Many seem to think of sects as fairly small religious movements that attract innocent people and brainwash them. It is a derogatory expression that favours some movements over others, and it is of course no coincidence that the leaders of mainstream religions like to define which other spiritual movements should be considered to be sects. In their eyes it seems that everything that deviates from their norm should be considered a sect, but if we’re talking about brainwashing, the dominant religious groups seem to have gone beyond what anyone else could ever imagine possible. Their world view has been imprinted into our culture by means of physical and psychological violence, to such an extent that we no longer question it.
There are probably dangerous sects out there. Just look at the Catholic Church. But is the sect really something external? I would rather argue that it is essentially something we create ourselves. Other than in very exceptional cases, such as in Guantanamo Bay and the like, it is not possible to brainwash someone without their active participation. I would even say that most people who are brainwashed did the work themselves. They are longing so immensely to find a philosophy of life and a context that they are prepared to take virtually anything that they hear and raise it up to be a divine truth which they can blindly follow.
Is the organization to be blamed for such people confusingly fooling themselves? I don’t think so. That such a person latches on and brainwashes themselves is primarily that person’s problem, not the organizations, although I can imagine that it must be troubling for an organization to have to take care of a bunch of weak-willed individuals.
If you are wondering what a sect is, or if an organization you are in touch with is a sect, you should first look inside yourself and ask yourself where the sect is within you. What inside of you is it that wants to conform and be pacified? What longing inside of you is so strong that you are willing to sacrifice yourself?
I have a philosophy of life. If you were to come to me and swallow it hook, line and hair, if you would bow down before it and make yourself my slave for it – that does not mean that I am an evil manipulator.
It means that you’re stupid.
Photo: 69365 Hello Kitty Wants to Fly by Ganesha Balunsat on Flickrby