Friday, June 3, 2011

Knowledge is Freedom — How to Know a Cult When You See One

On May 23rd, 2008, I started my first blog called “My Life in a Cult” using the nom de plume, Freedom Writer. It was my first time being completely free to speak out about my years inside the cult. After making 13 posts, I decided to block the blog until after the criminal trial of Prakashanand Saraswati. I will repost all of the blog posts here as an archive. The following was my eleventh blog post on “My Life in a Cult.”

August 4th, 2008 — "Dear Mom and Dad, I no longer fear hell.”

Lisa Simpson wrote this poignant line in a letter home to her parents from a summer camp, which turned out to be a wicked scam. In this episode of “The Simpsons,” Lisa, Bart, and other children thought they were going to experience the time of their lives at a delightful kids’ camp. Instead they were deceptively lured into an evil con game, where the devilish camp leaders abused them in uncountable ways.

I know just how little Lisa felt. I also no longer fear hell — because I have already experienced it at a place called JKP-Barsana Dham. Like Lisa, I was duped into thinking I was entering an upstanding organization, only to learn I was involved in a cult headed by people with unwholesome ulterior motives.

When I finally learned many, many of the JKP’s unholy secrets, I also learned the definition of a cult. According to the 15th edition of “The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy” (the revered medical encyclopedia used by doctors and nurses since 1899), cults offer “father or god figures” to people needing such identification. Throughout history “each self-appointed messiah claimed a simple solution for the complex problems of life and called for commitment, sacrifice, and zeal."

There is a high price to pay for joining any cult — including sacrificing your time, money, innocence, and self-respect. One of the reasons people are lured into cults is that cults use extremely deceptive recruiting practices. Their sneaky methods ensure that “prospective members have no accurate knowledge of the cult and almost no understanding of what eventually will be expected of them as long-term members.”

My advice to you is to question everything you're told and listen to your gut instincts: If something feels or seems wrong, it probably is. Ask the leadership the hard questions — and don't take nonsense for answers.

If you’ve read this far in this blog post, then you are already ahead of the JKP con game — because I am giving you critical information that can save you from entering a cult and being sorry later.

If you need more proof, the “The Merck Manual” provides this handy checklist for identifying a cult:

1. A cult controls an individual’s social and psychological environment, especially the person’s time.

2. A cult places an individual in a position of powerlessness within a high-control, authoritarian system.

3. A cult relies on a closed system of logic, which permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by executive order.

4. A cult lures each person into the environment over time in increments that are sufficiently minor and, therefore, difficult to perceive.

5. A cult erodes a person’s confidence in his or her own opinions and perceptions.

6. A cult creates a system of rewards and punishments that promotes desired behavior and inhibits undesirable behavior.

While it took me several years to realize I was being scammed by a cult, it feels great now to finally be out of hell. However, I would highly advise my fellow spiritual seekers not to go there in the first place.

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