Monday, May 8, 2017

Subjugation By A Narcisstic Cult Leader

Unconsciously, Jim Baker ended up subjugating every man, woman and child who joined his cult family by admonishing and entreating everyone to follow his words or rather his commandments.  But, like countless other so-called 'spiritual' leaders of cults, Jim Baker believed that gathering followers around him was what God wanted him to do, and that whatever he said or did or entreated his loyal followers to do was being condoned by a higher power.

I doubt that many gurus and cult leaders have malicious intent when they initially start forming and creating their own little quasi-religious following, but invariably when someone is elevated to the position of being a great avatar espousing the 'word of God' and imploring people to follow and obey them---to be swathed in that man's immense love for them; I believe that with omnipotent control and influence over other people's lives is where so many gurus went wrong.  It is always the people who willingly decide to believe in and follow a guru who end up suffering at the hands and commands of the cult leader; especially someone like Jim Baker----a fatherly figure expressing love, care and concern to all who willingly wanted to join him and to follow and obey his commands.

I understand how people have to take responsibility for their own actions and choices in life, and yet the gurus and spiritual leaders who become enthralled by their own power and who become convinced they are 'the voice of God' who then begin to gather people around them exerting absolute control in the lives of their followers and making all of their follower's decisions like what everyone should eat, wear and believe---then I believe that cult leader has to take responsibility for any and all misguided, dangerous and detrimental practices that he decides to impose.

The inflated spiritual ego impressed by his or her own great spiritual achievements begin to believe that everything they do is for the greater good of mankind, and no matter how deviant, debauched or debased their beliefs or behaviors may become; the majority of cult leaders remain confident that all of their actions are condoned by a higher power and therefore, should not be questioned or second-guessed by any of their followers, but rather their followers should be ever so thankful and grateful just to be in their cult leader's presence.  That kind of intensified and magnified glorification and idealization of Jim Baker is what happened very early on in The Brotherhood of The Source, as more and more people came to The Source Restaurant wanting to join the group who initially wore only all white clothing, because Jim Baker, the man who owned the restaurant believed that white was the highest 'vibration', and so encouraged by his new wife/bride; Jim Baker decided that he should gather or 'get his own children' (as he is heard saying in the film) to become a spiritual father/leader just like his spiritual leader, Yogi Bhajan had done.

But, the ego of a man or woman usually goes askew when they become thoroughly impressed and enthralled in the belief of their own spiritual greatness, and sadly it's the gullible and hapless yet earnest believers who end up suffering at the hands, whims and desires of the cult leader---people who no matter how much enthusiasm or idealism they may initially have about the decision to follow one man or guru, eventually begin to suffer and feel the negative results by having to 'live up to' and abide by/fulfill the whims and desires of the inflated spiritual ego of their leader---a person who convinced his followers that he wanted to create a new race of enlightened, 'aquarian' children, and that he needed to have sex with and impregnate the women in the group, in order to do that, because after all 'it was what God wanted him to do'.  That is exactly what happened with Jim Baker, and yet there are still those who cling to the notion that Jim Baker was a great visionary in possession of ancient knowledge and wisdom surpassing all other teachers and gurus around----people who still refuse to even accept the fact they were in a cult and that cult was The Source Family.  An aggrandized spiritual ego tends to hide behind a mask of 'doing God's work' believing that all of their actions and decisions are justified and only for the benefit of others. 

Joining The Source Family meant that you were entirely expected to adopt and adhere to Jim Baker's 'teachings' especially his commandments, and anything less was seen as being inferior in some way and not as 'enlightened' or 'aquarian' among his more fervent and zealous followers.  Everyone in The Source Family was expected to live by and obey Father Yod's words and teachings in an obedient, unquestioning and childlike way.

In the 2012 film about The Source Family, you hear Jim Baker say the following to the family members surrounding him, "Do you see how I absolutely need you?  And how you absolutely need me?  What would I do without you?  Do you know where I'd be?  In the looney bin."  That statement was followed by laughter, and yet it was true, because Father Yod had created a dependent situation among his followers---a situation where many became desolute when he died, because their entire lives had revolved around the man.  In that statement by Jim Baker, he confirmed that he relied on the constant praise and unwavering devoted and attention of the worshipful meiny surrounding him, many who had been following and obeying his every command for years.  The following quote from Daniel Shaw's book titled Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation summed up Jim Baker's control perfectly, "Cult leaders succeed in dominating their followers because they have mastered the cruel art of exploiting universal human dependency and attachment needs in others. The lengthy period of dependency in human development, the power that parents have, as God-like figures, to literally give life and sustain the lives of their children, leaves each human being with the memory, however distant or unconscious, of total dependency. Cult leaders tap into and re-activate this piece of the human psyche. Followers are encouraged to become regressed and infantilized, to believe that their life depends on pleasing the cult leader. Cult leaders depend on their ability to attract people, often at critically vulnerable points in their lives, who are confused, hungry, dissatisfied, searching. With such people, cult leaders typically find numerous ways to undermine their followers’ independence and their capacity to think critically."  That summarization perfectly defines the childlike/infantile dependence that a majority of Source Family member's displayed throughout the existence of the cult.  I have stated before how Source Family members would ask Jim Baker's advice/direction and guidance on absolutely everything in their lives where his tenets and decisions were to be quickly adopted and acted upon, and anything else was frowned upon and seen as being lesser for not following Father Yod's letter of the law.  Anyone who detoured from the prescribed behaviors as determined by Father Yod were looked down upon as being spiritually inferior by those in The Source Family who considered themselves more 'enlightened' among his 'sons' and 'daughters'----an imperious and often condescending spiritual arrogance was exhibited by many in The Source Family who believed what Jim Baker was telling them---that they were 'chosen' and 'forerunners of the new age' and 'children of the six root race' creating an elitist, smug attitude among the more zealous and devoted of Father Yod's followers.

From what began for many of us as something new, novel and exciting wearing all-white clothing trying to adopt a 'spiritual' persona sitting around an older, bearded man who professed being the 'father that we all wished we'd had' became an exhaustive and beleaguered existence in having to listen to Jim Baker/Father Yod/Yahowha incessantly in his bombastic way espouse his 'wisdom' on a 24/7 basis, to where everyone was constantly and exhaustively expected to 'live up to his expectations' and to please him, but most of all to maintain and feign the appearance of absolute commitment and loyalty to any and everything that Father Yod or his 'council of women' wanted or imposed on the rest of us.  So, life in The Source Family became an intolerable and unendurable situation where the circumstances of the entire group had become insufferable and unsustainable, and yet a few diehard and devoted followers of Jim Baker are still hell-bent on pretending it was all some kind of wonderland.

Here are other excerpts by Daniel Shaw from Traumatic Abuse in Cults - "In fact, the cult leader does not escape dependency. Instead, he (and also, in many cases, she) comes to depend on his followers to worship and adore him, to reflect his narcissistic delusion of perfection to him as does the mirror to the Evil Queen in the tale of Snow White. One of the ways in which this perversion of dependency is often enacted can be observed when the cult leader claims that because he needs nothing, he is entitled to everything. Thus, cult leaders claiming to be pure and perfect, without any need or attachment, use manic defenses to rationalize and justify their dependence on extravagant and grandiose trappings such as thrones, fleets of Rolls Royces, and the trust funds of their wealthy followers."  Although the income from the very successful Source Restaurant provided support for everyone who showed up and wanted to become a follower of Jim Baker, those resources became strained from supporting so many people, and from the indulgent expenditures into either his travels to India or the huge investment in musical instruments and recording equipment to facilitate and indulge Jim Baker's rock star fantasy within the cult; even though only a handful of people benefitted from the flush of cash that went into producing the albums that were made in The Source Family.  The strain on the income from the restaurant to support the entire cult compelled Jim Baker to covet and pursue people with personal wealth or celebritydom, because acquiring more and more followers became a major focus of Jim Baker's.

"Ultimately, followers act on the belief that only the leader’s thoughts and feelings matter and have validity, and the follower must exist only to serve the leader’s aims. The follower actively seeks to negate any aspect of his own subjectivity which the leader might disapprove of. To most outside observers, the leader’s aims are clearly nothing more than self-aggrandizement. Insiders, however, in spite of little or no evidence on which to base their assertions, cling stubbornly to the belief that the leader is actually pursuing lofty and noble aims. Asked to do anything to enrich the leader, including, in the case of some notorious groups, prostituting themselves, followers obey and find a way to believe that whatever they do is righteous. By remaining loyal to the leader, the followers persuade themselves that their own existence is given meaning and validity by their support of the leader’s mission."  This is chilling and a very accurate description of exactly what happened in The Source Family.

"The follower’s rewards, which are recognition from the leader and the ensuing prestige the followers gain within their group, are bestowed and rescinded at the leader’s whim, keeping the follower in a state of instability and fear about displeasing the leader and thereby losing status and favor.
One of the reasons many of the people who leave cultic groups choose not to identify their own experience as abusive is because to do so would mean acknowledging an extraordinary degree of grief over the loss of a deeply cherished, idealized attachment connected to their most cherished hopes about themselves and about life, along with the unleashing of an extraordinary degree of shame about their own self-deception and gullibility, and shame and rage about the amount of abuse they were willing to endure for the sake of maintaining their tie to the leader. Eventually, the realization that their devotion and labor within in the group led to no real personal growth, and to no significant contribution to society, will also become a source of deep shame and regret."  Another very accurate explanation/description of what it was like in The Source Family, and how many felt after the whole thing finally ended.  Many of us tried to salvage something positive from the experience of being in The Source Family like doing the 'star exercise' or adhering to a vegetarian diet, but in a kind of collective amnesia the majority of us tried to forget about many of the things that Jim Baker imposed on us/his loyal followers hoping to leave it all in the past.  But, there are still a few who only want to present an idealized picture of what life was like in The Source Family, and who are now denying that many things went on, in their need to maintain an illusion that The Source Family was ahead of its time and representative of a new age, or that our leader was an avatar or the messiah.

"For the cult leader, his ability to induce total dependence in followers serves to sustain and enhance a desperately needed delusion of perfect, omnipotent control. " Yep, that about sums it up.