5 Elemental Challenges — Earth (part 1)
With the incredible growth of SBNR, we would expect problems to become more obvious. This doesn’t mean the problems are new — they may be age-old. A kind ’Box reader pointed out a Kundalini guru grandiosely instructing female disciples to worship him sexually, seemingly true and a fine if small-scale example of an abuse that has gone on for centuries.
But a connecting link amongst newer destructive cults is their being held in a simplistic belief portraying some monomythical manifest destiny, whose top-down administration becomes an orthodoxy, an ideocracy, and finally a psychosis. This is the irruption of social patterns from religion into SBNR where they do not necessarily belong, and the combination of them with ego. The worst cases yet are probably Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate and Aum Shinrikyo. There is certainly something quite modern about these; they are trying to take SBNR social forms but can’t manage it and regress dramatically and destructively.
What we in the West call Religion can tell big stories. It can say “we are all [x]”, “god is [x]”, “the universe is [x]”, reducing the world to simplified summary without fear of essential contradiction. Cheerleading a storyline that has to pass through a narrow bottleneck of easy crowd relatability can’t really work for SBNR, which has to be complex and democratic. Insisting upon those storylines can backfire dramatically.