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The world of cults


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user posted image rAnthony North: The On 19 April 1993 tanks stormed the ranch of a Branch Davidian break-off group at Mount Carmel, Waco, Texas. In the resulting inferno, some 80 cultists died, including their leader, David Koresh.This was a stark image from a cult. A small group of people seemed to be against the world, and the world hit back. Such abnormalities as cults breed suspicion, which leads to fear, and the result can so often be Apocalypse.

They're not mad

The fate of the People's Temple was equally disconcerting. Headed by the Rev Jim Jones, this 1,000+ strong cult withdrew to Jonestown, a purpose-built complex in Guyana, but when their existence was threatened in November 1978, they committed mass suicide. Events such as the above lead many to the conclusion that cultists are mentally inferior, drop-outs, or plain mad. But as Professor Eileen Barker showed in a major study in the 1990s, most cult members are young, intelligent and middleclass. What seems to drive them to a cult is a search for meaning in a world that seems to deny the existence of spirituality. With only materialism to live by, it is not enough for an increasing number of searchers.

Subtle transition

If a searcher meets a cult guru, such as Jones or Koresh, the result can be transition, the searcher turning into a disciple. But how does the process of transition occur? Many commentators speak of 'brainwashing' and other absurd terms. The answer is more mundane. The first part of the process can involve a psychoanalytical trick known as 'transference.' Here, a confident guru takes upon himself the angst felt by the searcher, and in reflecting these feelings back to him, can ensnare him through pure empathy. Once this is achieved, the process can be completed by convincing the searcher that it is the 'outside' world that is responsible for how he feels. Known as 'psychological distancing', the process gives the searcher the knowledge that only the guru can know him and look after him. The searcher is now open to the 'reeducation' that is needed.

How the guru is born

How can a guru achieve this so easily? The answer can be found in the life pattern of the future guru, which is amazingly similar in them all. It begins in childhood, and a feeling of alienation from the rest of society. The future guru is often an awkward child who becomes a loner. Due to this he turns in on himself, becoming the archetypal searcher, but the spiritual philosophy that can rise from this is extreme. Jones and Koresh, for instance, knew the Bible off by heart by their early teens. In early adulthood, life is a failure and a crisis comes when the person approaches mental illness. If he succumbs, he will be no one, but the guru is born when the illness sparks a religious experience that places him at the centre of a meaningful spirituality. This knowledge is all-encompassing, and the person who emerges is a confident charismatic, capable of defeating the will of any searcher through a process akin to hypnotism.

It's vampiric

This process is known throughout mythology and religion. In nearly all myth there is the 'hero' who walks a similar path, usually transforming society as he progresses. And nowhere is the process more obvious than in the life of the ultimate 'guru', Jesus Christ. Jesus grows up a troubled, questioning child, and this leads to a crisis. He goes off into the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil (a mental illness?), and the man who emerges is a charismatic who can influence people and do miracles. Sadly, the one important element that is left out of the Gospels is the fact that the guru's confidence is simply a mask, for underneath he remains a cauldron of insecurity and angst. In a real sense, the guru needs constant validation himself, and he feeds psychologically from his disciples as much, if not more, than the disciples gain their validity from him.

Heading towards danger

Here lies the danger of the cult. The psychological processes are such that a status quo arises between valid religious ideals, and communal self-destruction. If the cult becomes too insular, or is threatened, as happened with the Branch Davidians and People's Temple, self-destruction can be the result. But for most, this point is never reached, and many can go on to do good work and even grow and transform into a valid alternative religion. However, this aside, there is one vitally important thing we need to realize about cults. In the life pattern that leads to the guru, what we really have is an extreme version of the life pattern of the successful person, struggling to find his role as a youth, realizing his future through transition, and gaining the confidence to succeed. This is a message that tells us that cults are important to understand, for in a lesser way, the processes are vital to us all. And in understanding those processes, we could maybe learn how we, too, can so easily go off the rails and self-destruct.

http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/cult-watch-2/

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cults scare me...how could you become so lost; as to follow a neighborhood messiah?..

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That was interesting and it make a lot of sense. I like the part about ensnaring through empathy. I don't know why people get caught up with gurus, it's much better to follow your own path and do your own study.

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cults scare me...how could you become so lost; as to follow a neighborhood messiah?..

Same here.

The 90's was the decade of Cults. I think.

Edited by MoonPrincess
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This is an absolutely outstanding article! One point I feel is missing here, though, is that the cult leader quite often (always?) really believes what he or she is teaching. That is part of the charisma, how very sincere they come across as being. In this sense they are not the same as con men or swindlers or the more infamous religious hypers out there, who conciously know and are doing what they do.

But, the end result remains potentially dangerous, as we have seen.

I think of it as being more of a symbiotic relationship, versus a vampiric one, as a result. The "victims" are wholly a part of the syndrome, in that they delegate individual responsibility to think to the leader, IMO. In many ways it is like what we see in some political groups and extreme leftist and rightist viewpoints. People let themselves get used to further the agenda and needs of something else in trade for their own need for definition of themselves.

Very good work in this article, and good tone to it.

Thanks,

NS

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That was interesting and it make a lot of sense. I like the part about ensnaring through empathy. I don't know why people get caught up with gurus, it's much better to follow your own path and do your own study.

For some that easier said than done.

Those who join these charismatic individuals, are themselves lost, and trying to find their way, I know for a time I was, many have tried to sway towards one belief or another, yet through it all i found my true faith and place in this world.

I am a Watcher, no matter what anyone says or thinks. I became this of my own accord, for I fit nothing, but myself.

~Watcher

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Interesting post for me. Both named cults had a distinctly fanatical overtone about them. Jim Jones was a preacher who thought he was Jesus Christ incarnate among others while the Branch Davidians faith was based in the second coming of Jesus Christ. Charles Manson thought he was Jesus Christ also and we know that story.

Heaven's Gate cult believed that their souls would take a ride on a spaceship carrying Jesus Christ hiding behind Hale-Bopp comet.

There is 4 dangerous cults that include aspects of linking closer to Jesus Christ. I think it's that point that makes it dangerous. If it gets fanatical overtones on a concept of wanting to get closer to their Messiah you have trouble. It's like terrorist bombers who believe by dying they will achieve their paradise quicker and be rewarded for it. Many people are Muslim, but some are fanatics who take it that step further to get to God or Jesus quicker. That's the danger.

I have recently become interested in Raelianism and everyone is saying it's a dangerous cult which is rubbish as far as I'm concerned. Anyone who knows anything about it would laugh at that idea. It's not a bunch of fanatics brainwashing people. It's a movement that wants to spread it's message to help humanity find it's potential. It's ideals are very liberating and no one is telling anyone what they should be doing in it. Rael is involved in many political and humanitarian causes. It's not about hailing Rael as the new messiah or following blindly into a covenant with God or Jesus or getting to Heaven quicker to meet Jesus Christ, that it is even called a cult is ridiculous. It's not a religion or a cult. It's simply a different idea on Creation that Rael says was relayed to him by aliens and ideas on how we should go about making the world a peaceful place so we can advance to the next stage of our evolution via receiving advanced technology. The solutions are there if only everyone could see it, is all they say. The word cult is thrown around these days for anything that is outside mainstream thought.

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The only reason I would Join a Cult is for the Sex, Drugs and Guns... in that order :innocent:

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Thank you for posting this information about "the world of cults." Most people think, "I would never join a cult." That's what I thought before I was recruited into a Bible-based cult. As a Christian who was raised in the mainstream Southern Baptist denomination, who has earned an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a master's degree in Religious Education from one of the world’s foremost Protestant seminaries—Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary—and who has worked in the mental health field for twenty years, I should have been the last person to join a cult!

In an effort to understand my own experience and to help others gain some insight into how individuals become involved in cults and what they need to do in order to transition out of a controlling, authoritarian organization, I wrote a book. The title says it all: I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult.

If interested, check it out at amazon.com or http://www.dallascult.com

Thanks again.

Edited by Wendy J. Duncan
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linked-imageAnthony North: The On 19 April 1993 tanks stormed the ranch of a Branch Davidian break-off group at Mount Carmel, Waco, Texas. In the resulting inferno, some 80 cultists died, including their leader, David Koresh.This was a stark image from a cult. A small group of people seemed to be against the world, and the world hit back. Such abnormalities as cults breed suspicion, which leads to fear, and the result can so often be Apocalypse.

They're not mad

The fate of the People's Temple was equally disconcerting. Headed by the Rev Jim Jones, this 1,000+ strong cult withdrew to Jonestown, a purpose-built complex in Guyana, but when their existence was threatened in November 1978, they committed mass suicide. Events such as the above lead many to the conclusion that cultists are mentally inferior, drop-outs, or plain mad. But as Professor Eileen Barker showed in a major study in the 1990s, most cult members are young, intelligent and middleclass. What seems to drive them to a cult is a search for meaning in a world that seems to deny the existence of spirituality. With only materialism to live by, it is not enough for an increasing number of searchers.

Subtle transition

If a searcher meets a cult guru, such as Jones or Koresh, the result can be transition, the searcher turning into a disciple. But how does the process of transition occur? Many commentators speak of 'brainwashing' and other absurd terms. The answer is more mundane. The first part of the process can involve a psychoanalytical trick known as 'transference.' Here, a confident guru takes upon himself the angst felt by the searcher, and in reflecting these feelings back to him, can ensnare him through pure empathy. Once this is achieved, the process can be completed by convincing the searcher that it is the 'outside' world that is responsible for how he feels. Known as 'psychological distancing', the process gives the searcher the knowledge that only the guru can know him and look after him. The searcher is now open to the 'reeducation' that is needed.

How the guru is born

How can a guru achieve this so easily? The answer can be found in the life pattern of the future guru, which is amazingly similar in them all. It begins in childhood, and a feeling of alienation from the rest of society. The future guru is often an awkward child who becomes a loner. Due to this he turns in on himself, becoming the archetypal searcher, but the spiritual philosophy that can rise from this is extreme. Jones and Koresh, for instance, knew the Bible off by heart by their early teens. In early adulthood, life is a failure and a crisis comes when the person approaches mental illness. If he succumbs, he will be no one, but the guru is born when the illness sparks a religious experience that places him at the centre of a meaningful spirituality. This knowledge is all-encompassing, and the person who emerges is a confident charismatic, capable of defeating the will of any searcher through a process akin to hypnotism.

It's vampiric

This process is known throughout mythology and religion. In nearly all myth there is the 'hero' who walks a similar path, usually transforming society as he progresses. And nowhere is the process more obvious than in the life of the ultimate 'guru', Jesus Christ. Jesus grows up a troubled, questioning child, and this leads to a crisis. He goes off into the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil (a mental illness?), and the man who emerges is a charismatic who can influence people and do miracles. Sadly, the one important element that is left out of the Gospels is the fact that the guru's confidence is simply a mask, for underneath he remains a cauldron of insecurity and angst. In a real sense, the guru needs constant validation himself, and he feeds psychologically from his disciples as much, if not more, than the disciples gain their validity from him.

Heading towards danger

Here lies the danger of the cult. The psychological processes are such that a status quo arises between valid religious ideals, and communal self-destruction. If the cult becomes too insular, or is threatened, as happened with the Branch Davidians and People's Temple, self-destruction can be the result. But for most, this point is never reached, and many can go on to do good work and even grow and transform into a valid alternative religion. However, this aside, there is one vitally important thing we need to realize about cults. In the life pattern that leads to the guru, what we really have is an extreme version of the life pattern of the successful person, struggling to find his role as a youth, realizing his future through transition, and gaining the confidence to succeed. This is a message that tells us that cults are important to understand, for in a lesser way, the processes are vital to us all. And in understanding those processes, we could maybe learn how we, too, can so easily go off the rails and self-destruct.

http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/cult-watch-2/

I'm happy to see someone post on this subject which I myself study on from time to time. It's an important subject too in this day in age where dooms dayers seem to be speaking the loudest whenever the slightest of world affairs goes awry.

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by strict definition all religions are a cult - politics too can fall under this heading

cult /kÊŒlt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kuhlt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun 1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.

3. the object of such devotion.

4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

7. the members of such a religion or sect.

8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

–adjective 9. of or pertaining to a cult.

10. of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Origin: 1610–20; < L cultus habitation, tilling, refinement, worship, equiv. to cul-, var. s. of colere to inhabit, till, worship + -tus suffix of v. action]

Edited by Lt_Ripley
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For some that easier said than done.

Those who join these charismatic individuals, are themselves lost, and trying to find their way, I know for a time I was, many have tried to sway towards one belief or another, yet through it all i found my true faith and place in this world.

I am a Watcher, no matter what anyone says or thinks. I became this of my own accord, for I fit nothing, but myself.

~Watcher

:rolleyes:

People join cults because they are lonely or desperate in some way. The cult provides something for them.

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All cults aren't that bad!

There are some good ones that have done good, harmless things like the Hare Krishna Movement, Church of Satan, New Age Movement, Raelian Religion, etc.

I don't see how these are worse than any of the big religions, just cause they are different.

Many say the leaders are just freaks who want some attention

Well of course their leaders want attention, some of them are bad, but most just think they have good ideas that need to be shared with others.

If you say it is stupid to follow them, well then you are calling all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists stupid. :yes:

For don't they all worship some normal guy with interesting ideas.

So please give the cults the respect they deserve!

And Join Googleism!!!!

FOr GOOGLE is the closest thing to a real GOD

LINK

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All cults aren't that bad!

There are some good ones that have done good, harmless things like the Hare Krishna Movement, Church of Satan, New Age Movement, Raelian Religion, etc.

I don't see how these are worse than any of the big religions, just cause they are different.

Many say the leaders are just freaks who want some attention

Well of course their leaders want attention, some of them are bad, but most just think they have good ideas that need to be shared with others.

If you say it is stupid to follow them, well then you are calling all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists stupid. :yes:

For don't they all worship some normal guy with interesting ideas.

So please give the cults the respect they deserve!

And Join Googleism!!!!

FOr GOOGLE is the closest thing to a real GOD

LINK

Great post! Some very interesting points too I must say. Even Christianity was a cult when it first started. I follow Raelianism myself, not absolutely literally but to a point, I find their theory of creation very intriguing and makes sense, as much as many other beliefs do as well as the ideas and moral guides they provide plus many of their humanitarian causes are close to my heart. I have been told I'm a looney following a cult but I think it's just because some people aren't aware of what it's message really is and see it as some cloning UFO cult, but it's certainly much more than that.

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All cults aren't that bad!

There are some good ones that have done good, harmless things like the Hare Krishna Movement, Church of Satan, New Age Movement, Raelian Religion, etc.

I don't see how these are worse than any of the big religions, just cause they are different.

Many say the leaders are just freaks who want some attention

Well of course their leaders want attention, some of them are bad, but most just think they have good ideas that need to be shared with others.

If you say it is stupid to follow them, well then you are calling all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists stupid. :yes:

For don't they all worship some normal guy with interesting ideas.

So please give the cults the respect they deserve!

And Join Googleism!!!!

FOr GOOGLE is the closest thing to a real GOD

LINK

Actually I don't like religion in general. I think most cults are just sillier.

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All cults aren't that bad!

There are some good ones that have done good, harmless things like the Hare Krishna Movement, Church of Satan, New Age Movement, Raelian Religion, etc.

I don't see how these are worse than any of the big religions, just cause they are different.

Many say the leaders are just freaks who want some attention

Well of course their leaders want attention, some of them are bad, but most just think they have good ideas that need to be shared with others.

If you say it is stupid to follow them, well then you are calling all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists stupid. :yes:

For don't they all worship some normal guy with interesting ideas.

So please give the cults the respect they deserve!

And Join Googleism!!!!

FOr GOOGLE is the closest thing to a real GOD

LINK

It all depends on the "Cult" I guess. Some of them refuse to let their members have anything to do with the outside world and keep them ensnared within the group. The will of the person concerned will just grow weaker and weaker. It has not been unknown for the families of people caught up in some cults to be "snatched" back and deprogrammed. The very fact that someone would need to be "deprogrammed" shows just how out of order some of these cults are.

The difference between some cults and religions like Christianity, Judaism and the rest is that the latter are not kept in captivity, they keep their freewill - regardless of how some people may view these religions. At least they can walk away if they so choose to without being "rescued".

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Subtle transition

If a searcher meets a cult guru, such as Jones or Koresh, the result can be transition, the searcher turning into a disciple. But how does the process of transition occur? Many commentators speak of 'brainwashing' and other absurd terms. The answer is more mundane. The first part of the process can involve a psychoanalytical trick known as 'transference.' Here, a confident guru takes upon himself the angst felt by the searcher, and in reflecting these feelings back to him, can ensnare him through pure empathy. Once this is achieved, the process can be completed by convincing the searcher that it is the 'outside' world that is responsible for how he feels. Known as 'psychological distancing', the process gives the searcher the knowledge that only the guru can know him and look after him. The searcher is now open to the 'reeducation' that is needed.

How the guru is born

How can a guru achieve this so easily? The answer can be found in the life pattern of the future guru, which is amazingly similar in them all. It begins in childhood, and a feeling of alienation from the rest of society. The future guru is often an awkward child who becomes a loner. Due to this he turns in on himself, becoming the archetypal searcher, but the spiritual philosophy that can rise from this is extreme. Jones and Koresh, for instance, knew the Bible off by heart by their early teens. In early adulthood, life is a failure and a crisis comes when the person approaches mental illness. If he succumbs, he will be no one, but the guru is born when the illness sparks a religious experience that places him at the centre of a meaningful spirituality. This knowledge is all-encompassing, and the person who emerges is a confident charismatic, capable of defeating the will of any searcher through a process akin to hypnotism.

http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/cult-watch-2/

I wish they stop using Hindu/Buddhist terms like guru to apply to christian or abrahamic cults, which have nothing to do with dharmic faiths. Reverends or priests is a better associated term.

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That was interesting and it make a lot of sense. I like the part about ensnaring through empathy. I don't know why people get caught up with gurus, it's much better to follow your own path and do your own study.

there not gurus actually. Guru is a legit term for holymen in Buddhism/Sikhism/Hinduism. And much older than any abrahamic branch of faith to be called new age movements etc...

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It all depends on the "Cult" I guess. Some of them refuse to let their members have anything to do with the outside world and keep them ensnared within the group. The will of the person concerned will just grow weaker and weaker. It has not been unknown for the families of people caught up in some cults to be "snatched" back and deprogrammed. The very fact that someone would need to be "deprogrammed" shows just how out of order some of these cults are.

The difference between some cults and religions like Christianity, Judaism and the rest is that the latter are not kept in captivity, they keep their freewill - regardless of how some people may view these religions. At least they can walk away if they so choose to without being "rescued".

There are many cults that allow you to leave, but you'd probably be seen as going to hell, inferior, etc. Other religions are pretty much the same, except for many polytheistic religions which tend to be more tolerent.

SoO many people were burned alive or punished severly by the church in the past just because they had different ideas, many of them were great scientists who had a lot to offer to the world.

As for the Raelon Religion, I beleave Rael is up to something, because he does so much work and what ever you donate supposidly doesn't go to him personally, it goes to the embassy, so Rael doesn't get paid, and neither do any of his followers. And you can vollenteer to help them anytime, and many people do.

Honestly, I myself is searching for a religion to join. I will always beleave in science but I also want something to hope for when I am in trouble, of when I die. I like the ideas of many religions and cults, but currently I worship the Hindu God, Ganesha, because he is the lord of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and the god of intellect and wisdom, bringer of success and luck. And I always seem to have some luck when I pray to him.

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  • 3 months later...

I fully agree with the article that David and Jones were cults.... they were very obviously human men who showed definite signs of mental illness. Who coerces their followers to kill themselves? ... But I also find it interesting that the author lumps Jesus Christ in with these men... Christ didn't coerce his followers to kill themselves, and his message was all about peace. I find it interesting, too, how many people are so determined to believe that Christ was just a normal human... especially on here, if you're willing to believe in aliens, Bigfoot, and the such, why is believing that Christ really was the Son of God in perfect human form so unbelievable? Is it because it comes from the 'mainstream' and therefore shouldn't be trusted? Or is it the fear that if he really was the Son of God, that you should then be following ALL his teachings, and because that's so hard to do, you want to stick with the easy way out which is denying that he was anything other than a normal human being?.... Food for thought.... I'll be interested to see who acts like we're in high school and instead of posting a respectful, intelligent reply, says something along the lines of, "You're stupid!".....

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