Archive for Cults

Dogen said there’d be days like this…

Posted in Asceticism, Beauty, Buddhism, Cults, death, Monasticism, Mysticism, Religion, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The flowers, although we love them
Fade and die;
The weeds, although we hate them
Grow and thrive

Dogen Zenji

As I said the other day, at the end of the path, religions are actually obscuring reality, or keeping us attached to the world of suffering. They become like fences in front of the final destination, fences which we can see through but are encouraged to climb over in order to reach paradise or whatever. Yet if we know what we’re doing, we can see reality without putting up a fence to climb.*

But really, I don’t think religions are so crazy. Because all cults are just manifestations of the desire for concrete meaning, the basic impulse for tangible deep understanding. This cyclical search for meaning is a fundamental, natural occurrence — which makes it some kind of mysterious truth or idea in of itself.

Anyway, some obvious facts that have to be realized with the body in order to mean a thing:

  • what’s happening now telegraphs what is happening in the future
  • people die, get injured, and get sick every moment; eventually it will be your turn
  • the simplest things that we take for granted are also often the most mysterious things in life

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*Wizard Smoke assumes no responsibility whatsoever for potential spiritual damages incurred by his advice

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No more tears

Posted in Beauty, Buddhism, Christianity, Cults, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by wizardsmoke

In some sense, romantic ideals create delusions of purpose and concrete meaning (romanticism carries a notion of “victory”). Even positive romantic sensibilities — the desire to help others, to save others, to create balance, to liberate everyone, to change the world — these are all romantic fantasies. They often have little to do with the present moment and result in emotional states. Real compassion isn’t necessarily defined by lending out a helping hand or martyrdom.

Romance is often queued by cults and manipulative propaganda in order to ensnare victims in an agenda. The romance of having a divine message or purpose, of doing good or committing justice… this is all so fishy! Ah, not that these things are wrong, but… Romance — just that word which we commonly attribute to dramatic or loving sexual relationships — it is the transmission of a captivating and powerful message which one longs to believe in.

But to get to the bottom of it all, one goes beyond even romance. Romance has an agenda at the end of the day. Sure, everything has a romantic angle. Even the most profound practices have to start with a romantic motivation. But real (natural) power, once it starts to appear in one’s experience, comes from going beyond romantic notions. Romance is like a welling or surging wave of emotion in the mind which makes one temporarily blind and vulnerable to the will of another. The romantic notion is an attractant, a torrent which lures one into its whirlpool. It can often be another’s vanity reflected in our own mind.

Still, it’s kinda funny, because without any romance in the first place, there’d be no beauty in life and no obstacles or waves to overcome in building up natural power. Isn’t that right? We all cry about how painful life is, but then we all want the pain in order to prove how strong we are by overcoming it all and subsequently telling other people how great we are.

Heart of the Cult (Part II)

Posted in Cults, Doom and Evil, Occult, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, society, Uncategorized with tags , , on April 23, 2008 by wizardsmoke

One interesting facet of any organized group, business or cause is the way they constantly gain and lose members. There is no permanently solidified heart of the group. There may be owners or icons whom run the group, but they do not control their creation so much as direct it. They do not have complete control over their creation. Anyone who has worked in a chain restaurant or store knows that the store employees have no real connection to the chain owners. The establishment remains regardless of who works there.

In some sense I am saying that once something is created and promulgated in the world, (like a business, social cause, philosophical or political theory, new technological medium, and so forth) it is impossible to completely disassemble it or undo it. It now has roots of its own, it can continue to exist upon the fantasies and drives and power-lust of new people who wish to entertain its existence. It exists of its own blind magnetism to weaknesses in the human psyche. The Japanese film, Suicide Club actually explores this concept — the impersonal replication of the cult — in a very effective way. I found it to be a disturbing movie in that sense.

Just like a body shedding its cells, groups shed their members until the group is composed of almost entirely different individuals. And just as the human body is composed of completely different cells in seven years time and yet maintains a personal likeness (despite the physical changes that have taken place), a group’s membership is composed of completely different members after a certain period. Of course, the group has changed a bit, just as humans have changed appearances gradually with age. And like humans and all organisms, groups and cults of all sorts eventually must burn themselves out. Still, while they exist the agenda of the cult often remains the same, no matter who is in it, and consistently malicious.

The scariest aspect of cults is how they are able to destroy the individual will and identity and replace it with the will of the cult. The cult itself has no concrete goal (since ultimately none exists) except it’s own replication. Cults extend promises of rewards in this life or the next in return for extreme personal sacrifices to the cult. The individual simply becomes a vessel, a human sacrifice.

Thus, there is no real, concrete heart of the cult, gang or corporation — just as there is no concrete unchanging self, no real personified or conceptually tangible manifestation of God or Satan, no literal answer to life’s existential questions. The cult moves across the landscape of the world as a phantom, devoid of conscious self, like a plague. And here one begins to suspect that all life, all existence is rather cult-like. That, the argument for one’s personal beliefs is itself some kind of trap which causes painful attachments and a conscious search for meaning only stirs further emotional torrents in an individual. These torrents of the mind are analogous to the way cults exist in society. Most cults think their cause is divine or within grasp. But in the end, it all pops like a dream, a life wasted.

‘Course, cults are actually defined by the way they isolate individuals from their former social networks and demand total submission. They’re a bit like totalitarian governments in that respect. At least with businesses and other groups we have some modicum of decisive action we can take on our own. We’re not under their thumb and possess the freedom to entertain more personal illusions.

Heart of the Cult (Part I)

Posted in Cults, Doom and Evil, Relationships, society, World of Emotions with tags , , , , on April 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It is of interest to question the origin of “hate groups” or malicious organizations. This includes Nazism, fundamentalist religious groups, terrorists, gangs, college fraternities, Satanic and black magick groups, cults and so forth. Under what pretext do they exist? Power in numbers and fear. Of course, the fear originates not necessarily from the things they claim to hate; it is rather a fear of the powerlessness or insignificance of the self.

Outside of society’s norms and laws, the basic tenet of existence is: might makes right. For even the laws which seem to protect the weaker individual interests, are still just the power schemata imposed overhead by a dominant group. Of course, the maintenance of power and the seizure of power are very different modes of operation. Good historical examples include the Yuan Dynasty of ancient China. The Mongols were exceptionally skilled at melee combat, but were absolutely terrible at ruling a (foreign) country.

Unfortunately, the quest for power — particularly worldly power — is a futile quest. No matter how tough one can become, one is powerless against a gun. No matter how good one is with a firearm, one is powerless against a militia. No matter how well-trained a militia, it is powerless against a better-funded and organized army. No matter how powerful an army, it is powerless against a country it depends upon for resources, trade and sustenance. Eventually, obsessive power is balanced by the intervention of nature itself.

Basically, hate groups offer a promise of protection to its members. Members often join because they themselves have been the victims of abuse, or violent or hateful crimes. Since the group enforces local violence, it seems less likely that one will be the target of violence. This has a romantic notion too — a sense of power or pride in one’s community, that one is feared for one’s associations. On the other hand, if one does not join their ranks and their “protection” one is prey to their crosshairs.

This dynamic is something of an absurd irony — out fear of being prey, one supports the very ideas which prey upon others. This seems to pervade communities the world over — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This is a manifestation of the heart of every cult (and isn’t everything a cult ultimately?), in which the individual becomes reshaped in the image of the cult. Another way of defining this is saying the individual becomes “possessed” by the gods or ideals of the cult. It works a bit like enculturation, but even further ingrained in the individual spirit.

Incidentally, cults and hate groups draw people in at their weakest. For some people this is in their youth and adolescence. While reading through The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft last month, I was struck by how many sorcerors and witches were initiated into their practices as children, by old men or women. Preying upon a child is a serious crime because a child is so easily manipulated and reshaped. The abuse enacted upon a child becomes the earliest tools used to relate to the world at large. As mentioned before in regards to gangs, victims of abuse or initiation often continue the cycle by in turn committing the same acts upon another.

This is similar to the way cults and hate groups coerce new members while they are in periods of self-doubt or serious emotional distress. People in the wake of tragedy, new emotions, loneliness or in need of guidance often are desperate for someone to rely upon.

I would say that the openly angry youth culture of the present comes largely from an extreme fear, an extreme insecurity and defensiveness against a world that is becoming ever more competitive and yet simultaneously devoid of imagination. Anger brings a very romantic association with it and is a very persuasive quality for those unprepared to fend it off. Anger desires submission to its whims, and like all romances, is very persuasive with its agenda. If one is afraid of possessing inferior strength, intelligence, wealth or power, then hate can seem like a viable means of warding off predators. Unfortunately it also makes one blind and forgetful, much like lust or greed.

Where does hate come from? The Christian world designates evil as some kind of in-born malice, but many people today recognize that negative actions can come from negative home, school and social environments. Environment as a root factor doesn’t explain everything, but it proves a point: a person’s character cannot be the result of any one single cause.