Re: Westernized Sufi and Theosophical Groups
Date: December 15, 2020 09:40PM
The cult I was indoctrinated into was very eclectic, and aside from the Guru's books, CDs and videos, there was mandatory reading from Theosophical Texts. There was strong encouragement to stick to the prescribed reading list, lol. There was a prescribed regimen - an esoteric mashup - of Qigong exercises/breathing/meditation, Yogic breathing/meditation/healing, watered down (and very selective) Buddhist teachings (including Tibetan), rosicrucian/occult rituals, New Age thought (working with crystals & angels - although they denied it was New Age) and theosophical/mystery school teachings. The Hierarchical Structure of the Occult and Ascended Masters was never fully explained, and the Guru's image was always shown in the hierarchical structure along with the Ascended Masters. We chanted Sanskrit mantras as well as the Lord's Prayer and the Great Invocation. We adhered to the Theosophical school's full moon rituals.
There were a lot of secrets, doled out carefully, and the organization is also hierarchical, so there was always a carrot dangling to entice you to work towards the next "level". Some things simply required the cost of admission, others required some sort of secretly-qualified permission to advance, or both. There was a lot of waiting, and this was mentioned in a previous post, where a person of means, education and influence is not accustomed to waiting for advancement when all of the boxes have seemingly been "checked". The problem here is that they've capped the "level" you could possibly attain, making it clear that you could never reach the level of mastery as The Masters in the organization. Built-in humility via glass ceiling, bound by hierarchical trickle-down.
This group attracted many intelligent, lovely, successful professionals. If you had a network of influence, you were a catch. Love-bombing and the whole shebang. If you brought people into the group, you were rewarded. Some people had their whole family involved - moms, aunts, cousins...As long as you were in your immediate supervisor's "good book" with your free service and other efforts to support the Guru's vision, you were encouraged to "hang around", which meant to increase the numbers of the group and contribute financially and energetically.
This group creates fear of leaving in a very interesting way. They've cherry-picked some pretty powerful practices that have positive effects on your body and mind in certain ways - and you are made to believe that this is an all-or-nothing path, where if you leave the group/quit the practices/think badly of the group or Guru - you will "deflate like a balloon" and lose all of the power and protection bestowed upon you. Basically, if your life has been made better by the Guru, it can also be made very much worse. Also, they made a point of both creating ego inflation (focus on power) relative to "ordinary people" and working on sublimating the ego in relation to the group's hierarchy. It was not the only conflicting practice, which created confusion when studying the group's teachings closely.
Emotional detachment is a hallmark of Theosophy, in my opinion, and I made it clear to my teacher that I would not engage in any practice or activity that might create conflict within my marriage. My spouse was respectful with me, but monitored my attitudes, words, spending and behaviours in relation to this "school". He told me later that there were some red flags, but he knows me well and we have a great relationship, and he said he was confident I would figure it out on my own, although not without a little harm done. I am fortunate to have him in my life for so long - many people involved in such groups have no one they can trust to reflect honestly and gently with, in what can be a painful recovery process.