The Cults



   PART I                  


From Journeys With A Sufi Master

By Bashir M. Dervish, London 1982



Chapter 6 – THE CULTS


A dervish said to a devil: ‘Why are you sitting there
making no mischief?’ The demon replied sadly:
‘Since the would-be teachers have appeared in such
numbers there is nothing left for me to do.’  ~ Ghulam Haidar


The story of the Sufi who was able to get on with his work because pseudo-teachers drew off sensation-mongers and gave him peace, was, Halim Jan told me, being widely duplicated at the present time.
    He had been involved in observing and assessing the ‘occultist explosion’ which had been taking place right across Western countries for close on twenty years.

    Beginning about 1960, masses of people in the West, suddenly and almost as if of one accord, had ‘discovered’ Eastern mysticism; or what the West thought was Eastern mysticism.
    Perhaps the decline of religion in the West had left a vacuum. Perhaps the dehumanising effect of modern technology had suddenly become intolerable. Perhaps people genuinely felt that there had to be more to human life than the sterility and hopelessness that many modern conditions implied. Whatever the reason or reasons, millions of people in the West had tried to turn to the East — and to the past. People started to play oriental music, to fill their houses with joss-sticks and saris, to wear fur jackets from Afghanistan, kurtas from India, kaftans from Morocco. They developed a taste for koftas and kebabs, tried to understand the Tibetan Book of the Dead, puzzled over the I-Ching, wore Pharaonic Egyptian ankh charms suspended around their necks. Yoga became a pastime for housewives and a subject offered at municipal evening classes.
    Then, slowly at first and then more rapidly, it all started to look ridiculous. Fakes — and rackets — were unmasked. Meditation was seen to produce no better results than hypnosis; and was widely referred to as ‘the rediscovery of the siesta’. The Chinese officially admitted that they had fooled Western doctors with ‘demonstrations’ of acupuncture anesthesia. Zen was filleted for its ‘martial arts’ content and flowed on in various diluted popularisations. The speed with which the balloon burst was proportionate to the West’s impatience for results. When these were not forthcoming, the restless experimenters sought elsewhere. And suddenly there was nothing left.
    Or next to nothing. As the occultist tide receded and ordinary people lost interest, a number of societies, groups, or cults became more or less stabilised around the ‘developmental’ idea. These groups had one concept in common: mankind has a potential for psychological or spiritual growth which is not realised in the conditions of ordinary life.
    Many of these groups or societies had a leader who, his supporters believed, alone possessed the secret of how to activate and guide this inner development.
    Halim Jan said that this was no new phenomenon. Sufis knew the mechanism and the precise stages which every ‘occultist revival’ went through. They could predict the course of the process or as Halim described it, ‘this disease’.  They also knew that until a certain stage had been reached there was nothing to be done. ‘What impresses me’ he said ‘is not what people have found out in twenty years of occultist revival — but how much of what is really there they haven’t even suspected.’
    The leaders of these cults were sometimes sincere: but even when they were, they were rarely much more than half educated in the subject they professed. For the most part they were opportunists or charlatans combining the opportunity to indulge their vanity or lust for power over others, with a convenient and easy method of making money. Some of them were millionaires.
    Shah was, and still is, in the forefront of the battle against the cults; for Sufis see themselves as educating, not manipulating. One of the most fascinating results of this was when, in an interview with the editor of Psychology Today Shah stated (without naming them) that some Indian gurus were frauds, he received scores of protests from gurus’ disciples. Evidently the cap fits.
    Once Shah was invited to visit a supposedly spiritual group, alleged Sufis, somewhere in the heart of the English countryside. He took me and two other people with him.
    We found that, although the Press had reported favourably on the community, it was sustained by mumbo-jumbo, exercises and ideas borrowed from anywhere, and peopled by a disturbingly excitable and odd-looking range of characters. We examined it in detail; and I remarked that it seemed nonsense from beginning to end.
    Shah stroked his chin and smiled. ‘Now you all know just how to organize a cult. It is possible only because, so far, people in general do not realise a very simple fact, namely, that the human being responds emotionally to almost any kind of stimulus. And if he can be excited about a certain point, he may be convinced that he is having a spiritual experience. However, there are certain types who respond best. These are the depressives. The process is likely to work especially well among people whose feelings are repressed by social constraints. Here, read this. The situation is actually known in scientific observation.’  He handed Halim Jan a clipping from the London ‘Times’. It said ‘By Our Medical Correspondent. — Rioting in Belfast has had a beneficial effect upon some forms of mental illness in the city, a psychiatrist states. He has found that depression is least common in the areas of the city most affected by the riots and he claims his statistics support the psychodynamic theory that depression is the result of the inhibition of aggressive responses to frustration. . . In contrast, depression has become more common in the rest of the United Kingdom. . .
     ‘”In the riot area,” he says, “even those inhabitants who took no active part in confrontation with the security forces or rival religious groups could not escape involvement. Violence was a main topic of conversation and the high emotional content of such talk could be expected to have a beneficial effect on those prone to depression. The rise in the peaceful areas of Co. Down could possibly be due to the men there feeling frustration at being unable to take part in the violence described by the news media.”‘
    ‘You see,’ Shah continued, when the item had been read out by Halim, ‘when people who have been inhibited from showing emotion are allowed to do so they will feel better. Their depression will be lightened. The people who run these pantomimes, as one of you has called them, do not usually know what they are doing. Indeed, they may themselves imagine, through misunderstanding what is happening, that something divine has entered the situation. Yet this is really a fairly well-known common denominator of many religious cults.’
    ‘But’, I asked, ‘if some scientists know this, how is it that the facts are not thoroughly understood by the world at large?  If medical people, and social scientists, know the mechanism, why isn’t it common knowledge?’
    ‘First, it certainly is well known. The shelves of bookshops overflow with paperbacks explaining the mechanism of cult-formation and conditioning. So this material should be common knowledge to the readers of such books, which are published for the general public. More time may be necessary, and more educational effort, before this material percolates to the general level.
    ‘Second, the slowness of the acceptance of these facts may well be because the mechanisms which are used by cults are the same as those which are employed in implanting more generally acceptable ideas into the mind. Since no way of distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ inputs of this nature is known, people will tend to look the other way. The days are long gone when one could have said, in the formerly acceptable formula, “Yes, this is how it is done, but in the case of the cult it is the devil, and in our case the church.”‘
    I asked what could stop the cults. ‘Only education. But before people can educate, they have to find a way of bringing to people the truth which is higher than, and a replacement for, manipulating them. The Sufis have clean hands in this respect: but how many other current institutions can say, “Such-and-such a thing is indoctrination: it is treating human beings like programmable machines.”?’
    ‘The present position is that, as I have said, most conventional belief-systems have little to offer other than inducing belief. They have to research the alternatives before they can teach.  Further, though there is a good deal of talk about “harm” and “evil” from the cults, this has never been quantified, and many reasonable people are not at all convinced that all cults are harmful or evil.  The cults will, one day, have to be studied side by side, for good and harmful effects, with all other belief-systems. Only such a study can claim to be scientific, and could command general respect.’
    We visited one cult headquarters, as much, I suspect, for my benefit as any other reason: and were met at the door by a morbid-looking individual who asked who we were. Shah said ‘just visitors’ whereupon the door was slammed in our faces. Shah then telephoned the grandly-named ‘Sufi’ who was the leader of this group and asked to speak to his secretary. To this the man Shah said ‘I want to make an appointment for the Ambassador of Central Arabia’.
    The ‘Ambassador’ was instantly invited: and when we went to the place the red carpet was well and truly out in our honour. We were treated to an exhibition of holy gymnastics and given a ‘sacred reading’ as a prelude to meeting the Master. After a few minutes, during which he stressed both the importance and the secrecy of his work, he calmly demanded that the ‘Ambassador’ give him a donation of a million pounds towards his work!
    On the way home Shah said, ‘If these are what ordinary people know as Sufis, no wonder the man in the street expects us to be mountebanks and frauds.’
    In encounters with self-appointed teachers, Shah was taking no active part and was only providing illustrative material for me and the others of our party. Months later I was to see him in a more active confrontation. The inner meaning of this incident was by no means clear to me when I witnessed it but an analysis of the encounter illustrated not only the precision and economy employed, but also the several levels of understanding simultaneously available when a Sufi engages in a demonstration.
    The leader of a certain cult attended a meeting addressed by Shah and after a bit stood up and started shouting: ‘I defy you to show that your so-called teaching isn’t false. . .’  He ranted on, embracing all the audience in his anger and indignation till he finally ran out of breath. When he did, Shah inquired, ‘Does the chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?’
    The protestor became so red in the face I thought he might collapse. He finally declaimed: ‘And that shows you are an empty buffoon who cannot even respond to a simple question’ and stormed out of the room.
    I asked a Sufi to comment on this incident. He said, ‘The ordinary person has no conception of what takes place between Sufis: because real Sufis communicate by direct perception and not by words. When they are dealing with those who do not understand this, they will use a certain form of language which has one meaning for a ‘raw’ person and a quite different meaning for those who have undergone certain experiences.
    ‘Sufis do not debate one with another. Only scholars and pseudo-Sufis do.
    ‘Had this man been a Sufi, he would have addressed Shah mind to mind, silently and would have been given an answer in the same way. By answering him in words, Shah was demonstrating, to those present and able to understand, that this man was not a Sufi.  Second, by giving the reply he did, Shah was showing that a silly question deserves a silly answer. Third, he punctured the fellow’s self-esteem and thereby showed that since he could be provoked, he couldn’t be a Sufi. And finally, he showed that a dozen words was all that was necessary to get rid of a noisy pest.’
    The Sufis may use jokes to convey an idea so that it ‘penetrates’, when a laborious exposition of the same idea would become entangled in, or blocked by, the hearer’s conditioned responses.
    I have always suspected that there is some awareness of this principle in quite ordinary exchanges; and people often use jokes in a very similar way. A joke somehow touches a nerve on the raw. Some quite instructive ones are found in the West, as well as in the East.
    In one tale, following the Middle East version, a Sufi was to pay a business visit to Europe and was given one or two names which would prove helpful. He was duly passed from contact to contact and had a very successful trip. When he related his experiences to friends at home they noted that his contacts appeared to be university professors, bankers, diplomats, authors and the like, all of them Sufis. One of his friends said, ‘This is very gratifying; but did you get any impression of how ordinary people in, say, England and France are responding to the present Sufi work?’
    ‘That, I’m afraid, I don’t know. You see, I was only dealing with the top people.’  The Scots have a closely similar joke.
    During my stay in England I had been impressed by the large number of professional people whom Shah met. Some, it is true, were inquirers; but many were already following the Sufi way. The idea that in the West responding to Sufi ideas there was a disproportionate number of influential people had indeed struck me. When I heard the ‘top people’ joke in Arabic, I ventured to ask Shah if there was in fact some hidden elitist element in Sufi work.
    He said, ‘Absolutely not. Indeed the reverse. But, in a Sufi operation, certain known mechanisms are followed because they have been shown, historically, to work. A human trait of imitativeness can be encouraged deliberately though normally it manifests mechanically. For instance, in the 18th century the great mass of people in France wouldn’t eat potatoes. But when it became known that the King was not only eating them but was growing them, people clamoured to have their share of “King’s food”.
    ‘Centuries ago when it was necessary to open up communications in one area of the world, six hundred years ago, the Sufi Bahauddin Naqshband of Bukhara actually spent years building roads with his own hands. Afterwards, road-making became an almost compulsive activity because people wanted to follow the holy example of a Saint.
    ‘Again, you may or may not have noted how major religions spread. To begin with they were trivial and local, then a sudden huge expansion took place. This almost always happened as soon as the top people had been converted.
    ‘Just as in mundane matters people imitate those whom they respect, so in Sufism, the inner qualities of one person may help to transmute the learner. People who are real and worthy professionals communicate this higher element through a generally unperceived current.
    ‘You will meet, in the West, large numbers of our people who are not of the elite.’
    And I did.




Chapter 14 – PREDICTIONS, STUDENTS, MONKS — pp. 214-217


    Those of us who ‘travelled’ with Shah were for long unable to match his use of humour together with teaching: it was and is one of his hall-marks.
    But we did succeed in staging some practical jokes which were recognised as coming close: for they worked on the level of exposing triviality which masquerades as something deep.
    Of these, the ‘Indian Rishis’ hoax was our favourite. We did several variations of it, with businessmen, scholars, self-styled holy people, and so on.
    The joke first came into being because Burke, Adil, Firoz and I were getting tired of a number of monks who had taken to visiting the house which had been lent to Shah for one Summer.
    In spite of the many ways which we used to try to discourage them, they came again and again. We gave them lectures to expose their shallowness, which they took with dignity, admitting that they were far from perfect, and revelling in their confessions of inadequacy. When we gave them food, they preached the bounty of God. When we denied it to them, they claimed that they had had it in mind to fast that day, anyway.  In short, they were incorrigible sensation-seekers and dreadful hypocrites. The Press and the pulpit, however, extolled their ‘godliness’.
    Everything was interpreted on the most superficial level, association of ideas, and this was then regurgitated to us as a part of the great, cosmic, spiritual plan and teaching which had once been vouchsafed from on high.
    I have never known people anywhere who were so given to platitudes, and repeated them so much. Firoz said they had been sent ‘by the Father of all conditioning and brainwashing as his most triumphant samples’.
    They were very keen on ‘facts’. They ransacked the writings of the saints of the Middle Ages to provide ‘facts’ about holiness, about God, about revelation, about everything they could think of.  Shah, for some reason that escaped us all, treated them kindly but was heard to mutter: ‘Some people’s “facts” are so wrong that one can only hope that their fantasies are of better quality!’
    So we decided to provide some ‘facts’ of our own.
    Five of the monks, we agreed, were the worst. Shallow intellectuals, with a repressed emotionality which they thought was religion, is the only way I can begin to describe them.
    So, one day, we invited them to meet some very holy men — Indian Rishis — who had arrived on a visit. One of them, we said in a confidential tone, was really a saint.
    Their delight knew no bounds, and each one wanted to know which one would be the ‘saint’. Each of the monks was told separately ‘in confidentiality’, which of the visitors would be the saint, and he was asked not to tell the others. The first monk was told that the ‘man in the red turban’ would be the great man, the second was tipped off that the saint would be the one in the blue turban, and so on.
    Meanwhile, we had got hold of five rather avaricious and down-market Sikh peddlers, who travelled the country with suitcases selling clothes, mostly women’s underwear, from door to door. We told them we had some Western customers for them who should be a pushover for a bit of salesmanship.
    The Sikhs arrived first and we seated them in front of a large rockery, on a plank covered with red silk. Then the monks, eyes gleaming with heaven knows what expectation of holy revelation, were led from the house.
    We coached the Brothers to treat the Sikhs with the utmost respect, and then showed them onto the lawn which abutted the bushes in front of which the itinerants were settled.
    At the sight of the holy ones, the monks broke into a run. Then, remembering our instructions, they fell to their knees and approached the Indians as best they could in that fashion. When a short distance from their goal, each monk gave a small cry in Punjabi (which we had made them memorise and which really meant ‘show me your wares please’). Then each took the hand of his appointed ‘real saint’ and kissed it.
    I will say one thing for some Sikh peddlers: it takes a lot to surprise them.
    Without turning a hair, each of the ‘Saints’ led his appointed monk by the hand, past the rockery and into the bushes. There he gravely displayed, from his battered suitcase, his full range of largely feminine garments before the glazed eyes of the celibate fact-worshipper.
    Such arguments as were possible, given the extreme limits of communication, were not long in breaking out.
    The monks got the worst of it. They lacked an understanding of the strong sense of injustice which assails the Punjab small businessman when he finds people failing to appreciate the necessity of making a purchase from him after showing interest.
    The monks left in high indignation and never came back. The Sikhs were compensated for the deals that had fallen through.
    Shah was told of our deviation from the straight and narrow. He said: ‘One of these monks used to ask me to “describe a Sufi”. Describing a saint as a man you can recognize by a coloured turban is just about what they deserved.
    ‘As practical jokes go, this was a good one. But, having savoured it, let us remember what Saadi says in the Orchard, and exercise our himmat (aspiration) that it should be so in this case: “One places a seed in the earth/So that on the day of need it shall give fruit.”‘
    Omar Burke, after the manner of the Sufis who use quotations to keep an event in the mind, cited one attributed to the Master Gharib-Nawaz: ‘He is indeed in a prison-house who claims to be pious.’
    One of the fruits of this seed, breaking out of the prison of assumptions and hypocrisy, was the delight which so many Indians expressed when they heard this tale.  For them, it seems the burden of false gurus and equally false Western admirers, as well as of certain itinerant and sometimes rascally trading compatriots in the West, was becoming too much to bear.
    Indeed, I am still hearing of versions of this practical joke, which are perpetuated by members of the Indian immigrant community in Britain, ‘to keep the ball rolling’, to keep the process alive, as one of them recently informed me.
    But after this I spent less and less time in the United Kingdom, for my duties took me to the new and in many ways different field of America.



Cults and Deteriorated Spiritual Teachings (excerpt)


            ‘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)


(1) Deikman, The Wrong Way Home (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), p. 1.



84. Bares RepostingSeptember 7, 2016 Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog




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.








By Anthony Storr










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 2004



The Forest Philosophers (© 1924) by 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 of 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-philos



A Visit to Gourdyev (© 1934) by Denis Saurat, The Living Age


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


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



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)



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




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
    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 recognizsed 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’.


P. 219

    Of interest here is that Adi Da claimed to be the only sage ever to attain to level 7 in his own scheme, a perhaps unfortunate declaration that caused many to not take him seriously. Crowley, always the mountain climber, also claimed to have reached the summit in his own scheme as well. Osho, although not having as structured a scheme as Crowley, Gurdjieff, or Adi Da, did claim full enlightenment. Only Gurdjieff steered clear of self-assessment as to his spiritual status, so if in this regard only he must be seen as the least self-aggrandized of the four. (Of course, there remains the possibility that he was, in fact, the only one of the four who was not fully self-realized, but we note, tongue-in-cheek, how unlikely this is especially given that Adi Da claimed sole status at the ‘top’, but which position he apparently shared with Crowley and Osho, even if he was unaware of it.)




160. Thot Plickens [re-posted this list] May 14, 2010


What You Should Know About Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends January 18, 2010


• It’s a doomsday cult.

• The predicted doomsday never came.

• Burton predicted major catastrophes for 1984 and 1998, and then nuclear war for 2006. For decades, he predicted the Fellowship of Friends would become the beginning of a new civilization in 2006.  Burton said, “Our task is to establish a new civilization.”

• Through cognitive dissonance, followers try to forget the above predictions, or downplay them.

• Like other cults, followers object to the word “cult.” But there’s no better one-word description for this organization in the English language.

• Burton has coerced and seduced several hundred young followers — and perhaps thousands — into having sex with him, using promises of spiritual salvation, expensive gifts, vacations abroad, as well as playing on their fears of being outcast from their circle of friends. As a result, many former and current followers have suffered lasting psychological scars and emotional trauma, and a few have committed suicide. (Read the numerous personal accounts within this blog.)

• In doing the above, Burton has violated the trust of thousands of his followers who were unaware of the extent of his sexual activities within the cult, and unaware of the extent of his deception.

• Burton is a sociopath and malignant narcissist who shows no concern for the welfare of his followers unless they are useful to him in some way. When they cease to be useful to him, he discards them.

• Burton’s “public” persona is one of a gentle guru who speaks with a soft voice. This personality helps him deceive his followers into believing they have found the one true path to enlightenment, salvation, and heaven.

• Burton tells his followers that 44 angels, or gods, guide the Fellowship of Friends — and that they guide only the Fellowship of Friends. Angels, he says, do not guide anyone else on earth.

• Burton advances a world view that Hell exists, and that there’s only one way to avoid going to Hell when one dies: Join the Fellowship of Friends, and stay in the Fellowship of Friends until your death. All people on earth who do not join the Fellowship of Friends will go to Hell when they die. Likewise, followers are warned that they will go to Hell if they leave the cult.

• Followers are discouraged or forbidden from communicating with former members. Those who leave the cult will lose contact with their closest friends within the cult.

• Followers are forbidden to discuss any of the above. If they do discuss these facts with their friends, or question anyone about these facts, they will be expelled. This in turn fosters secrecy and lack of transparency within the cult.

• Burton charges exorbitant membership fees – anywhere from 20% to 40% of income, depending on a person’s salary. The full amount of these fees is never discussed when representatives try to sell people on joining the cult.

• The fees have helped pay for Burton’s extravagant lifestyle, which includes expensive clothing, frequent expensive vacations, and a lavish home at the cult’s compound in Oregon House, California (between Grass Valley and Yuba City).

• Burton and the Fellowship of Friends have been sued by former members on multiple occasions. Most of these suits have been settled out of court, with insurance companies paying the settlement on behalf of the Fellowship of Friends.

• Burton founded the cult in 1970. For more than three decades, he characterized the cult as a so-called “Fourth Way school.” In recent years, the cult has virtually abandoned any discussions about the Fourth Way.

• Because the Fellowship of Friends (also referred to as Pathway to Presence) has been granted religious status, American taxpayers help pay for this cult.


• In the last four years, several hundred followers have left the Fellowship of Friends, and many followers continue to leave. It’s believed that slightly over 1,000 members remain worldwide, but reliable statistics are not publicly available.



Deadly Cults: The Crimes of the True Believers



The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it’s exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it — indeed, clings to it all the harder?… No amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie. — M. Lamar Keene and Allen Spraggett


True-believer syndrome is an informal or rhetorical term used by M. Lamar Keene in his 1976 book The Psychic Mafia. Keene used the term to refer to people who continued to believe in a paranormal event or phenomenon even after it had been proven to have been staged.[1][2] Keene considered it to be a cognitive disorder,[3][4] and regarded it as being a key factor in the success of many psychic mediums.[2]


The term “true believer” was used earlier by Eric Hoffer in his 1951 book The True Believer to describe the psychological roots of fanatical groups.


~ Wikipedia



49. Bryan Reynolds June 1, 2018


Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who once taught at Harvard Medical School, wrote a paper titled Cult Formation in the early 1980s. He delineated three primary characteristics, which are the most common features shared by destructive cults.


1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power. That is a living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.


2. A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called “brainwashing”].


3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.


The culmination of this process can be seen by members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader.


Lifton’s seminal book Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism explains this process in considerable detail.


The destructiveness of groups called cults varies by degree, from labour violations, child abuse, medical neglect to, in some extreme and isolated situations, calls for violence or mass suicide.


Some groups that were once seen as “cults” have historically evolved to become generally regarded as religions. Power devolved from a single leader to a broader church government and such groups ceased to be seen as simply personality-driven and defined by a single individual. For example the Seventh-day Adventists, once led by Ellen White, or the Mormons church founded by Joseph Smith.


Some groups may not fit the definition of a cult, but may pose potential risks for participants. Here are 10 warning signs of a potentially unsafe group or leader.


• Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.


• No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.


• No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.


• Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.


• There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.


• Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.


• There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.


• Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.


• The group/leader is always right.


• The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.



Cult Witness Documentary – Real Stories – Aug 20, 2016


. . . is 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).



51. WhaleRiderJune 2, 2018


“Even today, the overall shame of being identified not only as a member of a cult but as a “sex slave” — of having their control and choice, and, essentially, humanity, stripped from them — has kept many silent.”



20/20 Interview with former members of NXIVM 

(neksiem / NEEKS-ee-am) cult  –  404 Show TV – Jan 10, 2018


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



“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 and social historian



96. Associated PressJune 6, 2017

Here is part of a review of Holy Hell I saw at IMDb:


“. . . If you are fascinated by cults or a fan of documentaries seek this film out. It’s a rare thing to have this much inside footage of a cult leader and his followers in action. To outsiders the machinations of this vain Svengali seem transparent and obvious. So vain that he was the one who had all of this footage shot. Meeting the members you gain insight, sympathy and understanding as to how and why seemingly intelligent, aware individuals can be swept up by someone and something like this.


The film is well constructed, clear, emotional and does have a point of view. That point of view is what gives this film it’s fire and passion. It’s made by ex cult members and boy are they angry. It doesn’t pretend to be a cold, objective view on what went on there and I think it is better for it. Imagine a film about Scientology made by angry ex-members or a film about the Manson family made by a disillusioned, embarrassed, remorseful ex-member. Oh the truths we’d learn!


My only complaint is that I wanted a cathartic confrontation with the cult leader at the end. There is a confrontation but it seems muted and sad rather than explosive and angry.


See this well made documentary if you can. . .” 



Holy Hell and the truth about cults: ‘They’re not going to give it up easily.’


By Noah Berlatsky, May 27, 2016.


A new film follows the Buddhafield group of the ’80s and director Will Allen – who was in the group – talks about how easy it is to get caught up in cults.


Perhaps the most disturbing part of Holy Hell – the documentary which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and is about a West Hollywood cult – is that life in the group doesn’t look that bad at all. Beautiful young people dance around in pastoral scenes, while an aviator-wearing leader expands their minds by seemingly doing little more than having a very good time.



True Story of Synanon Violence And How It Started
By Paul Morantz – 2009



 How to Identify a Cult – Apr. 29, 2017


Peter Van Sant interviewed Steve Eichel for his “48 Hours” report on the Australian cult, The Family, led by self-appointed mystic Anne Hamilton-Byrne who, with the help of LSD, convinced followers she was a female reincarnation of Jesus Christ.



List of people claimed to be Jesus


 ~ Wikipedia


117. brucelevy – April 14, 2016



From Malignant Pied Pipers Of Our Time by Peter A. Olsson, M.D. 


Chapter Six – The Siren Song of Destructive Cults: Recognizing the Music of the Malignant Pied Piper – pp. 106-107


In my early years of cult study, I assumed that a person lured into a cult must have severe personality weaknesses, problems, or mental illness. I found that this assumption was inaccurate. As we have seen from the biographical accounts. . .cult followers come from the full spectrum of humanity — young to old, poor to rich, educated to illiterate, conservative to liberal, religious to uncommitted. Anyone can be vulnerable to cult recruitment in certain life circumstances.
    If we think of common human needs as a pyramid, the base of the pyramid is built up from the essentials — oxygen, water, food; then clothing, shelter, and protection; and so on in a gradual ascent through community and culture. The fundamental human need to affiliate with small and/or large groups is near the top, just below the domain of spirituality.  Spiritual needs are experienced (or denied) individually, and are intensely private and personal. Yet they are also learned, mediated, amplified, and rewarded within a community. All human beings have deep and normal needs to find spiritual meaning in their lives and to affiliate with a group and a community as part of their quest. These aspirations have both rational and irrational elements. (Abraham Maslow, Maturation and Personality.)
    As we encourage our young people to be spiritually connected with other people, we must remember that there are risks. A wise and mature nurse at our local hospital made the following comment when we were discussing this book: “Dr. Olsson, we raise our kids to be kind, curious, and open to the world and the diversity of people’s beliefs. The paradox is that this can leave them a little too naive and trusting, and therefore, vulnerable to clever predators — your MPPs.”
 . . . Any small or large group forms collective goals, core values, rules, and norms of behavior. Even as the individual is nurtured and supported by the group, he or she often subordinates or compromises individuality in deference to the identity of the group.
    Groups require leaders for their formation, administration, and day-to-day operation. Natural leaders generally possess charisma and charm in some degree. Members of the group, in return for investing their own individual power and authority in the charismatic leader, vicariously participate in the leader’s power and authority. This idea is critical to understanding the lure of the Malignant Pied Piper. Cult members are not just passive victims of a cult leader’s charisma. The relationship involves a powerful co-dependency that resembles a dysfunctional marriage.
    Leader-follower relationships in destructive cults are the epitome of co-dependency, dysfunctionality, and abuse. Membership in a destructive cult is devastating to the individual in terms of his or her creativity, intellectual maturation, and individuation. Destructive and exploitive cult leaders victimize their followers because of their own narcissistic personality problems.


Chapter Eight – Why We Study the Minds of Malignant Pied Pipers & Their Followers – p. 157


MPPs can be very winsome and appealing at early encounters. It can be valuable to be able to spot subtle patterns of a potential MPP or the recruitment techniques that they or their cult group use.
    All people to varying degrees have a basic need to be a part of a community. It is healthy and essential to maturation and personality development to affiliate with and have meaningful experiences with small and large groups. Groups provide healthy avenues to create meaning in our lives. Patriotism and religious loyalty, for example, are normal. Even atheistic faith can be respectful and dignified. Thankfulness and respect for the wonderfulness of America is not incompatible with vigorous criticism of its policies or leaders. MPPs do not tolerate vigorous criticism or intelligent questioning of their teachings for very long. They may feign tolerance for a while, but down deep, they think they know all the answers. It is their way or the highway. This is a key area to be mindful and watchful about with leaders of groups. MPPs can exploit and manipulate our inherent need to affiliate with groups.



32. brucelevyJuly 28, 2016 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.





107. ton2uAugust 31, 2017


Spiritual Bypassing (excerpt)



Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.


Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, both personally and collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects. It is a spiritualized strategy not only for avoiding pain but also for legitimizing such avoidance, in ways ranging from the blatantly obvious to the extremely subtle.


Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many ways, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow elements, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.


The explosion of interest in spirituality, especially Eastern spirituality, since the mid-1960s has been accompanied by a corresponding interest and immersion in spiritual bypassing—which has, however, not very often been named, let alone viewed, as such. It has been easier to frame spiritual bypassing as a religion-transcending, spiritually advanced practice/perspective, especially in the facile fast-food spirituality epitomized by faddish phenomena like The Secret. Some of the more glaringly plastic features of this, such as its drive-through servings of reheated wisdom like “Don’t take it personally” or “Whatever bothers you about someone is really only about you” or “It’s all just an illusion,” are available for consumption and parroting by just about anyone.



THE RAPE OF THE MIND: The Psychology of Thought Control
From Chapter Six – Totalitaria and its Dictatorship:


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.



189. WhaleRider October 18, 2016


Studies show psychopaths really do make some people feel queasy. Why? The researchers suspect it might be an evolutionary response to an “intraspecies predator”.


This is another one [method] all the sources agreed on. Don’t listen to the excuses, rationalizations or outright lies. Don’t listen to what they say they will do. Pay attention to what they do.



“The Cult Leader as Psychopath”


“Psychopaths are difficult to spot most of the time. They’re not the ‘Jack the Ripper’ caricatures you see in films or read about in books.”



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.


I’ve been enjoying the past few months’ conversation, and especially the addition of Robert Stolzle’s voice.


Many thanks to all who write here.



20. brucelevyAugust 1, 2014


Thanks Tim. Your link led me to this…



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.



53. Golden Veil July 10, 2018


Can a man be a member of the #MeToo movement?


You betcha!


Below, a personal history from Fellowship of Friends former student John, who posted about his experience being placed in the Blake Cottage and serving as Robert Burton’s “attaché” on the Miles Barth In Memoriam page, Greater Fellowship, on July 6, 2017.


“Reflecting on my time in the Fellowship still provides an opportunity for work.


It is not my wish to speak ill of the dead – only to relay my memories as best I can. Who knows the truth?


My first visit to Renaissance was in the summer of ’78. Even back then, it was like walking into Rivendell (Lord of the Rings) or Hogwarts – for you younger escapees…


I was quite literally spell bound by the elegance of the Meissen Room, the beauty and scope of the vineyard, the excellence of the antique octave, the concerts, the intellectual and emotional depth of the students, their sophistication, refinement, their level of commitment, and the efforts they made …


And many if not most of them were spell bound like me. Naïve, innocent, dreaming – imagining a perfect world created and directed by a deity.


I should have “smelled the coffee burning”.


If I remember right, I was helping Brian paint Dorothy’s cottage on my weekend visits to Renaissance. I did not know Brian well but came to understand that he was being sent away for “spreading rumors” about RB and that I would be taking his place at the Blake Cottage. Dorothy turned to me and said something to the effect of “…such a sweet young man – how could he say such terrible things about Robert”? This I remember very clearly.


Of course discussing rumors about the teacher was strictly verboten – so I did not ask. I wish I had.


If Dorothy – who was not even on the fringes of the inner circle – suspected something was (as the saying goes) “rotten in Denmark”, does anyone think the older students were unaware? Again I emphasize – I was not the first “9 month wonder”. My suspicion is that most of them (if not all) at first refused to believe (like me), then justified the behavior (like me), and then went into denial – a luxury I could not afford.


I cannot imagine many experiences that would equal or surpass visiting this magical place for months – hearing the words “crown prince”, “conscious role”, “Lord North”, and then… the first night in the Blake Cottage… having the curtain pulled back and the dark side exposed.


At first, I tried to rationalize RB’s behavior as a test but that didn’t last long. I found myself looking up references to double/incorrect crystallization, hasnamuss, and so on… I still don’t know what went wrong.


In any case – the “wine, dine & travel” octave had begun… “The Magic Flute” in L.A., Baryshnikov in San Francisco, Tavern on the Green in New York, two trips to Europe – Amsterdam (to bid on a roll top desk), London, Munich, Paris… (I don’t remember the exact order). I was Robert’s “attaché” on the first trip and the “motor” for Kevin’s wheelchair on the second. (Sadly, Kevin became ill in Paris and we spent most of the trip there).


I found the opportunity to observe myself was profound. I did my best to recall Gurdjieff’s advice – “The worse the conditions of life, the more productive the work, always provided you remember the work”.


I cannot express how productive those difficult days were. I had a very new and different perspective on “The Teacher” and the ideas. Imagination, identification, considering, expressing negative emotions, lying…


It was confusing and enlightening at the same time. I verified the usefulness and validity of The Work in ways that would have taken years by any other route. In a way I suppose I should be thankful. Many have labored and suffered for decades under his spell. My eyes were opened and I began to look for an exit.


It was not easy. No money. No car. In addition, Louis told me that I was considered a “flight risk” and would be watched quite carefully.


Late at night on the Ides of March in 1979, I gathered what was left of my worldly possessions into a back pack and tip-toed out of the Blake Cottage and on to the road. Fortunately, a newer student was driving the first car that came along. I told him Robert had granted me a three day vacation. He had no idea I was running. I was so thankful. Who knows what might have happened if I had been caught trying to escape. Probably transferred to the London Center for reprogramming. Ha!


Unfortunately, I did not escape undamaged. I have not and do not think I will ever fully trust another teacher, school or human being. That’s had an impact on every relationship I’ve had since leaving the Fellowship.


And as many here probably know – working alone is only so productive.”

~ ~ ~


If there is someone out there that was or is a former or current “boy” of Robert Burton, there are agencies for help – and reporting.


“You are not alone.


It was not your fault.


It is possible to heal.


It is not too late.”




See also:



Those Who Poison the Fourth Way Well  John Shirley Blog



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?


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, as it pertained to the guidance needed by those in control.


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.


Here the “Children of an Alcoholic Teacher” theme kicks in. After years of reflection and analysis, one could see that something was wrong with the school. We all believed through repetitive public relations that “Thane” was the man. He was the Master Teacher. Bios on Thane were put out introducing him this way, and of course we all believed it because we were studying “Truth”; therefore everything had to be true, right? They would say that Thane was the embodiment of Love and that he was a man who really cared about his students. But I never found that to be the case. First off he was too busy to spend any time with anyone and then it was a quick hello and you’d give him a kiss on the cheek and be on your way.


And there were the stories about Thane that seemed to go a bit beyond the believable. Everyone he had met and knew, all of the history he was involved in, and all of the things he had done. And when you began to question any of this with anyone, they would get real uptight which reinforced the “secret” thing and the “rule of silence”. After all, your own therapy was at stake so why rock the boat. And even though we were all supposed to understand that each of us was special and had infinite potential, still… there was something a little more special about Thane. And even though we were all supposed to realize that enlightenment came from where you were and you didn’t have to travel the world to discover secret knowledge, it turns out that Thane had been all over the world and studied with many people and so… there was something a little more special about him. And we learned that academic credentials were to be laughed at, but… Thane supposedly had been a psychiatrist, a medical doctor and a dentist.


. . . many stories faded from people’s minds but they left their impression on the student body and created the mystery that surrounded the man. But with so much rigidity and the need for everyone to keep silent about the Teacher, the simplicity of Truth was sometimes left on the bookshelf while the emotional turmoil that lived on in the students from their past continued to haunt them with nowhere to turn. The student was told to believe in the techniques and the tools that they were being taught, yet so many found themselves continuing to try to figure out what was going on around them in the school. Those involved in the inner workings of the school, which were many, were constantly discovering that the organization was a trapeze of one step forward and two steps back which turned into Fourth Way exercises that would exhaust even the most seasoned followers.


Outwardly the school attained little success. And inwardly many were left in shambles not knowing what to do about their own lives because the school became their life. Sadly the school did not present any guidelines for students to move on but only to continue to work to keep the organization functioning and to make sure that Thane was taken care of. Everyone in the school felt somewhat isolated because they knew that their problems were their own and yet the important thing was Thane. There was more energy expended to get people to volunteer and keep the machine running than to reach a hungry world by presenting living testaments of inner success by allowing individuals the freedom to express their own divinity. Students turned inward, not for introspection, but for isolation. By denying what was happening, the organization did not have to change. To be angry would be to reject Thane. To reject Thane would be to find yourself all alone.



The New American Wing


Secrecy, Embarrassment, and the Cult Experience


By JM – NAW Aware .



 Since the 1960s, there has been a burgeoning not of governments but of independent entrepreneurial groups that go into the mind-manipulation and personality-change business. Myriads of false messiahs, quacks, and leaders of cults and thought-reform groups have emerged who use Orwellian mind-manipulation techniques. They recruit the curious, the unaffiliated, the trusting, and the altruistic. They promise intellectual, spiritual, political, social, and self-actualization utopias. These modern-day pied pipers offer, among other things, pathways to God, salvation, revolution, personal development, enlightenment, perfect health, psychological growth, egalitarianism, channels to speak with 35,000-year-old “entities,” life in ecospheres, and contact with extraterrestrial beings.
    There is truly a smorgasbord of spiritual, psychological, political, and other types of cults and cultic groups seeking adherents and devotees. Contrary to the myth that those who join cults are seekers, it is the cults that go out and actively and aggressively find followers. Eventually, these groups subject their followers to mind-numbing treatments that block critical and evaluative thinking and subjugate independent choice in a context of a strictly enforced hierarchy.
    The wisdom of the ages is that most manipulation is subtle and covert. When Orwell drew on this wisdom, he envisioned the evolution of an insidious but successful mind and opinion manipulator. He would appear as a smiling, seemingly beneficent Big Brother. But instead of one Big Brother, we see hordes of Big Brothers in the world today. Many of them are cult leaders.
    In the following pages, Janja Lalich and I hope to convey an understanding of the cult phenomenon in our society, so that you and those around you may take heed and be warned. It is not a pretty picture, but I believe it is one that desperately needs to be looked at.


*  *  *


Readers should know that a number of cults are highly litigious and use their wealth and power to harass and curb critics. Defending himself or herself against the false accusations made by some of these cults can break the ordinary person. It appears that winning is not the most important goal for cults. Their motivation appears rather to be to harass, financially destroy, and silence criticism.
    Last year alone, one large cult was involved in approximately two hundred suits with government entities, critics, and ex-members who spoke out about their time in the group. The tactics employed by cults and other groups to influence public perception and debate are considerable. . .
    In fact, and with much regret, this edition of the book contains a rather glaring omission in my historical account of a certain movement. Despite the profound impact of one particular person and his organization on the spread of certain types of training, I have not mentioned this well-known leader and his international organization. I have taken this step due to the pendancy of a meritless lawsuit against me and Janja Lalich arising from the publication of the hardcover edition of this book. . .


    Without the citizenry being aware of the power and control certain cults are wielding, democracy and freedom can be curbed one step at a time. Cults by their very structure and nature are not democratic, do not promote freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and are the antithesis of structures in which full human growth can develop.
    There are cults in our midst, more than the average citizen realizes. And these powerful groups infiltrate many areas of our lives.


~ Margaret Singer, from her Introduction to the First Edition of Cults in Our Midst © 1995



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 “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.





Posted on March 29, 2011 (excerpt)




To all “students”:


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




First Things First:


NOBODY who is in a cult believes that they are in a cult. Don’t be too horrified …. You are not alone, and you are in good company.


If you are feeling scared, guilty, weak or wrong for reading this, you can rest assured your brain, if not completely washed, has had a good soaking.


I was a member of this group for many years. I thought after years of searching for a real teaching that I had finally found a place where students were genuinely interested in evolution and consciousness. For the most part, I had every reason to believe. The students were dedicated and serious about learning and the “teachers” had some excellent information that was very exciting to hear. I enjoyed the teachings and did my best to apply the work ideas to my life, and often times they worked. I was convinced that I would never leave school.


Yes, the commitment was great and highly time-consuming but the benefits far outweighed the down side and besides, I was an evolving man. Part of a very exclusive club, and from what I knew doing the only thing that could really help the world…waking up…. What could be better than that?


Yes, there were some strange things that I did not understand but once again I didn’t care… I was learning and where else could I find the structure and rigor of this “school”?


Some of the strange things:
1)  I was told that I was involved in a real school connected to the schools of antiquity, i.e. the Platonic school, the school of Pythagoras, Shakespeare, The Renaissance, etc. etc. — yet, on the 3 different occasions I asked Gans and other “teachers” about our school’s connection, I never got ANY answer. With each inquiry I was treated more and more harshly.  On my final attempt, an “older student” physically pulled me down in my seat while a lieutenant of Gans’ insulted me and said “how dare you manifest like that.”  I couldn’t believe no one else in the room thought that not getting an answer was odd.


1A)  As a new “student” I was treated kindly and given much encouragement and individual attention. I remember our class had about 10 to 12 people and we got all the help we needed and our time commitment was only a couple of hours 2 X a week. This was a great deal, although the mystery of the organization was disturbing. Then I was all of a sudden moved up, or as the fake teachers said ”given the privilege” to study in an older group of 50 students. All of a sudden 4 hrs a week with a great amount of help and attention turned into 12 to 14 hrs a week (not including recruiting) with little or no attention. This is when the bullying and enslavement begins. I was manipulated and coerced into doing “service” run by an old witch of a “student”.


2)  The “teachers” all seemed like addicts. Fred Mindel, Greg Koch, Mary Terry, and Sharon herself could not, and still cannot control themselves when it comes to alcohol, food, cigarettes and prescription drugs. They ALL seem to be alcoholics and food addicts. This complete lack of self-control is not indicative of an evolved or evolving person. Before you try to teach others to master themselves, you should have mastery over yourself.  NONE of them have the self-control required of a real teacher. 


3)  Violent and often times random outbursts from “teachers” (where the arrow is NOT pointing both ways) that would often leave students shaking and crying, often times with no apparent justification. I am Not an oversensitive person. I enjoy physical, emotional and mental rigor. I actually seek it out, and I do not mind somebody pointing out my flaws. This IS necessary and required for evolution and I accept that. Often times the rants were completely unjustified.  All too often the sheer violence and hate spewed out by “teachers” and older “students” was (is) alarming. It is often a struggle with massive destruction. The intent of these degrading and humiliating experiences would soon be revealed.


4)  MANY of the students had little or no social life. They became slaves to the make believe “school”. Many of them sad and bitter. There was an obvious inner-circle. It felt a lot like high school and who was “in” and who wasn’t … a lot of nastiness and pettiness.


5)  There were always new rules, and some rules were followed sometimes and other times not at all. I remember once Gans randomly brought “a neighbor” of hers to an event we were having in class. An absolute breech of the privacy we were all demanded to regard. Yet that week I witnessed her mercilessly screaming and ridiculing someone for a minor infraction of a rule I never even heard of.


6)  Why the need for such austere “privacy”?  We are simply a group of people studying ideas. Our government is a bit oppressive but even today nobody could or would even care to stop such a harmless group. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky gave lectures openly; and Ouspensky and Gurdjieff advertised their events and wrote newspaper articles and books about the Work. They did not hide … at all!


Gans is laundering money and lots of it. Roughly around $50,000 per month that does not include the other fake school she runs in Boston and the one overseas in Copenhagen. She may be totaling well over $100,000 A MONTH; she is constantly at work to take money from “students” and manipulate marriages that will assure her a greater income and increased “devotion”, thus the secrecy.


7)  She literally took credit for President Obama getting elected. Saying that she and Robert were continuously advising Obama the entire election. Really Delusional. I cringed with embarrassment for her and the others who bought it…  I could tell that this even made some of the “teachers” uncomfortable. She then threw herself a “victory party” when he won… We had to pay for it.


8)  She did and said a lot of stupid things and is EXTREMELY Vain. One time she went on a rant saying, “How come you are not all on your knees begging me to stay?”  …She was dead serious. She displayed a lot of erratic and wildly inconsistent behavior. She seemed drunk more than a few times. She rarely listened to or asked advice from those around her. She is way too sure of herself for someone who is so often Wrong.


9)  It was expensive and we were Constantly being hit up for more and more money. Why did we have to pay for EVERYTHING? Why wasn’t our tuition used for parties, or Christmas class or 3rd line of work?  Do the math and you will see that she and her gang are flat out robbing people.


10)  Recruiting or “3rd line of work” was a never-ending saga. It seems like that became an “older student’s” primary function. Hundreds of hours wasted. I spent the last 7 years doing this work and every time the aim period ended another one began. This was exhausting. I spent 30 to 40 hours a month FOR YEARS. A real teaching would simply attract new students. 


I could go on with my past reservations but the point is at the time I didn’t care. It seemed that the positives outweighed the negatives and I did not believe that anyone was really being harmed. I thought “so what if these people are a little kooky, no one is being hurt.”


Then I found out that Gans and company were REALLY manipulating people’s lives, in demented and insidious ways. She is responsible for intentionally breaking up marriages, arranging marriages, having babies given up for adoption, again and again, and simply destroying people’s lives. Can you imagine parents in the group being told to give up their child?


and they do it!!!


If that is not evidence of Brainwashing and Mind Control, what is?


Of course the “teachers” all get behind her as they themselves are often involved in Gans’ sick, violent and self-serving “fix-ups.” This is one of the many reasons there is SO much secrecy in and around the group. Anyone with any conscience would be appalled and horrified if they knew this happened once, let alone realize Gans is CONSTANTLY at work to break up marriages and re-arrange people’s lives to benefit her.


As I continue to talk with ex-members, I continue to hear these heart-breaking stories. Including members that have given small fortunes to Gans as well as decades of slave labor.


Her fake teachers and lieutenants, Fred Mindel and Greg Koch, have been married to several current students and have fathered several children by these students. In fact they each were married to the same student at different times… I worked with and sat next to this woman for many years and had no idea of her marriage to Koch and Mindel. At least one child was given up to adoption after Gans’ instruction. I have heard all 3 of them (Gans, Koch and Mindel) say that “dating or socializing with other students is against the rules,” except for them and whoever Gans decides should be together… CREEPY.


Then as I was leaving her fake school she convinced one of the more successful men in the class to leave his wife and 3 children and encouraged one of the more Zombie-like female students to hook up with him. Another “success” for Gans.


You are in a group run by LIARS. Robert, Fred, Greg, Cynthia May, and Mary all KNOW it is NOT a school; they KNOW Sharon Gans has never had a teacher, but they keep up the pretense that it is all legit.  In fact they treat her like some kind of a highly developed spiritual deity. What level of being does such a thing?  There are hundreds & hundreds of students being told this is a school, when it is not, spending their time, money and effort, and sacrificing their friends and families to receive “C influence” … and it’s a complete sham!



Gans is a Psychopath.


A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.


She lives in a world where everything revolves around her.  She treats people with great disdain (“teachers” and “students” included) and horrible abusiveness.


She learned a lot of her bullying techniques and mind control from her psychopathic husband Alex Horn […] knowing little to nothing about the work but just enough to control people and separate them from their money, and seduce and abuse women with his “knowledge”.  Uncared for and beaten children, physical punishment and sexual deviancy were all par for the course in the original group.


The soul thief also has students tripping over themselves to perform for her – whether it is regular class or “Christmas class” – like trained animals begging for a morsel of approval, and most students are SO desperate to make a “good impression” on her, that it is embarrassing. Talk about forgetting yourself! Then she gives her critique like she is THE diva of the theater.  (It seems she skipped acting school like she skipped the other school.)  She NEVER contributes ANYTHING, not a dime ever leaves her ostentatious pocketbooks. She has at least 4 different homes. The latest, an $8 million apartment at the Plaza Hotel, which was refurbished … you guessed it … by students … and no, they were not paid. She has the nerve to ask “students” to pay into her “retirement fund.”


She insists that everyone who is in her fake school work, yet she hasn’t had a job herself in over 30 years.


She did, however, direct a play written by her husband Alex Horn, called “The Legend of Sharon Shashanova.” Directed by Gans. About Gans. Imagine, she thinks of herself as a “legend”… Serious Delusion. Behavior that goes hand in hand with a true psychopath.


The review from New York Magazine (October 17, 1988) for this mess of a play starts out


When it comes to pretentiousness nobody beats The Legend of Sharon Shashanova.”


Of course it’s pretentious. What else could it be?  Both of them have been living pretend lives … DEGENERATE miscreants, imagining themselves as some highly developed beings able to teach a system they have never studied.


They are two-bit Thugs. CRIMINALS in the biggest sense of the word, preying on the real wishes of innocent people. Using up people’s lives to improve their own lives and level of comfort. Manipulating people to no end, stealing their time, money and families.


Alex Horn died in 2007, yet his evil continues on through Gans and her sickos. A quote from a former student:


“Yes, he was an evil man.


He seduced and slept with MANY of his students – with and without his wife Sharon’s consent. He was a sexual predator. The worst.


I know that we should not speak ill of the dead but he was so ill himself. Ill as in a sick psycho.


Dust to Dust”



After realizing just how sick and manipulative all this behavior was I decided to leave for good. I went back and really began to investigate without the tunnel vision lens that Gans and her freaks had imposed on me. I was astonished to see the endless stream of accounts, hundreds and hundreds of them, dating back to the ’70s right up to the present, concerning the abuse that Horn and Gans have dealt out.  I realized that all the accounts of abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) were consistent, nobody was making anything up, and that the only reason I hadn’t reacted normally to what I was seeing in class and reading on the Internet was the fact that I was brainwashed and put to sleep with the language, rules, air of sacredness, long hours and isolation from the world. That isolation helped along by a feeling of superiority in being a member of such an elite and exclusive group.


So glad I saw the Light.





Friday, January 29, 2016


A Conversation For Former and Future Former Members

Play “What the Fuck Does That Mean?”


Welcome to “What the Fuck Does That Mean?” where we pose this question to certain sayings from the Sharon Gans Cult. Today’s word is “FORMATORY”.


The cult would explain that: “The formatory apparatus is Ouspensky’s term for the mechanical aspect of the lower intellectual center. The natural function of this center is storage of information and its associative retrieval. The term formatory thinking is used when this function replaces the less mechanical aspects of thinking. Formatory thinking is characterized by insensitivity to context, black and white statements or strictly agreeing or disagreeing. Repeating by rote and not taking specific circumstance into account are the main characteristics of formatory thinking.”


Student: “How do you Remember Yourself?
Gans: “You are a dummy. And you have a formatory mind. You need everything spelled out.”


Funny thing is that when you Google the word “formatory” or phrase “formatory thinking” you only get hits on the Ouspensky definition. No Wikipedia or Merriam Webster entry. Even Urban Dictionary don’t have it.


The winner is the evil genius, Sharon Gans and her diabolical use of a stupid and obscure philosophy to make herself a huge amount of money.





chasingbearphoenix says on GSR

April 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm (excerpt)


Hi Gentle Souls’ Revolution,


You’ve done superb “work” on this post! Thanks so much for summarizing the theory of psychology that “Fourth Way” “schools” propound, and for describing the self-observation exercise. Thanks also for providing your insights into how the “students” are disempowered and actually become less conscious. And I appreciate your thoughtful poem. I have friends (some of whom are survivors of cults or cultic environments) that ask me to describe the dogma and other aspects of “school”. Now I can simply send them the link to your eloquent post.




I discovered a brilliant essay about the fragmentation of consciousness that occurs in cults. It was written by a former member of the New American Wing, a phony “Fourth Way” “school” in Kentucky with roots that go back to California and Alex Horn (the original “teacher” of the fake “Fourth Way” “school” that migrated east and set up shop in New York City and Boston by the early 1980s).


The essay “Escape from wholeness” (see link below) can help us better understand the psychological fragmentation that “Fourth Way” “students”, as well as members of all kinds of cults, experience.




“Escape from wholeness” was written by a former “student” in the “New American Wing” (NAW) fake Gurdjieff-Ouspensky “Fourth Way” “school” in Kentucky in the mid 1990s. NAW and its branches were (and maybe still are) in Kentucky, Michigan, Florida and Texas (under various names).


It seems that the “lineage” of this “school” started in California in the mid 1960s with Alex Horn, who eventually fled to New York City with his wife Sharon Gans and others, and then started “school” in Manhattan and Boston.


“Lineage” of NAW:


Alex Horn
Robert Burton (“Fellowship of Friends”)
James Randazzo (“The Spiral of Friends”)
Jim and Carolyn Kuziak (“New American Wing”)


(Note that former “students” have accused all these “teachers” of horrific abuse. Unfortunately, it seems that only Randazzo has been incarcerated.)




The author of the essay explains how, in his opinion, the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky concepts/exercises/terminologies were used to contract (rather than expand) the consciousness of the “students”. I think his insights may be useful to members/ex-members of all kinds of cults, because it may be the case that similar “consciousness contractions” take place in many (if not all) cults (and cultic environments) even though they may employ different concepts/exercises/terminologies.




“With a sense of self almost annihilated, it becomes more clear why people experience a kind of identity crisis in these cults. This might explain many otherwise illogical behaviors: why students could make such radical changes in their personality in such a short time; why we were so willing to make drastic changes in our lives at the slightest request of the teachers; why imitation was/is rampant, in everything from diet to appearance to musical taste; and why it was so easy to bury our conscience – because we believed that we didn’t even possess that!”


Escape from wholeness


In case anyone is interested, there are more excellent essays where that one came from by the same author. Here’s a handy link to the starting page of the site:


NAW Aware – School or Scam?


Also, I have begun to organize a list of links to sites about the “Ganscult” and the spinoffs of the California version of the Alex Horn cult.




To Odysseus: All 5 of your points are quite astute.



Influence and The New American Wing (excerpt)




Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, describes many of the ways in which people influence each other. At first glance, I thought the book was about marketing, and about the techniques used by sales professionals to cause people to buy their products. However, a friend of mine repeatedly praised the book as a great tool for understanding some of the dynamics within cults, and so I finally broke down and read it. I was not disappointed – the book is excellent, and it illuminated many different aspects of my own cult experience.


From 1991 to 1994, I was an active member of The New American Wing (NAW), a consciousness cult based on the ideas of G.Gurdjieff and P.D.Ouspensky.  After having been a fan of Ouspensky’s “Fourth Way” books for a couple years, I was excited when I first discovered this group, and began by attending meetings twice a week. After about a year of increasing involvement, I moved into a house with other “students”.  After another year, I moved to the NAW’s headquarters: a small farm outside Lexington, Kentucky.  My responsibilities within the group had steadily increased with time, and by this point I was spending all my available time (outside my day job) with this group.  I lived with them, paid them a great deal of money, believed in much of their dogma, and participated in various recruiting activities.  My mental and physical life was consumed with their ideas and practices. . .


In the end…


Even now, years after leaving the NAW, I still wonder whether the teachers actually understood what they were doing. With so many adoring students, it is very possible that they came to believe in their own facade of authority, and actually acted with a clean (although buried) conscience.  Judging from my own experience, I was certainly unconscious of my own role in influencing new recruits until long after I’d left.


In all likelihood, the teachers (Jim and Carolyn Kuziak) were probably not aware enough to have devised these rules intentionally.  Evidence supports the idea that they learned how to run their organization from their teacher (James Randazzo), who, in turn, learned from his teacher (Robert Burton), and so on. This makes good sense from the perspective of the theory of natural selection: the groups that survive are the ones that make the best use of persuasion techniques and produce the most true believers, regardless of whether they are aware of these techniques or not.


As Cialdini’s book demonstrates, these practices pervade society already.  We do not need to join a cult to experience them, they are already all around us.  But the first step in regaining control over these pressures is to become aware of them, and Influence provides an excellent starting point.


It is my sincerest wish that the existing and ex-members of the New American Wing begin to look at their experience from the new vantage points made possible by this book.  For them, I want to pass on this advice, once given to me by a friend – the true learning in “school” does not begin until you leave!



James Vincent Randazzo




These newspaper articles describe the arrest and imprisonment of James Vincent Randazzo, the leader of the “Spiral of Friends” (SOF). Randazzo and the SOF are significant because the leaders of the NAW and many of its longtime members were originally his students. It was there that they learned how to run a “school”. 


Curious cult leader back in Mesa County lockup

The perpetrator of one of Mesa County’s most bizarre crimes and ensuing trial is back, ensconced in the Mesa County jail to serve the final year of his lengthy sentence for sexually abusing teenagers.



Sexual Psychopaths


Hervey Cleckley in his 1941 book “The Mask of Sanity” says that the psychopath’s sex life invariably shows peculiarities. This makes sense when you consider that

  • they are incapable of love
  • they don’t experience guilt or remorse
  • and they can be very impulsive without much consideration of the consequences of their actions.

Their inability to love means that their sex life is trivial and impersonal. The pleasure of the sex act seems to be limited to local sensations only. While there are physiological changes that may give rise to emotions that are labeled sexual, psychopaths have no shared emotional experience with their partners, nor any emotion that would lead to a sense of commitment or loyalty.


Cleckley says that for psychopaths there are none of the “emotional concomitants and the complex potentialities that make adult love relations an experience so thrilling and indescribable”.


He also points out that sexual psychopaths

  • will often act on the slightest of their urges
  • they are typically not put off by things that normal people would find repulsive or repugnant
  • and they often engage in a whole range of unsatisfactory behaviors in every field. (For example, they don’t specialize in just one type of crime, they are often involved in all sorts of illegal things.)

This leads them to try out deviant sexual behaviors, sometimes just for the hell of it! They may be involved in homosexual relationships, they will abuse children, pay prostitutes, seduce friends’ spouses, and, of course, rape and sexually abuse others.



From Caught In A Cult’s Dark Embrace
By Jenna Ross, Pam Louwagie and Jennifer Brooks

August 13, 2014


Victor Barnard played the shepherd, wearing linen clothes and sometimes wielding a shepherd’s crook.


The minister kept his flock close, urging members of the River Road Fellowship to move to four clusters of properties in this rural area, and discouraging the girls from traveling to town. As he grew more controlling, he warned his followers against those who might turn against him – calling them wolves in sheep’s clothing.


“That always gets to me now,” former congregant Micah Vail said. “He used that analogy over and over.  …It turned out he was the one who was playing everybody.”


Barnard, 52, is now the center of a nationwide manhunt after Pine County prosecutors charged him with using his status within the sect to coerce girls into having sex with him. Two women told investigators that Barnard raped them after they were chosen, at ages 12 and 13, to live near him as part of an honored and cloistered group of “maidens.” He faces 59 counts of first-and third-degree criminal sexual conduct.



wake up little suzy wake up January 20, 2008


In case somebody just started reading the blog, here’s a little history that bares reposting:

After Richard Buzbee (school name, Richard Laurel) distributed his letter telling of his sexual encounter with Robert Burton and how he discovered his son Troy had been having a sexual relationship with Robert Burton (beginning when Troy was underage), Robert Burton called quite a few students to ‘try to quell the flames’. Here is one of those conversations, verbatim.




Phone call from Robert Burton to James Battaglia, October 23, 1994


Robert Burton.  Hello James, how’s your liver? Are you feeling well?


J.  I’m fine, Robert, and it was a kidney transplant that I had.


Robert Burton. Yes, that’s right. Are you disturbed by this Richard Buzbee incident? I understand you left the meeting in protest.


J.  Let me explain the scenario. I had been standing for an hour and you know my physical condition. It was two minutes to eight o’clock and there were about a hundred cars at the Town Hall. Why do you think I left?


Robert Burton.  To beat the traffic!


J.  That’s right. If I was protesting this meeting, I’d do it verbally.


Robert Burton.  I didn’t want the meeting to be an arena to discuss my sexual life and I allowed it to happen. C Influence wants me to be a homosexual and have sex with my students so that I may have humility. It’s a beautiful experience for myself and my students. I’m very loving and careful with them. The morality of the Ark will not be based on Judeo-Christian principles.


J.  What will it be based on?


Robert Burton.  I don’t know yet.


J.  I’d like to ask you some questions concerning this matter about Richard. Are you open to that?


Robert Burton.  Yes.


J.  Did Richard consent to having sex with you?


Robert Burton.  I’m over fifty and not a strong man. Richard lifted his buttocks up so that I could remove his pants. After we were through, he said that it was beautiful.


J.  Had you had sex with him previously?


Robert Burton.  We had laid naked together in the other (Ethan’s) house and I fondled him. My students willingly have sex with me, I don’t force anyone.


J.  I’ve talked with Richard myself, and I feel that I have a good understanding of his experience.


Robert Burton.  Just remember, I am a conscious being and Richard is an unconscious being. Richard is lying through his teeth and he set me up. Richard is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and I fell for the set-up.


J.  I’m not conscious, and I can’t verify if you are conscious. The system tells me that the lower cannot see the higher.


Robert Burton.  I am the brightest light in two thousand years.


J.  I can’t verify that.


Robert Burton.  Have you verified C Influence?


J.  Yes.


Robert Burton.  Well, the reason you’re able to do that is because I am a conscious being. Do you remember when I sent the car for you?


J.  What do you mean?


Robert Burton.  I have to make about five hundred decisions a week. That I was able to send a car for you, to pick you up at the hospital, was an act of a conscious being. It’s the little things that matter.


J.  Robert, I don’t see how that allows me to verify that you are conscious. Are acts of kindness an indicator of consciousness?


Robert Burton. You don’t sound like you are coming from the king of hearts, more from your king of clubs.


J.  I’m glad you brought up the king of clubs. It seems like you have a big identification with things pertaining to the king of clubs. What do you think is the right work of the king of clubs?


Robert Burton.  Gurdjieff says the king of clubs is the beast of the jungle, it protects the machine from harm. It lives in the jungle.


J.  Then it seems to me a necessary part to recognize and understand. Yet you have an aversion to the king of clubs and things like holistic healing, hands-on healing, etcetera.


Robert Burton. (vague response)


J.  Robert, the only thing important to me is to keep my ears and eyes open and try to be in the moment. This moment. Talking to you is the most important thing happening. It helps me see the truth. That’s why I came to this school; I felt it was a bastion of truth. In time, though, I’ve found that most students don’t want to face the truth. Whenever I make an observation, the general response is that I’m being negative or that I’m losing the school. I see fear and feminine dominance as tools to keep students in control. I don’t have any fear of losing the school. I just need to be in the moment and if C Influence takes me out, so be it. Being in the moment is all that’s important to me.


Robert Burton.  That’s not enough.


J.  What do you mean, not enough? That’s what you’ve been preaching all these years, self-remembering. What more is there?


Robert Burton.  You have to be concerned with your future.


J.  What?!


Robert Burton. You have to be concerned with YOUR future.


J.  I’m concerned with the moment.


Robert Burton.  Remember when you were thrown out of the raft?


J.  Yes.


Robert Burton.  C Influence can shake you out of the school just the same.


J.  Robert, again let me say, all I can do is keep my eyes and ears open and stay in the moment. That’s all that’s important to me. I don’t fear losing the school if I’m bounced out of it.


Robert Burton.  You have to be concerned about your future.


J.  I’m only concerned with my present.


Robert Burton.  You have to be concerned about YOUR future (very strong emotional energy coming from Robert). Well, I’m glad that you’re o.k. about this incident. It’s fine to share this conversation with other students.


J.  I won’t do that, Robert, because it would influence their thinking on this matter. I would encourage them to speak with Richard and you to form their own opinions. Are you open to them calling you?


Robert Burton.  Yes. Well, there’s a wedding here today and I have things to do.


J.  Let’s keep the channels of communication open, Robert, and thanks for calling.


Robert Burton.  Goodbye, dear.



40. wallisJuly 23, 2017



From Dangerous Cult Leaders and Their Traits

By Joe Nevarro M.A.

One of the questions that I am often asked by students of criminology and psychology is how do you know when a cult leader is “evil” or “bad”? These of course are vague descriptors to some extent but I get the question, “When is a cult leader pathological or, better said, a danger to others?” This is a valid question in view of the historical record of suffering and hurt caused by various cult leaders around the world.


From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.


If you know of a cult leader who has many of these traits, there is a high probability that they are hurting those around them emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, or financially. And of course this does not take into account the hurt that their loved ones will also experience.


Here are the typical traits of the pathological cult leader (from Dangerous Personalities) you should watch for and which shout caution, get away, run, or avoid if possible . . .



181. Jomo PiñataDecember 5, 2008


This short article is good:


What Could Be More Tempting
Than An Exclusive Club Run By God Himself

Mirabella, August 13, 1993
By Barbara Grizzuti Harrison



33. Mick DangerDecember 15, 2008


“The world has witnessed a legion of false claimants – ordinary people with perhaps occult, charismatic, or hypnotic abilities.


A false claim to be the Messiah is often grounded in personal gain. One motive is adoration. The ego can find no greater glory than grandiosity.


Money, power, and sex: Together and individually, these issues compose the most common stumbling blocks for the false sage, guru, yogi, master, prophet, messiah, or hierophant.” 
– Kenneth Lux 2001


“In the world there are countless Sadhus, Mahatmas, Mahapurushas, Saints, Yogis and Walis, though the number of genuine ones is very, very limited.”

– A.M.B. 



Sex, Power, Money, and All of the Above


Who will win in the search for sex, power, and money?
By Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.
Psychology Today – Sept 21, 2013 (excerpt)


Freud may have believed that all humans are motivated by illicit motives, but research on the “Dark Triad” of personality suggests that some of us have stronger cravings than others. The Dark Triad refers to the set of three personality traits or personal dispositions generally recognized as undesirable – hence the term “dark.”


The first of these Dark Triad traits is “Machiavellianism,” named after the 16th century Italian author whose treatise, “The Prince” advocates the use of power to achieve political ends, even if this means lying and using others to get what you want.  People high in Machiavellianism, then, are calculating as well as deceitful.


The second Dark Triad trait is psychopathy, a term you might be familiar with or if not, with the related concept of “sociopathy.” People high in psychopathy are unable to empathize with others, tend to be shallow and glib, and have a lifestyle characterized by impulsive, possibly criminal, acts. They also are supreme manipulators of others in order to get their own way, and they tend to have a glorified sense of their own abilities.  


Finally, the Dark Triad personality includes the trait of narcissism, named after the Greek youth Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in the water, only to drown as a result. People high in narcissism have an exaggerated sense of their own importance or “grandiosity.” Underneath this grandiose exterior, according to some theories, they feel vulnerable and insecure.



3 Core Facets of Narcissism, from Malignant to Adaptive


New research provides insights into narcissism’s complex features.


Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. – Feb 27, 2018



From an unsigned letter posted on the Gurdjieff Club site:


Personally, I was a victim of Alexander Francis Horn who was NOT a spiritual teacher and who had no connection to Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.


Alex Horn was a psychopath, a narcissist, a manipulator, a rapist and a black magician. Yes, he taught Burton and in that way further perpetrated his evil.



Robert Hare on sexual psychopaths


More recently in his book “Without Conscience” Robert Hare adds more ideas on the nature of the sexual psychopath.


He points out that rape is a good example of the callous, selfish use of violence by psychopaths.


He thinks that maybe half of serial rapists are psychopaths and that it results from a potent combination of:

  • Uninhibited expression of their sexual desires and fantasies
  • A desire for power and control
  • and perception of the victims as objects of pleasure and satisfaction

This idea of control is very important. When a person is involved in a sexual relationship, you could say they are revealing themselves, they are giving of the most intimate aspect of themselves.


And many psychopaths realize this and make use of it. When a relationship becomes sexual, psychopaths understand that they have the potential for complete control. In fact, sexual submission is often the final step in the objectification of the victim.


Remember too, that psychopaths use the tools and techniques of mind control to influence others. A sexual relationship in this situation means that there is neither informed consent on the part of the victim, nor a relationship of equals because the power is with the deceiver. This makes it a situation of sexual abuse.


A psychopath will often create an intimate relationship which in turn leads to a sexual relationship. The psychological abuse makes the sexual abuse possible and the sexual abuse amplifies the effects of the psychological abuse.



Early Lies?

[ed. – On January 1, 1970, Robert Earl Burton began the “teaching” that would become The Fellowship of Friends.]


From “History of the Fellowship of Friends”


At one of these early meetings, Robert said he had only been with his own teacher for 3 years. He also said that his teacher had increased his payments until he had had to hold down 3 jobs to be able to make the payments to be able to remain with his teacher. Then there had come a time when his teacher had told him it was time for him to leave, and go out on his own. Robert said, that he had traveled across the United States, searching for a student, that he may be able to teach, and was it not strange that he had come home, and found one (a student) in his own back yard.


Alternate History:


“Robert Burton was asked to leave Alex Horn’s school after eighteen months of work on himself. He was given the task of not sleeping with other men, and failed this task from his teacher.”


Alternate Alternate History:


In 1967 Robert Earl Burton attended a meeting led by Alexander Horn, and immediately knew that he had found what he had been seeking. Mr. Horn conducted a group based on the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky ideas that used theater as a form for work on oneself. Burton devoted himself to studying the Fourth Way and to participating in Mr. Horn’s group. After eighteen months, however, Robert Burton found it necessary to part from his teacher, realizing that Mr. Horn’s teaching methods were no longer serving his aim.



Robert Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends on New Year’s Day, 1970. The school grew so rapidly that in 1971 its students collectively purchased the land that became Apollo. Over the decades the external form of the school—Apollo, the Fellowship centers, and the teaching—took shape and flowered from Robert’s conscious vision.


Basing his teaching on Peter Ouspensky’s Fourth Way writings, Robert focused relentlessly on “self-remembering”. [Etc.]


How to describe a conscious teacher? His only true credentials are his own presence and his effect upon his students. He does what no one else will do or can do—teaching the most unpopular of all truths: that our illusory sense of “I” must die before presence can be born. He is the living reminder that it is possible to awaken, and that presence means humility, acceptance, and conscious love.



34. WhaleRider – February 9, 2017 




“Delusions are beliefs that are not open for discussion.”

~ George Atwood, Ph.D

Folie à deux-
Shared psychosis is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief are transmitted from one individual to another…


When the love bombing ends and the devaluation and gaslighting begins, that’s when the “real school” will start to feel like a cult to those with eyes that see and ears that listen.


A narcissistic cult leader will usually have flying monkeys at his side to do his dirty work for him.



Gaslighting: Know It and Identify It to Protect Yourself
Psychology Today – Jan 22, 2017
By Stephanie Sarkis Ph.D.


Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:


1. They tell blatant lies.


You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.





A uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth. For the contrast between truth and lie arises here for the first time. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real. He says, for example, “I am rich,” when the proper designation for his condition would be “poor.” He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names.


~ Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense”



Business Insider
Lindsay Dodgson – Feb 27, 2018 (excerpt)


Narcissists often recruit people called ‘apaths’ to help with their games – here’s why they’re dangerous:

People with Dark Tetrad personality traits — sadism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism — play games with their partners to break down their self esteem. To succeed, they sometimes recruit helpers to help control and manipulate their partners. Apaths fit this role very well.


Shannon Thomas, author of Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse,” told Business Insider an apath is someone who is apathetic to the harm in their social circle, particularly if someone is being manipulative, hurtful, or abusive. Their role, she said, is critical to the narcissist’s game.


“An apath is the wing-person to a narcissist and plays a key role in normalising the toxic individual and their harmful behaviors towards others,” she said. “A narcissist must have apaths in their life to keep the facade of social normalcy going. Apaths create the illusion that a narcissist has friends, is well-liked and can get along with everyone, except the target of abuse.”


Rather than standing up for the victim, or giving them support in the fact they are being mistreated, the apath will instead be completely indifferent to their suffering. When challenged, they come up with excuses and say things like “it’s not my battle,” or “well, they don’t treat me that way.”


By minding their own business, they are effectively being a pawn on the narcissist’s gameboard, making the victim believe they must be going crazy.


In some online forums, apaths are known as “flying monkeys,” like the Wicked Witch’s helpers in “The Wizard of Oz.” They do all the narcissist’s dirty work behind the scenes while the narcissist can sit back and watch.


“Many apaths are also hidden abusers themselves and they will cluster together in family and friend groups to keep each other’s secrets,” Thomas said. “Another type of apath believes it is better to join the abuser in their games than ever run the risk of becoming a future target of the narcissist.”



8. jomopinataFebruary 6, 2017


It’s interesting to see your account, Crossroads. I especially like the notion that we have to “give credit to Us,” meaning, our experiences were as much about Us, our relationships to people and to ideas, as they were about the particular people or the particular social organization.


BUT I think your account of it is unfortunately crimped to conform to myth. The dominant myth is that the Fellowship was something true and beautiful but became corrupted. I understand the appeal of that myth and bought into it myself at one time. My experience is that a more thorough and searching look yields a huge trove of historical data that just doesn’t square with that account, even though that account seems at least initially to be true. The appeal to idealism and aesthetics is what helped to hook us into something which looked glorious and appealed to our narcissism, reflected back to us something we wanted to believe about ourselves. I think this is true of Burton also: a successful elementary school teacher who was forced to resign from his job because, according to him, there were claims that he “hugged the kids too much.” He had the misfortune to be picked up hitchhiking by Alexander Horn, who abused virtually everyone with whom he came into contact, and then to have an auto accident in Modesto in 1968 in which he apparently suffered brain damage that led to “acquired sociopathy.”


On New Year’s Eve 1969-70 he met Bonita, who was tripping on mescaline while alcohol further loosened his inhibitions, and he manipulated her relentlessly into believing that he was a deeply mysterious higher being. Soon he monopolized her time, even though she was married and a mother with young children, all the while extracting money from her. Think about it. It’s dishonorable by any moral standard. Within about eighteen months he seduced her and immediately thereafter told lies about it (claiming celibacy) which were published in the Via Del Sol newsletter Meg Gwynne (later called Stella Wirk) had taken to publish regularly. Once a small core group was established, deliberate efforts were undertaken to recruit new members who were friends and acquaintances of current members. (“How would you like to change your life?” recruits such as Doris Mack were asked.) Contemporaneous documents from 1971 indicate that the group could only be reached “by invitation.” A concerted effort was made to recruit wealthy professionals, such as physicians, because the group needed them to provide a veneer of respectability, as a means to obtain money.


Burton himself was buying gold coins. He pronounced himself “The Avatar of the Age” and announced that young men could avoid the draft (during the Vietnam War) by becoming ministers in his church. Pretty sweet deal, eh?


During this time a family of four had become involved with the group and then left. Shortly thereafter the mother of the family committed suicide, leaving a suicide note which talked about Burton and the school. Burton cautioned members not to help anyone who was suicidal, because “they will drag you down and they will strangle you just as some drowning people drown someone who tries to help them.” He remarked, on a piece of paper used to communicate during his “period of silence,” that “it is good when weak students leave as they are weight; it used to bother me but now it’s like a useless object being gone.”


Think about it. Don’t help suicidal people. People who are weak students are like useless objects. You can’t manipulate them as effectively. Good, true, and noble. Deeply spiritual. 1971.


Another person who left in 1971 told me that during the “period of silence” Burton used to blow kisses to people. He indicated that Burton was apparently envious of this person’s influence within the group, and when Burton blew him kisses “they were contemptuous.” Good, true, and noble. 1971. The person further reflected that his take on Burton was that he was sociopathic.


After this person left, Meg Gwynne’s Via Del Sol Journal included a question posed to Burton about why this person left. Burton’s answer was, “He cannot take responsibility.” Knowing what you now know about Burton, reflect on that explanation and let me know how that sits with you.


Later the gold coin octave yielded to the purchase, not only of the land in Oregon House, but of a Cessna aircraft. Understand, Burton went, in the span of less than two years, from a part-time tennis instructor and substitute teacher in Emeryville , who lived at home with his mom and didn’t have decent wheels, to a guy who lived in a new Volkswagen bus and who was being flown between LA and Northern California to “teach.” A young male student had the job of flying him back and forth. At least one student walked in on Burton and caught him in flagrante delicto with the pilot. This is 1972, the same year that Burton offered an account, at a meeting either in Oakland or Los Angeles, of how he slit the throat of a goat and the sound the goat made. Good, true, and noble.


Many people don’t know that Burton renewed his California public elementary teaching credential in 1975. If you are the Avatar of the Age, the torch having been passed to you upon Meher Baba’s death, what do you need with a license to teach elementary school? The natural explanation is, he thought the scam might fall apart, and he might have to go back to teaching elementary school.


I could go on and on but I’m not sure for my purposes it’s necessary. Many people take the dominant myth as a given. But a little digging shows that it’s just bullshit. It’s what people want to believe. But it’s false.



The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans

Daniel Amen – TEDxOrangeCoast


The Dangerous Few Psychology Documentary 


In The Shadow of Feeling Psychopath Documentary


The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts (and Gods, Angels, Demons, and Aliens. . .) –



108. Insider September 2, 2017


September 5, 1967. Fifty years ago, this coming Tuesday.


In case anyone misplaced their scorecard, that’s the day Robert Burton met Alex Horn. At least according to the version of their meeting as told by Burton. Well actually, he has rarely made it clear that he met Horn on that day. What he says is that’s when he met “Influence C.” But a very sharp “student” figured out some years ago that that date of meeting “Influence C” and Alex Horn coincided, and that Alex Horn must be “Influence C.”


In any case, he has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Meeting Influence C” for a year now. And right now is the big weekend, not only the culmination of another “Journey Forth” gathering (and a large one), but the pinnacle of a year-long build-up of excitement. Endless meetings (4 in 5 days, 3 days in a row, through Tuesday), dinners, “fund-raising” activities, a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. And I’m willing to bet that “The Absolute” will make his Fourth appearance sometime this weekend, probably on Tuesday, Sept 5. Perfect.


And the 2 nearby fires are also perfect, the smell of smoke, the extreme heat warning this weekend.


Pity the money-counters having to work all that overtime (without pay). Pity, too, the chefs working in 100+ temps to feed the masses visiting from around the world.


But especially pity the 1500 or so lost souls who still believe that Robert Burton holds their ticket to Paradise, and who have given all their will and power and personal responsibility to a fake guru.



40. Fee fi fo fumOctober 16, 2017


“…such a secret society rarely allows those who are being wooed to join to see its shadier sides from the outset…Once they make a commitment to a group, they are less quick to criticize it, especially as still further mysteries are held before them as inducements to joining. And gradually, when novices are deemed ready to absorb more information without criticism and in complete secrecy, they are exposed to tasks and methods they would earlier have questioned.”


From “Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation” by Sissela Bok. From the chapter, “Secret Societies / Groups Sworn to Secrecy,” pp 49-50.


This book followed her earlier book called “Lying,” which I read after leaving the FoF to help me understand the FoF’s unrelenting mind-f-k.



Robert K. Fullinwider explores and amplifies Sissela Bok’s seminal work: Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (© 1978)



Johnson & Whales University


Bok makes a point in the book that within her life, she has dealt with the problems and difficulty of drawing the line between when to lie and when to tell the truth depending on the circumstances. She states, “This book is a personal exploration rather than an effort to dictate conclusions. It aims to narrow the gap between the worlds of the moral philosopher and those confronting urgent practical moral choices.”



I am grateful to have been able to take this expanded, often deepened, contemporary discussion of truthfulness and deceit into account in my own writings over the past decades. My conclusions remain those expressed in Lying‘s last sentences: “Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. They can thrive only on a foundation of respect for veracity.”


    Were I writing the book today, I would nevertheless wish to take up a number of topics that help shed light on human motivation when it comes to lying, as on familiar arguments and definitions. The first of these topics is that of “confabulation” – a psychiatric term that has come into common parlance so recently that it has not been recorded as such in some major dictionaries. The term once carried the meaning of people coming together to talk or chat, but is now used to refer to the stories told by brain-damaged persons suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and a variety of other psychiatric and neurological conditions. These persons may spin false tales about their lives with great aplomb and in utter confidence that they are correct. They cannot, therefore, be thought of as engaging in lying or any form of deceit; at the same time, because their statements so clearly depart from the truth, it is equally difficult to speak of truthfulness in characterizing their stories. Such cases show that the moral dimensions of choices concerning truthfulness and deceit are not exhausted by referring to the intentions of those who make statements. There is a large category of statements where deceit is not intended but where truthful communication is far from being achieved. In considering this category, it is important to take into account all that can help to distort communication quite apart from an intention to deceive. When people convey false information in the belief that it is true, they may be tired, mistaken, uninformed, inarticulate, intoxicated, or duped by others; but so long as they do not intend to mislead anyone, they are not acting in a manner that is in any way deceitful. Their statements may be false, but they have not knowingly uttered falsehoods. If the information is conveyed through intermediaries, as through gossip or via the media, further distortion from such causes is likely to ensue. At the receiving end of such information, likewise, similar factors and others such as deafness may operate so that people end up deceiving through no fault on the part of the person who originated the message or those who passed it along.

    A second concept is that of pathological or compulsive lying [which] is to all the rest of lying what kleptomania is to stealing. The most extreme form of such pathological lying has been called Pseudologia fantastica, “in which the pseudologue (the liar) tells involved stories about life circumstances, both present and past.” Any consideration of moral choice regarding whether or not to lie has to take into account cases involving such compulsions and ways in which they can take over a person’s life. For this purpose, I would now wish to expand my earlier discussion of how one lie often leads to more lying and of the quip that the first lie “must be thatched with another or it will rain through” (p. 25).


    A third concept, “duping delight,” sheds needed light on a range of pleasurable motives for deceit. It evokes the excitement, allure, challenge that lying can involve. For psychologist Paul Ekman, the term refers to any or all of the positive feelings that lying can bring, ranging from the pleasure in misleading a gullible friend to taking what to outsiders seem unaccountably reckless risks of discovery: “The liar may feel excitement, either when anticipating the challenge or during the very moment of lying, when success is not yet certain. Afterwards, there may be the pleasure that comes with relief, pride in the achievement, or feelings of smug contempt towards the target.”


    A fourth concept helps counter simplistic reasoning about truthfulness and lying: it is that of “truth-dumping.” Coined by psychiatrist Will Gaylin, it conveys the harm that brutal, needless or uncaring truth-telling can wreak. Parents who bombard their children with criticisms, spouses who gloomily dwell on each other’s dreariest traits, curt health professionals who shock unprepared patients with grim news – all may be telling the truth even as they violate fundamental standards of respect and concern. Advocates of greater tolerance for lying sometimes ask what the world would be like if we told nothing but the truth without cease. Surely, they ask, judicious lying has to be seen as preferable? To pose the question thus is to assume that we operate, in this world, with only two alternatives: lying or constant, no-holds-barred truth-telling. Yet there is something peculiarly wizened and humorless in such a supposition. It leaves no room for discretion, for the ability to discern what is and is not intrusive and injurious while navigating in and between the worlds of personal and shared experience. Part of learning to deal respectfully with children as with adults is to become aware of all the ways of doing so honestly yet without “truth-dumping.”


~ Sissela Bok, in her Preface to the 1999 edition of Lying



From Pathological Lying Revisited

Charles C. Dike, Madelon Baranoski and Ezra E. H. Griffith
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online September 2005


While no consensus definition for pathological lying currently exists in the literature, the identified functional elements of the phenomenon are: the repeated utterance of untruths; the lies are often repeated over a period of years, with the lies eventually becoming a lifestyle; material reward or social advantage does not appear to be the primary motivating force but the lying is an end in itself; an inner dynamic rather than an external reason drives the lies, but when an external reason is suspected, the lies are far in excess of the suspected external reason; the lies are often woven into complex narratives.


We shall define pathological lying as Healy and Healy8 did, but without the quagmire of etiology. Pathological lying is falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime.



According to Robert Earl Burton on September 21, 2011:


“On September 5, 1967, I met Alex Horn. This date marks the moment when angels from Paradise descended upon us and our quest for divine presence began. We could say that on this day: ‘It has begun.’ Here [referring to a photo] we see a photograph of Alex Horn, showing four fingers on each hand. This [referring to a photo] is the Claremont Hotel and the Berkeley Tennis Club, where I played tennis. I met Influence C hitchhiking because it was just fashionable in the sixties; one would hitchhike from Berkeley to Carmel, and such things. I met Influence C in Berkeley on the crossing of Ashby and Domingo Avenues, like Placido Domingo, the singer. He was born in Spain and raised in Mexico, so it is an omen of my bringing the sequence – the Song of Solomon – to our school. Incidentally, the sequence is a ‘Song of the Self.’ It is four words. This is where our journey began. A doctor picked me up [hitchhiking] and gave me a ride. He would later turn out to be payment for Dr. Ethan Ha_s. So we did very well! The doctor was on his way to a prospective student meeting on Page Street (like William Page) in San Francisco. This [referring to a photo] is the house at 350 Page Street where I had my prospective student meeting. It is eight – three plus five. This [referring to a photo] is the interior. The owner was quite gracious about inviting us in. Here [referring to a photo] I am before the gated entrance. …I am looking up in gratitude to Influence C. I was just like you, one of many, one of seven billion. There was no particular reason on the surface they would give any of us this gift but we are exactly the ones they wanted. And now we are all present and we can see why they wanted us.”


So: A doctor on his way to a prospective student meeting (to be conducted by Alex Horn) on Page Street pulled over and picked up a random hitchhiker (Bob Burton) before driving to the house. . .?


Soon after I met Influence C on September 5th, forty-four years ago, one of my first observations was that life after death was not a theory. In a sense, this was our school’s first verification. Because before meeting Influence C we had all read literature about life after death, but our faith is a result of our verifications. We have the privilege of verifying that life after death does exist. … This [referring to a photo] is a road sign for Modesto, where I had a car accident. About three months after I met Influence C, I had approximately a hundred stitches in my head. It is curious that a small group of students gave me a Miata as a gift last night. This is exactly the same as the car that I crashed in – a tan Volkswagen bug. I made a left-hand turn. The driver behind me stopped, but the driver behind him decided to pass, and I was hit broadside and shoved under a parked truck. I heard a horn (like Alex Horn), and ‘I’ said, ‘Well, it’s not for me.’ That is the most wrong about anything I have ever been in my life! I woke up and the nurse was saying, ‘Doctor, you did a beautiful job with those stitches.’ They rolled me out of the operating room and I just stood up and walked out. I took a taxi and then a Greyhound bus to my little one-room apartment. It was then that I realized how serious Influence C are about helping us. Of course, we have students who have experienced much worse than that. The Miata is a nice little gift, coming almost forty-four years after the Volkswagen. I also soon realized that I was under the guidance of Leonardo. Very early on I wondered who was helping me, and they started signaling Leonardo. Leonardo and I are very different, but also very similar from the point of view of presence. Later I will say a few things about why we are so different. If we survive the Last Judgment then many things will become self-evident.”


(A quote by Dave Archer – once a member of Alex Horn’s group – is read: “Alex used to say we were not in the ‘work,’ meaning the Gurdjieff Work. Repeatedly he described our endeavor as a small ‘preparatory school’ at best, saying that if we worked exceedingly hard on ‘growing being,’ one of us MIGHT join the ‘Real Work’ … someday.”)


“Patricia Ch_r, who read the angle, studied with Alex Horn for a little while. I studied with him briefly also, for eighteen months. Then he closed the group, leaving ten of us there, and Influence C removed me – they would not give me employment. Finally, I found employment cleaning a woman’s house – and she died unexpectedly. At that point they briefly made me a homeless person. Alex once came up to me with a tiny little Christmas bell about two centimeters tall. His little higher emotional center was working and he rang the bell in front of my third eye, meaning that we have a little school here – he and I. Of course, we have four large bells from a French foundry above Apollo d’Oro now. Inscribed on one of them are the words: ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ We put it there without knowing what we know now. Anyway, even today we are a school in our infancy. During my time with Alex, he openly spoke about my role and his role as being conscious roles. Also Influence C did not reveal themselves to anyone else in his group, but in our school everyone verifies Influence C to enter the Way. The inner meaning of ‘entering the way’ is reaching long BE and completing the sequence – entering the way to presence. …This [referring to a photo] is a view of the ranch that Alex owned for a few years. Patricia, would you like to speak about this? Yes, it is a functioning vineyard now. Sharon and Alex owned the property, and they brought students up there on the weekends to work. You went, did you not?”


Patricia: “Yes, I did. I was in charge of the refuse. I remember that Alex once drove by in a red Jaguar that he enjoyed, which had a big dent in the hood. He was watching me in a very sweet way as I worked with the refuse. It was a touching moment in our play.”

Burton: “In 1967, someone [?] saw something no one else did, a celestial influence coming to make men immortal. Once again, in 1971, the same miracle occurred and the school (Apollo) was started by the grace of Influence C.”


“Here is a photo of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Rodney Collin, and Alex Horn. Of all of them, we learned the most from Ouspensky. Before the sequence Ouspensky was the most quoted figure by far, but now we rarely mention his name. Why? At the end of his life he said, ‘If man was made to remember himself there must be some simple method. I’ve been looking all of my life but it was never given to me’ – by Influence C.”


“As a young person, I did not have a desire to teach, but I did it because Influence C asked it of me. Others had a strong desire to become teachers, and that was their downfall.” 


“From the beginning, I knew I was following the directive of angels. …This [referring to a photo] is a Meissen urn decorated with ascending cherubim. It is now in Anthony and Patricia Ch_r’s collection. We used this image on our bookmark. Did any of you meet the school through this bookmark? (Many students raise their hands.) Very nice! Maybe we should bring it back.” 


(A quote, supposedly by Alex Horn, is read: “If ever a conscious being is produced from one of my students, then my role as a teacher is complete.”) 


“I came from so far back to go so far forward. Robert Ma_c used to work with my life sister, Betty Burton, at a restaurant called Saluto in San Francisco. Robert was a waiter, and he was carrying a dessert called The Great American Disaster. He and my sister encountered each other in a swinging door, and he spilled the dessert all over her. Subsequently, her lover, who owned the restaurant, died, leaving her fifteen million dollars. Curtis said that the Ming screen we once owned was recently sold at auction for a record high and was the only piece of Chinese furniture to ever sell for more than a million dollars. He said that it is now worth fifteen million dollars, so we have fifteen and fifteen – incomparable wealth:  presence. My sister is leaving her inheritance to the ASPCA – the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ouspensky said something like, ‘Cats eat rats and rats eat cats.’”


“We are destined for immortality – eternal life – and this is what makes Paradise so sweet: it is a deathless place. Also, everyone is conscious and immortal there. Here everyone is mortal and unconscious, except for us.” 


“Our press is the temple of literature for Apollo and civilization. Our presses do not require electricity. We know how to make paper and vellum as well. …Here [referring to a photo] we are planning the new press building…this temple of literature. Here [referring to a photo] is our Petrarch Press this year.” 


“Apollo’s cemetery could be called ‘conscious passage’. We can also call it a ‘paymentorium’ – a place of payment.” 


“Apollo is Mecca for ascending souls in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is here that Influence C will take their stand against the Last Judgment. This is the only safe haven.”


“For forty years our school kept going forward, until we finally arrived at the greatest ally of presence – the sequence. Never could I detect the nature of the lower self until the sequence came – I could only speak about it philosophically. But now with the sequence, we know exactly what we are facing and precisely where this intestinal figure is located.” 


(A quote by a Fellowship member is read: “Our school is truly a golden chain of love that began when Robert was most graciously accepted into the ranks of the angels.”)


“Who wrote this, dear? (Thomas F_n.) It is very sweet. This [referring to a photo] is Asaf giving the toast at the Crystallization celebration in 2010.  Here [referring to a photo] are the four of us at the Getty Villa in the order of appearance: myself, Asaf, Dorian, and then Sasha. It is quite a beautiful sight.” 


“It is possible that the survival of humanity may depend upon Apollo. This is what having Influence C in one’s life may mean. This [referring to a photo] is our Bactrian camel Rembrandt and his mother… This [referring to a photo] was our animal parade during Journey Forth… A few ibexes will be arriving at Apollo later this month… It was a major step when Influence C began bringing the animals.” 


“We have a beautiful conscious society at Apollo and our inner circle around the globe. The centers are points of light in humanity. …Here [referring to a photo] I am teaching in [our] Grand Pavilion with a statue of Shiva behind me. We are truly becoming immortal here.”


“The [live] broadcasts of the meetings are one [of] the most important events in our school’s history. Influence C accelerated everyone’s evolution.”



Historical Evolution of Pathological Lying

Pathological lying has been compared with the “pseudolying” observed in children. Despite their obvious comparability, it is important to draw a distinction between the “fantasy” lying observed in children and pathological lying. Children’s use of fantasy to deny reality is said to be an important aspect of self-development and self-protection, but when this persists into adulthood, it becomes pathological. It has been proposed that the pathological liar’s ego is fixated at the childhood level.10


Eminent psychiatrists, such as Schneider,11 Bleuler,12 Jaspers,13 and Fish14 have all wondered if the pathological liar recognizes his or her story as false or believes it is real. Essential notions in much of the literature are the basis of the lying and the extent to which the pathological lying reflects impairment in reality testing. A brief review of past characterizations of pathological lying—published by Healy and Healy,8 who translated the early work that was originally published in German and summarized it in their landmark text published in 1926—shows a split between those who believe possible impairment in reality testing is an important consideration and those who believe pathological lying is a willful act.


Supporters of possible impaired reality testing observe that in the final evolution of the pathological lie, it cannot be differentiated from a delusion because, to the liar, it has the worth of a real experience.15 The lie ultimately wins power over the pathological liar, so that mastery of his or her own lies is lost. The new “I” supposedly overwhelms the normal “I” who now appears only at intervals, a condition that has been referred to as systematized delirium.16 Consciousness of the real situation was said to be clouded in the mind of the pathological liar, and the lies were described as impulsive and unplanned, “seizing” the liar suddenly.17 Pseudologues (pathological liars) were therefore not seen as liars in the true sense, despite the falsehood of their statements, because the verbalizations were not believed to be consciously engendered, nor the goal consciously recognized.


Further support for possible impaired reality testing in pathological lying was the observation that the lies were more elaborate than ordinary lies and left the grounds of reality more readily. The proposal that pathological lying is a “wish psychosis” was based on the observation that pathological liars saw their lies as reality and believed them.18


Opponents of impaired reality testing in pathological lying noted that when the pathological liar’s attention was energetically drawn to his lies, he could be brought to at least a partial recognition of their falseness, but when left to himself, he did not exert his attention in that direction.19 This observation suggested a degree of willfulness. Pseudologia fantastica was therefore described as a fantasy lie, a daydream communicated as reality, in which the lie can be a gratification in itself, for pleasure only and not for any other obvious gain.20 It was described as an intermediary phase between psychic health and neurosis.20 The notion of “double consciousness,” in which two forms of life run side by side, the actual and the desired, and the desired becomes preponderant and decisive, has been proposed as the mechanism underlying pathological lying.21 It has also been suggested that the mental processes similar to those forming the basis of the impulse to literary creation in normal people is the foundation of the morbid romances and fantasies of those with pseudologia fantastica.22 The impulse that forces the fabrication of stories is supposedly bound up with the desire to play the role of the person depicted; fiction and real life are not separated. Further support for intact reality testing in pseudologia fantastica is the proposition that pseudologues usually have sound judgment in other matters, an observation that makes it difficult to prove that the pseudologue does not know that what he or she is doing is wrong.


In their work involving pathological liars, Healy and Healy8 observed that utterance of lies comes just as quickly and naturally as speaking truth comes to other people. They noted that even really insane individuals are not immune to pathological lying; some may tell tales that they recognize to be untrue. This observation further highlights the controversy about whether the pathological liar maintains contact with reality. In the opinion of Healy and Healy, pathological lying is very rarely a symptom by itself, as there is a tendency for the lying to be embedded in other forms of misrepresentation. The pathological liar gets himself/herself in a tight spot by lying and then tells more lies to extricate himself/herself. After a while, the only way out may be to run away to a different location.


In summary, the historical review provides some elements that may be said to characterize the pathological liar or at least create a general impression of what constitutes pathological lying. . .



From Fifty Years with Angels by Robert Earl Burton
Sept 5, 1967 – Sept 5, 2017


© 2017 Fellowship of Friends.


Part One (pp. 1-3)


Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. – John 8:32


I remember forming my magnetic center. I had a nice apartment with a pool outside, a new car, money in the bank, and all of that. But I sat down and said, “This is nothing.” So I began looking for something, although I did not know what to look for. I had to relinquish my tenure position as a fourth-grade teacher. I did not know what the truth was, but I knew that I had not found it. The truth certainly was not where I was, but then we found the truth or, rather, the truth – Influence C – found us and infused the truth within us. Rilke said, “When I, coming down from the beasts, longed to be instructed in mankind, behold the next phase, the angelic, was infused into me” – divine presence.


From a little spark may burst a mighty flame. – Dante Alighieri


    I formed my magnetic center at Big Sur on the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California. Here we see a little girl sitting in the same spot in the Nepenthe Restaurant where I once stood, even before I met Alex Horn. I was there by myself on Christmas Day when I was twenty-four. Never imagine wisdom to be more than the presence of the child within you. The first time my higher centers appeared, I was gazing at a fireplace.
    My first B-influence book was The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. I read it by the ocean in an Oregon state park called Humbug. Once I was in my back yard when a butterfly landed on my finger and stayed there for a while. Soon after, I met Alex Horn on Page Street. What a wonderful page began of our school’s history!


On September 5, 1967, I met Alex Horn. This date marks the moment when angels from Paradise descended upon us and our quest for divine presence began.


    I used to play tennis and, when I was about twenty, I actually defeated the California state singles tennis champion in San Francisco. I met Influence C after I left the tennis club in the Claremont Hotel on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” I can still see myself meeting the Jewish professor who picked me up hitchhiking and invited me to Alex Horn’s open meeting. The miraculous began for all of us at that moment.
    This is the house at 350 Page Street in San Francisco where I had my prospective student meeting, implying the turning of the final page before our school was to begin.
    Ouspensky said that schools are the most undemocratic of all things. There is nothing you can do if you are not chosen by Influence C. I met Influence C on September 5th, 1967. Later my higher centers began to appear. The first time this occurred I was looking into a fireplace. An ‘I’ said sarcastically, “Who is that?” And another ‘I’ said, “What right does it have to be there?” These ‘I’s were Cinderella’s stepsisters – the nine of clubs.


I knew that beyond the thin film of false reality there existed another reality, from which for some reason we were separate. – Peter Ouspensky


    Alex’s apartment was up the stairs and to the left. You walk up twelve steps, go forward two paces, and walk up another stair. Then you step through the door and into divine presence – the thirteenth step. I only remember one meeting there, although there may have been more. When I met Alex, I knew that I had I met something I had never met before, but I did not know what to call it. I had never seen anything like it. As it turned out, it was a conscious being – Influence C.  In a way, our meeting was the first page of our school. Alex Horn was the first person I ever met who used the phrase “self-remembering,” so he brought us a great deal. The inner meaning of life on earth, and in the entire universe, is to use what time one has for presence.


I am eternally grateful for having met Alex Horn. It was our biggest breakthrough – and quite probably the breakthrough that life needed to bridge the interval of civilizations.


    When I met Alex Horn, I could not quite believe that someone else had to teach me to be present to my life. I was the only one in his group, other than Alex, who was able to see the starry world in him after he crystallized, and for that I am very grateful.
    When I saw his higher centers after he crystallized, I was developed enough to say, “Congratulations.” After he completed his task and visited me for the first time, I said, “Congratulations” once again. Apparently, Alex Horn did not have any lines on his palm, an omen that he did not need good fortune because he already had it.
    Alex asked me to read In Search of the Miraculous, so I went to Fields Bookshop on Polk Street in San Francisco to look for a copy. I remembered the author as Spensky, but, of course, it was Ouspensky!



What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception, and the callousness with which they carry it out. Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths.


~ Robert D. Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us



    Overwhelmed by the sequence of surprises, the shifts in mood, the reversals, and obvious control of the speaker, the assembly sat quiet, trying to gain some perspective on what had just occurred. Even the assumption of familiarity in the use of the man’s first name, over and again, was disturbing, as if there were no distance between strangers. Just the disregard of social space was outrageous. And the whole encounter? It had been like witnessing a rape, so intimate was the questioning, so violent the insistence, so intrusive the pressure on what had proved to be so helpless a victim, one of us.
    Even as the assembly worked back through the last few minutes in which so much had changed, the man called Alex had returned to his position in the front of the room, and had begun to speak again.
    “We are a group that works together to build higher levels of being. We are all crazy, like you. We try to work together to help ourselves. This Work cannot be done alone. Together we attempt to follow the Masters. If you do not know what you want from us, do not return. If you think that there is something for you here, there will be another meeting, in this hall, next week at this time. Good night.”
    With these words he sat down in a chair, back straight, hands on his knees, staring straight ahead, unblinking.  Since no one now dared question him, the crowd filed out of the room, the more verbal (males, particularly) quick to dissipate the impact of the events in words, others silent, wending down the street. 
    As I climbed into my bus, I could focus only on the man himself, his clarity, directness, and control, and concede that I had in fact never seen anything like him in my life. True, I had been shocked, but what stayed with me was the intentionality of the effect he had produced, the obviously purposive staging of the whole evening. 
    Like many others in the room, I had more or less presumed that I was to see a show, a spectacle perhaps, that the actors would be more than eager to please, that I would subsume the evening as yet another little taste of life to add to the larger mix, on all of which I alone would pass final judgment. Yet here was this man telling us, showing us, that we could do no such thing, and more, making us silent (and frightened?) accomplices in his pressuring of one of us, his turning of the tables. To cap it all, he had the effrontery to bind us together with him in a union that did not flatter: Like him, he had said, we were all crazy. Oh, it was enormous, and I was much impressed.


~ Thomas Farber, from his chapter Getting Religion in Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child, Berkeley, 1966-1969



From How do I cult-proof my mind?  by Arnaldo Lerma, deprogrammer:


To “cult-proof” a mind would consist of becoming familiar with those methods.


One method is called The Reverse Blockade: emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person’s mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the “golden mean” between truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method.’ page 104, Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski.



From Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (revised & updated edition) by J. Gordon Melton (1992)


Chapter 1. What is a Cult? – p. 6 -7


    Anti-cultists began to speak of “destructive cults,” groups which hypnotized or brainwashed recruits, destroyed their ability to make rational judgments and turned them into slaves of the group’s leader. While drawing upon Christian counter-cult literature in the beginning, the secular anti-cultists gradually discarded any overtly religious language as a means of designating cults in order to appeal to government authorities and avoid any seeming attack upon religious liberties. Thus, “cults” have come to be seen as groups that share a variety of generally destructive characteristics. While no one group may embody all of them, any “cult” will possess a majority. Marcia Rudin, a popular anti-cult writer, listed fourteen commonly accepted characteristics of a cult:


l.     Members swear total allegiance to an all-powerful leader whom they believe to be the Messiah.
2.    Rational thought is discouraged or forbidden.
3.    The cult’s recruitment techniques are often deceptive.
4.    The cult weakens the follower psychologically by making him/her depend upon the group to solve his/her problems.
5.    The cults manipulate guilt to their advantage.
6.    The cult leader makes all the career and life decisions of the members.
7.    Cults exist only for their own material survival and make false promises to work to improve society.
8.    Cult members often work full-time for the group for little or no pay.
9.    Cult members are isolated from the outside world and any reality testing it could provide.
10.  Cults are anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-family.
11.  Cults are apocalyptic and believe themselves to be the remnant who will survive the soon-approaching end of the world.
12.  Many cults follow an “ends justify the means” philosophy.
13.  Cults, particularly in regard to their finances, are shrouded in secrecy.
14.  There is frequently an aura of or potential for violence around cults.


. . .Anti-cult literature reflects a great concern with approximately 15 groups, though as many as 75 to 100 have received passing mention.  Only five groups – The Unification Church, the Children of God, the Church of Scientology, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and The Way International – have received consistent coverage over the years of the anti-cult movement’s existence.


    This handbook includes the most prominent “cults” for analysis and discussion.



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


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.



Unification Church
Christian or Cult?


The official title of the Unification Church is The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. It was officially founded in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon (which has led to the referring of his followers as “Moonies”) and moved to America in 1959, where he established his international headquarters. Born in Korea in 1920, Moon claims that in 1936, when he was 16, Jesus Christ appeared to him on Easter morning on a mountainside in Northwestern Korea and told him that God had chosen him for the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, a mission that Christ had only begun. Christ supposedly told Moon that he would be “the completer of man’s salvation by being the Second Coming of Christ” (Sun Myung Moon and The Unification Church, James Bjornstad, p. 9). After World War II, Moon returned to Pyongyang, the capital of communist North Korea, where he set up his first church (1945).


There, according to reports, Moon involved his congregation in an unusual ritual known as “blood separation,” during which female members of the church were required to have sex with him to cleanse themselves of Satan’s influence. In 1948, North Korean authorities arrested and jailed Moon (he spent two years in a labor camp), accusing him of bigotry and adultery. Moon was finally liberated by United Nations’ troops during the Korean War (1950). (Still today, Moon’s sermons focus on sex and the idea of female submissiveness. In 1995, on “True Parents Day,” he observed, “Woman was born to connect in love with man’s sexual organ. Man and woman’s sexual organs are the place of the true love palace.”) After the Korean War, Moon fled to South Korea and established the Unification Church, which now claims three million members in more than 120 countries (about 40-45 thousand U.S.), but both of these figures are believed by many to be grossly exaggerated. (The largest concentration of Moonies reside in Korea and Japan.) In 1956, Moon published the English version of the Divine Principle as the authoritative work of the Unification Church. (The Korean Version: “Wolli Haesol” or “Explanation of the Principle” was published on August 15th, 1957.)


This “church” has been the subject of much negative U.S. publicity. . .


Summary: According to Moon, it was God’s plan for Jesus to find a perfect mate and produce sinless children, bringing about the world’s physical and spiritual salvation. But Jesus failed because He couldn’t get the Jews to accept Him as Messiah. The Crucifixion was a “mistake” which thwarted God’s plans and made it necessary for a new Messiah to come during this present age. This new “messiah,” called the “Lord of the Second Advent” by Moon, was born in Korea in 1920 (which, coincidentally, is the place and time of his own birth).


By the year 2000, Moon claimed, the Messiah would be revealed (cf. Duet. 18:22). Therefore, Moon does not want us to think of the Second Coming in terms of a literal interpretation of Scripture, which states that Jesus will come in the clouds with great glory. Moon insists that the second messiah will be a Korean man born of the flesh — and those who do not accept him will face God’s wrath.


Accordingly, everyone must be born again by new parents in order to fulfill God’s original plan of redemption. Translated into Moon’s theology, this means: acceptance of Moon and his wife as spiritual parents is necessary for salvation.


Quotes from Moon Illustrating Essential Theological Points


 *  “He [God] is living in me and I am the incarnation of Himself. … The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world.”
 *  “God is now throwing Christianity away and is now establishing a new religion, and this new religion is the Unification Church.”
 *  “All the Christians in the world are destined to be absorbed by our movement.”
 *  “There have been saints, prophets, many religious leaders in past human history. Master here [Moon] is more than any of those people and greater than Jesus himself.”
 *  “I [Moon] am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”
 *  “God and man are one. Man is incarnate God.”


Note on Mass Marriages: The term “mass Marriage” is actually a misnomer, but that is what they are popularly known as. In reality, no one is being married in these mass wedding spectacles. Instead, the “Blessing,” as Moonies refer to this event, is a religious ceremony and not actual weddings. Though they are dressed as brides and grooms and repeat marriage vows at these events, the ones that intend to be husband and wife will have to obtain marriage licenses from whatever jurisdiction they reside in. In former years, only those couples that Sun Myung Moon had matched (Moon chose usually complete strangers who would then become husband and wife based on Moon’s selection) or those who had passed very stringent qualifications (including from 3 to 7 years of celibacy before marriage) would be allowed to be “blessed” by Moon. In recent years, these events are often billed as a “recommitment of marriage” to unsuspecting participants.



Veronicapoe June 14, 2007


PBS recently televised a documentary about the Mormons. A woman scholar who was excommunicated from the church after arguing for parity in the role of women in the church talked about the experience of being excommunicated. She indicated that all the men on the court, which excommunicated her after her hearing, came up to her afterwards, shook her hands and said how much they admired her. She spoke disparagingly of their veneer of niceness while they were doing what she considered an inherently violent act, excommunicating her from her religion, community, family and way of life:


“Excommunication is an inherently violent act.”



From UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer, Anchor Books © 2004


On July 24, 1984, a woman and her infant daughter were murdered by two brothers who believed they were ordered to kill by God. The roots of their crime lie deep in the history of an American religion practiced by millions . . .




Extreme and bizarre religious ideas are so commonplace in American history that it is difficult to speak of them as fringe at all. To speak of a fringe implies a mainstream, but in terms of numbers, perhaps the largest component of the religious spectrum in contemporary America remains what it has been since colonial times: a fundamentalist evangelicalism with powerful millenarian strands. The doomsday theme has never been far from the center of American religious thought. The nation has always had believers who responded to this threat by a determination to flee from the wrath to come, to separate themselves from the City of Destruction, even if that meant putting themselves at odds with the law and with their communities or families. . . .  We can throughout American history find select and separatist groups who looked to a prophetic individual claiming divine revelation, in a setting that repudiated conventional assumptions about property, family life, and sexuality. They were marginal groups, peculiar people, people set apart from the world: the Shakers and the Ephrata community, the communes of Oneida and Amana, the followers of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.


Philip Jenkins,
Mystics and Messiahs




As a religious city-state under tight control, Nauvoo was a haven where the followers of Joseph Smith had their most important choices – what they should do to serve God – made for them . . . . and their identity as God’s chosen people was assured through him. . . .
    As is common in such situations, the threat of evil was projected onto others. . . . Hence, at Nauvoo the innocent children of God realized their identity through their struggle against the evil followers of Satan, who dominated American society everywhere except in the city of the Saints.
    The problem, of course, with this kind of dichotomous myth is that, for the people who hold it, guilt and innocence become matters of belief, not evidence.


John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius,
Cultures in Conflict




Critical examination of the lives and beliefs of gurus demonstrates that our psychiatric labels and our conceptions of what is or is not mental illness are woefully inadequate. How, for example, does one distinguish an unorthodox or bizarre faith from delusion? . . . 
    Gurus are isolated people, dependent upon their disciples, with no possibility of being disciplined by a Church or criticized by contemporaries. They are above the law. The guru usurps the place of God. Whether gurus have suffered from manic-depressive illness, schizophrenia, or any other form of recognized, diagnosable mental illness is interesting but ultimately unimportant. What distinguishes gurus from more orthodox teachers is not their manic-depressive mood-swings, not their thought disorders, not their delusional beliefs, not their hallucinatory visions, not their mystical states of ecstasy: it is their narcissism.


Anthony Storr,

Feet of Clay






     THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY  –  pp. 315-319


During Ron’s 1996 retrial, the state convinced a twelve-person jury that Ron wasn’t psychotic – that he was fully aware of what he was doing when he participated in the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty and was thus mentally competent to stand trial. “Is Ron crazy?” asks Utah Assistant Attorney General Michael Wims, six years after that conviction. “Yeah, sure, he’s crazy. Crazy like a fox.”
    Many Utahans share Wims’s view that Ron’s outbursts in court and his weird religious pronouncements were less than sincere. People think he was merely acting crazy to avoid a death sentence.  And they like wise speculate that Ron’s claims to have received revelations from God were a cynical attempt to manipulate and deceive. But almost nobody doubts the sincerity of his brother’s religious faith. Most folks in Utah regard Dan Lafferty’s theology as both preposterous and horrifying, but they concede that he seems to be a true believer.
    As it happens, what Dan believes today is not exactly what he believed when he killed Brenda and Erica. “After I arrived in the monastery – after I arrived here in prison – my beliefs went through this major evolution,” he says. No longer does he subscribe to the tenets of Mormon Fundamentalism. “I changed Gods,” he says. “I’d forsaken the LDS Church to go into fundamentalism, and now I’ve forsaken fundamentalism.” These days his theology is a disturbing potpourri assembled from the Old Testament, the New Testament, The Book of Mormon, fundamentalist scripture, and the hyperkinetic machinations of Dan’s own mind.


    “When you put your whole heart into a search for the truth,” Dan says, “in due course you start to see the contradictions in what you’ve been taught. You start to realize that something doesn’t feel right and doesn’t look right. Something starts to stink. . . . I used to refer to myself as a religious fanatic, but I realize I was kicked out of the LDS Church because I was really a truth fanatic. I have the need to resolve contradictions, which is what got me excommunicated.”
    All modern religions are fraudulent, Dan contends, not just the LDS Church. “Organized religion is hate masquerading as love. Which inevitably leads you back to the religion as it originally existed, before it was corrupted. It leads you to become a fundamentalist. You can see where the Church lost the answers by giving up its fundamental principles. So you find your beliefs evolving toward fundamentalism.
    “But then I found out that there weren’t answers in fundamentalism, either. You see some of the same contradictions. Fortunately for me, I saw this about the time I came here to the monastery. That’s when everything started to slowly distill and come together.”
    At the core of Dan’s transmogrified faith is his new-found conviction that he is Elijah, the biblical prophet known for his solitary ways and unyielding devotion to God.  And as Elijah, Dan is certain, it will be his job to announce the Second Coming of Christ in the Final Days. According to Dan, “In my role as Elijah, I’m like John the Baptist. Elijah means ‘forerunner,’ the one who prepares the way. John the Baptist prepared the way for the First Advent of Christ. I’m here to prepare the way for the return of the Son of Man.”

    Dan believes, as he did when he was a fundamentalist Mormon, that the most salient fact of existence is the immutable division of humankind into those who are inherently righteous and those who are inherently evil. “Some people were chosen to be children of God,” Dan explains, “and others became children of the devil. Either you’re a brother – a child of God – or an asshole – a child of the devil. And you can’t do anything to change it.


    “There are two fathers, God and the devil. And all the children of God possess something none of the children of the devil possess, which is the gift of love. The devil could not program love into his children because love is something he doesn’t possess or understand. It’s beyond his knowledge. All the children of the devil possess is greed, hatred, envy, and jealousy.”
    According to Dan, at a certain point Christ gathered all His children around Him and announced, “‘I want to have a party that’s gonna last for a thousand years. You interested? You want to party with Me on this earth for a thousand years?’ And we said, ‘Hell, yeah!’ So He said, ‘Okay, that’s the good part. Here’s the bad part: you can’t have something for nothing. . . . For six thousand years I’m gonna let the earth become hell before I turn it into heaven. And hell, by definition , is where the devil and his children are running shit. So what I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna let the devil populate the earth with all of his assholes, and then I’m gonna sprinkle you, My children, on the earth a few at a time. And every hour you spend in this hell-on-earth with the assholes, you’re going to be building up credits for the Big Party. It’s gonna take about six thousand years, but by then we’ll have all the credits we’ll need for our party. And then I’ll come, and we’ll harvest the earth – basically, we’ll remove all the assholes – and clear the dance floor for our thousand-year party.”
    “Christ told His children, ‘I know life is fucking crazy, but I’m here to tell you there’s a purpose behind it. We’re working for the Kingdom of God. And the way we do that is we just put in our time here. And every hour you put in here is building up credit for the Big Party. That’s the promise. That’s the covenant. It’s going to be crazy down there for a while, but in the end, through Elijah, I will come.'”
    The way Dan sees it, “Since we’re all here in hell-on-earth, where the devil and his children run everything that is organized, it makes sense that the children of the devil would trick us into worshiping their asshole god. But before the God of love makes the scene, it will be important somehow to help His children – the children of love – have their eyes opened to who this cool fucker is who will be coming to befriend them on the day known in the Bible as the ‘Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord’ (great for His children; dreadful for the assholes) – which is also known in the parable of the wheat and tares as ‘the harvest.’*


    “It is prophesied that the ‘Great and Dreadful Day’ will be when Christ sends His angels like reapers to gather out of His kingdom all those who are not His and kill them; and that’s in part what I was foreshadowing,” Dan explains, “when I took the lives of Brenda and Erica. I know that might sound a little gory or something, but it feels like the right interpretation to me. I don’t think the angels in this prophesy are beings with wings that fly down from heaven, but more like what Joseph and Brigham called ‘avenging angels’: men already living here on earth who will just be taking care of their Father’s business like I was, once they learn who their Father is and have been properly instructed.”
    Dan believes that God has designated him, as Elijah, to tell the righteous “who their Father is” at the proper moment, and thereby kick off the thousand-year reign of the Kingdom of God. “I’m sure I will be the one who will identify Christ when he returns,” he says. According to Dan, a year or two after he was incarcerated, he “had this experience. . . . I didn’t know what it meant at the time. I was just pacing in my cell.  It was the middle of the day. And I heard a voice. It was completely different from the revelations that were given through the School of the Prophets. I was pacing and I heard this voice tell me, ‘Write this down: The moon will shine from noon until nine.’ . . . That was all I heard. And over the years I thought, ‘What the hell does this mean?’ And finally it came together and made sense. I recently figured it out, just in the last year or so: the sign of Christ will be that the moon will shine in the sky from noon until nine at night. How that will happen, I don’t know. But when it happens I’m sure it won’t be mistaken for anything else.”


* This biblical allegory, more commonly known as the parable of the weeds (“tar” is a synonym for a noxious weed that infests fields of grain), appears in Matthew 13:24. It tells how one night when everyone was sleeping, Satan sowed weeds through the wheat fields of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus instructed his followers to let the weeds grow with the wheat “until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” Dan Lafferty, it bears mentioning, is by no means the only zealot enamored of this parable. Brian David Mitchell, the Mormon Fundamentalist who abducted fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002, cited it in his tract, The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah: “. . . there has been corruption and perversion in the priesthood. For Satan doth creep in unawares and doth sow tars among the wheat. . . .”


     By applying his singular logic to the matter, Dan has also figured out why Ron tried to strangle him with a towel back in 1984: it was because the devil had revealed to Ron that Dan was Elijah and had been assigned to let the world know when Jesus had returned. Dan surmises that the devil actually told Ron about Dan’s crucial assignment long before God got around to telling Dan about it.
    “At some point,” Dan explains, “I believe Ron was instructed that it was important to kill me. The basic reason for it was his father” – the devil – “was trying to prevent the unpreventable.” The devil had been given the world for six thousand years, but those six thousand years are just about over, Dan says, so “it should come as no surprise that the devil wouldn’t want to give up control when his time is up.” And the way the devil hopes to extend his reign is to have Ron kill Dan/Elijah, and thus prevent him from announcing Christ’s return. “I feel confident,” Dan declares, “that this is what was behind Ron’s attempts to take my life. Because the Bible says that if Elijah doesn’t fulfill his calling, Christ can’t return.”
    Dan says that he should have recognized that Ron was one of Satan’s minions back in the spring and summer of 1984, when he and Ron were driving across the West in Ron’s Impala, because – contrary to the determination of the experts who testified for the state in Ron’s 1996 retrial – his brother was “showing signs of schizophrenia.  . . . As we were traveling together and getting to know each other, it was a fairly common phenomenon for Ron to kind of space out and be gone somewhere mentally. I suspect that at such times he was probably listening to voices.” And those voices, Dan speculates, were instructions from the devil.



In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, A Father, A Cult

By Rebecca Stott
Spiegel & Grau, New York 2017





                22   pp. 114-115


    In his second year of university, now in love with my mother, my father began to attend lectures by C.S. Lewis. He read his way through all Lewis’s books, but it was the final page of Mere Christianity that brought him to his knees one night, both metaphorically and literally, in his small room on Willis Road. The conversion was so violent that, years later, the details of the room, the wallpaper, the light through the window, the scattered pattern of the papers on his desk, had seared themselves like scorch marks onto his memory.
    “Submit to death. . . ,” Lewis wrote. “Submit with every fiber of your being, and you will have eternal life.  Keep back nothing. . . . Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
    “The words,” my father wrote, “leapt off the page. Here was the most powerful of my new literary apostles reinforcing all the old Brethren arguments.”
    His defenses collapsed suddenly, he wrote, “like the walls of a sand castle swept away by an incoming tide.” There was that sea metaphor once more. He’d been engulfed again. He knelt down and prayed in his bedroom; he described it as a “halting, painful prayer.”
    “I look back on that young man and his capitulation,” he wrote about himself — confirming in that one word, “capitulation,” the degree of exhaustion I’d sensed in him — “I look back on that young man in that small lonely bedroom with affection and sympathy. I didn’t have a chance.”
    It’s the empathy that surprises me again. The empathy he has for his remembered, capitulating self. And mine for him.
     I didn’t have a chance.
    A chance to do what, though? To get away? To not believe? But he had made a choice. He chose to follow Lewis’s kindly, pleasure-taking God instead of his father’s punitive one.
    “I’d been brought up to believe in a transcendent God,” my father wrote. “Now, with Lewis and Donne, I began to think about an immanent one.” He quoted lines from Gerard Manley Hopkins: The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. This new God loved the world rather than shunned it.
    Under Lewis’s spell he went to see Look Back in Anger and Waiting for Godot at Cambridge Arts Theatre. He watched Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries at the Arts Cinema.
    “Cinema stopped being furtive entertainment,” he wrote. “It contained both moral instruction and metaphysical power.” In Brighton during a vacation he saw Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer. He had “chosen” a complicated, spine-contorting middle way: He would stay in the Brethren and bring this other world into it.



23   pp. 117-118


    Many ex-Brethren I’ve talked to describe the fifties as a golden age in Brethren life. It was only when Jim Taylor, Jr. took over as Man of God in 1959 that things went wrong. He ruined it all, they imply. He was an aberrant, a monster. He made good people do unspeakable things. But even in the fifties, I can see, there were already serious prohibitions in place:


    No cinemas, theaters, circuses, music halls.
    No sport halls.
    No radio or television sets.
    Friendships with non-Brethren — tolerated but not encouraged.
    No trade unions.
    No sex before marriage.
    No trousers for women or short skirts.
    No fashionable clothes.
    No tabloid newspapers.
    No thrillers or modern novels.
    No short hair.


    Within five years the prohibition list would grow four or five times this long. Within ten years it was at least twenty times as long.
    Around this time, in the late fifties, my father remembered, he and my mother, now engaged, discussed whether they would stay in the Brethren. Now that the rules were getting stricter, many young people were leaving. My mother suggested they put the decision to the Lord. What she meant by this was that they would look for the answer on the scriptural verse on the Day Dawn calendar for that particular day. It’s what many Brethren did. If you were going to let the Lord direct your ways, you had to be confident that you could read the signs He sent. The Day Dawn calendar was one of the ways the Lord directed the Brethren. You might as well have rolled dice, I wanted to protest, or read tea leaves or spun the roulette wheel.
    He couldn’t remember the exact text on the Day Dawn calendar that day, he told me, though he thought it had been about walking in the light. He and my mother decided that those particular words meant they should stay in the Brethren.
    But I’m pretty certain they’d both have stayed without their consultation of the Day Dawn calendar. They were optimistic and happy. They didn’t know what was ahead. And anyway, how could they leave? If my parents had left the Brethren in 1959 they’d never have seen their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, or friends again. They would have orphaned themselves.



24   pp. 118-120


“We’re in 1959,” I said, looking back over my notes. I’d just seen that sense of urgency creep up on my father again. He wanted to watch the cricket match; he wanted to sleep. But he knew he was running out of time. He was an eyewitness to this strange piece of history. Very few people had seen what he had seen. He had to make a record before he died.
    I went to fetch the tape recorder
    “Why didn’t we see it coming?” he said again.
    “It’s easy to see it with hindsight,” I said. “I’m not sure I would have guessed what was going on either. Maybe even J.T. Junior didn’t know.”
    I adjusted his chair so he could sit up a little. My brothers had gone for a walk; my stepmother was taking a nap.
    “Just half an hour,” I said. “You need to conserve your energy.” I closed the door. Something had made me want to draw the curtains. There’d been more snow flurries outside overnight.
    “You should see the soil,” I said. “The snow’s dusting it like icing sugar. It’s very pretty. I can see twenty or thirty lapwings from here too. Twice as many as this time last year. They’ll be nesting in a month or so.”
    But he wasn’t to be distracted. He was already back in 1959.
    “That was the year that J.T. Junior seized power,” he said after I pressed the record button. “It was a seismic shift in Brethren history. Seismic.”
    All ex-Brethren describe 1959 with similarly dramatic metaphors. Sometimes they call it a coup. Whatever comparisons they use, geological or military, they mean that nothing would be the same again. There was no going back.
    “It took J.T. Junior ten years,” my father said, “to completely transform the Brethren into a cult. It didn’t happen all at once. But when he seized power it was violent and sudden. The rest was a kind of ten-year lava flow.”





5   pp. 141-145


“A ruthless gestapo had been set up to enforce Big Jim’s new rules,” my father told me.
    “Gestapo?” I said. “Isn’t that a bit extreme? Nothing in the Brethren story compares to the scale of what the Nazis did.”
    He was reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich again — I’d seen his copy open on his study desk.
    “It’s not the scale of what happened,” he insisted. “It’s the pattern. There’s always a charismatic leader and a group of people who are cut off from the world. They’re slowly brainwashed into thinking they’re the chosen ones; that they’re surrounded by evil and that if they want to save themselves they have to do exactly what they’re told. It’s the same pattern every time.
    Later, once I started reading books on the social psychology of cults, I could see he was right. “Totalist systems,” as experts called them – and that could mean the whole Maoist regime or a cult like the Exclusive Brethren – did have common patterns. They all depended, for instance, on a network of enforcers and interrogators to operate effectively.
    He and other young Brethren men, my father said, had hauled themselves up onto their hind legs to turn themselves into the two-legged thug pigs of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
But what did that mean? What had he and William – and other men like them – actually done in the sixties that was so bad?
    My father had not been able to face writing that part of his life story. He died trying to face it. So I wrote to William to ask, as carefully as I could, if he had interrogated other Brethren or if he remembered anything my father had told him about all of that.
    It was just too painful to remember, William replied a few days later. Too shameful. It made him shudder. But he would try.
    “Unlike your father,” he wrote, “I was only involved with three cases. They were all men. It was normal for two Brethren to conduct the questioning. Usually it took place in the sitting room, but with the understanding that we were not to be disturbed.”
    I thought of fourteen-year-old Ruth watching from the top of the stairs as the black-coated priests interrogated her parents. It was easy to feel for her. Now – for the first time – I was beginning to imagine what it might have been like to be one of those priests, knocking on doors late at night, embarrassed and ashamed but not able to show it, making older men confess to having had sexual thoughts, humiliating them.
    “If a confession was finally made,” William wrote, “it was something quite innocuous or trivial, usually about [unfulfilled] sexual desires, at least in all the cases I was involved in. The sessions could last for two to three hours; sometimes they’d go on till quite late at night. I used to go home feeling that I was probably more guilty than the person we had humiliated.”
    Although there may have been many Brethren priests in the sixties who were confident that they were routing Satan, there were also men like William who felt very uncomfortable with what they were doing. I’d seen this discomfort in the body language of three Brethren priest interviewed on a documentary the BBC made in 2003; the Brethren were doing everything they could at the time to counteract bad publicity. Those three men, dressed in perfectly pressed white or pale-blue, short-sleeved cotton shirts, sat on one side of a table clutching their Bibles and answering the interviewer’s questions.
    They looked like rabbits caught in headlights, I thought as I watched the interview, paused it, and played it back in slow motion. Each time I replayed the scene and saw how nervous they were, the sight of them there behind the table scared me a little less. The youngest of the three, in his late thirties, seated in the middle talked, with an attempted assurance, about how he’d been lost to the darkness but had returned to the light. But every time he tried to defend Brethren expulsions or the way they shut people up, he stuttered, hesitated, and stuttered again. His eyes darted from side to side looking for guidance from the two older men.
    When the producer of the documentary gave an interview to The Guardian, he said the priests had threatened him: “We’re rich,” they said. “We’ll take you to the cleaners.” One of them had told him, “The devil’s here. I can see him behind you.”
    But what had it been like for my father? I wondered. How had he felt about making these visits that William described? I wrote to the PEEB community. What was it like, I asked, to be visited by Brethren interrogators back in the sixties? Did anyone remember? And did anyone remember what it was like to be a priest?
    Ten or eleven people replied to my request for information. Some wrote just a few lines, some several pages. Everyone seemed angry or upset by what they remembered. Many of them, I noticed, replied in the early hours of the morning. “you’ve opened up a real can of worms here,” one wrote. The memories, she said, had made her shake.
    The answers I received were all about having been interrogated. No one wrote about doing the interrogating. Their stories were shocking and remarkably similar. The men were called priests, not interrogators or exactors, they said. Their visits were called priestly visits, or just – rather chillingly – priestlies or PVs. The interrogation might last two hours or more; it always took place in the family sitting room; no one ate or drank anything – the priests would be contaminated if they did — and no one else was allowed in the room, even when the priests were questioning a teenage girl.
    Sometimes the priests would be satisfied with a simple confession and there’d be prayers and tears and “restoration.” But if there was resistance or denial, or if the sin was particularly grave, the priests would have to recommend to the “Care meeting” that the sinner be “shut up” or placed “under discipline.” This meant consigning them to solitary confinement in a room in their family home with no contact with any other family member, their meals left on a tray outside the bedroom door, for an unspecified period of time. The priests would continue to “visit” every few days, sometimes for weeks or months, until they felt the sinner had “come right” or was “in the clear.” The priests didn’t use the language of exorcism, my informants told me when I pressed them on this, but to me it seemed implicit in what they were doing. “Smell out the enemy,” J.T. Junior had preached. “Chase after him and kick him.”
    Most of the people who replied to my questions had been teenagers in the sixties. The misdemeanors they’d been questioned about ranged from acts that the Brethren considered very serious – such as falling in love with someone outside the Brethren, or being seen going into a cinema, smoking, or even having a cup of tea with someone who wasn’t Brethren – imagined acts or thought. Licentious thoughts all had to be confessed to as well.
    No wonder William had shuddered. No wonder he described priestly visits as a process of humiliation. And, as he had pointed out, if my father had done more priestly visits than most of these young men, it wasn’t surprising that he wasn’t able to talk or write about it.
    It struck me that a system of surveillance and forced confession like this must have been very effective. Even when the sinner was absolved and allowed back into the fold, all the priests would now know their secrets and have seen them deeply humiliated. And, of course, every priest would have been terrified that at any moment the tables might be turned on him. Everyone was petrified into compliance.
    Sometimes when a Brethren teenager was put under discipline, the whole family would be engulfed in the punishment.





2   pp. 215-216


. . .How many decent people had been betrayed, tortured, and tormented by this madman and his cronies and this inhuman system they’d made?
    The Exclusive Brethren had turned into a cult and played out their torments in plain sight, in the suburbs of provincial towns all around the world. How many non-Brethren teachers, doctors, coroners, psychiatrists, lawyers, and judges must have seen glimpses of what was going on and looked away for fear of causing offense? A doctor once listened to me describe Satan as he appeared in my bedroom at night. Instead of asking me or my parents questions, he’d ordered a urine sample to be taken. A nurse at the hospital that cared for Rhina must surely have seen Eva’s distress when she realized that the Brethren would not let her see her sister again. An administrator at the egg marketing board had read Elsie and Winnie Rhode’s letter in which the sisters had quoted the Scriptures as explanation for canceling their membership. He might have smiled at how batty religious people could be before he filed it away. Despite the strenuous efforts the modern Brethren make to seal off their people from any contact with the outside world, how many teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, and judges are still turning a blind eye?



The Strange Case of Franklin Jones (aka Bubba Free John, Da Free John, Heart-Master Da, Da Love Ananda, Da Kalki, Da Avabhasa)


By Scott Lowe and David Lane

Walnut CA: Mt. San Antonio College, 1996








Mark Miller

May 25, 1985


Dear Friends,


This letter comes to you from someone who no longer associates with The Johannine Daist Communion (JDC), the community of Da Free John (DFJ). Of late, my friends and I have been labelled “dissidents”, and worse, by JDC’s leadership. While reading this letter it would be helpful if you could simply consider me an old friend.


I had intended to write to you long before the lawsuits and media circus began. In fact, the prospect of presenting the ideas contained in this letter is what inspired me to speak out in the first place. Please permit yourself the clear space to receive these thoughts and feelings in order to work with them as completely as possible. Given the current situation, I understand that this will not be easy for you. It certainly has been a disturbing process for me as well. However, I have been overwhelmed by the weight of my observations and feel duty bound to share them with you.


This letter is not intended to serve as the last word on DFJ or the JDC. Nor is it written to prove or establish a particular point of view. Instead, I hope that it will create a balance to the information you have received from JDC, and act as a springboard from which you may begin a long overdue reappraisal of your own feelings and presumptions. Many of you are mired in a way of life which, for myself and many other ex-members, was neither happy nor enlightening, but instead offered little more than tedium, suppression, exclusivity and debilitating dependency.


Of late, JDC has required all of you to believe that certain ex-members, as “dissidents”, are “bad” simply because criticism of DFJ and JDC is not now and never has been permitted. These people have been described as “vindictive”, “crazy”, or “liars” and some have been termed “extortionists” and “conspirators”. Apparently it is unthinkable to JDC that anyone could sincerely believe (or know) that the allegations directed at DFJ are true. But given a history of intense involvement with DFJ, do you really believe that ex-members would turn around and speak this way unless they really felt that something was wrong? From JDC’s narrow point of view, one would have to be fallen, dark, and just plain wrong to criticize their “guru”. I implore you to remain open to the possibility that your old friends are none of the above.


The author of this letter has over the past year spoken with approximately 40 ex-members who have uniquely personal and varied perceptions of DFJ and JDC. Among these people are a number of former high-ranking JDC officials and board of directors members, as well as personal and sexual intimates of DFJ. Thus the information related to the media and which appears in this letter is not based on hearsay, but on first-hand accounts, impressions, and observations by those who have had close contact with DFJ and JDC throughout the years 1968-1984. These people are honest and intelligent, have serious and sincere motives, and are each acting and speaking out of deep and personal conviction.


They are all united in the belief that accurate information, dialogue, real consideration and anything remotely like discrimination have never been offered or encouraged by DFJ or JDC. Therefore, they would like to see a free, full, and honest discussion occur. Such a discussion would benefit everyone, except for those who desire only the maintenance of their status and claim. Everyone, especially the “rank and file” JDC membership, must be set free in order to find their own true way through this controversy.


It is obvious however that as long as ex-member “dissidents” are seen as negative, dark, angry, unspiritual “others”–and “you” in JDC remain the righteous, holy lovers of god, unjustly criticized, god’s army fighting off the heathen masses and demonic media–as long as this contrived dichotomy persists there can be no clarity. If you are seriously interested in discovering the truth, you must not allow the “white knight” or “defender of the faith” within you to be manipulated. Do not permit the JDC leadership to call you to a false, childish, and simplistic understanding of this controversy. It is a complex, personal and deeply emotional matter that cannot be resolved or dismissed through name-calling and character assassination. What does the character defamation that JDC has chosen to involve itself and many of you in have to do with your avowed practice of “blessing all others”? This matter cannot be reduced to a battle between good and evil.


So, the first assumption that we would all do well to be relieved of is the sense of one side being inherently right and the other side being inherently wrong. In letting go of this basic assumption, please understand that the people you call dissidents did not create your negative media. They did not write those headlines. One woman, feeling badly hurt and mistreated, filed a lawsuit. One curious Marin investigative reporter happened to stumble upon this suit in the County Courthouse and decided to write a story. That is how all this began. Sorry, but there was no backroom conspiracy, no scheme to do anything horrible, none of the fine drama you have been led to believe.


JDC has claimed that Beverly O’Mahony’s lawsuit against them consists of fabrications and exaggerations and “was designed specifically for media consumption.” To all but the most deeply biased and misinformed observers, this would more accurately describe the lawsuit which JDC has filed. Beverly’s lawsuit was quietly filed in Marin County on March 4th, without press releases or media contact of any kind. If her suit really had been designed for the media, why would she and her lawyer have gone to all the trouble to prepare a 33 page lawsuit, and then leave it to chance that some reporter would dig it up on his own three weeks later?


Contrast this with the lawsuit filed by JDC, which was delivered along with a highly inflammatory press release directly to every newspaper covering the story. Reporters were already working away on their stories about the JDC lawsuit before anyone being sued ever even heard about it. The lawsuit is replete with sensationalized statements, many of which are pure fiction, and others which result from statements that have been placed in a context which entirely reverses their true meaning. The suit also asks for $20 million dollars. If this number was not designed to attract media attention, then what was it for? Given the fact that the “defendants” are worth closer to $20,000 than $20 million, the answer should be obvious.


The lawsuit also contains statements about individuals which, even if true, would not constitute anything other than descriptions of people fulfilling their rights and duties as citizens. Ex-members are made to be seen as involved in some kind of dark “conspiracy.” But a conspiracy to do what? Libel or slander are not even listed among JDC’s claims, perhaps because people have only spoken the truth, and we all know that truth is a defense against defamation. So what’s going on here? This suit is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate and silence those speaking out, to scare away others from talking, and to divert the attention of everyone away from the real issues involving DFJ.


Instead of encouraging an open discussion, JDC has used the same tactics that any political organization would use. They have created a “cause” for you to rally around and feel emotionally committed to and identified with, so that you won’t stare the accusations against DFJ straight in the eye. They would rather hook you into a fight to protect “the right to freely practice religion”, a right which they claim ex-members have tried to deprive you of. But in what way has anyone actually done this?


Let’s take a little closer look at the constitutional protections afforded to “religions” such as the JDC. The right to believe whatever you want is protected absolutely. However, the right to do whatever you want is not afforded the same absolute protection at all. Many of the things which DFJ has been accused of do not fall into the category of actions which are protected. Additionally, is it not reasonable as a common citizen to ask why people who have been involved in illegal activities should be granted the privilege of tax-exempt religious status, as claimed by JDC? And if, in fact, abuses of people have occurred (through actions which are commonly recognized as abuses in our society) shouldn’t the victims have a right to address them in all the forums available? How then does this amount to an attack on religious freedom?


JDC has also called the recent activities of ex-members “extortion.” However, the author of this letter has been advised by attorneys that extortion means a threat that if certain actions are not performed, such as the payment of money, then other activities, usually designed to harm the extorted party, would follow. No such threat was ever made. Offers for settlement prior to the filing of a lawsuit for alleged acts recognized as “causes of action” under the law were made in formal settings between attorneys for both ex-members and JDC. This is not extortion, but a legitimate first step as allowed in every citizen’s constitutionally protected right to petition for redress of wrongs through the legal process. It was always made clear that monetary settlement, or lack thereof, had no bearing whatsoever on other constitutionally protected actions which might be taken. The right to freely speak the truth and express legitimate opinions to anyone, including governmental agencies, the media, and other individuals is protected under the First Amendment. Any indication ex-members have made that they might do these things does not represent the violation of any law. This is also true for any other person, speaking either for or against JDC.


The months which preceded the filing of the lawsuits were filled with unsuccessful attempts by two ex-members to gain the ear of DFJ and JDC in order to sort through a variety of unresolved hurts and contradictions. Seeing that JDC had no real interest in assisting anything like an honest healing, others became stirred as to their own disgust and frustration with JDC’s haughty spiritual claims on the one hand, and its long-standing record of contemptuous treatment of its membership on the other (once again in evidence in the treatment of these two ex-members). You should know that as far back as early last November, JDC officials began to make threats against some of those merely suspected of being “dissidents” (and they have continued such behavior even during the current month).


Thus, when the media came looking for people to speak with, many were ready to express their own true and heartfelt feelings. This is honestly the way things developed. You should know that ex-members were pursued and misquoted by the press just as much as JDC was. At times their statements were not presented in the proper balance so as to form an adequate description of the whole picture of life in JDC. Everyone was just as shocked to read the headlines as you were, and would have preferred that the media undertake a more serious and complete discussion regarding DFJ and JDC, such as this letter attempts. However, many of the issues which have been expressed in the media are real ones, and the events described (other than a few mistakes by reporters) did in fact occur. In its better moments, the media has at least provided the service of creating an awareness in the general public and all of you about events whose occurrence DFJ and JDC had refused to admit. They have also provided a forum in which these events could be described and interpreted in ways that DFJ and JDC have never encouraged or even allowed.


So let’s get real and cut out the sabre-rattling and war cries. Those of you who are mindlessly involved in “advocating” the point of view of DFJ would benefit from pausing long enough to recall that, in truth, there is no fixed position to defend. What is needed is a release from positions, assumptions and battle-ready defenses so that each person can discover for him or herself just how they feel and are related to DFJ and JDC, as well as to the call to reflection and reappraisal which this letter suggests. The difficulty for many of you is that it has been so long since you entered into an examination other than one created for you by DFJ and JDC that to do so on your own and to examine “the authorities themselves” is a very difficult task indeed. And yet it must be done if there is to be any clarity or passage through this controversy.


All I ask then is that this process of unfettered examination be permitted and actually encouraged by JDC. Ask yourself how it is that you are now “advocates”, burdened by belief and fixed presumptions. Why hasn’t DFJ and JDC welcomed and seen the necessity for an open airing of issues? Why have you all been programmed and “educated” by the JDC propagandists on their way to whitewashing the so-called “JDC sacred history”? How does spiritual practice properly lead to all this manipulation and defense? Who and what is requiring that you become politicized rather than clear? And how well do you really understand that which you are being called upon to defend?


I invite you to regain the discrimination and inquisitiveness many of you have unconsciously chosen to relinquish in order to associate with DFJ and the myth he has drawn you into (both as to who he is and the necessity of turning to him for your liberation). If we assume for the moment that DFJ began his “teaching work” by speaking to our desire for liberation, apart from excess dogmatic baggage and entanglements, it is evident that he has now “moved on” and is at work merely cultivating in his students a yearning for salvation in a system where only he can do the saving.


It is on this basis that his devotees have all too often been reduced to “drones” and “believers”. Many have become willing to give up everything, including their self-respect, integrity and honesty in order to climb up the shaky ladder of “stages of practice” (which are constantly being manipulated and redefined) in order to gain “access” to DFJ, the carrot held out in front of their noses. And if we accept that DFJ’s writings carry a credible message, they do so only insofar as they release the reader into his or her own inherent sense of “being” and “truth”, free of the game of “the search”. It appears impossible for this to occur in the midst of all the medieval, dogmatic, exclusive, ritualized form beneath which direct, unmediated truth has been buried by DFJ and JDC. After all these years, where is the real evidence that any type of “spiritual process” is uniquely occurring within your community? People are just growing older. The greatness of god has been subordinated to the glory of DFJ and his hierarchical empire. Needing to be nurtured and fathered, and being naive as to true spiritual culture and to the game of spiritual authority, most of us never even noticed the light go out.


This is a large part of what ex-members are trying to address. You are part of a highly ambitious and politicized “machine of seeking” where you no longer own your own perceptions. Ideological dogma coupled with the edited information of the group dominates and molds your life. You are required to adapt to a complex, sophisticated technology of mind and emotion, through which you understand yourself and upon which you view the world; it is a hierarchical scheme with DFJ as the head, reigning above and beyond the world of man, as external savior or father. We have all been too much in need of an external mediator to serve the participation in and awareness of our own true condition. We must grow beyond the childish and incapacitating dependency bonds which are everywhere propagated by DFJ and JDC.


In many ex-members’ experience, the first doubts and questions about their lives as devotees centered around the observations they had regarding the “community” and “institution” of JDC. But they found it much harder to take the obvious next step and look directly at DFJ, the source and creator of every aspect of the “culture”, institutional structure, and spiritual life of those in JDC. These ex-members, like many of you, dared not break the great taboo of seriously questioning or doubting DFJ; either their comparative lack of in-depth or prolonged personal experience with him, or their incapacity to break through the indoctrination prevented them from seeing him clearly. But finally, in the face of what is now obvious, their relationship to the mythology and imagery which is DFJ has broken down. These people have “discovered” the man Franklin Jones, and now know that “the emperor wears no clothes.”


At this point it would be good to examine the specific activities of DFJ that many people are concerned about. Some of the information recently brought to light will be recounted here for those who are unfamiliar with what has been said, or for those who have been confused and distracted by JDC. In order to avoid sensationalism and out of respect for those involved, I have not included names nor great detail regarding the incidents cited. You might ask DFJ or others involved for such details, or review the various TV and newspaper presentations which have, and will continue to cover the JDC controversy.


To begin with, DFJ has historically had control over the finances, properties, and other assets of JDC as if he personally and solely “owned” JDC, in stark contrast to the purposes and laws governing non-profit religious organizations. He has personally made all key decisions and has gratified his every whim, caring not for the financial strains he has placed on others. There are serious questions regarding whether DFJ has over the years abused the tax-exempt status of the JDC corporation for his own personal gain. Perhaps this is why JDC officials in the past few years have strategically destroyed documents that tended to reveal that DFJ was actually “running the show.”


DFJ has always demanded that people “go beyond themselves” to give him more money than they could afford, and then has spent the money on whatever he wanted to create or consume in that moment. Like a child, he has demanded the immediate gratification of his material desires, and then has often abandoned what he has been given in search of a new and more expensive “toy”. Manner of Flowers, his extravagant but rarely used personal home in Lake County, California is certainly a case in point. In private, DFJ has laughed at those who have shown any concern about his financial exploitation of others. This is purportedly an example of the fact that DFJ is “free of conventional morality.”


While speaking against drugs and alcohol in his literature, DFJ has himself used many drugs during his years with devotees, including marijuana, hashish, peyote, psilocybin, nitrous oxide, LSD, other exotic hallucinogens more powerful than LSD, and most consistently, amyl nitrate. Did this all occur during the period of time erroneously labelled “the teaching demonstration” in 1976? Absolutely not. And DFJ has at times used drugs and alcohol to the extent of creating serious health concerns for himself. His drug and alcohol usage has continued into the 1980s.


The drug which appears to be DFJ’s favorite is amyl nitrate. This fact raises some interesting questions. If, as DFJ claims, he is a “tantric master”, who practices the transcendence of orgasm, why does he take amyl nitrate during sexual encounters? Amyl nitrate, for those unaware, is a drug which is used to intensify orgasm.


Also, DFJ has consistently failed to live the dietary disciplines that he has both espoused in his literature and required of others. There are brief periods when it appears he has lived the diet he recommends, but for the majority of the time he has not. This includes both recent years, and times past. DFJ has been a fan of junk food, meat, cigarettes, champagne, beer, liquor, caviar and fancy foods. Do you really believe him when he says his body looks the way it does because “he conducts the life force through his navel”?


DFJ has also physically beaten devotees, including his wives, to the point of causing significant physical harm to the victims and/or himself. These beatings have occurred within a timespan which includes the 1980s.


DFJ has participated in and required others to perform in sexual and related acts of a highly degrading and demeaning nature which have caused psychological and/or physical damage to those participating. JDC has recently admitted to examples of these types of activity, which many people believe are a reflection of the perversion of DFJ, rather than anything like enlightened “spiritual instruction.” DFJ also has a particularly destructive habit of having sex with other men’s wives when married couples have come to “serve” him at his hermitage. Is this a proper way to treat people who look to you for spiritual guidance? These sexual excesses of DFJ are not a thing of the distant past. In fact, each of the things which have been described in this paragraph has occurred in the 1980s. And it is the firm belief of many people that the inordinate amount of time and attention DFJ spends on sexuality reflects nothing more than his own obsession and desires.


The vast discrepancy between what DFJ claims and says, versus what he does and intends must be thoroughly examined and understood before one can make an informed response to the man. What should be clear to everyone is that no one in JDC is given the opportunity to “cast the light” directly on DFJ. Why is he so estranged and hidden from you, really? Apart from your child-like fantasies and subtle beliefs about “who he is” and “how he works”, how much and how privately have you observed him and then tested your observations? The fact is, apart from what you have read and are told, intermixed with a variety of contacts with DFJ years ago, most of you know very little about your teacher. You have therefore been called to relate to only the most superficial imagery about who DFJ is, and at the same time you have become steeped in an officially prescribed method for relating to him which permits only subservience and fawning devotion. And those of you who have been close to him should ask yourselves to what degree you own hopes, needs, and self-generated projections and expectations, coupled with the mythology about how DFJ’s “unconventional behavior” has been designed to teach you, has colored your perceptions of him. Ex-members know from their own experience that many of you are paying a heavy price in terms of emotional suppression, confusion, and self-delusion in order to maintain the false conclusion that you have actually been served by this “crazy-wise” madness.


Another disturbing matter regarding DFJ is the ritual of secrecy and deception surrounding him. Some of the things described about DFJ’s life would not in themselves be worthy of any real concern if they did not stand in complete contradiction to an idealized image which has been used to exploit the people who have supported the whole affair. For years, many of you have been told that DFJ’s abusive behavior, undertaken in order to “teach” people, ended after a brief period in 1976. He then allegedly became involved in a life of prayer, spiritual discipline, contemplation and renunciation. It was on the basis of this lie that so many accepted the notion that his past behavior was in fact a “teaching demonstration”, and went on to give their lives, minds, hearts, and money to this man. However, upon discovering this deception, many were understandably outraged. According to recent statements by JDC to the press, all of you have been lied to because you are not spiritually mature enough to hear the truth. However, you are most certainly spiritually advanced enough to surrender you life, money, and trust in order to provide a life of luxury and delusion for DFJ, his nine wives, and those closest to him. What kind of logic is this? What utter arrogance and contempt! The obnoxious nature of this deception is surpassed only by the fact that when it could no longer be maintained, DFJ had the nerve to blame others in JDC for creating it.


You may ask yourself why those who know all of these secrets have always withheld them from you. But we already know the answer. How glamorous to be associated with the ultimate matter and the ultimate master! But what a conceit and what a foundation for the pursuit of power. Through the screening mechanisms of the so-called “culture”, only the few “mature” or “committed” members are given access to DFJ based upon a paranoid and patriarchal mentality of obedience. The demonstrated signs of your “maturity” (i.e. submission and obedience) gauge the level of your “status” and regulated, controlled access to events, places and people on the political (not spiritual but political) pecking order. Only people who are “trustable” (sufficiently indoctrinated) are allowed to get a glimpse of the “crazy wise man” up close, otherwise the truth might leak out.


It would also be worthwhile for you to take a critical look at what is really meant by the superficial references to the “Crazy Wisdom Tradition” concocted by the official JDC apologists on behalf of the “mad avadhoot.” As if the fact that such a “tradition” really did exist for abusive activities would somehow make them legitimate. We already have “traditions” for war, tyranny, racism, and the subjugation of women. Must we now add “crazy wisdom” to the list? The attempt to lend spiritual legitimacy to DFJ’s aberrated, unloving, and destructive behavior is a travesty. His character flaws bear no relationship to Nityananda’s nakedness in the public square. Do you really believe that DFJ’s particular form of emotional and sexual exploitation has any precedent in the annals of legitimate spirituality? No one I have talked to has been able to find any historical accounts of a genuine spiritual master who has acted this way.


Many ex-members no longer accept the guilt-ridden pap that it is the immaturity of his devotees which is killing DFJ, when they know that it is much more surely his own chronically abusive and toxifying life-habits which threaten the man. DFJ’s behavior is a reflection of his own character and motivations, just like everyone else’s, and he should rightfully take responsibility for the problems his shortcomings have created in his own life and the lives of others. He is anything but free of ego. He has his own strengths and weaknesses. Yet through the process of indoctrination and manipulation, coupled with the weaknesses of those around him, he has been successful at keeping himself invulnerable and unquestioned. In so doing, he has become afflicted in all the ways that any man would be corrupted and deluded by excessive power and isolation from critical feedback. He has also thus imprisoned himself within the expectations he created in others and the torment of pretending to be something he is not. Faced with such a creation, it is no accident that DFJ began to create a peculiar ideology in which he described himself as a “crazy-wise avadhoot.” In this way he has allowed himself a “safety valve” wherein his aberrations could coincide with his purported divinity. Otherwise, he would have exploded long ago from the psychological pressure of attempting to appear to be a superior spiritual being.


On top of all of this, DFJ has also chosen to physically separate himself to insure the maintenance of this myth of his superiority. He has simply taken whatever he wanted and gone off to create his own little fantasy kingdom, apart from his “friends and devotees”, who have provided him with everything, and apart from a “world” that he has never been able to deal with, and from which he has always tried to escape. People no longer accept that if you give him everything, you will receive everything in return, for it is obvious that in “his plan”, only he will have and be “everything.” Is this not the epitome of “Narcissus”?


Nor is it any longer accepted that “the world” is a terrible place full of terrible people, and that spiritual life ends when one leaves JDC. People now know better than to become ensnared in the tentacles of this argument. And where there was only “one” worthy of love and respect, all others became unworthy and worthless. This is what happened in JDC, for as we were all divested of our own self-worth and simultaneously invested in DFJ, we were rendered nothing rather than “no-thing.” Can you feel this?


We have all (current and ex-members), along with DFJ, cooperated in constructing this insane empire. It is a classic and perverted play on what might have been. And it is nothing like what most of us signed up for or thought we were choosing. But so long as you are exposed to the “system” which life in JDC represents, there is no space within which to understand this and be set free.


We are all now painfully aware of the pitfalls of anyone presuming that he or she is somehow responsible for the life process of “lesser souls.” Please do not state that DFJ says this or that about not being able to relieve anyone of their responsibility in and for life. He says everything and in so doing says nothing. One is only left with confusion and disorientation if one seriously contemplates all of the contradictions and “paradoxes” of DFJ represented in the mass of literature and descriptions of “practice” which have been espoused at one time or another by him. And since all “experiences”, “relations”, and your “independent reactions” are systematically criticized, DFJ becomes your sole and ultimate point of reference and support system. Even those responsible for communicating “the teaching” to the membership over the years admitted they had no idea what the teaching really was or what the practice really was. All that could ultimately be recommended was to somehow “turn to the master and do exactly what he has asked.” And it is on that basis that what DFJ has created is essentially a “cult of personality.”


It is also on that basis that those who serve critical functions in your “culture” adapt to a profoundly dependent form of relating to DFJ and a resulting righteous, exclusive, self-glorifying, self-protective and politically charged “life of service.” You are all aware of the institutional mentality of those who lead you at JDC. They are part of a machine and priesthood of aberrated spiritual seeking and corruption, an exclusive club, reigning in association with the “enlightened” source or “goodie” who is offered as a reward to those giving over their center, discrimination, and direct unmediated ability to live the truth of their own condition. In this process many of you have lost yourselves, your power and your way. And for DFJ to hide behind a claim of “blamelessness and divinity” while placing all the blame on the immaturity of his devotees, those very people who depend on him for their spiritual guidance, is not only irresponsible and cowardly, but the perfect vision of a perfectly narcissistic megalomaniac. Surely there was a time before you came to JDC where you could have simply recognized this to be so.


But can you now? It is so hard from where you are. I know, for it has taken many people years, even after leaving JDC, to wake up from the sleep which had settled into every corner of their mind’s eye. Although discrimination is spoken about in the teaching, it is nowhere present in the lives of devotees. Many of you have, through non-use, lost your own personal, instinctual feeling for life, having been conditioned to believe that it represents recoil from the divine. You have become good at obeying without reflection. Your blank agreement is applauded as “equanimity” and the transcendence of reactivity.


Those who are in the JDC hierarchy have the most to lose. And they are among the most corrupt and in need of help. These people are relieved of the ordinary responsibilities of life and live instead a bizarre fantasy life. To do the bidding of their teacher they have become proficient at selectively withholding and releasing edited information, and have made the poor choice of abandoning their native sense of human decency in exchange for power and prestige.


Many of these same people are the most seriously ambitious in their “search.” It is as if they have not yet adapted to the rudiments of the practice as it relates to the “search” and yet are influential simply because they are “submitted.” Having made such a heavy investment of time and energy in gaining their status and position, they are now banking on their “personal” relationship with DFJ to save them. In this way there is a tremendous amount of manipulation around the poles of hope and fear. You spin and turn but rarely find a seat from which to observe the play. The ideology and belief that you are blessed with “the ultimate truth and the maha-siddha” fuels the madness. The shocking news that thousands of people see this “master” of yours as a tyrannical and deluded power broker never quite reaches your ears or cannot penetrate your rehearsed belief.


When finally pressed up against this blunt observation from “the world” outside, you hold up “the teaching” like a crucifix to stave off the heathen hordes. You retreat into the “certainty” that nothing like “the teaching” could ever have been written by a charlatan. But many believe that DFJ’s, or anyone else’s ability to artfully synthesize, categorize, and recapitulate ideas and insights does not bear any necessary relation to spiritual realization and maturity. Aside from his particular style of presentation and arrangement of things, there is nothing uniquely described in DFJ’s literature that does not appear elsewhere. And through his familiarity with literally thousands of volumes of spiritual writings, he has borrowed from or been heavily influenced by numerous others to whom he has given no credit at all. The fact that he has been able to articulate the free and transcendent relationship to life that we all instinctively feel in moments, coupled with the fact that he writes and speaks about many things which are beyond the realm of your personal experience, is offered as “proof” that he is spiritually superior to you.


Many of you have apparently forgotten the simple truth that actions speak louder than words, and that insights which are not practiced are meaningless, if not dangerous. Your distraction with a complexity of abstractions and a sophisticated, “pre-packaged” context within which to interpret everything has left you “incapable of seeing the forest for the trees.” “By their fruits shall ye know them”, said one spiritual teacher nearly 2,000 years ago. And it is on this basis that each one of us must draw our own conclusions regarding the spiritual status of Da Free John.


I am so glad to no longer be where many of you are, and I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you why. In many respects it would have been far easier to write this entire matter off as just another set of experiences. But I have felt too much passion and serious caring to have made that choice.


Should any of you meander out beyond the fences and psychological barriers of JDC, you will find that there is “unavoidably” only god outside your temple walls. Your spiritual life may change in form, but it will continue. And there are many people who have been through what you have experienced and can thus offer help. Many have needed and received support in order to make the critical transition back to a measure of self-respectability.


Therefore, many ex-members are happy to offer support to anyone wanting to climb out from beneath the astral fog. They are not however in the recruiting business, and are not any type of organization dedicated to any purpose; merely a number of old friends willing to lend a hand. Please understand that I do not want to debate or confront any of you. The consideration this letter hopefully sparks in you should primarily occur amongst yourselves, including DFJ personally, the so-called “renunciate order”, and the entire JDC hierarchy. On the other hand, should you ever wish to communicate about anything discussed here, in confidence or otherwise, I would welcome your letters. I can also direct you to books and to other people who can assist during the initial period of re-orientation to what can be “an ordinary pleasurable life”, free of exaggerated dependency, concern for spiritual attainment, and the ensnaring arguments for living in submission to someone who controls your root fiber but does not love you.


It would have been preferable for all of you to have done the work of provoking this discussion. But I understand why this could not be so and trust that you will soon recognize the benefits which will ultimately come from what has been started. If in the end there is a bit more openness and honesty in JDC, a degree of self-critical inspection, or a drop less arrogance and exclusivity on the part of Da Free John, we will have all been served. I wish you well and look forward to hearing from you.



Mark D. Miller

Sausalito, California USA Da/Archive1#Why Adidam settled the lawsuits and for how much



From his Introduction to Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Len Oakes, NY 1997


    When a superior intellect and a psychopathic temperament coalesce – as in the endless permutations and combinations of human faculty they are bound to coalesce often enough – in the same individual, we have the best possible condition for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical dictionaries. Such men do not remain mere critics and understanders with their intellect. Their ideas possess them, they inflict them, for bettor or for worse, upon their companions or their age.


~ William James, Varieties of Religious Experience


All cultures have their heroes, and no hero is more mysterious, or more extraordinary, than God’s messenger — the prophet. Whether called messiahs or saviors, gurus or avatars, such figures continue to fascinate us, whether for their truths or their absurdities, for the adulation of their followers or the hatred of their enemies. Hardly a week goes by without some bizarre or sensational item appearing in the media about a wild-eyed preacher or an exotic cult coming into conflict with the authorities; the public appetite for such stories is endless.
    It is strange, therefore, that we know so little about such figures. While there are biographies of individual leaders, there are few studies of revolutionary religious leaders as a group or as a personality type. Prophets appear suddenly, as if from nowhere, and take the world by surprise; we seem unable to pigeonhole them, to ignore them, or even to describe them other than in superficial ways.


. . . They are not beset by the fears, shame, and guilt that limit others. This in turn makes them especially attractive because of the “infectiousness of the unconflicted personality” (Redl 1942). Their energy flows freely and feeds their enormous self-confidence.
    The grandiose self-confidence of charismatic leaders is legendary. It shows in their claims to special powers as God’s Son or His chosen messenger, or whatever.


    This grandiosity underlies the optimism and positivity of prophets. Even those preaching the end of the world usually describe it as a time of glorious salvation when sinners will be punished. A fearlessness goes along with this confidence that makes everything they say seem authoritative. Yet this may cause problems; their confidence may become a kind of mania, a defensive certainty that is unable to question. Delusions of omnipotence and refusal to compromise or hear criticisms may appear as a dogmatic need always to be right and an inability to admit error, to apologize, or to recognize the hurtful effects their behaviors have on others. Such leaders are difficult to work with because they must always get their own way. They may not harbor evil motives; it is just that they genuinely cannot see that others have an equal claim in life. For the grandiosity of the prophet is in part a blindness to others, and a fixation on a revolutionary vision.
    The prophet has a message that comes to dominate . . . as one of the leaders of the study said, “I’ve become the message now.” This vision is opposed to convention and is focused on ultimate concerns and the reordering of the world. Hence it often leads the prophet into conflict with the law. David “Moses” Berg, founder of the Children of God, is a “last days” prophet. His revelation contains the message that in this end time the faithful are free from the restraints of the law. In the early years of his mission, his followers lived like gypsies and were forbidden to hold secular jobs. Berg proclaimed, “If the truth kills, let it kill.” Sexual inhibitions were loosened, and members offered sex to potential converts. Eventually Berg was accused by his daughter of incest and forced to flee to Europe. He is, it seems, driven by his vision to the extent that all else, perhaps even survival itself, is of secondary importance to him. Because of his vision, his followers have suffered greatly, yet he retains their loyalty through his inspirational rhetoric.
    The rhetorical skill of charismatic prophets can be phenomenal. Benjamin Franklin was once obliged to attend the service of a tent revivalist of whom he was deeply suspicious. Yet such was the inspirational power of the preacher that when the collection plate was passed, Franklin eagerly emptied his pockets into it. Of course rhetoric may be used for good or evil purposes, but when it is used by a prophet, certain themes tend to recur. These include the use of moral absolutes to amplify a sense of crisis in which the sinfulness of the world is described in absolute terms, while relative terms are used to describe the leader’s work; as one leader in the study said, “This world is evil. It is of the Devil. Here we try to live God’s will. We’re not perfect but we do our best. We do okay, really.” The prophet also may imply that he has been to the depths of and the heights of the moral universe; has glimpsed heaven and hell — however these are defined — and returned with privileged insight.
    And every prophet’s message contains two parts. The first or “negative revelation” is an account of all that is bad in the world and of the road to hell. “Positive revelation” describes the path to salvation and the prophet’s special role as guide. Deep human wants for unconditional love and life after death are implied to lie within the grasp of the faithful. Moral guidelines for successful living are embedded along with answers to existential questions such as “Who am I?” Such a heady brew may the rhetoric become that the prophet also may fall under its spell, believing his own propaganda and alienating his friends and family with a compulsive fanaticism. Such leaders appear to be “on stage” the entire time, seeming to derive sustenance from endlessly repeating their own rhetoric, which has become for them a “beautiful lie you can live in” (Rapp 1972). At such moments they may seem quite grotesque, but they are saved from total loss of credibility by their extreme manipulativeness.
    The prophet’s manipulative skills are acquired over many years of practice and are highly refined. At a personal level he can be charming and warm, speaking frankly but supportively. Prophets have an unpredictability that is exciting. They use the extremes of their personalities to gently keep others off guard; for instance, in the years I knew one leader, he was only once heard to tell an off-color joke, but it was one of the most offensive I have ever heard, and it was told not for a belly laugh but with a teasing smile. Prophets are natural actors, with the odd corollary that when they publicly try acting, their performance may be uncharacteristically hammy or wooden. The leader appears sensitive and concerned, usually remembering the names of people he has met; others find him nourishing to be around. Yet the leader astutely registers the needs and vulnerabilities of the people he meets, subtly implying that he can fulfill these needs. The cult is set up (at least in part) to satisfy the wants and exploit the vulnerabilities of the followers, who find, once they have joined, that it is hard to challenge the leader. . .
    The prophet communicates very early that there are topics that are taboo for discussion. These include his need to control others and the dependency and hero worship that are encouraged. Yes-men (or, more frequently, yes-women) are installed in key positions in the group; they will be demoted if their affections lapse. The prophet may collectivize guilt by implying, as apostates of Stephen Gaskin of the Farm put it, that unless the followers work and sacrifice for the great vision, the movement — perhaps the whole world — is doomed. Two leaders in this study gave striking examples of this, one by stating that “anyone here who is not all the way happy is actively sabotaging the whole group,” and the other by telling his followers that “To the degree that you do not love any person here, you are refusing to love everyone, including me, for we are all one.” The leader may also claim to have a unique quality of love that the followers need for their salvation and that they could never find elsewhere; Jim Jones and Charles Manson used this ploy to mesmerize recruits (Lindholm 1990).
    The prophet’s organization abounds with mechanisms that disempower the followers, as the books by Stewart Lamont and Kate Strelley show for the Scientology and Rajneesh movements (Lamont 1986; Strelley and San Souci 1987). The leader never acknowledges this manipulativeness and, when it is pointed out, may bluster and deny any ill effects. To the inner circle the prophet may be quite frank about some motives, but to the world beyond and to most of the followers he is aloof.
    . . .sees himself as above his charges in the way a lion tamer is above his beasts; they may turn on him from time to time in misguided rebellion, but he is not like them. There is a subtle difference and a great strength.
    Prophets go to great lengths to prove their strength . . .



ton2uAugust 9, 2015


Though difficult to recognize when you’re in the cult, after you step outside of cult programming, its use of mind-control techniques becomes all too obvious.


For example the “eternal damnation” meme is already deeply embedded in the collective psyche of “western” (judeo-christian and including muslim) cultures. This idea is a control mechanism that’s been used by religions for hundreds of years – along with belief that the only way to avoid damnation is to adhere to the religion and to follow its dictates. burton adopts and uses this idea with the threat of one’s soul “going to the moon” should you “lose” the school – it’s the “4th way” equivalent of “eternal damnation.”


Another mind-control technique has to do with the nature of burton’s numerous false prophecies, there’s always a prediction of some cataclysmic event hanging in the air, threatening all those who are not part of his “school.”


Whether the “prophecies” are true or false isn’t the point, nor the effect…. these “prophecies” are simply designed to scare those who are fooled into believing.


Psychological fear tactics act as part of the invisible fence which keeps the “flock” in their pen.





“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves…”  Matthew 7:15





Peter 2:12-14 The Message (MSG)


These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They’re so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They’re obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they’re experts at it. Dead souls!



From Essential Sufism, edited by James Fadiman and Robert Frager, 1997


Chapter 4: The Lower Self  (excerpts)


The lower self is continually subject to notions and whims, both in word and deed. Its movements are arbitrary and unreliable; it is in a hurry to fulfill its desires, acting precipitously. Certain sages have likened it, in its fickleness, to a ball rolling giddily down a slope.


However much the lower self makes a show of virtue and attempts to conceal vice, the latter will be hidden only from the shortsighted and the naive, never from those with insight. It is like a hideous old hag who bedecks herself in fancy, dazzling clothes.


The lower self is constantly preoccupied with the virtues of its attributes, contemplating its states with contentment and reverence. It considers important the least thing it has done for anyone, remembering it for years afterward, being overwhelmed by its own kindness. Yet however great the favors others do for it, it places no importance on them, forgetting them quickly. If, by any chance, the lower self should succeed in attaining what it wants, it will still not be satisfied.


The lower self always wants people to obey moral precepts only as it expounds them, to love it more than anything else.


In most situations, the outward aspect of the lower self differs from the inward. It praises people in their presence, feigning honesty to their face, while in their absence it does the opposite.


The lower self is obsessed with presenting itself in ways that gain the good opinion of others. This results in its increase of possessions and pride in them, as well as arrogance, self-importance, and contempt. It avoids or ignores whatever people disapprove of, even though these things might please God.




One of the latent vices and secret maladies of the lower self is its love of praise. It continually enjoins a person to put on pretensions, so that people will compliment it. Indeed, there are many worshipers and ascetics who are thus controlled by the lower self.




Those who are controlled by the lower self must serve it; those who control the lower self serve others.




I saw my lower self in the form of a rat. I asked, “Who are you?” It replied, “I am the destruction of the heedless, for I incite them to wickedness. I am the salvation of the friends of God, for if it were not for me, they would be proud of their purity and their actions. When they see me in themselves, all their pride disappears.”




Whatever possessions and objects of its desires the lower self may obtain, it hangs onto them, refusing to let them go out of greed for more, or out of fear of poverty and need.


The lower self does not want anyone to receive anything from anyone else; and if it is aware of someone receiving a special boon, it seeks to destroy it.


A so-called dragon hunter went to the mountains to trap a dragon. He searched the mountains and finally discovered the frozen body of a great dragon in a cave high up one of the tallest peaks. The man brought the body to Baghdad. He claimed he slew the dragon single-handed and exhibited it on the bank of the river. Hundreds of people came to see the dragon. The warmth of the Baghdad sun gradually warmed the dragon’s body, and it began to stir, coming slowly out of its winter sleep. The people screamed and stampeded, and many were killed. The dragon hunter was frozen in fear, and the dragon ate him in a single gulp.
    Your lower self is that dragon, a savage, bloody tyrant.
    It is not dead, merely frozen.
    Keep your dragon in the snow of self-discipline.
    Do not transport it to the sunshine of Baghdad.
    Let that dragon of yours remain dormant.
    Should it be released, it will devour you.




The lower self is like a thief who sneaks into your house at night to steal whatever is valuable and worthwhile. You cannot fight this thief directly, because it will mirror whatever force you bring against it. If you have a gun, the thief will also have a gun. If you have a knife, the thief will have a knife as well. To struggle with the thief is to invite disaster. So, what can you do?
    The only practical solution is to turn on the light. The thief, who is a coward at heart, will then run out. How do we turn on the light? Through the practice of remembrance, awareness, and heedfulness.


 Sheikh Tosun Bayrak



TO NAME SOMETHING CORRECTLY gives us a certain amount of power over it. Through its name we identify it. We are powerless over a disease until we can accurately name it.


We cannot even begin to deal with a disease until we identify it. . . The treatment of an illness begins with its diagnosis. But is evil an illness?


~ Dr. M. Scott Peck, People of The Lie: The Hope of Healing Human Evil



Is The Root of Evil the Psychopathic Mind?


By Randall Clifford – May 30, 2012



26. Golden VeilFebruary 9, 2018


The Fine Art of Baloney Detection by Carl Sagan


Useful for anyone with an intellectual bent, whose life is steered at all by Robert Burton and his crew – rather than be self-determined.



59. Insider March 3, 2018


Why Robert Burton will not, cannot, ever change:


Like many personality traits, psychopathy is a spectrum. About 1-2% of men and 0.3-0.7% of women in the general population are estimated to be true psychopaths, but for the rest of us, we fall on the scale somewhere lower down.


People who experience psychopathic traits, such as ruthlessness, charisma, impulsivity, and persuasiveness, tend to get through life just fine. Even full-blown psychopaths can be very successful — they just won’t ever be the same as everyone else.


What sets a true psychopath apart from the rest of the population is a lack of empathy. They will never be able to sympathise with someone else’s feelings, or care that someone else is suffering while they thrive. In fact, sometimes a psychopath will enjoy feeling superior while they cause chaos for other people.


Lacking empathy isn’t a problem for a psychopath, and they won’t ever believe there’s anything wrong with them. By this logic, if you’re ever worried about being a psychopath, that means you cannot be one.


It also means a true psychopath can never be “cured.” “From what I’ve read, what I’ve heard, what I’ve seen and experienced so far, people with dark triad personality disorders cannot and will not change,” said Perpetua Neo, a doctor of psychology and therapist, in an earlier article for Business Insider.


She added that people with these traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy — are usually good at pretending to be something they are not. For example, even if they were coerced into going to therapy, they would be able to manipulate and trick their therapists.


“They orchestrate this show, put on a false self in front of the therapist, and they know how to push the buttons of their partner, so their partner looks extremely unstable in these situations,” Neo said. “The therapist may collude unknowingly with the dark triad person against the partner who really has been the one suffering.”


A paper by Nigel Blackwood, a forensic psychiatrist at King’s College London, explains that psychopaths do not fear punishment or social stigmatisation. They don’t feel the need to fit into social norms, so expectations of society have no impact on their behaviour.


This is why, if they are convicted of crimes, the punishment seems to have no impact on them. As a result, Blackwood explains, it’s incredibly hard to rehabilitate an adult psychopath in prison.


Reward-based treatment, such as giving them their favourite food or video games if they behave, is considered the best course to manage psychopaths who are incarcerated. But even by keeping them calm, this is a means of control, not a cure.


Not all psychopaths will become criminals, and many will get through life without anyone knowing what they are. But whether they end up causing trouble or not, there’s no evidence their personality will ever change.



60. John HarmerMarch 3, 2018


Just saw this article about James Levine. It struck me as very reminiscent of the situation Burton created for himself. In this case there was no totalitarian magical spirit system being used to enforce the cult-like position of the leader, so it seems that Burton’s set-up was and is founded on Burton’s own domineering personality rather than the misuse of the Gurdjieff system. I had previously been of the opinion that it was a characteristic of the ideology, and that nearly all religious closed groups would end up as a personality cult, but maybe it is more the man or woman at the top.



75. Golden VeilMarch 22, 2018


There is a new, 6-part documentary on Netflix about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as Osho, whose teachings became meaningful to some former Fellowship of Friends students.


Here, a review and the trailer.



82. NevasaynevaMarch 23, 2018


Re: 77. Trenchant


“What did we think we were joining?”
“What attracted us towards furtherance in the FOF?”
“What became too difficult for us to bear (seeing ourselves)?”


These are fair questions.


For myself, it is good not to beat myself up too bad for having fallen for FOF. In hindsight, which is always excellent, I was foolish, naive, and most of all lacked a strong sense of my own self. FOF provided an answer to all these issues, a strong appeal to vanity of course, some international sprinklings of glamour and etc etc, most of all I was young — early 20’s – the classic time to be caught.


These questions remind me of the article by the Ouspensky follower Marie Seton. She does point out that it is not all that unusual to fall for a guru and get further and further ensnared, until at last one does begin to take a critical stance towards one’s involvement and support of the organization. seton case-of-pdo 2004-07-04.pdf


“What became too difficult for us to bear (seeing ourselves)?”


This is at least for me your most difficult and interesting question. In my last years in FOF, I did not like the sort of person I was becoming – cynical, jaded, sort of peripheral. LOL FOF oldie timers maybe would see that I was seeing myself the way I really was and I just could not bear it!


But I was happier after I left, more clean.


The world for sure is a more stark, colder brutal universe than the cotton candy universe offered by FOF.


But it is what it is.



83. Golden Veil March 24, 2018


Whether it be the teacher of an esoteric school, a rabbi or Christian minister, etc. all these “leaders” seem to want others to buy into their dream – and pay for it. If the form and timing just happens to be right, it appears that almost anyone can get bamboozled into joining a cult. Holy Smoke Movie Clip – Indian Guru Baba (1999)



85. ton2u March 25, 2018


The documentary Wild Wild Country about the Rajneesh cult is worth a look-see… but the feeling here is, even though it’s almost 6 hours worth of viewing, much is left out of the narrative…. curiosity piqued, I did a little additional research….


“…Rajneesh became an anti-theist, took an interest in hypnosis…


Sannyasins who had ‘graduated’ from months of meditation and therapy could apply to work in the ashram, in an environment that was consciously modeled on the community the Russian mystic Gurdjieff led in France in the 1930s. Key features incorporated from Gurdjieff were hard, unpaid work, and supervisors chosen for their abrasive personality, both designed to provoke opportunities for self-observation and transcendence.”



101. Golden Veil April 2, 2018


Two scientist ladies in the rural South ponder Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Podcast on January 6, 2018


“A winery, olive oil, and a creepy old man guide members through the fourth way…it’s not the start of a bad joke but our episode on Fellowship of Friends.”


About One True Way ~


“Have you ever been curious about cults but were afraid to ask because of the social taboo? Well, we sit down and answer as many questions as we can about a different group each episode. We’re not experts, we’re actual scientists.”


Jodi and Jess are both scientists. Between the two of them, they have degrees in all of the hard sciences: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. They both currently work in academia and live on a small family farm in the rural South.



The folksy commentary by Jodi and Jess gets heatedly critical near its end. I don’t know who they interviewed, but notwithstanding their “scientific” mindsets, it’s a pity they didn’t see evidence of the sex abuse lawsuit that was settled out of court by at least one underage male member. I had never heard of REB’s own, rather unimpressive website until listening to the podcast.



From Awaken In The Dream

By Paul Levy


Are we humans terminally insane or just waking up?


How does anyone possibly express in words the state of collective madness that humanity has fallen into at this time in our history? As if in a hypnotic trance, our species is enacting a mass ritual suicide on a global scale, rushing as fast as we can towards our own self-destruction. We are destroying the biospheric life-support systems of the planet in so many different ways that it is as if we are determined to make this suicide attempt work—using a variety of methods as a perverse insurance policy, in case a couple of them don’t do the job. What modern-day humanity is confronted with, to quote the author and Trappist monk Thomas Merton, is “a crisis of sanity first of all.”


In trying to find a way to write about this state of affairs, I find myself going “off-planet,” imagining what it would look like if some enlightened aliens, in their travels throughout the universe, came upon our planet. Observing from a distance, they would naturally see all the various living beings who call planet earth home as related members of one larger organism—a single eco-system—who literally depend upon each other for survival. From this vantage point, I imagine, they would be utterly baffled at why human beings—the seemingly most intelligent species ever to appear on planet earth—are acting out their destructive impulses practically without restraint in every corner of the globe. Contemplating the state of humanity, I imagine these awakened beings wondering, “What in the world has gotten into them?”


I imagine these illumined aliens, in agreement with Merton, would quickly conclude that human beings had become afflicted with some sort of psychological illness, a disease of the mind and soul that has caused us to turn on ourselves in self-and-other destruction. Apparently in a “fallen state,” we have lost our way, become disoriented, and, in our confusion, become quite deranged. It is as if our collective madness is so overwhelming—and by now so familiar and so normalized—that most of us, its sufferers, have no idea how to even think about it, let alone how to deal with it. Not knowing what to do, many of us inwardly dissociate—which only exacerbates the collective madness—and in our fragmented and disempowered state go about our lives in a numbed-out, zombie-like trance, making the best of what seems to be a bad situation.


The question naturally arises: how would these enlightened beings conspire with us to help wake us up? We can only imagine. For our part, it seems essential that we ask questions such as: what is the nature of this madness, and how can it be consciously engaged so that humanity can get back on the right track?


Seen as an organism, there is a systemic psycho-spiritual disease that has infected the whole body politic of humanity. At present we are having an acute—and potentially deadly—inflammation of this illness. As with any disease, in order to cure the pathology that ails us we must come up with the right diagnosis. Under the present circumstances, it is a healthy response for us to have an appropriate level of alarm. If we aren’t “alarmed” at what is happening in our world, we are still sleeping. . .



THE POINT OF THINKING WELL is to become more conscious, which in turn, is a prerequisite for solving problems . . . But what is consciousness?

  ~ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled and Beyond



Conscious or Awake Existence


Being conscious means to respond to every situation as it is, not as it appears to be, not as one wishes it to be, not as if it were another, similar situation.


 ~ Fadiman & Frager, Personality and Personal Growth (college textbook)



When you see a situation you cannot understand, look for the financial interest.

 ~ Kenneth L. Grooms 



The Self-help Industry Helps Itself to Billions of Dollars


“but. . .seriously”


Jeff Lieberman chronicles the unique role of the stand up comic as

critic/commentator/lampooner of social and political events ranging

from the early 1960s to the ’90s 


Maria Bamford – Comedy Central Presents Cults


How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) with JP Sears


Frank Zappa: Cosmik Debris 


Vikram Gandhi – The true story of a false prophet – INKtalks


Sam Harris on the dangers of gurus and cults


Jehovah’s Witnesses and Other Cults 


Richard DawkinsEnemies of ReasonSlaves to Superstition 


5 Ways Growing Up Inside Scientology Was A Nightmare


Rachel Bernstein – Narcissists and Cult Leaders: Are You Being Controlled by One?


Shahida Arabi – 5 Qualities Malignant Narcissists Look For In Their Victims And How They Use Them Against You


Pathological NarcissismFried Green Tomatoes online Resource for Victims of Psychopaths and Narcissists