This is Part III of the case of the Aumist Religious community in Mandarom, France.
The text has been extracted from an article published by CICNS and can be accessed in it's original language (French).
(...) The Mandarom is in essence a monastery with monks and nuns. Those who wish to dedicate a part of their life to spirituality, in this context, take vows of chastity and poverty, but do not pronounce this for eternity... "this is no longer suited to modern society," said SHM.
(…) Aumiste vegetarianism is explained by the concern of taking as little as possible from Nature, because any disturbance disrupts a process of reincarnation... The more is consumed from the higher levels of the hierarchy of the plant or animal Kingdom, i.e. the closer it is to humanity, and the more one must pray.
(…) We are under the impression that, for the aumistes, nothing is common place. Cooking, eating, doing the dishes, etc., although seemingly profane, for many, become acts associated with spirituality.
(…) Renunciation includes (then) two categories: external renunciation, which includes concrete things (silence, edible preferences, comfort, the pleasures of sexuality, those of the affects, etc.) and interior renunciation, the most difficult, meaning treating the ego as an object... The Knights, the faithful who live in the civilian world, cannot be renunciants in the same way as monks and nuns, since renouncing does not accommodate social life.
(…) Sexual liberation is doomed, and the guru calls for a sex resacralization... contraception is accepted because it is preferable that the child is desired... Yes, abortion is tolerated, but everything must be done to avoid it...
(…) Violence is condemned, whether verbal or physical, and non-violence is a virtue...
(...) The aumistes think that Gilbert Bourdin is a reincarnation of God on Earth, but that it is always the same God that has been manifested since the dawn of time; the idea of excluding one is unthinkable because it is the same. In addition, the social and ideological context of the time opposed excluding those who are different. The result is a union that associates all the world religions, monotheistic and polytheistic, that the guru synthesized.
(…) It is difficult to find former followers when it comes to those who turned against the movement... Ironically, it is those who had no contact with ADFI…that I have met. Does this establish a cause and effect relationship?
(…) Aumism (then) is a minority religion that fits both with a separation from the Christian churches, but also in a continuity since it can be compatible with them.
(...) Aumist time is a cyclic time composed of four cycles: the Silver Age, the Copper Age, the Iron Age, and the Golden Age. These four times have added another, out of time, the Diamond Age... The 'Lord' Hamsah Manarah is (then) for the aumists, the Cosmo-planetary Messiah. He returned to Earth to help humanity to access the Golden Age, because now, the "Christ on the cross that ended", he is a God of the Iron Age, and he returned as the 'Glorious Christ' with the sword and the shield... The gods (as well) declared war on him with the purpose of hindering his project and he had to clean up the Earth by wiping out the demons... Between 1983 and 1988, a war could have broken out, but the 'Lord' intervened and prevented it. Some gods also attempted to attack the SHM, as a result of which, tens of millions of gods were forced to seek refuge on other planets.
(…) We speak directly to God - even if it is not always systematically the case - but here, as in Hinduism, God is present in everyone. Indeed, 'a divine spark is in everyone', it is the “supreme self” that is developed through spiritual work.
(…) Ultimately, we can say that the gods of the aumism are like Greek gods...: they are not infinitely good and may even be perverse... These multiple gods are mortal... Above religions and gods, the Ultimate God is immortal. He returns regularly on Earth as on all the planets. The 'Lord' Hamsah Manarah was an incarnation, but is like any living being since each holds a divine spark in itself, which allows access to the deity, as in Buddhism and Hinduism.
(...) We cannot conclude the series of serious questions that have been raised here. The questions have been asked, and that is already a lot. The questions serve to interrogate, or even to provoke, displaying how an opinion can construct a rumor, on fragile and dangerous foundations, which are nonetheless largely consensual. However, it is up to the researcher to deconstruct these opinions and replace them with a more objective look, and to substitute, in this debate, reason for passion.
(…) It is wrong to think we can eradicate a system of beliefs with violence, as our society does now; because in this domain, only learning from the critique of judgment and critical judgment can be used... One thing is certain, we must discover the truth behind these movements and encourage research in the social sciences... Even with a critical debate of such groups, it should be ensured that religious groups, traditional as well as marginal, are consistent with the law and collective morality and permitted to practice their beliefs.
Lecturer at the Department of Ethnology of the University Paul Valéry in Montpellier, Director of CERCE (Center of studies and comparative research in ethnology), Maurice Duval is the author of Neither dead nor alive: Sailors, an Ethnology of the camera, "Controversial Ethnologies", PUF, 1998
*The original article can be accessed at CICNS's website