Adi Da (Adi Da was an infamous cult leader who disrupted marriages and used
women disciples for his gratification)
I was so sure that TNT was not a cult. First of all, what I had heard about cults was that people attempted suicide together or gave all their money away. This was an open school and you could come and go as you like. Far away from what I had read in the media.
I had also googled TNT and cults several times in the belief that if this was a cult someone would have written a warning about it. But no, nothing. (This is one more reason why I now share my story) Honestly, I don’t think anyone of us in TNT knew what the criteria for a cult were. And we never looked it up. I just trusted Alex when he said it was not. :)
Alex even had a “cult police” appointed in TNT. He gave the title to a male student who was a professor at the University of Copenhagen. A smart guy that people trusted. -He will check us, Alex said. That created a false sense of safety. When I look back at it now it seems kind of absurd to appoint someone from within the cult to convince the cult members that they are not in a cult.
The appointed cult police even held and recorded a lecture where he tried to prove TNT was not a cult by using Robert Kegan's theory of adult development. Instead, he tried to show that the students were to blame for the accusations of TNT being a cult. Being the ones creating a cult structure around Alex. The recording was posted on youtube and spread within TNT.
What he did not do was compare TNT with Roy Wallis seven signs of a movement being a cult. In my opinion, TNT qualifies on most of them. He did not either explain how the dynamics of co-dependency are played out in an immature dysfunctional organization, creating a cult structure. To think that the leader himself has no responsibility for creating the structure is absurd and sounds like complete denial.
By the way, the cult police are now the head teacher in the TNT cult.
I recommend you to read a book about cults if you are interested to learn more about cult dynamics. Or watch the movie Holy Hell. That will enlight you on the subject.
And by the way, you do not need to be stupid to enter a cult. Everyone can become a victim of a narcissistic person. A cult structure is such a strong dynamic and almost impossible to see when you are in it. The reason for this is what is called the denial and normalization process. I will give you an example.
When I first joined the team I was in shock over what I saw. I had never seen anything like this before. So many crazy things and abuse happened behind the scenes. I actually went into freeze mode (a trauma reaction) several times my first weeks with the team. The “lower assistants” then worked as a bridge to get me into the system. Unconsciously starting the normalization process. Showing me how to behave in an environment like this by saying things like;
- This is how it is to be around a Spiritual leader.
- You better do this or that, or he will become angry.
- You should be happy you are one of the chosen ones.
- This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
- You just don’t get it, dumb fuck.
Actually, no one gets this in the beginning… It does not make sense, in any way. Not before you have spent some time in the system and the gaslighting- and the normalization process has started to blind you.
After a while, you get so used to the system that you start to protect it. A new team member comes in and you are now the one getting them into the normalization process. They, like you, start to do things that go against their core values. Over time their adaptation and co-dependency get stronger, and sooner than they know, they are in it as well. Blinded by the longing to be wanted, special, necessary, important and significant.
This system is used by everyone involved. It is played out in the co-dependent “one up” or “one down” / better than or less than thinking. Cult dynamics are “Hard-Core” Co-dependency (read this article for more info). Everyone familiar with Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle of co-dependency will recognize the top-to-bottom hierarchy of relatively more powerful dominators and less powerful submittors; each dominator being submissive to the dominators on the level above. The “guru” stands at the top of a dysfunctional pyramid of increasing dominance from bottom to top and increasing submission from top to bottom. A dysfunctional leader always creates a dysfunctional group.
Or as Alex himself said it many times, you are just marionettes in my show. But we, in the team at that time, just laughed. This is very embarrassing but we could sit together and joke about people who criticized TNT for being a cult. We were so arrogant and naive that we even said; They do not have a clue of what a cult is…as if we knew, we were laughing our arrogant asses off from the very core of an extremely strong cult dynamic. Got to laugh at that now!
Here is another article on The New Tantra published on Medium 3 days ago. What is quoted here are some highlights.
The entire article needs close reading.
TNT is a spiritual tantra school known for it’s tough approach, with teachings that are very confronting and straightforward. It has its roots in the Crazy Wisdom teaching coming from Adi Da Samraj, an unconventional American spiritual teacher. Alex Vartman (the founder of The New Tantra) received these teachings as a student of David Deida. (David was a student of Adi Da) TNT attracted all kinds of people, from all over the world. Doctors, scientists, CEOs, artists, priests, beauty queens, transsexuals, bisexuals, young and old, singles and couples, everyone was there and so was I.
I had been on a spiritual journey for several years before I came in contact with TNT. I had explored different types of yoga and tantra and done some hardcore years of spiritual discipline training. Coming from the corporate world running a business and working with leadership and communication for some of Sweden’s top companies, this was a totally new world for me. Far away from the board meeting rooms, I was used to spending my days in. So much felt like magic. I had my first spiritual awakening during these years and life felt amazing and full of opportunities. From here it felt like I could just go upwards and onwards to the promised land.
I heard about TNT from a guy on a tantric party. He described it as raw, dark and sexy with a lot of party going on. A totally different kind of tantra from what I had been practicing before. You have to try it out, he said. So I did. I jumped right in there, full-hearted and very naive. I did my first workshop in Sweden 2011. I wanted to grow spiritually and Alex had an impressive resume, for instance, years with David Deida that I had studied for before I meet Alex. I got on the fast train. I was the top student from the day I stepped in. I was brave, bold and full of life. My too-muchness, that I had a problem to tune down in the corporate world, was suddenly perfect and celebrated. I felt at home. I felt high on life and it felt like a really good party.
go or clarity?
I had been working in TNT for almost 5 years when I had my first long break away from Alex. Me and my husband went to a paradise island in Cambodia for our honeymoon in December 2015.
Alex used to warn us about the danger of being away from him over longer periods of time. He said that team members doing that usually contracted back into their egos and “got lost”, which means they decided to leave the team and TNT. I had heard endless stories about several of the assistants, co-teachers and organizers who had left before and during my years with Alex.
The time on the island gave me something I did not expect. It was like a thick fog slowly lifted and I saw a puzzle of manipulation, power play and addictions. Piece by piece fell into place. I finally had time and space to see it. It was overwhelming and terrifying. I was afraid that Alex warnings were true, that I was becoming contracted and lost in my ego. But a part deep inside of me knew it was true could not ignore what I saw.
I had gotten several warnings signals during my years in TNT, I had seen a lot of shit, but I had not paid it much attention. It was like we all knew “how it was”, and that was the price to pay, to be close to a spiritual teacher. But now everything became so clear. I spent weeks writing down the different parts and scenarios I saw.
After years in TNT I was so unused to trust my own voice (at least when it was about myself). I was skillfully trained to always check everything with Alex and the team. That was the way we did it in TNT.
I knew I had to find a woman that I could get mirrored by, someone one with experience of spiritual practice, tantra and Alex. I decided to contact a woman I knew had the experience I needed at this moment. I hoped she could tell me if I was going crazy in my ego or not.
We had our meeting, we talked for 6 hours and she confirmed several pieces of my puzzle. The addiction, the manipulation and the burnouts. Everything I intuitively already knew. ... She just confirmed that I was on the right way. That I was not crazy for seeing this. She shared her own experience from being around Alex and how sick she had become. She really helped me a lot to also see my own co-dependency toward him.
I went on, talked to more people, collecting more pieces, and it all became more and more clear. TNT was longterm harmful, especially for women, and I had ended up in the middle of it. It was a complex web of different dysfunctions. Dysfunctions that one by one could make anyone sick, and all put together, it was like a powerful cocktail for addictive people. Especially when you were deep in it like me and my husband
After Bea wrote a letter to Vartman describing the misery and tension among her and the team, she described being invited to a meeting with Vartman and his team members. It lasted 8 hours.
After an hour Alex called us down. I prayed in silence while I walked down the stairs. I prayed for mercy and strength to stand in my truth. I prayed for my body that was in a burnout, I prayed for everyone in the room.
I set my phone to record and placed it in a good spot. I may need this later…
My mother, who is a woman with great experience of women abuse, had taught me to always record meetings with people you feel threatened by. It is a way to not let the narcissistic gaslighting take over your sanity. I am happy I remembered her advice in that moment.
From that moment I recorded every meeting with anyone in the team. When I first told people about the cult structure in TNT they did not believe me, they could not even image how extremely manipulating a situation like that can be. If you have never experienced it yourself, it is hard to understand. It all sounds like bad stories. So recordings are good to have…
In the living room the social talk suddenly stopped, the happy faces were gone.
-Bea, sit down, Alex said.
I sat down in the middle of the room. On the floor. The living room was small. Just a sofa, two chairs and some flip over papers on the wall.
-Call them up, Alex told one of his assistants.
Oh, their will be more people, I thought.
She called up the remaining four team members on Skype. Now there were 10 people and me.
Alex stood by the papers on the wall.
-Let’s have a consideration about the burnouts, he said.
This was the smoke screen he put up, to get me to follow him to the apartment. I knew that this was not the reason we had all come to Barcelona.
Alex gave us a 20 minutes lecture about why he thought the women in the team were getting sick.
He started with me, -I think you have a mercury poisoning, he said. That mercury is leaking from your amalgam filling in your upper jaws. That will effect your nervous system and make you extremely sensitive to almost everything, and especially electro magnetic waves.
The whole team agreed, this had to be the reason I was in a depression, a burnout and had suicidal thoughts. I played along, to not piss anyone off.
Alex went on to the next case. -Linda, I think your are going into your enlightenment process and that is why you feel suicidal and exhausted. He explained the different types of enlightenment processes. He gave an example of how Byron Katie became enlightened through a deep depression.
He pointed out that he himself was a master in mediation, and that we women didn't do enough hours of masculine meditation. And that was why we still believed our thoughts. Especially on relationships. He made it very clear that there never should be any drama in relationships. But what Alex did not include in his speech was that his own relationships were all full of drama. That he himself was hopeless in relationships.
It was very hard for me to sit and listen to such a load of crap. He went on talking about how good he was.
The team and Alex bashed me with ego feedback for 8h. It was one of the most extreme situation I ever been in.
It was terrible to see the team. They acted like parrots, just repeating what Alex had trained them to. The more offensive they were the more “points they got from daddy”.
Whatever I brought up was not relevant, it was history or none of my business. But whatever they brought up was very important, and all of their business. My co-dependency with my husband was their business and should openly be discussed with everyone. But when I brought up the teams co-dependency with Alex, that was none of my business. Even today listening to the recording it just does not make sense.
After some hours I pointed out that they all acted like sheep in a cult. (the cult dynamic I had started to see in Cambodia was now played out, right in front of my eyes) Then Alex fired me. Everything was my fault, and I was lost in my ego.
During the night they even wanted me to sign a Non Disclosure agreement in the midst of it so I could not tell anyone anything without being sued by Alex. (I did not sign it of course).
I got fired several times that night. First for pointing out that the team acted cultic, then for being monogamous, that was obviously not suitable for a tantric school like TNT with sexual freedom as a main parole. Then I got fired for not delivering all my ego feedback to Alex. (I said I have the free will to deliver my feedback anytime I wanted and that I did not feel safe to do it in a surrounding with people that just bashed the shit out of me for several hours.) Then I got fired for not signing the Non Disclosure agreement and so on and so on…
TNT play ground for sex addicts and co-dependents
I addressed this for Alex in a letter already back in 2014, I addressed that I saw a sex addictive behavior in several people and that TNT looked more like a swingers club than a spiritual school, but he dismissed my observations with several explanations. Mostly by pointing his finger at me, saying that I was contracted. I can today see that I made the right observation already back then.
I think it is essential for a tantra school to have knowledge about sex and love addiction. Especially when you market your entry level as Sexual deconditioning. It is not hard for anyone to understand that a place with a lot of free supply of sex and high intensity attracts a lot of people with intimacy problems as well as people suffering from sex and love addictions.
In TNT the only way Alex addressed sex addiction was the cumming, the addiction to the ejaculation and the clitoris orgasm. As long as we did not cum we were “safe” from sex addiction, he said. When I look back, with the knowledge I have today, having that low level of knowledge is scary for an “advanced sex teacher” to have. Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder and has little to do with the cumming itself. It is also not about how much sex you have or what kind of sex you have, it is much more complex than that. There is a lot of research explaining this more thoroughly. If you want to know more, check out Dr. Patrick J. Carnes, the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.
This is the Google citation for the article revenant is referring to.
The Mad Hatter: Inside Alex Vartman's “The New Tantra” - Medium
2 days ago - Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency ... The story goes that founder Alex Vartman aka the Mad Hatter and his ...
Earlier CEI message board discussion on TNT here:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/12/2018 10:38PM by corboy.