Cultism Is the Beginner’s Level of Human Existence
The word “cult” means, simply, a system of externals (such as beliefs, rites, and ceremonies) related to the worship of a deity (or any deified person, object, place, or event). Therefore, all formally organized exoteric religious institutions or communities are cults. Cults are at the root of all human cultures.
By extension, any organized gathering of people associated with a common source of enthusiasm and commitment may be called a “cult”. Therefore, “cultism” is associated not only with religion, but also with politics, intellectual studies, science, the “professions”, entertainment, sports, the news media, and even flower-breeding societies!—every area of human endeavor tends to produce the centralizing phenomenon (or centripetal motion) of cultism.
The negative tendency in cultism is the tendency to forget that mere enthusiastic association with an object, an idea, a person, or whatever, is basically a superficial (or “beginner’s”) state of mind. All mere enthusiasm, or belief, or ritualized consciousness is at the novice level of human existence – and, if enthusiasm, or belief, or ritualized consciousness persists beyond its appropriate term, it inevitably becomes an expression of either childish or adolescent neurosis. (Such is true of individuals, and also of human groups, including entire cultures and nations.)
When participation in the “outer circle” of life is prolonged, and the more advanced (or esoteric) culture (the “inner circle” of life) does not begin, then all the classic signs of human failure are (inevitably) in evidence. Human beings need their childhood, and even a kind of adolescence—but they must eventually “put away childish things”, and enter into the mature and more advanced domain of human possibility.
This transition to human maturity requires profound and self-critical understanding on the part of the individual. And, if such a crisis of self-understanding does not characterize the greatest number of human beings alive at any one time, the social order of humankind tends to be more or less childish and adolescent, expressing all kinds of irrational dependencies and equally irrational needs for ambivalent independence.
But this is precisely the situation in the world at the present time. Everyone is clinging to the “outer circle” of human existence. The popular religious, scientific, political, and other cultural and social characteristics of this “late-time” (or “dark” epoch) are all generally immature, aberrated, exclusivistic, and bereft of the greater Wisdom of true developmental and Spiritual acculturation.
In the domain of religion, the cults are characteristically founded on irrational and archaic beliefs, and many cults claim exclusive possession of the absolute Revelation (or ultimate degree) of Truth. But exoteric religion is not, in any case, in possession of Truth Itself. Exoteric religion is only the “outer circle” of Truth.
The childish neurosis that characterizes exoteric cultism is precisely the clinging to superficial levels of understanding (or even mere belief, without much understanding), coupled with a righteous sense of exclusive possession of Truth. And, in this “late-time” (or “dark” epoch), this frame of mind is in evidence in every area of human occupation. That frame of mind characterizes the cults of science and politics just as much as it does the cults of conventional religion.
It is time for everyone to awaken from the spell of childish, subhuman, ego-possessed, subjective (mental, emotional, and physical) obsession. It is time to grow up! The Truth can become obvious to human understanding, and the cultural situation of humankind can become harmonious and benign. It is a matter of entering into the yet hidden (or esoteric) domain of awakened intelligence, self-restraint, acceptance of life-positive disciplines of physical, emotional, and mental activity, and conversion from the separative and ego-possessed disposition to the truly ecstatic moral and Spiritual disposition of ego-transcending Love-Communion with the Divine Self-Condition (and Source-Condition) of all beings and things. Only the life of Divine Communion permits the child to grow into maturity. That Way of life is the ego-transcending Way that is hidden within (or natively built into) the psycho-physical structures of the human being.
The problem of religious cultism is prolonged exotericism, which produces fanaticism, delusion, and exclusivism. Freedom from false cultism depends on human growth, from the exoteric (or superficial levels of understanding) to the esoteric (or Spiritually Awakened levels of understanding). Exoteric religion must everywhere become nothing more than a means of preparation for greater developmental and (in due course) Spiritual acculturation.
Therefore, every religion must be submitted to the universal Truth and the universal Wisdom of Adept-Realizers, who (to one or another significant degree) have Realized the Spiritually Awakened Way through actual practice of It. Conventional religions must abandon all things superficial and exclusionary—and they must surrender to the Transcendental, Inherently Spiritual, Inherently egoless, and Self-Evidently Divine Truth.
Likewise, all other popular cults—such as the cult of scientific materialism – must abandon the irrational exclusivism of their preferences and understand that Wisdom is senior to knowledge.
Everyone—in every field of human endeavor or commitment—must be awakened to a greater intuition, and to a critical understanding of all the superficialities of conventional and popular human awareness.
–Adi Da Samraj, from Up?, page 173