Here Be Monsters

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he too does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche

In the cult that I belonged to our primary goal was always “fighting the Darkness”. Our cult leader drilled into us that there were energetic battles taking place all over the universe, including here on earth, and that our purpose was to be warriors of the light, fighting the dark forces that could invade every heart and mind.

It sounds like a noble concept. Kind of like Star Wars for the spiritually inclined. However, in the process of fighting that darkness, I found I became dark. I also saw that darkness take over my friends and loved ones in the group.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Without realizing it we were learning to practice the opposite of this principle.

**

Love, Light and Truth: this was our motto and our mission. But we were taught to approach this mission with jackboots rather than with actual love, light and truth. For example:

- The cult leader insisted that telling “The Truth” was the most important characteristic of a spiritual warrior, yet we lied to one another and to those outside the group when it was convenient.

- Our cult leader held high the value of love, but she treated us with abuse, both verbal and spiritual. She called it “Tough Love”.

- As a group we were taught to shun and reject those who did not conform; treating them as though they did not exist even if they were standing right beside us.

- Our purpose (fighting the darkness) never extended to doing anything positive in the communities where we lived. We didn’t volunteer for organizations that help those less fortunate; we didn’t donate money or resources to charity; we didn’t reach out to those in need in our own back yards.

We weren’t “being the change”, we only talked about it.

**

I looked at myself toward the end of my time in the cult and realized I had become a bully; raging at those lower down in the group hierarchy than myself.

I became critical, anxious, angry, discompassionate, emotionally caustic, belittling to myself and others, and judgmental. My heart felt completely walled off and I felt emotionally cold all the time.

All these things, I was eventually able to realize, were the exact opposite of Love, Light and Truth.

I had become the monster I was trying to fight.

That’s when I left. I didn’t know of Nietzsche’s quote yet, but when I read it today it made me reflect on the journey I took to leave the cult. It sums up so succinctly the hypocrisy that existed in our cult and why I left.

**

I will finish with a proverb, thinking of my cult compatriots, sending them love and praying for their freedom, as always:

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

One comment

  1. Anne says:

    Alexandra, I so appreciate your post.

    It’s vulnerable and deeply honest. Whether one has been in a cult or not, I think its easy to fall into the trap of not walking our talk, but continuing to pat ourselves on the back for our intentions.

    Today you are indeed a walking talking example of Love, Light & Truth. Thanks for shining your light.

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