realization of one's existence

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hopp...@msupa.pa.msu.edu

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May 13, 1994, 12:28:45 PM5/13/94
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In response to dr...@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Jim I. Walker), I must say that

1)A computer simulation of the universe wouldn't necessarily evolve the same;
that would require complete knowledge of the initial conditions of the
universe, and we can't, IN PRINCIPLE konw this. Also, slight differences
on the quantum level would cause differences, especially in the early stages
of the universe (t<1 sec.) when quantum effects would be the most extreme.
2)The end of the universe is, currently, unknown; it may be closed (collapse
as you say), or it may be open and never contract on itself. We just don't
know. Also, the conditions of the big bang (or "big crunch") are such that
the laws of physics break down. This represents the end of the universe;
what happened before the big bang is unknowable to us, just as what would
happen after the big crunch is unknowable. There would be no repeat of our
history; the universe would simply end. Your concept of time with respect
to this event is flawed; you have to recognize that there isn't really a
distinction between space and time, and with the end of one (big crunch
represents the complete collapse of space), comes the end of the other.

In response to Walter (walterCp...@netcom.com),
I find your suggestion for multiply-dimensioned consciousness interesting,
and highly reminiscent of medieval philosophy on the mind-body problem, but
I have to ask, how do you know the brain isn't sufficient to the task of
memory? I personally know of no evidence in that direction, and in fact
you point to possible evidence in favor of memory occuring only in the
brain. Finally, if you're right, what part of our brain is connected to
some other dimension?

Tom

Patrick Ryan

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May 16, 1994, 5:50:11 AM5/16/94
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phaedrus <sa...@panix.com> writes:

>Does anyone know anything about Transcendental Meditator's mindcontrol
>techniques? I'm curious because a friend was into it heavily for a
>while.


Contact TM-EX, POB 7565, Arlington, VA 22207

phaedrus

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May 14, 1994, 6:54:38 PM5/14/94
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Mike Doughney

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May 19, 1994, 5:02:31 AM5/19/94
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See the TM Dissenter's FAQ just posted to
alt.meditation.transcendental. Also, see the files in
ftp.digex.net:/pub/mike/tm-dissent.

David Weinstein

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May 19, 1994, 4:07:43 PM5/19/94
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mi...@ss1.digex.net (Mike Doughney) writes:

>In article <2r3kre$1...@news.panix.com>, phaedrus <sa...@panix.com> wrote:
>>Does anyone know anything about Transcendental Meditator's mindcontrol
>>techniques? I'm curious because a friend was into it heavily for a
>>while.

They are powerful techniques whose powers can be used for good! :)
See the TM FAQ in alt.meditation.transcendental.

>See the TM Dissenter's FAQ just posted to
>alt.meditation.transcendental. Also, see the files in
>ftp.digex.net:/pub/mike/tm-dissent.


D

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o o Howard Stern for Governor of New York in '94!!!
-----uuu--U--uuu-------------------

xx

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May 20, 1994, 2:19:27 AM5/20/94
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Get a hold of the book "TM and Cult Mania" by Michael Persinger (a
neuropsychologist).


--
A. Jane Johnston
************************
a...@minerva.cis.yale.edu

David Weinstein

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May 20, 1994, 5:08:29 PM5/20/94
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Patrick Ryan <jk...@delphi.com> writes:

Also contact the TM organization: 1-800-the-veda

D

--
_\\|//_ Disclaimer: The Usual

o o Howard Stern for the Governorship of New York in '94!!!
-----uuu--U--uuu-------------------
--

Jeff Jacobsen

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May 27, 1994, 3:25:21 AM5/27/94
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xx (a...@minerva.cis.yale.edu) wrote:

: Get a hold of the book "TM and Cult Mania" by Michael Persinger (a
: neuropsychologist).

HOw about a quick review? Books cost money, you know.
: --


: A. Jane Johnston
: ************************
: a...@minerva.cis.yale.edu

--
cult...@indirect.com
Jeff Jacobsen
PO Box 3541
Scottsdale, AZ 85271 Here I stand - I can do no more.


James Forgy

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May 27, 1994, 7:09:50 PM5/27/94
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In article <2s4791$h...@herald.indirect.com> cult...@indirect.com (Jeff Jacobsen) writes:
>xx (a...@minerva.cis.yale.edu) wrote:
>
>: Get a hold of the book "TM and Cult Mania" by Michael Persinger (a
>: neuropsychologist).
>
>
Oh so this book labels TM a "cult", whereas the enlightened author of this
book may not think the Catholic Church or General Motors to be a cult?

I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
of religions or organizations that are not cults....

Om Baby,

JF

Kevin Crawley

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May 28, 1994, 2:22:10 AM5/28/94
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In note <CqHHo...@world.std.com>, jg...@world.std.com (James Forgy) writes:

>I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
>of religions or organizations that are not cults....
>

Of course, the problem with the word 'cult' is that it means different
things to different folks. I'd like to put forward a behavioral definition:
An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit and
maintain members into a totalist ideology.

Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
3) Self criticism and humiliation
4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
5) Control of information
6) Escalating commitment
7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences

(No, this is not 'Singer's list,' but it is pretty close. This list is
my own, developed for a yearly lecture to Social Psych classes at the
U of Iowa.)

Totalism is defined by psychiatrist Robert Lifton as the tendency to view
the world in terms of 'all or nothing' alignments. Lifton details 8
'psychological themes' that can be found in totalist groups:
-- A 'sacred science' -- an ideology that is held to be true for all
people at all times. This ideology generally claims to be inspired
and scientific at the same time.
-- 'Milieu control,' the control of human communication, not only over
our communications with others, but also with ourselves.
-- 'Mystical manipulation' -- including deception and 'planned
spontaneity' which seeks limit self-expression and independent action.
-- The demand for purity, the notion that absolute purity exists, and
that anything done in the name of this purity is ultimately moral.
-- 'The cult of confession' -- "There is the demand that one confess to
crimes one has not committed, to sinfulness that artificially induced,
in the name of a cure that arbitrarily imposed." (Lifton, _Thought_
Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism")
-- 'Loading the language' -- redefinition of language, with an emphasis
on moral polarization, and thought terminating cliches.
-- 'Doctrine over person' -- the subordination of personal experiences
to the doctrines of the sacred science.
-- 'Dispensing of existance' -- the doctrine that the group can decide
who has the right to exist, and who does not.

In other words, the cult manipulates the environment to 'set up' the
recruit to trap him or herself in a black and white mindset.

I could certainly not give you a list of all the groups or organizations
that do or do not meet these criteria, and I'd be real suspicious of
anyone who said they could.

Others will certainly disagree with me, but personally, I don't think
that TM in general meets enough of these criteria to qualify. On the
other hand, I think Maharishi's International University probably
does.

---
Kevin Crawley aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu
-- He who experiments learns much, but reboots often. --


S. Strasser

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May 28, 1994, 9:03:30 AM5/28/94
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> >
> Oh so this book labels TM a "cult", whereas the enlightened author of this
> book may not think the Catholic Church or General Motors to be a cult?


This is the stock response that cult members seem to come up with when
confronted with the statement that their group is a cult.

So what about 'rounding'--days spent with no outside contact,
meditating alternated with watching propaganda Maharishi tapes--I'd
consider that kind of program to be symptomatic of a cult organization.

____________________
S. Strasser

Sa...@panix.com

Barry Wright

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May 28, 1994, 4:23:21 PM5/28/94
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>In note <CqHHo...@world.std.com>, jg...@world.std.com (James Forgy) writes:
>>I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
>>of religions or organizations that are not cults....
>
In article <77010999...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu> aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu writes:
>Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
>1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
>3) Self criticism and humiliation
>4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
>5) Control of information
>6) Escalating commitment
>7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences

Sounds like my last 3 programming environments...

sh...@world.std.com

Ken Jones

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May 28, 1994, 8:36:18 PM5/28/94
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aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu writes:
In definition of a cult:

>Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
>1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
>3) Self criticism and humiliation
>4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
>5) Control of information
>6) Escalating commitment
>7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences

It seems like the above items can be applied to just about
any of the major religions in the world. Judism, Christianity,
Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. Plus most of the above could also
be applied to being on a sports team, or being part of corporate
culture. Or trying to achieve just about anything which takes plenty
of hard work. This is definity true for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6

But let's looks at some of these:
2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure.
This implies that there is a current social structure
that is being disrupted. Along with an individual which
is going against the structure and ones still involved
in the structure. This seems more like an issue of freedom.
Freedom for the individual to choose. One way to control
society is to limit freedom of choice. People should have
the freedom to choose what they want to get involved in.

How about 5) Control of information.
Just about every social structure in the history of the
world does this. Most companies and countries in the
world try to control information. Be it via commentary
or out right physical control. This is not a "cult" related
issue, but a standard human tactic of living. Unless you
reveal all information at all times, you are "guilty" of
control of information. Let's not be naive and think that
only "cults" control information, please!

But since this topic relates to "minds", perhaps the
most on-topic part is number 7.


7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences

Do you know of any "valid" way to have a 'peak' experience?
Do you consider praying auto-hypnosis? Do you consider
meditation auto-hypnosis? Do you think there is any metaphysical
way to have a 'peak' experience which is not auto-hypnosis?

ke...@edb.com
"Freedom of thought, is what we want"
"Freedom from choice, is what we get"

Suzanne Patricia Johnson

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May 29, 1994, 6:46:32 PM5/29/94
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The criticism of the cult-criteria offered was that any one or several
of these criteria could apply to garden-variety social organizations.
What is unique about groups that end up being called "cults" is that they
can be characterized by all or most of these criteria. That is what makes
"cults" such intense crucibles of psychological and social pressure for
their members.

Religious and ideological organizations tend to get labelled "cults" when
they come to be known as organizations that lay on this kind of pressure
particularly intensely. In the 70's, almost any non-Chrisitian religion
or non-American ideology (broadly speaking) was labelled a cult. Things
have changed in the 90's. We're more savvy about pop-psychology and all
it's offshoots, and things like Eastern religions don't scare us as much.
The word "cult" still gets used, though, to refer to groups that, in
purely academic terms, systematically fuck with people's heads (as reported
by ex-members) or that appear to be totalistic and/or extremely exploitative.

There's lots of heavy trips that normal social interaction can lay on a
person. Try buying a used car. The point is that organizations called
cults deploy these trips systematically in order to influence people to a
degree beyond what occurs in a natural, disorganized setting. And sometimes
members freak out for good, or die, or kill themselves, or donate their
trust funds to the cult and realize only too late that they didnt' want to.
That's why cults get to be controversial.

Kevin Crawley

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May 29, 1994, 6:52:53 PM5/29/94
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In note <2s8o22$j...@mailhost.interaccess.com>, ke...@flowbee.interaccess.com
(Ken Jones) writes:
>aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu writes:
>In definition of a cult:

I'd like to keep the whole definition, please. What I said was,

An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit and
maintain members into a totalist ideology.

>>Intensive indoctrination techniques include:


>>1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>>2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
>>3) Self criticism and humiliation
>>4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
>>5) Control of information
>>6) Escalating commitment
>>7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences
>
>It seems like the above items can be applied to just about
>any of the major religions in the world. Judism, Christianity,
>Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. Plus most of the above could also
>be applied to being on a sports team, or being part of corporate
>culture. Or trying to achieve just about anything which takes plenty
>of hard work. This is definity true for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6

I apologize -- I should have put at least some description behind
those phrases. Partly, as I'll address below, it's a matter of degree.
I'll readily admit that you can find instances of any one of these
techniques in any social interaction, and in many situations, you might
even find three or four. Intensive indoctrination is different in
quality and quantity -- five to seven of the techniques, applied, at
least by the higher level members, on a deliberate schedule.
When you can find most of these, *and* the totalist ideology, I think
you may want to do a serious review of your involvement with a group.

These criteria do not just apply to religious groups. I've also seen
people from secular therapy and philosophic groups who have been
subjected to the same techiques.

>But let's looks at some of these:
>2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure.
>This implies that there is a current social structure
>that is being disrupted. Along with an individual which
>is going against the structure and ones still involved
>in the structure. This seems more like an issue of freedom.

I'm not just talking about social structure -- I'm talking about the
entire social fabric of one's life. If a group teaches you that your
all of your relationships with your family and friends are somehow
toxic, evil, or even just impeding your development, it immediately
cuts you off from all of your traditional 'sounding boards.' You don't
notice that right away, because the group is right there to replace them.
We are all dependent, albeit to varying degrees, on feedback to evaluate
our beliefs and behavior -- controlling that feedback is an incredibly
powerful technique to change behavior, particularly when the recruit is
unaware that it is happening.

The Unification Church members at Booneville used to have a saying -- "No
'first-weekers' talking to 'first-weekers.'" That meant if you were in your
first week of 'training,' they didn't want you comparing notes with anyone
else who just got there. If you think that you are the only one with doubts
about the teachings or practices of the group, you are less likely to act
on those doubts. Unified, but surreptitious group reinforcement can be
can supress dialog and debate, and encourage self-criticism.

Booneville was a real blatant example of social control through physical
isolation, but it not really necessary. Once you believe that you can
be tainted by non-group contact, you are effectively isolated, no matter
what environment you are in.


>Freedom for the individual to choose. One way to control
>society is to limit freedom of choice. People should have
>the freedom to choose what they want to get involved in.

I agree with this absolutely. If you *choose* to join any organization,
this is your right. My whole premise here is that is possible for an
unethical group to substitute compliance for choice through deception and
manipulation.


>How about 5) Control of information.
>Just about every social structure in the history of the
>world does this. Most companies and countries in the
>world try to control information. Be it via commentary
>or out right physical control. This is not a "cult" related
>issue, but a standard human tactic of living. Unless you
>reveal all information at all times, you are "guilty" of
>control of information. Let's not be naive and think that
>only "cults" control information, please!

This is a matter of degree. There is a big difference between not
reveal all information at all times, and a bold-faced lie, or forbidding
your members access to information that might undermine your teachings.

>
>But since this topic relates to "minds", perhaps the
>most on-topic part is number 7.
>7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences
>Do you know of any "valid" way to have a 'peak' experience?

I believe that a spiritual 'peak' experience is certainly a
possibility. I also know that such an experience can be counterfeit.
If a person has never had a spiritual experience, and has never done
auto-hypnosis before, it's not very difficult to convince them that
trance is proof that the group's teaching are Truth.

>Do you consider praying auto-hypnosis? Do you consider
>meditation auto-hypnosis? Do you think there is any metaphysical
>way to have a 'peak' experience which is not auto-hypnosis?

Sometimes, sometimes, and that depends on your definition.

Saying a rosary, for example, could very well be auto-hypnosis. I have
no doubt that TM is auto-hypnosis, (on objective and subjective criteria),
but I won't presume to say that of all forms of meditation or prayer.
I believe that chanting, speaking in tongues, meditation, centering,
guided-imagery, closed-eye processes, are all capable of inducing trance.

Now, it may be that by using meditation or hypnosis, one could be
achieving an altered state that makes a legitimate peak experience.
Using the fact that meditation does induce an altered state as proof
of it's spiritual or scientific validity, however, is a fallacy.


>ke...@edb.com

James Forgy

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May 29, 1994, 9:08:23 PM5/29/94
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Kevin Crawley (aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu) wrote:
: > (James Forgy) writes:

: >I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
: >of religions or organizations that are not cults....
: >

: Of course, the problem with the word 'cult' is that it means different
: things to different folks. I'd like to put forward a behavioral definition:
: An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit
and
: maintain members into a totalist ideology.

And so therefore, once you have this definition, some wise committee or
body of people will decide which religions are cults and which are valid
religions...those that are cults will then not be protected by the Bill
of Rights...


: Intensive indoctrination techniques include:


: 1) Subjection to stress and fatigue

How utterly vague, so is a worker at General Moters in a cult! this
is silly. Furthermore, an individual can voluntarily join an organization
which includes stress and fatigue...I am sure that those that followed
Martin Luther King in the south were subject to this!


: 2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure

What does this mean??? This is a pathetic use of buzz-words...social
disruption??? So was Martin Luther King a cult leader...Isolation...
Are catholic monks at a hermatige in the Catholic cult....Pressure???
What does that mean...are you saying that as a US Citizen I cannot
join any religion that puts pressure on you...yet I could go to boot
camp or to an executive training program where pressure is applied...
How gracious we are as we throw out the Bill of Rights.


: 3) Self criticism and humiliation

So I guess that the Catholic idea of sin, if applied to lets say a
pregnant teen-age girl after her abortion would, in your lists words,
define the Catholics as a cult...You mean that as a US Citizen I cannot
join a religious group where I can critique myself for the means of
self-improvement??? This is vague and foolish in my mind.


: 4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia

Again...who is to decide. Everyone in this society feels fear, anxiety,
and paranoia...So some committee will decide which religions exert to
much of these three feelings, then these Grand Inquisitors will label
them cults, not religions, and again we throw out the Bill of Rights.

: 5) Control of information

What are you talking about, kidnapping? Many de-programmers who love
to hunt for cults have engaged in that...for unless I was kidnapped would
I have no access to "information". If I join a retreat as a US Citizen
where there are no newspapers or TV, then suddenly I am not religious,
I am in a cult. This shows how utterly Eurocentric this list is. In
many Eastern practices the Yogi in the cave does not subscribe to
USA Today.

: 6) Escalating commitment

Isn't everything escalating or de-escalting commitment...I might join
a Prodestent Church and after a year get more involved...I would hope
that my commitment to a religious group be escalating, I wouldn't want
to jump in to a group and devote myself on the first day! This is
foolish and does in no way have any meaning!

: 7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences

: (No, this is not 'Singer's list,' but it is pretty close. This list is
: my own, developed for a yearly lecture to Social Psych classes at the
: U of Iowa.)

It is a pathetic attempt at pseudo-intellectual thought. I find it quite
racsist and biased...and actually dangerous. Something a psychologist,
under the tight confines of a PHD program could use to harass religious
groups that are not considered "mainstream".

Maybe a typical graduate program is more of a cult in terms of your above
list than some of the so-called "cults". And I know, I am a member of
a small Buddhist group that has been called a "cult", and also an X
PHD student...from my experience the Graduate Department and the politics
their would fit your list more closely than the Buddhist group to which
I belong to.

: Totalism is defined by psychiatrist Robert Lifton as the tendency to view


: the world in terms of 'all or nothing' alignments. Lifton details 8
: 'psychological themes' that can be found in totalist groups:

: -- A 'sacred science' -- an ideology that is held to be true for all
: people at all times. This ideology generally claims to be inspired
: and scientific at the same time.

Isn't science itself a "sacred science", whereas the mysticism of the East
is scorned by these "scientists" as just primitive fantasy...So science
is a "totalist group" in itslef.

: -- 'Milieu control,' the control of human communication, not only over


: our communications with others, but also with ourselves.

I do not know what this means...but I am reminded of Dr. Richard Alpert,
Now Ram Dass, who went to India and met a Guru (Suddenly a cult word!!!),
one of his teachers was under a vow of silence and wrote everything down
on a board he carried around...so I guess this would mean that this religious
practice was no longer valid...and instead a cult activity "totalist"!

What Eurocentric trash!

: -- 'Mystical manipulation' -- including deception and 'planned

: spontaneity' which seeks limit self-expression and independent action.

Well of course this might exist with magicians mascarading as mystics; yet
it is a dangerous statement since science considers so many siddha powers
to be fake, by definition, if they were told of Christ's walking on water,
in their own tautological thinking this would have to be a deception since
in their little minds this is impossible.

: -- The demand for purity, the notion that absolute purity exists, and


: that anything done in the name of this purity is ultimately moral.

So what is the proper moral beleif...I ask our wise committee on cults?


: -- 'The cult of confession' -- "There is the demand that one confess to


: crimes one has not committed, to sinfulness that artificially induced,
: in the name of a cure that arbitrarily imposed." (Lifton, _Thought_
: Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism")

This exists in many of the largest religions in the US! I guess all religions
are cults according to these "scientists".


: -- 'Loading the language' -- redefinition of language, with an emphasis


: on moral polarization, and thought terminating cliches.

I think "totalism" is another redefinition of language, and the moral
polerization of what is a valid organization and what is a cult...is taking
place within this list....These psuedo-intellectual points mock themselves!

: -- 'Doctrine over person' -- the subordination of personal experiences


: to the doctrines of the sacred science.

This doesn't happen in science...If I say that I saw Christ walk on water,
my "personal experience is "suboridinated" for the "sacred science"...since
we all know that these things are impossible...God this list sounds more
like a critique of Western Science than mystical groups.


: -- 'Dispensing of existance' -- the doctrine that the group can decide


: who has the right to exist, and who does not.

Wouldn't these be first degree murder if acted out...I am all for the
laws of our nation being enforced...this a a non-sequitor manipulation,
but again the point critiques itself...these psuedo-scientists want to
decide which religions should exist and which should not...another
critique of science.


: In other words, the cult manipulates the environment to 'set up' the

: recruit to trap him or herself in a black and white mindset.

: I could certainly not give you a list of all the groups or organizations
: that do or do not meet these criteria, and I'd be real suspicious of
: anyone who said they could.

: Others will certainly disagree with me, but personally, I don't think
: that TM in general meets enough of these criteria to qualify. On the
: other hand, I think Maharishi's International University probably
: does.

Thanks for sharing, this is the most idiotic list I have ever seen...It
actually critiques itself! If Maharishi fits this criteria then maybe
the Scientific establishment and the graduate schools in the United States
do to...How foolish this is!

The dangerous thing is that this garbage is used to harass religious groups
and is used as a pathetic excuse to curtail an organizations rights under
the First Amendment: The Right to speach, assembly, and religion.


Om Baby,

JF

Kevin Crawley

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May 30, 1994, 2:15:41 AM5/30/94
to
In note <CqLCH...@world.std.com>, jg...@world.std.com (James Forgy) writes:
>Kevin Crawley (aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu) wrote:
>: > (James Forgy) writes:
>
>: >I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
>: >of religions or organizations that are not cults....
>: >
>
>: Of course, the problem with the word 'cult' is that it means different
>: things to different folks. I'd like to put forward a behavioral definition:
>: An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit
> and
>: maintain members into a totalist ideology.
>
>And so therefore, once you have this definition, some wise committee or
>body of people will decide which religions are cults and which are valid
>religions...those that are cults will then not be protected by the Bill
>of Rights...
>

Where did you get this? I haven't said anything about the government
deciding whether a religion is valid or not. I don't want to outlaw
any groups. I do want people to know that there are groups, religious
and secular that can mess with their heads.


>
>: Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
>: 1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>
>How utterly vague, so is a worker at General Moters in a cult! this
>is silly. Furthermore, an individual can voluntarily join an organization
>which includes stress and fatigue...I am sure that those that followed
>Martin Luther King in the south were subject to this!

>
As I said in my last followup, I was not very clear with this list, and I
hope I clarified some of it. For now, let me just say that to qualify
as intensive indoctrination, all or most of these steps are employed as
part of a hidden agenda by the leader and his or her agents.

[text about the rest of the first list deleted]


>Maybe a typical graduate program is more of a cult in terms of your above
>list than some of the so-called "cults". And I know, I am a member of
>a small Buddhist group that has been called a "cult", and also an X
>PHD student...from my experience the Graduate Department and the politics
>their would fit your list more closely than the Buddhist group to which
>I belong to.

Since you've never named your group, I don't know if I think it is a cult
or not. For that matter, you haven't identified your graduate school, but
I doubt that it fits the gestalt I'm trying to outline.

>: Totalism is defined by psychiatrist Robert Lifton as the tendency to view
>: the world in terms of 'all or nothing' alignments. Lifton details 8
>: 'psychological themes' that can be found in totalist groups:
>
>: -- A 'sacred science' -- an ideology that is held to be true for all
>: people at all times. This ideology generally claims to be inspired
>: and scientific at the same time.
>
>Isn't science itself a "sacred science", whereas the mysticism of the East
>is scorned by these "scientists" as just primitive fantasy...So science
>is a "totalist group" in itslef.

Science does not consider itself sacred. It is a tool, and it means that
you have attempted to ascertain the truth or falsity of something through
a strict set of rules. One of those rules is that a scientist cannot say
'This is true because God has revealed it to me.' The ideology of a cult
does not have those restrictions. The leader claims logic, science, and
syllogism when it suits him, but is free to throw in a divine proclamation
anytime logic seems to work against him.

While some scientists have 'scorned' eastern mysticism, others have studied
and incorporated it. There's no way you can make such a characterization
about such a broad field of study.

>
>: -- 'Milieu control,' the control of human communication, not only over
>: our communications with others, but also with ourselves.
>
>I do not know what this means...but I am reminded of Dr. Richard Alpert,
>Now Ram Dass, who went to India and met a Guru (Suddenly a cult word!!!),
>one of his teachers was under a vow of silence and wrote everything down
>on a board he carried around...so I guess this would mean that this religious
>practice was no longer valid...and instead a cult activity "totalist"!

The guru you mention might have controlled who Ram Dass talked to, but not
who he listened to. I don't see anything totalist in that.

Totalism is when you tell your followers that any time you find yourself
thinking of a loved one, it is because that person is attempting to drain
your psychic energy, or that any time you doubt the teachings of the leader,
it is because evil spirits have invaded your mind. It's been a while since
I read Ram Das, but I don't remember him writing about that...
>
>What Eurocentric trash!
>

You know, dialog with someone as polite as you is truly a pleasure.

>: -- 'Mystical manipulation' -- including deception and 'planned
>: spontaneity' which seeks limit self-expression and independent action.
>
>Well of course this might exist with magicians mascarading as mystics; yet
>it is a dangerous statement since science considers so many siddha powers
>to be fake, by definition, if they were told of Christ's walking on water,
>in their own tautological thinking this would have to be a deception since
>in their little minds this is impossible.

You make it clear that you don't really understand scientific method.
No self-respecting scientist would say that walking on water is impossible.
It is unproven, but Jesus was not caught using gimmicks. Sai Baba, on
the other hand, was caught using sleight of hand on his own promotional
video.

>
>: -- The demand for purity, the notion that absolute purity exists, and
>: that anything done in the name of this purity is ultimately moral.
>
>So what is the proper moral beleif...I ask our wise committee on cults?
>

Hmmm? The point about morality was that it is used as an 'ends justify
the means' argument.

>
>: -- 'The cult of confession' -- "There is the demand that one confess to
>: crimes one has not committed, to sinfulness that artificially induced,
>: in the name of a cure that arbitrarily imposed." (Lifton, _Thought_
>: Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism")
>
>This exists in many of the largest religions in the US! I guess all religions
>are cults according to these "scientists".

The distinction Lifton draws is that in totalist groups, confession is used
to exploit, rather than provide solace for transgressions. Confession is
used extensively, with the underlying message that private ownership of
personal thoughts and feelings is wrong.

>
>
>: -- 'Loading the language' -- redefinition of language, with an emphasis
>: on moral polarization, and thought terminating cliches.
>
>I think "totalism" is another redefinition of language, and the moral
>polerization of what is a valid organization and what is a cult...is taking
>place within this list....These psuedo-intellectual points mock themselves!
>

I believe that 'totalism' was coined by Lifton, so it can't very well be
a redefinition. 'Cult' is a perjorative term, but I didn't choose that
word. I prefer to use the phrase 'totalist group.'

>: -- 'Doctrine over person' -- the subordination of personal experiences
>: to the doctrines of the sacred science.
>
>This doesn't happen in science...If I say that I saw Christ walk on water,
>my "personal experience is "suboridinated" for the "sacred science"...since
>we all know that these things are impossible...God this list sounds more
>like a critique of Western Science than mystical groups.

As I said earlier, science doesn't know that Jesus did not walk on water.
Granted, if Jesus were still around, we'd probably ask him if he'd do it
again. What Lifton had in mind is more like this: If the leader taught
that everyone outside of the group is sinful and evil, then you will find
sin and evil in those you loved, even though your extensive personal
history with them belies that.


>
>
>: -- 'Dispensing of existance' -- the doctrine that the group can decide
>: who has the right to exist, and who does not.
>
>Wouldn't these be first degree murder if acted out...I am all for the
>laws of our nation being enforced...this a a non-sequitor manipulation,
>but again the point critiques itself...these psuedo-scientists want to
>decide which religions should exist and which should not...another
>critique of science.
>

Murder is the ultimate dispensation, all right. In a milder form,
totalist groups generally hold that those outside of the group are
somehow less than human. As such, they may be lied to, cheated, and
manipulated.

Let me say again that just because a group is totalist does not mean
that it loses it right to exist. I personally think that totalism
is dangerous, and I'll try to talk you out of joining such a group if
I can. I will fight to keep such a group from being made illegal,
though.


>: In other words, the cult manipulates the environment to 'set up' the
>: recruit to trap him or herself in a black and white mindset.
>
>: I could certainly not give you a list of all the groups or organizations
>: that do or do not meet these criteria, and I'd be real suspicious of
>: anyone who said they could.
>
>: Others will certainly disagree with me, but personally, I don't think
>: that TM in general meets enough of these criteria to qualify. On the
>: other hand, I think Maharishi's International University probably
>: does.
>
>Thanks for sharing, this is the most idiotic list I have ever seen...It
>actually critiques itself! If Maharishi fits this criteria then maybe
>the Scientific establishment and the graduate schools in the United States
>do to...How foolish this is!

If I ever do write a book, can I quote you on the dust jacket?

>
>The dangerous thing is that this garbage is used to harass religious groups
>and is used as a pathetic excuse to curtail an organizations rights under
>the First Amendment: The Right to speach, assembly, and religion.

Freedom of speech, assembly, and religion are all based on the premise of
freedom of thought. If that freedom is subverted, then the rest are
meaningless, don't you think?
>
>
>Om Baby,
>
>JF

to...@netcom.com

unread,
May 30, 1994, 12:34:03 PM5/30/94
to
In article <77010999...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu>,

Kevin Crawley <aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu> wrote:
>In note <CqHHo...@world.std.com>, jg...@world.std.com (James Forgy) writes:
>
>>I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
>>of religions or organizations that are not cults....
>>
>
>Of course, the problem with the word 'cult' is that it means different
>things to different folks. I'd like to put forward a behavioral definition:
>An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit and
>maintain members into a totalist ideology.

Sort of like the Jesuits, right?

>
>Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
>1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
>3) Self criticism and humiliation
>4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
>5) Control of information
>6) Escalating commitment
>7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences
>
>(No, this is not 'Singer's list,' but it is pretty close. This list is
>my own, developed for a yearly lecture to Social Psych classes at the
>U of Iowa.)
>

Possibly the IBM sales force?

Catholicism?

>Others will certainly disagree with me, but personally, I don't think
>that TM in general meets enough of these criteria to qualify. On the
>other hand, I think Maharishi's International University probably
>does.
>
>---
>Kevin Crawley aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu
> -- He who experiments learns much, but reboots often. --
>
>


--
--

On the whole, I'd rather be reading Proust.

to...@netcom.com

to...@netcom.com

unread,
May 30, 1994, 12:56:37 PM5/30/94
to
In article <2s7ff2$2...@news.panix.com>, S. Strasser <sa...@panix.com> wrote:
>> >
>> Oh so this book labels TM a "cult", whereas the enlightened author of this
>> book may not think the Catholic Church or General Motors to be a cult?
>
>
>This is the stock response that cult members seem to come up with when
>confronted with the statement that their group is a cult.

This of course is just the stock response that is used when
it's pointed out that the word "cult" just means "religion I disagree with"

Why don't you try actualy defending your use of the word "cult" when
talking about alternative religions but not when talking about
catholicism, "born again" christians, or any other mainstream religion?
Simply dismissing this as a "stock response" is circular, and confirms
the fact that you haven't thought past the fact that it is a religion you
disagree with.

>
>So what about 'rounding'--days spent with no outside contact,
>meditating alternated with watching propaganda Maharishi tapes--I'd
>consider that kind of program to be symptomatic of a cult organization.
>

I know of several devout catholics who yearly go on "retreats" in a local
monastery. For about 14 days straight they have no contact outside of
the brothers, are encouraged not to talk amoungst themselves (as that may
disturb the spiritual concentration of the others), saying rosary,
attending daily Mass. Food is simple, and sparse - mostly rice and other
carbo's, low in protien. Work is part of the retreat, tending the garden
and such, and the day is long (not much time for sleep).

Of course in this case, it is all for the Glory of God (when it's a
catholic experiance). Thank goodness they aren't doing this as part of
some "cult"

I want to be clear about one thing. I do not think the above describes a
cult experiance. Not for those catholics for whom it is an important
part of their spiritual growth, and not for folowers of eastern thought,
or totaly new alternative spiritual groups.

The fact that I do not choose the catholic way doesn't lead me to
denigrate the importance of that retreat by calling it a "cult" To do so
would be rude, and imply that I somehow know what is valid as
spirituality and what isn't.

James Forgy

unread,
May 30, 1994, 5:54:29 PM5/30/94
to
In article <77028240...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu> aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu writes:
>In note <CqLCH...@world.std.com>, jg...@world.std.com (James Forgy) writes:
>>Kevin Crawley (aqua...@chop.isca.uiowa.edu) wrote:
>>: > (James Forgy) writes:
>>
>>: >I would like someone to define the word "cult" and provide us with a list
>>: >of religions or organizations that are not cults....
>>: >
>>
>>: Of course, the problem with the word 'cult' is that it means different
>>: things to different folks. I'd like to put forward a behavioral definition:
>>: An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit
>> and
>>: maintain members into a totalist ideology.
>>
>>And so therefore, once you have this definition, some wise committee or
>>body of people will decide which religions are cults and which are valid
>>religions...those that are cults will then not be protected by the Bill
>>of Rights...
>>
>
>Where did you get this? I haven't said anything about the government
>deciding whether a religion is valid or not. I don't want to outlaw
>any groups. I do want people to know that there are groups, religious
>and secular that can mess with their heads.

And what great wise committee will decide which religion is messing with
people's heads and which are not. Who will have the right to call TM
a fraud yet not the Catholic Church...that in itself is a metaphysical
judgement, since you are judging and evaluating two groups that make
different metaphysical claims.

The catholic church claims to be Christ's church with an Infallible
Pople, are they a fraud? Is Christ the only son of God? Is a preist
able to wash a persons sins away through confession? How will your
hypothetical committee decide when asked to comment on the Catholics
and the TM movement.

My guess is they will blast TM, since TM is an easier target and a
non-traditional non-juedo-christian metaphysical group.


>
>>
>>: Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
>>: 1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
>>
>>How utterly vague, so is a worker at General Moters in a cult! this
>>is silly. Furthermore, an individual can voluntarily join an organization
>>which includes stress and fatigue...I am sure that those that followed
>>Martin Luther King in the south were subject to this!
>
>>
>As I said in my last followup, I was not very clear with this list, and I
>hope I clarified some of it. For now, let me just say that to qualify
>as intensive indoctrination, all or most of these steps are employed as
>part of a hidden agenda by the leader and his or her agents.
>

And if this agenda is "hidden" who will decide which groups have hidden
agenda's and which groups do not. I suppose their are no hidden agenda's
in the concil's of the Vatican or in the meetings of the Mormons.

You are becoming more and more vague as you try to become more specific.

>
>
>>Maybe a typical graduate program is more of a cult in terms of your above
>>list than some of the so-called "cults". And I know, I am a member of
>>a small Buddhist group that has been called a "cult", and also an X
>>PHD student...from my experience the Graduate Department and the politics
>>their would fit your list more closely than the Buddhist group to which
>>I belong to.
>
>Since you've never named your group, I don't know if I think it is a cult
>or not. For that matter, you haven't identified your graduate school, but
>I doubt that it fits the gestalt I'm trying to outline.

Oh I am so humbled and await your judgement: "I don't know if I think it is
a cult or not"...meaning this individual is not sure if I belong to a
Buddhist religion that does not have, in his eyes, the dignity of being
called a Buddhist sect, but instead, guilty until proven innocent, should
be called a "cult". A cult implies that my Buddhist group is a harmful
manipulative fraud...Oh dear I await your decsion oh Grand Inquisitor!

I guess you don't know the color of my skin so you are not sure if I am
a "nigger" or not. Calling someone a nigger is like labeling a religious
group a cult...once you do it you take away the integrity and the humanity
of the people named.


>
>>: Totalism is defined by psychiatrist Robert Lifton as the tendency to view
>>: the world in terms of 'all or nothing' alignments. Lifton details 8
>>: 'psychological themes' that can be found in totalist groups:
>>
>>: -- A 'sacred science' -- an ideology that is held to be true for all
>>: people at all times. This ideology generally claims to be inspired
>>: and scientific at the same time.
>>
>>Isn't science itself a "sacred science", whereas the mysticism of the East
>>is scorned by these "scientists" as just primitive fantasy...So science
>>is a "totalist group" in itslef.
>
>Science does not consider itself sacred. It is a tool, and it means that
>you have attempted to ascertain the truth or falsity of something through
>a strict set of rules. One of those rules is that a scientist cannot say
>'This is true because God has revealed it to me.' The ideology of a cult
>does not have those restrictions. The leader claims logic, science, and
>syllogism when it suits him, but is free to throw in a divine proclamation
>anytime logic seems to work against him.


Oh this is a foolish sentence..."One of those rules is that a scientist
cannot say 'this is true because God has revealed it to me"...but if a
microscope reveals it to a scientist then it is true. Scientists just
take a subset of human experience, physical instruments, and will call that
valid proof, yet ignore intuition.

Science obviously considers itself "sacred". If I told a scientist that
the physical universe had no concrete exitence but was a dream of
god-consciousness...the scientist would laugh at me, snug in his own
assumptions just as dogmatic and arbitrary as those of a religious
person.

>
>While some scientists have 'scorned' eastern mysticism, others have studied
>and incorporated it. There's no way you can make such a characterization
>about such a broad field of study.

I am not making a broad characterization...the scientific establishment
though, does not beleive that it is possible for a yogi to walk on water
without and physcial add, that in itself is a beleif...Now the wiser
scientists would say that this is not impossible just not yet proven,
to them. I respect those scientists.

>
>>
>>: -- 'Milieu control,' the control of human communication, not only over
>>: our communications with others, but also with ourselves.
>>
>>I do not know what this means...but I am reminded of Dr. Richard Alpert,
>>Now Ram Dass, who went to India and met a Guru (Suddenly a cult word!!!),
>>one of his teachers was under a vow of silence and wrote everything down
>>on a board he carried around...so I guess this would mean that this religious
>>practice was no longer valid...and instead a cult activity "totalist"!
>
>The guru you mention might have controlled who Ram Dass talked to, but not
>who he listened to. I don't see anything totalist in that.

Oh thanks for warning me that the guru might have "controlled" who Ram Dass
talked to. How foolish, as if there were some controls on a person that
only you and a few other wise scientists can see, and then determine who
is "controlling" who. How foolish and unscientific even, is this babble!

>
>Totalism is when you tell your followers that any time you find yourself
>thinking of a loved one, it is because that person is attempting to drain
>your psychic energy, or that any time you doubt the teachings of the leader,
>it is because evil spirits have invaded your mind. It's been a while since
>I read Ram Das, but I don't remember him writing about that...

I beleive that many times when I think of a loved one that they are trying
to drain my energy...Is this criminal? This is an ancient beleif from the
East and you also find it existing in many American Indian cultures, this
is a common mystical understanding...so somehow you label this mystical
minuta "totalism"...to degrade it...Well scientist prove that is wrong.

Notice how it is wrong for me to feel that many times when I think of
someone they are trying to drain my energy, yet I can go into a Catholic
church and let a priest absolve me of my sins. This is such arbitrary
Eurocentric rubbish...how embarassing. I hope no real scientists get
into this psuedo-intellectual rascist thought!

>>
>>What Eurocentric trash!
>>
>
>You know, dialog with someone as polite as you is truly a pleasure.
>

I am not insulting you just the ridiculous premsis of your posts,
chill my man!

>
>You make it clear that you don't really understand scientific method.
>No self-respecting scientist would say that walking on water is impossible.
>It is unproven, but Jesus was not caught using gimmicks. Sai Baba, on
>the other hand, was caught using sleight of hand on his own promotional
>video.

No you personify one who does not understand scientific method, you have
not disproven my above beleif that if I think of someone, that they may
be trying to drain my energy yet you ridicule it, why? I would like to
know why thousands of years of mysticism are wrong, but you are right.
All of your posts are an embarassment to scientific method. A true
scientist would simply wait for proof and not attack beleif systems that
went against his own.

>Granted, if Jesus were still around, we'd probably ask him if he'd do it
>again. What Lifton had in mind is more like this: If the leader taught
>that everyone outside of the group is sinful and evil, then you will find
>sin and evil in those you loved, even though your extensive personal
>history with them belies that.

So that means that CAN would fit under lifton's definition, since all
groups they label as "cults" are inherently bad. So therefore your
own beleif system fits into this category, since if I am in a "cult",
I am somehow less than human.


>Murder is the ultimate dispensation, all right. In a milder form,
>totalist groups generally hold that those outside of the group are
>somehow less than human. As such, they may be lied to, cheated, and
>manipulated.


Ah so then do beleive that those people in "cults" who are "brainwashed"
according to you, do you feel it is Ok to lie, cheat, and manipulate
them in a de-programming session? If CAN beleives this, then they fit
under their own definition of cult. I personally have been labeled to be in
a cult but have none of those above feelings...


>
>Let me say again that just because a group is totalist does not mean
>that it loses it right to exist. I personally think that totalism
>is dangerous, and I'll try to talk you out of joining such a group if
>I can. I will fight to keep such a group from being made illegal,
>though.
>

That is good...but then which groups will you leave alone? If you leave
alone the Catholics but then call my religious group a fraud, can we
sue you for defamation of character? If I declare myself God, and you
declare me a fraud, can I sue you? According to your beloved scientific
method (which you don't follow) you cannot prove or disprove the assertion
that I am a great god-guru.

How are you going to decide which religious groups to harass. And I say
harrass because most organizations wouldn't want people outside their
doors calling them "frauds", "cults", etc... If I did this to people
about to work for General Motors I might find myself in trouble, and
General Motors would indeed feel harassed.

>
>Freedom of speech, assembly, and religion are all based on the premise of
>freedom of thought. If that freedom is subverted, then the rest are
>meaningless, don't you think?

I agree with your last vague statement that is why I don't like Grand
Inquisitors, claiming to be scientific, proclaiming to the world that
they "know" which metaphysical groups are frauds and which are not.


Om Baby,

JF

Suzanne Patricia Johnson

unread,
May 30, 1994, 10:18:12 PM5/30/94
to

Excellent post, Kevin.


to...@netcom.com

unread,
Jun 6, 1994, 10:11:36 PM6/6/94
to
In article <2sh7us$o...@herald.indirect.com>,
Jeff Jacobsen <cult...@indirect.com> wrote:
>to...@netcom.com wrote:

>: In article <2s7ff2$2...@news.panix.com>, S. Strasser <sa...@panix.com> wrote:
>: >> >
>: >> Oh so this book labels TM a "cult", whereas the enlightened author of this
>: >> book may not think the Catholic Church or General Motors to be a cult?
>: >
>: >
>: >This is the stock response that cult members seem to come up with when
>: >confronted with the statement that their group is a cult.
>
>: This of course is just the stock response that is used when
>: it's pointed out that the word "cult" just means "religion I disagree with"
>
>Do you read Kevin Crawley's and Suzanne's stuff? They clearly and
>precisely point out what they consider a cult, and it has nothing to do
>with whether you agree with the doctrine or not. IT is the process the
>group uses that defines a cult or a "nice" religion. If a group relies
>on a process of manipulation to gain and maintain members, it's a cult.
>If it relies on its teachings and rational discussion to gain members,
>then it's a "nice" religion.

Define "manipulation" and define "teachings and rational discussion."

Is the phrase "convert or spend eternity in burning hell" teaching and
rational discussion or manipulation? Is faking healings on television
manipulation or just a teaching tool?

Try to be more specific, and use terms that aren't colored by assumptions
made about alternative faiths.

>
>: Why don't you try actualy defending your

>use of the word "cult"
>when : talking about alternative religions but not when talking about
>: catholicism, "born again" christians, or any other mainstream religion?
>: Simply dismissing this as a "stock response" is circular, and confirms
>: the fact that you haven't thought past the fact that it is a religion you
>: disagree with.

[snip description of Catholic retreat]
>
>Are they doing this voluntarily?

If you simply mean were there chains around their necks, yes. If you
mean would they have gone had they not been raised surrounded by the
religions tenants, in the culture that values those beliefs and in many
ways punishes those who disent (heretics) ... I don't know. In some ways
the idea of condeming alternatives as "cults" is one form of manipulation
that makes that a difficult question to answer.

>Can they leave whenever they want?

No chains if that is your simplistic meaning, otherwise see above.

>Will they be in fear of losing their soul if they leave?

Quite possible, once again see above. For that matter read the Bible "no
man cometh onto the father but by me" Yeh, I suppose evan thinking of
leaving christianity evokes fear (it did for me). Please tell me you
weren't thinking of just the retreat seperate from the "cult" as a whole.


> How much
>pressure was placed on them to do this retreat? These are the type of
>questions you ask to decide if it's a cult. Not, are their teachings
>correct.?
>

That's the point. Practice, teaching, and culture are all wraped into
one. Only the mainstream religions get the benifit of the doubt.


>: Of course in this case, it is all for the Glory of God (when

>it's a
>: catholic experiance). Thank goodness they aren't doing this as part of
>: some "cult"
>
>: I want to be clear about one thing. I do not think the above describes a
>: cult experiance. Not for those catholics for whom it is an important
>: part of their spiritual growth, and not for folowers of eastern thought,
>: or totaly new alternative spiritual groups.
>
>: The fact that I do not choose the catholic way doesn't lead me to
>: denigrate the importance of that retreat by calling it a "cult" To do so
>: would be rude, and imply that I somehow know what is valid as
>: spirituality and what isn't.
>

>Let me get this straight. You think that a group that uses thought
>reform techniques on its members in a deliberate and concentrated way is
>ok, and no one should criticize that group. Is that what you're saying?


Can you say strawman?

Define "thought reform techniques" as opposed to "conversion" as opposed
to "teachings" as opposed to "indoctirnation"

Once again, define your terms, and try to be specific - using terms not
colored by your increasingly obvious bias.

Todd

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