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passing this along ...

Unread post by Whatchamacallit » Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:01 am

The Christopher Hansard Courant
March 26, 2009

The Emperor?s Tantric Robes - Codes of Secrecy in the cult

An Interview with June Campbell on Codes of Secrecy and Silence

Tricycle: Is it your understanding that Kalu Rinpoche broke his vows?

Campbell: I don?t know what his vows were. We never spoke of them. What I do know is that clearly I was not an equal in our relationship. As I understand it, the ideals of tantra are that two people come together in a ritualistic exchange of equally, valued and distinct energies. Ideally, the relationship should be reciprocal, mutual. The female would have to be seen on both sides as being as important as the male in the relationship.

My relationship with Kalu Rinpoche was not a partnership of equals. When it started. I was in my late twenties. He was almost seventy. He controlled the relationship. I was sworn to secrecy. What I am saying is that it was not a formal ritualistic relationship, nor was it the ?tantric? relationship that people might like to imagine.

The etymology of the word tantra is similar in Sanskrit and Tibetan. In Sanskrit, the word means loom, or warp, but is understood as the principle underlying everything.

In Tibetan, tantra is known as ju (Tibetan rgyud), which means thread, string, or ?that which joins things together.?

Tricycle: You ended up feeling sexually exploited? Used for personal indulgence?

Campbell: Obviously at the time and for some years afterwards I didn?t think this. How could I? It would have caused me too much distress to see it in this light. It took me many years of thinking about the whole thing to see it differently, and to begin speaking about my experience. This wasn?t easy. I tried through writing to understand why people rationalize these acts as beneficial, and it made me question a lot of things. I?ve got no doubts now that when a male teacher demands a relationship that involves secret sex, an imbalance of power, threats, and deception, the woman is exploited. You have to ask, ?Where does the impulse to hide sexual behavior come from?? Especially if it happens in a system that supposedly values the sexual relationship. Of course, there are those who say they are consensually doing secret ?tantric? practices in the belief that it?s helping them become ?enlightened,? whatever that means. That?s up to them, and if they?re both saying it, that?s fine.

But there?s a difference between that and the imperative for women not to speak of the fact that they?re having a sexual relationship at all. What?s that all about if it?s not about fear of being found out! And what lies behind that fear? These are the question I had to ask.

Tricycle: You were sworn to secrecy by him?

Campbell: Yes. And by the one other person who knew. A member of his entourage.

Tricycle: What might have happened if you had broken the silence?

Campbell: Well, it was assumed that I wouldn?t. But I was told that in a previous life, the last life before this one, Kalu Rinpoche had a woman who caused trouble by wanting to get closer to him, or by wanting to stay with him longer. She made known her own needs, made her own demands, and he put a spell on her and she died.

Tricycle: Just the way child abusers deal with their victims: ?If you tell, something bad will happen to you.

Campbell: Yes, there are many similarities. It instills fear in the context of religion. Put yourself in my
position. If I had refused to cooperate I would still have known something that was threatening to the lama and his followers. Where would I have gone from there? If I?d wanted to talk about it no one would have believed me. Some people don?t believe me now. And what if I?d spoken out and the lama had denied it publicly? Could he still have been my teacher? I don?t think so. As it was I was happy to comply at the time because I thought it was the right thing to do and that it would help me. But I was still very, very isolated and afraid for years to speak about it.

In my own experience, despite the absence of a Tibetan upbringing, there were quite specific motivating factors that helped to keep me silent over many years. These factors were probably similar to those which influenced Tibetan women over the centuries. . . . Firstly, there is no doubt that the secret role into which an unsuspecting woman was drawn bestowed a certain amount of personal prestige, in spite of the fact that there was no public acknowledgment of the woman?s position. Secondly, by participating in intimate activities with someone considered in her own and the Buddhist community?s eyes to be extremely holy, the woman was able to develop a belief that she too was in some way ?holy? and the events surrounding her were karmically predisposed. Finally, despite the restrictions imposed on her, most women must have viewed their collusion as ?a test of faith,? and an appropriate opportunity perhaps for deepening their knowledge of the dharma and for entering ?the sacred space.?

Tricycle: There are Westerners who knew you when you were with Kalu Rinpoche, who were also close disciples. They did not explicitly know what was going on at the time, yet some of them say now that they are not surprised by your book, that they ?knew? without really knowing and that the sexual behavior of lamas, so-called celibate or not, is so pervasive that, in addition to their respect for your personal integrity, there would be no reason to question your veracity At the same time, students in the West who never knew Kalu Rinpoche are disputing you story. And I have already received phone calls from two Tibetan lamas in the Kalu Rinpoche lineage asking me not to publish any of your work and accusing you of making all this up, saying, in both cases, ?this June Campbell had a fantasy of having an affair with Kalu Rinpoche.?

Campbell: Well, it?s not the first time that the ?fantasy? argument has been used against women. Freud gave in to the social pressures of his day to suppress the truth about what he knew about sexual abuse and incest, and came up with the ?female fantasy? theory, now totally discredited. Of course, it?s understandable that those lamas should react in this way; after all, they knew nothing of what was going on. But I?d rather face up now to people abusing my character than go on denying the truth. In any case, my book isn?t about Kalu Rinpoche. It is about much wider issues than my own personal experience, although obviously the effort to write it came from that experience. I left Tibetan Buddhism thirteen years ago and I spent most of those years thinking about the complexities of what happened. If what I?ve written is dismissed by Buddhists as irrelevant, or a fantasy, or a lie-so be it, it doesn?t bother me. I know that writing the book helped me acknowledge m)r past and come to terms with a lot of difficult feelings. It helped me to understand what happened by myself and on my own terms. No one can tell me that isn?t true.

Tricycle: What advice do you have for women who are currently in the position you were in twenty-five years ago?

Campbell: This is a difficult one. Twenty-five years ago I would only take advice from men in maroon robes called ?Rinpoche,? so I imagine women in a similar position today will be very, very unlikely to listen to a middle-aged Scotswoman, especially one who?s just been slandered by Tibetan lamas as being a neurotic liar! Still, you?ve given me the opportunity, so I?d have to say: Don?t agree to a long-term secret relationship; it?s a burden you?ll have to carry all your life, and in the end you?ll have to be true to yourself and face up to why you entered into it. If you?re afraid of what might happen next, or how you?ll deal with the stresses of secrecy, try to take control of your life again. If you?re being passive and compliant because he?s your teacher, do as I did eventually: think for yourself, take action, and end it. Never allow part of yourself to be hidden away under threats of ?bad karma? or anything else. The truth never made ?bad karma.? If you need to, look for supportive people to help you. If you?ve started to feel that in some way you?re special, that maybe you?ve been chosen to fulfill some kind of destiny, well, think again. These kinds of thoughts won?t help you to become strong in yourself. They may seem to explain things now, but they?ll only hold you back in the long run.

The following is an excerpt from the book ?Captive Hearts, Captive Minds? by Madeleine Landau
Tobias and Janja Lalich. See other ?Resources and Links? for ordering information.

The Master Manipulator

Let us look for a moment at how some of this manifests in the cult leader. Cult leaders have an
outstanding ability to charm and win over followers. They beguile and seduce. They enter a room and garner all the attention. They command the utmost respect and obedience. These are ?individuals whose narcissism is so extreme and grandiose that they exist in a kind of splendid isolation in which the creation of the grandiose self takes precedence over legal, moral or interpersonal commitments.?(l8) Paranoia may be evident in simple or elaborate delusions of persecution. Highly suspicious, they may feel conspired against, spied upon or cheated, or maligned by a person, group, or governmental agency. Any real or suspected unfavorable reaction may be interpreted as a deliberate attack upon them or the group. (Considering the criminal nature of some groups and the antisocial behavior of others, some of these fears may have more of a basis in reality than delusion!)

Harder to evaluate, of course, is whether these leaders? belief in their magical powers, omnipotence, and connection to God (or whatever higher power or belief system they are espousing) is delusional or simply part of the con. Megalomania?the belief that one is able or entitled to rule the world?is equally hard to evaluate without psychological testing of the in- dividual, although numerous cult leaders state quite readily that their goal is to rule the world. In any case, beneath the surface gloss of intelligence, charm, and professed humility seethes an inner world of rage, depression, and fear.

Two writers on the subject used the label ?Trust Bandit? to describe the psychopathic personality.(l9) Trust Bandit is indeed an apt descripdon of this thief of our hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and pocketbooks. Since a significant percentage of current and former cult members have been in more than one cultic group or relationship, learning to recognize the per- sonality style of the Trust Bandit can be a useful antidote to further abuse.

The Profile of a Psychopath

In reading the profile, bear in mind the three characteristics that Robert Lifton sees as common to a cultic situation:

1. A charismatic leader who?increasingly becomes the object of worship

2. A series of processes that can be associated with ?coercive persuasion? or ?thought reform?

3. The tendency toward manipulation from above?with exploitation?economic, sexual, or other?of often genuine seekers who bring idealism from below(20)

Based on the psychopathy checklists of Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare, we now explore certain traits that are particularly pertinent to cult leaders. The 15 characteristics outlined below list features commonly found in those who become perpetrators of psychological and physical abuse. In the discussion we use the nomenclature ?psychopath? and ?cult leader? interchangeably. To illustrate these points, a case study of Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh follows this section.

We are not suggesting that all cult leaders are psychopaths but rather that they may exhibit many of the behavioral characteristics of one. We are also not proposing that you use this checklist to make a diagnosis, which is something only a trained professional can do. We present the checklist as a tool to help you label and demystify traits you may have noticed in your leader.

Characteristics of a Cult Leader

People coming out of a cultic group or relationship often struggle with the question, ?Why would anyone (my leader, my lover, my teacher) do this to me?? When the deception and exploitation become clear, the enormous unfairness of the victimization and abuse can be very difficult to accept. Those who have been part of such a nightmare often have difficulty placing the blame where it belongs?on the leader.

A cult cannot be truly explored or understood without understanding its leader. A cult?s formation,
proselytizing methods, and means of control ?are determined by certain salient personality characteristics of [the] cult leader?.Such individuals are authoritarian personalities who attempt to compensate for their deep, intense feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and hostility by forming cultic groups primarily to attract those whom they can psychologically coerce into and keep in a passive-submissive state, and secondarily to use them to increase their income.?(l)

In examining the motives and activities of these self-proclaimed leaders, it becomes painfully obvious that cult life is rarely pleasant for the disciple and breeds abuses of all sorts. As a defense against the high level of anxiety that accompanies being so acutely powerless, people in cults often assume a stance of self-blame. This is reinforced by the group?s ma- manipulative messages that the followers are never good enough and are to blame for everything that goes wrong.

Demystifying the guru?s power is an important part of the psyche- educational process needed to fully recover.(2) It is critical to truly gaining freedom and independence from the leader?s control. The process starts with some basic questions: Who was this person who encouraged you to view him as God, all-knowing, or all-powerful? What did he get out of this masquerade? What was the real purpose of the group (or relationship)?

In cults and abusive relationships, those in a subordinate position usually come to accept the abuse as their fault, believing that they deserve the foul treatment or that it is for their own good. They sometimes persist in believing that they are bad rather than considering that the person upon whom they are so dependent is cruel, untrustworthy, and unreliable. It is simply too frightening for them to do that: it threatens the balance of power and means risking total rejection, loss, and perhaps even death of self or loved ones.
This explains why an abused cult follower may become disenchanted with the relationship or the group yet continue to believe in the teachings, goodness, and power of the leader.

Even after leaving the group or relationship, many former devotees carry a burden of guilt and shame while they continue to regard their former leader as paternal, all-good, and godlike. This is quite common in those who ?walk away? from their groups, especially if they never seek the benefits of an exit counseling or therapy to deal with cult-related issues. This same phenomenon is found in battered women and in children who are abused by their parents or other adults they admire.

To heal from a traumatic experience of this type, it is important to understand who and what the
perpetrator is. As long as there are illusions about the leader?s motivation, powers, and abilities, those who have been in his grip deprive themselves of an important opportunity for growth: the chance to empower themselves, to become free of the tyranny of dependency on others for their well-being, spiritual growth, and happiness.

The Authoritarian Power Dynamic

The purpose of a cult (whether group or one-on-one) is to serve the emotional, financial, sexual, and power needs of the leader. The single most important word here is power. The dynamic around which cults are formed is similar to that of other power relationships and is essentially ultra- auhoritarian, based on a power imbalance. The cult leader by definition must have an authoritarian personality in order to fulfill his half of the power dynamic. Traditional elements of authoritarian personalities indude the following:

-the tendency to hierarchy

-the drive for power (and wealth)

-hostility, hatred, prejudice

- superficial judgments of people and events

-a one-sided scale of values favoring the one in power

-interpreting kindness as weakness

-the tendency to use people and see others as inferior

-a sadistic-masochistic tendency

-incapability of being ultimately satisfied


In a study of twentieth-century dictators, one researcher wrote: ?Since compliance depends on whether the leader is perceived as being both powerful and knowing, the ever-watchful and all-powerful leader and his invisible but observant and powerful instruments, such as secret police) can be invoked in the same way as an unobservable but omniscient God?.Similarly, the pomp and ceremony surrounding such an individual make him more admirable and less like the common herd, increasing both his self-confidence and the confidence of his subjects. The phenomenon is found not only with individual leaders, but with entire movemnts?(4)

We will see, however, that an authoritarian personality is just one aspect of the nature of a cult leader.

Who Becomes a Cult Leader?

Frequently at gatherings of former cult members a lively exchange takes place in which those present compare their respective groups and leaders. As people begin to describe their special, enlightened, and unique ?guru??be he a pastor, therapist, political leader, teacher, lover, or swami?they are quickly surprised to find that their once-revered leaders are really quite similar in temperament and personality. It often seems as if these leaders come tiom a common mold, sometimes jokingly called the ?Cookie-cutter Messiah School.?

These similarities between cult leaders of all stripes are in fact character disorders commonly identified with the psychopathic personality. They have been studied by psychiatrists, medical doctors, clinical psychologists, and others for more than half a century. In this chapter we review some of this research and conclude with a psychopathological profile of traits commonly found in abusive leaders.

Cultic groups usually originate with a living leader who is believed to be ?god? or godlike by a cadre of dedicated believers. Along with a dra- matic and convincing talent for self-expression, these leaders have an intuitive ability to sense their followers? needs and draw them closer with promises of fulfillment.
Gradually, the leader inculcates the group with his own private ideology (or craziness!), then creates
conditions so that his victims cannot or dare not test his claims. How can you prove someone is not the Messiah? That the world won?t end tomorrow? That humans are not possessed by aliens from another world or dimension? Through psychological manipulation and control, cult leaders trick their followers into believing in something, then prevent them from testing and disproving that mythology or belief system.

The Role of Charisma

In general, charismatic personalities are known for their inescapable magnetism, their winning style, the self-assurance with which they promote something?a cause, a belief, a product. A charismatic person who offers hope of new beginnings often attracts attention and a following. Over the years we have witnessed this in the likes of Dale Carnegie, Werner Erhard (founder of est, now The Forum), John Hanley (founder of Lifespring), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Shirley MacLaine, John Bradshaw, Marianne Williamson, Ramtha channeler J.Z. Knight, and a rash of Amway ?executives,? weight-loss program promoters and body-building gurus.

One dictionary definition of charisma is ?a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader or military commander); a special magnetic charm or appeal.?(5) Charisma was studied in depth by the German sociologist Max Weber, who defined it as ?an exceptional quality in an individual who, through appearing to possess supernatural, providential, or extraordinary powers, succeeds in gathering disciples around him.?(6)

Weber?s charismatic leader was ?a sorcerer with an innovative aura and a personal magnetic gift, [who] promoted a specific doctrine?. [and was] concerned with himself rather than involved with others?.[He] held an exceptional type of power: it set aside the usages of normal political life and assumed instead those of demagoguery, dictatorship, or revo- lution, [which induced] men?s whole-hearted devotion to the charismatic individual through a blind and fanatical trust and an unrestrained and un- critical faith.?(7)

In the case of cults, of course, we know that this induction of whole hearted devotion does not happen spontaneously but is the result of the cult leader?s skillful use of thought-reform techniques. Charisma on its own is not evil and does not necessarily breed a cult leader. Charisma is, however, a powerful and awesome attribute found in many cult leaders who use it in ways that are both self-serving and destructive to others. The combination of charisma and psychopathy is a lethal mixture?perhaps it is the very recipe used at the Cookie-cutter Messiah School!

For the cult leader, having charisma is perhaps most useful during the stage of cult formation. It takes a strong-willed and persuasive leader to convince people of a new belief, then gather the newly converted around him as devoted followers. A misinterpretation of the cult leader?s personal charisma may also foster his followers? belief in his special or messianic qualities.

So we see that charisma is indeed a desirable trait for someone who wishes to attract a following.
However, like beauty, charisma is in the eye of the beholder. Mary, for example, may be completely taken with a par- ticular seminar leader, practically swooning at his every word, while her friend Susie doesn?t feel the slightest tingle. Cehtainly at the time a person is under the sway of charisma the effect is very real. Yet, in reality, charisma does nothing more than create a certain worshipful reaction to an idealized figure in the mind of the one who is smitten.

In the long run, skills of persuasion (which may or may not be charismadc) are more important to the cult leader than charisma?for the power and hold of cults depend on the particular environment shaped by the thought-reform program and control mechanisms, all of which are usually conceptualized and put in place by the leader. Thus it is the psychopathology of the leader, not his charisma, that causes the systematic manipulative abuse and exploitation found in cults.

The Cult Leader as Psychopath

Cultic groups and relationships are formed primarily to meet specific emotional needs of the leader, many of whom suffer from one or another unotional or character disorder. Few, if any, cult leaders subject them- selves to the psychological tests or prolonged clinical interviews that allow for an accurate diagnosis.
However, researchers and clinicians who have observed these individuals describe them variously as neurotic, psychotic, on a spectrum exhibiting neurotic, sociopathic, and psychotic characteristics, or suffering from a diagnosed personality disorder.(8)

It is not our intent here to make an overarching diagnosis, nor do we intend to imply that ah cult leaders or the leaders of any of the groups mentioned here are psychopaths. In reviewing the data, however, we can surmise that there is significant psychological dysfunctioning in some cult leaders and that their behavior demonstrates features rather consistent with the disorder known as psychopathy.

Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world?s foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America. He writes, ?Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.?(9)

Psychopathy falls within the section on personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard source book used in making psychiatric evaluations and
diagnoses.(l0) In the draft version of the manual?s 4th edition (to be released Spring 1994), this disorder is listed as ?personality disorder not otherwise specified/Cleckley-type psychopath,? named after psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley who carried out the first major studies of psychopaths. The combination of personality and behavioral traits that allows for this diagnosis must be evident in the person?s history, not simply apparent during a particular episode. That is, psychopathy is a long-term personality disorder. The term psychopath is often used interchangeably with sociopath, or sociopathic personality Because it is more commonly recognized, we use the term psychopath here.

Personality disorders, as a diagnosis, relate to certain inflexible and maladaptive behaviors and traits that cause a person to have significantly impaired social or occupational functioning. Signs of this are often first manifested in childhood and adolescence, and are expressed through distorted patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself. In simple terms this means that something is amiss, awry, not quite right in the person, and this creates problems in how he or she relates to the rest of the world. 6

The psychopathic personality is sometimes confused with the ?anti- social personality,? another disorder; however, the psychopath exhibits more extreme behavior than the antisocial personality. The antisocial per- sonality is identified by a mix of antisocial and criminal behaviors?he is the common criminal. The psychopath, on the other hand, is characterized by a mix of criminal and socially deviant behavior.

Psychopathy is not the same as psychosis either. The latter is characterized by an inability to differentiate what is real from what is imagined: boundaries between self and others are lost, and critical thinking is greatly impaired. While generally not psychotic, cult leaders may experience psychotic episodes, which may lead to the destruction of themselves or the group. An extreme example of this is the mass murder-suicide that occurred in November 1978 in Tonestown, Guyana, at the People?s Temple led by Jim Jones. On his orders, over 900 men,women, and children perished as Jones deteriorated into what was probably a paranoid psychosis.

The psychopathic personality has been well described by Hervey ClecMey in his classic work, The Mask of Sanity, first published in 1941 and updated and reissued in 1982. Cleckley is perhaps best known for The Three Faces of Eve, a book and later a popular movie on multiple personal- ity. Cleckley also gave the world a detailed study of the personality and behavior of the psychopath, listing 16 characteristics to be used in evaluating and treating psychopaths.(ll)

Cledde?s work greatly influenced 20 years of research carried out by Robert Hare at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In his work developing reliable and valid procedures for assessing psychopathy, Hare made several revisions in Cleddey?s list of traits and finally settled on a 20-item Psychopathy Cheddist.(l2) Later in this chapter we will use an adaptation of both the Cleddey and Hare checklists to examine the profile of a cult ieader.

Neuropsychiatrist Richard M. Restak stated, ?At the heart of the di- agnosis of psychopathy was the recognition that a person could appear normal and yet dose observation would reveal the personality to be irra- tional or even violent.?(l3) Indeed, initially most psychopaths appear quite normal. They present themselves to us as charming, interesting, even humble. The majority ?don?t suffer from delusions, hallucinations, or memory impairment, their contact with reality appears solid.?(l4) Some, on the other hand, may demonstrate marked paranoia and megalomania. In one clinical study of psychopathic inpatients, the authors wroa: ?We found that our psychopaths were similar to normals (in the reference group) with regard to their capacity to experience external event~ as real and with regard to their sense of bodily reality. They generally had good memory, concentration attention, and language function. They had a high barrier against external, aversive stimulation?.In some ways they dearly resemble normal people and can thus ?pass? as reasonably normal or sane. Yet we found them to be extremely primitive in other ways, even more primitive than frankly schizophrenic patients. In some ways their thinking was sane and reasonable, but in others it was psychotically inefficient and/or convoluted.?(l5)

Another researcher described psychopaths in this way: ?These people are impulsive, unable to tolerate frustration and delay, and have problems with trusting. They take a paranoid position or externalize their emotional experience. They have little ability to form a working alliance and a poor capacity for self-observation. Their anger is frightening. Frequently they take flight. Their relations with others are highly problematic. When dose to another person they fear engulfment or fusion or loss of self. At the same time, paradoxically, they desire closeness; frustration of their entitled wishes to be nourished, cared for, and assisted often leads to rage. They are capable of a child?s primitive fury enacted with an adult?s physical - capabilities, and action is always in the offing.$l6)

Ultimately, ?the psychopath must have what he wants, no matter what the cost to those in his way.?(l7) ... -the-cult/

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Unread post by Kensho » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:56 pm

What a situation for this woman...the summary of her experience is similar to several others that I have heard over the years. I thank my lucky stars that my experience with Buddhism/Tantra was anything but this. I did marry my teacher and we did "practice" together for 10 years before spending the next 12 years celibate. Throughout this time we lived together and I often expressed gratitude for our relationship both directly to him and in general. He expressed the same and claimed that I had taught him a great deal (probably about patience - LOL). Man...we laughed a lot! Our relationship was a mutually loving one and was free of one-up-man-ship.

So what happened? He died and I went in search of something beyond a one on one relationship. Something that touched beyond the precept based life that I had lived for 25 years. He and I had spent 10 years at a remote location (semi monastic) and only for the last two years of his life did we had move into a country town so he could have an easier time. He was 67 when he passed and I was 45. We married when he was twice my age after I proposed to him and he consented.

A few months after he passed a friend asked if I had seen "What the...." and shortly there after I viewed it. The perception of quantum science was interesting but more interesting to me was the Ramtha character. I ended up going to the ranch within a few months to see for myself what the.... After my first retreat, I chose to go back two months later. The time between the two events was a weird time for me. Lots of conflict of which way to go.

I spoke to my prior about the vows I had taken and he was understanding +++ (unlike someone we know). Ultimately I ended up making a decision to retake some of my vows (without a religious reference) and break the rest. I went back to the ranch for the second event and by the end of it was convinced that I had wasted over 25 years of my life. I was hooked. The weird thing was that I was not depressed about wasting so much of my life at the time. Instead there was a sense of elation that I had found something more inspiring, more forward thinking and more science based. Aarghh! Like David said in one of his posts...I think I'm going to be sick.

Reading about this woman's experience and the characteristics of a cult leader following it makes me wish I had read something like that BEFORE going to RSE. I now see some of the reasons why I became hooked and I'm sure that I would have found the few useful bits of information I gained from the ranch experience elsewhere. Yes, I already have recognized that the rebound from loosing someone close really sets one up for the cult experience. Wish I'd known that ahead of time too. Thanks for this posting Whatcha. Lots to think about...and smile about. Oh yes, I grant myself the right to go back into my past and enjoy the memory of happier times.

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Unread post by Tree » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:18 pm

very interesting story unbound.
What really moved me about your post is people's "blindness", for lack of better words,
from moving from one cult to another without thorough investigation.
But really, How would they know? How would they know what to ask?
I know many many ex- ramsters who now frequent LandMark (The Forum)
and Nexium, to name two.
I think it brings me back to truly looking at what constitutes the basics of a coercive persuasive group.
The Manual for Thought Reform.
Thank you for sharing.

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Unread post by Whatchamacallit » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:20 pm

unbound, i wish i had known before i ever went to rse, too. i would have had a different life without that mistake and its fallout. yet, as you said, i am able to separate it all out, remember the good times and ...well...we have emf to warn others, about the rest of the times.

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Unread post by Kensho » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:05 pm

Excellent points Tree and Whatcha.
When I consider the state of mind that I was in before going to RSE (desiring something different and trusting that people are honest), I must admit that even if I had known more about mind control and cults that use them, I am not so sure that I would not have gone to RSE. I REALLY don't know. Their advertising that one can change their life by attending is pretty convincing if that is where one's head space is at.

On cults in general, I did know a bit about cults like Jim Jones but my focus then was with those that were left behind after the tragic murders. Maybe I would have been scared off by the RSE-cult association if I had come across it or maybe the first red flags that appeared on my first retreat might not so easily have been disregarded if I had been introduced to the association with a cult. I was pretty much certain at the time that I had complete control of my own mind so would I have recognized mind control while it was happening? Given what I have read here (especially what Joe has posted), I think not.

This and other posts by people who have also exited RSE have allowed me to recognize that mind control easily exploits those who are in a state of transition in their lives. Perhaps such control is accomplished more easily with those who for whatever reason trust that authority/teachers are more knowledgeable and therefor their instructions are to be followed without question. Religion can do set one up for this; I know that now too.

Greg said to our beginner group at the end of my first event..."Just do it." This is also written on a poster located on the back wall of the arena. Hmmm. I took that to heart because I trusted him as a teacher, and so for the period of time between my first and second event I did all the disciplines I had been taught on a daily basis. Before making the decision to do so I did some serious contemplating on whether to do so or not. I contemplated for 15+ hours on my way home from the beginners event and then some more at home. In the end I did decide to follow Greg's advice/instruction..."to just try it for three months."

I did not see then that doing so would disrupt my life and that how I spent my day, what I thought about during that day and more importantly how I thought would be dramatically altered. Day by day it was. Listening to CDs from the ranch helped to hook me further into going back. Strange thing is I can't recall what kept me doing the disciplines at home...what the motivation was. Must have buried that bit of information under something else in the filing cabinet of the brain (LOL). I'm sure it will surface at some point.

If I had been motivated to question further before making the decision to do the disciplines on a daily basis, perhaps I would have found something like the original post on this thread. I honestly believe that if I had come across something like that or pretty much most of what has been posted on EMF I would have chosen differently...but I don't KNOW that. I do recognize that there is a difference between belief and knowledge.

I now recall that one of the first things that tweaked my mind on this forum was a post by Joe which described how critical thinking is warped by a radical alteration in routine. Can we say that filling one's day with new disciplines might accomplish that? So if we agree to that then is it too far to stretch a connection between an organization using that tactic to control its members' thoughts? That then leaves the question of what the intent of the thought control is. In the case of RSE it seems that ultimately the intent settles on power and financial exploitation. This even though some benefit comes from attending retreats there.

Thanks for listening. The more I read and write about this stuff, the more I can understand.

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Unread post by Whatchamacallit » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:36 am

unbound wrote:I now recall that one of the first things that tweaked my mind on this forum was a post by Joe which described how critical thinking is warped by a radical alteration in routine. Can we say that filling one's day with new disciplines might accomplish that? So if we agree to that then is it too far to stretch a connection between an organization using that tactic to control its members' thoughts? That then leaves the question of what the intent of the thought control is. In the case of RSE it seems that ultimately the intent settles on power and financial exploitation. This even though some benefit comes from attending retreats there.


If you read in psychology, about the term "habituation", you will learn that when a person does something that becomes (or has been), part of their 'routine', they become habituated to it. In more extreme examples, I'll use a relationship between two partners, where one of them inconsistently, periodically, beats the other physically, or is verbally or emotionally abusive. It doesn't happen every day, but over time, when it does not cause the couple to split up, they both become habituated to what an outsider would view as abnormal behavior.

Now, if you reconsider what you so astutely wrote about, above in your post, and gauge it within the framework of habituation, I think it becomes more clear to see just how it works that Ramsters are like frogs being slowly heated up in the water.

Therein, is the explanation for why people can be, and are, drawn into cults. Nobody is at the entrance gate of any cultlike group, waving a banner that says CULT on it, of course. It's a slow, steadily luring in, and all the while, the inductee is becoming more, and more habituated to the new environment, HABITS, and then it becomes the "new normal".

Yes, go home and read RSE books, do disciplines, and listen to teachings via audio, touch base via computer...and don't have to live in Yelm at all ! In your MIND, you are still there ! (not YOU, general "you")


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Unread post by Kensho » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:18 pm

Thank you for your understanding Whatcha. You sum up some of what set me up for the experience of getting hooked in a way that I can more easily see it. Getting it through reading, contemplating and talking about it (whacking self in the head doesn't work).

I do remember one of the teachers talking at one of the events about the very subject of habitation. He said that to do it once (it was in reference to one of the disciplines if I remember correctly), might be dismissed by the ego-brain as a fluke, to do it twice is a trend...but to do it three times and beyond makes it a habit.

Never was it explained or discussed that we might want to evaluate what the cost in synergistic occurrences would be if new habits were formed. Even with something so commonly pursued at RSE as manifesting wealth, the subject of how one reconciles with those who haven't accomplished the "manifestation" was only touched upon. That touching was not so touching to me even then. Something about not lending it or giving it away (except to RSE of course) so that others could have their own experience.

I failed that one right out of the gate...gave 90% of it away (yes, most to RSE in one form or another).
Where are those Master sized barf bags when you need them?

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Unread post by Whatchamacallit » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:45 pm

unbound wrote:Where are those Master sized barf bags when you need them?
EEEEEEEwwwwwwwwwwwww !! hahahaha.

I understand.

Well, the good news in the whole thing is that while hindsight is 20/20, it's also 20/20 vision going forward from now on, too. No rose colored glasses anymore. It was one heck of a way to get that lesson. I wish I'd have gotten the lesson in a far shorter period of time, too.

Ack !!

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traveller in space

Unread post by joe sz » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:08 am

Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism.
June Campbell.

George Braziller, New York, 1996, 240 pages.

Review by Joe Szimhart, 1997

Anyone who has followed the recent histories of Zen and Tibetan Buddhist teachers with Western devotees knows that, too often, these same teachers have been criticized for both authoritarian and sexual indiscretions. It is easy to play the cynic who believes that these ostensibly celibate or married men--the teachers are almost always monks--find it hard to resist "sexually liberal," White Westerners who dote over them. And it is easy to degrade devotees who submit "totally" to such gurus as no more than na?ve seekers who should have known better. In Traveller in Space, June Campbell delivers us beyond superficial cynicism into a scholarly study of the unusual patriarchal system of Tibetan Tantra and its relevance to female subjectivity.

Although Campbell speaks from extensive personal experience--she was a consort of an important Tibetan lama (priest-?monk) for several years and an accomplished translator of Tibetan texts--this book is not another ex?-member expos? for lay readers. This is an important study that utilizes sophisticated psychoanalytic, religious, and cultural theory. Campbell explains and criticizes how the female role, the dakini, in Tibetan Tantra (Vajrayana) has diminished the individual female integrity to comply with a male-?dominated, male-?defined tradition. Campbell invokes feminist scholarship, especially that of Luce Irigay, as well as such scholars of religion and mythology as Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell (no relation to the author), and Agehananda Bharati, to reinforce her perspectives.

In certain terms, Campbell points out the vulnerabilities of Tibetan Tantra to Western influence. Tibetan dakinis have been acculturated to accept their roles as unequal, if revered, "objects" useful to lamas in their sexual rituals. The latter, usually secret, are said to provide powerful opportunities for the lama to attain "enlightenment." Western ethics (conditioned by a long history of Judeo?Christian influence) and feminist philosophy conflict with this secret patriarchal system. Western women have long complained about sexual exploitation by certain gurus who invoke an "enlightened" status, one that "entitles" them to have sexual contact with devotees. Campbell provides a scholarly and psychoanalytic basis for such complaints, as well as a new standard for women within the Tibetan tradition. She admits that if this new standard--one that accepts women as self ?determining "subjects" in their own spiritual destiny--were incorporated, Tibetan Tantra would either revolutionize or disappear.

More than a cross?cultural critique, Traveller in Space is a good primer on Lamaism and Tantric religious history with its roots in Indian philosophy. Campbell analyzes how separation from their mothers at a young age has certain emotional effects on "reincarnated" lamas and their ensuing needs for "nurture" from consorts. The title is a translation of the Sanskrit word dakini (Tibetan khandro), which means "sky?goer." The implication is that the submissive dakini is unattached to anything and functions as an empty "space" to afford the partner ?lama an experience of "enlightenment," but, in tradition, this does not work in reverse. Campbell systematically discusses and deconstructs such male ?generated notions as untenable and "illogical" within and "outwith" the system if Tibetan Tantra is to incorporate status integrity for women. She also points out how lamas manipulate their consorts, or dakinis, by suggesting that if they reveal the affair or rebel, the dakini will suffer "madness, trouble, or even death." The fact that this manipulative behavior is somehow sanctioned by a centuries ?long tradition, largely unchallenged by the females within Tibetan culture, demonstrates how completely the "feminine" has been politically framed by both male?generated symbology and signature, according to Campbell. The effects of Campbell's study may be difficult to predict, but the need for it in light of the continued attraction of Western seekers, particularly women, for exotic "enlightened" teachers is inestimable.

Joe Szimhart

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Unread post by Another Dimension60 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:58 am

a little sidenote to Watcha and Unbound - now I understand the absurdity of married couples/partners not supporting each other in going to events - each had to find their own way to pay, sometimes parents did that to their children!! I hadn't realized it was actually a 'teaching'. How absurd. How unenlightened!!! Reminds me of the metaphor/story -- a person went to hell - and everybody's arms were locked straight out so they couldn't bend them to eat; then the person got a tour of Heaven - same thin, everybody's arms were locked straight out - so they fed each other.

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