The presence of a person with special spiritual knowledge makes most people vulnerable to manipulation by that person or by his followers. In fact, many people are attracted to that person because of the possibility of gaining special knowledge, love and attention from that superior being. This mimics our adaptive inner child who keeps hoping, even today, for situations that will yield special rewards from god-like beings. In that inner child's life, of course, his/her parents were the gods. Millions are so desperately seeking these rewards that they will unknowingly sell themselves out mentally, psychologically and spiritually in an attempt to attain them. They will blindly collude with all sorts of cult-like behaviors.
Is your leader aware enough of his/her own wounded inner child to know how to resist the pull from followers towards cult-like behaviors? Such resistance is frequently not chosen, because leader resistance to veneration will usually cause less power, money, or fame for the leader.
The cult is like any other group in that everyone hopes for rewards (material or psychological). The cult is different from other groups in that there is a strong agenda for the leader to gain as much power, money, or fame as possible. I suggest that if you see any of the below cult-like traps in your favorite spiritual group that you expeditiously exit that group.
Illusory Freedom Trap. Clever leaders tell you that they are in favor of freedom, but this freedom is often illusory. It is an illusion because there is so much attachment to the leader, to the group and/or to the group's teachings and rituals that the freedom to think, or act, or feel is quite limited.
© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze
Table of Contents for this Online Spiritual Book
|Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "Our ape/chimp cousins do a lot of touching; we would have a happier healthier society if we also touched each other more."|