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 twelfth blog post on “My Life in a Cult.”
August 11th, 2008 — It’s too bad I usually fell asleep before the end of “The Wizard of Oz.”
When I was a child, the annual airing of this epic movie was a highlight of my young life. However, typically I would fall sound asleep before Dorothy returned to Oz with the witch’s broomstick and before she realized that the “great and wonderful wizard of Oz” was just a short, fat, old, pathetic man frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers behind a curtain — all in a frenzied attempt to keep the secret of his grand façade from being revealed to the hoodwinked, brainwashed, robotic citizens of Oz.
Perhaps if I had watched the ending of the movie multiple times, the truth of the wizard’s con game would have been indelibly etched in my mind. Then maybe I would have been smarter about falling for conmen who sell fantastical illusions, tell bold-faced lies, and deliver nothing but shams.
I was reminded of this movie and its central message while listening to the director’s comments on another movie, “Girl, Interrupted.” He said: “In ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ the lead character, Dorothy, is continuously looking for a concrete answer: ‘I want to go home again.’ ‘Okay, go find the wizard.’ She finds the wizard. (The wizard) says, ‘Go get a broomstick.’ She goes and kills the witch and gets a broomstick. But the broomstick means nothing. The wizard is a fake. The fact is that she had the power to go home from the very beginning of the film.”
This correlates exactly with my experience on my spiritual journey.
Somewhere along the way someone told me that I needed a guru. Then the guru said I needed to live a renounced life, including spending hours a day in satsang, doing endless hours of physical seva, and giving uncountable amounts of money. I gave up my life and devoted it to God. And what did I find at the end of the road? I found out that the guru is a complete fraud — that he is an all-too mortal human being, who never had the power to give anyone anything.
It’s a sad fact of life that there is no end to the number of charlatans willing to pretend that they have the secret. Most of these swindlers are narcissists.
Eleanor Payson wrote a book on the subject, called, interestingly, “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists.” These are people who care only for themselves, who will do and say anything necessary to take everything they can from others, and who will not be the least bit concerned about those whom they hurt along their paths of destruction.
Here is an excerpt: “Every day headlines are filled with examples of narcissistic individuals in positions of power who are nothing more than impostors plundering and wrecking havoc on the lives of others … we daily encounter narcissists and the self-serving systems that enable them. Using simple metaphors from the American classic, ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ Payson illustrates how Dorothy’s journey captures all the seductive illusions and challenges that occur when we encounter the narcissist.”
Narcissists fall into the same psychological category as sociopaths, psychopaths, masochists, and sadomasochists. All of these demented personality types prey on the innocent in their selfish missions of self-adulation.
Before you fall for the underhanded and cruel tactics of any of these tricksters posing as spiritual guides, please, I implore you — wake up.