Dancing with insanity — living in a christian community
(all names are changed for privacy)
After having meditated naked with a gay guy I went into the Blue Mountains to live in a community. This community was a very spiritual one and on the first day I was told that there is a gathering at seven in the morning to sing, dance and pray together. After having talked to the first people I figured out that they believed strongly into the Bible and I was told that men and women always have to stay separated and that I should cover my body on the way to and from the shower. The first big doubts arrived and it seemed sure to me that its just a matter of time until I get into trouble. As every religion their goal is to overcome the narcism but I have seen that you cannot force it. The ego is a part of everything and excluding it is just a way of the ego to get rid of itself. How could this happen with an unselfish reasoning?
However these people are very nice and loving to me with respect to the values set in their community. I am getting fed very properly, my washing is taken care of and people tell me how wonderfull it is that I am there. But somehow the individualism is missing.
A rule I was told in the beginning is that alcohol is forbidden and that I mustn’t smoke another drug than tobacco. But then they are drinking coffee and eat meat. So who is actually choosing that tobacco, meat, caffeine and sugar is okay but the rest is not? I don’t want to say that meat was a drug, but a big spiritual principle is to avoid meat.
Again I see that freedom cannot be put in rules and boundaries. The people here look generally happy, but it does not really look deep and true.
At 6:15 in the morning I was woken up out of a shitty dream by some guitar music. Going through one of the cold mornings of Australia we arrive arrived at the community house to the frist gathering I should be part of. Everybody was wearing a kind of headband and we were standing in a circle. They started singing and played instruments to it and in the middle formed another circle of people holding hands and dancing together. I really like dancing but here it seemed like you can just dance in one way. It seemed to me like the individualism of the person is denied to attain individualism as a group/community. A prayer with raised arms to the ceiling followed and then it was a community meeting where me and the other volunteer workers were not supposed to stay. We went back to the café and I met Brishna, a 23 year old girl which was quite appealing to me. At that point the whole idea of partner and sex after marriage felt like a huge thorn rammed right into my eye. She was a very nice and genlte character that entered into the community at the age of 6. Getting private school within the community she never seemed to get any contact to outside people except of the customers that are coming into the café. She didn’t seem to struglle with any of the questions people in that age normally struggle with and when asked it seemed like the questions hit her mind for the first time. I am not sure if I finde that too good as she does not seem to be ready to leave the community if she liked. This whole idea does not even seem to be a possibility for her.
At noon I started to work with John in the kitchen, who was constantly blowing sugar up my ass for my physical presence. He talked a lot about what he or better say they believe and I just listened. At some point I told him what I believe and he kind of snapped at me and said: “Well there it is. That’s what you believe then!” and left the kitchen. How sure can you be in what you belief if you cannot listen to other people? How good can your belief system be if it is that exclusive towards other beliefs and claims to be the only truth?
More and more I feel spiritually discomforted in this commune. I am hugley thankful for all the good food as I have just eaten the cheapest stuff in Sydney but I feel a cage trying to get around my freedom of mind. Therefore I spent pretty much all of my free time alone in nature so far and it is beautiful over here.
I start to feel like I am in a psychological field study. Today I was part of the full gathering in the morning and it was very shocking for me. It is like a self-organized zoo in which every member is caged. They try to cage themselves up as tightly as possible to free up the other members. It is a very altruistic idea but it is just not leading towards the goal. My dream of a community was a community that is based on individualism and personal growth. That is the only way to get authentically altruistic. Even though it seems like it is incredibly hard to build a communal living based on individualism every deep desire worth achieving is hard to fulfill. Before you are not trying to do it you are not getting closer to the goal. I am trying to collect more impressions from different communities in Australia.
There is a huge game imposed on me and I am expected to only move in one direction, towards the community and away from myself. They motivate me positively towards this direction but the love just doesn’t feel real. It is easy to see how weel it works on people that suffered from a huge lack of love and that have never experienced true love. Yesterday when I was tired I could see how it was working on me as well. Everybody made me compliments, cared if I ate enough and they even let me go to bed earlier because I was so tired. The comfort you get is just insane but for me it does not feel right. If the members of the community were treated in the same way as me the whole thing wouldn’t work.
For the last three days I have walked a lot alone through the mountains and I feel how I am finding myself. This goes exactly against the vibe I got from the sermon. In the internet there is a text that writes about child abusement in connection with this community and it would not really surprise me if it was true. To the outside society it looks like such a peaceful and lovely place to be but the deeper you dig, the more sinister it gets.
Starting to play their game without moving I see that the self-esteem of the people over here is very crushed. Denying their ego while they still have one looks like personal degrowth to me. While degrowth might be a reasonable approach for the Economics of our world it doesn’t seem toe be even nearly fulfilling for the individual. The commune looks more and more like a drug to me. In the beginning you get happiness. With time you feel that the happinss is not real while it is slowly destroying yourself. You lose touch to the people outside of the community which makes it incredibly hard to get out.
I have learned some huge lessons during the last days:
- There is no lazy way or shortcut to live an active and fulfilling life.
- You cannot help all other people. If a person doesn’t have the active will to change his life you won’t reach anything in that person.
- Self-protection is not just a bad thing. I an utopian world where everybody is loving there was no need for self-protection. However it is more to be seen like a flower that closes its blossom during the night and opens it up as soon as the sun is out.
I started seeing the beauty of the community and got really fascinated in a lot of ways. It is a very similiar fascination I am having for the organised crime of the mafia. It seems like the community is looking at this very beautiful picture of unity and they try to create it by copying it stroke by stroke. But by doing this you lose the real essence of the picture and in reality it seems to be to create your own picture of unity.
The feeling of an evil leader in this community disappeared. I can see that deep inside all of the people here are very nice. Through that I began to start getting comfortable even though that changes nothing about me leaving tomorrow and going to Ravi, my next help exchange host. The writing feels a little bit forced since yesterday. Two days ago I met Loa and kind of fell in love. Since that the community isn’t my biggest interest anymore. It’s so hugley ironic that I meet such a lovely lady at the Sabbath fest of a hardcore religious community. At this fest the community celebrates each week in the evening and the public is welcomed to join. During that the community was trying to build their spider web around the people that came out of interest. The critical economist in me is getting very satisfied with that. As Millon Friedmann said: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” The similiarity between all the members of the community is their huge addiction to harmony. It is impossible to force real harmony as it is impssible to force relaxation.
I just left the community and it was a lovely goodbye. They told me that I am always welcomed and provided me with some good food for my travels. It was an amazingly interesting week and I have learned so much about my morality and my craving for harmony. My love for nature evolved to the next level in these beautiful mountains and my interest in psychotherapy rose as well. All in all it was a very nice week and I am happy to move on.