Posts Tagged ‘Steven Hassan’

Applied Meditation

April 2, 2020

The exercises and meditation techniques to this point have been to enhance physical and mental health, and, of course, to build healthy memories. However, you should consider meditating to achieve other ends. Consider debating or having discussions to achieve a specific end. This can be especially difficult if you are trying to convince someone with contrary beliefs or opinions to your beliefs or opinions. Arguing one’s point straightaway is certain to fail, and it risks hardening your counterpart’s opinion against your opinion. Both parties suffer amygdala hijacks.

Perhaps it is most profitable to use the phrase “point of view.” To change someone’s opinions or beliefs, you need to understand these opinions or beliefs. When preparing for a debate it is important to understand, in detail, the positions and arguments underlying the opponent’s position. Meditation with the purpose of mindfulness can be effective, perhaps even necessary, to alter opinions or beliefs counter to one’s own beliefs.

Consider nonjudgmental meditation. The arguments and positions of your adversary need to be considered nonjudgmentally. This means considering these arguments and refraining from the strong temptation to counter arguments. You are trying to understand this adversary’s thinking and how his ideas hang together. There can be strong difficulty in doing so nonjudgmentally. It is unlikely that they will appear to make sense, but perhaps some components might make sense. At a minimum you want to shed your emotional responses to these ideas and logic. The hope is that you can find some agreed upon points and then try to proceed from there.

Remember the post on “The Cult of Trump.” The author, Steven Hassan, was a former member of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. In another words, he was a Moonie. He eventually freed himself from the mind control of this cult. He found inconsistencies in the Moonie teachings. They continued to grow until he was able of free himself from this cult.

From this experience he developed a skill in deprogramming cult followers. First he establishes empathy between himself and the cult follower. He has the cult follower explain his beliefs and listens patiently. When he finds an opening, which could be regarded as an inconsistency, he raises it and asks the cult follower what he thinks. If the cult follower does not have a problem with it, Hassan allows him to proceed. When he does find an inconsistency that the follower accepts, then he tries to build upon it. This is a very time consuming process.

So you should not expect that your meditating will immediately change your counterpart’s mind. Just be pleased if a cordial level of conversation has been achieved. Perhaps over time, there might be changes in the other’s beliefs. And, indeed, there might be some changes in your beliefs.

But hopefully, hostility has ended, and there have been some useful exchanges of information.

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The Cult of Trump

February 24, 2020

The Cult of Trump is the first part of a title of a highly pertinent book by Steven Hassan. The remainder of the title is A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control. He has written three previous books on cults: Combating Cult Mind Control, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leaving Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs.

What makes Hassan’s book especially compelling is that he is a former Moonie in Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. So he is a former true believer, one who is intimately knowledgeable and proficient in the mind control techniques expounded by the Reverend Moon and other cults. He managed to free himself from Reverend Moon’s mind control, and, as his books indicate, works in freeing others from these cults.

Before proceeding further, there is a need to justify the title of this post. Justification can be found in the followers of Trump, the most dangerous being the Republican Party, who refused to recognize the overwhelming evidence made in support of the impeachment amendments, and convict the worst president this country has ever suffered. It is a president who places the future of this constitutional democracy at risk.

The most obvious point is that Trump is no Republican in the traditional sense. Indeed, his candidacy has transformed the Grand Old Party into a monstrosity that ignores the Constitution and could well lead to a free country becoming a de facto authoritarian dictatorship.

What makes Hassan’s thesis so compelling is that Trump, and the Russians, are employing the same techniques used by the Reverend Moon and other cult leaders. Assertions are made, regardless of the truth, by Trump and blindly followed. His record of lies is truly astounding, but what is even more astounding is that people believe these lies.

“Thinking Fast and Slow” is a best selling book by Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman makes an important distinction between two types of mental processing. Not surprisingly, he names them System 1 and System 2. System 1 is our default mode of processing. It is the fast system we use for conversation and for mastered activities. This speed of processing comes at a cost. That cost is the thinking that is necessary to ascertain if a message is true or makes any sense. System 2 is what we commonly mean when we say, “let me think about that.”

Cults basically force their adherents not to think, to believe, and believe the assertions approved by the cult. Thinking is hard; believing is much easier. There is also a certainty in these beliefs so no thinking is necessary. Should there be any questions about what is true, it is what the cult leader, Trump, tells them to believe. Trump has repeatedly asserted that he is the source of truth and the only one to be believed.

Hassan goes into detail explaining how the same techniques are used by Trump that were used by the Moonies. He goes into detail about how Trump’s rallies follow the book of the Reverend Moon.

Hassan works to free cult followers from their cults and to think independently and critically. He explains how he broke himself from the Moonies. His technique was critical thinking. He was able to think of inconsistencies and how they indicated that the Moonie doctrine was a fraud. This took time and critical thinking.

Today he works deprogramming cult followers. This is slow painful work. Telling them that they are wrong does not work. First he needs to develop feelings of empathy with those he is trying to convert. He listens quietly as they expound upon their beliefs. Once empathy is established, he can raise points that are inconsistent with these beliefs. If the subject does not perceive the inconsistency, Hassan lets it go, until later another question can be raised.

Hassan argues that the cult member must convince himself that these inconsistencies are problematic. Only when he convinces himself, will he be able to leave the cult and transition back of a normal life.