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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: Sallie ()
Date: January 29, 2009 08:39AM

Interesting. I never considered the fact that Koresh committed suicide and...yeh...I think by true definition a sociopath would not. I'm not sure though. Maybe I need to read up on it some more.
As for narcissism though I think that every cult leader is a narcissist. They all seem empathetic at times I think but it's an act. It was my understanding that narcissists are expert at feigning emotion. True actors and actresses. In my past someone who I used to be extremely close to was text book narcissist and also a true sociopath. This person made a point of showing sympathy when they wanted to gain or maintain control of a victim. But you are right about the suicide thing. The person I'm thinking of...text book... diagnosed anti social personality disorder....they never would hurt themselves. Never. And way.
Something to think about.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: cultsurvivor22 ()
Date: June 05, 2010 02:34PM

This is an interesting topic. I believe that some cult leaders do want power and are willing to do anything to get it, and know exactly what they are doing when they use cult techniques to trick people into joining their groups. Others may think they are getting converts for a great good of some sort, but still using cult techniques to trick people into joining. Some may enjoy the power they get from controlling others and having others obey them. Others may actually believe they are serving some sort of god or high force and can do what they want to get more followers. Perhaps some are misguided and also evil.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: dsm ()
Date: June 05, 2010 10:42PM

Sallie, how would a "true sociopath" be excluded from those who commit suicide? Certainly there are reasons to commit suicide which are sociopathic rather than emotionally depressed. Anyone who believes they are affecting the world, material or spiritual, by committing suicide (crossing over to another level in which they believe they'll still have power, for example) is just using suicide as another element in their sociopathic game.

Of course they ultimately lose their own game when they do that, yet I don't see suicide as being an indicator that the person was not a sociopath. Just look at terrorist suicide, for example. What are such people if not the ultimate sociopaths: walking bombs?

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: elisabeth111 ()
Date: February 24, 2011 05:19AM

freedom fighter
Personally I feel cult leaders are evil in all sense of the word. I have always looked for the good in people. It's very disheartening to have to admit that someone truly has bad intentions. All the while you've wanted to believe that your instincts were right all along, arguing back and forth with yourself. A dark souled person, I feel could be the only one responsible for such crimes against human souls.I feel we have to literally dodge these kind of people to keep out of their preying intentions. Unfortunately it takes a strong soul to recognize them, one who doesn't need another to make them feel worthy. That's the bottom line.

This is my first post on this forum, even though a link has existed on Rick Ross's site to my Ex-Guru for about a year now. (Swami Maheshwarananda) To reply to this post, I'd have to say that I'm still trying to find the "good" in my Ex-Guru. He does promote Vegetarianism, which is very important to me, because I love animals almost like a mother loves her babies. I have spent about 5.5 years now agonizing over the question: “Is Swamiji evil?” The other word you mentioned (misguided) does not apply to Swamiji, I feel, because he definitely possesses Siddhis, and I would apply the word “misguided” only to a human being with a normal level of consciousness (and hence prone to making mistakes).

I’ve listened to Robert J Lifton on youtube, and he says that people can have both good and evil in them simultaneously. He gave the example of the Nazi Doctors who worked at the Concentration Camp, and on weekends would go home to their families and be loving fathers and husbands.

But to me, they were still just human beings with (serious) flaws.

On the other hand, Swami Maheswarananda has proven to me, on many, many occasions that he knows my past thoughts and actions, as well as current thoughts. He has, what Yogis call a Siddhi. That was the only reason I listened to him for 9 years on the Net. I never got really lured into the group of people around him (Yoga in Daily Life), because reflecting on it now, my standards were probably too high and my personality much too strong. I didn’t like how they behaved, I didn’t like how they lied on the phone in relation to upcoming seminars, I didn’t like the fact that you could never get much information out of them, I didn’t like how they behaved towards Swamiji: Feet kissing, Total obedience, serving him, even helping him up and down stairs as if he was crippled! No, I hated all of that, but Swamiji’s display of Siddhis lured me in.

I feel so alone because of that: I don’t expect anyone here on this forum to understand. Probably not many people would have come across a being who possesses a seemingly omniscient level of consciousness.

Now the question of evil is on my mind stronger than ever: I have received new information from Europe, saying he used his power and influence to have Sex with young women. Nothing surprising, you might say, but applied to a Yogi who has developed his consciousness as far as he has, with fully developed Siddhis, it becomes evil, it really does.
Because it means that he would have used these girls for his own gratification with the full knowledge of how it would affect them.

According to another Ex-Disciple he played mind games with him to such an extent, that this man (a very intelligent university educated person) had to seek the help of a psychiatrist and was medicated for 8 weeks, after he left.

My big error of judgment came from the assumption that a Yogi with Siddhis would have to be God, or be in constant communion with God. If the reader now thinks that I was hallucinating, I can assure you I was not. I was not hypnotized, nor was I sleep deprived, nor am I schizophrenic. I was not tricked at all. Swami Maheshwarananda has Siddhis, but the more I hear from his Ex-Disciples the more I am tempted to say that he must be evil, to cause so much pain intentionally. It’s so sad.

I also heard from one of the European Ex-Disciples that a Serbian lady died in a car accident, after she spoke out against Swami Maheshwarananda, and that there was talk of black magic. It stopped many from speaking out. Well, my response to this: My website against him has been on the Net for about a year now, and I'm still alive!

And even though he claims his master was able to change the weather, he obviously can’t, otherwise I would have been struck my lightening for speaking out. His mind reading Siddhi doesn’t extend any further, so it seems.

Is he evil? Or am I the silly one for slipping out from under the “protective umbrella of Gurudev”, as he often said. Time will tell, I hope.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: walter1963 ()
Date: April 13, 2011 02:09PM

The short answer: Anyone can become a cult leader provided they have the right sort of stimulus - adoring fans and yes men in a isolated environment. Over time you'd start to think you're infallible, great, etc.

It slowly eats and corrupts people, most won't even notice it. And it's found in the secular world as well.(See "The Wrong Way Home" by Arthur Deikman)

Long answer: Some decades back a psychologist by the name of Charles Tart investigated/joined a bunch of different spiritual groups(including Fourth Way, Zen, etc). Later he was asked to start his own spiritual group as a experiment. He found a place a to do the retreat in Northern CA, set up shop and then proceeded to deliberately screwed up in front of his students, he'd ignore their request, be rude or indifferent, etc. Yet he noticed as time went students began to look at him in that wierd fawning manner that so defines the cult follower. He also noticed that he began to enjoy the power he had, even as little as it was.

He ended the experiement then and there. He didn't like what he saw and what he was turning into.

His opinion afterwards was that legit spiritual groups need a disinterested third party psychologist to monitor the group so it doesn't develop any wierd psychopathologies or become dysfunctional.

He also came to the conclusion that he couldn't recommend any spiritual groups for people to join. There isn't a Yoga, Buddhist(tibetan or Zen), of Hindu spiritual group that hasn't been rocked by horrific scandals or isn't linked to some cult.

BTW this doesn't mean that the LGAT/Guru field isn't loaded with people who are just in it for the power and money and won't hesitate to wreck and rob people to achieve their goals - it is.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: May 27, 2011 04:28PM

Mind-reading Siddhis explained:


People who relentlessly practice this art naturally get better at it over time until it becomes second nature. It is still a con, a performance which gives an appearance of mind-reading to the unknowing and to those who habitually and unthinkingly respond and behave in culturally expected ways.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/2011 04:34PM by Stoic.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 27, 2011 10:18PM

Here is a question to ponder.

There may be a difference between those of us who feel grateful or pleased when they think someone has read their mind vs those of us whose flesh crawls at the very idea.

I cant stand to imagine anyone being able to read my mind, because I would consider it a form of rape--a burglary/invasion of my privacy as a person.

It may be that those who cant stand the thought of mind reading are exactly those persons a guy like Maha would not want as close followers--we'd be too likely to call him on other kinds of boundary violations.

People who either dont mind the idea of their minds being read or who think it is something good--they may be less able to sense the presence of risk factors for really serious boundary violations.

I want to make it crystal clear that whosever was harmed by Maha did NOT 'ask for it' or 'corrupt the guru'.

It may be that Maha tested people and selected for himself, hand picked precisely those persons who especially got off on the idea of mind reading and who were especially likely to show other signs that they would willing turn a blind eye to what he would do--making outside ethical monitoring impossible and ensuring that only complaint enablers would surround Maha.

Maha would have wanted that for himself. A wise guru would put safeguards in place and never let himself be alone with women or girls, period.

Special experiences (aka siddhis) whether produced by mere cold reading dont prove anything.

A person can be greedy and unethical and still have these abilities, and may well have practiced cold reading to become yet better at it.

Two gurus may have ways to learn confidential information about us. The really savvy gurus will know what books devotees are likely to have read and will take care to behave according to expectations.

And there is a whole culturally based set of narratives and rationalizations used in India for thousands of years to rationalize and justify whatever gurus do.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: May 28, 2011 06:40PM

The ruling principle of the display of siddhis, including mind-reading, is that the person claiming the siddis supplies the words while the client, the respondee, supplies the meaning--the individual and idiosyncratic interpretation which will be personal and deeply meaningful to the respondee since it comes from the respondee's already existing personal database (memory) of emotionally-remembered experiences and beliefs.

If I have a knowledge already in my personal database of the existence of these techniques and a working aquaintance with how these techniques specifically manifest in practice, then I am less likely to credit these tricks as being anything more than the carny tricks--or series of generalised, probing guesses that they really are.

I am then in a position to look at the personal meaning such things carry for me and decide for myself whether the meaning still has relevance to me or whether it is time to re-examine a previously unquestioned meaning--such as: that things like a manifestation of siddhis confer a special, exalted status on an otherwise ordinary human being.

Regardless of what I personally believe, the use of these techniques to convince a respondee that I have some higher or psychic power, or some inside track to the will of the gods, is manipulative and deceitful.

Ordinary human people can be perceptive and intuitive without descending into the power abuse of deceit and manipulation.
An ordinary human guru who was in ordinary human control of himself and his behaviour would not worry too much about being alone with women or girls. The necessity to erect the walls of purdah speaks volumes about the lack of control that the guru has over his own behaviour and very little about his wisdom.

Derren Brown and Richard Dawkins discuss mind-reading and how its done in six parts:


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2011 06:43PM by Stoic.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 28, 2011 10:10PM

Here is some inside dope from Here is some information from Len Oakes, a psychologist who was himself once a member of a community led by a charismatic leader. Dr Oakes and his wife became troubled by some of the ways the leader behaved, and while still on good terms with him and still appreciative of that community, chose to leave.

Later, the leader and group got into hot water.

Dr Oakes did his research interviewing 20 charimatic leaders of communities. (Many others declined to be interviewed, one saying without having ever met Dr Oakes that Oakes own life was meaningless).

Oakes found that all twenty of the persons with charismatic social skills were extraordinarily gifted at eliciting hopes, amazing experiences in followers, but they were at the same time unable to enjoy peer to peer adult relationships. And all the leaders had spent much time avidly studying methods of social influence.

At one point, Oakes wrote:


'The use of other manipulative techniques varies from leader to leader and may be specific to the milieu in which each works.

'Christian prophets may become adept at preaching, glossolalia (speaking in tongues), and pastoral care. Human Potential leaders master sensitivity training, group dynamics, the use of self, and "action methods" of psychotherapy.

'For the Western gurus of Eastern religions, there are other practices to master such as meditation, "magical abilities" (siddhis?-Corboy) and the cultivation of an inscrutable, paradoxican wisdom.

'Basically what is involved is learning to speak the inner language of ones followers better than they can articulate it themselves, and use it to influence them.

'What the leader seeks is some handle on people's emotions that allows him to appear extraordinary and to project a prophetic image, to speak a language clearer than the truth.."

Though Oakes refers to Western born leaders, Indians who embark upon the "export guru" career track would do the same thing.

Oakes describes one method of verbal judo: A lot of us here have probably been on the recieving end. It can be done by a disastrous girlfriend or boyfriend or abusive parent or boss, as well as by a recruiter or handler for a cult.

Here is a quote from Dr Oakes:


A common manipulative strategy used by the leaders in this study was an argumentative style that was calculated to subtly shift the ground of any discussion from whatever matter was being talked about toward some area of an opponent's (or prospective Landmark recruit's--my parenthesis) personal insecurity. In this technique, the leader observed the process of an opponent's conversation and identified some point of hesitency or uncertainty. This was not always a flaw of logic or an error of fact; the conversation may have been on some topic about which the leader (or landmark recuiter!-my note Corboy) knew little and would ahve been unable to detect such a mistake.

Rather, it was more likely to be some personal unsureness on the part of the opponent (potential Landmark recruit) that the leaders/recruiter's exquisite social perception targeted.

(Note in an ashram setting followers might be encouraged to see this 'exqusite social perception' as a siddhi-Corboy)

In some way, often by metacommenting (Oakes means commenting about your manner of saying something, rather than responding to what you have said--my note), the meaning of whatever insecurity involved was exposed.

Typically what was said was an observation that the opponent seemed "a bit steamed up about this" or was "finding it hard to say what all this is about."

(Corboy note: these are thought stopper phrases one can learn from a script and then inflict upon the unsuspecting general population. Anything that causes a discussion to hit a bump in the road may put the targeted person into a momentary trance--and that can be exploited by whoever is messing with them, whether the operator is dressed in Indian robes or casual professional garb)

In this way, the opponent was invited, sympathetically and seducatively to expand upon the very point of weakness.

Or the leader(recruiter) claimed not to understand what was meant at a particular point, perhaps even saying the opponent was not making sense. This usually led to a further exposure (confessional of personal weakness or perplexity-my note) until the opponent stumbled over his words and began to look uncomfortable. At this point, a well timed, dismissive glance from the leader was all that was needed to intimidate...'

(Oakes pp 89-90)

Len Oakes' book, Prophetic Charisma from which this quotation is taken, can now be found on Google books.


The most astonishing so called siddhis may be produced by trance induction. Indian gurus will have known about trance methods for centuries.

And an experience may feel real despite being trance induced. The thing is, so many of us find it unbearable to face we were on the receiving end of a mere technique.

Its even worse to face that while we gazed at a guru with total adoration and devotion, that same person will have seen us as merely one among many.

What is also interesting is that how very quickly many of us forget the advice given by Paul of Tarsus: test the spirits. Dont stop with the experience. See the consequences.

Does it lead to dependency and on treating a guru like a drug dealer whom one cannot live without? Doesnt matter how ecstatic one felt or even if one had relief from depression. Getting dependent on someone who will one day die or eventually be corrupted by the many temptations of the guru role is not good.

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Re: cult leaders-evil or misguided
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 28, 2011 10:11PM

Watch out for 'Export Gurus'--the kind who go after Westerners.

. In the old days, an enterprising guru would learn a lot by reading the kinds of books that people on the Hippie Trail habitually read--Search for Secret India by Brunton, Autobiography of a Yogi, Alexandra David-Neel, Magic and Mystery in Tibet, Lobsang Rampas The Third Eye, Castaneda's early books, the old bandit Gurdjieff's Meetings With Remarkable Men.

A guru who wanted to recruit Westerners could read these books (most of the gurus who targeted Westerners were fluent in English and often had some education in English schools in India)--and by reading what these young people read, the guru would find ways to appear to be 'an extraordinary man' and conform to their expectations, be the figure of their dreams, as formed by those books.

These days, its even easier. Yoga is fashionable and lucrative.

An enterprising guru-on-the-make can study internet discussions. That same guru could easily spend time reading discussions here and on various groups and blogs set up by people trying to RECOVER from guru abuse and learn what methods were used on them at various abusive ashrams and thus know exactly how alumni from a particular ashram were diddled with.

By doing this kind of filthy 'market research' an enterprising trust bandit can learn to hack into our minds.

As for guru Maha, he seems to have spent a lot of time in Europe--a strange pattern for someone who was allegedly on the legitimate sanyassi/sadhu trail and who attended Kumbmelas and supposedly was tied to an Akhera and one of the Dasnami lineages. Most strict Brahmins will not cross the 'black waters' for fear of losing caste. Or if they do travel, do it to serve their own emigre Indian communities.

And if Maha is putting all this energy into attracting non Indian westerners--watch out.

Go to the currency conversion site and see what the current exchange rate is for the number of Indian rupees per US dollar or Euro. That why the little darlings are swarming here to woo us. Westerners grovelling on the floor boost the prestige these gurus enjoy at home in India. Turns them into power brokers.

And all you yoga students, face the grim truth. The core of all the various Hindu practices is is--power. Power equals divinity. No distinction is made between power legitimately acquired and power dishonestly acquired.

Power equals divinity. Action is all that counts. Doenst matter if like Arjunda doing your dharma duty means killing your relatives and teachers. (Bhagavad Gita).

You will be trained by your guru to think like a peasant, bow like a peasant but keep the outside appearance and earning power of a citizen in a participatory democracy-but inside, you'll become a peasant bringing tribute.

We are the ones who will not know what is normal and abnormal protocol for gurus and disciples. So..why target us, eh? Maharishi Mahesh Yogi also in his early days made a point of targeting white affluent Westerners. He didnt spend his early days ministering to the emigre Hindu community in London--he tried to worm his way into Cole House, a group left bereft after its leader Ouspensky had died.

Am going to warn you that according Australian author Sarah Macdonald, attended a Kumbmela in Allahabad. She saw how it as a point of prestige for sadhus to attract as many eager Westerners as possible to sit in with them. She was urged to join some such groups and she decided she didnt want to be some sadhu's trophy and declined, choosing to rejoin the news correspondants their tent.

Her book, Holy Cow:An Indian Adventure is well worth reading. Macdonald spent about two years living in India and visited a myriad of holy cities and also got advice from some savvy girlfriends in Delhi on how to make sense of night clubs.

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