Different words have different effects on different people. What inspires some may make others want to puke. The same words have subtley different meanings and associations for different people, and the language we habitually use effects the way we see the world.
While in a cult or religion, we use the language of their teachings to describe our spiritual experiences, and cult recovery experts say it’s helpful when recovering from a cult experience to re-evaluate and reframe our spiritual experiences using our own language. This helps us to claim those experiences for ourself, to see them as our own experience, not something dependent on the cult teachings.
Though we may find some of the cult terminology still useful, we will likely need to discard a lot – or all – of it because it lilely triggers a renewed sense of betrayal and cause flashbacks to traumatic memories for those who were directly abused. If we continue to use cult-speak without re-evaluating the language we were programed to use, are we still, to some degree, under the sway of the cult teachings?
In this video I also mention the problem that we also might have unknowingly – to some degree – manufactured an ‘experience’ to meet the expectations set up by the cult’s language. Or we may have assigned certain terms to experiences that may not have been the actual meaning of the terms, simply because we expected to have an experience we could label that way. I wonder how many of those now teaching in Rigpa who declare that abuse was a teaching for them dissociated in response to the trauma of being abused or watching abuse (which is an automatic self-preservation response to that kind of situation) and mistook that state for the ‘nature of mind’. If so, they’re now busy teaching others to make the same mistake! Sigh.
Are there any terms that you just can’t abide now because of their close association with your abusive lama?
For me, for instance, I refuse to use the word ‘karma’ now, especially given how it was used to enable the abuse, and I can’t use the term ‘rigpa’, for obvious reasons. I try not to use the ‘nature of mind’, preferring to use something like ‘essential awareness’ – not that it’s something I need or want to talk about much these days! I heard Jeff Brown use the term ‘unity consciousness’ recently and I thought that was quite good. Does that work for you?
If any of these questions of what I say in the video inspires a response, please share in the comments below.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay