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mental illness & cults
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 05, 2004 11:27PM

'Prabhu Das seemed very kind, never took money when I offered because he claimed I didn't know enough about the org to be able to do so.'

This is the fiscal equivalent of the way girls in the old days were advised to 'Play hard to get'.

Really smart charlatans dont make overt moves for money. They'll discourage donations, saying 'You're not ready yet' or that youre not in a state of sufficient evolution or spiritual purity for your donation to have the right mojo.

All this does is 1) make you feel subtly unworthy, and all the more eager to prove you are worthy 2) persuades you that this is truly an honorable and saintly guru and 3) increases your craving to give something, anything 4) you spread word to others how this person turns down donations---which generates the right publicity.

The smartest hustlers never have to ask for money directly. They stage manage a situation where you end up begging to them to accept your money. We had an alcoholic shyster in one of our peace groups who'd really mastered this technique.

Satya Sai Baba, reportedly has a pattern of initially refusing to take money from wealthy donors. But...according to the reports, he eventually he does accept donations because he's become fabulously rich and bankrolls a mafia-like network of social service agencies and exercises political patronage. All this makes the Indian authorities ignore his long track record of pedophilia.

Ex-Krishna touched on a very important point when he/she mentioned that Krishna cults differ from geniune Indian devotional groups because the Krishna cults emphasize a form of worship where a constant state of emotional tension/excitement is fostered and then maintained.

That's key. Emotions fluctuate. They come and go. We only get trapped when we try (or we are taught) to cling desperately to some emotional states and eliminate the others. We become junkies in relation to our own emotions.

Ex-Krishna, if its OK with you, could you change the title of this thread to something that specifically refers to problematic Krishna cults? A visitor to the forum would have an easier time knowing what the thread is all about. It is turning into a good one (grin)

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: Dervish ()
Date: January 06, 2004 06:57AM

"The smartest hustlers never have to ask for money directly. They stage manage a situation where you end up begging to them to accept your money. We had an alcoholic shyster in one of our peace groups who'd really mastered this technique."

The IGVS group I mentioned in my first post on this thread is JUST LIKE THIS!

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 06, 2004 12:07PM

I was not suggesting that 'Ex-Krishna' change his or her forum name. I was suggesting that the title of this particular 'thread' be changed to something that would give a more specific idea concerning content...

Dervish mentioned:

'As I was going to their store more and more, however, I would get a distant, "creepy" feeling. I felt that everyone working there was "interconnected" somehow.'

You're describing something subtle,and significant. Its a lot like being the only sober person in a party full of people who are stoned. An interesting 'odd person out feeling.'

Some time back, I attended a lecture given by a celebrated memeber of the human potential movement. He was speaking on the general topic of the student-teacher relationship, rather than on his own body of work. He'd invented a gadget for which he had become world renowned.

The guy doesnt give public talks very often, and the room was jam packed. X lectured for 90 minutes and the room was stifling hot. He was cold, lacked empathy, was a name dropping snob.

Yet to my surprise, his audience hung on his every utterance as though expecting he would solve their lives for them. They were like little kids waiting for Santa to show up.

I wondered how this very unappealing person could inspire such devotion, and had a strange feeling that the people were all bound together by some kind of shared secret.

I got obsessed, did some research and discovered that X had led encounter groups 20 years earlier, and he had used some form of hypnotic trance when forming the group bond--one adoring ex-disciple said he went around thier circle gazing deeply into each person's eyes, and when he did this to her he 'became magical'.

The guy had used a powerful form of hypnotic trance to super charge the bonding process and had probably done more of this in the groups--which went on for 4 years or so.

Twenty years later, these people were apparently still his psychic property.

Very spooky.

Very likely the people at that health food store are all participating in some form of regular trance practice, and perhaps have some kind of shared jargon--and you intuited this. Just like being the only sober person at a Grateful Dead concert.

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: ex-krishna ()
Date: January 07, 2004 04:15AM

For some, joining a cult is a choice not to make choices. To put faith in an authority and trust that person/persons to make your choices for you. At 18 years of age, for example, I was overwhelmed by choices and on that level you could say I joined to escape the responsibilty of making my own decisions (although there are actually innumerable levels co-existing - innumerable reasons why I or anyone joins a cult or does anything).
Corboy - regarding the charismatic guru(s) you're discussing here: what happened to me was that my guru would sit with myself and maybe 3 other women for a couple hours a day either in a group or one on one and discuss our psychological issues. He had a key phrase that he would repeat after giving us his opinion on how our doubts in the movement / in Krishna could be resolved - he would say "Does that make sense?" and he would berate us until we responded "Yes, it makes sense".
Living in a communal situation (although we slept in different buildings) we saw this guru day in day out. Other devotees disagreed with the intimacy for various reasons but they did so so agressively that it set up and "us against them" situation that only isolated us with that guru even further within the cult. A cult within a cult basically.
So, my world shrunk to a small powerful circle dominated by that guru who was a total hypocrite (surprise surprise) it turned out (who was breaking the rules he preached).
The greater world is also susceptible to being overpowered by charismatic leaders (Hitler, Stalin). I've been trying to figure out what the difference is with cults - I thought it might be the potential intensity and intimacy of that relationship, but considering the power Hitler and Stalin had over people I don't think that's valid. [Anyone have any insights into this?]
A professor of mine was discussing modernity as a belief in determinism, a belief that answers can be found, that the future can be determined... in this sense he said that the Holocaust was the apex (ironic apex obviously - it was really the nadir of human civilization) of that attitude. He says that post-modernism is resigned to being unable to find answers... to never saying "Yes, it makes sense" because you never really accept the authority of that guru staring you in the face demanding the acquiescence of your will to his...

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 07, 2004 12:01PM

he would say "Does that make sense?"
I had a boss with severe narcissistic personality disorder who would use that same phrase, over and over again until whoever he'd corralled agreed.

Ex-K, I highly recommend a book by Len Oakes, entitled Prophetic Charisma. Its the finest thing I have found. Oakes was a member of a cult centered on a charismatic guru-figure, later broke free and became a social science researcher and clinical psychologist. He turned himself into a scientist, yet he has never forgotten the 'feel' of being entranced and enthralled by a charismatic person.

One feature Oakes identified in these charismatic types (he studied twenty of them, and none of them had the capacity for adult intimacy, honesty or relatedness needed to be genuinely spiritual)--Oakes learned that many of these charismatics had a collection of 'cliches'. They didnt interact spontaneously with people Instead, they had a collection of rehearsed speeches and catch phrases, and would skillfully steer any and all conversations to a point where they could deliver one of thier articulate canned speeches and stun people to silence.

The other thing these people had all learned to do was steer all conversations to any area of hesitation or personal insecurity in someone else--even if it was a slight, normal hesitation in a person's speech. The charismatic would then home right in on that little area of human uncertainly, knock the person off balance and ruthlessly take advantage.

Oakes saw one charismatic do this when a building inspector made a surprise visit and found the ashram building was not up to code. The guru found a way to manipulate the living shit out of hte poor guy, and won an extension!

As for me, I was a disciple to a guy who ran a campus ministry. He told me I had the potential to become a saint. It didnt empower me. Instead, it was a helluva secret to keep--and made me all the more dependant on him.

I lacked the street smarts to think, 'Why the fuck is the guy telling me something that's a big toxic distraction--and isnt even true, anyway?'

If you have ever wondered why these bogus gurus all seem so much alike and all seem to have attended the same training camp, Oakes book will answer many of those questions.

Bogus gurus peddle different kinds of material but 95% of them have a remarkably similar life trajectory.

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: ex-krishna ()
Date: January 08, 2004 08:41PM

Hee hee, wtf, eh.
I tried to change the name of the thread by changing the title of my first post here but it hasn't worked - is there something else I need to do to change it?
I'm enjoying these discussions.
You know, another point (a biggie) which came to mind as I read the post by the person with the Amish background who wrote in recently, is the children of people in cults.
When I left the Krishnas, I moved around a lot and in my travels I met a guy whose parents were in the movement. He, his brother and his sisters all were raised in it and he and his brother were sent to India to the schools there - yes the same schools that were part of the horror story that inspired the recent court case (which unfortunately the Krishna-raised children lost).
This guy and I dated for awhile and I got to meet his family. He was sympathetic to me to an extent but also a little impatient - he emphasized to me that I chose to join that movement whereas he and his brother and sisters had no choice. His mother was helpful to me: she said that she thinks it takes twice as long as you were in the movement to get over it. So 12 years for me to get over my 6. Or 24 years for her to get over her 12. I think that's too long to wait... but maybe there's something to it.

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 08, 2004 10:25PM


You are fortunate enough to have found a good resource to help in your recovery. Don't put a time frame on it. Recovery comes in leaps and bounds and lots of steps backwards. I was helped most by the reference materials offered at this site than with any therapist I went to. The internet not only helps expose these crooks, but now also offers lots of help for those who have been involved with cults and other destructive relationships.

And finally, remember, these guys (fake gurus) are very good at what they do. I'm not at all convinced Prabhu das was insincere with the money issue and I will never know. He sure sounded sincere. I could drive myself crazy wondering but it won't do me any good at this point.

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 09, 2004 12:34AM

here is a URL for a long article


In it, David Lane gives a description on how to start a cult. He describes how to make money by NOT asking for money.

'Number two, you don't charge any money because you'll make tremendous amounts of money by not charging money. What you say is, 'This is completely free.' The more you keep saying that, you're going to get people who feel really good about you. Precisely at that point you have people set up donation funds for other activities, which people voluntarily give to. '

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mental illness & cults
Posted by: Cosmophilospher ()
Date: January 09, 2004 04:20AM

I just want to throw this idea into the mix.

I grew up in a trauma-laden abusive environment, so i speak from personal experience.

I had an excellent REBT therapist years ago, who was highly recommended, and who's books i had read and enjoyed.
After outlining my symptoms to him in detail, at one point i exclaimed, "how long will i have to live with this anxiety, and other problems????"

He said to me, very carefully, and after qualifying it,
"How long do you want to live with them?"

Because i had studied CBT-REBT at that moment i knew what he was talking about. It was up to ME to manage my own Thoughts, Behaviors, and Feelings, and it was up to me to manage how i perceived my past, and its effects on me.

See, we can get STUCK. Especially if we harbor hatred, or self-derision, or believe what has happened to us has permanently damaged us, etc.
So what i would say is that yes, a reasonable timeline can be set for recovery. If it is going on for years and years, then in my view, it is not being addressed properly, or it might be more on the level of "personality adjustment" issues, which do take a lot of time.

NOTE: i am not referring to the culty pop-psych idea that we can cure ourselves in a weekend seminar forever! I am referring to the basic idea that we are able to manage our own recovery, and setting a reasonable timeline is VERY healthy.

This is a very tricky subject. For if we believe we lack control, then we will experience that lack of control. On the other hand, attempting to exert over-control is not healthy either, and leads to problems.
I have not expressed myself clearly here, but let me just say, that what i mean is that we can PROFOUNDLY influence the speed of our healing, and we can also make it 100x worse as well.

Healing can happen, and it doesn't have to take forever.
If something is hanging on for many years, then what we are doing is not the best thing to be doing. We don't want to undertreat things, or DENY them, yet if we over-focus on them, that creates problems as well.

Over time, healing should be occuring. If it isn't, then in my view, we are stuck. Denial makes us stuck. Over-Obsessing makes us stuck.
"Identifying" ourself as a "victim" doesn't help either. That's why people use the term Survivor. How we perceive our Self is CRITICAL. (easy folks, i know this sounds like Landmark, but how i mean it is very different!!!!!!!!!!).
At this point, my perception is that the Adversities i faced have made me a "better person". This seems to be a fact to me. (that is, I believe it).

Its like grief. If we don't grieve a death, it can haunt us for years. But if we grieve, and process it, and over time heal the grief naturally, then we can feel the wound heal over time.
(this is a subtle line of argument here!)


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mental illness & cults
Posted by: Dervish ()
Date: February 20, 2004 12:59AM

And finally, remember, these guys (fake gurus) are very good at what they do. I'm not at all convinced Prabhu das was insincere with the money issue and I will never know. He sure sounded sincere. I could drive myself crazy wondering but it won't do me any good at this point.

I realize that this may very well be considered "necro-posting" but I just realized (heh 6 weeks later) that I never answered this.

A lot of these eastern groups, like any other cult, are like pyramid schemes. The top benefits the most, and the ones below are used as instruments for the top's success. But unlike most pyramid schemes, I believe the "instruments" of groups like SIF, IGVS, etc. do not get any monetary benefit.

My impression is, he was being sincere, but was acting according to his conditioning. One thing that a longtime observer of SIF Hawaii told me that I hadn't remembered until a day or two ago is, these guys tend to put you through a ringer once you've been indoctrinated and at their command. They barrage you with "you are not worthy" messages until your self-esteem is totally crushed (may take a few months, but they have all the time in the world), and your mind is a docile, willing vessel for 100% cult indoctrination. At this point, you rationalize things according to how they tell you to think, and your old way of thinking takes a recessive role.

As nice and sincere as Prabhu das was, chances are he received this indoctrination at the hands of Chris Butler a long time ago.

These observations are good for anyone who needs help understanding the way cults work. You really can't castigate some people who try to indocrinate you, they are just acting according to their conditioning, they are docile instruments, acting on order from the top. And chances are the man on top is insane as well.

Sometimes, your old way of thinking in the recesses of your mind may whisper to you sometimes. It may say something is not right, and sometimes the whisper may be so loud, you will stop, think, and this is how somebody pulls themself out of the cult situation.

When I was in a situation like this with another cultish group, it was these whispers, coupled with external situations that made me strongly empathize with the devotees being treated very badly by the group that gave me the sense to take a deep breath, take some distance between me and the group, and realize it was all bogus contradictions and hypocracy. Luckily I did not lose too much time in the process.

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