Why People Stay Involved

Trying to understand the why members of Miracle of Love stay involved in the group often becomes an increasing source of frustration and confusion for family and friends "on the outside." We have all heard the horror stories of Jonestown, David Koresh, Heaven’s Gate, etc; yet at the same time, most of us have a least one friend or acquaintance who is into meditation, self-help or some other non-traditional spiritual pursuit. How to make sense of where Miracle of Love falls in between? How to understand what attract people to a cult lifestyle and makes them stay?

One of the most important things to remember about the followers of any cult leader is that they are regular people from all walks of life who have been deceived. This is evident in Miracle of Love’s own website. If you read through the website content and even listen to the personal testimonials of members, you will notice that no specifics are ever given about daily life in the group. People speak in very general terms about “love and ecstasy,” about finding their “true self,” about “constant letting go” and “light and love.” No specifics are ever given about how membership in Miracle of Love looks on a daily basis, or how it affects marriages, child-rearing, family relationships, friendships, careers, financial stability or even health and well-being.

Despite that fact, most people do first decide to participate in a Miracle of Love Seminar because they want to improve areas of their life like their marriage, personal relationships, or even to deepen their spiritual connection. The Seminar is attractive to people in going through a period of transition (such as a graduation, new marriage or divorce), of self re-evaluation, or of seeking greater fulfillment and happiness in life. While these periods of self-reflection are a natural part of life, they are also a vulnerable part of life. When your path crosses the path of a cult during a time when you are feeling vulnerable and especially open to new ideas or experiences, you are more easily manipulated. Cults take advantage of this fact. It is not about kidnapping someone and brainwashing them; it is much more subtle and nuanced than that. It is about taking an open, vulnerable person, and slowly walking them step-by-step into a new belief system, while at the same time slowly isolating them from alternative perspectives and slowly asking that they give up more and more and more of themselves to the group.  This is the essence of thought reform.

For those that become involved with Miracle of Love, the story usually goes something like this:

  • You participate in a Miracle of Love Seminar and feel really good at the end.  You want more of this feeling, so you start attending more Miracle of Love events, such as weekly meditations.
  • A leader takes you under their wing and sets up a series of carrots and sticks.  You give to the group, and in return, you get some reward in the form of affection, praise, gifts, greater access to leadership, etc.  After each reward comes the next request for more giving, always with the promise of greater future reward.
  • At the same time, you are taught that an evil force exists called "the illusion" that doesn't want you have any more of the good feeling from your Seminar, or any of the other rewards the group can offer you.  The illusion is constantly working against you, and the only way to defeat the illusion is complete surrender to the group.  Once you surrender fully, you will feel like you did at the end of your Seminar all the time - you will find LOVE AND ECSTASY BEYOND YOUR COMPREHENSION. But beware, because the closer you get full surrender and endless love and ecstasy, the harder the illusion will work against you.
  • You start giving more and more to the group in hopes of soon reaching this full surrender and endless love and ecstasy.  As you give more and gain more access to leaders and inner workings of the group, you start to have doubts about what is really going on and whether it really has anything to do with God, love or ecstasy.  You are reminded that these doubts are just the illusion trying to stop you.
  • You continue giving, but the longer you stay, the more your doubts grow.  Additionally, you are asked to do things that contradict your values and personal boundaries.  You are reminded that the illusion will work harder to stop you the closer you get to full surrender.  Given how bad you feel and how strong your doubts are, you figure you must be getting REALLY CLOSE to the endless love and ecstasy, the feeling that will make all the hardship and sacrifice worth the price of admission.  You consider leaving the group, but what if you just give up this one last thing and then you will get the love and ecstasy beyond your comprehension?
  • This system of carrots and sticks continues for years, with the extravagance and inappropriateness of the requests increasing each step of the way, and the reality of the reward feeling ever more elusive. Finally, you do surrender and accept that carrots and sticks is how it is going to be for the rest of your life.  As it turns out, the love and ecstasy beyond your comprehension is so beyond your comprehension that it doesn't really look or feel like love most of the time.  OR, usually with the help of outside friends or family, you finally come to the conclusion that you don't have to buy into this belief system any more and you leave Miracle of Love.