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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: Ananda ()
Date: February 18, 2017 11:27PM

I like to hear about people's experiences within different spiritual groups. Also it's interesting to find out what different leaders taught. I don't think anyone is going to understand the phenomenon of cults unless they look at these two aspects. iamthat was talking about his experience and what the beliefs of the teacher were. I don't think he was trying to teach anyone beliefs.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 18, 2017 11:32PM

Ananda:

I see your point, but there are boundaries.

It's important that no one cross the line at this board by advancing a particular faith claim in an effort to promote a certain belief system.

This board is not about beliefs, but rather behavior.

People come here to comment about and discuss concerns about the behavior of certain groups and leaders.

There may be certain beliefs or teachings used by a group or leader to manipulate and exploit people. In that sense discussing beliefs can be relevant.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/2017 11:34PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: iamthat ()
Date: February 19, 2017 03:57AM

Hi guys

I am not wishing to preach or convert anyone to whatever I may believe. However, it is difficult to separate the behaviour of any teacher and his/her followers from the experiences and beliefs of those within such a group.

It is too easy to simply blame the teacher for using beliefs and teachings to manipulate and exploit people. The followers of any such teacher have to accept responsibility for their own part in the process.

When Lifewave ended I had a lot of very mixed emotions, including relief and anger. As more and more was revealed about what had been really going on, I felt anger at JY for teaching one thing while doing very different things. I felt anger at those teachers within Lifewave who promoted the idea of JY as the perfect spiritual Master, while knowing that he was not what he seemed. But most of all I was angry at myself for my unquestioning acceptance of all that was said. I did occasionally wonder about some aspects of the teachings or some of the things done in the name of spirituality, but I suppressed these questions.

Eventually I had to accept that if I was misled then it was because I had ignored my own discrimination and allowed myself to be deceived. We cannot just blame the teacher or the practices taught. But it was all a valuable lesson for me.

Going back to an earlier comment, equating meditation with the trance states of hypnosis is to misunderstand the nature of both. If the moderators of this forum believe that meditation leaves us open to being manipulated then I have to question their understanding of meditation. And are they not simply promoting their own beliefs about meditation?

I was not manipulated by sitting down to meditate; instead I allowed myself to be manipulated by all my beliefs surrounding my meditation practice. As far as I am concerned the meditation itself is still wonderful (30 years later), but now I can do it without any silly beliefs that I am being guided by a Perfect Master.

peace

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 19, 2017 06:29AM

iamthat

Blaming the victim is not what this message board is about.

See [culteducation.com]

All anyone need do here is go to the top control bar of any page on this board and click on "Mind Control." There is an archive of information within this database.

In my experience most victims that blame themselves for being manipulated have not read very extensively about how coercive persuasion, thought reform and influence techniques work.

Sadly, its a business for certain gurus, swamis and various teachers and mentors in various groups to game people. They use tricks, traps and deception to exploit participants, students, etc.

People come to this board to talk about such experiences, not blaming and shaming victims of such behavior.

You may not mean to shame and blame victims, but your post seems to tilt in that direction. Many people that are in or have been in manipulative groups and relationships don't see it and/or admit it.

Meditation is not the issue. A leader using meditation to manipulate people is the point. Meditation is typically benign, just like reading the bible. But both the bible and meditation can be used as a cover by a unscrupulous teacher.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 19, 2017 11:18PM

Many gurus and spiritual teachers do use manipulation if they start life as a particular type of person who inwardly fragile, feels estranged
does not feel at ease in peer relatonships.

Psychologist Len Oakes lived in a commune lead by a charismatic leader. Oakes
appreciated that commune, felt he benefitted. But he saw that the leader
had blind spots. After leaving the commune, Oakes learned that the leader and
group had come apart.

With an interest in charismatic leaders, Oakes sought to learn more about
charisma and how charismatic personalities form and how such persons
go on to become charismatic leaders and acquire followers.

Len Oakes' book, Prophetic Charisma, is very informative.

Oakes found that charismatic persons follow a fairly typical life course.

They often become gurus and religious leaders. They may teach quite useful skills, including meditation, but there is a problem, in that these people do not teach
from selflessness, no matter how much they claim to be selfless, no matter how
serenely they present themselves.

They teach because they need validation and because they need approval and trust
from an audience, and they teach because they need to acquire --and keep--
followers.

There's the rub. They have needs, and are unconscious about these needs.

Get, and read Prophetic Charisma 1997 Syracuse University Press by Len Oakes. Oakes is a research psychologist/clinician and after being in a commune led by a charismatic leader, he left, and decided to research how people become charismatic leaders.

Oakes was able to interview 20 charismatic leaders* and found amazing similarities in their life trajectories. Early in life, all these persons had difficulty with ordinary intimacy with peers, and compensated by becoming avid students of social manipulation/communication. Quite a few were in previous careers as entertainers, musicians, teachers, and in some cases, business.

If they later became gurus, they continued to use these social manipulation skills but claimed this was given to them when, out of the blue they became enlightened.

They do not tell disciples they have spent hours practicing verbal judo behind closed doors.

(Several other leaders refused to expose themselves to scrutiny and declined to participate in Oakes study. One, who never met Oakes in person, presumed to tell LO that his life was meaningless)

All were risk takers, and learned how to stay on top of all that went on in their groups. They could talk their way out of awkward situations and learned how to identify even the slightest bit of hesitation in an adversary or potential recruit and adroitly throw that person off balance.

'A common manipulative strategy used by leaders in this study was an argumentative style that was calculated to subtly shift the ground of any discussion from whatever matter was being talked about toward some area of an opponents personal insecurity. In this technique, the leader observed the process of an opponent's conversation and identified some point of hesitency and uncertainy. This was not always a flaw of logic or error of fact; the conversation may have been on some topic about which the leader would have known little and been unable to detect such a mistake. Rather, it was more likely to be some personal unsureness on the part of the opponent, that the leader's exquisite social perception targeted.

'...Typically what was said (by the leader) was an observation that the opponent seemed to be "a bit steamed up about this" or was "finding it hard to say what this is all about." In this was, the opponent was invited, sympathetically and seductively, to expand upon the very point of weakness.

'Or the leader claimed not to understand what was meant at a particular point, perhaps even saying that the opponent was not making sense.


'This usually lead to a further exposure, and then another, until the opponent stumbled over his words and began to look uncomfortable. At thsi point a well time dismissive glance from the leader was all that was needed to intimidate, the other person being glad to have the subject changed to how he might redeem his soul or however...'

(Oakes, pp 89-90)

Corboy reflection:

If a charismatic leader becomes successful, aquires disciples and assembles an entourage, trouble is likely. The leader may feel pressured by the many
disciples and then begin to hide. Gone are the early days when disciples
were on a first name basis with the teacher, ate together, shared meals
and jokes, gone the free and easy mood. Instead, the leader becomes less
accessible.

Rumors take the place of direct contact.

Favoritism rears its ugly
head.

Those with access to the guru become an elite. Those who fall from favor
become scapegoats.

Tension sets in.

Loyal older members who donated hours even years of time are shoved aside in favor of new recruits with glamour and money. Or, new recruits who are cute, beautiful and more entertaining than old timers who know the leader's human quirks and flaws.

If the leader spends years insulating him or herself with the the help of a selected entourage and large bank account, he or she will probably lose quite a few ordinary social skills (eg patience, the ability to accept differences of opinion, the ability to feel frustrated without exploding and dumping on an underling).

By this time, the leader will have little incentive to function any other way than as this kind of leader---someone who functions in a drastically unequal power imbalance and who hides the real self behind a public persona and whose emotional needs and flare ups are modulated and managed by an entourage who parent and nurture the guru and cover up for him or her.

A leader may teach a useful skill such as meditation. But the problem arises when
the teaching situation claims to be for the benefit of students but on the unspoken level, operates for the benefit of the teacher - to reassure the teacher that he or she is desirable and prop up the teacher's fragile self.

And here is where belief systems may play a role.

If the belief is taught that there is such a thing as a living human being who is free from ego, remains permanently free from ego, permanently incorruptible, then
that belief can keep us trapped.

a) Trapped with a teacher who claims to be such a person

or

b) Trapped in the quest for such a person. If we believe a fully realized living person exists somewhere, we may spend too much time with someone who appears tobe that person but is not - and damage ourselves by spending too much time in
the company of such persons.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: iamthat ()
Date: February 20, 2017 02:12AM

I was not intending to blame the victim. I do not see myself or others in Lifewave as victims. We chose to accept certain things and we have to accept responsibility for our choices. It takes two to tango - trying to pin all the blame onto the teacher is to deny our own part in the process.

Thanks for your contribution, Corboy. Much of the process you describe sounds very familiar. I will look up Prophetic Charisma.

Peace.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 20, 2017 02:51AM

iamthat :

If the group is democratic and the members/participants elected leaders to serve for fixed terms and there is meaningful financial accountability and transparency through published budgets and funds remain controlled by elected leaders perhaps your are right.

But if it is an authoritarian group without those safeguards and the leaders essentially don't have meaningful accountability then they are responsible for what happens through their behavior, not the people they hurt.

It's a simple matter of checking the bylaws, published budgets and governance of the group. Is it democratic or authoritarian?

See these warning signs [culteducation.com]

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: iamthat ()
Date: February 21, 2017 03:36AM

I think we will have to agree to disagree.

The nature of a group centred around a spiritual teacher is that authority is vested in the teacher. In Lifewave there was no election of leaders, no bylaws, no published financial budgets and no procedures of governance.

The teacher is responsible for his or her behaviour, but then everyone is responsible for his or her behaviour, including all the followers of any teacher. If those followers choose to give away their power to such a teacher then they cannot blame the teacher for the choices they have made.

I have no problem with accepting responsibility for my choices. At the time I did not know any better, but that was no-one else's fault. I look back on it all as a very valuable learning experience, and I have no regrets.

Peace.

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Re: Lifewave and Ishvara (John Yarr)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 21, 2017 04:06AM

iamthat:

You say, "The nature of a group centred around a spiritual teacher is that authority is vested in the teacher. In Lifewave there was no election of leaders, no bylaws, no published financial budgets and no procedures of governance."

Yes. What you describe is an authoritarian, high demand potentially unsafe group. Thankfully most religious or educational organizations or groups are not like that.

So those victimized by the teacher you describe really had no say whatsoever and/or no way of holding the teacher directly accountable through governance or bylaws and therefore were not responsible in any ways, shape or form for being victimized and hurt by that teacher.

Please don't attempt to in any way imply blame otherwise or shame victims at this message board.

It's wrong and not at all helpful.

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Some teachers identify vulnerable students, others are clueless
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 21, 2017 04:56AM

What follows will take time to read. But this information may enrich this discussion.

In yoga circles there has been a lot of soul searching about who has chief responsibility - teacher, students?

This applies just as much to meditation teachers as yoga teachers.

Many teachers present their best behavior early in the student teacher relationship. Later, as the teacher's manners become more troubling, assertive
students leave, persons unable to trust their emotions remain, creating a docile group that reinforces each other's docility.

Some teachers actually target exactly those persons who are most vulnerable.

A detailed discussion can be read here.

[forum.culteducation.com]

Then, there are persons who have been traumatized in early life and cannot identify and trust their own emotions when another person
unknowingly or intentionally breaches the boundaries. It is very common for persons with this background to seek healing through a meditation or yoga practice. One yoga teacher who is a trauma survivor put it this way.

“No-one chooses to suspend their critical thinking,” “This is an idea borne from immense neurotypical privilege.

“Over time, I’ve realized that my free will is not as free as I thought it was. My ability to choose as an adult through most of my life has actually been quite crude.

“If I’m caught unprepared, I might hug someone who’s hurt me. I might smile. I’ll say whatever it takes to get them to leave me the fuck alone. So how free is that? These are both symptoms of my history, and tools I’ve developed to cope.

“If yoga culture can’t understand this mechanism, and how it complicates power and consent, it can’t allow me to develop my power of choice further.”

(The rest of this article is quoted below. It applies as much to meditation as to yoga - Corboy)

There have been discussions about who has responsibility in some discussions
about problems with some yoga teachers.

There's a valuable discussion on the Decolonizing Yoga website.

What follows is some material from that article that directly pertains to this'
discussion.

Many students of meditation and or yoga despite being adults in the legal sense are unable to access and trust their own emotions. Many times persons in this predicament have been traumatized. In situations where a trusted authority figure
knowingly or unknowingly pushes past that person's boundaries, that person's mind
and emotions go into a freeze reaction. This is NOT consent. It is up to the teacher to be informed about exactly this and know not to interpret silence as signifying compliance/consent.

Though this material describes the responsibilities of yoga teachers, it applies just as much to meditation teachers and Advaita teachers.

Jivamukti Fallout: A Trauma-Sensitive Tipping Point in Modern Yoga?

Excerpt

Quote

A Trauma-Sensitive Paradigm Emerges

Those who disagree with Kaminoff’s approach suggest that appeals to personal agency in student-teacher relationships are both insensitive and insufficient when a person’s power of choice is compromised.

Jess Glenny, a British yoga teacher and yoga therapist specializing in working with people who have experienced sexual, emotional and physical trauma, was one of many who begged to differ with Kaminoff’s statements on the Jivamukti case.

“This woman is an abuse survivor in process of recovery,” Glenny wrote in an online comment, referring to Faurot.

“This isn’t about her choices. It’s about the way her neurology has responded to abuse. It’s biologically determined by her experiences. If someone has lost a leg, we don’t chastise them for not being able to run when someone tries to mug them.”

“Some of my clients are very, very vulnerable to this kind of behaviour,” Glenny said, referring to Lauer-Manenti’s harassment of Faurot.

“They often don’t have an understanding of appropriate boundaries. They can be triggered into a reflexive passivity and a need to placate in order to survive when someone makes a sexual advance on them. People with these issues are in our yoga classes, and we all need to be aware of this.”

Quote

As both scholar and survivor, Wildcroft doesn’t see the belief in American-style free will as an eternal tenet of yoga philosophy, nor that it refers to an essential attribute of the yoga student. For her, it’s more of a placebo – which means it’s also a resource, and perhaps the privilege of those who haven’t been affected by trauma.

“Free will is a powerful story, she said via Skype. I’d caught her after her evening classes. “It’s a story we may need. But not everyone can tell it.”

I asked her what she thought about Kaminoff’s statement that people fall prey to abusive persons or organizations because they “choose to suspend their critical thinking.”

“No-one chooses to suspend their critical thinking,” she said. “This is an idea borne from immense neurotypical privilege.

“Over time, I’ve realized that my free will is not as free as I thought it was. My ability to choose as an adult through most of my life has actually been quite crude.

“If I’m caught unprepared, I might hug someone who’s hurt me. I might smile. I’ll say whatever it takes to get them to leave me the fuck alone. So how free is that? These are both symptoms of my history, and tools I’ve developed to cope.

“If yoga culture can’t understand this mechanism, and how it complicates power and consent, it can’t allow me to develop my power of choice further.”



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/21/2017 05:01AM by corboy.

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