One of the most popular programs in television history is "Star Trek." In its most recent incarnation the fierce "Klingons" are replaced with a new villain called the "Borg." The Borg is a "collective" of half-human, half-machine creatures, who have sacrificed their individual identity to live within a rigidly controlled environment and function as one mind focused upon universal domination.
The Borg is led by one distinct individual mind, which is cast as somewhat of a self-proclaimed Science Fiction "messiah." That mind alone actually directs their plans and defines their collective mindset. The Borg travel throughout space in search of new species to assimilate. Subsequently, those absorbed into their collective are labeled "liberated." The Borg mantra often chanted to targeted victims is--"Resistance is Futile--you will be assimilated."
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Though the Borg are only a fictional creation it is a chilling concept. The Borg "collective" can clearly be seen as analogous to many destructive cults. The intense process of cult indoctrination, which utilizes emotional and psychological manipulation--frequently culminates in "Borg" like assimilation. Cult members, like the Borg, give up much of their individual identity, autonomy and personality in exchange for identification with a "collective" and its mission. Cult members also frequently live within a rigidly controlled environment.
In modern society cult leaders are often considered "messiahs" and are certainly the spiritual masters and defining focus of their own group mindset. Believers within cults are most often working towards some planned goal (directed by their leader) centered upon a supposed principle of universal salvation, "liberation" or unification (e.g. Rev. Moon's Unification Church).
Cult leaders may at times be found on the fringes of society (e.g. Charles Manson), but wherever they are their "collectives" are always seeking new converts to assimilate--not to mention ego gratification for those in charge.
The charismatic leaders of destructive cults often create small isolated groups that may not produce the spectacular results achieved by Star Trek's fictional Borg. Instead, cult members are more likely to be disappointments to their driven leaders--who seem to feel they can never be good enough.
The leaders of cult collectives appear to crave absolute power. They are typically called "megalomaniacs" and/or "fanatics." Such men and women are most often fiercely driven and/or relentlessly focused upon some self-serving agenda. They seem to feed upon their followers who ultimately mirror a single mindset like clones--not unlike the Borg.
Cult leaders are the epicenter of their own universe--dominating each of its constellations. Those within this universe are effectively "absorbed" through the vortex of its own black hole. Thought Reform and coercive persuasion are the principle tools employed by destructive cult leaders to assimilate and process their victims through that vortex.
Thought Reform can clearly be seen within destructive cults through such things as a language dominated by thought terminating cliches and thought stopping techniques (e.g. through constant repetition, chanting and affirmations). Cult manipulation may include "meditation" or other exercises (e.g. "yoga") to induce trance states of altered consciousness. This also can be seen through repetitious songs and/or long droning speeches regarding the group's glorious past. Such repetition and affirmation can be arranged as a kind of rote emotional exercise, or ritual and may set the stage for the leader--whose audience of devotees is thus essentially mesmerized. Subsequently, they are more compliant, suggestible and complacent. Emotions and critical thinking can be so affected by this process that participants may then feel something collectively, which they believe is beyond mere human understanding and/or objective reality.
This power of suggestion employed by destructive cult leaders to affect change within their collectives is essentially the technology they use for assimilation. This power explains the hypnotic control that overwhelms many followers and absorbs them. In fact, hypnosis can be a foundational element/practice used to change the followers belief system and connection to objective reality. What the leader says becomes the only reality and this is often based upon subjective experiences achieved through trance and/or feelings suggested during such altered states of consciousness.
Because the power of suggestion implemented through mind control techniques is so difficult if not impossible to resist within the controlled environments (cult compounds and/or extreme isolation/regimentation) common amongst many destructive cults--"Resistance [can seem] Futile." Though this dark, but apt phrase often describes cult assimilation, devotees may instead perceive it as "peaceful penetration"--because many "swamis," "gurus" and "prophets" disguise these methods through a facade of holiness, meditation and misquoted and/or twisted scriptures.
Cult members become part of a collective and absorbed "Borg" like creatures. Destructive cults don't encourage their members to be unique autonomous individuals, but instead to be assimilated into the group's collective mindset--another converted soul ready to follow the leader without question. However, Conway and Seigleman, the authors of "Snapping." (i.e. sudden personality change) say, "This new state of mind has another name: happiness." Or, as "The Borg" would say, its members have been "liberated."
"Resistance is futile, assimilation is inevitable, do not resist, you will be liberated"! In my former neo-eastern mystical group our "guru" (i.e. Yogi Bhajan) gave lectures--his talks were full of contradictions and the hidden agenda of recruitment. But once inside things seemed so enticing. I heard within his lectures things that appeared similar to my own beliefs and so I felt comfortable. My defenses were thus brought down and I digested other more questionable instruction, which was mixed in amongst teachings that seemed harmless.
Please understand that no one in a controlled cult environment ever interrupts the "master" and says, “Is that right?" Or exclaims, "I never knew that! Can you explain what you mean so that I don't misunderstand what you are saying?" Individuals attend and only listen, collecting data--and so the programming begins.
In such a subculture "world within the world" people begin to build relationships in the collective. In my group we were encouraged to change ourselves to conform to others around us. But such change was accomplished gradually over a period of time in small increments--not all at once through one lecture.
Once I made new friends in the group I was drawn in even further--and those new friends constantly encouraged me forward in my process of indoctrination. In our group, newly involved initiates, attended an ever-increasing amount of lectures given by Yogi Bhajan. The more we heard, meditated and practiced his exercises ("yoga") and philosophy--the more it began to take hold through our "inner voice." The supposed goal of my old group (3HO/Sikh Dharma) was to "heal," "liberate" and facilitate whatever positive change a person sought (e.g. the three Hs of "3HO," which are "Healthy," "Happy" and "Holy" ).
The first step along 3HO's road to assimilation was convincing potential recruits that they must listen to Yogi Bhajan. If people were attentive their participation could then be increased gradually more and more. Once inside Bhajan's controlled environment--resistance was frequently futile.
Members of my group, through our eventual cloned attributes, tireless adoration, and slavish devotion to our leader and his mission--visibly demonstrated successful assimilation into Yogi Bhajan's universe. Bhajan became its central defining element and also the prototype for our collective. We, not unlike the fictional Borg, seemed to become half human--in our own dehumanizing process of assimilation--i.e. suppressing our personalities and individual identity for the supposed benefit of the collective and its mission.
Yogi Bhajan for us seemed half man and half "messiah." We believed that we were a superior people and the vanguard for "true Sikhism." But instead as I now look back on my many years with the "Sikh Dharma"/3HO I wonder--were we only Bhajan’s "Borg"?
Note: Terry MIchelle Kurtz (1952-2021), received her undergraduate degree from Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri and her Masters in Psychology from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. She worked with child protective services in Phoenix and was an advocate for those victimized by cults. Ms. Kurtz was also a yoga teacher and a former member of 3HO known as "Kartar Khalsa."
Copyright © 2000 Rick Ross