is easy to be fooled by telltales. But it tends to show up in the long run and in retrospect what the fixed aims of a movement really are, beneath the fine-looking facades and subterfuges. Greed for power, dominance over people, and much wealth and splendour may come to the fore in time - things like that.
At first, there were no mishmash SRF Lessons of various Yogananda outputs. You got methods. Some were parts of the kriya yoga system in Yogananda's own line of gurus, and others were added. What is more, he removed several of the vital, original ones, for they were difficult. It means that the methods SRF offer, have been mixed. Some others in his line did not welcome his changes or amputations, if you will (Dasgupta 2011, 101; 109-10). And as Yogananda also made many changes to how kriya yoga is to be spread in his own line, the SRF ways of distribution kriya yoga are not welcomed by anyone. [◦:Article about violations]. Also, when the Lessons were expanded, many older members did not like it, and for good reasons. What about:
Don't take my word for anything. - A Yogananda word, in Dietz 1998
It appears to be excellent counsel to a woman disciple. Yet, there is a knack to it after all: Are the quoted words included among all the other words by Yogananda? That is the question . . .
Now, contrary to such a fit and fair view of the SRF Lessons, an eager SRF adherent who later rose to become a soap star, once said, "Master said all you need to know is in the SRF Lessons." Well, it is not like that. They lack much.
In many cloisters those who have the roles of superiors, dissuade flourishing correspondence with men and women of the world, for the influence is thought to be unhealthy. But it could be the other way round. It depends in part on social climates.
In all cases, "fevers" might need to be controlled. Worth resides inside the seeker too, as the Self. It tends to be overlooked in a cultish group.
Carus, Paul. The Gospel of Buddha: Compiled from Ancient Records. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1915.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Rev. ed. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2011.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica, or Britannica Online.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.
Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978.
Kyokai, Bukkyo Dendo. The Teachings of Buddha. New Delhi: Sterling Paperbacks, 2004.
Kriyananda, Swami, ed. The Road Ahead: World Prophecies by the Great Master, Paramahansa Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Ananda Publications, 1973.
Pevsner, Nikolaus. An Outline of European Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.
Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra.8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.
Singer, Margaret Thaler. Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
SRF. Self-Realization Fellowship: Golden Anniversary. Los Angeles: SRF, 1970.
Watson, Burton, tr. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.
Added: Books on Social Psychology
What goes on in groups influences the lives of many. Some ways and some groups help, and others hardly so. It might be good to know about ingroups and other flocks, and group dynamics as a help to improve one's standing in life. "Group psychology" is treated in many books on social psychology. Many are well laid out. One way or the other, any of these might be rewarding:
Aronson, Elliot, Timothy D. Wilson, Robin M. Akert. Social Psychology. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educaton, 2013.
Baron, Robert A., and Nyla R. Branscombe. Social Psychology. 13th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educaton, 2012.
Baumeister, Roy F., and Eli J. Finkel, eds. Advanced Social Psychology: The State of the Science. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Delamater, John D., and Daniel J: Myers. Social Psychology. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011.
Gilovich, Thomas, Dacher Keltner, Richard E. Nisbett. Social Psychology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton and Co., 2006.
Rohall, David E., Melissa A. Milkie, Jeffrey W. Lucas. Social Psychology: Sociological Perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educaton, 2014. -- Rewarding
Stroebe, Wolfgang. Social Psychology and Health. 3rd ed. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press, 2011. -- Health perspectives rule.
Harvesting the hay
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