Snort. Got here while trying to figure out what, if any answer (the comic provides none) there is to "What kind of ice cream do you put on a Koan?" And here I find this... lol
Seriously, though, like most arguments presented by monk style philosophers, the answer given is flawed. Which is more valuable of the following?
1. A pure gold hammer with a mess of rhinestones in the handle. Estimated material cost - $200.
2. A real hammer, with a gold filigree handle and an idiotic mess of bangles hanging off of it, jewels strung onto them. Estimated material cost - $200.
3. A real hammer, simple black handle, estimated store cost - $10.
Well, if the point of the hammer is to build a house, you have a problem, because both 2 and 3 are options. Number 2 is silly as hell, regardless of whether you glued all the junk on it yourself, or you claim to have found it in the lost tomb of Jesus. It may still hammer nails, but no one in their right mind would use it, except out of necessity of there being no other hammers available. Option #1 is completely useless, gold being too soft to hammer much of anything, and again, it doesn't become a more valuable hammer if you claim that "it" was found in the lost tomb of the great Illuminati or some similar gibberish. A cult is a cult because it either contains nothing but gold hammers, or it insists that everything must be done using hammers that have lots of idiotic junk glued onto them, which don't help make the hammer any more useful. Someone intent on building a house can as easily use the second option as the third, but the moment you start thinking that you "have to" have all the silly BS glued to the hammer for it to work, it becomes a cult. Witness pretty much all religions, which nearly universally insist that its impossible to invent a hammer, without the guidance of high order of hammer makers, as to what sort of bangles and filigree one has to add to it before the magic spirits will make it work right. ;) Some are though tend to be satisfied with just the hammer, but insist the handle must be red, or something, to make it lucky (which might be the approach of the few relatively "rational" religions in the world), of which most are not.
In general, the more rational your starting framework, the least silly the necessary robes/clown suits are, but even the most rational groups, if they don't take a critical look at certain assumptions, can get cultish. The key difference being if they opt to make those choices for distinction, or because they have actually come to believe that some detail of their world won't work without the silly hat.
Oh, and anyone know the answer to the original question that got me here? lol