In my last post I looked at how we inadvertently enter into faith groups where the ultimate high of finding God is eventually replaced by a gnawing sense that something is not quite right. Such a psycho-spiritual itch is often a warning that we have swapped spiritual freedom for a subtle or not so subtle form of spiritual abuse.
Most of us don’t want to admit that we have suffered such abuse. Frankly it makes us look stupid both to ourselves and those to whom we are religiously joined. Yet, it’s an admission that must be made, if only for our ongoing mental and emotional health as well as our future psycho-spiritual freedom. Once we understand that spiritual abuse lies along an increasing spectrum of danger can we find the courage to ‘come out’ and place our experiences somewhere along the abuse line.
So what is going on when our lower unconscious begins to send us warning signals regarding our predicament and perhaps more importantly, why do we remain in such an environment, many of us for decades or more?
I see the problem as two-fold:
1) We are hooked onto the desire emanating from the leader(s) and that flowing from the collective group consciousness.
2) We hold a philosophical world view or paradigm that hides such desire exchanges in a quasi-logical protective and heavily disguised coating.
In this post I wish to examine the first of these. The second I will look at in my next post.
All faith groups of whatever flavor, hold out a taste of what it is to be in touch with God as the carrot to satisfy our metaphysical angst. They appear to act as a channel through which the Divine has chosen to flow, in its attempts to save the world. Our needy psyche-soul jumps at the chance to be at the supposed cutting edge of God’s dealings with mankind. The more radical the group the greater the thrill of being onboard the ride of our lives.
Many who have read my writings have suggested that I have it in for church leaders; not so. I see many of them as equal victims of the desire dynamic as much as their loyal flock. Some however do understand such a desire transfer and milk it for all they are worth. It is amazing what people will often do to ‘keep in touch’ with the Divine Will. When we see a wealthy religious leader we see one, not necessarily blessed by God, but one that has learned to use the tools of the metaphysical desire trade, a sort of spiritual snake-oil sales executive.
The more intense the ‘vision’ of the religious leader, the more we wish to join them in it. If such a vision has come from God, then who wouldn’t? In desiring to be like such a leader we thus open ourselves to possible manipulation and control, the very essence of spiritual abuse. Due to the subliminal nature of desire magnetism of mimesis , we follow such leaders into their latest interpretation of the Divine Will, one that often appears to benefit the group’s psycho-spiritual cohesion and the elevation of the leader’s particular mythical standing in the eyes of their followers.
The main tool of desire exchange is the weekly ‘teaching’ or in the case of more sacramental faith groups, the weekly ritual. These are both powerful instruments in channeling the desire of the preacher or celebrant to the audience sitting before them. Much of this desire stems from the psyche of such a leader. If their psyche is deeply fragmented then its desire will be aimed at maintaining their personal safety in the midst of such a potential whirlpool of desire fertilisation. If the one in question has undergone significant levels of psycho-spiritual healing then the desire can flow from their human spirit via the reintegrated psyche and into the ‘hearts’ or spirits off their audience. Summing up psyche to psyche desire transfer often ends in tears, spirit to spirit in further healing and inspiration.
So why the itch?
At some point in our group involvement we begin to sense that the leader has begun to put up a defensive barrier when we press in to drink of their desire flow. A state of confusion results as we begin to wonder what we’ve done wrong. If this person is a mouthpiece or representative of God, and close to the Divine heart then we mistakenly interpret this new distancing of the leader as the very reaction of God Himself. The result is an increase in effort to try to please the Divinity and his representative. If the leader says jump we jump, believing ourselves to be jumping for Jesus!
Unfortunately our new efforts on the zeal front are misinterpreted by the leader. They perceive us as being after their Being! Our ever-increasing conformity to their will in the guise of Divine Will, sets off leadership alarm bells. ‘This follower is becoming so like me that they must want to replace me; bluntly put they must want my job!’
The resulting war footing, accompanied by its new levels of emotional control together with the follower’s fresh attempts to please ignite a desire chain reaction that will end in expulsion.
Leaders who spiritually abuse may be totally unaware of what they are doing, for they live the religious life through a wounded sub-personality that they keep hidden in the safety of their lower unconscious. The follower who is abused, caught up in the desire to please in order to obtain the being of the leader model is also unaware of the psychological dynamic taking place; that is until the expulsion crisis pops up in the light of consciousness.
Finally let me look at the ‘group consciousness’ and its role in the abuse experienced. The strange thing about mimetic or desire groups is that they appear to have a life of their own one greater than the sum of their individual members. Just watch a large sport’s crowd or attendees at a stadium rock concert to see this group desire flow in action. In heightened states of consciousness, the group sends out a massive desire flow towards the performers. The performer in turn sends back a desire response that lifts the crowd to a whole new level of unity and desire buzz. This is the very nature of excitement.
The same dynamic occurs to varying degrees in faith groups in their weekly get-togethers known as meetings or services. Most religious groups have their focal person, whether they like to acknowledge it or not, and it is this channel of desire that brings unity and indeed conformity to the group identity. In essence the group and the leader are one. In an abusive group, the group subliminally mimic the abuse of their leader for their strength and unity is the conscious goal dressed up in religious language. Strangely though all the individual members of such groups are both abusers and the abused; scapegoaters and the scapegoated. All our oblivious to their dual state until the expulsion of a fellow member occurs, but during such a potential turning point the group and its leader are quick to neutralize the danger with a newly tweaked group narrative. And so the abuse continues.
Dylan’s Author page ~ https://www.amazon.com/author/dylanmorrison