Re: Royal Way/Jacumba/Ranch/Michael Gottlieb
Date: October 24, 2009 12:21AM
I was in RW for a couple of years. I went through the three weekend retreats and also attended the weekly classes for most of that year, then I stopped going to class. However, I got a lot out of it and encouraged my wife to go which she did. We both went to the pilgrimages for a year.
There was plenty to like about it and it was spiritually satisfying. But after that first year of pilgrimages, it became quite clear that to ‘get the most out of it’ I’d have to participate much more - In the weekly classes, the different events, the men’s group, do service days, etc. I just wasn’t willing to give it so much time and money so I left RW.
I think if you’re a person with a mind of your own, you can take lots of good things from it. But if you’re easily influenced and buy into the concept that RW is a way of life and start thinking that Michael is an incarnation of Buddha, Jesus or whomever, you’re might lose more than you gain.
So while I saw others bend to the group pressures to commit more and more time and money, I knew what I was getting and what I was willing to give. I left when it was my time to move on.
I saw many people who had the same neurotic issues never get over them. To me, the point of something like RW is to learn and bring that learning into your life, your world. But for many in RW, there is a sheltering aspect that takes them away from family and friends who aren’t part of RW and their personal issues never resolve; they just revolve – go round and round.
One time in class, a man was conflicted because his uncle’s funeral was the same weekend as his pilgrimage. Even though he wasn’t close to the uncle, his mother wanted him to attend. But the class was very upset with him for considering going to the funeral instead of his pilgrimage. They told him that he had to take care of himself, that his growth was the most important thing. They rode him really hard. I was pretty new to it and all the while this is going on I’m thinking to myself, “don’t give in, come on man, have some balls. Respect your family. Be a man.” But he gave in. It seemed to me that the opportunity was to take what he learned from RW and bring it to the funeral.
This did not keep me from continuing because, as I said, I was getting something from all of this and anyway, these class dynamics were pretty intriguing.
At one pilgrimage a there was this guy who was madly in love (or lust, I think) with a woman. They didn’t know each other very long but were living together - the woman wasn’t sure she wanted to continue with the guy unless he committed to her on a deeper level and she was thinking of moving out. Fair enough. They asked Michael to arbitrate and he told them to move into separate houses for 3 or 4 months, stop having sex and then get married and live together. They said that it seemed so quick and how could they plan a good wedding and it might be problematic for their families but Michael insisted and they agreed. It was completely off the wall.
A guy was obsessed with his body fat. He worked out all the time and for him, it was defining. Michael told him to stop working out and gain a bunch of weight. I think it was about 25 pounds or something. I could understand the lesson. Another time, Michael told this good looking Persian guy that if he had a beard he’d look like Gabby Hayes, the cowboy actor from the 50s. He told the guy to grow a beard. Of course, this guy didn’t know who Gabby was but he grew the beard he looked pretty bad. I couldn’t figure out why Michael had him do this other than it made a handsome man look not handsome. The guy was a nice guy and didn’t seem to be on a big ego trip to me, but perhaps the idea was that this would humble him in some way. Or as some in this forum might believe, make him submissive.
Another time, there was a celebration and Michael invited everyone to have a sip of vodka or scotch. A woman said she didn’t want to drink because she was a recovering alcoholic. But he said it didn’t matter, she should do it.
Homosexuality. It took well over a year before I started to hear about this. It is taught that it is a perversion. Michael acknowledges that some people are born that way. He doesn’t absolutely subscribe to the idea that a gay person is gay by choice or can become heterosexual. Rather, he says gays should stop having sex. But he encourages the idea that deeply felt het sex is important. Too bad for gay people. RW is not a good place for gays. It was part of the reason I stopped. I couldn’t bring my gay friends.
Many of the members believe he is an incarnation of Buddha and even though he never says he is, there is an implication. Well, that’s up to each person to decide.
I’ve often wondered why so many Persians make up the RW community. I know it as a close knit community, so family members and close friends are encouraged to join. But still, what is the huge draw? Here’s a theory; when one grows up in the middle east, it is growing up in the land of Jesus, Mohammed, the desert, madmen and mystics. You were raised on the teachings of these masters but the teachings have been perverted and politicized. And now, one comes to America, and here is Michael, a claimed descendant of King David and by association a relative of Jesus, and one thinks, “I am in the hands of God’s messenger” .. And than you look at the giant sculpture of Michael’s hands in one of the garden’s and, gosh, wow. And it is ancient, in the DNA, it is in the blood, the history and it is the lost glory of that part of the world. Well, it’s just a thought. Maybe it’s just as simple as one guy went and told all his friends and that's how it started.
I read a post here about a boy who’s parents have been so involved in RW that he felt very alone and ignored. Yes, I can see how that could happen. I would tell those parents – if you haven’t learned how to give your son as much love as you do to Michael RW, you’ve not learned much that is worthwhile.
My first spiritual experience occurred when I read the Autobiography of a Yogi at a young age. .It turned m e on to a whole new way of thinking. Then I read other great books and became involved in various spiritual pursuits. So I’ve been around the block so to speak. I’ve seen people fall in love with leaders and take their word as if it were God speaking through them. But over the course of my life, I’ve also recognized the similarity of spiritual teachings and never become too attached to any one teacher. I believe that I am also my best teacher because a basic concept in most teachings is that the ‘truth resides inside of each of us’. And I believe this.
Like I said, I got a lot out of RW. So many of the things we did in retreat or pilgrimage were exciting, inventive, creative, fun, enlightening, inspiring, uplifting, educational and spiritually valuable. So the thing is, if you have some background in spiritual teachings, and you’ve been around the block, and you have a strong sense of self, it’s a good experience.
Would I call this a dangerous cult? Obviously, according to some in this forum, it is. The most bothersome I've read here are the stories about sex - I've not heard that but I do know a former member who told me something very disturbing happened to them and when they said it, I got the impression it was sexual. But I don't know first hand. But from what I saw, there’s no violence. You can leave whenever you want. No one hounded me. No one called me up when I quit and gave me grief. Is it perfect? There is no perfect. Do I condemn RW? No. I even sent a close friend of mine there after I’d been out of it for over a year. But my friend has his own mind so I wasn’t worried. And he was fine. Have people been hurt by RW? Oh yes, I’m sure. Have people been helped by RW? Yes, I’m sure of that, too. Would I shut down RW? Before I’d shut down RW I’d ban Rush Limbaugh from the airways and call being born again a crime against nature. But that’s just my opinion.