Re: Bayard Hora/Gavin Barnes
Date: August 27, 2008 03:04AM
For a short story I'm writing, of which my time at Bayard Hora & Associates is but one part, I tried to remember more specifics of my experiences there. Can anyone comment or add more? Thanks.
The next morning we gathered at 10 AM in the Course Room, which was behind the hall room we’d been in the previous evening for registration. Bayard sat on a dais, a small table beside him bearing a bottle of Evian water and a flower in a vase, and talked about what we should expect in the next twelve hours. Then the course actually began.
I wish I could give you a dramatic narrative of my experience there. The fact is, though, that all I recall are isolated impressions. I’ve long speculated on the reasons why I don’t recall many specifics. I think the experience likely became early on a prolonged trauma, which my mind has repressed. Furthermore, the ongoing intensity in the group was of an exponential level in comparison with "normal" experience, a level which does not yield a linear, temporal sequence of memories. It all feels "piled up" inside me.
There were frequent “milling exercises”, where we walked around and then made eye contact with someone and worked with him or her for a certain sequence of communications. There were other exercises for which Bayard called someone up to the dais and worked individually with the person.
My initial lift began to wear off quickly, and was replaced by a sense of fear, as the exercises revealed a confrontational character. The Course was also, I soon learned, one of the notorious ones whose volunteers and staff did not let participants leave. Doors were locked and even bathroom privileges were hard to come by. One man who felt very threatened begged to leave, and a great commotion arose as the “lieutenants” and he scuffled physically. He was finally allowed to go, but without even a partial refund.
The initial Course was advertised as a life-panacea, until you had taken it, at which time it was re-imaged by Bayard and his cohorts as the “first step” in a sequence, completely insufficient by itself and a mere prelude to the truly powerful, 3-day Intensive.
So I took the Intensive, too, at a camp in the Poconos a few weeks later. Somehow I was motivated, although my experience in the first course was scarcely uplifting, not only to sign up for the Intensive, but to become a volunteer in the Course offices 5 mornings a week! I believed the promises about transformation, and decided I would do anything, and spend as much money as I could get my hands on, for the results promised. Once they started coming through, the money spent would be a drop in the bucket.
I didn’t fare any better, as far as experienced transformation, in the Intensive than I had in the initial Course. One time I walked out of the hall in the rain, intending to quit, for the process seemed to result in an endless humiliation for me. But I wasn’t even successful in quitting, and I wound up signing up for yet more future offerings. (And they were several hundred dollars each! The Intensive may have cost close to a thousand!)
It is hard to find the actual motivation of this character—and I was him! I think my fervor was due to a great sense of inner need, and a sense of shame at any prospective failure.
And I wanted the things of the world that were being promised. Not a shiny new car, not sexy women, per se, not money in the bank—none of those crass things, but rather, “things” that seemed much more benign: things like "empowerment" and "the capacity to get results“.
Bayard had a Director of Vision Realization. Could I maybe just sit down with her? Could she just feed my information into the one of the computers everyone at the office worked on, and come up with, well, my vision, realized?
No, it was not that simple. One had to be outrageously proactive--aggressive. The inner circle of Bayard’s associates, when I saw the way they behaved in the offices on non-course days, shocked me! What I perceived as full-out temper tantrums were approved, even encouraged behavior. I would want to run for cover when a “prince” or “princess” of the inner circle let go with a load of rage about not receiving the materials for a pre-course facial treatment in time, or something.
Things happened that decidedly tried my trust and plunged me into a crisis of values. For example, in one of the courses, a good-looking, charismatic young man who was one of the “darlings” of the group came up to me and said in what seemed a guileless and disarming voice, “Hey, why don’t you be in the ‘fighting’ Course with me?” I was touched that he wanted my company, and on that basis of that, went over to the Registration and signed up (and they rang bells and everybody cheered me, another of the little adhesive rituals).
And then, when I was on “volunteer staff” myself for the first time in a course a week or so later, we had a little volunteers’ meeting during a break and were told, “Now each of you has a quota to sign up at least two people for a course! Just go up to someone and invite him or her to “be in” such-and-such an upcoming course with you!” The young man’s words had been 100% con. How did I trust a single word any of these people said?
So it went. I got more and more confused. The confrontational aspect was a feature of members' interactions, whether a course was in progress or not. I remember several people gathering in the kitchen one morning. One of them wanted to make an egg for breakfast. Ordinarily, everyone's diet consisted solely of the organic fruit and nut butters.
As the woman brought the eggs out of the refrigerator (I’m not sure why they were even there) and began frying up some butter, another group member said, “You’re letting us all down by eating an egg!”
“I just had a longing,” the offender said.
“She’s right, you’re letting us all down!” said a dark-haired man with glasses, raising his voice. Don’t you care?”
“We care about you!” said the first woman. “You know what eggs do to your system!”
“Look, it’s my breakfast!” the egg-desirer came back, raising her voice now as well.
“If you don’t put it away, I’ll tell Bayard!” shouted the dark-haired man. Several others, hearing the noise, also gathered around.
“They’re right, Ann. You become the weak link that’ll break the whole chain! Put them away.”
Ann finally saw the light, put the eggs away, and began peeling a mango instead. I returned to my cleaning work, cowering at what I’d seen.
When I saw people in the group out in public, they would always greet me with a direct gaze and a strong voice. At first I enjoyed these meetings, but then I realized the greeting would inevitably be followed by “How are you doing?” and if I replied something like “Pretty well, I guess,” my words would bring, “Why do you have to guess? Don’t you know?”
“Well, all right. Pretty well.”
“Why only pretty well?”
“Well, I guess I’m having a bit of a hard time.”
“Why are you having a hard time?
“I find this directness difficult.”
“Why do you find it difficult?”
“I guess I’m not used to it.”
“You need to sign up for the course on 'Absolute Responsibility!'”
I was taking as many courses as I could, and the only thing that was changing was that my feelings of humiliation and inadequacy were increasing with each failed effort to “get it”, and the enormous energy infusions of many prolonged, intense exchanges a week, in courses and out, were pumping me into a continual altered state.
One morning when I went to gas up my car on Staten Island where I was living, the proprietor found my MASTERCARD on a list and confiscated it. I had charged up too many courses, and my parents, who had agreed to make the "investment in my future” at first, had not been informed and did not pay. Now my capacity to even sign up for more courses was finished. But by this time I'd already left Bayard Hora & Associates.