This article begins a series in which I will systematically deconstruct one of the foundational scriptures of the Church Universal and Triumphant, The Science of the Spoken Word.The airbrushed Spirograph cover attempts to provide some kind of spiritual-mathematical mystique to the books’ content. As I will demonstrate, the book is neither particularly spiritual nor scientific, even in the loosest sense of the word.
Nothing is more universally central to religious hubris than the idea that we humans can use our minds and voices to manipulate matter or events. From tales of Jesus affirmation “Lazarus, come forth,” to the fall of Jericho, all religious adherents dream of commanding and controlling outcomes by fiat or sound. They disguise this idiosyncratic notion of controlling God’s intercessory power by throwing in the concept that we ourselves are powerless, and it is God who is the prime mover. They imagine God to be at once all-powerful but helpless to act unless we ask. Yet he is perceived to be dutifully following our commands to find us a parking space, get us a job, find our lost keys, heal our loved ones or–in some cases–do damage or violence to our enemies. “I of mine own self can do nothing, it is the Father in me which doeth the work,” is the sentiment–paraphrased from numerous bible passages in John and Acts.
Indeed, aside from a kind of afterlife insurance policy, the primary attraction of religion is that it helps us “get things done.” In all cases, religions insist that we sublimate our own desires before the “will of God.” What this means is that we can pray for anything, no matter how petty or misguided, and God will adjust the prayer accordingly so that only good will result. It’s a can’t-lose, money-back-guarantee policy.
Sometimes people pray, and presto, the parking space instantly appears. But in the end, prayer fails to deliver at least 50% of the time. It’s like flipping a coin. “God helps those who help themselves” is the convenient and ever-present escape hatch from nagging doubt. Almost everyone realizes we get hired or not, based on our qualifications. We find or don’t find our keys. We either get the parking spot or park illegally and get a ticket. Our loved ones either get better or they eventually get worse and then die. Life goes on, with or without our prayers. About the most we can derive from praying is some kind of reduction in anxiety, akin to playing with Chinese stress balls, or rubbing a rabbit’s foot. But belief in supernatural agents who answer prayers, is a double-edged sword: If it’s possible for angels to come to our rescue, that also means we can be hurt by demons and “sinister forces.” So nothing is gained. In our accounting of peace of mind, we rob Peter to pay Paul–we give up one kind of anxiety to embrace yet another. Worse, our own accountability in our successes and failures is blunted. As the song goes: “‘The stars aren’t aligned,’ or ‘the gods are malign,’ blame is better to give than receive.”
My parents were really big on their particular brand of prayer, which was called “decreeing.” We were forced to do these decrees from the earliest age, and for me and my sisters, they were kind of like our Mother Goose rhymes:
“I am a being of violet fire, I am the purity God desires.”
This decree would be said hundreds to thousands of times a day by faithful devotees. When it is said quickly, the syllables blend together into a kind of drone. It is one of my earliest memories from childhood. What does this phrase even mean? Why a being of fire, why violet? Why the obsession with purity? Yes, I know all about the “seventh ray” being the ray of freedom and transmutation and yadda, yadda. But someone made that up. Someone or some group of people in the so-called “esoteric tradition” sat there one day and divided up the colors and assigned “god-qualities” to them. Why is that any more valid than me saying to you right now that I think chartreuse represents Nirvana?? (I don’t, but it’s an equally absurd example). Why does anyone take someone’s word for the fact that violet is the color of the seventh ray or that there even are seven rays or five secret rays or whatever?
The color spectrum goes ROY G BIV from lowest to highest frequency. For anyone with a science background, that means Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Combinations of colors give rise to the millions of shades we can perceive. It’s astounding to me that someone could latch onto the idea (and make it stick so strongly within the new age community) that one of those colors actually has anything to do with “transmutation,” or represents anything other than a specific frequency (wavelength) of light. Period.
But back to the decree I quoted. In a new-age sort of way, this phrase is a repetitive re-affirmation of the concept of “original sin.” It affirms there is something inherently wrong with us that must be transmuted and changed and gotten rid of. As far as I’m concerned, repeating phrases like this hundreds or thousands of times is an unhealthy compulsion. Each repetition reconfirms our feelings of incompleteness and impurity and lowers our self-esteem. Because all of us are irrevocably human. We are primarily sexual in nature. We are mortal and we die. This kind of affirmation sharpens that reality then buries it under a patina of wishful thinking: Wishing that we could be free of the painful and often brutal competition that makes up life on earth. Wishing that we could live forever. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be ridiculous. On second thought, it’s both.
On the quotations page of The Science of the Spoken Word (originally titled The Overcoming of Fear Through Decrees back in the 1960s) “El Morya” lays out the epic nature of the book’s claims:
Mankind living in the world today assume that recorded history is what it is and cannot be changed. They have not reckoned with the violet transmuting flame. Wherever you are, as you read my words you can begin to experience the marvelous action of the violet fire coursing through your veins, penetrating the layers of the physical temple–the bloodstream, the nervous system, the brain–pressing through the chakras, swirling through the etheric body, passing over the pages of the written record of your incarnations on earth. Line by line, letter by letter, the flame–intelligent, luminous, directed by the mind of God–sets free the energies, electron by electron, of all past misuses of the sacred fire. If you would have the benefit of this miraculous energy, you have but to make the call. For the fiat of Almighty God has gone forth, and it is cosmic law: The call compels the answer!
Now to the “uninitiated,” this paragraph makes absolutely no sense at all. So let me elaborate:
- It is not enough to solve the problems of today. The responsible and dedicated student of the masters will give the violet flame to transmute and remove not only today’s evil, but that of all of history. If that’s not an impossible burden, what would be? They say a mother’s work is never done. Well when you’re facing a million savage years of human history armed with only with paltry words, it would make cleaning the Aegean stables seem like a picnic. What’s wrong with focusing on your own life and things that matter in the here and now? An impossible goal simply serves to make a person feel permanently inadequate. I guess some cynical people might view that as El Morya’s whole point.
- The violet flame is not just an imaginary spiritual force, but something that is claimed to be physical (otherwise why mention the physical “temple” and veins and electrons?) but of course, it cannot be seen.
- El Morya also refers to the absurd idea that there are some kind of spiritual “chakras” or centers that correspond to the physical nervous system–a leftover from pre-scientific dualism or animism–notions of some invisible “animating force” that separated living organisms from inanimate matter.
- Then there’s the concept of the “etheric body” a reference to the occult tradition in which we have “subtle bodies” that co-locate with our actual body. Beyond dualism, this corresponds to the idea that there might be multiple planes of existence. The violet flame, of course, operates on all the levels, but most especially the ones we can’t see or verify.
- “Misuse of the sacred fire” is ascended master code for sexual deviance, which is of course any sexual activity outside of marriage, any gay sex, or any oral or anal sex (even if you are married). My mom and dad taught that the existence of insects had resulted from ancient “misuses of the sacred fire” which to them also included not just sexual deviance, but all forms of “Atlantean genetic engineering.” (This was later dropped because it was so outlandish, but I’m sure careful research could locate this claim in some obscure dictation from the 1960s).
- “The call compels the answer” is one of those aphorisms that is supposed to end discussion on the matter. Of course everyone knows, “the call compels the answer.” It’s a thought-stopping cliche. You might as well say “wishing makes it so.” It’s a pure solipsistic pipe dream. It’s not “I think, therefore I am,” but rather “I speak, therefore the world changes.” Judging from the success of The Secret and other new age paeans to “creating your own reality,” it’s a popular message because it makes people feel empowered, even when they’re anything but.
- Lastly, “Cosmic Law.” What the hell is cosmic law? It’s not a law of nature or science. It’s not a law and can never be a law because it cannot be tested under controlled conditions. Cosmic law really should be called a “Cosmic Wish.” It simply means “this sounds convincing, and we don’t want to be asked to prove it, so we’ll call it a law.”
Some “students” of the masters may be tempted at this point to bring up Alice Bailey, Manly Palmer Hall, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, A.D.K. Luk, the Ballards, C.W. Leadbeater, Henry Steel Olcott and others. Aside from the obvious fact that none of these sources agree with each other or my parents (who picked and chose what they wanted from each and rejected the rest) they all have the same problem. No matter how much they quote each other, no matter how vivid they each claim their experiences were, no claim has ever been verified nor could it ever be. Which is why such students get upset when asked for proof. They know none is available, and they ultimately don’t care.
Untestability takes the question of the efficacy of prayer and banishes it forever to the backwater of pseudo-science. On that grounds alone, the book is not science. It is therefore transparently fraudulent from its very title to the last word of its self-referential bibliography. If I can stomach it, I’ll try to continue this series. What I can say right now is that thanks to my parents, hundreds of thousands of people have wasted tens of millions of precious hours of their lives frenetically repeating useless rhymes.
I studied these books (Summit University Press) and did the decree rituals for just over a year before I woke up. Alarm bells rang for me when I started to identify contradications and inconsistancy in information given by various “accredited” messengers.
For example, an Edna Ballard “Jesus the Christ dictation” states: “My children, there is no such thing as a fallen angel!”
Now of course I couldn’t care less if they agree or disagree in their folly; it’s all baloney and a pitiful waste of time, the reading, the decreeing. I’m happy I burned myself becoming engrossed in these teachings, as it’s cured me for life of any further dabbling in new age nonsense.
Amaterasu points out one contradiction, but there are literally thousands… and I haven’t even looked at material from the Roerichs and each and every last single one of the legion of Theosophists.
I’ve always wondered if such was the case in order to protect Trademarks? Something you need do when ‘income as a result’ is involved.
Even the newest charade ‘Temple of the Presence’ has Copywrite at the bottom of every decree and prayer, etc etc. Just like their predecessors before them, and so it goes all the way back through each of these movements.
So much for Christian charity…
Each new movement needs a brand new set of nonsense to repetitively chant. Saying it once for some reason, doesn’t seem to work, (not that saying it 144 times makes any difference whatsoever.) The predecessors decrees and prayers aren’t powerful enough, new ones are needed…
and I find that way to be way off.
If God didn’t here you the first time you said it; what makes you think repeating it at high speed so the syllables blend together (or just drop off in the manic chanting) in a garbled noise, will?
Why is/are the most ‘powerful form of supplication’ (not my words) always in need of an upgrade when someone new takes the helm? You don’t see them upgrading their own works, and I’ve only every seen it happen to tone down a particular wording or phraseology.
Sean, please continue to dissect these steaming piles of manure, load it into a wheelbarrow and wheel it through the gaping holes in the fabric of this nonsense.
I’ll send ‘Tums’ ‘Malox’ ‘Pepto Bismul’ if yeah need it, but please continue!
[…] RELIGION: My grandfather the cult leader’s book “The Pseudo Science of the Spoken Word”, debunked by my half uncle. originally titled “The Overcoming of Fear Through Decrees”. Thanks to my granddad, hundreds of thousands of people have wasted tens of millions of precious hours of their lives frenetically repeating almost certainly useless rhymes. (tags: politics religion cults ChurchOfTheUniversalTriumphant CUT SummitLighthouse MarkProphet ElizabethProphet books SeanProphet debunking prayer spirituality) […]
Great job, Sean. I really enjoyed your recent interview as well. I think here that you go a bit too far in the final judgment of “wasted tens of millions of precious hours of their lives”. What is the purpose of life? Who is to say what life is for or not for? Any working social system values truth up to some point, but then also values optimism, white lies, sociability, theatricality, art, and imagination as well. There is no final analysis for an atheist by which life should be used for one aim or another. We get to make up our own meaning for it, and life is precious only if we have come up with something that gives it meaning. If people are often preyed upon by charismatics, charlatans and con men/women who provide what seekers of meaning so desperately need, we can say it is immoral to defraud such seekers if the leaders are hypocrites running a financial scam (like, say, scientology). But still the seekers found something they wanted- something that pushed their buttons in the way they wanted them pushed. Not everyone is cut out for reality.
I’m reading William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, where he catalogs all this in the religious and psychological idioms of his day. He is rather gentle about it, and recognizes that if someone needs to be an anchorite for a variety of psychological reasons, then so be it. I guess you could say that people are (for whatever obscure evolutionary reason) susceptible to religiosity just as they are to cocaine- that does not make either a good and worthy goal of life. The difference is that addiction to cocaine is inevitably harmful, while addiction to religion can be happily sustained through life, sometimes with continuing beneficial effects (for the individual, and occasionally for the society at large). I guess it is these judgments on which the utility of this addiction depends, and if CUT is now dedicated to becoming more toned-down, contributing to the larger social system, and keeping its congregants happy, the fraudulence of its theology (shared with every single other religion out there) does not make it worthless, even while it offends the very idea of scientific and reality-based truth.
With appreciation- Burk
Oh- you might also be interested in chanting that is central to some sects of Nichiren Buddhism. They also spend hours repeating what must end up being nonsense, in this case “Nam-MyÅhÅ-Renge-KyÅ”, which in some cults is supposed to bring very this-world results, such as cars, money, etc. Chanting is a mind-altering practice, like taking peyote or meditating, or starving yourself in the desert- all dedicated to encouraging feelings of deep meaningfulness as well as thoughts that feel like they come from somewhere other than our own heads.
Great article, Sean!
I remember years ago, talking with a friend, who also was a KOF, about the famous Maitreya dictation that appears in that book, were he says that he would multiply a zillion times each decree or something in that style.
Well, after decreeing for so many hours, and getting no results with all of that super mega cosmic Maitreya surge, we had to conclude that the “power of the spoken word” had to be a very weak power by itself.
If it didn’t work with Maitreya’s help, it would never work at all, for sure.
That was one of our first steps out.
[…] Continued from Part 1 […]
sad commentary! especially comming from here children.. is this madness called america so strong that even children raised in a "not so perfect" community of idealism can easily choose the unwholesome world of the ego over the wholesome of the spiritual?
The book strikes me as a misunderstanding the way I understand this notion: "The Power of the Spoken Word"
It is a particular trick, not accidental to my eyes. In any case: there's no God upstairs, or anywhere "else" – it's in front of us always, and becoming is exactly it – goals, objectives, design; good ole decision; gathering own destiny – it's YOU, it has always been, it will always be. your mission should you choose to accept it. No Omega. Ideas manifest as words: creation born, sustained thought in space time through only God's Good Work.
GO have an experiment. It's called opening up the breath canon, creation, or whatever else you like. The point is to see if you can manipulate matter with words. No need to wonder or think to hard about it… go to a close friend, and tell them what you think – exactly what you think. Watch their synapses do a double take catching your truth. Check their face, feel your relationship move, see if you can understand how your ideas control that GOD.
When you feel confident enough in that power you have to make a decision – positivity, creation, growth? or destruction, riches, and murder?
Inside me I can imagine a God in each of my loved ones, I can treat them as such so that they might grow in their most powerful way – or I can use my power to keep them underneath me, to feed me, to keep me comfortable.
WHAT TO DO
I agree. It's all about how we treat other people, especially our loved ones. But by the time something becomes *word* it has gone through all the stages of consciousness, and reflects our inner state. So that is where the real work is. We control our speech, whether used for good or ill by understanding ourselves. And that includes the destructive, selfish, and even murderous instincts we all contain. In order to bring forth the good in ourselves and in other, we must first recognize and make peace with the "dark" side in both.
I find it interesting that people understand intellectually that we are at the top of a millions of years long chain of predators, yet we express surprise when people engage in subtle or overt predatory behavior. This behavior cannot be eliminated. It's like expecting a sabre-toothed tiger to become a house cat. So in our intimate and social circles what makes life safe and fair is a thorough understanding of underlying motivations. Our humanity rests on top of our instincts, but cannot eliminate them. Self awareness and empathetic awareness helps navigate these waters, which require we not only love each other but respect each other as worthy opponents in the game of life. The spoken word is but an instrument in a titanic and ongoing struggle of minds.