See people as subjects with volition, not objects for indoctrination
Some people hesitate to embark on a spiritual search because they fear that they may unwittingly end up in cults that brainwash people.
Their fears are justified because some pseudo-religious organizations do indeed see people as objects to be indoctrinated. This methodology of indoctrination is not reserved to cults, however; it is very much mainstream. Consider, for example, the advertising industry which pumps millions to manipulate people’s beliefs. Ads often make people believe that they absolutely need things they don’t need at all. Thus, just by participating in mainstream materialistic society, we become targets of manipulative propaganda.
So, we can’t protect ourselves from brainwashing by neglecting the spiritual search – we need to instead search for a spiritual worldview that celebrates our individuality and independence. Gita wisdom offers such a worldview. It declares that we all are at our core irreducible spiritual beings with inalienable free will. And it concludes (18.63) with a direct acknowledgement of human independence and an appeal to human intelligence: Deliberate and do as you wish.
The Gita concludes with a call for surrender. Does that call amount to brainwashing? Not at all. It asks us to surrender with intelligence, not surrender our intelligence. It addresses our intelligence to explain how surrender expresses our love for Krishna and enables us to relish his love for us. And even while serving Krishna in a surrendered mood, we still use our intelligence to decide how to serve him best.
Surrender with intelligence is demonstrated by Arjuna when he agrees to do Krishna’s will (18.73). He states that his doubts have been removed and his intelligence has been restored. This implies that the Gita’s message, far from brainwashing him, has re-equipped him with intelligence.
By similarly empowering our intelligence, Gita wisdom can protect us from any indoctrination – cultish or mainstream.
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