- Cults don't start out destructive. They often begin with good,
although naive, ideals and intentions. A prime example is Charles
Manson's cult (called the Family) which begun as a distinctly 1960's
style commune advocating liberal drug use and a rather D.H.
Lawrentian view on sex and open marriage. A favorite past time of
theirs was sitting round a campfire at night as Manson strummed his
guitar and sung protest songs. At first, they lived what some would
consider a free-spirited, enriching life style. Later, they turned
to mass murder.
It is an ominous pattern that repeats itself over and over again,
with varying outcomes, in Colin Wilson's recent publication, Rogue
Messiah. Here he tackles the "the cult," namely religious cults as
represented by such "Right Men" as David Koresh or the Reverend Jim
Jones; mind control groups, like Scientology, are also included. A
fascinating look inside the band of disciples surrounding Freud,
among them C.G. Jung, displays a behavior pattern universal to all
groups when the leader's convictions turn neurotic. The furry Freud
yielded to when confronted with the slightest opposition is the
monomania Manson displayed when banning books, jazz and Jimi Hendrix
albums from his commune. Colin Wilson illuminates the lives of at
least twenty-five self-appointed messiahs and their co-dependent
followers, going as far back as the seventeenth century mystic and
Kabbalist Sabbatai Zevi, to the 1995 sarin gas attack upon the Tokyo
subway committed by Shoko Asahara's cult, the Aum Supreme Truth.
(The one glaring omission from Rogue Messiah is the Church of
Scientology. Wilson makes a passing reference to it, calling the
Church a cult, but he does not elucidate any further. The reason for
his vagueness may have to do with Scientology's extremely litigious
reputation, which borders on legal terrorism. The profit margin for
low-distribution books like Rogue Messiah is ridiculously slim, so
the chances are his publisher did not permit Wilson an in-depth
analysis because one lawsuit can be detrimental whether the case is
won or loss. That is pure speculation on my part, however. If the
reader desires to explore Ron L. Hubbard and the Church of
Scientology he could not do better than reading Bare-Faced Messiah.
The book, in its entirety, is available on the Internet and can be
downloaded at no expense. Simply click the link:
http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfmconte.htm The book
is posted at Clambake, a Web site devoted to shedding light into the
dark, cob-webbed corners of Scientology's propaganda machine and its
As a rule, cult leaders are "king rats," which are 5% of the dominant
5% of the population. At first, the "king rat cult leader" is
content exerting his extraordinary level of dominance on a socially
acceptable level. Through positive reassurance, not fear and
intimidation, Jim Jones amassed a large, devoted following (mostly
inner city blacks) drawn to his emotionally charged sermons. Nature
has endowed "king rats" with an high level of vitality, heightened
confidence and strength; so heightened, they seem to possess a
hypnotic, Svengalian power over people of lesser dominance. Take for
example Adolph Hitler. His powerful convictions worked a spell over
a country humiliated by war and economic depression.
Indeed, one could say that Nazi Germany was cult on a national level,
an enlarged macrocosm of the Family, empowered by an advanced
industrialized nation. Bolshevik Russia is another. Yet, these are
merely two examples. Retreat backwards beyond the twentieth century
and you find that nation-cults are the rule and not the exception.
Egypt, although it was appropriate for its age, it was a place where
individual rights, democracy, personal self expression were un-heard-
of concepts that simply cannot be retrofitted into the monarchal
system. We can imagine, though, the social atmosphere they bred by
contrasting ancient civilizations against current day cults that seek
the dissolution of the Ego as the highest spiritual aim.
"We can perhaps begin to grasp this if we think in terms of one of
those modern messianic sects who believe that their leader is God, or
a reincarnation of Christ, and who would be glad to die for him.
Their total belief in their messiah makes life marvelously simple;
they feel absolutely secure from the problems and contingencies that
torment the rest of us. They have made the discovery that total,
unquestioning belief creates a kind of heaven on earth, and even in
the face of the most conclusive evidence that their messiah is not
what he claims to be, they refuse to be swayed. They are, in fact,
refusing to exchange their state of inner peace and certainty for the
usual miseries and hazards of human existence."
- Cults vs Communities
Nice article and good for new discussion topic. As I understand it through
RS, a cult is a throwback to the pre-Christian era, when the "Ego" of a
people was carried by their leader - king, pharoah, priest, emperor, etc..
Since the "turning point of time" the old form of leadership has undergone a
gradual dissolution as the "Ego" of the individual began to develop. Rene
Querido once noted that Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were the
first artists to sign their works. Of course, kingship and pope-ship were
still predominant, but the seeds of change were sown and sprouting.
Literature and art carry this process clearly throughout history and we see
the struggling of the individual against government of both church and state
leading to the Age of Revolution at the turn of the 19th century - the
French, American and Industrial revolutions to be specific.
Nothing happens "all at once" in human and world development. The struggle is
still going on all over the world. Forces of power still aim for control
through propaganda and economics where ever they are prevented from using
physical force. But even physical force is often used. In Waldorf Schools, we
reach the "Age of Revolution" in the Eighth Grade, when the children are at
the brink of puberty. I think personally that humanity (the more developed
part) is still in its teens - still struggling with the incarnation of the
Ego and the rebellion against control. We have access to awesome technology,
like a teenager with a driver's license, but we don't always use it wisely or
with full control. We still rely on our "parents" ie, government, to protect
us and support us in many ways, although we chafe at direct interference.
Hopefully, we will advance to a more developed "Egohood" before we do
something really stupid and destructive.
I think that just as children develop at different rates and each has his or
her own agenda and time line, so people as groups and nations do likewise.
That is why so many different forms of government exist as well as so many
forms of religious institutions. Individuals and groups may need to
re-capitulate different developmental experiences. Some may seek to
experience something they missed in the past. Some may be "stuck" on a past
life experience and unable to move past it unless "forced" to by some major
revelation or traumatic experience.
A cult, whether large or small is a re-capitulation of the ancient
pre-Christian experience. But since the time for that experience has passed,
it become decadent and open to "demonic" manipulation. On the other hand,
community - true Christian Community - based on a free association of
Individuals with common, concious, ideals and purposes is still the goal of
the future. Some communities succeed and some fail, but all are seeds for the
future. The struggle continues. The balance of "Ego" and group needs a
tremendous amount of conciousness and the constant illumination of the Christ