Balance View and the Great Freedom, anyone aware of this group?
Posted by: m00n ()
Date: April 14, 2014 12:38AM

Hello,
I recently encountered this group when I was working in a space they rented for a birthday party. Everyone sat in a circle and had a "Telephone teaching" on speaker phone from the groups leader a woman by the name of Candice O'Denver.
I cant remember the content of the teaching well enough to recount, it was all mumbo jumbo. the most often quoted saying was "short moments of clarity, repeated often become constant."
I have a close relation who spent many years in a cult and this organization seems to have all the hallmarks, but I can't find anything online other than the groups own propaganda.
They have a spiritual retreat center in Goa, India and another in Switzerland. There are literally hundreds of videos online of the groups introductory teachings, but I know that they paid $5000 for a 45 minute phone meditation.
I have been unable to locate any journalism or information from ex-members. Is anyone aware of or had experience with this organization? I believe it is definitely a cult and I would like to get the word out sooner rather than later.
Thanks!

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Some stuff online
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 14, 2014 08:35PM

Note:

Having an open mind is not enough.

Mood doesnt equal proof.

Having some sort of wonderful experience doesnt validate something. Experience can be misleading.

Years ago, I was deathly ill and ran fevers that were over 102 F as measured by my thermometer. But I experienced myself as icy cold.

But..I was not cold, despite experiencing myself as cold. The chemicals produced as a byproduct of fever were confusing the tempreture regulation center in my brain -- quite typical. That is why chills can accompany fever.

When people develop life threatening hypothermia (bodies too cold), they often experience themselves as hot. Some are found dead in the snow, having discarded their clothes.

So...experience proves nothing.

One needs Carl Sagan's Baloney detector to assist one to 'test' experiences.

And, it is important to do background research on anyone or any group -- just the way we need to study past performance records for the phone carrier or computer we are thinking of purchasing.

Now..some material from someone else's blog.

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Jun. ’13

Is Candice O’Denver’s Balanced View/Great Freedom a sect or a cult?
I’ve been interested in the so-called spiritual search for quite a while and have been involved with zen meditation and advaita vedanta for many years. Recently however, I’ve discovered Candice O’Denver’s project called the Great Freedom teachings which has more recently been repackaged as Balanced View.

Candice O'Denver

This is an image of Candice O’Denver giving a talk. She supported the Barak Obama presidential campaign (Candice O’Denver (Great Freedom/President and Founder), (Zip code: 94924) $2300 to OBAMA FOR AMERICA on 07/31/08 ), so I imagine that she is a committed Democrat.

My first impression was “Wow, this is great!” but over the months have become sceptical and wary of it’s super-professionalism, it’s internationalism and multiculturalism with its sights being on the 18 to 35 year age group. The typical image is of a smiling twenty-something year-old with dreadlocks and an apple mac. What’s wrong with that? I ask myself. I don’t know, but I find the whole thing scary. Is it a sect? I also ask myself. Well, I decided to do a bit of research on the web and found some interesting blog comments and images from their publicity video which in themselves say quite a bit. Maybe one should have an open mind and not be too judgemental.

Image

Mmmm! No! He’s not my type, exactly, but he doesn’t have dreadlocks.

The Faces I’d Like To Punch Thread: That sounds a lot like Balanced View, formerly Great Freedom, a nasty money grabbing cult that has stationed itself in Hamilton House. Several if not all directors of Coexist are spokespeople for it. They peddle this “awareness” crap and charge hundreds and thousands of pounds for courses and retreats. They’re bad news and need routine outing before they become worse news.

Image
No, I don’t think I’d fit in too well here.

The Great Freedom

I’ve been to a couple of the open meetings for The Great Freedom, and so far I am less than impressed. Still thinking I’ll try their “Basic Awareness” program, starting on the 22nd, and go in with low expectations. The woman who runs it, Candace Somethingorother, seems like she’s been stuffed to the gunnels with valium (at least that’s how she comes over on the video presentation). The real live Great Freedomers didn’t seem much better. A depressed looking ex rock musician told us about how the Great Freedom had cured him of depression, and made me wonder what the fuck he must have been like before The Great Freedom. There were a few women with supernatural glows to their eyes, which smacked of the manic phase of bi-polar disorder. I didn’t see too much happinesss or freedom. But that was just my impression (and I think my impressions are rather tainted by nicotine starvation). I’ve been beginning to think, fuck it, there are no answers. Might as well just go back to Scotland.

Image
What’s with all the smiles? I wonder. What’s this image trying to convey?

The Great Freedom???

Well, I am totally disenchanted with “The Great Freedom” or “Balanced View” (as it is soon to be re-branded as). I was not at all happy with their introductory four day programme, but was re-assured by friends that “The Twelve Enquiries” would blow my mind. Well, it hasn’t blown my mind: on the contrary, it has bored me rigid; and it has annoyed me with its proscriptive programme of what appears to be nothing more than brain-washing. Okay, not all brain-washing is malign; and I am sure that Candice O’Denver and friends are well intentioned, but brain-washing and re-programming do not sit well with me. I am totally against it, and wherever I perceive such techniques are being used, my hackles rise. It was why I hated Allen Carr’s smug little anti-smoking book, and it is why I hate The Great Freedom. The last straw for me was being asked to write an appraisal letter of the first three enquiries, but having it turned down because it was not positive. That was bad enough.

Image
Happy clappy Christians? Just friendly young people? I don’t know what to think.

Jerry Katz on Nonduality website comment: …heard one of Ken Wilber’s inner-circle tele-interviews of Candice. Said her teachings were very advanced eastern stuff, even secret teachings. Wow!

How worrying. All we need is more praise by the likes of Andrew Cohen or the so-called Genpo Roshi, whose term Big Mind® is stolen from Shunryu Suzuki’s book Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind.

Image
More friendly people. What’s wrong with that? I just don’t know.

On a yahoo blog, Naked Gary writes:
The name of the cult is Balanced View
Some things they say just aren’t true
But like all cults they want you to trust
What the leader says- that is a must
But I have called her on her shit
And her followers don’t like it, not one bit
But I say, Fuck em if they can’t take a joke
At gurus and cults and I love to poke
They say one thing and do another
We’ve been through it all before, haven’t we, brother?

Image

More smiling faces! I wonder if they smile when they sleep…or when they’re on the john.

Image
Even more smiling faces!! Are they for real? There’s something wrong here.

Another blogger (Anonymous) said…

“It’s the Candice O’Denver cult that really needs to be exposed … She emphasized critical theory in graduate school. Her thesis Metaspace specifies the basic state of phenomena as a ground of natural perfection in which all appearances are equal. The basic state is the comprehensive order of all phenomena:

‘Rather than referring to the non-existence or to the existence of everything, the emphasis of the basic state is the absence of the independent nature of phenomena. The key point is that all phenomena have two aspects: the basic state and a vivid appearance that is the dynamic energy of the basic state. The phenomena of the basic state are countless, ceaseless and indeterminate, arising spontaneously without any effort, without anything needing to be done.’ As you can see this is straight out of Dzogchen …”

Candice O'Denver

Another image of Candice O’Denver giving a talk

Genpo Roshi isn’t the only person to have stolen a term from another teacher, and then called it his own.

According to a certain person called ‘Kyogan’, Candice O’Denver seems to have copied and used terms belonging to the Dzogchen tradition:

“There is some confusion arising from the distinction between “Copyright” and “Trademark”, as regards this issue of “Short Moments…”.
What Candice O’Denver did was to Trademark the traditional term “Short Moments…” (and several variations)

But she did this despite the easily established fact that the exact same term and it’s exact same use have been published in books by Tibetan Lamas years before. These Lama’s books were surely where she took the term from of course, as she obviously also took a great many other distinctively unique and iconic perspectives, images, concepts, terms, metaphors that were virtually unique to Dzogchen texts, and presented them as her own work, from 2007 on.

The fact is that Candice O’Denver has trademarked the traditional Tibetan Dzogchen instruction “Short Moments” and “Short Moments, Many Times” (and several other variants). On 5/April/2011 she successfully bought that right from the company ‘Trademarken’, before any of the Lamas thought to protect it for the tradition.”

On my part, I’d like to quote from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind:

“That everything is included within your mind is the essence of mind. To experience this is to have religious feeling. Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure; it is just like clear water with a few waves. Actually water always has waves. Waves are the practice of the water. To speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one. Big mind and small mind are one. When you understand your mind in this way, you have some security in your feeling. As your mind does not expect anything from outside, it is always filled. A mind with waves in it is not a disturbed mind, but actually an amplified one. Whatever you experience is an expression of big mind.

The activity of big mind is to amplify itself through various experiences. In one sense our experiences coming one by one are always fresh and new, but in another sense they are nothing but a continuous or repeated unfolding of the one big mind.”

That puts it very nicely for me.

So, concerning Candice O’Denver’s project, you’ll just have to make up your own mind.

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Posted by JohnSmith. Categories: cult, sect, spirituality. Tags: cult, sect, spirituality. 9 Comments
9 responses »
Daniel Avital on October 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm said:
I have had a few Skype sessions with teachers on Balanced View and read their free ebooks several times as well as listening to hours of audio. I have been interested in Advaita for some years and truth seeking in general. I came across balanced view whilst consciously searching on Google for the word “Awareness” alongside “recognition”. I had by then come to realize that that which I had been seeking was and always had been here even closer than experience. Experience comes and goes whilst This remains. It only takes a subtle shift in my attention to recognize It. To be honest though, I already belong to AA and didn’t want to engage on the level of fellowship with Balanced View. I have to say though that I never sensed anything of too much concern with what I saw and read. By some definitions it could be classed as a cult just as AA could. One thing about AA though is that it’s free and provides me with an opportunity to be of service to others without expecting anything in return which, although almost mocked in some spiritual circles, helps me a lot. It’s a great article though and really fair. As such, I have no criticism of it. I also disagree with the editorial policy and sensorship.

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Richard on December 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm said:
When it is unusual that many people are smiling a lot, what does that say about the usual?

These particular pictures have been taken in India. When your possessions fit in one bag, go about in dust and 30+ degrees Celsius it’s easy to look a bit scruffy.

I had all the same reservations, but decided to see what it was all about anyway. I have not been disappointed. The only way to know is to experience, otherwise it is all about notions and ideas.

Fair enough though. It’s good wanting to shed some light on something which isn’t covered very much.

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aqua on January 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm said:
In 30 years of observance and research into ‘Spiritual’ groups, I have rarely come across a more blatant example of a cult. The website says it all, or rather it doesnt -obfuscation all around. What amazes me is its complete lack of subtlety in its approach, the whole website, screams ‘cult’!
Right down to the leader with the long blond/white hair-shades of the recent miniseries ‘Top of the Lake’ and the film ‘Sound of my Voice” among others. Frankly the whole sorry mess, comes across like a South Park spoof .

Sorry, but anyone who falls for this one, is a fool.

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John Losang on March 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm said:
Your criticism is not very well reasoned, just a bald assertion of your view. Reference to three TV shows and dislike of someone’s hair style…Is that all you have learned in 30 years?

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aqua on March 2, 2014 at 6:23 pm said:
Its very clear where your loyalties lie-and thats entirely your choice, but good luck to you should you become disillusioned, I genuinely hope you dont waste too much of your life-its what every ex cult member regrets the most after the sense of betrayal-the lost time…

aqua on January 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm said:
After reading this :’That sounds a lot like Balanced View, formerly Great Freedom, a nasty money grabbing cult that has stationed itself in Hamilton House. Several if not all directors of Coexist are spokespeople for it.’ – I contacted Hamilton House, and the person I spoke to said they are aware of and concerned about the situation and are distancing themselves from the group, despite ‘Balanced View’ hiring the rooms.

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John on February 13, 2014 at 6:12 am said:
I was involved in BV for a number of years and can testify that it is for sure a subtle psuedo spiritual cult with Candice as the narcissistic cult leader. Everyone is told what to believe in a very systematic way and there is absolutely no room for any other opinion other than the party line handed down by Candice and parroted by her syncophatic “trainers”, the most brainwashed of the bunch. The original BV teachings are pretty much all stolen from Dzochen, making the BV teachings essentially a deceitful cut and paste operation. The more modern teachings penned by Candice herself are an exercise in complete un-understandable modern day spiritual technobabble. The saddest part is that BV is a victim of it’s own deception, it’s not like they think they’re pulling one over one every one, they actually believe their own bs. Honesty is the first victim in the cult business and BV is an incredibly well put together contrivance right from the get go. If you are interested in these types of teachings there are far more authentic and less deceptive sources to receive them from than BV.

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Timm on March 31, 2014 at 6:38 am said:
For every spiritual seeker this site is a marvel. What are we seeking for? Harmony, peace, love? We would like to get out of our own negativity, inspire others, live a life of freedom and happiness. Reading the above seems to be the exact contrary: spreading excessive negativity, focussing on hurried superficiallity, “proving” assumptions in smart-aleck ways. If this “cult” called balanced view causes such excessive negativity and hatred there must be something to it. So I checked it out. Watched videos, went to seminars and let me tell you: the brainwash worked! The cult got me. Balanced View is wonderful. My life has harmonized so much within the last months, I stopped being a so called seeker as I have found and most of all: I am still unhappy, negative, aggressive – and it doesn´t matter at all! This is what I was looking for. Thank you all!

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Micheline on April 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm said:
Thank you! This helps as I find myself drawn to BV’s simple approach – however it came about, nothing’s new! – after years of seeking, trying to free and fix myself in order to know love and live peacefully for the benefit of all which naturally takes care of me. With gratitude…

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Skepticism is not cynicism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 14, 2014 08:39PM

If anyone suggests that care and concern about sources and your determination to fact check means you are negative and cynical --

Take such as response as a signal to be alert.

Skepticism does not equal cynicism. And being skeptical does not make you 'negative minded' and does not make you a 'hater'.

Skepticism is the fart in the mist of New Age incense. It kills the woo woo mood.

Yet skepticism only asks for good quality information and from multiple, preferably objective sources to back up assertions.

Cynicism is justifiable only after one obtains evidence beyond reasonable doubt that someone is running something for self interest, not as they claim, for your benefit.


Skepticism

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism?

an attitude of doubting the truth of something (such as a claim or statement). Full Definition of SKEPTICISM. 1. : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity ...

Cynicism

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cynical?

believing that people are generally selfish and dishonest. : selfish and dishonest in a way that shows no concern about treating other people fairly ...
[/quote]



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