Beyond Cultism

You cannot merely "believe" in the Guru. You cannot merely have emotional — or even "aesthetic" — feelings toward the Guru as an individual. That is conventional "religion". That is cultism.

— Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"Guru, Faith, and Satsang"
June 18, 1973

A Radical New Understanding

Avatar Adi Da has always fiercely criticized cults and cultism — but His critique ranges far beyond the usual perspectives that are featured in the sensationalistic media.

His consideration leads to the startling awareness that, no matter how "normal" any interest may appear to the common world, the seeds of cultism lie within it.

Symptomatic Cultism

Avatar Adi Da says that cultic tendencies, like every other form of human suffering and insanity, are a result of egoity.

Egoity is the core presumption that "I" am an irreducibly separate — and therefore infinitely threatened — entity, locked in time and space.

Because of this primitive presumption, the presumed individual human ego is forever drawing circles around itself — that is to say, circles that compulsively delineate the difference between "me" and "not-me".

When human beings form groups, they do the exact same thing, but now en masse.

Wherever there is an association of human beings gathered for any purpose (or around any idea, or symbol, or person, or subject of any kind), the same human bewilderment-ritual is tending to be enacted by one and all.

Human beings always tend to encircle (and, thereby, to contain — and, ultimately, to entrap and abuse, or even to blithely ignore) the presumed "center" of their lives — a book, a person, a symbol, an idea, or whatever.

By "self"-contraction upon the presumed "center" of their lives, human beings — in their collective ego-centricity — make "cults" (or bewildered and frightened "centers" of power, and control, and exclusion) in every area of life.

— Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon

Any organized gathering of people associated with a common source of enthusiasm and commitment may be called a "cult".

Therefore, cultism is associated not only with "religion", but also with politics, intellectual studies, science, the "professions", entertainment, sports, the news media, and even flower-breeding societies!— — every area of human endeavor tends to produce the centralizing phenomenon (or centripetal motion) of cultism.

— Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon

Avatar Adi Da further suggests that even romantic relationships can embody this same cultic disposition.

When the relationship begins to "draw a circle around itself", then human growth and spiritual growth are both suffocated. Avatar Adi Da has called this dynamic "the cult of pairs".

The Scapegoat Game

Unfortunately, there is more to the cultic disposition than stagnant insularity. Avatar Adi Da points out that the ego's cultic ritual has a predictable cycle. He calls it the "man in the middle", or the "scapegoat game".

This is the phenomenon where, in one way or another, people eventually come to reject, abandon, or even abuse the central object of their cult. Heroes and icons rise when they seem to hold some sort of promise to be the source of happiness. As they fail to meet that impossible demand, they are aggressively forced from their pedestals.

Our heroes and icons rise when they seem to hold some sort of promise to be the source of happiness. As they fail to meet that impossible demand, they are aggressively forced from their pedestals.

Anciently, the cyclically (or even annually) culminating product of this exoteric "religio-political cult" was the ritual "de-throning" (or ritual deposition) of the one in the "middle" (just as, even in these times, political leaders are periodically "deposed"— by elections, by rules of term and succession, by scandal, by slander, by force, and so on).

— Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon

Next: The Cults We See on Television

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