Monday, March 14, 2011

Chari Of Sahaj Marg(tm) And The Psychology Of Crowds

Taken and translated from an article by Alexis: "Chari et la Psychologie des Foules" on Elodie's blog in Europe: Pour Que Vive Le Sahaj Marg.

Comments and inserts by 4d-Don are in "red italics"

March 14, 2011

Chari and the Psychology of Crowds

I seem to have already made the analogy with drugs. But Lea's comment on the social psychology makes me think of something else. I already expressed all I thought was wrong with the truncated thinking of our sociologist friends who see sectarian groups in terms of new religious movements and what they bring to our society, regardless of their internal organizational structure.

There is a scientific discipline, already quite old, which has especially been interested in the relationship of the group/leader, it is the Crowd Psychology of Gustave Le Bon and his successors, such as Serge Moscovici.

In contrast to the individual, the crowd is presented fairly negatively. Irrational and versatile, the soul of the crowd is psychopathological in nature and is subject to dogmatic beliefs and is utopian in nature. It never ceases to look for an idol and scapegoats.

In this scientific theory, the leader gives it (the crowd) a goal (an ideal), and binds the group and organizes its actions. All explanations of this phenomenon of the influence of the leaders on the crowd use the mechanism of suggestion. Lebon speaks of the prestige of the leader and his hypnosis of the crowd. Gabriel Tarde speaks of suggestion on the part of the leader and imitation by the people who admire him, forever in search of a model. Freud explained this using psychoanalytic assumptions, the principle of identification, in a component love-relationship of the up-rooted crowd, reconstructing the father figure. Weber spoke of the charisma of the leader.

Gustave Lebon (1841-1931) -"The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind", 1905 (Religious forms which dress all religious beliefs of the masses, pp. 45-48) - Excerpts:

"We have shown that crowds do not reason, they accept or reject ideas as a whole; tolerate neither discussion nor contradiction, and that suggestions acting on them invade the entire field of their understanding and tend to immediately turn into action. We have shown that crowds when properly suggestionned (manipulated?) are ready to sacrifice themselves for the ideal that has been suggested. We also saw that they only know violent and extreme sentiments, and that among them sympathy quickly becomes adoration, and, barely born, antipathy becomes hatred.


When one looks closely at the convictions of the crowds, both in times of faith, and in the great political upheavals such as those of the last century, we find that these convictions are always dressed in a special form, which I can not better determine than by giving it the name of "religious sentiment".

This sentiment has very simple characteristics: worship of a being who is supposedly superior, fear of his supposed magical power, blind submission to his commands, inability to discuss his dogmas, (but) the desire to spread them, a tendency to consider as enemies all those who do not admit to them. That such a sentiment applies to an invisible God, an idol of stone or wood, a hero or a political idea, as long as it presents the preceding characteristics, it remains essentially religious. The supernatural and the miraculous meet there in the same degree. Unconsciously, the crowds dress with a mysterious power the political formula or the victorious leader who, for the time being, fanaticizes them.

One is not only religious when one worships a deity, but when one puts all the resources of mind, all submissions of will, all the heat of fanaticism in the service of a cause or a being who becomes
the purpose and the guide of thoughts and actions.

Intolerance and fanaticism are the necessary accompaniment of the religious sentiment. They are inevitable for those who think they possess the secret of earthly or eternal happiness.


The convictions of the crowds re-dress these characteristics of blind submission, intolerance and the fierce need of violent propaganda, which are inherent to the religious feeling; and that is why we can say that all their beliefs have a religious form. The hero for wich the crowd cheers is truly a god for it. Napoleon was thus for fifteen years and never had deity more perfect worshipers. None sent men to their death so easily. The gods of paganism and Christianity never exercised a more absolute power over the souls which they had conquered.

All founders of religious or political beliefs have managed to found them because they were able to impose on the crowds these feelings of fanaticism that makes man (humans) find happiness in worship and obedience, and is ready to give his life for his idol.


Today most of the great conquerors of souls no longer have altars, but they have statues or images, and the worship that is given them is not significantly different from that given to them in the past.
We are able understand a little of the philosophy of history, only after we are well penetrated by this fundamental point of crowd psychology. One must be a god for them, or be nothing.


So is it a useless banality to repeat that the masses need a religion, as all political, social and divine beliefs become established for them, only if it takes on the form of a religion, which shelters them from discussion. Atheism, if it was possible to have it accepted by the crowds, would have all the ardor of an intolerant religious sentiment, and in its outward form, would soon become a cult. "

Serge Moscovici - The Age of the Crowds, 1985 (The Secular Religions, pp. 467-476) - Excerpts:

(Moscovici here deals mainly with political parties and relies on the example of the Russian Communist Party, which he calls a secular religion).

"So far we have considered the leaders as long as they have charisma. We have defined them as the union of two characters in one: Shadow cast by the founding father and the heroic son. But these shades are attached to a doctrine, a goal they have set themselves the task to achieve.


On the other hand, mass psychology has taught us that the leaders can not accomplish their task without recruiting individuals temporarily detached from their usual group.
These form the nucleus of a crowd. They undergo the ascendancy of a leader who transformed their encounter into a stable organization. The Church and the Army, it was the audacity of Tarde and especially of Freud to recognize, are the model for every crowd of this kind. The party is the translation of one and the other crowd, in a society like ours that does not govern the family, local and aristocratic tradition. In short, the parties are both the churches and the armies of the age of the crowds.


The common characteristic of all these artificial crowds, the proof of their good health is always and everywhere a belief system. It binds them together, holds them together and allows them to mobilize men and to ask them to sacrifice their lives. A leader can not establish and lead such a party, necessary for his task, if he does not have such a system. For the masses act only when driven by a belief - and beliefs exist only with the masses. The prophet became the archetype of the contemporary leader precisely for this reason: he must give rise to a robust faith around him.

So, the example and the most complete form of a belief system is religion.


They have a dogma and sacred texts which one obeys, having heroes as saints.
Moreover, such a secular religion strictly responds to some psychological needs - the need for certainty, the regression of individuals within the mass, etc..
- And nothing else.


Let us take a closer look such religion, ignoring its spectacular events, we have already described.
What are its functions? The first is to compose a total vision of the world, which overcomes the fragmented and divided views of each science, each technology and knowledge in general. There is in the depths of our human nature, a basic need to harmonize, in a perfect togetherness everything that, in our experience, seems inconsistent and inexplicable. When we have no more simple principles, one model to explain what is happening within us and around us, we feel threatened. Worse, we feel helpless in the face of the diversity of economic forces, psychological problems and the mass of uncontrolled events. This lack of coherence prevents us from participating in definable social action. There is no order or security possible for individuals in a society where the number of questions exceeds the number of responses.


True, the scientist or the technician can cope with this fragmentation, to accept the perpetual oscillation between conflicting solutions and the uncertainty of ephemeral truths. But man, in his ordinary life, rejects it. He is hungry for solid certainty, unchanging truths.


In essence, secular religions provide a total vision.
They offer a view of the world where every problem finds its solution.


All the sacred religions offer a design of the physical world.
They explain the origin of the universe and provide for its future. Contrarily, the secular religions are formed around a vision of the social world.


Only religions (and their missionaries) can still inspire such attachments. They lead people to accept in their heart of hearts what the community demands of them.


Religions recognize the desire for happiness, the need for protection which humans experience since childhood. After painting with darker colours the forces which threaten them, they offer a solution.


So these are religions of hope. They guarantee to humans that they will finally emerge victorious from the turmoil which torments them, provided they identify with the ideal that transcends them and to respect the requirements they decree.


... concealing a mystery. Each religion has its own. On its behalf it imposes rules and announces truths on which it does not explain itself. Instead, it casts thick shadows on their reasons and hides them so that nobody notices. Everything is done to prevent accidental contact. Everything conspires to prevent the revelation of the secret which is hidden from public view and also of the faithful. This secret is presented either as a beneficial thing, and sometimes as something evil.


Arguably the most artificial crowds - armies, churches, political parties - are related with such a mystery.
They have a set of ceremonies, emblems (symbols), passwords (think of the Masons!) that protect and censor any attempt to find out. It is used to justify the hierarchy. The man who climbs the ladder approaches this sacred point, the others remain at a distance.


Religions are the work of the "sons", the successors of the founding father of a people or a certain society. They legitimize and exonerate them at the same time by concealing their crime to the point that it is no longer seen in them, its authors.

(...) "

cult phenomenon, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission Chari can be reviewed using the elements provided by this discipline at the border between psychology and sociology:

of a being who is supposed superior, fear of his supposed magical power, blind submission to his commands, inability to discuss his dogmas, the desire to impart them, (his dogmatic teachings), a tendency to consider as enemies all those who do not admit it, need for certainty, regression of the individuals into the mass, submission of one's will, the zeal of fanaticism in the service of a cause or a being which becomes the goal, and the control of one's thoughts and actions ... inevitabilities among those who think they possess the secret of earthly and eternal happiness.

All founders of religious beliefs have been able to impose on the crowds these feelings of fanaticism which make one find happiness in worship and obedience, and who is ready to give his life for his idol.

The leaders (manipulators) can not accomplish their task without recruiting individuals temporarily detached from their usual group. The prophet has become the archetype of the contemporary leader, he must create a strong faith around him.



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