Recently, a friend interviewed me about my “school” days at a private event. As I answered her questions, a sea of wide-eyed, un-“schooled”, quizzical and puzzled expressions faced me; their inquiries quickly started pelting out, one leading to another popcorn-ing into a lid-lifting pile. Unprepared for the onslaught, I had to keep reminding myself that their bewilderment was normal. I have become accustomed to talking cult.
The contrast between their shock, my surprise at their shock, and my ongoing conversations with “disgruntled ex-students” provides a stark reality check: with enough exposure, “school”-style thought reform becomes normal — freedom of speech be damned. The longer my tenure, the more dependent I “became”. The more dependent I became, the more I sought “teacher help” and approval. The more “help” and “approval” I sought, the more subject I felt to random “school” dictates – everyone in “school” seeks approval: “students” look to “teachers”; “teachers” look to Robert; and Robert looks to Sharon.
This group dependence comes from a cult-concocted mirage – a hierarchy that conveniently places “teachers” on the upper rungs as those who have been doing the work longer, with Sharon residing on top. At certain key moments a “teacher” would demonstrate his/her prophetic powers – magically sensing personal things and/or bringing up private matters in class, as though s/he was psychic. Of course, “school’s” “younger students” don’t know that “sustainers” report “confidential” conversations to the leadership. “School” uses the information to bolster the above-mentioned mirage, spinning “teachers” into prescient, “higher beings” with clairvoyant powers, connected to and supported by the Divine.
The truth is that the cult only has power if we follow “school” rules and keep cult secrets. If we don’t question where the money goes, or where the ideas originated, why the source of these ideas are kept from us, whether our “teachers” are truly more evolved, if we don’t ask why the lies are really necessary and who the lies protect, if we stay isolated by honoring “school’s” non-fraternization rule, we perpetuate this mirage. As a “student” your “only life things” will get squashed under the weight of propping up the leadership. If a “student” questions why “school” relegates his/her time, un-“schooled” relationships, passions, health, etc, to the lower rungs, in service to the cult’s mysterious “higher aim”, highly-evolved “teachers” will throw the inquiry back: “Why are you mixing levels?” That pat response becomes normal.
When I finally left the ranks, I had to put intentional and concerted efforts into separating my authentic beliefs from cult propaganda. Fortunately, I discovered a simple and clear-cut path to psychological and emotional health: break “the rules” — tell your story to other people; it doesn’t matter whether those other people are colleagues, or not; as you release yourself from “school”-sponsored secrets, you release yourself from a strange and invisible esoteric prison. For the more you talk freely about your experience, the more you separate the wheat from the chaff and your true beliefs from “school” dictates. When you extract yourself from cult programming, and reconnect to your authentic beliefs and nature, you truly do remember yourself.