I'd like to take some time to post my response to all this "voluntary" stuff. I think Anticult said it best. It's just part of the game, but it amazes me that this is the point that is repeatedly brought up to try to prove that Byron Katie's School for the Work is not an LGAT "cult." It's part of the deception, and it obviously works wonders for BK.
Guruphiliac apparently missed my argument with ralpher, so I'm going to take some time to clarify a few things. I said "A forced 36 hour fast" and Eduardo and company say "voluntary". I say it's all the same thing.
First, I want to clarify this: The Work (the 4 questions) unquestionably have some merit. I, too, was helped by Inquiry when it was applied to actual projections and misperceptions that I had. At first, The Work was blessing. And, that is why I attended The School despite my misgivings about BK's sanity. I wanted to know if I was missing something... if there was more... if she was just a wacko. Her website was different then, and the information that it offered about The School was very limited. It promised participants that they would be taken through the same process that BK went through to get to where she is.
(At no time in The School were we required to sleep on the floor, and I don't recall any cockroaches... so I think it's safe to say we did not experience that moment of "transcendence" that she had. Thank goodness!)
I did learn some valuable tools at The School, like assertiveness skills. However, I don't think it was necessary to participate in an LGAT to learn those. In fact, I've learned more effective assertiveness skills elsewhere. I did learn to own my projections, and again, I could have learned that elsewhere. BK does not have a monopoly on simple psychology. Because of the Thought Reform program going on there, I probably learned these things much faster than I would have in a less controlled environment. The bombardment of information had a negative side effects in the long run. It would have been better to learn these things more slowly.
So, Eduardo... I understand that you've experienced positive results from The Work and The School. There is no argument about that. I'm sure that people who've been to other LGATs have also experienced positive results from the trainings, as well. No one is questioning that, so your testimony here is rather off-topic. Very diverting, too. The question here is whether or not Byron Katie is a legitimate spiritual teacher or a fraud? The question is whether or not there are negative side-effects to participating? Will this hurt people? The answer is a resounding YES.
A legitimate spiritual teacher does not need to use Thought Reform, manipulation, and skillful marketing to gain followers. So is she legitimate? The answer is NO.
The fast at The School was forced. Regular participants were instructed to eat nothing but the organic food from the kitchen. Most of us had turned in any other food we had with our cell phones. The morning the fast began, we were surprised by empty serving tables. There was nothing but a sign reading "Who would you be without your story?" No meals or food were served to us the rest of the day, or the next morning. The next evening we were given supper.
Sure, we were told it was "voluntary." Then, there was about an hour or so where people stood up to express their concerns and complaints. As they did, BK did The Work with them, and had them question all of their misgivings about fasting. We were told repeatedly that "their work is your work" and to "go inside" of ourselves and apply what was happening to us. This went on until we were compliant. We did not "voluntarily" fast. We didn't even know it was coming!
There was a restaurant in the hotel, and anyone could go purchase food there if they didn't want to fast. However, it was made very clear that doing so was a failure to "do your School". Eating was a breach of two important rules: fasting for purification and eating organic the entire 9 days. BK personally stressed to us the importance of both. The message was given very clearly that if we did not fast, we would not "get what we came for."
So, we basically had two choices: Fast, or fail.
Also, when the fast began, there was no indication of how long it was going to continue. This was a question that Byron Katie would not answer, and again instructed those who asked to question their thoughts. "The worst thing that could happen is a thought," she said. (Actually, passing out on the streets of LA while begging for food the next day might have been worse than all of our thoughts combined.) We did not know how long the fast would be, and therefore did not make an informed choice to fast for X amount of hours. How voluntary is that?
Although I am willing to acknowledge that there were positive things at The School, I do not believe that those should overshadow or invalidate the negative things at The School, which are more weighty and longer lasting. The positive aspects are fleeting. The only way to maintain "bliss" is to keep going, and to keep giving BK your money. How convenient.
It was undoubtedly an environment of Thought Reform.
I can't understand how anyone, even Byron Katie herself, could possibly deny this. After all, isn't that what The Work is all about? Reforming one's thoughts?
Had someone educated us on Thought Reform and the lasting effects it can have on a person BEFORE we handed our minds over to BK, I wonder how many people would actually attend The School? Since we were not told what this might do to us... how "voluntary" was it, really?
We were promised "Heaven", but The School for the Work is hell in a clever disguise.
I seriously doubt I would have attended if someone had said to me, "By attending this School, you will lose your sense of self, and your ability to trust yourself. You will learn to constantly question your thoughts, and feel that nothing is real. You will lose your sense of personal boundaries, and have BK's solipsism drilled into your head for days on end, until you doubt your own religious beliefs. You will become a missionary, searching out other people to bring into BK's fold. You will be out thousands of dollars, and have nothing to show for it. Your deepest traumas will be triggered and brought to the surface. Then, you will be left to your own volition (and The Work) to try to sort through them. You will become dependent on BK for guidance. You will lose your ability to communicate with and relate to the general population. You will come to see yourself as nothing."
"And, if you really do your School well, you will become convinced that you like what has happened to you."
Since no one told me that prior to my decision to attend, I will not accept that everything was "voluntary." I did not choose that. Instead, I was told that I would find "the only way to God" and the "end of suffering."
That is the biggest lie ever told.
Guruphilliac, Eduardo... I invite you to take this into consideration. But of course, it's totally voluntary.
Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/2008 06:01PM by jj52.
One of my favorite books about dealing with manipulators is "In Sheep's Clothing" by George K. Simon. There is an excerpt from it on Rick Ross here.
One of the main tactics that covert aggressors use, according to Simon, is called "Villifying the Victim."
It's really messed up, because The Work actually teaches how to use this tactic. As a student of The Work, when someone comes to you in agony over some horrific abuse... the way to "help" them is to make them responsible for it. Facilitators of The Work learn how to villify victims, and to teach victims how to villify other victims, and so on and so on.
I've noticed as I read what BK apologists (and Guruphiliac) said that many of these covert aggressive tactics are employed. I'm saying from experience that BK and her entourage have covert aggression down to an art.
Playing the Victim Role
Villifying the Victim
Playing the Servant Role
Seduction [BK: "Honey, Angel, Sweetheart"]
Projecting the blame (blaming others)
I highly recommend reading the whole excerpt from the book, for those who haven't already. This information has helped me tremendously in getting out of The Work.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2008 09:38AM by jj52.
wanted to ignore ralpher, but I seem to have gotten stuck on trying to make any sense at all of his erratic post.
I think he's saying that I was giving "Too Many Details" by quoting George K. Simon's book. I notice that he put this little accusation out there in question form. I've seen a lot of people engrossed in The Work doing this. Since everything they say is supposed to be a projection about them, they are generally very careful about how they accuse you of things, to avoid having to turn it around.
I'm going to acknowledge some of ralpher's post, partially out of pity, and partially to help myself get through the mind-screw he just tried to give me.
In answer to your inquiry/accusation: No, ralpher. It is not considered "Too Many Details" to quote books that are expressly about the topic of discussion, and that support the ideas being presented. If that were true, then Rick Ross's entire website would be one giant conglomerate of Too Many Details.
The point of a Too Many Detailed smokescreen is to cover someone's hidden aggressive agenda. I've made my agenda here pretty clear, and in case I didn't: I am here to share about my experience with Byron Katie, to free myself of the Thought Reform, to learn more about it, and if possible, to help anyone else who is seeking freedom from BK. I think you will find that every post I've posted is openly in support of this agenda.
It's obvious to me that ralpher is insinuating that I'm projecting, and once again has failed to look at himself and all the "Too Many Details" that his posts contain. Considering all his claims to not be a BK apologist, the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. I might feel more inclined to take him seriously if he could just be honest about his agenda. But since he chooses lying, diversion, projecting the blame, villifying the victim, and feigning innocence instead, I see no reason to seriously consider his point-of-view.
Although, it does provide some interesting material to help illustrate what The Work can do to a person's mind.
After (not so) subtly accusing me of using manipulation when I quoted a relevant source, ralpher went on to quote a source, which seems totally irrelevant to manipulation, cults, or cult leaders. I have no idea who Kenneth Burke is, and I see absolutely no relevance in this quote. Since ralpher did not go on to explain this, I can only assume it was just another not-so-clever diversion.
"The fact that you find someone being persuasive to you or others is nothing but that." says ralpher.
The fact that I find him trying to persuade me to see things his way and defending Byron Katie, yet again, is nothing but that... it really is just a fact, y'all. Every now and then ralpher makes a good point, albeit, not the point he was trying to make. The fact that I find him here doing the same thing over and over... and never getting a different result... is a little insane.
The rest of the paragraph is disturbing to me, since it makes absolutely no sense. I cannot figure out why in the world he is now talking about Obama. And, who said that details are suspicious? No, irrelevant details are suspicious... which makes ralpher's post highly suspicious, in my book.
As far as ralpher's prediction about what I'll soon be quoting and saying... does anyone think this is really weird, besides me? I think he's mocking me in some really far-out, incomprehensible way.
What does he mean by "Yes, of course"? Who is he in agreement with? Does he really think he's made a point, or is this supposed to convince me? It's not funny... but dang! This sort of crap actually used to make some sense to me while I was immersed in The School. Now, it sounds like some kind of paranoid jibberish.
I think ralpher needs to take his own advice again, and come to terms with persuasion-- the persuasion that has obviously wreaked havoc on his ability to think and communicate intelligibly.
I am very sorry if what I say seems cruel. I think it's possible I'm talking about a person who has some severe psychological trauma from The Work, and I don't intend to make a mockery of him. I'm actually feeling very sorry for him right about now. I can imagine how painful the idea of losing this false sense of reality must be for him. I think he must be very frightened by our posts. But, how in the world do you respond to this insanity? Does anyone have any suggestions for books and/or resources for dealing with people like this?
I assume we will continue to hear from ralpher every time something in these posts threatens his BK fantasy world.
So, I've been reading all of the mainstream self-help type books about cults, and I finally got to Steve Hassan's "Combatting Cult Mind Control." I started reading it today, and have already had several "a-ha" moments. I'm also really starting to feel the grief of my loss through my involvement with Byron Katie.
Over the last week, there was a discussion here about the exercise at the School where participants were asked to think of something valuable in their rooms, wrap it up, and give it to BK... not to be returned for the most part. (Just a brief recap after the Guruphiliac detour:) Blammo shared about his relatives who apparently gave away $100,000 in jewelry. And, I witnessed others who gave up their wedding rings and valuables.
Today as I was reading Hassan's personal experience I made a connection between this exercise at the BK School, and something that Hassan had to do during his induction into the Moonies. He called it the "Isaac", referring to the Biblical story of Isaac and Abraham. He was instructed to give up something very dear and valuable to him in sacrifice, to prove/strengthen his commitment to the cult. (His bank account was already theirs... it was supposed to be something more, something personal.)
This exercise took place the last day of The School. After we'd already made so many sacrifices for BK, it was reinforced with one more big sacrifice on the last day. We were told that it was to teach us that material objects really have no meaning, and to teach us to let go. This was supposed to be for our spiritual well-being.
How convenient it must be for the guru to train her followers to let go of things that have meaning to them, and to convince them that they really have no meaning at all.
Before I read this in Hassan's book, I thought that BK was just being greedy by taking our stuff. Now I realize it had a much deeper purpose: To strengthen our commitment to her, and to teach us how not to hang on to things we value... like OURSELVES and OUR GRASP ON REALITY... and of course, OUR HARD EARNED MONEY. To be willing to give it all up... if asked.
I can guess that participants in her new Turnaround House have already been through several Schools for The Work. They are the ones who are the most committed... who will pay $20,000 to spend 28 days in house with BK and 5 other participants.
I wonder what the next step is for them. Frightening to think about.
Well, I'm oh-so glad that I didn't give up anything of value... and then when I had the chance, I took back my "Isaac." A few months after The School, when doing The Work was making me break down into tears, I threw away everything from The School, all of my BK books, and everything associated with it.
Everything except my "Isaac"... which was just a little stuffed animal someone gave me at The School. I kept it, but didn't know why... it just had some new meaning for me. Now I realize... that it is a symbol of the lack of commitment to BK that saved me from totally losing myself. It's a symbol of the commitment to myself that saved me.
I also read about Love Bombing today... that makes so much sense. We were love bombed at The School from the moment we walked in, and were taught to love bomb each other very quickly.
Seeing these similarities between BK and the Moonies... is disturbing, and freeing... and wow. The Moonies even used fasting, too. I feel so much grief.
Even though BK doesn't openly claim to be The Messiah, the hypnotic suggestion is given over and over that she is the "savior" of the world, and the bringer of "The only way to God." She is much more covert, but it's all the same in the end.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2008 01:05PM by jj52.
At the School for The Work, most everyone talks like ralpher by day 9. There is a whole exercise on "literal listening", which is exactly what it sounds like. We paired off into groups and practiced listening to what people were saying literally... everything. It was supposed to train us to filter out all sarcasm, hidden meanings, implications, insinuations, etc. Now that I think about this... that's really messed up!
Here, just take everything BK says literally, and don't pay any attention to the subtle innuendos and implications. Let all that stuff go into your subconscious, but filter it out of your conscious mind. Is this a recipe for brainwashing?
I remember asking a staff member "Is there a chance that I could get my cell phone back tonight?" She smiled and replied, "Well, I don't know if there is a chance of that." And walked away. I was left feeling like a moron for not asking the question in a more direct way. But, in the real world, most people would know exactly what I meant, right?
Not in Byron Katie world!
What would I get if I took everything ralpher said literally, and shut out everything else I see/hear going on there? I'd probably snap back into BK land. His way of expressing himself is so familiar and BK-ish... it's almost hynoptic for me at times.
Is that what is meant by "loading the language"?
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2008 03:16PM by jj52.
... so back to The School for The Work...
I had a memory.
This is a prime example of what it's like trying to have a conversation with someone engrossed in The Work.
I remember sitting at one of the rare meals where we were allowed to talk. There was this woman across the table going on and on and on about the amazing feelings she was having due to The Work. She said, "It just feels like my body is being purified... I feel like I'm detoxing!" And she went on and on about her feelings of detox, crediting it all to The Work.
When she was done talking, I said to her "Well, we've been eating organic food for a week now. That is actually very detoxifying, so you probably really are detoxing." A simple fact.
Too much reality, I guess.
She quickly retorted, "Well, DETOX, that's just my word. That's just what I call it."
Like, she couldn't possibly be actually experiencing a major detox while eating organic seaweed and the like all week long. That was just too down to Earth... and took the credit away from The Work.
It wasn't "magical" enough, I guess.
I bit my tongue and thought, "Detox is HER word, now, huh? She just made it up?" I thought of the hundreds and thousands of times I've heard this word used in every context... and I marveled about how this woman could claim ownership of this word...
And use her ownership of the word to nullify the simple fact that she'd been eating an organic diet for a week... and probably really was detoxifying... and that great feeling of healthy food working in her body had absolutely nothing to do with The Work.
It's amazing the lengths people can go to in order to distort reality when it suits their purposes. Nothing is shocking anymore.
I like what you are saying about Programmed Confusion. Byron Katie and her followers are VERY confusing people. And, it definitely serves a purpose. It leaves you wondering, and doubting yourself... and makes you want to understand, so you try a little harder to "get it".
I remember telling someone at The School how strange it was that BK seemed so confused. She stammers often, and blinks and nods... like a robot trying to process or retrieve the information you requested... There were times when she answered someone's question, and it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the question at all. I thought maybe she was just going senile or something... but I see now that it was purposeful.
The person that I said that to responded with wonderment, "Oh, Katie, it's a different kind of mind.
She's on a different level that we can't understand."
I felt like someone had just stuck a plunger in my ear and mushed around my brains. I started doubting myself, and listening more intently to BK, too. After all, wasn't "BK is confused" just a projection of myself???
If I had a dollar for every person I saw sitting there with that blank look of utter confusion on their face... well, I would have my money back from The School!
It's been a long time since I've watched BK on video. I decided just now that enough time has gone by that I can handle watching her again. (Not that I will make a habit of it.) I found the following video really interesting to watch because BK is being interviewed and she juts her neck out quite a bit, is practically in the interviewer's face.
Giving it up for JJ... and Anticult and YOU!