Editor’s Note: This post is presented in support of Hulu’s original series “The Path.” Watch new episodes on Wednesdays, streaming only on Hulu.
As fans of Hulu’s “The Path” know all too well, Meyerism is a movement — not a cult! — based on the belief that its founder climbed the Ladder of Ascension to discover a luminous place known only as The Garden. Those able to climb the Ladder by following the principles of Meyerism will be safe from the “blazing fire of misery and manmade destruction” that is imminently facing the rest of humanity. Members try to move up the ladder through various steps, including recruiting more members and “unburdening” by purging negativity from within.
The basic idea behind Meyerism is pure and honorable. It’s just that, like anything grounded on this Earth, it can be corrupted by the biases of man. That being said, the “movement” has been corrupted pretty heavily — murder may have been carried out in Meyerism’s name — by the time we are introduced to it during the first season of “The Path.” Below are some of the pros and cons to joining the movement or emulating aspects of it in your own life.
PRO: Meyerism is a wholly unique creation not inspired or reliant on other teachings. Its followers are very much working for the betterment of their community, not themselves (well, most of them), and transgressions are strongly discouraged. Perhaps most distinctively, Meyerism is inclusive and open to everyone, no matter their race or background.
CON: The Meyerist leadership is flawed. Specifically, its original founder is nowhere to be found, and while interim “Overseer of East Coast Operations” Cal (Hugh Dancy) is a charismatic force, he’s also dangerously unstable and not above using his influence over the more vulnerable members of his flock.
PRO: They’re very Earth-conscious and environmentally focused, with an emphasis on finding ways to make society more sustainable.
CON: The reason for that is that Meyerism does believe in the concept of an apocalypse; specifically, “The Future is a blazing fire of misery and manmade destruction.” The point of ascending the Ladder is so that you can live forever in the Garden.
PRO: The emphasis on personal development and discovering one’s own journey through life might remind you of the pop psychology preached by self-help gurus, but the Meyerist methods for discovering your best self seem genuinely invested in self-improvement.
CON: It’s unclear how effective some of these methods, including the use of ayahuasca, a potentially dangerous hallucinogen, actually are.
PRO: Meyerism encourages complete honesty among its membership, insisting upon emotional transparency and emphasizing frequent and open communication between members. In theory, this creates a harmonious environment…
CON: If you’re open and honest you might still have to deal with the consequences. Teenage Hawk (Kyle Allen) struggles to fit in with his classmates because he asks a lot of questions and speaks openly. And Cal and fellow movement leader Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) both frequently make use the information gathered when their fellow Meyerists unburden to them.
PRO: Unlike other, more infamous movements, Meyerism is a functioning, independent society that is respectful of monogamy — in fact, it celebrates it.
CON: The IRP — Infidelity Rehab Program. While not all that bad by itself — it’s pretty much like couple’s therapy with a religious subtext — you could be forced into Realignment, a two-week process where you end up locked in a small room with a small man who tries to get to the bottom of your transgression. It does not look like fun, but hey, maybe don’t cheat on your spouse?
PRO: Meyerists are warm and open, embracing those in need selflessly, aiming to improve lives while creating a community rich with love.
CON: If you choose to leave Meyerism or refuse to take your vows, you’ll be shunned by the entire community — including your own family. Essentially, your life as you know it is over, and you may also find yourself persecuted by Meyerist security.
PRO: The metaphors that create the foundation of the movement are powerful and striking. The notion of ascending a ladder rung by rung creates a process-driven approach to self-improvement that makes inner growth feel attainable.
CON: Taken literally, the idea of grasping a ladder and having it burn your flesh until you plummet off a cliff to your death is a bit terrifying.
PRO: Because Meyerism has only recently entered the realm of public awareness, it’s not driven by outside perceptions or corrupted by media interest…
New episodes of “The Path” premiere Wednesdays on Hulu.