Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Transformation After a Cult — The Freedom to Be Authentically Me

I can't stop smiling while enjoying dinner at an Austin restaurant on a Saturday night.

After 15 years of force fitting my personality into a process that I was told would lead me to God, I ended up in the darkest, dankest pit imaginable: My “gurus” were frauds and child molesters.

Shortly after I moved out of my one room in a group home in the ashram, I had a chiropractic appointment. I’d been seeing the chiropractor for five years and we’d had a few discussions over the years, usually about how I needed to relax more (perhaps take a vacation) and get more sleep to help cure the raging migraines that had taken over my life.

After adjusting my neck, he looked at me with genuine delight on his face and said, “Wow. You have really changed.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’re a different person.”

“Really? In what way.” I was thrilled at his unexpected declaration, and curious to know exactly what he meant.

“You’re smiling, your bubbly, your glowing. You used to be so quiet and withdrawn, and you never really smiled. It’s like you’ve come alive. I’m blown away.”

“Wow!” I said, smiling. I was blown away too by his glowing commentary.

“I have only seen such a dramatic transformation one other time: When a drug addict kicked his habit.”

Recognizing My Transformation

I left my chiropractor’s office floating on air. I knew that I felt better since leaving my oppressive cult: I truly felt reborn. But to have someone else recognize my transformation made me extra joyful.

While his reaction buoyed me even higher than I was already at being free of the cult, it also reminded me of how far I’d come from being that perpetually sad spiritual seeker.

But then, what other outcome is there for a person who joins an unnatural, closed community that takes away their individuality, eliminates their freedom of speech, and rules their lives like an overbearing psychotic parent? There is only one outcome possible in this environment: A deconstruction of yourself and your identity, a diminishment of your self worth, and an infantilization of your personality. This was exactly the result of the rigid, dogmatic belief system I lived within for 15 years.

The Freedom to Transform

Whether it’s called God realization, self-realization, or whatever, people on a spiritual search are ultimately looking to be transformed. However, any rigid structure of any religion, or spiritual path, or ideology boxes us in and diminishes us, instead of doing the one thing it needs to do: Free us to truly transform.

My transformation came only after my body, mind, and soul were outside of the gates of my former guru’s ashram. As I drove away from his gated hell for the last time, I rolled down the windows in my car, turned up the radio, and sang loudly all the way to my new home. This was something I never would have done while living there, because I never was happy.

Once out, my transformation continued in various stages, including three months of debilitating grief. But even the grief was a necessary step in getting over and moving beyond my negative experienced. In fact, the four years it took me to get completely over getting conned by fake spiritual leaders were the most profoundly transformative period of my entire life.

Now I understood where everything I ever wanted existed: Within myself.


  1. Karen, Enlightenment and God realization you got the day you stepped out from other side of that Hell door !! and by the way you do look great, you look 13 years younger and I like your picture enjoying your dinner..

  2. "Whether it’s called God realization, self-realization, or whatever, people on a spiritual search are ultimately looking to be transformed. However, any rigid structure of any religion, or spiritual path, or ideology boxes us in and diminishes us, instead of doing the one thing it needs to do: Free us to truly transform."

    Very well said! No person, who is not speaking from the depths of his/her heart, would have the imagination to come up with this quote!

    I would direct all seekers to the following clip from the great philosopher UG Krishnamurty:

    God Bless!

  3. I never go to Satsang's and group Gathering talkng about scriptures and stuff. U know why????
    I drink water to quench our thirst not because I am surrounded by it............

    We have to take what we need and forget the rest...........My father passed away in 2008. One of my best friend took me to this place where i saw a Bald man in Saffron outfit and he was talking stuff about the Maharaj Ji. And i was not surprised coz all have a Maharaj Ji of their own.

    He asked me, "what did u think about me when u first saw me?"
    I replied; "what??? what makes u think i would think about you????"

    He said, "Because u need something from my master!!!"
    I replied, "Yes Brother. I do want it, but i know what i want, so i expect nothing more and obviously nothing less........."

    He offered me gyan, and he asked me to practice sadhana.............i did it, but when i felt it was enough, I stopped...........thats how you should go close to something, when u feel u have had enough, u have to take a U turn and Go back............

    God Bless...............

  4. Such good advice Ramanathan. The two fake gurus I knew, and I assume many others, want to hook people for life -- so they can suck them dry of their money and energy. They are just soul vampires.

  5. Rishika, if you are seeking truth, have you given some thought to the claims of Christ?
    He said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to God except through Him. He said He came to give us an abundant life. And He stands at the center of man's history, unlike these obscure, self-proclaimed god-men of India.
    I am an Indian by birth and I have seen Hindu thought and its effects, on culture and day-to-day life and choices, close-up. The Hindu way of life has left India worse for wear and it is clear for even a visitor to see.
    So why not look further and with an open mind. God says "If you seek Me You will find Me, if you search for Me with all your heart ."

    1. Hello Annie, I did explore Christ and Christianity years ago - but it's not a true spiritual path. Early Christians created a dogmatic religion to control people and gain power and riches. Christ was not a real person - it's a myth that was around for millennium before Christianity was created. That said - there is true power in the original Christos myth if you go to the origin and ignore the dogmatic, authoritarian manmade Christian religion. If you'd like more insight on this, let me know.