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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: April 10, 2003 12:26AM

All this sounds very much like Choices Counseling Center, the "community" that I was in which happened to be a therapy cult based on the 12-steps.

So, all the same characteristics are there, including everyone starting to talk alike, minus the witchcraft, add the 12 steps.

In many ways, I wish there was less differentiation when we talk about these cults. It seems that if there was more focus, our efforts would have more effect. ?? Having said that, I also realize that when I was trying to determine if my experience was as horrible as I suspected, it helped to read that a therapy "community" could easily become a cult.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: omnipolchc ()
Date: September 11, 2003 06:09AM

In regards to Royal Way / RW Ranch / etc. What do you want to know?? I was a member, a very devoted one, for over thirteen years. I am no longer there, I left for personal reasons.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: revclaire ()
Date: September 13, 2003 07:09PM

If you spent 13 years at the ranch we would like to know your experience and how you feel since you left them? how long has it been since you left? Your honest experience looking back is what we would like ..the money you spent...what you got for your your family and friends felt when you joined? did you stay in close contact with your family and friends once you joined? what is the teaching based on? what literature? etc. Thanks for writing in..please be honest ..people need help.. you can provide it if you take time to reassess your 13 years honestly and then write in..maybe you should put it all on paper first to get spent, hours spent, how much time of your life spent...and then a column of what you got in return..then let us know..thanks

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 13, 2003 11:56PM

How you were recruited

Do they target people with certain characteristics?

Do they recruit by hitting on psychotherapy clients? Some groups encourage disciples who are in helping professions to reel their clients into the group. This is considered an unethical 'dual relationship' according to most guidelines governing conduct for therapists, health care professionals and attorneys. Ditto for teachers.

Or they may operate through kinship networks or target people in certain artists' groups. Theater and film are great venues for recruitment because you work long hours on a film or play, or TV show, you bond as a group and opportunities for outside socializing are limited. Its one reason why a lot of celebrities are so vulnerable.

In the thread section on cults, there is a set of questions for anyone attending a group or orientation. These may also help you notice clues and cues.

Any info you wish to share would be appreciated. This group has no info on paper or in cyberspace and anyone else who needs help would be greatly assisted if you are willing to share what you know.

Amy Wallace has published a horrifying expose on life inside the cult group operated by Carlos Castaneda. His set up utilized such discreet and skillful recruitment that he abused people for at least 25 years. Many of them cruelly abandoned their families, following his instructions. Because no info existed that Carlos was running a cult, many distraught families and friends had no resources to consult.

So if you feel willing to share what you know, you would be doing others a service. Its these very discreet long term groups that can do the worst damage to people.

Were you 'groomed' for recruitment? Certain esoteric groups will patiently cultivate a pool of potential recruits, often in the guise of friendship. Then, only after you reveal that you've become vulnerable (death of a parent, relationship breaks up,) will they begin to reel you in--they wait for precisely the time when you're disoriented and your usually street smarts and boundaries are not functioning.

Groups that recruit in this very patient, skilled manner can exist discreetly for years, under the radar.

Two, were they up front about fees? Did they prefer cash payments?

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: omnipolchc ()
Date: September 17, 2003 12:32AM

Just to clarify, I did not spend 13 years at the ranch. Most of the members live and work in the Los Angeles area (a few from outside of that,) but spend a significant amount of time at the ranch, either at the monthly "Pilgrimage" or doing "service" (a work meditation where the focus is to take something as ordinary and mundane such as weeding or cleaning rooms, and turning it into a sublime/spiritual experience.) Only a few, choosen people live at the ranch and these are devotees who have decided to pay the ranch (I think the amount is $1000-2000) per month for an entire year (or longer) in order to live there. They do not collect any wages, they are in silence, have no contact with their families or the world outside of Royal Way and do "service" for the ranch. These people have decided to do this, can afford to do it ... it is not a requirement. The leader stated that the reason that it costs money to do a "year of devotion" is because he "doesn't want losers." They have decided to do this for their own personal growth. They usually go to all the functions. In the beginning, you do very little: a retreat once per year and "class" once per week with Maggie (a longtime member.) If you've been in for a number of years, there are other things that you're told to participate in. These activities, you will be told, are all voluntary. But, a member that does not want to participate in them is treated as a "lesser" member. What I mean is that no one will outright say: "you must start attending this event," they are just given less respect and harassed about it. These are the activites, new ones are added frequently and special, short-term groups are frequently formed and dissolved (the group makes frequent changes): weekly: Male Collective / Feminine Force; "class"; service (at the ranch;) bi-monthly: study group (where you study the letters (teachings;) monthly: Pilgrimage; Doo-Dah (a monthly celebration); annually: Patron's Day (Michael's Birthday); Study Day (an entire day devoted to studying Michael's letter's - at the ranch.) There are many other events and groups, special projects, etc., depending on the individual.) A person can easily fill up all of their time doing required and special projects for the group; the more you want to do, the more they will give you. Members are constantly encouraged, no matter how much they are doing, to do more. It becomes your entire life. But, people are brought in very slowly, and many people will either have to change their "thinking," become more devoted, or leave. The more people do, the more they are praised and told that they are "changing" and "growing." But, I would question that. The problem is, since members are also frequently confronted by others, or confronting themselves, in "class" - where they work on changing behaviors in an attempt to improve their lives, their self perception gets skewed. To hear that you are actually doing well, and "doing good work" on yourself becomes a great satisfaction.

The members of Royal Way are mostly affluent, have nice homes, drive nice cars, have alot of extra time to devote to Royal Way projects. Most of them are genuinely nice people, but many of them do not think for themselves ... they can be persuaded on how to think and form opinions prematurely and ignorantly (without knowing the whole story.) Not all members are wealthy, however, or even well-off. Some are in the middle and a few, like myself, lived a very modest life in order to be involved in Royal Way. Most of the activities in Royal Way are free, you only devoted your time. The exceptions were: class (which - at the time of my involvement, 5 years ago) costs $125/month (we met weekly for 3-4 hours) and monthly Pilgrimage which I think cost $300.00/month (for @1 day of silence and 1 day with Michael.) Other expenses, we are told, are mandatory: people are frequently collecting money for miscellaneous things like providing food and drinks to events, many gifts/donations (to Royal Way) for members, and "donation" for a Patron's Party gift which could easily excede $3000.00 or more, many of the affluent people donate alot more than that ... they are expected to. It is relatively easy to spend at least $600.00/month plus.

The Royal Way group has been around since the sixties. Originally, the leader, a psychiatrist, did therapy in the Santa Monica/West Los Angeles area. The group used to be called "Jacumba" named after the first retreat, in the late 1960's, which took place on Mt. Jacumba in California. The leader had a mystical experience during the retreat and named the newly formed group "Jacumba" in honor of his experience. I do not know the details, I was not involved at that time. Gradually, the group, which started as a type of psychotherapy group. About seven to ten years ago, the leader announced that he was changing the name to "Royal Way." In his discourse, he said (among other things) that a person can only be born into "Royalty." Then he divulged that he was "royalty", specifically he was a direct descendant of King David on both sides of his family (which, incidently is the definition of the Messiah, but he did not claim to be the Messiah ... just the definition of it.) He told the group that through their connection with him, they could be come "royalty" - or "one cut above." Everyone was excited about this announcement and hence, the name change. Other things changed, too. Probably too numerous to mention.

All of the recruitment is done by the members. Some of the members actually recruit alot and others recruit very little or none. Some of the members hate "sharing the weekend" and others love it. But, all members are expected to bring in recruits, and if you don't it is because you are "spiritually ill." The inability to share the teacher successfully, is considered tantamount to a spiritual affliction and flaw. The leader has stated that he is not interested in numbers, he wants devotees. Royal Way needs it's people to work and live in the real world because this is how it recruits it's members. I was approached by someone who, although I told this person that I couldn't afford to go on the first retreat, kept coming back, over and over, until I agreed to withdraw money from my inheritance account and go. I was told things like: "money should never be the reason for you to deny yourself this experience," "I can see that you are looking for more in your life." I felt that this person cared about me alot and that is what really pivoted me to go. The Retreat was meaningful. I felt elated when I left and wanted more.

All of the teachings of Royal Way branch off of it's main teaching, which is "surrender of the ego." Only through surrender of the ego will the pupil understand the other teachings and have the chance to become a disciple and then a devotee. Only through "surrender" will the pupil know freedom and be able to grow. "Surrender" means letting go of all of your thoughts, attitudes, judgements, etc., emptying your mind, and opening your heart to Michael's energy. Of course, the teaching is not presented that way, right off from the beginning ... otherwise new comers would freak out. It done gradually, over the course of several years. In many cases, you don't even know that it's happening. The problem is, what is taught directly (through the teachings) and what is taught indirectly (through behavior modification) contradict each other.

I left the group because, as I started to be involved in things and people who were outside of the group, everything became more and more transparent ... until I was unable to function in the group without feeling like I was putting on a big act. I felt that I had no other way to go but out. They knew I was leaving before I left ... they could see that my interest and enthusiasm has gone and I was no longer interested. Leaving the group was very difficult, probably the most difficult thing I have ever done ... I felt as if my heart was being ripped out, it was extremely hard. Since I left the group, I have felt empty, restless, distrustful, and paranoid. I still feel as if I am "bad" and did something wrong by leaving. I feel an incredible amount of guilt, just sending this message. I have been out of the group for five years, but I still dream about them every single night. It is not my intention to slander or exagerrate the facts or make untrue accusations that are based on taking things out of their context.

Incidently, since you asked about my family and friends, my sister told me recently, that she was concerned about me so she called the Cult Awareness Hotline. The woman she spoke to told her that this group is a harmless psychotherapy group ... and that she should not be concerned. Yes, they used to be a psychotherapy group ... but they have evolved and changed. The rest of my family still did not notice that I moved to California (ie, we're not so close.) The few friends that I had were out of state. I was told to choose between them and Michael, so I chose Michael and never spoke to them again.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 17, 2003 02:32AM

It appears you were recruited in a highly skillful manner. Thats scary.

1) Identify the issues in your life right at the time you were recruited. Recruitment usually succeeds when it coincides with a period of vulnerability. Feelings you put on hold as your involvment deepened may come back now that you no longer have the distraction of the group

2) The hardest thing to give up is that shared sense of intensity, purpose, having soul mates, having a group of friends who shared that intensity and those values--perhaps even the shared sense of anxiety about following the rules was a source of bondign and purpose. Combat veterans suffer horribly in war, but often admit that when they return home, they miss the intensity of the battlefield and ordinary civilian life seems 'flat' and most civilians seem shallow, lacking the discipline of their brothers in arms. One veteran who returned for a second tour of combat duty in Vietnam told an army physician, 'Everything I do as a soldier is important. The way I tie my bootlaces can make the difference between surviving a patrol or getting killed because I trip on a dangling boot lace. But back home, everything felt so petty, so trivial. No one understood what it was like over here. And the ones who wanted to hear war stories had bad attitudes about it. I got so lonely that I signed on for a second tour of duty.'

So, you may be like that young soldier. You were in a game of marked cards that only Michael can win. But that game had an intensity, and it must have matched some of your deepest hopes and dreams, despite it being an ultimately unwinnable game.

You'll have to figure out what Buddhists call 'your deepest intention' and discover how to be faithful to that in daily life--and find a way to restore life outside the group to its full savor. That will take time, but unlike the Royal Way, its a game you can win.

You did not fail. You were recruited, and quite skillfully, by someone who abused friendship by turning you into an object to be manipulated. You did not fail. You were in good faith. Anyone who perverts friendship into a recruitment venue is the real loser.

These 'under the radar' groups that begin with psychotherapy or as esoteric communities usually do not attract a lot of attention, precisely because they recruit in an ultra-discreet manner and do so with tremendous patience--its a lot like being covertly recruited into an espionage operation. Because they are discreet they can go on for decades. Finding a sucessor for Michael will be a helluva challenge.

In Rick's archives there is an article about a group similar to yours that is still mooching along in Berekeley California. If you go here


you can read it. The leader was not himself a therapist, but attracted many disciples who were therapists and they equated psychotherapy with spirituality and recruited their patients into the group.

We are learning that Carlos Castaneda operated a very hurtful under-the-radar cult that went on for at least 15 years. Amy Wallace has written a remarkable expose in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In some way's she remains enthralled by Castaneda, despite being able to describe his selfishness and cruelty. But she documents the after effects when a long lasting covert cult suddenly crumbles upon the death of its leader and the confusion felt by its bereft members.

I met someone who had been in the Berekely group for 10 years and was kicked out for asking too many questions. In some ways, she was more fortunate than other former members. She had a group of friends who were ex-members, who had been booted out earlier than she did,and she'd defied the rules and secretly stayed in contact with them. But even though she had a support group to turn to, she told me she was still devastated after she was kicked out. She had clinical depression and her health went to pieces. She finally found a spiritual practice that worked for her, but was still on edge after all she'd been through.

There are some other things you can read that might help

1) Go to [] --he is a psychiatrist, and a practitioner of Sufism and Zen. His articles are highly readable and will help you evaluate the dogma of the group. I especially recommend that you go to the section on 'cults' and read 'Evaluating Spiriutal and Utopian Groups' Deikman's book The Observing Self is great. As far as he and others argue, the ego is not the enemy. You need a healthy ego to function and anyone who tells you the ego is the enemy and that it and critical thinking must be surrendered is teaching you a toxic doctrine.

2) [] has a terrific collection of articles on his website.

3) Len Oakes, a clinical psychologist has a most helpful book,
Prophetic Charisma, which analyses the inner landscape of these charismatic types and how, very often they are highly narcissistic people and conceal defective personal development through use of sophisticated social skills and manipulativeness. If you read this you will probably begin to see how Michael manipulated you.

There appear to be many of these groups--they are hold overs from the 60s and 70s--a heyday for smooth tongued self promoters. A psychotherapist who develops delusions of grandeur and who conflates the roles of therapist and guru is quite dangerous, because he gets automatic access to vulnerable people, has the ability to persuade and manipulate and a credential that confers legitimacy and deflects criticism.

Enlightenment seems to be a highly energized complex of mind and emotion. But it does not render people infallible. It can even inflame a pre-existing grandiosity and make a person even more grandiose than before. Sylvia Boorstein, a Buddhist and a psychotherapist has written that even valid enlightenment can only be lived out at a level tied to the persons current psycho-sexual development; its filtered through the medium of human personality and any pre-existing neuroses and hang ups.

In the 60s and 70s, many people assumed that a few 'peak experiences' or 'becoming enlightened' would be enough to transform a person into something infallible. That simply is not true, but it appears Michael capitalized on it and has been charismatic enough to persuade people to link their hopes and dreams to worshipping him.

For some perspective on enlightement, in the Zen tradition, even enlightenment did not qualify someone to teach. If someone became enlightened, he often had a teacher to help him integrate his newfound understanding into all areas of life. Very often such a person would visit different teachers at various monasteries to be tested. It was also not unheard of for a monk to leave a monastery for a time and live as a beggar or engage in some lowly occupation to test his enlightenment against the rough and tumble of every day life.

In the genuine Zen and Tibetan traditions, it was understood that a person could become enlightened and also deluded. It required years of 'post-enlightenment' practice, done under the scrutiny of one's monastic community before a Zen master would formally credential the person to function as a Master in turn.

This is completely different from what Michael and so many 'insta-enlightened' teachers do today. But, in his group, you guys were only give his side of the story--which went to enhance his mystique at all costs.

THis may not be true, but I wonder, reading between the lines, whether Michael got some of his ideas from Gurdjieff work. He claims to be 'descended from King David' but his secrecy, the work meditations, the self confrontation, etc are all things he could have learned about by reading up on Gurdjieff. A lot of crooks and con artists have designed their own groups by swiping ideas from Gurdjieff. A lot of gurdjieff groups (especially the bogus ones) make a fetish out of secrecy, leaders prefer payments in cash, do all they can to avoid leaving a paper trail, and generate endless activities to keep people occupied. You often end up with no life outside the group.

Please take care of yourself. You did not fail. Follow a good diet. Exercise. Beware of over using drugs, alcohol or activity as a way to distance yourself from painful emotions.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: revclaire ()
Date: September 17, 2003 08:43PM

my favorite book is written by Steve Hassen and his website is [www.] because he explains his own personal experience and talks about recovery from exactly what you are feeling. It's a simple book . Not long to read and it will not over tax your mind. I believe you are a lucky person to have gotten out. The emptiness I believe can and will be filled up by God the God that lives inside your heart if you allow him in. We are all empty without a good spiritual life and it has nothing to do with groups. we have a spirit and it is the core of our being and we can heal and restore our minds and body from the spirit and it's free. It also doesn't require you to even be able to read or write and it doesn't require alot of knowledge just a willing heart and a prayer to God to "Please God if you are there have mercy on me and show me the way" bingo! that's the beginning and it's to be nurtured from there. IT's a personal relationship with God . You and God ..time alone to sit and listen. In a room , at the ocean, at a park wherever you feel you can be still and listen to his voice inside your heart speak to you. We are all created unique with a divine purpose/destiny by God and we can only get the map through sitting still and listening. the more we do it the more we programming of man..alone..clearing out our minds and being still in spirit..I hope you will read Steve's book for the beginning of healing..he may have spiritual tips on how to get a new spiritual life..alone with God. I don't know. He may. He was a very spiritual man when taken into the cult and I imagine he has a good spiritual life now autonomously. I will pray for you and believe that it's time for you to be released of all the bondage of your past including this group and in the Bible it says that God came to set the captives FREE..and there isn't a chain that cannot be broken by God and he can renew your mind body and spirit..slowly and perfectly for you. He knows how to do it. Man does not and never will. He's the creator and nobody knows you like he does. He loves you and all people and he's just waiting for you to reach up and grab his hand and you will find the true path if you believe and spend the time alone with HIm. It's simple, you can write on paper all of your worries, concerns, etc. and feelings of guilt etc. and ask God to take care of it and then wait and see. When you go back to your paper after a couple of can write daily..then review..that's how you will see yourself if there is a God and if he is working on behalf of you...if you write and surrender you will see how things are resolved and it will be so different from using your power. Try it and see..It's personal..and nobody needs to see the paper except you and God..period..nobody..let God into your heart and into your life and use the paper so you can see him doing the supernatural in your groups, no teachings, just God and you...that's where it starts and from there God leads people to a bible? a spiritual meditation book? who knows? but it starts with a surrender to him on paper..personal and letting Him work on your behalf and that includes being released from the bondage of what this group put in owe them nothing and I believe it was God who got you out. He helps us and knows what we need even before we ask or get to know him. He is all that is important. to please God not man..Not easy..people pleasing is a sickness and it's slavery. I'd rather be a slave to God and be the person I was created to be than to be in bondage always trying to please people when nothing will ever be good enough and yet right where anyone is right matter what condition..we are all just perfect for God..he loves us in any condition and we are all that crap in groups..he loves us now and waits for us to grab onto him for freedom..the real freedom that can only come through him and a personal relationship with the Coke commercial would say
"it's the REAL THING"

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: omnipolchc ()
Date: September 17, 2003 11:15PM

Corboy and Revclaire, thank you for your kind and thoughtful responses to my message. It is a great blessing to have this website/message board and you.

At the time of my recruitment, I was particularly vulnerable. And, Royal Way did fill that ... it gave me everything I needed. I felt accepted, loved, important, and cared about. Prior to, my life was bereft. It's reassuring to know that I can change this and start finding a way how to.

I don't know if Michael was "insta-enlightened" as you say, or enlightened over a long period of time. Very little is known about him, as a man. Questions about his personal history and credentials were never answered and strongly discouraged. The reason these questions were discouraged is because it was considered irrelevant. Wanting to understand or know about "Michael, the man," would take from one's connection to and deep knowing of "Michael, the master/teacher" and was tantamount to competing with the teacher ... a big no no. So, needless to say, I don't know what his life has been, who he was and even if "Michael" is his real name ... I know next to nothing and was not a part of the elite membership (nor did I want to be) that may have been privy to this.

There has been some mention of Gurdjieff in the letters and teachings. Although I don't remeber specifics. One thing is for sure, that Gurdjieff was an influence. But, Michael incorporated many other sources, persons, other teachers and spiritual leaders, poets, philosophers into his teachings. He did not attempt to hide his sources or not give them credit and frequently stated that many of the things that he says have already been said by others. The main thing was not what was said, but the energy of his transmitting the teaching to us. He stated that he could and would use every means and source possible, to teach us ... that he could not "not teach."

As far as payments .... I have never been asked to pay in cash, or felt pressure to pay cash. Sometimes I paid cash anyway, which was accepted of course. But, payment on time is very very important. It is communicated very clearly, how much and when to pay, who's collecting the money, etc. and nobody messes with it (well, maybe once, but not again.)

Thanks again for the wealth of help. I will definately explore the sources you have mentioned.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 18, 2003 01:43AM

Reading Prophetic Charisma by Len Oakes will probably help you make sense of all this and dispell a lot of the mystique.

Sounds like Michael gave you all 'hits of energy' to attract even more energy from you as a group. Its interesting how you mention that the energy behind the teaching was more important than content.

This very long URL will take you to an article on a Google discussion group. Its about how people got addicted to energy surges produced by a particular yoga cult. The ability to foster energy or an intense atmosphere is a neutral skill and can be learned even by charlatans. The ability to foster intensity does not prove that someone is enlightened. But few know this.


I am convinced that when someone is charismatic and mysterious, he or she is using it to hide some major deficit in being an ordinary human being. People who feel secure dont need to be charismatic.

Living the kind of cloak-and-dagger existence Michael lives, is a sign of a frightened person playing smoke-and-mirrors games.

Michael may have started out with clinical credentials and therapeutic training, but he lacked the attitude needed to be a true professional. The nature of professionalism is to honor privacy without being secretive.

Professionals stay connected--they need a network of colleagues, continuing education. Isolation runs counter to professionalism--to be a professional is to be a member of a community.

A professional also makes it clear who his or her teachers are, and is happy to produce up to date credentials.

A professional, in short, does not hide.

Our Zen Center library has a list of clues that a person is becoming more conscious:

Two of them are:

An increasingly clear understanding of the difference between privacy vs secrecy.

Choosing to refuse participation in the roles of dominance/submission on offer in various theaters of cruelty

Professionals and genuine spiritual teachers honor and protect privacy--but they are not secretive. They particpate in the free exchange of & testing of ideas (science + scholarship) and secrecy kills both science and scholarship.

There are also two kinds of power:

Power that is enhanced by sharing it so that as many people as possible are empowered (More people you can play with on equal and enjoyable terms!)

Power that remains potent only by being kept secret, and in the hands of one or just a few people. This breeds hierarchies and perpetuates 'various theaters of cruelty'.

Michael's preference for secrecy is a sign that he was, despite his training as a therapist, not a professional but in essence on a narcissistic career. It takes a huge amount of energy to live in a secretive manner--energy no longer available to just be human. And a fetish for secrecy would sabotage genuine enlightenment anyway. Even if Michael was enlightened, his secretive cultmeister lifestyle would have dissipated that enlightenment very quickly.

Amy Wallace notes that people were forbidden to ask questions in Carlos Castaneda's group. If you are forbidden to ask questions, you must anxiously monitor the leader for cues. That means your energy is powerfully focused on the leader --and away from your own inner wisdom. Leaders can get addicted to attention, like vampires. So if someone forbids you to ask questions (like who are you, did you serve time in jail, did you study with other teachers?) that's a power play, right there.

(It would be interesting to know whether Michael did serve time in a penal institution--it might account for hiding his name and his determination to avoid leaving a paper trail)

Damned interesting that Michael got some of his material from Gurdjieff work--Gurdy's ideas (and his entire career) have been a rich quarry for many, many crooks. Gurdjieff fostered a very unhealthy atmosphere of secrecy, mystique, made huge claims to authority, yet his material could not be fact checked. He even claimed that humans were so dense that the only way to convey the truth to them was through lies. He created an atmosphere that has been disastrously attractive to hustlers and crooks.

This site is for people who have been members of another 'under-the-radar' group. It may have similarities to yours and the sidebar articles are superb.


There are two other bogus groups, the Sharon Gans group and Renaissance. Rick Ross's archives have a ton of material. You may get some validation by reading through it, though you may shudder, too. Its possible Michael got some of his ideas by associating with these people.

The atmosphere of shared intensity and the comraderie of belonging to a seemingly noble project are hard to walk away from. Ordinary 'civilian' life can seem flat and dull by comparison. I felt that way after leaving a borderline cultic sector of the peace movement.

And if some of Michael's material derived from Gurdjieff work, you may have been told that the group was your only shot at waking up, that people not 'in the work' were just robots or 'meat-machines' and if you leave, you'll just be settling for a animal level existence.

The tough thing is that all the emotions that made us vulnerable to recruitment, may be waiting for us, unresolved when we leave, which can double our sense of failure and tempt us to believe that we made a bad decision to leave, because we seem to feel so very much worse after leaving.

You're not deteriorating, even it it feels that way. A frostbitten limb doesnt feel pain. But when circulation first returns and that limb is in the early stages of healing, the pain is tremendous and its tempting to think, 'God, I was better off being frostbitten'.

Early recovery can feel like total regression and flunk out. Its very important to stay steady and not panic. You'll eventually ride this out and stabilize.

If you like, there is a very old fashioned book that I have found helpful in my Zen practice. It links body and body work with awareness pratice and gives precise instructions on how to tell you're waking up. The title is Hara: The Vital Centre of Man by Karlfried Graf von Durckheim.

Its out of print and you may need to go to a main library and request it from storage. Even people in Gurdjieff work use this book as a resource (and probably find it a relief because the author writes lucidly and was evidently a kindly, non manipulative person who was crystal clear on where his material came from--no mystique or mumbo jumbo)

Durckheim's material was high quality. He never became fashionable, his books went out of print in the US quite quickly, and its possible that a lot of spiritual teachers have appropriated his material without giving him credit.

Most cults incorporate excellent material along with the crud. Using Durckheim, you can identify the good material and jettison the cultic crud. Deikman's articles will help too.

Durckheim wrote another book The Japanese Cult of Tranquillity (best to read the Hara book first) and he says that what the Japanese sought to learn from various masters of martial arts, fine arts, and Zen practice was, how to return to stillness--an inner core of personal truth that was alive and vibrant but ran deeper than language. You did not get addicted to a teacher's energy; you worked with that teacher to discover your own energy, connect with your own capacity for stillness.

Its significant that the Japanese masters all served to transmit a tradition--they were not isolated, secretive or self aggrandizing.

Dave Lowry, an American master of Japanese martial arts has a collection of essays entitled Moving toward Stillness. Its an easier book to find than Durckheims. In it he describes how he treasured opportunities to practice with different masters--that even to be thrown in aikido by one master was an opportunity to feel the man's energy.

Lowry's teachers never fostered mystique or adulation. And they all served a lineage that could be verified, they were all part of a pedigree that could be traced. And their skill was something to be developed and passed on to the next generation, not something to be hoarded.

If you read Lowry's essays, you'll see how far short Michael falls when compared with a mature and genuine tradition of awakening.

If you are not currently in a partnered relationship, be careful if you're dating. Leaving a cult is like a heavy divorce and you can be 'on the rebound' without realizing it.

After realizing how I had been manipulated, it took me about 4 years before I get get a stable understanding of how it all happened. Only after I was clear on how and in what way I'd been manipulated, was I able to begin looking at my blindspots without takng all the blame for what happened.

If at some point you are considering therapy, only work with a therapist who has had training in working with persons in cults. You were in a secretive, 'under-the-radar' esoteric group, which is a different kind of cult experience from the kind suffered by those in groups that are well know for obnoxious recruitment drives.

There's a ton of information and support groups for persons who are recovering from well known cults; because these discreet groups are smaller, have fewer members and garner less publicity, there's much less validating info available for someone who has crawled from the wreckage.

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Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael - Need Info
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 18, 2003 01:44AM

If you are looking for a therapist

There was a psychiatrist at UCLA school of medicine, Louis Jolyon West, who was a cult expert. He died a few years back. If you ever think you need referral to a therapist, you might phone the psychiatry department at the school of medicine, ask who on staff is continuing Dr West's work, and then say, 'I need a list of therapists who have been trained to counsel cult survivors and I especially need a therapist who understands the issues that come up if one has been a long time member of a cult that functions as a secretive group, recruits selectively, and that avoids publicity.'

Only after you sort out exactly how you were manipulated during recruitment and in the group, only after you've sorted all that out and regained your ability to trust reality are you ready to examine personal factors that made you vulnerable to recruitment. Too many people who have been burned in cults lose time in therapy because the shrink focuses on early childhood trauma and ignores the cult issues entirely.

A therapist who has experience counseling people who have been burned by bogus Gurdjieff groups and psychotherapy cults may be the best one to work with you.

Finally, be cautious if you think you want to tell your story to a reporter. Only work with someone who has past experience with this kind of material. See if the reporter (often a freelance writer) has a good reputation or has pissed people off by misquoting them.

Anything you give a writer or reporter, including e-mail, becomes their property. If you are interviewed, you cannot ask an editor to quote the interview back to you--make a tape yourself.

Best of all, do research on how to keep from getting burned. A reporter, can with good intentions, condense, paraphrase, or quote you alongside other people in a way that can make your material sound quite different than what you intended.

Just by posting your material, you have done a service. Jeff, the original poster, had scoured the web and found zilch on the group. Thanks to what you have done, something is now available for others who need the information.

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