Drugs are Friday Nights, Cults are 24/7
By Mary Jane Shankar
The title is controversial but not as much as the title of the article dictated by Ravi Shankar (yes, cause he dictates – the man does not write – even letters allegedly “written” by swamis): “Krishna was a communist.”
AoLers are probably already taking out their shields and spears, feeling defensive, and some are just eager to see what’s next, with a whimsical grin, ready for some fun.
First, I’d like to state I do NOT support, encourage, approve or agree with drug consumption. NOT AT ALL. Second, I never consumed any drugs. NEVER. Third, I don’t think recreational drugs are good. However, on the same note, I’d like to also state I do NOT support, encourage, approve or agree with cult membership and activities; and yes, I must confess I was once a consumer and addict of the latter.
Somehow, there are interesting similarities between both, yet I dare state cult consumption and cult addiction are just as dangerous and damaging as drug-addiction.
Without any doubt, both drugs and cults provoke addiction, they both brain-wash and produce brain-damage and “depersonalization”. When consumed in excess, both provoke one to take a “leave of absence” from society, and have thoughts only about “that”. However, one can at least walk out of drugs and seek rehabilitation, and won’t get letters from Mary Jane or Lucy that start with, “I belong to a royal plant and xxx is bipolar.” Most certainly, neither Mary Jane nor Lucy promise enlightenment or salvation, nor ask you to recruit people, or suggest you pray to them or put a picture of them in your altar to “protect you from evil forces.”
Moreover, drugs are used only once in a while. For some, once out of curiosity, for others, once in a blue moon or just on the weekends or once every other day or just for “social bonding”. Not even junkies do it at all time, every minute, every moment of their existence.
On the other hand, cults promote and cultivate incessant consumption. Cult participation and content becomes ones thoughts, feelings, mind, heart, and existence – day and night. Cult members end up breathing (literally in our case), sniffing (literally in our case), thinking, dreaming, eating, talking, sharing “it” minute after minute. The contrary condemns one as a “low prana”, “weak faith” or “not devoted enough”. In fact, one should “think of Guruji at all times”. “If you do not know how to proceed in a situation, think what Guruji would do in this case.” “If you think of Guruji, your prana will immediately rise.” “If you think of Guruji you will be saved.” “If you think of Guruji at the moment of death, you will be received by him in the doors of Heaven.” (Hallelujah! Amen!)
Sounds freaky, I know, but those who remember are nodding. And those AoLers who are green in rage, deep inside, know their day-to-day mind process was just described.
How many have not been in situations or met AoLers who believe going to the movies, watching TV, going to a café, drinking wine or talking about anything that does not include the words, “Guruji or Seva” is low prana or a hindrance to evolution? (Funny, the definition AoL gives to knowledge is “everything that relates only and only to SSRS and his mission”. Based on which, I am glad people like Einstein, Edison and Oscar Wilde were not “in knowledge”). Hence, not speaking “knowledge”, not thinking only of Guruji or a way to recruit more people to “salvation” becomes a 24/7 consumption and addiction, with no breaks in between. And if you are a tough one to crack, just attend a couple of TTCs and the job will be done!
How many have never heard or witnessed someone flip out, in need of an AoL fix?
“Oh, I am so tired, I need a fix of satsang.”
“Oh, I am doubting Guruji, I need a fix of kriya.”
“Oh, I had sex, I need a fix of padma sadhana.”
“Oh, I was just at the mall and spent time with non-AoL people, I need a fix of Part 2.”
How many have not met people who dropped out of the AoL yet they miss the “thrill” of teaching or the “thrill” of satsang or “just a good trip” of a long kriya or meditation? How many have not met people who dropped out but keep going back to it, “just to see the Guru – just a little“, or look for another cult to find the next fix? The dependency is there just as much as the addiction.
I know AoLers will find these comparisons preposterous but I know those know they suffer of these symptoms too. In fact, some may need a “fix” after reading this article to “get back to center”.
Of course, some may argue drugs are worse and AoL is not an addiction but a “way of life”. Note: there is a difference between discipline and addiction. In discipline one does not feel bad about not doing it one day nor need to enroll anyone everywhere. In addiction, one needs it everyday, as in “you MUST do kriya everyday, if you don’t, you will be low prana!” or “I must teach if I want to feel good”. In any case, is freaking out if you don’t see the guru not an addiction after all?
At least, the tobacco industry is more transparent. Perhaps, before the UN keeps accrediting cults as NGOs, they should force them to add a label to all their propagandas: “Membership can make you subject to brain-washing, brain-damage and abuse. Only for people above 30.”
Often, drug use is criticized as a need to “escape”, especially during troubled teenage years, or looking for some “comfort”, or wanting to “see reality”. Does this not occur also in cults?
How many AoLers do you know are “running away” from “the world”, hiding in the AoL and disguising it with words such as, “seeking for evolution”/ “spiritual path”/ “doing seva for humanity”/”wanting to grow”? Both drugs and cults can provide a glimpse of reality, hallucination, even a sense of invincibility and power. Moreover, most cult members are recruited in tough moments.
It is not all the same shit after all?
Maybe a perfect slogan for the next Sri Sri tour should be, “Be happy, Mary Jane is coming to town.” J The pot community may be offended with these comparisons. They can also argue they promote peace and love. At least Bob Marley, the king of peace and love, was more transparent about his actions, drove his BMW with no shame and had multiple lovers and children out in the open. Bob also had “knowledge” and sang a beautiful “bhajan”: “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!” Is it not the same message as Ravishankar’s “Vasudeva kutumbakam”? (OMG, did I just discover another Sri Sri plagiarism? Of course, AoLers will argue Bob Marley stole it from Ravi because he was a devotee of his in a previous lifetime, but dropped off the path and reincarnated into the weed community, and worse, will be born a “bong” next lifetime! Poor Bob, he missed his chance!).
After leaving the AoL, I myself, like many others, went through many ups and downs. Many of us sought help in therapy and unfortunately, found out not all professionals understand cult psychology. For those who found one who did, healing was faster. Some did cult-exiting therapy, which turned out quite effective. And some underwent deprogramming. In other words, cult rehabilitation.
The danger of cult consumption/addiction is that unless one has been part of it, or unless the group does not end up in a mass suicide or a Charles Mason modus operandi, one thinks it is just a group of harmless lunatics selling, promising salvation and proselytizing. The danger is you just never know when and how the cult leader will react next, and when one talks about the abuse one undergoes “in there”, one could be threatened, ostracized and/or accused of “bipolarity” (as if that was so bad) and other “scandalous” things for rejecting the “Guru’s Grace” (who is the drama queen now, I wonder?). Let’s agree no one needs to be murdered or commit suicide or threatened or defamed before one should be alerted of the dangers of a cult!
Inevitably, there is brain-washing in cults that produce life damage and/or depersonalization. I find it is especially most dangerous for those who join at a young age. Sadly, it is the target of all cults to fish them while young. Not only are they more susceptible but also have more energy, enthusiasm, idealism and naivite to join and work … for free. Sadly, the damages are then worse.
Just like anyone who goes thru drug withdrawal, I also did, through dissociations, panic attacks, anxiety disorder, depression. I had my own “trainspotting” experience and went through all sorts of withdrawal symptoms. To my surprise, doctors explained it is very common in breaking out of cult brain-washing. Take note: when one undergoes brain-washing, the brain produces certain chemicals to survive in “the system”. Thus, when one breaks away from brain-washing, the brain again, resists changes and produces chemicals. The very same process a drug-addict goes through withdrawal. Just as it is common that addicts (be it of drugs, alcohol, cigarette, sex) run back to a fix after rehab, so do cult members. “I just need just a little bit of that. Just once more.” The difference is addicts know it is bad. They just can’t help it. Cult members, on the other hand, convince themselves it is just a way to be with God and help humanity. The danger is in the subtleties, the unspoken and the unseen, not in the obvious.
On the brighter side, managing to endure the “train-spotting” and making the shift bring great relief and ownership. It is good to own ones own mind and life and not need any “fix” in order to be well, happy or close to God.
So, are drugs worse than cults or cults worse than drugs? To make everyone happy, let’s put it this way: they are both just as bad, yet drugs are Friday nights and cults 24/7. The rest is for each one to decide.
The ludicrous attempts to deceit the youth thru “Drug-free Yoga Raves” are just lame attempts that can be translated as simple as, “let’s just exchange your possible drug consumption with cult addiction. Your Mary Jane for my Ravi Shankar.”
Let’s face it. It is all the same shit after all.
The world would have made a real change when it finally announces, “Beware, there is a guru who recruits in town.” Until then, hold on tight to your soul!
Note: Mary Jane is a different name for marihuana. And Lucy for LSD.