The Cult and The Occult
The Cult and The Occult
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” said Shakespeare through his Hamlet centuries ago. And the statement has proved true time and again, not only at high planes of philosophy, but also in relation to our matter-of-fact experiences and encounters.
In his interesting work, According to Evidence, Erich Von Daniken (the author of Chariot of the Gods) refers to this incident: a ten year old boy, all agog with excitement, announced before his classmates that he had just seen a cat with two tails. He was laughed at; the teacher branded him an incorrigible liar and brutally caned him. The boy, obsessed with the desire to remove the stigma, forgot everything else and roamed about looking for the cat. He was derided even more. He went crazy and one evening hanged himself.
While the burial service for the boy was on in the presence of his classmates, lo and behold, the creature that was seen by everybody jumping over the graves was a cat with two tails!
If from time to time our very familiar world stunned us with such unfamiliar phenomena, no wonder that we expect the world hidden from our senses, the occult world, to be teeming with the marvelous and miraculous.
Mystics and occultists would not deny this, but they would hasten to add that an entry even into the supernatural world could be a ‘natural’ process; the seeker could prepare himself for that through a gradual ennobling of his own comprehension and a broadcasting of his consciousness. He won’t go hunting for the miraculous; he will not care to marvel at a paper-weight suspended in the air, for, he would have mastered the subtle art of marveling at the earth’s, the moon’s and the mighty sun’s perpetual suspension in the air. He will not suspend his breath at something being created out of nothing, for he would have learnt to enjoy that continuous divine magic in everything around him. He will be able “To see a world in a rain of sand/ And a Heaven in a wild flower.”
But to develop this attitude is not that easy. A touch sublime may awaken a seeker at a blessed moment in his life and along with the experience may come a certain power behind it – because every thought, every idea of a supra-physical plane has a power behind it – greater than the power that accompanies the normal thoughts and ideas. Inspired by that power, the seeker may feel the urge to impart what he thinks to be a revelation exclusive to him to others ready to listen to him.
And there are so many of us ready to listen – to a message that opens up a vision of a life greater than our life tied to birth, struggle and death – to the word that would give us hope and strength qualitatively different from the hope and strength the ordinary society or the mundane authority can give.
Unfortunately the seeker who had the touch sublime begins to forget that he had only been a channel; he was not the source. In other words, that part of his consciousness which had momentarily received the light is soon overshadowed by the other parts still dominated by his ego. In the Providential scheme of things, according to which even two leaves have been real, he will say, by assertion or by implication, that his alone is the Truth. A cult is formed. G.K.Chesterton made this condition the butt of his observation that mysticism begins in mist, centres in ‘I’, and ends in schism!
But what about the seeker’s followers? Do they rest content, because most of them cannot sustain their genuine quest, by merely hugging a new identity – satisfied that they belonged to a special fraternity?
The question leads us to certain complex laws of the occult world which the rational mind may not accept. Anything supernatural is not spiritual. It is not that something that leaves us bewildered or dazed must be “either God or fraud”. There are umpteen possibilities between such extreme presumptions. (Even Hitler believed that he was an instrument of a Divine Power!) There are forces and beings, mystics inform us, that are vitally dynamic, ever eager to exercise their sway over others and they find out individuals who can manifest them suitably. Such chosen ones can prove charismatic and hypnotic and successfully create the illusion of emanating spiritual power. The aforesaid forces may be hostile, may be beneficent, may be neutral, as their conduct is not moulded by human motivation.
There has been a mushroom growth of cults in recent times. One of the latest incidents concerning the holocaust at Ranch Apocalypse in Texas, a cult founded by one David Koresh – his followers called Davidians which killed 86 men and women of whom 17 are children – has created a worldwide horror and disgust or such cults. “You may call us pseudomystics or misguided,” once a member of a similar cult told this author, “but we don’t care two hoots for such comments simply because we don’t accept your right to do so: What has society with all its stupid values – a monotonous exercise in violence and sex – to offer us as alternatives?”
“Do you take drugs?”
“yes. And why not? What do your films or your career-prospects offer? Bucketfuls of meaningless fantasies. Drug takes me into a world of fantasy – which is more interesting.”
So, it is not any simple or the same reason that inspires people t subscribe to a cult. For some it is a protest against society, a rejection of the values by which the so-called normal society is governed. For some it is an escape, for some others a cult is a club with a difference. Among them there will of course be some who come with a mystic seeking.
The number of the last kind is likely to increase in the future, for, as the present generation is growing more and more disenchanted with the values governing today’s affluent societies, they and their successors will also grow disenchanted with the imitations of mysticism. A search for values greater than what mind can present should lead man to locate loftier planes of his spirit.
The Ranch Apocalypse episode has made some thinkers demand that all cults be banned. That is not practical. The cuts are symptoms of a misguided path taken to reach a great destination, but the call of that destination itself cannot be ignored by any soul forever. As Julian Huxley said, “spiritual progress is our one ultimate aim; it may be towards the dateless and irrevoluble; but it is inevitably dependent upon progress intellectual, moral and physical — progress in this changing, revolving world of dated events.” (Essays of a Biologist)
Indeed, man’s aspiration for “God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality” is the trait that distinguishes him from the animal.
Can a seeker be insured against falling into pseudo-mystic traps? Yes, assure the mystic truths. One’s sincerity in one’s quest for truth alone is the insurance. Even if he falls into a trap, it is Truth’s responsibility to rescue him.