Conclusion: Caterpillar Days in Butterfly Lives

Caterpillar Days

Caterpillar consumption

Dear Readers,

Recently I had what I have come to call a run of “caterpillar days” — my to-do list was thwarted by the universe: a client refused a session; my computer’s hard drive died; my one day off was spent at the North Shore Mall’s Apple Store; family challenges rose to the surface and my inner responses followed (anger, blame, frustration, guilt, sadness — all unspoken and distracting).

My psyche defaulted to the “I cut myself off from the source” mode, followed by the “my life will now turn to crap” mode — punishment for “breaking school rules”. Fortunately, I caught myself and saw those days for what they were — caterpillar days in a striving towards butterfly-hood.

Truthfully, before my “school” tenure similar days would have triggered a similar response. But my sin would have been nebulous and the “greater/higher power” would have been un-definable. “School” provides me clarity for the crimes: leaving  “the source”; researching “school” on the evil internet; breaking the “code of silence”; reaching out to others AND (most egregious) writing and posting my super-secret esoteric “school” — i.e. cult – experience for all that care to read it.

Now that I know the insane context (history, lineage, or lack thereof) that “school” desperately scrambles to hide, I can recognize the insanity of these damning thoughts — punishment for the crimes of independent thinking and inquiry. In reality, my caterpillar days simply point to some life things that need tending  — things having nothing to do with “school’s” wrath and hell fire.  They beg the questions:  why so distracted and what do I need to address? They say to me, “Hey, you need a day at the beach.”

How many of us ex-students experience the sense that “school”, in it’s highly evolved capacity, can lurk above judging caterpillar days? How many of us hear “school” voices saying, “I told you this would happen”– damning us to meaningless lives of scrambling, crawling and consuming until death.

In my last conversation with Robert, he told me essentially that my husband would continue trying to “control” me in the future. “These things don’t happen in isolation,” he promised me. Of course, the obvious irony here is that this is a standard line, fed to students whose spouses have started to whittle away at the induced “school” stupor. It is an attempt to control via fear.

When that didn’t work, he changed his tactic. “I am trying to put myself in your husband’s shoes,” he said. I remember – at the time – having the thought, “Well how hard can it be to understand my husband’s legitimate worries about my emotional morass and our dwindling finances? ” But, again, I was to intimidated to voice this question.

I was furious when learning later that Robert’s three marriages were all arranged via “school”. This knowledge did throw light on his utter lack of empathy. He has never had to explain the unexplainable to his wives – the ever-growing time commitment and expenses. He has never had to lie to the person who has been lying next to him night after night.  I finally understood that his lack of compassion for my husband, extended to my marriage, which was inconvenient for “school”.

In reality, my departure only strengthened my marriage and vastly improved my life. My husband has not tried to control my time as promised. And I have come to honor and trust my own judgment and make my own decisions – ultimately reclaiming responsibility for my life. Since then, doors have opened for me without the frantic and exhausting scramble prescribed by “school” in “principle”. Most notably, my struggle with employment and money is over.

After almost two years of following “school’s help” in finding work, I decided to take the opposite tack. I relaxed, regrouped and focused on  work that felt meaningful and right; positions that call on my natural aptitude. Within two months after leaving school I found work that I love. I now earn a decent salary and was recently nominated and awarded a prize for my efforts. I can honestly say that my days feel joyful, meaningful and purposeful.

School often paints departing infidels as angry and disgruntled “ex-students”, who somehow “failed” the program. Again, my experience has proven exactly the opposite to be true. Angry, yes! I am wrathful at the deception and manipulation of this fake “school”. Disgruntled, no. I have never been clearer in my life about what I want and who I am.  I am filled with gratitude for having my life back — mostly to my husband for pushing me to see the truth of the mysterious Tuesday/Thursday thing. My decision to leave school is proving to be one of my most successful and important decisions. I am a stronger woman, now, and my well-honed bullshit detector quickly sounds sirens when encountering the “cleverly insincere”.

I have spoken with many former “students” and they do miss their friends. But if King Robert himself, called us each personally and invited any of us back, I feel certain that none would accept. In fact, fairly recently, eleven of the “angry and disgruntled” reunited at the Cheesecake factory. We shared stories, complained, gossiped, laughed our asses off, showed pictures of new babies, talked about babies to come, discussed books, movies, new esoteric and spiritual explorations, compared ludicrous stories from our “school” days, talked about new jobs and (God forbid!) exchanged emails and phone numbers in unadulterated, unmonitored and chaotic conversation.

We toasted to our real freedom. Without school, the “disgruntled” are living joyful and meaningful lives. We have more money, energy and time and we own our thoughts, emotions and actions. We decide when to change a job, see our spouses, take our children to the playground, etc. We are awake to the value innate in each moment; the smallest things hold priceless meaning, after having given this time away to “school”.

For those of you who are still in and wondering what is this thing called “school”, I can tell you that it is not the institution hued to a higher calling in pursuit of truth that it claims to be; its roots are deeply entrenched and clinging to deception and greed. I want to implore you to reclaim your life. You will not learn the truth of “school” if you are in “school” for its evolved leaders take great pains to keep the truth from you. The gift of freedom that  “school” whispers came to me when I left. I learned the truth and experienced a stark contrast between letting an esoteric prison dictate my choices and the freedom that followed when I decided that if I was going to fuck up my life, I’d rather do it on my own terms, thank you very much. My striving towards butterfly-hood continues, always will, but now I am free to explore, stumble and bumble in my own perfectly imperfect way.

Sometimes – these days more often than not — I hit the mark.

Essence Friends, thanks for reading, and here’s to your freedom. Please share your stories in having left “school”. Perhaps some current students will find this blog and decide to set themselves free.

With sincerity,


P.S. Cult confessions will continue but not in this book/chapter format. Much more to say … I hope you will stay tuned and chime in.

14 thoughts on “Conclusion: Caterpillar Days in Butterfly Lives

  1. "School," you're fired! says:

    Bravo! Congratulations on your healing, your growth, and your wonderful writing.

  2. S.Y.F. – Thank you! And congrats to you for your freedom!

  3. charlie chaplin says:

    I want to attest to the joy of meeting up with fellow former students. That evening at Cheesecake Factory was so enjoyable, not only in an of itself, in being able to spend time in leisure with good company, but also in helping to contextualize our shared experience and distinguish the valuable from the harmful or outright nutty. Hope we can do it again! For those who have gotten out but not spoken to or met up with fellow ex-students, do! There is nothing to fear and much benefit to be had. For those still in (if any do read this), intentionally imagine life without the requirements and restrictions, reach out and ask questions to those who have left. I think you will be glad you did.

    I may have mentioned this before. There is a story that was used in school that could double as a description of how school could be a net gain in life. As the story goes, a man is complaining to his rabbi (if I remember correctly) that his in-laws have moved in and his house is too crowded. Through a series of back & forths, the rabbi tells the man to move all his animals (cows, chickens, etc) into the house. Naturally, the addition of each group of animals only makes things worse and worse. When the discomfort is at its peak, the rabbi begins to instruct the man to move the animals out of the house. Each group of animals removed increases his sense of space and comfort. In the end, when only his in-laws remain, he feels he has more space than he could ever need. School can work in a similar way. You come to school because you feel you are not free. The demands pile up, increasing anxiety, shame, the feeling of impotence, that your life is not yours. Your house (mind, soul) is increasingly overcrowded. Letting go of all those requirements, the freedom you discover feels amazing and new. In truth, perhaps you could have felt it without ever subjecting yourself to school demands. On the other hand, maybe you needed all the animals from the barn in your living room in order to enjoy the space that existed in their absence. Maybe you needed to fully experience and assess the ugliness in people who are supposedly so lofty and striving so hard for consciousness in order to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the people in your life, whom you may have taken for granted.

    • I Will Thrive says:

      I second that — beautifully put, Charlie! That encapsulates what my experience has been since leaving. I have so much more appreciation for the people, places, and things in my life…and my respect for “all the
      se mechanical beings out here” has grown exponentially.

  4. Wow, well put, Mr. Chaplin. Thanks so much! I’d forgotten about the story. I recall it much the same as you describe above.

  5. Grateful says:

    Let Go or Be Dragged:

    Pathological attachments are gorilla glue. The pathological partners have a vibe, a come-hither, bonding vortex that sucks you in and holds you there in a hypnotic-like trance. It’s a powerful, seductive, subconscious attachment that mirrors the worst addictive feeling you could ever have. It vibrates throughout your body with a message and sensation that you will literally ‘die’ if you are disconnected from the source. Letting go never feels like an ‘option,’ it feels like sure death, death by disconnection, death by umbilical severing, death by life-force loss.

    This is written from the standpoint of a woman in a romantic relationship with a psychopath, but the dynamic for those involved with a cult is the same! Hurray for everyone who had the courage to let go, finally!

  6. dew says:

    where is the first line of work writing?…i would like to read it and are you referring to Bennett’s lines of Work?

    • Hi Dew –
      Here is the first line of work writing:

      I am, honestly, not sure where the “lines of work” originated and I’m not yet familiar with the name Bennett. Can you tell me more about him/her?

      Thanks for reading!

    • Odysseus says:

      Hi GSR,

      The three lines of work are found in Ouspensky’s “In Search of the Miraculous”, which is a first hand account of Ouspensky’s time spent studying with Gurdjieff in Russia before and during the First World War. Ouspensky later broke with Gurdjieff and set up up his own school in England.

      John G. Bennett was an Englishman who encountered Gurdjieff in Constantinople, after Gurdjieff left Russia and before he settled in France. Bennett subsequently visited Gurdjieff at the Prieure in France and then returned to England, where he joined Ouspensky’s group. He later started his own school, where he taught a variant of Gurdjieff’s system, mixing in parts of other traditions which he had studied before meeting Gurdjieff. Thus, what Bennett taught was not pure Gurdjieff.

      Note that Sharon’s supposed connection to the work is through Anne Burrage, who studied with Bennett for a year or so, certainly not even close to enough time to absorb a significant amount of the knowledge. Anne Burrage was Alex Horn’s first wife. Alex got whatever knowledge he had of the work from Anne, having been rebuffed by John Bennett, who seems to have recognized him for the budding con man he was. That knowledge could only have been very superficial, considering its’ provenance.

      Alex then divorced Anne, moved to California and set up his cult, eventually marrying Sharon, who eventually replaced Alex as head of the cult.

  7. Thanks, Odysseus – Maybe it would be easier for me to read Bennett’s work before Gurdjieff’s work. I also found Ouspensky’s work hard to read — something about the tone didn’t sit right with me.

    • Odysseus says:

      Hi GSR,

      Yeah, Ouspensky does seem like kind of an odd duck sometimes. He was extremely intellectual and that often shows in his writings. Also, I think that being originally Russian, and only a late life transplant to England and speaking English, that some of his thought patterns may have been different from those of us here in 21st century America.

      That said, I think he did a pretty good job of passing on what he learned from Gurdjieff. He is certainly much more accessible than most of Gurdjieff’s own writings. The biographical picture he paints of Gurdjieff is both interesting and important.

      I am not very familiar with Bennett’s writings, so I don’t know. But, why do you want to read him? Are you trying to figure out what parts of the teaching may have been real, and which were bovine excrement? I was in longer, had less of a buffer from the original sources (we read and discussed “In Search…” several times during my tenure), and I can’t answer that question to my own satisfaction.

  8. I’m not sure exactly why I want to read him, although trying to separate the real teachings from excrement may be part of the reason. But I guess I have some desire to develop my own understanding of the ideas, to the extent that I can.

  9. seeker of truth says:

    Bennett had his own school in England. There was a woman, Sandra, in my days with Alex and Sharon, who studied in Bennett’s school. He was long gone, but some students ran it. Anne had been there previously. What we heard from Sandra, outside of school because it was probably forbidden to discuss, was they emphasized more Sufi teachings, Gurdjieff music and movement, and silent times working in the gardens there.

  10. Hi Seeker of Truth – Do you mind telling me when you were *in* and if it was the NYC branch, or San Fran? Thanks, GSR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.