A little while back I decided to research an organization known as Avatar. Google or Wiki it to save me the trouble of trying to explain it. Anyway, when I say “research” those who know me know this means enough-to-write-a-book-professionally kind of intensity. So I read their materials, read testimonials by existing and former people who are/were involved, went through related court documents, look at criticisms great and small, and the responses to those criticisms. I verified whatever I could, and even emailed and wrote to various sources for documentation.
It obviously was a heated topic for some, with people obessed about bringing down Avatar as an evil cult on one side to Avatar-can-do-no-wrong on the other. So I joined AvatarOverdrive.Com to explore the philosophy behind it as well as see how people involved see adn address their strengths and weaknesses, including criticisms that may have truth behind them. But it’s kind of hard because the people there are used to people bashing them and so I almost have to walk on eggshells just to bring up points that could be taken the wrong way. Also, I heard from one of them there is a policy that they cannot speak negatively at all about Avatar to prospective interested parties, which in practice makes my job difficult, but the existence of such a policy also raises a red flag. Otherwise, they’ve been pretty understanding and tolerant of me there — and very helpful thus far — but it’s wearing on me.
It’s also wearing on me that someone I love dearly is getting involved. And my apprehension isn’t why you may think. Good thing? Bad thing? My instinct is that people can benefit from things like that, but when she got involved she didn’t know anything about it. So when I started looking at the stranger aspects of it and possible cult characteristics, she took it to mean I was putting it down. (Ironically, some of the outlandish parts turned out to be true, and stated in their own literature.) Maybe I’m being protective, but I want her to know there’s more than one side to every story and not to sell her soul (take it to be the end all and be all that some seem to). But none of that really matters, because she doesn’t care about the story but the result, which I think I can respect.
What matters is I can’t help her. Maybe Avatar can. But I can’t really talk to her about it because she’s doing it for personal reasons and even if I found some problems with it that may or may not amount to anything, such criticisms aren’t helpful to what she wants to get out of it. I do have both positive and negative opinions toward Avatar, and all the facts in the world about skeletons in the closet are irrelevant — With me being Mr. Intellectual and loving her so much, I wish I could explore my current findings and feelings about it, but unless I only focus on the good stuff, I feel a rift form between us. She shies away and my words hurt her. So I’m on eggshells in my own home.
The other day, I tried to clear the air so we could talk about it — I could find out where her head was at with them and with me. My wife thinks I made things worse by keeping on the issue and there isn’t anything I could have done — except kep my mouth shut, which is the hardest thing in the world sometimes.
I obsess easily about things I’m interested in, but this is both philosophical and personal. Here’s a breakdown …
(1) It challenges me as a system of thinking. It touches on the exploration of conciousness I went through when I was barely a teen, and has its own unique understanding and metaphysics that are consistent with various things I’ve studied and understood myself. It isn’t founded by someone with much formal education in philosophy or religion, so I have to figure out the way verious terms are being used to understand it, not to mention it has it’s own what some people call “cult-speak” (no negative insinuation intended, but Google it to know what I mean — It’s a meaningful way to describe and deal with the things they talk about within their own system of thinking, and I actually like using it myself).
(2) It challenges me to confirm or disprove discernable cult characteristics (though I fear being banned from talking with them if I state this, which is itself possible evidence of the problem). I like to find the truth. Or at least understand something to the point I can make a reasonably objective assertion about it. I wont get into this, but some of you know I’ve studied cult phenomenon. And most people who hear the term “cult” assume the worst and have no idea what it really means, so don’t read too much into this.
(3) Last, but NOT least, it hurts me that there’s a wall between us — put up at least as much by me as her by being this way — and I wish we weren’t in a situation we can’t talk everything through. But this would be more for my peace of mind, not hers, so I find myself being selfish by attempting to beleaguer any issues I have.
My wife said this is something I must work out on my own, and she’s right. And I can only hope my dear friend knows me well enough to understand I don’t want to be this way or hurt her. But it doesn’t make me lose any less sleep or make it any less painful and stressing. It’s hard not to “use up all my attention units” as Avatar would say and be left unfocused because of all of this. I think too much. Then I think too much about thinking too much and … go back to thinking too much. It’s really hard right now to just go out and breathe, touch, do, be. I haven’t been this tied up mentally is a long time …
Any words of comfort or clarity are appreciated. Hugs even more so.