I remember that even back in high school, I realized that I belonged to different cults, and always would.
As Byron Katie says, a cult is two people agreeing.
So yes, I am in lots of cults… some of them are called integral, Buddhist, Christian, people who think Arvo Part is great, people who like strawberries, people who like a clean house, people who think people shouldn’t lie, western culture, and the human cult (I am sure other species could easily see us as a dangerous cult, if they had stories going the way we do).
Some of the trademarks of a cult is (a) people within it agree and think they are right, (b) others believe other things and see them as misguided, and (c) they potentially harm themselves and others.
On each of these points, all of the ones I listed above are cults. And we all belong to lots of cults.
- All the ones listed, and many others, consist of people who agree. Who believe a certain thing, and support that belief with all sorts of evidence, including others agreeing.
- All are contrasted by other groups of people who disagree and see them as misguided, at best.
- And any belief is stressful, at best, and harm ourselves and others in different ways.
This is true of integral, Buddhist, people who like a clean house, and even people who like (something as apparently innocent as) strawberries.
In short, they are cults.
So that is why I am in a cult. But the reversal is also true, and equally important to explore.
I am not in a cult, since I am (sometimes) open to explore my beliefs… to lighten the hold on them, even to let them go when I see clearer what is going on. And few of these are groups that, at least intentionally, harm others (with the exception of the human cult, which often is quite dangerous to itself and other species).
And I am also of course free to explore and play around with the conventional definitions of cults… Buddhist and Christians are not, because they are too mainstream (they were cults when they were smaller, and still may be seen as cults when they are in a significant minority… such as Zen in Utah). People who like strawberries are not because it is (appears!) too innocent. Humans… well, maybe they are, from the view of many other species.
So I can explore and go along with, to different extents, all these conventional ways of looking at cults… but now, with less need to protect or defend particular beliefs and identities around them. I can be more fluid with it, seeing the (limited) truth in any of the ways we can play with the story of cults, including free to see the truth in how I am in lots of cults, and also how I am not.