Enlightenment and a New Personality

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2012
A radical new morality, such as is encouraged with “enlightenment,” would hardly be possible without a new personality to go with it. Rajneesh once described the importance of the state of catalepsy and insanity for dismantling all that is truly human, in effect prepping the interim vessel for takeover

Enlightenment and a New Personality

A radical new morality, such as is encouraged with “enlightenment,” would hardly be possible without a new personality to go with it. Rajneesh once described the importance of the state of catalepsy and insanity for dismantling all that is truly human, in effect prepping the interim vessel for takeover:

Just the other day Divyananda came to me—he works in my garden—and he said, “What is happening to me? I have become almost a Zombie, and I am afraid. Should I go and do something else?” And I told him, “You be a Zombie. Be a perfect Zombie, that’s all. You continue your work.” Now something immensely valuable is happening, but he cannot understand it yet. This is what is happening: catalepsy. He’s open to me, and working in my garden. He has become even more open to me. He is in a shock, he is forgetting who he is. He is losing his old identity, he is paralyzed! Why paralyzed? Because the old cannot function and the new has yet to be born. So he is in the interval.[1]

To Rajneesh, this was a normal part of the process for destroying the person, the individual ego:

This is going to happen to many. Don’t be afraid when it happens…. This is a state of not knowing; you don’t know what is what, all your knowledge is lost, all your cleverness is gone. You become idiotic. You look like an idiot! People will say that you have become hypnotized or something, that you are no longer your old self. That is true; but it is a kind of shock. And good, because it will destroy the past…. That is the whole meaning of sannyas and discipleship: that your past has been completely washed away—your memory, your ego, your identity—all has to go.[2]

Thus, the enlightened master does whatever is necessary to achieve a disciple’s own enlightenment. No mercy is permitted. Rudrananda, Nityananda, Rajneesh, Da Free John, and many others are utterly pragmatic and amoral. Rajneesh continues:

And each Master beheads you, cuts your head mercilessly, destroys your reason, destroys your logic, brings you down from the head. And the only way is to cut the head completely. This is the third state: catharsis. When the head is no longer functioning, its control is lost and the prisoner is set free…. That’s why a real disciple passes through a kind of insanity around a Master.[3]

A special Yoga Journal issue on “Perils of the Path” is devoted to the problems and abuses among so-called enlightened teachers and masters. The editorial states:

Ever since I left the Zen community I’d been involved in for years, I’ve been reflecting on the perils of the spiritual path. At first torn by conflicting loyalties and then, later, angry at how I’d been manipulated and misled, I’ve come over the years to realize that the issues involved… penetrate to the core of the spiritual endeavor itself….

The spiritual traditions propose a hidden, deeper, more fundamental reality that is available to most of us only in “altered states” of consciousness…. We must pass through a period—often quite lengthy—in which “mountains are no longer mountains, and rivers no longer rivers.” A period, that is, in which “common sense” no longer provides an accurate map of unfamiliar and often frightening terrain….

What about the great Tibetan guru Marpa, who spent years abusing his disciple Milarepa…. What of the great Chinese Zen master Bokuju, who enlightened his disciple Ummon by slamming the door on him and breaking his leg! Nor have teachers eschewed unconventional sexual behavior in their attempts to awaken their students, as both Zen and Tibetan records reveal….[4]

In this journal, however the various authors not only bemoan the abuses, but they tend to justify them as well. Unfortunately, they never ask the right questions, such as, What is the real source of the spiritual teacher’s power? Is there widespread evil and immorality because the spiritual traditions of the enlightened reject morality as a form of “unenlightened consciousness”? Are such traditions fundamentally evil? Does the evidence suggest these gurus might be demon possessed and manipulative of others because they themselves are being manipulated? Are they aligning themselves with a spiritual rebellion against the “only true God” (John 17:3), courting his judgment (Rom. 1:21-24), and thus opening the doors to demonization? Is the Eastern and occult path merely a clever spiritual ruse to lead people away from the true God and His salvation by replacing it with the devil’s own brand of “salvation”—demonization as enlightenment?

Perhaps disciples rarely ask these questions because they are too difficult. Perhaps it is because, in spite of the tragedies, they prefer to believe otherwise. Whatever the case may be, the abuses continue because the strongest medicine within their worldview merely warns seekers to be less naive, but by all means stay on the path. Unfortunately, the path itself is the real problem because of the nature of its spiritual dynamics, occult practices, and philosophy.[5]

Furthermore, most gurus and spiritual teachers know what they are doing. They have deliberately rejected the Christian message and the Christian God and sought the path of occultism. In their writings they declare that the God of the Bible is a false God and that it is a sin to worship Him. Rajneesh called Jesus “a mental case” and Christians “fools.” He said he preferred to do the work of the devil and that “obedience [to God] is the greatest sin.” So most spiritual teachers are not unaware of the truth; they have deliberately suppressed it.

People seeking enlightenment might also want to ask other questions. Are “divine lila,” “ruthless compassion,” or “crazy wisdom” valid justifications for violent and immoral behavior? Is the teacher really enlightened, and what makes us think so? How does one determine what an “enlightened” state of existence is? Apart from occult tradition, what evidence exists for concluding that enlightenment is a divine state? Does the presence of spiritual power and charisma necessarily mean that an individual is enlightened? What criteria indicate classical demonization, and how do they relate to enlightenment? Do any criteria distinguish so-called “God possession” from demon possession? How does anyone know such possession is not a form of demonization? These are important questions because the enlightened freely admit something else controls them at least part of the time, if not most of the time.

Distinguishing between a divine or demonic reality is relatively easy on either biblical or common-sense grounds. One good way is to examine the “fruit” of the spiritual master—his teachings, influence, and practices.

Dark Teachings and Practices

Consider the teachings and practices of the enlightened. These may or may not be ascribed to spiritistic inspiration, but they are nevertheless consistent with the teachings of the spirit world in many historic and contemporary occult traditions. The Bible describes such teachings as the “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1 NASB). For example:

1. The acceptance of sexual immorality, unethical or criminal practices or teachings, justified on the basis of an amoral philosophy, monistic presuppositions, or the absolute authority of the enlightened individual.

2. The rejection of independent, critical thinking and the demand for unquestioning obedience, right or wrong. This is usually justified on the basis of the disciple’s ignorance in the face of the “omniscient wisdom” of the master; failing this, psychological manipulation usually achieves the same results.

3. Brutal practices such as beatings, rapes, sexual perversions, dehumanization, and cruel intimidations.

4. Certain types of bizarre behavior as illustrated, for example, in Muktananda’s Play of Consciousness (See our material on meditation elsewhere on this site.)

5. Antibiblical teachings that involve rejecting or perverting the nature of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, salvation, and Christian doctrine in general; occult practices and teachings; teachings and practices that degrade the “image of God” in man (for example, amoral views, monistic consciousness).

6. The existence of supernatural occult powers.

7. Practices that open the door to spirit influence and possession in others; for example, altered states of consciousness, meditation, and kundalini arousal.

The teachings and practices of the enlightened are basically the age-old endorsements of the spirits, cleverly accommodated to a variety of religions or worldviews. The spirits’ teachings exist in all times and cultures but provide the necessary adaptations to maximize their influence in a particular religion or practice.

It seems evident to us that the conscious rejection of the true God, the blatant idolatry, sexual perversion, and so on, which are part of the path of “enlightenment” describes the spiritual degeneration given in Romans 1. How can this be harmonized with true spiritual enlightenment? Isn’t it just the opposite? Here’s how the apostle Paul puts it:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts (Rom. 1:18-26).


  1. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “God Is a Christ in a Christ,” Sannyas, No. 3 (May/June), 1978, p. 11.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Stephan Bodian, “Editorial,” Yoga Journal, July/August 1985, p. 4.
  5. See John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness: Confronting Occult Deception (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993).

Leave a Comment