Now this obviously is no easy topic! I am no religious scholar – I speak from the heart and from the wisdom I glen to have gathered through thousands of hours of meditation, prayer, spiritual healing work and some personal past cult experience. It is not an easy topic, but one that we cannot run away from, especially if we want to understand and or even help those that might have been radicalized/ brainwashed. In the long run it might help us to prevent more people getting radicalized too.
Currently the most famous fanatical religious extremes, making the news, are the Islamic ones – but we must remember that all religions have and had followers who interpreted their teachings extremely. Brainwashing, mind control and cult mentality does not only exist within religious communities, it also exists within supposed liberal spiritual communities, then there is political extremists or e.g. psychoanalytical cults, down to small scale cults, such as family cults etc.. Having been a member of a religious cult years back, fortunately not one that told me to go out and kill, I have had some firsthand experience with having been brainwashed myself….
I am not attempting to answer most big questions with this article, or convey all that I believe in – you’ll have to read my book for some of that, I just think that as social media spreads messages of confusion and radicalism, hopefully this article in turn might bring a bit more light and reason into the world.
We must remember to love – not just those close to us, but also those so horribly confused they go out and kill in the name of their divine, political etc. believes. Not all of them will be psychopaths, who are just looking for an excuse to do ill. If you do some research into the psychology of mind control and cults, you will soon find that very few humans would be immune to brain washing – all sorts of people can end up brainwashed and often it is actually the better off and more intelligent who fall prey. The initial motivation that pulls them in will often be a deep sense of justice and a strong desire to do good – they get pulled in by the wrong crowd though, and are told that to do good they’ll have to do such and such….I am not trying to justify their then potentially horrendous deeds, nor saying they should not face human justice, but we should remember that many religious fanatics started off trying to do good. Perhaps they were somewhat unlucky for having ended up with the wrong kind of guidance. Perhaps if the school system had taught them about mind control and maybe motivated them more in other ways they could have become doctors or scientists, finding ways to save the planet instead….There is no use forever condemning a e.g. religious extremist fighter coming back from a foreign frontline. If they have the same passport as us and come back to their home country, we have to try to help them to de-radicalize – just as we try to rehabilitate criminals (whose initial motives were actually lower). If we are not confident in our own believes and have no arguments why our viewsof The Divine make more sense, ring truer and are ultimately more fruitful, how can we even try to begin to argue with them? When I tried to understand more about my cult experience I found some helpful books, but in the U.K. (in about 2007) I only really found one psychotherapist who seemed to deal with cult-exists. I surely hope that there is sufficient help available today. Professionals who can meet e.g. jihadists on their territory, i.e. arguing about the nature of The Divine, and who won’t just try to convince them that believing in Divine powers at all is pathological in the first place….
I am not arguing against the divine! Being a spiritual healer I obviously believe in Higher Powers – but with the divine not the easiest thing of all to comprehend ( I believe that for that one ideally requires a lot of personal hands on experience, through e.g. prayer and or meditation), humans will often rely on other humans’ interpretation of the divine (especially towards the beginning of their spiritual journey). This is where confused ideas can then be planted and multiply. When one learns about the incredible love with which The Divine loves us and it being all-powerful and the only real influence in our eternal being, I find it but natural that one then wants to love the divine back whole-heartedly. One’s eternal salvation is often used as a manipulating argument by extremists and as such divine eternity could be seen as something negative, but I believe that if we look closer and correctly - eternity sets us free again! Eternity is a very long time! Having an eternity at one’s disposal, one should relax, not become more anxious. If we believe that the divine is Love and All Powerful, it has an eternity to heal everything and everyone! There is no rush! I guess all religious believers believe that The Divine is intelligent – I believe it is reasonable as well. The Divine knows that most of us cannot see and (at least initially) feel or hear it. It knows that most of us contemplating higher believes initially ultimately rely on the hear say and reports of other humans! We are a bit like a baby, which has been given up for adoption at birth and the parents have then moved to the other side of the galaxy. When we grow up we are told by those, who supposedly have a telepathic connection with our parents (or have heard from or about others who supposedly have a good telepathic connection), that they do exist, they supposedly love us, can see us in their minds eye, are there for us, and we will supposedly meet them again when we die.. (They only be reached telepathically though, a connection that can be interfered with). Now which such loving parent is going to expect 100% devotion and believe in them, for the rest of our adult lives, under such circumstances? If such parents are all loving and fully aware of their eternal nature, will they really be angry or even disappointed, if during our incarnation on this planet we forget about them. Which such parent (even if they had a good reason to give us up) would even begrudge their offspring, if they chose to reject them for the rest of their incarnated lives, feeling abandoned rather than loved, and not trusting that his/ her parents had a good enough reason to leave them behind? Why would anyone now think that such parents would care too, if we thought them wearing blue or red robes, eating this or that diet or follow any other special rules? Being all loving parents, they will want for us what any loving parent will want for his/ her child – they will want us to be happy! That translates into us all being these given up babies – now some of us will grow up and are told to believe that our parents were black and always wear white robes, others will think they are white and wear purple and then there will be those who claim they look distinctly Asian and prefer to wear orange – does it seem reasonable to anyone to go to war over these differences in visions? After all, all believers, who are trying to come to a vision of their lost parents, do so in an attempt to honor them and to not forget them….
With that allegory in the back of our minds – as far as I am aware in essence all religions preach that their divine is all loving, all powerful, all wise and eternal! There are some variances though. If we look at the Old and New Testament – God supposedly turned from wrathful into forgiving ; in the Old Testament we are taught ‘an eye for an eye’ and then New Testament, through Jesus to ‘turn the other cheek’. I would argue that it is unlikely, God being eternal, perfect and all – that God went through an evolution and became more loving and forgiving. – It is much more likely that our understanding of The Divine, or our understanding via some prophet(s)) evolved! If there has been one evolution of understanding – that does not preclude that there won’t be further, higher, larger understandings of The Divine – does it? Prophets are/ were humans, living on the same planet as us. Prophets might not have been free of all Ego before starting to teach, and then there is historic and cultural settings to consider, which might have tainted their teachings etc. Now looking at the large array of human understandingsof The Divine, it’s nature and what it wants of us – I guess we can conclude that to get a true understanding of The Divine is not easy. Why is there (partially) differing understandings of The Divine? My theory is that there is forces/ energies that prefer us humans to be at least part confused and who do their best to interfere in our communication with The Divine (and sometimes they are successful). I feel that there is no guarantee that however powerful a vision a believer or prophet might have had, that it might not actually have been created by unholy forces, or at least (part) tampered with. I therefore argue that no believer of any religion can be 100% certain that their prophet had a 100% correct and or complete understanding of the divine. We could go down the route of believing that there is more than one God/ Divine with different prophets, but that would make some Gods more divine than others (and which is which?). That would also leave us uncertain why the God we might believe in, supposedly all powerful, allows other ‘confused’ Gods to teach on this planet too? I sleep much better in believing that The Divine is just ONE Divine Force – undivided, all loving, all understanding, all wise etc. Any differences between religions is down to humans interpreting the same Divine differently and potentially (at least in part) wrongly, or getting (mis-)information from other confused sources… And obviously I too could be somewhat confused in my understandings of The Divine - but at least I allow for it! We also have to consider that it is an easy (Ego) mistake to make, to believe that when we feel we have reached a greater understanding of The Divine, superseded previous human understanding of The Divine – that that is it now! Understanding The Divine can be a laborious struggle and mis-understandings can create great suffering – having reached greater understanding, the hope that one has reached the end of one’s understanding-struggle-path is great. A prophet might have been tired of his/ her journey and falsely claimed that ultimate understanding had now been reached!
Now I do not mean to sow seeds of doubt or even discord – but considering all the above, I have come to a point in my live where I rather err on the side of caution – than insist on a particular worldview or believe. I rather use my own judgment to see what actions are reasonable – are they loving, understanding, tolerant, wise? If all acted like me, would the world be a happier place or an unhappier place? Killing someone over ones believes has a finality to it, which is just so irreversible! Why, if they have such devout and strong believes, do terrorists not simply pray for the demise of their perceived enemies, but leave the actual deed to the Divine - allowing the Divine to judge if their prayers are wise and should be manifested? Their anger might be understandable from a certain perspective, but anger is rarely a sound basis for good judgment… I reckon that then some terrorists’ leaders will argue that their followers are the divine tools to materialize such prayers – but how can they know that for sure??? We just established that even the greatest religious prophets and texts might be part confused or not all seeing yet. Why do terrorists not just trust that the divine will find ways of getting rid of their enemies naturally (without human weapons and interference and only if it should be so(!); there is bacteria, viruses, illnesses etc, etc.) – all without potentially making you the worst kind of criminal that exists - a murderer? And if your prayers go unfulfilled – why not just trust that the divine has reasons to leave your perceived enemies in peace?! Your leaders might call you a coward, but do you think it is wiser to potentially be marked a coward, or kill someone and later come to understand that it was a (very) confused and wrong act? I used to have voices in my head, saying they were divine, which called me a coward when I did not do somewhat more extreme things there and then (like killing myself to supposedly avoid harming other beings through modern living). Well – a month or two later I reached higher understandings that allowed me to stay in my body and live a relatively normal live in peace. In retrospect it was good I did not listen, since then I very much doubt that the voices were indeed divine too! The logic of ‘the voices’ seemed infallible at the time, but they all came crumbling down when I just sat them out….
And as we just had the terrorist attacks on a satirical newspaper in Paris, if they were religiously motivated – again – The Divine is eternal and can see and understand all our confusions! I therefore believe it has a sense of humor. The Divine is the most self-confident and self-aware power in the Universe – it knows that ultimately it is the Only power and will prevail in eternity – how could such a power ever be offended?! Taking offense is usually down to ego and insecurities, two things that are not divine characteristics – at all!
I personally get lots of comfort, love and strength out of my believe in Higher Powers, I accept that there are those who choose not to believe for now, but I trust that at least as soon as their time comes and they leave their bodies, they will have no choice but to remember that they too are divine, eternal souls. Why would I hate those who choose to believe differently or not at all? Especially if they are without believe in A Divine, chances are, that they will not experience the same amount of comfort and feeling of ‘being unconditionally loved’ as me – that does not make me hate them, if anything, I feel sorry for them. All that besides the fact that I see them as my divine brothers and sisters, living their lives on this planet too, and too having been given ‘Free Will’! Who am I to judge their choices – especially if they do not harm me or limit me in my own freedom of expression….
So anyone still considering killing in the name of religion – if you need a list of things you could better spend your time and energy on, which are more likely in congruence with the Divine Will – just think a bit. How about illnesses to be healed, poor to be fed, finding more ways and or technologies for humanity to live sustainably on this planet etc. etc….
How to protect against radicalization
With recently three underage girls having moved to Syria, widely publicized on the news – if you are a parent and or educator, looking for help with preventing your charges from being radicalized – hopefully the above article helps. If you want to understand more about cults and mind control, I can only recommend to buy some books on the subject – e.g. ‘Combatting Cult Mind Control: The Number 1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults, 1 Dec 1990, by Steven Hassan. Reading such books really helped me to understand what had happened to me, but I also believe that they can be great tools for prevention. To effectively protect kids, I’d say, we have to do our best to free ourselves from stereotypes and potentially false illusions – such as ‘my child is too intelligent and kind to fall for a brainwashing attempt’. Radical leaders, gurus etc. are often true masters of manipulation and real psychopaths. My guru e.g. appeared very loving and seemed to show true psychic powers, which in turn made me naively believe, that I had found a good teacher to teach me how to spiritually heal! With the education and relatively sheltered life I had enjoyed before, there was little that had taught me to expect him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He manipulated and lied very convincingly! Sure, I had seen psychopaths in movies, but usually the criminal kind, not religious, and in my mind I (naively) believed that such characters are only to be found in movies, or perhaps if I joined a criminal gang. Sure, you do not want to turn your child paranoid and see evil all around, but I now see it as a great life skill to unmask narcissists or sociopaths relatively early on, after I meet them. It does not happen too often, but still with a certain regularity. And of course they do not all attempt to turn me into a radical, religious fighter, but my knowledge has helped me to be more cautious with e.g. a narcissistic manager or to not enter into a relationship, that would, at least psychologically, have been abusive. - I also understand that with ourhealthy division of state and church, religious studies are not always offered or taken on, but as mentioned – teaching about brainwashing mechanisms, and narcissist and sociopathic characteristics could be conducted ‘neutrally’ – by teaching it in all contexts, be they political, religious, personal etc. And yes – I did have some education about mind control, being educated in a German State School. We did discuss the Third Reich and read ‘The Wave’. Later in life I (initially) failed to draw the connection though, that such scenarios might affect me on a spiritual level or a personal relationship level too...
Love and Light!
N.B. A viable organization to check out regarding anti-extremism and deradicalization seems to be the Quilliam Foundation - http://www.quilliamfoundation.org, furthermore the MET has set up the following website - http://www.preventtragedies.co.uk/
Feel free to share this blog – I just ask that you keep it as a whole/ unaltered, and reference it to me/ this website as the author. Thanks