False Prophets Part II







Bertrand Russell on Immortality, Why Religion Exists, and What “The Good Life” Really Means


“In human affairs, we can see that there are forces making for happiness, and forces making for misery. We do not know which will prevail, but to act wisely we must be aware of both.”





Confessions of a Failed Self-Help Guru


I traveled around the country telling strangers how to balance their workloads and better their lives—until I learned the hard way that the people offering to solve your problems are often the ones who need help the most.”


Story by Michelle Goodman, posted on narratively.com Mar 7, 2016




301 Amazing Stories and How Not to be Fooled © 1993
By Kathryn Lindskoog


Nearly everyone is deceived at one time or another. “Fakes, Frauds & Other Malarkey” is a good-natured yet passionate analysis of deception–from its innocent roots in imaginative play to the poison fruit of the cruelest scams. It offers hilarious and heartbreaking glimpses into the schemes of hoaxers in the fields of art, literature, science, medicine, exploration, education, finance and religion. This book offers special insights into the nature of spiritual fraud in history and in modern America.





Crimes of the Soul, article by Jill Neimark, published on March 1, 1998


Discusses the ties that bind gurus and their followers.


One of the deeper ironies of a life committed to a spiritual teacher is that, though you may flee ten thousand attachments, you end up surrendering your entire existence to a single man or woman.  In the most extreme cases, that surrender leads to absolute powerlessness and death. “There isn’t any power more absolute than the power of a `spiritually enlightened’ human being over his disciples,” points out Joel Kramer, co-author with his wife, Diana Alstad, of The Guru Papers. “That is as absolute as you can get on a psychological level.” To Kramer and Alstad, gurus preach freedom but wear the mask of authoritarian power. “Gurus are actually a metaphor,” says Kramer, “for any human being or system that establishes itself as fundamentally unchallengeable, presuming to know what’s best for others. And that kind of authoritarianism is everywhere in our society.”


Yet if gurus are contradictory straw men dancing to our own epic tale of good and evil, freedom and punishment, selfishness and surrender, it’s because we are contradictory, too. As Eugene Taylor puts it: “The power, danger, and possibility of gurus lies in our projection. A simple human being can inspire you to spiritual ecstasy because of what you believe him to be. Or you can end up totally bamboozled.” We have met the guru, and he is us.


Just who is that, anyway?


“It’s anybody who has ever been vulnerable, lonely, and searching,” says New York psychotherapist Daniel Shaw, CSW.  “For me, following a guru was a way of relieving all my depression and emptiness.”





“If you wanted to create a sort of archetype of the ultimate early ’70s Southern California spiritual cult, you could do no better than The Source Family.


~ Erik Davis

Writer, Social Historian



Joni MitchellWoodstock (Live In-Studio) Oct 9, 1970


Frank Zappa – Cosmik Debris


The Be Good TanyasWaitin’ Around To Die


Bob Dylan It’s Alright, Ma


Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) in religious comedy sketches


JP Sears – How to be Ultra Spiritual


Maria Bamford – Comedy Central Presents Cults


Richard DawkinsEnemies of Reason & Slaves to Superstition 


Vikram Gandhi – The True Story of a False Prophet – INKtalks


Sam Harris on the dangers of gurus and cults


Bertrand RussellFace to Face Interview (BBC, 1959)


Noam ChomskyThe Crimes of U.S. Presidents


History Channel – Mind Control: America’s Secret War


Richard Rhodes: “Arsenals of Folly” | Talks at Google 2007


Richard RhodesEnergy: A Human History (Science Salon #25) 2018




Andrew Cooper-Sansone Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are


Daniel Amen – The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans TEDx


The Dangerous Few Psychology Documentary 


In The Shadow of Feeling Psychopath Documentary


Buckley, Kerouac, Sanders and Yablonsky discuss Hippies



Beatniks and Boomers, Hippies, Yippies and Yuppies, et al.



   What is a “Beatnik”?


Beatnik was a media stereotype prevalent throughout the 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s. Elements of the beatnik trope included pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and a cartoonish depiction of real-life people along with the spiritual quest of Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.


In 1948, Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation”, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The name came up in conversation with John Clellon Holmes, who published an early Beat Generation novel titled Go (1952), along with the manifesto This Is the Beat Generation in The New York Times Magazine. In 1954, Nolan Miller published his third novel Why I Am So Beat (Putnam), detailing the weekend parties of four students.


The adjective “beat” was introduced to the group by Herbert Huncke, though Kerouac expanded the meaning of the term. “Beat” came from underworld slang—the world of hustlers, drug addicts and petty thieves, where Allen Ginsberg and Kerouac sought inspiration. “Beat” was slang for “beaten down” or downtrodden, but to Kerouac and Ginsberg, it also had a spiritual connotation as in “beatitude.” Other adjectives discussed by Holmes and Kerouac were “found” and “furtive.” Kerouac felt he had identified (and was the embodiment of) a new trend analogous to the influential Lost Generation.





   What is a “Baby Boomer”?


Baby boomer is a descriptive term for a person who was born between 1946 and 1964. The baby boomer generation makes up a substantial portion of the world’s population, especially in developed nations: it represents nearly 20% of the American public. As the largest generational group in U.S. history (until the millennial generation slightly surpassed them), baby boomers have had, and continue to have a significant impact on the economy. As a result, they are often the focus of marketing campaigns and business plans.





   What’s a “Hippie”?


1. (especially in the 1960s) a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.


synonyms: flower child, Bohemian, beatnik, long-hair, free spirit, nonconformist, dropout 


“yesterday’s hippies are today’s ad execs”





    “Hippies” redirects here. For the British comedy series, see Hippies (TV series). For the garage rock album, see Hippies (album). Not to be confused with Yippie or Yuppie.





   . . . “Yippie”?


A member of the Youth International Party. This party began as an antiwar movement during the Vietnam era, but then developed a sort of libertarian socialist outlook, becoming focused during the 1970s and into the early 1980s on legalization of marijuana and other drugs and protesting against capitalism and corporations.


Term created by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin in the mid-1960s to refer to “members” of the Youth International Party (YIP!). The YIP! was dedicated to merging New Left activism and the hippie counterculture to create a revolution that would be both personal and political–as well as fun. Yippies tended to gather in large cities, particularly in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Rubin and Hoffman both lived during the 1960s. Yippies rejected all -isms, including socialism and anarchism, in favor of the motto of “Do your own thing”–i.e., don’t conform to a specific system of belief but rather be an individual. At the same time, collective action was at the root of Yippie activism, and Yippies participated in “be-ins” (normally associated with hippies) and other collective gatherings. And although the YIP! did not promote any one -ism (and, despite Hoffman and Rubin’s involvement, was a self-proclaimed “leaderless” movement), the “party” was extremely leftist, advocating social justice for all and arguing that all property–including housing, clothing, and food–should be FREE. The Yippies’ most famous actions include the attack on the New York Stock Exchange (when Yippies threw money to the floor and watched as those below fought for it) and their involvement at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, at which they nominated a pig for president. Much of the Yippies’ activism consisted of guerrilla street theater and symbolic acts (such as that at the NYSE) to make a point; Yippies understood the power of the media and sought press to disseminate their revolutionary messages with a pointed disinterest in the accuracy of the stories told about them. Since the term is rooted in a particular historical moment, calling anyone a “Yippie” today would probably be inaccurate.


Abbie Hoffman’s Revolution for the Hell of It! is an excellent source for more information on the Yippies.





   . . . “Yuppie”?


Yuppie” (short for “young urban professional” or “young, upwardly-mobile professional“) is a term coined in the early 1980s for a young professional person working in a city.


History (excerpt)


Joseph Epstein was credited for coining the term in 1982, although this is contested. The first printed appearance of the word was in a May 1980 Chicago magazine article by Dan Rottenberg. The term gained currency in the United States in 1983 when syndicated newspaper columnist Bob Greene published a story about a business networking group founded in 1982 by the former radical leader Jerry Rubin, formerly of the Youth International Party (whose members were called “yippies“); Greene said he had heard people at the networking group (which met at Studio 54 to soft classical music) joke that Rubin had “gone from being a yippie to being a yuppie”. The headline of Greene’s story was “From Yippie to Yuppie”. East Bay Express humorist Alice Kahn claimed to have coined the word in a 1983 column. This claim is disputed.The proliferation of the word was affected by the publication of The Yuppie Handbook in January 1983 (a tongue-in-cheek take on The Official Preppy Handbook, followed by Senator Gary Hart‘s 1984 candidacy as a “yuppie candidate” for President of the United States.The term was then used to describe a political demographic group of socially liberal but fiscally conservative voters favoring his candidacy. Newsweek magazine declared 1984 “The Year of the Yuppie”, characterizing the salary range, occupations, and politics of “yuppies” as “demographically hazy”. The alternative acronym yumpie, for young upwardly mobile professional, was also current in the 1980s but failed to catch on.


In a 1985 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Theressa Kersten at SRI International described a “yuppie backlash” by people who fit the demographic profile yet express resentment of the label: “You’re talking about a class of people who put off having families so they can make payments on the SAABs … To be a Yuppie is to be a loathsome undesirable creature”. Leo Shapiro, a market researcher in Chicago, responded, “Stereotyping always winds up being derogatory. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to advertise to farmers, Hispanics or Yuppies, no one likes to be neatly lumped into some group.”











Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘Middle Child‘ – Pew Research Center – June 5, 2014


Activism in the Social Media Age – July 11, 2018



Published on Apr 28, 2016


HOLY HELL: Documentary Goes Inside Los Angeles Buddhafield Cult


“Holy Hell,” a documentary directed by Will Allen, tells of the filmmaker’s time with the Buddhafield, a Los Angeles–based “spiritual group” he joined in the 1980s. Director Will Allen shares clips from the documentary as well as the trailer, and recalls his personal relationship with Michel, the name used at the time by the group’s leader. Allen also discusses what life was like inside the cult, why he started filming and how it all came crashing down in this episode of BYOD hosted by Ondi Timoner.



50. Bares RepostingFebruary 25, 2018 (excerpt)


This was posted about a year ago on here and has been updated and rebroadcasted:


CBS: 48 Hours
The Family: A Cult Revealed (44 minutes)
Air Date: 04/29/17 [re-aired: 02/24/2018]


Part 1: Allegations of stolen children, drugs, abuse and a leader
who claimed to be the second coming of Christ — “48 Hours”
follows the trail of a cult that began in Australia and led the FBI
to New York. “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant investigates.


To some, Anne Hamilton-Byrne was a yoga teacher with a penchant for plastic surgery. To others, she was the evil leader of The Family — an apocalyptic cult with about 500 followers and more than 28 children. Some were the children of cult members, others were newborns that came from unwed mothers tricked into thinking their babies were going to good homes; a few were out and out stolen, investigators say.


Now, some of those children are speaking out about Hamilton-Byrne’s attempt to build a perfect race through a collection of children — some of whom were forced to have their hair bleached blonde, were home-schooled on an isolated property, and were injected with LSD as part of an initiation ritual.


Several additional segments on the topic are in the right side panel on the page:


– The Family: A Cult Revealed [Part 2]
– The Family cult: A true believer’s story
– Former detective on investigating an apocalyptic Australian cult
– Bill Hamilton-Byrne, the man behind Anne
– Behind closed doors of an elusive cult
– Could you be lured into a cult?
– Grown children of The Family share mixed emotions about cult leaders



Cult Witness Documentary – Real Stories – Aug 20, 2016


. . . an intelligent exploration of how cults attract and manipulate their followers, sharing the disturbing firsthand experiences of Cult Witness director Samuel Stefan and six others who have freed themselves from cults: Jill Mytton (The Exclusive Brethren), Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey (The Gentle Wind Project), Lea Saskia Laasner (The Janus Project), and Celeste Jones and Amoreena Winkler (The Children of God).



Children Of God Cult Survivor Speaks Out About Life Since Her Escape


Megyn Kelly TODAY – June 2018


“This cult was about control. And controlling somebody’s sexuality is one of the best ways to control somebody.  Sexual abuse is always about power—it’s not about lust. So, if you control someone’s sexuality, you control the most intimate part of their soul. And then, after that, you can ask them to do all kinds of things.”



Dec 12, 2018


This is Be Scofield, the journalist exposing cults and abuse in the tantra world on Medium.com.

I’ve just released a new story about a sex cult in Europe called “The New Tantra.” It was censored by Medium.com two days ago causing outrage amongst many. So, I launched my own platform to host my work from now on. Please read and share to help this go viral.

The Mad Hatter: Inside Alex Vartman’s “The New Tantra”

Thank you!

And as always there are several ways to donate to support my work here: DONATE



Be Scofield

 Be Scofield | 1070 Tunnel Road, Asheville
This email was sent to libertybelle@toknow.us | Unsubscribe | Forward this email to a friend




‘Alex Vartman (real name Sandford Perrett) used to be a top level assistant of sex and relationship guru David Deida, author of “The Way of the Superior Man.” From 1998–2002 Vartman held Satsangs around the world and gained a following by offering non-dual spiritual teachings. At the NoMind festival he apparently had hundreds of students listening to him. He even taught alongside popular spiritual teacher Gangaji for a brief time. In 2004 he taught with Ken Wilber at the Integral center and then visited a series of Ashrams in India before starting TNT in 2010.


An ex-TNT senior staff member guesstimates that Vartman has made a cool million dollars from The New Tantra — all tax free . . .’



Dec 22, 2018
HuffPost Her Stories  


Dear reader,


A celebrity spiritual “healer” with a global following was arrested in Brazil this week after hundreds of women filed reports accusing him of sexual abuse.


HuffPost Brazil’s Andréa Martinelli says the country has been in shock since the first accuser spoke up on TV earlier this month, triggering an avalanche of similar complaints. João Teixeira de Faria, known as John of God, “was a medium of prestige here in Brazil,” Andréa said. His devoted followers believed he had the power to heal through “spiritual surgeries” and felt betrayed and even defensive when women began accusing him of abusing them under the guise of treatment. Some people even protested in front of his spiritual retreat in solidarity with him, Andréa added.


What’s remarkable about this story, though, is how seriously the investigation is being taken and how quickly Faria was arrested — despite his reputation as a beloved and powerful figure. In a matter of days, more than 500 women filed complaints against Faria, leading authorities to arrest him Dec. 16 and charge him Dec. 20 with “sexual violation through fraud,” according to The Associated Press.


HuffPost Brazil decided to make this the focus of its coverage. “We have chosen, first of all, to emphasize the importance of women’s denunciations [against Faria],” Andréa said. “We know that specifically in Brazil, cases of sexual violence are under-reported for a number of reasons — among them not only shame and fear, but also the fact that powerful men are involved.”


“The swift investigation into Faria highlights how important it is for survivors to report their abusers and the collective power of women’s voices.”


“I think this is the main nuance that this case brings: The voice of women strengthens the denunciations [against Faria] and provides a basis for a solid investigation against a man who, according to them, committed a series of violent acts in moments of fragility as they searched for connection with the divine.”



Until next time,




For more on John of God, readers of Portuguese can follow HuffPost Brazil’s @anabeatrizrr1 and @deamartinelli. All subscribers should stay tuned for more on the case as the investigation continues.



How To Spot A Cult – 2012


Cults are making a comeback, according to some of the experts who study them. The two-part documentary is an inside look at these cults and consists of ex-believer’s stories, and investigates what the similarities they say exist between groups including the Exclusive Brethren, Scientology, Centrepoint, Gloriavale, Avatar and the International Church of Christ.


“If you want to ‘break’ someone, sexual abuse appears to be the way to do it.” – Dr. Dennis Green





Secretive group’s leader charged with sex-trafficking
By Tom Hays – Mar. 26, 2018
– apnews.com





Cults (Documentary) 2017



The Best Books on Cults, for These Cult-Obsessed Times


By Katy Schneider – June 1, 2018


Welcome to Reading Lists, comprehensive book guides from the Strategist designed to make you an expert (or at least a fascinating dinner-party companion) in hyperspecific or newsworthy topics. This week: a selection of books (and notable articles and podcast episodes) about cults.


We’re a little cult-obsessed at the moment. Smallville actor Allison Mack was recently all over the news, arrested on sex-trafficking charges for her association with the Albany, New York, cult NXIVM. That came on the heels of Wild Wild Country, a Netflix docuseries about the Rajneeshpuram commune that formed in early 1980s Oregon, and Waco, a mini-series based on the Branch Davidian compound in 1993.


But really, we’ve always been cult-curious, and there’s a wealth of literature to prove it. We reached out to professors, researchers, cult deprogrammers, and filmmakers to find out the best book to read on a variety of notorious groups.



‘I was a Moonie Cult Leader’


Steven Hassan spent two-and-a-half years being ‘brainwashed’ by the Rev Sun Myung Moon’s controversial Unification Church. This is his story:





CRAZY FOR GOD: The Nightmare of Cult Life © 1979 by Ex-Moon Disciple, Christopher Edwards


How are young minds twisted in the name of God? What is the truth about modern-day religious cults?




This book is about the rapid near-destruction of a human being – myself. It is the story of the deceit, manipulation and terror which thousands of young Americans experience daily at the hands of modern cults. Although a different group was involved, I believe it is also a story which may help to explain the paranoia and absolute obedience which led to the recent horror of the People’s Temple murders and mass suicide.


My story began innocently enough when I was lured into a “fun” weekend in June of 1975 on a farm owned by a front group for Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church in Berkeley, California. It ended seven and a half months later on a Saturday afternoon in mid-January with a dramatic kidnapping and deprogramming engineered by my father and a team of hired professionals.


In the following pages, I describe the sinister indoctrination process by which I was transformed from an intelligent, independent human being into a completely subservient disciple of my new Messiah — terrified of questioning, dependent on my leaders for my every move, ready and willing to die or even kill to restore the world under the absolute rule of Reverend Moon. I share with you the degradation I experienced as I rose in the ranks of the Moon organization to become an “adopted” son of the two most powerful cult leaders in America. I describe my losing battle to retain my mind and will in a world of structured madness.


This has been a difficult and painful book to write. I have had to relive every nightmare connected with those seven months with the Moonies in order to re-create for you the horrors I experienced. You may be amused at first by the absurdities that Moonies mouth and actually believe, but it will soon become chillingly clear that beneath the smiley faces and baby songs lies a systematic plan for rapid subjugation for the Cause.


Everything in this story is true although it is obviously impossible to reproduce the dialogue and thoughts of characters verbatim. Some personalities and events have been compressed or conjoined for the sake of readability, but everything that I describe happened to me and is typical of a Moonie’s experience, however much the cult leaders may deny this. All the names in this book with the exception of Moon’s have been changed to protect the guilty, among whom are some of the most innocent victims of all.


As a former Moonie, I am aware of Unification Church tactics toward those who dare expose its secrets. But no risk seems too great if CRAZY FOR GOD prevents a few more families from being destroyed and a few more minds from being bent and twisted in the name of love.



BHAGWAN: The God That Failed © 1986 by Hugh Milne


“Why did this man and his teachings have such an enormous impact on me, and later upon thousands of other Westerners? I think we can find at least part of the answer in the sexual and social climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s.”



The extremist therapy ashram created at Poona (Pune) by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931-1990) is one of the most controversial episodes in Indian guru history. The extension in Oregon during the 1980s involved a commune that became notorious for aggressive behaviour on the part of an elite. The chief ministrant of the commune was Ma Anand Sheela, whose devotion to the guru was accompanied by an agenda which got out of control. After Rajneesh was deported and returned to India, he changed his name to Osho. This article favours critical coverage.


kevinrdshepherd.info/bhagwan shree rajneesh



True Story of Synanon Violence And How It Started


By Paul Morantz – 2009



32. brucelevyJuly 28, 2016


http://www.mikerindersblog.org/mind-control-made-easy/? subscribe = success#blog subscription-2



From Social Control in Scientology by Bob Penny


The Defeat of Street Smarts


Claiming to be a religion is but one means of sheltering a commercial enterprise from accountability. Ambiguity of product is another.


The legal profession struggles to keep up with questions of accountability that arise when buyer and seller disagree about the nature and effect of esoteric services. That problem becomes all the more difficult when the product is inherently ambiguous, as is the case with the subjective and possibly manipulated mental state of an individual. This ambiguity is a legal weak point which Hubbard recognized, exploited, and further obscured by mixing it with religion.


By charging money for obscure expert services which are part of a religion and which have as their product an ambiguous subjective condition, Hubbard created a sales and recruitment machine virtually immune from legal accountability.


Certainty vs. Truth


Sound objective research is not relevant to the true believer. In place of evidence and scientific validity, things are said to work (in Scientology) by using social pressures to persuade people that they did work, i.e., by gradually interfering with the individual’s ability to evaluate information.


The coercion which accomplishes this defeat of “street smarts” may not be obvious. It would be a pretty ineffective group that had to control its members through blatant coercion. It is much more efficient to create a milieu in which the members indoctrinate and control themselves, and convince each other that it was all their own free choice and decision. As a cohesive group, they will enforce such ideas as a condition of friendship and belonging.


We encounter a friendly and enthusiastic group which espouses goals and values that are easy to agree with. Home at last!


At first, it seems that all we are being asked to agree with is better communication, getting people off drugs, motherhood, and apple pie.


What these groups really sell is membership. Sure, they want your money and your time, and they will take all there is of both. But what they want above all is for you to be one of them, to belong, to agree with them, to reassure them by the sacrifice of your own life and values that their own lives and decisions have not been futile misguided errors.


“Street smarts” is swept away by the person’s urgent reliance on the constant reinforcement required to maintain “certainty” [in] those collective self-deceptions about being an elite in unique possession of the only right answers. It may be decades before one begins to realize, or to fight desperately against realizing, that life has gone by to no constructive effect.


There were some tricks going on that our ordinary schoolyard and street education failed to teach us about.





THE RAPE OF THE MIND: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Columbia University; Lecturer in Social Psychology, New School for Social Research, Former Chief, Psychological Department, Netherlands Forces, published in 1956, World Publishing Company. (Out of Print)


From Chapter Six – Totalitaria and its Dictatorship


There actually exists such a thing as a technique of mass brainwashing. This technique can take root in a country if an inquisitor is strong and shrewd enough. He can make most of us his victims, albeit temporarily.


What in the structure of society has made man so vulnerable to these mass manipulations of the mind? This is a problem with tremendous implications, just as brainwashing is. In recent years we have grown more and more aware of human interdependence with all its difficulties and complications.


I am aware of the fact that investigation of the subject of mental coercion and thought control becomes less pleasant as time goes on. This is so because it may become more of a threat to us here and now, and our concern for China and Korea must yield to the more immediate needs at our own door. Can totalitarian tendencies take over here, and what social symptoms may lead to such phenomena? Stern reality confronts us with the universal mental battle between thought control (and its corollaries) and our standards of decency, personal strength, personal ideas, and a personal conscience with autonomy and dignity.


Future social scientists will be better able to describe the causes of the advent of totalitarian thinking and acting in man. We know that after wars and revolutions this mental deterioration more easily finds an opportunity to develop, helped by special psychopathic personalities who flourish on man’s misery and confusion. It is also true that the next generation spontaneously begins to correct the misdeeds of the previous one because the ruthless system has become too threatening to them.


My task, however, is to describe some symptoms of the totalitarian process (which implies deterioration of thinking and acting) as I have observed them in our own epoch, keeping in mind that the system is one of the most violent distortions of man’s consistent mental growth. No brainwashing is possible without totalitarian thinking.





The Gentle Souls Revolution October 31, 2013


Cults in Our Midst Describes “School”


I keep telling myself, I’m going to focus on other things, but for better or worse, I have become fascinated with cults. I started reading this book on a recommendation and quickly went from reading to devouring when I found that Chapter 3, The Process of Brainwashing, Psychological Coercion and Thought Reform, illustrated my “school” experience to a T.


If some are still wondering whether “school” is really a cult, or just a misguided philosophy group, authors Margaret Thaler Singer and Janja Lalich will quickly and succinctly put your wondering to rest. As disturbing as it is, I feel empowered by knowing the truth: “school” tactics are not the rituals of a wannabe esoteric mystery school, as claimed, but widely-used cult tools and tricks as modeled by Scientology, The Moonies and Jehovah’s Witnesses (to name a few of the more highly visible cults).


According to Singer and Lalich, successful thought reform “keeps the subjects unaware that they are being manipulated and controlled … and unaware that they are being moved along a path of change that will lead them to serve interests that are to their disadvantage.”


Sound familiar?


They outline a “continuum of influence and persuasion” ranging from legitimate education (i.e. real schools) to thought reform. Let’s look at the thought reform bullets and see if anything else sounds familiar:


Point 1) Structure of Influence and Persuasion: takes authoritarian & hierarchical stance; no full awareness on part of the learner:


Who among us “students” didn’t feel intimidated by “teachers” — Robert [Klein] in particular? Who didn’t lose his/her ability to challenge and question the “teachings” and “demands”? Who among us didn’t feel beholden to “school instructions” even if we didn’t understand the intention behind them; even if all the cells in our bodies were screaming NO? “Teachers” lorded over the classroom as more highly-evolved beings, who had been “doing the work longer”. We told ourselves, if we do “the work” we will someday understand what they understand. “Teachers” reinforced our perceptions telling us to “maintain a healthy skepticism with a nickel’s worth of trust.” “Teachers” also brushed skepticism aside and failed to reveal the interest rate on that nickel.


Point 2) Type of relationship: Group attempts to retain people forever:


This point really got to me; when my recruiter, Lisa, asked me if I’d like to meet other people who ponder life’s bigger questions, I distinctly remember her painting a casual picture: a bi-weekly discussion group that people wandered in and out of; a group of friends who gather informally to discuss ideas and tools for living. I’d grown to trust Lisa. What could it hurt to meet some like-minded folks, I asked myself? Over time I learned what it could hurt. “School” built up its demands a little at a time: rigid requirements for stellar bi-weekly attendance, Christmas-party planning participation, the ridiculous requirement that we schedule our personal vacations around “school’s vacations” (I must admit, most people never took this seriously) and eventually the required recruitment. Lisa had lied. I felt angry at her and I remember thinking bitterly, “I didn’t sign up for this.” But I also shoved that anger aside, justifying her manipulation, “I would never have joined ‘school’ had I known the extent of its demands. Then I would have missed out on all of its ‘help’ and my life would still be a frustrating circle of confusion and disappointment.”


One night Robert mentioned playing basketball with one of my fellow students ten years prior. “Holy shit,” my inner rebels said, briefly waking up. “A decade??? [INSERT NAME] has been attending ‘classes’ for ten years?” I should have stayed with the horror I was feeling, but I shoved that voice aside. On a separate occasion I did once say, “We’re not all going to be here forever.” Robert’s expression darkened, his displeasure apparent. I had stepped in a minefield in my audacity to question lifelong “school” tenures. He responded that some have left “school” with his “blessing”. I never saw evidence that “school” honors or blesses an individual’s choice to leave, but even if this were true, his response indicated that they had to ask for his permission. There’s no point at which someone could stand up and say, “I’ve decided to do some other things with my time” without questioning, pressure and push-back from the group. Once one is *in*, “school” offers no sanctioned *exit*. Eventually, anyone who leaves becomes a “disgruntled ex-student”, or an enemy. Persona non grata.


Point 3) Deceptiveness: is deceptive


See points 1 and 2; suffice to say that “school” provides endless examples of deceptions custom-made to retain “students”. Those readers who were *in* “school” can compile the lies told to bait them, reel them in and keep them hooked. I’m confident that their experiences will closely echo mine.  I will simply add this phrase — well worn in the hallowed halls: clever insincerity.


Point 4) Breadth of Learning: Individualized target; hidden agenda (you will be changed one step at a time to become deployable to serve leaders)


Almost every emancipated ex-“student” I’ve spoken with since leaving the ranks likens their “school” experience to this commonly told cautionary tale: a frog is placed in a pot of cool water.  A burner is turned on beneath the pot. The water heats slowly, imperceptively. When the water boils, it’s too late. The longer your tenure the more susceptible you become and more easily deployed to “serve school”, i.e. recruit more students who will pay tuition and eventually be deployed to recruit more students when deemed ready by the authorities. Eventually, “school’s” demands will supersede all of their “only life things”: marriages, children, jobs, family, personal finances, interests and passions, friends, emotional and physical health are all secondary.


Point 5) Methods: Improper and unethical techniques:


Again, see “clever insincerity”. I realized while still in “school” that “clever insincerity” isn’t simply a “teaching”, it is policy. “School” lies and omits information conveniently; it then instructs its plebs to do the same. I justified this practice believing that, even though “clever insincerity” felt wrong, I didn’t understand the process of “evolution”. “School” lulled me into seeing it as a benign and necessary practice to “protect” the secret “esoteric” ideas. It shored up the illusion of “school” as “invisible”, as though friend and family didn’t take note of our bi-weekly disappearing acts and changing personalities. “Clever insincerity” claimed these secret esoteric ideas came from an “oral tradition”, neglecting to mention the source, Russian philosopher, G. Gurdjieff and his myriad of published books, easily accessible on Amazon.com. “Clever insincerity” inferred that, without “school”, these sacred ideas would disappear forever.


Initially after leaving, I still justified “school’s” unethical techniques, believing them necessary for “school’s” survival; still believing that each “student” made a personal choice about staying or going. But let’s name “clever insincerity” rightly: lies, deception, coercion and manipulation.


If the decision you make is based on lies, it is not a personal choice. It isn’t possible to make an informed choice about continuing your study in an esoteric school when, in truth, the “school” is a mind-control cult with a hidden agenda.



19. Tim Campion August 1, 2014


From “Upper Lobby,” a blog about a Boston-area 4th Way cult:


The Day We Told Our Wives About Cesareo’s Sexual Abuse


As perpetrators learn from other perpetrators, it is important that survivors learn from other survivors.



20. brucelevyAugust 1, 2014


Thanks Tim. Your link led me to this…http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/04/01/the-master-2?currentPage=all



26. WhaleRider August 2, 2014




Another great read, although it also made me feel sick to my stomach.


I was struck by the consistent theme in the cult victims’ lives: issues with their parents.


“Newton told me that Berman could sense which boys to invite into the inner circle, either because their parents were splitting up or because they were struggling in school.


Because of his lack of financial support, he needed the boys,” she wrote of Berman. “The boys needed a leader, because for some reason or another, the boys all hated their parents.”


The other original owner of the house, the bond trader, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said that he first encountered Berman in tenth grade, when his relationship with his parents was crumbling. “I didn’t know it, but I was looking for someone like Berman, who had authority, who was a leader,” he says. “In a school that made everyone think he was special…”


I feel very fortunate to have left the FOF rape factory in time to resolve the issues with my father before he died. I hated him when I was young and my parents divorced just prior to my joining the cult. I, too, needed to feel special. I’ve learned these many years later that aligning myself with anything that makes me feel special or privileged comes at a cost to my humanity.



From Q.M.I. Presents The Blackboard Newspaper


Mystical Journey by Dr. Derick Lamar – 2005


Was this Fourth Way School I was in a cult? No one in the school thought so. But no one considered it at the time. It wasn’t until Jonestown that the question was even asked.


. . . Thane’s obsession with “young men” might have been more to do with society’s fear and mistrust of such relationships and yet it was there and remains unanswered. Despite the teaching of androgyny, the school was clearly a patriarchal organization and though sexuality was liberal, it was still shrouded in a certain amount of shame and guilt that was brought on inherently by all of the denial.


There is a reason that many professions have a rule against intimate relationships with patients, clients, students and others. This is to protect one from the power of the persona of those helping us that might be used to exploit us for less than virtuous reasons. This ultimately creates doubt, guilt, confusion, and gets in the way of what the original intention was . . .


The problem was that Thane’s unresolved issues would become the collective unconscious for the entire school. Rather than simply helping students resolve psychological and spiritual issues, they soon found themselves entangled in the trappings of a man who desperately needed to control others in order to accomplish his own survival amidst the ongoing nightmare of freeing himself from his own demons. But his own work took a back seat, and what unfolded after that was the haphazard attempt at recreating Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way School in a more metaphysical setting. The Fourth Way approach to “the three lines of work” made this seem like a plausible dream. You must “Work” on yourself, “Work” for the school, and “Work” for children yet unborn. Everyone did do “Work” related to their own constructs, but so many of us got caught in the daily trappings of “working” for the school and rather than this meaning that “The Teaching” would be made available to others, it turned into a merry go round of activity that kept the organization functioning for the sake of the organization.



The New American Wing


Secrecy, Embarrassment, and the Cult Experience


By JM – NAW Aware .



exposing the con


Post Cult After Effects
Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D.


After exiting a cult, an individual may experience a period of intense and often conflicting emotions. She or he may feel relief to be out of the group, but also may feel grief over the loss of positive elements in the cult, such as friendships, a sense of belonging or the feeling of personal worth generated by the group’s stated ideals or mission. The emotional upheaval of the period is often characterized by “post-cult trauma syndrome”:





84. Bares RepostingSeptember 7, 2016 




Barbara Bruno Lancaster, Former Cult Member


In 1972, I joined a study group. In 1984, I woke up to find that I had willingly given away my life for 12 years – under an illusion that I was making myself a better person and the world a better place to live in. This wasn’t a dream, I was in a cult.


That sounds pretty drastic. How could anyone let themselves get hooked into such a situation? I was then 27 (hardly a child). Now I must take responsibility for not having taken responsibility. I was a thinker, an artist, a reader who envied the people in history who were lucky enough to live in times where there were opportunities to become part of a movement that made a contribution to humanity. I wanted to understand “what makes us tick,” but found no answers in modern psychology. Perhaps there was an elusive ancient knowledge that I might discover today. I feared a wasted life, and doubted my ability to live self-directedly.


In 1972, I wished to study a psychology called The 4th Way, which is based on the early 20th century writings of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky. This philosophy proposes an esoteric system of achieving a permanent higher level of consciousness and stresses the need to find a “real” 4th Way school led by a consciously-developed teacher. After finding a bookmark from a group (I will call it the “SOS”), I attended a series of prospective student meetings and came into contact with people who certainly acted esoteric. They were speaking knowledgeably on a subject of great interest to me. I was asked to try a few of the school exercises in behavior modification, and felt awkward and stupid around the students. I couldn’t believe that they wanted me to join! I made the first in a series of monthly donations, and then was directed to a silent, seemingly ineffectual man in the corner, whom they referred to as “The Teacher”.


Within a few weeks, I had moved from my home in Hawaii and was living with other students in a house in Carmel, California. For six months I had little contact with anyone outside of the group. The Teacher and his inner circle of leaders took over the house to work on a book and hold meetings. My activities centered on a constant exposure to his words and to carrying out the directions of his leaders. There were mental exercises to be followed in all waking hours, i.e., words that we were to eliminate from our speech; not using contractions; not crossing our legs and physically moving in a manner that indicated intentionality (we looked like robots). When one could begin to adjust to an exercise, it would be changed. I now spoke only in the special “work language” of the school. For five years I followed a word exercise that forbade the use of the word “I”. One was to refer to themselves only in the 3rd person. (Try ordering a meal without using “I”.) We were used to hearing each other speak, but our special language added to the discomfort of outside communication.


The aim was a heightened state of awareness in which one could regard oneself objectively as a machine-like being. Man existed in a state of walking sleep and needed constant shocks in order to awaken to his real potential. My words, reactions, physical appearance, and basic character were always open for discussion by the others. My behavior and attitudes were constantly observed and classified as indications of a “good” student or a “bad” student. This was always done as suggestions for my own good. I was not supposed to express negativity.


This environment was not all unpleasant. There was a strong feeling of community, a sense of purpose, of spiritual fulfillment, and a new state of awareness of the world that was exhilarating. There were times when I felt that I was losing control of my mind. This was taken care of by taking me for a walk where another student would softly remind me that this was simply a stage in my development, and that confusion itself was really a high state. There was a kindness and humility among the lower ranks of students that made me feel accepted. I was approaching all of this as a one-year experiment in self-knowledge.


Three months after joining this “study group”, a special meeting was called and it was announced that a woman who had left the school had committed suicide. This was seen as an example of what happens when students do not value the knowledge they have been exposed to. The school had become a lifetime endeavor! (Only for those who were strong enough to succeed.)


We were now told that there were invisible higher level beings, called “C Influence” that were around us constantly and would provide shocks to remind us of their presence. When something pleasant, or unpleasant, occurred it was said to be C Influence, providing shocks to awaken me from my lowly state. C Influence spoke directly through the Teacher, and to question this was considered a manifestation of a low level of being. We had been chosen to become the enlightened people who would found a new civilization after a soon-to-come nuclear holocaust. Please remember, this was said in an insulated environment. I began to think that I was constantly being watched and that even my thoughts were subject to judgement by these “higher forces.” Lifton refers to this as the “psychology of the pawn.”


When my savings ran out, I began working again in ordinary life and found that there was a profound distance between myself and my co-workers who were not part of the school. I was quiet and just did my work. My “real” life was elsewhere, and I was thoroughly committed to it.


Although the school control never succeeded in becoming absolute, my ability to measure reality and to maintain personal autonomy were greatly diminished. In George Orwell’s 1984, he saw this regulating restraint as being accomplished by means of the 2-way telescreen. But a mechanical device is not necessary when one is sufficiently surrounded by “human” apparatus.


The world became divided into black & white. Ideas, feelings, and actions consistent with school policy were praised. Inconsistencies were explained as a waste of my precious time and an incorrect valuation of the opportunities that had been extended to me. Policy was changed over the years, but an unwavering demand was placed upon me to strive permanently for a perfection which did not exist. I became guilty and depressed. I was no longer working for something – I was fighting against myself. Guilt always followed a self-observation, and my repressed negativity could be expressed through complaints about my attitudes. I wanted to “confess” my awareness of a personal failing before someone else could point it out. The more I admitted to weakness, the easier it was to judge others.


I was the enemy! I began to think that I just wasn’t capable of knowing myself. Other people’s opinion of me was “real.” The school became a living being and I was just a cell in it. The group was more important than me.


I became a “master of justification.” Former cult members all say that they had doubts throughout their involvement. My misgivings became a closely guarded secret, unbearable to admit, even to myself. I developed subtle ways of rebelling, but outwardly I towed the party line. This core of doubt looked for an open door, and I lived in fear of finding it. It was Catch-22. [in FoF speak: Catch-44.]


I sided with the liberal-wing of the school, who felt that they could bring about a more humanizing element, and perhaps ensure their own survival. Yet, too often, I took no action against injustice, deceit, and outright bullying by the Teacher’s appointed leaders, whose power he supported. I watched children being given away when the Teacher decided they were unnecessary distractions. Relationships and marriages were broken at his suggestion. The rich were courted and fleeced. The 10% of gross salary for monthly donations rose with an ever-rising list of required special donations. It was almost impossible (both financially, and as proof of commitment) to live outside of a communal situation. Within a “teaching house” there was little or no room for deviation or personal expression. We were an intellectual and cultural group, but the form this took was always at the whim of the Teacher’s taste. He wanted us to become an 18th century culture (imagine a woman’s place in such a society), and a large part of funds went to his antique purchases (the finest works went to his home).


Eventually the group had centers in most major cities in the U.S., Europe, and Mexico. The Teacher got the school a State Charter as a Church. He established a winery on the school property in Northern California as a non-profit corporation. We were expected to spend weekends and vacations working at the headquarters. Those with especially high levels of “valuation for the work” lived and worked there full-time. There was no housing provided. People lived crowded together in houses outside the grounds, or in trailers, or slept under a table and kept their belongings in their car trunk. But on Saturday night, they wore tuxedos and gowns to the concert hall, where prestigious musicians would play to an audience who would overwhelm them with applause at the appropriate moments.


In the “SOS” [FoF] an attitude of them-versus-us prevailed. The outside world was dead. Apparently, people who knew too much about the secret activities of the Teacher had been given direct tasks not to tell the others. You were asked to leave if you broke a task. If you left the school you were ostracized.


I was happily married to another student, whom I trusted with some of my doubts. We had a little mixed-breed dog who was very precious to us. I came close to a nervous breakdown in 1980 when the Teacher declared that we could only have pedigreed animals. I began to realize how much control the Teacher had over anything I cared about. I saw only two choices: become quietly insane (as others had), or commit suicide. I could not imagine having the strength to leave the school. My husband Ronald suffered greatly in his fear that I was losing my commitment. He began defending me to people who were offering him advice about changing my behavior. We became part of a developing underground of discontent where small confidences were shared. In time, an ethical member of the Board of Directors [Samuel Sanders] discovered criminal actions and called for public censure of the Teacher. This information was strong enough to penetrate through to what was left of my self-respect, and I could not offer a single justification. Even then, I thought that things could now change for the better. A meeting was called, by a representative of the Teacher, to discuss the situation. I brought up my concerns: Students were not free to seek help from mental professionals; many were becoming alcoholics, and we were, generally, living in a state of fear. I was told that these problems were my imagination and the fear was only within me. I snapped!


I left the group – after 12 years. l felt helpless. I had no friends and was deeply in debt. I couldn’t explain the lost years. To the outside world a cult experience itself indicates a flawed mentality. I grieved for those left behind, imprisoned by their learned ability to accept the unacceptable. Ronald, myself, and a few others felt marooned on a strange shore, cringing, clinging, and finally, setting out to discover our new world.


Within a few months, we became part of a former cult members group at the Cult Clinic in Los Angeles. The Clinic was a flame burning in my dark night. I will always be grateful for their understanding. What has been most helpful is hearing that ex-members share the same experience even though the form of each group is different. What cults believe is not important (it may be truth or nonsense). The key indication of danger lies in an insulated organization that lacks a system of checks and balances.


l choose to believe that the positive things I retain from my experience are a credit to the sincere relationships I once shared, to my abiding faith in the goodness of God and nature, and to my own intelligence and self-respect.


However, I did not gain this from the “SOS,” [FoF] but rather, in spite of it.


Most ex-cult members do not speak out. Many never realize they were in a cult. They just leave one day, and eventually look for something else to replace it. My activities in cult awareness – reading, writing, lecturing, and creating publications – are looked upon as extreme by some of the people who left the school with me.


The most common reaction to my story is: “Well, that could never happen to me!” I’ve met with a lot of former members and they are not stupid. Most are highly intelligent. The newer groups are especially appealing to the well-educated. Recruitment is directed to the best, the brightest, and the most idealistic of persons. Every cult member is a recruiter whose sincerity is infectious. Please note: Because cult members can only associate with people inside the group, they will see outsiders purely as potential recruits or losers. I did not feel I “recruited” my mother and my life-long friend when they joined the “SOS” [FoF] at my encouragement – I wanted to “help” them down the one true path.


Mind control exists – it produces an inability to act from one‘s own integrity. Brainwashing is spiritual rape. Remember: No one ever thinks they are joining a cult.



65. ton2uJuly 31, 2017


. . .Way back when I joined the FOF there was no internet – the abundance of cult information online these days should serve as a deterrent IF due diligence is undertaken by the prospective “student” of things “esoteric.” There are simple, straightforward and useful checklists available for any and all “seekers.”




Who is vulnerable to cult recruitment?


We all are at some time in our lives. Most of us satisfy the foregoing needs within our normal range of relationships and this gives us a certain amount of protection, as long as we stay within that framework.


Cult recruits are not any more likely to be mentally ill, less intelligent, or less well educated than the average population.


Nor are they necessarily more gullible on average. They do tend, however, to be “seekers,” constantly looking for pat answers and magical solutions for personal or societal problems. They are often driven to find answers (any answer) to the great metaphysical questions, rather than live with uncertainty. Those who have a higher tolerance for ambiguity can live with the acceptance that such things are ultimately unknowable.


How can we recognize a cult? A fair use of the cult label for a questionable organization would require the presence of most of the items on the following checklist.


Does the group:


(a) engage in deceptive recruitment practices? (recruiters typically disguise the true nature and aims of the group when seeking converts.)


(b) tend to target vulnerable individuals, as outlined above?


(c) offer unconditional affirmation and support initially, but soon make its continuance contingent on obedience?


(d) have a closed social system that makes a special effort to isolate acolytes from family, friends, etc.?


(e) use constant bombardment with pro-group and pro-leader messages and exclusion of other messages?


(f) have a rigid, authoritarian hierarchy?


(g) have a leader and ruling clique that are perceived to possess infallible insight, supernatural powers, etc.? Do they claim to have been chosen by some higher authority to rule, and thus to be excused from the normal social restrictions on one’s behavior?


(h) have an eclectic, often muddled and internally contradictory, set of teachings – usually a magic-laden philosophy that claims to have infallible answers to those “big ticket” questions of existence?


(i) have a strict behavior code that governs all aspects of how one should think, feel, and act? Are there strong penalties for deviation?


(j) instill fear of outsiders (the “bunker mentality”)? Does the group try to convince members they are powerless to act without the group’s support and that the world “out there” is uncaring and hostile?


(k) engage in major forms of exploitation (e.g., financial, occupational, or sexual – of self, spouse, or children)?


(l) demand immoral, unethical, or illegal activity on the part of its members?


Who starts a cult?
Some cult leaders are unequivocally psychopaths and con-artists, but others spring from more complex roots. The late British psychiatrist Anthony Storr published a book (Feet of Clay) that discusses common attributes in those who become cult leaders. There often appears in their backgrounds some kind of serious psychological crisis that they have surmounted by interpreting it as a special calling to some higher purpose. Even those gurus who start out believing they are on an inspired mission to improve the lives of others usually succumb to the seductions of unbridled adoration and privilege, resulting ultimately in disaster. It is as Lord Acton so wisely admonished:


“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”




Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused.


The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.


Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a cult scale or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.


The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.


Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.


Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).


The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).


The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar, the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).


The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.


The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).


The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).


The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.


Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.


The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.


The group is preoccupied with making money.


Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.


Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.


The most loyal members (the true believers) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.


Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006)… checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.



39. BryanJune 28, 2011


Renald (36), quoting from Cali:


“After all, those folks at the sweat lodge were there voluntarily. Some have characterized them as followers of Ray’s. Nonetheless they chose to be there. He did not force them…From the soul perspective, from our perspective, there is no blame or guilt. There is only responsibility — the responsibility of each of you for yourself.”


Cali might want to keep in mind that cult leaders rely on their followers to adopt the above described attitude.


If anyone states a concern about the cult leader or about the cult, they are generally admonished to “look inside themselves” and to “stop playing the victim” and to focus on their inner worlds, while paying less attention to the external realities that could victimize them. If they see something wrong, it must be that they’re “creating their own experience.” No one is really hurting them. They are only hurting themselves. If they would just change their attitude, it would change their experience within the cult to something positive.


But when a person perceives and acknowledges the destructive and criminal behavior within a cult, this is a healthy first step toward NOT playing the victim, and toward taking responsibility for themselves.


Ironically, cult leaders want them to believe just the opposite. They want to discourage the expression of complaints or dissent. Followers often remain psychologically trapped in cults because they are afraid to criticize anything outside of themselves. Cult leaders are very good at directing people inward, and redirecting them from anything external. They discourage activity — encourage passivity. But the impulse to question authority and articulate complaints is the only way out of the mental trap (and often this occurs only after leaving the cult).


When Cali writes that “We are not being callous and hard-hearted here,” they actually are. This tendency to downplay the suffering of others and the external causes of that suffering – suggesting it was something they brought on themselves without acknowledging the actions of the perpetrators – just sounds like the typical erosion of conscience that all of us could see occurring within the FOF. It sounds more like a mechanism to avoid facing uncomfortable truths about the world, and remain blissfully ignorant about another person’s suffering and the causes of it.


— If we are sincerely concerned about another person gaining the maturity to take responsibility for themselves, and if we sincerely want to help them to avoid “playing the victim,” then turning a blind eye to the external realities — such as a sociopathic cult leader — is not going to serve them. You can turn inward and look for solutions inside, but if you don’t acknowledge the effects of the outside world, you will never be able to “look inward” quite enough.


Cults thrive on the passivity of their followers.



Cults and Deteriorated Spiritual Teachings


            ‘Counterfeit gold exists only because
             there is such a thing as real gold’  Rumi


   In many countries in the contemporary world, especially in the West, there are representatives of virtually every religion, spiritual teaching, cult and metaphysical system in existence. How can the earnest spiritual seeker distinguish between an authentic teaching and a cult, between a real and a false spiritual teacher? What are the salient characteristics of a genuine spiritual group or organization and what are the warning signs for detecting a spurious or misguided one? Psychiatrist Arthur Deikman provides a succinct working definition of a cult:


    The word cult refers to a group led by a charismatic leader
    who has spiritual, therapeutic or messianic pretensions,
    and indoctrinates the members with his or her idiosyncratic
    beliefs. Typically, members are dependent on the group for
    their emotional and financial needs and have broken off ties
    with those outside. The more complete the dependency and
    the more rigid the barriers separating members from
    non-believers, the more danger the cult will exploit and
    harm its members. (1)









Forest Temple of Hard Work
and Rough Food.


by E. C. Bowyer



Journalist E. C. Bowyer spent a week visiting Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau France, five months after it opened. He begins with an account of the Study House and the student’s spartan daily life. Bowyer interviews his guide, A. R. Orage and describes the various stages of instruction at the Institute, the participation of children, the practice of movements, and the occasional feasts enjoyed by everyone. Returning to London, Bowyer interviewed P. D. Ouspensky. His reports were serialised on front pages of the Daily News (London) 15-19 February, 1923. The word ‘cult’ did not then have a pejorative connotation.  J. W. D.





In the following article a Special Correspondent of the Daily News reveals some of the leading facts relating to a remarkable new cult which has attracted to itself many Englishmen and Englishwomen bearing well-known and even famous names. The leader of the movement is Gurdjieff, an Eastern philosopher-mystic, and the article describes the “Study House” in the historic Forest of Fontainebleau, some 40 miles from Paris, where his disciples follow a course of hard work and harder fare.


Daily News Editor


bowyer new-cult




The Forest Philosophers


C. E. Bechhofer Roberts



Carl Eric Bechhofer Roberts first met Gurdjieff in Tiflis in 1919 and visited Gurdjieff’s Institute several times but “preferred to remain an intimate and disinterested spectator.” The English spelling Gurdjieff / Gurdjiev was not yet fixed.  J. W. D.



Of all the mystics who have become prominent in Europe during the last twelve years or so, and especially since the war, when their numbers have been doubled, I cannot recall that any has attracted so much interest in so short a time as George Ivanovitch Gurdjiev, the founder of the “Institute for the Harmonic Development of Man” at Fountainebleau, near Paris . . . I shall endeavour to set down here the main theories that underlie Gurdjiev’s methods and the form they take in practice. 


roberts forest-philosophers



A Visit to Gourdyev


Denis Saurat


Professor Saurat visited the Prieurè for a weekend in February 1923. He describes contradictory impressions of Gurdjieff who appears alternately contemptuous, provocative, irritable then finally serious and “extraordinarily courteous.” This skeptical article stimulated discussion about Gurdjieff among French intellectuals and journalists. Saurat eventually revised his opinion of Gurdjieff and came to recognize Beelzebub’s Tales as a major work. The English spelling of Gurdjieff’s name was not yet fixed and is here given as ‘Gourdyev’ in keeping with the Russian pronunciation.


Saturday morning, February 17th 1923. The Fontainebleau station.
    Orage comes to meet me when I arrive by train from Paris. Orage is a big Yorkshireman of vague French descent; hence his name is taken from the French word for storm. For fifteen years he has been a power in English literary circles. He owned a half-literary, half-political weekly review, the New Age, which was the most lively intellectual organ in England between 1910 and 1914.
    Orage might have been the greatest critic in English literature, which has produced few critics, and which is dying of that lack, though it revives every time a writer of genius emerges and joins a great tradition. But Orage sold the New Age and went to Fontainebleau: literature interested him no more.
    I am surprised at his appearance. . .



P. 7

    The disciples add that [Gourdyev] has defined himself as a disseminator of solar energy, which they pretend not to understand.
    Is there a God? I ask.
    ‘Yes and Gourdyev is in communication with Him. Almost like an independent, obstinate minister with his king.’  Women, they say, have no real possibility of acquiring a soul except by contact and sexual union with men.

saurat visit to gourdyev



From gurdjieff-bibliography.com/Current/index.




I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.


• Susan B. Anthony, in an address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1896)






Colin Wilson writes about “…Gurdjieff’s reputation for seducing his female students. (In Providence, Rhode Island, in 1960, a man was pointed out to me as being one of Gurdjieff’s illegitimate children. The professor who told me this also assured me that Gurdjieff had left many children around America).”


In the early 1930s, Gurdjieff publicly ridiculed one of his pupils, Alfred Richard Orage. In response, his wife Jessie Dwight wrote the following poem about Gurdjieff:


    He calls himself, deluded man,
    The Tiger of The Turkestan.
    And greater he than God or Devil
    Eschewing good and preaching evil.
    His followers whom he does glut on
    Are for him naught but wool and mutton,
    And still they come and sit agape
    With Tiger’s rage and Tiger’s rape.
    Why not, they say, The man’s a god;
    We have it on the sacred word.
    His book will set the world on fire.
    He says so – can God be a liar?
    But what is woman, says Gurdjieff,
    Just nothing but man’s handkerchief.
    I need a new one every day,
    Let others for the washing pay.


~ Wikipedia / Gurdjieff



From Episodes with Gurdjieff © 1973 by Edwin Wolfe


In 1939


I was alone with Mr. Gurdjieff at a table in Child’s Restaurant on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street. It was almost dusk of a winter day. The Child’s Mr. Gurdjieff called his night office. Another Child’s over on Columbus Circle was his day office.

We sat for awhile in silence. He seemed to be looking out the front window at the people passing by in the waning light. It was beginning to snow.

“Wolfe,” he said, “tell. How your handkerchief?”

“Mr. Gurdjieff,” I said, “I’m going to ask you to not speak about Dorothy like that. We are trying to live a good life together. A decent life. We are even trying to learn how to love one another. So, please, don’t call her my handkerchief. Please.”

“I not promise,” he said.

But he never called her that again.




Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way: A Critical Appraisal


 Sexual Beliefs and Practices



Gurdjieff on Sex: Subtle Bodies, Si 12, and the Sex Life of a Sage


By Johanna J. M. Petsche


This chapter will begin with a brief background to Gurdjieff and his teaching. Gurdjieff’s views on the sex center, which governs mechanical behavior but can potentially liberate individuals, will then be examined and positioned within the context of his “three-octave” system of food transformation outlined in Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky’s (1878-1947) In Search of the Miraculous (1949). Following this, Gurdjieff’s views on heterosexuality, homosexuality, masturbation, and gender, with a focus on his contentious statements about women, will be assessed within the context of his teaching. Finally, Gurdjieff”s own flamboyant and controversial sex life will be considered.1




     (pp. 135-147)


. . . Certainly, in many spiritual and esoteric systems, the orgasm is considered to be a critical moment in human consciousness and the key to magical power and contact with divine energies. American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825–75) saw the orgasm as “the most solemn, energetic and powerful moment . . . on earth,” where “the souls of the partners are opened to the powers of the cosmos and anything then truly willed is accomplished” (Urban 2006, 8–9, 67). For Randolph, if the orgasm is directed toward a higher spiritual end, it leads the soul upward to higher states of spiritual transcendence, but if it is directed toward careless or selfish ends, it leads the soul downward to lower depraved states of corruption and results in psychological and spiritual destruction—to madness, criminality, and damnation (Urban 2006, 67, 73). Gurdjieff commentator James Webb suggests that Gurdjieff derived much of his material from Randolph (Webb 1980, 532–33), whose work on sex magic had a profound impact on later Western esotericism (Urban 2006, 66–67). Interestingly, similarly to Gurdjieff, Randolph explained his teaching as deriving from his travels through the Middle East, particularly from interactions with the Brotherhood of Eulis, groups of fakirs or Sufis, as well as the Ansairi and other Eastern masters among the Arabs, Turks, Syrians, Armenians, and Egyptians (Urban 2006, 66–67).


For Gurdjieff, sexual abstinence can also aid the process of food transformation, as long as the other centers also abstain, and the sexual energy saved is managed consciously and correctly (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 256). Sexual abstinence must also create space in the organism and a shock, as it breaks the cycle of mechanical behavior. In Tales Gurdjieff speaks of sex energy in terms of “exioëhary,” or sperm, produced by both males and females, which has the potential to nourish higher bodies and which can be used productively but also harmfully through practices of sexual abstinence (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 806–10). In one of the most influential compendia of tantric ritual and iconography in northeast India, the Brihat Tantrasara, composed in the late sixteenth century in Bengal, sexual fluids are similarly considered a source of spiritual power. The goal of the tantric practices it expounds is not pleasure, but rather the harnessing of this power, which is considered potentially dangerous. This power can only be awakened through highly esoteric rituals (Urban 2006, 88–91).


In Gurdjieff’s system of food transformation, there is, however, a barrier that most people encounter. As stated earlier, the sex center rarely operates with the fine energy of si 12 due to the typically dysfunctional state of the human organism. Human beings live in a mechanical condition where their centers are off-kilter, which means that the potent sexual energy they produce flows into the wrong centers. Rather than feeding the higher bodies, or producing a child, this energy pours into useless activities such as fighting, disputing, criticizing, playing sport excessively, and acts of destruction (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 258). This is detrimental to one’s health; in Tales Gurdjieff explains that when sexual energy, exioëhary, cannot evolve in the system of spiritual transformation, it “involves,” creating illnesses and short life spans (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 793). This is why Gurdjieff told Fritz Peters that if one could not use one’s sexual energy in the right way, there is a proper sublimation of sexual energy, and that is to use it for other equally creative activities (Peters 1978, 41; Peters 1976, 164, 227). One finds a similar teaching on the sublimation of sexual energy in Theravada Buddhism (Humphreys 1971, 113).


Thus Gurdjieff viewed sex as both a tool for spiritual transformation and as playing a tremendous role in feeding one’s mechanical behavior. Indeed, he stated that sex is “the chief form of slavery and it is also the chief possibility of liberation” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 255). The harmonizing of the centers and proper use of the sex center are imperative to Gurdjieff’s teaching and to the process of spiritual transformation, to the point where he even stated, “Only a person who is completely normal as regards sex has any chance in the work. Any kind of ‘originality,’ strange tastes, strange desires. . .must be destroyed from the very beginning. Modern education and modern life create an enormous number of sexual psychopaths. They have no chance at all in the work” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 257). What Gurdjieff considered “normal” and “strange” in regards to sex will now be examined.



Views on Sexuality and Masturbation


For Gurdjieff, sex should simply serve the two intentions of nature—to produce children and to produce energy for spiritual development—and it is “perversion” if it performs any other role (Peters 1976, 227–28). Gurdjieff vehemently advocated sex education for children so that these principles could be known and followed from a young age (Gurdjieff [1963] 2002, 54–57; Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 1032–41; Gurdjieff 1984, 126–27). The ideal sexual union was a heterosexual and honest one, where sex was “conscious of itself ”: “When sex is clearly conscious of itself and does not cover itself up by anything else it is not the mechanicalness about which I am speaking. On the contrary sex which exists by itself and is not dependent on anything else is already a great achievement. But the evil lies in this constant self-deception!” (Ouspensky [1949] 1977, 254–55).


In Tales Gurdjieff describes ideal, perfect beings existing on the planet Modiktheo, who consciously conjoin to produce offspring. These beings exist as three different sexes—Martna, Spirna, and Okina—but a unique form of conception occurs when the beings of each of these different sexes unite. First, they each independently experience a period of gestation where they perform “Partkdolg duty” (where they conduct themselves consciously and intentionally), and then, when the time of birth approaches, they “press close to each other and ultimately almost grow on to each other,” mutually giving birth to offspring with already-formed higher being-bodies. According to Gurdjieff, this conscious, purposeful approach to sex was ignored by human beings, who preferred the pursuit of pleasure, which is detrimental to spiritual growth (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 276–79, 771–73, 791–93).


Gurdjieff condemned the notion of sex for pleasure, as this is contrary to the twofold purpose of sex as outlined above, and thus denounced masturbation, contraception, and prostitution. His aversion to masturbation may have been influenced by advice given to him as a child by 70-year-old “Dean Borsh,” a most influential figure in the young Gurdjieff’s life when he undertook his schooling in Kars, Turkey. Gurdjieff reports that Dean Borsh had lectured him on sexual matters and had said that if, before adulthood, one yields, even once, to the temptation to “gratify lust,” he will lose the possibility of ever being a real man of real worth (Gurdjieff 2002[1963], 54). In line with this view, Gurdjieff stated to pupils that the reason why sexual associations interfere with spiritual work is because of infantile masturbation (Patterson 2000, 46), and in Tales Gurdjieff described masturbation as a harmful affliction and an evil. He even claimed that people were transformed into “psychopaths” by the practice, and endorsed male and female circumcision as a means to prevent masturbation in youth: “‘children’s onanism’ is scarcely met with among the children of those threebrained beings there who observe this custom of ‘circumcision,’ whereas all the children and youths of the beings who fail to observe this custom are without exception exposed to this same sexual abnormality” (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 977–78). Gurdjieff’s negative views on masturbation reflect widespread beliefs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were based on the idea that sexual fluids contained precious, vital energy. Unnecessary waste of these fluids through self-gratification was considered a tragic loss for the organism (Urban 2006, 66, 72).


Gurdjieff also denounced homosexuality, which is perplexing considering that, in Paris in 1936 and 1937, he taught an all-female and mostly lesbian group called “The Rope.” The name came from Gurdjieff’s explanation that to mount the slopes of consciousness group members must be tied together on a cordeé, or rope (Beekman Taylor 2008, 191–92). The group had close, almost daily contact with Gurdjieff, with meetings held in restaurants or at his apartment. Gurdjieff taught them through readings of his texts, assigning exercises, and identifying members’ “inner animals” (Patterson 1999, 92). It is reported that he said to the group in relation to their sexuality, “You very dirty . . . but have something very good—many people not got—very special” (Patterson 1999, 249). And to one member, Solita Solano, he stated, “Something wrong your sex. Sex very important thing is, like light, like air you breathe, food you eat. If you are in five parts, two of your five parts depends from sex. You must more normal live” (Patterson 1999, 138). Pupil Fritz Peters maintained, “He was puritanical, even a fanatic, about homosexuality, and condemned it vigorously . . . He felt that homosexuality—as a career—was a dead-end street; and perhaps, further, one of Nature’s defences against overpopulation . . . He frequently reminded me that Nature would manage to ‘get even’ with Mankind if we continued to fight against rather than with the laws of the Universe” (Peters 1978, 43). Gurdjieff’s views on homosexuality must relate to his firm belief that both male and female components were necessary to create balance, as they contributed active and intellectual (male), and passive and emotional (female) elements. This type of polarity is common to various strands of Western esotericism, from Kabbalah to the Renaissance magic of Marsilio Ficino and the Enlightenment mysticism of Emmanuel Swedenborg; the union of male and female was regarded as the earthly reflection of the union of active and passive aspects of the Godhead (Urban 2006, 1–2). This dichotomous view of the sexes accords with Gurdjieff’s Law of Three, where every phenomenon in the universe is the result of the interplay between three forces; active and passive forces are neutralized by a third force, which creates something new. For example, a male (active force), female (passive force), and sexual force (neutralizing force) can produce a child (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 278). However, two active or two passive forces cannot lawfully operate in this way. Randolph expounded a similar theory, where the sexual instinct is the most fundamental force in the universe as it represents the natural attraction between active and passive forces (Urban 2006, 67).


In the colorful cosmological narrative of Tales, Gurdjieff explained that the “first beings,” called “Polormedekhtic” or “Monoentithis” beings, included both sexes in the same individual body. The splitting of the sexes occurred when the original planet Earth splintered into different parts due to a collision by the comet Kondoor. Human beings then became “halfbeings” from a sexual and procreative standpoint, and since then have needed the other half—the opposite sex—to correctly carry out their lives and roles (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 771). This resembles the story in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad, 1.4.3, where Purusha, the first being, wished to have a companion. As he was as large as a man and woman in close embrace, he split his body into two, giving rise to husband and wife. This is why Yajnavalkya states, “The two of us are like two halves of a block (Upanisads 1998, 13–14). It also parallels the biblical story of Adam being split into two when his rib was removed so that God could create a woman (Genesis 2: 21–23). Gurdjieff’s views on the different sexes and their distinct roles and natures will now be further explored.



Views on Gender


Pupils Peters and Bennett describe Gurdjieff carefully separating the sexes at his institute at Fontainebleau. Peters maintains,


There was no mingling of the sexes in any “immoral” sense. The men and women bathed separately at the bath, and different hours were allotted for male and female use of the swimming pool. There was, in fact, a very strict code of morality in this purely physical sense, and we were highly amused when people sent us clippings from the Sunday supplements of various newspapers which “proved” that the Institute was a nudist colony, or a “free-love” group . . . While it was true that we swam without bathing suits, the swimming pool was equipped with curtains which were always drawn whenever anyone went in swimming. It was forbidden, in fact, for even the small children to swim without drawing the curtains. (Peters 1976, 78)


At the institute, pupils were also housed in a way in which the sexes were separated (Peters 1976, 129), and in the Study House, a large room used for Movements practice and demonstrations, men and women sat on different sides of the room (Bennett 1973, 231). On Saturdays, the men alone went with Gurdjieff to the Russian bath and spoke about things that were not to be repeated to the women. Afterward, they privately dined with Gurdjieff, and Gurdjieff’s ritual toasts to the different types of “idiots” at the table were originally given only to the men, in accordance with traditional dervish practice (Bennett 1973, 231). These toasts were meant to provide a mirror in which pupils could see themselves (Nott 1978, 102).


Gurdjieff believed that the sexes have distinct natures and thus distinct roles to play in life. For example, men have aspiration while women do not. Aspiration compels men to climb mountains, to fly, to write, compose music, and paint, and the fact that women attempt to do these things shows how the world is “mixed up” (Peters 1976, 112–13). Gender roles, according to Gurdjieff, have become confused in contemporary times because women now try to carry out men’s work: “Not necessary for woman do work of man in world. If woman can find real man, then woman become real woman without necessity work. But, like I tell, world mixed up. Today in world real man not exist, so woman even try to become man, do man’s work which is wrong for her nature” (Peters 1976, 113). Gurdjieff stated that a man who does not fulfill his active role, and a woman who attempts to fill this role, are both members of the “third sex,” for whom there is little prospect of transformation (Bennett 1973, 230). At one time he said that a true man and a true woman are not just male and female; they are each a combination of male and female, active and passive (Peters 1976, 113).


In a talk to his pupils, Gurdjieff stated that there are “equal chances” for both sexes in his work (Gurdjieff 1984, 87). However, this is at odds with other statements he made about women and their lack of potential for spiritual development. For example, Denis Saurat reported that Gurdjieff said that women could scarcely hope to come by souls except through sexual contact and union with men (Perry 1978, 76). Similarly, Gurdjieff asserted to Fritz Peters that women did not need his work because the nature of women was such that “self development,” in his sense of the phrase, was something that they could never achieve. The only hope for women to develop, “to go to Heaven,” is with a man (Peters 1976, 112). This view is reminiscent of Asian, Hellenic, and Hebrew traditional lore where, during sex, the woman is thought to draw from the man something of his power (Beekman Taylor 2006, 233). The idea was, however, criticized by Jessmin Howarth, a female pupil who bore Gurdjieff a child: “Why does there seem to be this growing idiocy, the idea that no woman can hope to gain a ‘Body Kesdjan’ unless she has had sexual intercourse with a ‘Master?’” (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 224)


Gurdjieff made other contentious statements about women. He said to Orage that “the cause of every anomaly can be found in women” (Beekman Taylor 2001, 243), and in Tales he cites wise Sufi philosopher Mullah Nassr Eddin’s repeated assertion that “the cause of every misunderstanding must be sought only in woman” (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 274). He even said to Peters that most relationships were merely that of man and “handkerchief.” “For him,” he said, “this very convenient; he suddenly feel need or wish to blow nose—and always he have this handkerchief with him” (Peters 1976, 216). There is also a bizarre story in Tales where men and women were separated for a time: the men turned to onanism and pederasty, and the women sought sexual activity with beings of other forms. This led to the existence of the species of apes, which resemble human beings, and their psyches resemble that of the female sex (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 274–81).


In any assessment of Gurdjieff, one must constantly be mindful of the fact that his teaching was based on the belief that people need to be severely “woken up” and challenged if they have any hope of transforming spiritually. He demonstrated an ongoing interest in creating opportunities for pupils to struggle and face conflict so that they could understand his teachings experientially. Thus any of the above statements could have been meant as shocks, or appeals, for pupils to stay alert and keep on their guard, actively questioning everything. He did, after all, warn pupils not to take him literally (Nott 1978, 75). In any case, the above statements seem at variance with the fact that at the end of his life, Gurdjieff’s chosen successor was a woman, Jeanne de Salzmann, and also that he probably had more female than male pupils. Gurdjieff certainly encouraged women to commit themselves to his work, and many of his female pupils later played significant roles in perpetuating the teaching, particularly the Movements. Bennett even states that Gurdjieff’s female pupils were among the most successful of all the pupils, some occupying very important and decisive positions, and attained perhaps more than most of the men (Bennett 1973, 231).



Gurdjieff’s Own Sex Life


Gurdjieff’s conservative, uncompromising views on sex might appear to conflict with his famously flamboyant character, vulgar sense of humor, and liberal relationships with women, some of them his pupils. There is a well-known incident recounted by sculptor and writer Rom Landau, who met Gurdjieff in New York in 1934. Landau was dining with a female friend, while Gurdjieff was seated at another table. He pointed Gurdjieff out to her, and Gurdjieff immediately caught her eye and suddenly began to inhale and exhale in a particular way. Landau’s friend turned pale and had an orgasm. She claimed to have been “struck right through my sexual centre. It was beastly!” (Landau 1935, 244).


Of Gurdjieff’s sex life, Bennett states,


His sexual life was strange in its unpredictability. At certain times he led a strict, almost ascetic life, having no relation with women at all. At other times, his sex life seemed to go wild and it must be said that his unbridled periods were more frequent than the ascetic. At times, he had sexual relationships not only with almost any woman who happened to come within the sphere of his influence, but also with his own pupils. Quite a number of his women pupils bore him children. (Bennett 1973, 231–32)


It is known that pupils Jessmin Howarth, in 1924, and Edith Taylor, in 1928, bore Gurdjieff daughters, and Elizaveta de Stjernvall, in 1919, and Jeanne de Salzmann, in 1923, whose husbands were working with Gurdjieff at the time, bore him sons. His affair with the married Lili Galumian produced a son in 1927. There is also some evidence that Gurdjieff made sexual advances to pupils Olga de Hartmann and Jessie Orage in 1930. Paul Beekman Taylor, who lived with Gurdjieff as an infant at the Prieuré in the 1920s, and worked with him in 1948 and 1949, states that in his presence Gurdjieff spoke of ten children, though in interviews he boasted of over one hundred (Beekman Taylor 2008, 18–19, 233).


Accounts given by pupil Jessmin Howarth and her daughter to Gurdjieff, Dushka Howarth, indicate that there was camaraderie between Gurdjieff’s children and between the mothers (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204, 206). They paint Gurdjieff as a fairly generous, kind, and protective father (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204–205, 248). On one occasion Gurdjieff told Dushka that he would not allow pupil Alfred Etievant to fall in love with her because she was “Miss Gurdjieff” and was too good for him. She was to treat him like a “louse that one makes chik” (crushes between one’s thumbnails). When she questioned this, Gurdjieff was adamant that he was her father and expected obedience, to which Dushka replied that she had only known him (Gurdjieff) for three weeks and had learned to be independent in her 24 years. Gurdjieff had apparently informed her casually one day that he was her father (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 204–205). It seems that some of the mothers of Gurdjieff’s children, such as Jessmin Howarth, Edith Taylor, and Jeanne de Salzmann, preferred to withhold this information from the children, while Gurdjieff was eventually upfront with them about it (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 205, 207, 213). Amusingly, Dushka admits that she and Petey Taylor, another of Gurdjieff’s daughters, had found Michel de Salzmann the most attractive man they had ever met, until it was revealed to them several days later that he was their half brother (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 213).


To the mothers of his children, Gurdjieff was variable. Jessmin Howarth reports that at one Saturday lunch, “Edith and I would be put through the same old routine of disapproval. We were not to call our daughters ‘Petey’ and ‘Dushka’ (but Eve and Sophia)! One time we would be shouted at ‘Svolotch!’ ‘Balda!’ [approximately: ‘lowest of the low!’ and ‘dullard!’] Another time treated with much special attention, extra food and commands to the girls to ‘love their mothers’” (Howarth and Howarth 1998, 206). At the time of some of his affairs with pupils, Gurdjieff was married to the Polish Julia Osipovna Ostrowska, who was around twenty-three years his junior. Ostrowska’s background is unknown; she may have been a countess and lady-in-waiting to Alexandra Feodorovna, or even a prostitute (Moore 1991, 67–68). According to de Hartmann she was tall and beautiful, “but not at all like those women of the cultured class who habitually interest themselves in new philosophical teachings. Our first impression was that she was rather remote from her husband’s affairs. But we came to see how deeply and seriously she valued the Work of Mr. Gurdjieff. We grew to love her, deeply and sincerely” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 17, 19). Gurdjieff and Ostrowska were married from around 1909 to her death in June 1926, though she never took the name of Gurdjieff, always remaining “Madame Ostrowska.” Gurdjieff commentator James Webb posits that this was because they were never legally wed and that Gurdjieff already had a wife living somewhere in Central Asia (Webb 1980, 137). Beekman Taylor discounts this, stating that in Russian society married women frequently retained their maiden names after marriage for informal use, and that on occasion she was listed as “Gurdjieff” on official documents (Beekman Taylor 2008, 18, 40).


Gurdjieff had deep affection for Ostrowska (Gurdjieff 1999, 36–40; Peters 1976, 76–77), and she occupied a privileged position in his work, taking lead roles in his Movements. He was devastated by her death to cancer at age 37, as is revealed in a story in Tales that reflects the circumstances surrounding Ostrowska’s death. In the chapter “The Bokharian Dervish Hadji-Asvatz-Troov,” Gurdjieff tells of a European man whose wife was diagnosed with cancer. This man himself had discovered a cure for cancer, but had a road accident, which prevented him from putting his cure into effect in time. When he recovered, it was too late to use his method on his wife, so he decided not to spare himself and channeled his energies into his wife’s body to slow down the cancer, managing to keep his wife alive for two years (Gurdjieff [1950] 1964, 910–14). Gurdjieff was attentive to his wife when she was ill and explained that, even though doctors had put her under sentence of death, he had been able to extend the time limit through his own efforts. Olga de Hartmann claimed that once during Ostrowska’s last days, Gurdjieff caused a marked improvement in her condition by making her drink a glass of water that he had held for a few minutes in his hands (Webb 1980, 315–16).


When Ostrowska died, Gurdjieff retired to his room, shattered, seeing no one for two days. However, his behavior in the period that followed confused pupils. Gurdjieff devoted the day of the funeral to embarrassing the archbishop and preventing expressions of grief over Ostrowska’s death. He described to pupils what he considered a traditional funeral custom from more enlightened times, where the friends of the deceased spent three days remembering the evil deeds their acquaintance had committed and concentrating on their own mortality. At the funeral feast, Gurdjieff repeatedly cursed God (Webb 1980, 316). Further, shortly after Ostrowksa’s death, Gurdjieff was living with a married woman, whom he made pregnant (Peters 1976, 114). Beekman Taylor suggests that this was pupil Lili Galumian, who gave birth to her son Sergei in 1927 (Beekman Taylor 2006, 132).


Gurdjieff displayed a reverential and protective attitude toward his wife, mother, and other female blood relatives, and seems to have associated Ostrowska with his mother. He described them as being in rapport with nature and communicating in a silent language (Gurdjieff 1999, 36–39). They were buried together in Avon in Fontainebleau. Ostrowska was, perhaps, somewhat of an Earth Mother figure to Gurdjieff and to his pupils, a similar role to that played by L. Ron Hubbard’s third wife, Mary Sue, for Hubbard and members of the Sea Org. Ostrowska must have turned a blind eye to Gurdjieff’s affairs. She never bore Gurdjieff a child, and accounts suggest that they had separate rooms at the institute in Fontainebleau (Peters 1976, 28; de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 248).


As discussed, Gurdjieff displayed quite a different attitude toward other women in his life. In his memoirs Fritz Peters is candid about Gurdjieff’s promiscuity, stating that at the institute there were rumors that “a great deal more went on in his rooms other than drinking coffee and Armagnac. The normal state of his rooms after one night indicated that almost any human activity could have taken place there the night before. There is no doubt that his rooms were lived in, in the fullest sense of the word” (Peters 1976, 28). At times Gurdjieff used sex to shock individuals and demonstrate something of his teaching. Peters describes a dinner party that Gurdjieff held in 1933 at his New York apartment for 15 well-mannered New Yorkers. Over dinner Gurdjieff made provocative remarks about sex and gave accounts of his own sexual abilities and highly imaginative mind, declaring that he was capable of sustained sexual acts of incredible variety. He then launched into a detailed description of the sexual habits of various races and nations. The night resulted in an orgy (it is unclear whether Gurdjieff took part), and Gurdjieff then stated that he would gladly accept from them checks and cash in payment for this lesson, which demonstrated the soundness of observations he had made earlier that evening concerning the sexual motivations of Americans. Apparently, Gurdjieff received several thousand dollars that night (Peters 1976, 201–206).


Pupil Thomas de Hartmann recounts his first meeting with Gurdjieff, which took place, on Gurdjieff’s suggestion, in a café frequented by prostitutes, where Gurdjieff made the coarse observation, “There are usually more whores here” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 8). Gurdjieff must have known that de Hartmann was a Guards officer at the time, and had he been seen at the café, he would have had to leave his regiment (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 7). According to de Hartmann, Gurdjieff did everything he could to create unfavorable conditions for this meeting, interpreting this as a technique in compelling de Hartmann to remember his “true aim” (de Hartmann and de Hartmann 1992, 74). Fritz Peters also states, “Gurdjieff frequently used sex as a kind of shock factor in dealing with individuals,” remembering a time when Gurdjieff wished for an egotistical woman at his institute to leave. At three in the morning, he propositioned her, and, utterly insulted, she immediately left the institute (Peters 1976, 228–29).


Although on matters of sex Gurdjieff taught the conservative values that he must have felt would benefit his pupils, personally, he clearly preferred not to live by them. In a study of the sexual behavior of contemporary spiritual teachers, American teacher of Vipassana meditation Jack Kornfield interviewed a broad cross-section of spiritual teachers from a variety of traditions and found that their sex lives, preferences, and experiences reflected those of the average person. He concluded that “teachers are likely to have active and complex sex lives. We have to re-examine the myth that enlightenment implies celibacy, and that sexuality is somehow abnormal or contrary to the awakened mind” (Kornfield 1985, 28).


This apparent contradiction between Gurdjieff’s theory and practice could be considered within the broader context of his life and teaching, which can essentially be viewed as continual experiments and improvisations; Gurdjieff commentator Peter Washington views improvisation as vital to Gurdjieff’s method (Washington 1993, 254). That is, all accounts of his life reveal that he was highly unpredictable and adaptable, constantly testing new methods of teaching, and using to the fullest any person, situation, and opportunity that came his way. This approach to life reflects his teaching aims; improvising his way through life might well have been Gurdjieff’s attempt at living “consciously” and keeping his movements challenging and unpredictable, for himself and his pupils. His sex life, “strange in its unpredictability,” as Bennett describes it (Bennett 1973, 231), could be considered in this way.





“An honest being who does not behave absurdly has no chance at all of becoming famous, or even of being noticed, however kind and sensible he may be.”


~ G. I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson



From Biographies

By Peter Holleran


George Gurdjieff – Mysterious Trickster


Proponent of “The Fourth Way”, George Gurdjieff taught a hard school of self-understanding.

   Many students were pushed to extremes of discipline, and a few went over the edge. This might be looked upon as the mark of a good teacher, using forceful means for the benefit of his disciples, but many thought otherwise. Rom Landau wrote:


   “Some of his pupils would at times complain that they could no longer support Gurdjieff’s violent temper, his apparent greed for money, or the extravagance of his private life.” (5)


John Bennett said that


   “(Gurdjieff) spoke of women in terms that would have better suited a fanatical Muslim polygamist than a Christian, boasting that he had many children by different women, and that women were for him only the means to an end.” (6)


   Every teacher has his detractors, particularly those teachers who make bold, dramatic use of the energies of life for teaching purposes, but it is not our intent to criticize character. Teachers can make mistakes, however, and the ways of any one teacher are not necessarily the way for all students. Gurdjieff used strong and shocking means to reveal his students to themselves, and he particularly liked to hit upon the “sex nerve” and the “pocketbook nerve”. He said that “nothing shows up people so much as their attitude toward money”, and through casual incidents he delighted in awakening people to the hypocrisy of their gentile ways. He liked to keep people on the edge of financial ruin, creating one disaster after another, saying that if they felt too comfortable they would not grow.


   The “crazy-wise” teaching methods have a long history, and must always be seen in context. What works for some, may not work for others, and cannot be imitated. What is most important to remember about a teacher, says Arthur Deikman, is this:


   “Teachers will be imperfect. What you need to be able to count on is them doing their job.” (6a)


Gurdjieff apparently had yogic powers, and it is said that he purposely helped to delay the death of his wife a few more days because she was close to enlightenment. Through his help it is claimed that she would not need to come back to this world because she did in fact attain awakening.


   As mentioned earlier, Gurdjieff (because of his obscure writing style) is better understood through his interpreters. Indeed, when writing All and Everything, Gurdjieff continually changed his wording in this long book whenever he saw that disciples understood what he had written! Again, this was an example of his “burying the dog.” He felt that the work was more useful when one was kept in a state of confusion on the level of the mind, forcing one to dig deeper for the truth.


John Bennett summarizes his basic form of argument:


   “You think you know who you are and what you are; but you do not know either what slaves you now are, or how free you might become. Man can do nothing: he is a machine controlled by external influences, not by his own will, which is an illusion. He is asleep. He has no permanent self that he can call ‘I’. Because he is not one but many, his moods, his impulses, his very sense of his own existence are no more than a constant flux…Make the experiment of trying to remember your own existence and you will find that you cannot remember yourselves even for two minutes. How can man, who cannot remember who and what he is, who does not know the forces that move him to action, pretend that he can do anything?” (7)


The “Fourth Way” was Gurdjieff’s term for the way taught in his system. According to him, there are three traditional paths, those of the faqir, the monk, and the yogi. The faqir works on disciplining the physical body with harsh austerities. The monk works on his emotions with prayer, fasting, and meditation. The yogi attempts to discipline his mind and alter his state of consciousness. “The fourth way” is that of simultaneously working on the other three dimensions (which correspond with the three bodies: physical, emotional or astral, and mental (which Gurdjieff called the spiritual) while applying the process of self-observation to make oneself less mechanical. This is the way of the “cunning man”, who thus surpassed the faqir, the monk, and the yogi and came to know the true “I” which was the presiding ego, the ‘divine’ body, the owner of the other three bodies. With this language, almost theosophical in character, one can see the possible limit of Gurdjieff’s teachings in encompassing the higher non-dual philosophy. How many of Gurdjieff’s followers found the Self, as opposed to the “I” or ‘ego-soul’?  How many knew the ‘I AM’?  Did Gurdjieff himself attain such realization?



From Gurdjieff’s HERALD of COMING GOOD: First Appeal to Contemporary Humanity, initially published by the author in Paris and 1933; later published by Samuel Weiser, Inc., NY, 1973


Only now, having prepared, in my opinion, by means of everything already set forth in this booklet, a corresponding, so-to-say, “ground-work” for depicting before the inner eye of every reader different outlines of the essence of this booklet of mine, called by me “The-First-Appeal-To-Contemporary-Humanity”, I consider it right, before other things, to announce in the hearing of all that, although I undertake at last the publication of my writings, I have decided to promote their circulation not by the usual ways, but in accordance with a definite plan worked out by me.

This plan, newly formed by me, consists in taking all possible measures to prevent my writings, with the exception of the first series, from becoming at once property “accessible-to-everybody”.

This decision of mine, made during the last years in the course of my observations of those who listened to the readings of my current work, is the result of long consideration, and is a conclusion contrary to my original hope of the possibility of making some more, generally available contribution to the healing of man’s psyche, which has already become, during the last centuries, almost completely abnormal.



Is There “Life” on Earth? An Introduction to Gurdjieff © 1973

By J. G. Bennet


From Chapter 2, Gurdjieff – The Man and His Work


Gurdjieff came more and more clearly to see that the ways of helping people which have been used in the past are no longer applicable — because modern man cannot even listen to what is most necessary for him to hear. Notwithstanding so many years of profound study of the human psyche, Gurdjieff reached the conclusion, as late as 1927, that a new and more penetrating approach to the problem must be undertaken. He accordingly imposed on himself a way of life that would, as he says, “cause each person to take off the mask kindly provided by their papa and mama,” and disclose the depths of his or her nature. The procedure adopted he describes as “finding the most sensitive corn of each person from whatever class or race he might come and whatever position he might hold, and treading on it rather violently.” It can well be imagined that such a procedure made him many new enemies and even scandalized many old friends. Since he carried his procedure into every kind of relationship, it is not surprising that stories of a most damaging nature should have begun to spread at his expense.


Very few people were able to see the necessity or sense of his actions and there is no question that many obstacles were created to the acceptance of his teaching. Nevertheless, for anyone who has felt the obscurity of the human psyche, it is obvious that what he did was indispensable – partly to establish the facts which it was necessary to know and partly, also, for the further aim – equally important and necessary – namely, to try and recover his own health.  Not only was his bodily strength almost destroyed by the automobile accident, but he carried the results of many serious diseases contracted in the course of his travels in different parts of the world.


In 1931, he again visited New York and, before the outbreak of the Second World War, paid several further visits to America. The Prieurè was finally closed down in 1932, and in 1934 he settled in Paris.


The period from 1939 to 1948 was one of utmost difficulty and privation for himself and his work. Those who were directly in contact with him were fewer in number than in the past, while those who misunderstood his ideas and mistrusted his methods had increased. Very much misunderstanding existed. Only a few who knew him well and had worked closely with him had some understanding of his aim.


So it came about that in the summer of 1948, many people who had not seen each other for many years, and others who had never met at all, began to arrive in Paris and went round to see him in his little flat, re-establishing contact first with him and then with one another. Everything seemed to be going normally as if work with him would continue as before, when again, there was one of these automobile accidents which, with bullet wounds and disease, make a terrifying pattern in his life.  Once again, by all ordinary standards, he should have been killed.



“I am Gurdjieff. I will not die.” Oct 1, 2017


Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation Archives


Gurdjieff International Review


Gurdjieff: Teacher of Radical Transformation –  Oct 8, 2009


Gurdjieff – Feed the Wolf  – Feb 24, 2017


Love Your Beast – Jun 17, 2017



The Three Dangerous Magi: Osho, Gurdjieff, Crowley © 2010
By P.T. Mistlberger


Introduction – p. 5


. . . Gurus who are thought to be some sort of emissary from the higher worlds, or even ‘lord’ of the world, or the next messiah, or the messiah, etc., are a dime a dozen. Spiritual or religious leaders who get mired in scandal and are subsequently accused of being corrupt, depraved, or evil, are equally common. Were this to be a book about such gurus it would have to be a ten volume encyclopedia.



Chapter 8: Self-Perfection and the Myth of the Infallible Guru – p. 213


. . . Concerning Gurdjieff’s 1 through 7 scale, Ouspensky, in In Search of the Miraculous, quotes Gurdjieff as follows:


    Man number one, number two, and number three, these are
    people who constitute mechanical humanity on the same
    level on which they are born. Man number one means man
    in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the
    moving center. This is the man of the physical body…Man
    number two means man on the same level of development,
    but man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life
    lies in the emotional center, that is, man with whom the
    emotional functions outweigh all others…Man number three
    means a man on the same level of development in whom
    the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the intellectual
    center…Every man is born number one, two, or three…man
    number four is not ready made…he becomes four only as a
    result of efforts of a definite character. Man number four is
    always the product of [inner] school work. Man number five

    has already been crystallized…He has now one indivisible I
    and all his knowledge belongs to this I…the knowledge of
    man number six is the complete knowledge possible to man;
    but I can still be lost. The knowledge of man number seven is
    his own knowledge, which cannot be taken away from him;
    it is the objective and practical knowledge of All.


P. 218


A bleak fundamental of Gurdjieff’s teaching is that man is not born with a soul – and that without one, he will ‘die like a dog’. (Gurdjieff’s reference to ‘dying like a dog’ is interesting in that the dog is a symbol of death in many cultures – not least of which was in ancient Egypt, where Anubis, generally recognized as a canine-type god, is a chthonic deity of embalming and death). Consistent with some elements of ancient Egyptian mysticism, he believed that the soul could only be created by working on oneself – by becoming, at the least, a ‘man number four’.










The Myth of the Totally Enlightened Guru


A profile of the guru Andrew Cohen, founder of What Is Enlightenment?


By John Horgan


In the mid-1970s, I spent a year living in Philadelphia, and while there I took classes in Kundalini yoga. The classes convened at a house, or ashram, inhabited by male and female Kundalini devotees, all of them Americans. They all wore the traditional white linen clothing and turbans of Sikhs. The lanky, bearded head of the house taught the weekly classes, which consisted of tendon- and spine-twisting postures, stomach crunches, repetition of the mantra “sat nam,” and dizzying breathing exercises, including a form of hyperventilation called “breath of fire.”


This form of yoga was introduced to the U.S. by an Indian adept named Yogi Bhajan, who was said by my Kundalini teacher to be completely enlightened. When Yogi Bhajan came to Philadelphia and gave a talk at the university I was attending, I went to see him. Swathed in white robes, he was a bearish, bearded, jolly man, Santa Claus as swami. I cannot recall what Yogi Bhajan said, but I remember being entranced. He exuded an intelligence and self-assurance that seemed superhuman. He had a mischievous smile that hinted, “I know.” Before the talk, I had been tense and exhausted from studying for final exams. Listening to Yogi Bhajan speak, I became strangely elated, and a headache that had nagged me all day vanished. At the time, I attributed my lift in mood to being in the presence of a fully enlightened being.


I mention this episode only to show that for at least one evening decades ago I believed in the myth of the totally enlightened guru. By total enlightenment, I mean not the flashes of insight that occur during drug trips or meditation, which last scarcely longer than an orgasm. Nor do I mean the down-graded quasi-enlightenment that Ken Wilber and others speak of, which confers a certain degree of detachment from the vicissitudes of existence but leaves our needy, neurotic selves otherwise unchanged. No, I mean full-blown enlightenment, the kind that Buddha supposedly achieved. Supreme wisdom and grace and serenity, total self-transcendence, liberation from mundane reality and morality. Not just a glimpse of heaven but permanent habitation of it. This is the enlightenment that gurus such as Yogi Bhajan supposedly attained and that they promised to devotees.


The totally enlightened guru is in a sense another mystical technology. Through devotion to the guru–which Hindus call guru yoga – we too may vault beyond this vale of tears to the promised land of nirvana.


Over the past twenty years, the myth of the totally enlightened guru has taken a beating, as one avatar after another has been accused of depraved and even criminal behavior. Given the scandalous behavior of so many self-proclaimed enlightened masters, one can understand why Huston Smith insists that no mere mortal can achieve total enlightenment, and why Ken Wilber contends that all gurus—”no exceptions, none”–have feet of clay. But the myth of the totally enlightened being has proven to be extraordinarily persistent. Susan Blackmore and James Austin, as hard-nosed and skeptical as they are, believe in total enlightenment, and I still feel the myth’s allure myself now and then.


In the summer of 1996, I was perusing a newsstand in Grand Central Station when I noticed a glossy magazine titled What Is Enlightenment? The subtitle read: “Dedicated to the discovery of what enlightenment is and what it really means.” According to its masthead, the magazine was published twice a year by Moksha, an organization founded by a spiritual teacher named Andrew Cohen. This particular issue, headlined “Is the Guru Dead?”, addressed the growing tendency of spiritual seekers and teachers to reject the notion of the totally enlightened guru. The magazine explored this topic in an article by George Feuerstein on crazy wisdom, as well as in interviews with a Benedictine monk, a Russian Orthodox patriarch, a rabbi, and other spiritual teachers . . .



Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment © 2005 – 2017


By Geoffrey D. Falk





The wicked are wicked no doubt, and they go astray,
and they fall, and they come by their desserts. But
who can tell the mischief that the very virtuous do? 
                            ~ William Makepeace Thacheray



ONE WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE that our world’s recognized saints and sages have the best interests of everyone at heart in their thoughts and actions.


One would also like to believe that the same “divinely loving” and enlightened figures would never distort truth to suit their own purposes, and would never use their power to take advantage (sexually or otherwise) of their followers. They would, that is, be free of the deep psychological quirks, prejudices, hypocrisy and violence which affect mere mortals.


One would further hope that the best of our world’s sages would be able to distinguish between valid mystical perceptions and mere hallucinations, and that the miracles and healings which they have claimed to have effected have all actually occurred.


Sadly, none of those hopes stand up to even the most basic rational scrutiny.


Thus, it has come to be that you are holding in your hands an extremely evil book.


It is so, simply because it attempts to expose, to a wider audience, the worst of the alleged abuses which various “god-men” have reportedly visited upon their followers, and on the world at large, over the past century or more.








By Anthony Storr





   PART  I    II   III