March 29, 2024

How to Start A Cult

Motivational speaker in South Africa, Jacques de Villiers writes about starting a cult.

Jacques de Villiers – writing quest: Article 49/365

Millions of people believe that Charles Darwin coined the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” It was actually philosopher Herbet Spencer who coined it five years after reading Darwin’s Origin of Species.

What Darwin actually said was, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

So here we have two versions of the same concept, one based on truth and the other based on a falsehood.

Stephen Covey said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

Here’s the thing: many, if not all of us, base our entire value system on a false premise and spend our lives defending it.

If you agree with ‘survival of the fittest’, you’ll see life as a competition and try to keep as many resources for yourself as possible.

Someone like me might come along and take the ‘adaptable to change’ philosophy and add my own spin to it. Let’s say, “Those that are most adaptable to change and co-operate with one another survive.”

That’s not what Darwin said. But that’s my spin: co-operation. I go out and sell that, and if enough people buy into it, I’ve started a movement. Let’s call it the Co-operation Cult. But, it’s based on a false premise.

Look at the world today, it’s full of war (we are right). Every act of violence is based on the false premise that it is justifiable to take a life, making murderers of all who buy into that world-view. It looks like Herbert Spencer has won the day with his ‘survival of the fittest’ statement.

The trick is not to take a sentence in isolation and turn that into one’s world-view. In a sound bite world, it’s easy to do that, isn’t it, and swear it’s gospel?

Talking about gospel. Here are two contradictory versions from the same author.

Matthew 19:24: “I’ll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Matthew 25:29: “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

This has split the Christian movement into two distinct camps. One that believes that poverty, suffering and charity are the way to redemption.

And, the other (charismatic movement) preaches prosperity theology where financial blessings are always the will of God.

Who’s right? Confusing, isn’t it?

If I were mischievous, I’d say that all religions belong to the Cult of Confusion. They’re there to keep us on the back foot, playing on our shame, apathy, guilt, grief, pride and then throwing in a sprinkle of hope to keep us going just a little longer (and, to stop us from killing ourselves out of hopelessness). Someone has to keep the church, synagogue and mosque lights on, after all.

Good grief, I’m cynical this morning.

What’s the trick? Don’t take anything in isolation (a sentence) and turn it into an unwavering belief. Look at the whole picture. Use your intellect and become more discerning about what you believe. Be courageous and interrogate your beliefs (stories that have been told to you by people that are more confused than you). And, if they no longer serve you, drop them.

As always, I go to my man-crush, Carlos Castaneda: “Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do.” 

I belong to the Cult of Castaneda. And, for as long as I can remember, I believed that he really did spend time with a Yaqui shaman called Don Juan. By all accounts, this is a falsehood, and he used the character of Don Juan to spread his philosophy. 

There’s a piece of me that believes that he did actually spend time in Sonora, Mexico with the shaman. 

Like there’s a piece of me that believes in Ayn Rand’s objectivism philosophy where man is a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. 

Like there’s a piece of me that believes that there’s an unfathomable consciousness that allows you and me to play here for a brief time.

Like there’s a piece of me that believes that the Annunaki are real and that the Pleides (الثريا) are the star seed beings watching over us.

I clearly belong to the Cult of Confusion. All I know is that reality is not what it seems and that we can’t deal in absolutes, because there are none. If anything, at least I could probably hold an interesting conversation.

But one thing I’ll go to the grave believing is that gratitude and love are all we need. Now that’s a cult I can get behind.

Oh, and be circumspect of everything I have said in this text. I am, after all, the product of millions of falsehoods that I’ve chosen to believe. Just believe yourself. Your heart will tell you what’s right.

One Comment on “How to Start A Cult

Peter Harley
March 31, 2024 at 5:04 pm

Wow incredible read, you did it again Jacques!


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