Thursday, March 15, 2007


I wrote a letter to a girl a few weeks ago, a friend of a friend, who hasn't answered me yet. My friend told me she'd been raised a Hare Krsna but is beginning to have serious doubts. Don't know how far her doubts have gone yet. Maybe my email pushed her over the edge into losing her beliefs. Something like that happened to me. Maybe she's not there yet and my email will only make her hostile, backtrack more fiercely into the beliefs she doesn't know she's losing. But I'm lonely for people who might understand me, might be able to identify with what moves me now, the specific hatreds I have.

See, everybody I see on the internet who's left Eck--I can't relate to them because they each made the choice to JOIN in the first place. I didn't get a choice. I was born with this. This was my only world until I left my parents' house as a free adult. I was raised and shaped to only this. I may be able to understand why somebody would join a cult, but I can't respect that kind of person. So I don't want to talk to any of those people. They leave Eck just seeing the surface BS, like maybe Twitchell's plagiarism, they decide it's a cult 'cause of that and maybe they join another cult, just with a more cleverly written central text.

I want to find a friend who feels the agony because she didn't have any choice, she was born into a cult, it was the only thing she knew, the only thing she'd been ruthlessly shaped to emptily accept as eternal infinite truth, her whole brain's capabilitites ruined in the process of that shaping and she nearly wasted a whole life in service to it, a cult, an empty souless organization with a dead founder, only existing because of the dumb inertia of the mass of bodies giving their lives to it.

I want so much to find somebody else out there who understands that who will talk to me.

And I want so much for one of my old friends from the cult to leave, to join me, to be my friend again but this time against the cult. I grew up with these cult kids, I felt closer to them than to anybody else. I loved them fiercely--as fiercely as I was then capable of, which wasn't much, really. And I still do love them. I see them on facebook and I want so much to go back to them, to be welcomed back into their circle of friendship--fun, easy, comfortable, safe.

But that's the great thing about a cult, hey?

The truth is, my best friend growing up in the cult, she DID leave. Left way before me. But she refuses to have contact with me. When I left the cult, I contacted her immediately. Actually, I tried to re-befriend her right after she left originally. I told her then that I didn't give a shit whether she was in Eck or not, she was my best friend. But she wouldn't answer my phone calls then, and she won't answer my emails now, not anything more than perfunctory I'm-well-I'm-in-college-studying-blahblah, not even when I specifically wrote her: I have left Eckankar, please, it is so important to me that you talk to me about this.

I think she won't talk to me because she's coping by trying to re-assimilate herself into normal society as completely as possible. That's what my little sister's doing. She just wants to be NORMAL. She doesn't want to think about what the cult did or did not do to her, she does not believe it and she wants it not to affect her.

Really, that's a better way to go, if I wanted revenge on the cult, if I wanted my life back. Because I have to admit that right now, everything I am comes back to Eckankar. I define myself as not in a cult or, as a thinker, which just means that I define myself as opposite of someone in a cult.

I can read latin, and I'm learning greek, and italian soon, maybe sanskrit next year, if my strength doesn't give out. I'm studying linguistics, and proto-indo-european culture-mythology-poetics. i'm studying literary theory and poetic theory and thinking about what a poem means to me, how you can trace what a poem is--from the origins of speech to the march issue of Poetry Magazine--and what a bizarre progression that is, and where are the leaps and gaps in it. i'm trying to cram as much of the world as i can into my head and i'm trying to spit it back out again with my identity on it. but you see, all of that is so frantically a part of me because i came so close to living a dead mental life as a member of an all-encompassing cult, and now, I must, I must train my brain, I must increase my capacities to reason and analyze and I must experience the world and then re-create my own vision of it on paper again for other people to see, and all of this is because i came so close to never doing any of that. Because I came so close to wasting my life in a cult.

So you see, all I am is still delimited by that cult. I still define myself by it. It will crush me until I die. My little sister, on the other hand, and that friend, they want clean out. I admire that. They will not give Eckankar the power to dictate their lives. They've merely slid away, calmly, gliding out to join the world without a ripple to betray the newness of their presence there. But me, I've got that cult gripped to me, tight, and I want to look at it in the eyes and murder it, and then I want to stand over the dead hulk and scream to the world that I killed the cult that tried to kill me.

I only ever feel relieved of this immense consuming frustration when I read Holocaust memoirs or horrible Siberian prison camp memoirs. Strange, that I would feel closest to Elie Wiesel or Imre Kertesz and Solzhnitsyn or maybe Dostoevsky?

I've only just this minute realized that this explains my fascination with these kinds of authors: that I feel strangely close to them. I'm obsessed with reading them, really.

I can only explain it to myself in that, maybe, I identify with the holocaust, with prison memoirs in general, because what I went through was a kind of total holocaust of the mind. Or maybe because, when stripped to such horrifyingly abject prison conditions, for the sake of survival, a person's mind and humanity is obliterated. Whatever it is, the mind makes us human. You lose that, in a Siberian prison camp, at 40 below, and a very slight jacket, and slighter cup of soup, and no end. And in a cult, you pray every day that you never become human, and you shun whatever you haven't yet been able to lose of your humanity.


jadepark said...

i bid you much courage in your journey--i imagine there is a lot of grieving as well as victories in your path.

tall penguin said...

Hi eva,

I noticed you post on my blog. Glad we have connected. I would be pleased to chat about our experiences. It is a truly unique thing to be raised in a cult. Most people haven't got a clue how it impacts every fiber of your being. It's all-pervasive.

I can relate to your affinity with Holocaust members. As a teen, I read just about anything I could get my hands on to read about the holocaust. I read many first-hand accounts. I found them inspiring and disturbing.

How one can find the will in such horrid circumstances as well as the shadowy minds of the people who perpetrated the holocaust. It is definitely a study in all that is right and and that is terribly wrong about being a human.

If you feel incline, send me an email through my blog and we can chat further.

tall penguin