“The pursuit of spiritual goals can be a useful excuse to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved trauma, and limited professional development. But prioritizing transcendence over relationships becomes a way to be self-centered while appearing to be concerned for the benefit of other people.
So psychologists … apply a simple test to spiritual statements: Do the beliefs and practices take the person closer to a functional and helpful existence, or away from one?”
Scott Carney. "A Death on Diamond Mountain. A True Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment." Gotham Books, 2015.
The message: don't join cults, especially if you have undiagnosed & untreated psychiatric conditions - perfectly reasonable!
But then the author warns against serious spiritual pursuits in general, travel to foreign countries with different cultures, and the power of evil spells, - all of these endangering sanity & life - ????
Futile attempts to escape psychosocial dysfunction through religion / spirituality is called spiritual bypassing. See: http://www.johnlovas.com/2013/02/processing-karma-now-spiritual-bypassing.html
When unfortunate, marginalized individuals get trapped in spiritual bypassing, usually after intensive brainwashing by sociopathic handlers, instead of finding heaven, they "unleash hell on earth", primarily for their own families. Such psychosocial illness has nothing to do with legitimate humanistic / religious / spiritual aspirations.
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an increasingly common humanistic pathway towards greater depth of meaning: http://jglovas.wix.com/awarenessnow#!Meditations-Potential/c17jj/565b14520cf221f2a7a5e228
Examples of legitimate Buddhist aspirations are expressed by Dogen:
"Just practice good, do good for others, without thinking of making yourself known so that you may gain reward. Really bring benefit to others, gaining nothing for yourself. This is the primary requisite for breaking free of attachments to the self."
and the Bodhisattva vow: http://www.johnlovas.com/2015/06/bohdisattva-vow.html