I grew up in the Brahma Kumaris and went on a regular pilgrimage to India as a child.
Some background of their teachings:
They teach 7 main lessons
They have God, soul, karma, reincarnation, a 5,000 year world cycle that repeats identically every 5,000 years. They have 4 major ages - Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron - then they have the confluence age, which is the present time, where the Iron Age (Hell) meets the Golden Age (Heaven). It is the time of change, purification and work so that you will be one of the privileged few that will go into the Golden Age.
Here are some links about the organisation and to those that have left:
Alice, I sensed there was something unusual about you ... I mean that in a positive way. It could be the way you were brought up, or the way you processed your experiences, or the strength you developed and weaknesses you perceived and wanted to change.
Let me think if I can put words to my experience of you. First of all, you are very clear with your choice of words and ways you express yourself. I don't have to guess what you mean, or if I don't understand, you are able to clarify for me. There is a sense of gentleness to you that is very different from my experiences and gives me hope for a gentler view of the world. I don't experience judgment but I do very definitely know when you do not share my opinion and you explain your point of view. That is very helpful for me. I was not surprised when I learned you grew up in a cult, but I have a stereotype that cults can be very positive, even though I heard of some pretty awful stuff about others. I haven't read your recommended sites yet and will do so now. I just wanted to express myself before I read your links.
Thanks Joan - I appreciate your kind feedback - I was protected somewhat by my mum in the cult - because she became a senior member and didn't pressure me to follow the rules - although I knew all the rules and was very well behaved, so it wasn't much of an issue either way.
The thing about this cult is that they want you to have the virtues and avoid the vices - and so everyone is constantly aiming to be perfectly behaved, even in the face of others vices. I think it meant a lot of suppressed emotion for many.
Pretty much covers most of what we do in a day... LOL
Thanks for sharing this information. Without being too indiscreet, I like to ask a few questions.
Assuming that your parents choose to enter this cult, did they come from a christian background?
Do you know other persons, who entered this cult as a choice?
What attracts people to this cult?
What psychological benefit do they get from this cult?
How many people, who choose the cult as adults, are disappointed and leave it again?
My maternal grandmother was church of England I am told. But she wasn't especially religious. She died when my mother was only 17 years old.
My paternal grandmother was brought up in a convent and hated all forms of religion with a vengeance. My father is and has always been an atheist.
My mother alone entered the cult after my parents divorced. I know many adults how entered the cult as adults, including my husband. I met my husband after he had left the cult - but through the network of cult members. I also have many child hood friends who also grew up in the cult, and I know many other cult members who are still in the cult.
I can't speak for what attracts people to the cult. On a face they are a group who teaches meditation and promotes world peace - and the practice of self perfection in the form of virtues.
I think that they get the feeling that they are part of a group. An elite group, who are destined to go to heaven if they maintain their own purity - in avoiding the 5 vices.
The must be also attracted to the meditation as a way to calm their minds and find peace in themselves and in their own lives.
I don't know how many leave. But many that I know have left. I suppose of the ones that were there in the early 80's - perhaps half of them have left - maybe more.
Since then the teachings and expectations have been watered down and so lots more come through. Their idea is that the times of the end are coming, and there fore according to your statues in the world drama cycle - you will have the correct amount of connection and understanding. So those who are high up in Golden Age are also high up in the group - whereas those who only come into the world at the times of the end - will have their own great start but face much misery.
Alice, It is good that you managed to get away from that group; otherwise a good life would have beem wasted. That kind of group could not have been good for a young girl.
The idea of renouncing all worldly pleasures to get rid of all vices on a personal level came first from the Vedas, the most fundamental scriptures of Hinduism, which earlier was called a Vaidic religion. This was called" karma sanyas yoga" which is also described in the Bhagvad Geeta. The basic idea was also adopted by Buddhism and Jainism in ancient times and recently by the Bramha Kumaris. All of them, however have created their own variations to the original idea of renunciation.
All relgious ideas, however well meaning they might have been once, have now become outdated and only those who do not have much else to do in life or have been frustrated with life, adopt such cults now.
Madhukar - yes I've heard bits and pieces of the history with reference to other Indian religious groups.
I suppose that many westerners are attracted to the meditation and more peace - must be the stressful lives they are leading.
I have been a Hindu by birth and I know about meditation but I fail to understand what westerners find so attractive about meditation. Many westerners are also attracted by Hindu philosophy. All philosophy is based on imagination but Hindu philosophy is vast and appearsto be far more sophisticated compared to that of Bible or Quran. Persons having a natural attraction for philosophy are attracted to Hindu philosophy, but westerners attracted to Hindu Gurus do a great dis-service to Hindu society by glorofying blind faith.
Madhukar - interesting points you make from an Indian perspective.
Madhukar, I was raised to obey. When grown up challenges faced me I had to go with my training or find a healthier way. Having three young lives to care for, I chose to go for healthier. For me that means to think for myself. I call it meditation, but it is just plain old stopping and thinking. Getting relaxed, putting aside problems that seemed insurmountable, I focused on what a healthy family would look, sound, feel like and then set out to make it happen.
My condemned house became a lovely, gentle, cooperative home; my garden a place to raise food for my children and to use my formal training as a gardener. It worked, I am happier, my children are grown and healthier, and I am free to work.
Madhukar, I had no idea these groups are so austere. It is hard to understand why people join a group that restricts.
Hinduism has an exotic characteristic, it looks peaceful from the outside, but is it as peaceful to its practitioners?
You write with strong sentiment, "It is good that you managed to get away from that group; otherwise a good life would have been wasted. That kind of group could not have been good for a young girl."
Are these cults that limiting for a young one? Is there no violence in homes of people living in cults?
Joan - they are limited in that they cause you to feel guilty for being human - having a sex drive, getting angry about stuff, feeling attached to anyone, feeling good about yourself, wanting material possessions in any form.
I am so glad you made the decision to leave. You have such spirit. Guilt and shame are such useless emotions, they make one internalize their own oppression.
Now, from that experience, what have you brought away from it that is healthy and positive?
From my experiences, it is that not all families are violent, not all women are beaten, and the behaviors of batterer and battered are merely habits that can be broken. And, either one can do the stopping.