Author Topic: Cult and cult-like experiences  (Read 1219 times)

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Offline cleveland

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« on: February 22, 2005, 11:03:00 AM »
I've been thinking of all of the cult and cult-like experiences I've had, both before and after the Seed. Here's a short list:

1. An elementary school friend told be I would 'go to hell' unless I accepted Jesus. My family was not very religious, so I argued with him. I thought he was crazy and I still have a hard time with religious fanatics.  

2. High School sports. I was a 'freak,' and the jocks had a very tight culture that I was resentful of - they had special privileges and status. From outside view, this was a cultish group.

3. Drug culture. At the same time, I became aware of the whole drug culture thing, which to me had the attraction of being an anti-jock thing. Unfortunately for me, the jocks were co-opting the drug scene, so getting high was less attractive to me. I really wanted to be a part of the hippy generation, but in the '70s, this was just becoming a style thing...

4. Nichren Shonen 'buddhism,' which is still huge but has a different name. I don't think it's buddhism at all, but a cult. A lot of kids got into this in Shaker Heights, the wealthy Cleveland suburb, and I knew someone involved. I was invited to their 'open meeting,' and in retrospect, it was a LOT like the Seed - emotional testimonials of 'before' and 'after,' belief the they 'had it' and outsiders didn't, and the general 'happy happy' vibe...I bought a Gahonzon (sp? - a scroll of 'Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo') to chant to...thought that was cool but I never went back.

5. Leaving the Seed, I joined Adult Children of Alcoholics - trying to make sense of my family. While less cult-like than the previous listings, it still had elements of group think, but pretty mild in my experience.

6. Multi-level marketing. I had a friend who took me to yet another 'open meeting,' this one for some scheme. The room was packed with people who hoped to get rich, and were sure to be disappointed.

7. About 10-15 years ago, I had a bunch of acquaintences who were going to sessions of The Forum, which I understand to be EST. They were all artists, so I wouldn't think they'd get sucked in, but they were and I lost touch with them.

8. About 10 years ago, a very good friend of mine got involved with a group called 'Understanding Yourself and Others.' To me, this seemed like EST and I was SO glad when he left, though he still speaks fondly of the experince, he agrees that it is/was a cult.

9. My high school buddies. Duh - we said we would die for each other and we almost meant it. No wonder kids join gangs - we were looking for a tight bond and we weren't getting it from our families.

10. I had  very low-level job in corporate america for a while, and our staff meetings were very cultish - rah rah company! I could hardly wait to leave.

11. I forgot about the boy scouts - I went to about 10 meetings as a kid and it just scared me. We didn't really do any camping or other cool stuff, we just waved flags and yelled and I hated it...

12. Art School. Kind of cultish too, but also interesting and fun...glad I did it even though I am not an active artist right now...

That's it. Do others have cult/near-cult experiences? I think it's very much a part of our culture and important to recognize it for what it is. Ever been to a political event? I didn't list that but watch Fox news for two seconds and it's a cult, no doubt...


Wally Gator[ This Message was edited by: cleveland on 2005-02-22 08:13 ]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
ally Gator

Offline Anonymous

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2005, 11:23:00 AM »
I once went to an Amway meeting w/ a friend. It was scary to see all the people sucked in by that BS.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Stripe

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2005, 11:52:00 AM »
Wally,

I'm with you on this one. Nearly step for step, I see that same path in my life.

What I think is so weird about the experiences on your list and mine is that after the inital indoctrination/exposure at the Seed, we tend to attract or be attracted to these groups and people.  It's like we're magnets for the continued lunacy - even when we purposefully ty to avoid it.    

I think the attraction that these groups have for people like me comes from the basic self-doubt and esteem lowering programming that is the foundtion the Seed.  What is fostered on the first go round is a genuine personality weakness that these kinds of groups thrive on.

I think that the adult weakness and self-esteem problem is even greater when the program Seedling was NOT drug addicted.  Personally, I  have spent an inrdiante amount of time worrying, doubting and living a lifestyle of a person who is addicted.  And yet, I'm not and I never was.

I read the Dade County Grand Jury Report dated  November 1972.  The Grand Jury found, in 1972, that "the Seedlings range in age from nine years to thirty years, with 68% of the clients being 17 years old or less."  It would be interesting to know the age breakdown of the 68% that were 17 or less.  How many of those 68% in 1972 were clinically drug addicted persons - that we will never know because there was no medical criteria for admission to the Seed program.  

The younger people, not drug addicted but placed in the program for having "bad attitudes" - are they the ones who have had the long term peronality problems that are so often discussed in these forums?
 
Some times it looks black and white to me:  
people who never had the initial mind bending exposure like we had at The Seed - they are not approached by these groups nor do these folks seem to see any need for this stuff in in their lives.  And these groups don't want anything to do with those non-damaged stronger people.  

It's human nature to desire congregation; we are social animals. What's so disturbing is that these natural instincts are then purposefully hijacked by people with bad intentions.  The end result of that hijack created, in me, a very weak, fearful and conformist-based personality.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Fran

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2005, 12:36:00 PM »
Another cult based comes to mind...is the Masonic Group or Masons.
My husband was in a boys group of the Masons (the demolaya?) not sure of the spelling...to this day he does not know what they did? Or why? but to be a mason you have to have a family member be one and it is highly secretive type meetings. His father was a mason and his mother and sister were part of the woman's area of masons called Rainbow Girls.
It is not religious based or community based. Not sure what it is really..anyone out there know?
My husband stopped attending the meetings around the age of 12 or so and his father had died years earlier so there was really know one to ask. His mom and sister made the Rainbow Girls out to be some special group of girls and women but I am still not sure what they did other then get gowns and dress up.[ This Message was edited by: Fran on 2005-02-22 09:38 ]
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Offline marshall

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2005, 01:01:00 PM »
<"Nichren Shonen 'buddhism,' which is still huge but has a different name. I don't think it's buddhism at all, but a cult.">

Nichiren forms of buddhism (sgi, et al) are to buddhism about what jehovah's witnesses are to mainstream christianity. It's not that they are bad people. Tina Turner seems nice enough. But the majority I've spoken with are sure that theirs is the 'only' path to salvation and tend to condemn other religions or sects. The saved vs. the unsaved. Very seedlike. Comparative religion is one of my hobbies / interests that I've pursued post-seed.

<"About 10-15 years ago, I had a bunch of acquaintences who were going to sessions of The Forum, which I understand to be EST.">

 The first time I heard of EST was at the seed. An oldcomer named George used to talk about it. He spoke very approvingly of EST and Werner Erhard. He wasn't a member, just read alot about it. Now it doesn't surprise me that a seedling would find much to admire in such a group.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. You must climb towards the Truth. It cannot be \'stepped down\'

Offline Antigen

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2005, 01:06:00 PM »
How about the most common type of cult, an abusive, one sided romantic relationship? That's something everybody's seen. Some understand it, others don't but we all either have been there or know someone who has.

If you really want to get this deep into the topic, we probably should nail down some definitions. Merriam Webster has 5 definitions, starting w/ all religions and ending w/ fan clubs.

So are we talking about all group identification and devotion? Or only the high demand, spurious and destructive type? And where do we draw the line? No, where should we draw the line?

I've always shied away from any kind of group membership. I sort of envy those who can be full fledged, dedicated members of ... whatever; teams, PTA groups, fire houses, churches or other groups w/o either reservation or letting the group take up an unwholesome control of their lives.

But I can't do it, no sir! As honesty really has always been important to me, if you ask me "Will you devote yourself entirely to ______?", the only true and correct answer is "Nope, for I belong to somebody."

I can't even bring myself to become a formal member of the Libertarian Party because I can't honestly say that I agree w/ the leadership or all of their proposed solutions to all of our problems.

But I'm not sure that's such a bad thing, ya' know? The one group I do belong to, I belong to entirely w/o reservation; Clan Warbis. While I appreciate the rest more and more as I grow older, I don't mind being a neutral observer.

Scoundrels are predictable, but you're a man of honor and that frightens me.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671877046/' target='_new'> Robert Heinlein, Glory Road.

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Offline marshall

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Cult and cult-like experiences
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2005, 09:42:00 PM »
Within a couple of years of graduating the seed I encountered a situation that challenged some of my worldviews. It involved two co-workers. One was an older guy...my former boss. We used to hang out and get high together before I went to the seed. By the time I graduated and moved back to Ga. he had found jesus and gotten born again....was completely straight, no drugs or alcohol. The other was a new co-worker that was a heavy pot smoker. This guy played in a band, had long stringey hair and fit my image of a typical druggie. The problem was he didn't act that way at all. In fact, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever known. I don't just mean 'acting like a nice guy'. He was always helpful and thoughful of others. Over time, try as I might to fit him into my seed worldview, I could not. This man was supposed to be a selfish jerk. Oh sure, maybe he has a veneer of mr niceguy...but his real druggie self should eventually shine through. It never did. How could a druggie be a really good guy? They're all selfish assholes, right? On top of it all, he was a brilliant electrical engineer.

Then there was my boss. Now that we were both straight, I figured we'd be even closer friends. He didn't conform to my preconceptions either. The guy had turned into an absolute jerk. No-one seemed to like him. Overbearing, arrogant, intolerant of others. I found I could no longer stand to be around the guy. None of this made sense to me. Druggies bad, straight people good. In my thinking at the time, even if someone wasn't 'seed-straight' they should still be miles ahead of some druggie asshole. I realized that the world isn't as simple as I had been taught. People aren't usually all good or all bad. The truth isn't always black and white. Being highly intolerant of other's shortcomings can easily be more of a fault than the very faults we may be intolerant of. Comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves superior can lead to self-righteousness on a grand scale.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. You must climb towards the Truth. It cannot be \'stepped down\'