Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 59: Conclusion - the Difference Between a Physician and a Clergyman
-THE MASTER (as told by Wei Wu Wei)
As defined by Oxford Dictionary, personality cult means "(e)xcessive public admiration for or devotion to a famous person, especially a political leader." Of course personality cult is not limited to the political domain. It's also a widespread phenomenon in religion, sports, and pop culture.
In religion, as discussed in Part 50 (A Self-perpetuating Pyramid Scheme Trickled Down Straight from Heaven), thanks to personality cult, pastors Kenneth Copeland in Texas and Edir Macedo in Brazil, as well as Bishop David Oyedepo in Nigeria (to mention just a few) are able to afford lavish and opulent lifestyles in spite of extreme poverty surrounding them. Hallelujah. If there is any doubt about the financial objectives of modern-day saviors, L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology revealed it a long time ago: "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion." (All organized religions started as small and unconventional cults.)
From a psychological perspective, the hidden objective does make sense. Scottish writer Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) explained: "Cults and sects and religions tend to be set up by men because they are a power trip. Look at David Koresh of Waco fame. He tried to be a rock star and failed. As a prophet though, he got the rock star life, the sex and drugs and worship, without having to be one." Who wants to be the next Prophet?
In sports and pop culture, personality cult satisfies those who are irrationally addicted to it—be they fans, groupies, even hooligans. In addition to their own fan clubs, almost all well known athletes, sport teams and celebrities have their dedicated websites, Facebook pages, Instagram followers, Twitter feeds and whatnots.
Let's face and admit it: the majority of the human race prefer to be bound to something, anything, rather than nothing. They prefer to be attached to something, rather than nothing. Even worse, they prefer to be exploited and oppressed by something, rather than nothing. While their lips scream for freedom, their souls yearn for handcuffs and shackles.
"Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration," wrote Eric Hoffer in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951). "Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual." Then, Hoffer added: "Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden… We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, "to be free from freedom.""
Humans being humans; they secretly prefer attachment over detachment, bondage over freedom, the Stockholm Syndrome over the Lima Syndrome. To put everything into context and perspective, let's revisit Anglican-priest-turned-to-Eastern-philosopher Alan Watts (1915-1973). In one of his essays, The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy, he invited us to consider the difference between a physician and a clergyman. "The physician wants to get rid of his patients, so he gives them medicine and hopes they will not get hooked on it; the clergyman, on the other hand, is usually forced to make his patients become addicts so that they will continue to pay their dues."
True spirituality should liberate us, and not keep us as hostages. The choice between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome is entirely up to us, because we are both captors and hostages. The Buddha famously encouraged independence, because Buddha's aim was not to save us (then take credit for it); instead, to help us save ourselves. "Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others," he said. The 14th Dalai Lama went even further: "We must conduct research and then accept the results. If they don’t stand up to experimentation, Buddha’s own words must be rejected."
Talking about salvation, even the ultimate savior in the Western world, Jesus of Nazareth, once told Mary Magdalene: "Do not cling to me." (John 20:17). So why do we keep clinging tenaciously on to someone or something?
Since the idea of liberation sounds so appealing to me, this post concludes the 59-part Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome.
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter