“A Question of Balance: Health and Pathology in New Religious Movements.” in Anthony, D.; Ecker, B. & Wilber, K, Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths To Inner Transformation

This article was written after I participated in a research seminar sponsored by the Center for the Study of New Religious Movements, Berkeley, California. As part of our research, we interviewed members and former members of spiritual groups over a period of eight months. The topic of health and pathology in new religious movements was of particular interest to me as a practicing psychotherapist, and I discuss it here from a transpersonal perspective. Current popular interest in spiritual alternatives is viewed in terms of psychological development. Motivation for joining groups is varied, and participation in such groups may be either healthy or pathogenic for individual development. Distinctions are made between ego mastery and spiritual mastery, and characteristics of genuine spiritual mastery are delineated. Choosing a teacher and recognizing groups that are potentially detrimental requires both self-awareness and the ability to evaluate levels of development beyond ego. A balanced use of intuition and reason, and willingness to recognize personal limitations, can contribute to adequate evaluation.

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