Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cult or Religion?

The actions of one man or woman who is seen as a spiritual teacher, guru or master can have an extremely deleterious effect on an entire group of people, as history has shown over and over again.  It is my opinion, that when people start to believe that another person possesses superior wisdom or love surpassing all others, and then begins to follow that person in a worshipful, devoted way heeding every word spoken as being tantamount to a 'sermon on the mount', believing that person to be imbued with wisdom surpassing all others; it's a short step to becoming either a cult or a religion.  In the case of The Source Family, all of the fawning adoration and pandering showered upon Jim Baker quickly morphed into a textbook cult situation, and there still remain devoted followers of Jim Baker aka Father Yod  aka Yahowha to this day; to the degree that some continue to chant his name and believe that he communicates with them from beyond the grave.  But, no one wants to commit a transgression of any kind towards a person who they saw as being their spiritual leader and teacher, whom they came to love and admire so ardently.  Although, I was in The Source Family for six long years and tried to believe in and follow Jim Baker, and see him as some kind of holy, saint-like person; the reality was that I could not.  I only ever saw just a man, who became convinced by the adoring men and women surrounding him that he was God; a result best described in a phrase that I recently heard described as 'a cascade of narcissism.'  I have also tried multiple times to salvage any good or positive aspects from being in The Source Family; especially any true 'wisdom' that I might have attained by following and obeying Jim Baker, but I have found that I cannot rectify anything 'good' from the experience, without ignoring and turning a blind eye to all of the detrimental things that went on in The Source Family, under the watchful eye and direction of our self-proclaimed earthly spiritual father, Jim Baker. But, unlike some former Source Family members, I cannot excuse or exempt him from any culpability.  Some former members believe that by attaching some kind of magical or spiritual meaning or significance to Jim Baker's questionable edicts and behaviors; that would somehow exalt him into sainthood, rather than merely being seen as 'just a man.'  Yet, some people continue to believe that Jim Baker was a very holy man and that he continues to influence and lead them in their lives today.  But, isn't that how religions are born? Isn't seeing one man as your savior and the wisest of the wise with the exalted feelings of hero-worship and continued unwavering adoration and exaltation of one man how all religions began? It is my feeling that when people chose magical thinking over reason and logic, that is where religion begins and reality and common sense end; which is what some of the more zealous believers who were in The Source Family are choosing to embrace.  Some people would like to turn following Father Yod/Yahowha into some kind of 'new age' religion and convince people that he left behind a legacy worthy of the continued attention of future generations.  But I realized that nothing that he taught or adopted as 'his teachings' was anything that I had not already heard before, to be found in the exact same occult books available to everyone that Jim Baker had read and used.  All of the ceremonial magic and sayings that Father Yod extolled had been adopted, taken from another source.  Anyone could have easily accessed the exact same kind of 'wisdom' or knowledge that Jim Baker was deemed to possess, on their own; that we none of us had to follow him down the rabbit hole, in order to gain any of the insights or so-called 'wisdom teachings' that many wanted to believe Jim Baker was the sole author. What I am saying is this: that there was nothing extraordinary, enlightened or holy about Jim Baker; but what those people surrounding him wanted to attribute and attach to him.  I believe that many of us have had moments of complete clarity and comprehension about the universe; profound realizations and epiphanies about our own existence; about why any of us are here, and especially about the power of love and kindness; I also believe that many already had degrees of wisdom, insight or knowledge before they decided to follow Jim Baker or adopt him as being their earthly spiritual father; but by his taking on that mantle of leadership that his ego eagerly embraced; he soon began to believe himself to be a great and wise spiritual teacher, even God.  But, it didn't stop there; he soon began to believe that in his role of spiritual father or leader; that he was supposed to create a super race of 'Aquarian' children; and so he began grooming the young women who had been attracted to joining 'the family.'  His desire to father a super race began very early on in 'the family', but continued throughout the duration of the group which thankfully resulted in only three babies being born to different women, rather than dozens.  Also, where many of us who decided to join The Brotherhood of The Source had already been living 'hippie' lifestyles and had experienced communal living in the sixties; we believed or thought that we would experience the same sort of harmonious individuation, but soon found that the entire Source Family dynamic revolved around one man....and that was Jim Baker; and a sycophantic pandering and seeking of position began, where the gaining of attention and favor of this one man would supersede everything else.  It is my belief, that Jim Baker succumbed to his own egoic and sexual desires and very quickly the early idealism of The Brotherhood of The Source began to resemble 'a family' alright; although more like a mafia family where all pandering and deference was paid to the 'godfather', where everyone sought an audience with the 'godfather' and payed homage to him; some seeking a position of power and favor which created the perfect setting for power plays and exploitation by those seeking to gain either control or power within the group; which is exactly what happened in The Source Family.  One person insinuated themselves into gaining a position of having access to the group's finances and embezzled thousands of dollars, before leaving!  Another person began her acquisition and accumulation of any and everything of material value brought into 'the family', and kept and used to her own advantage.  The Source Family deteriorated into a cult of personality that revolved around the constant attention, supplication and adoration of Jim Baker, accompanied by the squeals of his 'women' and the chanting of his name.