Tag Archives: experiential spirituality

Beware the false prophets!

“The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jeremiah 14:14

Organized religion arguably provides structure, meaning and community to many people battling with the struggles of life yet during these challenging times we are seeing a proliferation of “false prophets” capturing the minds of individuals with messages of  fear and guilt.

During my lifetime several good friends got caught in the web of religious sects, surrendering their lives including all their material assets to the group.

They would bombard me with enthusiasm of how their lives had been transformed by “the teacher” “priest” or “guru”. I would repeatedly be invited to attend a meeting and made to feel like losing out on something very important.

The common traits of the cult

Fundamentalist groups and cults of all persuasions share a common trait. They are tribally insulating,  separating the convert from all former friends, spouses, family and associates. Anyone not sharing the same belief structure is termed as a non-believer, or as the enemy.

After having made the enormous personal sacrifice of giving up an old life it is extremely difficult to escape. Few people have the courage to admit that they made a huge mistake by believing in an illusion. After all external ties have been severed the individual is at the mercy of the group in providing  a livelihood, food and shelter. The friend, son, daughter, spouse you once cherished as a carefree individual is bombarding you with quotes from the master. You will hear:  “But the guru said …”,it is the opinion of the guru that …” “the guru would not approve that …” “I would first have to ask the teacher if I can …”

At this point the friend or family member is far gone down the road of mind control, repeating the teachings of their leader like a recording device on automatic. They will find numerous excuses if you question the lavish lifestyle of the cult leader while the devotees are donating their last pennies. “Its all ultimately for a good cause,” they would say.

Decent and intelligent human beings are particularly vulnerable to the cult when they are going through a crisis of meaning or mental health challenge.  The “prophet” is the last straw of hope, seemingly offering the perfect recipe. What follows is the complete surrender of personal responsibility to the guru or belief structure of the cult.

The false promise of hope when people are vulnerable

We’ve had this phenomenon of “end times” during several historical cycles. During the Middle Ages most of Europe’s population was decimated by the bubonic plague. Science was at its infancy with the false prophets having easy play in convincing people that the deadly disease was God’s punishment for sinful ways. Persons not conforming to the shared belief were vigorously persecuted and often burned at the stake. The sins could be absolved by paying tithes. The higher the donation the “higher the likelihood” of having a good afterlife in paradise.

We falsely had assumed that humanity had become immune in the 21st-century to such crude preaching and the questioning of basic science. The messaging today comes in the guise of political parties with a charismatic figurehead and bearing all the hallmarks of the religious cult.  Several extremist parties in western democracies essentially are in the business of fear-mongering and xenophobia. They are supported by a billion dollar industry of alternative reality media stirring a cocktail of hate and negativity. The  first step toward authoritarian control is to dehumanize your opponent or the person with a different belief, culture or mindset.

Evil and delusion of the mind can always be identified by language of hate, disrespect for fellow human beings and blatant lies. Social friction points along race, gender and economic lines are over-emphasized. Division, dissent and chaos is sown by an “us against them” propaganda.

We are indeed living in dangerous times. A growing number of people are feeling left out and  stranded during rapid social and economic change. The uncertainty and fear is the feeding ground of the false prophets offering simple solutions for complex global problems.

The chosen few must commit to a strict code of conduct, belief and ritual.  

As human beings we make mistakes with feelings of guilt often deeply submerged in traumatic childhood experience. Self-esteem is shattered after a job loss or family break-up.  There is that underlying promise that by committing to the cult  those bad feelings will disappear. In reality the  guru will repeatedly stir the feelings of inferiority to maintain his stranglehold.

Protecting our vulnerable family members from the false prophet is no mean task. The groundwork is laid in strengthening self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love and a spiritual mindset based on common decency and respect.

Experiential spirituality is freed from the shackles of fundamentalist belief in the awareness that we are fallible and incomplete human beings, learning the lessons of life as we go along.

The truth is that there is no one-truth. God’s garden is made up of a multitude of plants, animals, cultures, religions and languages. The beauty and adventure of life lies in the individual exploration, the  opening of new doors and walking onward new paths of insight and knowledge accumulation in becoming of who we really are.

External belief systems have too often in the past been forcibly imposed, robbing the individual from essentially living a life of meaning, authenticity and soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out also the latest online courses for you to download and our retreats on the island of Majorca.

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Prayer or meditation?

There is sometimes confusion on the differences between prayer and meditation. It can mean the same thing but could have differences and meaning, depending on the individual or the faith.

The Oxford dictionary defines prayer as “the relating of the self or soul to God in trust, penitence, praise, petition, and purpose, either individually or corporately”.

In the biblical stories God is perceived as an external creator, deity, or strict father who punishes or rewards. Natural or personal catastrophes were perceived as punishment where penitence had to be sought or sacrifices had to be made.

The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages was primarily an act of penitence. Today the pilgrim to Santiago reflects many of the changes in the collective on the spiritual level.

Prayer is a direct conversation with the “universe”, “God,” or the “creator”. From a very early age my grandmother taught me how to pray. It was first a prayer for the well-being and protection of family members who were named by name, especially if they were going through a difficult time.

Praying for the well-being or healing of others is a way of transcending the ego and the direct needs of self. There have been events in my life where I even had angry conversations with God.

“Why did this have to happen to me?” “If you are out there why are you allowing such bad things in the world to happen.” It is something many people were asking after the 9/11 terror attacks. “Why does God allow evil? Why did he not prevent all those people from dying.”

In what is the eternal polarity of life there will always be good and evil. God has given man the freedom of choice. Where there is the evil of division, incitement of hatred, and destruction of life there is absence of God just as much as there is presence of God in unconditional love, compassion, kindness and generosity.

God cannot be explained. God can only be experienced.

In essence meditation is experiential spirituality. It is going into a quiet space and allowing God or the voice of the universe to whisper to the soul.

I have experienced the most intense spiritual experience just after some of those “flat on the ground” moments. On my second Camino pilgrimage walk I got hopelessly lost in the Pyrenees mountains during a massive thunderstorm. It was early May. I was badly prepared wearing summer hiking clothing at a time of year when subzero temperatures at night, often claimed the lives of hikers. After wandering about aimlessly in the dark for hours, close to the point of complete surrender, I noticed a light in the distance that finally led me to a village and safety.

When faced with a problem or having to make a difficult decision it helps to go into silence or to take a time out for introspection. The answer can come sometimes in the most unexpected of ways: A passing remark by a stranger, an image, a dream, a sudden thought or idea where you instantly know what needs to be done.

We are living at a time where the senses are being bombarded with distractions that pull the mind into the confusion of all directions. Meditation calms and centers the mind. There is no right or wrong on how to meditate.

One of the most popular forms is the mindfulness meditation originating from Buddhism. Attention is paid to breathing in the sitting position. When the mind inevitably starts wandering, attention is focused back to the breathing. In the Zen tradition everything can be meditation if done with awareness. There is a saying: When I eat I eat. When I talk I talk. When I walk, I walk. When I listen, I listen.

In the walking meditation every movement of the foot is connected to an inhaling and exhaling breath, while at the same time opening the senses to the surroundings in awareness of “presence.”

As you learn to meditate while sitting or walking you become aware of the importance of standing guard at the doorway of the mind. What you think you become.

Going into dialogue with that inner truth, whether in prayer or meditation, helps answer that age old question. Where do I come from? What am I doing? Where am I going.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

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“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina, Germany

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