Aug 26, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 8/20/2019

Extinction RebellionJehovah's WitnessesTranscendental Meditation

" ... XR's actions have been applauded by many environmentalists, who say the only way to make governments, people and corporations sit up and take climate action is to shock them into it. But the radical philosophy underpinning the group, which includes wanting to set up citizens' assemblies that could overrule parliament, is drawing increasing criticism from foes, who compare the group to a millenarian sect. m
"The cultish nature of XR's activities is a little spooky," said Austin Williams, director of the Future Cities Project, a group that focuses on urban planning and futurist technological solutions.

Sympathizers acknowledge that XR hasn't helped itself with some of the remarks made by its leaders. Co-founder Gail Bradbrook said her realization that humanity was on the brink of extinction came from taking huge doses of psychedelic drugs, which 'rewired" her brain and gave her the "codes of social change.'"

XR has also seen defections. Sherrie Yeomans, coordinator of XR blockades in the English city of Bristol, left the group, saying, "I can no longer surround myself with the toxic, manipulative Extinction Rebellion cult."

" ... Johan Norberg, a Swedish author, historian and XR critic, worries that the group is fueling anxiety while not being practical about the possible solutions to global warming. 

"I guess it depends on your definition of cult," he said. "But I think it is a growing, but very radical, sentiment that I fear plays a part in giving people anxiety about their life choices, and also leads us to thinking about these things in the wrong way," he told VOA."

The Boston Globe: Losing my religion
"The first couple years after I left the religion I was born into — the Jehovah's Witnesses — I was still worried I might die at Armageddon. That was the punishment for those who left. Actually, it was the fate of anyone who wasn't a Jehovah's Witness. Any day now, God would kill all non-believers, and the faithful would live in paradise on Earth.

Some of the Witnesses' beliefs didn't stand up to scrutiny when I began to have doubts in my 30s. I had come to understand that, contrary to what I had been taught, the Witnesses didn't have "the Truth." But what if they were partially right, I still wondered. What if they were right about the end of the world?

My first boyfriend outside the faith listened patiently one day when I told him of my fears. I realized I might sound crazy, but I had to tell someone. He didn't laugh. He opened up his computer and googled "cult survivors."

That seemed a little drastic. But then again, I was talking about Doomsday.

Over the course of a long winter in an unheated loft in Brooklyn (the place I had moved to after leaving my missionary post in China), we worked our way through blurred '70s footage of Jonestown survivors (which was the first search result returned). As the snow got deeper and the room colder, we progressed down the YouTube sidebar to interviews with other escapees of controlling religious groups across the spectrum. From the crazy to the more moderate, there was one common thread: They all sounded like I did."

"Next time you hear about some arch-defender of the a-constitutional "wall" of separation between church and state whose knickers are in a twist because a school allows ten seconds of silence during which students may pray, remember this story:

NBC News reported that for four years, four San Francisco middle schools have been using the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education's Quiet Time program which teaches Transcendental Meditation (TM) to 11-14-year-olds. Students spend 15 minutes twice a day meditating, with at least one school even extending the school day to accommodate TM.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, disciple of Guru Dev (aka Swami Brahmananda Saraswati), repackaged Hinduism in a form more acceptable to Western minds and brought it to American hippies in the 1960s and 1970s. Disciples of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi publicly and deceitfully claim that TM is solely a scientific method of relieving stress, conveniently omitting any mention of the religious dimensions of the program and practice.

Decades ago when I became a TMer and my husband a TM teacher, mantras—the word repeated soundlessly during meditation—were  assigned during an "initiation" ceremony called a puja. Initiates were asked to bring a piece of fruit, a new handkerchief, and flowers to the ceremony which was conducted in a darkened, incense-infused room in front of a de facto altar. The TM teacher would them begin the ceremony which was conducted in Sanskrit, which meant the initiate had no idea what was being spoken.  After becoming a TM teacher, my husband learned the Sanskrit words spoken during the ceremony:

To LORD NARAYANA, to lotus-born BRAHMA the Creator to…GOVINDA, ruler among the yogis…to SHANKARACHARYA the redeemer, hailed as KRISHNA and BADARAYANA, to the commentator of the BRAHMA SUTRAS I bow down. To the glory of the LORD I bow down again and again, at whose door the whole galaxy of gods pray for perfection day and night…GURU [Dev] in the glory of BRAHMA, GURU in the glory of the great LORD SHIVA, GURU in the glory of the personified transcendental fullness of BRAHMAN, to Him, to SHRI GURU DEV adorned with glory, I bow down…with Brahman ever dwelling in the lotus of my heart…to That [Brahman], in the form of Guru Dev, I bow down.

At various points during the ceremony, the teacher would pause and ask the initiate for one of the gifts they were asked to bring which the teacher would then place on the altar. At the end of the ceremony, initiates were given their mantras, which, as it turns out, are the names of Hindu gods.

Initiates were ordered not to tell their secret mantras to anyone. Eveventually I learned that mantras were assigned according to the initiate's age. Mine was "aing" which is a mantra intended to honor the Hindu goddess of Saraswati."

"Students at a Chicago high school were led into a room with shades drawn and door windows papered over, lit only with candles and scented by incense. They were handed flowers and told to pay attention to instructors, according to one student's account.

Jade Thomas, an incoming sophomore at Bogan Computer Technical High School, said instructors "chanted in a foreign language" and "threw rice, seasonings and oranges in a pan in front of a picture of a man." She described the ritual, which she said involved a "secret mantra," to a rapt audience at a Chicago Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

At one point, Jade said, "they tell us to place the flowers in the pan with everything else, and they ended the song. I felt uncomfortable because I didn't know what they were saying or who the man was in the picture."

The program, which brings transcendental meditation into schools, was developed by filmmaker David Lynch's foundation. Known for movies including "Blue Velvet" and the "Twin Peaks" TV series, Lynch also is a longtime proponent of the meditation practice.

At Bogan on Chicago's Southwest Side, the program, known as Quiet Time, is run through a partnership with University of Chicago's Urban Labs, which is evaluating its effectiveness, according to a Chicago Public Schools official.

The university's crime and education labs are working with CPS and the David Lynch Foundation "to test whether providing youth with training and time to practice Transcendental Meditation can help youth reduce their toxic stress, succeed in school, and stay safe," according to the Urban Labs website.

Lynch's program bills itself as a way to help youths, especially in low-income urban areas, cope with traumatic stress that can result from living in poverty, among violence and with fear, and can hinder health and learning."

"Yogic Flying was introduced in 1976 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the world's foremost scientist of consciousness, who has brought to light the knowledge of India's ancient Vedic tradition. Yogic Flying is a natural extension of the Transcendental Meditation program, which Maharishi introduced in the mid-1950s and which has become the most widely practiced and thoroughly researched program of self-development in the world.

Yogic Flyers use a simple, natural technique that has its origin in the oldest continuous tradition of knowledge on earth, the ancient Vedic tradition of India — specifically, a branch of the ancient Vedic Literature known as the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali. These students are actually rising up into the air in a series of blissful hops."

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Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

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