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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 16, 2004 07:11AM

Bear in mind that the SRF Walrus message board is maintained by Yogananda loyalists. The problems that they've experienced with the meditations and teachings, they project exclusively on the SRF organization. Yoganada remains a spotless Savior in their eyes. You can question these issues a little there, but you can't push too far into any significant discourse or you'll find your posts disappearing without warning, and if you persist, you may find yourself on their large list of people banned from posting on the site.

The SRF Walrus is kind of like some of the ex-Scientology communities that have experienced troubles and have exclusively blamed the organization and continue to view L. Ron Hubbard as a man who had all the answers to life's problems. This is not a healthy approach in my opinion.

It may be good to go there, to try to stimulate some thought and you may find some interesting tidbits about the organization, but you're going to be surrounded by people steeped in indoctrination. If you're currently recovering from involvement in a cultic group, it may not be a good time to be mingling in such an atmosphere.

It's like if you're recovering from opium addiction, it's best to steer clear from groups of opium users who have left the den, because they're not recovered addicts, they just think they are since they've managed to pull themselves out of the den. They're still compulsively stuffing opium in their pipes, so they still have a serious problem.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 16, 2004 12:24PM


(quote) 'If you're recovering from opium addiction, it's best to steer clear from groups of opium users who have left the den, because they're not recovered addicts, they just think they are since they've managed to pull themselves out of the den. They're still compulsively stuffing opium in their pipes, so they still have a serious problem.'
You've nailed it.

People may get pissed off and leave a particular abusive guru.

But if they've left that one guru's cult , but still cling to their personal cult of the Perfect Guru Who is Waiting for Them Out There Somewhere--- they're still hooked, still in the spiritual rat-race.

They've given up on a particular guru, but are still hooked on the Guru Archetype, the Guru Ideal.

They're still hooked because honestly, they dont yet know of any other way to access their own talent, their own vitality, except by using a Magic Daddy/Magic Mommy myth that requires them to be children and put themselves at terrible risk of exploitation by spiritual crooks who specialize in targeting and molesting 'adult children'--persons who are adult in calendar years, but who, without realizing it, are still trapped in a child's level of development, usually because of unexamined trauma.

Until seekers can question their addiction to perfect spiritual parenting, they'll still looking for the right dealer, who always comes through with the dope and who will be smart enough not to get arrested like the other guy did.

A big part of recovery is not just the process of weaning oneself from the drug; we have to stop romanticizing addiction itself, and the pseudo-romantic lifestyle around addiction. That includes questioning the glamour of New Age/Dharmic/spiritual addiction.

Alcoholics tended to feel ashamed of their addiction and often would drink alone; drug addicts often romanticized their addiction and had entire friendship networks centered upon addiction.

So part of the recovery for addicts to street drugs was they had to stop romanticizing addiction and the lifestyle around it. A man who ran a recovery house told us that he personally screened every movie or CD before letting the residents watch it; he banned all entertainment from the facility if it romanticized drugs or celebrated outlaw mentality.

Another venue where addiction may be romanticized is the Seeker's Circuit, or what John Horgan has called 'The Enlightenment Industry.'

Gurus would not exist without the yearning we already have. A true guru would make us conscious of our yearnings, assist us to grow up, put himself out of business as soon as possible. He would not exploit us in such yearnings. The crooks are the ones who tap those yearnings and exploit our vulnerability. The crooks are the ones who molest adult children--appeal to our adult sophistication, but molest us in the areas where, emotionally and psychologically, we are still children--[i:afc1f20921]and where the crook has encouraged us to remain childish.[/i:afc1f20921]

People blame their ashrams, forgetting that the guru they venerate is the one who sets the tone for the organization. When people are desperate to cling to their notion of the guru as Perfect Mommy or Perfect Daddy, they'll do everything they can to make excuses for the guru, and blame the problems on everything and everyone else--except the one person who has all the authority in the set up--the guru.

Ive heard it said that the definition of a dysfunctional group or guru is the group or leader takes credit for all the good stuff. Meanwhile, responsibility for all the bad stuff is foisted onto the people who dont have the actual authority. Its the trap of feeling responsible with out having actual authority.

A variation on this theme is when the guru designates certain favored disciples to be the 'bad cops'--enforcers of discipline. That way the guru gets to remain perfect, and all the resentment for the abuses of power get deflected onto the enforcers. But the guru is actually still responsible; he's the puppet-master who hides behind the curtain, making the puppets dance. Rajneesh did this--when all hell broke loose at his Oregon facility, devotees blamed Rajneesh'es lieutenant. They refused to see that Rajneesh had orchestrated the entire context in which people regressed and became puppets in relation to him. Some of the puppets were mean, but it was still Rajneesh who put them through their paces.

([i:afc1f20921]A variation is a guru who claims not to be a guru, while still behaving as one, and still being venerated as one. In that variation, the guru is keeping the power while pretending not to have power; all thats happening is he's playing games, abdicating responsiblity for the authority he acutually has. Krishnamurti claimed not to be a guru, but Lawrence Shainberg gives an unforgettable description of how the audience hung on Krishnamurti's every word--the 'anti-guru was still a guru!' --you can read this in Ambivalent Zen [/i:afc1f20921]by Lawrence Shainberg

--Shainberg gave his power away to one Magic Daddy after another until he finally got worn out and gave up on that particular game.)

In cultic situations, the guru enjoys all the authority but always ducks out of the way when the shit hits the fan. Takes 100% credit for the good stuff and shifts 100% of the blame for the bad stuff to others. Thats a great definition of a cult set up, and happens just as much in non-religious organizations as in religious ones.

Deep Throat told the Watergate investigators 'Follow the money.'

When investigating whether something is cultic, look for power imbalances. And, look for myth-making and a refusal to fact check.

The person with the actual authority dodges accountability

The people who dont have authority are stuck with more than their fair share of accountability. The shit never sticks to the leader or guru, but has to go somewhere--usually by rolling down-hill and sticking to us.

(A seminary professor of ours once said, 'Responsibility is shared. It is extremely rare for one person to be 100% responsible for either a good or a bad situation. If someone is making you feel 100% responsible for everything that is going wrong--question it.')

Leaving a bad ashram or organization is not enough to ensure recovery. Leaving will give you short term relief by removing you from a disorienting, confusing situation. THat part is very good.

Long term, leaving a bad set up will [i:afc1f20921]not [/i:afc1f20921]address the needs and yearnings that attracted us to these unbalanced power set ups--[i:afc1f20921]and will not help us understand what made the mind fuck feel thrilling rather than chilling.[/i:afc1f20921]

There are some gurus out there who are over the top bullies. They'd be kicked in the butt if they dared behave this way in normal society, but in thier own communities, thier bad behavior is celebrated as crazy wisdom. Their disciples come to believe that they need to be abused in order to make any progress. Anyone who has misgivings is written off as wimpy, not serious about 'the path' or accused of being 'touchy-feely.'

Most people walk out of their lectures and never return--persons who are disgusted by bad behavior. But--a few people stay, and become disciples to these bully-gurus. They tolerate a level of suffering that cause most of us to run the other way. For them to recover, they have to investigate what led them to stay in that room with that bully-guru, when so many other people walked away.

Its not something to be ashamed of---shame doesnt solve this.

You need to feel curious, to investigate this with a kind of friendly curiosity. What was it about that power imbalance that sparked my hope, energized me, made the abuse seem a worthwhile price to pay?

Bad gurus are not universally appealing. But they get their devotees by skilfully recruiting in such a way as to attract and keep the few who are thrilled by power and by power imbalance and by quickly repulsing people who are revolted by power abuse and game playing and would disrupt the guru's game playing if permitted to join the ashram!

Unless we dare to examine our own secret craving for a Magic Mommy or Daddy, we will go through one failed Wizard of Oz after another.

Some of us may crave intensity and equate it with spiritual power.

In an off-line discussion a couple of us speculated that high energy people with bipolar disorder might gravitate to gurus who have untreated bipolar disorder and create wild, crisis ridden ashrams, and call this 'crazy wisdom practice'

Or we just dont know how to energize ourselves and feel hope unless we have a myth--something to crave, some goal to meet.

Mark Miller examined the sitaution around Da Free John and noted it wasnt just a crazy guru who was the problem; it was that people clung to the whole process of mythologizing the guy.

(Mark Miller wrote,)

'The community is at root [i:afc1f20921]a society devoted to glorification and myth-making in relation to DFJ[/i:afc1f20921], who is truly the ultimate example of "Narcissus", the mythical figure DFJ uses to describe those who are unenlightened. This supreme Narcissist requires the constant adoration of not only himself, but also of everything associated with him -- his properties and possessions (including the "holy sites"), and the "murtis" (pictures) of him, etc. These inanimate objects serve as extensions of his huge ego, and the construction of them and/or worship of them serve to usurp huge amounts of devotees time and money.

''... Once people leave the group, there is no guarantee they will stop the "esoteric practice" (ha ha) of DFJ mythologization. That is just one reason why some people you've met who leave the group still believe in all kinds of nonsense about DFJ. [i:afc1f20921]It can be difficult to see all of the ways in which [u:afc1f20921]habitual mythologization [/u:afc1f20921]is operative and to understand the full range and scope of its influence. [/i:afc1f20921]Waking up can take time. Many can't seem to develop much insight into their delusions and commitment to myth-making about DFJ, beyond identifying the crudest and most obviously "cultic" level of it. This is why some of the group's beliefs and assumptions are retained indefinitely by many people, even long after they leave. '


In other words, you can leave a group, [i:afc1f20921]but still retain the myth-making mindset that made the group and guru so appealing[/i:afc1f20921]. Unless you examine your own craving for an energizing myth, you'll remain recruitable by yet another Magic Parent.

You can reject a particular guru, then walk around with a 'guru-shaped hole' in your psyche.

Eventually someone will come along who matches that outline, and the game resumes.

[b:afc1f20921]The habitual mythologization described by Mark Miller is itself the drug. If a particualr guru-dealer turns out to peddle bad shit, or gets arrested, you're without a dealer but are still an addict. You'll then look for another dealer who sells better dope, has a myth that cannot be punctured. Until you question your own addiction, you'll keep looking for the perfect guru-dealer[/b:afc1f20921].

Bruce Warner comments:

'No guru or Zen Master can give you anything other than what you already have. If you ever start to feel that you need your teacher's blessings, his approval, even his passing you on some koan or any other such nonsense, that is the time to run screaming out of the temple like someone had set fire to your panties.

All authority must be torn down. ([i:afc1f20921]That's Warner's way of saying 'Question your addiction to seeking, the addiction that makes a guru seem so necessary[/i:afc1f20921])This goes for my authority every bit as much as anyone else's. There is no Enlightenment. Enlightenment is nothing more than shared illusion. Enlightenment is for pussies who can't face reality.'

'It's one of our fantasies that there is some kind of Eastern mind which is fundamentally different from the Western one. There is not. The guru system, the Zen Master system and every other variation on that theme is just as horrible and destructive to folks with amber skin and almond shaped eyes as it is to folks with white skin and blue eyes. It didn't work 2,000 years ago in Rishikesh, India any better than it works right now in Racine, Wisconsin. Sure it's lasted a long time, but sure has gastrointeritis.

'The only teachers who've really kept the decent traditions alive are the ones who did not play those kinds of games.'

Bruce Warner's review of [u:afc1f20921]Enlightenment Blues[/u:afc1f20921]


(this guy's website has a great collection of articles. His book, [i:afc1f20921]Hardcore Zen [/i:afc1f20921]is a terrific read.)


A meditation buddy had this on her bulletin board: 'One sign of spiritual progress is you lose interest in the games of submission/domination that are on offer in various theatres of cruelty.'

In other words, you're making progres when power imbalances no longer feel thrilling but instead give you the creeps.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Toni ()
Date: September 16, 2004 01:43PM


I was about to respond to Yellowbeard about the similarity between Krya Yoga and TM, when I read Corboy's detailed analysis.

Krya came before TM in this country. Yogananda called his method the 'Highway to Enlightenment'. Maharishi calls TM the 'Rocket Jet to Enlightenment'. Maharishi said that Krya was the fastest path available in the West until TM came along. Competition - sounds like current political campaign! I have enjoyed many a stroll though the gardens in Encinitas. And the SRF monks do a dynamite Halloween celebration each year!

Yes, what people won't do to get high? Most folks that I know who left TM, have been guru-hopping since, or have established their own mini-cults. Even those most disillusioned at the highest levels, they find someone else to teach them a method to open the crown chakra or whatever.. still controlling the breath, creates a metabolic acidosis or alkalosis, that causes 'visions', etc.

Insider secret w/ TM... slowing the breath and heart rate during TM will prolong your life.. because (get this!) prior to birth, we are each alloted a specific number of heart beats. You wouldn't believe how avid TM 'monks' (called 'Purusha' for the men, or 'Mother Divine' for the women) avoid physical exertion lest it cause an increase in their heart rate or breath rate, thereby shortening their lifespan! oi!

Now, about those pituitary hormonal changes. I'll obtain those articles. Thank you, Corboy, you ARE an amazing librarian! There have been a number of brain tumors occuring in the TM-mecca community of Fairfield Iowa. No one has tracked them, just those in the community know of them (and us who used to live there..)

Even my daughter.... I did TM while pregant with her, and for years prior to her conception... She is 27 now and has a pituitary tumor for which she will have neurosurgery soon. I wonder....

Any observed frequency of brain tumors in SRF groups? Just curious.


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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 16, 2004 11:12PM

This is interesting. I hope things go well for you and your daughter.

Its actually a very complicated process to determine whether something has generated a rate of illness higher than the statistical average.

They will have to do epidemiological research to determine whether there is a 'cluster' -- that is, whether the rate of diagnoses of brain malignancies among TM practitioners has exceeded the rate of diagnosis in the general population.

Next, they'd have to review records to see what kinds of brain malignancies are being diagnosed. There is no one type of 'brain cancer'--there are many different varieties--it all depends on the type of cell a malignancy originated from.

They'd also have to break people into catagories, depending on intensity of TM practice--there's a big difference between doing a couple of 20 minute sessions at home vs moving in to the campus at Fairfield and doing 'rounding.'

The important thing is that you take care of yourself and your daughter gets well.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Toni ()
Date: September 16, 2004 11:38PM

Corboy --

You know about 'Rounding'?? wow! You ARE up on all of this!
I have to admit, Rounding did feel great!
For those others.. rounding means alternating a series of yoga asanas w/ pranayama (breathing exercise) and meditation then siddhis ('advanced' mental technique$$). One round takes 1/5- 2 hr, I don't quite remember. So folks do 2-3 rounds in the morning, and again in the afternoon.

On the early TM Teacher Training Courses participants did 10 rounds a day, there were a number of folks who literally went crazy and are still institutionalized. Hmm... my mother was on those courses.. maybe that explains her??? LOL
The son of a good friend was diagnosed schizophrenic after running away from a Rounding-Course. Nice young guy, semi-functional, now supported by SSI. Haunted by his inner demons.

Anything similar w/ Krya?

Yes, I know about the complexities of CDC stat analysis of incidences of diseases etc. That's why I've not pursued it r.e. the brain tumors in FF. They are of a variety of types, various ages of folks, etc. Fortunately, my daughter's is NOT malignant, but it does alter the production of pituitary hormones, that's why the papers you cite so appropriate.

As always, many Tx!

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: SarahL ()
Date: September 17, 2004 02:23AM

It's like if you're recovering from opium addiction, it's best to steer clear from groups of opium users who have left the den, because they're not recovered addicts, they just think they are since they've managed to pull themselves out of the den. They're still compulsively stuffing opium in their pipes, so they still have a serious problem.

Excellent point on the SRF Walrus list and on recovery in general.
In my own experience of compulsion/addiction, I had to learn how to get out of the metaphorical opium den altogether, completely, and to also look at why I was drawn to hang out there in the first place. I was a compulsive rpg (role play game) player online. Discussing various points of contention with other players didn't solve the problem, only kept me immersed. Figuring out how to play in other channels, how to deal with abusive people online by behaving differently, etc.......etc.......none of that worked cause I was still in the compulsive activity. I finally compared myself to an alcoholic who had stopped drinking but who kept going back to bars to talk with her old drinking buddies about what drinking was doing to all of them. Would not work, would not effectively build recovery.
When more information was finally released concerning Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, I noticed my friends who were devotees quickly blamed the various public figures, but never Rajneesh. His supposed crazy wisdom and enlightened status apparently made him immune from any critiquing. I was able to deflate my image of him and see him as a human being. A jerk. A con man.
Yet doing this wasn't enough, nor was leaving other cultic groups, because as long as I carried some part of the group mystique with me, the magical thinking, I was still part of all that. A big part of my recovery is to know truly that I am human, that I get to like what I like and not like what I don't like, and that I get to make choices. May sound simple but it is huge for me.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: SarahL ()
Date: September 17, 2004 02:40AM


In other words, you're making progress when power imbalances no longer feel thrilling but instead give you the creeps.

What a wonderful statement! Summarizes my own process, I've been lately encouraging that feeling of creeped out-ness when I have it, encouraging myself to pay attention and listen, rather than do what I did in the past. In the past I would not listen to that, I'd double talk myself into the ground, and I'd keep a big ol' spotlight turned onto the magical tranced high stuff.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 17, 2004 04:45AM

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]Tumors and TM[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

As Corboy said, this is an interesting topic that you've brought up. Since TM does mess with brain chemistry, and if one is doing so over a significant period of time, it seems like tumors could be a real possibility.

Terence McKenna died of a brain tumor. He was a big proponent of psychedelic use. And as I understand it, psychedelics create similar reactions in the brain. He believed in "heavy" psychedelic use, and he definitely abused those substances. Just like too much meditation, his altering of brain chemistry over long periods of time may have caused the tumor. There may be a connection, and maybe not. Like Corboy said, it's hard to tell with cancer.

On Kriya Yoga, your best bet would be to ask on the SRF Walrus, or perhaps on a Kriya Yoga message board, which you could do a search for.

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]Disclaimer for Following Material[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

What I'm going to write here might be more appropriate under the thread, "Christianity and Religion in General's Inherent Problems". But what I'm writing here directly addresses some of the types of teachings being mentioned here. If a moderator wishes to move this, feel free. I might be questioning a little more than I should here, so the other thread may be better since the title of that thread has a built in warning to it.

I'm going to be questioning spiritual ideals here in a way that some sensitive readers may find disturbing. Most readers will be insulted by what I'm going to say, in fact, if the reader believes in anything at all in regard to spirituality, they're likely to be offended. I should probably use the South Park warning that they use: "The following program...should not be viewed by anyone." But I'm not using any crude language or referring to bodily anatomy in any inappropriate ways. I'm just going to present ideas that most will frown upon.

Also, please point out my errors. If you feel that I've come to a questionable conclusion, feel free to offer counter arguments or comments.

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]Anti-Authority Teaching Style and the Refinement of the Religious Model of Thought[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

I could be wrong on this, but I think the anti-authority spiritual approach largely became popular through Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) who churned out direct, blunt and concise statements on the subject that really caught people's attention:


“If a man desires to obey and to follow someone, no one can prevent him, but it is most unintelligent, leading to great unhappiness and frustration. If those of you who are listening to me really begin to think deeply about authority, you will not follow anyone, including myself. But as I said, it is much easier to follow and to imitate than to really free thought from the limitation of fear and so from compulsion and authority. The one is an easy giving over of oneself to another, in which there is always the idea of getting something in return, whereas in the other there is absolute insecurity; and as people prefer the illusion of comfort, security, they follow authority with its frustration. But if the mind discerns the illusory nature of comfort or security, there is born intelligence, the new, the vital life.” -- J. Krishnamurti

These type of statements are very helpful. When I first heard this type of talk, I tried to assume that it didn't include "my guru". I reasoned, "yes, corrupt authority which is rampant is to be avoided, but my guru (spiritual teacher) is responsible". In time, I realized that the spiritual instruction I was receiving wasn't responsible, and it was causing a lot of inner conflict within myself. Hearing these type of teachings is very helpful in getting people to start questioning what was previously viewed as unquestionable.

This type of spiritual instruction is becoming more and more popular. It fits right into the Zen model real well. There's a Zen teacher named Adyashanti (that mixes a little non-dual Hindu thought in some of his teachings) that uses this approach as well:


“Spiritual seekers are some of the most superstitious people on the planet. Most people come to spiritual teachers and teachings with a host of hidden beliefs, ideas, and assumptions that they unconsciously seek to be confirmed. And if they are willing to question these beliefs they almost always replace the old concepts with new more spiritual ones thinking that these new concepts are far more real than the old ones. Even those who have had deep spiritual experiences and awakenings beyond the mind will in most cases continue to cling to superstitious ideas and beliefs in an unconscious effort to grasp for the security of the known, the accepted, or the expected. It is this grasping for security in all its inward and outward forms which limit the perspective of enlightenment and maintain an inwardly divided condition which is the cause of all suffering and confusion.” -- Adyashanti

Now we have a more in-your-face version of this style with Brad Warner (author of Hardcore Zen):


“Enlightenment is for pussies who can't face reality.”

“Living the truth isn't a matter of getting whapped on the head by God Almighty and thus becoming perfectly Enlightened forever and ever amen. It's a lifelong commitment. It's a never ending struggle to keep yourself right every single second of every single day. And you'll never succeed completely no matter who you are. But here's the neat part, after a while trying so hard to stay right is the only thing you'll ever want to do.” -- Brad Warner

Look what we see at the end of these type of teachings. And we find the same attached to the Krishnamurti, Adyshanti, etc. approach when we start really digging into their teachings. They start subtly talking about a spiritual struggle, which earlier they claim was not only pointless, but a cause of suffering.

In their own unique ways, they speak of the problems with following spiritual authority, and they even say to question them and their teachings as well (ok, don't mind if I do). Like I mentioned before, this is no doubt good for people to hear and aids people in cult recovery before they even know anything about the cult recovery field. These type of teachings even helped me personally.

But there's a little catch to what they're saying. They bash people's illusions about Enlightenment (and a few go so far as to say it doesn't exist), then they start covertly talking about enlightenment and how to get there! They say struggling to go beyond what we are in the 'here and now' causes conflict and suffering, and is an illusory pursuit like a cat chasing its tail. Then we hear:


“If you really take a look at your ordinary boring life, you'll discover something truly wonderful. Our regular old pointless lives are incredibly joyful -- amazingly, astoundingly, relentlessly, mercilessly joyful. You don't need to do a damned thing to experience such joy either. ... Just be what you are, where you are. Clean the toilet. Walk the dog. Do your work. That's the most magical thing there is. If you really want to merge with God, that's the way to do it. This moment.” -- Brad Warner

But that's the same spiritual game! It's just more refined -- so refined that people normally don't catch it unless they really look closely. The idea that Bliss is our primordial state is being proclaimed here by someone that has bashed the idea as 'pie in the sky' when expressed by others. The idea of chasing Enlightenment beyond the 'here and now' is taught to be an illusory pursuit that leads to confusion and suffering, but now we're taught to "just be" to experience (aka reach) this Bliss. But we already are *just being*! And there's no Bliss! So ... we must be blocking Bliss with our drives and ambitions. Now we're back to religious thought as normal. We need to meditate to learn how to rest our minds so that we can perceive Bliss -- but that's going beyond the reality of the 'here and now' to achieve what's not 'here and now' all the same! He just taught us earlier that it was unintelligent to do that.

Kind of difficult to describe, so I'm going to translate this with the help of [i:0ca7a9b8c3]Building Resistance: Tactics for Counteracting Manipulation and Unethical Hypnosis in Totalistic Groups[/i:0ca7a9b8c3] by Steve K. Dubrow Eichel:

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]“Manipulators do not immediately ask for agreement, they ask people to "try it" with an "open mind”[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Refined spiritual approach: "Religious teachers have fooled us. Don't take their word as Gospel, don't even take mine as truth."

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]“Manipulators often seem unusually friendly, concerned and sincere”[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Refined spiritual approach: "I'm a really down to earth guy. I cuss and spit like the average Joe. And I just say it like it is."

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]“The language of hypnosis is marked by vagueness, overgeneralizations, metaphors and abstractions”[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Refined spiritual approach: "Truth can only be found in the here & now. Only if you could learn to live in this moment, would you be able to see the ecstatic joy of what is happening right under your nose"

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]“In trance, memories, fantasies, feelings and thoughts are often experienced more vividly and intensely than they are in the normal "waking" state”[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Refined spiritual approach: "I ate this orange, and it was so intense, the color was so bright, the taste so penetrating, the smell so enlivening. That is Enlightenment in the here & now."

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]“Hypnosis involves the suspension of "normal" logic. Trance logic is characterized by, among other things, lack of criticalness and the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs as true without one cancelling out the other (Orne, 1959).”[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Refined spiritual approach: "Bliss can only be experienced here & now, and you don't need to do anything to experience it. You need to meditate to truly experience the here & now."

I feel these approaches are simply just a more refined version of the religious model of thought -- the exact same thing, just more subtly portrayed. Is there some good in them? Yes. But the good parts may be just the stuff that's used to pull you in to the religious model of thinking that you may have been trying to avoid. Are these type of teachers consciously trying to deceive people? I'd say very few. Most of these types honestly believe that they've experienced the "real thing". Brad Warner described eating a tangerine and how intense and magical the experience was. A hopped up everyday experience like that is his vision of Enlightenment (and basically the overall current Zen view as well, correct me if I'm wrong). But this is just the result of a trance state as mentioned earlier:

“In trance, memories, fantasies, feelings and thoughts are often experienced more vividly and intensely than they are in the normal "waking" state”

It looks as though meditation may have no value whatsoever other than entering into trance states and temporarily experiencing sensory data as more vivid and alive. But like all highs, you gotta come down. The spiritual community is recognizing this and now describing Enlightenment as an unending process -- something that you must continually work at.

[b:0ca7a9b8c3]A Little More on the Idea of Bliss[/b:0ca7a9b8c3]

Basic Eastern religious thought states that Bliss is the underlying state of our consciousness, and all we have to do is recognize it. We don't need to create it, in other words. Now we hear that it has to be maintained -- continually uncovered. To me it looks like it's just being created like any other high. Well, my interpretations are just that -- interpretations. Let's look beyond my conclusions and take a gander into the animal world:

Those of us that have (or had) a cat or dog, know very well that their pet does not (or did not) exist in some sort of state of Bliss. Their natural state is a state of equilibrium just like ours. Now they don't have a complex system of thought that's weaving a tight web over the Bliss in their minds. That's what supposedly covers up Bliss. They are not overly driven like us humans. They have desires and instincts, but these are not a problem because they don't fight them. The instincts and drives just flow through them (as we're suppose to do in spiritual practice). These animals should be totally Blissed-out! But they're not. How can I say that for sure? Well that's why I said those of us who have had a cat or dog as a pet -- we intimately react with the pet's emotions and frame of mind, and they're high enough on the food chain to relate to.

There's no Bliss in a cat unless you give it catnip. And there's no Bliss in a human unless you fire up their brain in one way or another. But we have minds that create fantasy and look to the future, so we call this religion. Religion is probably the most popular drug of choice there is. But with all drugs, you need to proceed with caution and moderation, or you'll end up here shaking in withdrawal on this message board seeking treatment!

Life is a mystery. Is religion the answer? Hardly. It's no more the answer than a bottle of booze is.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 17, 2004 11:44AM

For another take, I highly recommend [i:fd968d1c39]'My Father's Guru' [/i:fd968d1c39]by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. Masson's father became a disciple of Paul Brunton (PB), a Theosophist/Vedenta guru, and young Jeffrey in effect grew up in a secretive family cult. Years later, after studying Sanskrit at Harvard, young Jeffrey Masson realized that Paul Brunton was a fraud and felt furious at having been lied to.

Years later, Masson thought back on it all. He did not in any way excuse how Paul Brunton had behaved. He had outgrown his fantasies. But Masson could permit himself to recall how fascinating those fantasies had been, how lovely that dream of power had been.

'But now at fifty-one, I can look back upon the years spent with PB with some degree of nostalgia, even melancholy. The world was never again to seem so charged, so filled with mystery. PB dominated my childhood imagination with a seemingly never ending supply of magic fantasies, higher powers, adverse forces, other planets, adepts in remote caves high in the Tibetan mountains, occult abilities, Egyptian magicians, Indian sages, astral travel, memories of ancient incarnations.

'I wish it were all true. I wish PB had been the person we all thought he was. How enchanting it would be to live with such a man, to be part of some master plan for the universe. What a marvellous world to inhabit. Everything thereafter seemed drab by comparison. How could Harvard compare with Astral University? How could a train ride through France compare with heavenly journies through distant galaxies?

....Once when the sun was about to set, he told me to see how the birds were all heading for their nests, and then he looked at me very intensely, and said, "Jeff, this is your chance." I was not sure I understood, but I felt moved because I sensed that he wanted to provide me with what he had always called 'the glimpse of the infinite.' [i:fd968d1c39]It was not enough for him simply to enjoy the beauty of it.'[/i:fd968d1c39]

From Jeffrey Moussaeiff Masson, [i:fd968d1c39]My Father's Guru[/i:fd968d1c39], pp 172-173

IMO a real teacher would've silently savored that setting sun, and nesting birds, and said nothing, allowing the young boy the privacy to respond to that same situation, trusting the setting sun and the birds would be enough.

Getting intense and saying 'This is your chance'--that shifted the focus from the sunset to Paul Brunton---and was one more 'guru moment.'

A big part of of recovery is letting go of these fantasies, yet being able to remember how we thrilled to them. The fantasies touch the roots of our own hope, our own vitality. Key thing is finding ways to activate our hope and vitality through reality, not flight from reality.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 18, 2004 08:23AM


I know I've been long winded and repetitive in this dialog. Those that are still reading, thanks for your patience. I've also been a bit smart-alecky with some of my comments on religion, and I apologize about that. I also could have been more serious and concise in many areas.

In this article (post) I'm finally going to get to the point of why I've made such a fuss on these issues and how all this relates to the cult recovery community.

[b:01683b21ac]The Dangers of Viewing a Trance State as Enlightenment[/b:01683b21ac]

Corboy wrote:


IMO a real teacher would've silently savored that setting sun, and nesting birds, and said nothing, allowing the young boy the privacy to respond to that same situation, trusting the setting sun and the birds would be enough.

Free from the guru overstepping his or her bounds, let's say Jeff was taught to experience this moment fully in such a way that some boundaries dissolved, sensory data was enlivened, and an enriching significance was infused throughout. A responsible spiritual teacher (keeping themself out of the equation) would say that this is an experience of Enlightenment. Even if Jeff was by himself and came to this experience with no tutelage whatsoever, wouldn't he consider this a type of Awakening (even if just a fleeting glimpse)?

Is directly Awakening to the here and now (as we might describe it from a Zen type of perspectives) just the experience of a trance state? And if so, what does that mean?

Is it reasonable for me to conclude that the experience of the dissolution of boundaries, which is often described in Zen Awakenings (and other traditions), is the result of entering a trance state that has caused the following:


“... blood flow to the parietal lobe, which calculates the boundaries of your body in relation to its environment -- "You are not the chair, you are sitting on the chair, the chair is on the floor" -- decreased.” (Warning: Meditating May be Hazardous to Your Health / San Francisco Weekly / Sandy Brundage)

Along with the enlivening of sensory data:


“In trance, memories, fantasies, feelings and thoughts are often experienced more vividly and intensely than they are in the normal "waking" state” (Building Resistance: Tactics for Counteracting Manipulation and Unethical Hypnosis in Totalistic Groups / Steve K. Dubrow Eichel)

The Hindu model along with some Buddhist interpretations of Enlightenment are more Bliss oriented -- Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) and Nirvana (a 'blowing out' like a candle of our ego driven ambitions and identity which is ultimately experienced as Bliss).

The Theraveda Buddhist approach (with it's practice of Vipassana meditation which is viewed as the practice most directly related to the Buddha) along with the Zen approach (which is a 'no-nonsense' school of Buddhism) do not incorporate Bliss into their model of Enlightenment, and many times instruct the student to avoid or ignore such states. Also, a lot of the 'magical' aspects of Enlightenment are discarded in these traditions.

But aren't they still associating trance states as a religious experience (meaning having an actual transcendent existence)? And what would be the problem with that? Why am I making such a fuss over this? Why not just view Vipassana and Zen as art forms, and their teachers (the responsible ones) as instructors in this art. If they want to take poetic license and call these "religious experiences", what's wrong with that? In free countries we have the right to express ourselves and we have the right of artistic expression, and freedom of religion -- aren't we just expressing beauty, the love of life and creative, full expression? Isn't it not ultimately healthy what we're doing (as long as we strip the cultic model out of the process)?

From my perspective, trance states are clearly being described as perception of a higher reality (or a clearer perception of this reality). This means that the dangers associated with trance states are ignored because after all, these aren't viewed as trance states; they're viewed as experiences that are more 'real' than our everyday life experiences, or as a more 'direct' experience of reality.

Why are trance states dangerous if experienced under the supervision of a responsible spiritual teacher? I feel these experiences have a lot of potential for danger because these spiritual instructors are not trained to properly deal with trance states since they don't even recognize the experience as a trance state. Trance states make the mind more susceptible to programming and fanciful interpretations of events. The line between fantasy and reality dissolves to one degree or another in these states.

These teachers say that you are experiencing reality more directly when in fact the practitioner's boundaries of fantasy and reality are being blurred. Faulty conclusions are made in these states, many of which are reinforced by the teacher.

A Zen practitioner goes before his or her teacher to have their particular experience validated as Enlightenment or not. Some fantasies are rejected by the teacher as illusions, while others are claimed to be reality. When the student expresses enough of the particular beliefs that are viewed as "truth", that student is said to have received "Dharma transmission", which means that they've experienced the true nature of reality and are in a responsible position to instruct others.

But if we're actually experiencing a reality more real, or more direct, than our everyday experiences, why would we need anyone to validate such experiences? There were no checks and balances for the Buddha, and his "perception of reality" is viewed as the ultimate Enlightenment. One could say that there are many stumbling blocks along the Path, and this system of checks and balances is there to help the student to avoid getting caught in these snares. This sounds reasonable, but who are the teachers in this process? The teachers are the ones who have received Dharma transmission. When we closely look at the process of Dharma transmission, it looks no different than thought reform -- certain beliefs are discarded by the Master and others are reinforced.

Even when it's said that we can question a "true" spiritual teacher and can spit on statues of the Buddha, we eventually come to see the same thought reform techniques being played out, just more covertly. When we sign up for courses and go on a retreat with a group or teacher that makes these claims, try questioning the teacher and see what happens. Instead of getting directly angry, they'll more gently coerce you into their belief system. Keep on questioning this "spit on the Buddha" teacher and you'll find yourself unwelcomed in time if you don't start agreeing with their beliefs.

Zen is described as a no-nonsense version of Buddhism, but they chant passages from Sutras (aka texts of unquestionable "truth") and take part in ritualistic bowing and other unusual behaviors for a school that's supposedly only interested in finding truth.

Looking at this not only from the outside, but from the inside as well, I've come to the conclusion that the anti-authority / anti-tradition spiritual instructors ultimately play the same thought reform games, usually unintentionally. Probably the teachers (in this particular mode of spiritual thought reform) that truly believe in what they're doing, are the most dangerous. A person thoroughly convinced of something is in the best position to convince you.

Another popular tactic they use to draw you in with their "open and fair" approach is to say that they respect all religions, and they may even go to great lengths to show you the connections between many different spiritual beliefs and approaches. (Some of these connections are pretty far fetched, like showing that the Hindu chakra system is "secretly" taught by other traditions by metaphor.)

Also, describing a spiritual thought reform program as being a scientific route to "truth" is also very popular. This is not a new approach either. The Self-Realization Fellowship cult got rolling by making the claim that science and religion were uniting to reveal the same truth, and the cult's been around for nearly a century. And I'm sure this particular approach wasn't invented by them.


“What makes a discipline a "science?" In part, it is the acceptance and utilization of a very specific method of inquiry that has uniform steps for positing hypotheses and validating them. What are these steps? When these steps are not followed, what risks to validity are usually encountered? What is the "scientific method?" If uncertain, one should seek the answers to these questions before accepting any claim as being "scientific."” (Building Resistance: Tactics for Counteracting Manipulation and Unethical Hypnosis in Totalistic Groups / Steve K. Dubrow Eichel)


It's my view that trance states induced through meditation and other spiritual disciplines are being considered glimpses of a higher, transcendent reality (or a more direct perception of our everyday reality). The danger here is that in trance states the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality becomes diminished. The mind also becomes ripe for thought reform in these states. Spiritual retreats isolate the practitioner from their former points of reference and contacts. The effects of thought reform are amplified in this environment.

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