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What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 18 Jul 2008
by tom
This information below seems to me of vital importance for all of us BKs,ex-BKs,PBKs,ex-PBKs,family and friends of ours:
Interesting to know that BKWSU suits into both Categories of Cults depending on the conditions of each country.In some countries it is registered as a Religion, in others as an NGO.


What is a Cult?

Every cult can be defined as a group having all of the following five characteristics:
1.It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
2.It forms an elitist totalitarian society.
3.Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.
4.It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds recruit people.
5.Its wealth does not benefit its members or society.

Categories of Cults
Religious Cults
* Communal living common.
* Members may leave or not join society's workforce.
* Average age at the point of recruitment is in the 20's.
* Registered as religious groups.
* Appear to offer association with a group interested in making the world a better place via political, spiritual or other means.

Therapy Cults
* Communal living rare
* Members usually stay in society's workforce
* Average age at the point of recruitment is in the mid 30's
* Registered a non profit making groups
* Appears to offer association with a group giving courses in some kind of self improvement or self help technique or therapy

Are Cults Harmful?
To remain within the strict mental and social confines of a cult for even a short time can have the following disastrous effects:
* Loss of choice and free will.
* Diminished intellectual ability, vocabulary and sense of humour.
* Reduced use of irony, abstractions and metaphors.
* Reduced capacity to form flexible and intimate relationships.
* Poor judgment.
* Physical deterioration.
* Malnutrition.
* Hallucinations, panic, dissociation, guilt, identity diffusion and paranoia.
* Neurotic, psychotic or suicidal tendencies.

"When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you've ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you've ever met, and then you learn the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true-it probably is too good to be true! Don't give up your education, your hopes and ambitions to follow a rainbow."

Jeannie Mills
Ex - member of The People's Temple, later found murdered.

Caring, loving, wholesome individuals and groups do exist. The call, however, is for discernment and a need to fully question all interesting groups before becoming involved and/or a member.

What is Mind Control?
Mind Control techniques include:

Inducing a state of high suggestibility by hypnosis, often thinly disguised as relaxation or meditation.

Peer Group Pressure
Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong.

Love Bombing
Creating a sense of family and belonging through hugging, kissing, touching and flattery.

Rejection of Old Values
Accelerating acceptance of new life style by constantly denouncing former values and beliefs.

Confusing Doctrine
Encouraging blind acceptance and rejection of logic through complex lectures on an incomprehensible doctrine.

Meta communication
Implanting subliminal messages by stressing certain key words or phrases in long, confusing lectures.

Removal of Privacy
Achieving loss of ability to evaluate logically by preventing private contemplation.

Time Sense Deprivation
Destroying ability to evaluate information, personal reactions, and body functions in relation to passage of time by removing all clocks and watches.

Dis inhibition
Encouraging child-like obedience by orchestrating child-like behavior.

Uncompromising Rules
Inducing regression and disorientation by soliciting agreement to seemingly simple rules which regulate mealtimes, bathroom breaks and use of medications.

Verbal Abuse
Desensitizing through bombardment with foul and abusive language.

Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue
Creating disorientation and vulnerability by prolonging mental an physical activity and withholding adequate rest and sleep.

Dress Codes
Removing individuality by demanding conformity to the group dress code.

Chanting and Singing
Eliminating non-cult ideas through group repetition of mind-narrowing chants or phrases.

Encouraging the destruction of individual ego through confession of personal weaknesses and innermost feelings of doubt.

Financial Commitment
Achieving increased dependence on the group by 'burning bridges' to the past, through the donation of assets.

Finger Pointing
Creating a false sense of righteousness by pointing to the shortcomings of the outside world and other cults.

Flaunting Hierarchy
Promoting acceptance of cult authority by promising advancement, power and salvation.

Inducing loss of reality by physical separation from family, friends, society and rational references.

Controlled Approval
Maintaining vulnerability and confusion by alternately rewarding and punishing similar actions.

Change of Diet
Creating disorientation and increased susceptibility to emotional arousal by depriving the nervous system of necessary nutrients through the use of special diets and/or fasting.

Inducing dependence on the group by introducing games with obscure rules.

No Questions
Accomplishing automatic acceptance of beliefs by discouraging questions.

Reinforcing the need for 'salvation' by exaggerating the sins of the former lifestyles.

Maintaining loyalty and obedience to the group by threatening soul, life or limb for the slightest 'negative' thought, word or deed.

Replacement of Relationships
Destroying pre-cult families by arranging cult marriages and 'families'.

Who Do Cults Recruit?
Cults want people who are:
* Intelligent.
* Idealistic.
* Well educated.
* Economically advantaged.
* Intellectually or Spiritually curious.
* Any age.

How Do I Avoid The Cults?
Cults use sophisticated mind control techniques that will work on anyone, given the right circumstances. Those who think they are immune are only making themselves more vulnerable. Remember the assault is on your emotions, not on your intellect.

The two basic principles of psychological coercion are:
1. If you can make a person BEHAVE the way you want, you can make that person BELIEVE the way you want.
2. Sudden, drastic changes in environment lead to heightened suggestibility and to drastic changes in attitudes and beliefs.

Protect yourself! Why go away for a weekend or longer with a stranger or a strange group unless:
* You know the name of the sponsoring group.
* You know its ideas, beliefs and affiliations.
* You know what is going to happen at the gathering.
* You know what will be expected of you.
* You know that you will be free and able to leave at any time.

How Do I Help a Cult Member? - The Do's and Don't s
The Do's
* DO try to keep in regular contact via mail or telephone even if there is little response.
* DO express sincere love for the cult member at every available opportunity.
* DO keep a diary of comments, attitudes and events associated with his/her life in the cult.
* DO always welcome the cult member back into the family home no matter what is said.
* DO keep copies of all written correspondence from you and the individual.
* DO record all the names, addresses and phone numbers of people linked with the cult.
* DO try to bite your tongue if the cult member makes unkind comments.
* DO read all of the recommended books relating to cults and mind control, as well as reading other information on the cult in question.
* DO seek help and information from organizations specializing in counter-cult work. We care about you and your individual situation.

The Don't s
* DO NOT rush into adopting a potential solution before carefully researching the cult problem.
* DO NOT say:"You are in a cult; you are brainwashed".
* DO NOT give money to the member of the group.
* DO NOT feel guilty. This is not a problem caused by families.
* DO NOT act in an angry or hostile manner towards the cult member.
* DO NOT feel alone. It happens to thousands of families every year.
* DO NOT underestimate the control the cult has over a member.
* DO NOT antagonize the cult member by ridiculing his/her beliefs.
* DO NOT be judgmental or confrontational towards the cult member.
* DO NOT antagonize any of the cult's leadership or members.
* DO NOT be persuaded by a cult 'specialist' to pay large sums of money without verifying his/her qualifications.
* DO NOT give up hope of success in helping your family member to leave the group no matter how long the involvement has already been
* DO NOT neglect yourself or other family members.

© Cult Information Centre

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 04 Oct 2017
by Pink Panther
Podcast - One of australia’s first and most infamous cults ”The Family”, begun by a charismatic female Yoga instructor in the 1960s. Followers believed they were clearing karma by devoting themselves to the founder ... The parallels are more than just interesting.

Leader controls the sex lives of followers, those in jobs pay a percentage of income to the group, dealings with outsiders discouraged, children raised according to group beliefs to establish a perfect society after destruction of the old world ... educated and influential professionals are seduced into joining or speaking up for the group ...
footnote - Julian Assange’s step Father was involved with them and the family had to make a run for it to escape their influence.

Link: Inside The Family, the bizarre and brutal Australian cult

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 06 Oct 2017
by ex-l
An interesting question to review, "Are the Brahma Kumaris a cult?".

They are certainly a "cultic religion", meaning that they are not an offshoot or 'sect' of another religion and have many cultic attributions and tendencies.

At what point does a cult become a minor religion?

For example, the Brahma Kumaris claim 1,000,000 followers ... but that would mean an average of 117 adherents at each of their oft claimed 8,500 centres. Which just ain't so. No where near. I think their "8,500 centres" is up there with the most ridiculous of their self-important claims as it refers mostly to domestic homes.

It's like Christianity claiming every Christian's home is a church.

However, Zoroastrianism - one of the world's oldest existing religions (and strangely not referred to by the BK god spirit) only has about 150,000 followers (approx).

So, do number, beliefs or activities define what is a cult or cultic?

I'd suggest something a little different which is that the Brahma Kumaris are "cult enablers" (defining "Brahma Kumaris" as the cultic inner circle I call the Kirpalani Klan). They supply the form, and the intellectual property, for individuals to run their own cult at whatever level they are capable of doing so; center-in-charge or international zone.

They are like a multi-level marketing (MLM) cult, marking religious thinking and acting.

And, when I say "acting", I largely mean "pretending".

They teach people how to act religious in order to establish their own cult franchise within the greater BK world.

Therefore, half-way between the Jehovah Witnesses (End of the World cult) and Amway (a MLM business cult), especially now their attention has become more product based rather than salvation based.

Their beliefs are still whacky, way out there in cult territory though they just don't draw attention to themselves via sex scandals and murders like the more extreme ones.

Are they a respectable religion yet? No way. Not evolved enough or mature enough by far, IMHO. They are going to have to grow up out of their rank public dishonesty before they become anywhere near "respectable", including Vatican-like public apologies and head rolling for their abuses.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 07 Oct 2017
by Pink Panther
Their [the BKs] beliefs are still whacky, way out there in cult territory though they just don't draw attention to themselves via sex scandals and murders like the more extreme ones.
Well, BKs have had murders and sex scandals, along with assaults, financial crimes, bribery etc. The part that is true is that they have avoided drawing attention to themselves when they’ve happened.
Are the Brahma Kumaris a cult?".

In the podcast about ”The family” they mention 3 characteristics common to cults and I included these in my post - second paragraph. There are other agreed characteristics. The OP of this topic includes some too.

As to BKs halfway between Amway and JWs - a good comparison BTW - well, Amway has been called a cult by some and cult-like by others. BKs definitely on the ”cult” side of the fence, IMO. Then again, I’d say there are cult-like tendencies in many groups where there’s pressure to conform, it’s just a matter of degree.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 07 Oct 2017
by ex-l
I wonder where the dividing line between 'cultic abuse' and class or 'caste abuse', ie a superior minority taking control of an inferior (by wealth, education etc) majority?

Nothing more than usurping the old world Brahmins' position, and expanding a "Brahiminic" hierarchial reach across the world?

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 08 Oct 2017
by Pink Panther
Yes indeed. I was going to say in my earlier post is that there are obvious cults with their overt control of followers, then there are others including the cult of the mainstream society, who control the majority's behaviours and conventions through ”peer pressure”, the repetition of social and cultural messages through family, media, etc. Each society sees itself as "normal” and the others as ”foreign”, inferior or strange. That to me is a cultish mindset.

The clever and successful cults are those that seem not too different to the mainstream. They pick up those dissatisfied with the mainstream and looking for an alternative they can relate to.

BKs criticise the traditional caste system then throw up their own version of it, which appeals to those who prefer to be superior according to BKs and not inferior according to mainstream society. It is a sign of one’s ego the way we willingly suspend our sense of pluralist democracy or equality in our eagerness to accept that somehow ”I am special” and superior to others simply through this choice of accepting BK.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 08 Oct 2017
by ex-l
I think the 'secret agenda' element marks them out as cultic. But moreso the lack of transparency, accountability and democracy.

I suppose the difference between a "religion" and "cultic religion" is lack of enlightenment. The more they are mired in denial, dishonesty and manipulation, the more they depend on personalities, the more they limit what adherents can think, the more cultic they are.

May be in 100 years ...

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 21 Nov 2017
by Pink Panther
Just watching ”Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie”.

OK, its not as good as the other movie on Scientology ”Going Clear” and, OK, Scientology and BK are quite different organisations but when ex-members talk about the hold the group has on them, why they stayed and why they left and how hard that was, it is so similar to many BKs’ experiences, those parts of it could be from posts on this forum.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 25 Nov 2017
by Maui
I almost feel that when I am talking with someone very pukka (as I am known to be), there is a mind control going on where I can now be detached (sometimes) and almost watching ... it is especially difficult to talk on a rational level.

They are operating according to a different set of criteria than what makes sense sometimes in a model of reality. For the first time, I talked to someone and outlined, or at least tried to outline, what I saw as monumental discrepancies with the Yagya, the institution etc, and why I felt that way, it was like this person acted as if I never said anything ... and just continued to talk more lovingly without any substance. It was so disingenuous and frustrating.

In regards to PP movie, I have read so many similarities with Scientology ... there''s a book from an ex-member who states that mind control does not affect all people at all times with equal force. Individuals involved in the same cult can experience vastly different levels of mind control. I see that in BK ... some look like glassy eyed zombies, kind of extreme, but from sleep deprivation I think, while others don't appear to think ('Dadi is always saying "don't think) and just perform via rote". Many seem totally "normal" using their own authentic self skills ... but we all seem so totally emerged - at least I was.

Although I cannot seem to just leave, I feel there is some "breathing room" like something has shifted and not just because of change of belief, but in reality testing. I still don't know how I became so totally ... TOTALLY ... entrenched. I can see these movies, starting to read these books, and although clearer ... like that movie "Going Clear" PP, I cannot figure out why the pull continues. It is beyond painful at times.

Then I ask myself, is it really as painful and being in a form of prison of the mind/emotions/totality?

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 28 Nov 2017
by Maui
PP ...

I just finished watching "Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie" and there was this part in it where the man you left after 27 years told Louis and the others while making the documentary, to NOT look at Hubbard's picture and NOT to say anything towards him.

He explained why and they did not seem to want to stop; he then said, "I have to leave this room. I am not getting caught up in the mouse trap". When he left, all the actors, including Louis, turned to the picture and recited whatever. That made me stand up straight ... the main person KNEW he had to leave that room then; he knew even certain things were a "pull" back ; and what happened? Those "actors " and person doing the documentary ... fell in line.

Wow ... how that responds to all of us. I fell in line, no matter what was said, even with the smallest statements, persuasions, etc ... I acted, responded almost like Pavlov's dogs. I wonder if that example holds true for me and others ... you must, MUST ... not get hooked by any people, places or things ... it will only pull you back.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 28 Nov 2017
by ex-l
Yes, I am not suggesting right now that I can explain it entirely but I think it is somewhere over in the "infantilisation" department, next door to the "hypnosis" department.

A part of us is still like a child and it/they play on it, encouraging an infantile state, they play the mother/matriarch/grandmother figure gently eliciting the right responses from us.

Perhaps some of us were just so desparate to be wanted and accepted that we went along with whatever it was they were asking of us.

I certainly remember that I at the time - rationally - I did not really believe in it. I would just walk and laugh some of the time ... but we are not all rational beings. We are emotional beings that pick and choose rationalisation according to how well they fit and sustain whatever it we need and want on an emotional level.

There's so much talk of "the child, children, fairytales" in the religion and how much about growing up?

Even of grown men and women.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 29 Nov 2017
by Maui
I thought that too; so tired of being called "children", "child", and at times almost fitting into that mold. I still cannot quite believe it. You are spot on with that hierarchy of needs of that child, ex-I; we are, on some level, so desperate to be accepted and wanted and to belong. But I now know they prey on that vulnerability. I fell into that too, I am sorry to say. At times it felt good, at times it was withheld, at times it was all consuming and all rationality just went out the window.

It helps to try to explain it I think and, for no other reason to prevent it from happening again, to watch for the signs of falling back, which unfortunately I have done again and again. Was there something missing in all of us? Was there some connection we believed was truth/God/family, as you say too, the "hypnosis dept"? As I progress towards freedom, and I do feel it is a freedom or even a fight for my soul so to speak; maybe that's too dramatic but it is/was all encompassing body, spirit, physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, nearly took everything I loved and cherished and destroyed all, as well as any financial stability. The anger is surfacing and I am not sure what to do with it. I realize we cannot change anything, but can we help others leave? should we? How do we?

So many BKs' are such good, wonderful people ... so blinded by so much. Lambs to slaughter ... Well, ex-I, we ARE grown men and women now, no longer deceived and I just threw out Murlis I had from 2007, 2008 and 2009. I had one for each day until the present day ... lot of paper thrown out. It was an action that was somehow restoring. I now have another 8 yrs. to go ... maybe have a bonfire ...

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 29 Nov 2017
by ex-l
May just put it on in a big box for just now. Perhaps I can find some cult awareness group that would store copies of it?

I think for different people there were different hooks.

For most it was the child/dependency stuff but for others, the more psychopathic, it was the appeal of power and conmtrol over others. For others the ego trip of riding on top of all the achievements of the cult, being surrounded by IPs or VIPs that they would not have been able to access on their own.

Enjoying the "instant guru" status BKism gives you the basic tools to achieve, all that Deepak Chopra type psychobabbly and waffle Shivani Verma is surfing on.

Re: What is a Cult?

PostPosted: 29 Nov 2017
by Maui
You bet that's it with so many professionals I have been associated with as BKs!! You should see the retreats in Madhuban; everyone trying to outdo one another on their part to give. Seen that for years ... they really are surfing on that psychobabble ... just recently in Florida and found the same thing ... so filled with themselves and their "service".

As a resource, "Combatting Cult Mind Control" by Steven Hassan, he states that as of 10-29-96 the organization called "Cult Awareness Network" or CAN has changed hands and he vehemently does not endorse it, or any activities of the present organization. He goes further to state that he will not recommend it's services to any reader. I don't know why, but in later books and other research, some Scientology involvement ... as also stated by a CNN article at that time.

So this is one organization pretending to extend help and one seeking help will be deceived.