It isn’t known to many people, but Dr. Bion and others have shown that if you collect a number of people in a room and have them meet regularly with some sort of director who is saying nothing about religion, these people – even if they are all atheists and agnostics – will tend to become religious.
Now unless this is understood, it can mean that we could have, and probably do have, religions which aren’t religions at all. We can have forms of belief which are not spiritual but which persuade their practitioners, or victims, if you like, into believing that they are religious.
Well, neither a religious person nor a nonreligious person would wish this to happen to him. This is the sort of evidence to which I am referring – quite apart from the other material of people like Dr. William Sargant, who has often said that it is possible to condition a person from one religion to another. Now, since we can no longer say that it is the devil counterfeiting true mystical experiences, we must accept that many people are unable to distinguish between a real religious experience and an illusory one. Therefore I submit that the Sufi caution in surrounding mysticism with careful safeguards is “worth the trouble”, as you might say.
The Diffusion of Sufi Ideas