A lone girl – Just divorced/Just broke up with her BF/staying alone in a big (or small) city
A middle-aged lady – son has left for US/ daughter just got married/ is in a middle age crisis/going through empty nest syndrome
A young man who has lost interest in life because he does not know how to earn million dollars.
A student who consistently fails in exams, but is promised miracles.
What do you think is common between all of them?
At first glance, perhaps nothing.
Think a bit more, and one word will resonate – VULNERABLE
When you are low in life, apart from fighting your own demons, you also have to fight predators who are looking out for people like you. Cult members are everywhere around us. The reason why they are not apparent is because one of the requisites of their modus operandi is to remain inconspicuous to the general public, and very very ‘in-your-face’ conspicuous to those who are like the ones described above, vulnerable and easy prey.
In many cases, it starts with a trust building statement that goes like, “I know what you are going through. I have been there. I know how much it hurts. But I had ‘grace’ and was saved from this suffering’. And then begins the story. Then begins the seva. Then in the name of seva, they suck into your time, slowly and surely, through mental manipulation and guilt mechanisms; ensuring that everything you do, is connected to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘sin’ and then, you end up spending a large chunk of your life with the cult members, doing seva of various forms. And then the Guru talks random stuff like, “I know what you are going through. Let it go, set it free. You will feel better.” – as though he knows what IT is. No, he does not. He is counting on your blind faith in him, to “fit” your issues into his words and believe, “Wow! Guruji is really omnipresent, he is really antaryami! He knows what is in my heart and mind.” And thus goes the story.
Meditation is a good way of calming your mind. You do it yourself, with a guided meditation audio in your phone, and you will still feel relief. Hence this is a primary weapon that these cults use. Through meditation, one’s mind does respond, in a different way. However, cults take this as their success. It is so harmful to have your senses opened by cults and to be left all alone in the darkness of the other planes, that the trap keeps getting deeper and deeper. The fear keeps getting larger, and your dependence on the Guruji solidifies into a life long relationship that sounds like, “My life is nothing without Guruji. I will get destroyed if I do not share my problems with him.”
Mostly, the cults have a “living master”, or a “living God” or someone like that. They insist on 100% devotion to “The One”. They can not bear anyone talking ill about their Master and will ensure that the person knows he/she has committed a sin that they would pay for. These Masters travel first class, stay in the best of luxuries and visit foreign countries in name of getting followers. They go to extent of publishing wrong statistics about their sermons. You can not ask them questions. You have to “trust” them unconditionally, because The One trusted YOU unconditionally and CHOSE YOU to be the fortunate one. Being among the followers is being fortunate.
This Master is a good preacher. He knows the psyche of the human mind. He knows how to twist it. He uses positives and negatives and negatives as positives to mess up the followers’ minds. He ensures that he talks about sadness, sorrows, circle of life, importance of Guru, why even Arjun needed Krishna to guide him, importance of surrender etc. etc. so on and so forth. This is to seal dependence of followers into him. When such people play with psyche, they turn young fresh vibrant minds into machines, clueless about what and why they are doing as told.
Another significant characteristic of cults is that nothing comes free. In name of seva, they collect funds, which they claim to use for various charities. However, no one know or dares to ask about where the funds go. Many followers who have given up their karmic lives, to do seva are cited as examples and glorified, saying, become like them. They have given up their luxuries and donated their earnings into the cult. So, slowly, followers who came here for peace of mind and direction to be able to learn ways of life and earn the luxuries of life, slowly are made to give up even what they currently have.
If you are in a similar organization and are being asked to keep it a secret, please ensure that all your antennae are up. Many cults encourage secrecy. They arrange member meetings behind closed doors and preach and preach and preach them to get more members “inside”. There is an “inside circle” that is not open even to members, esp new members and the new members are encouraged to complete courses to move ahead in their “spiritual path leading to the Master”. As the members start with courses, they become elevated as the next course is always an attraction – to reach the Master. Thus, leaving the cult becomes almost close to impossible, as one keeps moving further, and further.
This circle of exploitation is never-ending and I have not mentioned the “out of ordinary” stuff in this blog post at all – stuff that is tricks of hand, hypnotism, magic, etc. I am assuming that the victims are intelligent enough to understand that “Sweet” can not come out of “thin air” – something a Guruji once produced, and gave it as “prasad/offering” to a troubled lady who had trouble conceiving.
Very recently, and the reason why I was prompted to write this blog, was because I came across the following blog published by Art of Living survivors, one of them, in fact, was an exalted teacher in the group. Although I am not against or in favour of AoL, I think the way these authors have presented the choice of knowledge without thrashing out the cult case in point, is commendable.
They clearly demarcate between their own discoveries within the AoL as an organization, and offer blog readers the choice to explore further or the choice to move away, if they are ardent followers. As opposed to a normal cult behaviour, that emphasizes “conversion”, they offer the wisdom of experience and the freedom to choose.
Anyone interested should check out this: https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/the-purpose-of-these-blogs/
Now, talking about the purpose of my blog, I was in a situation recently, where in I witnessed a young mind getting pulled into the trap of an organization deeper and deeper, and when I researched, I was shocked to see and read the truth. My own brush with another organization, and my “thank god for good sense” that I could recognize that things are not right and listening to my own intuition, walking out bravely, was something that served as a strong blast from the past. I did not want the same to happen to others, however, I have grown wiser and I do realize today, that each one has come into this world, to learn their own lessons and I can not influence anyone.
All I can plead is for God to give common sense to the vulnerable.