Comments on “The toxic power dynamics of Oneness”

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Enjoyed this Dave. Thanks for

Matthew O'Connell 2015-04-10

Enjoyed this Dave. Thanks for summarising some wonderfully insightful points covering such an array of spirituality.
45–6 …is fascinating. I had never thought about it in that way. It perhaps explains why super spiritual folk can be so annoying and yet appear so ok with the world. They’ve renounced ambiguity, instability and change in the name of some abstract certainty. I admit to finding their behaviour infuriating at times; perhaps I’m just jealous though! Doubt sure can be crippling.
86/87 …is hilarious. I have long thought that sexually manipulative gurus are almost always failed male teenagers who probably didn’t get laid until they turned all holy and shit.
47 & 49 …are great reminders of why cults continue to function in spite of the readily available information out there unmasking their nonsense claims. The recent HBO doc on Scientology being a case in point. My first foray into Buddhism was with a Tibetan Gelug hybrid which has increasingly taken on the form of a cult over the years, the NKT, and they have many of the boxes from this list ticked like Scientology. These cults change lives and are often cancerous. They are out there though, making bold guarantees and so many promises and represent such a strong pull for so many folks. This raises further questions for me regarding the nature of groups, social commitments, shared goals and the making and sharing of meaning in social spheres. I wonder how possible it is to establish networks where the deep needs felt by so many can be met without forcing them to sign over their ability to think freely, exist autonomously and embrace ambiguity. Seems to me much of the issues you list from the book concern maturity, both on the part of the teacher and student. I agree and long have that Tantra as a model of human spirituality and modality of practice is likely a sane solution to many of these issues, but then you need sane people teaching it and also able to transcend the traditional forms that can cripple its ability to be relevant in the 21st century West.

Meaningness -- their words?

Sabio 2015-04-10

David, you said:

“However, they realized two things: such problems are partly due to common “spiritual” misunderstandings of meaningness;”

They didn’t use the word “meaningness”, did they? If not, how did they talk about (phrase) what you call “meaningness”?

Power dynamics and meaningness

David Chapman 2015-04-10

@ Matthew — Thanks for the comment! I agree with your points at the end.

@ Sabio — Unfortunately, I am traveling and don’t have the book with me, so I can’t check what wording they use. I would guess that they don’t refer to the topic as a whole, and/or not with a consistent term/phrase. I had to invent the word, because there seems not to be a standard one. I don’t know why; it’s weird.

How To Manual

Greg 2015-04-10

I swear, the stuff you write about is like a ‘how-to’ manual on creating a cult.

I’m no where near as learned as many people who comment, but your book, “Meaningness,” is one of the best things I’ve ever encountered. Both in a practical sense to embrace nebulosity and in the outlining of our endless search for meaning.

Really appreciate the effort to put it out there.

on reclaiming meaningness from religion

Kate Gowen 2015-04-10

”… Jung had written that all people need ideas and convictions that can give meaning to their lives and help them find their “place in the universe” (his phrase). He had written that we have the capacity to satisfy this need symbolically with a god image. He answered the interviewer by saying, “What I know is that all humans have a ‘god-capacity.’” That’s the tool. Our god-capacity.”

Old School Guru?

floodmouse 2015-04-12

This is a little off-topic, as it’s not a 20th century power-abusing guru, but a travelogue from Tibet . . . off-topic, but still a good read. I thought I’d share.

also off-topic, but a MUST-SEE

Kate Gowen 2015-05-05


Steve Alexander 2016-09-21

Funny… there’s a common word “meaninglessness” but an invented word “meaningness”.

I suppose it parallels “listlessness” vs “listness”, “gormlessness” vs “gormness”, and “homelessness” vs “homeness”.

So many underexplored concepts…


David Chapman 2016-09-21

Cute! I especially like “gormness.”

This page explains why I thought I had to invent a new word.

A Course in Miracles?

Sasha 2017-07-07

This is fantastic. Thank you.

I haven’t read A Course in Miracles, but had to look up summaries after reading this. It sounds like sickeningly sweet feel-good mythology with no basis other than one person’s “visions”. What if I have ‘visions’ that tell me something else, that the world is a horrorshow, for example, that it would be better to never have been born? (Just as some pleasant examples).

Apparently the “Course“‘s entire revelation was based on one person’s mystical experience that this world is an illusion.
Once you go down that skeptical rabbit-hole:
Isn’t it then possible that said mystical experience is also an illusion? (Thus maybe the spatio-temporal world is indeed real in a meaningful sense)?
That the proclaimed Oneness/God is also an illusion?
That perhaps the Oneness/God is not a Good Thing and not be followed, adhered to, succumbed to, identified with, or joined?

Perhaps there is a Meta-God having a good laugh at our expense.

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