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On 9/6/2011, Richard Condon wrote:


Hi Linda Jo,


Well, the first day of classes at the gym went well, and I have energy to spare! I just looked at the esoteric freedom blog, but I wasn’t able to find the post you referred to, so I surely have holes in my understanding of how long you were associated with the group, and all you were put through during that time. Am I correct in understanding that you were married to Robert Klein?


Here is a brief bit about my own history with the cult. I was approached by a high school friend who at the time I greatly admired, and was almost instantly hooked on the whole idea. My friend had several years earlier gotten me started with a group called “Direct Centering” which was similar to Lifespring and EST. I was in the Gans group for just under 10 years, until Sharon’s son kicked me out when one of my tuition checks bounced. During my time in the cult, I was fortunate enough to never be victim of nor witness any physical abuse, but there were some vague threats. Fred several times made allusions to using physical discipline, and an “older student” named Steve Burgee (sp?) threatened me during an all-night “3rd line of work”. Both these guys had 60+ pounds on me, so I found these threats cowardly.


I had wanted to leave for several years, but just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. During the time I was in school, I had a daughter, got married, and then had a son.


My wife was not “in” – and although I was forever vanishing at impromptu phone calls, even when out to dinner with the family, I never breathed a word of the cult to her.  After I left, I had very conflicted emotions, but still believed I had been in an esoteric school, and not a cult spearheaded by a drunk. (I’m referring to Sharon; if Alex was involved, they kept him hidden, probably because he was such a loose cannon and a liability.)


My wife and I moved upstate, and I heard about a Gurdjieff group nearby. Now curiosity got the best of me, and I had to see what it was about. The leader of this group, Frank Crushito (sp?) taught, in essence, the same ideas, but without all the secrecy or demands of exorbitant tuition (He asked for $5/class). Initially, I told him that I had read some Ouspensky and Gurdjieff in college, and so had a passing familiarity with the ideas. Several classes in, though, he asked me point blank whether I hadn’t had any other sort of connection, and, seeing no reason why I had to be “cleverly insincere”, I told him in brief about the NY group. After a decade of absolute silence, telling this one soul about the cult, even fleetingly, was like a chink in a dam retaining incredible pressure behind it. I began obsessing over how “the work” could be taught so differently, and began to question the NY group’s legitimacy for the first time. After several days of this, I googled Fred Mindel and Sharon Gans one evening, and was shocked at what I found — chiefly information on the Rick Ross website [culteducation.com] about the group while they were in the Bay Area. At first I wouldn’t believe this could be true, but began to correspond with others on the site, some of whom I knew must be former classmates. (Most used pseudonyms.) Before long I had to face the obvious reality that what I had believed had been a school had been a cult all along. With that established, I told my wife and kids everything there was to tell, and some of my friends. I soon was disenchanted with the new Gurdjieff group, but I more than got what I wanted in realizing the truth about the Gans cult.


This was all nearly 5 years ago.


I would like to help you in exposing Gans and company. Personally, I did get some benefit from my time “in”. I went to massage school after a suggestion from a classmate (not a ‘teacher’) and am still in practice 20 years later, and have also become an Advanced Rolfer. I met my wife as a result of an aim, and had some really excellent adventures. But none of that dampens the raw criminality of this deceitful group, and I know that many of my classmates had a much rougher ride. I was very fortunate, in fact, that my wife didn’t leave me – what with all my inexplicable running around – especially at Christmas time when the Christmas class was afoot. I will try to recall very specific things that were said, but it might help me if we could talk sometime — you are welcome to call me anytime. Evenings are usually best, after bedtime – best of all, say, between 9 and 10.








Do you remember when Fred had his jaw wired shut? and Bob was also suffering from a severe beating? Do you know who administered that beating? When I asked them, they lied to me or simply withheld the answer from me.





From Thomas Farber’s chapter – “Getting Religion” – in Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child, Berkeley, 1966-1969


Though the laughter was deep and its cadences natural, though it seemed without malice, the change in mood was so sudden that the assembly was still quiet. Further, they could not yet fathom what was funny, from what concept of humor this laughter welled.  The man who had given his name as Jack watched the speaker apprehensively, a nervous smile now on his lips, too willing to believe that some way out had been found.

All eyes were still on the speaker [named Alex], waiting for him to give order to this yet stranger turn of events, watching him enjoy what he apparently found so comic.  For his part he seemed to sense the very moment at which every person in the room attended his resolution, that instant in which every person present yearned for an answer, for an end to the outrage, and, exercising an unbelievable control, suddenly funneled the laughter into a tight smile, reached the side of the room without seeming to move, and began to talk with the man who had been so unfortunate as to ask him a question, talking at the man, through him, his every word infused with just a trace of irony and deprecation, as though there were some obvious joke he did not expect the man to understand.

“You see, Jack, what the lady wondered was if you possibly thought that we were supposed to put on some show for you, if you entertained the idea that we would perform for you, or that you might listen to our answers and perhaps show us your understanding of life.”

The speaker began to laugh again, as if to himself, and then again abruptly channeled his laughter.

“Well you see, my friend, the question has little to do with us.  It has, rather, everything to do with you, with what you really want.  To tell you the truth, Jack, if you don’t know what you want from us then you have no business being here.  Do you know what you want?”

The man was silent.

“Are you sure that you don’t know, Jack?”  Still he was silent.

“Then why don’t you leave now, and come back, if you want, when you know what you want. Thank you.”

It was staggering. With a smile he was telling the man to go, and from the inflection in his voice, the precision and tightness in the last “Thank you,” there was no question that the man could stay. The visitor pulled on his coat, looked around the room, and walked out the door.

Overwhelmed by the sequence of surprises, the shifts in mood, the reversals, and obvious control of the speaker, the assembly sat quiet, trying to gain some perspective on what had just occurred. Even the assumption of familiarity in the use of the man’s first name, over and again, was disturbing, as if there were no distance between strangers.  Just the disregard of social space was outrageous. And the whole encounter? It had been like witnessing a rape, so intimate was the questioning, so violent the insistence, so intrusive the pressure on what had proved to be so helpless a victim, one of us.



From Dave Archer’s memoir, Supping With Alex



Alex Horn had “simian palms”. That is, the palms of his hands were flat and devoid of the lines fortunetellers read. Ron Russell asked him about them once and Horn answered, “This is my gift.”


In 1965, Russell’s painting studio was in a barn next to Robert de Ropp’s organic garden on Sonoma Mountain Road near Glen Ellen, California, on the site of what is now Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. Ron was studying the Gurdjieff work under de Ropp, one time student of Ouspensky, and author of Drugs and the Mind, among many other books. Friendship with Ron grew after he left de Ropp’s group, and the two of us had become members of Alex Horn’s Gurdjieff group, known to us as The Group.


Without using his name, Robert S. de Ropp, in his book, Warrior’s Way: The Challenging Life Games (Dell Publishing, NY;1979), describes Horn as a certain bearded Jew of rather formidable presence. Also, an outrageous con artist, a ringmaster, a Diablerus Minor, a Lesser Shaman, and a little Rasputin.


No love lost there.


In the next breath de Ropp refers to us, Alex’s students:


‘Here were cultured, educated Americans, most of them with college degrees, concealing under a mask of sophistication, a level of suggestibility and credulity that would have disgraced a savage. He had his followers mooing like cows, braying like donkeys, barking like dogs and mewing like cats. He had them walking around bare-assed and dangling enormous phalluses between their legs. He had them wearing labels that read, Special Asshole. He had them rolling around naked in sex orgies. He had them fighting, dancing, drinking, fucking. He had them accepting teachings about man and the universe that were such unadulterated nonsense, even a child could hardly have believed them.’


Go Bob.


Robert was right. We did run around bare-assed some, although I never saw anything resembling an “enormous phallus”, and believe me, I would have noticed. Nor did I experience any sex orgies, although there was a night when a couple of hundred of us danced nude around a fire and women with pots of warm oil went about rubbing the men down. I suppose that could qualify. Still, people weren’t having sex in front of each other. Feasting, drinking, carousing and dancing, yes. Certainly there was sex in the bushes. I made love with my girlfriend Nancy once (as quietly as we could) in a room crowded with sleeping people. It was dark. I remember a lot of snoring. Drunken bad manners really. The Group drank alcohol like a Gold Rush bar on strike night. Trysts were mostly private however.


De Ropp also wrote that Alex referred to him as: the motherfucker.


I don’t know. Me thinks me hears Maestro Popocatepetl belching molten lava at Senor Ixtaccihuatl. In the year or so I was with The Group, I do not recall ever hearing Horn use that particular pejorative. I could be wrong. White people didn’t use that word much back then, even though in the early ’60s Lenny Bruce had planted the “motherfucker tree” with a smack-powered post-hole digger, the fruit, shall we say, had yet to fall. Well, then … Rick Barton said “motherfucker” every other word, and he was whiter than Prince Philip. I don’t know.


Anyway, Alex Horn definitely seemed to have more than mere charisma in his simian handshake. And, Little Rasputin or not, in retrospect, like de Ropp himself, Alexander Francis Horn stood decidedly apart from ordinary folks. That much is certain. Even decades later he remains utterly rare to me. I have never met anyone since, even slightly like Alex Horn. Never. Nor is he apt to turn up anytime soon lecturing at a “Whole Life Expo”.


I semi-reluctantly pushed my way into The Group, mostly from social pressure (my friends and lover wanted to do it) not to mention my Norwegian father’s love of limburger cheese with smoked oysters and warm buttermilk: that is, my rank curiosity gene.


The only elixir of consciousness I’d had up until then had been Sandoz Laboratory LSD in glass ampules along with the sex life of a wino. In 1966 I was not seeking anything apart from drugs, magic, art, and friends for answering life’s underpinning questions. And I was not, as de Ropp suggested, a cultured, educated American with a college degree. I was a twenty five year old drug and alcohol self-medicating sociopath working very hard to hobble through a recent psychotic break. And if that wasn’t enough, I was an iron-ass-closet-queen. I didn’t really care a thing about awakening from dreams, American or otherwise. As a Beat artist in fact, I considered dreams my forté. I had never heard of the notion of higher teaching or School. An idea both intriguing and disturbing. At least, from hints I managed to extract from Martin, our only friend already in The Group. For sure, I did not want people telling me what to do, and I sensed something of that sort coming, and didn’t like it.


Horn’s following expanded by the formation of new groups. The first group I am told, took time off in the beginning to find good jobs so everyone could pay the “Work”. Then, as he was joining the second group, mutual friend, Martin van der Kamp, invited my lover Larry and me, along with a few of our friends to join the second group. Then the second group brought in a third, and so forth, giving us a membership at its peak of around three hundred. Martin recruited us mainly with this question: “Are you happy with the way your lives are now … honestly? Because being around Alex will change that.” Of course we were ambivalent about “happiness”. I mean, who knows at twenty five if they are happy or not? As compared to what? Twenty?


The Group was described to us as a fast moving train. That if we did not jump on board, NOW, we would miss our chance at something miraculous. A meeting in a San Francisco Victorian was presented as if for us. We were given an address, a time, and told that if we wanted in, to be INSIDE before 8:00 PM sharp, since once the door closed, it would not open again. We procrastinated of course, until the last second, then hit the streets running after buses, across town with minutes to spare, along with Larry and our friend, the late Ken Schooner, the spark plug in this whole thing. It took three really: myself to drag my feet, Larry to wonder, Ken to ignite us. Then running up some stairs and literally shoving through the door, as it was being pushed closed. Ken and Larry shoved in first, then pulled my arm, half second to spare. My life has always been like that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wanted in too. Still, I had been raised [like] Elvis close to my mother, a woman repelled by groups. So I grew up with it. Why would a guy raised like me want to hang out in a group of seventy people mooing like cows, braying like donkeys, barking like dogs and mewing like cats?


Simply put, Alex Horn was mysterious and brilliant in every way. He even looked brilliant, with an Einstein forehead surrounded with dark, thick hair, brushed straight back. His physical superiority was hard to miss. Chiefly, the man was extremely active day and night. A tireless example of whatever work he chose. And there was nothing he liked better after an IMPOSSIBLY difficult day’s work, than partying all night with his students, smoking, drinking, feasting, dancing, and bedding the women. Hey, the guru gets the gals … or guys.


Merely being in the vicinity of Alex Horn was to feel a man alive in the moment, fully present yet confidently disinterested, as if focused beyond the horizon. Many students were certain he could read their thoughts.


Coming from the sophisticated theater world of New York, Alex Horn didn’t need telepathy. He simply checked our shoes and t-shirts, our stories, brags, omissions, lies, fears, skills, weaknesses and strengths. These were blatantly telling. Also, an elite began to form around Alex almost immediately, and out of that elite grew a subtle spy network. My job was to figure out who they were, and stay away from them. My psyche was set up that way from living in the closet.


The first group began at a party in Ron Russell’s living room in the small house he shared with his then wife Anya, off Sonoma Mountain road, on the rim of the Valley of the Moon.


I was not there.


The following comes from Ron.


Friends and neighbors, drawn to his house for the evening, by rumors of a teacher lately arrived from New York via the Southwest, were happily smoking pot and dancing to rock records.


During a momentary lull in the party, Alex spoke up, saying, “You think you’re in heaven, but you’re really all in hell, and I’m the only man here who can tell you how to get out!”


Then held forth, answering every question with unwavering nerve and charisma, thus transforming the loose gathering into a core group of proto-followers then and there.


That same night, much to his considerable horror, Ron’s wife walked up to him and said, “I’m leaving you tonight to go live with Alex in San Francisco because he is a conscious man and you’re not.” And like the Little Red Hen, she did. Anya walked out of their home on Alex’s arm, got into his car and drove off with him into the mountain fog.


My friend was left churning, inconsolable, enraged, and, curious. As he put it, “What the does this guy have that he can waltz into my house and leave with my wife?”


The following week Ron attended the next meeting Alex held in San Francisco. Also as related by Ron: the meeting included people at the original party meeting, plus invited friends. The turnout was large. Ron brought along a gifted clairvoyant. He wanted Anya back, of course. And he wanted to remain neutral to any mass hypnosis or Coyote power Alex might use to control The Group. The plan was for Ron’s friend to drop a sort of mental bell jar over the two of them, a psychic duck blind if you will, in the middle of fifty or so people in a Victorian living room stripped of furniture. Which he did.


All seated on the floor faced an empty folding chair at one end of the room, evidently awaiting the Main Mass in more ways than one. Alex entered quickly, glanced over the crowd; then, pointing at Ron’s friend said,”That is an interesting trick you’re doing, but we have no use for it here. Get out!”


Seconds later Alex hopped between people, grabbed the fellow by the shirt front, then began yanking him through The Group, into the hallway, then down to the head of a staircase, then wham, bam, actually pitched the guy down a flight of stairs! Amazing, audacious, brutal, dramatic, and, very Alex Horn at the time.


And Ron was hooked. He simply had to find out what the hell was going on.


Alex had a James Joyce jaw that cupped his mouth like a ceramic bowl. When he spoke, whether lecturing or answering questions, his tone radiated total authority. Frankly, he frightened both Larry and I, living as we did in fear of what might happen if The Group knew we were not only gay, but lovers. Alex came off fundamentalist concerning the proper roles for men and women. Women did women’s work, men did men’s, period.


Common homo americus …?


Who knew, or wanted to know.


Once at night, at an outdoor meeting with a big fire, I found myself near Alex, something I avoided. I had excellent liquor hidden in my jacket: D.O.M. Benedictine and Brandy. Flashing him the bottle, he said, “Let’s go…”, abruptly leading me into the bushes where we guzzled the whole bottle down together, away from the others. We didn’t talk, we drank. I was attracted to him the way certain small birds clean the teeth of crocodiles.


Horn walked on stout legs with unmistakable intention, always seemingly headed somewhere. He sported a tight, muscular pot belly and stood with feet apart, hands resting on his hips, like a Samurai truck driver. The immediate space around him always, openly private, as though cordoned off with invisible police tape.


At a meeting a student once asked Alex why he chain-smoked Pall Malls.


“Smoking is beneficial for this Work! Tobacco contains hydrogens that are needed to grow a soul.”


Alex used to say we were not in the Work, meaning of course, the Gurdjieff Work. Most of us paid little attention. Repeatedly, he described our endeavor as “a small preparatory school” at best. Saying that if we worked exceedingly hard on growing being, one of us MIGHT join the Real Work … someday. I took this one of us to mean him. I think a lot of us did. And there came a time that I wanted to sacrifice for him, to push his evolution, because he was already the most evolved among us. Aren’t they all.


I know too, that Alex’s personal methods of confrontation and violence led ordinary folks to morally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically abuse each other, gravely, while calling it something else, most often: Work shocks!



Re: Subud  CEI


Posted by: stranger
January 13, 2009  07:49AM


More than anything I’m just curious. I was a “student” of Anne Horn, Haas for a very long time, my children grew up in it, and I did not leave until I was in my mid-fifties. I have very strong emotions concerning my relationship with the woman called Anne Haas, but I chose to “study” with her and it is my karma and responsibility to figure it all out. I’m wondering who are these people who write here: what do you really know about the late 60’s and the 70’s? Why did people join “cults”? I deal daily with my grown children regarding “the group”, and how it effected their life, and mine…but it is part of my life and I have to deal with those decisions.


Anne Haas is not an evil woman, but I do believe that she suffers from mental issues, my guess is that she suffers from a form of Narcissism, but as I am not a therapist, I do not know. Unless you personally knew her, you would have no idea of her incredible charisma. I did believe she “saved” our lives, she rescued us from the 60’s and 70’s. I was wrong, very wrong! I personally do not want anything more to do with her, and yes, she did make “suggestions” that, as it turned out, were not in my best interest, nor my children’s, but I did allow her control of my life, and that was my decision.


There are people still “studying” with her now, but once again that is their choice. My choice is: keep her far away from me!


If you are truly interested in what life was like in this particular “cult”, ask me, but please do not rant about things you do not know of or understand.



From Dave Archers memoir, A Fourth Way Standup 


. . .There was a lot of student abuse, both by the teacher, and students going after each other. Time to rip a new asshole in the body of so called “Esoteric Christianity”.


G. Work is transformation through eccentric (esoteric) ideas you would have rejected one hour earlier. Anything that has the effect of “changing” an entire world view in one hour, beware. Study all maps. I didn’t. I fell into a G-hole. I survived with injuries. The telephone guy I landed on, however, died of a broken neck. Six weeks later his pregnant wife died of a broken heart. The only good news, the baby survived. The bad: the kid was raised by Gurdjieffian child neglectors. It’s true: my observation and that of dozens of others is this: not insignificant numbers of Gurdjieffians consider children fairly worthless until after they grow up, therefore ignore them using situational sliding scales from say, mildly creepy to out right evil. Shame on their sorry asses. Indeed, since releasing this four and a half years ago, I have received dozens of e-mails from grown kids raised in G. They tell me they did not see sex in public, but they were terribly neglected. (In one group in Sonoma, run by Anne Haas, the children all ran away one night to the Santa Rosa Police to report they were being abused. The cops took them back, and Anne, as only a Gurdjieff Witch can do, “convinced” the cops, through SLYING, that everything was just fine, at which point they left. ANNE HAAS, you are a bedridden black hole, having your last faithful students serve you platters of psychiatric pills while you rave like the RED QUEEN. The children you hurt are making a documentary movie about your sorry butt. Do you have any idea how many kids you “raised” that now hate your guts. See Hacate, children grow up. Guess you never thought of that. Oh, that’s right, sociopaths don’t give a shit. Now it’s your turn, and there will be no fun at all. You knew exactly what you were doing. You wanted piles of money, that’s all. Hey, I’m only writing the way you have talked all your four-letter life. I was there Anne when you were married to Alex. I heard you screeching like a banshee. We all did.)




From Lewis Carroll’s novella, Through the Looking Glass:


“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”


“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”



Re: Fourth Way, Sharon Gans, Robert Klein group in Boston


Posted by: pocahontas  

May 25, 2010  3:44AM


Hi – I was there for far too many years – I left the Billerica class well over 3 years ago and have reclaimed my life. It took 6 months for my stomach to stop jumping and to be able to really relax – to stop rushing around to get stuff done, not feeling just generally guilty for everything I am NOT doing which THEY expect. There are certainly scars, from the multiple violations of your trust, some of which are deep. It takes time to realize the full extent of the repercussions. You have been living a lie in the middle of people who trust you — so leaving it all behind is not always smooth.


It was incredibly healing for many of us who left to meet each other regularly afterward and decompress, share stories and put it into perspective. One of the hardest aspects of leaving is coping with feeling naive and stupid for having been duped for so long. So it is really good to hear other people talk about their experiences. It is also necessary to learn fully about the depth of the scam that Sharon and Robert and company have perpetrated. It is a profoundly violent betrayal of the highest wishes of their “students.” And it is disconcerting to think about the fact they are doing it knowingly. FYI – they really know nothing which is truly esoteric – what they “teach” is material which anyone could pick up from books, from Oprah, from their own psychotherapists, or made up stuff.


Those of us out here have built friendships and done many things together, gabfests, parties, barbecues, art, travel, movies, concerts – you know – like real friends do!!!



Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area–mid-seventies


Posted by: dar3463

Date: January 13, 2011  3:19AM


Part 1


My name is Don Raskopf. I post ALL of my personal information here & EF [Esoteric Freedom blog] because I have NOTHING to fear from vampires & leeches. I use full names of those I have known personally for over 2 decades because LIGHT is a disinfectant – an antidote to secrecy & mind-control. I was recruited into this cult – THIS IS A CULT, NOT A SCHOOL – by my then girlfriend Julie Hodson (co-founder of Taylor-Hodson). I was manipulated into paying thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of slave labor annually for years. I was seduced into building (with many friends) FOR FREE the following homes & businesses – many sold at huge profit to Gans (I have many photos I would love to post – RR let me know how):


Taylor-Hodson’s first office in Waterside Plaza


Fred Mindel’s house in Lake Hopatcong


Terry Christgau’s house near Mindel’s


Fred Mindel & Minerva Taylor’s illegally joined adjacent apartments in Waterside Plaza


Mindel’s “doctor’s” office Suite 505, 133 East 58th Street


Gans & Horn’s previous apartment 59 West 12th Street, Apt. 11A/G, New York, NY


Montana – Falls Creek Ranch, Kauffman Road, Condon, Montana


Ilsa (Gans’ daughter) Kaye’s brownstone – 6 East 10th Street, New York, New York


Pawling – see details under real estate link on Esoteric Freedom main page


dozens of other projects


Part 2


It is my opinion that the only way to kill a snake is to cut off its head. Rick Ross has years of experience trying to free cult members with very mixed results. No one will leave while hypnotized – we need to destroy the hypnotist.


This is spiritual rape and abuse – call it by its real name. Gans has stolen millions and destroyed hundreds of lives. I will join anyone who wishes to prevent further enslavement by ANY non-violent means – pickets, lawsuits, publicity, civil disobedience, etc.


“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”


Elie Wiesel



Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area–mid-seventies


Posted by: nadine

Date: January 15, 2011  03:23AM (excerpt)


Hi Don,
I am not involved with the cult you describe, or have any family member involved, but I have a daughter still very much under the influence of the Sri Chinmoy Centre after many years. We believe she may not be a disciple now, but sadly still does not want any contact with her family.


After reading many posts on this board, I am constantly amazed and distressed by how similar and destructive (despite differing names) high demand, coercive groups can be. It’s like the leaders all read from the same “text book” !!


The psychological damage done to decent, trusting people can be, and often is, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, enormous. I try my best to keep positive that one day I will receive a phone call from my daughter out of the blue. It’s been several years since I last saw her. I miss her terribly.


As is the case with many, many others, the distress of being cruelly deceived by a cult leader or of losing a loved one to a group is compounded by the (a) ignorance and (b) apathy of many in the general community. It hurts, but it really isn’t surprising is it? It is so difficult isn’t it, to try to explain to anyone who has not experienced the phenomenon, just how destructive to one’s life it is. I think that many people, including most politicians, don’t really want to listen too intently regarding mind-control. (After all, if they knew even they too could succumb to such influence given the “right” circumstances, how uncomfortable would that be?)


I understand exactly how frustrated you feel about cult leaders getting away with their deception. There is no easy answer is there, except to keep plugging away, trying our best to get the message out. Sometimes, some brave souls will listen (we have one Senator and one journalist in particular here in Australia, who do their level best to bring this social tragedy to public attention). That gives me heart, even though we have a long way to go of course.


Hang in there Don. You’re certainly not alone.



ganscult – March 29, 2011 (excerpt)



To all “students”:


Please understand that you have been lied to and fooled. Your good will and real wish to evolve has been co-opted by a group of Psychotic people. This may seem unbelievable to you but you can read this and VERIFY FOR YOURSELF.





About Cult Confessions and The Gentle Souls’ Revolution blog

This blog is an exposition of the five years I spent attending a “secret esoteric school”, or a cult simply called “school”.  After I left in August, 2011,  the hazy and incomplete picture presented by this “school’s” leadership started to come into focus and the missing pieces began falling into place — it was as if my psyche became a cinema and someone ran a movie on its big screen while a part of me sat back and watched. I then discovered the website Esoteric Freedom, created by other former “students”, and suddenly began learning of new levels of school’s seedy underbelly and dark, shadowy past. The writing contained in this blog represents my new policy: no more secrets.  It is my attempt to understand how and why I got sucked in — and to “spin silk from a sow’s ear” and sew my own understanding and wisdom from the experience. It is also my way of joining a growing chorus of voices who are speaking out and exposing this fraud called “school” for what it truly is – a cult that extorts money, steals time and — in some cases — actually destroys lives.



Warren Peace says on GSR:

I hate to be the broken record, but . . . . There are no “real ideas” in school. The ideas of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky themselves invalidate so-called “school,” reveal it to be a sham and a fake. There is no connection to a real lineage of teachers. There is no connection to an “esoteric circle.” Whatever good we got out of school was accidental. None of us was ever exposed to any of the actual ideas.


If there are any actual ideas. Was Gurdjieff connected to a lineage of real teachers? He claimed he was. Is there any evidence that he was? Is there any evidence that anything he did ever led to an increase of consciousness in anyone? Is there any evidence that the world is a better place because of his “influence”? Making unprovable claims — the world would have ended already if it weren’t for these ideas, the esoteric circle is holding everything together, only you’re at too low a level to see it — merely puts G and everything he ever said in the same category as any other religion or cult. Either you have faith, or you’re an infidel and will die like a dog in the street. How has that particular attitude played out throughout history? It’s not a pleasant story. And no, there’s not a shred of evidence that Gurdjieff or Ouspensky knew anything. And if they did, they certainly didn’t pass it along to Sharon Gans or Robert Klein.


Klein doesn’t know anything that you couldn’t learn at a corporate empowerment “boot camp” or motivational weekend. None of his knowledge, such as it is, is esoteric knowledge. He knows a little how to manipulate people, and he’s pretty good at breaking down the most surface sort of inhibitions that people have about asserting themselves. There’s nothing “special” about it. And his knowledge — and interest — begin and end with recruiting and indoctrination of new recruits. He has no idea how to deal with people’s real difficulties, and he has no real insight. Which is part of the reason why the “older classes” were so deadly after a while. He had nothing to offer, and he taught his “younger teachers” nothing much beyond the techniques of surveillance and manipulation required to keep students’ asses in their seats. What happens to them when their asses are in those seats, well . . . not his problem. Now that I think of it, Robert could probably make millions as a legitimate motivational speaker. He could run management boot camps for major corporations and charge an arm and a leg. Hey Robert, how about it? Do something above board for a change, and stop sucking the blood of innocent and unwilling victims.



From Our Stories posted on the Esoteric Freedom website:



For Those Who Have Ears to Hear and Eyes to See


I was part of the school in Boston for many years and have many fond memories and rich experiences for which I am grateful.


These memories and experiences were paid for by my money and my labors to the school and more specifically to my ex-teachers, Sharon and Robert. These teachers and my so-called “friends” for many years (who I am still trying to forgive for they are so strongly under Sharon and Robert’s influence) performed an extremely violent and emotional rape on my being and left me isolated in Montana. Sharon Gans, the leader of the school, and her cohorts tried to influence my wife who I love dearly to separate from me against her wishes. Thank God my wife, who had long wanted out of this school saw the light and immediately left after she witnessed the heinous act performed on me.


It is indeed shameful that this deranged woman wields a power over people by misusing the sacred ideas of the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky to manipulate marriages and break up families for her own personal aggrandizement and monetary gain.


Another teacher in Sharon’s employ once answered a bold newer student when he asked where all the money went (millions of dollars in cash tuitions and contributions): “If you want a good steak, you don’t ask the Butcher what he does with the money.” Well, in this case, for your information the butcher has purchased multi-million dollar homes for herself and her children. Other homes were purchased by students, worked on intensely using only volunteer student labor, skilled carpentry, and architectural services, with all supplies paid for by the students. The butcher then promised that what they were creating from their financial investment and sweat from working on themselves – An Artist’s Retreat – which was to be there to use at any time with their families for the rest of their lives. Shortly thereafter, the Artist’s Retreat was sold at a 400% profit. No one seems to know what happened to the promise and student investors have not been able to find out what happened to any of the money from the sale. In this case, the good steak seems to have disappeared. The bold student above could now ask a different question. “If we paid in advance for a good steak and were promised delivery. And, lo and behold, the steak disappears, can we now ask the butcher what she did with our money?”


The financial deception is not my major concern. I gave money over the years for a theatre that never came to be – or at least that I never saw. I believe that S and R should be more up front about the school being a business that fully supports Sharon and her family in a manner that they are accustomed to and leave it at that. Some students would still probably come. 


However, I would wholeheartedly discourage any students from joining this school and any student from remaining under this influence where the so-called “teacher” of these sacred ideas – takes it upon herself to play God with people’s lives, instructing them to marry, divorce and procreate even against their natural tendencies. I have seen over the years how this has wrecked many people’s lives – even those lives of many people in high places in the school organization. 


My life has blossomed since leaving school and all who have left that I know have their own pace for healing. But there is plenty of support which I am grateful for.


I pray for the strength and guidance to be able to forgive those who have hurt me from Sharon on down the line.


Be brave and open your eyes and ears.



Why I Left …


I am sorry that I never said goodbye to all of you…it was a confusing time and I could not have afforded to be lured back in. I wanted it to be my own decision to take “time off”, and then ultimately to leave. I know you all can understand how difficult that decision was to make in light of all of the internal pressures, friendships, time devoted to teaching and the ideas which I will always love…it weighed heavily on me. But it was the right decision for me. You have to do what is right for you.


Quite simply, I left because I was finally strong enough to leave.


After many years of asking no questions, I started to ask them…basic ones, ones that you have asked silently in your head for 20 years, but never dared to ask in class lest someone think less of you – or perhaps you might get one of those disdainful sideways glance responses that would shut you down for months. I am sure none of you asked about me and where I was when I disappeared…a friend who you knew for 18 years. You were taught not to question and I understand that. That is also one of the reasons why I left. I need to be around people who are not so afraid…I could not teach that “fear” anymore, could not be a part of the problem. We were all cut off from basic conscience for so long. I started to trust mine again. 


The answers to my questions from Robert were at best unconvincing – some were complete lies. Blatant lies which I listened to without comment. Lots of “I don’t knows”. Now how is that possible? Realize that Robert was my friend and this was hard.…I saw enough, had experienced enough to see patterns everywhere, and this refusal to answer anything directly was one of them. I had a hard time looking at all of you, watching you become manipulated – because of your weaknesses. We all know how to do it…anyone who has done third line knows how to do it to others.


I left because I couldn’t do to you what Sharon had done to Robert and what he was doing to me…and ultimately what I would do to you. That is the way things go. I have watched Robert – after 40 years in the work, flattened by a sideways glance by his teacher. It has that much power over him and he does not recover until the void is filled with some compliment and then we move on. The ultimate control over another. It truly is all about control. I found it terrifying. Tear down, build up, keep someone off balance. It works, until you start to see the patterns and then you are not so taken in by the compliments – or torn apart by the negative and often reactive, violent “summations” of your character. Sometimes extremely subtle, sometimes not – whatever is more effective. Enough. These “summations” especially by Sharon, can have extreme effects. Even if Robert disagrees, he says nothing. Neither did the rest of us.  


I left because I wanted Robert’s tone eliminated from my voice. I truly do not like it. It has been imprinted on so many of my friends’ voices as well…just the mechanical habit of duplicating another’s voice. This does not contribute to “waking up”.


I left because most of my oldest friends in school did not seem happy – or fulfilled, or strong, despite outward appearances. Emotionally, physically, or intellectually. I feel they were exhausted – in a constant state of catch-up. No exercise at all for most. And so many were sick – actually physically sick. Drawn. Most were treated with respectful “disdain”, instead of anyone trying to determine why so many were disabled in one way or another in the first place. Entering the 50’s and 60’s, there seems little effort to respond to their bodies which are sending out loud – very loud messages. I tried to talk about nutrition at CR, but frankly, given the sleep patterns – or lack of sleep patterns, it was useless. Sleep is a big deal, necessary for healing and clear thoughts. Read about it. Sleep deprivation – even mild forms – for long periods of time does a number on your body and your psyche. But it is useful for those who wish to control you. I brought this up so many times to Robert, as I found it physically painful. He deferred to Sharon, who sets the rules. 


Just be careful. I have no “investment” in seeing anyone in or out of school. Personally, I no longer trust the motives. Make up your own mind. Wake up.


A friend 



Finding Life in Leaving


I have been “out” for fourteen years and have found that while I appreciated some of the teachings and experiences I had, what I miss most is the people I grew to admire and love.  Ironically, many of them were fellow “students” of mine.  I have never felt myself longing for R’s heavy-handedness or the bad therapy and poor advice I received while there.  I now watch with interest as my friends continue to leave and find new life on the other side and I find it surprising that I never really knew them while in “school”.


When I left there were few other ex-members whose names and numbers I knew.  Of course this was by design.  But I persisted and ended up helping a good friend leave and this created a two-person support group in our exit process.  I found the transformation in the man I thought I knew extraordinary.  While in the group, he was very often tired and worn out and was forced out of two long term relationships as a result of “rules” he was forced to follow.  I remember vividly the night he left.  He radiated with happiness, exploded with anger, and laughed at the absurdity of  having devoted himself to a man and a system that had nearly destroyed him.  It wasn’t until that evening that I realized how lucky I was to have escaped before having my life altered in a similarly destructive way.


Within three years of leaving my friend had found a teaching job ( a long-term “aim”), married a wonderful woman and is now the proud father of two young girls.  Talking to him on the phone recently, he said life was “wonderful and full.”


So what does this have to do with me?  It took me some time to figure out how to understand my experience in the Fourth Way (as it was then known).  I found it ironic that I only began to understand the system and the dynamics within it once I left.  The secrecy and “levels” made everything so compartmentalized that it was impossible to see the larger structure.  Very quickly I came to realize that I had been recruited as part of someone else’s aim.  My desire to pursue meaning and being was co-opted to provide others with money and power to dictate my spiritual course for me.  My “chief weakness” was suspicion, I was told early on, after I asked whether my cash “tuition” was tax-deductible (as it should be in the case of a non-profit organization).  A reasonable question was turned into a personal weakness to protect dirty secrets from being discovered.  I had wonderful experiences at my first “class outside of class” as it seemed every woman found me attractive and every older member wanted to get to know me.  It wasn’t until after I left that I found out that this was all by design.  How did all of these people really feel?  I still wonder that at times.  Sometimes lies can feel rewarding and this was one of many times I realize I was emotionally manipulated.


As I moved onward and upward I became a true believer.  I was proud that I completed every aim during my time in and I felt fulfilled by the acting and singing I was doing in Jordan’s acting class and in Arbor Vitae (a group-related singing group).  But at the same time I was growing more distant from close friends and family, I missed some important family events, and I changed jobs so that I could devote more time to “school”.  Those who knew me well outside of the group said that I was becoming more arrogant, dogmatic, and controlling as I began to internalize the behavior of older members and teachers.  Of course I thought I was growing my being.  Sometimes lies can feel rewarding.


Then one day in March I was called to my home at my sister’s request to confront my mother about a group she had been involved with for almost thirty years.  As a therapist began to list the aspects of dangerous forms of mind-control, I realized that I had been duped.  My first reaction was one of horror.  I was too smart and too self-realized to get caught in a cult.  It couldn’t be.  But I had to find out and I began reading.  Before the next meeting, I had read three important books on mind-control and cult dynamics and then I headed to Woburn to see for myself.


My final experience in school was horrific.  I saw body-work inducing trance states (even as I enjoyed the movement one last time), watched as R. shut down critical thought in the early class and then watched how the group disciplined anyone who fell out of line later on.  The teachings on the food diagram became painfully easy to understand for the first time.  All you really need to understand is that Carbon 14 can only be produced by being in a Fourth Way School.  Now that it’s OSG or whatever the latest subterfuge is, does that still count?  This flew in the face of my experience.  I had met many other extraordinary men: Father Bede Griffiths, Ram Dass, Henry Nouwen, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jean Vanier who had no connection to “the work” but were great men and spiritually developed nonetheless.  My experience told me what the truth was.  The big lie was revealed.


Of course, there was a part of me, the true believer, that thought that perhaps I was making a horrible mistake.  I had devoted years of my life, made many close friends, and had learned some valuable things.  I had experienced other-worldly classes outside of class and pushed myself to the limit.  But I had seen the group had misled me, even as it had offered me some things of value and I quickly realized that I had no option.


As I become further removed from the experience, I realize that it is possible to integrate some of the best aspects of “school” in my own life.  I still pursue my passions (“aims”), I have a wonderful group of friends and enjoy seeing my old Fourth Way friends at social occasions, and I am part of an active church community that provides many of the same things that I was able to get while in the group.  I may not get to experience a Christmas “class outside of class” again but I also spend time with my family, get enough sleep, and have ownership over my life.  I am happy, fulfilled, and content.  I have found that escaping from a lie is more satisfying at a deeper level than is the temporary reward of living someone else’s lie.


From time to time I run into people I know who are still “in school.”  When I see that they panic at my presence and struggle to acknowledge my existence, I am reminded once again that “sleeping humanity” is a question of perspective.  I realize that I view them the exact way that they view me.  Who is right?  Black and white thinking is tempting and simplistic.  If you view the world that way, they may be right.  But there are hundreds of other groups just like it that think the same way.  So if you view the world in shades of gray, as I do, you will realize that such a dramatic difference between those in the “work” and those outside it is simply part of the bigger lie.  It can only make sense in a world where information is regulated, secrecy rules, and you are taught to think from someone else’s system.


Life is beautiful in its complexity.  I find that I appreciate the fact that I had an opportunity to be a part of the Fourth Way but I never want to do it again.  I found some constructive meaning in a destructive system.  I love people I never really knew.  I have gone from respecting R. to having a profound sense of pity for him, trapped as he is.  The truth is liberating, but there is still much for us to do in making sense of what our experience “in the work” meant. That path is unique to every one of us.  We need to replace R., Sharon, et al. with our own voices of inner-authority and stand confident in the knowledge that real teachings and wisdom are not dependent on coercion, mis-representation and lies.  Learning not to lie will set you free.




I Remember, I Remember



Once, a very long time ago, Fred told us that things are not what they seem, but that in actuality, everything was really the opposite of what it appeared to be.


What I thought he meant by those words so many years ago, is not what I think now. For the past 18 years, my life has been the opposite of what it appeared to be. My life has been an illusion. It has been that way ever since I started school.


I have also come to believe that school is not what it appears to be. It may very well be the exact opposite.


Make up your own mind.
Listen to your heart.



We were all very well trained. If you thought that what was being said to you by anyone was unjust or unfair or that your teacher did not understand what you were trying to say, you were always wrong and your teacher was always right. It was because our teachers were “higher” beings and were in real communication with higher powers and could clearly see the invisible world and all the things we were not able to see. Sharon had a window into our soul that we did not have ourselves. She knew us better than we knew ourselves. She knew all our secrets. She knew our truth and we relied on her to tell it to us because we came to distrust our own intuitions and impulses.


We were taught that if there was any objection in us, then our work was to remove that objection, stamp it out, squash it, destroy it. We were given the exercise to accept everything. Later on we would take that on ourselves as an aim: “My aim is to accept everything.” Everything had to be phrased in the positive. You could never say: “My aim is to not object”. It became an automatic response of how to word things and what to say. The automatic responses are still there. The more you parroted the automatic responses, the better a student you were. The more you acted like and spoke like your teachers, the better a student you were. The more you did exactly what you were told, the better a student you were. It was all in the name of “thinking for ourselves” but it was, in fact, the exact opposite.


The more you confessed your wrong doings or your doubts in public, the better a student you were.


For many years, I prayed silently before I stood up to speak in class: “Please God, don’t let me put my foot in my mouth. Do not let me say anything that will make them yell at me. Help me to say what I really mean so that it does not get distorted.” The problem was that it was so totally unpredictable what would happen. There was no way to prepare myself for what might ensue. I tried for years to understand why one thing happened one time to one person and another thing happened another time to someone else. It was not a system I could learn because it was completely arbitrary. I think it depended on how the particular teacher was feeling on any particular day or on how much they had to drink before or during class. Sometimes, they needed to set an example for the rest of us and they needed a scapegoat.


Sometimes they were angry at us and needed to retaliate and punish us. Sometimes they used the information they had been told by our sustainers to manipulate us into doing what they wanted. Sometimes it was just a whim.


The object, of course, was to be a good student. The object was to be a good student, not to live my life and that was the exact opposite of what we were being taught. It was so important to be seen as doing the right thing, speaking the right words and to be approved of. If you did you were golden and praise was heaped on you and you were given more responsibility and if you did not you were yelled at, scorned, humiliated, annihilated. That is where everything being the opposite of what it seemed to be, came into play. You always wanted to appear in a certain light whether it was the truth or not. The catch-22 was that it was important to be sincere in all of this because everyone could tell if you were really doing something or just seeming to do something.


Sometimes, I felt like I was invisible to my teachers. It was always important never to lie to one’s teacher. Lying kills essence. “Lying kills essence” is a mechanical thought at this point. Mechanical = Bad. There is no good and bad. Our work was to become less mechanical. Is that really what was happening? Was I not actually becoming more mechanical? My new mechanicality was approved of by my teachers. How well could I parrot the work at the right time? How did I know what the right time was? My job became to act my part whether I believed it or not. We were taught roles to play. We must all wear our bright shiny faces and smile and accept everything that was given to us and then we had to pay with gratitude for what we got. And never stop paying.


The sad part is that we all had parts of ourselves that were annihilated. We all had many parts of ourselves that were destroyed or that went into hiding. What really belonged to us was removed and replaced with what “our teacher” thought was appropriate. We believed that it was really our own true natures. If it was not replaced, it was squashed down as far as it could go. Pushed into the deepest darkest corner inside of us.




Like a reflection on the water…
Which is the reality and which is the illusion?
Where does one end and the other begin?




I left school the weekend of July 4, 2005. I count the official leaving as the day that I actually made the phone call to Robert’s service stating that I would not be back.


I missed my friends and I felt a bit disoriented, a little sad and lonely but basically I was quite all right for a long time afterwards. On the whole, I felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was a relief to leave. I breathed easier than I had in a long time.


At the beginning of December, I received a phone call and it was after that phone call that I began to feel as if I was losing my mind and I plunged very deeply into the darkness of depression.


As a child, I had grown up in one of those huge cavernous pre-war 4 bedroom, 3 bath apartments in Park Slope. We lived on the ninth floor overlooking Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Public Library. An old wood manually operated elevator brought you up to a small vestibule and the entrance to two apartments. When you entered the door to our apartment, you found yourself in a grand foyer that was larger than my first studio apartment on West 10th Street. There were doors off the foyer that went to kitchen to the left, the living room and a long hallway off to the right which went to our bedrooms with our parents room at the far end. As you entered the foyer there was a long thin black lacquer table where the mail was put every morning. Above that table was a large gold framed mirror that now hangs above the fireplace in my own living room.

When my parents were out for the evening, which they frequently were, I always had the feeling that they could still see what happened in the apartment. It was the mirror that was a magical lens that recorded everything that went on in front of it and everything the mirror could see, my parents could see. It hung in the foyer silently watching and judging, watching and judging everything that I did.


My main sin as a child was overeating. The foyer and its mirror hung between the kitchen and my bedroom so every time that I went to the kitchen to get something to eat, the mirror was there watching and judging, watching and judging. I was therefore forced to hide and lie about my actions to the mirror as well as to everyone else. If I had food in my hand and I was taking it back to my room to eat, I had to crouch down so the mirror would not see me passing by with the food in my hands.


Was that the beginning? The first time I started to lie and hide? I am not sure. What I am sure of was that I was a child who ate compulsively because I had a feeling of always being empty and that I did not want anyone to know. What I am sure of is that I felt that I was always being watched and judged for everything I did. Watching, judging, hiding and lying. When I hung the mirror in my house in New York, I put it in the public hallway where it could see everyone that came and went from the building. When I hung the mirror in my present home, I put it high above the fireplace so that it was placed where it could see nothing at all. Until now, I have often wondered why I hung a mirror where you could not see anything in it. It has not caught my reflection in years but I still keep it.


It was the feeling of being watched and judged that I transferred to Sharon and to school. With the watching and judging came huge monumental feelings of guilt. While I was in school, it was that guilt that woke me up crying at 4 AM unable to go back to sleep for so many years. The silent guilt that kept me in school for so many years. It was a burden that I could never seem to get out from under. I would never be good enough to be able to manage my life on my own – to make my own decisions, to really live my life the way they kept telling me to. Of course, that was the catch – in school I was supposed to live my life the way I was told to, not the way I wished to. I was being told that the way Sharon said to do things was the “right” way and that way was what I really wanted, but it was not true. It was what Sharon told me I wanted, not what I actually wanted. It was who Sharon told me I should be, not who I am. They may in fact be the opposite.


When I came to school, the habit of hiding and lying was already there. I had done it all my life and I continued under the watching and judging eyes of Sharon where I had left off with my mother and the mirror.

Talking with friends who are now also outside the influence of school has been one of the most helpful things since I left. The other night I listened to a woman, explain how she had sat in class and felt like an apostate because she could not understand what Sharon was saying. She kept thinking: “What the hell is she talking about?” How often have I sat there in class and listened to Sharon or someone else speak and think, “What the hell are they talking about?”  I sat for many years and thought that many times but I hid my thoughts and I lied about them. I never stood up and asked the question and I never asked the question in private to my friends. We all had to maintain the illusion that not only did we always understand what was going on, but that we were there and awake and truly sincerely striving to become like those people who frequently never made any sense to me. It was all hiding and lying because I never stood up and questioned anything and because I internalized it all and only sought their approval and love. I learned how to stuff myself way down deep where no one could find me, least of all myself.


Often there were unspoken (as well as spoken) threats and menaces underlying the feelings of being watched and judged. I never spoke my true feelings to any of my “friends” for fear that they would report me. I am not sure that I knew my true feelings after awhile but there was always something vaguely disturbing about what went on in school and I was racked with guilt for not conforming to the picture of the “perfect student” that I wanted to be in order to gain their love and approval. Yes, there is something in a man or woman that never lies. It just becomes harder to hear it after awhile. That guilt woke me up at 4 AM every morning crying for years. There was a small still voice crying in the wilderness but I turned a deaf ear to it.


It was also fear that I would be found out, that I would be forced to confess all my secrets in public before the judging eyes of my friends and my teachers. No matter how much they said that they did not judge, I always felt judged. I always felt that there was a right way and a wrong way to do things, right and wrong things to say, right and wrong things to do. There was a certain way that things were done in school and that was the “right” way – the way you might have done things in life before you met school were the wrong way. No matter how much they told me that right and wrong was a false duality and I was not being judged, I still felt I was being judged for right or wrong efforts. It was at my throat and it made me miserable and no amount of Sharon’s coaxing could get it to go away. It was a second education and I was made over in an image of someone who was not me.


It was always those people who did and said the “right” things and made the “right” efforts who seemed to get ahead in school and become part of the “inner circle” of students clustered closely about the teachers. Half of the time, I never understood what was “right” about those “right” things and what was “wrong” about the “wrong” things. It seemed arbitrary to me very frequently. When I became part of that inner circle, I never understood what I had done to get there and I never believed it made me any better than anyone else. When Sharon said to me that first night in Montana that being there was a result of all of my hard work for so many years, I did not believe her. I was there for many other reasons but not that.



Like a reflection on the water…

The reflection can be distorted.



When I received the call on that December morning, my first impulse was to think that since it was so close to Christmas she was calling to ask me to come back to school and would tell me how much fun it would be to have me first reappear at the Christmas Class. Or perhaps they just needed more help. Even now, Christmas is still a very difficult time of year for me.


She first told me that she had wanted to make sure that I had not left school because I felt forced into doing so.  I told her that no, actually, I had been wanting to leave for a long time and the situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise.


Five months had passed since I had left school. I was shocked to receive her call but something inside of me had been expecting it. I was surprised someone had not called sooner to lure me back. She asked me why I had not called her in all this time. Didn’t I need any help? She had been so worried about me. I replied that I had left school and that was the rule – when you left school you were a pariah and were not to be in contact with people who were still there. She was saying I should have been in touch?  Was she saying that she didn’t expect me to be able to survive without their help? Well, how come my dear friend had not called me in five months? If she was so concerned about me, why didn’t she call? I was the one who left, who was the outcast, without any friends or family or support. Was she calling now (after five silent months) because she was so concerned about me or because she had been told to call me by Sharon or Robert? I knew the answer. She would not have called me on her own initiative. She was told to call me. And as usual, I kept silent. I did not ask her the real questions that were on my mind. I did not tell her the real answers to her questions. I told her what she wanted to hear. I told her what she expected me to say as a good student.


She asked me how I had been and what was happening with me. I went into great detail about how well everything had been going, how happy I was, how rich and fulfilling my life had become. I was telling her things that were true but I could feel myself embellishing the truth in order to have her think the best of me. I was stretching the truth in order to gain her approval for what I was now doing. Five months and I was still groveling at their feet. I told her about my painting class and my job.


She even asked me not to tell my husband that she had called and I did not tell him. I was still marching to their orders, doing exactly what they told me even though I was long gone from school and grateful to have left. The promise not to talk about school after you leave is designed to keep you in a place where you are still following their rules and still under their control. It is not a promise you made from yourself of your own free will but something you were told to promise. Bringing your experience out into the light is one of the most helpful things you can do. Certain things cannot live in the light.


What was truly shocking to me was that even though I had left and had no intention of returning, I was still under their power. Their thoughts were still in my head. I was still saying what they wanted me to say and ignoring the real voice inside me.


I felt clearly manipulated. She told me that she stayed in school because the world is a difficult place. She said that in school: “At least I have my friends and the ideas.” Friends? This is not what friendship is about. Our friends were those people who stood by and watched while my husband was violently thrown out of school and said nothing and did nothing to help but instead fanned the flames of the fire. This is not friendship. Robert was his friend for over 20 years and he stood by silently and did not say one word to help him. He watched as he was brutally victimized. He stood by and did not say a word as my husband was abused and had curses thrown at him by Sharon and his other “friends”. The worst part for me was that I said nothing as well – partly from shock and partly because I too was so well trained. My world was being torn apart and I was losing my balance. I am so sorry that I did not stand up for him then. I have apologized to him and I can only hope that he forgives me.



The Allure of a Secret…


Then there is the voice inside, as early as the recruitment period and the first five weeks, which is quite hesitant, anxious. The gut tells me something is not right but discipline holds sway, and curiosity, and a new idea is heard, and “help” received that “Gosh, I would never have heard any other way,” and I am back in for another 3 months, until the next time. I do learn things about myself and others that are valuable: how to make an aim and keep it, knowing how hard I can actually work physically and mentally, learning about the struggles of others and that one is not alone in longings for a mate, or a fulfilling job, or a way to express oneself.


But the questions persist: Why the secrecy? Why the need to be duplicitous with mates and co-workers, family and friends? Why cut off those who choose to leave? Why no discussions with friends outside the work? Why edit work books for the younger class to delete the names of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky? Why the lethargy and deadness inside that sets in after a few years?


We have read the same materials, with moments of energy, granted, but many more moments of aching calves and sore bums, sitting in those god-awful chairs (the damage done to my spine is incalculable). Sleepy, bored, missing an important event in “life” (which, by the way, has no value), waiting for the minute hand to move a bit faster but then, of course, that is our fault for we are not working hard enough. If we were, we would be participating, sharing, working towards our goal of being “joyous, happy and free”.


To find out that this “school” is NOT connected, that all these efforts are made to build an empire for the select few on the top, who are now themselves convinced after all these years of manipulating others that indeed, they are special enough to deserve all this largesse. To learn that there is no greater cause or purpose is truly upsetting. For unfortunately, that is the case. There is no real connection to a legitimate Fourth Way School. There is only the one created by our “teachers”. It is New York, Boston and Copenhagen. Period.


And, yet, trying to hold on to the “bothness” of life…by that I mean the grays … trying not to put everything into a box and label it bad/good, black/white….I want to take something away for myself from this, not be resentful of time and money spent but use this now, to do that which I thought I WAS doing…to give my best energy to find my purpose and help my friends.


The allure of a secret society composed of highly intelligent people who are following a line of work purportedly created many centuries before is strong.  The allure of feeling special, feeling superior to those around you, but then again remembering to be humble because “there but for being in the right place at the right time go I, moving along in sleep and ignorance, unaware of the riches available if one works just a little bit harder”…and a little harder…and then a bit more….

I find that I am having many more creative ideas and asking more questions since I left school. I feel more energetic and alive than I have for many years. I am so grateful every Tuesday and Thursday (and many weekends and before Christmas) that I am no longer living a lie. I feel for you in “school” who instinctively want to escape, who know that somehow it is not right, and still feel beholden to people who have your interests at heart only so long as it serves their interests as well. How do I reach you? Do you hear voices like mine? Do you have questions like mine? I know how difficult it can be to ask these kinds of questions of the teachers. Also how difficult it can be to even contemplate the thought that all you have invested – time, energy, money – may not be supporting the “sacred cause” you have believed in all this time. We were told that we would lose everything if we left – our ability to awaken, to realize our possibilities or to evolve, to hold on to marriages or jobs – and of course (and this is the only part that IS true) we would lose the friends we had made as they would now have to shun us.


Many have made this lonely decision without anyone to turn to for help. I am so fortunate that I could know enough about the reality of the situation, and connect with friends I had thought lost. I was able to leave with NO guilt, and NO question in my mind that my course of action was the right one. I will take what I earned with my efforts and my money from all those years, and look FORWARD. I am so happy! I am busier and more productive than I have been in a very long time. My Life (with a big “L”!) has come alive and the many possibilities only now await. Come out into the sun! We’ll be there to help you….

With love,
Your Friend



Think back with me about our years in the Work. It was stated that esoteric schools down through the ages passed on their wisdom in an oral tradition – it was implied, but never stated, that our school had a direct connection with these Schools. Did Sharon EVER name her teacher?  I never questioned this till I stumbled on information about Sharon and Alex on the Web. (Google “Sharon, Robert, Cult”)


For the first 5 years or so, we had classes with Robert [Klein] and Fred [Mindel], etc., and learned “the System” from them. We were taught that this was a school to Resurrect Buried Conscience, a school to develop Consciousness. Can you remember the last time the idea of resurrecting conscience was talked about – let alone a method proposed to help us do it? I propose to you that the exact opposite deliberately took place: our consciences were buried deeper as we were systematically asked to ignore the outside world and focus on school; as we went along with the rules and lied to families and friends about school activities; as we sat and watched in silence as painful methods were used on our friends to “help them grow.” 


Regarding the other focus – that of Developing One’s Consciousness, we did work on ourselves. We all changed – for the better. There is value, real merit in work in a group, and this system is very useful in clearing out internal rubbish and seeing more clearly.


But at the same time, the methods used by the teachers, deliberately lulled us into a convenient complacency about school – never questioning (at least not out loud – would you have dared?) ideas, conventions, exercises, projects, schedules, traditions. This is tantamount to a level of waking sleep. It is Both/And…


In the early years, we learned the accepted behaviors of students in school – when to stand up and speak, when not to, which questions were ok, which not, how to set and make aims, how to help each other, how to speak straight to our friends. And we made friends, had secret crushes on each other (probably the strongest reason I came many a night!), and worked on ourselves as best as we could. But Do NOT confuse the system with our school. That is a mistake. The system is NOT unique – it should not need to be paid for with your savings, most of your spare time, your talents, your energy and, in short, your life.


The law of 7 and law of 3 are NOT new with Gurdjieff. They are ancient ideas that have been brought to the west by the Theosophical Movement. (Read the Harmonious Circle by James Webb – it is an excellent, huge, historical work on Gurdjieff’s life, work and those of his key students.) But Theosophy, studied by G, Ouspensky, Orage, Nicoll and Collin – in fact by most of the intelligentsia of that time, worldwide, was discredited by Gurdjieff himself – because he had to validate and “Uniquify” his own system.


There is much amazing material in the books we studied, mostly written by Ouspensky (much of that before he met Gurdjieff), Nicoll and Collin. The diagrams were intriguing and the level of intellect and thought impressive. And the ideas make a real difference. Discussion in a group is vivifying.


And then, subtly, without being obvious, instead of being taught, the game changed – we became our own teachers. If you are honest, you will realize that in the small groups, WE brought in the new perceptions, WE brought in and made new connections, WE did the research for the lectures, in fact, what esoteric teachings were presented to us in the last 12-15 years???? Honestly????? Think about it…. Do you believe there is a secret body of knowledge that our teachers possess that will be passed along to you if you should qualify to deserve it? If so, what does it take to qualify? Why, if there is a hierarchy of esoteric knowledge to be made available, aren’t the steps up the hierarchy clearly outlined? Can you picture yourself coming every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of your life? What will it be like when you’re 60? 70? Will you be admitted to the inner circle by then? Do you really want to be?


But, compare and contrast the actual quantity of useful class discussion with the endless, tedious hours we spent in class listening to teachers rant about some detail in our work on lectures or parties, for example.  In retrospect, these diatribes substituted for teaching real ideas – something which cannot be done – as they don’t have them to pass on. No wonder so many of us were sleepy in class and/or in dread of Tuesdays and Thursdays!!!


Think too about the quality of the interactions we had with our teachers at CR, it was “lifey” – talk about culture, funny stories, poker games – with some very serious betting!! Did they ever sit down and try to get to know you, really know you? Find out your personal thoughts on ideas, life, anything? When I am one-on-one with another person, I do my best to draw them out, to learn about them as a human being, so I can be of the utmost help to them in any way I can. Did the teachers treat us like this without ulterior motives?


Think about all the things that we knew that were not spoken about – as though they didn’t exist – you knew darn well you’d never get straight or real answers. Things like, if you weren’t in it, what in tarnation is group 32C – other than a bra size? What were all the groups about that met after class in secrecy? Where did the older students go every summer around the fourth of July? Did I want to know? Did I want to go? Did I want yet another layer of school involvement added to my life? Do you know that sleep deprivation, unexplained hierarchies and mysterious goings and comings are the among the warning signs of cults?


When you hear the stories from your fellow students you will find many examples of how our personal fortunes were put to work for the enrichment of our teachers – NOT for the benefit of school, the Inner Circle of Humanity, or Humanity in any way. Did any of the theatre group’s original productions EVER make it to a public venue? Why not? Did it not strike you as exceedingly strange that we made white silk curtains for a palatial home for Sharon – one of the many mysterious projects we worked on. Did you have any difficulty reconciling the splendour of the furnishings we were working on with the idea of an esoteric teacher?? Think about Gandhi, Siddhartha, Mohammad, Christ. They were not sybarites!!! Why did we all buy into or give lip-service to Sharon-as-Queen? Because we were told to.


It is time to think for yourself. To listen to, trust and follow the promptings of your Own instinctive sensing of reality.



The Story of a Black Sheep


For as long as I can remember I was a black sheep, always looking at the rest of the world and wondering where I fit in, were there others like me?  Like all of us, I found ways to adapt. I made friends, got a terrific first education, I found good jobs, had boyfriends, traveled around the world, and yes, I had a good relationship with my mother, despite the numerous suggestions from our teachers that this was not so — that I was missing something — I know this is true. And all the while, I had this burning inside – a wish to do something useful with my life – “to find my life’s work.”


This wish manifested in different ways – one was trying to find some kind of group to study with. I rejected a number of groups and organizations: The Theosophical Society – too New-Agey, EST – too controlling. I studied with a teacher of the Vedas, who turned out to have a drug habit – supported by our donations! Interestingly enough, I had just started a series of classes with the Philosophy Foundation when I was invited to school, and they have some very similar ideas – like 4 levels of consciousness – with the same names as our system uses.


One evening in 1987, I went out with a friend to listen to a band at the Regatta Bar, and one of the musicians caught my eye and came over to talk. You know the story from there. And there I was – in school, with all the other black sheep – marvelous!! And new ideas, practical applications, things to experiment with. But back there in Somerville, I wondered about what went on in the little office. I wondered why some people took notes. I wondered how they knew so much about us. I wondered if there were hidden microphones – & that seemed ridiculous – as the teachers would have to listen to recordings of what was said when they weren’t in the room. And I saw that other students had a different relationship with the Teachers than I did. And of course I wondered about the money – why it had to be cash, and so much from so many!


And what I wonder about now, is that I NEVER questioned whether this was a real esoteric school – you see I knew about their existence from childhood, and it seemed reasonable that such a school would be mysterious and secret. I was delighted to have found a modern version.  I figured it was my karma, that I had attracted it from my wish.  What I wish now is that I had seriously studied the literature of my own religion – if I had read Esoteric Buddhism, by A.P. Sinnett, for example, I would have realized that the Work as we were taught truly had no new ideas. Had I done my homework, I might have been less resistant to the hypnotism we were subjected to by our own set of magicians — over and over again.


Yes – I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed recruit. And soon enough I became a recruiter – and a good one. But although I found the method disturbing in its deceit, I followed it for the most part. I had a belief that if I could do this third line of work, I would grow my being – and I did. There are very few people I am afraid to talk to now, few questions I dare not ask, if I really want an answer. But now, I only talk to strangers when I feel like it – which is actually often – only there is no hidden agenda. I wondered why it was forbidden to work with someone from California – it did not seem reasonable that there would be no one from that part of the world with a real wish who was able to hear new ideas. Duh – read the web links – now it’s so obvious! I found it painful to make friends only to inevitably drop them due to lack of time when they either said no, couldn’t come or did come and then were swallowed up in school rules. I recently lost 3 good friends I met doing third line who reacted negatively to my being associated with this weird thing I did, and I am angry and sad about this.


I am clear now that the main reason the rules about keeping school secret exist so that we will not have the clear light of Sanity shine on the bizarreness of it all – and then we’d quit before Sharon and Robert had their share of our fortunes. They had their share of mine. When I got engaged, I asked in class whether it was a good idea to have a prenuptial agreement. I was asked how much money I had to protect. And shortly thereafter, but before my marriage, Robert asked me if I would be willing to write a check out to the school and receive cash in return – as they had a need to convert $ to usable assets. It made me uncomfortable and I had to negotiate down the original request to a figure of $100,000.00 – he had the chutzpah to ask for half of my total assets!!!!! I was also pleased to be able to help school, but realized that I was losing significant investment interest by sitting on cash instead of an honest asset. I have surmised that my money went to help purchase a house for Sharon’s daughter Ilsa – the timing was right. Which was recently sold for $7,500,000. and a hefty profit was made.


I think back on how many times things about myself or my life which I brought up in class were twisted, and I would stand there and agree with Robert, fearing that if I resisted, I would be embarrassed or kicked out. How I feared that. Yet he was wrong about many things – my mother, my father, my husband and yes, wrong about some of my features too. And he is perceptive and very intelligent. He gave many of us terrific, practical help for our “first and second storys.”


The long and short of it is, that I learned about the many ways Sharon manipulates people’s lives, marriages, divorces, children. I was shocked, repulsed, confused. I tried to connect the dots from these events to the positive side of school and failed. I called in my resignation and met with Robert for “damage control”.  He had promised to meet with me to answer all my questions. But he didn’t. He side-stepped, he lied, he evaded and in the end said “I love you”. I can not honestly tell you I understand how he can do it – is he hypnotized himself? Or is he a good actor? Both? Perhaps he is deluded and believes he is really helping us and we really owe him!


The weekend after I quit, I spent about 3 hours telling my husband everything I needed to talk about. He was fantastic. He listened, he didn’t judge, he asked questions. He was supportive of my wish, he was relieved to know what all the ‘Years of Secrecy’ were about. He was shocked that I had been so gullible – especially about the aspects of school relating to money. He understood immediately why we weren’t supposed to look up anything on the internet, or to talk to family, friends or spouses – no one would stay long if they did – our school, sometimes known as the Odyssey Study Group,  does not stand up to scrutiny. We talked about ideas then and since. We have grown closer.  I told my kids a lot about this part of my life. I wanted them to know that their mother wasn’t around for so much of their childhood because she has a real wish, a hunger for real knowledge and understanding. We’ve had some deep conversations. They too were amazed that I could have been fooled for so long. But you have to be in it to know how easy it is to follow, to be a black sheep, hypnotized by the magicians for your wool, your flesh, your life.


And life is real, now, when I am not “studying.” I think about real ideas – about possibilities. I read all kinds of books – yes – including some of those on the “verboten” list. I have freedom. I have happiness. I have difficulties. I have negative emotions which I still I struggle to transform. I have time for my friends new and old. I take art classes. I go to lectures, shows and concerts, whatever night of the week they come up!  I have more cash in hand for whatever! My stomach is no longer in a knot as I rush around trying to get everything done in too little time for school, for my job, for my family, for myself. I get enough sleep. It’s taken a while, but I no longer have imaginary conversations with my teachers trying to explain myself. I am no longer living with a fear of being “found out.” I see my friends who have escaped from the prison of the sheep fold. 


I miss my friends still “inside” and I hope and pray for them that they will heed their own doubts and listen to their consciences – use the consciousness that they have developed, hold it all together and leave school to find a new life and real freedom and joy.



Warren Peace says on GSR

April 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm


Things I personally witnessed/experienced as a long-time member of the Boston group, 80s and 90s:


– Arranged marriages among school members, sometimes at the expense of existing marriages involving spouses not in school


– One member of a married couple in school being forced out of school in order to make it easier for the remaining member to be “reassigned” to another spouse


– Encouragement to cheat on non-schooled spouses with other school members


– Parents being forced to hide pregnancies, then being forced or at least intensely pressured to give babies up for adoption


– Encouragement to physically assault other students in class, and then public mockery and humiliation if the person refused


– Institutionalized and systematic lying and informing in the form of constant reporting on younger students by “sustainers”


– Institutionalized lying in the form of misrepresentations or smear campaigns about students who have left school


– Systematic psychological torment, including vicious denunciations in class, unprovoked tirades, and verbal threats


– Untreated and unacknowledged alcoholism, in at least one case leading to a car accident after class


– A systematic program of sleep deprivation


– A systematic program of increasing school duties/responsibilities without regard for health, personal situations, etc.


– Constant pressure to ignore work and family responsibilities, and to lie to bosses and spouses


– Physically detaining students trying to leave class


– Going after students who have left school in order to bring them back (a la Scientology and other cults)


It sounds like the abuse was more overt in the bad old San Francisco days, but it was no less pervasive in Boston. This was all allowed and most of the time perpetrated by “teachers” and “older students” who were supposedly on a “higher level” and “working on their being.” If it wasn’t so revolting, it would be laughable. If that’s “evolution,” then I choose to die like a dog in the street, thank you anyway. (Now that I think of it, that’s insulting to dogs, who are orders of magnitude more loyal, loving, and sensible than so-called “teachers”.)



From HIGH DEMAND by Paul Stark

May 10th, 2012


We met, studied, stayed up late, worked really hard, cared for and tried to help each other. I’m tempted to call it a folly of youth, but it was actually a chunk of my adult years. And perhaps not folly after all. Taking everything into account, my experience nets out positive by something between a hair and a high jump.


A high demand group, didn’t really have a name. Dozens of us, every year a Christmas party, we’d stay up for days with hot melt glue and cigarettes and extension cords. And coffee, always a lot of coffee. We were brought together, bound together, by a heart-breaking desire to make something more of ourselves, to find a better way to live a life on earth than those usually on display.


It cost money, but not all my money. It did take up more than all of my free time. It spoiled some friendships I treasured. There wasn’t a compound. I lived a regular life, had a job, an apartment; I didn’t hand out flowers in airports.


I’d been expecting for years to arrive at the place where we learned how to go about living a decent life. I thought it was going to be elementary school, but it turned out not to be. Then, that must be what “church” is for. It wasn’t. There might have been something once for us Americans & Europeans, but if there was, it was gone. I’d be a tourist in India, so, making the best of it was the only next choice.


Imagine how exciting to discover just such a place. How dedicated I was, observing myself, conquering some of my social anxiety, making essence friends. How devastated after years and experiences, to be unable to escape the conclusion that it was corrupt, and in the standard ways: lies, manipulation, abuse of power, and money, and sex, and money.


This part of my history won’t stand in the way of me becoming a serious writer or spoil my reputation. Those times are, I think, over anyway. In fact, I’m going to make it an asset. It might be evidence of naïve and twisty discrimination on my part, but it’s also evidence of my ability to believe passionately, to be serious, to put myself on the line.


I have no regrets but one. My devastating disappointment over leaving has for some time kept me from a young and sincere impulse toward worship, toward a spiritual practice. And I’m afraid the same is true for many of my loved ones who also became disillusioned and moved on. Trading on those innocent qualities and fervent desires for the sake of money, vanity, and power is merely unforgivable. But not all wounds are deep enough to be permanent.




December 14, 2012

I feel a camaraderie, a commonality with you not even knowing you. Our time at Brown overlapped. I was recruited into a different “school” (same lineage, same ideology) while there, and several years of unethical control and exploitation (even if leavened by companionship) ensued before the spell broke and I was ready to leave. The following twenty-five years included much inquiry and study to understand the dimensions of the ensnarement, both internal and external to me. Healing required understanding the wound as well as the scheme, and in learning to call sociopathy by its true name. Feel free to write.



December 19, 2012

Hi Jorek,

It’s amazing really how long it takes to get over the ill effects of time in a Group.


The thing that’s been seeming more important to me lately is how the abuse of our spiritual natures leads so often, definitely for me, to discounting or turning against our spiritual impulses. That still makes me angry and I fight against it. No one joins such a group and stays if they aren’t really pursuing something deep and personal, and harming that is a loss to us & the world.



Abe says on GSR
April 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm


For most people, I believe that energetic and emotional cords are formed between people who love each other, the strongest bonds being between parents and children, and husbands and wives.  These cords are like emotional glue that keep us bound together, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.  In the words of the traditional wedding ceremony, these bonds are recognized in the phrase “what God has joined together let no man put asunder”.  The cords are in the realm of the invisible world, but are real and tangible just the same.


I have come to see that Sharon and Robert have complete and callous disregard for these emotional bonds, and this applies to individuals inside and outside of the group, including their own children.


One blatant example of this callousness was “help” I saw given in class in at least two instances, where husbands married to spouses outside of school were openly encouraged to find women to have affairs with.  In both of these circumstances, the “teachers” had been trying for several months to break up these marriages, usually because the wives were asking too many questions: about where money was going, or why the husband wasn’t home much, or about the secretive nature of their spouses coming and goings. To me it seems that having an affair was a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge into these psychic cords between a husband and wife.  While this type of “help” was given openly in class many years ago, I suspect nowadays it’s given, away from the questioning eyes of classmates, such as in private chats with Robert, for instance.


I see the loved ones outside of the group as innocent victims, especially children and spouses.  They didn’t choose to be in it, they don’t know it exists, but they are caught in the emotional wake of the group just the same.  At least the members of the cult have deliberately chosen to join and stick with it.  They put themselves under “school influence”, and they have some degree of culpability for their predicament, however brainwashed they may be.


I could rant and rave about all the other emotional abuses that have gone on over the years in this cult, all the divorces suggested and pushed for by “teachers”.  Young single mothers pressured to attend classes twice a week until the wee hours of the morning and also participate in extracurricular activities to the same extent as the single folk – party preparations, recruiting, lecture preparations.  The costs of babysitters added to already stretched budgets.  Children growing up with absentee parents.  Mothers pressured to put their babies up for adoption.  Wildly exaggerated character assassinations of former members.  Public shamings in class.  Suicides, attempted suicides, mental breakdowns.  Accidents and illnesses that can be attributed to continual lack of sleep.  The relentless pressures for more money, more new students.  The countless lies and deceptions, big and small, to friends, family, spouses.  Many of these abuses have been discussed already on this blog and others.  I believe most of these abuses have at their root a total disregard of the well-being of the individuals involved, and any psychic cords that connect them deeply to others, such as family, friends, parents, children, siblings.


For so many years I sat passively, witnessing these dramas play out in class, however big or small.  I rarely spoke out, even though the “help” given often didn’t feel right to me.  And I had my own share of drama over the years, and received my own share of dubious “help” in class.  Eventually I stopped asking for help, in what I recognize now as an instinctive act of self-preservation.


Over time I could see and recognize that there was a party line, that the dubious objective – “furthering the aims of school” – would always be served, regardless of the costs, emotionally, financially or psychically to anyone, be it costs for the students, or loved ones outside of the group.  In retrospect, I’ve witnessed some very emotionally brutal events and heard about many more.  After several years, I still find it shocking, and still struggle to make sense of it all.


The best sense I can make of it so far is that the whole experience was a profound, educational experience for my soul about the nature and face of evil.  I also learned to trust, honor, and act on my own inner knowing. I am so grateful that I was awake enough to finally see and recognize this evil for what it is and escape.


I’m grateful that so many of you found your way out. I’m grateful for this blog and others that provide a forum for us to share our thoughts and experiences. I am reminded of my favorite blessing: “May the clear light within us guide our way home.”



November 23, 2012

Part 4, Country Retreat: The Resolution


This excerpt is the last of a 4-part series from GSR on the Country Retreat penned by blog-contributor Charlie Chaplin:


There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.


– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance


One evening, walking from the room where I had just showered and dressed for dinner, I came upon one of the older students berating her daughter.   Apparently the girl was dawdling in getting ready for the Saturday dinner of her final retreat attendance (being too old to return in the future).   I could hear the fear in this mother’s voice that her daughter’s laxity would reflect poorly on her in Robert’s eyes.   She was jabbing her finger at her daughter, saying “you are NOT going to be late for dinner your last time here!”  I can only imagine how the girl perceived her mother’s intense loyalty towards these people who were otherwise absent from their lives.


This moment shocked me, especially as I had just become a father.   It was one event of many that changed my feelings about what it might be like to have my loved ones share the school experience with me.   Since attending more events with the older class, particularly the Christmas parties in New York City, I had gradually come to realize that a good number of students in that class were married to each other.   My initial reaction was mostly envy.   How lucky these folks were to be free of the need for deception that brought me such anxiety!  How fortunate to be able to experience each other at their best, working for their own evolution and that of their classmates!  I remember the impressions class following one Christmas party, when a student spoke of the pride she felt for her husband, seeing the work that he had put into his role in the choir and band.   She welled up with emotion, brought to tears.


Now, seeing the number of children belonging to these school couples, I realized that they did not escape the need for deception, or the deprivation of their time and energy from loved ones.   On an earlier occasion, talking about my impending fatherhood with the same woman I overheard berating her child, she said in a half-joking manner that the worst part of being in school with kids is the amount of money you end up spending on babysitters (her husband was also in OSG, in my own younger group).  I also had not previously considered that the divided loyalty that manifests indirectly as deception and inattention with regards to a spouse outside of school would not disappear if that spouse were in school, but rather become more overt and direct.   I never saw a man rise to speak in defense of his wife if she were being unfairly criticized by teachers, nor a woman defend her husband.


Still, however their divided loyalties affected their relationships with each other, these students had the benefit of being adults with a framework for understanding their situation, and the (admittedly not easy) choice to perpetuate or end it.  Not so for the children.


It was only after experiencing the retreat that I realized how awfully strange these kids must feel about all of this.   On one terribly awkward occasion, a line of children came through the living room just as we were starting a meeting.   Robert and the other teachers were clustered at one end of the room, and the rest of us were haphazardly packed together on the opposite side facing them, sitting on couches, chairs, the floor or standing up.   We sat in silence as the children marched single file, following their attendant adults through the room on a path between us students and the teachers.   Robert admonished the poor planning which had made that walk-through necessary and said it wasn’t good for the kids.   In my mind I agreed with him wholeheartedly.   The older kids especially must have found it odd, and I’m sure they were equally confused as to why their caretakers were being swapped out every fifteen minutes, as we took turns watching them in order to maximize everyone’s meeting time.


My increasing doubts about my own participation in school also began to affect my interpretations of some of the assigned reading material.   Of the commentaries we read, I most clearly remember one about the vastness of space and the relative insignificance of man in the universe.   My CR (Country Retreat) aim for that period included something about realizing the scale of the cosmos and my own infinitesimal place within it.   This is certainly worthy of contemplation and helpful in gaining perspective.   Yet it did raise an additional question:  If I am so insignificant, to what end was I suffering all the financial cost, time spent, deception and anxiety of school?  It made sense when I felt a personal benefit and believed I was growing and evolving by learning and doing things I would not otherwise.   Then I was clearly purchasing something of value with my time, money and efforts.   However, once it had become a clear detriment to sustaining the things in life I most cared about (primarily my relationship with my wife and child), why carry on?


This is where the loftier notions of school can be used to set a different kind of hook.   In basic form, the ideas presented in school can be broken into two categories, psychological and cosmological.   On the one hand, you have a model of human psychology that can be pretty useful in stretching your mind and your ideas of what’s possible.   On the other hand, you have a mishmash of mystical and occult notions of how the universe works and man’s special place in it.   The way this cosmology is presented, God needs our help in “repairing the universe”, and our failures in school (the most monumental of which is the failure to remain in school) harm not only ourselves, our teachers and our fellow students, but also let down God.


Several times I heard our struggles with deceiving our loved ones compared to those faced by the French Resistance in World War Two, which felt almost offensively phony.   Members of the Resistance faced real threats of physical harm to themselves and their loved ones, including possible violent death.   To the degree that they concealed their activities from their families, it was for their own protection, and they were willing to take these risks and assume the burdens of deceit because the cause for which they fought was so clear, visceral and immediate.   For us, there was no real evidence that we were fighting for any particular cause or helping anybody in any tangible way.


Of course, invoking one’s duty to help God repair the universe (and the shame of selfishness in denying such a sacred duty) went hand in hand with appeals to fear, that failure in life was inevitable without school’s help.   Leaving school would cause you to lose everything you value due to your own unchecked weaknesses.  Without school, you would fall fast asleep, your behavior would become entirely mechanical, and you would exist under the “law of accident”.   You would no longer have that mystical protection, not only against outside forces or circumstances, but also (perhaps especially) against yourself.   More than once, the primary factor in my decision to remain in school was the fear that I would cut myself off from an essential source – that the removal of school influence would make me a lesser man, fast asleep in my withering consciousness, and this would lead to the inevitable erosion of my wife and child’s well being, and the decline of my relationship with them.


While exploring my memory of the CR events to gather material for this series of posts, the Emerson quote above (or a rough approximation thereof) kept bubbling up to the surface of my mind.   Emerson’s Self-Reliance was one of the texts we read together in class that made a lasting impression on me, and I pondered it whenever seriously considering leaving OSG (Odyssey Study Group).


On the one hand, reading and discussing this essay with others in class provided an example of what I most loved about being a student in this esoteric school.  I read it with careful attention, underlining passages I found particularly poignant and relevant to my own life.   It was clear that others made similar efforts to engage the material.   Our class discussions of this essay strengthened my picture of our group as a collection of earnest seekers, mutually supporting each others’ efforts towards expanded conscience and consciousness.


On the other hand, the essay was strongly focused on honoring one’s own unique, individual point of view, overcoming cowardice and doing what feels right; so much so that it compelled me to listen to my own doubts and follow my increasingly persistent inner voice, even as it urged me to walk out on the group that had fostered my careful contemplation of this text to begin with.


This quote in particular stuck somewhere deep in my mind, and it forcefully resurfaced when I started to feel most potently the conflict between my ever-expanding obligations to school and my responsibility for my growing family.   I started to feel that the things in my individual life, especially my wife and son, were my “plot of ground”, where I would find my “kernel of nourishing corn”, and that directing my attention and efforts towards abstract, lofty school aims was equivalent to turning to those parts of the “wide universe” in which my nourishment would not be found, but rather only “envy”, “imitation”, and most explicitly, the failure to take myself “for better, for worse”, as my “portion”.


When my son was about four months old, we were told there wouldn’t be another retreat for several months.   I felt enormous relief, and let go some of the concerns that had been eating at me.  One particular concern about CR was that it seemed common and expected that students with children would bring them along.  While this idea initially sounded intriguing, as a way to give my wife a break and give my son an experience of “higher vibrations”, in practice I found it unsettling.   I thought I could see in the eyes of the older children that they found this whole thing very strange, especially when they were paraded through the middle of our meeting.   Seeing that mother so freakishly concerned that her child’s behavior might reflect poorly on her among this group also gave me pause.   I didn’t want to be in a situation where I would find my love for my son in direct competition with my loyalty for school.


The announcement of a new Country Retreat schedule came a few months later, at which time I was seriously considering leaving.  It was certainly one of the major factors that pushed me over the edge.  As with Christmas Party preparations, third line work, and the seemingly nonstop run of late-ending classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, this was one more thing I met with 1% excitement and 99% dread and anxiety.  In the past, I had told myself to power through the interval and make a profit, but now I was feeling only diminishing returns.  I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I was done.



GingerBerry says on GSR
June 18, 2014 at 8:47 am


On another note, I do want to comment as someone who had a marriage “destroyed” by school, as someone who subsequently had an “arranged marriage” and also as someone who “adopted”.


I think I will speak about my daughter here and leave the others for another time.


Unlike many others who adopted, I did not adopt a child from another woman/couple in school – although I do know a number of those circumstances quite well. During my first marriage, I had a miscarriage (this is another story as well) and longed for a child. After my divorce (and my ex-husband’s re-marriage to a woman who he brought to school after they married – yes, that definitely does happen) I wanted to try to have a child as a single parent.


I asked Sharon about this and she told me that I was incapable of being a good mother because I was not a loving woman and would not be able to take care of a child properly. No comment here on her child-rearing practices. She suggested that I get a plant instead to practice on. I said that I had a lot of plants and they were doing quite well, thank you. She then suggested I get a dog. Not an adult dog but a puppy that I would have to train. I was disappointed, heartbroken, angry, disillusioned, frustrated, confused (the list could go on).


Several weeks later, I was asked by a number of people if I had gotten a dog yet. I was told by a teacher (we will call him “FM” – who was also instrumental in my divorce) that I better get a dog and follow Sharon’s instructions or I might not be able to stay in school. I got a dog.


A year later, I asked Sharon the same question again, and she told me to get another dog. Same scenario. I got another dog.


Meanwhile my biological clock was not only ticking but ticking really fast. Time was passing… I decided to try by myself (with or without Sharon’s approval). I proceeded on to a long period of trying artificial insemination, fertility drugs and finally several rounds of IVF. I was flying back and forth to Colorado to do the IVF – as my cousin is a fertility specialist, and he was helping me for free. I became pregnant again and then had another miscarriage. At that point, Sharon told me that I had to speak in every class for a month or I would not be permitted to return to school. Threats and menaces. You have to understand, I was frightened that I would be thrown out of school and then I would have “nothing”. I had lost my husband. I had no child. It was just me and those two damn dogs. I didn’t go back to Colorado.


Fast forward several years to my newly arranged marriage. I still wanted a child. My husband had four sons by a previously arranged marriage and wanted a daughter. I had applied at an adoption agency the week before we met. It looked like my dream might come true.


We decided to adopt from China or Korea. Sharon put the kabash (dictionary definition: “to put an end to something”) on that immediately. She insisted we adopt from Russia so that our child would look like us and we could say that she was our “natural” child so that my husband’s sons would accept her as their “sister”. I’m writing this and I lived it but it scarcely sounds believable.


So, we adopted from Russia. Fifteen years ago. No one told me anything about what the consequences might be of adopting a traumatized abandoned child subjected to the Russian orphanage system.


I live with a child (who I dearly love) but who has Reactive Attachment Disorder. Google it. My life has been, shall we say, extremely challenging. More on this later. I will just say that a year ago, she spent a year in a residential treatment facility for fire setting. She has been hospitalized three times this past year since she has been back home. Once for assault and battery on me. She steals on a daily basis, lies, destroys everything in her wake, and is abusive to us on a daily basis. My dream come true.



fact or fiction says on GSR

June 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm


As someone who was once a partner in an arranged school marriage and subsequent school divorce, I’ve given a lot of thought about what really happened to me, and to what happened to my friends around me. And my conclusion is that it all revolves around power and control.


A few sociopathic people set themselves up to be “teachers”, “authorities”, “conscious beings”. We walk into the room as fresh faced new students, and eventually we come to accept this charade as the truth. Various techniques are used to manipulate us: threats and menaces, shame and blame, shunning, ostracism, to name a few. Esoteric ideas are taught, and they ring true to us, but we don’t catch their subtle twists and distortions. We are now under the leaders’ spell and our critical thinking has been suspended.


Making decisions on our own was frowned upon, “self will” it was called. I remember RK in class, calling someone out on their “self will” – the forceful, disapproving and derogatory tone. It was a spectacle put on for the consumption of all of us in our tight circle of chairs. It was pure public humiliation, and as an observer, you wanted to avoid it at every cost (although we couldn’t see this psychological dynamic at the time).  So we became good students, and eventually we asked for help with all aspects of our life. We became willing and complacent, easy to manipulate. We handed over more and more power to these imposters. Over time, we willingly handed our power over to Sharon, and she seized it; she uses it to her own advantage.


We put these alleged “teachers” on a pedestal, gave them our power and our money, and allowed them to dictate our every move – where we live, where we work, who we marry, how we raise our children. We handed over our power on a silver platter, and said “Sharon, tell me what to do.”  These “next steps in evolution” conveniently happen to coincide with the over arching aim of the school survival.


The survival and growth of school is the paramount aim of school, in my opinion. Maintaining the power structure is second, and it’s closely tied to feeding Sharon’s vanity and enormously inflated sense of herself. Many have said she has a Narcissistic Personality disorder, but I am not in a position to make this diagnosis.


I believe that making money is a close third aim of school. I think establishing and maintaining power and control has to trump money as an aim, because without the control structure, the group could not exist. We wouldn’t stick around, I think. If it wasn’t for the gradual stripping away of our power, most of us would have said no to the time, money and recruiting demands early on in our tenure.


I believe that Sharon has started to believe the charade that she’s performed over all the years. I think she sincerely thinks that she knows best: which two students belong together, who is fit to be a mother and who is not, etc. Yes GSR, I think Sharon sincerely thinks she is a “conscious being”, that she knows what each student’s next step is in their evolution, be it a marriage, a divorce, a new job, or adoption. The students in her group make her their god. The power that so many of us so eagerly handed over has gone to her head. She is corrupted by this absolute power. No one is allowed to question Sharon and her dictates. The risk is always public humiliation or ostracism. And to be publicly expelled from the group in class is the worst punishment of all. Therefore Sharon can do whatever she wants. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.


The day I decided never to step through those doors again was the day I reclaimed my power. I’m approaching my seven year mark of being out, and I am still so completely and entirely happy I left. I lost my husband and house in the process; it was extremely painful, but it was totally worth it. As hard as it may seem to leave, there is so much joy and freedom to be gained.


For any current students who are courageous enough to be reading this, please read and reread these posts and consider them carefully. Please weigh them for yourself, ask could they be true?  Could it be that much of what goes on in class is merely psychological maneuverings to get your classmates to bring more students, or become more devoted followers? Do you think you could ever disagree with Sharon in class? Question, question, question for yourself, and come to your own conclusions.



Cassandra says on GSR
June 20, 2014 at 8:37 am


I believe that making money is THE paramount aim of school, seconded only by S’s insatiable need for attention. If she had succeeded in show business to the point of becoming a movie star, she would never have become a cult leader but unfortunately she could never achieve or maintain the weight loss that is necessary in that industry for real success. Plus you are then at the mercy of studios and the press. How much nicer to have a sizeable group of people eager to do any service for you, who hang on your every word, and whose lives you control completely.


I believe S is a psychopath, not a narcissist. Why? Because things are arranged on the top levels of school with an awareness of manipulating people’s lives. A narcissist operates on a smaller scale. If you read The Psychopath Next Door you will see that she fits the criteria perfectly, and that the condition, which is inborn, is not so rare (frighteningly).


I think there is a certain enjoyment of the pain caused through the manipulations because then she can “heal” it – divorced? You should never have married him – now marry x – I will sanction it and you WILL be happy. Feeling empty? Have a child. Too many children? Give one up. Have money? Give me some. Don’t have money? Make some and give me some. I have heard all of these “instructions” and “suggestions” (code for “instructions”). Sick and rich? We’ll take care of you. Sick and broke? Better go and if you get better you can come back and….you can make money again and give it to me!


I have heard the teacher say flat out that she does not know the “work” ideas, I have heard her quote Oprah as work ideas, bring up things from the dictionary “‘will’ is higher than ‘wish’”, call men c*nts and women vipers and sh4ts. I have seen her switch from trying to cajole someone who wanted to leave into staying, to fury and telling them they were crap and trying to break up their marriage, and then telling them they were banished, all in about three hours.


There is no esotericism in this and there has not been for many years, if there ever was.


I personally do not believe there ever was. I have heard too much history on these people to believe it was ever anything but a mutual stroking and sexual attraction between S and A. She left her family and went west, he elevated her to cult queen and theatre ‘icon’ during the [’70s]. She became extremely wealthy quickly. The group learned to hide, to collect more money, and how to hook people in as cults became a better known phenomenon. The internet brought new challenges, time brought new crops of victims. There are permanent denizens of the cave and there are some on the faster track – all provide income to She, and she lives very well indeed. She has never sacrificed an iota, not one jot or tittle. All the permanent contributions to the elevation of the planet that ‘school’ has accomplished have been for her resume and obituary alone – the Horn plays (ugh), the Chekhov Concert, etc.  Any efforts by students to start something that would contribute something permanent – which we were told was school’s ‘mission’ were given a small amount of attention – enough to create a line of work project, raise some money, exhaust some people, maybe try some recruiting, and then went exactly nowhere. Theatre companies, Country retreats, studies, lectures as ‘esoteric knowledge’.


I feel for the people who went there for spiritual reasons and thought they found the source, but my own judgement is that any genuine spiritual connection was in the sincerity of the people who were scammed and never, ever with the leaders, who saw the whole thing only as a distorted reflection of themselves – holding a ‘mirror up to life’ and life being a thing to be twisted to serve them alone. Again, I say with a great deal of knowledge of history and herstory that most people don’t have. I also have some training in the appropriate psychiatric backgrounds, so my call on her condition is not entirely without expertise.


When I read people’s posts about their genuine experiences and loss of the connection to a source, I often cry. I wish I could be with them to hold them and let them know that whatever connection they made and whatever love they shared is and was theirs, and theirs alone. They still have it, and they can still summon it. “All that is gold does not glitter, and not all who wander are lost.”  YOU did it, YOU have it, YOU brought it to them, where they squandered and shat upon it. I had a friend there, still in, who said, “If it don’t feel right, it must be shite.” There were too many hours of violence and discomfort, too many times of people being put “on the spot” for it to feel ‘right’.  In a Monastery you might choose to “do battle” through questions with a master, but you will never be humiliated, told where to work, who to marry, told you’re shite, threatened with expulsion if you don’t wash rocks at three am, humiliated in front of 60 of your best friends for four hours and then expelled in the middle of nowhere, as your 60 now ex-best friends join in telling you how they always knew how awful you really were.


This is not esotericism or even a bastardization of it – this is bullying for gain, using techniques commonly known as “mind control”. We are all under the influence of these techniques in our society all of the time – they are used extensively in some of our most sacred institutions (the military could not exist without them, schools would not function, and the two party system and the media that supports it would blessedly become extinct). Joyce Collin Smith, who was Rodney Collin’s sister-in-law, a follower of Ouspensky and later of the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi during the Beatles’ experiment (and greatly disillusioned by his abuse of his followers for money, fame and sex) eventually found her answer, which she wrote about in her book of the same title, “Call no man ‘Master’”.  She found that essential esoteric teaching that, except in the beginning, to learn the basic precepts, your path is your own and your teacher is yourself and your relationship with your conscience and your soul.



Triple Agent says on GSR

June 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm


Funny coincidence (isn’t capital L Life full of them!) When I left, I kept talking to my dear friend who was still in, for about a year.  I was finding out all of that “seamy underbelly” and conveying it to her. My constant shock impelled me to send it to her unedited, plus she and I had discussed doubts about school for a long time. She took it pretty well, but also could not leave due to entanglements with family and eventually the (not seeming) contradiction compelled her to tell me she knew I was speaking the truth, but she couldn’t keep talking to me. I was sad, but I understood. I knew that she would eventually leave. I ‘spoke’ to her, sending her love, for years. Eventually she left and we have resumed our close and dearest of friendships. Recently I told her that if I could make the choice of never “meeting” school but never knowing her, I would have gone into school anyway, because her friendship (and one other, also saved from the wreckage) are that important and meaningful to me.


We ‘broke’ the rules for years as much as we dared – recruitment became dinners out and shopping trips; during a time when she had to travel from one city to another for class, we made sure to ask permission from the one teacher we knew wouldn’t give us a hard time over her staying at our house for permission (thanks DK!). We never got caught. The higher beings never suspected. She used to ask me, “Sometimes I think it’s a cult – what do you think?” and I would reply, “Oh that’s silly – how could so many bright and talented and educated people be in a cult?” That was before I knew I had given the very definition of a person who joins a cult – a functioning, bright individual who seeks something meaningful in life and hasn’t found it in traditional venues (or at least yet).


It wasn’t until we were both out that I told her I had been breaking more rules than she knew, for many years. It started with a loss of interest and ‘force’ in five-week aims.  So formulaic and dumb – in our city, you only stated your aim to your partner, and it was always something like “I’m going to do ten things to improve my dating life/relationship/family life.” “I’m going to do five things to improve my apartment” – “take five bassoon lessons,” etc., etc. After about 7 or 8 years, I could see that none of these ‘small’ aims were doing much for me.  Plus, with all of the demands of school they were becoming just another something I had to do. We switched partners and most partners called infrequently or called several times a day wanting help with every aspect of their lives; “I was thinking it would help my aim of being good to myself if I had an ice cream cone, but then I was thinking that conflicted with my aim of losing weight – I don’t know what to do! What do you think?  Silverware!”  Finally, after being screamed at for “showing off” when I brought in the results of two years of work, learning a new musical instrument and performing in public, which is nerve-wracking for me, I began “not making” my aims, but I certainly wasn’t going to admit to that and get blown up in class as I saw happening to others – hell to the “NO!”.  I reported excellent progress with appropriate intervals to my partners. I reported making my aims on aim night.  No one ever doubted a micron of what I said. The highly evolved detected not an iota of a lie. Huh. Wonder if they really don’t see more. I was assigned to a small group of recruiters (at that time only a small group of special assholes was assigned to recruitment).  If you didn’t have people and get them along the meeting ladder, you got picked apart, criticized, yelled at – never mind that no new student had been brought for years. We were given a student leader who was a dead loss and all he did was have meetings until 4 am and whine at us and pose questions about “why weren’t we doing well?” No one ever knew what he wanted, so eventually he would tell us the answer (No strong aim), and when we all began stating strong aims, he told us we were no good because we hadn’t thought of it. To get away from this kind of specious hectoring, I began making people up. Names, meetings, what was said, where we went – funny, though – none of them ever got past the third meeting!  But there were always new people added to my list. At least I wasn’t being screamed at.


I realized that school was a fake. I had seen sustainer reports by accident, so I knew how teachers knew supposedly secret information.  Now I knew that none of them had any kind of advanced insight or knowledge or “secret powers”.  I used this to temper my life in school the last three years so I could survive.


Those years were horrifying.  I won’t go into the details, but events in school and events in my life combined to throw me into a clinical depression.  I was gone, gone, gone.  Female teachers called me and told me to “get over it”.  Finally, I called in and left a message saying I had been to 2 doctors and it was absolutely recommended I get onto anti-depressants (so frowned upon!).  I told them I was going to do it (believe me, my life was at stake). I went to class. No one said anything to me until the end when I was leaving.  A female teacher called my name and said, “don’t you want to talk to S?” I said, “Sure” and walked over to her, where she sat on her platform in her barcalounger.  There I met with the most sympathy and kindness I ever was to experience in my 12 years there. I knelt and she pulled my head onto her lap.  I sobbed (I was sobbing all the time in those days).  She said I could try anti-depressants for three months to “get a window on life without depression, but for god’s sake, don’t go to a psychiatrist.” I agreed, but found that the only way I could get the medicine was to have sessions.  So began my meta-school – I saw a psychiatrist and took the pills for my last three years in school – until I left I never told her about school, I never told school about her – and now, I am telling all.  If I hadn’t broken so many rules, I would be dead today, and I wouldn’t be talking so much!



Triple AgentJuly 1, 2014 at 9:54 am


If anyone ever needed a hint that things aren’t OK in ‘School”, it would be the fact that a five year student had never heard the names of the ‘teachers’ of the ‘work’ (please assume quotes, not so much in irony but to contextualize my very healthy skepticism)!


When I left, my first reaction was to read all and everything I could find about cults and about the fourth way’s people and history.  Although Collin’s death as suicide and/or murder (by the young boy who was in the tower with him) was never investigated seriously, one thing that is striking is that all four major teachers of the fourth way – Ouspensky, Collin, Nicoll, and Gurdijieff, repudiated it.  “There is no system.” Ouspensky, after hiding out in NJ during WWII (to much criticism in England, his adopted country), died a depressed alcoholic who took long rides with his four cats; Nicoll committed suicide, Orage was a depressive, Gurdjieff spent his later years trying to resurrect his glory days, writing incomprehensible nonsense (beelzebub’s tales) and possibly collaborating with the Germans during WWII to maintain his own comfort.  He had a few small groups after Fontainebleau, but never anything substantial after he broke it up.  A great, out of print history is “The Harmonious Circle” by James Webb. Also interesting is “Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon”, which is about the different spiritualism and esoteric movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


For me, reading about what I was supposed to have been involved with and the actual, factual history of these people who had been held up to me as saints, number 8’s, evolved, and then also to read about the cult experience and process was the best way for me to understand what I had been through. There was no website then, and people were just beginning to hesitantly be in touch with each other. There was very little support, and it was hard to find anything like a counselor or therapist who would or could give the validation that this was indeed a traumatic event and could help one recover from it. What to do but make my own understanding? One therapist I found took about $400 from me for a 2 hour session, told me nothing I hadn’t found out already, and asked me a lot of fascinated questions when he found out I knew the children of the cult’s leader.  He expressed a real desire to work with Them, yeah boy!  (I know, he probably should have paid me.)


On sustainers: I had two. My first was someone I really couldn’t stand, and I never changed that opinion in my dozen years in school: Her dreaminess and conviction that everything was ‘amazing’ – and breathless quality of asserting that she Knew, and oh no, why would you ARGUE about it, such NEGATIVITY.  She made little sense and got peeved if you disagreed with her or objected to anything she said.  As soon as I saw that pissed off look break through the dreamy hippie-dippy facade, I knew she was phony through and through (not alone in that opinion).  After two months she was taken off my case and I was given another sustainer, much jollier and more approving.  I’m sure my resistance to number one was noted and the switch was planned.


Funny – number one loved to order me around after that, and she inadvertently revealed the truth of sustainers. Years later she was on bed rest, and we all had to go help her out with anything she needed.  After one such session cleaning her home, she gave me an envelope and told me to make a copy of the paper inside, without looking at it, and give it to another older student at class that night.


As soon as I unfolded the paper to place it on the machine, I saw the name of a young student and labels for “first story”, “second story”, etc, plus listings for the “centers”.  Each area had a few sentences.  My “essence friend” had a clear childish scrawl that leapt off the page, and I could not stop myself from seeing that this was a report on the person’s life. After that intro, I read the whole thing. At this time and in this place, sustainer reports were apparently weekly and on paper in this strict format. The student’s status with job, finance, relationships, emotional state, feelings about school – all were laid out in a “work” like cover.


By this time I had been without a sustainer for a number of years. But my second sustainer, when I admitted to smoking some pot with friends (breaking the “no drugs” rule – a rule more in place to prevent tangles with the law than to keep students ‘illicitly opening the doors of perception’), my sustainer took it very seriously and asked me a lot of questions. Considering the amount of booze people drank, I found it hard to find this breaking of the rules all that serious. I didn’t intend to break them again.  But my sustainer claimed if I did it again, she would have to report me.  Suddenly my heart began to pound. I didn’t want to be kicked out. I would leave if I wanted to – at this point I was still going it one month at a time – but I didn’t want to be ‘told’ on and get kicked out.  I had already seen people humiliatingly dismissed in front of everyone. When I again broke the pot rule a few months later, I agonized in guilt. I didn’t tell my sustainer; no one pointed a finger at me. I didn’t smoke pot again for many years.  But I realized after seeing that report that the reason I didn’t get in trouble was because NO ONE KNEW.


Towards the end of my first year in school was my 30th birthday.  I rarely stood up in class to speak as my first two ventures at this had brought sarcasm from F and, in my first meeting with her, a slap down from S, “This is NOT true confessions!” (really? You coulda fooled me.)


This night had passed safely, and we were about to end when an older student stood up and said firmly to me, “So and so, WHAT is going on with YOU?” Not catching the tone, wanting to get away, I said, well, things were pretty good, actually, I felt good to be here (they weren’t too bad in some ways – I had a new job which was exciting, I felt life was opening up in some ways) but I must have been expressing my ambivalence about school to my sustainer. The teacher rained down on my head sarcastic, demeaning, belittling comments, even calling my smile “Nimby namby” – telling me to “get real, man” – telling me to dress differently (I had lost some weight for an aim and been wearing clothes that fit; all women were supposed to wear shapeless silk tents like S did).  It went on for a while.  I was crushed.  No one knew it was my thirtieth birthday, or so I thought.  My sustainer had a lot of things to say about it the next day – how timely it was, then, and what did I think of that, and the burn was good – I should burn it in.  It was an appalling experience.  My need to please was activated.  I stayed in school.


Sustainers – years later, I found another woman, an older student I liked, putting together a sheaf of sustainer reports. This person would later be instrumental in the circumstances of my leaving; she told me she was going to have them copied, and she left.  I noticed that the copying took her over an hour. Later she told me she had used this weekly chore as a way to avoid being in class. This I understood as I used a regular assignment for the same reason – out of the boredom, out of the line of fire.



Triple AgentJuly 1, 2014 at 9:57 am


Still later I learned from one of these people that S was given an envelope with the copies of the reports to read.  One evening S was given one envelope with the reports and one with ten thousand in cash..  In the cab, S left one of the envelopes – the one with the cash.  The student wrongly assumed that S would be glad not to have lost the reports; the student was distressingly wrong.  What happened, I asked?


A coterie of older students had been sent to all cab companies to search for the envelope.  They had offered rewards. The anger was boundless. Did they ever find it?  I asked her. “No”, she said.  Apparently some of the older students had eventually cobbled together the money to make it up and given her another $10 grand.  The older student told me “Until that time I still thought she would have been more concerned about the reports.”



Triple AgentJuly 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm


I am sure that Aegis is onto something in that particular people have probably hired “reputation managers” to protect their businesses.  (Yes, Aegis, here am I, perservating).  But unlike other cults, such as The Forum, or those crazy kids out in LA (Scientology), who have a public persona as a legitimate business or religion, this one is and always has been in the shadows.  The cover businesses have always been covers for the REAL operations.  Attempts to discuss what goes on bring about bug outs, lawsuits, new rules and meetings in hotel rooms, new 501c-3 and 4 corporations, etc.  The Forum is open to everyone – you buy in or you don’t.  So is Scientology (up to a certain level, when it gets very VERY secret).  But this group is secretive all the way.  Also to be considered is the fundamental ignorance of the top tier about technology and its effect on the world in the past twenty years (Hello?  who remembers the school response to Y2K?).  IT and its component parts and series of tubes are so little understood by the Dear Leaders that they still told students in 2000, “don’t use email”, and then “don’t use the internet” and “don’t search the internet”.  It’s like saying, “don’t think about green monkeys”.  Now, what image popped right into your brain?


As the internet became more sophisticated and more of a daily tool for people, the blogs got cheekier.  Names were published.  Business practices came to routinely include searching people who you did business with.  Now you get googled when you apply for a job.  Imagine if you are a professional in the fields of law or medicine or finance, and a new client googles you and finds a dossier or blog posting such as exists (or did) in ‘the good stuff’?  The threat is now personally existential. The group’s fundamental members are being identified, prevented from an income stream – S’s worst nightmare, too close to home.  More definitive measures are taken, a financial ‘war chest’ is compiled, the Devil’s favorite minions of the Bar are hired, and reputation managers are discovered – to protect the holy few and the great general behemoth.  As long as the money stream is basically good, the leaders are good.  As long as the leaders are basically in the shadows, with the money stream flowing, all is well.



Y2K in “School”



Recently a “disgruntled ex-student”, circa 1999, contributed this story to the blog in her comments. It illustrates cult-ish “school” lunacy so beautifully, that I decided to give it blog-post prominence.  Even The Christmas Party pales in comparison.  I recall December 31st, 1999 — the build-up to Armageddon, culminating into my dullest New Years Eve ever.  Read on to learn of “school’s” enlightened preparation for world’s end!  I hope you laugh as hard as I did — after all, laughter is the best medicine:




Y2KAh yes, we remember it well:


For several years, anyone not in a coma had been conscious of stories on the possible chaos that awaited the world on January 1, 2000.  Everyone except Queen Sharon.


In late spring/early summer of 1999 it somehow penetrated her “mind”.  I remember the night she deigned to tell her students that she had “become aware” of this “very dangerous thing called Y2K”.  We all looked at each other.  Not only was everyone in the room “aware”, but most people had recognized that government and business had been working for a couple of years to make sure there were NO large disruptions, if they even happened.  Most experts believed that — at worst — computers would simply turn their dates to 1900 and continue to function.


Of course anyone could see that this could cause obvious problems with say, paychecks and shipping dates – so, everyone had been WORKING ON IT – HELLO? Even the cult classic (oops, unintentional pun … sorry!) Office Space, was about a guy, bored with his job – CORRECTING CODE FOR Y2K.  And by Summer 2000, Office Space was already OLD.


But She Who Must Be Obeyed had spoken. Bright people who knew better said, “There is a lesson our teacher wants us to understand.”  Minor league idiots bought it hook, line and sinker (and by ‘idiots’, I mean people who really, really, by their position and intelligence, should have known better).


For example: a fairly bright woman (so I thought) who made a lot of money in sales, had hysterics when I told her that I was skeptical, and started berating me, telling me that global business would stop; society would break down; credit cards wouldn’t process.  She finally stopped when I asked her if she didn’t think that credit card and shipping companies hadn’t thought of that and would really, really want to prevent it?


She either actually thought about it, or decided that I was “closed” to my teacher and later in 2000, when I left, and even later, when I was vilified, that must have been a “sign” of my “negativity to school”.  I still think it was just common sense.  But hey, what do I know?  I actually LEFT SCHOOL!!!  Can you believe it?


That night, we were ordered to go home immediately and pack an escape bag – it was to include many, many, many things: survivalist style, for each family member, a sleeping bag, down jacket, rain jacket, clothes you could layer, various pants, shoes, socks, flashlights, extra batteries, dried food, water, liquor to trade with devos*, a gun if you had it (again, devos), gold if you had it, jewelry (same), hat, compass – the list went on.


Those who actually packed a bag
a) spent a lot of money.
b) found them too big and too heavy to actually carry.


People who lived in the suburbs were charged with filling their houses with the above, and getting generators.  We were “assigned” to different areas and houses. “You go to A’s and you go to J’s and you two go to this one and you five go here and we’ll all meet to fight the zombies.”  If you could, you were supposed to get to the Country Retreat at Pawling, so we could “all be together”.


For months this became a school focus: people took archery classes so we could learn to shoot animals and protect ourselves.  We had a well-stocked first aid box and a well-stocked liquor supply. Construction was stepped up on the property.  We bought food that would keep as a trial – and as a result ate potatoes for months. (They don’t actually keep all that well.)


We talked about the impending doom in class and our fears (some of us) for the World To Come.  People bought generators. People spent money to do what the queen demanded.  For New Year’s we all had to leave the city. We all had to call in and say where we were going to be.  In a few cases a number of people ended up at the same home out of town and had little parties – that sounded like fun. I was with non-school friends and called my “school” friends at midnight. I felt very connected, having finally had a decent Christmas party experience.


Nothing happened. Y2K was never mentioned by anyone in “school” again.  Eight months later, I was gone with ten percent of our school.  So, I guess for corporate headquarters, it was a disaster of sorts, after all.




* Devos – This is a term known to people in little “l” life who read bad science fiction; it means people who have devolved instead of evolved.  We hope that if anyone from “school” is taking notes on this, that they report this term to Robert and Sharon for their usage when describing the “disgruntled ex-students”, as in “they are now devolved – devos.”  Please remember that you heard it here first and there are copyright usage fees.



Warren Peace says on GSR

June 29, 2014 at 7:53 am


I’ve been out of “school” for over 10 years, so my information is not up to date and my memory may be getting fuzzy on various details, but there are some things about being a “sustainer” — vicious word — that I’ll never forget.


The thing to know right out of the gate is that “school‘s” “sustaining” practices are highly regimented and choreographed, and they amount to a formalized process of surveillance and informing.


All (most?) of the “younger” “teachers” were sustainers.  “Sustainers” were also selected from among the ranks of the sufficiently indoctrinated — “older” “students” who were sufficiently hooked to reliably carry out orders.  As usual in that place where everything is the opposite of what it seems, the task of “sustaining” is presented to newly identified “sustainers” as a privilege, but really it’s a demand that you get the distinct feeling you’re not allowed to decline.


“Sustainers” were assigned a certain number of “sustainees” — 2 to 5 depending on experience and ability, as I recall.  “Sustainees,” of course, are younger students who are not yet sufficiently indoctrinated.  “Sustainers” were usually genuinely concerned about their “sustainees” and I think usually felt, at least at first, that they were truly being helpful with younger “students” in their “aim” to “evolve.” This is all of a piece with the demonic “genius” of the group, which is to play on and essentially co-opt people’s genuine feelings of friendship and responsibility in the service of a massive lie.  For those of you keeping track on your Rodney Collin scorecards, mark “sustaining” down under the Process of Crime.


“Sustainers” were required to call and/or meet with their people on a strict schedule, and were required to immediately report their conversations in detail to an older “student” in charge of collating and writing up all of the “sustaining” reports.  “sustainers” were supposed to especially pay attention to any sort of “negativity” or any suggestion that the student might be having some sort of problem, either in their life or in their feelings, about “school.” They were also supposed to find out as much as they could about a “student”s work life, romantic relationships, quirks, troubles, embarrassments — all of the details of a person’s inner and outer life.  “Sustainers” were instructed to assure “sustainees” that their conversations were held in the strictest confidence, encouraging “sustainees” to spill really sensitive and intimate information that the “sustainers” would then immediately report.  Usually, the “sustainer” would get off the phone with a “sustainee” and then immediately call in a report, especially if there was some sort of problem.


Problems usually got passed right up the chain of command, to Robert or Sharon, and if the problem was considered important enough, they would issue specific instructions on how to talk to the “sustainee,” or they or a younger “teacher” would intervene. After a while sustaining, you came to realize that the only real problems, the only things that were really of concern, were retaining students, making sure they stayed and paid, and dealing with “leaks.” An awful lot of pressure got put on “students” with un-schooled spouses, as GSR likes to call them, through “sustainers,” “help” with relationships, etc, etc – that never got brought up in class because “sustainers” had already dealt with it privately, under strict instructions and reporting every detail of supposedly confidential conversations.  No one was ever supposed to leave!  and better if they had no non-school friends or partners! all that problematic “life” stuff — problematic because it diverted a person’s attention, time, and money away from “school.”


Sustaining reports were printed and given to “teachers” before every class.  If a younger “teacher” was in charge of class on a given night, sustaining reports often came with specific instructions (from Robert in Boston, from Sharon or one of her hench people in NYC) on what to bring up in class and what to avoid bringing up.  This is how “teachers” created the impression of clairvoyance and super-sensitivity, how they created the illusion that they could “see” more because they were on a “higher level.” It’s all fraudulent, all the result of a formal and enforced program of lying and betraying confidences.


For “sustainers,” “sustaining” was another “third line of work,” often as burdensome and time-consuming (and certainly as highly scrutinized) as recruitment.  “Sustainers” themselves were kept under strict observation and control.  Woe to you if you didn’t call in your reports on your “sustainees” before a class, or if you didn’t deal with a “sustainee’s” negativity or other problems in a way that Robert liked.  There were “sustainer” meetings, outside of class times, where “sustainers” would compare notes and talk about techniques and “help” each other.  In Boston, Robert would often hold court and instruct or berate as the circumstances warranted.


Don’t be fooled: recruitment and retention are the only things the people who run “school” really care about, along with secrecy.  “School” doesn’t only have secrets it keeps from the outside world.  It also has secrets it keeps from its “students.” “Sustaining” practices are among the most damaging of these secrets.



“The Work” and a “Fourth Way School” Visitor Comments culteducation.com


“I stumbled onto your Web site regarding the Everyman Theater etc. It certainly took me back memory lane! My first wife and I were members from 1973 until about March 1974. My brother-in-law stayed after we left, and he suffered a broken arm as part of the group’s ‘therapy’. My first wife and I both worked, attended college, and participated in the so-called theater, but Alex became more and more abusive. I guess even though I was only a youngster of 22, I must have had enough self-esteem to leave! Alex wanted every cent I made, at the same time he wouldn’t let us sleep, so we could go to work. Sleep deprivation was part of their method. I see Alex passed away, and I guess Sharon is still a money magnet.”


“It seems like another lifetime, but I spent a short period with Alex Horn’s group in San Francisco. Alex effectively forced me out of his ‘school’ by insisting that I admit to being a homosexual, and I only realized much later that his real interest was in simply getting rid of me. I complicated his life by being a former student of his former student, Robert Burton at the Fellowship of Friends. In retrospect it all seems a bit silly, but the accusation, in front of fifty people, completely floored me! I knew that I was heterosexual, not a complicated kind of self-knowledge, but the power of the group was extraordinary. I also experienced Sharon Gans in the process, and found myself wishing, even in those days of not allowing negative thoughts, that she would just remove herself from the picture. She offended me deeply with her arrogance. What is most outrageous about all of these characters is their willful abuse of what seems to have been an authentic historical teaching. Anyhow, I managed to separate myself from all of this. But afterwards longing for the kind of internationality that this work had come to offer. And this is certainly one of the central problems of this kind of orthodoxy. There’s a very strong logic operating here and for those who know how to use it, it’s money in the bank!”


“I tried to find the name of this group for a long time. Sharon Gans avoided serious detection through elusive names. In effect, something that doesn’t have a name doesn’t exist. How can it be critiqued if it can’t even be referred to? Very clever on her part. I knew of the Odyssey Study Group, because that’s how my former boyfriend’s checks were made out. After we moved in together I knew it was a destructive group. My partner had been in the group for 7 years by the time he met me. He would get phone calls at odd hours. I suspect that he did the same. It was monitoring of the victims, by the victims. I wasn’t allowed to know their names. Books were covered in paper and hidden in drawers. Early morning classes and late afternoon classes. A weekend a month away with no explanation. The group decided I was a danger, so they stepped up his involvement. It goes on and on. Our relationship ended.”


“Thank you so much for putting up information on Sharon Gans, Alex Horn and Robert Klein. I was involved in the ‘school’ in San Francisco back in 1978, for about a year before the Chronicle published its expose and they packed up and left town. I refused to go with them. While I understood intellectually I had had a ‘cult’ experience, it took me almost ten years until I started doing any actual healing work around it. My best friend unfortunately is still reeling emotionally after more than 20 years and hasn’t been able to address a lot of the abuse experienced.”


“Thank you so much for this web site. I needed it years ago when I was still in the group. Sharon verbally lacerated me and then I was asked to leave. All because I asked too many questions. This was painful for many years and I kept silent, because it seemed that I was lost. However, since then I have experienced genuine healing and recovered.”


“Much of my life was hell because of Sharon Gans, Alex Horn and Robert Klein. The ‘cult,’ as I like to call it, often kept ‘members’ up all night in ‘meetings.’ I spent much of my childhood sleeping on the floor in hallways within their 24th and Mission Street ‘Theater‘ in San Francisco. I remember not having enough food or clean clothes, because the theater expected so much from its members, which included my parents, through work and money.”


“My parents were both members of ‘The Theater of All Possibilities‘. I spent much of my childhood in the hell known as ‘The School’. Sharon Gans, Alex Horn and Robert Klein influenced my parents, who beat me. I was beaten on a daily basis, locked in closets, emotionally abused and told I was ‘worthless.’ I had to help sell tickets for their plays. I had no childhood because of these people.”


“I have a close friend whose spouse has been involved with this group for many years. What has all this led to? After years at the school and its classes it led to divorce. Sharon Gans is manipulating people and has destroyed families. Some Gans ‘students’ have left their families and loved ones for their ‘teacher.’ I don’t understand how she can get away with all of this.”


“I’d like to say thank you for making this information available to the public. A close friend of mine was a member of this group for many years, without my knowledge. As the years passed I saw her become more and more damaged emotionally, financially, and spiritually. She was a shadow of her former self. Since leaving, she has told me all about her experience, and I was shocked and appalled at the treatment she received. This group victimized her in a most unconscionable way and I am so glad that at last they are being exposed. Their covert activities have kept them in the dark for too long.”


“I am so grateful that you have put this information out there for the world to read. I am a former student of the Gans group. Though the esoteric ideas rang true, the essence of the group always felt wrong and controlling. Sharon seemed creepy, manipulative, and dangerous. After 7 years I was able to extract myself. I am happy that I found the strength to believe in my instincts and leave. I wish I had encountered your web site years ago. Thank you for posting all of this information.”