A Model for Re-entry for Cult Members Returning to Society

The Amphibian World View

There are four ways people come to grips with the practical and spiritual sides of their human nature: through the worldviews of the materialist, the "blissed-out devotee," the psychotic, and the amphibian.

The materialist believes "only the material world is true". The materialist represses his or her spiritual side, effectively blocking out higher altruistic and intuitive impulses. He or she can get things done in the material world and is often successful in pursuing material projects or personal goals, but is not concerned with the quest for meaning and higher values.

The blissed-out devotee believes "only the spiritual world is inherently true", the material world is often viewed as a world of evil, or illusion (Maya), or a prison house imprisoning the spirit. The devotee represses, suppresses, or sublimates material desires. He or she may accomplish group-endorsed projects or avocations, but may be deficient in accomplishing personally defined goals and aspirations.

There is also a tendency to live in a world of idealism, hope and faith, without having concrete or clearly defined means for bringing these aims into realization. Instead, they are left to Providence or the Supreme Being to bring into manifestation, and often, these aims simply are never achieved.

The euphoria induced in the altered states of consciousness produced by prayer and meditative practices is pleasurable, and the philosophical and moral substrate of the spiritual life provide meaning and value to life.

The pursuit of Grace, Beatitude or Nirvana, may give a rationale for the rituals and practices incumbent upon the spiritual devotee, and may give a sense of grand purpose to a life that hitherto may have lacked a sense of purpose.

A devotee may lack the material things, but has no lack of substance, possessing his or her Soul in peace and gratitude.

The psychotic believes "neither the material world nor the spiritual world are true, trustworthy or reliable." The psychotic takes refuge in illusion and fantasy, rejects the world's values, and is denied the peace of the Spirit: his or her inner world is one of perpetual psychological torment.

The psychotic's world is filled with distortion by hallucinations and delusions. Their effective action hindered is by regressive or inappropriate behavior.

The psychotic whose life lacks compassionate and understanding therapeutic intervention often makes little or no progress either spiritually or materially, progressively deteriorates, and ultimately wastes the promise and potentials of his or her life.

The amphibian believes "both the material and spiritual world are true", and thus accepts both the material and spiritual sides of his or her nature.

The amphibian experiences both material desires and spiritual aspirations, works on both aspects and makes progress in both areas.

He or she can integrate meaning and values, yet has clearly-defined and coherent goals and can accomplish practical projects.

He or she can differentiate between the realities and requirements of the spiritual path and the material existence and can function effectively in both.

The ex-cult member has the resource of having taken time off from his or her normal pattern of life, and has devoted some time to the spiritual quest.

This open conduit that has been formed through spiritual practices and prayers allows a communication with the Higher Mind and the dimension of Spirit. Most people caught up in the concerns of daily living rarely experience this dimension.

This conduit to the Higher Mind can be a pipeline for creativity, inspiration, and intuition. It adds rewarding meta-values to living, and opens the door to communion with Supernal Reality.

Becoming an Amphibian

Guidelines for developing an amphibian approach to integrating material goals and spiritual aspirations include the following:

1) Schedule time to develop the spiritual and material sides of your nature.

2) Question the ultimate conclusions that deny the validity of the material or spiritual world. Approach the problem not from the standpoint of establishing truth or error, but evaluate the relative usefulness and area of contribution that each side of your nature makes to your life and experience.

3) Visualize the ideal of an integral self that has a fulfilled material nature, and an evolved, mature and wise spiritual nature.

4) Realize that attention is the "focalizer" of the mind. Whatever you focus your attention upon is nurtured and developed. Focus your attention upon your material desires and dreams, and these will fructify; focus your attention upon your spiritual nature, and you will reap the rich harvest of wisdom, understanding, and virtue.

5) Have a location where you perform material activities. An example is a personal office with a desk containing a typewriter or computer, a calculator, stamps, pens, pencils, and paper. In this place you will pay bills, write correspondence, set goals, and organize your material life.

In another location, have a place of peace and seclusion where you can devote time to spiritual activities such as prayer and meditation, introspection and spiritual journal writing. In this place you may wish to design an altar, have a meditation cushion, incense, inspirational books, flowers, power objects, pictures of holy men or women from whom you draw inspiration. Spend time in both places daily.

6) Realize the stream of your motivation runs in two directions: toward concrete achievement and towards transcendence. Concrete achievement works on definite goals in your personal life; transcendence works in the realm of the Spirit for the development of your Higher Nature and an ultimate Union or Beatitude with the Divine. Allow your motivation to liberate your determination and aspiration.

7) Each of the functions of your personality have a material side and a spiritual side. Consider the qualities represented in the following table:

SENSATION Experiences physical world Experiences spiritual dimensions
MOVEMENT Operates in physical world, through work and play Expresses ecstatic dance, mudras, movement of the Spirit through the body
FEELING-DESIRE Experiences longing for a compatible mate, intimacy and sexual union Experiences devotion and longing for the Spirit, and for liberation
EMOTION "Earthy" emotions of anger, grief, satisfaction, attraction "Heavenly" emotions of joy, love, compassion, faith, courage
INTUITION "Gut level" feeling sense, reveals the truths of the organism, of others' true intentions, and best strategies among alternatives "Still small voice," reveals truths of the Superconscious Mind and of the Divine Order; makes manifest the requirements of the Divine Will
REASON-INTELLECT Plans, analyzes, and defines the steps to accomplish material goals; provides reality testing and checking of the correctness of information Discriminates the true Nature of the Soul, conferring Enlightenment
WILL Directs human life toward definite goals, makes decisions Disciplines life according to moral principles, refines habits, character and behavior
IDENTITY Identifies with the physical body, the unique talents and personal history that makes up the human personality Identifies as a spiritual essence, as the Transpersonal Self, having a sense of Purpose, Spiritual Ability and Compassion

8) Visualize yourself as a spiritual hero or Master. Consider what this sublime attainment would be like. Visualize your material success, doing, being, and having what you want in life.

Consider what it would take for you to achieve this pinnacle of material achievement. Notice if these two scenarios make conflicting demands on your time and resources. Design a lifestyle or situation where you could have both.

By accepting and developing both aspects of your nature, you adopt the amphibian strategy. The amphibian strategy, living in the waters of the Spirit, but hatching the eggs of your goals and dreams in the warm earth of practical functioning yields the fullest experience of life.

Successful reintegration is possible, even though you may have spent long periods under a cult's hypnotic domination.

The ex-cult member can be reassured that the time spent exploring the worlds of the Spirit was not wasted, but was an open door into a world of understanding and value.

The key lesson that must be learned is that practical functioning should not be eschewed, but vigorously pursued with an aim to achieve a balanced development of spiritual and material natures. Those who pursue this path enjoy the best of both worlds!

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