This material decribes a different group from the one discussed here on this thread.
I hope the material that follows does not derail the present discussion but instead will supplement it.
My intention today is to offer first hand information about legal obstacles faced by adult VICTIMS of undue influence--via information from someone who, from her description, tranferred 2 million dollars to her abusive guru under harsh conditions.
Note: this particular guru has a pattern of demanding love letters or abject apology letters from disciples. This has been verified from multiple sources. Not wedding rings, but love letters.
Jane describes her fear of having her love letters,written to this guru, used against her in court.
Anyone in a group different different than the one Jane belonged to, can read this and see if it seems familiar to their own, different situation--or not.
My intention is to supply templates by offering other descriptions from first hand participants, of the context in which adults can be led, step by seemingly small step, to 'give up thier power'.
A love letter written when your guru is still being charming and attentive to you, will feel like a gift from your heart.
The relationship has not turned abusive, not yet. You are still being romanced by the guru.
Only later, after many many abusive episodes from that same guru, when the guru is battering you, rather than romancing you, and you finally leave, do those earlier love letters, written IN A DIFFERENT AND NOW OBSOLETE EMOTIONAL SOCIAL CONTEXT take on a new meaning---those letters, still in the guru's files, are now a threat and source of fear for you.
That friends is how adults can be led to give up their power. Its not their craving minds, either. It is not knowing what lies in store.
Therapists dont seduce. Bad gurus do seduce. THat is why the sober warnings from a therapist are so often at a disadvantage compared with the seduction of a bad guru.
A therapist is forbidden by ethics and law to seduce and must tell you the truth.
A bad guru is free to be seductive.
Item #2 and its accompaning comments--all of them--are fascinating. Its intriguing to see the frequent 'blame the victim' theme, combined with insightful contributions.
To me, Item #1 describes selective recruitment.
(what follows is a precise and hair raising descripton of how Janes friends in the X community, under orders from the guru, followed directions and pressured her. Meanwhile others in the community were told to stay away from Jane, thus isolating her. If you read comments sections following both articles, one of the people who participated in the pressurizing confirmed, using her own name, what Jane had written was true, shed done her part on orders from the guru, to pressure Jane for the money.)
When I met (Guru X)in 1993, I had been seeing a psychotherapist four times a week for eight years.
Guru X and many others in his community knew this.
It’s clear to me in retrospect that in making my $2 Million and other donations to X I was acting out some of the self-destructive issues that I had long been in therapy in to deal with.
When I told my therapist about meeting Guru X , she warned me I that was vulnerable to potential brainwashing.
In contrast, when I revealed to X the insecurity and anxiety I felt about the prospect of joining his community, he told me how intelligent and bright I was, and how fully capable I was of making a mature decision on my own.
Who was I going to listen to—someone who told me I was weak (my therapist), or someone who told me I was strong (Guru X)?
At the time, the choice seemed clear, however misguided, and I left my therapist and fell deeply into the vortex of Andrew’s community—the amazing people, the happiness, the feeling of belonging...."
Jane who wrote the two articles replied in the comments section after #2 and shed light on legal problems involved if one realizes one has been harmed: THe usual legal statute of limitations is 5 years
THe abuse this woman suffered, the one who surrendered 2 million dollars of her own money, took her 8 YEARS
to recover from, so the statute of limitations had passed.
Martin, your comments are accurate, certainly for me. I am doubtless that I was a profoundly needy individual who was seeking some "dad" figure to guide and direct me.
(Guru X's) seduction, in my case, was to call upon my desire for "true independence and true integrity." I knew I was a needy insecure person and I wanted relief from it and he seemed to promise real spiritual depth and INDEPENDENCE. Which was an utter lie, obviously.
For him it is ultimately about submission and dependence.
I did actually try to pursue the legal front, which is when I discovered the law regarding undue influence. At the time I think I was in a pretty confused, perhaps traumatized, state and couldn't bear fighting Andrew publicly. I feared he would use all he knew of my life to make me suffer more emotionally. I feared he would bring out all the endless love letters I wrote to him as proof that it was all voluntary. (he saves them) I feared facing all this. Again about two years ago I sought legal counsel and discovered there is a statute of limitations on this kind of case and a judge may have interpreted it as 5 years from "the gift", 5 years from the last "donation", or 5 years from the time I left. It would be difficult to know.
What would be hard to prove, which I believe to be true, is that it should be 5 years from the time you get out from under the spell and confusion of the situation, which for me has taken years!
When I did begin legal proceedings, even threatening a class action lawsuit, where my attorney would gather a group of people in the same situation and bring the case up to date, thereby, circumventing the statue of limitations. X lawyer challenged us and are waiting to hear from us. We'll see what develops. ...
On the prostration front, it is no joke. To be more accurate, at that time I had had 3 knee surgeries and couldn't do the full prostration so I did 1000 push ups each one ending with the full hands over the head, fingers touching his picture. I was one of the few who had to modify the real prostration, but it wasn't unusual if someone was hurt. Yes it is true. The men and women did them separately. At the time I think I was with a group of 10 or 12 women. (we each had our own personal photo). On one weekend a month, Andrew had push up competitions. The men had a world-wide competition. On Sunday night we would find out how many the "winner" had done in how-ever long a time it took. It was actually a time of fun and sport and joy and teamwork, everyone supporting each other. I was in the best physical shape of my life at that time. Emotionally, psychologically, a shell, an empty, individual. I can hardly do 100 push ups now. Besides when I do do them, a lot of memories come back, not always welcome when I am at the gym. By the time you are doing the kind of practice I was, you have proven to Andrew your total submission to him. Folks who are on the periphery don't know whats going on closer in. And by the time I was that far in, I was, as you say brainwashed or at a minimum, so sold on the ideals he set up that I would do what he asked. So yes we did do this. We did horrendous things to each other in the name of surrendering the ego.
We allowed X to break us down and we broke each other down, in the name of destroying ego. we broke each others spirits and hearts and in some who were already too vulnerable and fragile(corboy italics), we perhaps destroyed their spirits.
I AM compassionate of the students because I have seen that it has taken me nearly 8 years to feel comfortable in my own skin, enough to take responsibility for what I participated in, and to call a spade a spade..., ..... X defines the boundaries of what is acceptable and what it is not.
And the concern would be that the boundaries keep shifting until it gets really really dangerous to be close to him.
He always said the closer you'd get, you'd burn, but ideally that should mean you are less and less selfish, self-centered and unethical, not the opposite.
.....I don't look back with pride at the times I peppered my "friends" with examples of their weaknesses in our endless meetings. I am not proud to have participated in rituals that utterly humiliated individual women who were in need of whatever Andrew would call it. There were lots and lots of ways we used humiliation on each other to try to "destroy the ego." What else was destroyed along the way?? No I am not proud, I am responsible for my part. But it is complicated.
One person wrote:
One thing that deserves much closer scrutiny is whether discples remain with abusive leaders by mis-using healing methodologies to suppress their genuine suffering and to suppress their doubts.
These methods include and are not limited to prescription medication, stress reduction, acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga.
Healers consulted by abused devotees may be unaware that the client is suffering chronic abuse. All too often devotees keep quiet and conceal the origin of thier stress--physical injuries.
A body worker or therapist may lack the alertness needed to tell clients, 'For you, the treatment of choice is NOT yoga, body work, or acupuncture. Its to pack your bags and leave, ASAP.'
Like alcohol or tranquilizers, alternative therapies can be mis-prescribed and applied in such a way as to enable suffering disciples to tolerate the chronic anxiety of living in a hurtful community, rather than feel their suffering with full awareness, claim their energy--and leave.
So it is worth asking whether one has used (or told to us use) yoga, bebirthing, acupucture, presecribed medication, etc to numb out and remain in a bad situation longer than they would have, without these palliatives.
Otherwise, one may never comprehend using these methods for numbing conscious awareness instead of supporting conscious awareness could have played an important and unexamined role in causing them to delay their departure.
It may well be that for every abusive leader, there may be a network of massage therapists, yoga teachers and other stress reduction specialists who are unknowingly colluding by assisting suffering devotees to tolerate a harmful situation instead of recognizing it for what it is--and leaving before worse harm is inflicted.
This is part of the social network that keeps a bad guru going.
It is far more than students 'giving their power away to the guru.'
Gurus are kept in power by collusive social networks that go far beyond the student teacher relationship.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2009 10:38PM by corboy.