Cults aren’t there for you. Their recruitment strategies vary, their aims vary, but what they all have in common is that you are not the party who benefits from their existence.
They will, however, have to do something for you to swallow their message, to believe that you are one of the chosen few and not like the idiots/demons/karmis/whatever is this cult’s shorthand for ‘the unenlightened masses’. This is what will be making you devote your life, your time, your money to the cult. Then more and more of your relationships move within the cult, then you follow the group think because you want to progress, then you get power, and then you never leave.
My personal experience is with the Hare Krishnas – I have written and talked about that at length, I went into that straight out of East Germany and didn’t hold anything back. I opened a temple in Cologne which still exists etc…. And then I got out, physically the year my child was born, emotionally I’m still getting out. I only broke off the relationship with my guru three years ago. They REALLY mess you up.
There would be much more literature (there are links here on the right but only very few books were ever published), but many people, especially with the Hare Krishnas, internalise the world view and never get rid of it. Others get out and never talk about it again – but then it comes back to haunt them, once they’ve dealt with the physical poverty, or raised their kids on their own because of the abusive relationships they got themselves into because of the cultish mentality. I found that being very vocal about the process helped me personally, so many people who know me know about my ridiculous past. I didn’t care about the stigma, I just wanted to heal.
I’ve done a 20 minute lecture about why the philosophical construct you internalise while in there is bad for a person’s mental health (in case you are interested.) And written a poem, but we don’t talk about that.
That was a long intro about me and the Hare Krishnas. I felt it was important to point out how much this is part of me, so that you understand why I feel strongly about scientology having started to recruit on social media. Blatantly, unashamedly. It makes me want to leave Twitter, and nothing has yet done that, I love Twitter.
Scientology works like this: They invite you for auditing. The auditing process is finding the chinks in your armour. There is always a moment where you feel yourself accepting that a group has something for you – in scientology’s case, this moment usually happens already before you sit down. Once you sit down, you are put into a state of mind that only makes you more open to swallowing what they are feeding you. (even if, on the surface, they are only listening to you.)
If you enter into an auditing session, and you are saying everything with full conviction – truth or not – , you’re in the clear. But honest, introspective people are often unsure, and the more we’ve been around, the more unsure we are about anything being absolutely true. W B Yeats, in his poem “The Second Coming”, from 1920, wrote:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
(There are many other versions of the ‘the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt’ quote but the Yeats version is my favourite.)
This ‘chinks in your armour’ thing is actually a great simile. Emotional ‘armour’ that is whole makes you tell people who don’t have your best interest at heart to fuck off. And it opens to reveal your vulnerabilities to the right kind of people, at the right time. That’s how love works. Doing what feels right, with an intact set of emotions, gets us a long way to living a good life. While accepting risk and inconvenience – exercise, for example, doesn’t always feel good, but it needs doing. People aren’t always obvious. You’ll find the balance with a lot of patience. It takes actually living to learn how to do life.
I know a lot about this process, because I had to rebuild my armour from scratch. There’s bits I’m very happy with, but there’s also pieces I’m still polishing.
Back to the auditing process. It’s very good at finding the bits of your life, your emotions, your relationships, your self-confidence, that aren’t working. You get them shown up, magnified. Then, you’re told how to fix them, which involves following a process, given by the dear leader. Then you are caught between choosing to either follow the path given to you (=do what is good for you, in the construct you’ve just agreed to accept as the truth) or not (be a lame loser, according to that construct.) It is very basic. If you leave laughing about it all, you’ll still have the niggling doubt that they are right, your life is a mess, and you come back days, weeks, or years later. The seed is sown.
We all know that L. Ron Hubbard started scientology with the plan to start a cult, not with any illusions of having actual enlightenment to spread. So scientology is probably the most methodological, well-run cult out there.
I also know that Brits aren’t the most self-confident people out there. If someone sits you down, they WILL find something, not because there is something wrong with you, but because you don’t think you’re actually that great. Let me tell you – I think you’re wrong, you’re great, I love being here with you all. So there. Sorted.