Does spiritual Illumination create its own intrinsic blindness? This paper, presented at the Harvard Divinity School conference Uses and Abuses of Power in Alternative Spiritualities, April 2023, explores that provocative question in an attempt to account for some of the problems that arise in spiritual communities that developed around a teacher or their teaching. In particular, I hope to shed light on the paradox experienced by participants in such groups or communities featuring charismatic leaders: on one hand, the empowering insights and awakenings, and on the other, the disempowering abuses and confusion.

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