Keep This A Secret Trap. One common practice of cults and those who are using cult-like procedures is that of instructing new people not to discuss the group early on with friends and families. This has strong appeal to the secretive, illicit and childish sides within us all and allows the ideas, beliefs and practices of the group to be unchallenged as they would be if discussed with friends and family. New people following such a directive rapidly become dependent upon the group for answers, because they have no outside input that would challenge and refute the junk offered. The ongoing group acclimation process parallels brainwashing. Folks sell themselves on the junk. It feels good! Just like opium.
Truly spiritual people are not secretive and always welcome wide discussion and challenges to their ideas. If you encounter "keep this a secret from your friends for a while," I suggest you walk out the door and never return to that group. They are using a cult-like brainwashing technique that is decidedly unspiritual. Any requirement that discussion be restricted in significant ways is an example of thought control.
Jargon Trap. With many groups, not just cults, a specialized language develops over time. This jargon assigns new special meanings to ordinary words and phrases. In Cults in Our Midst (2003, p. 314), Singer says, "The jargon creates a sense of eliteness, solidarity and belonging among those in the in-group; at the same time, it cuts people off from easy conversation with outsiders." Members view the jargon as clever and admirable without recognizing how it serves to help weld them to the group or cult. Eliteness, solidarity and belonging are powerful motivators that are both attractive to and seductive for most of us.
I have a strong recommendation for anyone who either follows a shaman, a guru, a nagual or another person-with-special-knowledge, or attends any spiritual group for more than six hours a month. My recommendation is to carefully read and study Margaret Singer's Cults In Our Midst. Many of your fellow students and group attendees unknowingly want your group to have cult-like behaviors and attributes. Why? Because cult-like attributes give the adaptive inner child a sense of being in the elite (special), being on solid ground (the leader's superior knowledge) and in a loving family who will at long last make up for deficiencies in the family of origin. The ideas about cults presented here in this chapter are just a small sampling of ways that common spiritual groups imitate cults.
© 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: "This reasoning leads to, "If I can change how I think, I can change my emotions." Does this mean I can get rid of my discomforts, my anger, my angst, my depression, my sadness, etc. just by thinking differently? Therapists who concentrate on changing your thinking processes would say 'Yes!'."|