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”

Chapter 2: How to “Join”a Cult — Repost

midvale-school for giftedThis spring, organizers of a literary event invited me to read a narrative version of Chapter 2, How to “Join” a Cult. I have heard now repeatedly that no one “joins a cult”. People join groups that speak to something in them. Once in these groups, people discover that the presentation doesn’t fit the package. Once in for a time, you might find yourself thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this … ”

Sources tell me that “school” has whittled down the five-meeting recruitment process to three meetings. The overall deception, and manipulation, however, remain the same.

On that note, here is the Chapter 2, How To “Join” a Cult rewrite:

Step-by-Step to Cult Membership for Lost Souls & Recruiters

You’ve always wanted to join a cult, but didn’t know how. You could visit Scientology’s local branch office, but you’d prefer something a little more “private” — the smaller, more secretive, harder to find, cottage-industry cult — like, say, a “secret esoteric mystery school”. This step-by-step guide will refine your vibrations to generate the “magnetic center” and attract the right recruiter to you.

You, on the other hand, are seeking lost souls for your secret cottage-industry cult. It’s challenging — and sometimes dangerous — but your imperative mission to awaken sleeping humanity calls! You must find and save lost souls; fellow soldiers who seek meaning and purpose; those who long to connect to something bigger then themselves; those who will join the effort to safeguard secret, society-saving, esoteric ideas; those who will surrender everything else to this higher purpose until the grave, or senility sets in … whatever happens first … at $350 a month. To learn how to instantly recognize your devotees, bait your line and hook them every time, read on!

 Step 1: Be Broken Heart-ed, Discontented and Constantly Questing:

Rain saturated Boston in spring, 2006. Every day I stepped off the train into the latest deluge. Jeff and I started dating in March. For years we practiced tai chi with the same teacher. One night we joined with classmates to hear music, after which we peeled off from the group and went to the nearest pub. His blarney entertained me and — as was typical of me — I found the storyteller attractive; the dysfunction played out in the typical way with a new twist.

At the time, I was completing final projects and preparing to graduate from a writing program. I was launching a new career — I hoped. The new relationship raised additional hopes — after a unimpressive roster of failed romances, maybe I had found the one. My life was beginning to turn around, I hoped.

But Jeff’s gifted gab starting digressing into random and disconnected thoughts. “Context, Jeff?” I would tease him. “If you want me to know what you’re talking about, context would help.”

One day, he abruptly disappeared and avoided my calls. We were through, I figured. But just as abruptly, he apologized. We were circling Walden Pond — our break up locale — he took my hand and revealed that interactions between us were playing out in his head. The storyteller had been spinning imaginary conversations — he was angry at me for things I had never said, in response to the things he had never told me.

This screaming siren should have sent me scrambling away at warp speed. Nope. With hope and a savior complex as my motivator, I gave our romance a second chance. Predictably, disappearing-act round two began, with the heartwarming addition of Jeff complaints flooding my email inbox. I wrote back: don’t email me. If you’ve something to say, call. The stream accelerated into a relentless river of pressured, cruel and accusatory messages. I blocked him, put pen to paper and wrote four sentences:


I need to end this. Don’t contact me.
Sam has your stuff. If you want it back, call him.



I sent the letter; the rain clouds burst. I was drenched inside and out.

Step Two: Magical Grocery-Store Encounter

Remember lost souls are everywhere. Stay awake during your day-to-day comings and goings! Let your “aim” guide your every moment. Your “Aim is your God”! While shopping at Whole Foods, ask yourself who in here is longing for “freedom”. Arm yourself with prepared questions, such as “who do you admire in history?” Strike up a conversation, develop rapport, be positive, but don’t linger! Keep it fast, friendly and upbeat; don’t give your new “friend” time to question – less is more. Say, “I have to run, but I’ve really enjoyed talking to you! We should get together sometime. Can I get your phone number?”

Uncomfortable with the hidden agenda? Remember, you are doing this poor soul-less, sleepwalking slob a favor by introducing him or her to “The Work”. Only you are “awake” enough to sense his/her “magnetic center”. Remember how “The Work improved your life!” Once upon a time, someone was awake enough and bold enough to do this favor for you.

Don’t mention the expectation of lifelong tenure at $350 month; the eternally, exponentially expanding group demands; the alienation from friends and family outside the group. In fact, don’t mention the group. You are simply making a “new friend”. Finally, for your safety, give your target recruit a pre-established answer phone — i.e. a voice mail.

Shortly before Jeff’s email onslaught, I attempted one last conversation.
“If we are going to break up, let’s at least be adult about it; let’s have a summit,” I said. “I’ll pick up some food. Come over and we’ll talk.” He agreed.

On summit night, I shopped at Whole Foods Market. Waiting in the cashier’s line, I ruminated over my failures – 40-years old, temping for $15/hour, “career” aimless and amorphous, another failed relationship, blah, blah, blah. Enveloped in self-pity, I was vaguely aware of the family behind me. A pretty, dark-haired woman, pointed to a magazine cover and said to her daughter, “What to you think of that?” Her daughter looked at the photo — a Zen garden — and rolled her eyes. Then the woman asked me, “What do you think?”

Inside me something said, “What does she want?” I dismissed that thought. “It looks awesome,” I replied, wistfully. The question felt strange, but the garden looked green and peaceful; beautiful and serene – a perfect contrast to my despair, unrest and discontent. I wanted to crawl inside the magazine cover and sit in that garden. Bing! Cult recruitment was off and running.

Lisa, a painter, and her husband, Josh, a writer like me, engaged me in conversation. We shared consternation(s) about squeezing our passions between life’s obligations. I complained about my boring and meaningless temp job. The cashier frantically rang up items over our blather, as the line extended behind us. They briefly pulled me out of my morass, so when Lisa said, “We should get together.” I said, “Great.” We exchanged information and parted ways. I drove home to be blown off by my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

As my relationship unraveled, Lisa left messages persistently and patiently — undeterred by my slow response. I was busy falling apart, after all. I was busy letting Jeff shred my heart. I was busy feeling old and lost and crappy. I was busy weeping with the sky.

One day I was home. The phone rang, I answered. We scheduled a “meeting”.

Step Three: Five meetings

Pursue patiently, until you set up a meeting. In the first two meetings  gathe information — is your potential recruit employed? What is his/her job? How much money does he or she make? Married or single? Does he or she have children? Does he or she long for purpose, question reality — have a “magnetic center”? For “your safety and privacy” refrain from talking about yourself as much as possible.

In meetings three and four, insert “secret” esoteric ideas into conversations; do they spark interest? If yes, tell the new recruit, you want to introduce him/her to a “friend”. Your more experienced colleague will establish whether this recruit is appropriate.  We don’t want just any old lost soul; our recruits must have “magnetic center”. They must be transitioning, or unsatisfied, vulnerable in some way. Oh and, by the way, if said recruit works for law enforcement, military, or the media, your more experienced colleague will reject them.

Lisa and I took walks, drank coffee, wandered museums and met for lunch. The magical new friendship felt like a divine intervention — orchestrated from above, right when I needed some hope. She asked me a lot of questions and listened attentively. I revealed more and more about my discontent with myself, and my life. She told me almost nothing about herself. Generally, I tend to be a listener and ask questions, so the dynamic felt uncomfortable and yet I looked forward to our visits.

One day I said, “I don’t know what it is about you, Lisa. I talk so much about myself.”

“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked. “It’s different.”

“What about you?” I asked. “How did you meet your husband?”

She shifted in her chair, and looked down. “We met in an acting class. It’s hard to explain.” She changed the subject. It struck me as odd, but I followed her lead. Five years later I would leave “school” and learn that many “schooled” couples “meet in an acting class”.

At the time, though, my need for validation overrode suspicions. Lisa had a gentle presence and a great sense of humor. We laughed a lot and discussed fascinating topics and global mysteries. I wondered about the meaninglessness of my day-to-day existence: another failed relationship; empty temp job; a persistent and unending longing to pursue my songwriting and connect that art form to a passion – grabbing for the brass ring and always missing. She appeared to understand without judgment and won my trust through her patience, kindness and ability to empathize.

“Is this all there is?” I would (stereotypically) wonder our loud. “There has to be more to life.”

At meeting 4, she popped the big question:
“How would you like to meet other, like-minded people? I get together with a group of friends on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We discuss life’s big questions and ponder ideas.”

According to Lisa, people came and went. They laughed a lot. These ideas, she said, provide guidelines on how to live, tools if  you will. Suspicion, curiosity and hope poked at me; but hope took the lead – maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally found something that can help me break out of a cycle of constant failings. My self judgment steamrolled over lovely friendships, dysfunctional but loving family, musical and artistic passions and academic degrees from the Harvard Extension School, Lesley University and Hiram College.

This pervasive self doubt, and persistent longing for things that felt unattainable, namely musical and artistic pursuits, made me the perfect target for “school” – a win for the ambitious cult recruiter.

“Sure, why not.” I replied.

She wanted to introduce me to a “friend” and then informed me of the first required deception, a.k.a. “clever insincerity”: “It is very important that you not tell anyone about this. It’s private, just for you.

The secretiveness should have been a red light. It was a red light. I disregarded it. The seductiveness of “privacy, just for me” outweighed my suspicions; besides that, I trusted her.

Step Four: Meeting Robert — “Just for Me”

At the fifth meeting, introduce the new recruit to Robert. He will make the final call.

Torrents fell in sheets and buckets, again, when I met Lisa and a slightly round, very tan, bearded man named Robert at Pete’s Coffee. I commented on the steady deluge hitting Boston that spring.

Robert replied, “It has been said that raindrops are angel’s tears, and that the angels are crying.”

Wow! I’d been raining all spring — the thought of crying with angels cinched the deal — let the magic begin! As we sipped lattes, Robert expounded on how each human — in purest form — is an “essence” visiting earth from the “starry world” – earth is not home. We journey here, he said, to learn something about an essential weakness. I heard those angel voices rise and saw sunbeams part the dark clouds of my  dirge. Finally! I’ve met others who could explain and understand my lifelong befuddlement and sense of not belonging to this world!

But Robert had moved on — he pontificated on other ideas and I kept asking him, “What do you mean?” He finally said — with a wee bit of exasperation leaking out — “Well, I’m trying to tell you.” On looking back, I see that his entire rap was an introduction and exposition on the “ideas” to come. I was unable to absorb all the new “knowledge”. He was outlining the “school” experience, should I choose to accept the mission.

At one point in this final meeting, Lisa and I shared my post-Hurricane Katrina, disaster relief adventure with Robert. In 2005, I joined with Scientologists and handed out bottled water and gallons of bleach in Mississippi. I’d shared several crazy scenarios with Lisa previously, so we were laughing about something Scientology related. Robert’s face darkened — his voice tightened as he said, “They don’t get it.” Then he stopped himself. He dismissed the conversation abruptly, as though swatting away a fly. We followed his lead.

He asked me – as had Lisa – whether I’d like to meet “like-minded people” and try out a free “five-week experiment” called “school”.

“Does it have another name?” I asked.
“No just ‘school’.” He replied with a smile.
“Where do we meet?” I asked.
“When we start a new class, we’ll let you know.” He replied.
“Is there a cost?” I asked.
“Look, if you decide to continue after the five-week experiment there’s a tuition fee. It really depends on each student,” he said.
“O.k.,” I told him. “I’ll try it. All I can say is it feels right.”
“Great. Just remember that it is critical to not to tell anyone about this. It’s private. Just for you.”

Like Jeff’s quirky and odd behavior, I brushed past the flashing red lights  — the secrecy, or “privacy” as “school” likes to call it, was screaming step away from the cult recruiters, ma’am; it was also seductive and special … “just for me.”

I didn’t tell anyone and I waited for the new class to begin – after all, what could a five-week experiment hurt?

Y2K in “School”

Recently a “disgruntled ex-student”, circa 1999, contributed this story to the blog in her comments. It illustrates cult-ish “school” lunacy so beautifully, that I decided to give it blog-post prominence. Even The Christmas Party pales in comparison. I recall December 31st, 1999 — the build-up to Armageddon, culminating into my dullest New Years Eve ever. Read on to learn of “school’s” enlightened preparation for world’s end! I hope you laugh as hard as I did — after all, laughter is the best medicine:

Y2KAh yes, we remember it well:

For several years, anyone not in a coma had been conscious of stories on the possible chaos that awaited the world on January 1, 2000. Everyone except Queen Sharon.

In late spring/early summer of 1999 it somehow penetrated her “mind”. I remember the night she deigned to tell her students that she had “become aware” of this “very dangerous thing called Y2K”. We all looked at each other. Not only was everyone in the room “aware”, but most people had recognized that government and business had been working for a couple of years to make sure there were NO large disruptions, if they even happened. Most experts believed that — at worst — computers would simply turn their dates to 1900 and continue to function.

Of course anyone could see that this could cause obvious problems with say, paychecks and shipping dates – so, everyone had been WORKING ON IT – HELLO? Even the cult classic (oops, unintentional pun … sorry!) Office Space, was about a guy, bored with his job – CORRECTING CODE FOR Y2K. And by Summer 2000, Office Space was already OLD.

But She Who Must Be Obeyed had spoken; Bright people who knew better said, “There is a lesson our teacher wants us to understand.” Minor league idiots bought it hook, line and sinker (and by ‘idiots’, I mean people who really, really, by their position and intelligence, should have known better).

For example: a fairly bright woman (so I thought) who made a lot of money in sales, had hysterics when I told her that I was skeptical and started berating me, telling me that global business would stop; society would break down; credit cards wouldn’t process. She finally stopped when I asked her if she didn’t think that credit card and shipping companies hadn’t thought of that and would really, really want to prevent it?

She either actually thought about it, or decided that I was “closed” to my teacher and later in 2000, when I left, and even later, when I was vilified, that must have been a “sign” of my “negativity to school”. I still think it was just common sense. But hey, what do I know? I actually LEFT SCHOOL!!! Can you believe it?

That night, we were ordered to go home immediately and pack an escape bag – it was to include many, many, many things: survivalist style, for each family member, a sleeping bag, down jacket, rain jacket, clothes you could layer, various pants, shoes, socks, flashlights, extra batteries, dried food, water, liquor to trade with devos*, a gun if you had it (again, devos), gold if you had it, jewelry (same), hat, compass – the list went on.

Those who actually packed a bag
a) spent a lot of money.
b) found them too big and too heavy to actually carry.

People who lived in the suburbs were charged with filling their houses with the above, and getting generators. We were “assigned” to different areas and houses. “You go to A’s and you go to J’s and you two go to this one and you five go here and we’ll all meet to fight the zombies.” If you could, you were supposed to get to the Country Retreat at Pawling, so we could “all be together”.

For months this became a school focus: people took archery classes so we could learn to shoot animals and protect ourselves. We had a well-stocked first aid box and a well-stocked liquor supply. Construction was stepped up on the property. We bought food that would keep as a trial – and as a result ate potatoes for months. (They don’t actually keep all that well).

We talked about the impending doom in class and our fears (some of us) for the World To Come. People bought generators. People spent money to do what the queen demanded. For New Year’s we all had to leave the city. We all had to call in and say where we were going to be. In a few cases a number of people ended up at the same home out of town and had little parties – that sounded like fun. I was with non-school friends and called my “school” friends at midnight. I felt very connected, having finally had a decent Christmas party experience.

Nothing happened. Y2K was never mentioned by anyone in “school” again. Eight months later, I was gone with ten percent of our school. So, I guess for corporate headquarters, it was a disaster of sorts, after all.


* Devos – This is a term known to people in little “l” life who read bad science fiction; it means people who have devolved instead of evolved. We hope that if anyone from “school” is taking notes on this, that they report this term to Robert and Sharon for their usage when describing the “disgruntled ex-students”, as in “they are now devolved – devos.” Please remember that you heard it here first and there are copyright usage fees.

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.



Break “The Rules”

Recently, a friend interviewed me about my “school” days at a private event. As I answered her questions, a sea of wide-eyed, un-“schooled”, quizzical and puzzled expressions faced me; their inquiries quickly started pelting out, one leading to another popcorn-ing into a lid-lifting pile. Unprepared for the onslaught, I had to keep reminding myself that their bewilderment was normal. I have become accustomed to talking cult.

The contrast between their shock, my surprise at their shock, and my ongoing conversations with “disgruntled ex-students” provides a stark reality check: with enough exposure, “school”-style thought reform becomes normal — freedom of speech be damned. The longer my tenure, the more dependent I “became”. The more dependent I became, the more I sought “teacher help” and approval. The more “help” and “approval” I sought, the more subject I felt to random “school” dictates – everyone in “school” seeks approval: “students” look to “teachers”; “teachers” look to Robert; and Robert looks to Sharon.

This group dependence comes from a cult-concocted mirage – a hierarchy that conveniently places “teachers” on the upper rungs as those who have been doing the work longer, with Sharon residing on top. At certain key moments a “teacher” would demonstrate his/her prophetic powers – magically sensing personal things and/or bringing up private matters in class, as though s/he was psychic. Of course, “school’s” “younger students” don’t know that “sustainers” report “confidential” conversations to the leadership. “School” uses the information to bolster the above-mentioned mirage, spinning “teachers” into prescient, “higher beings” with clairvoyant powers, connected to and supported by the Divine.

The truth is that the cult only has power if we follow “school” rules and keep cult secrets. If we don’t question where the money goes, or where the ideas originated, why the source of these ideas are kept from us, whether our “teachers” are truly more evolved, if we don’t ask why the lies are really necessary and who the lies protect, if we stay isolated by honoring “school’s” non-fraternization rule, we perpetuate this mirage. As a “student” your “only life things” will get squashed under the weight of propping up the leadership. If a “student” questions why “school” relegates his/her time, un-“schooled” relationships, passions, health, etc, to the lower rungs, in service to the cult’s mysterious “higher aim”, highly-evolved “teachers” will throw the inquiry back: “Why are you mixing levels?” That pat response becomes normal.

When I finally left the ranks, I had to put intentional and concerted efforts into separating my authentic beliefs from cult propaganda. Fortunately, I discovered a simple and clear-cut path to psychological and emotional health: break “the rules” — tell your story to other people; it doesn’t matter whether those other people are colleagues, or not; as you release yourself from “school”-sponsored secrets, you release yourself from a strange and invisible esoteric prison. For the more you talk freely about your experience, the more you separate the wheat from the chaff and your true beliefs from “school” dictates. When you extract yourself from cult programming, and reconnect to your authentic beliefs and nature, you truly do remember yourself.

“The Rules” and “School” Paranoia

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to talk about my cult experience at a private event. Rather glibly, I said, sure, adding that we could make it hilarious. I invited some friends, family,  fellow ex-“students” and un-“schooled” spouses. The anxiety it kicked up in my ex-“classmates” knocked that glib-ness down a peg or ten. For the damage “school” inflicts with its cult-induced paranoia is not funny.

As a woman who disclosed her cult tenure in a blog, not caring who read it, or who could identify me — in fact honoring my personal post-cult policy of No More Secrets —  I forget that my fellow “disgruntled(s)” might be uncomfortable seated anonymously in the audience. I felt a sudden guilt for extending this anxiety-inducing invitation to my dear friends–for I love these people and I have leaned heavily on them since leaving the ranks. For the first time, I felt trepidation about coming out as the cult-survivor poster child; it dawned on me that I would be sharing my cult confessions with — well — people. I called a friend to ask, “Am I crazy?”

It is one thing to confess to, and interact with, a computer screen; it is another thing to announce to an audience largely unaware of this little cottage-industry cult, “I got suckered into spending roughly $20,000, over five years, putting countless hours, and a lot of energy into a con job, to chase the ever-elusive and undefinable goal of evolution.”  The words shame and embarrassment jump to mind. The question, “how could I be so gullible and dense?” rears up. The hurt I inflicted on those near and dear during my tenure confronts me.

Shame and embarrassment are familiar feelings to the “schooled”, as well as the following cult-induced paranoia(s):

1) Leaving the institution means “cutting yourself off from the source.”

2) Breaking the silence “seal” and the “non-fraternization” rule creates “leaks” that will drain me of the goodness gleaned from my “work.”

3) If the “sleepwalking” masses learn of my “school” days, I may lose my job, or friends, or house, or marriage, etc, etc, etc.

4) Confessing my cult days will prove, at best, embarrassing, and, at worst, devastating.

Seeing my anxiety rise, my friend said that we could cancel the interview. But since I left the ranks, the more I practice No More Secrets, the more healing and freedom I experience. I guess the time has come to take that policy to another level; to own my cult days in real time, in front of real people, who will be invited to ask real questions–shame and embarrassment be damned.

That being the case, I would like to share how No More Secrets has debunked all of the above-listed paranoia(s):

Paranoia 1 — You will cut yourself off from the source: Robert refers to “school” as “the source” in key moments; when defections threaten his institution the phrase “… cut off from the source” echoes through the hallowed halls. The morning I defected, I distinctly remember the sunrise. It woke me up (literally) to the arrogance of labeling “school” “the source” and the falseness in the threat of “being cut off”. Source was apparent in pink-lined clouds that morning and is available in each and every sunrise and sunset. Source lives in the time I spend with my fiddle, or guitar, or when I am writing a new song, or new post for this blog. Source was in a beautiful concert I attended at Jordan Hall recently and the three-hour conversation that followed (a conversation that could have lasted all night if the restaurant had stayed open). Source is in any honest conversation, good laugh, or good cry, that I share with my husband. Source is in the songs we write and sing together. Source is in the crocuses that are poking through the barely unfrozen dirt.

When you debunk this idea of “school” as “source”, you see that the claim itself cuts “students” off from the real source. The longer my tenure, the more “school” consumed of me. Source does not need to devour my time, stealing me from my spouse, family, job, friends, passions etc. Source does not need to charge me $350/month. It simply needs me to awaken to it, so I can connect to the abundance therein. While a “student”, I was too consumed with “school”-induced self loathing and resentment spawned by allowing “teachers” to dictate personal decisions; decisions that sent me bumbling into the Life-I-Never-Wanted. Source needs me to honor and cherish my energy and life; and for every person to do the same. For source lives inside and all around each and every one of us. These days, I connect source when I feel gratitude for what I have, when I recognize that beauty surrounds me and thank God for my paltry and insignificant “only life things”. Source is always available, if we are awake to it.

Paranoia 2– Breaking the seal of silence leaks “The Work” out of you: This is complete bullshit.“School” does not have the power to steal what you have in your heart and mind. If “school” sincerely wanted its students to evolve, it would encourage independent thought and authentic expression of, and reflection on, feelings and personal experiences. For me, “school’s” version of “The Work” began with honest efforts to become a financially independent adult and devolved over time; the longer my tenure, the more consumed I was with a constant-navel gazing assessment of every-fault-I-have-and-can’t-overcome-without-“school’s-help“; the end result of my “education” was more dependence, fear, and childish self-absorption. Surprise, surprise, this fear and dependence infected my ability — or inability as the case may be — to find and hold down a job. Once while discussing my not-so-illustrious employment prospects with a teacher named Carol, she offered this heart-warming missive: “Maybe you will never be able to hold down a job.” Her tone dismissed my anxiety as trivial on “school’s” evolutionary scale (with its lofty pursuit of income generation for Sharon at the top and your only life things at the bottom). You can imagine what her “help” did to my already paper-thin sense of self worth.

When I broke the silence with other “disgruntled(s)” our conversations revealed that “school” lies constantly. I saw how “school” twists the ideas presented therein to suit its evolved unspoken “aim” of income generation and slave-labor retention. It serves “school’ to feed the insecurities of its attendees; the more we need the institution, the more we feed it. That revelation set me free to see such “help” for what it really was — a proliferation of my “school” role as entitled and unemployable Jewish American princess who-will-always-need- “the help”. My cult confessions to the un-“schooled” obliterated my “school”-induced denial: I learned that which I had believed “invisible” was — in reality — very visible to them: they had felt my clever insincerity, i.e. lies, and experienced my increasing withdrawal from them as “only life things” —  insignificant on “school’s” grand scale of evolution.

These conversations unsealed and affirmed the questions, suspicions and discomfort that all “students” have, but are afraid to explore — Where does the money go? Why does such an evolved institution need to lie about so much? Where do the “ideas” come from and why is the source top secret? Why do other “students” suddenly disappear, never to be mentioned again? At what point do I trust my own perceptions again? “School” dismisses “students” who are brave enough to broach such inquiries within its hallowed halls, labeling these questions “lack of valuation” and/or “suspicious I’s”, warning “students” against the use of such critical thinking. Stay in that environment long enough, and you begin to dismiss your perceptions yourself.

Breaking the seal of silence began a healing and empowering process, as I realized that my concerns, questions and discomforts were not simply undue suspicions or inner saboteurs trying to impede my “evolution”. The connections and conversations freed me from a childish need to please my “teachers” as well as the “school” dictates, assignments and demands; free from the cult-mandated “clever insincerity” that spread like cancer into all areas of my paltry life; free from time-and-energy-devouring cult tasks; free from the $350/monthly tuition that drained my bank account and damaged my marriage.

Most importantly, though, I had to start trusting myself. When I departed the ranks, I thought,”This might be the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, but at least, if I’m going to fuck up my life, I’ll be doing so on my own terms.” The “school”-free life that  followed — with all of its bumps and foibles — is sweet. Ironically, the benefits I did glean from “school” in my early years have only been reinforced by my departure; any real growth I experienced — and there is some real growth to be had — stayed with me. That which no longer served me, or that which ultimately hurt me, fell away. ” By the way, a month after my departure work found me and it keeps showing up.

Paranoia 3 — If the “sleepwalking” masses find out about my cult days, I could lose my job, friends, partners, kids, etc, etc, etc: please believe me, those who haven’t been affected by “school”–i.e. most people– DON’T CARE ABOUT “SCHOOL”. Very few people are concerned that a group seeking enlightenment gathers twice a week to “move all parts of your body in circles,” or practice a watered down version of tai chi and discuss certain not-so-“secret” esoteric ideas. This paranoia feeds “school”-induced delusions of grandeur. It is highly unlikely that the un-“schooled” have the time, or the inclination, to dig around seeking cult information. People are busy and absorbed in their own lives. Others only begin to care when the cult impacts them personally, or if they work in a cult-countering profession. Potential “school” recruits have contacted me on occasion, when the weird behavior of a “new friend” aroused suspicions.  If “school’s” required “clever insincerity” begins to destroy a relationship, than the “other” — spouse, sibling, friend, employer, employee — will seek information; for the institution has deluded itself into expecting the “others” to suck it up while their spouse, friend, brother, sister, parent, employee, business partner, or child silently “evolves” school style. I must admit that while indoctrinated I  believed my relationships magically immune to any damage inflicted by the lies I told and the neglect I inflicted on those near and dear — and that is the biggest lie of all.

At this point, I’ve spoken with many and various un-“schooled” spouses; while the personal details are different, being on the receiving end of “school-style” “external considering” (i.e. putting yourself in the “other” persons shoes) is the same  — what begins as a seemingly benign bi-weekly pursuit increases exponentially over time, consuming the “schooled” partner while his/her lies increase in correspondence — the longer your tenure, the more you lie. The un-“schooled” confronts the “schooled”; the “schooled” ask for “help” and then “school” starts to work its divorce-commencing magic. The “schooled” start dismissing the perceptions, experiences and feelings of the “un-schooled” spouse. At the same time s/he will try schedule special gifts, dinners and surprises between school’s required demands, on “school’s” recommended help. Anything but confront the real problem — that the “schooled” spouse is in a cult and believes the institution should supersede his/her marriage.  This evolved expectation, coupled with the required lying, is becoming, and will be, “school’s” downfall. I’m confident that “school” is and will continue to corrode from the inside out.

Paranoia 4 — Confessing my cult days will prove, at best, embarrassing and, at worst, devastating: School’s arbitrary and self-serving “rules” infuse in your bones after you steep and marinate in them for a number of years. The fear of “breaking the rules” runs deep even after you leave the “evolving” rank and file. I consider this a cult-specific post-traumatic stress disorder.  Unlike P.T.S.D. experienced by war veterans, or victims of violent crime, the sense of fear is induced by a slow wearing away of the self — after all “we don’t know ourselves”; we need the more “highly evolved and enlightened teachers” who have been “doing the work longer” and “see us more clearly than we do”; they live from a higher level, floating above sleepwalkers and crawling caterpillars seeing “only life things” from a higher vantage point. The attack on your psyche is a slow-moving cancer; it gets under your skin and seeps into your bones, infecting your thoughts and emotions. The more you keep the silence, the more it spreads. The more it spreads, the more imprisoned you are by it and the more it damages you and yours.

The No More Secrets policy set me free; the truth unshackled me from my dependence — my addiction to “school”. As the shackles continue to fall away, I am no longer consumed with “school”-style evolution. I wake up to the wonder and beauty innate in every moment of every day. Like the Wizard of Oz, lift the curtain and you find a little old, bald guy — or in Robert’s case, a kind of round and overly tan guy — hiding behind a curtain manipulating strings. When you lift the veil, you find its “privacy” policies hide a seedy past and questionable and possibly illegal financial practices, “protecting” Sharon and Robert and hurting everyone else — although the possibility of tax evasion, or money laundering may bite “school’s” top lieutenant’s in the ass eventually. For in this age of vast technology, one only needs to turn to the internet to expose a con job, as you can see.

Still, for many people, the experience is too painful to reveal. Everyone has a personal reason for protecting their hearts. Admittedly, I may be crazy in my need to confess my cult days, to expose the institution as much as I as can, to keep others from falling into the “school” net. But my ongoing confession keeps healing me and setting me free; I strongly advocate finding a safe way to release and process those secrets, for in letting them go, I am confident that you will recover yourself. Each cult confession I make untangles me further from the invisible “school” shackles. This written account of my often ridiculous cult day untangles my spirit, heart and mind from the vast web of “school”-induced lies and paranoia. For “school’s” only power lies in the secrets we keep for it. When we raise the curtain, we see that “school’s” influence is limited to the poor souls who keep showing up at the Faulkner Mills building in Billerica, every Tuesday and Thursday — some of those attendees have been lugging around “school” shackles for 20, 30, 40 years. Ask them how its going; see if you get a sincere answer, or “clever insincerity”.

When you walk out and let go of the secrets you empower yourself. Your story, your truth, will set you free.




Heads up NYC/Gans survivors: Fellow ex-“student” seeking comradarie …

Today I received a message from a woman who referred to herself as a “Sharon Gans alum.” She attended the NYC group from 1979-1982 and wishes to decompress with some old “classmates”. Are there NYC people out there who would be open to connecting with her?

If so, please send an email to I’ll get you in touch with each other.

Identifying “School”: The Nuts & Bolts

This post is intended to provide an overview of “school” for identification purposes. If you’ve had a strange encounter and are wondering whether it was a “school” encounter; if you have a spouse, or friend, or sibling who disappears on Tuesday and Thursday nights and has been reading books with makeshift, newsprint covers, read on — maybe some other things will ring familiar:

Two Main Recruitment Tactics
1) “Casual conversations” in Starbucks, grocery stores, bars, on trains, etc. Often recruiters initiate with questions about books, or claiming things like, “I’m working on a project about leadership. Which leaders do you admire?” If you’ve exchanged contact information after such an encounter and you notice a patient, yet persistent, string of phone calls from this person, yet when you call him or her back, you reach only voice mail, it is likely a “school” encounter.

If you’ve met with this person and the conversation feels oddly one-sided, as though he or she is drawing information out of you, but revealing as little as possible about him or herself, heed the red lights. If you have attended five meetings and at the last meeting he or she introduced you to a “friend” and if he or she has said something like, “Are you interested in meeting others who share your passions, interests, concerns, etc … oh and by the way … it’s very important you tell no one about this — it’s private, just for you” — it is officially a “school” encounter. And if he or she tells you that the first five or eight weeks is a “free experiment”, after which a monthly tuition will be determined, you’ve been “schooled”. For more details regarding this recruitment tactic, read How to Join a Cult.

2) “Presentations” formerly known as “lectures” — if someone invites you to a “presentation” with a vague topic, no title, and date and location to be determined, beware. If you go to this “presentation” and the presenters don’t share last names, or professional affiliations, or website to peruse; if there’s a post-presentation Q&A orchestrated by a guy named Robert with a beard and a John Boehner-like tan, you’ve hit the cult jackpot. If you filled out a “feedback form” and provided your phone number, never fear, one of “school’s” recruitment team will call.

By the way, cult expert Steven Hassan’s book Combating Cult Mind Control provides a list of clear and concrete questions to ask if you suspect you’ve been approached by a recruiter. I will provide those tips in a future post.

Recognizing The Cast & Crew
The cult known as “school” presents itself as though it is one in a long line of secret esoteric schools. Attendees are classified as “younger students” and “older students” and separated into the “younger” and the “older” classes. Robert leads the charge, while other “teachers” include Josh, Carol, Jeanine, Paul (who leads “body work”) and Michael (who “teaches Tai Chi”).

Last I knew “school’s” “classes” met at the The Faulkner Mills building in Billerica, Ma. “School” has been known to move around or create satellite “classrooms”. The Belmont Lion’s Club, in Belmont Center, housed my first two years of “school”.

Regular “Classes”
Last I knew, “classes” met every Tuesday and Thursday night. In New York City, under the auspices of Queen Sharon, apparently there was — or is — a Monday and Wednesday class. However the “classes” fall, they happen twice a week. The longer you are *in*, the more critical your stellar and unquestioning attendance becomes.

Ideas/ i.e. “Teachings”
The ideas that “school” pontificates come from the studies of G.I. Gurdjieff. However, “school” neglects to mention its source. “School” will tell you that “the work” is an “oral tradition”, insinuating that there are no published materials and that “you won’t find these ideas any where else”. It will neglect to mention publications by both Gurdjieff and some of his students, as well as the many Gurdjieff societies around the world, including one in Boston. In fact, if you want a wee handbook, order Jacob Needleman’s Introduction to The Gurdjieff Work, in which you will find outlines of the following ideas:

Aim, Self remembering; Self Observations; Three Centers — Intellectual, Moving, and Emotional; Man is Asleep; “The Work”, Multiplicity or Multiple “Is”;  Essence, Personality, False Personality; Man as Machine; The Morning Prayer; Identification; Internal and External Considering; The Law of Three; Aim and Five-Week Aim; The Ray of Creation; The “Work Octave”; Necessary and Unnecessary Suffering; The Food Diagram, etc.

“Sustainers” – “School” assigns “sustainers” to meet with its newest recruits — known as “youngest students”– outside the hallowed halls, allegedly to help them navigate this new adventure. In truth, the “sustainers” main objective or “aim” is to retain the newer students. After telling the sustainees that their conversations are private, sustainers pass on pertinent information to “teachers”.

Beginning Required Reading: Hans Christian Anderson’s The Shadow,  Robert Lewis Stevenson Dr Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, Ralph Waldo Emerson essays, a series of mysterious photocopied “lectures” that I believe were delivered by a Gurdjieff student named P.D. Ouspensky, but “school” will neglect to mention him.

Those are the nuts and bolts that I recall. I invite readers to contribute to this list of identifying factors. I’m sure I haven’t covered them all. Thanks for reading!

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.

Chapter 7: Third Line of Work – For “School” in Four Parts

The Third Line of Work for the Fake Fourth Way School

The Third Line of Work for the Fake Fourth Way School

The Nuts and Bolts
In The Christmas Party and How to Join a Cult, I spoke of the “third line of work”. This series of posts explore how the “third line” devours “school’s” most stellar and devoted disciples.

Recently, blog-contributor, River of Joy, wrote:

“I have come to the conclusion that usefulness = being used … The students that are most ‘useful’ to “school” are the ones who are the most successful at recruiting and/or who give the most money to Sharon. They are the good students, the ones smiled upon and praised. In reality, they are the ones who are the most used by “school”. They give away all their spare time and energy to the recruiting effort, and/or all their cash goes to Sharon to buy red bathtubs and the like. The term ‘usefulness’ is more palatable and easier to swallow – who wouldn’t want to be ‘useful’? It sure beats its opposite, ‘useless’. We were all so cleverly manipulated, I’m sad to say.”

“Teachers” often bandied about the word “useful”, especially when “school” needed “students” for its super-secret missions. “School” equates those who contribute to its super-secret aims — and thus are “useful” — as those whose efforts feed that which “comes from above”; work towards that which is greater or higher. When teachers unveil third line of work”, the anointed learn that “work for school” is the link to evolution, to conscience.  Without it, evolution is not possible. To evolve, we need a vertical force, a higher purpose, to come down from above and intersect the horizontal trudge of the caterpillar. This “third line of work,” we are told, is the force that can transform us from caterpillars to butterflies and our lives from endless one-dimensional consumption into a colorful, three-dimensional existence of fully realized potential.   Efforts that are “useful” for school are paramount and will yield the supreme payback …of course, that’s if your efforts are “of the right kind.”

Lucky us! Most humans are not granted this grand opportunity. Sleeping humanity has twisted and convoluted religion to the point where it no longer qualifies as “higher and finer” in “school’s” view. But we have the bigger-than-we-are, super-secret, unspoken “higher aim” of keeping Sharon comfortably housed in Manhattan’s Park Plaza. We have access to true higher conscience and evolution through our efforts to keep her suitably drunk and medicated.   (Ironically, many newer “students” don’t know Sharon exists even though their efforts feed her financial coffers).

So, understand, Sincere Seeker, that everything else must step aside for this work, but do not be dismayed, because a “rightly ordered life” – with “third line” at the top – will inform and order other life things rightly  – like a trickle-down effect – onto work, family and friends.  Make the efforts, and you’ll see.

Allegedly, “school” grants the “third line of work” privilege after students have put in sufficient effort to awaken and evolve.   Of course, we don’t know who determines our “readiness” and why.  Call me skeptical, but I suspect it is driven by a sudden drop in student numbers or Sharon’s urgent need for a second red bathtub –rather than our spiritual growth. Many former students admit to handing over tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars after being treated to extra doses of attention and being singled out to participate in “something special” to help “school” survive and continue.

Privilege 1: Food & Beverage Prep and Service