Lets try to focus on the underlying emotions. I get from your post that there is fear, that there is longing for a true spiritual path and spirituality.
Taking the latter emotion first: the stronger the longing for a spiritual path the more one may be open for all those (exaggerated and unrealistic) promises usually made by "cults". Also those groups promise an easy path. All what they say may sound very good and it might well meets one's own desires. But the problem is here: for a true authentic spiritual path which is according to one's own predispositions and aims, one needs some effort and hardship and time to find it. Like it won't be easy if one has a certain type of cancer to find a good treatment and doctor and one has to investigate this matter carefully, so it is with genuine spiritual paths and genuine teachers. This needs time, investigation etc. There are many known spiritual masters or practitioner who didn't find the correct path and teachers in the beginning and adjusted it. Also the Buddha followed in the beginning certain Hindu Teachers and left them when he recognized it does not lead him where he wants to go. Angulimala was misled by his own teacher and became a serial killer! So the spiritual path includes hardships, suffering, errors, self-corrections. But the cults usually promise: with us you are secure, only follow us, then everything will be fine (meaning no need to doubt, to struggle or to have hardships etc.) And exactly this is unrealistic and meets the desire for an easy, quick and secure path. Ha ha life is a bit different to this ;-)
I like to quote in such context Bhikhsu Bodhi:
The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering. It does not start with lights and ecstasy, but with the hard tacks of pain, disappointment, and confusion. However, for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search, it must amount to more than something passively received from without. It has to trigger an inner realization, a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity perpetually gaping underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily, it can precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals and values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments stubbornly unsatisfying.
At first such changes generally are not welcome. We try to deny our vision and to smother our doubts; we struggle to drive away the discontent with new pursuits. But the flame of inquiry, once lit, continues to burn, and if we do not let ourselves be swept away by superficial readjustments or slouch back into a patched up version of our natural optimism, eventually the original glimmering of insight will again flare up, again confront us with our essential plight. It is precisely at that point, with all escape routes blocked, that we are ready to seek a way to bring our disquietude to an end. No longer can we continue to drift complacently through life, driven blindly by our hunger for sense pleasures and by the pressure of prevailing social norms. A deeper reality beckons us; we have heard the call of a more stable, more authentic happiness, and until we arrive at our destination we cannot rest content.
This is far more realistic than the cult's promises like "enlightenment in a arm chair" or the fulfillment of all wishes by just reciting mantras.
The path is not easy because the mind is tricky.
So I think it would be better to relax the longing for "a spiritual path here and now" and to think: I am on the path, its a part of my path to check the paths carefully. The better I invest time, energy and money in this the more I can later be sure that I didn't invest wrongly in something which it does not deserve.
There is another issue here: real change of oneself comes only very slowly , for a real change of the mind one needs patience and time, compassion with oneself. Usually the cults promise the "quickest and purest path" - another illusion, I think.
So the longing may be based on unrealistic expectations. If the unrealistic expectations are cut through and one becomes more realistic, the strong longing might relax and ease enters the heart, though there is still the wish but not so much any more that one is carried away by it—or even utter blinded by it.
To sum this point: Alex Berzin said to me: "Relax! Look what you have right now, work with this and then things come naturally at hand. Don't be so fanactical!"
All my new teachers advised: Relax!
This is an important point I think.
Now with respect to the fear. First of all cults are known to manipulate feelings of fear and guilt. Personally I think the very first step is to just accept the fear. Look there is fear in my mind, there is sadness, watch it! Accept these feelings as your teacher, they teach you something. Just being mindful aware of feelings on the basis of accepting them and not to reject them, is a great and powerful practice. There are many teachings on this but the key is: to stop to fight those feelings and to stop to label them as being only bad, rather accepting, welcoming and using them. The Mahamudra Tradition as well as the Theravada have a lot of helpful practices with this.
So my honest suggestion would be: take time, don't harry, relax, look a bit here and there, and if fear overcomes you, use the energy or despair to ask the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you to find a good path and good teachers. Make prayers and dedications that this may be fulfilled this is better than just feeling lost and doing nothing.
Maybe all of this is quite stupid then please just ignore it.
All the best, t
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/2010 02:27AM by Tenzin Peljor.