I just finished Wild Wild Country. If you haven't seen it, go watch it now. Amazing.
The six part series about the Rajneeshpuram commune/cult in central Oregon in the early 80's will have you feeling every kind of emotion and thought and reasoning... it's impressive.
Not to mention, for us in the Pacific Northwest, it's now home of a Young Life camp... which... well....
Here's the scary thing. No one ever joins a cult. They join a movement, they follow an amazing person, they perform certain ritual and liturgies because they are impactful and meaningful. Of course it's not a cult.
The Dunning-Kruger effect says that people of low cognitive ability have a hard time gauging how good they are, or where they stack with others... because well the ability that makes them not great at taking a test, also makes them not great at judging their place. Or.... some people think they are really great at something and actually they are really bad. But we have a hard time seeing that.
Combine all of this together and you get this: of course whatever religion, spirituality, teacher, master, I follow isn't a cult. No, no. Those people do cult things, I don't.
Go watch Wild Wild Country. Don't point the finger at them... see if you can point it back at yourself. It's a much more wild ride if you can.