Her education was physically as well as substantially insufficient, taking place in "a decaying house that had large enough rooms to be converted into the cult's 'school,'" she says. "When one of the windows in the school room cracked, it was repaired with a piece of cardboard that got sadder and soggier all winter. The room was so cold." Thankfully, "I didn't really attend school all that much, I spent most of my time hiking in the hills and hanging out by myself in the woods." Just as the groovy Lord intended.
Their Diet Was ... Weird
TheAdidam site goes out of its way to stress that it's not a cult, which you'll recognize as exactly the sort of thing a cult would do. Another thing that both cults and Adidam do is restrict their members' diets. Studies have shown that fasting or not getting enough food can impair your cognitive functions or make you experience a "higher sense of achievement," which you are then likely to attribute to the cult leader's magic third eye beams or whatever. Therefore, in Adidam, "Fasting was big in the commune, and when we did eat, it was all vegetarian," Raina says. "No meat, no sugar, no white flour, no alcohol, no smoking. We lived on rice and salad and tofu." To be fair, there are plenty of people in Los Angeles leading perfectly acceptable lives on the exact same diet.
... We assume. Our paths don't cross that often.
But children are drawn to artificial flavors the way the guru was drawn to hot hippie ass, and by him, they are going to get it however they can. "The closest thing my sugar-craving self could get to sweets was flavored toothpaste," Raina says. "Picking a flavor was a BIG deal to me when I needed new toothpaste. I would use huge amounts of toothpaste in an attempt to get sweets somehow ... I just used huge massive amounts of it and took a really, really long time to brush my teeth while attempting to keep sweetness in my mouth as long as possible."
The image of a little girl savoring the fuck out of dental hygiene is bizarrely cute, but there was a dirty side to clean eating. Adi Dam used food to engender spiritual devotion the same way he used sex -- well, not food exactly: "In the early years, the guru once made one of his main disciples eat a snot sandwich," Raina says. "Yes, two pieces of bread with massive amounts of snot packed between them. I guess to teach him an example of humility or something. It was supposed to be a big spiritual deal."
Adidam Photo Department
At least it made having to oil up the guru's beatific nutsack seem better by comparison.
"The compound that I grew up in was dotted everywhere with temples," Raina says. "It seemed like every 50 feet was a temple that signified some spiritual journey of the guru." That seems normal enough, as far as these things go, but what really starts to stretch credulity is that "one of the temples was Holy Cat Grotto, which was set up over a natural hot spring. Yes, the guru had a temple for one of his cats that had passed. I guess the cat was a spiritual teacher of his."
But for this special cat, "every year, we had a big ceremony in Holy Cat Grotto," Raina says. "Where we were basically worshipping a cat. The cat worshipping holy day looked like every other guru worshipping day. It wasn't like we put on cat ears and drew whiskers on our face," which is exactly why Adidam isn't a global religion today.
We have to settle for worshiping cat GIFs instead.
"We could go to the grotto, meditate, and chant. The malas (prayer beads) had a small orange cloth. The color orange was supposed to signify the purifying fire of the guru, and orange was his personal holy color, which is why persimmons were his sacred fruit. Once a year, we would go to the Holy Grotto and switch out the old cloth strips for new ones."
Presumably, because the holy cat kept kicking them off the altar.
Raina Bird is on Twitter. Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
For more looks into the weird life of cult members, check out 6 Things You Learn Living In (And Killing) A Cult and 7 Horror Movie Scenes I Lived Inside a Real Apocalyptic Cult.
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