Un-Schooled Spouses and “School” Affairs

Recently an un-schooled spouse found this blog. Searching for reasons why her husband’s mysterious  “tai chi” class required ever-growing time, attention and secrecy,  she contacted me for help. At one point, she confessed to feeling guilty — as though she were “trying to take something he loved away from him.”

This piece of propaganda should sound familiar; for if you ever asked for ongoing “help” with an unschooled spouse one of the pat offers include this: s/he is jealous and trying to take this thing you love away from you. While in “school” I bought into this; back then I would have thought if only this spouse could understand how lucky she is; her husband is “working on himself”, and she will benefit as a recipient of gifts offered by “the invisible world”. He is becoming a man with finer vibrations.

One time when I asked for “help” with my husband a teacher named Carol said something to the effect of, “He has no idea how much love has come his way.” Even then, when awash in “school” programming, it struck me as strange. Now when I remember that comment, I marvel at “school’s” version of “love” — the kind of “love” that dismissed his thoughts, emotions, worries and experiences while still taking his money. Is that love? Silly me, I might call that extortion. We all felt “school’s” “love” and, by default, our spouses got hammered by it, too.

Like the irony presented by “school”-style “love”, the institution presents as though making its “students” into “finer” people, i.e. better husbands and wives (everyone remembers being externally considerate, right?). In reality “school” shapes its minions into school-promoting auto-matrons. As “students” “evolve”, the “school” programming  takes root infecting and spreading. Phrases like, “it’s private”, “just for you”, “makes you happy”, “think of this like therapy”, “no ones’ business” seep in along with the attitude fueling those phrases — i.e. “school” as superior and taking precedence over our inconsequential lives; a rightly-ordered life, “school” preaches, puts “school” and its mysterious AIM before everything else. “Students” soak this in and strive to “rightly order” their lives.

These attitudes of “school” first and everything else as secondary spreads through the home like an emotional virus. I still see the effects in my family —  even after being out roughly 18 months. My husband and I sometimes talk about some of the things I parroted at him while “evolving” “school”-style. When he found OSG and $350 written in my checkbook ledger, and challenged me on it,  apparently I responded by asking him “What were you thinking?” — how could he possibly ask where our money was going. Oh, by the way, I was unemployed at the time.

Interestingly, I have no memory of saying this. But I recognize this turn around as an oft-used “school” strategy — turn the tables and throw the question back at the the questioner; so I don’t doubt that I did, indeed, ask him what he was thinking. I can look back at my “classroom” experience and recall many instances when “teachers” employed this strategy. I now see that the longer “students” are saturated with “school” philosophy, the more likely they are to mechanically spout back the pat answers and deflective strategies.

Of course, unschooled spouses know when their “schooled” husbands and wives are spouting off programmed responses. The woman who contacted me said that a posture, a facial expression, a certain tone in her husband’s voice, or phrases used simply did not ring true to the man. And yet – even though she could feel the “school” machinations behind the presentation – its programming still got under her skin. She felt guilty for asking and wishing that he weren’t attending this mysterious thing.  She felt guilty for seeing the damage caused by it and asking, emphatically, that he look at it more closely. We “students” had a tendency to kill the messenger by responding as though she or he were trespassing.

The message of unschooled spouse as intruder exasperates the guilt; the guilt causes a soul to start questioning his or her perceptions. My husband felt a tremendous amount of guilt. Even he sometimes questioned whether it really was none of his business. Of course, now that I’m no longer a frog in the “school” pot o’ water heating slowly to a boil, I can see how ludicrous this is: an institution that demands secrecy, charges at least $350 a month, increases its demands over time, therefore impacting a family in any number of negative ways, claims to be “none of the family’s business”. In my case, when “school” informed me that my monthly expenditure was none of my husband’s business, well, even in my “school” stupor, on some level, I know it was ridiculous, but he still felt guilty.

The sinister truth is that “school” takes advantage of both the sincere seekers who join and those who love these seekers; those who — in good faith — wish to support him or her. Those people see, feel and hear the damage  without experiencing the magical seduction.  When unschooled spouses express legitimate worry, loneliness, mistrust and anger, “school” waves its evolved hand, shooing them away as though they were annoying flies; it dismisses the spouse, the kids, the family as just life things. It commands, “YOUR AIM IS YOUR GOD”.

Over time “school’s” AIM via “third line of work” — i.e. recruiting newbies and more income for Sharon — becomes a community effort,  and “school” tells its “students” that these efforts are necessary for their evolution. Nothing should get in the way of AIM, i.e. “God”, which translates into “school” as God; after all, our highly evolved efforts of funding Sharon’s retirement should not be overshadowed by our little families.

In an effort to end on a more hopeful note, I want to tell you, dear readers, that “school” alumni  from the Alex Horn/Sharon Gans Theater of All Possibilities have contacted me recently. I’ve been learning quite a bit about the evolved institution’s rotting roots, which will be explored in future posts. One of those kindred spirits sent me a chapter from a book called “Tales for the Unborn Son of My Unborn Child – Berkeley in the Sixties“, written by Thomas Farber. The chapter describes Farber’s Alex Horn encounters and the following two paragraphs describe Farber’s post-cult conclusions, which are relevant and healing for current escapees and our unschooled spouses:

“In this 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 mortality of those who could live no other way.”

“No, nothing was for free. Yes, I would pay. But I would stay with the ground-lings, 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 so 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.

I love this conclusion and couldn’t agree with it more given my process of being seduced into and then bumbling out of “school”. I have come to believe that those of us who have “rejoined the rhythms and melodies of the larger flow” and chosen to make our own ways, will all, given time, pass out of “school’s” reach. If your relationship survived its “school” days, toast that as a testament to its strength and know that your love is likely to survive any number of challenges. Your souls are alive and kicking, no one can take them away, and the process of your lives weaving together into a “school”-free tapestry can redeem the past.

43 thoughts on “Un-Schooled Spouses and “School” Affairs

  1. Laura says:

    The Thomas Farber book was really good reading and I recommend it to everyone. I got it from the library as I believe it is out of print.

    I am so glad that you put in that last quote. The idea of having to “grow a soul” by being in school always bothered me. Aside from the implication that without this particular school, one might end their life without a soul, I don’t think there is any other major religion that believes that you start life without a soul. Most of the major religions believe that we all have a spark of the divine in us. It always kind of horrified me to try to imagine life without a soul. And if school is the only way to obtain a soul, then the world is inhabited by billions of soulless creatures (who are all hopeless without school) and we are therefore really no different from other animals that roam the earth. Ugh!

    • Hi Laura,
      In response to — “The idea of having to “grow a soul” by being in school always bothered me.”

      Given all that I know about “school” now, I can’t think of anything more untrue, arrogant and insulting. In fact, I have never felt as empty and meaning-less as I did after a certain amount of time marinating in “school” indoctrination. If “school” does anything, it squeezes the soul out of you .

  2. moishe3rd says:

    It is interesting to me that the “tuition” was only $350.00 a month… Back in the day 1979 or so, tuition was around $200.00 per month.
    What does this means in terms of inflation and worth – We were constantly told that we were only a “preparatory School” because we were not on a high enough level to be in a “real School.”
    Therefore, as tuition today is significantly lower (in terms of inflation) than it was 30 odd years ago, today’s cult must be of a significantly lower level than it was 30 odd years ago yet – the “teachers” have awarded themselves some kind of “master enlightened” status.
    I find that rather telling…

    • Haven't Decided Today says:

      The tuition may have have been $200, but I remember hearing how many were paying an additional $200 a week to fund the tour of the King Trilogy.

      • moishe3rd says:

        Oh yes, we often paid considerably more for all kinds of crap. There was no doubt that Alex, and Sharon in particular, were a bit obsessive about being able to maintain their tax free, “hidden” lifestyle.
        Then again, those of us in the tour of the King Trilogy were actually getting paid something like $25.00 a day. Thank you very much…
        Alex and Sharon, like all good entrepreneurs, were successful at charming money not their own from a wide variety of sources…

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        Ah, so you could live like kings? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  3. Upper Lobby says:

    Another well written post. And a healing one too. Thank you! What were we (former students of corrupt teachers) thinking? Well, actually I know, but there’s not enough room here to talk about it right now. And can you imagine the scenario if sexual abuse were thrown into the mix? Never mind send in the therapists, send in the clowns!

    There is a somewhat related article coming out in The New Yorker (April, 2013) about corrupt teachers and abuse at the Horace Mann private school in New York. Not “Work” groups, I know, but a chilling parallel none the less.

    Keep writing. Keep publishing. Keep talking. Keep healing. Especially, keep breathing. Peace.

    • Noah's Dove says:

      Dear Upper Lobby,
      I found that New Yorker article chillingly familiar. Thank you for sharing it. I recognize the techniques of manipulation. Such are the techniques of the narcissist that preys upon a vulnerable person’s desire for approval and recognition all the while seeking their own ego gratification and setting up a relationship ripe for exploitation and personal gain. Such is the man or woman with the voice that assumes moral authority with a punitive religiosity. As portrayed in the article, Berman’s language to this day still reeks of predatory control through granting approval or disapproval–the exploiting party becomes the source, the sustainer of the victim’s sense of worth or worthlessness. They become Kali, the creator and destroyer of their devotees. In all honesty, I didn’t understand GSR’s previous posting reference to “The Source” until I read that article. Then it clicked. The telling of that story framed my emotional experience. It reminded me of the taste. WOW! The mind fuck of it all!!!! AHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! One big existential scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Peace be with you and courage in your awakening dear fellow travelers,
      Noah’s Dove

      • Upper Lobby says:

        Greetings Noah’s Dove and thank you for your insightful and heartfelt commentary. Yes, this magazine article caught many off-guard. A few friends found it difficult to finish and many found it haunting. The author of this article seemed to touch the essence of the abuse that was perpetrated.

        Many lines in the article affected me deeply. For example, “He tended to pick people who were vulnerable, who he knew wouldn’t speak out.” And, “He had this insidious way of making you feel absolutely singular when he was actually doing this to many people.”

        Thank you again for your comments. It took many years to empty the Kool-aid from my system. May strength be given to Gentle Souls who Revolt in Holiness and Reverence.

        Thank you to the blog creator of Gentle Souls Revolution for creating the space for healing and understanding. Peace.

      • @ Noah’s Dove and Upper Lobby,

        I read the article yesterday and found it very difficult! Disturbing. Chilling. Heartbreaking.

        Upper lobby, As you know, I created this blog out of my own need to express and heal my experience. I am exceedingly grateful and happy to know that it provides expression and healing for others, too.

        Keep it coming! Cheers!

  4. Hello Upper Lobby, Thanks for your comment.
    I’m told that Alex Horn was a sexual predator as well as physically violent back in his hay day. The “school” I experienced never crossed the line into physical or sexual violence. But my friend 007 (orchestrator of the Great Escape, 2012) and I once discussed that the environment was ripe for such violations, so who knows how bad things could have gotten.

  5. Haven't Decided Today says:

    Thought I’d point out a couple of things. First, when someone tries to deflect a criticism or question by pointing things back at the person asking, it is a variation on the rhetoric ad hominem fallacy. The one who asked/criticized might, indeed, have a fault, but that doesn’t address the question itself. So, a spouse not in “school” is emotionally ad intellectually being attacked. The spouse should know it and so should the “student.” Trying to injure someone who cares for you — as that is the intent of an attack — without owning up to the action is a cowardly and evil act.

    Second, for all the time people hear about the “aim of school,” have they ever heard what that actually means? Actions should match aims and goals. If all you do is bring in more students and pay money, then those are the aims of the organization. If you ask what the aim is and only hear some semantically empty drivel, realize that there are only two situations in which someone does not communicate what they are attempting. One is that they don’t really understand an are trying to cover their lack of comprehension. The second is that they are trying to deceive because there is either nothing to communicate or they are unwilling to offer a truthful answer.

    For what it’s worth…

    • Hello HDT,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t know about other readers, but I’ve never heard the term logical fallacy ad hominem, so I looked it up:

      “The logical fallacy ad hominem is a type of genetic fallacy … in which a arguments are discredited based upon the questionable character of those proposing them. This includes personal attacks upon individuals attempting to advance a certain idea. The basic premise of the logical fallacy ad hominem is that an idea can not be credible if the person proposing that idea has a disagreeable nature.

      For example: “… Jacob thinks that art programs should be better funded in schools because they facilitate creativity and help excite children who may otherwise become bored and restless … However, Jacob is a werewolf and therefore we should not listen to him.”

      This sounds about right, given what I witnessed and heard from “teachers”.

      As for “school’s” aim, all I ever heard in terms of an explanation was that we “students” weren’t “evolved” enough to understand it, but in ordered to “evolve” we needed to be participating in the “3rd line of work”, which in truth meant the divine work of funding Sharon’s retirement.

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        Ah, sorry for not explaining the term. From the Latin, it literally means “to the man” or, more generally, “to the person.” The reason is is considered a logical fallacy is that the person using an ad hominem attack never directly addresses the criticism, let alone shows that it is incorrect. Saying, “Well, you did the same thing” is considered a variation. Perhaps the person did, or did something else wrong, but that doesn’t mean that the initial criticism is automatically wrong.

        In this case, to say that the spouse is jealous may be true, but it doesn’t undercut the concern and criticism the spouse has. And from the sense that individuals are responsible for how they treat the whole — whether a school, a business, or a marriage — then the “school” representative could be said to be contradicting the principles he or she is supposed to be following.

        Learning how to balance personal interests and the responsibilities to a spouse in a marriage is an element of ordinary life. How can you assert that you have to master life and then pretend that you can do whatever you want without any concern about a spouse? Does one set of aims simply cancel another? Or are students at a preparatory school already considered too advanced for domestic obligations voluntarily taken on?

  6. NYC Survivor says:

    HDT – love your analysis. I think you’re spot on. It’s either willful ignorance, or willful deception.

    GSR – I would love to hear 007’s account of the infamous January massacre. I’ve read your account – and if I’m surmising correctly through the dialogue in the comment section, there once was a fuller account, and many comments, on the site that is now down. Any chance of getting a version of that reposted to this site?

    Thank you for another thoughtful post. I hope the woman who contacted you is able to reclaim her husband from Hades. He must remember to not look back as he is guided to the light.

    • Hi NYC,

      Thanks for your comment. I did have one account of the January exodus. I’ll go back and re-post it. I will also ask 007 if he’d like to write a guest post.

      My fingers are crossed for the unschooled spouse and her husband.

  7. PurpleHemlock says:

    As one of the escapees in the 2012 mass leaving, I wanted to say that there were actually many people involved who made many individual efforts that all added up to the whole. It was a team effort that extended beyond a single or even a few people. For instance it is thanks to 007’s efforts that I left…but then I went back to the next class and reached out to more people, and some of them left…and some of those people then went back themselves and talked to others (aka the night of the infamous interrogations). Also, I believe one or two of my fellow escapees did so entirely or mostly under their own steam. So it was a fairly complex “operation”…one that I think succeeded because we students were very close and trusted each other so much. Personally I know it’s because of my trust in 007 that I was able to hear the truth in what he said, which was remarkable considering that I had no real doubts about school before that night… Well there were doubts and suspicions, but they were so deeply buried they were not conscious, and I only become aware of them after hearing the truth. I think the same is true for some of the people I spoke to who left, and so on.

    This doesn’t even take into account elements like older former students who’d been out much longer who made themselves available to talk to us during this whole campaign.

    • NYC Survivor says:

      I think the January Exodus is a compelling story – and given how many people were involved, a multi-facted one. I’ve been out much longer – and left alone – and was left without the people I had thought were my closest friends. It was a long time ago – and at a critically formative time in my life – so I still feel the loss of those friends – even though I can’t remember many of their names.

      I applaud the courage it took to leave with so many of your friends. To even have broached the subject – to test the waters – is astonishing. I can only imagine how the conversation began.

  8. @ Purple Hemlock, Thanks for commenting. You are right of course. It would probably be more accurate to say that 007 was the catalyst for The Great Escape. I have extended an invitation to him to write a guest post about it, but anyone who wants to set the record straight and give credit where it is due is more than welcome to write a guest post.

    @ HDT, I find it fascinating to learn that this strategy has a name — ad hominem. I often witnessed it in “school” and its use must have temporarily shaken me out of my stupor. I remember several moments of thinking “what does [point X] have to do with what [student A] is saying … ” and then thinking that the “teacher” must know something I don’t and falling back to sleep. It’s helpful to learn the term. I wonder if “school” is aware of its use of ad hominem, or if its just an unconscious knee-jerk response at this point. I guess we’ll never know.

    • Haven't Decided Today says:

      There are many other types of fallacious arguments, such as a straw man (creating an unrelated equivalent of the original statement and refuting that), moving the goalposts (when someone answers a point, ask them to answer a further point), or an appeal to authority (so-and-so, an expert, thinks otherwise).

      The use of poor logical and fallacious arguments is common in society and hardly a special set of tools of people in “school.” Few people seem to excel at reasoned thinking. if you pay attention to any sort of argument — public policy and politics offer great examples — you’ll hear all of these and many more.

      There was a time when rhetoric and the study of how to argue was a standard subject in grade school. Today it’s rare to see it any any level of education. As far as “school” goes, I suspect it’s just another example of people thinking they are being clever and aping what they have seen over time. Now, not everything lends itself to a strictly logical argument. You might have emotional preferences for one thing or another, or there might be suppositions that have an influence on answers. But, for the most part, if you got into a discussion with someone still in the organization and had studied rhetoric, and were cold-blooded enough in its use, you could likely leave them painted into a corner having to refuse to discuss because they really had no answer and couldn’t psychologically face that reality.

      • Wow. These are all widely and oft-used “school” strategies. The moving goal post strategy even applied to projects which — of course — were always presented as “3rd line of work”. Often times “school” changed plans mid-stream with little or no explanation as to why. I feel like you are opening up an entirely new world of understanding for me. Of course, we see this stuff all the time in politics. But I never studied rhetoric, or debate — not in grade school, or ever. Suddenly it appears to be extremely useful to be aware that these manipulative tactics are things that have names and that people study them.

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        You’ll see these when you get into arguments with family during holidays. They appear constantly, usually because people don’t realize how illogical they are. Not that no one will use such tactics with full awareness of what they’re doing, but it’s relatively rare. I would put “school” arguments into this vast majority. Some people think they’re being clever while others are simply imitating what they’ve heard and seen.

        There are actually dozens of named fallacious arguments, some more subtle than others. They’re also good in deconstructing media.

    • Haven't Decided Today. says:

      Sorry — as in examining and analyzing television, radio, print, and Internet to understand what is really being said. Taking their messages apart, really.

    • NYC Survivor says:

      Love this exchange – number one reason why “school” was so interesting – smart people discussing real ideas. Too bad the “school” ideas were corrupted and co-opted for nefarious purposes.

  9. Abe says:

    For most people, I believe that energetic and emotional cords are formed between people who love each other, the strongest bonds being between parents and children, and husbands and wives. These cords are like emotional glue that keep us bound together, through thick and thin, sickness and in health. In the words of the traditional wedding ceremony, these bonds are recognized in the phrase “what God has joined together let no man put asunder” The cords are in the realm of the invisible world, but are real and tangible just the same.

    I have come to see that Sharon and Robert have complete and callous disregard for these emotional bonds, and this applies to individuals inside and outside of the group, including their own children.

    One blatant example of this callousness was help I saw given in class in at least two instances, where husbands married to spouses outside of school where openly encouraged to find women to have affairs with. In both of these circumstances, the teachers had been trying for several months to break up these marriages, usually because the wives were asking too many questions: about where money was going, or why the husband wasn’t home much, or about the secretive nature of their spouses coming and goings. To me it seems that having an affair was a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge into these psychic cords between a husband and wife. While this type of help was given openly in class many years ago, I suspect nowadays it’s given away from the questioning eyes of classmates, such as in private chats with Robert, for instance.

    I see the loved ones outside of the group as innocent victims, especially children and spouses. They didn’t choose to be in it, they don’t know it exists, but they are caught in emotional wake of the group just the same. At least the members of the cult have deliberately chosen to join and stick with it. They put themselves under “school influence”, and they have some degree of culpability for their predicament, however brainwashed they may be.

    I could rant and rave about all the other emotional abuses that have gone on over the years in this cult, all the divorces suggested and pushed for by teachers. Young single mothers pressured to attend classes twice a week until the wee hours of the morning and also participate in extracurricular activities to the same extent as the single folk – party preparations, recruiting, lecture preparations. The costs of babysitters added to already stretched budgets. Children growing up with absentee parents. Mothers pressured to put their babies up for adoption. Wildly exaggerated character assignations of former members. Public shamings in class. Suicides, attempted suicides, mental breakdowns. Accidents and illnesses that can be attributed to contiual lack of sleep. The relentless pressures for more money, more new students. The countless lies and deceptions, big and small, to friends, family, spouses. Many of these abuses have been discussed already on this blog and others. I believe most of these abuses have at their root a total disregard of the well being of the individuals involved, and any psychic cords that connect them deeply to others, such as family, friends, parents, children, siblings.

    For so many years I sat passively, witnessing these dramas play out in class, however big or small. I rarely spoke out, even though the “help” given often didn’t feel right to me. And I had my own share of drama over the years, and received my own share of dubious “help” in class. Eventually I stopped asking for help, in what I recognize now as an instinctive act of self preservation.

    Over time I could see and recognize that there was a party line, that the dubious objective “furthering the aims of school” would always be served, regardless of the costs emotionally, financially or psychically to anyone, be it costs for the students, or loved ones outside of the group. In retrospect, I’ve witnessed some very emotionally brutal events and heard about many more. After several years, I still find it shocking and struggle to make sense of it all.

    The best sense I can make of it so far is that whole experience was a profound educational experience for my soul about the nature and face of evil. I learned to trust, honor, and act on my own inner knowing. I am so grateful that I was awake enough to finally see and recognize this evil for what it is and escape.

    I’m grateful that so many of you found your way out. I’m grateful for this blog and others that provide a forum for us to share our thoughts and experiences. I am reminded of my favorite blessing “may the clear light within us guide our way home.”

  10. I so appreciate everything you’ve written. After leaving the lair, I began to understand that the b.s. I witnessed and experienced was the tip of the iceberg. I have come to believe that one facet of “school’s” illustrious aim is to break up marriages/families. Your comments confirm that for me. I don’t recall hearing “help” that encouraged “students” to have affairs, but sometimes I woke up to the callous way it dismissed spouses and their concerns. You are probably right that the “affair” variety of “help” probably happens behind closed doors. Everyday I thank God that my husband pushed his point when he did and I left before “school” damaged us beyond repair.

    Like you, I believe I got sucked into “school” for some profound lesson I needed about taking responsibility for my life. The most important aspect of taking responsibility is the statement you made above:
    “I learned to trust, honor, and act on my own inner knowing.”

    While in “school” learning to “trust, honor and act on one’s inner knowing” isn’t really possible, because attendance requires blind obedience and trust in “evolved teachers”. Eventually blind obedience leads you into doing things that go against your beliefs, as instructed. For example, lie to your spouse, or scam a Christmas tree from a local merchant for party.

    Well, I’d better stop myself from going off on a tangent. Thank you for your comment, especially for the blessing:

    “may the clear light within us guide our way home.”


  11. about veronica says:

    I think the primary aims of school are these: survival of the group, more money, more students, and sending a few projects out into the world to stroke Sharon’s vanity.

    The teachers have no problem with their students marrying outside of the group, as long as the spouses are accepting of the group’s time and financial commitments. The difficulty enters when circumstances change and the outside spouse starts questioning what’s going on. I’ve seen many situations where this happens. For instance, everything is fine until the first child is born, and the wife leaves her young baby at home two nights a week and the father questions why, or as the demands of school increase and more time is required for recruiting and projects, and the father is rarely home to see his children.

    As students move up the ranks in school, there are many phone conversations made behind closed doors: sustaining calls, aim partner calls, calls with potential recruits, calls to the recruiting captains. If you combine these secretive calls with being out late two nights a week, it’s no wonder marriages are strained. And money is always an issue between husbands and wives. Also, as time goes on, students are encouraged to take the acting class, and go on retreats, either weekends in NH or for a week in the summer in MT. This means more time and money goes to the group at the expense of the family.

    I don’t think that breaking up marriages is a primary aim of the group, but it is often a secondary aim based on individual circumstances. The primary aim is always to keep the existing students in school, no matter what. If it means the marriage must end, so be it – it’s just collateral damage. Any strong emotional bonds between the student and spouse are irrelevant. The campaign to end a marriage always begins when the offending spouse starts questioning and making demands about time, money, and/
    or secrecy. The student’s loyalty is torn between his/her duty to school and the needs of their family. It becomes an issue of power and control, and school expects unwavering loyalty from its members, or blind obedience as you so correctly call it. Divided loyalties are not tolerated; Sharon and Robert need to have the ultimate control over their students.

    I find Robert and Sharon to be ruthless, callous, and heartless in their effort to keep students in school at any cost. It’s not only in the context of relationships that this happens, for instance, I remember one student who was pressured not to go to med school at Dartmouth (she went anyway), and another who was encouraged to turn down a Rhodes scholarship to study overseas (she turned it down and stayed in school, only to be forced to leave months later due to financial reasons)

    I’m with you, the total absurdity and hypocrisy of “scamming for a Christmas tree” is disturbing to me. I remember David H. posing as priest putting on a charity event year after year so he could get a substantial discount on the ingredients for the Christmas party meal. He’s a nice Jewish guy who unwittingly became a con artist with delusions that it’s for some ¨higher good”. School certainly collects enough money though out the year to pay for Christmas trees and groceries, and its Sharon’s greed that keeps the collected money all to herself.

    I couldn’t see it when I was in the group, but after being out for awhile, I see its deeply symbolic of all that is wrong with the group. How such good and kind hearted people end up doing something so ridiculous and deceitful, believing it’s for some alleged higher good? It’s hard to fathom. How did we get to that point? Like you say, it comes from blind obedience and not listening to our own true perceptions of the situation. I pray that all those still involved find their own ways out.

    • In re to:
      “How such good and kind hearted people end up doing something so ridiculous and deceitful, believing it’s for some alleged higher good? It’s hard to fathom.”

      We must all struggle with this question. We go in believing that “school” will bring out the best in us. We put faith in our “teachers” that they knew something we didn’t know. (Or course, they do, but the secrets they keep have nothing to do with divine knowledge). We believed they had our best interests in mind.

      Given time, “school” morphed into a strange addiction for me — I believed I needed it (I didn’t enjoy it at a certain point) and I did things I didn’t believe in on instruction.

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        You asked me about my experiences. Not something I’m inclined to do, as I mentioned, but here’s something you might find interesting. The statement “The primary aim is always to keep the existing students in school, no matter what” I found to be off from what I remembered. Yes, people were often pushed/encouraged to stay in. But I also saw/hear instances where people were told to leave school for some time because they had used it to hide from their own lives. From what I remember hearing (just before my time), Bob was bounced out for a while. I remember some other people who now act as teachers getting pushed out to tend to their lives. But that was many years ago.

  12. moishe3rd says:

    Back before Agents of Mordred subsumed the former “older students and teachers” of yore and sucked them into the Matrix, everybody was “kicked out” of “School” for all sorts of reasons.
    All of the oldest “teachers” of today were banished by either Sharon or Alex or each other, including Bob and Fred. Sharon and Alex banished each other at various points – separating and reuniting; publicly declaring what the other was not capable of doing; until they finally split with each other.
    When Bob was kicked out, I and a couple of other “older students” got to be the “older student/ teachers” for a while in place of Bob and Fred (Fred had been banished for quite a bit before that).
    Ahhhh…. What a glorious time! I was so earnest; so determined to be “conscious” and live up to my responsibility as a “teacher;” serious conversations about the direction “School” needed to take with either Sharon or Alex; “trust” to run classes and evaluate other students….
    Ahhh me, yes indeed – creating the Esoteric-ism that the World so desperately needed – I was one of those Secret, Hidden Giants that really knew what mattered….
    Okay. I was kind of a demented jerk. But not in a bad way…
    Until my turn was over and I became just another “student;” just another actor in the Great Wheel of The Plays That Went Abroad….
    But, that was fun too.
    What you all left or, G-d forbid, are still in – is Hell. Not fun. Not at all.

  13. Hi about veronica-

    I just reread your second comment and am having so many reactions. I don’t know why these things didn’t sink in on the first read. Like I’m picturing David H ( I think I know who he is) dressed as a priest and scamming a big discount on groceries for the all-important Christmas Party. It’s Theater of the Absurd. I can’t even put words to it. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, really. God did we really all do that??? Yes. I guess right now I’ll laugh. Maybe I’ll cry later.

    And I know what you mean when you say that breaking up marriages isn’t “school’s” primary aim; however, I don’t know many marriages that could survive the increasing demands — the secret phone calls, secret meetings, surprise projects suddenly stealing more time from the family, the ever increasing need for “clever insincerity” i.e. lies, all ends up looking like the “student” is either having an affair, or in a crazy cult.

    To HDT & Moishe3rd –

    It is interesting to read about the mass kicking out of everyone. During my tenure, most of the time, “students” just disappeared and rarely did anyone have the courage to say “What ever happened to [FILL-IN-NAME-HERE]?” The fact that folks rarely asked should have been a red light. Also, my first Sharon encounter consisted of her breezing in, kicking out a student, giving rambling “help” throughout the evening and then breezing out at the end. I almost quit after that night. I was very new to “school” and I remember thinking, “What the fuck was that?” At the time, we had to discuss the ousting of this student in subsequent classes because people were upset. I think “school” went into damage control mode, because it wasn’t typical for a teacher to look straight at a student and say, “Why don’t you leave.”

    For some odd reason that wasn’t enough to keep me away. Ah, well. There must be some reason I stuck it out for five years. Maybe it was simply so I could write this blog.

  14. about veronica says:

    To Moishe3rd: When I first started in the mid eighties, Sharon and Alex would drive up to Boston for classes every month or so in their oversized vintage Cadillac. You might remember it.

    There was one class on a weekend at the old space in Somerville where Sharon and Alex kicked out about half of the intermediate and older students because they didn’t speak in class. It was shocking and dramatic; and looking back now, I think it was part of the act. To be kicked out of school was meant to be the ultimate form of punishment and disgrace. I think it was expected that the expelled students would beg to return, and sing a song about learning a lesson about complacency and taking school for granted. But, alas, most of them never returned to the fold. The act backfired. A few of students dribbled back here and there over the years, but most were gone for good. It represented a tremendous drop in cash flow, and in retrospect was a huge setback for the group. Recruiting slowed down in this timeframe and the lost students were not so easily replaced. The kicking out strategy was used less after that, and on a much smaller scale.

    When Alex himself was kicked out of the group in the late 80’s, sustaining and recruiting became more formalized and structured under Sharon’s leadership. It was harder and harder to attract and retain new students, and my guess is that Sharon’s and Alex’s lifestyle became more opulent and grandiose, therefore they had to hold onto any sucker willing to hand over the cash every month. I suppose you could say it was a gradual “evolution” over time for the aim to “hold on tight to any paying fool, no matter what” to develop. And ultimately result was a total disregard for the best interests of any poor soul caught in their web.

    GSR – I agree with you, it becomes progressively harder and harder to maintain a marriage in school amid the escalating demands of time, energy, secrecy, and money, especially with someone outside of the group. I saw a few such marriages last over the years, none the less. What seems to work, aside from having a very tolerant spouse who doesn’t ask questions, is to do the bare minimum of extracurricular activities. If you’re married to someone else in group, it helps if each spouse is proud of the others efforts and achievements at recruiting, the lecture series, etc. You can bask in the reflected glory of your spouse. I digress, school marriages are a breed of their own.

    As far as David H. posing as a priest to get a discount on Christmas dinner ingredients, I don’t think he dressed as a priest, though, he just told a good story about the charity event he was putting on. He went to same place year after year, always making substantial purchases. The proprietors would great him warmly and say, “Father David, it’s so good to see you again!” He became a part of their Christmas season experience. I thought David seemed a bit uncomfortable by this. I hope he is well; as far as I know, he’s still in the group. It’s so sad, so many good people caught in the web of school. I wish all of them well.

    • Haven't Decided Today says:

      Just noticed the time frame you mentioned. Chances are that we likely know each other. I not only remember the Caddy, but remember when it died and they made a class out of some significance of the car having run out of oil and gas. (Which speaks ill of the cognizance of the people who weren’t checking the levels…)

      And, yes, I also wish the people still there well. It does make me sad to realize the number that have been in nearly 30 years.

      • moishe3rd says:

        No. Can’t be. We (my wife and I) left (got “kicked out,” sort of) about 30 years ago. Me, right after the plays returned from Tour; my wife, about a year later (we were separated at the time).
        I have to believe that the only people left from that time and before are now the “teachers” such as (as reported on on the former esoteric freedom blog) Imlay; Fred; others; and, of course, Bob and Sharon.
        I mean, there can’t be any “students” still from that time, can there?
        The restructuring of “School” itself by Sharon – “sustainers; recruiters; aim consultants;” whatever other weird titles and positions, along with the creation of the “black book (s?)” would have seemed to have been enough to drive away all of “us” remaining lazy “idealists” who would have found it impossible to live in that kind of regimented cult.
        Except, of course, for those that did stay…. Which I do find extremely bizarre. They are all “teachers” now, aren’t they?

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        moishe3rd, they’re either some type of teacher or really old older students. How many never built the lives they really wanted because of over dedication to an organization?

        I’m away from the office at the moment, but next week will email you (think I still have your address) with some names that might stir a memory or two.

    • Charlie Chaplin says:

      I was assigned to David H as my mentor (older student) during a stretch of 3rd line (recruiting) work. At the time we were forbidden from trying to meet people in Cambridge, Somerville and several other places (everywhere highly populated and convenient for me). David and I walked around a bit in Watertown and talked to a few passersby, mostly about how smart phones and mobile devices make us more disconnected, something I now no longer take for granted. He seemed more comfortable with the whole thing, but I thought I sensed an underlying conflict. At the end he gave me a jug of freshly made lemonade. He’s really a lovely guy in many ways, makes incredible food. As far as I know he is still in. I saw him at a check out line at Costco a couple of months ago but didn’t say anything. I was with my family and he appeared to be with someone as well. Actually it never occurred to me to say anything – the instinct to preserve “invisibility” is still so strong. I saw another ex-student at an Easter Egg hunt recently, someone I’ve been in contact with and she waved to me. We chatted a bit, and I introduced my wife. The most normal thing in the world, but it still seemed odd to part of me. I was very happy about it though, and look forward to randomly running into other folks and behaving as normal social humans who like each other.

      • Hi Charlie Chaplin,

        Thanks for chiming in! I love that you wrote this:

        “We chatted a bit, and I introduced my wife. The most normal thing in the world, but it still seemed odd to part of me. I was very happy about it though, and look forward to randomly running into other folks and behaving as normal social humans who like each other.”

        Isn’t it weird how normal things became so strange. Last week I visited with a couple of escapees. One of them had bought a home fairly recently, so he toured us around, introduced us to his wife. It was normal and it still felt so odd … as though I were “breaking the rules”.

        Ugh. Never again.

  15. Another Version of the Story says:

    This thread has inspired a thought. Wouldn’t it be interesting (and perhaps difficult) to have an un-schooled spouse gathering! We ex-school birds could create an opportunity to hear the spouses’ side of the story. I am trying to fully imagine what it was like to be in their shoes. I am quite sure that were the roles reversed, it is unlikely that I would have been as tolerant or supportive. How humbling it would be to be a fly on the wall as two un-schooled spouses uninhibitedly shared their questions, thoughts and feelings with one another. Have any ex-schoolies had that experience?

  16. That is a great idea. I’ve spoken with un-schooled spouses, but haven’t had the experience of listening to unschooled spouses speak with each other. I wonder if any of the un-schooled have gotten together to talk about their “school” experiences. Well, un-schooled spouses, if you’re reading this blog and think a gathering would be helpful, let us know.

  17. MLostLove says:

    Thank you all for posting on this site and for our strength to leave this destructive group. I am morning the loss of the love of my life to the school and I cannot tell you how sad and still hopeful your stories are for me to read.

  18. Hello MLost Love – Thank you for posting. I’m so sorry to hear that your love got sucked into the black hole of “school”. I am also glad that the blog is helping you and providing hope. Feel free to contact me at hummingbird2916@safe-mail.net, if you think I can help in any other way. If you do send an email, let me know here, b/c I don’t check the safe-mail account on a regular basis.

  19. MLostLove says:

    Hi GSR – I did send you an e-mail the other day and I would love to hear from you.

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