Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

What experiences led to your opinion that RSE is, or isn't, a cult ? Address issues; no flaming tolerated.
sadfriend
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Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by sadfriend » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:20 pm

I discovered this message board in my quest to understand two dear friends who have seemingly gone off the deep end lately in their beliefs. they spent a few years at RSE but moved back to the east coast a number of years ago. I have always known about their RSE years, but only recently have I come to see how destructive Ramtha's teachings can be.

Do I believe RSE is a cult? Absolutely! I have kept that thought firmly to myself.

Recently, I overheard my friend explain RSE to another friend. One of his statements was "RSE is not a cult". Once I heard that from his lips I KNEW that even he understood that it absolutely is a cult.

As Shakespeare so wisely said, "He who doth protest too much....."

Vanilla
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by Vanilla » Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:58 am

Sad friend- another thing I heard when contemplating if RSE was a cult was my friend who is a serious Ramster said

"Everything is a cult" , meaning politics, groups, religions, etc. So that to me was an admission.

Most ramsters give themselves away, you have to read between the lines. Alot of them are doubting. You can hear it everywhere. But alot dont dare tell their friends what they are really thinking.

The school does its best to pretend that they are a university or college campus with levels and everything. Except you dont graduate ever. JZ could have saved herself lots in taxes by saying she had a spiritual religion. She didnt. Because then its too obvious.

ex
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by ex » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:03 am

vanilla i thought about what you r saying about that some ramsters doubt. i hope you r right and i think too that there is something in us which yells beware from the 1st day!!! but i didn't listen, in the beginning. do people wait until dec 10 2012? how many countries don't have to be iced or not sunk into the sea? they don't see a way out? with me my investment was tremendous. so i hoped till the end on a sign from ramtha to put everything right. of course jz gives a shhh. again if someone out there could satisfy my curiosity: how many woke up this year? how many closed ranks? how many doubt?

Ockham
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by Ockham » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:52 pm

About a year ago I was visiting with family friends, one of whom is involved in RSE. She was listening to what seemed to be an RSE-issued compact disc with JZ Knight and/or, "Ramtha," speaking. It was hard to tell which, as JZ Knight and, "Ramtha," often sound virutally the same to me.

On the recording either JZ Kinght or, "Ramtha," went on for about half an hour how RSE is not a cult. I thought it was pretty strange that JZ/"Ramtha," would care if anybody thought RSE is a cult. To quote the Queen from Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." The more JZ denies she's running a cult of personality, the more obvious it is that is what she is doing. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck; must be a duck!

The Ramsters are right that there are many cult-like things in the world. It is not so much the issue that RSE is a cult, rather it is the systematic deprivation of independent thought and financial depletion that is tragic.

ex
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by ex » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:54 pm

many teachings of ramtha are more or less premade answers which get introduced into students. ask one question several ramsters they will give you the same answers. thanks for writing sadfriend

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:50 pm

sadfriend,
cult confusion reigns without definition. I recently wrote a brief 9 pg article for a hospital website about the "cult problem". This is what I used as a definition:
Cults, properly defined, have been around since human beings devised devotional and sacrificial rites to influence and appease natural forces, powerful or fickle gods, special people or ancestors, and objects with magical power. Consider that ancient Greek and so-called pagan religion was in reality an extensive collection of non-exclusive cults directed at deities like the Sun (Helios), Zeus, Apollo, and Mithra. Sometime early in the 20th Century “cult” migrated out of its proper and neutral academic definition in popular jargon to indicate spurious, radical and possibly harmful groups with charismatic leaders of questionable character and motive. It is this popular definition of cult that I am dealing with in this article. A religious position ensued by mid-20th Century, primarily among Evangelical camps defining cult as any form of worship not in compliance with Evangelical interpretation of the Bible. Similar attitudes exist among Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists that view all outside their elite if constricted view as “infidels.” In other words, cults are “other” religions to a Fundamentalist. However, in my view and that of most of my colleagues in the cult intervention field, this is not a religious belief problem but it does involve questions regarding knowledge and how that influences conduct and governance.
so basically, I see emf using this definition of cults:
spurious, radical and possibly harmful groups with charismatic leaders of questionable character and motive
to say "everything is a cult" is to have no definition and no spine :roll:
it means someone's brain has ceased to "stop and think" critically

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:07 pm

Whenever I lectured about the cult problem RSE was one of the best of ten good examples to illustrate "the problem."
here's some more of that paper I mention above (sorry for the length, but cut and paste is so easy :D :
Janja Lalich, PhD, a professor of sociology (and a personal friend) developed one of the more recent models called “Bounded Choice” which she presented as her dissertation and later published as a book by that title in 2004. The subtitle of her dissertation sums up the problem well: “The Fusion of Personal Freedom and Self-Renunciation in Two Transcendent Groups.” As a college graduate and distinguished scholar after 1967, Lalich ventured into the human rights field and soon joined the Democratic Workers Party headed by a charismatic woman with connections to national migrant workers organizations. After 11 years of service Lalich and others broke away from the DWP thus dissolving the small but potent organization, realizing a deep violation of personal freedom imposed by social and psychological forces that blinded her as to what was really going on. The leader, an unrecovered alcoholic, went into a rage when her followers defected and moved onto other things. As Lalich states, “I wanted to figure out what the heck happened to me.” She soon got involved, as I did in the 1980s, with cult awareness groups and with scholars in “brainwashing” theory including Dr Benjamin Zablocki (Rutgers), Dr Margaret T Singer (1921-2003), Dr L Jolyn West (1924-99), and Dr Robert Jay Lifton (b1926).

Lalich’s Bounded Choice model compares her political cult experience with that of the Heaven’s Gate “UFO” cult led by Marshall Applewhite. Heaven’s Gate made headlines in 1997 when 39 members were found dead in California after a ritual suicide. Although Marshall Applewhite quietly co-led this cult under various other names (He and She; Bo and Peep; The Overcomers) for over 25 years, the final act is what people recall. Until that final act, most people and the press will generally ignore eccentric groups much as they ignore a homeless person with schizophrenia until that person defaces a national monument or kills a celebrity.

Drawing on Anthony Giddens’s (1984) theory of structuration, Herbert Simon’s (1955, 1956, 1976) theory of bounded rationality, and Robert Jay Lifton’s (1961) theory of personal closure, Lalich identifies four “organizational aspects” that contribute to harmful cult behavior:
1. Charismatic Authority: Relating to leader as godlike, heroic, messiah, or genius
2. Transcendent Belief System: Universal or “sacred” theme that transcends individuality; transpersonal goals
3. System of Control: Rules, code of conduct, sense of “family,” selective information
4. System of Influence: Rituals, workshops, peer pressure, crisis management

Lalich says, “The result of this interactive dynamic is a “self-sealing system,” that is, a social system that is closed to disconfirming evidence and structured in such a way that everything reinforces the system. “Bounded choice” theory helps us understand the seemingly irrational behavior of the most dedicated adherents. The theory attempts to take into account individual choice within the context of an authoritarian, transcendent, closed group.”

Lalich taps Lifton’s “theory of personal closure” or the experience adherents have under thought reform systems with Totalist agendas. Dr Lifton’s 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A study of “brainwashing” in Communist China remains a seminal resource for anyone worldwide studying the cult/brainwashing phenomenon. Lifton identified eight “themes” that appear to create a climate of thought reform (hsi-nao in Chinese means ‘cleanse mind’ or ‘wash brain’ but properly translated means thought reform) to create a deployable agent for a sacred cause. These themes occur throughout military training, corporate behavior codes, and almost any exclusive group, club or gang formation to some degree, but Lifton is clear that the more “totalist” an agenda becomes, the more closure or bounded choice an individual will experience.

Lifton’s eight themes:
1. Milieu Control: Social and psychological environment under pervasive influence
2. Doctrine over Person: Loyalty to teaching, testament, codes; suppress self
3. “Sacred” Science: Doctrine is true and transcendent, thus cannot be questioned
4. Doctrine of Purity: One must continually “improve” according to god-like goals
5. Mystical Manipulation: Personal experience is covertly engineered by managers
6. Loaded Language: Code words and internal jargon identify one as a cult member
7. Cult of Confession: Revealing doubts, infractions obsessively for correction
8. Dispensing of Existence: Devaluing outsiders, naming who gets saved

High-demand or totalist cult systems, according to Lifton and Lalich, create an elite atmosphere wherein loyal members can never do enough, know enough or be pure enough, thus setting up a continual feeling of shame and guilt that the managers can readily exploit.

Dr Kathleen Taylor (2006), a neuroscientist, wrote Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control using Lifton’s eight themes as a sociological structure to help explain her research on how our brains work when thinking creatively as opposed to unhealthy, inflexible “neuro-pathways” that develop under influence of cults and in abusive relationships. More importantly, Taylor offers a remedy to brainwashing by explaining how “stop and think” techniques primarily located in the pre-frontal cortex work to keep our brains healthy and our choices wise.

Dr Arthur Deikman (2003), a psychiatrist, expanding on his 1994 version of this book, defines cult behavior in Them and Us: Cult thinking and terrorist threat according to four behaviors:
1. Compliance with a Group: Peer pressure, team over self
2. Dependence on a Leader: Hero worship; hierarchy; authoritarian
3. Avoiding Dissent: Suppress doubt, avoid critics, harmony at all cost
4. Devaluing the Outsider: Defines ‘them and us’


My four-part model of a harmful a cult was published several years ago:
1. Transcendental Attraction: A grand scheme, special or secret knowledge,
2. Exclusive Leadership: Unique, charismatic authority with no peers
3. Circular Tension: Despite great effort to comply, or maintain a tight orbit around a central idea and authority, actual gain to perfection remains unrealized
4. Exit Perils: Outside world is demonized, loss of salvation and elite connection feared, entire personal investment wasted if one defects

Cults often begin after a leader or hero establishes a charismatic relationship with followers or fans. Most often this ends there, as in “She has a cult following” when we talk about a popular singer, writer, or actress. Sometimes this kind of hero worship escalates in academia for a philosopher or innovator in behavioral health. The Plato Cult by David Stone (1991) addresses the unrealistic adulation we have for famous philosophers. Now, do not jump to any conclusions from the title—Professor Stone is by no means dismissing Plato’s real value as a philosopher. What he does throughout in his series of essays is bring great philosophers down to earth:

“The case of Plato is not at all unique, merely extreme. In fact, all great philosophers attract a reverence which is far stronger and more widespread than that which, by any rational estimate, they are entitled to. The idolatry of Aristotle, for four hundred years after the revival of his philosophy in the twelfth century, is a stock example. But Kant, similarly, has enjoyed for two hundred years a reputation as a philosopher which is ridiculously exaggerated: as is the odour of Enlightenment-sanctity which surrounds his life. Hegel’s philosophy is now as much respected as it deserves to be despised, and even his most prosaic (not to say sordid) political adjustments are represented, in retrospect, as Absolute Spirit working itself out in history. And so on.”

In the same vein as Stone, Robert Lifton in his book The Protean Self (1993) offers an antidote to not only the sense of fragmentation we experience in the modern world but also the temptation we all have to accept soothing, totalist answers to deal with fragmentation. Lifton points to certain notable behavioral science theorists that create a charismatic relationship with their academic followers. Regarding 20th Century behavioral health theorists R.D.Laing, Jacques Lacan, Heinz Kohut, Lifton writes:

“Laing, Lacan, and Kohut experienced an irony in common: each took on a powerful charisma for an immediate group of followers, a process that inevitably “stops time,” imparts a form of magic to intellectual exchange, and thereby undermines the original exploratory impulse.”

In a sense, cults create a transcendent experience that “stops time” for the follower who feels the aura of a final answer to life’s questions. Thereby, “the original exploratory impulse” that got them there freezes. All that remains is to deflect criticism and doubt and to stay in orbit around the perceived savior or guru.


In summary, there is no scientifically established or legally accepted definition of harmful cult mind control or brainwashing in the United States. Established law does acknowledge undue influence, fraud, harassment, terroristic threat, and other factors that contribute to brainwashing or mind control, also known as coercive persuasion, gaslighting, and thought reform. A number of American, British and Australian scholars have been contentiously arguing over the validity of thought reform theory since the 1970s. Existing religions and eccentric social clubs are wary of established legal parameters regarding aggressive recruitment and conversion techniques. Official positions regarding cults vary from nation to nation with Germany, Israel, Russia and France having perhaps the most rigorous national safeguards against harmful cult activity for obvious reasons stemming from a variety of totalist movements that devastated Europe and Asia in the 20th Century.

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ponysong
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by ponysong » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:46 pm

Joe, is that article published online? I'd like to be able to link to it on another forum where I'm a member.

joe sz
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:39 pm

ponysong,
Do you mean the hospital one? not yet--it is in editing...I'll let you know when/if and where it is published asap.

but you have permission to cut and paste what I wrote above.
Joe

freemysoul
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by freemysoul » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:25 pm

First of all, thanks Joe for all the great info. The word 'cult' should be clearly defined so people don't have more misunderstanding and confusion in an already complicated arena. With all the double speak and the generally misleading nature of rse, it is refreshing to have an incontrovertible explanation as to what rse is in reality, and not have to rely on JZ Knight's definition of what it is. My god, she has changed the name of rse at least 8 or 9 times, and has vehemently denied that rse is a cult, speaking out countless times against people using 'cult' as an rse moniker. I think that for JZ, rse is a cult of money and hero worship, where she feeds off of the energy in that crowded arena, and all that cash in the registers. No matter how people look at it and try to microscope it to death, RSE IS A CULT.

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ponysong
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by ponysong » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:38 pm

joe sz wrote:ponysong,
Do you mean the hospital one? not yet--it is in editing...I'll let you know when/if and where it is published asap.

but you have permission to cut and paste what I wrote above.
Joe
Thanks, Joe, I will use it.

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:36 am

Ponysong,
I posted a version sans short intro here on my site
http://jszimhart.com/blog/inside_the_cult_controversy

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by ponysong » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:06 pm

joe sz wrote:Ponysong,
I posted a version sans short intro here on my site
http://jszimhart.com/blog/inside_the_cult_controversy
Oh, excellent! Thanks, Joe!

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:47 pm

the key to understanding 'harmful cult' as 'abusive relationship' is in this one statement i made:
In a sense, cults create a transcendent experience that “stops time” for the follower who feels the aura of a final answer to life’s questions. Thereby, “the original exploratory impulse” that got them there freezes. All that remains is to deflect criticism and doubt and to stay in orbit around the perceived savior or guru.
If you look up "Field Theory" developed by Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) and others, you will get a better idea of what most non-academic folk unwittingly mean when they say something is a "cult."
http://wilderdom.com/theory/FieldTheory.html

Lewin's social psychological approach noted early on how social environments can determine individual experience [behavior]and under certain circumstances (as defined by Lifton or Lalich and others) that individual experience will "freeze" in orbit around what the experiencer now believes is his or her Reality. This is why we so often hear Ramsters and other New Agers loudly procliam "well, that is MY EXPERIENCE or MY REALITY"..... :roll:

yes, it sure is your experience and you, the cult member, have no clue [yet] how you got stuck there :lol:

"Unfreezing" from such a powerful "experience" can be painful, filled with cognitive dissonance [confusion, headaches, nausea, fear, retreat, denial, etc]

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:47 pm

the key to understanding 'harmful cult' as 'abusive relationship' is in this one statement i made:
In a sense, cults create a transcendent experience that “stops time” for the follower who feels the aura of a final answer to life’s questions. Thereby, “the original exploratory impulse” that got them there freezes. All that remains is to deflect criticism and doubt and to stay in orbit around the perceived savior or guru.
If you look up "Field Theory" developed by Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) and others, you will get a better idea of what most non-academic folk unwittingly mean when they say something is a "cult."
http://wilderdom.com/theory/FieldTheory.html

Lewin's social psychological approach noted early on how social environments can determine individual experience [behavior]and under certain circumstances (as defined by Lifton or Lalich and others) that individual experience will "freeze" in orbit around what the experiencer now believes is his or her Reality. This is why we so often hear Ramsters and other New Agers loudly procliam "well, that is MY EXPERIENCE or MY REALITY"..... :roll:

yes, it sure is your experience and you, the cult member, have no clue [yet] how you got stuck there :lol:

"Unfreezing" from such a powerful "experience" can be painful, filled with cognitive dissonance [confusion, headaches, nausea, fear, retreat, denial, etc]

California Dreamin'
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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by California Dreamin' » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:15 am

Quote:
In a sense, cults create a transcendent experience that “stops time” for the follower who feels the aura of a final answer to life’s questions. Thereby, “the original exploratory impulse” that got them there freezes. All that remains is to deflect criticism and doubt and to stay in orbit around the perceived savior or guru.

I remember the experience of KNOWING when I was at RSE that I was truly existing in a different dimension. All time outside of the ranch (ie my real life) stood still while I dallied in my fancies. Sort of like "what happens in Vegas/RSE stays in Vegas/RSE."

Fortunately, I never crossed any irreversible moral lines, but boy oh boy did I come close. As an RSE student, I totally gave up my limitations and I was "ripe" to make some serious judgement errors.

I got out just in time.

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by sadfriend » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:17 am

Dear California Dreamin'

Your comment about KNOWING really struck a chord with me. When I ask my friends to explain the beliefs that are leading them to sell their home (for a HUGE loss), move far away from family and friends, and give up an active business, the answer is that always that they have a KNOWINGNESS that this is what they are supposed to do.

When you are in that state do you truly believe in your feeling of KNOWING or is that just an explanation for doing things that they understand will seem wacky to their friends? And if the KNOWING really feels genuine, what causes that belief to go away?

Trying so hard to understand,

Sadfriend

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by Ockham » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:16 am

I have not been an RSE member, but from listening to what family friends who are ramsters say about, "events," at JZ Knight's ranch I'd question whether it is true KNOWING or group hypnosis and mind control. To the person experiencing it, however, the two states of mind are essentially indistinguishable.

If you want to be creeped out, read the writings of or a biography about the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. You'll see tactics used by charismatic religious groups are eerily similar to tools of propaganda Goebbels describes. While not everybody in Germany was sucked into the Nazi cult of personality, enough went along to embroil multiple contients in war.

I think you put your finger on the problem of why it is so hard to break the lock RSE has on ramsters. To the person immersed in it, the mind has been programmed and the fantasy is reality.

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by joe sz » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:58 am

sadfriend
to carry ockham's pt further, propaganda appeals to a primitive part of the brain, much as advertizing does, when it is done "right."
it is also that part that wants to believe that the next roll of the dice will be the winner or the part that "knew" it when something confirms with a prior hunch. As in when you shift long lines in a grocery store only to find that you made a mistake---"I knew i should not have done that!"
iow, it is making a choice based on desire or fixed belief and not on evidence

to put this another way:
the only thing between your heart and God is your head
is standard new age jargon.
If you regard evidence carefully, the true believer will say that your "monkey mind" is controlling you.

Now I am not disparaging the "ways of the heart" that certainly have their place in every human being's life, as when we fall in love or buy a fine piece of art, music or ornament on impulse. That way can enrich us enormously and add some valuable fun to our lives. But that way of the heart can also be hijacked, and that is what has happened to your friends. Their hearts have been hijacked by what they hope is a magical answer to all life's ultimate dilemmas.
It is like letting loose of the reins of a horse to experience a kind of freedom but not realizing that those very reins are now in the hands of a mentally unstable con artist.

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Re: Is RSE A Cult? thread 2

Unread post by freemysoul » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:00 am

Knowingness to me when I was involved with rse meant I had blocked out anything and everything from my mind, becoming completely single minded on one idea or object so as to 'bring' that thing into my life, putting aside doubt, or any other thought contrary to that desire.
With the help of time and the return of my critical thought process, I understand now that I was stubbornly and ignorantly ignoring reason and rational thought because I rationalized by doing so would bring about my selfish material desires. My 'knowingness' was just my excuse to remain blissfully ignorant of the reality which I had involved myself in.

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