There would barely be a man or woman alive who hadn’t at some time suffered the heartache of leaving a relationship, feeling let down, cheated on or have had the light-bulb moment when you say to yourself “this ain’t gonna work.”
The Cyclone Path of Cults
Over many years I have seen the (supposed) Spiritual path littered with casualties; sometimes it’s because we have grown and the ‘teachings’ no longer serve us. At other times we may realise that everyone around us is just crackers, clones walking around parrot fashioning words that are not based in their personal experience, borrowed from books and senior cult members. Sometimes there is the very common story of the rumor that you don’t want to believe, the guru is sleeping with your friend or what you thought was a sacred Tantric experience between you and the guru turned out to be a situation where you were part of his harem. If I hadn’t seen so much of it over many years I might be a little more reserved or polite in the way I talk about those issues.
Not all gurus are fakes, I have a short list of heroes. But there are many who are delusional; then there are those who had some type of Satori (awakening) and decided it was their duty to serve mankind and set up shop, they were well intentioned due to some profound breakthrough but didn’t realise they were just in the kindergarten stage. This heading out into the world to teach at an early stage is fraught with danger. Regardless of whether the time to move on is because of heartache, bewilderment, or whether it’s because the Indian pajamas got too tight, there is generally a deep emotional response.
One of the big problems we have with being part of a group, cult, sect or religious congregation is in many situations we forget to think for ourselves and the group mentality reinforces ideas, there is a strength in numbers and seems to confirm something even though it may be untruth. The ‘it’s all His Will’, ‘I am just the servant’, ‘This is what God wants me to do’, ‘I got a message from the Master’; although I could write some logical thoughtful dialogue to put forward an argument to support each of those statements, in essence they are all about handing over, total submission and in that is as always the potential for abuses of power. And no doubt someone would say ‘yes I am handing over to God’. Regardless if it is fact or fiction, truth or it may be a heap of garbage, there comes a time when people say ‘I’m grabbing my rucksack and I’m out of here’
The Strings of Attachment
Standing at the gate heading out, the fellow initiates, disciples have a deep sadness in their eyes at your parting. A lost soul heading out, a few would mumble in agreement “he/she will be back”.
Transition time, leaving the nest is always challenging, by nature many of us are scared of the unknown, we like to feel safe in the familiar, even if it hurts. Some people like an unknown adventure and do extreme sports, personally I feel that extreme sports are more about the flash of lightning in the brain, the rush, not so much about the unknown. When a young person finishes his or her studies or if things become too difficult in the home environment, unsettling, some just say good riddance but finding ones way in the world can be scary. Not all people who join Spiritual groups and Religions do so for spiritual reasons and i am not saying that people aren’t seeking a philosophical resolve, many join because of a need for community and belonging, the teachings make some sort of sense and may reflect good values, so it seems reasonable to become part of something that makes one feel good or is far better than the pain that is attached to us or our loneliness. It seems natural that people want to BELONG, have a sense of family, to find refuge. If we are familiar with Buddhism, we would be aware of the three Gems, take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha (the assembly /community); there is a sensible reason for this because good company makes a less troublesome journey through life. We know from experience that some people seem to bring with them a whirlwind of chaos. Joining a community is reasonable but we also know they can be prison houses.
Dragging Stuff with Us
Wherever there is more than one person there is the potential for differences, in fact just being with oneself is enough for conflict to arise 🙂 When the cult or community no longer fits and we exit, we take a piece of it with us as we go out the door. The underlying principle of attachment is really about placing things in our subconscious mind, if we have had years of indoctrination it will go deep into us. We may keep the beads, the statues, the pictures, the prayers or even part of the designer language, it’s all legacy stuff we drag with us through life. I know hundreds of people who have belonged to the Hare Krishna community (Iskcon) and they vary in attitudes about their relationship to their former community, some are no longer interested in Krishna in any way, many of the others still behave as if they are part of the community even though they went through the out-door years back. We see similarities in behavour with those who have been Buddhist monks or nuns.
It is extremely difficult to disentangle, people fall very deeply into religious groups and they associate God with the group, where a major problem arises is the joint relationship with cult and God creates the feeling that leaving the cult implies at some level that they are leaving God, the Buddha, Krishna, Christ or whoever the form or formless God may be. There is no shortage of people who will emerge out of nowhere when going through the out-door to remind a person that the journey out into the wilderness away from the cult is a betrayal of God, you are going to be crossed off the list of God’s elect and damnation is heading your way. Depending on how brainwashed the group or the individual believers are, the harder they will push to keep you in the fold.
It can be subtle, it will play on our thoughts, when we have been in a group for a long time we start to think the behaviors and religious practices are truly what God or the Buddha wants, when we stop doing the rituals, the prayers, the mantras, the headstands 🙂 or other crazy stuff there is a feeling that God will be disappointed. What usually happens is people do a bit of a spring clean, out goes the white or ochre robes, but the beads might stay hidden from view. The picture of the guru gets burned in the backyard but the name he gave you ‘Chiiti-Chitti-Bang Bang’ stays as it’s too hard to undo the world relationships around you, after going through the complex process of changing from Johnno to Chiiti Chitti, the thought of having to give an explanation of how come “Johnno’s back’ seems too exhausting. The mantras get adjusted to something more universal, no more saying “Guru Joe Blogs”, it becomes “Krishna Ram Krishna Ram” The vegetarian diet sticks but you hide the eggs when your ‘spiritual’ friends come around. The saris get cut up and are turned into other pieces of clothing or cushion covers. Okay let’s get serious.
One of the most problematic issues in life for people is trying to understand God, to make sense of how the experiencer of life relates to something bigger or possibly invisible. It would sound offensive, even blasphemous to some people if I were to say “men create Gods”. Is this statement true? Maybe, maybe not, for this article it doesn’t need to be answered but the question can bring out a number of things that we could easily miss if we don’t explore it.
We get caught in a maze of of black and whites, yos and nos, goods and bads, spiritual and material. This divisiveness is where many problems arise. We can become so righteous that it is obnoxious and elitist; if we call a young child bad when they are learning and feeling their way through the world we will be teaching them an odd set of values to carry through life, simple things become their enemy and they begin to live in fear of a big stick or an oppressive God. When religious people start saying that sex is bad, we end up with a very twisted version of reality where intimacy seems unnatural.
I remember a woman who used to hit her kid because he’d forget to make offerings to the deities, he became a very disturbed boy. When we create or borrow a set of rules about ‘What God Wants’ we can easily create a prison for ourselves. I think there is s healthier way to live and it is not bound by religious thought, it is simple, just ask where will this action lead? Does something help make us kinder, compassionate? Does it create turmoil? How do i feel after doing something? This type of approach doesn’t need a judgmental God waiting to swoop on our misdoings, a God with a big stick is a tyrant and is no friend of mine. When we are overburdened with indoctrination or spiritual teachings we can lose our naturalness, intuitiveness and sense of self discrimination. Religious and spiritual groups can come from a linage of rules and guidelines or they may have a petty tyrant who everyone is scared of. EVERY cult has enforcers of various types, there are the bullies and also the ones who float around as if they are an embodiment of virtue and consider themselves as the model that all others need to aspire to, their farts don’t stink.
The Unknown Future
In leaving the cult or guru there is great freedom, it is a milestone in growing up. By saying this I am not saying that all religious or spiritual practices ought to be avoided, I am saying that in moving on we claim back a part of ourselves, we no longer need the rule book; if there is something useful we can take it with us, if it works we can implement it. If we look at Buddha, Jesus and some of the other sages we will notice in many cases they traveled through various schools of thoughts (when I reference Jesus here I mean his time with the Essenes and his journeys through Asia that are avoided by mainstream Christians) , they knew when it was time to leave. Sometimes the sages got booted out of monasteries because their behavior and thinking no longer suited the sect they belonged to and they were considered a threat. Here I am not encouraging disruptive behavior but I think it is more than acceptable to ask questions of cults when you go out the door. The way a cult responds to questioning is a very good way to help decide just how bad the cult is, when there is a closing down and ostracizing of individuals you can rest assured that it is not only a dangerous place for oneself but also others.
Going out the door of the world of limited thought is a glorious thing. The reason why people don’t is because they are scared, worried about offending God, losing the community, feeling like they will be ostracized, that it may be a mistake and they are betraying the Divine.
There is a Super-Consciousness that has emerged out of the Deep Silence, it has self awareness, it does not judge, it is extremely forgiving of the journey that got us to now.
May no man enslave you
May you understand that the spark inside you is same as in the great Gods
May your true nature reveal itself
May your endless potential unfold
May no God be greater than you
May you claim back your power from the petty tyrants of limited thought
May wherever you go, there be a trail littered with love, compassion and empathy as you pass by
May you rest safely in Emptiness knowing that from it emerges everything
One thought on “Leaving the Guru or Cult”
This was a very beautiful and insightful post. Thank you 🙂