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TS as a cult

Oct 04, 1995 01:48 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Ann Quotes:

Cults, in a book by Marc Galanter, MD, a professor of Psychiatry
at NYU of
medicine and published by Oxford University Press, 1989, were
characterized by
the following psychological elements:

1. Shared belief system
2. Sustains a high level of social cohesiveness
3. Strongly influenced by group's behavioral norms,
4. Impute charismatic (sometimes divine) power to the group or
its leadership

"Often, defensiveness and paranoia exist to protect the
cohesiveness of group. To the extreme, it asks that members
sever all ties with family and friends. Anyone outside the
philosophy of the group. The noose gets tighter. It is okay
to deceive outsiders, for a "higher" purpose.

Religious sects generally have a universalist philosophy and a
code of behavior touching all aspects of the lives of their
adherents: promote an ideology ostensibly intended to transform
the world.

The role of the charismatic leader is defined in terms of his
ability to galvanize people into pursuing a transcendent mission.
The transcendent mission of a routinized charismatic group is
expressed in its rites and rituals. Using these behavioral
prescriptions, the group establishes standards of how its members
should conduct themselves in their own lives and in their joint
activities, in conformity with the group's mission.

Danger comes when power is concentrated in the hands of a single
individual, who proves unfit to manage it. Deranged leaders may
possess improper concentrations of power and stifle contact with
the outside world.

The pursuit of new members is an important component of ritual.
It supports members' commitment by underlining the credibility of
the movement, since the testimony of new members provides further
validation of the group's ideals. Involvement in newfound rituals
creates conflict in the member's preexisting relationships, since
major changes in commitment and lifestyle do not come without a
disruptive effect. There is a tendency to divide the world into
good within their own group and the evil lodged in their

How does this definition of a "cult" fit current theosophical

- ann


 I have never seen this definition before, and if you had
asked me for one, I would have offered a popular definition
rather than an academic one. However, I'm absolutely stunned as
to how perfectly Dr. Galanter's definition does fit the inner
circle of the Adyar TS. (which runs the Organization) You would
have to spend some time at Krotona (the national headquarters of
the ES) and get into touch with the social system there in order
to fully appreciate what I mean. The same atmosphere and norms
permeate Adyar too, I am told by many, but never personally
visited there.

Thanks for the quote. I'm really stunned.

Jerry Hejka-Ekins
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