Slated for Publication: Gurus and Charisma
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 17, 2015 01:47AM

Gurus and Charisma

Scheduled for release in or after October, 2015

Monkfish Publishing

Andre Van Der Braak, Andr Van Der Braak, Andra(c) Van Der Braak

Is the charismatic guru a liberator or pied piper? Psychologist and guru expert Andre van der Braak analyzes the dangerous aspects of the relationship between the guru and his students and explains their appeal. He then uses examples to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy charisma. The last part of the book guides the reader to more healthy forms of discipleship and concludes with a quick guide for knowing whether your guru is leading you down the wrong track. Andre van der Braak, PhD, lived in the spiritual community of American guru Andrew Cohen, as documented in his compelling memoir Enlightenment Blues.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2015 01:50AM by corboy.

One person less to harvest the crops
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 02, 2015 05:09AM


If you haven't seen Unmistaken Child I would highly recommend it. There are parts of that movie that touch on what Mr. O'Neill is referring to in this article in terms of the not-so-calm-and-peaceful aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.

There are a few scenes wherein the four year old that has been chosen as the reincarnation of a deceased Lama is basically abducted by the monks so that he can fulfill his destiny. There are clearly mixed feelings present among the parents as the child is taken away, for several reasons. Obviously they are "honored" that their child has been chosen, but the father talks of how this means they have one less man in the fields to help feeding the village and mother is clearly upset about losing her child. One gets the feeling that the family is not entirely down with the program, but due to peer pressure has to go along with the whole thing.

The movie definitely does a good job of making you question the omniscience of the monks themselves.

The Gobbler|7.28.10 @ 2:19PM|#

" But what is striking, and what caused me to be so startled by the weirdness, is the way in which this religion has come to be viewed in Western New Age circles as a peaceful, pure, happy-clappy cult of softly-smiling, Buddha-like beings."

I would contend that this is because the bulk of "Buddhists" in the US are influenced by what author Meera Nanda calls neo-Hinduism "the brand of Hinduism that is taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, and their clones, not Tibetan Buddhism.

Think the Beatles and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi circa 1968.

AnaV|3.20.14 @ 7:55PM|#

Women are treated VERY badly in Tibetan circles. They have no place, in a room, in a house, in a temple. Many have to carry the babies of so-called celibate lamas, also nuns. Imagine the impact! There are also those who pose as the sister of a so-called celibate lama (very high ones) but are, in fact, the hidden wife! Some of these also have to sleep with other lamas, get pregnant, and have to give away their babies (I had a very famous one in my house in India begging me for the pill). Preferable to be a moslem?

When Karma Lite Makes Tragedy Worse
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 10, 2015 05:24AM

When Karma Lite Makes Tragedy Worse.

A much loved yoga teacher was murdered by thugs while hiking. He and his wife loved each other. His wife was going through health problems.

But here is what one of their students reportedly said.


“They were so spiritual — she was not supposed to get sick,” ....X said, who attended the couple’s workshops in California and Costa Rica. “He was her rock. They are the last people that deserve something like that.”


"They were so spiritual - she was not supposed to get sick...They are the last
people that deserve something like that."

(Corboy bangs head on wall).

Friends, think carefully if you decide to get involved with meditation or yoga classes.

Be alert to the mindset of the social group in which these classes take place, and in which you and other students socialize between classes.

Be careful to look for dharma friends who will NOT buy into this notion that
being 'spiritual' confers some sort of immunity to illness and other sorts of bad fortune.

If the teacher makes such a claim, challenge that claim. Nicely, yes, but challenge it. You want to see what the reaction is.

If you get the stink eye, this will tell you what type of group it is. (And that it is considered rude to challenge the teacher even if he or she is voicing a cruel callous opinion in the guise of 'spirituality.')

Horrible shit happens. Sometimes shit happens in predictable patterns, enabling us to ID areas where we can intervene, and or take measures to reduce the likelihood of more persons being harmed.

Meanhile, it adds misery to an already suffering person's life if he or she is in a social milieu in which it is assumed that spirituality or lack of it has anything to do with someone getting sick or being assaulted.

(Hindu and Vajrayana societies in which it is assumed that misfortune is causally connected to bad karma from previous lifetimes are also societies in which oppression has not been challenged until quite recent times. The only persons to identify this as oppression and demand social reform were persons given Western education which stressed the inherant dignity of the ordinary human person and regarded education, health, housing and fair pay as human rights.

These were the persons, whether missionaries or Hindus and Buddhists who were educated in the West (Vivekandanda, Amdbedkar, Bal Gangadhar TilakGandhi, Jinnah) who recognized that karma and caste maintained class privilege and kept education,land and commerce in the hands of a privileged few, while
fostering false consciousness in the poor and oppressed that they
had no rights and could look only to the next lifetime.)

We as human persons, are influenceable. Intelligence and education do
not reduce influenceability. These help us to recognize our areas of
susceptibility and how to choose what persons and ideas to seek and which to

Psychologists are coming to recognize that we seek and create
human attachments throughout our lives, not just in early childhood, that we are wired to want and create a sense of connection with others.

That means we must take care to assess what kind of company we will keep if we
decide to explore meditation, yoga or both.

What kind of people attend these classes, who teaches the classes, and -- what
opinions are considered desirable and which are considered undesirable. For if we are heedless, we will take on many of those same beliefs and taboos if we spend a lot of time in this company.

Find out if this is a social venue in which it is considered 'negative' to question the background and claims of a guru. Find out if it is considered negative to voice concern about power imbalances and lack of boundary propriety. is a social venue in which extrav claims very close attention and see whether these are people who, nice and sweet as they are, welcoming as they are, believe your bad karma is likely to blame if you fall ill or if someone you love falls ill.

People who sincerely believe this may, for all their sincerity, say quite cruel things when you are flung into misfortune. These people whom you loved
and trusted may shock you with their opinions about misfortune -- opinions you will not know about until you take a fall.

Worse yet, if you have spent a lot of time in this type of social scene, you may have been influenced by it and have come to believe you brought your suffering upon yourself.

You may, find yourself becoming callous to the suffering of others -- and not even recognize you're sliding into this type of mindset.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2015 05:52AM by corboy.

Giving credit for our own talent to a guru
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 18, 2015 08:21PM

Theological Tethering, Hijacked Meditation,
and Bounded Moksha

David Christopher Lane
and Andrea Diem-Lane



Spiritual theologies, even if encouraging benign practices such as meditation, can in some instances be viewed as spider webs where the naive disciple gives credit to an exterior belief system and not to his own consciousness. Thus instead of achieving liberation he ends up creating a situation where his desired moksha is conversely entrapped.

Other excerpts


This procedure creates within the disciple a persistent tendency to take his or her experiences and filter them within the interpretative nexus that is provided by his/her spiritual path. But in so doing the student all too often ends up trying to relate what transpires in meditation to the expectations or desired aims of the religious matrice in which he is grounded. And in other instances, the disciple begins to justify or legitimize a given spiritual paradigm by injecting it with his own internal elevations. Such a dyadic loop can literally tether the aspirant to a given theology and lock him or her into a set series of bounded interpretations.

The danger, of course, is that this two way intersection tends not to be open to alternative explanations (which might be more viable) and also prevents a more free form of exploration.


A more concrete, even if a bit odd, example of this type of behavior comes from surfing contests. In a subjectively graded sport such as surfing, it is oftentimes the case that the surfer contorts his style and his maneuvers to what he expects the judges will score highest. In other words, he is riding the wave with the judges foremost in his mind and thus invariably adjusts his bodily motions with what he thinks will please them most. He is no longer “free” surfing. He is, to the contrary, “image” surfing with the ultimate goal of correlating what he does with what the judges expect and desire.

It is little wonder therefore that modern contest surfers look like clones of each other.

In the same way, those on an inner mystical quest will often reframe what they experience in light of what they believe best correlates to the desired aims of their path.

My argument is that we are putting the cart before the horse. Instead of a free voyage to unexplored lands, we are sabotaging our quests by trying to measure what we encounter with preconceived cartographies. Our meditation gets hijacked and we end up trying to make our mystical encounters correlate to our chosen traditions. If anything new happens we don’t recognize it as such and thereby attempt to ideologically spin the discrepancy between the map and the real territory away.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/2015 08:23PM by corboy.

Public Doctrine vs Private Doctrine
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 19, 2015 09:10AM


In the America of the 1970s we are all too familiar with the religious cult, which has been proliferating in the last decade. Characteristic of the cult (from Hare Krishna to the "Moonies" to EST to Scientology to the Manson Family) is the dominance of the guru, or Maximum Leader, who is also the creator and ultimate interpreter of a given creed to which the acolyte must be unswervingly loyal. The major if not the only qualification for membership and advancement in the cult is absolute loyalty to and adoration of the guru, and absolute and unquestioning obedience to his commands. The lives of the members are dominated by the guru’s influence and presence. If the cult grows beyond a few members, it naturally becomes hierarchically structured, if only because the guru cannot spend his time indoctrinating and watching over every disciple. Top positions in the hierarchy are generally filled by the original handful of disciples, who come to assume these positions by virtue of their longer stint of loyal and devoted service. Sometimes the top leadership may be related to each other, a useful occurrence which can strengthen intra-cult loyalty through the familial bond.

The goals of the cult leadership are money and power. Power is achieved over the minds of the disciples through inducing them to accept without question the guru and his creed. This devotion is enforced through psychological sanctions. For once the acolyte is imbued with the view that approval of, and communication with, the guru are essential to his life, then the implicit and explicit threat of excommunication – of removal from the direct or indirect presence of the guru – creates a powerful psychological sanction for the "enforcement" of loyalty and obedience. Money flows upward from the members through the hierarchy, either in the form of volunteer labor service contributed by the members, or through cash payments.

It should be clear at this point in history that an ideological cult can adopt the same features as the more overtly religious cult, even when the ideology is explicitly atheistic and anti-religious. That the cults of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Trotsky, and Mao are religious in nature, despite the explicit atheism of the latter, is by now common knowledge. The adoration of the cult founder and leader, the hierarchical structure, the unswerving loyalty, the psychological (and when in command of State power, the physical) sanctions are all too evident.

The Exoteric and the Esoteric

Every religious cult has two sets of differing and distinctive creeds: the exoteric and the esoteric. The exoteric creed is the official, public doctrine, the creed which attracts the acolyte in the first place and brings him into the movement as a rank-and-file member. The quite different creed is the unknown, hidden agenda, a creed which is only known to its full extent by the top leadership, the "high priests" of the cult. The latter are the keepers of the Mysteries of the cult.

But cults become particularly fascinating when the esoteric and exoteric creeds are not only different, but totally and glaringly in mutual contradiction. The havoc that this fundamental contradiction plays in the minds and lives of the disciples may readily be imagined.

Quoted from "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult, by Marty N Rothbard

Some thoughts
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 22, 2015 02:41AM

Some thoughts (quoted from below)



A demagogue, in addition to hypnotic glibness, must also be intellectually inconsistent, sometimes boldly so. This eliminates challenges to authority by weeding out clear-thinking young people from the flock.


To equate one’s selfishness, vanity, and egotism with one’s integrity liberates young people from the struggle to distinguish integrity from selfishness, vanity, and egotism.


For many young people, hearing that it is “moral” to care only about oneself can be intoxicating, and some get addicted to this idea for life.


What is your deepest most potent fantasy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 04, 2015 04:00AM

"Know thyself".

One way to know ourselves is know what our deepest fantasies are. The core fantasy that motivates us. The fantasy that bundles together our ambition, hope, altruism.

Find out what this is.

And, in this world of share-everything social media, consider that it may be wise *not* to put this material on your social media pages.

Some of the old cultures did rituals in which those who came of age were given new private names, not to be disclosed to any outsider. The new name was the tie to your inner life and the spiritual world. Keep it private, and no one could use magic against you.

Today, we need to teach our young people and remind ourselves that some parts of ourselves should remain private and offline. Part of our dignity.

So that these private aspects of ourselves cannot be toyed with by those who don't love us and just see us as objects.

Our core fantasies should be known to us but not disclosed, because that is exactly what advertising companies target when they want us to take up smoking, or equate heavy drinking with "empowerment".

Who want to get us to buy stuff we do not actually need.

This is what the most dangerous and effective cult recruiter in the world is using right this minute.


Identifying a potential recruit's core fantasy is analogous to a hacker who has the ability to access the operating system of someone's private computer.



'Recruiters mash up fantasy with news footage and idyllic scenes. One boy Bouzar has dealt with was captivated by characters from the Assassin's Creed game; others have been drawn by figures in the Lord of the Rings.

Recruiters have multiple profiles in mind, she says, and use keyword searches to seek out personality types. Among fantasies they promote are girls seeking a protector, chivalrous would-be heroes, "Call of Duty" characters, and risk-takers who want to rule the world.

For Lea, as Bouzar calls one young woman who was preparing to attack a synagogue, compassion was the key.

Her Facebook profile made plain she wanted to do humanitarian work. Recruiters then showed her videos "saying I could do humanitarian work in Syria," she says on a film produced by Bouzar's center. "The videos showed the Syrian population being gassed ... bombed, and women taken to hospital in such a state, even without their veils." The sights were so terrible, she said, "I wanted to be forgiven."

Know what your deepest fantasies are.

So that you can know when they are leading you into danger.

Or when someone who does not love you is exploiting that imagery to hook you.

We are social mammals.

We are hard wired to be influenced by each other.

The opportunity we are given as humans is to reflect upon this.

ISIS starts by targeting our virtues - altruism, idealism, compassion, piety, self sacrifice, bravery.

The Greek and Roman virtues.

But as Cicero said, bravery without justice becomes a vice.

ISIS sneaks its own version of twisted justice into the recipe after arousing our hopes, fantasies and virtues.

So, part of every person's development as a human being is -- ask what your idea of justice is and start working on that as soon as possible, before you cross paths with a recruiter or scummy advertiser.

Do you want to keep the lung capacity you were born with?

Do you figure out that perhaps the the most dangerous thing in the world is to think oneself certain, 100% certain one knows what God wants?

This is probably a lot to ask of pre teens and teen agers. But--why not ask them to ponder this?

That kind of challenge is the deepest kind of respect.

Traumatic AbuseCults: Psychoanalytic Perspective
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 19, 2015 02:51AM

Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective


Small excerpt

In this volume, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, Daniel Shaw presents a way of understanding the traumatic impact of narcissism as it is engendered developmentally, and as it is enacted relationally. Focusing on the dynamics of narcissism in interpersonal relations, Shaw describes the relational system of what he terms the 'traumatizing narcissist' as a system of subjugation – the objectification of one person in a relationship as the means of enforcing the dominance of the subjectivity of the other.

Daniel Shaw illustrates the workings of this relational system of subjugation in a variety of contexts: theorizing traumatic narcissism as an intergenerationally transmitted relational/developmental trauma; and exploring the clinician's experience working with the adult children of traumatizing narcissists. He explores the relationship of cult leaders and their followers, and examines how traumatic narcissism has lingered vestigially in some aspects of the psychoanalytic profession.*

*Corboy note: Unlike Ken Wilber's Integral community, and unlike Andrew Cohen and the other gurus endorsed by Wilber, psychoanalysts are questioning and openly discussing these very patterns of abuse in their teaching communities. So, time for KW to evolve to a higher tier and admit to his many errors of endorsement.)

Harryman writes


is worth mentioning that the "cult" Shaw was part of for 10 years (the Siddya Yoga group around its original guru, Swami Muktananda) is the same cult in which Marc Gafni's most loyal defender, Sally Kempton, was a leading member and public apologist, even after Muktananda's sexual abuse of students had been brought to light (see O Guru, Guru, Guru, an article the originally appeared in The New Yorker [pay-walled] and is fully reprinted at Leaving Siddha Yoga

On the Cult Education Institute message board, we learned that
Werner Erhard, founder of Est had associated with Muktananda and that Muk had incorporated powerful methods of Large Group Awareness Training including trance, into the Siddha Yoga Intensives.


After Muktananda's death, Gurumayi took over as guru of Siddha/SYDA yoga

Episodes during SYDA intensives - install the guru in your body meditation



Gurumayi's ashram was associated with Elizabeth Gilbert's winning formula
"Eat, Pray, Love"

Finally, in CEI message board discussions, we learned that a number of former Gurumayi/SYDA Yoga disciples later got involved with Byron Katie, the "Loving What Is" personality.


One contribution from the discussion is worth looking at.


There has been some recent discussion how certain Guru systems, carve some type of projection of themselves into the psyche of their followers, they get their followers to fuse with their Guru identity, using all sorts of techniques.

So then if a person does not deal with that damage, they will jump right from one bad Guru, to the next bad Guru.
But they might make the mistake that it was just a bad Guru wearing robes and a bad teaching.
So they jump to a smiling Love-Bomb Guru wearing a pantsuit, using different language....[]

The Anticult described in layman's terms exactly what Daniel Shaw describes in the introduction to his book.


"the relational system of what he terms the 'traumatizing narcissist' as a system of subjugation – the objectification of one person in a relationship as the means of enforcing the dominance of the subjectivity of the other."


One sign that someone remains trapped in the subjection role is when the person consistently takes all responsibility for the abuse, and constantly idealizes and defends the perpetrator.

Entire social venues may encourage this -- particularly ones which celebrate cruel gurus and so called crazy wisdom.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/2015 03:27AM by corboy.

Some archival information about Mme. Blavatsky
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 22, 2015 01:25AM

For someone fluent in Russian and with access to the state archives, this would be an interesting area for further research.

A myriad of occult and new age movements derive from Madame Blavatsky's "Theosophy" movement, most notably Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy with its Waldarf schools, its adherants effors to equate biodynamics with the non occult evidence based permaculture gardening projects.

There is evidence that Gurdjieff and by extension, his many problem children, also utilized material from Blavatskian theosophy.

For Madame to have been a spy and being willing to exploit her role as spiritualist by offering her services to the Imperial Russian Secret Service --
whatever spirituality came from her would be tainted.

in Maria Carlson's survey

No Religion Higher than Truth:A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia


Chapter 2 footnote 5. "Mme. Blavatsky's later descriptions of life in Tibet bear more than a
coincidental resemblance to classic travel texts of the period; she herself admitted resorted to contemporary travel guides when writing her Indian travelogues in the late 1870s and early 1880s and probably did the same for her Tibetan "adventures". Her narratives include no unique experiences or descriptions that would indicated that she had in fact penetrated or even reached Tibet, which at that time permitted no foreigners, and no white women, to cross its borders.

Footnote 6. "The spying accusation possibly has foundations in fact. On December 26, 1872, Mme. Blavatsky wrote from Odessa to the Director of the Third Section offering her services as an agent:

"During these twenty years I have become acquainted with all of Western Europe, I zealously followed current politics not with any goal in mind, but because of an innate passion; in order to better follow events and to divine them in advance, I have always had the habit of entering into the smallest details of any affair, for which reason I strove to acquaint myself with all the leading personalities, politicians of various nations, both of the government factions and of the far Left."

After recommending herself to the Director by referring to her Fadeev connections, she went on:

"As a Spiritualist, I have a reputation in many places as a powerful medium. Hundreds of people believed and undoubtedly believe in spirits. But I, writing this letter with the aim of offering my services to Your Excellency and to my native land, am obligated to tell you the entire truth without concealment.

"And thus I must confess that three-quarters of the time the spirits spoke and answered in my words and out of my considerations for the success of my own plans. Rarely, very rarely, did I fail by means of this little trap, to discover people's hopes, plans and secrets."

Blavatsky followed her offer with a list of all the military secrets she had managed to discover while in Cairo the previous year. The Third Section did not accept her kind offer, although she quite accurately told them:

"I have played every role, I am able to represent myself as any person you may wish."

(TsGAOR [Central State Archives of the October Revolution],MS# 109;3;22;cited in
literaturnoe obozrenie6[1988];111-12.) Probably genuine, this letter which is alternately boastful and obsequious, is suggestive of her personality

Here is an excerpt from a letter someone wrote describing an encounter with Blavatsky.


A Blogger's Thoughts on Karma and Reincarnation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 25, 2015 12:13PM

A few excerpts from the blog Hardcore Spirituality.

The Ego of Karma


love my best friend, but I don’t always agree with her. Recently, she’s been meandering through yoga in search of the spiritual. After she speculated that my recent cancer was the result of some terrible karma, we’ve had a friendly debate over the idea of karma.


The idea that whatever happens is a consequence of karma is not a priori truth. It’s a religious belief. It is no more or less rational than a belief in the return of the twelfth imam, or that bread and wine become flesh and blood. I’ve noticed that believers in karma often take pride (in the worst sense of the word) in the rationality of their belief. Their confidence in their intellectual superiority is unfounded.

Lets return for a moment to what my best friend said. She told me, in essence, that I deserved to have cancer. I don’t hold it against her — I know she is a caring person who has gotten caught up in some dubious beliefs, and I’m not all that broken up about having cancer (I could think of an infinity of things I’d rather do, but, things happen).

Still: telling someone with cancer that they deserve it is the behavior of an asshole.

She also passed judgement upon me based upon a religious belief about a past no one can indisputably remember and for which there is, and probably cannot be, any certain evidence.


Of course, lots of ideas are exploited by uncaring individuals to make themselves look good. The problem with karma is that it encourages caring individuals, like my friend, to behave badly, too

The author's essay contains some additional reflections on social justice implications of belief in karma.

For the rest of this essay, go here:


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