About the families …

Good Afternoon, Readers:

I just visited my fellow evil blogger’s site and feel compelled to point you to the latest post: Heartbreak

The niece of a long-time NY member contributed the latest post. I have often thought to myself, and said to others, that family and friends suffer the most from cult inflicted damage. They are left scratching their heads, wondering, what happened to the person that I love? How did this person “evolve” into a cold, flat, callous version of themselves? When did someone alive, loving, passionate, caring, generous, curious, full of life, become a flat, empty, propaganda-spouting shell?

Cults leave a wake of destruction in our social fabric. That is why I have made it my business to expose the bizarre, callous and selfish practices innate to each and every “school”. Every cult is the same and every cult inflicts the same damage: stealing lives, killing members slowly by sucking the soul and life out of them. Tearing apart families. Ruining people – stealing time, energy, money and chances for them to realize true potential.

I have too much to say about this topic – it may turn into a series of posts. I inflicted pain on my family and friends. Sometimes my husband will recall some of the crap I spouted out at him. Interestingly, I don’t remember saying, or doing, many of the things he reports. Yet, I know his accounts are true, because the stories are always true to “school” form – in my illustrious “school”-coma, I touted the party line.

When I finally confessed my cult days to friends (who, thank God, stuck it out with me through those weird five years) they said things like: “I was wondering what was going on … why you were so busy … so distant… so flat … so unavailable … why you were acting so strangely.”

How shocked was I to realize that the “invisible world” is actually very visible, as I emerged from the cult coma. But that shock is part of the recovery. I had no idea how isolated I’d become from them. I was surrounded by an invisible prison of silence and deception.

Un-“schooled” family members have contacted me over the years — some who hail from the lineage of “school” leadership. They share stories that I know are true, because they echo “school” dealings from the past (the sins of the fathers are visited upon future generations, Robert). The strategies are distinct –very– obvious. I always feel tempted to share those stories as a cautionary tale – but I don’t want to throw salt into wounds. I want to honor confidentiality. I know it’s painful and courageous of them to share these stories with me. I would never reveal the stories unless they specifically gave me permission.

Thus I’m not at liberty to share details. But please trust me: “school”, these people, this group, they, have no more humanity. They/it only care about you in so far as siphoning your bank account and getting some slave labor. It’s cult culture, take as much as you can until you suck someone dry. Run away as fast as possible. You owe them NO EXPLANATION. NOTHING. As, true to cult form, they will try every manipulative strategy and guilt trip possible — trust me, it’s only b/c they need the income.

Last week I had lunch with a woman whose adult daughter got sucked into a cult. I’m happy to report that the daughter is out, but the healing is a long, grinding process. There are children involved. The mom is tenacious and smart and determined.  I have met several mothers like this. With very few resources for families, they continue to fight for their loved ones.

There’s too much to say about this … so I’m gonna stop myself and have a day. And feel grateful that my life is “school”-free and I came out relatively unscathed.

About Yom Kippur

boxford-2When I was a kid, my secular and academic family would hike on Yom Kippur. As non-observant Jews, we created some rituals around some holidays, but they fell away over the years. Yesterday, I returned to the hike and took myself to the Boxford State Forest.

I like the idea of reflecting on atonement and forgiveness. I’m not a forgiving person and I am suspicious of those who claim to be forgiving — much easier said, than done. In theory, I understand that forgiveness is freedom. In my rare better moments, I’ve experienced that freedom. Most of the time, I wonder what forgiveness would feel like.

I did not sort out forgiveness yesterday; but I did accept the woods as my temple. I got to unplug from all the noise (including this unbearable presidential campaign) and observe this holiday in a way that resonated as authentic and true to my history and beliefs.

Since my little “school” dalliance, I, personally, feel that I can’t trust, or join, any organized religion. Humans are too fallible, too irresponsible with power. We are too easily intoxicated by it. I’ve seen too many religions being used as excuses for abusive behavior (including evangelical “Christians” justifying their support for a presidential candidate who has repeatedly demonstrated himself as a serial sexual predator). The hypocrisy is too much for me. It makes me furious.

If I want to connect to God, I can simply walk out my front door and watch the leaves change colors, or the sunset paint the sky.

I’ve spoken with many ex-cult members who call their experiences spiritual rape — including my “school” mates.  Yes cults are spiritual rapist – taking advantage and sullying the best in their members, much like the misogynist pig who is trying to bully his way into the Oval Office. I still don’t know about forgiveness; I do believe, though, that it’s possible to reclaim and heal your spiritual or religious practice, what ever that may be.

“School” claimed that we humans are born soul-less. Without “school” — allegedly — we remain soul-less. Never fear, though, you can manufacture a soul if – and only IF – you sign the dotted line, hook an I.V. drip into your bank account to feed the queen’s retirement funds, til death do you part, disregard your family, friends, thoughts, emotions, needs, hopes and dreams for the illustrious “aim” of recruiting others who will do the same. If you prop up her staged presentation of “evolved woman”, you, too, might, manufacture a soul (no guarantee) . If you don’t, you simply live out your days as an empty shell. “School” gropes spiritually, whereas Drumph grabs and gropes with his tiny hands — as proclaimed proudly in the audio tape released last weekend.

Yep, folks. This is the “school” version of spiritual rape and every cult spins a different tale, but perpetrates the same violation. So for ex-cult members, reclaiming your spiritual practice is a crucial aspect of recovery; when a predatory group hijacks you — mind/body/heart/spirit — it’s important to reclaim every facet of your true identity. No outside “source” (as Robert used to call “school”) can dictate your relationship to God.


Once upon a time, “The Study” was …

cc_evrymn-plybll_10-12-16 “School”, which was “The Theater of All Possibilities” and, before that, The Everyman’s Theater:

I stumbled across this interesting tidbit of cult history, while searching for something else: a play bill for sale – for a mere $125, this snippet of 70s-cult memorabilia could be yours!!!  Look closely, you’ll recognize some names.

Here’s the link: http://www.abaa.org/book/912324069

I found the write up particularly interesting … here’s some info about the illustrious and enlightened “school” days of yore:

Passport [unusual playbill for Tennessee Williams’ “Camino Real,” put on by the San Francisco-based Everyman Theater]“Everyman Theater, San Francisco. [1973], Eight-page program, about the size of a passport with dull green covers, attendee’s name written in as with a passport, accompanied by the signature of the ticket seller (Jack McRitchie), and a rubberstamp that one can imagine being applied with a flourish at the time of purchase. The Everyman Theater was a front for a Bay Area cult group led by Alex Horn and his wife Sharon Gans. The group, based on the philosophies of George Gurdjieff, would invite attendees to stay after the show for meetings, then to attend additional study groups, and before they knew it they could have the luxury of paying to toil on the communal ranch in search of spiritual liberation. There was a series of exposés of this group in various San Francisco publications of the late 1970s. This booklet does not mention anything about beatings, scheduled pregnancies or farm labor, but it does list all the performers and production staff, with a Note from the Director about the deeper meanings of William’s play. Horn and Gans are listed as producers.”

Isn’t that inspiring.

Cult Leaders, Narcissists and Presidential Candidates, oh my …

Once upon at time, I made a decision to keep politics separate from this blog. I likened “School” spin to the spin of one the dominant political parties. A reader took offense and I decided that, since this blog is about cults, which recruits Democrats, Independents and Republicans equally, it wasn’t worth treading on landmines.

However, this presidential election is so over the top, that I’ve decided to break my own rules. Why ? Because every time Trump opens his mouth, he displays the characteristics of a sociopathic, narcissistic, cult leader. Let me count the ways:

  1. Cult leaders lie. Cults are built on deception, just like Trump’s campaign. You know when Trump is lying, because his lips are moving. But he characterizes HRC as “a liar”.
  2.  Cult leaders do and say heinous and abusive things and then project their sociopathic behavior on to others, most typically an opponent. For example, after years of, championing the ridiculous and racist birther movement, Trump declares: Obama is an American citizen, period. And that HRC is (of course) responsible for the birther bullshit — as if we didn’t notice Mr. Trump offering Obama the produce your birth certificate and I’ll make a big donation to some charity deal (funny, b/c Drumph never really follows up on promised donations, but that’s another post, for another day).
  3. Cult leaders are great at deceptive marketing, pitching one thing and delivering the opposite, for selfish financial gain: as is well known and documented, a fair number of ex-Trump University  students are suing the school for fraud. Additionally, Trump is well known for hiring and then bilking contractors. Of course, Trump accuses HRC of being “crooked”. It’s a catch-phrase of his campaign.
  4. Cult leaders feel that societal laws and expectations of decency don’t apply to them. In fact when confronted on various and frequent infractions of law and decency, cult leaders can’t compute them – the presiding notion being: what do those lowly things have to do with evolved, entitled beings, like me. They feel that they are royalty and should be treated as such, by everyone. Trump regularly disparages, insults and degrades minorities and women. Then, when confronted, he denies what he’s done; saying things like “that was a joke”, or “I never said that.” In fact, at times he pouts like a child when people expose his heinousness — saying “it’s not nice”.

    When Megyn Kelly confronted him on calling women “disgusting” and “fat pigs” — i.e. doing her job as  a reporter — she was ” … not nice” (poor little Donald). In fact, Drumph went on to say that she was ” … bleeding out of her … where-ever” … Oh, yea, but that was a joke.

    When asked about federal discrimination lawsuits over housing during the debate, Trump’s only response was that he was proud of himself for 1) having properties in both New Jersey and Palm beach; 2) not admitting to discriminating against blacks, in NJ, 3) in Palm Beach (where people are “very rich”), holding back from discriminating, when he could have —  I love irony and this is classic: only a racist would tout those things — clearly racists attitudes — as “accomplishments”. It’s apparent that he sees nothing wrong with discrimination. He’s, in fact, proud of himself for not discriminating.

    Lets move on to women, because no where is this more screamingly apparent than his behavior and attitude towards women: Trump’s true color were exposed yesterday when someone released a tape of him bragging about grabbing “pussy”. Add this to a growing list — fat shaming; the slut shaming; cheating on spouses; calling his own daughter “hot” and seeing nothing wrong with “wanting to date her”. And of course the newest revelation: it’s o.k. for Howard Stern to call his daughter, Ivanka, a “nice piece of ass” – or whatever it was. But, of course, this is just “locker room banter” – humor. How many ways can I say this: Trump is an asshole.

  5. Part two of the laws of society don’t apply to me: Trump feels entitled to withhold his tax returns from the public. Therefore when the New York Times does its job as a newspaper and releases his taxes, he spins it as a conspiracy theory against him — a “rigged system” (of course, the rigged tax system has been treating him very well, as we all learned, but that’s another post). Trump feels threatened by facts, therefore will only debate HRC if his statements are not fact checked by the moderator. Ummm. Where to begin … I have never heard a presidential candidate argue against facts and fact checking. Why won’t Drumph release his tax records? What is he hiding? I guess Trump knows that the facts will work against his viability as a candidate.
  6. Cult leaders reduce complications of human nature down to catchphrases. They then repeat the catch phrases endlessly, as though repeating them makes them irrefutably true. Trump’s economic plan: America never wins anymore. Blame everything on TPP (don’t mention corporate greed); cut taxes for rich people and get rid of regulation (it worked so well in 2008); Trump’s immigration plan: build a wall; send Mexico the bill (not gonna happen and everyone — I mean everyone — knows it); ban Muslims from entering the country (… freedom of religion, anyone?)  Trump’s National Security plan: send more American troops to Iraq and Syria; Russia won’t go into the Ukraine (oops, because Russia is already in the Ukraine) … for everything else: Obama and by proxy HRC have “ruined this country … just visit the mid-West … you’ll see”. That’s pretty much it.
  7. Cult leaders have surrogates that take on their voice, characteristics and behaviors. We saw Pence use Trump bullet points quite calmly in the recent VP debate — he couldn’t defend his boss, but he could further the message: the country is imploding! Immigrants are dangerous! HRC hid emails! Pence managed to spout out bullshit, while looking presidential (which, apparently, didn’t bode well with his boss, who doesn’t like it when surrogates look better than him). Bill Maher had one of Trump’s economic advisors on his panel recently. Just like his boss, the dude couldn’t let anyone else on the panel finish a sentence, especially the women. He would interrupt as soon as someone was exposing Trump’s BS, to spin it back to Trump bullet points: the country is imploding; our economy has been ruined by Obama; black Americans are living in war zones; blah, blah, blah.
  8. Cult leaders have adoring followers who take on this fantasy world and defend it, no matter what. Trumpeters know he’s lying when he says he’s gonna build a wall. They support him for tweeting insults between 3:30-5:30 a.m, aimed at a former Miss Universe, like the junior high school bully who has been up all night stewing over a recent humiliation, and can’t stop himself from behaving in a manner undignified –at best– for anyone, let alone someone over the age of 9; let alone someone running for president, saying “He has a right to defend himself.” They seem o.k. to elect a president with the maturity level of a pre-teen boy, the bully on the block.
  9. Cult leaders live in a self-fabricated fantasy world and then expect everyone to cater and prop up that fantasy.

Trust me, propping up Trump’s fantasy will not “Make America Great Again”. It won’t help you. It won’t help me. But he’s sure to make America work for him, just look at what he gains to benefit from his tax plan.

All of this is to say – please don’t stay home this November: women, African Americans, Latinos, let’s please keep the orange narcissist out of the White House.

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