[ I acknowledge my thanks to many ex-cult members who kindly shared their experience but for obvious reasons remains anonymous ]
After interacting with “entrepreneurs” ( those who do not call or do not like to call them petty or growing or established business owners, professionals, freelancers or by function – programmer, content writer, video editor) for some three years, I have detected some orientation of mind which borders on cult psychology. A brief summary :
I. Never graduates, an open ended becoming into a vague, fog-filled territory
Most of the entrepreneurs cannot say what or what measurements will be considered ‘graduation’, ‘success’, ‘finish line’ for their journey. The journey remains open-ended. I have seen the same with entrepreneurs running businesses from the range of INR 5 Lac to INR 25 crore.
Consider many cults : new entrants find near impossible but not clearly defined or verifiable goals – nirvana, freedom, eternal joy, zero exploitation system, eternal peace – an Utopia. The leaders constantly urge them to do more, push more and a guilt pervades inside the entrant : I need to do more. How can I relax now ? So many things need to be achieved… so many impossibles to be made possible.
II. Post-Human icons, examples, leaders, role-models : change the world
It is almost of the same probability to start a company and become like Steve Jobbs with that of landing into Bombay VT station and then becoming Shah Rukh Khan after a decade. But we always hear such talks – statistical miracles. Everyone is supposed to be now out in the morning to get the next great thing or that idea that will ‘change the world’
All hardcore cults, without exception drill into the recruit’s mind the overwhelming and urgent need to : change the world. Some recommend chanting, some recommend some breathing exercise, some recommend armed or non-violent struggle, some say that becoming vegetarian is the key, some say greenhouse gases, some say the ice in polar regions, some opine that putting some RFID inside each individual and as such. Without this motivation to ‘change the world’, human mind does not get sufficient traction.
III Environment control and closed social interactions – Us and They
Entrepreneurs tend to live within a controlled group and since they are out to change the world, there is a sense of superiority and subsequent : us and them divide. The world is now divided into two parts : Solution-provider or saviour and solution-buyer and user.
All cults create this divide : us and them. It is our duty to make each one like us or we reject or ignore them and for some people – use them. This usage goes in subtle and gross way. Many cults keep attrition away by brainwashing their members that the world outside is ‘full of vices’, ‘under mensch species”, ‘nasty’, “filled with demons”, “full of low energy people”.
IV. Suppressing the inner voice and common signals – Delusion as heroism
Reality still finds cracks and light shines into a world-view carefully created and sealed. Many entrepreneurs (as told by a blessed soul) are not happy doing what they do, they are neither motivated, they are irritated. General signals and their conclusions demand radical re-examination, even exit. But outside, the show goes on – the conditioned responses and actions and talks and the next great thing is just round the corner !
I know some ex-cult members whose mission was to make ‘the world a happier place”. Many after few years felt terribly unhappy inside and felt like running away. But they could not and in their closed group and with outsiders, they faked a ‘happy face’ with a crying heart inside. This kind of dissociation of personality will have attendant psychological disorders and dysfunction.
V. Sleep deprivation, Specific Food regiment, Sexual over (under) drive
Most of the entrepreneurs I have interacted with suffer from minor to major sleep deprivation. They also eat in a regimented and mechanical manner. Sexual life also gets affected. Now what these have to do with our subject ?It does. Read below.
Any influential cult, down the ages, will be observed to control three things of a biological person : sleep (wake up 4 am to do some work), food (eat some specific kind of food ), sexual abstinence or wanton indulgence. Why ? Because, controlling these things, a person becomes ready for brain-washing. In more direct way : his mind – the autonomy of the mind can be manipulated by more powerful group-mind. The result : doing away with all the autonomy and its attendant complexities of an individual person.
V. Learning, Learning, Learning …. the robotic urge to be programmed more and more
Entrepreneurs have a favourite word : learning. But it appears to me that many develop an insatiable appetite to learn (a kind of eating disorder for mind) – from conferences (paid), speakers (paid), seminars (paid), webinars (paid), talkathon (paid) and it goes on. They ask each other whether they did attend the last conference or not ? Most are paid ones and considerable learning-tax is paid. But just like lust feeds on its own appetite , learning hunger seems to increase and does not show any sign of waning.
Most of the famous cults have developed their wealth by either selling a mantra, book, literature, workshops, lectures, ideas, lifestyle (including sexual reticence or abandon), drugs, physio-mental experiences et el. This wealth is created by the army of salesmen (and women) who are members of the cult. An ex-cult member told me that when he had joined the cult with the objective of doing some service for the world. However, a few years down the lane, the objective of doing service gets shorted with selling the cult’s offerings to earn money. And – he was not clear whether the money such earned was spent in what manner !
An entrepreneur first goes to the first workshop / conference to learn something for the new journey. He listens to and then more hunger comes for advanced learning. Few years down the lane, he becomes a regular in all such ‘learning spaces’ and spends money and mixes with same group of regulars. His learning to apply and outgrow that part of learning seems to be shorted with the urge of learning more and more (and paying more and more) into an infinite open ended loop. See Point 1 above.
- I am not an entrepreneur – I am a business owner. I have started a business which I own – legally and emotionally but I am not a prisoner of it.
- The business needs to be run while respecting the laws of business and not by some fancy words and its attendant lifestyles.
- Big Idea is dangerous : it can kill you !
- All your iconic entrepreneurs did not care to become an entrepreneur or not. It is your (and group-mind’s) projection.
- Your life has a worth and autonomy independent of your achievements (or non-achievements) as an ‘entrepreneur.
- Penetrate through statistical miracles.
- Any life-destroying thing does not appear first with red flags but with an overabundance of good intentions, great ideals, super-human call to achievements and changing the world.
- Sleep well, enjoy your food, exchange human warmth and closeness. Your achievement is in the future – a kind of post-dated cheque but a good meal is realized cash ! Enjoy the grace and be thankful
- All movements, great or small, forces of history are programs or design – large and small and do not make them holy or glorious. Your icons may be a worse person – headed man to man with you.
- Do not ignore sho0ts of doubt in your mind : this may save you from greatest of catastrophes.