All of your questions are valid and good, asked by every ex-Butler follower (“exer”) at one point or another. They need to be addressed. I am also glad you have come to this forum as you illustrate so well the Butler cult’s core beliefs and apologetics. However, my responses are not particularly for you, but for others, as you see things “through a glass darkly”.
Which brings me to the first point; a sign that you have been unduly influenced is the inability to generalize information or make connections between anything outside of the group’s circumscribed world view. In other words, when one reads an article on how cults operate and uses examples from other cults to illustrate, the reader fails to see the same modus operandi in their own group. Any crack in a cult’s idiosyncratic logic is seen as a soul eviscerating threat. The group’s teachings come with an arsenal of pulp fiction to cover up the leaks. Your posts are full of all the old, standard apologies we have heard before.
Additionally, you may have a visceral and negative reaction to the words “brainwashing” or “mind control” without really understanding what those terms really mean. Given, they are slang-ish and not technical terms. There are the stereotypical definitions that bring to mind “Chinese water torture” and “Manchurian Candidate”, which by no means resembles Butler’s cult. Then there is the very real phenomenon of bearing undue influence on others by using age-old psychological techniques, which are very much employed by Butler’s group, consciously and unconsciously.
You had an impossible time reading the articles about cult practices and applying it to the Butler cult because your critical thinking skills have been impaired. This has no reflection on your intelligence, it’s just how the brain works. Butler is trickier than most and he does not stand out like a Jim Jones, David Koresh, or even the “Monkey on a Stick” crowd, but the pattern remains the same, even if you can not see it yet.
You were unable to understand Singer’s essays and see differences between the military and a cult. Both a cult and the military have strict rules and regimens, but the purpose is profoundly different. The most glaring difference is that the military does not condemn your very soul to death if you offend your commanding officer. Try yelling out “Siddhaswarupananda is a f###ing asshole!” in the middle of a kirtan and see what happens! In the military, you may end up in the brig or forced to retire like General McCrystal. One thing is for sure, Obama never told him that he will take birth as a maggot in a piece of sh#t!
There is no eternal commitment/reward/damnation in the military. The purpose of total obedience in the military is ultimately to protect and save lives, not support an aging narcissist with delusions of grandeur. Your private and inner worlds are respected and free in the military; how you think, your politics, what you eat, how you worship, who you love, what you want to learn, what schools your children go to, what books you read or movies you see. If you want to be considered “serious” and advance in Butler’s cult, that is not the case.
You are also paid in the military. Regardless of the amount, there is an exchange of energy. The Butler group demands free service and they break you down with both cool dispassion and “attack therapy” until you are more usable. Can you figure out the reverse psychology? Can you figure out what the carrot is yet?
Somehow a person gets convinced that this path is the ONE which will bring spiritual experiences and connection to G0d. If you don’t feel it, you are made to believe it is because you are not good enough, sincere enough, pure enough. Therefore, you subject yourself to more “treatment” and abuse. It is a classic psychological trap.
Sorry, but you become a dependent child for the rest of your life. Again, from “The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power”, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
Because of the nature of the relationship which demands total
surrender, gurus . . . cultivate and reward
transference, for a parental type of authority is at the very
core of the gurus power over disciples…
[Transference is a psychological term. Is it no wonder Butler discourages followers from studying psychology.]
The ostensible motivation behind this has to do with an attempt
to break the ties of the past so the person can become new.
A deeper reason is that this aids the guru in becoming the center
of the persons emotional life, which facilitates surrender.”
“Successful gurus, rock stars, charismatic leaders of any
sort, experience the intensity of adulation amplified beyond most
peoples ken. This can make ordinary relationships pale
by comparison. Being the recipient of such adulation and devotion
is exceedingly addictive…
Adulation has powerful emotions for the sender as well,
and can be easily mistaken for love. It is likewise addicting
for the sender, as it is an easy route to feelings of passion.
[A passion seen in your mentors that you mistake as making them superior human beings.]
Since adulation is totally a function of image, should the images
crack, adulation disappears, demonstrating that it is essentially
empty of real care. "(p.112)
I believe it is harder to see some of the more obvious cultish things in Butler’s group because he is not a major or dramatic player in the realm of cults. He has studied cults for many years and has not fallen into the usual traps and scandals, but runs the same con game nonetheless. Do Butler's teachings have a spiritual basis? I have no doubt that the root religion has its share of goodness and wisdom. But remember, every dangerous cult coats itself in a veneer of noble causes and universal truths. Whatever incidental benefits followers may achieve, it is not due to Butler's derivations.
One of the things that several exers have shared with me about their experiences in the cult is how different it was from the more famous and dramatic cults involved in mass suicide, murder, and child sexual abuse. Because compared to them, Butler’s group appears harmless. But make no mistake, Butler has caused much harm if you bother to read this forum. Even after leaving, exers also had a very difficult time believing that they were misled or brainwashed in any way. It is interesting how they came away feeling that they were responsible, rational, and consensual volunteers. Most people have no idea how the psychology works. We think that it should be obvious, but many coersive techniques are very subtle, yet powerful. A very gentle force.
How complicit are his senior devotees, your mentors? Are they victims or perpetrators? I think it depends on each individual. It is also extremely difficult to realize that one’s adulation was all for nothing. There is no pain greater than to face the fact that you were a fool and wasted years of your life on a fraud. It means leaving family and dear friends and a complete sense of security. It also means learning how to think again. While difficult, the rewards of growing up are immeasurable.
As a two-year, “informally involved” person, you have no access or way to really know the history and inner workings of the cult except for what you hear from your mentors. It’s like reading studies of the harmful effects of cigarettes paid for by the cigarette manufacturer. Not an unbiased source.
While you obliquely refer to those of us who post as hate filled demons, your perception of the group is colored by many variables. Depending on where you are in the cult geographically, on what echelon level you work (peon, disciple, or valuable free agent), whether you are in Butler's favor or not that day (week, year), how "serious" you are or able to follow directives, how much money you can generate, and the amount of years and in what decade(s) you have served, are unique variables to consider. Everyone in the cult experiences it differently because of these variables. There has always been a social order and a double standard. They call it your karma and use the concept to abuse others without guilt. Interwoven into the group lives the very ancient caste system they deny. It is also a very secretive order.
To answer your first question, you need to apply the same tests, checks and balances to all gurus and teachers who claim to have the market on the absolute truth. But if you are using the guide book written by the group itself, the only stops marked on the map will be their own franchises.
You wrote, “If the guy is a fake I will eventually come to know that.”
No, you won’t. Smart, healthy, and well educated exers were fooled for years. The mind f##k is that good. They bank on our pride thinking we can’t be fooled.
You wrote, “Is there evidence of evil misdeed on Butler or his Vaishnavas part? … As for financial stuff, again, is there evidence of crime? Handing over possessions to one's spirtual guru is a common practice in many traditions far and wide on this planet. I have read of and seen it from many people far removed from Butler.”
How do you define evil misdeed? My definition of evil is “that which takes for oneself alone”. If a con man steals money from an old lady for a magazine subscription scam, where is the harm in that? She doesn’t know or care. No one was hurt. Is that okay? Of course not.
Butler is claiming to be something he is not. He is a fraud. He collects people and resources based on his claim that he is a pure devotee and g0d’s representative. His behaviors do not even coordinate with the very scriptures he claims to represent. That has been covered on this forum extensively. Your main justification for everything is that if others (you deem cool) do it, it must be okay. Not very logical. Many consensual activities, while legal, do not make them appropriate, moral or ethical.This forum is not filled with hate, but hurt. There are plenty of people who have been damaged by this cult and no one needs to justify or prove a thing to you!
Why do people leave the Butler cult?
It was ENOUGH that he deprived the children of basic human rights. [www.cirp.org
It was ENOUGH that his teachings led to many affairs and broken marriages…
It was ENOUGH that Butler changed the philosophy and made things up along the way to serve himself…
It was ENOUGH that he was unreasonably cruel to his followers for his own pleasure and self angrandizement…
It was ENOUGH that he was a narcissistic liar and hypocrite…
It was ENOUGH that he used slave labor and lived like Howard Hughs...
It was ENOUGH that he he had tantrums over the most mundane things…
It was ENOUGH that he had no compassion for a child with a cough, a dying disciple, a girl with bulimia, a kid with special needs…
It was ENOUGH that he behaved like a petulant and dependent child who took no responsibility for his own behaviors and problems…
It was ENOUGH that he blamed his followers for all of his illnesses by claiming to take on their karma for all their sins...
It was ENOUGH that he blamed his followers for an accidental head injury of his wife...
It was ENOUGH that he had followers put bags on their heads to humiliate and shame them…
It was ENOUGH that he served up his vile toe nails and foot water as something holy...
It was ENOUGH that he has his followers pray for his protection after a member committed suicide… rather than look at the groups dynamics or how he could have helped, he is fearful of the suicides spirit soul…
It was ENOUGH that he claims to be G0d’s best friend, but lives in mortal fear of germs and ghosts…
There are exers who claim knowledge of criminal activities and money laundering who rightfully fear the repercussions of whistle blowing. If true, it seems reasonable to assume that the vast majority of followers have no knowledge of how Butler’s organization(s) are really run. The real danger is in not knowing what Butler and his followers are capable of doing if crossed. We all know that “Mister wash-my-hands-clean Butler” is using more than just soap and water. He has always managed to protect him self from both scandal and poverty. He is the puppet master with wireless strings. While his watermark is on everything, his signature is not.
Why do followers throw themselves under the bus for Butler? If you can answer that question honestly and correctly, you have recovered your critical thinking skills.