Lordmayor, it may be that what gets the process going full tilt is when a mythomaniac leader makes contact with and recruits enough persons who are in Bartley's predicment, searching for someone to look up to, to mythologize.
Many go to India or South America, already mythologizing the scene and are ripe for the picking. As I not below, part of the cultic milieu may be that it not only contains ideas that have been rejected by the mainstream, treats ideas as interchangeable, but most importantly, the cultic milieu is itself characterized as a psychosocial zone in which mytholgizing and mythomania are normative, long past the time when this mindset is age appropriate.
The cultic milieu prefers mythologizing and dislikes actual scholarship and fact checking.
(For a description of what happens when one goes from a mythologizing upbringing and into an environment in which one learns scholarship and discovers, with sorrow and anger that ones beloved role model was a mythomaniac, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's memoir My Father's Guru
is a must-read. The Masson family had a guru living in their house. The guy fits the profile of a mythomaniac. However, PB was unusual in that he was a bully. He did however, have a huge influence on the lives of his closest disciples and caused some of them much financial and emotional anguish.)
Real recovery from the cultic scene happens when one gets aware enough to feel tired of mythologizing and senses it is a dead end.
IMO one mark of an actual cult is that it exploits and inflames mythologizing tendencies a seeker already has--and conceals this regression by using bliss technology. The person gets hooked both on the bliss and on the mythomaniac leader or (in some cases) the mythomaniac organization.
By contrast to a cult, an emancipatory teacher/therapist would
1) Not be a mythomaniac. Real therapists do not fill the room with themselves and their own Big Stories. The real ones create boundaried space so that the seeker can come home to his or her own yearnings and bring them out into conscious awareness.
2) The real teacher or therapist, in addition to not filling the room with his or her story, listens more than speaks and tries to find ways to assist the client to become conscious of his or her yearnings for a Big Mythical Daddy. This is done to free the person from yearnings that are a source of suffering and that trigger hurtful patterns of behavior.
Real therapists and gurus demythologize. This will not kill wonder in life. It opens us up to a quieter and more human calmness and agency.
This cannot be done on a mass industrial scale, in workshops. Close and undivided attention is needed.
IMO, the crazy wisdom alibi or the 'sorcerer's way' as actually practiced in Castaneda's cult, is a preframe to mythologizing.
In the case of a guru named Adi Da, Mark Miller described the imprisoning process of a mythomaniac (Adi Da) and mytholgizing disciples.
Persons unwilling to mythologize were winnowed out of the group (Corboy)
In an off-line discussion a couple of us speculated that high energy people with bipolar disorder might gravitate to gurus who have untreated bipolar disorder and create wild, crisis ridden ashrams, and call this 'crazy wisdom practice'
Or we just dont know how to energize ourselves and feel hope unless we have a myth--something to crave, some goal to meet.
Mark Miller examined the sitaution around Da Free John and noted it wasnt just a crazy guru who was the problem; it was that people clung to the whole process of mythologizing the guy.
(And Adi Da, the mythologizer, encouraged this)
Mark Miller wrote,)
'The community is at root [i:afc1f20921]a society devoted to glorification and myth-making in relation to DFJ[/i:afc1f20921], who is truly the ultimate example of "Narcissus", the mythical figure DFJ uses to describe those who are unenlightened. This supreme Narcissist requires the constant adoration of not only himself, but also of everything associated with him -- his properties and possessions (including the "holy sites"), and the "murtis" (pictures) of him, etc. These inanimate objects serve as extensions of his huge ego, and the construction of them and/or worship of them serve to usurp huge amounts of devotees time and money.
''... Once people leave the group, there is no guarantee they will stop the "esoteric practice" (ha ha) of DFJ mythologization. That is just one reason why some people you've met who leave the group still believe in all kinds of nonsense about DFJ. It can be difficult to see all of the ways in which [u:afc1f20921]habitual mythologization is operative and to understand the full range and scope of its influence.
'Waking up can take time. Many can't seem to develop much insight into their delusions and commitment to myth-making about DFJ, beyond identifying the crudest and most obviously "cultic" level of it. This is why some of the group's beliefs and assumptions are retained indefinitely by many people, even long after they leave. '
In other words, you can leave a group, but still retain the myth-making mindset that made the group and guru so appealing.
Unless you become willin examine your own craving for an energizing myth, you'll remain recruitable by yet another Magic Parent.
You can reject a particular guru, then walk around with a 'guru-shaped hole' in your psyche.
Eventually someone will come along who matches that outline, and the game resumes.
IMO the cultic milieu/new age scene can be distinguished by its mythologizing mindset. If you are unwilling to mythologize, you are not a member of the tribe.
I remember finding myself in the midst of such a gathering. Felt like the only sober person in a roomful of people who were stoned.
They were stoned on mythologizing and the lecturer, whom I thought was a legitimate person, turned out to be a mythomaniac.
I could see, and later verified that he was a cruel person. But the mythologizing audience were blind to all this.
Leaving a bad ashram or organization is not enough to ensure recovery. Leaving will give you short term relief by removing you from a disorienting, confusing situation. THat part is very good.
Long term, leaving a bad set up will not address the mythologizing needs and yearnings that attracted us to these unbalanced power set ups--and will not help us understand what made the mind fuck feel thrilling rather than chilling.
There are some gurus out there who are over the top bullies. They'd be kicked in the butt if they dared behave this way in normal society, but in thier own communities, thier bad behavior is celebrated as crazy wisdom. Their disciples come to believe that they need to be abused in order to make any progress. Anyone who has misgivings is written off as wimpy, not serious about 'the path' or accused of being 'touchy-feely.'
Most people walk out of their lectures and never return--persons who are disgusted by bad behavior. But--a few people stay, and become disciples to these bully-gurus. They tolerate a level of suffering that cause most of us to run the other way. For them to recover, they have to investigate what led them to stay in that room with that bully-guru, when so many other people walked away.
Its not something to be ashamed of---shame doesnt solve this.
You need to feel curious, to investigate this with a kind of friendly curiosity. What was it about that power imbalance that sparked my hope, energized me, made the abuse seem a worthwhile price to pay?
Bad gurus are not universally appealing. But they get their devotees by skilfully recruiting in such a way as to attract and keep the few who are thrilled by power and by power imbalance and by quickly repulsing people who are revolted by power abuse and game playing and would disrupt the guru's game playing if permitted to join the ashram