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James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 04, 2019 02:53AM

My name is "Heather", and I have been posting comments on the thread "James Swartz--what is the truth?"

That thread was started by a supporter of mine.

Two years ago, I wrote my original account of my terrible time being in the cult run by James Swartz.

James Swartz reacted with threats to reveal secrets of my past (though I've kept no secrets) to my current family. He used intimidation tactics and some of his old mind-control techniques on me through email exchanges (between JS and my friend).

At that time, I was going through a lot with my CPTSD, panic attacks, and seizures. It became too stressful for me to battle with JS, and I had the blog entry taken down.

Last May, a supporter friend of mine started the thread "James Swartz--what is the truth?". He included a link to a story that was based on my true account. “Guru? The Story Of Heather.” and it's free to download as a PDF at www.reallyguru.com.

I am now providing my original written account on this thread. I want folks to read my true story, and hopefully clear up any confusion there may be regarding the facts.

If anyone has questions about my true story, I am happy to answer.

Thank you.

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 04, 2019 02:55AM

Here is the first portion of my original written account:


This is a first-installment on this blog regarding a man by the name of James Swartz. He has been known by various names throughout his career as a self-promoted spiritual teacher. I am not commenting on or criticizing Advaita Vedanta, or the teaching tradition of Vedanta. I have no opinion on other people’s spiritual traditions, practices or religions. This blog entry is to describe my own personal experience with James Swartz. I begin this blog with a statement that I am completely, one hundred percent certain I know what is true: James Swartz is a complete fraud. He presents himself as a spiritual master, but he has had a secret life. I lived a terrible existence with James Swartz when I was a teenager in San Francisco. I had a history of familial abuse and problems at home. When I met him, I was naive and vulnerable and desperate to find a family outside my own. I was the perfect victim for James Swartz. He lured me into his cult. He hypnotized me, drugged me, and repeatedly raped me over a course of two years. Here is my story.

James Swartz, Rama, Sunny Jim, Jim “The Man Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken”

I first met James Swartz in the summer of 1979. I was fourteen years old. I lived with my mother at that time in San Francisco; it was a summer stay arranged by my grandmother who had encouraged me to reconcile the very poor relationship I had with my mother. Grandmother lived in Santa Barbara where I lived during the school year. My mother arranged for me to take dance classes at the (then in existence) San Francisco Dance Theatre on Van Ness Street. Because I loved to dance, I agreed to live with my mother for the summer to take advantage of the professional level classes—even though it meant living in a negative environment. I took as many classes as I could and tried to spend most of my daytime hours away from my mother’s place. I felt the need to avoid her because the abuse I had endured as a child was completely unaddressed and unresolved at that time. I feared my mother and hated her as well. The dance classes were a respite from the strained atmosphere and chaos of my home life.
One of the classes I took at SF Dance Theatre was taught by Joseph Taylor, a whitish-blond haired gay man with a kind smile and generous demeanor. The class was billed as a “Lyrical Jazz” class and they called it “Dance Revival.” The concept was a spiritually infused dance class that drew upon the forces of Spirit, or God, and allowed for movement to be deeply felt and sensed and expression to be initiated from the perceived connection with the power of Spirit. It was co-taught by a woman named Marlene who was about ten years older than Joseph, perhaps she was about late thirties or early forties. Marlene was petite, had chestnut-dyed brown curly hair, she was kind and gentle but loopy, weird and a bit senseless as well. She had a nervous laugh and enjoyed joking around as if she was a “baby-girl” .
While attending Dance Revival, I met Jessica, a seventeen-year-old, tallish beautiful girl with blue eyes and long brownish-blond hair. She was very athletic and accomplished, took risks and was very expressive; her dancing was captivating, and I adored her. Joseph was very interested in developing relationships with each of us. We delved deep into our emotions to access improvisational dance movement and see how far we could take it. We talked about energy moving through the body and how we could “tap into” the God source which was all around us and within us. (It was an awesome class, really.) Before long, we began to get lunch together after class. We went to the deli down the street and talked over bagels and coffee. I felt privileged to be a part of this special group of older dancers.


Something Strange

After class one day, Joseph very excitedly told us that we had to meet his guru. I did not really know what a guru was at that time. I was intrigued. Joseph gushed and gushed about how wonderful his guru was and that we should meet him. His guru (by the way) was Marlene’s husband. Joseph asked me and Jessica to meet the guru at his antique shop on Divisadero Street. I couldn’t make it that day. Jessica and Joseph went ahead. This was Jessica’s first meeting with the guru. When I spoke with Jessica three summers ago, she recalled that first meeting:
Joseph introduced me to Jim. Upon first look I remember feeling sorry for him and thinking, “this fat guy is such a sad old dude” and I wondered what his story was. I was told I should call him Rama. He showed me around the antique shop and pointed out the furniture he was working on for resale as well as the Shiva, Krishna and Hanuman figurines that he got from India for resale. Rama invited me to the back room where there was a chair and a couch. We talked for a while. He asked me to sit on his lap—and I did. He started to work his influence on me. He told me that the love I was feeling was the best love I would ever experience in my whole life, and I believed him. At the time, I didn’t think it was so strange that he would say such things to me, having only known me for about an hour. Looking back now, I see he was manipulating me. (Paraphrased by me.)
Jessica also related to me strange things she learned about the group during the first couple of weeks of becoming acquainted with James Swartz. It seems Joseph had been on a fast track to disclose the inner workings of the cult family to Jessica. He began to romance her. He developed an emotional bond with her and encouraged her to spend a lot of time with them at their flat on California Street. (We discovered later that it was James Swartz who pushed the relationship between Joseph and Jessica.) Before long he disclosed to Jessica the type of work they were into—behind the scenes and behind the front of the antique shop. One day, Marlene and Joseph pulled out a large suitcase. They opened it up and to Jessica’s surprise it was full of stripper costumes: T-straps, Gstrings, beaded and sequined bras and corsets, feathers, shoes and more. At that time, Jessica, enamoured with Joseph, was impressed and intrigued. She wondered what it was all for. Joseph and Marlene explained that they did sex-act shows together down in the tenderloin area of SF. Jessica was surprised, a little scared and a bit thrilled. She considered herself to be a street-savvy young woman even though she was only seventeen years old. She had a challenging relationship with her parents. She was excited at the prospect of being independent and making her own choices. She was also excited at the idea of being rebellious. As the weeks went on, Jessica and Joseph formed a close emotional bond.


Rama

One day that summer, we finished our dance class and hung around afterwards. Joseph invited me, Jessica and her friend (name escapes me) to a house party at the flat where he, Rama and Marlene lived. We were very happy to go. The place was full of interesting hippie-types and artists; everyone was older than me ranging from mid-twenties to mid-fifties. Jessica and I and her friend were the youngest people there. I felt very adult and privileged to be a part of the scene. I wandered from room to room and mingled amongst the people. I went through the small kitchen, then a parlor-like room then opened a door to a back room. The room was full of people sitting on the floor, attentive to a man sitting on a high cushion. The man was James Swartz, known as Rama, Joseph’s guru. He was talking, telling stories and gesturing with his hand. He waved me in and pointed to a spot on the floor directly in front of him. I sat down and began to listen. I really didn’t understand what the stories were about or even some of the terms such as “ego”, “Brahman” or “self.” He had a tripod and a huge pad of paper used for presentations. He used felt markers and drew the image of a triangle depicting the levels of “Self.” All the information was beyond my ability to understand. What was happening to me was far more captivating than the subject being discussed. Rama and I locked eyes. I became instantly hypnotized. I could not move from where I was sitting.
At around 4 p.m. people started to leave the party. Joseph said I could stay after other guests had left. It took about an hour for everyone to sift out and I had noticed Jessica and Joseph also left the flat. I stood in the kitchen with Marlene and James Swartz. It felt uncomfortable and a bit awkward because I didn’t know James and the three of us were alone. Marlene made some tea. We sat down at the small table in the kitchen where it was getting dark and evening approached. They gave me the tea then began to ask me questions. They mostly asked about my family, my mother, father, what they did and, “what was my relationship with them like?” I told them everything. I mentioned my mother had been a heroin user and alcoholic. I mentioned my father was absent from my life and immersed in the Transcendental Meditation movement in Iowa. James looked deeply into my eyes and told me that my parents did not care about me and never did. Marlene told me to finish my tea. James gestured for me to sit on his lap and I did. He and Marlene began to laugh and giggle and murmur. James told me that the love I was feeling was the best I would ever have, and I believed him. They praised my good qualities and said I was the newest member of their family—I had a place in the world. It was about six o’clock. I completely blacked out. I have no memory of what happened between approximately 6 and 10 p.m.
At around 10 p.m. I was told it was time to go home. I left their flat on California Street and walked uphill in the cold night air toward Presidio Street. I caught the bus on Masonic that headed toward my mom’s house on Cook Street, just off Geary Blvd. The feelings I had now is almost indescribable. I was elated. My eyes searched the sky above as I drew in the cold night air. I felt as though I had met God himself. I knew I had found my spiritual teacher and family. I felt powerful, blessed, indestructible. An extraordinary force of energy coursed through my body and I knew I was changed. When I got to my mother’s place she was surprised to see me come home so late—it was 11 p.m.
She looked into my eyes and immediately detected something was amiss. “What happened to you?” she asked. “What have you been doing?” She insinuated I had been doing drugs. “Nothing—I’ve done nothing!” I screamed and ran up to my bedroom. For the first time in my life I felt she did not have a hold on me. I was separated from her and there was nothing she could do about it.
I suspect, but don’t know with complete certainty, that I had been sexually assaulted during the first encounter when I was alone with James and Marlene. I am certain I was hypnotized and drugged. The summer ended and I said my goodbyes to my new found family. I went back to my grandmother’s house in Santa Barbara to complete my tenth year in high school. During the school year I turned 15 years old. I was having a lot of trouble at home—lots of emotional and behavioural problems so my grandmother decided to make an appointment with a friend of hers who was a psychologist.
My grandmother wanted me to live with my mother, despite many years of serious family issues and I fiercely refused. I saw the friend-psychologist, but no one could convince me. So, my grandmother ordered me to live with my mother starting the summer after my tenth grade of high school. In the summer of 1980, I was fifteen years old. I moved all my belongings to San Francisco to live with my mother. She enrolled me in The Star of the Sea Academy—a parochial school near her home. During summer before the school year started, I resumed dance classes at SF Dance Theatre and was reunited with my friends of Dance Revival and the cult family of Jessica, Joseph, Marlene and James Swartz (known as Rama).

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 04, 2019 02:58AM

I will post more of my original written account later.

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: earthquake ()
Date: September 04, 2019 03:31AM

This is a fantastic topic Heather. Kudos to you. And to Devon, and traveller99, but mostly to you for sure.

Still reading.

Massive respect.

Earthquake.

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 04, 2019 11:40AM

Below I pasted another section of my original written account. Please keep in mind that my story was originally posted on Medium.com 2 years ago. Swartz used intimidation tactics and his old mind control techniques to scare me away. (The same tactics that RF (Swartz) is using on the thread "James Swartz--what is the truth?") Two years ago, after Swartz intimidated me, I had so many panic attacks and CPTSD symptoms that I had the blog taken down.

A friend of mine took my original account and wrote the "Heather" story. See previous entries to know about this. In the "Heather" story Jessica (from my true account) is named "Sandy". Sorry about how confusing this all is...just trying to help you all follow the thread.

When I knew James Swartz he had us call him Rama. Now he has people call him Ramji.

If anyone has questions...feel free to ask.

Here is the next section of my original account:

Not the Doer

Every day I would go to their house for morning satsang. We chanted and sang spiritual songs (Hari Rama…Krishna Krishna…and all that.) We made meals together, had tea and listened to Rama’s endless stories. I learned how to make an altar. In my bedroom at my mother’s house, I set up an altar and made offerings to Hanuman. Some days we would hang out at Rama’s antique shop and watch him work on the furniture. He would strip down the wood, sand it, smooth it out then stain it. Sometimes Rama worked in the small garage beneath the flat on California Street. He felt like a father to me. I trusted him. I loved him. He was my spiritual master and his words were golden to me. I put my entire self into his hands.

“Tell me another story Rama…” I begged. “I love hearing all the old stories.”

“Oh…” he sighed, “another story eh? Okay, I know you want to hear again about Arjuna and Krishna but that’s what everyone expects to hear…better I tell you about how to know your Self and surrender to the pure self which is your own awareness…your eternal self…not the doer…”

Every day I would listen to the spiritual stories, sing songs and focus my eyes upon Rama. In those days a good-sized group would consist of about 20 or more people, but usually it was our smaller core group. We would all sit passively, sitting straight with eyes wide open and take in every nuance and detail of the figure of Rama, his words, gestures, intonations, jokes, his eyes. My vision would go in and out of focus. Rama gave me private lessons on how to see an aura. He told me to let my vision become unfocused so I could take in the whole light emanating from a person. “See what happens…” he told me. I began to see auras around Rama and everyone. I saw different colors and shapes around him when he spoke. I felt I had developed a special powerful connection with him. I had developed a special power of connection with my eternal Self, not the doer.

Sunny Jim

The summer was a spiritual time full of song, stories, dance and connection with God. Jessica was now in a sexual partnership with Joseph and she moved into the flat on California Street. There was no mention of sex-shows or striptease clubs. During this time, Jessica had known about these things, but I was uninformed. It was their secret. I started to sense there were secrets, but I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. Jessica liked to “act tough” and she used to joke around a lot with James Swartz. They had a very cynical style of humour. She used to call him Sunny Jim. The name caught on, and whenever we were all in a joking mood, we would call him Sunny Jim. He would often flip flop between seemingly earnest spiritual discourse, and the sarcastic mocking of other people. It seemed to be a trademark of his personality. He enjoyed mocking and disparaging others, while holding himself aloft, all the while stating that he was not really a guru at all and we each, in our essence, were the true Brahman.

Amber Honey

I spent as much time as I could with my spiritual family and stayed away from my mother’s house—only to return home late at night. At the SF Dance Theatre I took many classes. I met a boy named Frank. He was a beautiful dancer. He was eighteen years old, gay, and lived in his own apartment on 9th and Howard Street. I had quite a crush on him and tried to spend a lot of time with him when I wasn’t at Rama’s house. I wanted him to be my first boyfriend, but of course that was never to happen because he was gay. Rama used to talk about homosexuality with us. He openly opposed homosexuality and said it was filthy and disgusting; describing it as one’s “vasanas and material desires all fucked up.” Everyone in our spiritual family knew Joseph was gay (even though he had allowed himself to be coaxed into a sexual relationship with Jessica.) James Swartz harangued and berated him on a regular basis and told Joseph he needed to straighten-out his life and try to attain purity. It was humiliating for Joseph and he tried his best to restrain himself to please his teacher. We all wanted to attain liberation.

Summer ended and my school began. I had less time to join in the morning satsangs and this depressed me immensely. I started to cut classes to attended Rama’s satsangs. I cut so many classes I fell behind in my work and struggled to keep up in school. My determination to be with Rama was fierce and all pervasive. It was a love no one could understand and our spiritual family, it seemed to me, set us apart from the rest of the people in the world who couldn’t wake up from their dream—couldn’t realize their God-self. I had my sixteenth birthday in October and during this time, after I accidentally slammed my hand in a car door, I followed my school friends’ prodding and started smoking cigarettes. Smoking became my little secret and I knew Rama would not approve because he always talked about attaining purity and avoiding addictions.

Around this autumn time things began to change dramatically in our little spiritual family. One day I showed up at the flat on California Street. I was considered a member of the family so, as usual, I opened the front door without knocking and climbed the stairs up to the flat. I was shocked to see the entire living room strewn with colorful and glittering costumes: stripper costumes with sequins and feathers, shoes and boas. Marlene and Sunny Jim were instructing Jessica which costumes would be appropriate and how she would perform her first striptease. I’m certain Jessica was eighteen years old at this point, but I don’t remember her birthday. She was excited and feeling self-important—special. They lavished attention upon her and helped her create her stage persona. She made up the stage name: Amber Honey. Soon a private showing was arranged to give Jessica a chance to try it out for the first time. I was invited to attend.

When I saw Jessica’s first show, I was very impressed. I admired her beauty, her grace and her indisputable talent to charm. She was beautiful and I wanted to be like her. Her costume was that of a red devil. The routine was spunky and coaxing, daring and entertaining. She showed her whole body—right down to the T-strap. I felt nervous, gleeful, ignited, shameful, in short I felt confused. It felt to me as though someone had hit me over the head with a two-by-four. My mind reeled as I attempted to reconcile the opposite realities that I was dealing with. For a long time, I had only known our spiritual family to be mystical, transcendent and goodly. Now I was faced with an opposite reality. My mind literally did not know what to do with the information, so I did what people in my situation do, I disassociated.

I had probably disassociated long before this shocking experience, but I didn’t know it. Looking back on this now I understand I had been regularly hypnotized and drugged—but how many times up to this point?

(...more to come)

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: Valma ()
Date: September 04, 2019 03:32PM

Hi Heather, thank you for sharing your story. I know how important it is for anyone who has been abused at whichever level by an authority figure, especially a charismatic spiritual teacher to speak out and share what they went through. It is part of the healing journey to be simply listened to and heard in a safe place.

I am no film director but your story is so dramatic that it could very well be turned into a movie serving as a strong warning for seekers and spiritual teachers alike.

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 08, 2019 05:12AM

Hello Friends,

Here is an updated account of my time with Swartz. After I talked with another survivor, I was able to refine the timeline of events. (Readers will notice the opening year has been revised.)

I'm going to post the whole thing from the beginning. All posts will now reflect the corrected timeline.

Writing out my corrected timeline is extremely important to me. Putting the puzzle pieces together is helping me to heal. What Swartz did to me was so traumatizing, it damaged me severely, and has had a huge negative impact in my life.

I'm taking my life back now.

The sole purpose of me posting my written account here on the cult ed site is to speak my truth.

I will now attempt to post the entire written account, in segments. It may take me several days to get it all posted.

Here is the first portion of my original written account (with some timeline edits):


This is a first-installment on this blog regarding a man by the name of James Swartz. He has been known by various names throughout his career as a self-promoted spiritual teacher. I am not commenting on or criticizing Advaita Vedanta, or the teaching tradition of Vedanta. I have no opinion on other people’s spiritual traditions, practices or religions. This blog entry is to describe my own personal experience with James Swartz. I begin this blog with a statement that I am completely, one hundred percent certain I know what is true: James Swartz is a complete fraud. He presents himself as a spiritual master, but he has had a secret life. I lived a terrible existence with James Swartz when I was a teenager in San Francisco. I had a history of familial abuse and problems at home. When I met him, I was naive and vulnerable and desperate to find a family outside my own. I was the perfect victim for James Swartz. He lured me into his cult. He hypnotized me, drugged me, and repeatedly raped me over a course of two years. Here is my story.

James Swartz, Rama, Sunny Jim, Jim “The Man Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken”

I first met James Swartz in the summer of 1980. I was fourteen years old. I lived with my mother at that time in San Francisco; it was a summer stay arranged by my grandmother who had encouraged me to reconcile the very poor relationship I had with my mother. Grandmother lived in Santa Barbara where I lived during the school year. My mother arranged for me to take dance classes at the (then in existence) San Francisco Dance Theatre on Van Ness Street. Because I loved to dance, I agreed to live with my mother for the summer to take advantage of the professional level classes—even though it meant living in a negative environment. I took as many classes as I could and tried to spend most of my daytime hours away from my mother’s place. I felt the need to avoid her because the abuse I had endured as a child was completely unaddressed and unresolved at that time. I feared my mother and hated her as well. The dance classes were a respite from the strained atmosphere and chaos of my home life.

One of the classes I took at SF Dance Theatre was taught by Joseph Taylor, a whitish-blond haired gay man with a kind smile and generous demeanor. The class was billed as a “Lyrical Jazz” class and they called it “Dance Revival.” The concept was a spiritually infused dance class that drew upon the forces of Spirit, or God, and allowed for movement to be deeply felt and sensed, and expression to be initiated from the perceived connection with the power of Spirit. It was co-taught by a woman named Marlene who was about ten years older than Joseph, perhaps she was about late thirties or early forties. Marlene was petite, had chestnut-dyed brown curly hair, she was kind and gentle, but loopy, weird, and a bit senseless as well. She had a nervous laugh and enjoyed joking around as if she was a “baby-girl”.

While attending Dance Revival, I met Jessica, a seventeen-year-old, tallish beautiful girl with blue eyes and long brownish-blond hair. She was very athletic and accomplished, took risks and was very expressive; her dancing was captivating, and I adored her. Joseph was very interested in developing relationships with each of us. We delved deep into our emotions to access improvisational dance movement and see how far we could take it. We talked about energy moving through the body and how we could “tap into” the God source which was all around us and within us. (It was an awesome class, really.) Before long, we began to get lunch together after class. We went to the deli down the street and talked over bagels and coffee. I felt privileged to be a part of this special group of older dancers.

Something Strange

After class one day, Joseph very excitedly told us that we had to meet his guru. I did not really know what a guru was at that time. I was intrigued. Joseph gushed and gushed about how wonderful his guru was and that we should meet him. His guru (by the way) was Marlene’s husband. Joseph asked me and Jessica to meet the guru at his antique shop on Divisadero Street. I couldn’t make it that day. Jessica and Joseph went ahead. This was Jessica’s first meeting with the guru. When I spoke with Jessica three summers ago, she recalled that first meeting:

Joseph introduced me to Jim. Upon first look I remember feeling sorry for him and thinking, “this fat guy is such a sad old dude” and I wondered what his story was. I was told I should call him Rama. He showed me around the antique shop and pointed out the furniture he was working on for resale as well as the Shiva, Krishna and Hanuman figurines that he got from India for resale. Rama invited me to the back room where there was a chair and a couch. We talked for a while. He asked me to sit on his lap—and I did. He started to work his influence on me. He told me that the love I was feeling was the best love I would ever experience in my whole life, and I believed him. At the time, I didn’t think it was so strange that he would say such things to me, having only known me for about an hour. Looking back now, I see he was manipulating me. (Paraphrased by me.)

Jessica also related to me strange things she learned about the group during the first couple of weeks of becoming acquainted with James Swartz. It seems Joseph had been on a fast track to disclose the inner workings of the cult family to Jessica. He began to romance her. He developed an emotional bond with her and encouraged her to spend a lot of time with them at their flat on California Street. (We discovered later that it was James Swartz who pushed the relationship between Joseph and Jessica.) Before long he disclosed to Jessica the type of work they were into—behind the scenes and behind the front of the antique shop. One day, Marlene and Joseph pulled out a large suitcase. They opened it up and to Jessica’s surprise it was full of stripper costumes: T-straps, G-strings, beaded and sequined bras and corsets, feathers, shoes and more. At that time, Jessica, enamoured with Joseph, was impressed and intrigued. She wondered what it was all for. Joseph and Marlene explained that they did sex-act shows together down in the tenderloin area of SF. Jessica was surprised, a little scared and a bit thrilled. She considered herself to be a street-savvy young woman even though she was only seventeen years old. She had a challenging relationship with her parents. She was excited at the prospect of being independent and making her own choices. She was also excited at the idea of being rebellious. As the weeks went on, Jessica and Joseph formed a close emotional bond.

Rama

One day that summer, we finished our dance class and hung around afterwards. Joseph invited me, Jessica and her friend (name escapes me) to a house party at the flat where he, Rama and Marlene lived. We were very happy to go. The place was full of interesting hippie-types and artists; everyone was older than me ranging from mid-twenties to mid-fifties. Jessica and I and her friend were the youngest people there. I felt very adult and privileged to be a part of the scene. I wandered from room to room and mingled amongst the people. I went through the small kitchen, then a parlor-like room then opened a door to a back room. The room was full of people sitting on the floor, attentive to a man sitting on a high cushion. The man was James Swartz, known as Rama, Joseph’s guru. He was talking, telling stories and gesturing with his hand. He waved me in and pointed to a spot on the floor directly in front of him. I sat down and began to listen. I really didn’t understand what the stories were about or even some of the terms such as “ego”, “Brahman” or “self.” He had a tripod and a huge pad of paper used for presentations. He used felt markers and drew the image of a triangle depicting the levels of “Self.” All the information was beyond my ability to understand. What was happening to me was far more captivating than the subject being discussed. Rama and I locked eyes. I became instantly hypnotized. I could not move from where I was sitting.

At around 4 p.m. people started to leave the party. Joseph said I could stay after other guests had left. It took about an hour for everyone to sift out and I had noticed Jessica and Joseph also left the flat. I stood in the kitchen with Marlene and James Swartz. It felt uncomfortable and a bit awkward because I didn’t know James and the three of us were alone. Marlene made some tea. We sat down at the small table in the kitchen where it was getting dark and evening approached. They gave me the tea then began to ask me questions. They mostly asked about my family, my mother, father, what they did and, “what was my relationship with them like?” I told them everything. I mentioned my mother had been a heroin user and alcoholic. I mentioned my father was absent from my life and immersed in the Transcendental Meditation movement in Iowa. James looked deeply into my eyes and told me that my parents did not care about me and never did. Marlene told me to finish my tea. James gestured for me to sit on his lap and I did. He and Marlene began to laugh and giggle and murmur. James told me that the love I was feeling was the best I would ever have, and I believed him. They praised my good qualities and said I was the newest member of their family—I had a place in the world. It was about six o’clock. I completely blacked out. I have no memory of what happened between approximately 6 and 10 p.m

At around 10 p.m. I was told it was time to go home. I left their flat on California Street and walked uphill in the cold night air toward Presidio Street. I caught the bus on Masonic that headed toward my mom’s house on Cook Street, just off Geary Blvd. The feelings I had now is almost indescribable. I was elated. My eyes searched the sky above as I drew in the cold night air. I felt as though I had met God himself. I knew I had found my spiritual teacher and family. I felt powerful, blessed, indestructible. An extraordinary force of energy coursed through my body and I knew I was changed. When I got to my mother’s place, she was surprised to see me come home so late—it was 11 p.m.

She looked into my eyes and immediately detected something was amiss. “What happened to you?” she asked. “What have you been doing?” She insinuated I had been doing drugs. “Nothing—I’ve done nothing!” I screamed and ran up to my bedroom. For the first time in my life I felt she did not have a hold on me. I was separated from her and there was nothing she could do about it.

I suspect, but don’t know with complete certainty, that I had been sexually assaulted during the first encounter when I was alone with James and Marlene. I am certain I was hypnotized and drugged. The summer ended and I said my goodbyes to my newfound family. I went back to my grandmother’s house in Santa Barbara to start my tenth year in high school. During the school year I turned 15 years old. I was having a lot of trouble at home—lots of emotional and behavioural problems so my grandmother decided to make an appointment with a friend of hers who was a psychologist.

My grandmother wanted me to live with my mother, despite many years of serious family issues and I fiercely refused. I saw the friend-psychologist, but no one could convince me. So, my grandmother ordered me to live with my mother starting the summer after my tenth grade of high school. In the summer of 1981, I was fifteen years old. I moved all my belongings to San Francisco to live with my mother. She planned to enroll me in The Star of the Sea Academy—a parochial school near her home. At the beginning of summer, I resumed dance classes at SF Dance Theatre and was reunited with my friends of Dance Revival and the cult family of Jessica, Joseph, Marlene and James Swartz (known as Rama).

Not the Doer

Every day I would go to their house for morning satsang. We chanted and sang spiritual songs (Hari Rama…Krishna Krishna…and all that.) We made meals together, had tea and listened to Rama’s endless stories. I learned how to make an altar. In my bedroom at my mother’s house, I set up an altar and made offerings to Hanuman. Some days we would hang out at Rama’s antique shop and watch him work on the furniture. He would strip down the wood, sand it, smooth it out then stain it. Sometimes Rama worked in the small garage beneath the flat on California Street. He felt like a father to me. I trusted him. I loved him. He was my spiritual master and his words were golden to me. I put my entire self into his hands.

“Tell me another story Rama…” I begged. “I love hearing all the old stories.”

“Oh…” he sighed, “another story eh? Okay, I know you want to hear again about Arjuna and Krishna but that’s what everyone expects to hear…better I tell you about how to know your Self and surrender to the pure self which is your own awareness…your eternal self…not the doer…”

Every day I would listen to the spiritual stories, sing songs and focus my eyes upon Rama. In those days a good-sized group would consist of about 20 or more people, but usually it was our smaller core group. We would all sit passively, sitting straight with eyes wide open and take in every nuance and detail of the figure of Rama, his words, gestures, intonations, jokes, his eyes. My vision would go in and out of focus. Rama gave me private lessons on how to see an aura. He told me to let my vision become unfocused so I could take in the whole light emanating from a person. “See what happens…” he told me. I began to see auras around Rama and everyone. I saw different colors and shapes around him when he spoke. I felt I had developed a special powerful connection with him. I had developed a special power of connection with my eternal Self, not the doer.

Sunny Jim

The summer was a spiritual time full of song, stories, dance and connection with God. Jessica was now in a sexual partnership with Joseph and she moved into the flat on California Street. There was no mention of sex-shows or striptease clubs. During this time, Jessica had known about these things, but I was in the dark. It was their secret. I started to sense there were secrets, but I couldn’t tell exactly what they were. Jessica liked to “act tough” and she used to joke around a lot with James Swartz. They had a very cynical style of humour. She used to call him Sunny Jim. The name caught on, and whenever we were all in a joking mood, we would call him Sunny Jim. He would often flip flop between seemingly earnest spiritual discourse, and the sarcastic mocking of other people. It seemed to be a trademark of his personality. He enjoyed mocking and disparaging others, while holding himself aloft, all the while stating that he was not really a guru at all and we each, in our essence, were the true Brahman.

Amber Honey

I spent as much time as I could with my spiritual family and stayed away from my mother’s house—returning only late at night. At the SF Dance Theatre, I took many classes. I met a boy named Frank. He was a beautiful dancer. He was eighteen years old, gay, and lived in his own apartment on 9th and Howard Street. I had quite a crush on him and tried to spend a lot of time with him when I wasn’t at Rama’s house. I wanted him to be my first boyfriend, but of course that was never to happen because he was gay.

Rama used to talk about homosexuality with us. He openly opposed homosexuality and said it was filthy and disgusting; describing it as one’s “vasanas and material desires all fucked up.” Everyone in our spiritual family knew Joseph was gay (even though he had allowed himself to be coaxed into a sexual relationship with Jessica.) James Swartz harangued and berated him on a regular basis and told Joseph he needed to straighten-out his life and try to attain purity. It was humiliating for Joseph and he tried his best to restrain himself to please his teacher. We all wanted to attain liberation.

Mid summer, things began to dramatically change in our little spiritual family. One day I showed up at the flat on California Street. I was considered a member of the family so, as usual, I opened the front door without knocking and climbed the stairs up to the flat. I was shocked to see the entire living room strewn with colorful and glittering costumes: stripper costumes with sequins and feathers, shoes and boas. Marlene and Sunny Jim were instructing Jessica which costumes would be appropriate and how she would perform her first striptease. I’m certain Jessica was eighteen years old at this point, but I don’t remember her birthday. She was excited and feeling self-important—special. They lavished attention upon her and helped her create her stage persona. She made up the stage name: Amber Honey. Soon a private showing was arranged to give Jessica a chance to try it out for the first time. I was invited to attend.

When I saw Jessica’s first show, I was very impressed. I admired her beauty, her grace, and her indisputable talent to charm. She was beautiful and I wanted to be like her. Her costume was that of a red devil. The routine was spunky and coaxing, daring and entertaining. She showed her whole body—right down to the T-strap. I felt nervous, gleeful, ignited, shameful, in short, I felt confused. It felt to me as though someone had hit me over the head with a two-by-four. My mind reeled as I attempted to reconcile the opposite realities that I was dealing with. For a long time, I had only known our spiritual family to be mystical, transcendent and goodly. Now I was faced with an opposite reality. My mind literally did not know what to do with the information, so I did what people in my situation do, I disassociated.

I had probably disassociated long before this shocking experience, but I didn’t know it. Looking back on this now I understand I had been regularly hypnotized and drugged—but how many times up to this point?

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 08, 2019 05:46AM

Here is the next segment:

Not spiritual at all

Summer ended and my school began. I had less time to join in the morning satsangs and this depressed me immensely. I stopped living my mom’s place. I roamed the streets, stayed with friends, and slept in Frank’s stairwell or in his flat. Sometimes I crashed at Rama’s or in the flat below, where the kind and generous women let me sleep on their couch. I started to cut classes to attended Rama’s satsangs. I cut so many classes I fell behind in my work and struggled to keep up in school. Eventually, I dropped out. My determination to be with Rama was fierce and all pervasive. It was a love no one could understand and our spiritual family, it seemed to me, set us apart from the rest of the people in the world who couldn’t wake up from their dream—couldn’t realize their God-self.

There were days I simply couldn’t remember where I was or who I was with, it was a blur, and I was trying to survive on very little money. Jessica was gearing up to go to Canada, then overseas on a strip teasing tour. Marlene had been training her. There was a lot of talk about how much money could be made and what to do next. I became increasingly desperate to have a home. I continued to be enamoured with Jessica, and our spiritual family—I wanted to belong. I asked Sunny Jim when I would start training for a strip tour. He told me I had to be eighteen years at least; he didn’t want any trouble with the law. Nonetheless he helped me decide on a stage name: Pepper. Because I was hot and spicy. He told me I could be like that brand-new star Madonna. He told me he could make me a star one day if I wanted that. Cliché—but true.

In early Autumn, Jessica and Marlene went to Canada, and Sunny Jim accompanied them to start the strip tour. Joseph stayed at the flat. There was extra room, and I was allowed to live in the tiny room behind the kitchen in the back. Joseph and I enjoyed a new sense of freedom, we were alone to do as we pleased, without being told what to do. I spent time with Frank and our dance friends, and Joseph partied and enjoyed his gay lifestyle that Rama forced him to give up. We all celebrated, had dinner parties, and had a good time. I felt a bit left out, because I was the only girl tagging along in a gay-man’s world. I loved them, and they loved me, but I was the little runaway girl—an appendage to their group.

Frank revealed to me his secret. He had been hustling down on Polk street at night. Though he had a job in a deli, near the opera house, it wasn’t enough money to pay for rent and food. Frank showed me how he worked the street, how to stand, how to look over his shoulder, and what look to give in order to get a pickup. This was a strange world to me. It wasn’t my world. I felt sad for Frank, it seemed like he was getting involved with people who didn’t care about him.

“…and you think you’re any different?” Frank responded. “You think Joseph’s guru cares about you? How’s stripping any better? I don’t think stripping is spiritual…not spiritual at all.”

Frank was right. But at that time, I couldn’t hear him, or even understand what he was saying, or how it related to me. My mind was completely controlled by Rama.

Sunny Jim returned from Canada, leaving Jessica and Marlene to work. He became angry at Joseph and called him a “dirty fag”. Rama told Joseph he had to clean up his life or get out. For a while Joseph attempted to comply. He wanted to please his guru. They had arguments. After a couple of weeks, Rama kicked Joseph out of the flat on California street, because Joseph wouldn’t give up his gay lifestyle. Joseph left and, for a time, embraced his chosen life. Frank disappeared into his new scene.

When Joseph left, I was alone with Rama, and that was when my worst nightmare began. Here is my most vivid recollection.

Do you still see?

We sat in the satsang parlor, me on the couch and he on his chair. He made us tea and we were to sit and talk a while. It seemed a long time passed by, as Rama told me stories and let me ask questions. He looked deeply into my eyes and told me that we had known each other in our past lives—many, many lives we had had together. I started to see his aura. He asked me if I could see his previous lives while looking into his eyes. I said no. I felt nervous. He told me to look into his eyes and allow my vision to blur so I could see all the light coming through his being. I was taught how to do this—I obeyed.

Distinguished lines began to blur. The expression on his face distorted and his features began to move and swirl. I noticed different faces of people emerge from his face. I saw a haggard old woman, a young boy, a regal king, a devil, an ordinary man of middle age. I saw lifetimes upon lifetimes. He told me I was doing good—doing fine. Then he told me to lie down on the couch with my face toward him and continue to look into his eyes. I did. He moved the chair and stretched out on pillows, his face toward me, his eyes looked into mine. “Do you still see?” He asked.

I blacked out. For years, that time, between blacking out and waking up in my small bedroom was gone for me, as if someone had taken a big eraser and erased it clean out of existence. But then, years later, in my late forties, a terrible miracle happened, and I remembered.

My body remembered first and then my visual cortex moved into gear and I had solid memories. I had violent seizures along with the memories—which I will describe. He is hovering over me making disgusting sounds. I’m being raped. He makes a yelling sound, then makes grunting sounds. It is violent. He is hurting me. There is a hatred that is emanating from his face. He is hurting me because he hates me, or something about me. His hand is around my throat and I cannot breathe. I feel panic. Inside, I resist but my body is immobilized. Inside of my pelvis, I find a place to hold onto, I pull away, my pelvis twists as I try to get away; this is all I can do, my right hip is pulled back and I grip inside to try and push him away. I am frozen in a twist. He says the word “p*ssy”. He releases my neck. He tells me it’s okay. He tells me this is the greatest love I will ever know…and…and…and… How could it be? So much after that rape is a blur of memories.

How could it be?

Jessica and Marlene returned from the Canadian tour. Everyone settled into the spiritual family home-life and got into routine. Jessica slept for days and days. I wonder now if she too had been drugged. Marlene got back to her old antics of acting like a baby, talking in baby voices, and serving her master Rama. I missed Joseph and Frank.

Before long I noticed that I was hurting bad “down there.” I had no idea what it could be, but it hurt so badly I mentioned it to Jessica and asked her what I should do. She promptly told Sunny Jim the situation. He was angry and unnerved. He stated it was more than likely the “boyfriend” of mine, Frank, and I should get it checked out right away. Jim said I probably had sex with that disgusting homosexual and probably had a disease.

I of course knew it wasn’t a problem of sex with Frank, because he was gay, and he did not have sex with me. Jim told Jessica to take me down to the clinic, not just any clinic, mind you, but the free clinic in the mission district where a lot of “reckless homosexuals” went. Jim said that I had gotten myself into this trouble by sleeping with a homosexual, so I needed to “learn a lesson”, and get treated at a “scummy” place like the free clinic in the mission district.

Looking back on it now, I realize he sent us to that clinic because it was in an area overloaded with people and problems, so if any doctor or nurse had recognized me as a minor they would likely let it go because of the concentration of problem people in the area.

And that’s just what happened. I was overlooked. It was very strange behavior Jim was exhibiting, but Jessica and I were completely under his control and didn’t know any better. Jim gave specific orders, and Jessica took me down to the clinic to find out what was wrong with me. As predicted the place was scummy. A male nurse had me sit on the treatment table. He examined me, checked for pregnancy and diseases. After a long wait we got a diagnosis. The nurse reported I had “sexual trauma in the vagina and anus.”

There were multiple tears and wounds. When Jessica and I left the clinic, I felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat. How could it be? I had not had sex with Frank or anyone. (That I knew of.) I felt utterly devastated and confused. Nothing made sense. “At least you’re not pregnant or have a disease,” Jessica offered. I was wounded. My spiritual family surrounded me and supported me. They let me sleep and took care of me. My nightmare spiralled deeper.

Make a mint

Jessica had rested from the work in Canada. Then, Marlene and Sunny Jim sent her to a military base in Guam to perform. She had a traumatic and terrifying time there, and when she came back, she didn’t want to talk a lot about it. She slept for days, and days.

After she recovered, Jessica and Marlene went back overseas to Taiwan for another stripping tour. I was again alone with Rama. It was a dark time, and I don’t have complete memories of it. I wanted to please my guru, but I was also terrified of him. I lived in a split reality. My mind and emotions clung to the spiritual teacher I thought I had—the one I knew in the beginning. There were things happening to me that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t think or use my brain to help myself. I had a desperate need to please him. I had no outlet for what was happening to me. I had no way to express the pain. How could I? I was a child in the clutches of a vile and evil man.

In late October, I had my sixteenth birthday, and after I accidentally slammed my hand in a car door, I followed my friends’ prodding and started smoking cigarettes. This had become my outlet. Smoking became my little secret and I knew Rama would not approve because he always talked about attaining purity and avoiding addictions.

Rama planned a trip to India, to buy some bronze figurines (Hanuman, Shiva) to sell in his import business (one of his many ventures). He needed someone to take care of the flat on California Street. Joseph was still living on the periphery of our family, and still seeking guidance from Rama. They discussed options for bringing in money. Rama told Joseph to go out on his own, and figure out something clean and good, and ordered Joseph to stop his “dirty, filthy, cornholing boys”. Joseph earnestly searched for work that was “clean”. He began a new small business selling Spirulina, a health supplement. He wanted to please his guru. He wanted liberation.

Jim went to India to buy the stuff for import. He had a plan to sell a lot and “make a mint”. He was always obsessed with the latest venture that might make him wealthy. Jim promised Jessica that she could buy in, if she put money forward, she would cash in on the investment later, after he sold the figurines in the U.S.

Rama left Joseph and me, at the flat on California street. Soon after, Joseph’s lover and another friend moved in. I stayed in the small room behind the kitchen. I’m not sure how I survived during those months. I didn’t have a job. I relied on the generous offerings of food from Joseph and his friends. The trade off was that I had to do the cleaning. The women who lived in the flat beneath ours, helped me with food and some second-hand clothing.

Unfortunately, Frank was fully engaged in unsafe sexual practices at that time. He spent a lot of time with two or three “sugar daddies”, and sometimes he was mistreated. At Christmas, he began to wear expensive jewelry. Our friendship began to wane as he felt that I was clinging to him. I was just the runaway girl, hanging around his scene. We became more separated, but I still stayed in Joseph’s flat, and spent hours roaming around the city on my own. Eventually, Joseph and Frank began a casual affair; one among many other partners they were involved with. I was the odd man out.

Jim called them “crazy”


At the end of January, Jim returned from India with his import stuff. When he saw what Joseph “had been up to”, he told him to “get the fuck out”. Joseph wouldn’t give up his gay life, so he had to leave. I was sad and frightened to see Joseph leave. I felt alone and desperate.

Jim vacated the flat on California street. For a while I was homeless, sometimes staying with Frank, or another friend. Sunny Jim had to sell all his import stuff, and furniture from the antique shop. He set up in a cheap hotel. When I wasn’t with friends, or Frank, I would go to the hotel to see Rama. Sometimes I was hungry, and he would buy me fast food. Things had changed a lot from the first time I met the guru Rama, at a house party full of spiritual seekers. No more satsangs, no more wonderful old stories about Arjuna on the battlefield.

“I’m hungry Rama, can I have some food?”

“C’mon, I’ll take you to McDonalds.”

We sat down at a table, and I bit into my fishwich. For this moment, he seemed kind.

“Now, look at this burger,” he said. “You can see it with your eyes, touch it, taste it…but how do you know that it’s real?”

I didn’t know.

“This burger is material, it exists in the material world, but it’s not real.” He looked into my eyes, “and you’re not real.”

Jessica and Marlene returned from Taiwan. Jessica and Sunny Jim got into a fight. He reneged on his agreement to sell her share of the import stuff. I guess it wasn’t selling very well. Jessica moved back into her parent’s house for a short time, then after she auctioned off her portion of the goods for a loss, he let her back into the family. Sunny Jim and Marlene had a long stay at the motel, while Jessica stayed with her mom. We met regularly at coffee shops and the motel.

Around this time, we were running some errands in the Nob Hill area and a group of people, strangers to me, started pointing and yelling at Jim. It was about six people, they were very angry, and they accused Jim of doing something bad; I don’t know what. I didn’t hear the exact words that were said, but I saw their angry faces and they were pointing at him and yelling. Jim ordered us to the car, and we drove away. “That was weird,” Jessica remarked “what was that all about?” Jim told us it was a group of people he used to know, and some of them had accused him of something he never did. Jim called them “crazy.”

(...more to come)

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 09, 2019 03:32AM

Here is the next section:

We could have our cake and eat it too

Soon after that episode, after Jim sold his import stuff, he told us we were going to move. He had a plan. He wanted to get out of town fast. He bought a shiny, bright yellow (I think it was a Chevy) pickup truck from the fifties. It was a classic vehicle in perfect condition; it had red and orange flames painted on it. The family made plans to move out to Jim’s cabin nearby Missoula in Montana. We packed up our bags and caravanned out. Jessica drove an old car that belonged to Marlene’s dad and planned to eventually purchase it. There was another fellow, but I don’t remember his name, and Joseph stayed in San Francisco. As we drove across the Bay bridge, going I didn’t know where, I cried and cried. I didn’t know why I cried, but I felt utterly devastated, as though my life was over. I just held it all inside.

We went first to a house belonging to Marlene’s dad in a small town, Roseville, California. Then we travelled to a house belonging to Jim’s brother in Oregon. It was a big house; his brother had a nice wife. kids and a dog. They seemed so normal. Marlene, Jim, and I shared the attic room—I don’t remember where Jessica stayed. They planned a party. It was to be my first try at strip tease. Marlene helped me to find costume pieces that fit my smallish body. She sized me up, placed the sequined bra up to my flat chest and measured the G-string. She would have to sew it to make it all fit. Marlene taught me how to make an entrance, how to swagger, walk and act out a sexy routine. She showed me how to peel layers off and make it entice.

“Go slow, not too fast, and don’t give too much away too quickly—make it interesting. Take everything off except the T-strap. It’s important to not show everything or the mystery is gone.” I was terrified.

Loads of normal looking people, young adult to middle age, showed up to the party. There was loud music, drugs and alcohol floated around. People were smoking pot and snorting cocaine. I prepared in the back room as Marlene and Jessica guided me. They got everyone in an audience formation and announced my name, “and now…Pepper!” I was not on drugs, but my adrenaline shot through the roof. I went out, did my routine, stripped off my costume and then ran to the back room. They party goers screamed and applauded, though I imagine they would have done that anyway with all the drugs they were doing. For the rest of the evening, I was rewarded with praise and attention. A couple approached me and offered me a joint. I refused.

That night, while Marlene and Jim and I were trying to sleep, Jim groaned and cried for hours and hours because he had done cocaine and was suffering the consequences. That was one of the more humorous and ridiculous memories I have of his baby antics. When the party was over, it was time for us to move on. Our next destination was Rama’s cabin, near Missoula Montana. On the road trip, I travelled with Jessica in her car, and sometimes alone with Jim in his truck, which always made me feel uncomfortable.

On the long, long drive, Rama gave us many talks on non-duality. He told us it didn’t matter what we did with our bodies because our “real selves,” the “Self”, was “with the Lord.” He taught us that though “dirty men may grab at us or letch at us"—it didn’t matter or change who we essentially were. He taught us we could “have our cake and eat it too”—we could laugh at the fools who were our audience. “It’s our joke…we can have the last laugh.” He explained when we did a striptease we should remember we are not "the doer". We are our eternal selves—Brahman—and no action we took would have any harm or consequence. We were above others who were trapped in a dream.

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Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Posted by: MynameisHeather ()
Date: September 09, 2019 03:52AM

(...next section coming soon)

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