Seth Lepore left the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts by age 14. Some of his doubts were personal - the church’s warnings against masturbation were an issue - and he’d also started reading up on meditation and Eastern philosophy. Over the next two decades, he tried a variety of spiritual and self-improvement regimens, but never found one that he could go all the way with. His skepticism never left him.
“People start to make their gurus into gods,’’ Lepore says. “There’s plenty of people I know in these alternative traditions who are very grounded and wise people . . . but there’s plenty of people who get swept up into it, and it just becomes another dogmatic formation that they cling to.’’