Nori Muster; Sunday, June 26, 2022; 11:00 AM-11:50 AM – online
It’s human nature to make up stories, and we all make up our own story. We piece it together with the events we feel shaped our lives. Once we have a fixed story, we learn to play the role of the protagonist. Thus, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves shapes our behavior, the decisions we make, and the life we create for ourselves. As ex-members, we may feel like failures for joining a cult, and our story may reflect our rationalizations to justify our mistakes. Stories based on guilt and grief hold us back. We may think, “that’s just the way it is,” and believe we can’t change it. However, changing our stories can change our lives.
Nori Muster was in the Hare Krishna organization, ISKCON, for ten years, 1978 to 1988. For thirty years after leaving the group, she clung to the negative story about how the cult ruined her life. She believed joining the group was an unforgivable mistake, and she attributed her failures to her parents’ divorce in 1970 that traumatized her as a fourteen-year old. This story was embedded in her consciousness for decades and seemed impossible to change. However, in the last three years, through intensive writing and studying her dream journals, Nori created a new, positive life story. Reading over the journal helped because she found the dreams non-judgmental and forgiving of her daytime self. Instead of feeling permanently broken, she has written a new life story of meaningful experiences and love, and she cherishes her younger self. Along with her discussion of story, she will briefly describe the dream journal project she started in 2016. After the presentation, she will take questions and listen to others’ stories.
Arts Editor ICSA Today
Nori Muster, MS, is the author of Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement (University of Illinois Press, 1997), Cult Survivors Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life (2010), and Child of the Cult (2012). She was an ISKCON member from 1978-1988, then earned her Master of Science degree at Western Oregon University in 1991 doing art therapy with juvenile sex offenders. She is currently a freelance writer and adjunct professor, based in Arizona. Her website for cultic studies information is norimuster.com/writing/culticstudies.html