From Evaluating Spiritual and Utopian Groups by Arthur J. Deikman:
(I'll put the quotes from the article in bold. My comments will be written in regular text.)
[b:e6880c2f8f]In order to do this one must recognize that the experience of the truly spiritual is not a fantasy, a delusion or an emotional binge but a valid aspect of human life known to almost everyone to some degree.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
How can the author here state as an unchallengeable fact that the "truly spiritual" [Who decides what 'real' spirituality is and what is not? Deikman will no doubt let us know.] is a reality that we must accept if we're going to be able to properly evaluate various "spiritual and utopian groups"? He starts with a popular New Age assumption that "almost everyone" has experienced evidence of some sort of a spiritual world to some degree or another. What if I made a similar statement and said that almost everyone has ingested an inebriant of some kind or another, whether it be alcohol or opium, and has experienced a more pleasant world where our personal worries are diminished, and that because of that there is another 'dimension' out there that we can go to and exist in that state all the time. We can see the problem with that train of thought when I use the drug example, but it's usually not so obvious when people do the same with spirituality as I feel Deikman has done here.
[b:e6880c2f8f]Even today, in a culture that has embraced the scientific world view, most people have intimations of a larger, more perfect reality that transcends the material world. This intangible perception has been shared by some of the principal physicists who established modern science, such as Newton and Einstein.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
Another typical New Age approach here. Deikman states, "Even today, in a culture that has embraced the scientific world view ..." suggesting that the scientific world view is shallow, or at the very least, not seeing the full picture. But in the very next sentence he praises physicists and the value of science when they seem to support the idea of a transcendent spiritual world. The New Age view that is being stated here is that science is short-sighted because it doesn't recognize spiritual planes of existence, but when we can use their findings to suggest the existence of such mythical realms, then science is our noble friend.
[b:e6880c2f8f]The intuition of the spiritual does not require esoteric, dramatic ecstasies; in its most convincing form it is part of everyday consciousness. There it is reflected in our awareness of "the good".[/b:e6880c2f8f]
I see. So there's a spiritual realm where only "the good" exists? How does having a sense of morality suggest that there is some type of heaven this "good" is filtered down from?
[b:e6880c2f8f]Tolstoy describes this perception in his novel, [i:e6880c2f8f]Anna Karenina[/i:e6880c2f8f].[/b:e6880c2f8f]
It's written in a novel? Hmm, must be something to it then.
[b:e6880c2f8f]... the spiritual shines ahead of us through the darkness and we seek its source.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
So the spiritual is something outside ourselves that we need to discover? Sounds like a cat chasing its tail to me.
[b:e6880c2f8f]The aim of the mystical traditions is the development of the ability to perceive directly (intuitively) the reality that underlies the world of appearances, whatever that reality may be called. All the traditions agree that the primary requirement for the development of this capacity is that a person shift from a self‑centered orientation to one of serving the Truth. This service must be without concern for personal gain.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
This is a simple mind-numbing trick to get people to serve you without question. It's not even possible to do, but it keeps one's mind running around on a hamster wheel and conveniently out of the way while being exploited. How can one shift their awareness from being self-centered to one that "serves" (catch that key word in his text) the "Truth" without concern for personal gain. The only reason someone would attempt this is for personal gain. People do it because they think they're going to find peace or truth or God or whatever. And that's personal gain regardless of how noble the robes look that one covers it up with.
[b:e6880c2f8f]For unitive perception, for that access to the spiritual domain, a selfless orientation is required in which the Truth is served for its own sake.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
How do we serve "Truth", and who decides exactly what this truth is? We serve Truth to gain access to the spiritual domain, but since we're not there, how do we know what Truth is? Someone must tell us, someone like Deikman. How can we join Deikman's spiritual-psychotherapy cult?
[b:e6880c2f8f]A genuine spiritual organization is run in such a way as to assist the student in making the shift from a self‑centered life to one that is centered in service.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
Sounds like "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Make You Free) which was the inscription on the front gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp. I'll take a pass on your wonderful world of selfless service.
[b:e6880c2f8f]... indoctrination is antithetical to the expression of individuality and the mystical literature makes clear that individuality is crucial to the developmental process and must eventually manifest itself.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
Huh? I thought individuality was bad? Now it's good again. Cute. Note how he states that "the mystical literature" says this, that and the other -- like they all say the same thing (and all happen to be in agreement with the author) -- convenient.
[b:e6880c2f8f]Spiritual development requires the opposite of indoctrination: learning to discern how the perception of the world is influenced by egocentric thought and motivations.[/b:e6880c2f8f]
This is insane. My comments are getting a little edgy because this guy is making less and less sense and we're suppose to eat it up. "Learning to discern how the perception of the world is influenced by egocentric thought and motivations" [i:e6880c2f8f]is[/i:e6880c2f8f] indoctrination! He's flat out telling us [i:e6880c2f8f]exactly[/i:e6880c2f8f] what we need to learn.
[b:e6880c2f8f]... careful attention to traditional teaching stories and anecdotes reveals that there are certain principles that are never violated ... There are no examples of teachers entering into sexual relations with their students ...[/b:e6880c2f8f]
There's a Buddhist story on how one teacher shagged some guy's wife to supposedly teach him some short of spiritual lesson. I guess since this was the student's wife, and not the student directly, I'll let Deikman slide on a technicality here.
[b:e6880c2f8f]A good place to start is with Freud's definition of a healthy individual ...[/b:e6880c2f8f]
Whoa there. Freud's twisted theories are fortunately long outdated, and some view him as having been a type of cult leader. I'll take a pass on starting with Freud.
I'm nitpicking here now, so I'll close my argument.
Wild spiritual assertions are being made here that we're suppose to accept as fact. This doesn't strike me as an appropriate way to address the process and study of cultic involvement and recovery. Rebuttal anyone?