Open-minded. Defined as “willing to consider new ideas; unprejudiced.” Synonyms include approachable, impartial, observant, and tolerant.
Sounds good, right?
Well, I’d consider myself open-minded these days. I do a lot of impartial observing. And I think I’m pretty approachable—at least I hope I am!
But when I was a Scientologist, being open-minded was a mortal sin. If you’re an “open-minded” Scientologist, you’ll get into some serious trouble with the Ethics Officer.
Scientology considers anything that’s not Scientology “other practices.” This includes things like meditation and yoga. If you do ANYTHING other than Scientology, you’re doomed—you’ll never achieve spiritual freedom. Because, of course (duh!), only Scientology can accomplish that.
That’s right. You can’t be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or any other religion and be a Scientologist—no matter what their PR-filled website tells you. Here’s how L. Ron Hubbard himself put it in the policy called “Keeping Scientology Working”:
“When somebody enrolls, consider he or she has joined up for the duration of the universe—never permit an ‘open-minded’ approach. If they’re going to quit let them quit fast. If they enrolled, they’re aboard, and if they’re aboard, they’re here on the same terms as the rest of us—win or die in the attempt.”L. Ron Hubbard
Spiritual betrayal is a bitch.
As a Scientologist, you’re not allowed to look at anything else. I mean, you’re not physically prohibited from looking (unless you’re in the Sea Org, of course). But if you choose to look at anything that’s not pro-Scientology, you’re in for a world of hurt.
That’s because Scientology is a totalitarian regime. It’s a cult.
Of course, you are free to believe what you choose about Scientology, and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to think. (But you know… it’s a cult.)
Janja Lalich, in her book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, talks about a cult as a self-sealing system:
A self-sealing system is one that is closed in on itself, allowing no consideration of disconfirming evidence or alternative points of view. In the extreme, a self-sealed group is exclusive and its belief system is all inclusive, in the sense that it provides answers to everything. Typically the quest of such groups is to attain a far-reaching ideal. However, a loss of sense of self is all too often the by-product of that quest.”
When you leave this type of self-sealing system, it can take a long time to come to terms with the spiritual betrayal. It certainly was for me. Janja Lalich describes it this way (the bold highlights are mine):
For many, the capacity to trust that special part of themselves-the altruistic, loving, and optimistic core-is shattered, sometimes forever. This part is often the last to heal. Redefining beliefs, values, and spirituality or personal philosophy is a process that takes time and determination. Some former members resume their precult beliefs or return to the religion or worldview of their upbringing, while others develop a deep cynicism and distrust for any belief system whatsoever.
…Whether your experience was religious or secular, your realization that an enormous betrayal has taken place may cause you considerable pain. In response, you may now tend to reject all forms of belief. It can take many years to overcome your disillusionment and learn not only to trust your inner self but also to believe in something again.
I can’t tell you how much these passages resonate with me each time I read them. The spiritual betrayal was so immense that it took 13 years before I could even dip my toe into that pond again.
But I did. Then I waded in. Now I’m swimming along, and it’s glorious.
Wading into the open-minded water
So, how did I go from not wanting to look at ANYTHING related to spirituality for 13 years to now being my open-minded, accepting, loving self?
It took some doing.
First, I had to decompress and understand what happened to me. So I read every cult-related book I could find—both books about cults and memoirs from cult survivors. And I watched cult-related shows, of course.
Then, when I was strong enough to confront the stuff I absolutely didn’t want to deal with, I started writing this blog in late 2019.
Through sharing my story, I began to heal. The more I healed, the more I was willing to look at my past and learn from it.
I wanted to understand the parts of Scientology that rang true, so I could figure out what would have kept me there for so long.
So I dipped my toe into reading non-culty things. I began with Brené Brown. Then I waded into Glennon Doyle, Elizabeth Gilbert, and the like. And it went on from there.
Soon I was swimming in the deep end, reading all kinds of books that you’d probably consider too “woo” for an ex-cultie like me. But I’ve found so much wisdom in them. And they help me unpack the truth from the lies.
Bring on the crystals and the sound healing!
As an example of how my newfound open-mindedness has helped me, let’s take this excerpt from the book Transurfing in 78 Days by Vadim Zeland (I know, woo city):
Give yourself permission to be yourself, and allow others to do the same. Giving yourself permission to be yourself means accepting yourself, warts and all. Allowing others to be themselves means withdrawing the expectations you project onto them. This universal rule gives you the chance to ﬁnd inner freedom and wave goodbye to all sorts of problems that may have plagued your life.
WHAT? Give myself permission to be MYSELF? Allow others to be THEMSELVES? Preposterous! But wait! There’s more:
When you hear a different opinion, don’t be in too much of a hurry to enter into debate. If you think someone is going about something in the wrong way, let them. People take their own initiative. Allow them to realise their intentions.
These were mind-blowing quotes for me because I was taught the exact opposite as a Scientologist. Being myself was not the goal at all—although the literature would have you believe otherwise. No, being a good Scientologist was the goal. I was expected to make everyone else a Scientologist because that was the only way they would survive. So, this concept of staying in my own lane and letting others do what they’re doing in life without interfering opened up a whole new world.
That’s just one example of many. And why it’s so much fun for me to be diving into all this.
As a Scientologist, I couldn’t look at anything but Scientology teachings. Now, I read EVERYTHING. All the ideas, all the differing opinions. I want it all.
But I’m still a bit of a cult nerd—okay a TOTAL cult nerd. However, I listen to all types of podcasts. A few of my favorites are Scientology Fair Game Podcast (of course), A Little Bit Culty, IndoctriNation, Conspirituality, Sounds Like a Cult, We Can Do Hard Things, Unlocking Us, and Illumination Podcast.
So, with all this woo-ness, how can I be sure I’m not getting sucked into a cult again?
Here’s how I know I’m on the right track.
You may think, from reading this, that I’m headed down a woo-hole of no return.
But that’s not the case. I’m the best I’ve ever been.
Why? Because the more I study the ins and outs of indoctrination and coercive control, the freer I get. I have an automatic “cult filter” that I use when looking at any group, teacher, or mentor. And it serves me well.
Plus, the more I learn, the more I understand that the only one to look to for answers is ME.
I’ve had the answers all along. I just didn’t trust myself.
And by the way, YOU have the answers too. (I know, I’m woo-ing out again.)
Here’s how I know I’m on the right track: My business is growing consistently, and I have new successes every day. I have little to no stress in my life. My relationships just keep improving. Life is beautiful.
So yeah, I’ll keep going in this direction. I’ll keep reading, meditating, and studying everything under the sun, moon, and stars with an open mind.
I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT. Well, I’m not so sure about the tarot cards and psychic readings, but that’s just me. I have a lot of friends who love that stuff, and I say more power to them.
However, there’s one caveat: Don’t invite me to your church any time soon. I fully support your choices… and I’m not about to step into any organized religion. Just my triggers talking here.
So yes, I’m open-minded, and so happy to be this way.
And THAT is freedom.
One thought on “Being open-minded isn’t a bad thing. Who knew?”
Great article Anne. So happy you are finding you and loving the journey!