Cults fascinate me. I’ve read about the Manson Family, The People’s Temple, the Branch Davidians, the Moonies. And I’ve watched closely a few well-known Indian ‘gurus’ who have managed to con people in a huge way.
Cults Fascinate Me
I’ve just finished watching a documentary on Discovery Plus called ‘My Daughter Joined A Cult‘, that follows the life of the controversial Indian ‘godman’, Swami Nithyananda. Watching this made me so upset, especially since I know an old colleague of mine actually went to stay in his ashram. She was lucky to get out because of a scandal that rocked the ashram soon after she joined. Other men, women and children were not so lucky. Some of them are dead and others missing.
I’ve read ‘Born into the Children of God ‘. It was fascinating to me because I have interacted with members of this cult several years ago! The Children of God were all over India – and would often come to our homes to sell music cassettes using the name of ‘Music With Meaning’ for their group. They would use music to lure young people into their cult. I remember meeting a Hindu Brahmin young man, who was crazy about music and got into this cult. I tried to talk to him about what they were really about, but he wouldn’t listen. Numerous former members have alleged that, as children, they experienced repeated physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of the Children Of God members and leaders. (Source)
How can one man or one woman wield so much power over so many? What makes people so open to being preyed upon? How can people stand by and watch others being abused in the name of religion, rituals, etc? What makes disciples of of these ‘gurus’ turn on the other disciples and abuse them. Perhaps the best answer comes from a cult-survivor.
People do not knowingly join “cults” that will ultimately destroy and kill them. People join self-help groups, churches, political movements, college campus dinner socials, and the like, in an effort to be a part of something larger than themselves. It is mostly the innocent and naïve who find themselves entrapped. In their openhearted endeavor to find meaning in their lives, they walk blindly into the promise of ultimate answers and a higher purpose. It is usually only gradually that a group turns into or reveals itself as a cult, becomes malignant, but by then it is often too late.”
― Deborah Layton, Seductive Poison: A Jones town Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the People’s Temple
Cults are such a fascinating study in human nature – power, mob mentality, exploitation, blind faith – are all on display. And always cults are a reminder to me of how easy it is to give up one’s power to someone else, if you are not watchful.
Are you similarly fascinated?
May you be inspired – every day!
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