Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dreaming to Wake Up

Jeff Hawkins published the introduction to his book/blog. I was interested to read it because it starts by "We all dream", and such was the theme of my own story, written in a much less prosaic style but true to life nevertheless.

Basically Jeff says that cult gurus appeal to our inner aspirations at spiritual freedom and at doing something significant in the world, but that cults have a darker side that eventually turns the dream into a nightmare.

I would partly agree to that, but would only point out that not all such dreams turn into a nightmare. In my case, the dream never really turned into a nightmare, but it was a dream nevertheless, an illusion, from which one really needs to wake up.

I sometimes compare the experience in Scientology, or in another cult, with marriage and divorce. People marry because they have high hopes, but it does not always turn out the way they imagined it to be. Thus, they divorce. For some, looking back to the experience may look like a nightmare. They may even have been actually beaten or otherwise abused. This, however, does not describe the majority of marriage, and an alien race trying to understand human marriage through the accounts of abused wives would get a very wrong idea of what marriage exactly is. In a way, the same could be said of ex-members, and of people trying to understand what Scientology is through dramatized accounts.

Now I am not saying the the story of Jeff is a dramatized one. I only read so far chapter 1, so I still have a long way to go before getting the whole picture. I am only pointing out that different people may have different experience of the same event, and that these can vary dramatically.

I must admit that had I spent 35 years of my life in Scientology, like Jeff did, rather than just five, I may have some legitimate reasons to be bitter (again not saying that Jeff is, I don't know at this stage). That's basically the biggest and best chunk of your life, and waking up from the dream after such time one may feel that he spent the best part of his life sleeping and chasing chimera. Maybe not the best feeling of achievement, and one does need quite a fair amount of courage to face it all.

In my case, I started in Scientology early and when I quit the movement I still had a family to get back to (my parents), and by chance I also could build a whole career. Looking back to my experience in Scientology, I mostly remember the exhilaration of having found the ultimate one and only truth, as well as my purpose in life. It's rather positive. I went out of Scientology smoothly, having attended lectures by Krishnamurti who happened to be give them a motorbike jump from Saint Hill. This helped me to make a sort of smooth philosophical transition out of Scientology.

There is, however, something I have to say. And this is that if I did not have access to critical material at the time, I am not sure my doubts about Scientology would have grown to a point where I would effectively quit the movement.

Because, on top of my publication job I was the night watch in Saint Hill Manor, not only did I have access to critical books from the GO library which the average member does not have access to, but I was at liberty to read them with impunity, being alone in that estate (I even explored a bit further and discovered personal effects of Hubbard, but that's just for the anecdote.)

For this reason, I think it is a good thing that a critical voice towards Scientology resounds around the world (now mostly through the Internet), even if sometimes that voice is a bit too loud to be credible. What I read back then was pretty outrageous, like comparing cultists to robots. However, even this helped me to see through the cultic illusion, because I could then observe that people were responding in a predictable mechanical way, according to their conditioning, a bit like robots indeed. Of course they were not robots, they were still human beings, but the allegory did help me to start seeing the cultic pattern.

This pattern is indeed like a dream, like an illusion. The moment you realize that what you see/believe is an illusion, you are free from it, but as long as you believe in it, it is as real as our concrete world, as real as a dream into which you are really engrossed.

What my point is with my web site, however, is that sometimes we think we are free from something when in reality we only changed one illusion for another one. That would be like dreaming we are waking up from a dream. Of course we are still sleeping, still dreaming, but now we believe that we woke up from that dream! Maybe that's the reason why this particular illusion is more difficult to realize than the cultic illusion itself.

This is what I wish to highlight with my web site, of which this blog is just a part. The anti-cult illusion is basically an illusion just as the cultic illusion is. Sometimes, fanatical Scientology members and fanatical Scientology ex-members think they are different, but they are only superficially different. Deep down, they are the same, because they basically follow the same pattern.

In this sense, I was interested to read a thread in ARS from henri who argues that it is wrong for anti-cultists to recruit in the anti-Scientology cause freshly exited members, because they are vulnerable to outside influence and have not yet consolidated their own perspective.

This has always been my contention. The anti-cult theory is by itself, quite ironically, a whole cultic belief system on its own. By offering ex-members an "explanation" of what happened to them, they recruit them into their own belief system, and rather than fully waking up, they just transfer from one dream to another.

"The devil is the other" could be a summary of such a belief system. Cults need enemies, and by interpreting the cult experience in negative terms, explaining to ex-members that they have been deceived by a devious cult guru, rather than in fact being part of an illusion in which both the guru and members re-enforce each other, they basically keep the ex-members in a cult.

It may not be called Scientology anymore but it is still a cult nevertheless, because they still live in a world full of enemies. They still live in a dream, maybe even a nightmare worst than their previous dream, because they don't even have the Utopian expectations anymore.

They need to wake up from that dream too, and if my web site can help at least a few even just a little bit in that awakening, then it has not been in vain.

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