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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: Macumazahn ()
Date: March 16, 2010 07:48AM

   I love the link to Sara Bronfman’s take on the word ‘cool’. Somebody might suggest a crash course on how to read a dictionary to be added to the NXIVM curriculum; you know, concepts like context dependent entries and so on…
   But let’s take a leaf from their book for a change and look at one of their terms, ‘persistence’.

   Merriam-Webster’s first:
persistence, n: 1: the action or fact of persisting 2: the quality or state of being persistent; especially: perseverance
persist, v: 1: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning 2 obsolete: to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position 3: to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (as a question or an opinion) 4: to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time
perseverance, n: the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness
perseveration, n: continuation of something (as repetition of a word) usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point
persevere, v: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement
steadfastness, n: 1 a: firmly fixed in place : immovable b: not subject to change 2: firm in belief, determination, or adherence : loyal
   And as a bonus (you’ll see why from the Oxford Dictionary):
obstinacy, n: 1 a: the quality or state of being obstinate : stubbornness b: the quality or state of being difficult to remedy, relieve, or subdue 2: an instance of being obstinate
obstinate, a: 1: perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion 2: not easily subdued, remedied, or removed

   Now, as to the Concise Oxford Dictionary:
persist, v: continue firmly or obstinately (in opinion, course of action, doing) esp. against obstacles, remonstrance, etc.; (of institution, custom, phenomenon, etc.) continue in existence, survive.
persistent, a: persisting (in); enduring; constantly repeated; (Biol., of horns, leaves, etc.) remaining, instead of falling off in the normal manner; hence or cogn. ~ENCE, ~ENCY, ns, ~ently adv.
perseverance, n: steadfast pursuit of an aim, constant persistence; (Theol.) continuance in state of grace.
perseverate, v: continue action etc. for unusually or excessively long time; (psych., of action or mental sate) tend to be spontaneously repeated; so ~ATION, n.
persevere, v: continue steadfastly, persist, (in course of action, in doing, at or with task, etc., or abs.).
steadfast, a: constant, firm, unwavering; hence ~LY adv., ~NESS n.
obstinate, v: firmly adhering to once chosen course of action or opinion, not easily persuaded, inflexible, self-willed; unyielding, not readily responding to treatment, etc.; hence or cogn. ~ACY n., ~ately adv.

   I’ll leave it up to others to interpret these definitions the way Sara did. In that manner, there are oh-so many ways to scare the living daylights out of them - once they understand what the term persistence in all its implications also contains.

   By the by, a postscript has been added after the third part of the Saratoga In Decline blog NXIVM series. There is a valid point in there about former members being too scared about what would happen if they talked and the desire to move on. However, nobody said that such a member would have to tell who they were, nor even that they would have to talk directly to the public. I understand that it may be a hard thing to do, but the world needs to know the details, so that at least no more recruitment can take place and ideally the organisation by a stream of factual inside information eventually could be busted; it would help a lot of others to get out one way or another, I think.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2010 08:11AM by Macumazahn.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: Christa ()
Date: March 16, 2010 02:33PM


After a very depressing afternoon re-watching all 4 hours of Adam Curtis's Century of the Self, which is an educational though masochistic way to pass the time, I stumbled on the video below.

It's a video of the a cappella group Raniere founded a few years ago. (What won't these gurus think of next? Why can't they just stick to pretending to teach yoga, acting, and maybe martial arts?)

Once I got through laughing, this video really angered me. First, I love a cappella music and wish it were exempt from abuse by narcissistic wannabes. (But then, I guess, nothing is.)

Second, I object to the exploitation of the mind-fucked in the service of the deluded. There's not a whole lot of distance between the people on this stage and the people who died in James Ray's fake sweat lodge. It's appalling.

Here's how Raniere describes the formation of his singing group:


In early 2007, Keith Raniere, founder of A Cappella Innovations, reacquainted himself with a cappella through a serendipitous encounter. An online video of a college a cappella group became the conduit of the art’s very essence, inspiring him to call together six of his musical friends and create the a cappella group, Simply Human.

Simply Human, under Keith’s innovative tutelage, enjoyed widespread acceptance and success in its community. The group, of course, was not unlike any other group of people: six individuals from all walks of life, each bringing their own virtues and struggles to a dynamic equation. What they found, however, despite any difference of interest or opinion, was uniting through one of the most elemental human connections: music expressed through the human voice.

The joy and growth manifested by Simply Human’s members—Siobahn Hotaling, Farouk Rojas, Sarah Peters, Mike Baker, Kathy Ethier and Ed Kinum—inspired the creation of four other a cappella groups in its locality. Witnessing these events unfolding intensified a question, a seedling already developing in Keith’s mind.

There are an estimated 15,000 college a cappella groups throughout the country. They spring up all over the place—people spontaneously getting together to sing for the joy of singing, expressing authentically through the human instrument… I think that’s wonderful! Imagine if this flourished throughout corporate America, government and society!

Think of a group of people coming together to sing—they may not necessarily share a lot in common outside of singing, they may not even spend time together outside of singing, but they seem to have a general respect for each other. We’ve all read accounts of soldiers suspending war to honor the human spirit singing a Christmas carol, we’ve heard of the most diverse, sometimes oppositional voices uniting in song—regardless of where or how we lift our voices, when we sing there’s a certain bond, a community—a humanity that is built.

I think the nature of what it means to sing with others will change the way the world is—a cappella is just one of those things.

Our organization is born of this vision—a vision recognizing the differences and commonalities of being human; a vision finding a harmonious, common ground through which we can express some of our most noble qua

Fucking spare me. This is some of the most pretentious rot I've seen in a while, and I spend a lot of my time reading material written by cult leaders!

What distresses me about Simply Human is that it's not what it purports to be. I'm all for amateurs coming together to sing, and even when they can barely carry a tune, the joy of music-making always comes through.

I am very much against some ego-inflated nut using people to further his vision of the world, and that's what I see here.

I'm going to avoid all of the obvious comments and limit myself to remarking that, even though the lead singer has a good voice, this assemblage of the ungainly, the unmusical, and the unrhthymic is not exactly the second coming of the Supremes and the Temptations singing I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. And that the background singers remind me of a cluster of zombies from Night of the Living Dead.

Link to scary video of Raniere's victims, manifesting their exploitation for all to see. Because if they weren't mind-fucked, they'd be in the audience where they belong:

Link to the way it's supposed to sound:

Link to amateur a cappella singers who really are enjoying what they're doing (a must see!):

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2010 02:35PM by Christa.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: bigskeptic ()
Date: March 16, 2010 08:25PM

I'm not sure you wanted to be funny, Christa, but you had me laughing while I read your post. It's so true... pretentious rot is a polite way to say that this is just bullshit spewed from the mouth of a scary cult leader. That being said, while I am not a member of this group and never have been, I have seen some things and know some other things and I am not comfortable telling what I know. First of all, who to tell? Who can be trusted to take the information and do the right thing? Second, I'm afraid the information I could tell would make my identity obvious... not a good thing. I can see why former members are reluctant to speak out.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: Christa ()
Date: March 17, 2010 04:21AM

I often write about these horrifying topics in a humorous way; otherwise I'd be too angry to write at all. Exploitation infuriates me.

One thing I left out of my first post is the title of the song Raniere's human guinea pigs perform. It's "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. I believe he chose that song deliberately, because these twisted gurus often telegraph their opinions of, or their instructions to, their followers in a not-so-subtle way.

"Crazy" Gnarls Barkley

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Possibly [radio version]
probably [album version]

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

Uh, uh

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2010 04:30AM by Christa.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: Macumazahn ()
Date: March 17, 2010 02:52PM

   So can I, bigskeptic; I too can see why former members won’t speak. And that is exactly the calculation behind the intimidations and lawsuits! The questions are: How many lawsuits have they still in them? How much intimidation can they do before they themselves are going to be put in their place by the public? Where is their pain threshold, their point of faltering under the pressure? (They being the upper echelons of NXIVM.)
   So far, the equation has always resolved itself in their favour; those who truly know about the dangers of the organisation have themselves remained but a secretive few. Yet, is it not our almost Kantian ‘moral duty’ to change that, to make sure that the balance is tipped in favour of the right and just course, the freedom of will, body and soul for those entangled within NXIVM? If all are frightened and keep their knowledge to themselves, Raniere wins by default. Do we really want to let him have this victory?
   How can we achieve this? How can somebody who knows factual inside information, can tell of truthful details, and could thus maybe put a stop to it all, how can such a person relate those accounts without getting themselves into trouble? At current, the threshold or momentum in which this could be done openly has not yet been reached. Hence, a public declaration may well be too dangerous to the average former member, or any relatives. On the other hand, somebody of high public standing, somebody famous might be under a form of inherent protection; it is very difficult to ‘attack’ someone who's permanently in the spotlight. Such a person could indeed be in a position to shed some light on the matter without undue damage. Would their careers take a hit or their friends still involved in NXIVM be hurt? In the short-term, probably; in the long term though, doing the right and honourable thing may very well strengthen their career and help those others. However, if such a person had been digging ‘Panama Canals’ in their cellar, so to speak, either during their time at NXIVM or prior to it, such an approach would not be advisable…
   What could they do instead? What can the less prominent people involved in whatever manner do? You are of course right, whom can we trust? Who will take such information and use it not callously or even against us but in good faith and to help those enthralled or about to become so? How can one make sure that one’s identity is not accidentally revealed, leaving one open to such attacks? These are all valid questions and should be discussed. We should be able to find some solutions to each of them; be that by simply omitting elements that would disclose the identity; by relating said factual data to somebody, whose position or profession demands a protection of sources; or by some other intrinsically anonymous means.
   The truth is that at some point the tables will turn, NXIVM’s capacity to intimidate will reach its limits, and their resources to file suits will simply be stretched beyond reason. At that point, an all out public disclosure would become possible and even advisable. We are not at this point yet. At the moment however, we have an opportunity with the case in California. It is big enough to be made interesting, involves people of sufficient prominence, and has all the juicy details of a mob story, all factors to merit attention from the news-outlets. That should be our first step, finally to get them curious and start digging. After that, the environment may have changed enough to allow further people to step forward.
   Maybe I am an optimist, but history has proven me right many times over. Most secretive, exclusive and restrictive organisations have fallen eventually under the pressures of reality and their self-inflicted complexities and inconsistencies.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: bigskeptic ()
Date: March 17, 2010 09:05PM

I think you are right. The California court case will bring some things out that would otherwise never be known but don't think it will bring NXIVM down. Even now, with what has come out about Raniere's gambling issues and $100 million lost the cult devotees are still on his side. Believe me, the devoted believe so strongly in his vision that they probably think his experiment with commodities trading was necessary to further educate him so he can more expertly bring them into the future they imagine. Crazy? Yep. I have been following the news on this group for ten years and it gets stranger and stranger. Now, we have innocent associates of Barbara Bouchey being followed and questioned and harassed simply for knowing her... I can only imagine what must be happening to her.

I read through some of the NXIVM training materials that were posted on this thread. I was done after the first few pages where they give instruction on how to shake hands. I was floored! These people taking the classes are educated professionals and they sat through a seminar on how to greet people and shake hands without laughing or shaking their heads? How is it that people can so blindly be lead? It is beyond ridiculous. And, earning scarves? Who gives a shit about earning a colored scarf? Imagine Raniere's ego trip... he can make executives care about bullshit like this AND people pay him!

It's a great story for someone to do a news program on if there were only enough people willing to talk. I imagine only a few... in dark shadows with their voices altered.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: pinkunicorn ()
Date: March 17, 2010 09:38PM


Believe me, the devoted believe so strongly in his vision that they probably think his experiment with commodities trading was necessary to further educate him so he can more expertly bring them into the future they imagine. Crazy?

It is often said that "people deserve the leaders that are put over them." So, if they continue to follow some narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, emotionally manipulative, and exploitative person that he obviously seems to be, then they deserve him and wherever he takes them.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 18, 2010 12:29AM


Don't dismiss the power of "brainwashing."

People can be persuaded through such a process and then held within a group by undue influence.

See []

Also see []

Note the distinctions between different forms of persuasion.

Psychologist Paul Martin, noted cult expert, did a study of NXIVM concerning "thought reform" commonly called "brainwashing."

See []

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: pinkunicorn ()
Date: March 18, 2010 01:42AM

I have no doubt that brainwashing exists. Which makes it all the more important for these type of groups to be scrutinized more closely so they can be prosecuted under the full extent of the law if they are found in violation of any. As I have stated before, I know of people who are/were in it, and the language and mannerisms that they use often times reeks of such thought reform methods. Psychological abuse can be just as damaging, and often times worse, than physical abuse. The fact that Bouchey no longer falls under his control, points to the notion that if members are "under the influence", it is not permanent, or even requiring of external help to remove. So any type of linguistic trigger that may exist for outsiders such as "suppressive" may not apply to some, or can slowly lose its intended meaning.

It is shocking to me that a man of Edgar Bronfman's stature failed to protect his daughters from the machinations of this conman. Perhaps it was his own lack of emotional support in their youth that caused them to seek support and validation in someone like Raniere, who fed them false notions of ethical exclusiveness and elitism, and that they could change the world. Where does forming your own harem and losing $100 million dollars on failed investments due to gambling habits have any positive impact on the world? The member will say that he has "learned" and will "grow" to filter out corruption in the world. The "suppressive" will say yes, it will filter out corruption, if it puts this man behind bars or brings upon him the censor he deserves, an obvious unintended consequence that his purported genius never could have foreseen. It is a shame that they have allowed this person to persist in the activities that have caused the emotional and physical abuse of others due to the large sums of money under their control. In this fact, they are directly responsible for any type of evil that has resulted from such abuse.

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Re: NXIVM and the Dalai Lama
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 18, 2010 01:59AM


There is no law regarding the use of "brainwashing" within the United States.

The foundation of thought reform is control of the environment and communication.

When that control is interrupted, by either an intervention, or through information from outside the group that may offer a critical perspective, thought reform can be weakened/compromised.

Some cult members do walk-away, others may stay in a group for many years experiencing abuse and sustaining personal injuries.

Recovery can be a long process. But it can be greatly assisted by the cultic studies and counseling provided by a knowledgeable professional.

See []

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