By Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani
No part of this article may be copied or reproduced
without my written permission. BUT, you may print this
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In 1997 there was a mass suicide in California by cult members of a group called Heaven's Gate. They believed they were going to be taken up to heaven by a big UFO that had been trailing the comet Hale-Bopp. Many of you might recall another mass suicide known as the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. And this past year 2009 several people died and others were injured from neglect and cooersion while participating in a sweat lodge ceremony, and one woman committed suicide - the events were created by and led by James Arthur Ray (of "The Secret").
A notice to anybody who is interested in going to a sweat lodge ceremony. Do NOT stay in there longer than 15 minutes, and do not fast before going into one. If you have a heart or thyroid condition, or any other condition that cannot tolerate intense heat or increased heart rate or blood pressure, do not do the sweat. Check with your doctor before you do a sweat lodge ceremony, and always, always, always trust your own body as a guide. Be sure you always have fresh water to drink and fresh air while in a sweat lodge. If you don't feel well, then get out of the lodge. Don't risk an imbalance in your electrolytes. Do NOT do the sweat naked, NEVER sit on the ground naked, and sex is not part of a sweat lodge ceremony. You do NOT have to pay thousands of dollars to do a sweat lodge ceremony. Be smart, listen to your body and your feelings, and don't let anybody force you into anything that doesn't feel right.
There are also a few other groups, some calling themselves a religion (and yet, where's the proof of that?) --- I think they're cults --- that have been around for the past 40 years that still influence people today: Taking their money, using them as slaves, even hostages, controlling their every move, thought and relationships.
I know people want a magic spell, a quick fix, instant fame, and many things that by joining this or that it will get them there. It doesn't work that way. I give you James Ray as a perfect example: even he didn't live what he preached about being healthy and attracting wealth. He's been in jail and he's broke. And if you had objectively observed the internet phenomenon of how he tried to lure people into reading the manuscript for the book, you would have been ahead of the game and sickened by it. That was warning sign number 1 of something being really off with what this man was doing. Unfortuantely, he preyed upon ignorant people - those wanting to have the easy answer, someone to tell them the great secret, and they were suckered in. Warning sign number 2: By the way, anyone who read the manuscript online before it was released for sale as a book, could NOT tell anyone who had not read it what was in it. It was their little controlled secret. True and real spiritual growth is a process and it takes time, inner work, and real honesty, integrity, responsibility, and authenticity. It's not a secret, and certainly not a secret reserved for only an elite group. It's available to everybody.
These horrific events that occurred in these so-called self-help programs present us with important issues regarding spirituality and metaphysicianship, as well as determining what is responsible metaphysicianship. What happened in these cults brings me to address the importance of not simply combining all spirituality, practicing channels, metaphysicians, etc., into one group and over-simplifying or generalizing. There area few similarities and there are huge differences between them.
Similarities include the desire to connect more with a source, whatever you call it (God, Goddess, All That Is), expand one's knowingness, feel more love, communicate with entities for a variety of reasons (either for helping humans or helping the entities), and to discover more of who we all are. How each person goes about doing that is unique, however many choose to join groups or classes for support, education, experience.
The differences occur in how one is educated and trained as a metaphysician, and how a metaphysician teaches others. There are different schools of thought and practice, but, (as you know the saying) the proof is in the pudding. What are the results of the training? How does a person function during and after their involvement with such groups? How can one remain connected to God (which is within each person - not separate or outside), perhaps communicate with entities, remain grounded and not denying the human experience, discover more of who we are and create the reality we wish to have, and yet be responsible and use the knowledge causing harm to none?
How do we know if we are being a responsible metaphysician, or if we've given up our power and been taken in by a cult? First let's discuss responsibility, which is the ability to respond. Self-responsibility is the ability to respond to one's self, which means respecting our own essence, our passion, creativity, intelligence, having compassion, trust and being more conscious of our Self, how and why we create. Self-responsibility means we're not playing victim, that we're not in denial of who we are and what we feel, think, say, or do. Self-responsibility means knowing that we are in charge of our own life, we are clear about our intentions and do not give our power away to anybody.
Through self-evaluation, perhaps with the help of the following list, anybody, including metaphysicians, can be even clearer as to their own practices and if they are healthy or harmful. I herein offer you some important questions for your own evaluation that can help you clarify where you are in your own metaphysicianship:
1. Are you connecting with the source within you and gaining more self-empowerment, self-responsibility, clarity, love and compassion?
2. Are you discerning about the information you receive or the entities you allow yourself to connect with, and have these sources been consistently accurate?
3. Are you looking at what you receive objectively and seeing if and how the information can/may work for you?
4. Do you feel safe? With yourself? With the group? With the group leader? Is there access to professional emergency medical care, if necessary?
5. Are you trusting in your inner knowingness rather than giving your power away to others, no matter who they may be, even if they tell you it's for your own good (as if they know you better than you know yourself) - and being open to all points of view -ex., "deities", extraterrestrials, authority figures, etc?
6. Are you still connected and experiencing your humanness - receiving all you can, using all you are and have (your body, your mind, your creativity) without denying them or your personal human experience?
7. Can you use your 'spiritual knowledge' in a practical way?
8. Are you able to maintain, or change, create relationships with people by your own free will and without isolating yourself? Are people free to visit you?
9. As a result of your spirituality do you feel freer, happier, and more grounded and centered, with less fear and less need to control others?
10. Do you live with the knowledge that all beings are equal - no one is superior?
11. Do you realize that your spirituality, your life, is your own creation and that you have choices to change what doesn't serve you?
12. Are you able to look at different parts of yourself, acknowledge and integrate these parts and work with them instead of avoiding or denying them?
13. Is the leader of your class or group properly trained, and by whom? What are their credentials and track record? Recommendations by people you trust?
14. Is a carrot always being dangled in front of you, telling you that you MUST buy more of a product or service, keeping you hooked without an end in sight? A real metaphysician will NOT do this.
15. Are you maintaining your individuality and living autonomously?
As is clearly seen by reviewing this list of questions, responsible spirituality is individual but can be shared - not controlled, not forced, nor manipulated. It is not co-dependent or dictated solely by outside forces. It is an inside job - your own. You know are the master of your own life and yet your ego is balanced. You are free - to have any relationship you want to, you can come and go as you please, you can openly question and disagree. The tools you use and the knowledge and wisdom you hopefully gain through your spirituality only builds more self-confidence, empowerment, compassion, autonomy and joy. You know spirituality and physical reality need to co-exist to be a balanced human being. You do not forget that you are here to experience and enjoy the divine human condition and not to escape from it. There are no saviors but yourself.
© Copyright 1997, 2002, 2010, Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani