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  December 12, 2003






  Cults and Culture OR

 What's Politics got to do with it ?

It's easy to get enmeshed in the 'little' world of Rawatism and our ex status in relation to it, here's some thoughts about a 'bigger' picture.

The words cult and culture have the same etymology, deriving from a Latin agricultural reference and ultimately meaning 'to grow' - the sense still used for culture in microbiology. While 'cult' has acquired a largely negative connotation, culture, through its appropriation by Sociology and Anthropology and by its promiscuous use in politics, (and aside from being a fuzzy growth on an agar tray) has retained a positive connotation.

The respective imagery associated with the words cult and culture are now almost opposites in character, 'cult' is an indication of something closed, hidden and dark, while 'culture' is unequivocally about mass experience, about achievement and progress. Etymology and Text Linguistics are not perhaps the most accurate means by which to understand cultism but this contrast of private and public - unsocial and social - does seem to go to the heart of the cult 'problem'.

In the common understanding of what 'cult' means (that is aside from whatever its scope it may have in relation to the religions of the Classical world) the associated imagery is of an enclosed, inward looking refusal of society, ultimately a rejection of the surrounding 'culture'. Concern for religious freedom, a desire for 'cultural' equality and a conservative sense of the need for protection of private versus public activity, provide the bulwark behind which cults avoid exposure to the societies in which they exist.

Cults are put under greatest pressure when society decides to remove elements of the protective bulwark and require that cults should be answerable to society, that their internal dynamics be exposed for all to see, that cults should explain themselves 'culturally'. A cultural explanation necessarily involves language understandable to the culture that is being addressed - the closed language of the cult, its internal argot and its recruiting propaganda will not suffice. When society, through its administrative and political structures requires cults to address themselves to the practical, moral and philosophical measures employed generally in society, the failings of cults are unequivocally and irrevocably exposed.

Cult exiting and the adoption by an individual of an ex status is painful and the solutions that we each choose must of course be particular to out own circumstance - there is no formula to follow, in contrast to the Cult world which is defined by formulas. However an important aspect is perhaps how each individual ex re-engages with a wider community as an individual, not as cult member, and part of that re-engagement could beneficially involve informing and influencing the administrative and political structures of society.


5 Brighter than 1000 suns as seen through night vision goggles
4 As bright as the lights on Maharaji's jet
3 As bright as a 60 watt light bulb
2 As bright as a pile of burning ghi on a swinging arti tray
1 As bright as the inner light as seen by the third eye
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