Is TM a cult? (cont.)
Part 2: How to win friends and influence people
Applying what we have learned
Ok, all of this stuff about inducing dissociation and thus suppressing reality testing is all well and good. But where does it get us as budding cult leaders?
But what we're still missing so far is a comprehensive step-by-step approach for using these methods to recruit and retain members and build a really well-run and growing cult.
Keeping what we have learned in mind, here is a summary of how cults use suppression of reality testing in order to recruit and retain members:
- First, the cult has to get the targets in the door so that they can hear the initial pitch. TM offers "introductory lectures" where the initial hook is planted and people are sold on signing up for basic TM instruction. Scientology offers "free personality tests" which everyone fails, thus indicating their need for the "Communications Course."
- Once they have the targets in an introductory course the cult will then use a surreptitious method to induce a dissociative ("trance") state in them by any of a myriad of methods. Each cult specializes in certain methods. TM's methods are, of course, discussed throughout this site. Scientology's methods are the "Training Routines" performed in the "Communications Course." It doesn't matter what method is used as long as a dissociative ("trance") state is produced. Some of the targets will then experience reduced or suspended reality testing. Not all of them, but that's ok. Enough of them will.
- Many separate trance states are induced over the run
of the course. During each trance, or else immediately
after it (since reality testing won't resume immediately), the
cult will gradually start introducing its doctrine to the
targets. They will start off easy at first because if they load
them up all at once then their dormant reality testing might
still be triggered. But they will steadily ramp up the
doctrinal intensity through the run of the course.
(See "how to boil a frog".)
- TM starts off by introducing the doctrine of "stress release." This is the ludicrous notion that "thoughts in meditation are caused by the release of stress deep within the nervous system." By the end of the course the ludicrousness has advanced to the TM the doctrine that release of all of the "stress in the nervous system" will produce a state of "Cosmic Consciousness", i.e. Enlightenment. Enlightenment through relaxation! And some people will end the course believing this!
- The Scientology doctrinal ramp-up is described here. By the end of the course some of the targets will believe that if they just try hard enough they can command an ash tray to rise into the air and it will obey!
- As with Derren Brown's audience, some of the targets will leave after the introductory courses and never be heard from again. These are the people who weren't as susceptible to trance induction and/or suppression of reality testing. But others will have internalized all of the cult doctrine that they have been presented with. At every stage of indoctrination it all seemed very reasonable to them because of their inability to effectively reality-test.
- And part of the indoctrination that they have already
internalized is always that:
- They should perform a cult-recommended dissociative practice every day.
- They should come back for more and more courses and training or whatever. Each time they will go through cycles of trance induction and indoctrination.
With both TM and Scientology, to continue using our examples, they can (and probably will) spend the rest of their lives in the pursuit of Cosmic Consciousness or trying to reach the most advanced Operating Thetan level.
Why can't people see how reasonable my group's teachings are!
From there on out it's a straight drop for these people. Their reality testing mechanisms have been completely hammered into the ground as far as the cult's doctrine is concerned. These people are now no longer targets, they are cult members.
And their reality testing mechanisms will be hammered over and over again, almost continuously, for the rest of their lives. It will be very very difficult for them to ever exercise reality testing as regards cult doctrine, despite desperate efforts from their friends and relatives to make them "see reason." It will be next to impossible to convince them because these new members know that they themselves are the ones seeing reason! You are the one with a problem.
They may very likely be in the cult for the rest of their lives. We now have a bunch of Cruises. And Lynchs. And Kelletts. Trying, with the noblest intentions, to convince the rest of the world of the Truth which seems so very reasonable to them!
Nobody who is in a cult is in a cult
Nobody who is in a cult is in a cult. Just ask them. They are certain that they aren't.
That's because of the "reasonableness" factor just described. That's because they know that the process of arriving at their current set of beliefs was completely rational! They have been thinking clearly throughout the whole process. They have experienced it as an objective process of intellectual discovery right along with the spiritual aspect!
TMers will tell you that "no faith is required." So will a Scientologist!
These people can't be very smart!
These people can't be very smart, right?
Well, no matter what you think about Cruise, he doesn't strike me as unintelligent. Nor does Lynch. Nor does the indisputably world-class scientific genius John Hagelin.
Being intelligent and highly creative didn't save Cruise and Lynch. And being a world-famous world-class absolute genius didn't help Hagelin. Why? Because intelligence is absolutely no barrier to cult recruitment. This is because a person's intelligence is totally bypassed during the process of cult recruitment. When reality testing is suspended then one's intelligence is not applied at all in order to ascertain the reasonableness of the cult's teachings.
In fact, intelligence makes things worse. This is because a person will use his intelligence to produce brilliant rationalizations of cult dogma after he is recruited.
And the more intelligent a person is the more valuable he
is to the cult. For years now Hagelin has made use of his
reputation as a scientist to be the poster child for almost all of TM's
publicity campaigns. (Until Lynch came along; now Lynch is pulling
ahead in that role.)