Are you in a cult?

Are you in a cult?

Here’s the short answer: “You bet.” And, worse, it’s most likely an invisible cult!

Okay, you’re probably not a member of “a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre by the larger society”.

But you’re almost certainly a member in good standing of the Public Cult of the World, whose beliefs and practices are bizarre and abnormal by any objective healthy standard. After all, as the Dalai Lama has pointed out, in the Cult of the World you:

“…sacrifice your health in order to make money. Then you sacrifice money to recuperate your health. Then you are so anxious about the future that you don’t enjoy the present: the result being that you do not live in the present or the future; you live as if you are never going to die, and then you die having never really lived.”

It’s a totally crazy way to live, when you look directly at it! But among us members of the ubiquitous and invisible Cult, it seems the natural order of things, unremarkable and inevitable. The Cult reinforces and conceals a great many other unwritten rules, invisible beliefs and unexamined assumptions too. (One example: the Cult inculcates you day and night with the message that you’re a separate individual who must compete to “succeed” and build up a big, impressive ego-domain, or otherwise you’re a “failure”.)

Some of the Cult’s beliefs may be crazy (and make you miserable) but as soon as you start questioning them, you’re the one who’s risking madness. After all, you’d be departing from the Public Cult of the World’s “consensus reality” (which is what defines insanity).

One of the strictest rules of the Cult is the taboo against acknowledging that the Cult even exists. Thus, every day while you’re working hard and focusing intelligently on your priorities, you’re also being lulled back into being oblivious to the Cult and its bondage.

You’re being drawn into what consciousness researcher Charles Tart memorably dubbed “the Consensus Trance”.  He described it as “a state of partly suspended animation, of stupor, of inability to function at [y]our maximum level… [dominated by] automatic and conditioned patterns of perception, thinking, feeling and behaving...”

Is there any escape from the Cult? Sure, but here’s the paradox: to leave the Cult you’ll have to risk being seen as…joining a cult! The official Public Cult of the World won’t provide any support if you want to wake up from the consensus trance. And if you find someone who has in some sense awakened and who offers to help you wake up, or if you band together with others for mutual support in waking up from the trance so you can leave the Cult….now that’s when your family might start to ask “Hey, have you joined a cult”?

Maddeningly, your family (and critics) will probably be right! Most small groups, however healthy and intelligent their premises might be, readily develop “groupthink” dynamics that can easily become unhealthy, and even dangerously “cultic”.

And yet without support and teaching, you’re just going to be sucked back into the consensus trance and the mediocrity of the Public Cult of the World.

What to do?

Well, you can recognize that the consensus trance and the “programming” of the Cult is everywhere and that going in and out of trance is a constant, on-going process. As you do, it will become obvious that waking up from the trance needs to happen again and again, in many little moments of choice. This is what I mean by “practice” — that choice to live deliberately, to embrace a way of life that’s fully alive, always evolving, spontaneously in-the-moment, self-aware, humorous and free. (This is the core of the “Integral Spiritual Practice” I teach.)

From this perspective, yes, you’re in the big Cult, the one that keeps re-hypnotizing you back into the consensus trance. The point is this: you can “leave the cult” now—in this very moment. May you do so, and may you keep leaving it, by waking up! Again and again and again—every day, for the rest of your life.

To your practice and awakening and freedom,



and then freedom, or

and then freedom, or awakening becomes the 'cult' ... we never escape ...


I find the practice, and my experience exactly as it is described! In and out of the trance produced by both my own ego and the grand ego....the Matrix!
And with practice, (listening, developing my intuition, questioning, affirming, yoga, and meditation, among just a few ways...not to mention my sobriety!)... longer periods of wakefulness does occur. An easier, more accessible Joy and a generally more effective life. Effecting a cooperation with nature, people, really creating community. And a lot less angst! Quite the process, a detox of sorts from a commercial, detached, must achieve according god knows who's standards.
I've never entered a blog, I will say this topic and way it was articulated could not have been put better.
Thank you!!!



You are spot on. Thank you for the beautiful articulation.

Terry, I have to respond to

I have to respond to this. Great job. It's certainly more than a play on words, and also more than an ironic dig at the all-to-common mindset that cults are 'something other people get lost in.'


ha ha! Most of the people you are reaching probably are in cults. But your right. Society by and large is probably the strangest cult of all! Just look at how readily we mutilate our baby boy's genitals in the good ole' US of A.

"Emperor's fine clothes"

Great expose'...we are all so conditioned that we accept much of the insanity as "normal" and even desired!

Well said!

Well said!

resetting, over and again

the part of your message that I found particularly powerful was that we need to continue, over and over, to re-chose, re-set, re-awaken from the trance of "the cult."


You hit the nail on the head, Terry. Such an ironic situation...bless our little heads. I see how this cult-yoyo thing plays out in our individual lives as we negotiate surviving and thriving. Thanks for reeling this one in.

This is great. Thank you for

This is great. Thank you for putting this idea into such articulate wording. I am aware of this Public Cult of the World around me everywhere these days.

One obvious place is the "American Dream" cult. I guess we need to wake up from that one, since it's falling apart.

Also, I happen to be extremely aware of the invisible consensus trance when it comes to our society's "tradition" of breeding other sentient beings in order to kill them just to satisfy our palates. To me, it is such a bizarre, unexamined "normal" behavior.

Killing and eating

I have to say that I find the engine for survival, propagation, and evolution, i.e. killing and eating life forms, to be the only way nature came up with to cover the Earth with living creatures, including us. So like many other creatures, we are behaving naturally when we kill and eat many other life forms.

This is brutal to our sensitive minds, but to awakened mind, it is beautiful.

Since we are not carnivores,

Since we are not carnivores, we are not "behaving naturally" by killing and eating other sentient beings. Not too many humans are able to jump upon a cow's back and bring it down with their canine teeth.

Plants do quite well in keeping people living healthily.

You yourself say that eating other non-human animals is brutal and insensitive. It's just a matter of admitting to society's unexamined assumptions that eating other beings is necessary for our survival.

This is a good example of what Terry tells us about waking up from the trance. Just because everyone else is doing it, or because it's "just what our society does," is no reason to accept it as YOUR belief or practice. Don't be oblivious to your conditioning. Think for yourself. And if you decide that you want to be a part of the tremendous suffering that goes on to get a dead animal to your plate, then you can at least say you made that decision on your own, that you are not addicted to the taste of meat, and that you are not just following along, hypnotized by the consensus trance.

A beautiful dream.

Choosing to not kill to eat is also beautiful to the awakened mind. To judge, to decide what is good, and what is bad, keeps us in the human trance. To accept everything, love everything about our world and individual self, is the awakened self. The awakened mind knows no evil. Obviously, the human world no longer exists to the awakened mind, except as a dream. A beautiful dream.


Morality in all forms is a product of the human trance.
Loving acceptance of all is all the awakened mind knows.

look again

take a look at a pig-farm, or "enjoy" the smell of faeces and urine fogging the landscape - to the awakened mind: pretty darn disgusting. Meat-eating was a question of survival at times, but no longer is. See through the cult of meat-worship my dear friend...

What a great way to frame the

What a great way to frame the conventional! Thanks, Terry!


I followed your course 2 times last year. I was living a big change in my life and your practice supported me beyond words. Particularly your empathy and compassion. Today, "the cult" mentality seems so obvious and sad it's inspiring. Thanks for your courage,Pat


Hi Terry beautifully put, separateness is the major default setting. We must simply wake up, and stay awake!

Passed this on to my Facebook

Passed this on to my Facebook are so correct, Terry!! Thanks for sharing!

Social Cult

Yes, this social cult has cast me aside because of my awakening and attempt to awaken others. It is most interesting that they either don't want to awaken or don't dare. I am a castaway, happier than I have ever been and plan to take more than a few of them with me. :-)

Sad but true

As we raise the awareness our persecuted pioneers will be hereos.

Public Cult of the World

Is that you, Jesus?


Ha, Ha, Ha....
No not Jesus, just knowing that pioneers pay high prices and are necessary in escorting in any change.
Thanks for the laugh!!

This is terrific! Well said

This is terrific! Well said and so right on. Thank you for sending this along.

Yes, Devhack , it is. Glad

Yes, Devhack , it is. Glad someone else recognised that voice. The voice that speaks sense and reminds us of what sanity really means.

waking up

... and here I thought I only had to WAKE UP and I would be awake. Silly me. You've proffered a delightful challenge. I'll take the humorous as my wake up call. Thank you.

very articulate however

While I appreciate your clear and deeply insightful articulation of the situation we are in, I also recognize that you are presenting an alternative that is just as inauthentic. People need to discover the source of what has them act according to what works rather than be offered a practice or course that just adds to the already conceptualized version of what is not a concept....who we are and life as it is actually lived. I dare you to not edit this post out of the blog. I have been working with people for 40 years, many of whom are in prison and have found that the idea that reality is a spiritual matter is absurd, what is so need not be presented as some mystical dynamic. People need simple straight talk about how who they are is wonderful and unnoticed due to the ongoing notion of putting legs on a snake as Watts said.

Bingo Terry !!

Thank you for the proper "Cult" labeling. I had realized and spoken about the "Lemming Beings" most of our population have become. The word cult definitely puts it into a more accurate light, and light is what they don't want. "Here comes the sun!"
Moving right along with understanding in my heart and a skip in my step.

Dr. P

I have to ask you if what has been done over the last 40 years is working, or just boosting the #'s and ostracizing prisoners even further? Is it working or serving the cult?


Loved your blog post Terry. Very well said. As an Ericksonian hypnotherapist I often approach my task as one of "DE-hypnotizing" rather than hypnotizing. That our task is to Wake up from the trances we live in everyday. In fact, I think Tart's book you referenced is titled "Waking Up."

Are you in a cult?

Yes, echoing others, I found it a wonderful play on words and yes, choice is what all consciousness is about. Thanks for the delicious share. Many Blessings, Chris

Clever sheep

The biggest challenge we have is not population growth or global warming or a broken financial system or resource depletion or pollution or species extictions or peak oil... The biggest challenge is our inability to take on board information that doesn't fit with our core beliefs. Those core beliefs come from the consensus view of our culture (= cult) as you say. Great article.
In my more cynical moments I feel the species does not warrant the name homo sapiens - perhaps more appropriate is ovis callidus (clever sheep).

Hats off to you David Allan

The only change I would make is "inability and unwillingness", because I do believe that, in most cases, it is a conscious decision.
VERY well said!

Well written!

You've hit the nail on the head. This is a question that I asked many teachers about, to no avail. I have called this "ping ponging", "walking between the worlds" and have felt as if I were straddling a crack that gets wider and wider, until I had to make a choice. The choice I want to make would also be the choice that would distance me from friends and family. Friends I am okay with because as your vibration changes, you attract new friends. But family is harder. Family and spouses do not want to accept the new you. But awakening is a process, not an end point, and so we have to forgive ourselves for these returns to the land of ego and separateness. The nice thing is, the further along the path you go, the quicker you realize that you slipped (again)! So thanks again for this eloquent description. We are not alone!


Another Yyeeesss ! thank u for the big laugh smiles to u
We are creatures CREATING in and out from the invisible inside out !
Exquisite reflections
Sitting by the WELL that mirrors so well!

I wonder.

Is being in this cult like falling asleep into a dream while forgetting to remain lucid? If you can fly you must after all be doing something illegal.


Being in a cult is wondering and talking too much about the"n on-sense flying around that could be illegal not the flying

Precisely Sam!

Many in the cult are flying at others expense and it is illegal. My reflection of being in a cult is to being a voluntary slave and thinking that you have no choices, that you must comply because it serves the few but not you. Please refer to original article, it hit it directly on the head.

the cult of the world

I've often thought along these lines over the past years, especially when my "wusband" declared that one of the teachers we both listened to was a cult leader and wanted to "go back" to the world, and that he "couldn't trust me" if I did not declare I was "against" this teacher...I felt I had not left the world, nor had I "joined" the group around the leader...I had found what I found when I needed it and everything evolved from thing I "knew" was the influences of the (cult of the) world are just as powerful as the are options the world presents suggest separation, and the necessity to choose. I can love someone without hanging out with them. Not hanging out with someone doesn't mean I do not choose them or do not love them. Listening to someone does not mean I am taking on what they are saying. Not listening does not always mean I am not interested... There are so many "containers" I create that are like big bowls full of assumptions, with varying levels of intention. Any containers I make put me in a cult; they separate this from that. The only thing I "know" that is not a cult is awareness. Until I expand my awareness to include infinity... I guess I will still be in a cult!

Wow! Nicole!!

I love your comment! AND your conclusion that awareness is not a cult. My thought is that awareness is limitless and a drop is infinity because there are no boundaries, unless we create them. I am wondering if it could it be that being aware of your awareness already includes infinity? I guess the question would be: Are we willing to release our containers and be liberated?

What LU Visitor said

Ooooo...juicy, juicy!

My experience is that MY awareness IS limited (so far) blocks, tangles... I experience that I expand/gain deeper awareness by looking into where I sense hurt/tension/pain/confusion/irritation...(etc!)...and when I feel the hurt, it dissolves and I become aware of what is "under" it...sometimes that is another variety of I sit with that...and eventually my awareness (in that particular direction) expands to what I experience as "the truth"...that I AM, and one with all :)

In answer to your question...O YA!!! While at the same time, I notice that some of the "edges/boundaries" of containers ARE actually "real"... rivers have to have edges to be rivers. "I" have natural boundaries...the edges of my physical body, the end of my rope :) ... and if I honour boundaries in all forms, they seem to "let me know" when a boundary is natural/real...or illusory/healable...and maybe it will turn out that they all are...?!


Amen! Thanks so much for this articulation and expression. I was thinking the other day that we have conditioner (for hair treatment), but what we really need is de-conditioner. I'm sure I'm not the first person to formulate this pun-thought. We are so incredibly conditioned by the collective cult. Time to find our own voice!

Bingo Bethany

Hair conditioners are to improve the essence of our hair. The conditioning of society through schools, business and even family has been for fear and self preservation; sort of a circle the wagons and serve the leader mentality. It 'conditions' us! It does not serve long term needs of flowing with the living world we are in. Out of fear, it protects old ways that are working less and less efficient right before our very eyes, and yet we are required to comply for be ejected. It seems to me that we need to change 'CONDITIONERS'!!!!! How about a conditioner that revitalizes and brings out highlights of our intelligence and creativity? Wahoo!!!! Thank you for the mind candy Bethany!!! (sorry for the rant, but I feel a whole lot better. :-) )

The Birth of Pleasure

We need to rant. It's called owning our voice. I am finally discovering my own voice. Like many (most?) people, my voice was conditioned out of me from day one. Time to express! I appreciate your expression.

I highly recommend the book "The Birth of Pleasure" by Carol Gilligan -- this book is an excellent articulation (explanation) of how patriarchy has ruled, damaging both women and men. I can't say enough about this book. It is so well-written. A gem.

Thanks for the recommendation Bethany

I welcome your book recommendation and will check it out.
Swishing you the best,

Awaken: again and again

Do not miss the point here. If we are suggesting that a sector of society needs to awaken from a cult or that we did awaken from our previously closed tribal cult, from what personal vantage cult are we pointing from.

Back to me, right now, what presently do I need to awaken again and again from ... not them, me, what cult do I belong to that even suggests that someone else must awaken, or even that I must.

And on, and on, back to me again and again..

Enjoy the ride.

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