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RE: RE: CWL, LCC, Adyar, Olcott

Oct 04, 1995 05:08 AM
by Ann E. Bermingham

Jerry Hejka-Ekins:
>However, I would not dream of concealing
>my opinions from this board just because Brenda is on it . . .

Your dissenting opinions are always expressed in a calm and intelligent manner.
What I object to are those that get overly emotional and unnecessarily negative
in their posts. However, a good flamer can also perk up a dull day.

>I saw a video of (Chopra) for the first time the other night, and
>got exactly the same feeling.

At least I know I'm not alone.

Remember, more than 95% of those who join the Adyar TS quit within two years.
Can we afford to ignore that 95%?

Has there ever been a survey of those who left that asks them why and what they
would like changed?

>But even more importantly, we don't associate
>ourselves with present day neo-theosophy which is (I think
>rightfully) considered a cult. . .
>Thirdly; we would not have had the crises of
>1930, and fourthly; the Theosophical Society would not be
>regarded by the public as a cult as it is today

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 enemies."

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

- ann

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