Re: human awareness institute
Date: August 27, 2009 04:31AM
I can only share out of my own experience of HAI. And that's exactly what I did in my analysis of HAI , in the context of its possible cultish characteristics. I fully admit that I was not omnipresent in HAI, and there may well have been things going on that I wasn't aware of. My perspective, as I shared it, was based only on what I saw happening; and I believe that in twenty years of connection with the HAI community, I have been pretty cognizant of most of what was going on—but certainly not all. When people say that they suffered from mistreatment by HAI folks, I can't dispute their statements out of my own experience. But I personally saw nothing like that happening.
Some believe that Stan was “exalted” by some in HAI. Again, I believe that they observed what they claim to have observed. But I have not observed anything like this. On the contrary, I have seen Stan's opinion disputed more than once, with no repercussions whatsoever. And I have seen Stan in his cow suit, complete with udders, happily making a fool of himself tin Saturday night entertainment at several workshops. Ever seen Stalin in a cow suit?
Some people believe that he was too intensely revered. And it's certainly true that he was highly respected--by me, among others. But I have to insist that much of what I've read about Stan in this Forum, I didn't observe. And *I* certainly never exalted him, or granted him any degree of sainthood whatsoever. He could be intense and irascible! But then I think that I observe similar qualities among some people who post here.
I was never involved in the decision-making process at HAI, as it related to policy outside the intern body; so I can't speak out of my own knowledge about how Stan may have illegitimately influenced that process. It appears that some who had direct acquaintance with that process didn't like what they saw. I have no basis for disputing what they report. Behind the scenes, it may very well have been the case that Stan behaved in a dictatorial manner. But I never saw it happen. He could, however, express his opinions with some intensity; yet I never personally saw his opinion imposed as policy over vigorous objection—which is not to say that it never was. Some people report that Stan exerted undue influence on the formulation of the intern agreements—agreements that govern how long interns must wait before trying to initiate dates with new participants. I was present throughout the twenty-four hour process of formulating those agreements, and such influence escaped my notice entirely. (Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention.) But I have the greatest possible pride in HAI's motivation behind developing those intern agreements. HAI has a sophisticated awareness of the possibility of “transference” , a psychological process endemic to cults and to Large Group Awareness Trainings and to formal psychotherapy, by which participants may develop intense emotional attachments to the “presenters” and their assistants. HAI has a very strong intention to minimize the effects of such transference, and the intern agreements are a means of carrying out that intention—a largely effective means, I believe. Have the intern agreements always worked perfectly to accomplish that purpose? Probably not. Have participant complaints always been resolved in a way satisfactory to the complainant? Obviously not, judging by some postings on this forum. But at least we've tried, and are trying, very hard.
I think that a balanced view, as it has been expressed to me, is that "the workshops can do great things for some people, little for others, and [be] quite painful and damaging to a few". That's probably correct. My only cavil is that I'd say "can do great things for *many* people". I happen to be one of the people whose experience of the workshops has been uniformly psychologically liberating. In order to be fair in my evaluation of HAI, however, I'd really like to find out more about workshop events that have proved "quite painful and damaging" to others. I recognize that people who post here don't know me, and so almost certainly wouldn't feel comfortable sharing with me their unpleasant experiences. But I would really like to hear "the other side", from some fair-minded person. I've read quite a few of the postings on this Forum, and frankly, they all seem to fall into a few categories: postings by people who have no direct experience of the workshops but feel that they can't possibly be as great as we enthusiasts say they are, people who feel that they have been psychologically damaged by the workshops but don't describe the damage or the events that caused it, and people who are culturally conservative and are deeply offended by the workshops' recommendation of nudity and their tolerance (not advocacy!) of responsible non-monogamy and homosexuality. If anyone can propose another category, I'd be interested in finding out about it.
I have no desire to debate with anyone about anything. I personally have received so much benefit from the workshops that no one could possibly convince me that they are anything worse than an imperfect embodiment of some really good and important ideas, promulgated by an imperfect but very insightful, very decent group of facilitators. But I am certainly open to receive contrary reports.I'll just present my point of view, ask for contrary specific information, take my lumps on the Forum if I get any; and if I feel that the forum is not a fair venue for the presentation of my point of view, I'll just "unregister".
Am I an “apologist” for HAI? You'll have to judge that for yourself. I see myself as someone who has derived great personal benefit both from my times as a participant in HAI workshops, and as an intern providing logistical support at HAI workshops—someone who wants to share his perspective about an organization that, while not perfect, passes his own tests as meaning well, striving to improve itself, and doing some good work in the world. But HAI, as an organization, is a human organization. Its facilators, its interns, and its participants are all human beings, none of whom are free of all egocentricity. But I don't believe in letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.