So… turns out I joined a cult… Oops!

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Spiritual Journey

I had one of those moments of clarity earlier today. I was pondering the difficulties associated with finding, entering or forming a ritualistic group when it occurred to me that I was already in one. What’s worse, I realised I was in a full-on hierarchical one; or exactly the kind of thing I’m not looking for.

To make matters worse, I’ve been in this (let’s not mince words) cult for more than a decade.

the cult I’m referring to is the martial art I participate in (if you get chatting to me in person I’ll happily talk about it, but let’s keep borderline libel off this particular blog for the time being). I mean, aside from the ritual gatherings, chanting, ‘sacred’ scroll and moving and seated meditation, there’s something else that’s rather cult like; its hierarchy.

I have a grade. I achieved that grade through years of diligent practice, determination and study, both physical and mental. I have been examined and have steadily progressed to a sort of low-intermediate level typical of people who’ve been involved about as long as I have. When I write it out like that I can;t help but see the similarities with masonry, the Golden dawn, pretty much and slightly culty group.

The similarities get worse. One of the things I’ve occasionally railed against is the notion of withheld knowledge. The idea that information isn’t freely available, that you can only be taught certain things after many years of unfaltering allegiance. It strikes me as elitist and cliquey and is something that I have tremendous difficulty in reconciling with my spiritual aspect.

So why don’t I leave? Well first of all I understand that there are reasons for things being as they are. For example there’s no point even trying to teach someone to use pressure points when you have difficulty telling if they’re even aiming for the head or the belly. But I know that similar arguments can be put forward for all systems wherein illumination is drip-fed to the loyal.

But for me the biggest reason for staying and, if not embracing, certainly accepting the stratified nature of the practice, is simply this: It makes me happy. What’s more, it makes the other people I train with happy. People I’ve known for years, good, honest, caring compassionate people who look after one another and are genuinely good human beings and seem to shine slightly brighter for what we do. If that ever changes I’ll have to seriously reconsider. But for now I’ll carry on permitting this cult to be a part of me. Not least because it’s a fun one… and by fun I mean painful… but that’s a separate blog post right there.


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