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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: August 06, 2009 08:15PM


Let's try to be nice.

And let's not try to offer a diagnosis regarding former or current cult members regarding their psychological state of mind.

That's up to a doctor.

And implying that Gans followers participated because of some sort of "unconscious trauma" is quite a stretch.

Gans followers are quite very secretive regarding recruitment. They target someone that actually has no idea they are being recruited and/or that there is even a group.

Gans devotees work on a target very slowly, gradually feeling them out, before they might eventually be asked to attend a gathering.

The potential recruit may not meet Sharon Gans or know that she exists for quite some time.

This is a very odd group, seemingly quite paranoid about outsiders.

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: mxkitty ()
Date: August 07, 2009 01:21AM

Gans' Recruiting Techniques

Recruits brought into the Gans group are essentially duped to believe that the group is benevolent and will enrich their lives. For example, by somehow advancing their spirituality or increasing their self-esteem and/or sense of security. As a result of this deception and the systematic use of highly manipulative techniques of influence, recruits come to commit themselves to the group’s proscribed ways of thinking, feeling and acting; in other words, they become members or converts. There is also deception in the recruitment process, which will be described later.




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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 01, 2010 12:22AM

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: NotM ()
Date: October 15, 2010 03:41AM

Does anyone who was around in this time period recall James Parkinson curent cult leader of ?

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: cochineal ()
Date: October 15, 2010 11:23PM

Re: James Parkinson and
(I looked at the sites about him and the group and it really doesn't say anything very much at all.)

Just because there aren't any extensive messages about this group on this forum doesn't mean that it isn't a cult.
The answer is in your heart. I think the ultimate question is: Are you giving away your own personal power to someone else? Are your actions your own or are you being influenced by someone else? If you are then this is never a good sign.

This list is always an excellent checklist to use if you look at it honestly:

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader:

1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.

4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.

8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

9. The group/leader is always right.

10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: WTF ()
Date: December 27, 2010 02:00PM

SO grateful for this site....I have been out a few months now from one of the NY groups. I had been thinking of leaving the for quite some time but hung around a little longer to see who I could get to come with me. I watched Gans, Koch and Mindel and the rest of the vampires from a different perspective after reading this website,, and What Freaks. It was great walking in there knowing what I knew about them all. Not only had I lost ALL respect for them I saw them for the sad and treacherous beings they really are. Scared, manipulative and predatory devils.....No wonder Fred and Greg cant sit still in front of the class ...twitching and jerking all the criminals.......

Like most of the student/victims I had such high hopes that this was an authentic group and a real school. What a disappointment....and I am embarrassed that I let these soul thieves toy with me for as long as they did. I sure hope I can control myself when I see one of the soul thieves on the street......I know that there are a lot of good people looking for a real teacher and a real way sitting in those rooms. I am going to "make it my aim" :) to let as many of the members OF GANS' FAKE SCHOOL know the truth; That


Only vampires with their clever little ploy of "the Work" as bait, waiting to sink their fangs into the bloodstream of those who are trying to better themselves and the world. Note to Gans and her Dementos: you have "students" in those rooms that you cannot control :) . YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE ----
I know this because me and many other ex-victims of your disgusting scam are talking to them everyday. They tell us what is happening and giving us all the information we desire. They read the websites mentioned above and are staying as I did, as long as they can to get other victims out. You may have to leave town soon.... I hear the weather in Montana's not all bad..3rd line might be a little tougher out there.....

Happy to say a few came with me already and many more are on their way out.

Any ex-student victims should make some effort to get these websites to any friends left in that cesspool. Phone calls are sometimes useful as well.

Thank You to all who contributed here..

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 01, 2011 11:47PM

One teacher who emerged from the scene in the 1970s and who also uses the enneagram as part of the package is HA Almaas.

Oddly, this stuff has become popular in some sectors of the Buddhist community, even though in Buddhadharma, properly understood, there is no role for an inherantly-separately-existening essence, God, or First Principle.

And there is nothing in the earliest texts (the Pali canon) mentioning the enneagram, and even Gurdjieff never used it for the purposes of temperament typing.


31. And the Blessed One recovered from that illness; and soon after his recovery he came out from his dwelling place and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for him. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and sitting down at one side, he spoke to the Blessed One, saying: "Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One at ease again! Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One recovered! For truly, Lord, when I saw the Blessed One's sickness it was as though my own body became weak as a creeper, every thing around became dim to me, and my senses failed me. Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."

32. Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back."



"Becoming a student of the Diamond Work is too expensive for the average person. Apparently these days some people just can't afford to get enlightened." - from an anonymous reader


"Almaas, the founder, used to visit the Boulder group as many as 20 times a year, but now comes just once annually, in the spring.

His teaching does not come easily â or cheaply.

"It takes lots of time and money," says Bakwin."



New path: Ridhwan teaches new way of looking at the world
Clay Evans
Posted: 04/17/2009 08:24:00 AM MDT

Michael Boone holds his prayer beads before the morning session at the Ridhwan center. Ridhwan was founded in Boulder and now has roughly 10,000 adherents.
BOULDER, Colo. -

A sage -- or was it a wag? -- once noted that any spiritual path that can be summed up in a few words probably isn't worthy of the adjective.

Even creeds and traditions that can reduce their beliefs to a sentence or two -- "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet"; "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that everyone who believes in him shall not perish ..." -- have centuries of texts and tradition to flesh out the basic message.

So perhaps it's no surprise that students of the mystical Ridhwan School, founded by A.H. Almaas and started in Boulder, struggle -- albeit with a smile -- to reduce their "path" and the "work" down to a few simple phrases.

"Let me see ... It's basically a journey of self discovery, it's more than somebody saying 'This is what is true, believe it.' That's not how this path works," says Ridhwan teacher Anne Laney, 55, who first encountered Almaas' work in 1989. "In this approach, you are investigating your experience, your consciousness, finding out what's true. It's a very open-ended process."

Boulder has long been known as a nexus of nontraditional spiritual paths offered by teachers such as Naropa University founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. But the Ridhwan School â which teaches Almaas' Diamond Approach â is an unusual success story. Having sprouted in Boulder living rooms with just a few students in 1976, today the teaching has more than 10,000 followers from Berkeley to Germany to New Zealand. Almaas' approach synthesizes aspects of the mystical branch of Islam known as Sufism (he's a native of Kuwait), Buddhism, Hinduism, the "Fourth Way" of G.I. Gurdjieff and modern "depth psychology."

Pressed to sum up his spiritual path in a few words, Almaas wryly points out that he's written a dozen books on the subject.

"This teaching is about becoming a more complete human being, more fulfilled, actualized," Almaas says by phone from Berkeley. "There is a lot more to it than meets the eye when you openly explore your spiritual side."

Is it about God? Yes, Almaas says, though because of the sort of students he tends to attract â intelligent and even skeptical â he stays away from theistic language.

"We talk about the expression of a larger will, call it the universal will, that makes everything in the world happen," he says. "In some other traditions that will be called god's will."

Students begin working with teachers and progressing in the foundations of the teaching. When a group â dubbed Diamond Heart 1, 2 etc. â reaches a certain level of maturity, membership is closed until a new group is born, often years later.

The focus of the Diamond Approach is what Laney calls "inquiry." Essentially, it's a Socratic approach to examining self and the world without any expectation of a conclusion. Students meet every other month or so to meditate and practice inquiry â an instructor presents a teaching, then introduces a topic for inquiry; students explain their experience of that topic. Then students typically will break into smaller groups to do more inquiry, then come back together.

"You inquire into something, guided by a teacher," says Boulder's Peter Bakwin, who first discovered the work in 2004. "It might be looking at why you reacted a certain way. But unlike therapy, it's a true investigation, and there is no objective. ... (But) if you follow any experience deep enough, it has to lead back to the truth. It's pulling back the veils on the deeper truth."

Students do much the same thing in "small groups" every couple of weeks, and regular individual sessions with teachers.

Almaas, the founder, used to visit the Boulder group as many as 20 times a year, but now comes just once annually, in the spring.

His teaching does not come easily â or cheaply.

"It takes lots of time and money," says Bakwin.

Duncan Scribner has been involved with the Diamond Approach since the beginning, when Almaas â the pen name of Hameed Ali â first came to Colorado.

"Hameed learned many different modalities from a variety of different teachers," says Scribner, 61. "But it's a about waking people up to what the hell we're doing, all the games we play, the lies we tell ourselves. It's like being hit by a 2-by-4 â but in a loving way."

Almaas, 65, lives in Berkeley, the other North American hub of the Ridhwan School. He came to the United States in the 1960s to study physics and math at the University of California.

"I wanted to find out myself what is true about the world and about reality," he says by phone from Berkeley. "Science was not the best thing to satisfy that curiosity. I was looking for an inner sense of what it is to be a human being, what is life."

He shifted his academic focus to psychology and began to study with various teachers, including Claudio Naranjo of the ¤'60s Human Potential movement, "Tibetan lamas, Sufi masters and Hindu thinkers."

But while Almaas owns up to those and other influences, he emphasizes that his particular teaching grew out of his own experiences. Both he and his students say one difference between the Diamond Approach and other traditions is its emphasis on walking a demanding spiritual path while living fully in the world.

"Buddhism developed within monastic orders; my approach has developed in everyday life," he says. "We are 'in the world, but not of it.'"

Bakwin, 47, grew up in Boulder, earned Ph.D. from Harvard and worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before retiring several years ago. He was a skeptic who stumbled on the Ridhwan School when he ran out of reading material on a trip to South America and his wife brought him a book by Almaas.

Known for his ultra-running exploits â he once ran a 200-mile course with 66,000 feet of climbing in 96 hours â and logical, systematic approach to the world, Bakwin says the Diamond work has shifted his focus from "external" to "internal" experiences.

"I spent a lot of time pursuing extreme external adventures, and now it's much more about internal adventure," he says. "I feel much more of a sense of excitement about things, but now I'm focusing on inner worlds rather than running or climbing. "

And that comes close to a stripped-down definition of the Diamond Approach: Delving into inner worlds, being excited about what reality tosses your way and walking through a normal life while doing it.

"Now when something happens, my first instinct is to get curious rather than try to do something about it or categorize it or react to it," Laney says. "I get to see what is more true than my conditioning."



an excerpt from
Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing

Jed McKenna

Talk about it:

"How long has your guru been teaching?"

"Well, uh, over thirty years."

"And how many of his students have achieved enlightenment?"

"Well, uh..."

"That you know of personally?"

"Well, uh, I never..."

"That you've heard of?"

"It's not"

"That there were rumors of?"

"I don't think..."

"What is it they're doing, Martin? The recipe for enlightenment they're promoting - what is it?"

"Uh, well, meditation and knowledge, basically."

"And in thirty years they've never held someone up and said, 'Look at this guy! He's enlightened and we got him there!' In thirty years, they don't have one? Don't you think they should have, like, an entire army of enlightened guys to show off by now?"

"Well, it's not..."

"After thirty years they should have a few dozen generations of enlightened people. Even with only a quarter of them becoming teachers, they should have flooded the world by now, mathematically speaking, don't you think? I'm not asking all this as a teacher myself, mind you. I'm just asking as a consumer, or a consumer's advocate. Don't you think it's reasonable to ask to know a teacher's success rate? The proof is in the pudding, right? Didn't you ask them about the fruit of their teachings when you started with them?"

"Well, that's not..."

"Don't you think it's reasonable to ask? They're in the enlightenment business, aren't they? Or did I misunderstand you? Do they have something else going?"

"Nooo, but they..."

"If Consumer Reports magazine did a report on which spiritual organizations delivered as promised, don't you suppose that the first statistic listed under each organization would be success rating? Like, here are a hundred randomly selected people who started with the organization five years ago and here's where they are today. For instance, thirty-one have moved up in the organization, twenty-seven have moved on, thirty-nine are still with it but not deeply committed and three have entered abiding non-dual awareness. Okay, three percent - that's a number you can compare. But this organization of yours would have big fat goose egg, wouldn't they? And not just out of a hundred, but out of hundreds of thousands - millions, probably. Am I wrong?

an excerpt from
Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing

Jed McKenna

Back to the Mahaparinibbana Sutra. Buddha so it is told, gave final advice on how, after he was dead, the remaining community of practitioners should respond if someone came to visit offering teachings:

(Bhikkus are monastics)


The Four Great References
7. And there the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, bhikkhus, I shall make known to you the four great references. [37] Listen and pay heed to my words." And those bhikkhus answered, saying:

"So be it, Lord."

8-11. Then the Blessed One said:

1) "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation';


2) 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation';

3) 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or:

4) 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn.

Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should:

Trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline.

If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus:

1) 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance;

2) this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu —
3) by that community,
4) by those elders,
5) by that elder.'

In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it.

But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by
-that bhikkhu
or by that community,
or by those elders,
or by that elder.'

And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/2016 07:24AM by corboy.

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 02, 2011 06:53AM

A discernment guide



The following points are designed to assist sincere seekers in their quest for authentic Sufi representatives. These days there are many Sufi organisations. Some are genuine and some are not. It is too common to hear reports of negative experiences of people who have been "burned" by dubious groups. The points below should help seekers avoid such groups.

A sincere devotion to Allah Almighty, a deep reverence for the Holy Prophet - peace be upon him - and a love of a life of prayer and rememberance of God are the main signposts to authentic groups. These are always more important than claims of "unbroken chains of transmission" and other claims of "authority" based on dreams or visions. Don't be too concerned about claims of "authority". seek groups where the Sufi life of prayer and brotherly love are tangible and real. The proof is in the pudding.

Does the Order have a proper relationship to Islam?

Sufism is the interior perspective of the Islamic religion. Avoid groups that deny this or that claim that Sufism is entirely independent of Islam. Avoid de-Islamicized forms of Sufism. A Sufi Order should have a strong, healthy connection to (externalist) Islam and be respectful of the Islamic faith. The people who run the Order should be pious, sincere Muslims.

Are members of the Order required to be practising and committed Muslims?

While some Orders will permit non-Muslims into the introductory levels, properly constituted Orders will insist that serious long-term members are practising and committed Muslims. Avoid Orders where this is not so or that are indifferent to the religious affiliations of members.

Does anyone make money from the operations of the Order?

While it is proper for an Order to cover its costs a Sufi Order should not be a profit-making business. Avoid Orders that operate as business ventures or that require expensive membership fees or on-going financial contributions from members.

Does the Sheihk have some other occupation by which he makes a living?

"Sufi Sheihk" is not a job. Sufism does not have a paid priesthood. Avoid Orders where the Sheihk is not successfully established in some other occupation beyond the Order.

Are the private and family lives of members respected?

A Sufi Order should not interfere in the private or family lives of its members. Members shoulds never feel pressured to change jobs, marry or divorce, move location, etc. Avoid Orders that do not respect the right of members to pursue their own private and family life.

Are members free to come and go from the Order's activities as they please?

The Sufi path should be freely entered. It is arduous and demanding. Members of an order should be free to drop out at any time for any reason without having to justify themselves and without being pestered or pursued. The decision not to continue participation should always be respected. An Order should not in any way coerce or pressure members to participate. Avoid Orders where this is not the case.

Does the Order have a tolerant and universalist perspective?

Sufism is an esoteric perspective. At an esoteric level all religions meet. There are many paths. Avoid Orders that insist that they and they alone are the true path or that are hostile to religions other than Islam.

Is there a fraternal spirit in the Order?

A Sufi Order should have a well-developed atmosphere of fraternal love between members. This Platonic fraternal nature excludes members using an Order as a dating pool or a marriage agency. Avoid Orders that do not have a fraternal atmosphere or that are incestuous.

Is there a proportionate sense of formality and chivalry?

A Sufi Order should have an appropriate code of behaviour that is both formal and chivalrous. If the conduct of the Order is too casual then it is merely a club. Sufism is a serious spiritual endeavour. Avoid Orders that are too casual or frivolous.

Is the Order directed exclusively to spiritual purposes?

An Order should only have one purpose - the spiritual advancement of its members. They come together for rememberance of Allah Almighty. Avoid Orders that combine Sufism with other, more profane purposes whether it is a sport, learning Turkish music, bellydancing, etc.

Does the Order mix spiritual forms and systems or employ profane methods and philosophies?

Sufism is a rich self-contained tradition. Avoid Orders that try to blend Sufism with other disciplines or spiritual systems such as yoga, Gurdjieff, pop psychology, gestalt therapy, American Indian rituals, etc. Seek an Order that is purely Sufi in its philosophy and methods.


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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 02, 2011 11:25PM

Steve Susoyev, who survived a dangerous psychotherapy cult, wrote a memoir entitled People Farm. He told of utterly horrible things he did in love and loyalty on orders from a leader who was a charming and ruthless psychopath. These actions included but were not limited to passport fraud, aiding in flight of fugitives from the law, concealing assets.

The leader at one point considered throwing acid in the face of a brave young woman who pressed legal charges against him for statutory rape. Fortunately this man was arrested and sent to prison. Susoyev admitted he himself risked at least ten years in prison for what he had done as a disciple and after turning himself in to the US Attorney, he was told go go and sin no more.

At the beginning of People Farm there is a quotation from the psychopath leader:

'If you understood me, you could not judge me.'

This ignores that if we look at someones behavior, instead of just at their personality, one can go right on ahead, look at their behavior and judge whether they are behaving beneficially, neutrally, harmfully--and if they are doing harm, whether they need to be stopped---immediately, regardless of their charm.

Sadly, this thought stopper, 'If you understand you cannot judge' only applies to persons in good faith, but disables us when we are dealing with persons who are dishonest, and prepared to use our own good faith against us.

Speaking of a pair of renowned and much loved enneagram instructors, one man wrote


The two teachers) presented the Enneagram in and uplifting, inspiring, ugly-duckling-to-beautiful-swan manner.

'I still feel the warmth from my time with them. I still consult my notes. And I can still see and hear Teacher X say, 'Remember, thoughts are things. Your number is really who you are not...You cannot hate someone you cannot understand.'

'(These teachers) the messengers, were their message. That congruity allowed their teachings to slip more easily into the minds of their listeners.'


In my opinion (Corboy) the quoted statements are confusion inducing. Even if the teachers had no intention of doing so, it might have been enough to induce a light trance.

'Remember, thoughts are things. Your number is really who you are not...You cannot hate someone you cannot understand.'

And, to return to the original idea of this small essay, its a recipe for mind fuck to say 'You cannot hate (by extension fear or get angry with) someone you do not understand.'

This interpretation seems very noble, but what it does is turn the sitauation into a self centered confusion inducer. The tough situation is re-interpreted as tough because YOU are lacking in understanding.

It ignores the sad reality that some situations are not entirely our fault. Some folks out there are rude, and it has nothing to do with ones level of understanding or lack of it.

What happens when listeners leave the safe environment of a retreat and run into situations that are going to zap the hard wired fight flight mechanisms and trigger fear, anger, flight? And they flash on 'You cannot hate someone you do not understand'?

They're going to have feelings that the revered enneagram teacher told 'em they should not have--if they really undertood that person or situation.

This can induce a dangerous paralysis of confusion and even guilt if you are thrown into an actual emergency or encounter a mugger or a more clever con artist type--such as someone who tries to sell you a bad loan, or the kind of opportunist who hangs out in the cultic milieu scene in which the enneagram and its associated products are peddled.

A con artist will see the confusion of someone who has been conditioned this way by hanging out in the enneagram crowd (or with some other airy fairy spiriutal project) and think--'Easy mark.'

'If you understood me you could not judge me'Steve Susoyev's dangerous leader.

'You cannot hate someone you do not understand'

Again, never mind the someone. Look instead at how that person is behaving.

Behaviors can be judged/evaluated.

Two, there is something else to consider.

Just because we are reacting to something, doesnt automatically invalidate our perception that the situation is dangerous and we need to avoid it or fight back.

If we are young, or newly recovered from a trauma, or if raised in a tough environment, we may start out being reactive.

Someone may be doing something dangerous being a nuisance, stomping around drunk and noisy at 3 am, waking us up.

Wanting to give the person a punch in the snout doesnt mean we are lousy at our spiritual practice. One guy wrote that a noisy neighbor responded to his complaints by sneering, 'You are a Zen Buddhist. My noise isnt supposed to bother you.'

Nope, we have nerve endings and adrenal glands and fight or flight wiring. Some of us have to go to work early the next morning, and we can judge someone's bad behavior if it keeps us awake.

Just because we are feeling reactive doesnt meant there isnt a real problem.

That said, we can acknowlede the reality of the problem (noisy drunken party at 3 am keeping us awake) and feel angry.

But we can find ways to get relief and tone down our reactivity.

* Call the police

* Contact the landlord

* Talk with the neighbors and if the person still acts like a noisy nuisance, inform landlord that you are going to contact the tenant right board and arrange to withhold part of your rent because you're collectively unable to enjoy your apartment due to the noise troubles.

Note: this same article cited above has a description of Ridhwan method/Diamond work as done by Almaas.

Note that Gurdjieff is cited as a source, along with Almaas and the British object relations psychologist, Winnicott.

Winnicotts work is technical and is required study material for psychotherapists. But Gurdjieff was a huckster and con who got most of his material from Theosophy and odd branches of street hypnosis and fragments of occultism. He was not trained as a therapist.

Name dropping Winnicott in same breath as Gurdjieff is a sign that discernment is lacking.

This too is characteristic of cultic milieu, in which as Colin Campbell noted, ideas and belief systems are considered 'fungible'--eually interchangeable--a stance that ignores how some systems really are incompatiable.

People who have the sense to know that Apple OS, Linux and MS DOS are different operating systems and cannot be used at the same time in one computer, will see no comflict between Theravedan Buddhism and Gurdjieffenneagram, though the belief systems are as dramatically different.

*(Note: Theravedan Pali Canon Buddhadharma was taught openly and with no copywright.By contrast, various versions of the enneagram are heavily trademarked, hinting at craving mentality. And there was even a famous lawsuit between Arica and some early enneagram teachers on who actually had ownership of the gadget.)

So the sociology of Theravedan (Pali) Buddhism is open source, analogous to Linux, vus the trademarked (analogous to Microsoft) and secretive trickstery and charismatic small groups run by Gurdjieff and those who were inspired by him.

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Re: Gurdjieff groups in the SF Bay Area--mid-seventies
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 03, 2011 12:17AM

As the term cultic milieu is referred to, here is a capsule definition from an article on a different topic.


"cultic milieu," which is a parallel religious tradition of disparaged and deviant interpretations and practices that challenge the authority of prevailing religions with rival claims to truth. These upstart movements are dynamic and novel, but usually short-lived. They adhere to an alternative theology that they regard as more authoritative than the laws, rituals, and interpretations that define their parent religions.

The analytic concept of the "cultic milieu" was proposed by Colin Campbell, who called it an ideological underground. Michael Barkun defines the cultic milieu as "the domain of rejected and stigmatized knowledge" that exists alongside the conventional institutions of learning in society.21 The cultic milieu is the dynamic seedbed of novel interpretations of sacred matters out of which new religious communities take shape. The great majority of new groups are benign..


Barkun's definition Michael Barkun defines the cultic milieu as "the domain of rejected and stigmatized knowledge" that exists alongside the conventional institutions of learning in society."

These days, various forms of Zen, Theravedan and Himalayan Buddhism are coming to be mainstream--to the point where there are many speciality publications, retreat centers, etc.

Now that classic forms of Theravedan and Mahayana Buddhism are no longer exotic, but have become respectable, it may be that in American society and the educated west, there is now an unexamined need for alternatives, something to goose, jazz up and enliven Buddhist traditions now considered too staid.

Adding new bells and whistles, even if appropriated from non Buddhist sources, such as Gurdjieff might not only fulfill a desire for avantegardism that can no longer be satisfied with a Buddhism that once was radical and strange but has since become mainstream.

(Its now boringly chic to have a Buddha statue in one's yard. Many companies name their products 'Zen' or pay to use the DL's photo.

These cultic milieu accreations are a way to increase new consumer products.

If a person sticks with JUST Buddhadharma and goes deeply into it, there is little need to buy new products for practice. A sitting cushion will last you decades.

If you stick with straight on Zen, all you need is one cushion, a mat, a robe and if you do a lot of retreats, a set of bowls and chopsticks and napkin, plus some of the core texts by Dogen.

Once you own the robes, you can patch and repatch them. Old school Zen people can be spotted by the tell tale wear mark on the back of their robe. If you live near a Dharma center library, additional books can be checked out. The old texts can be read and re-read, and give new depth each time.

If people go deeply into Buddhadharma and respond to boredom by using that boredom and impasse as a signal to deepen practice, rather than adding yet another gadget or technique, someone that way isnt going to purchase very many spiritual scene consumer goods.

One learns to be alert to the seducations of intellectual fashions, too.

Its a bit like bicycling. My old health club had a thriving series of Power Biking classes. But..people who took those classes bought their equipment at bikes shops and once they had their cleated shoes, shorts and heart rate monitors, didnt need anything else for the Spinning classes.

By contrast, the yoga craze was different. The yoga people wanted to change their wardrobes and were quite ready to buy new outfits--frequently. New mats, new straps, new cutie pie tops, new shorts and shawls, and the pants and tops tailored so as to show off the mandatory tattoo on the lower back.

The gym made extra money selling yoga clothing and accessories.

They lost no time enlarging the yoga studio and the biking class was shoved into a smaller and much nastier room. (To be fair fewer people were doing the powerbiking, many more were taking yoga.)

The yoga people constantly needed new consumer goods mandated by changing fashion--and generated lots of revenue. The powerbiking people were like old school Buddhists--bought just basic equipment, and once purchased, kept using it till it fell apart--generated less sales revenue.

Buddhism when properly practiced is a disaster for consumerism--you live well but learn to investigate your boredom and end up being less apt to go for novelty or impulse purchases, whether its intellectual gagetry or toys.

If a Buddhist is encouraged to react to boredom and impass by adding some stuff to practice that is from a totally different belief system, he or she risks sidestepping the opportunities given BY boredom and impass.

(This excludes situations where one is felled by depression or surfaces flashbacks to trauma. These are medical conditions and requre assessment by a licensed professional--someone who not only can quote big names in psychology theory but who has taken a training program, studied countertranferance, passed the state mandated tests, does continuing education and who accepts accountability by carrying both a license number and liablity insurance.)

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