Finished this book today - it was a gift from a thoughtful friend.
The grip of a spiritual mission or of a guru can be remarkably hard to shake off. The sense of mystical purpose that one derives from that association becomes as essential as oxygen. To give up one's guru or religion is easy for people who never really believed in that, but a devotee risks suicidal nihilism if he detaches from a occupation which demanded total surrender.
The seeker gives up everything for his quest. And therefore, a serious seeker giving up his quest itself due to disillusionment needs all the support that his family and friends can provide. There is a very real risk of profound isolation, clinical depression and suicide.
To have one's spiritual teacher fall from grace is to see one's mother, who one loved and admired, whoring around with drug addicts.
Throughout the seeking, if one is serious, one commits massive and radical surgeries on one's intuitive and emotional apparatus, and on one's capacity for intellectual discernment.
To then limp back into the real world is not easy.
I salute people like Andre, who found the courage and conviction to come out of such abusive and unbalanced spiritual groups. He did it pretty much on his own, helped perhaps by one desperate conversation with a psychotherapist. I hope he is doing well.
These words at the end of the book need to be etched in metal to be worn around the neck of every budding seeker:
But I can no longer believe in a perfection that is removed from human decency, from warm and loving personal attention, from kindness and encouragement, from vulnerability and self-deprecating ordinariness. The myth of perfection is too much like the myth of Narcissus. It is cold and heartless.The world is a cruel place, and sensitive souls will always seek a kinder haven to live in. But for the sake of all that is alive within you, do not surrender yourself.
Spiritual teachers treat students as recalcitrant egos, ripe for chastisement. And seekers start seeing their own self as someone to overcome. To make a human being his own enemy is probably one of the worst things one can do to another.
Yes, you may have certain impulses which may not be healthy, but you are probably just fine. Being an introvert, you may be neurotically exaggerating your mild flaws.
Beware of a teacher who tells you to negate or deny a major and generalized sense of yourself. That major part can be called "ego", "self", "persona", "instincts", "mind", "soul", "intellect", "dark side", and so on and so forth. Such denunciation is an insidious form of control. Once you are no longer sure of what you feel and whether you can trust yourself, the game is over.
You must understand that any human attempt at getting gratification or pleasure or joy can be denounced as "selfish" and "egotistic". Are you willing to live a joyless, unhappy, painful life? Then start waging a war against your own ego.
Unwarranted pride or an excessive ego (normally called a superiority complex) is a neurotic condition, but usually just an amusing one. A healthy sense of oneself, and having an ego and indulging in human appetites, is perfectly fine. If anybody tells you otherwise, he is a misanthrope.
I hope the era of these gurus is over. Humanity didn't need to worry about another major organized religion in the 20th century. And I hope there won't be any "enlightened" being in the 21st century.
We can certainly thank Tim Berners Lee for that.