Gospel Review: Spiritual Emptiness and Religious Bondage Reflection upon Exuberant Spiritual Training Class

Spiritual Training Class
Spiritual Training Class (photo: screencrop)
By August 18th, 2016

In recent years, there's been increasing number of spiritual training modules booming up to provide solutions or "chicken soup" through new religions for people with desperate spiritual hunger at exuberant cost. This trend clearly reflects the fire spiritual emptiness and hunger the local Chinese feel. Unfortunately, many have fallen into the trap and bondage of false religion. Only through knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ, can we embrace true faith and thus, avoid the trap of false religion and transform our life thereafter.  

Recently, an online post titled " Spiritual Growth Workshop Manipulates Participants to Sell House to Pay for Exuberant Course Fee" arouses public criticism. According to Xinjing News,  this organization claims to market a so-called " universal power that enables one to tap on the power of the universe" in order to cheat money from its participants. 

The course of the workshop is sky-rocketing beyond one's imagination. There are different service levels that require different amount of charges. One needs to pay 50,000 RMB to be qualified as a member, 3,000,000 RMB as a supervisor and 8,000,000 RMB as a franchiser to set up their own course centre. Through this payment model, the centre has absorbed more than 10 billion RMB so far. It particularly attracts those who are so eager to change their life reality that they are willing to give up anything for a change. However, their irrational action ends up pushing their family to the road of destruction. In fact, this centre that claims to create for one an abundant life is actually a harmful organization that manipulates one's spiritual hunger for monetary gains.

In fact in 2012, Yangcheng Evening News has reported an article titled "Insane Spiritual Training" to reveal scandals in various training centers that seek to offer modules on driving one's lustful desires and unethical monetary practices in Guangdong. Those modules propagate sinful acts of lustful massage and partner sharing based on the idea of liberating lust as it says," One of the ways to liberate women  is through allowing both men and women to change their sex partners". Their extreme direction has stirred heated discussion and even the relevant authority had intervened at that time. However, such workshops have not been fully eradicated until now.

Upon reading such news, some comment that too many local people are gullible, which definitely leave loophole for such centres to cheat them. Some also express their deep sorrow over the foolishness of the victims and wonder why they fall into the trap of being brainwashed by wrongful thoughts. So is there any deep-seated issue revealed by such aweful scams?

1. Definitely, Chinese people's spiritual emptiness is the root cause of the scams.

After he cultural revolution, the status of people's emptiness from within has been more and more severe. According to the news reporting, many of these newly established training centres are in fact a form of new-born religion in our generation. From religious and sociological point of view, this kind of religion is established upon the foundation of collective social mentality pervading our culture.

People have lost their sense of purpose at the backdrop of the increasingly changing cultural values and pursuits. Many are not able to gain inner peace nor channel their negative emotions properly despite help sought from traditional religions such as Buddhism and Taoism. Thus, an alternative solution is presented to them, one that carries the promise of solving all their problems. Through marketing and branding effort, these centres appeal to many who are searching for answers to release their dissatisfaction in life. As a result, they manage to gain countless followers from various social backgrounds ranging from residence in small cities to white-collared office workers and businessmen in highly developed cities.

As they are yearning for a breakthrough in life, a "spiritual mentor" thus becomes one of the most popular and lucrative posts in our society. The so-called spiritual training class is mainly composed of yoga, motivational talk, phycological tricks, astrology, hypnotism, mystical theories and various religious theories. It can take in many varied forms, thus leading to confusion for many.

In view of the media exposure, these training classes indeed have hid behind extremely subtle and harmful tricks to mislead people. Through various so-called counseling sessions, participants are normally manipulated by organizer's physiological tricks to pocket out more cash to them. Instead of boosting up one's spirit in life as promised, the end goal will eventually lead to destruction to one's soul. 

Unfortunately, those who have experienced hardships in life such as divorce, loss of fortune or spiritual emptiness are too eager to seek fast-fix solutions, thus resulting in many being deceived by the false hope.

Indeed, spiritual emptiness combined with unrealistic expectation on false hope describe the current spiritual status of many Chinese , thus leading to the blooming of countless scams today.  The Gospel of Matthew presents accurately such situation, 

"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation."”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:43-45‬ ‭

2. Chinese people are trapped by the religious bondage

For people without any solid faith in life, such modules will definitely be attractive as it promises a sure way for them to move up to a higher spiritual level. However, they indeed been caged by religious power without even noticing it. According to media broadcast, though such training centres take on many forms, the similarity is obvious as the leader or mentor of the class tend to accumulate authoritative power over the rest. 

This kind of power is not political nor legal in nature, but indeed more powerful above both. 

Since the humanity formed the proper religious organization, the religious power tends to be concentrated at the hands of a few. Regardless of religious diversity, sometimes even including Christianity), the few who are given the authoritative power tend to control the whole organization in terms of the right to speech, to explain the religious scripture and self-appraisal in order to create a strong religious atmosphere. As such, their followers can be easily deceived into obeying the leaders.

Among these spiritual training groups, the mentor's word carries absolute authority that requires unconditional obedience from the students. Disobedience or even doubt towards the mentor is considered as unacceptable in the group. As such, the mentor carries the role of a religious priest, easily taking control of his students' practical life though he claims to cater to his students' best interests. 

These "priests"(so-called spiritual gurus or mentors) in our modern society inculcate false promise to their students through made-up testimonies and phycological manipulation, thus earning big sum out of the scam.

"Making Life Abundant" organization is a classic example. It claims that if everyone in Beijing wake up feeling positive, then the positive energy will chase away the haze in Beijing according to its frequency theory."(Concoction of false myth)

"Upon getting to know "Making Life Abundant", all my diseases such as heart failure and diabetes are completely healed." (Forging of false testimonies)

"Let the universe hear your voice. Close your eyes and follow me to claim that our dream will come true. Be grateful for your decision. Be grateful for your dream right now. Be grateful for the opportunities to accomplish your dream." ( Creating abstract claims)

Regarding the excessive power that priests are beholding, the bible has made its stand clear through voices of the prophet,"

“"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” ‭(Ezekiel‬ ‭34:2-4) Jesus himself had also made absolute claim over dictatorship beheld by priests at that time," “"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭23:13‬)

Upon thousand of years of oppressive and dictating governance, idol worship and a decade of atheism culture, Chinese people end up suffering from spiritual emptiness. They do not know where to seek answers and pursue the truth. Sometimes they lose their irrational minds during the pursuit, thus falling into the trap set by the evil.

There's a famous comedian produced by India "Oh My God", which creatively reveals the darkness and foolishness of several religious power that key religious groups use to manipulate people. The leading character made the comment in the end after going through all the arduous journey, " If you have faith, then you will not need a religion."  

However, where does the true faith come from? It comes from Jesus' gospel! Though Christianity has been manipulated by religious groups and church leaders in history (as seen from Catholic priests' scandals in Medieval Era), we can still walk away from the religious bondage and embrace truth through the gospel. Authentic Christian walk will shine forth vibrancy and true freedom in the spirit, which can be prominent in one's action and interaction with others. This is because the hope of the gospel has granted us extremely powerful hope for us to get rid of the faith established by false religion but turn to the everlasting treasure and gain a transformed life.

For those who are struggling severely with spiritual emptiness, the only hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only through knocking Jesus as their savior, can one be able to bypass the temptation of worldly promise but attain a brand new purpose and hope in life. This is because Jesus didn't come to provide us with a new religion, but to give us faith and life. In John it says, "The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” ‭‭(John‬ ‭1:9) Moreover, it says in the same book that,  “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”(‭‭John‬ ‭10:9-11‬)

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