In 2006, a woman at a Whole Foods Market in Cambridge, MA. asked me a question. We chatted. She introduced herself as Lisa. As we paid for groceries, she said, “I’ve really enjoyed talking to you! We should get together sometime.”
We did get together for coffee, for walks, to look at art, etc. Eventually, Lisa invited me to “meet other like-minded people” — “a casual group of friends who get together to discuss ideas,” but added, “It’s very important that you don’t tell anyone about this — it’s private! Just for you.” BTW, the current cult recruitment tactic is: would you like to join a book club?
I started attending “classes” two evenings/week. Five years later, $20,000 poorer –at $350/month– battling a pervasive and debilitating depression. I left and subsequently learned that “School”, now known as “The Study”, is a secret and predatory cult.
“School/The Study” actively recruits in both Boston and New York City. Recruitment is known as “making new friends” and “3rd line of work”. Tactics include fabricating research studies, or book projects as excuses to talk to strangers, inviting “new friends” to “presentations”, or “classes”, or “book clubs”, or discussion groups.
Read Chapter 2, How to “Join” a Cult for more details.
If your new “friend” invites you into an exclusive group, ” … it is very important that you don’t tell anyone about this; it’s private, just for you!” “School”, aka “The Study, is recruiting you.
If “School’s”, aka “The Study” is courting you. Ask questions: how much will this “School”/”The Study, cost? Where does the money go? Is this “school”aka “The Study, registered as a non-profit? A corporation? What are the origins of this “school”/”The Study”? Who was Alex Horn? Who is Sharon Gans? What was “The Theater of All Possibility”? Ask why San Francisco authorities ran it out of town in 1978.
If your new “friend”, or “friends” dismiss or evade your questions, by responding in generalities — often not really answering, persist. “School”aka “The Study, will probably skulk away from a persistent and inquiring mind.
“School”aka “The Study, claims to be an “esoteric mystery school”. The lead “teacher”, Robert (or Bob, as some call him) and his underlings, Jeanine, Michael, Paul and Josh, nod to an illustrious philosophical and religious lineage — Plato, Socrates, Jesus Christ, Greek Mythology, Shakespeare, Hans Christian Anderson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King, etc.
The cult omits the name Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, the source of most of the ideas bandied about the hallowed halls: sleepwalking humanity; self-remembering; we don’t know ourselves; man as multiplicities, not unified beings; man as machine; self observations of the 3 centers — intellectual, emotional and moving; the many Is; essence, personality and false personality; the starry world; aims and five-week aims; the work octave, etc. Gurdjieff Associations all over the world, including Boston, discuss these ideas for voluntary donations.
My “class” met at various locations: The Belmont Lion’s Club:
Various hotels in Cambridge and finally in Billerica’s Faulkner Mills Building:
If you’re meeting with a “sustainer”, or “person who is helping you” (mentor or minder, you decide), s/he reports your conversations back to the leadership: former “sustainers” have confided this. If a “teacher” magically senses something about you that you’ve never shared with the group, s/he is not psychic. Your “older” colleague is breaking your confidence.
The purpose of this blog is to:
- Break my silence: NO MORE SECRETS. This secret rotted into a psychological cancer, eating away at me from the inside out.
- Spin silk from a sow’s ear and garner the wisdom that comes with recognizing and admitting that my need for guidance and desire to be part of something bigger than me made me vulnerable to a group of con artists.
- Expand the growing chorus exposing “school” as a fraud and a cult that will take your money, steal your time, damage your family and will attempt to fashion you into another one-dimensional cog in the “school” machine of recruitment and wealth generation.
- Provide resources for those who might be seeking information on a strange group that refers to itself as the invisible world. It’s really not invisible: http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/follow-the-leader