The clip above is from a longer program about UFO cults that can be found in its entirety at the History Channel or You Tube. It gives just a flavor of what these cults are all about.
Recently I was sent a little video I won't be posting because it is a fine example of this sort of cult propaganda, and the clip is also a bit sickening and unsettling to watch. The person passing this around was very impressed. I was definitely not.
Over the years, I have noticed a few things about UFO cults myself, even before receiving that clip:
- A focus on transcending the body and getting beyond the earthly problems that come with embodiment. This may be done through energy work, 'ascension' teachings, bogus and incredibly confusing pseudoscience, psychic messages, 'higher' states of consciousness, other dimensions, other worlds, or whatever. The goal is always "get higher."
- An emphasis on fake nonstop happiness and bliss, the like of which you might also get from really good heroin, except in the latter case you'd be nodding off and drooling on yourself and people would be less likely to follow you around, except maybe to steal your stuff.
- A charismatic leader or two or three. Often this person emits a quality of light around the face that is mesmerizing and yet is more disturbing than comforting. Charles Mansion has this quality about his face and eyes, which I find both creepy and instructive. All that glisters is not gold.
- The idea that the universe is arranged hierarchically and that matter is the crudest, most 'corrupt' form of energy. 'Energy' is presented as better than matter. It's superior. More evolved.
- A conviction that the leaders have been chosen for a VERY SPECIAL MISSION AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT! This same pitch is often made on ordinary TV infomercials for vegetable choppers and hair removers and such, except that with the vegetable choppers you don't have to wear weird clothes and then kill yourself at some point to prove your absolute faith and devotion. You just have to agree to pay four installments of $29.95.
- A tendency to run down people who see things differently, even a little differently.
But I also think that ufology makes really bad religion.
You know, there's bad religion, and then there's really bad religion.
Ufology would be that second kind.
In general, I have long noticed two common extremes in response to experiences of aliens or UFOs, and I believe both of them are wrongheaded and disturbing.
At one extreme are debunkers who mock, ridicule, and harass experiencers into seeking out small groups or keeping quiet altogether. These people are just bullies, half of them aren't even scientists, and I honestly don't see the point in acting like a dick just because you personally think something seems weird or funny. What is up with that? Ugh. It's very self-involved and hostile.
At the other extreme are people who take their experiences SOOOOOO deadly seriously they fall off the edge of the earth and start founding their own wrongheaded religions based on the space Masters or whatever--I mean, make up anything here and insert your own dogma, and make sure you have lots of good graphics and lots of cool New Age clothing to wear while you expound upon your crackpot convictions in workshops.
Somewhere in the middle of these extremes is something really fascinating and worth contemplating that I spend enormous amounts of time researching, reading, writing, and thinking about.
That's the part I'm personally interested in--that middle area, that creative tension betwixt and between extremes.
Weirdly, that perspective puts me on the 'fringe' of ufology, puts me 'out there' with respect to others who consider these strange things, alienates me from self-proclaimed experts in both extreme camps.
Doesn't make me wrong though.
The life we have here is the only life we have. I have no desire whatsoever to transcend it. Nature is good. Bodies are good. Matter is great, especially when it involves chocolate or aparagus. (I love asparagus.)
Nobody feels good all the time. Life can be confusing, unpleasant, and unfair. Spiritual work can be painful and always requires great courage and honesty, and an ability to face pain and loss.
The spiritual life is not a fast path to happy land and never has been. It's a difficult, twisty path, and lots of people who embark upon it--Jesus being one notable example--suffer much and come to a difficult end.
These are my beliefs, such as they are. Tomorrow, they may well change.