Borrowing credibility

When trying to establish credibility, people often try to establish links with other credible people and things.

Psychedelics borrow credibility from yogic meditation
Both psychedelics and meditation can provide experiences of mental insights, great creativity, and ecstasy. A plurality of society thinks that meditation provides benefits without the possible harmful effects that sometimes come from psychedelics (although I don’t agree). Psychedelic studies and psychedelic use gain credibility by providing some of the same benefits as meditation that supposedly take years of disciplined practice.

Rebuttal: Meditation has a risk of harming people, especially the people who are gung-ho about reaching enlightenment. Psychedelics also have a risk of causing harm. Psychedelic proponents don’t gain much by borrowing credibility from yogic meditations.

The theory of spiritual emergency borrows credibility from kundalini crises and yogic tradition
Some commenters on psychotic illnesses think that manic psychoses are actually indications of proximity to enlightenment. The similarity between psychotic mania and some kundalini awakenings seemingly make manic psychoses seem acceptable and desirable to some people.

Rebuttal: Some people from yogic traditions expect that seekers will have a kundalini crisis during the early stages of enlightenment, but there is no proof that a state of enlightenment exists (despite millions of meditators existing in the modern scientific age). The similarities between a kundalini crisis and psychotic mania does not enhance the credibility of spiritual emergencies; rather it brings down the credibility of yogic meditation.

 Spiritual paths borrow credibility from intelligent spokespeople
Since very intelligent and articulate people believe in spiritual paths and proselytize for them, the spiritual path gains credibility. Some intellectuals wholeheartedly believe in spiritual paths and raise their own self-esteem by helping to sell a spiritual path. Intelligent people create beautiful descriptions and logical, complicated arguments for spiritual paths.

Rebuttal: Equally intelligent people are skeptics of spiritual paths. Intelligence doesn’t necessarily keep people from making mistakes. Some intelligent people change their minds. Some intelligent people bounce back and forth on different sides of an issue.

Some people advocate an intellectual pursuit to enlightenment. An enormous quantity of spiritual discourse has accumulated over time which appears to be blather to most people but not to intellectuals who study it. Some people recommend koans and other mental techniques to help the mind to see past barriers. Intellectuals who pursue spiritual matters often say that “I didn’t fully understand it before, but now I get it”, but more future days will likely come with the realization that “I didn’t really understand it before, but now I do.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a master at borrowing credibility
Here are some things that Maharishi used to establish credibility.

  • Prominently stating that TM came from the Shankaracharya tradition in India.
  • Giving himself the title of Maharishi to distinguish himself from ordinary folk.
  • Exhibiting knowledge of the Vedic tradition and the yogic tradition.
  • Touting scientific research that indicated benefits from TM.
  • Using scientists, doctors, and educators who vouched for TM.
  • Using celebrities and community leaders who vouched for TM.
  • Using government proclamations that seemed to vouch for TM.
  • Maharishi displayed humility by showing reverence to Guru Dev and tradition.
  • Maharishi had the status of a brahmachari which fit the persona he was portraying.
  • Maharishi’s outer appearance of long hair, beard, and dhoti fit the persona.
  • Maharishi touted TM news coverage in newspapers, magazines, and television.
  • Maharishi demonstrated mastery of diverse subjects.
  • Maharishi displayed a likable personality.