How far can human beings go in manipulating spirituality?
Despite scientific investigations, we are still mysterious creatures, ruled by reason and pushed by subjective forces that lie in our depths, far beyond the reach of our understanding.
We can reduce the polychromatic realms of our spirituality to a more black and white reality, making it at least possible to analyze. Yet, there’s no way to dissect the mix of wisdom, madness, and imagination that goes on inside the head of a guru.
Our history shows that the most manipulative and dangerous gurus were gifted with brilliant minds, eloquence, charisma, and psychic powers.
They shined as a light in the darkness. It would be naïve to say that they were full of bullshit exclusively. Maybe they had something very authentic and real that resonated in the multitudes that followed them.
The border between good and evil has always been dramatically thick. It’s easy to become philosophical if we strip away our judgments and try to understand how those who looked like saints could fall into madness and commit the most terrible atrocities.
Are madness and manipulation opposite to God, or are they just two of the Creator’s many faces?
Is there some God in the madness? Or maybe there’s some madness in God?
What if wisdom and madness are fused as two sides of the same coin?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to respond to questions like these unless you want to recur to a guru who claims to know God in person and to speak in his name.
Let’s avoid such a dangerous path and stick to the black and white to navigate the world of gurus, their shiny light, and their clever strategies for mind control.
Ideapod recently ran a poll asking which “polemic gurus” you wanted us to write about most.
This is how we ended up with a marvelous list of fantastic people whose wisdom has grown so much to the point of breaking the dam that separates reason from the madness in the depths of our minds.
The public’s choice doesn’t reflect any judgment. Rather, it was pushed by curiosity.
That’s why the top spot in the poll went to the almost harmless Osho, whose accusations of poisoning the whole city of Dalles have never been proven.
The idiosyncratic sci-fi writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard claimed second place, while the convicted racist murderer Charles Manson landed third place.
Jim Jones achieved the fourth position, despite the 918 deaths on his account.
Despite his efforts to make history by attacking the Tokyo subway with sarin gas, Shoko Asahara didn’t reach the top five.
Instead, the fifth position went to the positive thinking ambassadress Esther Hicks and her collective of light beings, Abraham.
All of us are vulnerable to manipulative gurus
It’s tempting to think that we can resist the influence of cults or shady gurus. However, the truth is that the search for meaning and belonging is hardwired into our DNA.
While some of us can abstract from that completely and live our mundane lives, never questioning what exists beyond the reach of our eyes, this resistance is impossible for many people.
The quest for meaning and belonging can be agonizing to the point of shadowing our reason and inhibiting our discernment.
Even a guru who looks bizarre or cartoonishly evil to us on the outside can appear enticing and convincing to those within their grasp.
We should avoid the temptation to see those who are drawn to cults as unhinged or stupid.
If only it were that simple.
Let’s scratch the surface of some of the most manipulative gurus we know to gain a glimpse of their ambiguous complexity.
The life and spiritual cause of Osho: A piercing critique
Osho was a charismatic and insightful individual who was born named Chandra Mohan Jain in 1931 in Kuchwada. He changed his name to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the early 1970s while consolidating himself as a prominent spiritual teacher.
He decided to renounce the name Rajneesh and adopt his name as the Japanese word Osho, meaning ocean, close to his death and after decades of persecution and the disastrous end of his adventures in the US.
Osho proclaimed himself enlightened in 1953 at the age of 21 after sitting under a maulshree tree in Jabalpur. Since then, he claimed to devote his every breath to the spiritual awakening of humankind.
His studies are comprehensive. He published more than 600 books, explaining his philosophy with beautiful rhetoric, poetry, and sense of humor and offering his view on the most known philosophies and religions in the world.
Osho taught people that they each had an inner Buddha that could respond to the cruelties and suffering of the cosmos with perfect love and objectivity and freed of ego and illusion. This inner Buddha is the source of wisdom that exists inside every human being. According to Osho, if you stop chasing answers outside, set your mind free, and look inside of you, you’ll find your inner Buddha and become your own master.
Despite the beautiful rhetoric, his disciples implemented a mala, a devotional necklace with a photo of Osho rather than their inner Buddha, as a symbol of humility and devotion to their master.
According to Osho, we’re born enlightened. However, we must stop pursuing it to find our enlightenment. “You cannot pursue what you already have,” Osho said.
Yet he gathered thousands of disciples who spent their best years and much money to learn Rajneesh’s enlightenment techniques.
To be fair, Osho’s techniques were quite innovative. His ashrams shared cutting-edge studies of many sorts of holistic therapies.
Osho developed a new concept of meditation, much less static than the traditional techniques of his age. His meditations, which involved movement, dance, yelling, and sex, helped thousands of people break through self-repression, reconnecting them with their vitality and sexuality as a fruit of their social conditioning.
Osho’s methods were liberating. Entering the guru’s ashram was a journey back to aspects of one’s beings they had repressed for their whole lives for many.
Further, his self-development techniques, often spiced with orgies, marijuana, and LSD, were far less monotonous than embracing celibacy in a Buddhist monastery or listening to the choir of the dominical Presbyterian service.
According to Osho, sexual orgasms are a form of meditation and a path for cosmic connection and enlightenment.
“Two things happen in orgasm: one is, mind stops the constant yakkety yak – it becomes for a moment no-mind; and second, time stops. That single moment of orgasmic joy is so immense and so fulfilling that it is equal to eternity.”
During the 1980s, when the causes of AIDS were understood, Osho immediately required that everybody should be tested before entering his ashram. He also demanded his disciples to use condoms. In the beginning, condoms were not recognized as an effective method for prevention. Osho was ridiculed for this attitude which later proved to be truthful advice.
As a figure who also helped shape the New Age movement, Osho promoted living in the present. He criticized mainstream religion as being repressive and guilt-based and encouraged people to fully accept themselves through meditative and spiritual practices to escape the snares of social conditioning.
Osho understood early that the more controversial and shocking his discourses were, the more spotlight he could attract. That’s how he adopted regular attacks on mainstream religions in his speech as part of his strategy to bring enlightenment to the world.
He described India’s national hero, Gandhi, as a masochist who worshipped poverty, and Madre Teresa of Calcutta as a deceiver and charlatan. None of the Eastern or Western religions escaped his criticism.
Unfortunately, Osho’s sharp criticism of religious and political establishments earned him thousands of disciples and powerful enemies.
In the late 1970s, land-use approval for his ashram was denied, and India’s government stopped issuing visas for foreigners intending to visit the guru.
Desai’s government canceled the ashram’s tax-exempt status with a retrospective effect to make Osho’s life worse, resulting in a claim estimated at 5 million dollars.
An attempt against his life, inflicted by a Hindu fundamentalist in 1980, gave him the final motivation to leave old and authoritarian India towards the young, democratic, and wealthy America.
Osho had a meteoric career in America. He soon acquired ad 64-acre ranch in the countryside of a small town called Antelope in Wasco County, Oregon. He settled in his new community, the Rajneeshpuram.
Osho soon became popular among Hollywood celebrities and open-minded millionaires in pursuit of enlightenment.
Of course, such noble work like bringing light to the world should be compensated.
Osho allowed himself some indulgences to prove that spirituality and wealth can coexist in harmony. He owned a collection of 93 Rolls-Royce and a few dozen diamond-encrusted Rolexes.
Unfortunately, Osho’s neighbors in Wasco County were fervorous Christians, deeply attached to their conservative ways. Osho and his disciples had many strengths, but diplomacy wasn’t one of them.
The tension between the well-behaved and God-fearing countryside white Christians and the free-sex spiritual community of the Rajneeshpuram developed into a cold war, which resonated like a nuclear bomb in the mountains of Oregon, loud enough to be heard in Washington.
Perhaps Osho wanted to enjoy the best of America, meditating and partying with his disciples. Maybe it would have ended better for him if he settled his community in Topango or the hippie outskirts of San Francisco.
However, his brave neighbors from Wasco were determined to eradicate Osho’s blasphemies from their Christian county at every cost. They used all the resources at their disposal, from armed threats and bomb attacks to administrative and court processes.
How would you deal with the pressure of several court proceedings and administrative processes demanding the eradication of your community and the bulldozing of your buildings?
Would you trust the judges, politicians, and administrative officers of your Christian county to respect and protect your rights?
Well, Rajneeshpuram was an ingenious and creative community. They soon realized that if they wanted to protect their rights, they would have to earn political power. The US democracy was never a fair game, but Osho raised it to a new level.
First, they outnumbered their neighbors from Antelope and took political control of the town easily.
Under Osho’s disciples’ government, Antelope had its name changed to Rajneesh. Its city park was transformed into a nude bath area, and free sex on the streets was allowed as an authentic expression of love. At the municipal school, the teachers were replaced by Osho’s disciples, wearing their red robes and malas.
Yet, the cherry on the cake was the new town’s police force, made of Osho’s most loyal disciples. All were well-armed and trained at the expense of the government and ready to protect the new order.
The success of this political incursion raised strong reactions in Oregon. Organized protests and court processes intensified. But Osho’s new order was ready to take America. Envisioning the upcoming county elections, Osho’s disciples collected around 3,000 homeless from several cities and brought them to Rajneeshpuram.
The new residents received love, home, food, beer, and haloperidol, a potent sedative administered without their consent to keep them in a calm state of peace and love. They were treated with dignity, and Osho received self-respect in return. The only thing they were asked for was to vote.
With the 3,000 extra voters, Osho’s community would have taken Wasco County if Oregon state didn’t allow the new residents to vote in a turnout that would have made ex-president Trump jealous.
These 3,000 men and women suddenly became useless to the cause. What do you do with 3,000 homeless people recently installed in your compound who ended up serving for nothing? It’s no big deal. Osho’s army forced them inside vans and dropped them in the streets of nearby towns to ensure their safety.
Maybe it was an unfortunate coincidence misinterpreted by the people, media, and state office attorney, but the whole Antelope town was poisoned with Salmonella after Osho’s defeat. Maybe it’s also a coincidence that some of Osho’s most fierce enemies were gifted with poisoned chocolates months later.
However, the many accusations are enough to create a solid case and bring the guru to court, from attempted murder to organizing fake marriages between disciples to evading US immigration laws.
Before being convicted, Bhagwan settled a deal with the federal court agreeing to leave the US. His visa was denied in 21 countries, thanks to Washington, for which he had to return home to India.
Back in India, he, unfortunately, died at the young age of 58. His defeat in America, the treason of some of his most loyal disciples, and his addiction to valium and nitrous oxide all negatively impacted his health. Tragically, his life was taken before the world became enlightened.
A judgmental and narrow-minded individual may think of sex and drugs as the opposite of spirituality and condemn Osho and his disciples. However, this same person would probably never question the violence of political regimes and the damaging effects of alcohol, tobacco, and pharmacy drugs allowed by the system.
Osho was a rebel, standing by his rights and inciting his disciples to do the same. Should he be blamed for this? Unfortunately, in the heat of battle, we tend to stick to Machiavelli’s “the cause justifies the means” and act as a devil in the name of a spiritual cause.
Osho exposed the world to the farce of American democracy. It all happened during the 1980s when the US was fully engaged in the anti-hippie campaign, which eradicated Rajneeshpuram and many other revolutionary communities intending to find an alternative way to live in America. You can call America the “land of freedom.” However, if you don’t play according to their conservative rules and principles, you may end up as Osho did or worse.
Osho’s teachings still appeal to millions of people today, and his insights are undoubtedly valuable. His spiritual center in Puno, India, is still alive, as are many other centers created by his disciples.
We shouldn’t discredit Osho’s wisdom because of his wrongs. On the other hand, we shouldn’t discredit his wrongs because of his wisdom. Perhaps he was a remarkable but fallible man; he is someone we can learn from if we leave our devotion aside and study with a critical perspective.
A brutal critique of L. Ron Hubbard and his teachings
L. Ron Hubbard—LRH as his followers know him—was a fascinating man born in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska. He died in 1986 in Creston, California.
Hubbard and his system have been treated as a running joke in popular culture, including being famously panned in the cartoon South Park as an alien-obsessed lunatic cult. Still, the truth is that Scientology is far more convincing and interesting than many critics claim.
Many who denounce Scientology know about its scandals but are almost entirely unfamiliar with what it is or what Hubbard taught.
Hubbard started his career writing bizarre but addictive science fiction books, a man of brash magnetism and enormous intelligence. He reported his first spiritual revelation in 1938 during a near-death experience due to an allergic reaction to a drug used by his dentist during a procedure.
Hubbard joined the US navy in 1941 to climb the ranks of navy’s intelligence with his brilliant mind. However, there were a series of small incidents onboard, like spending 68 hours engaged in combat with a non-existing submarine and conducting gunnery practice on the Mexican island of Coronado believed as inhabited and uncharted territory belonging to the US. He was reported as unsuitable for independent duties and “lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation.” The report recommended he be assigned “duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised.”
Hubbard left the navy in 1946. Over the next few years, he went deeper into his spiritual studies. However, he had been involved in at least a couple of questionable schemes during this period.
After being arrested in August 1948 and pleading guilty to a charge of petty theft, Hubbard decided to make a leap in his life. It was time to think bigger and give better use to his potential.
In 1949, Hubbard developed a system called Dianetics, affirmed to have the power to set anybody free from all sorts of psychosomatic ailment and emotional trauma.
The name Dianetics comes from two Greek words: dia and nous, which means “through the soul” when put together.
According to Hubbard’s Dianetics, each of us carries not one but two minds. The first is the “analytical mind,” responsible for thinking and discerning. This mind holds the gift of reason. The second is the “reactive mind,” responsible for our instinctive reactions.
The “reactive mind,” according to Hubbard, exists at a much deeper level than the “analytical mind.” Further, it takes over under certain circumstances, resulting in irrational behavior.
Dianetics considers the “reactive mind” to be our “animal mind,” reacting to whatever it considers as a threat. Hubbard says that painful and traumatic events can imprint powerful impressions in the “reactive mind,” empowering it and causing us to lose our capacity of acting in full rationality.
Hubbard claimed that people could be cleared of their stored memories through a process called “auditing.” This involves having their body healed from any sort of disease and mind operating in its highly effective mode, meaning an increased IQ, photographic memory, and a few more skills.
His new enterprise was relatively successful, despite the intense press critics and objections from the scientific community. In 1950, there were already 500 Dianetics centers spread all over the US, and Hubbard’s books were translated into German, French, and Japanese.
Several celebrities became involved with Dianetics, including the best-selling writer Aldous Huxley.
Yet, it sank as fast as it rocketed. In August 1950, Hubbard failed miserably in front of an audience of 6,000 people in Los Angeles. He introduced Sonya Bianca, who was “clear” thanks to Dianetics therapy and in possession of a privileged IQ and perfect memory. However, Sonya failed to remember a single formula in physics (her major) and the color of Hubbard’s tie in the demonstration that followed.
Dianetics earned Hubbard a good amount of money in 1950, but the guru didn’t have a conservative investor profile. Even after some millionaire contributions, the Dianetics Foundation couldn’t survive the drop-down of its disappointed members and Hubbard’s uncontrolled expenses.
At that time, Hubbard’s unstoppable spirit did not consider taking a break. Only six months after Dianetics Foundation’s bankruptcy, the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International was founded.
In Hubbard’s words:
“The first principle of my own philosophy is that wisdom is meant for anyone who wishes to reach it. It is the servant of the commoner and kind alike and should never be regarded with awe.”
According to Hubbard’s Scientology, humans have a much more real particle than our physical body and third-dimensional self. This true self is called the thetan. The thetan is immortal, omniscient, and omnipotent. After creating the Universe, we thetans forgot our divine powers and got trapped inside our physical bodies. However, we should be able to awake to our divine form or “rehabilitate” our thetan and bring back its powers through Scientology, becoming an operative thetan again.
Scientology wasn’t an easy job for Hubbard at the beginning. In 1953, he only had a few followers and was facing terrible financial struggles.
However, combining his hard work with the brilliance of his creative mind, Hubbard was ready to turn the game. In that same year, the status of the Scientology hubs was changed from clinics to spiritual centers, and Scientology was declared a religion. The Church of Scientology was being created.
The following lines were extracted from one of his letters to a Scientology high-ranking member, written one month before the shift in 1953:
“We don’t want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem of practical business. I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to sell.”
Thanks to Hubbard’s perseverance, hard work, creativity, and not-so-ethical strategies, the Scientology Church had solid growth in the 1950s. Hubbard was paid a percentage of the church’s gross income, earning him USD 200,000 in 1957, equivalent to USD 2,200,000 today.
Despite its religious status, Scientology seemed to take a different path than religions imposing their truth over the followers. Hubbard described Scientology as a philosophy that gives elements for people to develop their discernment rather than preaching one truth:
“A philosophy can only be a route to knowledge. It cannot be knowledge crammed down one’s head. If one has a route, he can then find what’s true for him.”
The starting premise of Scientology was quite logical in various ways and could draw in many seekers and those turned off by the vagueness of religious mysticism but still wanting answers to the struggles of life and their miseries.
Mixing mystical knowledge with science and spicing it with the talent of a sci-fi novel writer, Scientology attracted thousands of followers worldwide.
Although Scientology’s knowledge could be easily mistaken as an episode of Star Wars, there’s a lot of pragmatism in its philosophy. According to Hubbard, a philosophy “must be capable of being applied.” Scientology claims to be a path for knowledge and achieving the kind of knowledge that can lead to prosperity, happiness, and success.
Hubbard had an especially strong hatred of psychiatry and modern mental health, believing it to be wholly fraudulent and harmful. He accused the US Government of being secretly controlled by psychiatric front groups intended to overthrow him and his church. He further prophesied that the attacks “were proven false and baseless, which were to last 27 years and finally culminated in the Government being sued for 750 million dollars for conspiracy.”
He relentlessly attacked critics and accused opponents of being possessed by malign spiritual forces and past-life enemies intended to sabotage him and his redemptive mission for humankind.
He was a master at convincing people of his brilliance and possessing an infallible system for curing their problems based on science and reason.
He was also a master gas-lighter, convincing members that outside society was insane and manipulative, trying to hold them back from reaching their full potential.
The many attacks against Scientology made Hubbard suspicious of external forces. He could also see the threat inside his church. He trained and implanted techniques for identifying and containing potential troublemakers to protect his church. These methods included interrogatories with the aid of a polygraph called e-meter invented by him. The members were also required to cut every contact with anybody who was not favorable to its cause.
Hubbard understood that human loyalty is fragile and passible of failure. He implanted methods to gather files on the church members’ dark secrets to use as a potential weapon and prevent them from leaving or turning against the cause and inspire his followers in the honorable path of loyalty and commitment.
He also implanted the “Fair Game” policy, which should be applied to any enemy of Scientology, who “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
The Scientology Church attracted many eyes. Many police jurisdictions started investigating the church in the 1960s with Interpol and the FBI.
The FDA demanded the many pills, books, and devices sold by Scientologists for healing purposes could only be marketed after receiving a label explaining that they were “ineffective in the diagnosis or treatment of disease.”
Scientology was banned from Australia after the Victorian Board of Inquiry defined it as a brainwashing cult intended to seduce, dominate, and exploit people.
In the UK, foreign Scientologists were prohibited from entering the country, so not even Hubbard was allowed.
Similar inquiries were launched in further years in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Hubbard reacted by creating the Sea Org in the face of these adversities, which was described as a private naval force. It was initially composed of three ships, which traveled the world seeking a safe harbor for Scientology to prosper.
In total, around 7,500 people participated in the Sea Org. Can you imagine how cool it was to travel the oceans of the planet with your fellow Scientologists while navigating the unfolded mysteries of life in the pursuit of knowledge?
During this time, Hubbard wrote the most advanced part of his teachings, the Wall of Fire. This esoteric treat was highly confidential and disclosed only to selected members who had already climbed the first esoteric levels of the organization and proved themselves prepared and worthy of such knowledge.
We’ll never really know what it is about unless we join the Scientology Church and survive its initiating path. Yet, some ex-members decided to face the organization and reveal some of the most precious secrets in the Wall of Fire.
According to Wall of Fire’s cosmogony, a disaster of huge proportions happened on Earth and 75 other planets part of the same galactic confederation 75 million years ago. The event was a punitive attack inflicted by the ruthless Xenu, leader of the Galactic Confederacy, who shipped billions of thetans to Earth and threw hydrogen bombs on them. After the event, the traumatized thetans were imprisoned at implant stations, where they were brainwashed with false memories before being contained within human forms.
Before you make any judgment about the Wall of Fire, please remember that it’s just an unofficial excerpt of a much broader threat. It may sound like sci-fi, but if you read the Book of Genesis to someone who has never contacted the Judaic or Christian traditions, it may sound like an amazing fiction book. Let’s keep an open mind, remembering that the realm of faith has always challenged reason.
While Xenu’s cosmic drama was unfolding in the earthly year of 1972, Hubbard was charged with fraud and customs violation in France. It caused him to leave the Sea Org’s fleet and hide in Queens for one year until the threat of extradition was over.
The fleet’s situation wasn’t good after Hubbard’s regress. Sea Org’s ships went banned from many ports in Europe, and rumors linking Sea Org and the CIA made the Scientology fleet even more unwelcome worldwide.
In 1975, the Scientology Church sold the ships to invest in land bases worldwide.
Landing back in the US, Hubbard dedicated his next years to direct the Guardian’s Office (GO) operations. The GO was a bureau of intelligence established by him to protect Scientology. According to Hubbard, Scientology was under the attack of the Tanaka Memorial, a Nazi network composed of big corporations, banks, drug companies, and psychiatrists intending to control the whole planet.
Hubbard launched a program called Snow White, where GO agents received the mission of removing negative reports about Scientology from governmental files and tracking down their sources. In practical terms, it meant infiltrating organizations (e.g., the American Medical Association, the US Department of Justice), stealing documents, and harassing opposers.
In 1977, after the arrest of two GO agents in Washington’s IRS office, the FBI conducted an investigation sending 11 high-ranked Scientologists, including Hubbard’s wife, to federal prison.
If the dammed Tanaka Memorial really existed, they were a powerful global organization, and the government decided to defeat the noble guru at every cost. In 1978, the French court condemned Hubbard to four years in prison.
Hubbard spent most of his last years traveling the US under the authorities’ radar. He died after having a stroke onboard his blue-bird luxury motorhome in Creston, California. According to the Scientology Church, he decided to leave his body to continue his research on another planet.
Hubbard’s dream didn’t die with his body. Scientology is still very much alive, counting celebrities, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise, in its ranks.
Maybe you’ll end up being invited for a free IQ test if you accidentally pass in front of their headquarters while visiting Times Square in New York or the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
It may be your chance to check what it is all about for yourself. However, would you trust them with your dirtiest secrets?
What are the beliefs of Charles Manson? His philosophy
This article was first published in the issue “Cults and Gurus” in Tribe, our digital magazine. We profiled four other gurus. You can read Tribe now on Android or iPhone.
Charles Manson was born in 1934 in Cincinnati and started his career at a young age. He set his school on fire when he was nine. After many small incidents, mostly involving robbery, he was sent to a correctional facility for delinquent boys in 1947 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
After escaping the facility, he went on to survive on small robbery until he was caught in action in 1949 and sent to another correctional facility, the Boys Town, in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Boys Town played an important role in Manson’s education. He met Blackie Nielson, who he partnered with to get a gun, steal a car, and run away. They both headed to Peoria, Illinois, committing armed robberies on the way. In Peoria, they met Nielson’s uncle, a professional thief who took care of the kids’ criminal education.
Two weeks later, he was arrested again and sent to a horror movie correction school called the Indiana Boys School. There, Manson was raped and beaten many times. After 18 failed attempts to escape, he managed to run away in 1951, stealing a car and setting his route to California, robbing gas stations along the way.
However, Manson didn’t make it to California. He was arrested in Utah and sent to Washington DC’s National Facility for Boys. At his arrival, he was given some aptitude tests which detected his aggressively anti-social character. They also revealed an above-average IQ of 109.
In the same year, he was sent to a minimum-security institution called Natural Bridge Honor Camp. He was about to be released when he was caught raping a boy at knifepoint.
Consequently, he was sent to the Federal Reformatory in Virginia, where he committed eight serious disciplinary offenses, allowing him to climb into a maximum-security reformatory in Ohio.
Manson was released in 1954 to get caught (again) for stealing a car (again) in 1955. He was granted probation, but an identifying file issued in Florida against him sent him to jail in 1956.
Released in 1958, he began pimping a 16-year-old girl. Manson was convicted one more time in 1959 and sentenced to 10 years in jail. This long period gave him time to develop talents that would be decisive in his further path.
From his inmate Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis, leader of the Baker-Karpis gang, he learned to play the guitar.
However, the most influential person in his life was perhaps a Scientologist (yes, a Scientologist) inmate called Lanier Rayner.
In 1961, Manson listed his religion as being Scientology. In that year, a report issued by the federal prison said that he “appears to have developed a certain amount of insight into his problems through his study of this discipline.”
After learning about Scientology, Manson was a new man. When released in 1967, he reportedly attended Scientology meetings and parties in Los Angeles and completed 150 “auditing” hours.
After restoring his thetan, Manson devoted his life to his spiritual mission. He started his community in the epicenter of the hippie movement, the boiling neighborhood of Ashbury, San Francisco.
He gathered around 90 disciples, most of them teenage females, and thought of them as his own version of peace and love. They were called “The Manson Family.”
In 1967, Manson and his “family” acquired a bus that they painted in a hippie-colored style and traveled to Mexico and northern South America.
Back to Los Angeles in 1968, they went nomadic for a while until the Beach Boys’ singer Denis Wilson found two of Manson Family’s girls hitchhiking. He brought them to his house in Palisades under the influence of LSD and booze.
That night, Wilson left for a recording session, and the girls had multiplied when he returned home the next day. They were 12 and accompanied by Manson.
Wilson and Manson became friends, and the number of girls in the house doubled in the next months. Wilson recorded some songs written by Manson, and they spent most of their time talking, singing, and being served by the girls.
Wilson was a nice guy who generously paid around USD 100,000 to feed the family and finance the girls’ gonorrhea treatment.
A few months later, Wilson’s lease of the Palisades house expired, and he moved out, leaving the Manson Family homeless again.
Manson and his family then managed to find shelter at the Spahn Ranch, a semi-abandoned set for Western movies, which belonged to nearly blind 80-years-old George Spahn. In exchange for the girls’ seeing-eyes guidance and caritative sex, Spahn allowed the family to stay in his ranch.
The Manson Family appeared as just another harmless hippie community, where young people dedicated their lives to peace, love, and LSD. However, Manson’s doctrine was nothing like the mainstream hippie movement.
Manson taught his disciples that they were the reincarnation of the first Christian, while he was the reincarnation of the same Jesus. Manson also revealed that the Beatles song, Helter Skelter, was a coded message sent to him from above warning about the apocalypse.
He explained that the doomsday would come in the form of a racial war, where the Black people in America would kill all the whites, except for Manson and his family. Yet, incapable of surviving on their own, they would need a white man to lead them and would end up relying on Manson’s guidance, serving him as their master.
Like many manipulative gurus, Manson did a sort of “mix and match” to come up with his ideology, taking some ideas from science fiction and others from innovative new psychological theories and occult beliefs. Manson didn’t just tell followers they were special. He also told them they’d be the only survivors of the coming race war, playing on the fear of racial strife gripping the US during the Civil Rights Movement.
In August 1969, Manson decided to trigger the Helter Skelter day. He instructed his disciples to commit a series of racially motivated murders. Using his vocabulary, they should start killing “the pigs” to show “the nigger” how to do the same.
Nine of the killings were accounted to the Manson Family, including the killing of Roman Polansky’s wife, the actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant.
Even after the arrest of Manson and the murderers, the family remained alive. During Manson’s trial, family members not only threatened witnesses. They set fire in a witness’ van, who barely escaped alive. They drugged another witness with several doses of LSD.
Two more killings were attributed to the Manson Family in 1972, and a member of the cult attempted to kill US President Gerard Ford in 1975.
Manson was given a life sentence and spent the rest of his days in prison. He died of a heart attack and ongoing complications from colon cancer in 2017.
Charles Manson’s life and doctrine may sound completely absurd for most of us. Yet, it still resonates between some radical anarchists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis.
One of Manson’s most active actual followers is the American neo-Nazi James Mason, who corresponded with the guru for years, and described the experience as follows:
“What I discovered was a revelation equal to the revelation I received when I first found Adolf Hitler.”
According to James Mason, Manson was a hero who took action against the utmost corruption.
In his perspective, the whole Western Civilization died after Hitler’s defeat and fell victim to a global anti-white conspiracy run by “super-capitalists” and “super-communists.”
With the whole world being beyond salvation, the only solution would be to blow it up. Mason is now the leader of a neo-Nazi cult called Universal Order.
Manson is also a semi-god hero for the terrorist neo-Nazi network Atomwaffen Division. Atomwaffen means nothing less than atomic weapons in German.
The group, also called the National Socialist Order, was formed in the US in 2015 and has expanded through Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and many other European countries. Its members are held accountable for many criminal activities, including murders and terrorist attacks.
In the mouth of Manson, the evilest and insane philosophy would sound plausible but seductive. He knew how to pick up his disciples and shaped a brilliant narrative to play with their fears and vanity.
Manson remained loyal to his philosophy until his last breath. He never showed any regret for his actions. He hated the system and fought against it as fiercely as he could. The system survived, and he was put in jail. Yet, he never bent his head. He was born a savage, and he died a savage. These were his words during his trial:
“These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. Most of the people at the ranch that you call the Family were just people that you did not want.
“I know this: that in your hearts and your souls, you are as much responsible for the Vietnam war as I am for killing these people. … I can’t judge any of you. I have no malice against you and no ribbons for you. But I think that it is high time that you all start looking at yourselves, and judging the lie that you live in.
“My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system. … I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you. … You want to kill me? Ha! I am already dead – have been all my life. I’ve spent twenty-three years in tombs that you have built.”
A brutal critique of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple
James Warren Jones, known as Jim Jones, was born in Crete, Indiana, in 1931. He was an introverted child who preferred to spend his time reading books over playing with friends.
Jim lived his childhood in poverty because of the Great Depression.
Thanks to that same socio-political scenario, the racist organization, the Klux Klux Klan (KKK), was living in its golden days. They helped the broken whites regain their self-esteem while imposing themselves over the Afro-Americans.
Jim’s father, James Thurman Jones, was one of the KKK members.
Despite his father’s ideas, Jim Jones grew up with a legitimate obsession for human rights.
He was a weird kid who spent hours to days studying religion and reading about Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Adolf Hitler.
The little Jones was obsessively curious about death. He used his parents’ garden to perform ritual funerals for animals, many of them killed by him.
Despite this creepy habit, Jones made his way to adulthood, showing a brilliant intellect and a lovely passion for humanitarian causes.
He began attending gatherings of the Communist Party in 1951 but soon realized the risk of openly being a communist in the 1950s.
In 1952, he joined the Somerset Southside Methodist Church and became a student pastor. The church was the perfect cover for his ideological purposes.
He left the Methodist Church just one year later after being forbidden by its leaders to interact with black people in the congregation.
Despite his young age, brave Jim Jones declared outrage at the racism in his religious community and decided to start his own church, opening it to all ethnic groups.
An ideological but pragmatic man, Jones also understood at a young age the importance of having financial resources to accomplish his social cause. After watching a faith-healing service at the Seventh Day Baptist Church, he realized how potentially profitable it was.
In 1956, Jones realized his first religious convention, managing to attract some big names of the evangelist community. The success of the event was enough to consolidate his church, called Peoples Temple.
In 1960, Jim Jones was appointed director of the Indianapolis Civil Rights Commission. He saw his new position as the perfect opportunity to gain more visibility on the radio and tv.
As a charismatic leader, Jones inspired the crowds through words and action. He actively participated in the racial integration of churches, hospitals, restaurants, and other services.
After a collapse in 1961, Jones was placed by accident in the black zone of a public hospital. He not only refused to be moved but started assisting the black patients, cleaning their rooms, and emptying their chamber pots. After that, the hospital stopped dividing the patients according to their color.
Constant threats and attempts to his life from white supremacists didn’t stop Jones. His congregation kept growing, and he became an influential person in the US political sphere.
Jones and his wife adopted several non-white children and inspired other congregation members to do the same.
Jim Jones seemed to be a man of God and a man of the people. Yet, in 1962, his first sights of insanity started coming to the surface. He made his first travel to South America, seeking refuge from the possibility of a nuclear war.
Back in the US, he prophesized a nuclear war to be unleashed in August 1967, changing the world into a socialist Eden. He then exhorted his congregation to move to Northern California, where they would be protected from the nuclear bombs.
He started becoming more openly socialist. He once preached to his congregation:
“You’re gonna help yourself, or you’ll get no help! There’s only one hope of glory; that’s within you! Nobody’s gonna come out of the sky! There’s no heaven up there! We’ll have to make heaven down here!”
On one occasion, he slammed the bible on the pulpit, yelling, “I must destroy this paper idol.”
At another sermon, he spoke:
“There’s no God. I see there some still not aware of what God is. God is perfect freedom, the justice equality and thus the only thing that brings justice freedom and equality, perfect love and all of its beauty and holiness, is Socialism. So, Socialism is God.”
As Jim Jones’s lack of judgment grew, his congregation also expanded, setting branches in many Californian cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. The First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, spoke at the grand opening of the San Francisco headquarters. His political influence got so big that, in 1975, a mayor couldn’t be elected in San Francisco without Jones’s blessing.
Jones forged powerful alliances with politicians and media outlets. He was at the top of his career. However, what was going on under the surface was a much more bizarre story.
The public services were essentially a Saturday’s show for the outside public.
Meanwhile, the congregational members were demanded to assist services three or four times per week. Some of them would take night shifts. In the ceremonies, they were required to write their confessions on sheets of paper, sign their names and give them to Jones. As proof of faith, they were also demanded to sign papers in blank and hand them to their pastor.
The members were urged to sell their houses and other goods, donate money to the congregation, and live in the church.
Slowly, Jones’s practices deviated further and further from the equality he preached.
His disciples were forbidden to have sex, except with him. Jones had sex with many of his female disciples and fathered some of their children. He declared himself “the only true heterosexual man” but had many homosexual intercourses with members of his congregation. According to him, he did it only for the men’s own good to symbolically seal their connection with him.
Jones also conducted “catharsis sessions,” where those who didn’t behave according to his principles (which involved donating all their money and being subservient to him) were put in the center of the church to be verbally attacked by the rest of the congregation.
Over time, the penitential practice evolved into physical aggression. Around 100 members would line up while the rest (around 1,000 people) would beat them with paddles for small infractions, such as not paying enough attention to Jones’s speech.
Many of the congregation members had renounced everything, including their houses, jobs, friends, and external worlds. It was almost impossible for them to break the spell and leave; they had nowhere else to go. Those who tried to leave were harassed and threatened by Jones and congregation members.
Jones studied Nazism for years, fascinated by Hitler’s power to command the masses. He also learned from the cult leader, Reverend Father Divine, to give his flock an enemy, engage them in the fight, unify them, and make them subservient.
Jones pushed for desegregation and the fair treatment of Black Americans, adopting a “fight the power” stance that endeared him to many followers and new converts, keeping his congregation together.
In 1977, journalists Marshall Kilduff and Phill Tracy managed to trespass Jones’s screen of smoke and gathered explosive testimonials of ex-members who managed to escape Jones’s grasp. They published them in an article called “Inside Peoples Temple,” causing Jones’s abrupt evasion to Guyana, South America.
Together with Jones, around 1,000 disciples traveled to Guyana’s rural settlement, which they named Jonestown. After their arrival, members were not allowed to leave the settlement.
Concerned with what was happening in Jonestown, Peoples Temple defectors, together with relatives of those who followed Jones to Guyana, formed the “Concerned Relatives” group. They pressed the US government to investigate the settlement. The movement received repercussions after a member of Jonestown’s congregation managed to escape and provide the group and the press with detailed reports of the human rights violations happening in the settlement.
In November 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan went to Jonestown, heading an investigative commission composed by journalists and relatives of the temple members.
They were received and hosted by Jones, but three days after their arrival, a man tried to stab Ryan in the temple, hurrying the commission to leave the next day. They managed to bring 15 members of the congregation with them.
Tragically, the commission only managed to travel four miles. They were boarding two small airplanes in Port Kaituma when Jone’s “Red Brigade” attacked them with guns.
At the same time, one of the supposed defectors drew a gun and started shooting the people in the second airplane. Five people, including Congressman Ryan, were killed.
Later that same day, Jones gathered his devotes to deliver his last speech. There were 909 people (304 of them were children). He said that capitalist organizations against the temple were about to parachute to torture their children, people, and seniors. According to Jones, the invaders would torture the children and convert them into fascists.
He then exhorted the congregation to drink a mix of cyanide and flavor-aid and a sedative to leave their bodies and be together in another plane.
Jones and his 908 disciples all died that day tragically on August 18, 1978.
A brutal critique of Esther Hicks and the law of attraction
This article was first published in the issue “Cults and Gurus” in Tribe, our digital magazine. We profiled four other gurus. You can read Tribe now on Android or iPhone.
We’re relieved to say that our fifth and last guru has no criminal records. She’s still alive, and, so far, nobody has died or been killed following her. Compared to the other gurus on our list, she looks like an angel. However, sometimes, angels can be as harmful as the devil.
Esther Hicks was born in Coalville, Utah, on March 6, 1948. She was a 32-year-old divorced woman and mother of two daughters, living a calm and simple life until she met her second husband, Jerry Hicks.
Jerry was a successful Amway distributor.
For those who were never invited to an Amway meeting in the 1980s or 1990s, it’s a pyramid-based multinational sales company similar to some of the cults described before this issue. Amway was possibly the first company to actively profit from selling positive thinking motivational workshops, books, and cassette tapes to their own sellers’ network.
A passionate student of positive thinking and esoterism, Jerry introduced Esther to Napoleon Hill and Jane Roberts books.
The couple was also mentored by the psychic Sheila Gillette, who channeled a collective archangelic intelligence called Theo.
Esther’s spiritual journey opened her up to connect with her collection of light beings, known as Abraham. According to Esther, Abraham is a group of 100 entities, including Buddha and Jesus.
In 1988, the couple published their first book, A New Beginning I: Handbook for Joyous Survival.
They now have 13 published works. Their book Money and The Law of Attraction was number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
The couple was already traveling the US giving motivational lectures for Amway when they started selling their own ideas. Jerry’s marketing skills, Esther’s charisma, and the couple’s undeniable determination paved their way to success.
Esther was the central source of inspiration for the film, The Secret. She narrated and appeared in the film’s original version, although the footage featuring her was later removed.
Esther Hicks and her higher source, Abraham, are some of the most prominent names regarding the Positive Thinking Movement. Hicks has presented her workshops in more than 60 cities.
According to Hicks, “The basis of life is freedom; the purpose of life is joy; the result of life is growth.”
She taught that all desire can be fulfilled and that individuals are a part of the universe and are the very source of it.
She described the Law of Attraction as a co-creational process:
“People are creators; they create with their thoughts and attention. Whatever people can imagine clearly with emotion, by creating a perfect vibrational match, is theirs to be, or do, or have.”
Hicks is living proof of the effectiveness of the Law of Attraction, given that it earned her a net worth of 10 million dollars.
She’s not alone in the mission of bringing positivity to the world. After its release in 2006, the book, The Secret, sold over 30 million copies, earning a fortune to its author, Rhonda Byrne. Even Oprah and Larry King wanted a slice of this cake, featuring The Secret’s cast several times.
Hicks’s teachings may have helped millions worldwide. The positive thinking books have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Czech, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovak, Serbian, Romanian, Russian, and Japanese.
Hicks’s spiritual teachings intend to help every human being co-create a better life, and the process starts by recognizing the beauty and abundance within and around us.
“Like the air you breathe, abundance in all things is available to you. Your life will simply be as good as you allow it to be.”
Hicks teaches us that we must be satisfied with our path while pursuing our goals. We must stick to every thought that brings happiness and fulfillment and reject every thought that brings pain or unease.
Her teachings are beautiful, but we must recognize their limitations. The human mind is just the tip of an iceberg and is mostly made of subjectivity. It’s naive to think we can control our mind, given that our mind is triggered by powers beyond our control that reside in our guts. Further, it’s absolutely impossible to choose how we feel because our emotions do not attend to our will.
The mechanism of ignoring unwanted thoughts and emotions was studied by Freud and is called suppression in psychology.
Renewed psychologists, like Werner, Herber, and Klein, have investigated suppression and its effects in-depth. Their research findings indicate that thought suppression directly leads the suppressed item to gain activation. Therefore, the attempt of suppressing a certain thought or feeling will make it stronger. The suppressed will insist on haunting you and become a much more powerful ghost.
Research conducted by Wegner and Ansfield and published in 1996 & 1997 studied people trying to use their mind to relax under stress and fall asleep quickly. The results proved that they took longer to sleep and became more anxious instead of relaxing.
Studies on the subject of suppression proceeded, with Werner giving a pendulum to participants asked to suppress the urge to move it in a certain direction. The results were impressive. They reliably moved the pendulum exactly in that precise direction.
There are many interesting research projects that prove the opposite of what Hicks claims. For example, research conducted by psychologists Erskine and Georgiou in 2010 demonstrated that thinking about smoking and chocolate didn’t lead the participants to increase their consumption of these items, whereas suppression did.
If suppressing our thoughts sounds like shooting ourselves in the foot, it gets even worse when it comes to the psychological conclusions of suppressing our emotions. A study by the University of Texas published in 2011 showed that people who suppress their emotions “are more likely to act aggressively afterwards.” Suppressing emotions is also proven to increase stress and affect memory, blood pressure, and self-esteem.
If positive thinking preached by Hicks is already a controversial method, things get much more problematic when she goes deeper into her philosophy. Hicks teaches us that we must be held accountable for everything we manifest in our lives.
Taking responsibility is certainly a path for self-improvement and a vital step in the process of taking control of our lives. So, what makes Hicks’ teachings on the subject so polemic? Let’s go straight to the facts:
When asked about the Holocaust, she stated that the murdered Jews were responsible for attracting violence upon them themselves.
“All of them were co-creators in the process. In other words, everyone that was involved in it did not die, many of them who were well connected with their inner beings were inspired to zig and zag. Many of them left the country.”
Hicks also explained that people were creating future holocausts with the vibration of their thoughts. She comforted her audience letting them know that the countries that were being bombed by President Bush were “attracting it to themselves” due to the negative emotions of their citizens.
Maybe this is what the psychologists were talking about. While suppressing her cruelty, Hicks ended up empowering it. Her statement may lead a believer to think of President Bush as an instrument of the universe to fulfill Iraqi killed children’s deepest desires.
Hicks also delivered messages sent by Abraham about rape, such as the “pearl of wisdom” below:
“It is less than 1% of the actual rape cases that are true violations, the rest of them are attractions and then a changing of intention later…”
“As this man is raping it is our promise to you this is a disconnected being, it is also our promise to you is the one he rapes is a disconnected being…”
“We believe that this subject [of rape] is really talking about the mixed intentions of the individual, in other words, she was wanting the attention, she was wanting the attraction, she was really wanting all of it and attracted more than she bargained for and then as it is occurring or even after feeling differently about it…”
While Hicks’ statement on the Jewish victims and war may have sounded cruel, they become criminal. Millions of teenagers have been abused and violated. They are completely broken inside, making a profound effort to get over their assaults.
For any of them, hearing those words from the mouth of a prominent individual like Hicks, one who claims to be a spiritual guide channeling the cosmic truth, can be devastating.
But according to Hicks, we shouldn’t be talking about it at risk of being raped, too. It’s safer to let our society fix itself without our interference. These are her words:
“Attention to people being raped and a feeling of irritation and irateness or anger at such injustice is the very vibration that causes you to attract it into your own experience.”
Fortunately, our courts, judges, prosecutors, and cops are not disciples of Hicks. Otherwise, we would live in a world where the rapists walk free while their victims blame themselves for having co-created their misfortune. This is how she finished her statement on the matter:
“Do you have the right to eradicate a rascal? Can you understand his motives? And if you can’t understand his motives, do you have any plausible right or ability to tell him what to do or what not to do?”
Hicks goes on, providing her contribution to the subject of racism:
“No matter what the reason is that he feels that he is being discriminated against — it is his attention to the subject of the prejudice that attracts his trouble.”
If judge Peter Cahill thinks like Hicks, the murderer Derek Chauvin would be set free while George Floyd would be condemned in the afterlife for having attracted the cop’s knee to his throat.
Life becomes clear under the shiny light of Hicks and her Abraham. There’s no unfairness in the world. We co-create everything, even our end.
“Every death is suicide because every death is self-created. No exceptions. Even if someone comes up and puts a gun to you and kills you. You have been a vibrational match to that.”
Esther Hicks teaches us that we have the power to heal from every sort of disease:
“The ultimate health insurance is ‘just get in the vortex’ but so many people don’t even know about the vortex.”
The words may sound beautiful, but death continues independently from our beliefs and thoughts. Despite all his knowledge and closeness to the “source,” her husband, Jerry, co-created cancer and died in 2011.
Positive thinking has already been described as a self-hypnotic process, where people deny every aspect of themselves and of their lives that they consider negative. The risk is that, while bypassing your wounds and avoiding your problems, you never get the chance to heal and solve them.
The suppression of our emotions and the constant effort to feel good and think positively leads to emotional exhaustion and depression in the long run.
Those who profit from selling positive thinking can get away with its ineffectiveness, making you accountable for your failure. If you can’t co-create the life you want, it’s not because this load of bullshit is ineffective. Instead, it’s that you aren’t positive enough, and you should buy more books and attend more workshops.
After investigating Hicks’s universe, we can see much more serious damage inflicted by her archangelic doctrine. Once you start believing that you’re responsible for everything that happens in your life, you’ll blame yourself when something goes wrong.
If someone crashes your car, your boyfriend cheats you, or you’re robbed on the street, you’ll not only have to face the natural pain brought by the situation. Indeed, you’ll also face moral pain for having co-created that experience.
Of course, you’ll feel angry. Actually, you’ll feel twice as angry. You’ll feel angry at the situation and angry at yourself for having co-created it. Your anger will make you feel anxious and even more guilty. You’ll feel that you may be co-creating some event even more negative in your future for feeling that negative emotion. It’s like having a Jim Jones inside your mind!
Before you make any judgment of Esther Hicks, please remember that she is just the deliverer of a message. And before thinking that Abraham, her source, is an evil, racist, pro-rape, and pro-genocide cosmic pretending to be an angel, Esther Hicks is just its well-paid toy. Let’s think of other alternatives.
Perhaps Abraham, as the cosmic intelligence she is, is full of good intentions but unaware of the complex minutiae of the human mind.
Our understanding is basic. We can only discern the implications of Hicks’ philosophy. However, we are not in a position to judge the intentions behind it. We can’t even affirm whose intentions are behind her philosophy as we’ll never know whether Abraham genuinely exists.
Attributing your words to a higher source is a very good manipulation strategy, especially when you have no solid background to back up your knowledge.
Even if Hicks’ knowledge has no scientific base and is illogical, we can trust it since it comes from a higher source. The higher source also says that we can trust and worship its deliverer.
“That which Jesus was, Esther is” – Abraham
Although Esther’s mouth delivered these words, they’re not her words. You should trust them because they’re coming from a higher source.
After hearing such a revelation, we feel almost guilty for writing this article.
Are we criticizing Jesus? What if the psychologists are lying and positive thinking really works?
Perhaps it’s all an unfortunate misunderstanding. However, if we were going to follow Hicks’ teachings, we shouldn’t be concerned.
According to her philosophy, if she’s being featured here, it’s because she co-created this article.
Behind their guru cover
Before this research on the five most controversial gurus comes to an end, I have a confession to make: these writings have been modified five times.
Our first intention was to present the research as a single 1,000-word article. However, after a couple of trials, we understood that it wasn’t fair to our featured gurus if we reduced their lives to a few lines, ignoring their complexity.
It also wouldn’t be fair on you, the reader, to deliver a superficial vision that would risk shaping a pre-concept rather than helping you understand each guru completely.
That’s how the 1,000-word article resulted in much deeper research in these seven articles, coming to 11,000 words.
However, it’s far from complete. We could write a whole book on the subject, and it wouldn’t be enough for one reason: we’re analyzing it from the outside.
Everything we can write about a man’s life is nothing compared to the person we’re trying to describe. Yet, we humans are so used to making judgments out of superficial conclusions.
We can’t avoid being judgmental; it’s in our nature. Our judgment is necessary to our survival. Yet, we can choose to judge actions instead of intentions.
Such a choice makes all the difference because it leaves the door open. Nobody in the world is merely good or evil. We’re all made of contrasts.
When it comes to spirituality, we tend to hold onto a Christian dream of perfection. We want to find a savior beyond our human flaws. And when the savior fails, revealing themselves as being human as we are, we tend to “crucify” them.
Our intention here is not to disqualify any of the gurus we’ve written about. Rather, we seek to show them for what they are: remarkable human beings.
Perhaps we can learn much more from them if we see them as human beings than if we turn to them with devotion. From a critical perspective, we can use the knowledge we achieve to construct and walk our own trail rather than following their path.
Each guru presented has something to teach us, even Manson. For example, you can embody his determination and loyalty to his cause with a positive purpose, such as using it in your fight for a more equitable world.
If we take the worst of each of these gurus to build a man, we will end up with a creature capable of beating its own devil in a challenge for the inferno’s throne. On the other hand, if we could extract and assemble their best qualities, we would construct a man-god capable of fixing our messed-up world entirely.
There are many reasons why each of these gurus was capable of moving the masses. Yet, there’s one quality shared by all of them: their self-belief. Without the great faith they deposited in themselves and their mission, they would never have surpassed the many challenges they faced.
However, the same self-confidence that lifted them to the peak of their wisdom also pushed them toward the abyss of their madness. For believing themselves to be enlightened and above the ignorance and darkness part of human existence, they ceased questioning themselves and lacked discernment.
We human beings need to believe in something. We can figure out our purpose in life only from our beliefs. If you believe in nothing, there will be no drive for your existence.
Some of us believe in religion, while others put their faith in ecology. Still, others believe in capitalism and bet their energy in the pursuit of money and success. Further, some of us believe in human rights and equality, fighting for a better world.
Yet, only a few human beings dare to think for themselves and develop their own way of seeing life. We tend to prefer the easy path of embracing a narrative already constructed for us.
The described gurus dared to be original. Maybe the best we can learn from them is to be ourselves and to develop our own cosmovision.
We can also learn to keep humility and never make the mistake of believing we’re not fallible when analyzing their shortcomings. Our truth is not the universal truth, and it doesn’t matter how much we know. We are and will always be little explorers in this infinite mystery called life.