Cults are a widespread problem and may represent distortions with potential for destruction. Many cults play on unfulfilled needs of individuals and escalating, chronical shyness among adults, and glowing promises. "They exist as part of the frayed edges of our society [and] we want to prevent such tragedies or our children and neighbours from joining," wrote Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo when he was a professor in psychology at Stanford University:
In a 1980 study where we (C. Hartley and I) surveyed and interviewed more than 1,000 randomly selected high school students in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, 54 percent reported they had at least one active recruiting attempt by someone they identified with a cult, and 40 percent said they had experienced three to five such contacts . . .
All this shyness cannot be just an individual problem, but also a function of how the society handles growing youngsters. [Shd]
In general, cult leaders offer simple solutions to problems so many face. Following simple rules, simple group regimentation and simple total lifestyle, helps some, at least initially. Ultimately, each new member contributes to the power of the leader by trading his or her freedom for the illusion of security and alluring great gains and glory that group membership holds out.
Individual intelligence may not be enough to combat maiming influences that portray or speculate in future's conditions by fraud. Personal intelligence may not be enough against plots and tricks that deal in promises and visionary attempts that some cults speculate in and maim by.
A sect leader may promise not only to heal any sickness and foretell the future, but give immortality. Most Americans with unfulfilled needs would fall for cult appeals, guesses Zimbardo.
Many cults play on needs of individuals needs where they find them. They will eliminate the increasing feelings of isolation and alienation created by mobility, technology, competition, meritocracy, incivility, and de-humanised living and working conditions in our society. In this they may contribute to neurotic maladaptation.
Initially the "cult member bargain" seems like a "win-win" trade for the shy members of society, but there is often a difference between a facade and what is behind - it has to be taken into account. As for the rising shyness among young and adult members of the American society. Zimbardo:
Shyness among adults is now escalating to epidemic proportions, according to recent research by Dr. B. Carducci in Indiana and my research team in California. More than 50 percent of college-aged adults report being chronically shy (lacking social skills, low self-esteem, awkward in many social encounters). 
There are severe cults and others. Savoury information about a cult may be hard-won, as the cult climate is tough.
Yogananda called his ideal places "world brotherhood colonies," places to facilitate the development of an integrated, well-balanced life. [Autobiography, 1st ed. ch 42]. And a governmental report in Belgium has referred to Yogananda's fellowship, Self-Realization Fellowship, in a list of sects and cults [◦Source]
Create an alternative, "perfect cult", Philip Zimbardo proposes, and go for ways to make our society nicer and more handsome. "Enriching that core of common humanity should be our first priority," he concludes. [◦Zimbardo source]
More of Dr Zimbardo
Dr Philip Zimbardo has observed that the large society is not good enough for humans, and finds the following valid for cult groups:
What is common are the recruiting promises, influence agendas and group's coercive influence power that compromise the personal exercise of free will and critical thinking. . . .
A good society handles youngsters better than cults.
Sect devotion - a danger
Better beware of wasting devotion on cult leaders. Devotion that should be kept for one's future development and family, is of id (libido). Devotion that serves spiritual advances, is termed piousness, and means taking one's awareness toward the Self, Adi Shankara tells [More]. Hence, there is good devotion (piousness) and the wrongly turned id-fixation made to seem like the real thing.
Those who were fooled into a cult when young or inexperienced with swindles, may sort out things and do a lot later along the way. One helper is "A cult can be a small group of people marked by great devotion . . ." - great outer-directed (or projected) devotion to one's loss, that is. Adi Shankara lets us understand that true devotion is being intent on one's Self in The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (see verses 16-34) - To reclaim devotion wasted on unworthy others may be futile, and a problem that affects the stagewise unfoldment of the human id (libido) through life, says Erik H. Erikson. [cf. Merriam-Webster]. So be wary.
Homepage of ◦Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Stanford University.
Recommended cult related articles by Zimbardo and many others: [◦Link]
Satyagraha: Non-cooperation with Evil, Holding to Truths
Those who speak the truth and hold to the truth are reliable, and no deceivers [With Buddha].
Two Sanskrit words: Satya, truth, integrity; and graha holding. Satya also means Truth, Reality, Being, and Sublime Truth. Holding to truth (satya) is the most used meaning of the term, but there is more to it. Gandhi was inspired by Thoreau. Thoreau spoke for civil disobedience in certain cases, as when the state was up to no good and did bad things too, such as going to aggressive wars.
But Gandhi was not inspired by Thoreau alone. Non-cooperation with evil may also be understood as a logical ramification of the first "commandment" in yoga, that of holding fast to satya, which is translated as 'truth' most often. Holding to truth is a basic understanding of moral that goes along with yoga training. Stop being truthful, and you may get nasty through that only. That is what yogis say.
Truth, satya, is also a designation of the ultimate Reality. So being attuned to Reality is satya too. And it is integrity as fits. In Soto Zen, Dogen (1200-53) delineates much in his main work Shobogenzo [Sth; Shz] so that we may align ourselves to Reality - That should help a lot, the more who manage it, the merrier - and such attunement may be called satyagraha too - holding on to truthfulness, decency, great integrity, the Real.
Satya has also come to mean the practice of truthfulness, to refrain from lying, deception or betraying promises and confidences. And to extract promises from inexperienced or gullible ones, promises they are unable to keep, mars. Yogananda and SRF do not permit kriya yoga to be learnt without an oath that violates many Human Rights, and is unlawful in many countries, accordingly.
Not to cooperate with evil, may further satya, authenticity, integrity, truthfulness, sincerity, genuineness and truth, while moving away from satya means doing away with good living and its ways (taos), and in so doing a person does havoc on one's Rita, which means nature-orderliness, having a sway, nature, balance and harmony. So: satya, truth, holds rita (order and harmony) is an ancient teaching. Going away from truthfulness and sincerity are ways of getting depraved. It may not show up in the outer world for a long while. Some effects are slow, and pass into future lives. That is an essential teaching from ancient Sanatan Dharma, and the underlying dynamism at the back of "Avoid lying and feigning, and go for harmony."(Cf. Wikipedia, "Satya"). Not to support those who thrive by evil and wicked deeds, and stealthy uses of such stuff, may be vital too. And the large society has become hard-hearted and exploitative. It seems essential to see that and refrain from justifying abuse as well.
Success in Life and Maharishi
The will to truth and real evidence is an asset deep inside. Be sure not to lose it.
To fight against this and that, including cults, may be for some, perhaps, but it is
far better to fight for things, and better still to advance tactfully instead of
fighting when there is no need for being brutal. Success in life rests in no small part on
the art of living, which Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has given a lot of tips on. This suggests that in taking a stand for truth, the satyagraha thing, it may be
vital to escape parodies and mock liberators - instead of learning the really valuable
things in the art of living well.
After years of bootlicking, you should not be surprised that your head is not clean.
Sects and cults harm members, or is it the other way round? It can be both.
On the Internet SRF is in part presented on heavily censured boards as good, but with very little content. There are also a few discussion boards for disgruntled members, such as ex monks and nuns, and they tend to be shunned by the devotee boards. And then there is SRF itself, which keeps its reserve.
For the information seeker, major problem of SRF-related discussion boards stands out: most postings are anonymous, the information is often lacking good references or goes unverified by others. Some of the information in some of them may be factual, but it may take much time and effort to find out. Reading SRF-published books and articles may help out fairly well, though. In any case there should be a marked need to check the evidence even so, since SRF allegedly has edited "a thousand changes" into books like Autobiograhy of a Yogi. There are many changes, but I have not taken the time to count all of them. A brief overview of some dominant changes is here: [Link]
Avoid the Company of Fools for Your Own Good
Yogananda tells that ninety-nine percent of the people will not do what is good for them, even if told.
Ninety-nine percent of all people fail under this test. Tell a person, for his own good, to do a particular thing, and he will do exactly the opposite. Why? Because he can't help himself. [Ak 321].
That is the guru's yardstick. It may be a small step for a dictatorial mind to go on from there to, "The average man cannot think clearly . . . He needs the master mind of a Dictator in order to think right and do right." [Yogananda. "Interview". East-West, Vol. 6.] [Link]
Yet, if Yogananda saw the light in the matter, how easy it might have been to get things right by saying the opposite of what he meant! Or would it? Is such a reverse true? Then people would "do exactly the opposite" - but there are in fact more options than "do as told" and "do the opposite of it". Besides, the orator Yogananda may not have got his percentage right (good proof is lacking), and his drastic-looking assertion may also be quite misleading. Be that as it may, his wisdom is not flawless and his guidelines are not infallible, contrary to what SRF wants others to think about him. They may feed cultishly on that.
So-called devotees may seek to mask what they are really up to - laying the foundation for an evolving cult that fits exceptional, unhealthy self-occupation. It is in part done by slogans and pretty-looking words about truth and the greatest freedom and so on. As for more or less awed, new members, one may also wonder: "To what degree have some been hurt by the SRF cult, and to what degree did they fit in through some defect sides they already had?" These can be interesting topics to ponder in the absence of good evidence.
Avoid company with fools - it is for your own good, advises Buddha.
Fit Self-assertion of Buddhism
Those who write glowing, devoted praises of gurus they have not met, may or may not have been goofed. Those who spend lots of time on heated discussion boards that are loaded with untruths and distortions, may have entered hidden backwaters in life. But to mind one's own business well, taking Buddha's directives in fields that matter, is essential.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. - Buddha, attr.
This counsel helps against "demoniac" guru love that serves to deplete inner worth and self-assertion, and/or other assets too easily. The teaching poem Dhammapada also says one should avoid the company of fools, but company with the wise is pleasure. [cf. Dhammapada 206, 207]. To benefit from such a counsel, it has to be determined who are basically fools, and who are not. That helps. Buddha offers some thoughts on who are false friends, fools, and wise. Those ideas help. [Link] - [Link]
Speaking of priorities in life, Buddha teaches that no one should waste time or gifts on unworthy fellows or fools, but instead make use of the precious time and opportunities we are given, if any. There may be time enough to try to help others later. This is an attitude reflected in sayings by the Tibetan saint Milarepa of the Middle Ages. [Link]
Those who have practiced well, straight-forwardly, methodically, and masterfully. Such disciples should be worthy of gifts and respect. [Buddha, modified]
One should not be over-anxious and hasty in setting out to serve others, but have the one resolve to attain Buddhahood. - Milarepa [Tm 271].
Even though no exact estimate may be made there is "something" of value in many a proverb anyway. Some advocate things to be aware of, to guard against, and a need to check our sources well instead of spreading "interesting news" that are distortions and worse, lies.
If you annoy a docile herd of cattle, the chances are that at long last someone - ox, herd or owner, will take action against you to get rid of you.
Friendly teachings allow some leeway and room for thought, even expansive thought to be added - not unlike the shoe that allows the child's feet and toes to grow, according to Rudolf Steiner.
When man arises to the higher level he feels in himself the eternal and necessary . . ., just as the flower of the field; he acts as the flower blooms. - Rudolf Steiner (1960, part 9.)
He talks for actualising oneself, being inner-directed above the outward control of tight regimes, including some of cults. In that way Steiner comments on two sayings by Angelus Silesius: "Men, learn from the flower of the field how you can . . . be beautiful . . . The rose . . . asks [not] whether one sees it." (Ibid.)
Social taming and conformism has its price, and some cults have inner circles on top of that again.
Skilled thinking is basically favourable and should be a blessing. Maybe a Russian proverb may serve you a bit: "Believe, but make sure." Sound verification tends to bring non-maiming knowledge to man. Some knowledge is probabilistic - partly dealing in odds also.
Basic transitions in life are of many sorts - change of livelihood is marked by transitions. Many persons become a lot more sensitive and vulnerable in such stages. Compare Erik Erikson's Epigenetic Scheme. [Link]
Wincers fairly often mask themselves to look bold and seek comfort in company, even drunk company.
Cults often play on well-known fundamental motives. Many soap opera looking cults play on deep needs for a good life - deep needs to be played on are there.
According to Merriam-Webster's Internet dictionary, pagan means:
Stein, Murray B., and John R. Walker. Triumph over Shyness: Conquering Shyness and Social Anxiety. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. ⍽▢⍽ An endorsed book in the American self-help tradition of 'conquering shyness', with the message that for all with a fay-like tendency to withdraw from people, particularly unfamiliar people, that some "help is available". It would be wise to learn, train in and practice certain skills, and adhere to the good guidelines for coping with difficult social situations. The book further contains some tips on how parents may help their children conquer shyness.
Steiner, Rudolf. Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Mystics of the Renaissance, Mysticism and Modern Thought, Mystics After Modernism, Eleven European Mystics. (GA 7) Englewood, NJ: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1960 (1901)
Antony, Martin M. 10 Simple Solutions to Shyness: How to Overcome Shyness, Social Anxiety, and Fear of Public Speaking. Oakland, CA: The New Harbinger, 2004. ⍽▢⍽ Dr Antony offers ten simple exercises to help in shedding shyness and start socializing better, which is understood as "with courage, poise, and composure" as it could be needed. A very positive book.
Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: SRF, 1975.
Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online.
Ccm: Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. 2nd ed. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1990. (Revised version: 2015) ⍽▢⍽ Hassan, with a Master's degree in counseling psychology, himself a former subject of coercive deprogramming, has through this informative book helped thousands of ex-members and their families, therapists, clergy and law enforcers understand how mind control techniques are used in cults.
Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.
Opt: Brown, J. Operation övertalning. Reklam. Propaganda. Hjärntvätt. Stockholm: Prisma, 1965.
Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1971.
Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.
Sbn: Carducci, Bernardo. Shyness: A Bold New Approach. New York: Harper Perenneal, 2000. ⍽▢⍽ The author points out that shyness does not equal low self-esteem; is not a "disease," personality deficit, or character flaw, and there are shy cats, shy fish, and shy dogs too. Besides, some of the world's most famous, richest, smartest and bravest people are shy. That reminds of Dr Rudolf Steiner who said that shy children may have much inside.
Shd: Zimbardo, Philip G. Shyness: What It Is. What to Do about It. London: Addison-Wesley, 1977. ⍽▢⍽ Dr. Zimbardo's studies show there could be some ninety million shy people in America today, including "secretly shy" celebrities. He also offers advice on how shy people may strengthen their social skills and self-confidence so they can more easily participate in life, and maintain their "personal sense of worth and mastery" (p. 120). He also recommends Carducci's book (above).
Shz: Cleary, Thomas, tr. Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.
Sth: Nearman, Hubert, tr. Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching. Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press, 2007. On-line.
Tap: Adorno, Theodor W., Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950.
Tm: Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Yv: Venkatesananda, swami, tr. The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984.
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