Dear “School”… oops, “The Study” … Monitor

Hi “The Study” Monitor:

I hope that you are enjoying your assigned reading. Now you’ve been identified, I decided to say hello. We always got along well, so it’s too bad I’m now persona non grata, aka “disgruntled ex-student“, isn’t it? But all “school” defectors are, aren’t they? There’s no legitimate or forgivable way to depart “the invisible world” … and then to publish a blog … heresy, sedition, yes?

I hear that “School” now calls itself “The Study”. Why the name change? Does the online exposure interfere with recruitment? Is it bad for business? Does the vocabulary, this superficial spin, outweigh the nagging cognitive dissonance? Do you ever feel conflicted about “school”, oops, I mean: “the study”?

How do you feel about clever insincerity? Do you ever question “demands”? I remember the constant internal tug of war between “the study’s” requirements — growing deceit — and its presentation — “school of truth and higher consciousness”. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? I don’t miss it.

You were always kind to me. I am guessing that you are a well-intended soul caught in a web of delusion. Yep, “the study” sucked us all into that web. I wonder what you think and experience inside, as you read this blog? Do you ever wish you were doing anything else besides reading this? What would you do instead? Do you ever blow off the demands? Or want to? Do you ever spontaneously go to the beach without consulting Bob, and then just say you read the evil blog?

Perhaps you’ll never see this missive. After I left, I learned that many “students” lie about their recruitment efforts, a.k.a third line of work. God knows, we all hated it.

What are you looking for here? Is your lawyer on retainer, waiting to file?

Recently, I remembered a conversation we had when you were co-leading the “work & money group”. I was failing at another “school”-sponsored job search; “The Study’s” employment policy (as long as you are working, any job will do; women –of course– should clean houses) wasn’t bearing fruit. One day, when soliciting my housecleaning services (ha!) door-to-door in Lynnfield, a police cruiser pulled up to inform me that I needed a permit.

Discouraged, I called you — well, what I mean is I called the voice mail you kept for such purposes; you called me back on my phone. (cultic social engineering 101: the “more enlightened” must control ALL engagement! ) No matter, though, you called me back soon after. I told you about my police encounter and you said, “That’s ridiculous!”

Of course it was ridiculous; more ridiculous, though, was that I let a cult micromanage me into a constant, desperate, relentless and needlessly urgent search for any job! With “school’s” “help”, I tripped and bumbled into a pit of depression and a slew of low-paying menial work. The vicious circle of “school”-sponsored failure gnawed away from the inside out – the worse I felt inside, the worse I performed outside and the more menial and low-paying the jobs became.

Now I know that cults operate this way; this story was predictable — I asked for “help” and “failed”. I “wasn’t trying hard enough”. Many students echo this loaded language down the hallowed halls. Have you noticed? Eventually Carol pronounced: “Maybe you’ll never be able to hold down a job” and soon after established my “chief weakness” and cult identity to the “class”: entitled & unemployable Princess (read Jewish-American).

After leaving and deciding the “as long as you are working, any job will do” policy was crap; I found a job, I did it well, and then a second job and then a third job, etc. etc. etc — no more work/money problems. Are you happy for me, or does it disappoint you? “School’s”, oops, “The Study’s” “help” didn’t — in fact, it hurt. As my Grandma used to say: with (essence) friends like that, who needs enemies? (Don’t worry, she didn’t actually use the secret phrase, essence friends.)

Does “The Study” damage you? I think it damages everyone. One person benefits from “School”. Everyone else pays — they owe, they owe, so off to “school”, oops, “the study”, they go. The one-size-fits-all “help” flattens “students” into cult cogs; each will play particular roles. Those whom “school” deigns losers are damaged more quickly; but we leave and therefore have a chance to reclaim our lives.

So I’m grateful that “school” shoved me into the “losers” category. I left. As opposed to “dying in the street like a dog” — ala the mysteriously-never-mentioned-within-the-hallowed-halls Alex Horn — each “school”-free day feels like a gift. You really ought to try this “de-evolution”!

But I understand that your exit would be far more complicated than mine.

Do you ever consider leaving, though? Who were you before “school”? What were your dreams? Do you remember? What led you into this group? Have you evolved into the “real man” you wished to become? Do you believe you owe “school” everything, up until your last breath? What keeps you entangled?

As I said, you were always kind to me. I hope you can free yourself before your epitaph — your legacy– is a life spent in service to a bizarre fallacy.

Yes, I’m angry — all the deception, all the manipulation, the parasite funnels ideals, hopes, energy, time, money and dreams into a cult-propagated delusion. I have heard it said … somewhere … never fear wrath at that which is odious. So I don’t. Send my regards to Bob; Sharon, too.

And remember freedom is a good thing.


Ah, “Freedom”! “School” Style …

Every April, during my “school” tenure, Robert waxed philosophical about Passover and Easter — the exodus from Egypt, the resurrection of Jesus and freedom! “This time of year,” he told his flock  “… is the most sacred”. We listened reverently. Then the holidays would end and we returned to business as usual:

1) Paying “tuition”, $350/month (at least)  —  checks written to O.S.G. until “school” required cash payments only.

2) Practicing the “non-expression of negative emotions” (Have question? Having doubts? Something’s not right? Keep it to yourself.)

3) Obeying the No Unnecessary Talking before “class” rulewe sat in meditative silence, or read sanctioned material: The Bible,  Emerson, Plato, Socrates, etc. Once I broke the rule in a brief, pre-class, whispered conversation. A panicked “teacher” bustled over to hush us. Idol chat about “only life things” like friends, family, work, movies, politics, etc. all “unnecessary”  — “GOSSIP” that dilutes superior and sacred “essence friendships“.

4) Following “in-Class” protocol — when we had questions, or comments, we stood and waited for a teacher to call on us, granting permission to speak — exactly like grade school.

5) Observing an “hour of silence” after “class”I often violated this rule at the McDonald’s drive through. I would order a cheeseburger and then feel guilty for “leaking!”. Then I would drive around until the hour ticked by. If I went home and explained this “hour of silence” thing to my husband, I would have been “leaking” again. If I’d obeyed the mandated silence at home he may have wondered whether I was following dictates from a cult. Either way, I risked exposing “the invisible world”!

6) Obeying the NON-FRATERNIZATION between “classes” rule — beyond the “school yard”, we were to float past fellow “essence friends” without acknowledgment. Interacting in any way when outside of “school’s” purview was forbidden. Unsupervised engagement could endanger our evolution.

6) Obeying the “No Internet research” rule!!!
“Disgruntled ex-students” who criticize the institution online will “poison your experience!” In general, “school” shunned the internet. Robert told us to get off of Facebook. Somehow, I doubt that anyone rushed home to comply, certainly I didn’t. But I still felt guilty for my sinful and illicit Facebook engagement.

7) On a related note, we were to shun apostates who dared to depart the ranks (horrors!) Once you are “schooled” your lifelong commitment is sealed. Those who leave are all labelled “bitter & disgruntled ex-students”. They all failed! There is no acceptable way to leave “school”.

My recruiter, Lisa, neglected to mention the lifelong tenure requirement when grooming me. Scientology’s “billion-year contract” sets the bar for the Hotel California, you-can-check-out-any-time-you want, but-you-can-never-leave variety of cult membership. But, unlike “school”, Scientology waves its cult flag proudly. “School’s” til-death-do-you-part tenure requirement needs to be subtle — paper trails are not advisable when “protecting” the “invisible world”. Had Lisa told me about the eternal enrollment, I probably would have declined the invitation.

The things that “school” recruiters won’t tell their “new friends” is another story for another day. Suffice it to say that “protecting the invisible world” requires keeping secrets. “School” spins this secrecy as “privacy” (“it’s private, only for you”) and calls lies, “clever insincerity”.

You may have also noticed that six out of seven “school” edicts impose silence on the rank and file, dictating acceptable interactions, orchestrating relationships as much as possible. Given the chance to converse freely, “school”mates might share questions, doubts, concerns! “Essence friends” might note contradictions and double standards! What if one of us revealed “special knowledge” that the other wasn’t “ready to hear”  … for example …

*… the longer you are in “school”, the more it dismisses your “only life things” and devours time outside the Tuesday/Thursday classes.
* … “school” eventually requires all “students” to recruit newbies.
* … like The Moonies, many “older students” are married to each other. So much for “non-fraternization.”
* … “school” used to call itself the “Odyssey Study Group” …  why would “school” change its name?
*  …  these ideas that “school” claims exclusive are the widely available and easily found published teachings and philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff.
* … the mysterious Black Book is a xeroxed, bound and redacted copy of a book called In Search of the Miraculous–available for $2.99 via kindle (copyright infringement, anyone?) At this point, The Black Book may have disappeared. I do have my copy, if you’d like to see it.
* … the Boston “school” is only the subordinate satellite branch —  corporate headquarters is in NYC. etc.

“School” spins this social engineering as “protection” for sacred ideas, and our “essence friendships” — tools for “refining” our superior relationships and repartee. In reality, “school” rules protect an unstated hierarchy, various silo-ed “classrooms” and other seedy secrets, that if known, would send sane people scrambling away as quickly as possible (see list above).

After I left, I was amazed to look back and see how I had come to accept this highly-controlled social order as normal over time. Robert J Lifton, the go-to guru for those who study cults, calls this phenomenon milieu control: ” …  the control of an environment by controlling the information and activities within the environment.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that “school’s” exclusive esoteric “principles” and practices were common enough to rate another not-so-flattering label, established in Lifton’s book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China, copyright, 1961.

After departing, I laughed with a fellow disgruntled about a rule breaking incident (horrors) at The Harvard Bookstore. She — a  “younger student” at the time — said hello and started a friendly conversation. I must have looked nervous, because she asked, ” Are we not supposed to be talking?” and I briefly explained “non fraternization”. She apologized. I said, “It’s o.k.” We halted our unmonitored social engagement and returned to floating ever-so-slightly above the fray of “only life things”  — two essence friends, from the invisible world, silently doing THE WORK of awakening among “sleepwalking humanity”, in the world, but not of the world. Blah, blah, blah.

As we reminisced, I asked her, “Can you believe that seemed normal to us?” We laughed. It is absurdly funny, while not funny. “Non-fraternization” made sense to us in the context of our “secret esoteric school”. We were protecting our refined and superior relationship from “coarse” daily “only life” interactions. As essence friends, our conversation should float above the “gossip” that “imprisoned” most “sleepwalking” humans.  Thank God for highly evolved “teachers” — people who have been “doing the work longer” — those who could supervise and micromanage our interactions and orchestrate and direct our relationships, “refine our vibrations” and — most importantly — “protect the ideas”.  Eventually, “the ideas” (cough) superseded our “only life things”.

Lifton calls this phenomenon Doctrine over Person: member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group. 

Indeed, I eventually felt my life slipping away – a slow death by one thousand cuts. “Freedom” “school”-style required that I battle against dangerous entitled and selfish, perceptions, thoughts, emotions and needs! As my tenure dragged on, the more I applied “school principles” to “only life things”, the more I “failed”. The more I “failed”, the more I concluded, “I must not be trying hard enough!” I tried to “try harder” and “failed more” – a perfect, circular, psychological prison. If I had a nickel for every “ex-student” who has confessed this exact thought process to me, I could probably recover at least the $20,000, I spent on this con job.

This psychological vicious circle was accompanied by a constant cognitive dissonance: my mind was constantly at battle with itself – my internal rebels railed out against the “school” dictates, while my starry-eyed believers defended the group’s practices. Cults are full of members who constantly wrestle with cognitive dissonance – it’s a common red flag. It’s also exhausting.

As you can imagine, things weren’t going so well for me and I was asking for “help” right and left. Eventually, a “teacher” announced that I was “a bit of a princess” (read, Jewish American) — flattening my identity into my worst fears and most embarrassing weaknesses. Oh, the heartwarming “help”! Ah, “freedom”, “school” style!

Cults commonly squash down individual members into one-dimensional caricatures of themselves. I call this practice Cultic Identity Theft and it is psychological violence — predatory and parasitic groups like “school” feeding off of the energy and efforts of individual members. High-demand groups have to wear members down in order to fashion them into compliant cogs that will keep the wheels of income generation rolling, primarily through recruitment. This “teacher” did me a favor, because the crippling depression imprisoning my mind transformed into an appropriate rage. With real help from my husband, the rebels overtook the starry-eyed believers — her pronouncement catalyzed my departure in 2011.

Recently, this “JAP” attended a Passover Seder hosted by fellow “disgruntleds” — former “students” whom I met after my sinful desertion. We toasted our exodus and subsequent “school”- less existences, celebrating the freedom we have to muddle through this life without “help”.

Once out, I learned about “school’s” illustrious history — how sociopathic Alex Horn started the group as The Theater of all Possibilities in the 70s. How the “theater” was investigated and kicked out of San Fransisco after the Jonestown tragedy. I read excerpts from a memoir by Thomas Farbor, called Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child,  in which he recounts his brush with Alex’s “theater” and his decision to leave, saying …

“… in the period of transition, I heard Alex’s voice over and over again: ‘You will wish you had never heard of this Work.’ And then I passed out of his reach, I rejoined the rhythms and melodies of the larger flow, and hurried to have my share of the vanities, foibles, whims, conceits, caprices, hopes, dreams, illusions and insistent morality of those who could live no other way.”

” … I would stay with the groundlings, spared perhaps, perhaps not, from that overriding ambition which made such redoubtable prisoners of those who tried the Work. With a confidence born of ignorance I chose to make my own way. And for many reasons, some very good and some quite bad, I faced the old religious question and decided that we all, willy-nilly, have a soul, no matter what we try to do to it, and that there are many paths to the spirit immanent in us. I had begun to feel that it was the process of living that alone redeemed us.

My “school” days and departure brought me to the same conclusion: we all have souls and don’t need to manufacture them via “school” instruction, as the group insinuates. The cult’s “soul-building” machinery merely constructs an esoteric prison-of-mind that leaves its “tuition-paying” student, dependent, insecure, lonely and broke. Every destructive cult claims a version of the “only real” “soul-building” practice — every one of them lays claim to exclusive wisdom.

The good news is that the truth does indeed set you free. When you realize that the process of living alone redeems us, you see that you don’t need a random external source, dictating your evolution. You don’t need the Wizard of Oz, to give you what you already have. When you trust and follow your internal compass to your true north, not allowing other “sources” with other agendas, to derail you, you are free. Because, to quote Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, “No one but ourselves can free our minds.”

As we pass finally pass out of this long winter, through April, into May, I congratulate you for breaking the “No Internet Research” rule and, implore you to reclaim your life, and toast your freedom!

More resources …

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been neglecting cult confessions lately for a related project, but of course, I can’t get away for long. When it comes to cults there are endless topics to explore and I will be back to posting soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to point out a couple of things:

1) A lot of people were upset when the Esoteric Freedom blog disappeared. You will find some of the material from that blog, and more, on the following site: The Truth About Sharon Gans

2) If you’re a “student” who is presently “breaking the rules” because you’re wondering, questioning, whether this group you’ve joined is truly an “esoteric mystery school”, or a cult, you might recognize the people in a photo posted here:

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back to posting soon!

A New Resource:

This site has come to my attention lately —

It changes often, but today’s iteration encourages current “students” to leave the ranks. It provides an email address for those who want to reach out and addresses the following “school”-bound fears and obstacles:

1) Losing friends

2) Losing marriage or relationship with another “student”

3) Working for a “school”-based business

4) Losing “the work”

It suggests taking a 3-week experimental hiatus from all things “school”.

When I think back, the only thing that kept me from taking a break was my belief in the institution and the control I gave it — I felt like I had to ask permission. I knew the answer would be no. I bought into some idea about “not letting the work go cold for more than 48 hours”, or something like that. I felt “school” lording over me, as if monitoring me from above, documenting all of my sinful and “coarse” thoughts and feelings. I am amazed at the amount of control I gave this thing over my time and life.

Yep. If you’re thinking about a break, take it. I believe you will soon discover that “school” isn’t God, can’t control your life and you might even get some perspective on the experience and start to feel the freedom that comes when not participating in its bi-weekly indoctrination rituals.

It’s a sweet freedom. It’s your life. I encourage you to reclaim it.

Happy Thanksgiving – Gratitude List

You always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.

This is my fourth “school”-free holiday season and I find I have much for which to be grateful. Many of these things came directly from my evolutionary tenure. Every “school”-free day contrasts sharply with my “school”-dictated life, highlighting what leaving the hallowed halls brought to me:

1) A well-honed bullshit detector – while, I have never regretted leaving the institution, I also don’t regret the experience. I do wish that I’d listened to my rebels sooner — five years and roughly $20,000 is way more than I wanted to invest in this con game. However, allowing “school” to yank me around for a time did prove valuable. It reminded me of that childhood lesson from the The Wizard of Oz: everything I need, everything you need, exists within me, and within you, already. The wizards who tell you otherwise, offering pat and overly simplified advice, alleged informed by convenient interpretations of certain esoteric ideas is, at best, deluded and at worst, sociopathic.

2) A trusted connection to my inner moral compass and path — Every “school”-free day bears gifts in ways to embrace this connection. Every moment, good, bad, challenging, boring, heartening, frustrating, inspiring — whatever comes — offers me the opportunity to honor what feels right to me and leave behind what doesn’t. I’m free from the cognitive dissonance that wrestled with my inner sense when it didn’t line up with the outer party line. I own my time and life, for better or worse: I spend my days with those I love and doing what I want. I am free to share whatever I experience, feel and think with whomever I’d like. This freedom constantly reminds me that every breath is a gift. It is my responsibility to use my remaining breathes wisely, instead of giving them away. And, by the way, I have a lot more energy.

3) An unencumbered holiday season — The holidays are no longer strained with the unnecessary “school”-sponsored usurpation, otherwise known as The Christmas Party. All accompanying marital stress fell away. My friends and family no longer wonder why I am so unavailable and what could possibly be keeping me busily scrambling around. In fact, now that they all know about the illustrious group and its infamous Christmas party, we’ve had a lot of laughs, and lemme just tell you, keeping secrets takes a lot of energy.

4) A reconnection to my inner creative voice — at some point I will research and write more extensively about the cult-usurpation-of-your-creative-energy phenomenon. For now I will simply say that in 2006, when I joined an “informal discussion group”, I hoped that the it would strengthen and affirm my creative dreams. Five years later, I felt severed from those dreams — songwriting, prose writing, even simple morning pages, ala The Artist’s Way, all felt impossible. The flow of ideas and music that had been with me since childhood shut down. Before my tenure — however insecure and lost I felt — those ideas outlined my dreams and woke me up in the morning. They provided a sense of purpose, and I honored them, despite uncertainty about how to shape and define that purpose. Once I left the cult and started writing my story, I reconnected to that creative voice. Recently songs again began outlining my dreams and waking me in the morning. Welcome back!

5) A clarity of purpose – In leaving the cult, I freed my time. In freeing my time, I freed my mind. In freeing my mind, my voice came forth to tell this ridiculous tale. In putting out this blog, I released my psyche from “school’s” cancerous secrecy. This is my experience of freedom of mind. Secrets cloud and shroud. Clarity arrived when I stopped carrying them around. I believe the purpose of artistic creativity — in whatever modality — is connecting to this authentic voice and empowerment through the expression of your truth. I believe this because I found all the healing I needed within the creative process.

6) My marriage — When I left the cult, I suddenly found myself home more, sharing time with my husband. I suddenly found more energy, physical, emotional, cognitive and psychological to give to him. When I stopped protecting the “highly-evolved esoteric institution”, I suddenly had more to share with him. I left “school” because I knew my marriage would end if I didn’t. But I didn’t realize the damage inflicted until I confessed the inner workings and heard him him talk about his experience of “school’s” highly evolved “help”, as it increasingly dismissed him and our marriage as “only a life thing”. I’m thankful that instead of tearing us apart, we’ve used “school’s” education to strengthen our commitment.

7) Real friendships with real people – One of “school’s” most insidious aspects is the isolation. If you “follow school rules” to the letter, you find yourself in an invisible prison; it eats up more and more of your “only life”. If you leave, you are stonewalled. Additionally you are to pretend like it didn’t happen — “don’t leak”. If you run into a fellow disgruntled at Trader Joe’s both of you are to ignore each other. How crazy making. If you break “school” rules, you find that relationships, friendships, have their own organic rhythm. There is nothing evolved about a group that micromanages and engineers “essence friendships”. I have learned so much about the strength and character of my fellow disgruntled(s) by breaking the “non-fraternization rule.” They no longer embody the flat one-dimensional “school” perpetuated cult identity of the group.

On that note, I will end by offering the hope that your “school”-free existence has benefited you, as mine has benefited me. Because when you find your feet walking a path, directed by your internal compass, to your true north, as Dorothy says, there’s no place like home.

Happy Thanksgiving and here’s to a “school”-free holiday season! Cheers!

Past “School” Morphing

When I was a starry-eyed believer, I silently accepted “school” rules and traditions as wisdom passed down from “secret esoteric schools” through the ages. Recently “disgruntled ex-students” from “school” past, debunked some of these “ancient esoteric teachings”, revealing them as past “school” morph-ing.

The next few posts depict and link these past revelations with the new millennium “school”.  Let’s begin with “school’s traditional Christmas Party” — brought to us by the eighties, the era of Madonna’s proud declaration, “I am a Material Girl”:

Morph 1: The Christmas Party

One December, during “school’s” annual usurpation of my holiday season, I sought “help” from King Robert for the  perennial marital tensions. A “school education”ensures that its students have zero time for personal holidays; “only life things” — i.e. family, friends, work, colleagues — must be secondary to the big party if one wants to “evolve”.

Among other things, Robert told me, ” … it’s during the holiday season that you benefit the most from ‘school’.”  His brow wrinkled, he wondered how could my husband have any complaints? Didn’t he sense my evolution? Didn’t he get how he benefits from my “work”?

… never mind that I was rarely home; when I was home, I was exhausted and distracted; that the top secret calling devoured my time and energy while intentionally excluding him, as well as bleeding into our time at home with top-secret-holiday-party-tasks (I recall unsuccessfully trying to secretly cut out invisible snowflakes in our living room, only to leave a trail of tiny white paper snippets in my path, which he — of course — called me out on); never mind that our family holiday had to wait until the shindig was over (of course, a more evolved woman would have bought presents and decorated the house after Christmas party prep, between the hours of 3-6 a.m, after which I would go to work).

I was puzzled, too… was I missing something? I mean … this wasn’t rocket science: my husband was lonely. I was neglecting him for the “higher calling”. How do I explain the top secret nature of my critical snowflake-making without leaking??? How do I tell him, “I really don’t want to neglect you during the holiday season; but these demands from the invisible world are critical to my evolution and only benefit you, too!” Even in my “school” coma, I realized that any sane person, left in the dark to wonder why those snowflakes were more important then him/her, would have been saying to his/her spouse, “WTF?”

Nonetheless, my evolved leader appeared stumped by my husband’s complaints, as though no other “un-schooled” spouse had complained before. Of course, I didn’t know then that all three of Robert’s marriages were “school” arranged. As was typical, I started thinking, “There must be something I don’t understand — something only Robert can understand. Maybe, if I tried harder, if my vibrations were finer, I could enlighten my husband into a state of bliss and turn his emotion dial to the happily accepting setting. He would then, of course, say, ‘I understand that your annual disappearing act is an ancient esoteric tradition necessary for your evolution and our betterment! Thank you for doing THE WORK! and benefiting me invisibly.’ ”

Recently “ex-students”, circa 1985, revealed the Christmas Party tradition as an outgrowth of the eighties. One of them told me,“We saw the inaugural Christmas extravaganza that has since caused so much horror to the participants.”

I would love to learn more about its inception, so please consider this post an invitation to share! Since “The Christmas Party” is not an ancient tradition, seeded in esoteric schools of yore, how it did come about?

Morph 2: The Non Fraternization Policy
Morph 3: Drug Use
Morph 4: Recruitment, or “Making New Friends”


Morph 3: The “No Drug Use” Rule

One evening in “class”, a fellow “student” casually mentioned smoking pot. A “teacher” sternly told him, “You do know that smoking pot is against ‘THE RULES’.” Given her admonishment, I assumed that “school” considered drug use an avoidance of doing “the first line work, or work on the self”.

Needless to say, when a corroborator shared this next bit, I thought, I must share this on the blog (it’s also great source material for the musical that I’m going to write one day, “School” — My Five Years in a Cult):

“ … in 2000 Sharon asked, first her son, and then someone else (after he left) to procure hash for the teachers to smoke at the Christmas party. Some kind of cannabis product was present at teachers’ meetings thereafter.”

Recently, some fellow new-millennium disgruntled(s) confirmed that Boston-branch “teachers” keep the  tradition of “teaching” while toasted alive. Before “classes” our “teachers” hid in the “teacher’s lounge”. A few privileged and trusted servants delivered the aristocracy food and beverage Downton Abbey style. Once upon a time, I had imagined the royalty planning the evening’s secret esoteric teaching in that room, perhaps meditating and praying together. Instead, I guess, they were gossiping and consuming libations; perhaps some were rolling joints and blowing enlightened smoke rings before making a grand appearance in the “classroom”.

“Class” always unfolded via the same bi-weekly ritual: we waited in the “classroom” silently, reverently, for a “teacher”; eventually, either “teacher” Michael would appear and announce, “Time for TAI CHI.”, OR “teacher” Paul would appear and announce “Time for BODY WORK.” We few, we proletariat, would dutifully file into another room to either, follow Michael through the tai chi form, or “move every part of our body in circles” on Paul’s instruction. Once we plebs were sufficiently “relaxed” the “teacher” would send us silently padding into the “classroom”. There we would await (in silence, of course) the grand entrance of whomever was heading the evening’s lesson — don’t leak, no unnecessary talking, no fraternizing!

After several minutes of silence, a more highly evolved being would stroll in and take his/her seat at the front of the room. Usually, that “teacher” would announce, “Let’s read self observations.” We would kill a good first hour, or so, reading out of our “self-observation notebooks”, essentially confessing our sinful, broken, dysfunctional, coarse and heavy thoughts and/or “negative emotions.”

Academic cult researchers reveal this routine as typical cult techniques. The “body work” and/or tai chi are hypnotic devices that make the “student body” more susceptible; the reading of “self observations” convenient confessions so leadership could hone in and utilize our weaknesses towards the higher purpose of world domination… “Oh, my Grandma, what big teeth you have!” … ” The better to eat you with, my dear!” Humiliation, and fear of humiliation, proved a very effective social engineering tool within the hallowed halls. I guess you would have to be inebriated to justify this manipulation as necessary for “evolution” year after year.

In thinking about drug use in “school”, I remembered a scene from early in my tenure.  As a newbie, or “younger student” (“school” was still courting me at this phase) a fellow “classmate” escorted me to a “class outside of class” — another brand of “all-night-school-party”. The drug-free magic of the evening had me giddy with wonder, a true believer, but my euphoria was briefly interrupted. An “older student” and “teacher” stopped to chat with me; as they zealously expounded on the benefits of “school” and how happy they were for me , an unmistakeable pot smell permeated and circled us. When they walked away, the cloud did too. I felt confused and disappointed; but — as was typical — then I thought, “They must know something that I don’t know about smoking pot.”

It’s amazing to now see how quickly I dismissed my doubts and blinded myself to these inconsistencies; I really wanted to believe in “school”!

Morph 2: The Non Fraternization Policy
Morph 3: Drug Use
Morph 4: Recruitment, or “Making New Friends”

About Sustainers …

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain …

Last night, while stuck in an I-95 construction zone, I found myself mulling over sustainers. Recently a contributor confirmed something I have now heard from “disgruntled ex-students”, near and far, past and present. It deserves the spotlight, because it’s such an egregious lie, such a contrived “school”-perpetrated deception. It is also ridiculous, so I can’t wait to make fun of it in that future musical.

Here’s the comment, gleaned from a much longer story that you can read here: “I realized that school was a fake. I had seen sustainer reports by accident, so I knew how teachers knew supposedly secret information. Now I knew that none of them had any kind of advanced insight or knowledge or ‘secret powers’. I used this to temper my life in school the last three years so I could survive.”

Yes folks, it appears that your “private” relationship, those “confidential” conversations, were reported back to the “leadership”. I guess “school” kept a notebook — a dossier if you will — on each and every attendee. Our sustainers, fellow “disgruntled(s), were responsible for keeping us compliant, attending and contributing financially.

Part of retaining membership included reporting on our “progress”. Teachers would then, cleverly and insincerely, bring up private matters in class at key moments — as though psychic, as though they could see and know more because of their “efforts”; because they had been “doing the work longer”.

It brought back a scene in “class”: a “student” was asking for “help”. I can’t remember the context; I do remember that her inquiry was not related to relationships. After careful contemplation the “teacher” offering her guidance tipped his head to one side as though thinking, paused dramatically, then announced, “I sense that you are lonely.” His presentation was so tender, so empathic, that I was suitably impressed.

“Wow! How could M be so tuned in?” I recall thinking. “I consider myself an empathic person and I didn’t pick up on her loneliness!”

Obviously, this moment stayed with me. Perhaps my memory imprinted it because I had briefly experienced transcendence through this higher being. Or I sensed the deceit in his presentation. Maybe some cell in my psyche woke up briefly, allowing awareness of that gnawing feeling that all “school” attendees get —  that sense of “something doesn’t feel right about this.” Most of us dismissed our perceptions, deferring to those “wiser, more evolved teachers.”  For many of us had come to believe and repeat this phrase: “The more evolved ‘teacher’ must understand something that I don’t”

In the past, I have put out a call for any former sustainer to write a guest post about his/her experience.  Perhaps it’s too hard to dreg this up, but if anyone whose been a sustainer could contribute some insight here, I would appreciate it. Perhaps a current “student” will find this blog and recognize the con job. Or perhaps your insight will provide peace to a former student who is still wondering if s/he has left “the source”. Either way, your truth would help to pull back the curtain, expose the wizard, and be of great service to those either seeking information and/or affirmation.




The No More Secrets Policy: Truth as Medicine

When I first left “school”, I believed that each “student” had made a personal choice about “joining” and “staying”. I left because I finally saw how my participation was damaging my marriage, but I was still unable to consider that the group, itself, was destructive. Even as I realized that Robert’s claim of “school” as “the source” was delusional, at best, I vowed to keep the silence out of respect for my colleagues; but when I started uncovering “school’s” seedy past and deceptive recruitment and retainment practices, I formulated my new life policy: No More Secrets.

I “broke the rule” of “no internet research”, mostly because my silence and the accompanying isolation were starting to make me insane. The strange, confusing and intense experience I had recently left was playing out in my mind like a movie. I saw myself giving my power away, surrendering my voice and my perceptions over to those who were “more highly evolved”. I saw myself allowing the institution to micromanage personal decisions to my detriment, usurping five precious years of my “only life”, hurting my marriage and other essential relationships through the practice of “clever insincerity”, steering me away from my passions, squashing my true nature and voice– ironically my essence —  and painting me into the prescribed cult identity of helpless, entitled and unemployable Jewish American Princess.

Even though I was no longer in “school”, its “don’t leak the experience” rule had locked me into a strange and invisible cage, still isolating me from the “un-schooled” — i.e. everyone else.  Contact with the “schooled” was also “against the rules”, unless it was via a “school”-sanctioned teacher conversation. Essentially, I had no outlet or resource to process and heal from this bizarre experience. I was strangely and invisibly alienated from everyone, locked into this secret.

My first month out of the cult, and several hundred miles of travel made me realize that I needed to speak out to save my mental health and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The blog — i.e. breaking the rule of silence — freed me from the damaging psychological, cognitive and emotional prison. The end result is that I have emancipated myself in every way — I have never felt stronger, clearer and more self assured. Every day reminds me that I am free and I live in a state of gratitude, because I can refer back to my “school” days and contrast them to today. The stark difference between life “in school” and life without “the source” begs the question: source of what?

My No More Secrets policy is the key to my emancipation. I posted my story in cyberspace for this reason. With nothing to hide, I am free to tell it to whomever, whenever I feel it best and right. Secrets lock you into an invisible prison. “School” counts on secrecy on all levels. Secrets fuel the operation and keep it going. I have found healing in telling my story, letting go of that burden, and so can you.

You don’t have to take your story to your grave. You don’t have to blast it out to cyberspace either. But tell it to someone; even one trusted person will give you some relief. No more secrets. Secrets are cancerous. They will eat you up inside. Let them go.  Know that when you give voice to your experience, you reclaim your truth and your true identity. Know that the more people who are telling their stories, pulling the curtain on the Wizard, the more exposed this cult will be and less able to perpetrate its twisted version of “evolution”, also known as life long and dependent “students” who will pay $350 every month.

I imagine most of my readership lives in America, although, I have noted visits from various countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and even Asia, which is very cool. Regardless of your location, those of us who lived the “school” experience can practice our Freedom of Speech. In the land of the free and home of the brave we have civil rights and we can speak out against that which has proven odious and harmful.