Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash
'"Here's an easy way to figure out if you're in a cult: If you're wondering whether you're in a cult, the answer is yes."- Stephen Colbert
I had a wonderful chat with Elizabeth Lykins on my IC show this week. Elizabeth is the author of 'Reflections on Transcendence,' a beautiful book of her spiritual Understanding, combined with classic inspirational quotes, and the stunning artwork of her friend, Steven Lyons. She is also the creator of the online Magnificent Metamorphosis Magazine - Inspiration for Positive Change, a publication I have had the honor of being featured in. It is clear from both her book and her magazine that Elizabeth has a wealth of knowledge in all things to do with the Mind, Body, and Spirit. I asked her about her spiritual journey and what it was about the 3 Principles that had attracted her.
Elizabeth shared that she’d grown up in the Baptist church. Her father was the minister, and as such, she had a behind the scene look into the inner workings of Western Religious Institutions. Elizabeth didn’t like what she saw, and she decided she wanted nothing more to do with it. This experience led her to look in a different direction. Her attention was drawn towards studying Eastern Philosophy, but once again, she encountered hierarchy and dogma in many of the groups she attended. When Elizabeth finally came across the Principles, it was the lack of superiority and ideology that she found so appealing. I agree. That was what attracted me to the Understanding too.
Like Elizabeth, I also grew up with a resistance to Western religion. Not because my family was overly religious; in fact, it was the total opposite. We grew up with no spiritual foundation at all. My mother was an atheist who managed to save up enough money to send her children to the local private school. The school happened to be a convent, run by the Saint Brigidine Order of Nuns. Back then, the Irish nuns were notorious for their punitive and puritanical ways. They did not take lightly to my mother's illegitimate off-spring and made sure that we knew it. They saw it as their job to strip us of any semblance of self-esteem we may have had, to then rebuild us in the eyes of God.
After attending the school for seven years, the only thing their cruelty achieved was to leave me feeling even more worthless and defective than I already felt. Instead of finding comfort in a higher power, I felt judged, shamed, and demeaned. I left the convent at sixteen and swore I would never set foot in another church again. Still, there was something inside me that drove me to look for a deeper meaning to life. I desperately wanted to make sense of the pain I had endured growing up, and furthermore, I felt so alone in the world. I craved the comfort of knowing that there was something bigger than me that I could lean on when the going got tough.
This yearning propelled me on a forty-plus year spiritual odyssey. I encountered many different cultures, traditions, and beliefs that enriched and fulfilled me. But I came across some unscrupulous groups too. As much as spiritual communities attract seekers, they can also be a beacon for Narcissistic leaders who want to dominate and control their followers. Where Gurus, hungry for power and dominance, corrupt and abuse spiritual teachings for their gains. I’ll be honest; there were a few near misses. But thankfully, when I encountered this type of situation, I ultimately trusted my intuition. If I felt something was off, or someone in a position of power was trying to manipulate and coerce me, I listened to my wisdom and left.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Many people have found themselves lured into Cults with promises of enlightenment, community, and a sense of purpose. They've been enticed into organizations that slowly, over time, turn into abusive environments. Like a Narcissistic relationship, they are initially wooed and seduced, then gaslighted. Over time they begin to lose their sense of themselves. They become brainwashed and begin to doubt their intuition and inner wisdom. They innocently abandon themselves and hand their power over to the group leader.
And this is why I knew I was "home" when I came across the 3 Principles. There were no false Gods, Gurus, or leaders to worship—no need to be torn down and humiliated to reach higher levels of consciousness. There was no hierarchy, dogma, or coercion, or the need to subjugate myself to the will of another. The Principles points us back home to who we are at our essence, which is perfect, whole, and complete, just as we are. We are encouraged to stop searching for answers in the outer world or from other people but instead look within for our guidance. To trust our inner wisdom above anyone else's. How wonderful is that?
With love and appreciation, Del 💕