What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 23, 2003 03:14AM

These New Age teachers and cults always, always start with a kernal of truth, a glimmer of beauty. Very often they appropriate wonderful teachings from a variety of valid spiritual traditions, then take the teachings out of context (usually by discarding the moral guidelines and humble daily disciplines that were supposed to accompany the teachings. For example, some of the most advanced Tibetan spiritual practices were only meant to be practiced by monks who had spent years living in community, had earned the trust of their peers and teachers, and who had undertaken extensive intellectual preparation and demonstrated that they were stable, moral people who wanted to be of service to others. This doesnt fit the profile of most Westerners who attend tantra workshops!)

It is incredibly seductive to be told 'You are special. You have a special destiny, just because you are at this event. You are about to live a life charged with glory that most people are too crude and unevolved to care about.'

And some of these teachers really can trigger bliss states, altered states of consciousousness. In a group of super-charged people, some very astounding, amazing things can happen, things that are very hard to discuss with friends and family who do not share your interest or who were not at the event. It's especially difficult if you have these yearnings, then have these experiences and must go home to a partner who isnt interested in these matters. It then gets very tempting to clam up around one's partner and become emotionally dependant more and more on fellow seekers. If it turns out you're in a badly run group or sect, you're in trouble. You dread that questioning the group means you must then go home, tail between legs to your skeptical spouse.

Here is a small example of what can happen in a group. Last Saturday I attended a peace march and then sat in silent meditation with a spiritual contingent.

No one chanted or lectured us. A totally unprogrammed environment, with lots of noise going on. Usually I have a lot of distraction when I meditate. But on this occasion, as soon as I sat down, my mind went lucid. I had my eyes open, was aware of everything around me (I saw a tiny earring fall to the ground when someone stood up and I picked it up and handed it to her). For two hours my concentration was stable and unbroken--as though my usual neuroses had gone on vacation. This persisted the rest of the day. I mention this as an example of how influential it can be to join a group where all the participants have cultivated a similar mental state. THis happened to be a very healthy, sane group of people that sat in silence, surrounded by a noisy crowd in an outdoor setting. So imagine how influential it could be if several hundred persons were segregated in an auditorium, and were led through a series of guided visualizations by a charismatic speaker.

Most subtly, your own deepest, most heartfelt yearning for Divinity can easily become linked to experiences triggered by a charismatic, but money-grubbing entrepreneur. They've ripped off valid spiritual traditions, without submitting to the spiriutal and ethical disciplines of those traditions. [i:5d552d65ed]Still operating from ego, but with powerful techniques at their disposal[/i:5d552d65ed], they are hustlers, pure and simple, impersonating spiritual teachers.

You feel ashamed and humiliated that the person was a faker but nevertheless aroused your body, even your soul. You can then easily come to hate and blame your own capacity for pleasure, and spiritual aspiration - a tragic response to someone elses crookedness.

They attach good things to an exploitative agenda--beautiful bait on a sharp steel hook. They do not see people like your sister as beings who deserve respect and care and protection; they merely see one more check, one more face in the crowd.

So to question the integrity of the teacher, to suspect that he was unqualified, that he hurt you and ripped you off, can feel as though you're being told to give up your soul and regress to an inferior life that is grey, flat and colorless. The saddest thing in the world is to have loved, and to find that the person you trusted to love you merely looked coldly at you and saw you as an object.

The hard thing in recovery is to take what was good from the trama and chisel it free from the exploitation and bullshit that was dumped on you. Your sister can live a spiritual life, but she will have to combine that aspiration with discernment skills. It really can be done, but admitting its necessary hurts like hell.

It is really a greater achievement to be human than to be special.

What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: Ang2BRD ()
Date: January 26, 2003 11:02PM

Hey Corboy. Very interesting post...

I have to tell you that my sister was so caught up in the New Age Movement prior to her getting pregnant the first time that she hardly engaged in the world. I mean, she worked and all, but ALL of her spare time was into meditation, reading self-help books and suggesting to people to "watch their words because words have power." She had no clue of what the latest popular songs were on the radio, she never watched the news {had no idea of current events) and she didn't have a clue what TV shows/movies were out. Now I say and, at the same time, I think some of this stuff is crap and don't believe in emerging yourself in it all. But to not have a clue of anything around you in the real world is completely unbalanced.

This is probably a very key component I should have shared in addition to the Tony Robbins experience. With her state of mind, just have given birth (she was diagnosed with postpartum depression) and lack of sleep...it's no wonder why she went psychotic.

Bottom line is there is definitely such thing as too much spirituality. Don't get me wrong, I go to church and pray every day. But I also participate in life on every level. When our bodies, minds and soul are not in balance, bad things like this happen.

The reason why I posted the question about Tony Robbins is because my sister's theory was that she went psychotic just because of this seminar. I don't believe that was the only reason, but I wanted to see what other people's experiences were.

What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 27, 2003 04:38AM

there's such a thing as balanced spirituality and unbalanced spirituality. Anything can mess you up if it isnt integrated into your entire life--just look at people who go crazy using addiction to gambling, jogging, football on TV, overwork...and yes, spirituality. If you have a personality where you tend to take things to extremes, you can be at risk of overdoing matters--including spiritualityl

At the same time, a genuinely responsible spiritual teacher/tradition will constantly remind students to remain aware of their health, their family commitments, their friendships, and long term financial goals.

So it sounds as though your sister had quite a few things going on. Yes, pregnancy all by itself can trigger a postpartum depression. And while words do have power, that awareness has to be balanced by an awarenes of boundaries and that while we can affect other people, we are NOT omnipotent, either.

I've been re-reading a book by Marty Raphael. It has lots of excellent material, though the title is rather alarming: Spiritual Vampires. The author was exposed to quite a few New Age groups and teachers and she makes a remarkable comment that 1) cultivating psychic power must always, always be balanced out by a realistic awareness of your human limitations. No matter how exalted your spirituality you must never, ever forget to pay your rent, show up on time at work, and be there for your family. Raphael says in so many words that it is spiritually misleading and even abusive to imply that spirituality must always be at odds with your day to day life; it includes every day life. The problem is that many people come at spirituality as a way to escape from their lives and emotions, and all too often they meet up with groups and teachers that equate escapism and obsession with spirituality.

What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 27, 2003 09:09AM

My experience has been with SOME spiritual leaders, meditation teachers, even yoga teachers that they don't need to watch the news or be informed because it is not important - there are greater pursuits. For someone who is searching for an answer to problems like depression and hoping to find an answer in spiritual pursuits, this is actually a relief, but in the long run, quite isolating. It also goes along with the striving for some kind of great feeling - elation, connection - etc. Two "gurus" I encountered constantly said life goes on - so after 9/11, they were not upset at all and even had some contempt for people grieving and feeling traumatized after the events. This contempt can be contagious after awhile, leading the student to have little or no patience for those suffering, assuming a bit of self-righteousness by "knowing the truth that lies inside". Again, this leads to further isolation and actually masks denial of problems, like perhaps post partum depression, which can lead to a swift downward spiral into deeper depression.

What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: Pauly ()
Date: January 30, 2003 10:12AM

Makes you think about how much all thesenmaccounts add up to the very simple and very natural need to feel:


What Hope said is 100% right!
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: February 07, 2003 12:39AM

Actually, I was thinking the driving energy behind many of these accounts is the need to escape. However, I suppose you could say that one finds acceptance with those who have escaped together.

There is a post that suggests everyone lives in a cult to a certain extent and as the moderator replied, in a very expansive definition, that may be true. Not to get to philosophical, but just about everything, particularly in the US, is based on the bottom line, big business, capitalism, as well as customs, a moral code, and attitudes that have roots in Puritanism. We have a wealthy minority, an unhappy majority in the middle trying to get by, and a huge problem with poverty, health, environmental and political issues, a war on certain drugs, and then we have cults and cult-like organizations. We also have millions of people who plod along believing in institutions like modern medicine, the church and government despite negative experiences.

I think many people turn to cults because the conflict living according to the above systems is so great, the initial offering of cults seems legitimate. And perhaps it's not even escape, but rather a belief that a simpler way of life is in store, or solutions to making positive changes in society. Cult leaders like Jim Jones and the ND I was working with preached in the style of evangelists, offering escape from big business, the media, and both suggested the use of psychadelics. Ecstasy is now being used "therapeutically" in the alternative medicine field, to "open up" people to their true Selves. Eastern philosophy is being touted as the cure for rigid Christian upbringing, yet so many peole don't realize they're falling for the institution and not the gaining wisdom.

There is a sense of powerlessness, especially in the US, that keeps people frustrated and wanting to escape the rat race, but if they haven't found meaning in their religion, if government does what it wants, if medicine doesn't cure even the simplest of ailments, there will be cults and con artists.

Oh boy!

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