I get email:
I don’t have any regrets about being in the church. In fact, I do miss the community. Yes, granted it was not always easy, and even sometimes kind of stressful and bizarre? But, ultimately I think it comes down to each person having their own experience with the universe. I had metaphysical beliefs before I ever joined Summit. My dad was a very successful attorney, so I know about reason. I think both reason and spiritual faith are good.
Regarding the comments that Elizabeth told you about her “failures”. I know that no one is perfect, “Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone” like Madonna said at one of her concerts early in her career. But I want to say that for me I don’t think Guru Ma failed in her mission.
I still love and admire her for the good that she did, not her human faults, just like the public had to do with Clinton. She gave me and thousands of others, the opportunity to join together as brothers and sisters on the spiritual path.
She gave us a connection to other beings of light that we may have not been able to experience on our own. She gave us a sea of knowledge and a truer sense of who we really are. I don’t agree with everything that was done in the church. In fact, I didn’t even want the church to sell Camelot. But, it gave me a community of friends that I will have for a lifetime and beyond. And for that, I want you to please tell your mom, that I said thank you very much. I might add, that when I got divorced many years ago, your mom gave me some really nice words of motherly love and encouragement over the phone, when nobody else did.
Religion I agree can be dangerous if it causes division in society-which unfortunately it does. I actually pursued to obtain a degree in Religious Studies at a university after I was in the church. What I realized, is that I did not know as much as I thought. There is a common theme of ethics in most religions. The problem is that most people want to be the “chosen people” instead of recognizing the common denominator of being human-which is the desire to recognize a higher truth. Being human without some kind of faith or belief in a higher power would be meaningless life. We all know we shed our body when we die.
I have had spiritual experiences before, during, and after I was a part of the church. I do base my beliefs on real experiences; out of body experiences, ( I have traveled in my finer body and have communicated with others while in their bodies) seeing auras and chakras, angels, fairies, etc. It may sound crazy, but it is real. Denying these kinds of experiences is really denying one’s true self and of the beautiful experiences that life has to offer.
A depressingly familiar sentiment
The above letter is sadly typical of what I have received over the years, and is an example of the giant gap of understanding I’ve had with ex-CUT-staff members. Most chose to be a part of the community, and for them, it provided some answers they apparently needed. It’s “I got mine…” But at what price?
Like the letter writer I, too gained many good friends in the community. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really cut it. You find friends wherever you are, don’t you? It doesn’t justify the life savings contributed, the decades spent for which people have nothing to show. One member and friend donated her trust fund of over $1 million and later deeply regretted it. Her life was unalterably changed. How many people even have access to, let alone give away $1 million? Like her followers, my mom also turned over her parents’ life savings and proceeds from the sale of her childhood home to the church. This wasn’t the same situation of course, since my mom retained control of the money–which she eventually used to build herself and her family houses on the ranch.
But often decisions of CUT parents (like all decisions parents make) were terribly costly to their CUT children, who had nothing to say about it. This is by no means just a personal issue. Many families gave all their resources, and were actively courted by the leadership to do so. It was one of the main things that kept the organization going (since it really had no viable or profitable product). I could name the names of the families, it would be a very long list… I won’t do so out of respect for their privacy.
Most letter writers such as this, weren’t close enough to see the insidious nature of the organization and its leadership (of which I was a part). They did not see the arbitrary nature of some of the ‘revealed truth’ they swallowed hook, line, and sinker. Some people are just happy being led.
There are no cults, without followers
Passive followers have been the enablers of many great cult tragedies in history.
Because of the sunk-cost fallacy, many times it’s just too hard to acknowledge they made a mistake, even after leaving a cult. It’s difficult for anyone to admit they spent years of their life, abdicating their power and ignoring their five senses. Many followers still cling to their metaphysical/new-age/esoteric beliefs as well. They cling to “kindnesses” they may have experienced in the community–failing to see that kindness is everywhere, in all communities, religious and secular. Kindness and compassion are human traits, and have nothing to do with cults or cult leaders.
Believers justify their time in the community because it’s so painful to admit to themselves they were misled. They resist any attempts to be brought to their senses and to see the fraud for what it was. Since the letter was personal correspondence, I have omitted the name of the sender in my reply:
My reply to the letter-writer (that never changes):
I’ve gotten dozens of letters like yours, as well as even more who actually saw the destructive nature of what went on in the CUT. When believers such as yourself surrounded my mom with your credulity and gullibility, you lent power and mystique to her fantasies. Power she never would have had without a collection of fawning followers. It is this symbiotic process that is most destructive in religions.
I’m not here to ‘debate’ the issue, because there’s really nothing to debate. I’m on record with my views, pretty extensively at this point. I also spent 30 years of my life at the center of the storm. With respect to religion vs. spirituality, and so-called spiritual experiences–it’s a question of evidence–and there really isn’t any. It’s OK to ‘believe’ in myths, legends, Harry Potter, etc., as long as you don’t confuse that with reality. I’ve had my share of experiences too, both in meditation, dreams, etc… At no time whatsoever did I ever confuse any of that with real life. Interestingly enough, I had none of these experiences while in the presence of the supposed messenger of the ‘Great White Brotherhood.’
You might as well ask me to prove there isn’t a Chinese teapot in orbit around Mars, (the famous Teapot thought experiment by Bertrand Russell) or an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my garage (from Carl Sagan). I’m not interested in such ‘debates.’ No one can stop you from believing in supernatural new-age mumbo-jumbo.
Or you could choose to own up to your mistake, and join the community of reason, which has nothing at all to do with lawyer’s arguments (though attorneys use reason as an effective tool). Reason, as a practice, has to do with healthy skepticism, Occam’s razor, objectivity, understanding the logical fallacies, etc..
For a primer, you could start with “Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan.
And for that, I want you to please tell your mom, that I said thank you very much.
I can’t tell my mom anything. Quite simply, her brain is gone, there is no one left to tell.
Being human without some kind of faith or belief in a higher power would be meaningless life. We all know we shed our body when we die.
No. That’s argument from consequence. Wanting meaning isn’t the same as having eternal life. We die when we die. There is nothing to suggest that we live on in any form, or that the universe has any particular purpose or meaning.
We woke up one day and became self-aware. Some other day, we will cease to exist. It is up to us to imbue the days in between with whatever we find meaningful. That does not come from outside. No petty god or fantasy will provide the answer to your existential angst. God-belief is more like morphine–keeps you from feeling the big black gnawing hole inside–instead of coming to terms with the fact that the feeling is simply an evolutionary response. We feel that feeling to make us resist dying, and to make us have children to carry on our genes. The science of biology says that your consciousness will end when your brain chemistry stops. False certitudes about an ‘afterlife’ are worse than drug addiction–and they mangle your priorities and distort your perspective of what’s important. Faith also provides a gigantic shield for the opportunists of the world. And the CUT / TSL experience was no exception.
We are close to the same age. I would hate to see you go the rest of your life with this unprocessed trauma.