Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How some talented people, including some spiritual leaders, can psyche themselves into false belief

I put up a Facebook post on this where I took some extracts from Oprah Winfrey's interview of Lance Armstrong in Jan. 2013, where Armstrong confessed to the public about his doping, and made some comments on it. Here's the post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1615279345355303

I have given below only my comments, with some context info. in some cases, from the above Facebook post:

I think the outstanding case in recent times of a superstar who psyched himself into false belief and made a fool of a large part of the sporting world as well as a significant part of the world in general, is Lance Armstrong. He came clean with the public (perhaps having been forced to do so due to the hard work of anti doping staff of concerned sporting agency) in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
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[Ravi: The guy took the world for one merry ride! He called people who suspected that he was doping, liars! And got away with it! He overcame cancer that he was diagnosed with, and went on to win Tour de France seven times from 1999 to 2005! He was not just a sporting hero, he was a cancer survivor sporting SUPERHERO!

And then came the fall ... From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance_Armstrong, "In 2012, a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation concluded that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career and named him as the ringleader of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

An interesting point is Armstrong saying that he lost himself in the momentum of his sporting activity/achievement, (and so lost sight of the truth that he was cheating by using banned drugs). I think spiritual leaders who fall into some delusion would also be getting lost in the momentum if they get a large following. They would then believe their delusion to be true. In other words, if so many people believe it to be true, the spiritual leader may think his own imagination to be true! That's the power of group psychology, I think.]
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[Ravi: What I appreciate about Lance Armstrong is that he came clean on TV. He had been taking (psychological/mental health) therapy and I think that helped him come out of the fantasy world that he had locked himself into. But still to come on TV and accept his faults the way he did, does deserve some praise, IMHO. However, I must also say that people were so furious with him that many may not accept my sympathetic view at all.

Another point here is how his desperation (after being diagnosed with cancer) made him a 'win at all costs' guy. I think people who face desperate situations in life like very bad financial problems may become willing to try anything to get out of it, including becoming a spiritual leader.]
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Lance Armstrong: "I see the anger in people, betrayal, it's all there. People who believed in me and supported me and they have every right to feel betrayed and it's my fault and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people."

[Ravi: My God! What an awful position to be in! Nothing in the world is worth this sort of eventual outcome. The means have to be pure and good to achieve pure and good ends.
One wrong does not get righted by another wrong. Some people in one spiritual group indulging in some wrong activities does not get righted by some people of another competitor spiritual group also indulging in wrong activities.]
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[Ravi (about Armstrong 'running over/bullying' people who dared to challenge him & his group/sporting business): Was he a monster or what! And with the money power the Lance Armstrong brand & business had he could financially wreck people who threatened to expose his being on banned drugs, by taking them to court (in the USA). What a monster he had become! Will these people ever forgive him? I sincerely doubt, unless they have divine level of forgiveness in their hearts. But at least the guy seems to be asking for their forgiveness.]
--- end comments related to extracts of Oprah Winfrey interview of Lance Armstrong ---

Ravi overall comment: I think even in spirituality there is a danger of some leaders becoming like Lance Armstrong. They psychologically go off-balance but are in a position of such power and influence that they believe their fantasies to be true with a Lance Armstrong kind-of fierce deluded belief. And the fierceness and depth of the deluded belief can attract a large following, which in turn reinforces their deluded belief!

Lance Armstrong's delusion essentially got undone by USA anti doping agency (and maybe some other agencies too). For those spiritual leaders who get deluded, sometimes fiercely deluded, about some supernatural matters, we do not have any equivalent powerful anti spiritual delusion agency. And the big, big issue is that such deluded spiritual leaders can mislead their followers not even realizing that they are misleading them, as the deluded spiritual leader thinks he is right and all the doubters and critics are wrong.

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