Go read this: it’s fun. It’s a handy (but not dandy, sadly) checklist to help figure out if you’ve joined a cult, more specifically whether the person in charge of the cult is a false guru. Joining anything, let alone a spiritual movements, isn’t in TotD’s nature: I try to empathize with people who have been suckered into these things, keeping in mind that when folks are in a low and sad place they are susceptible to pernicious ideas, but I can never help thinking that they should have just gotten themselves a substance abuse problem like a rational person.
Leading cults is one of the options available to charismatic male sociopaths; others become lead singers of rock bands. Now, I’m sure there have been some lady cult leaders, but there were also some lady cowboys and lady pirates: this is mostly a bro gig, and a good deal of the reason is that guys start cults to get female followers so they can have sex with them. There’s also the money and the having people pay attention to your bullshit, but a big part of starting a cult is getting laid.
The leader is what makes it a cult: it’s all about one guy. Communes are about, obviously, the community; and organizations are about the goal (make money, go to space, whatever); and political parties are about the positions: Families are about love, hopefully, but the Family was about Manson. (How is it possible the Dead never crossed paths with Charlie? Seems like they would have traveled in the same circles, and they managed to run into every other whackadoodle in the Sixties.)
Anyway, if you don’t want to click over there, I’ll tell you some of the items on the list.
HOW DO SPOT A CULT LEADER?
Look for clues. Were you informed it was a cult? If they told you right upfront, then that’s the surest way of knowing you’ve joined cult. Is the word “cult” mentioned prominently in brochure? Is the group called Glenn’s Cult? Are you in an all-cult softball league?
Does the leader tell you how enlightened he is? That is a sign right there. It’s like bragging about your IQ or calling yourself classy. If there were two people in front of me and asked me which one had the Buddha nature, and one said he was enlightened and the other burned down an orphanage, I would pick the arsonist; he may have teaching a lesson in the traditional Buddhist way: violently. The other guy is just a douche.
Where’s he from? This is not some sort of cult leader extreme vetting: a good cult leader can come from any stock. What I mean is that you should pat attention to whether the guy’s affect matches his upbringing. White dude from Sheboygan in a turban dropping random Hindi into his lectures? Run. (Good advice in general: white people pretend to be a lot of things, but a white guy pretending to be from India is only after your money. The white guy pretending to be from Japan may have just taken too many karate classes.)
Is he fucking everything in sight constantly? Not everyone who fucks everything in sight constantly is a cult leader, but every cult leader fucks everything in sight constantly.
Where’s your wallet? Sometimes they stop fucking to steal your wallet.