Re: Mooji a cult?
Date: June 16, 2017 11:23PM
Okay, I will quickly consider these. Really it's clear to me that Mooji is an open-ended spiritual group/New Age/new-religion, but not a cult.
It’s important clearly define each word here I think. But just for starters, we have to distinguish between a cult and a destructive cult. Mooji is clearly a personality cult based around devotion to that man. And many decisions and life choices of those around him could be being controlled by him.
1. Milieu Control. This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.
Mooji is the fount of knowledge. Communication during satsang takes the form of dialogue with him. Individuals living at the ashram might become isolated from society at large, just like anyone at an ashram or monastery might. But they can leave whenever they like.
“They can leave whenever they like” is a common refrain from destructive cults. But it doesn’t take into account the amount of investment and implicit pressure that exists once you have fully committed to a spiritual group, whether wittingly or not. So that’s applicable here.
It also, I have read, applies to ‘thought-stopping’- i.e. the ability of the groupspeak to quash any critical thinking that arises, perhaps by saying that “the devil has got hold of them” or that they have “given in to their ego”.
2. Mystical Manipulation. There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.
During satsangs you sometimes witness individuals screaming or having panic attacks. Mooji remaining calm while it goes on, and may have them come to the front so he can try to calm them down. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. These energetic outbursts are just something that happens spontaneously when people freak out in satsang.
This not what mystical manipulation means. It refers to a situation eg: the guru tells one senior member of the group to place subtle psychological pressure on someone. This builds up and builds up, until the potential recruit snaps and has a breakdown. The guru is then there to “catch” them and “save” them. This is then framed as a breakthrough. It is possible that behind the scenes, many of these people who come forward have been set up into their extreme responses by this, behind-the-scenes- mystical manipulation.
3. Demand for Purity. The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.
There is never any guilt or shame from Mooji. He is incredibly patient and charitable with everybody, even those who have made little or no attempt to follow his pointings.
OK. I don’t know. I haven’t seen evidence of that on screen. I don’t know if people higher up in the group are being shamed and pressured to conform. Or threatened with expulsion, shunned etc.
4. Confession. Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members' "sins," "attitudes," and "faults" are discussed and exploited by the leaders.
People do say to him in satsang "I just wanted to expose this", but it will be some impersonal infraction they believe they have committed regarding not having sufficiently followed his teachings. There's never any shame to it.
Again, this assumes there is no mystical manipulation going on. But there is also the aspect of whether there is any right to confidentiality. Is there a culture of other members informing on each other? Is personal privacy respected? Or is “personal privacy” twisted into an evil concept within the group? This is the cult of confession within destructive groups.
5. Sacred Science. The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.
Mooji will say that he considers discovering the self/letting go of the person to be the thing of most importance for humanity today. It might be that way for those inside satsang, but there are lots of problems facing the world that it doesn't answer. I don't see that you could really raise this with Mooji, as you would be speaking from 'within the person' and the satsang crowd wouldn't like it either.
This is not the point here either. Sacred Science means that the guru is right no matter what. That there is no room for questioning, and no reason to look anywhere else for any input. There is only the “ultimate truth”, which is the culture of the group. Any conflicting “ultimate truths” are a threat to this. Again, anyone who questions has got “the devil in them”.
6. Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichï¿½s, which serve to alter members' thought processes to conform to the group's way of thinking.
There's certainly a way of speaking, a use of language which takes a while to get used to.
Loading the Language is a mind control technique.
7. Doctrine over person. Member's personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.
Mooji doesn't want people to communicate with him from their position as a person. He doesn't' want to hear background stories, personal life problems, etc. But contrary experiences will certainly be shared in satsang.
It’s not so much “getting over yourself”, as your natural critical ability being reworked when it doesn’t fit in with the group narrative. So if someone is abused or injured within the group, then it may be reworked into seeming like they “became personal” or some such, in order to keep the groupthink safe.
8. Dispensing of existence. The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group's ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Lifton, 1989)
People are free to come and go as they please, and they will be treated with love and warmth when they're around, and when they come back. But at the same time the de-emphasis on "the person" means that there wouldn't be a strong attempt to hook any one person in.
Again the idea that “you can leave whenever you like” doesn’t take into account the fact that a heavy investment in “Ultimate truth” makes someone highly likely to put up with a lot of things before they are forced to make a change. And the culture will also tend to mean that when people leave the place, they feel “out”. The only acceptable way to be “in” is to be there, and there is no middle ground. Everyone who is “out”, is desperate to get in, with a kind of heaven motif. As the groupthink creates a new way of thinking in the recruit, every time they leave the "outside world" seems more and more foreign, reinforcing ideas of it being a lower place than being in the group. They feel stressed and under threat whenever they are outside, and ultimately cannot wait to get back, even if they are being mistreated.