About EnlightenNext: another Mass-based cult …

This fascinating video documentary, produced by The Atlantic, not only interviews ex-members of now defunct cult EnlightenNext, but Andrew Cohen, ex-leader, who called his “teaching”, “evolutionary enlightenment”.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult

Interestingly, Cohen sat down with The Atlantic and admitted that his ego took the wheel; he says that he’s apologizing to ex-members. Is it possible that an ex-cult leader could sincerely be taking responsibility for the damage he inflicted? In this particular interview he can’t bring himself to admit to hurting others; but he does say he’s traveling the world to ” … sit down with people who feel that they’ve been hurt.”

In turn, the ex-members interviewed spoke, without blame or vitriol, about mystical experiences, glimpses into cosmic knowledge, experiences of a hypnotic state, thousands of hours prostrating themselves and repeating the following phrases:

To be free is to know nothing …

To be free is to be no one …

To be free is to have nothing …

…and worshiping a picture of Andrew, i.e. “God”.

Cohen describes a bit about his own spiritual search and the teaching that he claims “unfolded” when people started to follow him. He describes how he started to believe his personal feelings were “objective truths”. He admits to making “a lot of mistakes.”

One ex-member describes the exit process this way: ” … it’s got to feel like coming out of prison and entering the world again … everything was amazing.”

Both ex-members, and ex-leader, admit that they don’t really understand what unfolded.

I admit that I am dubious of Mr. Cohen’s apologies as sincere. But it is this type of dialogue that will shed light on this bizarre and damaging phenomenon called cults. I hope that he is – in fact – able to take responsibility for his hurtful, ego-driven, actions. Maybe Cohen can begin contributing to healing, reconciliation and solutions. In the meantime, though, this video is a start and a worthwhile 20-minute viewing.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult


Recruitment reports and those who thrive after leaving …

I love fall and it’s feeling like fall, here in the Boston area. So happy almost fall and … I want to quickly address a few things:

1) first and foremost, thank those who contributed to the crowdfunding for Cult Confessions: the CD! I now have enough $$$, to finish the recording and producing and get this thing out.

2) I will be piloting Cult Confessions: the Presentation! for feedback, discussion & suggestions on 12/11. Please let me know if you’re interested in attending the pilot run.

3) a fellow evil “disgruntled ex-student” observed  “school” recruitment activity in Central Square, Cambridge recently — just a couple of essence friends, out to “make new friends”, probably hanging out in front of 7 Stars Bookstore, accosting random people on the street with some kind of “book project”, or such. We don’t know the details, but I’m sure it’s just another version of the same old tactic: fabricate a reason to engage a stranger in conversation. Pretend like you’ve just met a “new friend” and obtain contact info … pursue, patiently. Anyway, Boston-branch “disgruntled(s)” might want to be on the lookout.

4) A fellow “disgruntled” & “ex-classmate” told me recently that he plans on spending Christmas in Paris, France. I said, “What a shame when you could be in Billerica, planning a Christmas party! Finding Robert the perfect chair; ignoring your family, while you squeeze Christmas party plan and prep into every moment in between work & ‘class’, to the detriment of everything else.”

When we left the hallowed halls, we ruined our lives! I could be cleaning houses, scrambling around on a never-ending job search, failing as a barista and getting divorced right now. Instead, my marriage is intact; I’m recording a CD, writing a book, loving my work & life. What a shame. Did I say what a shame, yet?

I would really love to hear other stories of such post-“school” doom & gloom … what happened to you when you cut yourself off from “the source”?
Most of the ex-“students” I know started to thrive. That’s not to say it has been easy; but it is to say that we “needed ‘school'” like we need a bullet in the head.

Ok, done now. Thanks for reading and I wish you a happy Friday! GSR

Crowdfunding … the Wrap Up!

cult_conf_video_imageGood Morning, Cult Confessions: The CD!!! Supporters: Thanks to your generosity, this campaign garnered $5415!!! That’s definitely enough to finish the CD project!  Thanks so much for contributing and cheer leading and sharing and encouraging – I appreciate it very much!!! 🙂

I admit, I often think I must be crazy for donning ex-member poster child cape. One purpose of this project is to counter the stigma, the victim blame and shame that comes with admitting the dreaded cult membership. It keeps people silent and I see that silence as damaging in many ways — for individuals and for families and communities. Luckily, my particular experience provides lots of opportunity for snarky and sarcastic humor — and I love snark!

On a more serious note, I’m committed to exposing this bizarre, societal phenomenon and blight. I’m lucky — I left the little cult called “school” before anything terrible, or irreversible, happened. Many people aren’t so lucky.

Three practical things to wrap up:

1) If you donated w/o ordering a perk, but want a copy of Eve’s Lament, my first record, please email a mailing address to gsr@cultconfessions.com. I will send.

2) If you are interested in attending the pilot run of Cult Confessions on 10/16 (I will confirm date once venue verifies final approval) please let me know!

3) If you want the whole illustrious tale, visit the My Story page.

Thank you, again!!! Happy almost fall, Esther

Cult Confessions: The CD!!! Crowdfunding Update

Here’s the scoop: 2 days, $1215 to go … is that possible??? The good news, looks like Sunday, 10/16 will be the next pilot run of Cult Confessions – I will confirm, asap. Anything you can kick in will serve as *admission* so to speak. Here’s the link: Cult Confessions: The CD!!!

Those of you who’ve donated already, and know you want to attend and participate in a feedback/discussion group, please let me know via comments, or email: gsr@cultconfessions.com.

Otherwise, I hope that you’re enjoying your weekend! Esther

Holy Hell – Cult Confessions endorsement

Good Morning Readers,

Happy Labor Day weekend! I’m actually a little chilly! Summer’s winding into fall. Last week, CNN aired the documentary, Holy Hell. If you want to understand cults, watch this film. It presents normal people drawn to a community, and leader, by normal vulnerabilities. The ex-members interviewed, and shown, were once young, idealistic and searching. They ached for substance, community, meaning. And I could relate.

Other cult films depict members as freaks. People you would run away from in a NY minute. My “school” mates were educated, normal people with friends, families and jobs. Most of the time, we sat around discussing ideas. The freaky cult factor seeped in slowly, imperceptibly, over time.

Predictably, lifted curtains expose two cults with two systems of bizarre deception in desperate attempts to bury allegations of abuse. Leaving groups of intelligent humans asking, how did I fall for this con job?

That question drives my crusade. There’s something innately human about seeking guidance, meaning, substance. When we embrace and care for those emotional & spiritual vulnerabilities, the cult market will dry up. Narcissists will have to find something else to do … maybe they’ll become real estate moguls who run for president …

Today, though, both groups still exist in some form. Andre, the one exposed in Holy Hell, moved operations to Hawaii.”School’s” corporate HQ in NYC and its Boston branch are hanging on (though struggling, I’ve heard). Thousands of other predatory groups inflict damage on individuals, families and communities and — it appears — often with impunity.

So, I’m gonna keep on speaking out, singing out, talking about this and encouraging others to do the same, until either I kick, or predatory groups become unacceptable, the consumer base dries up and cults can no longer sustain themselves. If you’d like to see that happen, contributing to Cult Confessions: The CD! is a good place to start!

Here’s the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cult-confessions-the-cd/x/9346125#/

Thanks, and happy, cult-free, fall! Esther

Snapping out of the Cult Coma

Recently I thought about the 6 bullet points, 6 alarms, that snapped me out of my cult coma. Just about five years ago, the dawn yanked me out of bed. I watched the sunrise at a neighborhood park. These realizations rolled out — germane to all present-day efforts  — the CD, the crowdfunding, the presentation, the future book, the healing arts practice — all shaped by the following:

My Question, Love or Fear: I saw that I was miserable – hating “school”. Like a good parasite, it was sucking the life from me & gleaning many benefits: my money (really, my husband’s money), my time, my energy, were all siphoned out of my lagging to non-existent dignity. My marriage was next on the docket. I was only staying out of fear — what would happen if I left??? Would my life fall apart? How ironic.  “What the fuck?” I asked myself, “Do I want to continue living and making decisions from  fear?”

First Independent Decision in Five Years: No, I didn’t. I knew that my “teachers” would oppose that “No” — how would “school” continue micromanaging my existence, if I could say “No”. Like an alcoholic who suddenly wakes up to the fact that the whiskey is killing her — I put the bottle down.  The level of dependence revealed, I was horrified. I thought, “If my life’s gonna get fucked up — if my marriage is going to fall apart — I’d rather fuck it up on my own, thanks.” Then I laughed out loud.

“The Source”… of what? : “School” lets “students” stew in love-bombing (love that term … it’s so groovy 70s) for a couple years before it floats its claim to be “The Source”.  ALL CULTS employ some version of claiming to be THE SOURCE of some extraordinary, elusive, indefinable, magical thing. I watched the sun’s slow rise. It illuminated treetops. Darkness disintegrated. I thought, “How dare Robert call ‘school’ ‘The Source’. What bullshit.” I said, out loud, “Fuck Robert” and flipped off the sky.

The Irony: I needed “school” like a bullet in the head. It turned out, of course, that “school” needed me. They hate when people leave. Others may question, follow (that’s why most disappearances go unacknowledged) Without members, there is no “school”. No members means no income, no retirement fund, no $8million Park Plaza condo, without minions to prop up the queen.

The Secrecy: as all of this dawned on me (so to speak) I saw “school” slowly sucking my identity away. How did I allow this? The secrecy. Secrecy isolates, spreads and infects. Secrecy equals cancer. Cults are a social cancer. The antidote — No More Secrets.

That policy keeps expanding – this blog, new songs, a CD project, a presentation/one-woman show, a book project and — most importantly — a healing arts practice for those hurt by cults. No More Secrets is, has been, and will always be critical to my healing. Secrecy equals an invisible and bizarre prison. Speaking out equals freedom. Every time I expose this vast deception and con job, I am more free. There are many, many nefarious “schools”, i.e. cults. Different names, same game. What if we all spoke out …

The “Superiority”: why did I agree to this secret? Because it made me feel special and superior. It was exclusive … I was seduced by a “secret” idea called “Magnetic Center” (only “special people” have magnetic center). I was privy to “secret (NOT) knowledge”  that “school” whispered & insinuated — ALL is possible, if you follow our prescription.

I was done. I recognize that I was lucky. My exit was immediate and clean. Most cult exits are more painful and confusing, because cults damage psychology — your perceptions, your thought process, your emotional wiring get infected, or broken.

But its not irreparable. My healing began with “No More Secrets” and it continues. The more I reveal, the more I’m free to reveal. The more free I am to reveal, the more empowered I am to embrace my life, my way, free of cult prescriptions. And that, my friends, is what I was seeking from “school” in the first place.

As a lucky woman, who is free, I’m donning the cult cape, with a mission to expose the blight and help others heal from bizarre, difficult to articulate and often shame-ridden experiences. If you are inclined to support me in this mission, please visit my Indiegogo/crowdfunding campaign, Cult Confessions: The CD!!!, or leave a kind word in comments here, or both …

Thanks for reading & enjoy your holiday weekend!

The Anti-Cult Crusade: why I’m donning the ex-member cape … …

Recently a friend and I were talking about how minds/hearts/spirits can be damaged. Esoteric human traits — thoughts, perceptions, emotions, the meaning we assign to experiences — can be broken, or infected – just like any other limb, or organ. Cults inflict such damage: hummingbirdthey are a societal and psychological cancer. Unchecked, they spread.

My cult-ic misadventure, i.e. “school”, spotlighted my psychological/social fragility. Author/clinician Daniel Shaw sums it up succinctly with this formula: Vulnerability + Bad Luck = Cult Recruitment

The more purpose, guidance, meaning, community, a potential recruit seeks, the more vulnerable you are. My chance encounter, at a particular moment, with an ambitious cult recruiter (Lisa), led to a five-year tenure, with $20,000 price tag.

This month, I’m five years “school” free. My crusade has moved beyond the little cult called “school”. (I’ve heard that “school” is doing itself in, anyway). All the writing, and research, and talking I’ve done since departing the hallowed halls has literally freed me to focus on the bigger picture:

    1. Educating through my presentation – cultic red flags, should be common knowledge. We should teach them in schools & churches & community centers & temples, etc. etc. etc. Everyone should be familiar with recruitment tactics and cult practices; knowledge empowers – if you recognize a predatory group, you’re less likely to fall into the trap.
    2.  Advocating, nurturing and supporting, through my clinical healing arts practice — The Gentle Souls’ Revolution — critical aspects of emotional and psychological health that — if neglected — make people vulnerable to spiritual predators:

Confidence/Self Esteem – Robert is fond of saying, “Confidence is a myth; it isn’t real … doesn’t exist.” (how convenient) He would chastise minions for “being in self love” … (yes, folks, “self love”, how sinful) Without confidence — self worth — you’ve got nothing. Confidence & self worth are inner soldiers; they protect from manipulators and con artists. Confidence would have ended my tenure far sooner, or blocked my entrance into the hallowed halls in the first place.

Community – humans are wired to be social, we thus need some type of community; sociopaths are happy manipulate & engineer this wiring for selfish gain. I once interviewed a lawyer who fights litigious cults, who said, ” …cult leaders believe that they are really on the side of the angels”. When angels endorse your delusions, it’s easy to justify heinous and selfish acts. I’m lucky. I left before the parasite sucked up my life savings, broke up my family, ruined my “un-schooled” friendships. But many are not so lucky. The ripple effect from cults, or shock waves, infect communities, inflict exponential waves of damage.

Identity – after the awful Orlando shooting last spring, I wrote a post titled Cultic Identity Theft. Cults squeeze out identity. You can’t be a cult member and an individual, that’s inconvenient for the group. As a member of a unit of profit-generation and propaganda propagation, you must be mold-able . People with healthy identities tire of shoving their lives off to the side for the “higher cause” — they reject required group think that must supersede personal thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

The rejection of fundamental identity — skin color, or sexual identity, orientation, or family origin — is the root cause of so many societal problems. Myriads of isms are rooted and justified by such rejection — hateful, vile and violent acts grow from such rejection and cultural infections. They go way beyond the cult phenomenon; but cults grab hold and ride the wave and I must do my part to advocate for civil rights — fundamental American values of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, of religion … because, as we say, ALL men and women are created equal.

Only after leaving, could I recognize “school’s” goal, and violation of basic human rights. Like all cults, it exists purely to shape its membership into cult cogs in the machine  that exists to proliferate profits and prop up one woman (whom I’d met briefly, in bizarre and orchestrated visits to my “class”).

Sinister, yes? But this is typical cult fare. And fighting against cult fare is today, my raison d’etre and the reason why I’m crowdfunding for Cult Confessions: The CD!!!

Today, I have 6 days left to raise $1825 more to make the $6000 goal — so I appreciate any contribution that you can make!!!

Thanks for reading!



Crowdfunding continues, but time’s a’ ticking!

In the spirit of “hitting the mark” today is $20 Tuesday!

Here’s the countdown, folks …
14 days left!
$2300 more to raise …

In the spirit of hitting the mark, today is $20 Tuesday —  $20 today gets you a copy of my first CD, Eve’s Lament, and a digital copy of Cult Confessions upon its completion …  Just send me your snail mail address via gsr@cultconfessions.com.

BTW, you can contribute anonymously, if you’d prefer. So … here’s the link: Cult Confessions: The CD!

Thank you for your support!

About The Music and The Money …

Those I know who have crowdfunded, and everything I’ve read thus far, tell me that halfway into such campaigns, eevveerryytthhiiingg sslloowws ddoowwnn …

To kick thru fundraising doldrums, here are some musical samplings of what contributors are supporting. Most tunes are still in process …

Starry-Eyed Believer – all about cult recruitment … you’ll get the idea.

Your Little Secrets – I think Hank Williams must have visited me in spirit. Somehow, he planted a seed of irreverence & it grew out over time. Obviously, the vocals aren’t mine, I told my producer to have some fun and he did … I’m almost tempted to just leave his vocals, b/c he delivers so perfectly — but being in “self love” and all — I feel attached to singing on my song (thank you, Hank!).

The Oh. So. Good. (OSG) Song – It’s not fair of me to provide this 3 minutes and 14 seconds of auditory brilliance, b/c it’s not my song and won’t be on the CD (unless the author gives me permission) but I believe everyone must hear it!!! I wish it were my song (does that count?) Written by a fellow “disgruntled”. We traversed the Hallowed Halls together.

To Have and To Hold – Here’s my one serious contribution. My departure from the cult came upon realizing that continued membership in the “esoteric mystery school” meant losing my marriage. At our wedding, my husband and I sang our wedding vows. We both had love songs, I suggested to him, “Why not use them as our vows?” Come the big moment, I distinctly remember looking out on attendees, guitar in hand, a Noreaster out the window (yes, folks, there was a Noreaster that day) and saying, ” This seemed like a good idea in theory … ” Then, by some miracle, got through it without crying.

Blog Monitors, “Disgruntled ex-Students” & “Rule Breakers” (conducting “illegal internet research” because they can no longer ignore an echo chamber of doubts — “something here isn’t right … can’t put my finger on it… am I in a…cult???” ) are familiar with this  “slowing down of vibrations” phenomenon; they know it well, b/c “school leadership” refers to it as: “hitting the interval”!

Many a devotee, with a “5-week aim” (i.e. a stated goal), knows that they “must INCREASE EFFORTS between the Mi & Fa, as well as the Ti & Do” !!! (ah, such fond memories)For un-“schooled” readers, who’ve not had the privilege to grace the hallowed halls, cultic study scholars refer to this type of “school” speak as loaded language: please visit further examples of “school” speak/loaded language here: Standing Up to Sharon Gans.

Thus in true “essence friend” spirit (again, for the un-schooled, the term “essence friend” is reserved for those privileged few who’ve donated, unwittingly, to Sharon’s retirement fund and $8million, Park Plaza Condo), I’m halfway in, watching contributions dry up, thus “making efforts” to step it up!

I’m hoping that fellow disgruntled(s), and those who’ve been adversely affected by CULTS, and those who know and love me 😉 and those who are sick of getting these updates, and are cursing me, along with the Democrats for filling up inboxes with pleas for their money, and want these pleas to just GO AWAY,  will contribute to support my campaign against this societal blight.

So … folks, here’s the crowdfunding countdown…

  • I have 15 days to hit the $6000 goal
  • With offline contributions, I’m up to $3675 (Mi to Fa)
  • That means I have to raise $2325 by Monday, 9/5 (Ti to Do)

La, la, la …. click here to contribute: Cult Confessions: The CD!

Any amount helps. $5, $10, $15, $20 … more if you can.
You can give anonymously.
If you’re uncomfortable contributing online, please contact me via GSR@cultconfessions.com.

Again, thanks for reading, thanks for supporting!



Your Invitation to “The Dark Side”

I want to give another shout out to my fellow “Disgruntled”! I’m sooooo enjoying having a partner in online “evilness”(THANK YOU, Mr. S!) … Right now, he’s on a campaign to steal “school’s” current student body. He’s recruiting them into a new group called…


Imagine, if you will, a group that …

  • Kicks off membership with a free, month-long experiment!
  • Politely requests that you don’t tell anyone about this … “it’s private … just for you.” ( … awwww, how special)
  • Requires 2 nights a week from 7 pm until around midnight-ish, or longer if the leadership is feeling particularly verbose (DON’T BE LATE!)
  • Is super helpful for roughly 1-2 years, after which time it “increases demands”, claims the demands are necessary! Paramount in importance is the demand to “make new friends” and maligns your character on a regular basis.
  • Neglects to mention the expectation of lifelong tenure at $350/month …
  • Intentionally sucks up as much of your personal time as possible to alienate you from the unenlightened “un-schooled” with it’s requirements to “protect the invisible world” at all costs!
  • Constantly reminds you that these demands “are necessary for your evolution!” to nurture a lifelong dependency …. (how else to keep  your bank account replenishing Sharon’s retirement via monthly IV drip, my pretty??? )

Oh wait, if you’re reading this, you don’t have to imagine this … b/c you’ve probably lived it. Mr. S new group the “DARK SIDE” … is NOT that. To learn more about the new group visit …