Allow myself to introduce myself.

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Drenpa
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Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Drenpa » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:47 am

In the words of the contemporary master, Austin Powers, I send a shout-out to DW and say hello.

I'm a life-long seeker, sometimes finder. I've studied many of the same things that any random seeker from Berkely (or NY for that matter) has encountered in a lifetime of reading and seeking - in no particular order, I first became interested in things other than the cult I was raised in when I discovered Fritjoff Capra, and "east meets west" books like Dancing Wu li masters. I discovered some Sufi poems and snippets of wisdom that really rocked my world when I was younger, and started to question the cult I was part of. Over the years I've read and studied Gurdijeff/Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, (both of Jiddhu and UG), Ramana Maharishi, the whole neo-advaita scene, most of the usual suspects.

These days my interest is mostly in Tibetan Buddhism & Zen, but I like to discuss any type of interesting subject. I joined awhile back and lurked for awhile, and have posted just a few times, but hope to post more and look forward to learning more. I picked Drenpa for a handle because once I and woke up from a dream with the word "drenpa" on my lips. Don't know Tibetan and I didn't know what it meant, but must have picked it up sub-consciously somewhere and was surprised to learn it means "remember" or something related to memory/presence.

I don't follow any particular religion, philosophy or school exclusively, and due to the experience of growing up in a cult that caused me and people I love a lot of pain and suffering, some of which is ongoing, am very wary of anyone claiming authority or special knowledge - although I don't dismiss that it's possible.

I liked the idea of it for a handle as continuity of memory & mindfulness is something important and essential in most Buddhist schools I'm aware of.

This seems like a mature message board with well-defined groups, so not sure if I'll find a place here, but we'll see how it goes. I apologize in advance if I cause any offense, as I sometimes talk first and then think later - but please know if I say something dumb or offensive I'll own it and try to do better if called out. Talk to me like a dog if I cross any lines, but talk to me! It's better than being ignored. Sometimes I'm not as funny (even after the fact) as I feel I am in the moment, so if I say something dumber than usual, just point it out.

I look forward to seeing you in the forums!

Drenpa :namaste:

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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:37 am

Welcome to DharmaWheel!
I think you'll probably do fine.
:anjali:
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by DNS » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:38 am

Welcome to DW!

:yinyang:

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Dan74
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Dan74 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:13 pm

Would you share a bit more about the cult you were raised in, Drenpa? I'm generally interested cults, how they function and sustain themselves. I find thrm often to be an extreme case if the dynamic one finds in many more benign groups.


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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:48 am

Drenpa wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:47 am

This seems like a mature message board with well-defined groups, so not sure if I'll find a place here, but we'll see how it goes.
I think you'll find that this forum is not too sectarian or territorial, generally speaking. I see it as a truly genuine Mahayana board where we all appreciate each others' traditions.

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Drenpa
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Drenpa » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:23 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:13 pm
Would you share a bit more about the cult you were raised in, Drenpa? I'm generally interested cults, how they function and sustain themselves. I find thrm often to be an extreme case if the dynamic one finds in many more benign groups.
Hi Dan. Thanks for lobbing me a high soft one.

Next, can someone please ask me if I'm watching Altered Carbon, and what a nice symbol I think it is for our predicament? (I'm a sucker for sci-fi - but I guess I can always start a thread)

I can answer anything specific you or anyone is interested in, as the experience in a fundy X-tian cult was all-pervading for 23 years until that devilish interwebs evolved to the point where I found a safe place to address my extreme cognitive dissonance, as well as interact with like-minded apostates.

I don't want to name the specific cult outright. Many family members and friends are still entrenched, and as you pointed out, fundamentalism and extremist thinking manifest along a continuum from the more mainstream, to extreme examples. More interesting to discuss the nature rather than one of the many expressions.

It may be relatively easy for some to guess anyway due to this particular brand of insanity's distinctive flavor, close to home for some. This is one of the more successful cults of the last 150 years which has vast worldwide influence and reach and is particularly well funded.

Also, I made a big mistake years ago just shortly after Al Gore invented the internet.

This was on the only message board I've been a very active participant pre-Dharma wheel. The board was started by someone in the cult to help people who had extreme cognitive dissonance like myself. On the board, were famous apostates, and famous apologists, famous at least among the 1000's of thousands if not millions who follow this cult closely on either side of the divide between critic and True Believer.

The mistake was to come right out and wear my heart on my sleeve, making no attempt to shield my meat-space identity even a little. Not just the username, but details of my life that made it very easy for any smart cookie that was interested, long before big-data, to profile me very precisely. I now know from experience that this can lead to an entire host of issues for people, depending a lot on their line of work and lifestyle, but potentially anyone.

So this time around I have precise reasons for being a bit more careful in how I engage and with whom, in what order etc.. and in not divulging useless things that only turn the discussion towards kin & clan, caste & class, region & religion.

That message board went down in the 90's but is still available in archives, so it's a good bet that anything that is said these days won't go away until the fire at the end of the Kalpa.

A sincere God-bless you to anyone who chooses to be a public figure on message boards, but it's not for me. I've heard it said that anonymity in Dharma communities is bullshit. I can appreciate the sentiment completely, and if participation were limited to people I knew who were truly Sangha, for example - any good, committed Buddhist from any school committed to bodhicitta and with respect for the Three Jewels, I'd be down. But it isn't, and I'm not. So while knowledge of either the cult I refer to or even my identity will be unknown to some here, it's not the same as spewing my personal information everywhere. I hope so, this time.

So... with that disclaimer

On the cult:

It was hard to stop being a de-facto apologist for the cult, even years after leaving. Only as I've gotten older and seen first hand how any waste of our precious time is not in any way benign, have I come to appreciate how negative belief in someone else's lies can be. Some may be worse than others, but none are truly benign when seen from the perspective that our time here is a candle in an open field, and the sole purpose of the cult or any similar ideology is for reasons of control and to waste that little bit of time and give up our responsibility for ourselves for vague promises of future glory to the faithful, money back.

I've seen my family members and acquaintances, some of them brilliant by any measure of the word who cannot apply even an iota of the dispassionate thinking and scrutiny required daily from them in their work, to their religion.

So while I've stopped apologizing for the cult, I'm no longer surprised by the fact that many people, however intelligent or blessed they may seem to be, will never leave. It's very difficult to go against the tide of your conditioning, especially when it's family and friends, and the cult is not passive in reinforcing this and using any leverage they can to keep you in your hole.

For me, and for members of this cult, it starts with a story. Stories and myths are all powerful, for when we buy into them, they become our reality. So this cult starts with a story of the leader. He is visited by God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and All Things That In Them Are (I learned capitalization at Trump University) and told that surprise surprise, he and ONLY he is God's mouthpiece on earth.

So yet another flavor religion is born, and once you've swallowed the first lie, then you're bound to everything that follows.

For me that meant that every single aspect of my life was mandated. What I could wear. How I spoke, and with whom. What I ate and took into my body, every aspect of sexuality, financial ideas (cult first, of course) EVERYTHING is seen through the warped lens of the cult.

Nobody ever gets it right the first time, so the cult's doctrine changes through time. Its changes are made without any attribution and are wholesale, so while some members may be shocked into cog dis for a short time, it's gone soon enough by the reinforcement techniques and outright campaign by leadership to hide discrepancies that can scare the sheeple.

They are endless. They begin with the family. Reading cult scripture daily together. Spending the majority of days with contact with cult members outside of the family too, because they become your social circle in school, business, everything. In addition to the cult conditioning which informs all normal parental conditioning in the home, there is the group-think mentality and specific exercises.

The cult teaches a precise doctrine around their 4 standard canonized works. The curriculum rotates every 4 years, and you get the same tripe a mile wide and an inch deep weekly. Any original thinking or questions are immediately squelched right as they arise, by the appropriate authority figure. If it's in a group, the situation will NOT move ahead until the situation is resolved and the groupthink restored with whatever part of the catechism is applicable.

Once a month at least, the members of the cult unite to publicly reinforce their mass delusion. They stand publicly and tell the other members of the truthfulness of the cult, the infalibility of its leaders and how god will not permit them to be led astray. How the cult is the only vehicle on the earth with the power and knowledge to save its members, how everyone else is consigned to only a small part of the elephant, while the cult itself has all knowledge and saving power for its members.

The cult also has slick marketing, and it is very cognizant of how strange it is perceived to be by the wider public in the US. So they spend millions, literally, honing that image, with some of the best PR people in the world. They keep their finger right on the pulse of membership and keep meticulous records on each of them. This is enforced by ongoing "worthiness" interviews whereby cult leadership is allowed to pry directly into all aspects of member's lives by asking questions of worthiness related to sexuality, anything perceived as a threat to the cult or fellowship with dissenters, financially, you name it. Nothing really is off limits.

If you confess your sins, they are not even safe historically. The cult is famous internally at least for the 70's practice or taking confessions of same-sex attraction and referring people to a program run by a cult-owned institution that used cult members money to pay for sexual aversion therapy. To give you an idea of how far it can go. They used member money to set up laboratory settings where people could be rewarded for responding to opposite sex porn & stim, and punished by shock to the genitals for a reaction to same sex porn/stimulation. I shit you not. This happened.

So, to summarize, the cult uses every means imaginable to keep its members from questioning the veracity of that first far-fetched story, which once swallowed, makes it possible to swallow everything that follows.

The plight of the members of this or any other cult or fundamentalist group is not that much different from how we understand things as Buddhists.

ANY group think or philosophy, ideal or concept we ourselves take to be 'gods truthTM' and put at the center of our own 'book of the law' as Don Miguel Ruiz calls it, becomes THE truth, OUR truth, and we are bound by it, necessarily limited and subject to those limits.

After the long and horrific experience of having all of my dear ideals wrenched from me in a period of a couple of years by the internets revelations from the changes now apparent for the first time to doctrine, scripture, and founding stories etc.I was an empty vessel and felt simply gutted and alone.

At this time I began to question and think for myself for the first time without these ridiculous self-imposed limits. I swore off anyone or anything that would ever tell me what to do again and lived life like a secular humanist. I certainly wasn't looking for Dharma, or a teacher, or anything.

Which is of course, precisely when I found it and constructed a new cage - but that's another story.

Thanks for asking. Any other questions about this experience I'm happy to answer. All I can say to anyone reading this in the future who may or may not suspect they are in a cult is to never be afraid to question. Anything that claims to be beyond questioning or scrutiny DEFINITELY should be held up to scrutiny.

If it is a symbol or reflection of the real, the true etc., then it will bear scrutiny on every level - not just on the terms and circular reasoning laid down by the cult.

Use Occam's razor. That's what finally did it for me. I was wrestling with the latest glaring contradiction indicating that my cherished beliefs were bull-$hit, and it suddenly occurred to me that while it was possible to live with the glaring contradictions raised by documentation being available for the first time by mental gymnastics, looking through history and cult doctrine to find ANY explanation, shelving doubt and simply listening to the apologists etc. etc., literally EVERYTHING was solved by realizing one simple principle - That the cult founder lied and misrepresented himself for personal gain, or whatever reason.

This one fact realization of the truth cleared up everything in an instant. Real understanding of the situation emerged from this simple truth. It wasn't easy to turn against my family and friends and their cries of "apostate", but the truth did set me free.

So yeah, the claim of instant enlightenment is certainly interesting and seems possible to me, hence my interest in Zen, Chan and other schools that adhere to this principle.

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Drenpa
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Drenpa » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:54 pm

Thomas Amundsen wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:48 am
Drenpa wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:47 am

This seems like a mature message board with well-defined groups, so not sure if I'll find a place here, but we'll see how it goes.
I think you'll find that this forum is not too sectarian or territorial, generally speaking. I see it as a truly genuine Mahayana board where we all appreciate each others' traditions.
Generally I find that Buddhists are quite accepting of each other - at least they don't feel the need to immediately negate other traditions. It's normal to have a bit of an attitude that our path is the best, for us at least. Otherwise, why would we follow any particular tradition among many? But folks have certainly been friendly to me since introducing myself, for which I'm very happy and have felt most welcome.

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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Simon E. » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:01 pm

Thank you for your story Drenpa. I can only marvel at your sanity and good sense after experiencing all that..
The nearest I have come to experiencing that degree of cognitive dissonance was with my first teacher. But the parallels are only partial and were to do with his behaviours..his core teaching was orthodox Vajrayana Buddhism.
Still, I think I can get a wee glimpse of the pain involved.

May you be well and happy and find great peace.
Taking advantage of a temporary situation. Back for a short time only folks.

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Drenpa
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Drenpa » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:41 am

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:01 pm
Thank you for your story Drenpa. I can only marvel at your sanity and good sense after experiencing all that..
The nearest I have come to experiencing that degree of cognitive dissonance was with my first teacher. But the parallels are only partial and were to do with his behaviours..his core teaching was orthodox Vajrayana Buddhism.
Still, I think I can get a wee glimpse of the pain involved.

May you be well and happy and find great peace.
Hey Simon - Thanks for the kind words after plowing through this self-indulgent tirade from my (now) distant past. I'm happy, at peace and well as any one of us can be given our predicament.

Cog dis is painful, but pain can be instructive - I hope that your experience has helped you overall rather than hurt. From what I understand, orthodox Vajrayana comes part and parcel with a high degree of uncertainty and cognitive dissonance which can manifest in the teacher's "crazy wisdom" and actions that don't make sense when stacked up against the teaching.

I understand that through appropriate skillful means, this might actually be something positive that jars the student loose from their fixed ideas and conventions - but this kind of thinking - excusing someone's inappropriate actions under the umbrella of "crazy wisdom" can also be the jumping off point for something like Bubba FreeJohn or other similar shit shows.

In the end, it all comes down to us anyway. We create and believe our own myths, and as long as we're exercising selective thinking & only seeking to reinforce our own brand of insanity, therein lies danger.

The words and attitude of the Buddha, the admonition to not believe him or anyone just because they say so and there is a tradition, really rang true for me. Anything worthy of our time will bear scrutiny - although to practice Vajrayana or some of the paths under the Buddhist umbrella, at a certain point probably require letting go a little bit like Tyler Durden in the car.

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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:42 am

Whoa.

Thanks for that. I can relate to an extent. As a fellow wheeler put it, "been there, got the T-shirt."

Dharmas are all cages, to an extent, holding us in patterns of thoughts words deeds until the wellspring of the teaching becomes our thoughts words deeds. Many dharmas, explicitly religious, many secular, are misleading, unfortunately.

Congratulations on making it this far, sounds like an arduous path... Maybe the hardest part is being alienated from family and friends over it?

Welcome.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
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Drenpa
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by Drenpa » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:43 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:42 am
Whoa.

Thanks for that. I can relate to an extent. As a fellow wheeler put it, "been there, got the T-shirt."

Dharmas are all cages, to an extent, holding us in patterns of thoughts words deeds until the wellspring of the teaching becomes our thoughts words deeds. Many dharmas, explicitly religious, many secular, are misleading, unfortunately.

Congratulations on making it this far, sounds like an arduous path... Maybe the hardest part is being alienated from family and friends over it?

Welcome.
Hi Queequeg!

Yes. Alienation from friends & family was/is the most difficult. Mostly family. Impossible to have a real conversation as there is always the elephant (the apostate) in the room. Learned quickly that most of my friendships and ideas around this were pure projection on my part. Family we don't choose, so not much to do but sled on. I had to learn to let go of what others think of me which is a process that is ongoing. It's all good though, one should grow up a bit, eventually. Cults foster dependence, groupthink and thought-stopping techniques - When the leadership has spoken, the thinking is done is axiomatic.

In spite of this I still miss the fellowship aspect. Like someone born in a large family who isn't comfortable unless there are lots of bodies and chaos - it's not like that, needing lots of bodies and chaos, but at times I long for meaningful dialogue that doesn't involve the endless sub-routines and qualifications of the cult. I guess that's why I'm here, so thanks for that.

I don't think a message board centered around a religion is an ideal place to work out one's path, but it is a nice place to read about other's process, to share and spar in a friendly way. And for information. So much information.

joy&peace
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Re: Allow myself to introduce myself.

Post by joy&peace » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:25 am

Yo yo :)

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