About an excerpt from “The Eclipse of Reality”

Analyzing the phenomenon of production of “secondary reality” in ideological movement, Voegelin writes:

“The great projectors of second realities are social forces because they are able to transform rational agreement on an unexceptional point into sweeping existential assent to the deformation of humanity. They are surrounded by the social fields of secondarily deformed humanity in their schools, adherents, admirers, vulgarizers, followers, fellow- travelers, and so forth. Inversely, the imaginator must always be on his guard, because he can never be certain when he enters a discussion that Reason will not suddenly raise its ugly head. His interlocutor may be a man who desires to know and will therefore not abide by the imaginator’s rule of the game that a discussion must never touch the question of existence, for if this question were touched, not only would the project have to be abandoned, but the imaginator’s existence itself would be in danger of being engulfed by its own nothingness.” (Voegelin,“The Eclipse of Reality,”p.134)

The description applies well not only to political movements but also to the so-called “new religious movements”. The leader of a new religious movement, even if he (or she) is initially a sincere seeker of Truth, finds himself surrounded by admirers who end up doing more harm than good to him. The phenomenon frequently happens in Ashram, or Ashram-type of organizations in which the Guru slowly becomes prisoner of his followers and of the mythology he has himself created to prevent the irruption of critical thinking. Sectarian movements have always existed but the tendency of these new religious movement to get ride of the protecting boundaries of tradition increases the magnitude of these “pneumopathological” phenomena.

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