Author Topic: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)  (Read 11219 times)

Offline tellmetruth

  • Posts: 21
Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« on: March 05, 2013, 09:42:44 pm »
Hi all,

Me again, the one who asked about Tantric Shamanism. I am curious if anyone on this board has been directly involved in any of these groups and/or activities, which I find a bit mysterious and am not sure how benign or harmful they are. I have friends with connections to these groups that are good, intelligent people and until recently I didn't really give these activities a second thought. But lately I've become worried about the secrecy and newagey BS I feel is coming out of some of these groups. Some of them might be okay though. So, wondering, has anyone had experience and become disillusioned with:

Human Awareness Institute (I actually just read a bunch of posts on the RickRoss forum and am utterly horrified about what I have read about going on there . . .  I had no idea this organzation revolved so much around sex. I had heard of "eye gazing" parties and "emotional intimacy workshops" which seemed a little weird to me but not THAT weird . . . )

Non-violent Communication (I haven't read anything bad about this so far, anc certainly there is nothing to object to in the phrase "non-violent communication" itself, but it seems a lot of HAI participants also get drawn to this so it's raised my concer a little)

Biodanza (I actually did attend one of their events and decided it wasn't for me, but thought it might be a good healthy activity for some of my friends. Now I'm questioning my judgement on this, as I only attended one event. What might go on at higher levels of this?)

Cuddle parties (I've declined invitations to these because I feel like they could be a magnet for sexual predators - even with  the strict "no sexual contact" rules. Do you think my feeling is right on this, if you have experience with them? I also just frankly find the idea of that much physical closeness of any kind with random strangers really pretty uncomfortable -but that is just me.)

Rebirthing breathwork - seriously, just what is this? Positive/negative experiences, anyone?

Thanks!



« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 10:11:48 pm by tellmetruth »

Offline tellmetruth

  • Posts: 21
Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 09:44:55 pm »
I also meant to ask about:

Reclaiming

Church of All Worlds

Thanks.

Epiphany

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2013, 10:40:06 pm »
Quote
Rebirthing breathwork - seriously, just what is this? Positive/negative experiences, anyone?

I've had experience with this, but first want to share some general info. There are trends, philosophies, belief systems that may not have a direct source that equal say the Vatican for Roman Catholics. We might be able to sort out the origins of some beliefs, even who the main proponents are, but all this New Age stuff keeps moving through cultures (not just California), people combine and morph things how they want to. I think often times the beliefs aren't necessarily the problem, the problem is what folks do with it, how they behave.

So for me personally I tend to watch for cultural rip offs, fraud, and abuse when I look over beliefs, leaders, and groups.

There are many types of "breath work". Many people rip off other cultural practices, package it their own way, and come up with claims of inventing yet another breathing something or other. Rebirthing is one of the types, there are others with other names.

My experience is with Rebirthing and specifically with Leonard Orr. I lived at his community in California for several months, quite awhile ago. He considers himself a guru, he believes he is immortal, he travels the world conning people into giving him their money. He's a jerk. One of many examples: we on staff were told to meet outside at a fire pit and wait for him to show, he'd called a meeting. He was an hour late and he told us that he was late because our energy wasn't right. He then told us that if he hadn't invented fire meditation he would have killed someone by now, because he found humanity so annoying.

Of course, he didn't invent fire meditation. Nor is he immortal.

I've had experience with large group awareness trainings, destructive groups, charismatic leaders, and con artists. They can come in all shapes and forms, some are overtly New Age, some can appear conservative and "normal". I think the trick is to learn the red flags of destructive groups, manipulators, con artists, and ceremony sellers / cultural appropriators.






Epiphany

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Epiphany

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2013, 10:51:58 pm »
A note on the http://www.rickross.com/ site "An Internet archive of information about cults, destructive cults, controversial groups and movements." & forums: lots of good info there. Helped me quite a bit as I got free of a destructive group.

Offline tellmetruth

  • Posts: 21
Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 02:58:23 am »
Thanks! I can tell Leonard Orr is a jerk from this recent rambling letter he posted on his Web site asking people to send him money so he doesn't have to work for three months: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d22c31d3c617542a9ed867651&id=721ca861f5

I'm still curious about the rebirthing breathwork itself, though. What is the "rebirthing" part of it all about - what do rebirthers do/have their clients do to simulate a birth (or am I misunderstanding)? Why would people pay hundreds of dollars for breathwork sessions? What real or perceived benefit to it might there be?


Epiphany

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 03:43:32 am »
Thanks! I can tell Leonard Orr is a jerk from this recent rambling letter he posted on his Web site asking people to send him money so he doesn't have to work for three months: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d22c31d3c617542a9ed867651&id=721ca861f5

I'm still curious about the rebirthing breathwork itself, though. What is the "rebirthing" part of it all about - what do rebirthers do/have their clients do to simulate a birth (or am I misunderstanding)? Why would people pay hundreds of dollars for breathwork sessions? What real or perceived benefit to it might there be?

It's just a breathing pattern, he insists that it isn't hyperventilation, but some of it is. It's a scam. Pay someone who says they are special to spend an hour or so with you, as you lay down and breathe somewhat quickly, and supposedly relive your birth. In the process supposedly you will heal any "birth traumas" you may have had, heal your "death urge" etc. Plus eventually if you do it right you will be immortal.

Sometimes this is done while floating in water. Pay someone to hold you or at least help you float while you are in water, breathing. Supposedly this makes everything work better, faster.

So after a session of this, from someone who you think is special, with all that attention, and that sense of doing something radical and special, there can be a placebo effect. Plus any aftermath of hyperventilating or crying or whatever.

It's a staged catharsis. People are told they need several sessions. Then they may want to learn how to rebirth others. And the beat goes on.

Lots of pseudo-Hinduism too, some rebirthers will be 'devout", some won't use the pseudo-religious trappings.

Leonard has been at this game for a long time. I knew him in the early 80s, and he'd already been at this for awhile.

He is a predator. I saw him manipulate vulnerable people out of their money, including inheritances. I think he knows he is a con artist, don't know if he also believes his own rep, if he really believes he is immortal and all that.

Offline earthw7

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 04:05:34 pm »
why would people go to these things?
it seem everyone is looking for a quick fix to their problems
when it is just a matter of looking at oneself and forgiving and healing
In Spirit

Offline tellmetruth

  • Posts: 21
Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 05:05:44 pm »
I can understand that some people might get something out of a structured group workshop-style setting when reflecting on emotions, relationships, etc. But the thing that alarms me about many of these setups is that it seems like they actually foster co-dependency and in the most egregious cases exploit people in the name of "sexual openness" or whatever.  And of course take the money of emotionally vulnerable people, sometimes to the point of ruining them. I don't think that all the groups and activities I asked about in my OP do these terrible things, but the seeming overlap of what attracts people to them concerns me and I'd like to sharpen my ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 05:07:16 pm by tellmetruth »

Epiphany

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 06:07:52 pm »
... I'd like to sharpen my ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Quote
Robert Jay Lifton's Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism

"Eight Criteria for Thought Reform":

 1.Milieu Control. This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

 2.Mystical Manipulation. The manipulation of experiences that appears spontaneous but is, in fact, planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority, spiritual advancement, or some exceptional talent or insight that sets the leader and/or group apart from humanity, and that allows reinterpretation of historical events, scripture, and other experiences. Coincidences and happenstance oddities are interpreted as omens or prophecies.

 3.Demand for Purity. The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

 4.Confession. Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members' "sins," "attitudes," and "faults" are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

 5.Sacred Science. The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

 6.Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clich├ęs, which serve to alter members' thought processes to conform to the group's way of thinking.

 7.Doctrine over person. Members' personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

 8.Dispensing of existence. The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group's ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also
http://icsahome.com/infoserv_respond/by_author.asp?Subject=Dr.+Robert+J.+Lifton's+Criteria+for+Thought+Reform

Lifton's work is very useful when evaluating groups.



Epiphany

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Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2013, 05:05:55 pm »
When I lived at Leonard Orr's place in Sierraville CA back in the 80s, another community member named Bill held regular sweat lodges there on the property. I participated in several. Bill once told me that he had been trained by Wallace Black Elk. I was clueless at the time but now know that Bill was hinting that he knew what he was doing was controversial.

Bill didn't charge for the sweat lodges, as far as I know. He did rebirthing sessions, tarot readings and the like for $. I don't know if he continued holding sweats, don't see anything online.

Local rumor held that the hot springs there were considered fine for soaking in but that no one should actually live there, to do so was to risk crazinesss.

I wonder if any participants in those sweats went on to run their own. Some participants were from Sweden, in a Nuage tour group.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 05:34:20 pm by Epiphany »

Offline Sparks

  • Posts: 911
Re: Northern California groups and activities (LGATs, cults?)
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2020, 03:45:45 am »
A note on the http://www.rickross.com/ site "An Internet archive of information about cults, destructive cults, controversial groups and movements." & forums: lots of good info there. Helped me quite a bit as I got free of a destructive group.

Readers of this thread, please be aware of this URL change (there is no automatic redirection, and the original URL is now about casinos and gambling; avoid clicking there):

The Rick Ross cult information site has changed to another url, they are now at http://www.culteducation.com/.