Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 150 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
|1. Internal Control:||8|
|2. Wisdom Claimed:||8|
|3. Wisdom Credited:||9|
|6. Front Groups:||5|
|8. Political Power:||10|
|9. Sexual Manipulation||1|
|11. Dropout Control||5|
|12. Endorsement of Violence||1|
|15: Surrender of Will:||2|
In regard to the condensed Bonewits Cult Danger Scale that makes use of only the first four categories, I obtain the following total and average scores:
As I have indicated in my articles referred to above on various modern religious/ spiritual groups, my Bonewits Cult Danger Scale ratings are most definitely subjective and experiential, and do not pretend to be otherwise. The intent of my research has been to include a qualitative/quantitative element to describe one's own experience in various religious/spiritual organizations that may have mild, moderate, or high cult dangers. A full account of my findings are available in my above referenced articles and self-published book, but what is significant in regard to my present experiential exploration of cult dangers in the Obama political phenomenon is a comparison of OBP scores on the Bonewits Cult Danger Scale, both the full scale and the condensed scale, with a number of other groups that I have previously categorized as having mild and moderate cult dangers. To distinguish between the full Bonewits Cult Danger Scale and the condensed Bonewits Cult Danger Scale conveniently, I will use the notation F for the former scale and C for the latter scale. I will include a few sample groups from my research that fall under all the categories I have utilized: High cult danger, Moderate cult danger, Minimal cult danger, Neutral, and Beneficial. Out of the full range of 22 groups that I have experientially analyzed, I will choose the following 12 of these groups, along with my above experiential ratings for the Obama Political Phenomenon group. The scores that follow are the average scores across the F scale and C scale, respectively.
|Unification Church:||F: 9.0||C: 10|
|Scientology:||F: 8.7||C: 10|
|Divine Light Mission:||F: 5.1||C: 9.0|
|Avatar:||F: 5.4||C: 8.3|
|Obama Political Phenomenon:||F: 5.4||C: 7.5|
|Eckankar:||F: 4.3||C: 7.5|
|Twelve Step Support Groups||F: 4.4||C: 7.0|
|Self-Realization Fellowship||F: 3.7||C: 7.8|
|Integral Institute||F: 3.9||C: 6.8|
|Conversations with God:||F: 3.7||C: 6.3|
|Tikkun:||F: 3.8||C: 5.0|
|Kripalu Yoga Center:||F: 2.6||C: 4.0|
|Neopaganism:||F: 2.1||C: 2.5|
Based upon my initial classification scheme from the full Bonewits Cult Danger Scale (Benjamin, 2005a), I have placed the above groups in the following categories:
|High Cult Danger:||Unification Church, Scientology|
|Moderate Cult Danger:||Divine Light Mission, Avatar|
|Mild Cult Danger:||Eckankar, Twelve Step Support Groups|
|Neutral:||Self-Realization Fellowship, Integral Institute, Conversations with God, Tikkun|
|Beneficial:||Kripalu Yoga Center, Neopaganism|
Although the mathematical relationship is certainly not exact, one could perform a statistical regression analysis to show that the same general pattern of decrease of F scores from top to bottom of the chart looks quite similar for the C chart. In other words, the condensed Bonewits Cult Danger Scale turns out to be a fairly good approximation of cult dangers for these groups compared to the full Bonewits Cult Danger Scale, based upon my own experiences. Whichever scale we prefer to use, the above categories for my groups will stay roughly the same, perhaps with one or two groups arguably changing to the next higher or lower category. But when it comes to deciding where to place the Obama Political Phenomenon group, very clearly no matter whether one uses the F scale or C scale, OPB clearly belongs in the category of moderate cult danger. In other words, based upon my own experiences with the Obama political phenomenon over the past three years, I have in effect been under the influence of a powerful charismatic political guru figure, with an enormous public/political group influence.
Well known psychological mechanisms such as wanting to minimize “cognitive dissonance,” and experiencing the magnetic impact of seeing and hearing Obama speak on television somehow worked to transform me into saying “yes” to continuing and extending the unnecessary deaths and bombings in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. I somehow realized deep down that this was not the “me” I have always known, but I was going along with this “new me” anyway. What finally brought me back to my real self? It was the exposure to other people's writings in the form of essays about Obama's Afghanistan war decision that I continuously read on the internet from various progressive and peace oriented organizations that spoke to me and reminded me of what it is that I truly believe. And this is exactly the kind of cult education networking that a number of authors have written about and are currently doing some enormously important work in (see for example Hassan, 1990, 2000; Langone, 1993).
At this point I do not wish to speculate any further about my opening remark from my previous article regarding the extent of Obama's political manipulation in spending a year and half promoting peace and then abruptly turn to war. For I am still recuperating from my near-loss of self in regard to my own true personal/political thoughts and feelings. It seems that many people are in the process of going through something similar to what I have experienced, in which it is so difficult to finally see Obama for who he truly is--a “war president.” But he is not just a war president; to many people he is extending an unjust and unnecessary war causing massive death and destruction. This is how I myself now see Obama, and it helps me to understand how I could have been so persuaded by Barack Obama, by utilizing a cult dangers perspective applied to the Obama political phenomenon. It is my hope that perhaps other people may find some value in this perspective as well.
Benjamin, E. (2005a). Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis and Exposé. Swanville, ME: Natural Dimension (available by contacting the author)
Benjamin, E. (2005b). Spirituality and the Cults: An Experiential Analysis. The Ground of Faith Journal, April/May. Retrieved August 1, 2008, from "http://homepages.igug.co.nz/!thegroundoffaith/issues/2005-04/index.htm#elliot"
Benjamin, E. (2006). On Ken Wilber's Integral Institute: An Experiential Analysis. Retrieved January 1, 2008, from "http://www.integralworld.net"
Benjamin, E. (2007). On Ken Wilber's Integral Institute: An Experiential Analysis. ICSA e-Newsletter, 6(2), Retrieved August 1, 2008, from "http://www.icsahome"
Benjamin, E. (2008). The Boundaries between Cults, Benign, and Beneficial in Five Spiritual Groups. ICSA e-Newsletter, 7(3), retrieved January 1, 2009, from "http://www.icsahome"
Benjamin, E. (2009a). Obama and the War in Afghanistan: A Psychological, Philosophical, and Political Integrated Perspective. Retrieved 12/6/09, from "http://www.integralworld.net"
Benjamin, E. (2009b). Obama and the War in Afghanistan: Further Reflections. Retrieved 12/15/09, from "http://www.integralworld.net"
Falk, G. (2005). Stripping the Gurus. Retrieved August1, 2008, from "http://www.angelin.com/trek/geoffreyfalk/blog/blog.html"
Hassan, s. (1988). Combating Mind Control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Hassan, S. (2000). Releasing the Bonds. Somerville, MA: Freedom of Mind Press
Langone, M. (Ed.). (1993). Recovery from Cults. New York: W.W. Nortn & Co.
Obama, B. (2006). The Audacity of Hope. New York: Crown.
Obama for America (2008). Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plans to Renew America's Promise. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Singer, M., & Lalich, J. (1996). Cults in our Midst. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.