Bad Cults Gone Good

The Kabbalah says that holiness can be found even in the most despicable and lowest places.

In Judaism, it says that Hashem/holiness can be found in even the most despicable and lowest of places. 

What I’m about to talk about may reflect that ideal.

I have always been against cults.

Of course, who wouldn’t be?

Honestly.

However, an interesting thing I’ve noticed about many cults is that usually they’ll have numerous Jewish people as members. 

The Hari Krishna cult is one of these, for example. 

While strolling through Union Square, I’ll be stopped by Hari Krishna worshippers a lot who’ll try to convert me.

They’ll even say the word, “Shalom,” in a nice way, thinking that’ll entice me.  When I ask how they know I’m Jewish, they’ll say something like, “A lot of us were Jewish once.” 

I’ve since spoken to many Jewish apostles of Hari Krishna who’ve tried to convince me to join them, always using different methods to get me into that religious sect, which obviously doesn’t work for me. 

I personally always end up feeling sorry and frustrated for those followers stuck in such cults, especially the Jewish adherents. 

They are so caught up in this brainwashed way of thinking. 

However, with all that said, something very interesting happened the other day. 

I spoke with this one Hari Krishna follower who basically told me his life’s story and how he used to behave in very dangerous ways. 

He did really hardcore drugs.

He had overdosed a number of times and nearly died.

His rich parents sent him to expensive rehab centers and hospitals, but nothing seemed to be working out.

Then, of course, according to him, what saved his life was attending the Hari Krishna cult.

I got very interested in what he had to say, so I asked more detailed questions about his background and lifestyle. 

He basically wakes up at 4:00 am and meditates for a couple of hours. 

He then has to work for, “Krishna,” whatever that means, and cook for the same, then go back to meditating. 

With all the nonsense he said, it was obvious to me that the person standing in front of me could have died easily, but was saved. 

And, yes, obviously it wasn’t “Krishna” who saved him, but maybe the religious organization and lifestyle it demands did. 

Maybe, sometimes, what it takes to be saved is to be brainwashed…severely brainwashed, if I may say.

If your life is in so much jeopardy from something like drug abuse, then perhaps to believe 100% in something, even in a rebellious, creative way will be what it takes to save it.

Maybe that’s what did it to for him. 

Maybe waking up to the smell of incense, and chanting the same thing 500 times is what had to happen, not rehab, or any other normal method.

How else would a person who was addicted to LSD like him be saved? 

If he hated life so much and thought everyone was out to get him, and had a naturally defiant mentality, then apparently the Hari Krishna cult conditioned him in a way that altered his whole way of thinking.

That’s what stopped him from doing drugs. 

By the way, I’ve heard the same story with other cults, not just Hari Krishna.

I’ve heard it said that people were supposedly “saved.”

I guess in certain specific situations, and for certain types of people, cults can work.

It’s weird how sometimes bad cults can actually do wonders. 

My teacher at school told us about an obviously bad therapist who did everything wrong with their patient; yet, the patient was still able to benefit and fully heal. 

She explained that even though the therapist did everything wrong, her methods happened to be the right thing for that specific individual. 

It really is amazing how the wrong thing for most people can be the right thing for someone else. 

I want to finish with this caveat, though.

Most of the time, cults like Hari Krishna end up ruining peoples lives. 

I knew someone who was stuck in that particular community.

To this day, they’re completely delusional and disconnected. 

About the Author
Anat Ghelber was born in Israel and moved to Texas when she was 13. She experienced anti-Semitism in public schools there. She moved to New York City when she was 20, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She started submitting articles to the Jewish Voice two years ago. In her free time enjoys writing poems. She's also a certified Yoga teacher with 200 hours of training who teaches in a donation-based studio called Yoga to the People in New York City.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments