Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:16 pm


More from “THE GURU PAPERS” by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad:

Monotheism with one God on top is obviously authoritarian. The authoritarianism embedded within the Eastern ideology of Oneness is less obvious. Believing that God is everywhere and in everything makes a centralized hierarchy more difficult. The concept of enlightenment, however, does bring decentralized hierarchies, each with a master on top. This is what one sees in Eastern religion and in its Western transplants. Whereas monotheism makes the revealed Word of God sacred, Eastern religions make presumed enlightened beings sacred. Thus the concept of enlightenment brings authoritarianism at the personal, charismatic level (gurus, masters, avatars, and buddhas). Here the authority comes from living people, not an institution - although they almost always create an institution around themselves or are already part of one. Not coincidentally, surrendering to and obeying the master is presented as a (usually necessary) step on the path to enlightenment.

The very nature of any structure that makes one person different and superior to others not only breeds authoritarianism, but is authoritarian in its essence. Just as there is no way for humans to question a remote God, there is really no way for a non-enlightened being to question the words or actions of a presumed enlightened one. This is why gurus can get away with anything - they are judged by different standards that make whatever they do perfect by definition. The idea that someone is no longer susceptible to the corruptions of power ensures corruption will occur, promulgating self-delusion in all involved. So the concept of enlightenment, precisely because it is so exalted, almost inevitably lends itself to abuse and corruption. It can be used to justify any behavior, privileges, or excesses, creating an insidious double standard for the superior ones.

There are even warnings about the traps of enlightenment within esoteric literature, where it is said that no one who has had truly enlightening experiences ever claims to be enlightened. Perhaps this is because anyone with real wisdom would know that building an identity around enlightenment creates a static, unchanging image of how to be, which is just another cage. Let us leave aside the question of whether there is or ever has been a person of ultimate cosmic wisdom, totally devoid of self-centeredness. The only person who could say "Yes, there is" with certainty would have to be one. And that person would have to be absolutely certain of being free of all self-delusion-not an easy task.

The very idea of enlightenment has hidden assumptions within it that are part of our authoritarian heritage. An example is the presumption that a modern manifestation of enlightenment would say essentially the same things as were said thousands of years ago. This is an odd image of finality within an otherwise evolving cosmos. People do have enlightening experiences and insights, but are they always a repetition of old insights that others had thousands of years ago? Is awareness a path others have trod that leads to a predictable end? The concept of enlightenment needs to be a-historical, unchanging, and infallible to support authoritarian religious hierarchies. This is the East's way of endowing someone with the last word and ultimate authority on cosmic truth.

Buddha initially excluded women from his monasteries. When pressed, he made their entry conditional upon perpetual subservience to the lowliest (newest) male monks. Was this an example of unchanging wisdom? Or were some of his ideas not so enlightened, but rather a function of his place in history? His agenda to end suffering has had millennia to test itself and has failed. Are people just not good enough or smart enough? Is there something wrong with people or is something wrong with the agenda? His methodology for ending suffering was tied to the concept of enlightenment, which involves renouncing both the self and self-centeredness. So as an essentially renunciate religion, Buddhism is also essentially authoritarian, with Buddha being the absolute authority on what to renounce and how to go about it. Some modern Buddhists would bristle at calling Buddhism renunciate. They would say that through dis-identifying or detaching from the illusion that there is a self, self-centeredness effortlessly leaves. We view this as their illusion.

Some people may at times see more deeply into the nature of things than others. However, the idea of enlightenment as a state of finality that one reaches once and for all is a viewpoint of wisdom and spirituality that is supposedly true for all people and all times. This static view of enlightenment derives from the a-historic Oneness ideology wherein one transcends the illusion of separateness. Only separate entities can change in relation to each other. Ironically, Buddhists who assert there is nothing but change in the material world hold that spiritual realizations do not change. Denying change in the spiritual realm is basically a fundamentalist stance used to protect the sacred and tradition. But perceiving deeply is a process that is necessarily historically embedded, for each epoch has its particular illusions that must be pierced. Significantly, a less common meaning of an enlightening experience is penetrating the veils of illusion. We see the dis-illusionment necessary for this age as going beyond the polarizations of either/or moral frameworks, which are the source of most distortions and illusions. Any ideology that presents static ideals of perfection and attainment necessarily creates its own illusions. This anti-evolutionary view of awareness and wisdom not only blocks further inquiry, but it limits the possibility of constructing new frameworks that can free people to be truly more aware.

Continues at: http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gu ... rs-on.html
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:40 pm

About the authors of the material in the previous two posts:


The Anti-Gurus

In 1999, just after I started researching a book on mysticism, I asked for advice from J.P., a man who works for a holistic-learning institute in New York City. J.P. cautiously recommended a book that critiqued the enlightenment industry and had caused a stir after its publication in 1993. Although the book makes valid points about the dangers of mystical traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, J.P. warned me, it "throws out the baby with the bathwater."

That was how I learned of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power. The authors, Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer, have lived together in Bolinas, California, since 1974 and are veterans of the American spiritual scene. In The Guru Papers, they analyze and criticize authoritarian ideologies, primarily religious ones.

They take on the great western monotheistic traditions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But what has made their book a lightning rod in the alternative spiritual community is its assault on eastern mystical traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Because the authoritarianism of these traditions is better concealed than that of the monotheistic religions, Alstad and Kramer argue, it is even more insidious.

Alstad and Kramer distinguished mystical visions from the interpretations we give them. These experiences, they wrote, can be profoundly transformative, in the best sense; they can "alter one’s relationship to daily life and also profoundly change the way one approaches death and dying." The trouble begins when we interpret our visions, transforming them into beliefs and ideologies.

Like the anti-perennialist philosopher Steven Katz, Alstad and Kramer held that the interpretations we impose upon our experiences—and even the initial experiences themselves--invariably reflect our personal and cultural backgrounds: "Hindus have Hindu mystical experiences, Christians have Christian ones," they stated. Our experience "is not ‘pure’ (nothing is) but is historically and culturally embedded."

Alstad and Kramer looked askance at the notion that mystical epiphanies unveil the oneness underlying the apparent diversity of existence. They noted that since the phrase "Thou are that" was first set forth in the Upanishads, tens of millions of people have tried to create a better world by adhering to moral codes that exalt oneness and self-abnegation as the supreme virtues. This 3,000-year-old experiment, Alstad and Kramer declared, has been a total failure; humans are still as selfish and divisive as ever.

"[T]his morality has failed not because there is something wrong with people," Alstad and Kramer elaborated, "but because the framework constructs ideals that are impossible to achieve, thus setting people up for failure and self-mistrust." It is no accident, Alstad and Kramer added, that oneness-based theologies took hold in India, one of the world’s most highly stratified, divided cultures; Hindu ashrams, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Zen centers, and other organizations founded on the oneness principle are also authoritarian--and usually patriarchal--hierarchies.

The oneness doctrine appeals to modern westerners, Alstad and Kramer noted, because it seems less authoritarian and easier to reconcile with science than western theologies, but it is riddled with contradictions. It takes an individual, after all, to experience oneness; moreover, the concept of oneness "has within it a hidden duality" that leads to a hierarchical division of reality. Oneness ideologies denigrate individuality as illusory and self-interest as sinful, the source of all suffering and evil.

Buddhism and Hinduism in particular postulate the existence of certain rare beings who have transcended their individuality and thus experience oneness in a deep and abiding fashion. These are the enlightened ones, gurus, masters, sages, avatars. "The very nature of any structure that makes one person different and superior to others... breeds authoritarianism," Alstad and Kramer stated.

Indeed, gurus are the ultimate authority figures. The guru insists that the path to enlightenment comes through surrender to him. The guru claims that those who devote themselves to him will be rewarded with bliss, self-knowledge, immortality, states that are "conveniently as difficult to reach as they are compelling," Alstad and Kramer pointed out. The guru projects an air of absolute certainty not only about his enlightenment but about almost all matters. When criticized, the guru accuses the critic of being mired in illusion and egotism, which the guru, of course, has transcended.

Both as individuals and as a species, Alstad and Kramer warned, we face real-world problems, some of which threaten our very existence. Spirituality can help motivate us to address these problems, by boosting our empathy for our fellow humans and for all of life. But spirituality should incorporate reason as well as emotion and intuition, and it should be "embedded in daily life, not separate from it."

Although they were encouraged by the spread of democracy around the world, they worried that so many of us are still looking for saviors—either living ones or ones long dead, like Buddha and Christ. Adulthood means "realizing that ultimately others cannot know what’s best for you," they wrote.

Seen through the lens of The Guru Papers, the rhetoric of mysticism appears not mysterious and paradoxical but Orwellian: Only through submission will we find true liberation. All are one, but some are more one than others. In fact, after I read The Guru Papers, all spiritual systems suddenly seemed suspect. As Alstad and Kramer wrote, religions "construct a realm different from and superior to daily life, label it spiritual, and then create authorities who give unchallengable directives on how to get there."

In the spring of 1999, I met Alstad and Kramer in New York City, where they were visiting friends. Physically, they were as unalike as a couple could be. Kramer was short, wiry, bald, with a bulging, permanently knotted brow. He reminded me of paintings of Boddhidarma, the fierce old Zen patriarch. Phrases such as "in my opinion" and "from my perspective" served as carrier waves for his thoughts—and reminders of his views’ subjective nature. Alstad, in contrast, was tall, blond, serene, almost ethereal—in repose, anyway. When she spoke she was if anything even more fervent and sharp-tongued than Kramer.

Advances in science and human rights, she contended, have rendered obsolete much of the so-called wisdom of our ancestors. "I don’t see any reason to feel that the past had any special or privileged information that we don’t have from our own experiences." Alstad was aghast that so many intelligent people still view eastern religions, shamanism, and other ancient spiritual traditions as a "sacred, special entry way" into cosmic truth. "They were primitive patriarchies," she declared, "that had rigid sex roles and headsets."

Born in 1937 in Coney Island to non-observant Jewish parents, Kramer took graduate courses in philosophy at Columbia and New York University before deciding that academic philosophy was not for him. After moving to Berkeley in 1963, he was swept up in the counterculture. He spent five months in the mid-1960’s living in Millbrook, New York, with Timothy Leary. He taught yoga at Esalen in the late 1960’s and went on to become a globe-trotting yoga instructor.

One influence on his thinking during this period was Jiddu Krishnamurti, who urged audiences to seek liberation on their own rather than submitting to a guru or other authority figure. Kramer was particularly impressed with Krishnamurti’s teachings on "self-reflexivity," a process whereby the mind rigorously examines its own workings. Kramer’s 1974 book The Passionate Mind presented his version of Krishnamurti’s philosophy.

Kramer became disillusioned with Krishnamurti when he realized that the charismatic anti-guru guru had an authoritarian streak himself. Krishnamurti isolated himself from criticism and feedback, "just like everybody he was criticizing," Kramer said, and had to have "the last word on everything."

I asked Kramer how he avoids that trap: creating an anti-ideology that turns into an ideology itself. "I’ll tell you how I think I avoid it," Kramer said. He tries to acknowledge that his point of view is just that, a point of view, based on his own experiences and interpretations of them. "If somebody can come up with something that is more likely, I am very interested in that."

Alstad, born in 1944 in Minnesota into a Lutheran family, spent more time in academia before plunging into spirituality. She earned a doctorate in literature from Yale and helped to create the program in womens’ studies there. By the early 1970’s, when she was teaching at Duke University, she was becoming disaffected with academia and curious about yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices.

In the summer of 1972, she traveled across the country visiting different spiritual centers. She was for the most part disappointed by what she found. One yoga ashram in the southwest was organized as an almost medieval hierarchy, with rigidly defined sex roles. The ashram’s Indian-born guru decreed that only men could work in the garden, and that women must do all the cooking and cleaning. The guru arranged all marriages, and he ordered couples to sleep together no more than once a month.

Alstad’s last stop was Bolinas, California, where at the urging of a friend she attended a workshop led by Kramer. Alstad was moved, even shaken, by Kramer’s teachings. "I went away from the workshop not knowing if I really liked him," she said. When she asked questions about enlightenment, reincarnation, and other issues with which she had been wrestling, Kramer did not give her easy answers, like most other teachers. Instead, he tried to get her to consider what her questions implied about her own fears and desires.

Kramer interjected that he had always resisted his students’ efforts to turn him into a guru. "I don’t know if you have ever been a recipient of real adulation," he asked me.

Unfortunately, no, I replied.

Well, he had, Kramer said, and he knew very well how tempting it could be to encourage that sort of worship in students. For both his own sake and that of his students, he kept his distance from them.

"He was very austere in the workshops," Alstad confirmed. "He wasn’t trying to hook you emotionally, or manipulate you, or please you." At the same time, "there was always great respect." Alstad recalled that one of Kramer’s basic messages was, "Follow your interests. This is what life is about, following your interests."

Alstad took this message to heart. She quit her job at Duke, and over the next year and a half she attended four more of Kramer’s workshops, including one that she sponsored herself at her home in North Carolina.

Their relationship took a while to blossom. Kramer was married with two children when they met, and "kind of shy," Alstad said. She and Kramer only became involved and moved in together after Kramer’s first marriage unraveled in 1974. Alstad became first the manager of his career and then his partner in teaching workshops on male-female relations.

By the early 1980’s, Alstad and Kramer were becoming increasingly disaffected with the culture of spirituality. During a long trip to India, they spent countless hours "talking about how gurus manipulate people and why people let them," Alstad said. Her notes on their conversations--elaborated upon by her and Kramer for almost a decade--became The Guru Papers. Alstad and Kramer lost some friendships as a result of the book, and they were denounced by other spiritual authors. "There are lots of people who don’t particularly care for us," Kramer said.

Alstad and Kramer no longer believe in the concept of enlightenment, especially if it is defined as complete dissolution or transcendence of the selfish ego. "I don’t believe it’s possible for anyone to transcend self-centeredness in a permanent way," Kramer said. "I think there are times you can do it momentarily. Altruism exists." But altruism and egotism "are embedded in each other," he explained.

When I mentioned that some gurus have an air of supreme self-confidence that lends credence to their claims to be enlightened, Kramer smiled grimly. "It’s amusing to me that one of peoples’ conceptions about enlightenment has to do with being this self-contained unit, where nothing can come in and bother you," he said. "That’s what psychopaths are like. Nothing comes in and bothers them."

Alstad and Kramer have had mystical experiences—through psychedelics and in other contexts—but they were reluctant to talk about them. Too often, revealing your mystical experiences sets you apart from others, Kramer explained. He is also acutely aware that he, like everyone, interprets his experiences according to his prior conditioning. He rejected the notion that mystical experiences represent pure, unfiltered visions of reality, which transcend the mystic’s personal and cultural context.

"This is one of the most dangerous ideas the human mind has ever constructed," Kramer said heatedly, "the idea of purity, whether it be pure experience or pure this or pure that."

A healthy spirituality, Alstad added, should not focus on altered states; it should help us confront and find solutions for all the problems besetting us, such as overpopulation, environmental degradation, violent nationalism, racism, and sexism. Religion too often exacerbates our problems rather than ameliorating them, Alstad suggested, and not just by fomenting intolerance and violent fundamentalism.

"A lot of people who could be part of the intelligent solutions are the ones whose heads are lost" in some form of traditional spirituality, she explained. Even a spiritual path that emphasizes selflessness, forgiveness, and unconditional love can do harm by diverting us away from real-world problems.

Although Alstad and Kramer still practice yoga, they are wary of how meditation is often employed in religious traditions. "Traditional meditation is a form of mind control, that has behind it a worldview," Kramer said.

"And we think it’s a harmful worldview," Alstad added sternly. Thousands of years ago, meditation represented a step forward for humanity, because it provided "some deeper understanding of the cosmos that was beyond ordinary perception for that time." Spiritual teachers such as Buddha and Jesus were "great reformers" in their era, but the institutions founded on their original insights have become harmful anachronisms.

Alstad reminded me that Buddha’s quest for enlightenment began with his abandonment of his wife and child. Hinduism and Buddhism still exalt detachment from everyday life and relationships as the pinnacle of spirituality. Women would never have created such religions on their own, Alstad said. "The new spirituality needs to be co-created by men and women." Such a spirituality would emphasize the importance of human relations rather than denigrating them.

You can tell a lot about gurus, Alstad said, from their treatment of and attitude toward women. Even if a guru does not actually abuse women, as many do, he may still treat females--including his own wife--as servants. When someone tells Alstad about a supposedly enlightened guru, she likes to ask, "What has he learned from a woman lately? What has he learned from his wife? What do his intimate relationships with women look like? Does he have a co-evolutionary relationship or an old-fashioned one?"

Humanity, Alstad continued, is in some respects "incredibly sophisticated and creative"—for example, in the realms of science, technology, and the arts--but in other respects we are still an "adolescent species. "It’s our social systems that are lagging behind," Alstad said. "The knowledge we need now is relational knowledge, including relations between nations, races, generations, sexes, classes, and to the environment."

It should be obvious by now that one of my favorite journalistic tricks is springing "gotchas" on interviewees. A gotcha is a moment when I point out a potentially devastating contradiction in my interviewee’s worldview. The point of a gotcha is to provoke a strong response from the interviewee, but not so strong that he or she storms out of the room or physically assaults me.

The gotcha I had prepared for Alstad and Kramer was that these two critics of guruhood came together in the context of what could be described as a guru-student relationship.

I decided that in my interview with Alstad and Kramer I should disguise my gotcha slightly, to soften its impact. As tactfully as I could, I asked Alstad how she would react now if she heard that a friend was quitting a prestigious university job to follow a spiritual teacher, as she had done when she left Duke and became involved with Kramer. In other words, how can you tell if a student-teacher relationship is healthy or not?

Alstad bristled. "I didn’t leave my job to be with him," she said. "I left my job because I didn’t like my field, and his methodology gave me the courage and the clarity to see what wasn’t working for me and to follow my interests." She added that "it’s trivializing to imply that I was following a guru." No one would raise such a criticism if she had moved from Duke to another university after becoming enamoured with the teachings of a professor there.

I hope you’re not offended, I said. "Not at all," Alstad replied, shaking her head. "I’m glad you ask these questions so I get to answer them."

Kramer granted that I was raising an interesting issue. "What are the standards you use to judge the appropriateness of an experience or action or movement? You may not like my answer. I don’t think there are any absolute standards, when you get right down to it."

"I knew in my guts what I was doing was right," Alstad said firmly.

"But some people know in their guts that what they’re doing is right, and then twenty years later they say, ‘What a fool I was,’" Kramer replied. "So basically you can’t use, ‘I knew in my guts’ as an absolute standard."

Alstad retorted that she had never felt a moment’s regret about leaving academia; in fact, she had been exhilarated. The same was true of her involvement with Kramer, who had never displayed the authoritarian tendencies that she found so disturbing in other teachers.

Later Alstad pulled a gotcha on me. She complained that my book The End of Science exalted the quest for truth as the most meaningful of all human activities. She suspected that I saw spirituality in the same way.

Maybe it is time to abandon this concept of the "heroic journey" toward truth—whether scientific or mystical--as the end-all and be-all of life, Alstad told me sternly. To her, discovering ultimate truth—whatever that is--is less important than confronting the real-world problems that threaten our very survival. "We have lots of cards we haven’t played," she said. "One of them is using our brain better."

Last edited by American Dream on Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:52 am


Beyond Belief

by John Horgan

One of my fondest altered-state memories dates back my late teens. I was sitting alone on the porch of my parents' house on a warm summer night. My mother and father had gone to a party, and my brother and three sisters were in a room just above me watching television. There was a kind of urgency in the air; the trees shimmered like dark flames against the starry sky, and the crickets and cicadas seethed and pulsed toward a crescendo. So loud was this insect symphony that I barely heard the inane laughter from a television sitcom drifting down from the open window above me.

I was suddenly overcome with astonishment that I exist, that the world exists, that anything exists. I wanted to run upstairs, grab my siblings, and tell them to stop watching that stupid TV show and pay attention to the miracle of being right there in front of them. Fortunately, I restrained myself. But everything I have learned and experienced since then has reinforced my sense of the unutterable mysteriousness of things.

Contrary creatures that we are, we want to believe that our innermost thoughts are unique to us, and yet we desperately seek communion and confirmation, too. It can thus be both unnerving and exhilarating to discover our private musings expressed in someone else’s words—perhaps more clearly than we articulate them to ourselves. I had this uncanny sensation in 1997 when I was flipping through an issue of the journal What Is Enlightenment? and stumbled upon the following passage:

"I was walking through a pine forest, returning to my hut along a narrow path trodden into the steep slope of the hillside. I struggled forward carrying a blue plastic bucket filled with fresh water that I had just collected from a source at the upper end of the valley. I was then suddenly brought to a halt by the upsurge of the sheer mystery of everything. I was as though I were lifted up onto the crest of a shivering wave which abruptly swelled from the ocean that was life itself. How is it that people can be unaware of this most obvious question? I asked myself. How can anyone pass their life without responding to it?"

The passage was from a book called The Faith to Doubt, written in 1990 by Stephen Batchelor, a British Buddhist. His epiphany took place in 1980, when he was studying Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala, India, the headquarters of the Dalai Lama. The experience was not "an illumination in which some final, mystical truth became momentarily very clear," Batchelor goes on to say. "For me it gave no answers. It only revealed the massiveness of the question."

The setting aside, I felt that I could have written this passage myself. It describes precisely the sensation that first overcame me on that warm summer night when I was still a teenager and that I have sought to recapture ever since.

Batchelor's epiphany became the touchstone of his life. He ended up drifting away from Tibetan Buddhism, which offered no help in understanding his experience, and toward Zen Buddhism, which was much more compatible with his outlook. Zen masters are fond of citing the adage: "Great doubt, great enlightenment. Little doubt, little enlightenment. No doubt, no enlightenment."

Re-reading Buddha’s original teachings, Batchelor realized that Buddha resolutely resisted speculations on metaphysical questions, such as whether God exists, why the universe was created, why evil exists and whether individual consciousness persists after death. It was Buddha’s followers who transformed his simple teachings into a religion, complete with theological dogma, moral strictures and rituals. In Buddhism Without Beliefs, Batchelor advocates a bare-bones Buddhism, one that "strips away, layer by layer, the views that conceal the mystery of being here" and leaves us in a state of acute existential awareness.

He emphasizes that this state is not always pleasant. When we truly confront reality, we "tremble on that fine line between exhilaration and dread." In fact, there is no better way to confront the "enormity of having been born," he contends, than to ponder our own mortality. Batchelor advocates sitting in silence while dwelling upon the following question: "Since death alone is certain and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?" Ideally, this meditation upon death will "jolt us awake to the sensuality of existence."

Batchelor’s writings contain what I read as subtle rebukes to other spiritual authorities. He seems to have gurus like Andrew Cohen in mind when he warns how some mystics can succumb to "the danger of messianic and narcissistic inflation" (which I call the I’m-enlightened-and-you’re-not problem). "We find ourself humbly assuming the identity of one who has been singled out by destiny to heal the sorrows of the world and show the way to reconciliation, peace, and Enlightenment." Batchelor recommends "ironic self-regard" as a way to avoid this self-infatuation.

The mystical technocrat Ken Wilber comes to mind when Batchelor cautions against taking on the mystery of existence with the "calculative attitude." As the success of science demonstrates, we can solve many problems through calculation—that is, careful analysis, deduction and induction, trial and error. But existence is not a problem but a mystery, Batchelor says, which not even the most potent calculation can solve. Batchelor also warns against viewing meditation as a technique or procedure that when diligently carried out yields various benefits. "Meditation and mystery are inseparable. Just as the mysterious cannot be unravelled through calculation, nor can a meditative attitude be acquired as though it were a technical skill."

Batchelor describes himself as an "agnostic Buddhist." The term agnostic was coined in 1869 by the British scientist T.H. Huxley, best-known as "Darwin’s bulldog." Huxley summarized the "agnostic faith" in two principles: 1: Follow your reason as far as it will take you. 2: Do not pretend that conclusions are certain when they are not demonstrated or demonstrable. Agnosticism is often denigrated as a passive worldview, the philosophical equivalent of a shrug. But true agnosticism, Batchelor contended, consists of the active cultivation of doubt and uncertainty in the face of the mystery of existence. An agnostic stance "is not based on disinterest. It is founded on a passionate recognition that I do not know." Agnosticism consists of "an intense perplexity that vibrates through the body and leaves the mind that seeks certainty nowhere to rest."

Reading Batchelor, I kept finding passages that echoed my own thoughts, sometimes eerily so. One morning, I confessed to my journal that in spite of my professed interest in cultivating mystical wonder, I am actually quite content to remain in my ordinary dull-witted state. Deep down, I fear confrontation with reality. I keep it at arm’s length by turning it into an intellectual puzzle. I then put down my journal and picked up Faith to Doubt, which I had started reading only a day or two earlier, and came across a passage in which Batchelor questioned his own commitment to awakening:

"Because--despite all the lofty talk about ‘transformation’ and ‘awakening’--do I seriously want to change? Do I not just want an appendage of enlightenment to stick on to what I already am? I understood that so many of my visions for the future were just extensions of my mediocre self covered with the veneer of misconstrued notions of sagacity."

Stephen Batchelor

I felt that in Batchelor I had found a kind of alter ego, even a soulmate. I arranged to meet him on a winter afternoon in the Greenwich Village apartment of Helen Tworkov, editor of the Buddhist journal Tricycle and an admirer of Batchelor’s work. He was a soft-spoken man of medium height and build. He had grey hair, thinning on top and brushed back, and he wore glasses with greenish rims. He was born in 1953, the same year as I. We sat at a table on which stood a vase containing three branches studded with cherry blossoms.

As we spoke, Batchelor’s gaze occasionally drifted over to the window beside us, which looked out on the dark brownstones of the West Village. His demeanor was both diffident and firm. When I asked him about his history, he warned that he suspected his own reconstruction of his youthful states of mind. But he could give me some facts. He was born in Scotland. His parents separated when he was quite young, and he grew up with his mother in a town north of London. In his teens, he took LSD, marijuana, and other drugs and read counter-culture classics such as Be Here Now.

Batchelor thought Ram Dass's book "showed, in what may seem now like very simplistic and naive language, a passageway from the psychedelic experience into a kind of Eastern spirituality and mysticism. And that I think served as a very important bridge at that time."

In 1972, bored by his education and by England, he traveled east. Eventually he arrived in Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama was living in exile from his native Tibet. The Tibetans entranced the young Englishman. "This was a people who were dispossessed," Batchelor explained, "and yet in the midst of that they retained this warmth, and almost luminous kind of intelligence."

He started learning Tibetan and undergoing training as a monk. Gradually, in spite of his admiration for his Tibetan teachers, he became disaffected by their form of Buddhism. "What they taught was so defined by Tibetan history and culture that I increasingly found the practices and so forth didn’t mesh with my yearnings, my longings, my needs as a westerner."

His frustration was brought to a head by his 1980 epiphany, in which he felt the mystery of existence so acutely. None of his psychedelic or meditative experiences had prepared him for this sensation. "It was one of those experiences that came completely out of the blue and utterly shocked me." The experience "probably didn’t last for more than a few minutes in its intensity, but it’s never left me either," Batchelor said. "And the work I have done since has been an attempt to somehow articulate that."

Batchelor initially assumed that his Tibetan teachers would be familiar with his experience and help him understand it, but they were baffled. He realized that the Tibetan language did not really have the words and terms that he needed to convey the gist of his revelation. For example, he could not translate the seemingly simple sentence, "The world appeared to me as a question," into Tibetan. "I can say it, but it’s meaningless, it’s gobbledygook." As a result, he became "acutely conscious of the limits of Tibetan Buddhist culture."

Batchelor squirmed a bit when I asked if his experience could be described as mystical. He disliked the term, or at least was ambivalent about it. It suggests "some visional insight into the nature of reality that somehow cuts through the veil of appearances into something transcendent, beyond, that’s wholly other." To Batchelor, spirituality is about seeing this reality right here and now, in front of us. "I suppose if I were a theologian, I would be a theologian of immanence rather than transcendence."

Batchelor started reading voraciously, searching for insights into his experience. He found echoes of his revelation in the works of such disparate thinkers as the Catholic theologian Paul Tillich, the Jewish theologian Martin Buber, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and the French existentialists Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. But the tradition that resonated most with his experience was Zen Buddhism.

I asked Batchelor why he called himself an agnostic Buddhist rather than just an agnostic. He admitted that he sometimes asked himself the same question. "Especially when I run up against the rather more rigid, dogmatic forms of Buddhism, I think, ‘Why am I still bothering with this stuff?’" But he still felt at home in Buddhism. "That doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable with it. Perhaps that means I’m like Catholics who spend their whole time berating the Vatican." He smiled. "I sometimes compare Buddhism to the tinder on matchbooks. If I didn’t have it there, I wouldn’t be able to get any spark."

Batchelor rejects Buddhist doctrines such as reincarnation. The idea that individual human souls persist in some disembodied form even after the body dies is "very difficult to square with the world as we know it through the sciences." He did not rule out the possibility of life after death. He simply believed that we cannot know one way or the other. "I don’t find those questions terribly interesting, to be honest. I certainly don’t feel they have much to do with what I consider to be the heart of my Buddhist or spiritual practice. I’m indifferent. I could live with it either way."

Belief in reincarnation or an afterlife, while perhaps consoling, diverts us from an honest confrontation with death. "To hold death as a question, again, to me is central. I guess it goes back to that experience again. I’m not saying that’s easy or comfortable, but it’s true to what I can understand." He accepted the notion of karma, if it is defined simply as the fact that our actions in this world have consequences in this world, and not in some ethereal afterlife.

Batchelor shares with his friend and fellow Zen Buddhist Susan Blackmore a distaste for occult, supernatural beliefs. An obsession with the supernatural "turns us away from experiencing the wondrousness of what is right before our eyes and ears, all the time," Batchelor said. The world revealed by science is much more fantastical and counter-intuitive and wondrous than the world as it is portrayed by Tibetan Buddhism or Christianity or New Age pseudo-prophets. "The scientific descriptions of the world generate to me a much deeper sense of awe and wonder than these Buddhist and religious sorts of fantasies."

Batchelor is unimpressed by most attempts to fuse Eastern mysticism and science. "The classic statement of this is The Tao of Physics, which nowadays looks terribly dated," he said. "It basically just trawls through quantum physics and relativity and trawls through Buddhism, Hinduism, and the lot and pulls out any kind of ostensible parallel, confirming a thesis that they are talking about the same thing. It is a very flimsy way of doing things."

Batchelor still believes in enlightenment, or "awakening." As he understands it, enlightenment is not a state of permanent bliss and beatitude. It begins as a transitory experience that fades but leaves you permanently altered. "You somehow have a glimpse of the world from another perspective. But the actual path begins there. It doesn’t end there."

The questions posed by life and death demand "a response," Batchelor said, "both intellectually, ethically, socially, politically. But that response is always provisional and partial and incomplete. And in a sense it stimulates an ever-greater appreciation of, almost, the infinity of the question. So I see the path very much as a trajectory--an ongoing, open-ended trajectory into the future--rather than something that can be finalized by a belief system, or some scientific discovery, or by the claim of some guru, or whatever."

Batchelor and his wife, a French-born former Buddhist nun, teach meditation and lead meditation retreats, but Batchelor no longer meditates every day. "I am a meditation teacher who doesn’t meditate any more," he said, smiling sheepishly. Although he once found meditation "extraordinarily valuable," over time it came to seem like "a kind of evasion, really. It was a cutting off from experience, rather than a full-blooded engagement with all of its ambiguities and messiness." He tries to cultivate his existential awareness through writing now more than through meditation. "I write and think and struggle with questions. That’s my practice."

Batchelor realized that his anti-belief outlook could ossify into still another belief. "Any statement you make, however skeptical it might appear, could serve as the basis for yet another kind of fixed view. ‘Doubt everything’ could become a dogma." He tried to apply his doubt toward his own opinions as well as those of others. He sought to keep his outlook fresh in his writing by deliberately introducing discontinuities into his narrative. He hoped thereby to "reflect something of the Zen idea of the suddenness, abruptness of insight and understanding, something that breaks into life."

It was late afternoon now. The sun had vanished behind a sooty water tower across the street. Gazing out the window Batchelor murmured, more to himself than to me, "That’s beautiful." And it was. The grimy, cluttered cityscape was redeemed by the sky above it—pale violet and cloudless, with the transparency that only winter skies have.

Batchelor grimaced when I asked if he believed that life is fundamentally good. "Good is such an anthropocentric, anthropomorphic idea. To characterize reality as good is like characterizing reality as having purpose," he answered. "It’s another consolatory device." He paused. "I mean I’m glad it’s all here," he continued, "but then to label it as good is..."

Frowning, Batchelor looked out the window again. Life’s goodness, he continued, is inseparable from its dark aspects, from pain and cruelty and injustice. Good and evil "have to go together. They are polarities that are meaningless independent of one another."

As I put my notebook and tape recorder away and my coat on, Batchelor kept mulling over his awkward relationship to Buddhism. Maybe at some point he would break away from it, he told me. Especially in its American version, Buddhism can be awfully stuffy, conservative, and dogmatic. He worried that it might seem gimicky for him to announce that he was no longer a Buddhist. Also, he might appear ungrateful and hypocritical, after all that Buddhism had done for him. But still, at some point...

Batchelor stood in the middle of the twilit room, seemingly lost in thought. We shook hands and said goodbye.

A subway got me to Grand Central Station just in time to catch my train home. Hurtling north through the night along the Hudson River, I took my notebook out and scribbled down a few random thoughts about Batchelor. What impressed me most about him was that he really did seem to be in a state of doubt and uncertainty; it was not just rhetoric. There was a restless, unsettled quality to him. But was that cultivated or congenital? Like the rest of us, perhaps Batchelor advocates a spirituality that suits—and justifies--his temperament. And the reason it appeals to me so much is that my temperament resembles his.

And that’s what worried me. Batchelor reminded me of the anthropologist Stuart Guthrie, the atheist who desperately hoped for a mystical experience that would help him transcend his pessimistic worldview. Like Guthrie, Batchelor seemed trapped within his own skepticism. His anti-belief philosophy did not even permit him the consolation of saying that life is good. Did I have the courage to sustain such a perspective? Did I have any choice?

I like to think of my skepticism—my faithlessness—as a position that I arrived at freely. But maybe it is hard-wired into me, like myopia, or color-blindness, or tone-deafness. Maybe Susan Blackmore is right: Free will is just an illusion; our destiny is a matter of genes and memes, not of the choices we think we make. The best we can do is grin and bear it as our fate unfolds.

Mulling all this over on the train, I realized that I had forgotten to tell Batchelor my mantra joke. I had thought of the perfect mantra for cultivating awe before the impenetrable mystery of existence. Instead of "Om" or "Sat nam" or any of the other familiar mantras, you repeat the phrase "Duhhhh...." Probably just as well that I hadn’t told the joke. The mood hadn’t been quite right.

The man sitting to my left was snoring softly, his mouth agape. His head and neck were tucked into a yoke-shaped inflatable pillow. I put my notebook away and stared into space, listening to the rhythmic rumble of the train. Occasionally something luminous sliding past the train window caught my eye: the seamed canvas domes of indoor tennis courts, a junkyard crammed with dead cars, the lights of a harbor on the Hudson River’s far bank, the turreted walls of Sing Sing Prison.

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:47 pm



by Charles Carreon

Introduction: This essay was originally written in 2003, and posted on the American-Buddha.com website. The epilogue was written today, June 13, 2009.

Just the other day, for the first time, I found myself interested in Franklin Jones. I found this book of his, The Promised God-Man Is Here, at “The Bookwagon”, down in the Ashland Shopping Center. It's a big book, like a Michener novel, with a picture of a fat white man with his palms facing forward at chest level. He's wearing a saffron robe on his upper body, his legs and knees are bare, his head is slightly back-tilted, and he seems to either be beaming spiritual energy at us, or keeping his distance. Since he's sitting in the midst of an aura of wavy gold lines, I think beaming is intended to be conveyed. The purity of the subject addressed by the book is signaled by the white cover, associated in Tibetan iconography with pride, vajra, the north and the god realm.

The book is by "Carolyn Lee, Ph.D.," one of the numerous female devotees who have cast themselves on the funeral pyre of Franklin's love. Cause he's a ramblin' man, a complete unknown, a rollin' stone, a rompin' stompin' heaping hunk of burnin' love. That's Franklin, Lord above, and as on earth so in heaven, and also at the seven-eleven. This man is bad! He is so bad he should be locked in a cage with Dr. Laura and Judge Judy, and forced to satisfy their unnatural lusts. Or required to share a lifeboat with Chogyam Trungpa, Krishnamurti, and Madonna for company, and a package of beef jerky and a bottle of Crown Royal to liven up the experience. Just imagine how many ways that could turn out.

Bubba Free John was Franklin's moniker when first I heard of him, back in the days when "The Knee of Listening" was the kind of thing the older hippies worried about. I was only worried that I wasn't getting enough time in the sack with sexy chicks, and serious religion, like serious politics, did not hold my attention. Now I find out that, for all of the religious overlay, his concerns were much like my own, but more grandiose. His recent outpourings indicate that he is now even more convinced of his eternal worth to humanity than he was back in the hippie era, but even then he knew he deserved more than the average guy. He made a career out of stealing women from gullible young hippies who could be buffaloed. The prettier the girls, the better, and Franklin established a system for getting the couple stoned and drunk, having his pals separate the guy from the chick, after which Franklin would seduce her and initiate her into Franklin-worship. Later on, Franklin's assistants got a share of the flesh they helped bring to the altar.

Being ready to drop your drawers and get physical was very much a part of the Franklin scene. Going with his strengths, Franklin accumulated as many as nine official wives, a condition bound to incite envy in those of small experience. Franklin's power over women gave him power over men, and the clique of seducers at the core of his gang gave him the macho support that provokes swooning among members of the fairer sex.

Franklin cuckolded large numbers of men, who stood silent and helpless as their women shucked off their clothes and walked into bliss. The men, deprived of their testicles, couldn't help but hang around. They could lessen the pain by pretending that God had taken their woman. If they pretended Franklin was divine, they could hang around and try to win back the love that had been whisked away from them. They might even get one of Franklin's other castoff women.

On the other hand, if a woman had money, Franklin could always separate her from her man by tossing a new woman his way. Then, she would look to Franklin to heal the wound. Franklin could help her understand that the new relationship was also a good thing. She just needed to open her heart. Keeping her purse closed wasn't helping. That's the way it is in a religious community. You open up your heart, your purse, your legs. Wherever your treasure is, you share it.

This simple formula for a happy and successful cult kept Franklin fed, stoned and caressed for around thirty years. In The Promised God-Man Is Here he again recorded and revised the history of his achievements for posterity, laying out a feast for his devotees. If you were not a believer, this book won’t make you one, but it can still be enjoyed as a study in psychopathology, in which the true character of the patient's delusion is gradually revealed by the steady accumulation of character details.

Never content with one name where an evolving string of them will do, this avatar morphed from Franklin Jones to Bubba Free John to Da Love-Ananda, to Da, Adi-Da, and finally Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj. Rarely able to reside in one place for more than a few years, Franklin up and left his faithless pseudo-disciples in a huff on numerous occasions. Of course, some say he fled Marin County in order to avoid more heat arising out of lawsuits against him by abused students, but I think he just got in a snit. There was pace and staging to Franklin's inner freak show. He managed to keep his devotees on pins and needles about his dreams, his heart palpitations, his swoons, his depressions, his crying jags, his decaying health, his mission to save the world. They feared his judgments, the cruel accusation that they were undermining his mission by failing to generate devotion, cash, contacts, the things a messiah needs. How can you save a world that doesn't want to be saved? The things a guru has to do with his own hands! Are we out of Valium again?!

Yes, he confronted them about it! The slacking, the fake devotion, the heel-dragging, the complete lack of concern for the fact that there were FOUR BILLION PEOPLE on the earth who NEVER HEARD OF DA! WAITING! HE REMINDED THEM: THIS IS INCARNATION THEY ARE WAITING FOR, BUT DA'S DISCIPLES are SLACKING! Back in the mid-eighties, when they first moved to Fiji, Franklin told them, he would MAKE HIS MOVE! Well, he did! But did they? Nooooooo. They just sat there with their simpy devoted faces and LET HIM DOWN!

It was true. Da was God, the baby God. Sitting in a diaper full of shit, screaming for somebody to wipe his butt. Waving his rattle-sceptre, screaming for food, comfort, adulation. His disciples did their job. They adored him and shut him up. They did it in shifts until he died. That was the task his devotees took on, and as Da was their witness, they fulfilled it.


On November 27, 2008, Franklin Jones was working on an art installation of massive painted aluminum constructions. Inflated estimations of the artistic heft of his output had already been floated, and so it appeared that Adi Da was about to enter his Warhol phase. With the international art market tanking, his entry into the field was well-timed, since artists able to fund their own shows and grease the publicity machinery that sustains buzz and prices are a rarity, and good reviews could be bought cheaply. Then Time, that wounds all heels, pulled its rug smoothly out from under the feet of the man, and at the age of 69, the bullshit ceased to flow. At least from the mouth of Adi Da himself, which had ceased to produce words about the same time as his heart stopped beating. His devotees, of course, had just begun. Using the Internet, they began proclaiming on his behalf:

As devotees know, Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj is a Divine Yogi. There is a long history of such beings having very unconventional “death events” or moments in their lives. We have seen this in Beloved Bhagavan’s Case in many circumstances in the past -- the Ruchira Dham or Lopez Island Event, and the Divine Emergence, as merely two of them. Certainly it is the hope of this moment, as we write, that Beloved Bhagavan will Re-Enter His Body and begin a new Phase of His Work. It is our hope and intention that He will Re-Animate the Body and wake up.

Franklin Jones, being merely human, did not “wake up” from his heart attack. But those who had known and loved him consoled themselves on a website dedicated to his memory by posting audio recordings with a focus on the following message:

That Adi Da will always be eternally present, and furthermore, that He has provided us with all the means necessary to locate Him, making His Presence forever available to us.

At this point, our jeering and laughter reach their proper end, because the absurdity of Adi Da’s self-promotion, and the slavishness of his disciples’ adulation stand revealed in their completeness, and whatever there was to expose about the man in life, death has taken the laboring oar, and we may rest from our exertions. This epilogue thus is properly concluded with an epitaph, and since Jones was a false guru from the sixties, made of ordinary American clay, his epitaph from the pen of an American boy, whose music will play on and on long after Jones’ silly sermons are forgotten:

“And castles made of sand
Slips into the sea

Jimi Hendrix
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:24 pm

Here is an esoteric view of some related European history:


The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part I – 11. The Manipulator of erotic love

Victor & Victoria Trimondi


In this chapter we want to introduce the reader to a spectacular European parallel to the fundamental tantric idea that erotic love and sexuality can be translated into material and spiritual power. It concerns several until now rarely considered theses of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600).

At the age of fifteen, Bruno, born in Nola, Italy, joined the Dominican order. However, his interest in the newest scientific discoveries and his fascination with the late Hellenistic esotericism very soon led him to leave his order, a for the times most courageous undertaking. From this point on he began a hectic life on the road which took him all over Europe. Nonetheless, the restless and ingenious ex-monk wrote and published numerous “revolutionary” works in which he took a critical stance toward the dogmata of the church on all manner of topics. The fact that Bruno championed many ideas from the modern view of the world that was emerging at the time, especially the Copernican system, made him a hero of the new during his own lifetime. After he was found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition in 1600 and burned at the stake at the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the European intelligentsia proclaimed him to be the greatest “martyr of modern science”. This image has stayed with him up until the present day. Yet this is not entirely justified, then Bruno was far more interested in the esoteric ideas of antiquity and the occultism of his day than in modern scientific research. Nearly all of his works concern magic/mystic/mythological themes.

Like the Indian Tantrics, this eccentric and dynamic Renaissance philosopher was convinced that the entire universe was held together by erotic love. Love in all its variations ruled the world, from physical nature to the metaphysical heavens, from sexuality to heartfelt love of the mystics: it “led either to the animals [sexuality] or to the intelligible and is then called the divine [mysticism]" (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 174).

Bruno extended the term Eros (erotic love) to encompass in the final instance all human emotions and described it in general terms as the primal force which bonded, or rather—as he put it—"chained”, through affect. “The most powerful shackle of all is ... love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 224). The lover is “chained” to the individual loved. But there is no need for the reverse to apply, then the beloved does not themselves have to love. This definition of love as a “chain” made it possible for Bruno to see even hate as a way of expressing erotic love, since he or she who hates is just as “chained” to the hated by his feelings as the lover is to the beloved. (To more graphically illustrate the parallels between Bruno’s philosophy and Tantrism, we will in the following speak of the lover as feminine rather than masculine. Bruno used the term completely generically for both women and men.

According to Bruno, “the ability to enchain” is also the main chacteristic of magic, then a magician behaves like an escapologist when he binds his “victim” (whether human or spirit) to him with love. “There where we have spoken of natural magic, we have described to what extent all chains can be related to the chain of love, are dependent upon the chain of love or arise in the chain of love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 213). More than anything else, love binds people, and this gives it something of the demonic, especially when it is exploited by one partner to the disadvantage of the other. “As regards all those who are dedicated to philosophy or magic, it is fully apparent that the highest bond, the most important and the most general belongs to erotic love: and that is why the Platonists called love the Great Demon, daemon magnus” (quoted by Couliano, 1987, p. 91).

Now how does this erotic magic work? According to Bruno an erotic/magic involvement arises between the lovers, a fabric of affect, feelings, and moods. He refers to this as rete (net or fabric). It is woven from subtle “threads of affect”, but is thus all the more binding. (Let us recall that the Sanskrit word “tantra” translates as “fabric” or “net”.) The rete (the erotic net) can be expressed in a sexual relationship (through sexual dependency), but in the majority of cases it is of a psychological nature which nonetheless further strengthens its power to bind. Every form of love chains in its own way: “This love”, Bruno says, “is unique, and is a fetter which makes everything one” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 180).

If they wish, a person can control the one whom they bind to themselves with love, since “through this chain [the] lover is enraptured, so that they want to be transferred to the beloved” as Bruno writes (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 181). Accordingly, the real magician is the beloved, who exploits the erotic energy of the lover in the accumulation of his own power. He transforms love into power, he is a manipulator of erotic love. [1] As we shall soon see, even if Bruno’s manipulator is not literally a Tantric, the second part of the definition with which we prefaced our study still seems to fit:

The mystery of Tantric Buddhism consists in ...
the manipulation of erotic love
so as to attain universal androcentric power.

The manipulator, also referred to as a “soul hunter” by Bruno, can reach the heart of the lover through her sense of sight, through her hearing, through her spirit, and through her imagination, and thus chain her to him. He can look at her, smile at her, hold her hand, shower her with flattering compliments, sleep with her, or influence her through his power of imagination. “In enchaining”, Bruno says, “there are four movements. The first is the penetration or insertion, the second the attachment or the chain, the third the attraction, the fourth the connection, which is also known as enjoyment. ... Hence [the] lover wants to completely penetrate the beloved with his tongue, his mouth, with his eyes, etc.” (Samsonow, 1995, pp. 171, 200). That is, not only does the lover let herself be enchained, she must also experience the greatest desire for this bond. This lust has to increase to the point that she wants to offer herself with her entire being to the beloved manipulator and would like to “disappear in him”. This gives the latter absolute power over the enchained one.

The manipulator evokes all manner of illusions in the awareness of his love victim and arouses her emotions and desires. He opens the heart of the lover and can take possession of the one thus “wounded”. He is lord over foreign emotions and “has means at his disposal to forge all the chains he wants: hope, compassion, fear, love, hate, indignation, anger, joy, patience, disdain for life and death” writes Joan P. Couliano in her book, Eros and magic in the Renaissance (Couliano, 1987, p. 94). Yet the magically enacted enchainment may never occur against the manifest will of the enchanted one. In contrast, the manipulator must always awake the suggestion in his victim that everything is happening in her interests alone. He creates the total illusion that the lover is a chosen one, an independent individual following her own will.

Bruno also mentions an indirect method of gaining influence, in which the lover does not know at all that she is being manipulated. In this case, the manipulator makes use of “powerful invisible beings, demons and heroes”, whom he conjures up with magic incantations (mantras) so as to achieve the desired result with their help (Couliano, 1987, p. 88). We learn from the following quotation how these invoked spirits work for the manipulator: They need “neither ears nor a voice nor a whisper, rather they penetrate the inner senses [of the lover] as described. Thus they do not just produce dreams and cause voices to be heard and all kinds of things to be seen, but they also force certain thoughts upon the waking as the truth, which they can hardly recognize as deriving from another” (Samsonow, 1995, p. 140). The lover thus believes she is acting in her own interests and according to her own will, whilst she is in fact being steered and controlled through magic blandishments.

The manipulator himself may not surrender to any emotional inclinations. Like a tantric yogi he must keep his own feelings completely under control from start to finish. For this reason well-developed egocentricity is a necessary characteristic for a good manipulator. He is permitted only one love: narcissism (philautia), and according to Bruno only a tiny elite possesses the ability needed, because the majority of people surrender to uncontrolled emotions. The manipulator has to completely bridle and control his fantasy: “Be careful,” Bruno warns him, “not to change yourself from manipulator into the tool of phantasms” (quoted by Couliano, 1987, p. 92). The real European magician must, like his oriental colleague (the Siddha), be able “to arrange, to correct and to provide phantasy, to create the different kinds at will” (Couliano, 1987, p. 92).

He must not develop any reciprocal feelings for the lover, but he has to pretend to have these, since, as Bruno says, “the chains of love, friendship, goodwill, favor, lust, charity, compassion, desire, passion, avarice, craving, and longing disappear easily if they are not based upon mutuality. Fom this stems the saying: love dies without love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 181). This statement is of thoroughly cynical intent, then the manipulator is not interested in reciprocating the erotic love of the lover, but rather in simulating such a reciprocity.

But for the deception to succeed the manipulator may not remain completely cold. He has to know from his own experience the feelings that he evokes in the lover, but he may never surrender himself to these: “He is even supposed to kindle in his phantasmic mechanism [his imagination] formidable passions, provided these be sterile and that he be detached from them. For there is no way to bewitch others than by experimenting in himself with what he wishes to produce in his victim” (Couliano, 1987, p. 102). The evocation of passions without falling prey to them is, as we know, almost a tantric leitmotif.

Yet the most astonishing aspect of Bruno’s manipulation thesis is that, as in Vajrayana , he mentions the retention of semen as a powerful instrument of control which the magician should command, since “through the expulsion of the seed the chains [of love] are loosened, through the retention tightened” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 175). In a further passage we can read: “If this [the semen virile] is expelled by an appropriate part, the force of the chain is reduced correspondingly (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 175). Or the reverse: a person who retains their semen, can thereby strengthen the erotic bondage of the lover.

Bruno’s idea that there is a correspondence between erotic love and power is thus in accord with tantric dogma on the issue of sperm gnosis as well. His theory of the manipulability of love offers us valuable psychological insights into the soul of the lover and the beloved manipulator. They also help us to understand why women surrender themselves to the Buddhist yogis and what is played out in their emotional worlds during the rites. As we have already indicated, this topic is completely suppressed in the tantric discussion. But Bruno addresses it openly and cynically — it is the heart of the lover which is manipulated. The effect for the manipulator (or yogi) is thus all the greater the more his karma mudra surrenders herself to him.

Bruno’s treatise, De vinculis in genere [On the binding forces in general] (1591), can in terms of its cynicism and directness only be compared with Machialvelli’s The Prince (1513). But his work goes further. Couliano correctly points out that Macchiavelli examines political, Bruno however, psychological manipulation. Then it is less the love of a consort and rather the erotic love of the masses which should — this she claims is Bruno’s intention — serve the manipulator as a “chain”. The former monk from Nola recognized manipulated “love” as a powerful instrument of control for the0 seduction of the masses. His theory thus contributes much to an understanding of the ecstatic attractiveness that dictators and pontiffs exercise over the people who love them. This makes Bruno’s work up to date despite its cynical content.

Bruno’s observations on “erotic love as a chain” are essentially tantric. Like Vajrayana, they concern the manipulation of the erotic in order to produce spiritual and worldly power. Bruno recognized that love in the broadest sense is the “elixir of life”, which first makes possible the establishment and maintenance of institutions of power headed by a person (such as the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or a “beloved” dictator for example). As strong as love may be, it is, if it remains one-sided, manipulable in the person of the “lover”. Indeed, the stronger it becomes, the more easily it can be used or “misused” for the purposes of power (by the “beloved”).

The fact that Tantrism focuses more upon sexuality then on the more sublime forms of erotic love, does not change anything about this principle of “erotic exploitation”. The manipulation of more subtle forms of love like the look (Carya Tantra), the smile (Kriya Tantra), and the touch (Yoga Tantra) are also known in Vajrayana. Likewise, in Tantric Buddhism as in every religious institution, the “spiritual love” of its believers is a life energy without which it could not exist. In the second part of our study we shall have to demonstrate how the Tibetan leader of the Buddhists, the Dalai Lama, succeeds in binding ever more Western believers to him with the “chains of love”.

Incidentally, in her book which we have quoted (Eros and Magic in the Renaissance) Couliano is of the opinion that via the mass media the West has already been woven into such a manipulable “erotic net” (rete). At the end of her analysis of Bruno’s treatise on power she concludes: “And since the relations between individuals are controlled by ‘erotic’ criteria in the widest sense of that adjective, human society at all levels is itself only magic at work. Without even being conscious of it, all beings who, by reason of the way the world is constructed, find themselves in an intersubjective intermediate place, participate in a magic process. The manipulator is the only one who, having understood the ensemble of that mechanism, is first an observer of intersubjective relations while simultaneously gaining knowledge from which he means subsequently to profit” (Couliano, 1987, p. 103).

But Couliano fails to provide an answer to the question of who this manipulator could be. In the second part of our analysis we shall need to examine whether the Dalai Lama with his worldwide message of love, his power over the net (rete) of Western media, and his sexual magic techniques from the Kalachakra Tantra, fulfills the criteria to be a magician in Giordano Bruno’s sense.

[1] The Renaissance philosopher attempts to describe this transformation process in his text De vinculis in genere (1591)

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:30 pm


The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part II – 15. The buddhocratic conquest of the west
Victor & Victoria Trimondi


In the view of the Tibetan lamas, the spread of Buddhism in the West is predicted by an ancient prophecy. The historical Buddha is said to have made the following prognosis: “Two thousand and five hundred years after my passing the Dharma will spread to the land of the red-faced people” (Mullin, 1991, p. 145). This they take to be a reference to the USA and the continent’s native inhabitants, the North American Indians. There is an astonishingly similar prophecy by the founder of Tibetan culture, Padmasambhava: “When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels … the Dharma will come to the land of the Red Man” (Bernbaum, 1982, p. 33). Western cultural figures like the director Martin Scorsese cite a famous pronouncement of the Tibetan state oracle prior to the flight of the Kundun in the 1950s: “The jewel that grants wishes shines in the West” says the prophecy (Focus, 46/1997, p. 168) “The jewel that grants wishes” is an epithet for the Dalai Lama.

In the 1960s and 70s the spread of Tantric Buddhism in the West still proved difficult, especially with regard to its social acceptance. The Buddhist groups shared more or less the same fate as all the other “exotic” sects. No distinction was drawn in public between Hare Krishna, Bhagwan followers or Gelugpa monks. Yet thanks to the mobility, political skill, sophisticated manner and charismatic aura of the Dalai Lama, Lamaism’s isolation has in the meantime become transformed into its opposite and in recent years it has become a triumphal parade. Whilst for the other Eastern sects the number of new members has been stagnating or even declining since the 90s, Tibetan Buddhism has been growing “like an ocean wave” the news magazine Spiegel reports, continuing, “In the wake of sects and esoterica, Germans have [found] a new haven from the crisis of senselessness: Buddhism. In the [German] Federal Republic 300,000 people are sympathetic towards the far Eastern religion which discriminates against women, requires celibacy of its monks and nuns, and whose western teachers preach banalities as truths.” (Spiegel, 6/1994) Four years later the same magazine reports, this time in a leading article which over many pages reads like a hymn of praise for the Kundun, that half a million Germans now follow the Buddhist path already. The Spiegel says that, “Advertising copywriters and heads of business, university professors and housewives profess their faith in the far Eastern religion — a rapidly increasing tendency. ... Even in the new federal states, in Menz in Brandenburg for instance, prayer flags now flutter, freshly converted mumble mantras [and] work on gilded Buddha figures” (Spiegel, 16/1998, p. 109). The number of Tibetan centers in the Federal Republic increased from 81 to 141 within just six years (1998).

The German press has — probably unknowingly — become an instrument of propaganda for Tibetan Buddhism. The following short (!) collection of quotations is offered as a demonstration: “Tibet is booming in the West. Buddhism is the religion à la mode.” (Spiegel, 13.4.1998); “In Germany too, Buddhism is becoming more and more of a topic” (Gala, 21.3.1998); “The victory march of the Dalai Lama leaves even the Pope pale with envy. In Hollywood the leader of is currently worshipped like a god ” (Playboy [German edition], March 1998); “Buddhism is booming and no-one is really sure why” (Bild 19.3.1998); “ In Buddha’s arms more and more power women discover their souls behind the facade of success” (Bunte, 1.11.1997); “Buddhism is becoming a trend religion in Germany” (Focus 5/1994).

The USA and other western countries exhibit even higher growth rates than Germany. In the United States there are said to be 1.5 million Buddhists in the meantime. “An ancient religion grows ever stronger roots in a new world, with the help of the movies, pop culture and the politics of repressed Tibet” writes the news magazine Time. (Time, vol. 150 no. 15, October 13, 1997). Between New York and San Francisco Buddhist centers are springing up one after another, “religious refuges in which actors, but also managers and politicians flee for inner reflection. ... Nowhere outside of the Vatican do so many prominent pilgrims meet as in this ‘little Lhasa’ [i.e., Dharamsala]. Tibet is booming in the West. Buddhism is the religion à la mode. An audience with the god-king is considered the non plus ultra” reports the Spiegel (Spiegel 16/1998, pp. 109, 108). Tens of thousands of Americans and Europeans have performed some tantric practices, many hundreds have undertaken the traditional three-year retreat, and the number of ordained “Westerners” is constantly growing.

Tibetan Buddhism confronts Western civilization with an image of longing which invokes the buried and forgotten legacy of theocratic cultures (which in pre-modern times defined European politics as well). Here, after the many sober years of rationalism (since the French Revolution), half dead of thirst for divine revelation, the modern person comes across a bubbling spring. Lamas from “beyond the horizon”, revered in occult circles up until the middle of this century as enigmatic Eastern masters of a secret doctrine and who rarely met an ordinary person, have now descended from the “Roof of the World” and entered the over-sophisticated cities of western materialism. With them they have brought their old teachings of wisdom, their mystical knowledge, their archaic rites and secret magical practices. We can meet them in flesh and blood in London, New York, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Berlin, even in Jerusalem — as if a far Eastern fairytale had become true.

We have described often enough the political goal of this much-admired religious movement. It involves the establishment of a global Buddhocracy, a Shambhalization of the world, steered and governed, where possible, from Potala, the highest “Seat of the Gods” From there the longed-for Buddhist world ruler, the Chakravartin, ids supposed to govern the globe and its peoples. Of course, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama would never speak so directly about this vision. But his prophet in the USA, Robert Thurman, is less circumspect.

Robert A. Thurman: “the academic godfather of the Tibetan cause”

Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman, the founder and current head of the Tibet House in New York, traveled to Dharamsala in the early 1960s. There he was introduced to the Dalai Lama as “a crazy American boy, very intelligent, and with a good heart” who wanted to become a Buddhist monk. The Tibetan hierarch acceded to the young American’s wish, ordained him as the first Westerner to become a Tibetan monk, and personally supervised his studies and initiatory exercises. He considered Thurman’s training to be so significant that he required a weekly personal meeting. Thurman’s first teacher was Khen Losang Dondrub, Abbot of the Namgyal monastery which was specifically commissioned to perform the so-called Kalachakra ritual. Later, the Kalmyk Geshe Wangal (1901–1983) was appointed as teacher of the “crazy” American (born 1941), who today maintains that he will be able to celebrate the Buddhization of the USA within his lifetime.

Having returned from India to the United States, Thurman began an academic career, studying at Harvard and translating several classic Buddhist texts from Tibetan. He then founded the “Tibet House” in New York, a missionary office for the spread of Lamaism in America disguised as a cultural institute.

Alongside the two actors Richard Gere and Steven Segal, Thurman is the crowd puller of Tibetan Buddhism in the USA. His famous daughter, the Hollywood actress Uma Thurman, who as a small child sat on the lap of the Tibetan “god-king”, has made no small contribution to her father’s popularity and opened the door to Hollywood celebrities. The Herald Tribune called Thurman “the academic godfather of the Tibetan cause” (Herald Tribune, 20 March 1997, p. 6) and in 1997 Time magazine ranked him among the 25 most influential opinion makers of America. He is described there with a telling ironic undertone as the “Saint Paul or Billy Graham of Buddhism” (Time, 28 April 1997, p. 42) Thurman is in fact extremely eloquent and understands how to fascinate his audience with powerful polemics and rhetorical brilliance. For example, he calls the Tibetans “the baby seals of the human right movement”.

In the Shugden affair, Thurman naturally took the side of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and proceeded with the most stringent measures against the “sectarians”, publicly disparaging them as the “Taliban of Buddhism”. When three monks were in stabbed to death in Dharamsala he saw this murder as a ritual act: “The three were stabbed repeatedly and cut up in a way that was like exorcism” (Newsweek, 5 May 1997, p. 43).

Thurman is the most highly exposed intellectual in the American Tibet scene. His profound knowledge of the occult foundations of Lamaism, his intensive study of Tibetan language and culture, his initiation as the first Lamaist monk from the western camp, his rhetorical brilliance and not least his close connection to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, which is more than just a personal friendship and rests upon a religious political alliance, all make this man a major figure in the Lamaist world. The American is — as we shall see — the exoteric protagonist of an esoteric drama, whose script is written in what is known as the Kalachakra Tantra. He promotes a “cool revolution of the world community” and understands by this “a cool restoration of Lamaist Buddhism on a global scale”.

We met Robert Thurman in person at a Tibet Conference in Bonn (“Myth Tibet” in 1996). He was without doubt the most prominent and theatrical speaker and far exceeded the aspirations laid out by the conference. The organizers wanted to launch an academically aseptic discussion of Tibet and its history under the motto that our image of Tibet is a western projection. In truth, Tibet was and is a contradictory country like any other, and the Tibetans like other peoples have had a tumultuous history. The image of Tibet therefore needs to be purged of any occultism and one-sided glorification. Thus the most well-known figures of modern international Tibetology were gathered in Bonn. The proceedings were in fact surprisingly critical and an image of Tibet emerged which was able to peel away some illusions. There was no more talk of a faultless and spiritual Shangri-La up on the roof of the world.

Despite this apparently critical approach, the event must be described as a manipulation. First of all, the cliché that the West alone is responsible for the widespread image of Tibet found here was reinforced. We have shown at many points in our book that this blissful image is also a creation of the lamas and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama himself. Further, the fact that Lamaism possesses a world view in which western civilization is to be supplanted via a new Buddhist millennium and that it is systematically working towards this goal was completely elided from the debate in Bonn. It appears the globalizing claims of Tibetan Buddhism ought to be passed over silently. At this conference Tibet continued to be portrayed as the tiny country oppressed by the Chinese giant, and the academics, the majority of whom were practicing Buddhists, presented themselves as committed ethnologists advocating, albeit somewhat more critically than usual, the rescue of an endangered culture of a people under threat. By and large this was the orientation of the conference in Bonn. It was hoped to create an island of “sober” scholarliness and expertise in order to inject a note of realism into the by now via the media completely exaggerated image of Tibet — in the justifiable fear that this could not be maintained indefinitely.

This carefully considered objective of the assembled Tibetologists was demolished by Thurman. In a powerfully eloquent speech entitled “Getting beyond Orientalism in approaching Buddhism and Tibet: A central concept”, he sketched a vision of the Buddhization of our planet, and of the establishment of a worldwide “Buddhocracy”. Here he dared to go a number of steps further than in his at that stage not yet published book, Inner Revolution. The quintessence of his dedicated presentation was that the decadent, materialistic West would soon go under and a global monastic system along Tibetan lines would emerge in its stead. This could well be based on traditional Tibet, which today at the end of the materialistic age appears modern to many: “Three hundred years before, this is the time, what I called modern Tibet, which is the Buddhocratic, unmilitaristic, mass-monastic society …” (Thurman at the conference in Bonn).

Such perspectives clearly much irritated the conference organizers and immensely disturbed their ostensible attempt to introduce a note of academic clarity. The megalomaniac claims of Tibetan neo-Buddhism plainly and openly forced their way into the limelight during Thurman’s speech. A spectacular row with the officials resulted and Thurman left Bonn early.

Irrespective of one’s opinion of Thurman, his speech in Bonn was just plain honest; it called a spade a spade and remains an eminently important record since it introduced the term “Buddhocracy” into the discussion as something desirable, indeed as the sole safety anchor amid the fall of the Western world. Those who are familiar with the background to Lamaism will recognize that Thurman has translated into easily understood western terms the religious political global pretensions of the Tibetan system codified in the Kalachakra Tantra. The American “mouthpiece of the Dalai Lama” is the principal witness for the fact that a worldwide “Buddhocracy” is aspired to not just in the tantric rituals but also by the propagandists of Tibetan Buddhism. Thurman probably revised and tamed down his final manuscript for Inner Revolution in light of events in Bonn. There, the emotive terms Buddhocracy and Buddhocratic are no longer so central as they were in his speech in Bonn. Nonetheless a careful reading of his book reveals the Buddhocratic intentions are not hidden in any way. In order to more clearly give prominence to these intentions, however, we will review his book in connection with his speech in Bonn.

The stolen revolution

Anybody who summarizes the elements of the political program running through Thurman’s book Inner Revolution from cover to cover will soon recognize that they largely concern the demands of the “revolutionary” grass roots movement of the 70s and 80s. Here there is talk of equality of the sexes, individual freedom, personal emancipation, critical thought, nonconformity, grass roots democracy, human rights, a social ethos, a minimum income guaranteed by the state, equality of access to education, health and social services for all, ecological awareness, tolerance, pacifism, and self-realization. In an era in which all these ideas no longer have the same attraction as they did 20 years ago, such nostalgic demands are like a balsam. The ideals of the recent past appear to have not been in vain! The utopias of the 1960s will be realized after all, indeed, according to Thurman, this time without any use of violence. The era of “cool revolution” has just begun and we learn that all these individual and social political goals have always been a part of Buddhist cultural tradition, especially Tibetan-style Lamaism.

With this move, Thurman incorporates the entire set of ideas of a protest generation which sought to change the world along human-political lines and harnesses it to a Tibetan/Buddhist world view. In this he is a brilliant student of his smiling master, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Tens of thousands of people in Europe and America (including Petra Kelly and the authors) became victims of this skillful manipulation and believed that Lamaism could provide the example of a human-politically committed religion. Thousands stood up for Tibet, small and oppressed, because they revered in this country a treasure trove of spiritual and ethical values which would be destroyed by Chinese totalitarianism. Tibetan Buddhism as the final refuge of the social revolutionary ideals of the 70s, as the inheritance of the politically involved youth movement? This is — as we shall show — how Lamaism presents itself in Thurman’s book, and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama gives this interpretation his approval. “Thurman explained to me how some Western thinkers have assumed that Buddhism has no intention to change society ... Thurman’s book provides a timely correction to any lingering notions about Buddhism as an uncaring religion.” (Thurman1998, p. xiii)

But anyone who peeps behind the curtains must unfortunately ascertain that with his catalog of political demands Thurman holds a mirror up to the ideals of the “revolutionary” generation of the West, and that he fails to inform them about the reality of the Lamaist system in which used to and still does function along completely contrary social political lines.

Thurman’s forged history

In order to prevent this abuse of power becoming obvious, the construction of a forged history is necessary, as Thurman conscientiously and consistently demonstrates in his book. He presents the Tibet of old as a type of gentle “scholarly republic” of introspective monks, free of the turbulence of European/imperialist politics of business and war. In their seclusion these holy men performed over centuries a world mission, which is only now becoming noticeable. Since the Renaissance, Thurman explains, the West has effected the “outer modernity”, that is the “outer enlightenment” through the scientific revolution. At the same time (above all since the rule of the Fifth Dalai Lama in the seventeenth century) an “inner revolution” has taken place in the Himalayas, which the American boldly describes as “inner modernity”: “So we must qualify what we have come to call ‘modernity’ in the West as ‘materialistic’ or ‘outer’ modernity, and contrast it with a parallel but alternative Tibetan modernity qualified as ‘spiritualistic’ or ‘inner’ modernity” (Thurman 1998, p. 247). At the 1996 conference in Bonn he did in fact refer to the “inner modernization of the Tibetan society”.

Committed Buddhism, according to Thurman, is instigating a “cool revolution” (in the sense of ‘calm’).It is “cool” in contrast to the “hot” revolutions of the Western dominated history of the world which demanded so many casualties. The five fundamental principles of this “cool revolution” are cleverly assigned anew to a Western (and not Oriental) system of values: transcendental individualism, nonviolent pacifism, educational evolutionism, ecosocial altruism, universal democratism.

For Thurman, the Tibetan culture of “sacralization”, “magic”, “enlightenment”, “spiritual progress”, and “peaceful monasticism” stands in opposition to a Western civilization of “secularization”, “disenchantment”, “rationalization”, “profane belief in material progress”, and “materialism, industrialism, and militarism” (Thurman 1998, p. 246).Even though the “inner revolution” is unambiguously valued more highly, the achievements of the West ought not be totally abandoned in the future. Thurman sees the world culture of the dawning millennium in a hierarchical (East over West) union of both. Upon closer inspection, however, this “cool revolution” reveals itself to be a “cool restoration” in which the world is to be transformed into a Tibetan-style Buddhist monastic state.

To substantiate Lamaism’s global mission (the “cool revolution”) in his book, Thurman had to distort Tibetan history, or the history of Buddhism in general. He needed to construct a pure, faultless and ideal history which from the outset pursued an exemplary, highly ethical task of instruction, aimed to culminate eschatologically in the Buddhization of the entire planet. The Tibetan monasteries had to be portrayed as bulwarks of peace and spiritual development, altruistically at work in the social interests of all. The image of Tibet of old needed to appear appropriately noble-minded, “with”, Thurman says, “the cultivation of scholarship and artistry; with the administration of the political system by enlightened hierarchs; with ascetic charisma diffused among the common people; and with the development of the reincarnation institution. It was a process of the removal of deep roots in instinct and cultural patterns” (Thurman 1998, p. 231). A general misrepresentation in Thurman’s historical construction is the depiction of Buddhist society and especially Lamaism as fundamentally peaceful (to be played out in contrast to the deeply militaristic West): “[T]he main direction of the society was ecstatic and positive; intrigues, violence and persecution were rarer than in any other civilization” (Thurman 1998, p.36). Although appeals may be made to relevant sutras in support of such a pacifist image of Tibetan Buddhism, as a social reality it is completely fictive.

As we have demonstrated, the opposite is the case. Lamaism was caught up in bloody struggles between the various monastic factions from the outset. There was a terrible “civil war” in which the country’s two main orders faced one another as opponents. Political murder has always been par for the course and even the Dalai Lamas have not been spared. Even in the brief history of the exiled Tibetans it is a constant occurrence. The concept of the enemy was deeply anchored in ancient Tibetan culture, and persists to this day. Thus the destruction of “enemies of the teaching” is one of the standard requirements of all tantric ritual texts. The sexual magic practices which lie at the center of this religion and which Thurman either conceals or interprets as an expression of cooperation and sexual equality are based upon a fundamental misogyny. The social misery of the masses in old Tibet was shocking and repulsive, the authority of the priestly state was absolute and extended over life and death. To present Tibet’s traditional society as a political example for modernity, in which the people had oriented themselves toward a “broad social ethic” and in which anybody could achieve “freedom and happiness” (Thurman 1998, p. 138) is farcical.

Thus one shudders at the thought when Thurman opens up the following perspective for the world to come: “In the sacred history of the transformation of the wild frontier [pre-Buddhist] land of Tibet [into a Buddhocracy], we find a blueprint for completing the taming of our own wild world” (Thurman 1998, p. 220)

Thurman introduces the Buddhist emperor Ashoka (regnant from 272 to 236 B.C.E.), who “saw the practical superiority of moral and enlightened policy” (Thurman 1998, p. 115), as a political example for the times ahead. He portrays this Indian emperor as a “prince of peace” who — although originally a terrible hero of the battlefield — following a deep inner conversion abjured all war, transformed hate and pugnacity into compassion and nonviolence, and conducted a “spiritual revolution” to the benefit of all suffering beings. In the chapter entitled “A kingly revolution” (Thurman 1988, pp.109ff.), the author suggests that the Ashoka kingdom’s form of government, oriented along monastic lines, could today once again function as a model for the establishment of a worldwide Buddhist state. Thurman says that “[t]he politics of enlightenment since Ashoka proposes a truth-conquest of the planet—a Dharma-conquest, meaning a cultural, educational, and intellectual conquest” (Thurman 1998, p. 282).

Thurman wisely remains silent about the fact that this Maurya dynasty ruler was responsible for numerous un-Buddhist acts. For instance, under his reign the death penalty for criminals was not abolished, among whom his own wife, Tisyaraksita, must have been counted, as he had her executed. In a Buddhist (!) description of his life, a Sanskrit work titled Ashokavandana, it states that he at one stage had 18,000 non-Buddhists, presumably Jainas, put to death, as one of them had insulted the “true teaching”, albeit in a relatively mild manner. In another instance he is alleged to have driven a Jaina and his entire family into their house which he then ordered to be burnt to the ground.

Nonetheless, Emperor Ashoka is a “cool revolutionary” for Thurman. His politics proclaimed “a social style of tolerance and admiration of nonviolence. They made the community a secure establishment that became unquestioned in its ubiquitous presence as school for gentleness, concentration, and liberation of critical reason; asylum for nonconformity; egalitarian democratic community, where decisions were made by consensual vote” (Thurman 1998, p. 117). To depict the absolutist emperor Ashoka as a guarantor and exemplar of an “egalitarian democratic community”, is a brilliant feat of arbitrary historical interpretation!

With equal emphasis Thurman presents the Indian/Buddhist Maha Siddhas (‘Grand Sorcerers’) as exemplary heroes of the ethos for whom there was no greater wish than to make others happy. However, as we have described in detail, these “ascetics who tamed the world” employed extremely dubious methods to this end, namely, they cultivated pure transgression in order to prove the vanity of all being. Their tantric, i.e., sexual magic, practices, in which they deliberately did evil (murder, rape, necrophagy) with the ostensible intention of creating something good, should, according to Thurman, be counted among the most significant acts of human civilization. Anyone who casts a glance over the “hagiographies” of these Maha Siddhas will be amazed at the barbaric consciousness possessed by these “heroes” of the tantric path. Only very rarely can socially ethical behavior be ascertained among these figures, who deliberately adopted asociality as a lifestyle.

But for Thurman these Maha Siddhas and their later Tibetan imitations are “radiant bodies of energy” upon whom the fate of humanity depends. “It is said that the hillsides and retreats of central Tibet were ablaze with the light generated by profound concentration, penetrating insights, and magnificent deeds of enthusiastic practitioners. The entire populace was moved by the energy released by individuals breaking through their age-old ignorance and prejudices and realizing enlightenment.” (Thurman 1998, pp. 227-228) When one compares the horrors of Tibetan history with the horrors in the tantric texts followed by the “enthusiastic practitioners”, then Thurman may indeed be correct. It is just that it was primarily dark energies which affected the Tibetan population and kept them in ignorance and servitude. Serfdom and slavery are attributes of old Tibetan society, just like an inhumane penal code and a pervasive oppression of women.

Padmasambhava, the supreme ambivalent founding figure of Tibetan Buddhism, is also celebrated by Thurman as an committed scholar of enlightenment. (Thurman 1998, 210). Nothing could be less typical of this sorcerer, who covered the Land of Snows with his excommunications and introduced the wrathful gods of pre-Buddhist Tibet in a horror army of aggressive protective spirits, not so that their terrible character could be transformed, but rather so that they could now protect with sword and fright the “true teaching of Buddha” from its enemies. Great scholars of the Gelugpa order have time and again pointed out the ambivalence of this iridescent “cultural founder” (Padmasambhava), among whose deeds are two brutal infanticides, and expressly distanced themselves from his barbaric lifestyle.

When the Indian scholar Atisha began his work in Tibet in the 11th century, he encountered a completely dissolute monastic caste in total chaos and where one could no longer speak of morals. At least this is what the historical records (the Blue Annals) report. Thurman suppresses this Lamaist moral collapse and simply maintains the opposite: “When Atisha arrived in Tibet, monastic practitioners were limiting themselves to strict moral and ritual observances” (Thurman 1998, p. 226). This is indeed a very euphemistic representation of the whoring and secularized monasteries against which Atisha took to the field with a new moral codex.

For Thurman, the Great Prayer Festival (Mönlam) institutionalized by Tsongkhapa and reactivated by the Fifth Dalai Lama, a raw Lamaist carnival in which monks were allowed absolutely everything and a truly horrible scapegoat ritual was performed, was a sacred event where “the power of compassion is manifest, the immediacy of grace is experienced” (Thurman 1998, p. 235). At another stage he says that, “in Tibet, the Great Prayer Festival guaranteed the best of possibilities for everyone. People’s feelings of being in an apocalyptic time in a specially blessed and chosen land—in their own form of a “New Jerusalem”, a Kingdom of Heaven manifest on earth—had a powerful effect on the whole society” (Thurman 1998, pp. 238-239). When we compare this apotheosis of the said event with the already cited eyewitness report by Heinrich Harrer, we see the lack of restraint with which Thurman reveres the Tibet of old. Harrer, whose portrayal is confirmed by many other travel accounts, regarded the scenario completely differently: “As if emerging from hypnosis”, writes the mentor of the young Dalai Lama, “at this moment the tens of thousands spring from order in to chaos. The transition is so sudden, that one is speechless. Shouting, wild gesticulation .. they trample over one another, almost murder each other. The still-weeping prayers, ecstatically absorbed, become ravers. The monastic soldiers begin their duty! Huge fellows with stuffed shoulders and blackened faces — so that the deterrent effect becomes even stronger. Ruthlessly they lay into the crowd with their batons ... one takes the blows wailing, but even the beaten return again. As if they were possessed by demons” (Heinrich Harrer, 1984, p. 142). — Thurman’s “New Jerusalem”, possessed by demons on the roof of the world? —an interesting scenario for a horror film!

We find a further pinnacle of Thurman’s historical falsification in the portrait of the greatest Lamaist potentate, the Fifth Dalai Lama. Of all people, this “Priest-King” attuned to the accumulation of external power and pomp is built up by the author in to a hero of the “inner revolution”. He paints the picture of a prudent and farsighted fathers of his country (“a gentle genius, scholar, and reincarnate saint” — Thurman 1998, p. 248), who is compelled — against his will and his fundamentally Buddhist attitude — to conduct a n horrific “civil war” (in which he lets great numbers of monks from other orders be massacred by the Mongol warriors summoned to the country). Thurman presents the conflict as a quarrel between various warlords in which the “peaceful” monks become embroiled.

Here again, the opposite was the case: the two chief Tibetan Buddhist orders of the time (Gelugpa and Kagyupa) were pulling the strings, even if they let worldly armies battle for them. Thurman misrepresents this monastic war as a battle between cliques of nobles and ultimately “the final showdown in Tibet between militarism and monasticism” (Thurman 1998, p. 249), whereby the latter as the party of peace is victorious thanks to the genius of the Fifth Dalai Lama and goes on to all but establish a “Buddha paradise” on earth.

All this is a pious/impudent invention of the American Tibetologist. The merciless warrior mentality of the Fifth Dalai Lama spread fear and alarm among his foes. His dark occult side, his fascination for the sexual magic of the Nyingmapa (which he himself practiced), his unrestrained rewriting of history and much more; these are all highly unpleasant facts, which are deliberately concealed by Thurman, since an historically accurate portrait of the “Great Fifth” could have embarrassing consequences, as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama constantly refers to this predecessor of his and has announced him to be his greatest example.

It would be wrong to deny the Fifth Dalai Lama any political or administrative skill; he was, just like his contemporary, Louis the Fourteenth, to whom he is often compared, an “ingenious” statesman. But this made him no prince of peace. His goal consisted of resolutely placing the fate of the country in the hands of the clergy with himself as the undisputed spiritual and secular leader. To this end (like the Fourteenth Dalai Lama today) he played the various orders off against one another. The Fifth Dalai Lama formulated the political foundations of a “Buddhocracy” which Robert Thurman would be glad to see as the model for a future worlds community, and which we wish to examine more closely in the next section.

A worldwide Buddhocracy

At the conference on Tibet in Bonn mentioned above (“Mythos Tibet”, 1996) Robert Thurman with stirring pathos prophesied the “fall of the West” and left no doubt that the future of our planet lies in a worldwide, as he stressed literally, “Buddhocracy”. Europe has renounced its sacred past, demystified its natural environment, established a secular realm, and closed off access to the sacred “represented by monasticism and its organized striving for perfection”. Materialism, industrialization and militarization have taken the place of the sacred (Thurman 1998, p. 246).

At the same time a reverse process has taken place in Tibet. Society has become increasingly sacralized and devoted itself to the creation of a “buddhaverse”. (In the wake of the Tibetologists’ criticisms in Bonn, Thurman appears to have opted for his own neologism “buddhaverse” in place of the somewhat offensive “Buddhocracy”; the meaning intended remains the same.) A re-enchantment of reality has taken place in Tibet, and the system is dedicated to the perfection of the individual. The warrior spirit has been dismantled. All these claims are untrue, and can be disproved by countless counterexamples. Nevertheless, Thurman presumes to declare them expressions of traditional Tibet’s “inner modernity”, which is ultimately superior to Europe’s “outer modernity”: “As Europe was pushing away the Pope, the Church, and the enchantment of everyday life, Tibet was turning over the reins of its country to a new kind of government, which cannot properly be called ‘theocratic’, since the Tibetans do not believe in an omnipotent God, but which can be called ‘Buddhocratic’” (Thurman 1998, p. 248). This form of government is supposed to guide our future. At the Tibet conference in Bonn, Thurman made this clearer: “Yes, not theocratic, because that brings [with it a] comparison to the Holy Roman Empire ... because it has the conception of an authoritarian God controlling the universe” (Thurman at the conference in Bonn). Thurman seems to think the concept of an “authoritarian Buddha” does not exist, although this is precisely what may be found at the basis of the Lamaist system.

For the author, the monasticization of Tibetan society was a lucky millennial event for humanity which reached its preliminary peak in the era in which the Gelugpa order was founded by Tsongkhapa (1357–1419) and the institution of the Dalai Lama was established. In Bonn Thurman praised this period as “the millennium of the fifteenth century of the planetary unique form of modern Tibetan society ... [which] led to the unfolding in the seventeenth century [of] what I call post-millennial, inwardly modern, mass-monastic, or even Buddhocratic [society]”. Tsongkhapa is presented as the founding father of this “modern Tibet”: he “was a spiritual prodigy. ... He perceived a cosmic shift from universe to buddhaverse” (Thurman 1998, pp. 232–233).

The Tibet of old was, according to Thurman, just such a buddhaverse, an earthly “Buddha paradise”, governed by nonviolence and wisdom, generosity, sensitivity, and tolerance. An exemplary enlightened consciousness was cultivated in the monastic Jewel Community. The monasteries provided the guarantee that politics was conducted along ethical lines: “The monastic core provides the cocoon for the free creativity of the lay Jewel Community” (Thurman 1998, p. 294).

This “monastic form of government”, pre-tested by Old Tibet, provides a vision for the future for Thurman: “I am very interested in this. I feel a very strong trend in this [direction]” (Thurman’s presentation in Bonn). The “monasticization” which was then (i.e., in the fifteenth century) spreading through Asia whilst the doors to the monasteries of Europe were closing, has once again become significant on a global political level. “And if you study Max Weber carefully... in fact what secularization and industrial progress brought had a lot to do with the slamming of the monastery doors. ... So, a monastic form of government is an unthinkable thing for Western society. We often say Tibet is frozen in the Middle Ages because Tibet is not secularized in the way the Western world is! It moved out of the balance between sacred and secular and went into a sacralization process and enchanted the universe. The concrete proof of that was that the monasteries provided the government” (Thurman in Bonn).

Here, Thurman is paraphrasing Weber’s thesis of the “disenchantment of the world” which accompanied the rise of capitalism. The “re-enchantment of the world” is a political program for him, which can only be carried out by Lamaist monks. Monasticism “is the shelter and training ground for the nonviolent ‘army’, the shock troops for the sustained social revolution the Buddha initiated ...” (Thurman 1998, p. 294, § 15). The monastic clergy would progressively assume control of political matters via a three-stage plan. In the final phase of this plan, “the society is able to enjoy the universe of enlightenment, and Jewel Community institutions [the monasteries] openly take responsibility for the society’s direction” (Thurman 1998, p. 296, § 24).

But this is no unreal utopia, since “Tibetan society is the only one in planetary history in which this third phase has been partially reached” (Thurman 1998, p. 296, § 25).In this sentence Thurman quite plainly proclaims a Buddhocracy along Lamaist lines to be the next model for the world community! Elsewhere, the Tibetologist is more precise: “The countercultural monastic movement no longer needs to lie low and is able to give the ruling powers advice, spiritual and social. Enlightened sages can begin to advise their royal disciples on how to conduct the daily affairs of society, such as what should be their policies and practices. Likewise, after a long period of such evolution, the entire movement can reach a cool fruition, when the countercultural enlightenment movement becomes mainstream and openly takes responsibility for the whole society, which eventually happened in Tibet” (Thurman 1998, p. 166, footnote).

According to Thurman, the Lamaist clergy assumes political power with — as we shall see — the incarnation of a super-being at its helm, an absolute monarch, who unites spiritual and worldly power within himself. The triumphant advance of the monastic system began in India in around 500 B.C.E. and spread throughout all of Asia in the intervening years. But this, Thurman says, is only a prelude: “The phenomenal success of monasticism, eventually Eurasia-wide, can be understood as the progressive truth-conquest of the world” (Thurman 1998, p. 105). Pie in the sky, or a event soon to come? Thurman’s statements on this are contradictory. In his book he talks of a “hope for the future”. But in interviews with the press, he has let it be known that he will experience the Buddhization of America in his own lifetime. In 1997, his friend, the Hollywood actor Richard Gere, was also convinced that the transformation of the world into a Buddhocracy would occur suddenly, like an atomic explosion, and that the “critical mass” would soon be reached (Herald Tribune, 20 March 1997, p. 6).

According to the author, the Lamaist power elite of the coming “Buddhocracy” is basically immortal because of the incarnation system. They already pulled the political strings in Tibet in the past, and will, in the author’s opinion, assume this role for the entire world in future: “Whatever the spiritual reality of these reincarnations, the social impact of this form of leadership was immense. It sealed the emerging spirituality of Tibetan society, in that death, which ordinarily interrupts progress in any society, could no longer block positive development. Just as Shakyamuni could be present to the practitioner through the initiation procedure and the sophisticated visualization techniques, so fully realized saints and sages were not withdrawn by death from their disciples, who depended on them to attain fulfillment (Thurman 1998, p. 231).

One can only be amazed — at the impudence with which Thurman praises the “Buddhocracy” of the Lamas as the highest form of “democracy”; at how he portrays Tibetan Buddhism, which is based upon a ritual dissolution of the individual, as the highest level of individual development; at how he depicts Tantrism, with its morbid sexual magic techniques for male monks to absorb feminine energies, as the only religion in which god and goddess are worshipped as balanced equals; at how he glorifies the cruel war gods and warrior monks of the Land of Snows as pacifists; at how he presents the medieval/monastic social form of Tibet as an expression of the modern and as offering the only model for a global world-society.

Tibet a land of enlightenment?

The Tibet of old, with its monastic culture was, according to Thurman, the cosmic energy body which irradiated our world in enlightened consciousness. “Hidden in the last thousand years of Tibet’s civilization”, the author says, “is a continuous process of inner revolution and cool evolution. In spiritual history, Tibet has been the secret dynamo that throughout this millennium has slowly turned the outer world toward enlightenment. Thus Tibetan civilization’s unique role on the inner plane of history assumes a far greater importance than material history would indicate” (Thurman 1998, p. 225). In Thurman’s version of history, it was not the Western bourgeoisie which fought for its freedoms and human rights in battle with the institutions of the Church; rather, all this was thought out in advance by holy men meditating among the Himalayan peaks: “The recent appearance of modern consciousness in the industrial world is not something radically new or unprecedented. Modern consciousness has been developed all over Asia in the Buddhist subcultures for thousands of years” (Thurman 1998, p. 255). —And it flowed into the consciousness of the modern, Western cultural elite as an Eastern energy source. That is, to speak clearly, the Tibetan monks meditating were one of the causes of the European Enlightenment. A bold thesis indeed, in which a Tibet controlled by a belief in ghosts, oracles, torture chambers, the oppression of women, and human super-beings becomes the cradle of modern rationalism.

The enlightening radiation began, says Thurman, with the Tibetan scholar Tsongkhapa’s edifice of teachings and the founding of the Gelugpa order: “This tremendous release of energy caused by thousands of minds becoming totally liberated in a short time was a planetary phenomenon, like a great spiritual pulsar emitting enlightenment in waves broadcast around the globe” (Thurman 1998, p. 233). Accordingly, Thurman considers all of the great Tibetan scholars of past centuries to be more significant and comprehensive than their European “peers”. They were “scientific heroes”, “”the quintessence of scientists in this nonmaterialistic civilization [i.e., Tibet]” (quoted by Lopez in Prisoners of Shangri-La, p. 81). As “psychonauts” they conquered inner space in contrast to the western “astronauts” (again quoted by Lopez, 1998, p. 81). But the “stars” of modern European philosophy like Hume and Kant, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, Hegel and Heidegger, Thurman speculates, could also at some future time turn out to be line-holders for and emanations of the Bodhisattva of knowledge, Manjushri (Lopez, 1998, p. 264). Ex oriente lux — now also true for occidental science.

This incorporation of the Western cultural heroes is an underground current which flows through the entire neo-Buddhist scene. It is outwardly strictly denied, through the Dalai Lama’s demands for tolerance in broad publicity. In contrast, writings accumulate in the milieu, which celebrate Jesus Christ as an avatar of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara for example, the same super-being who has also been incarnated as the Dalai Lama. A recurrent image of modern myth building is the placement of the Tibetans on a par with the Nazarene.

Thurman as “high priest” of the Kalachakra Tantra

A worldwide Buddhocratic vision of Tibetan Buddhism is contained in what is known as the Kalachakra Tantra (the “Wheel of Time”). We have studied and commented upon this central Lamaist ritual in detail. The goal of the Kalachakra Tantra is the construction of a superhuman being, the ADI BUDDHA, whose control encompasses the entire universe, both spiritually and politically, “a mythical world-conqueror” (Thurman 1998, p. 292, § 5).

From a metapolitical point of view, Robert Thurman appears to have been appointed to implant the ideas of the Kalachakra Tantra in the West. We have already noted that the teacher the Dalai Lama assigned him to was Khen Losang Dondrub, Abbot of the Namgyal monastery which is especially commissioned to perform the Kalachakra ritual. In the USA he was in constant contact with the Kalmyk lama Geshe Wangyal (1901–1983). Lama Wangyal was Robert Thurman’s actual “line guru”, and this line leads via Wangyal directly to the old master Agvan Dorjiev (Lama Wangyal’s guru). Dorjiev the Buriat, Wangyal the Kalmyk, and Thurman the American thus form a chain of initiation. From a tantric point of view the spirit of the master lives on in the form of the pupil. One can thus assume that Thurman as Dorjiev’s successor represents an emanation of the extremely aggressive protective divinity Vajrabhairava who is supposed to have become incarnate in the Buriat. At any rate the American must be drawn into the context of the global Shambhala utopia, which was the principal concern of Dorjiev’s metapolitics.

What Thurman understands by this can be most clearly illustrated by a vision which was bestowed upon him in a dream in September 1979, before he saw the Dalai Lama again for the first time in eight years: “The night before he landed in New York, I dreamed he was manifesting the pure land mandala palace of the Kalachakra Buddha right on top of the Waldorf Astoria building. The entire collection of dignitaries of the city, mayors and senators, corporate presidents and kings, sheikhs and sultans ,celebrities and stars—all of them were swept up into the dance of 722 deities of the three buildings of the diamond palace like pinstriped bees swarming on a giant honeycomb. The amazing thing about the Dalai Lama’s flood of power and beauty was that it appeared totally effortless. I could feel the space of His Holiness’s heart, whence all this arose. It was relaxed, cool, an amazing well of infinity” (Thurman 1998, p. 18).

The magic projection of the Tibetan “god-king” as ADI BUDDHA and world ruler cannot be illustrated more vividly. He reigns as some kind of queen bee in the middle of New York, and lets the world’s greatest, whom he has bewitched with sweet honey, dance to his tune. It is typical that there is no mention of grass roots democracy here, and that it is just the political, business, and show business Establishment which performs the sweet dance of the bees. Anyone who is aware how much significance is granted to such dreams in the world of Tibetan initiation will without further ado recognize a metapolitical program in Thurman’s vision. [1]

In 1992, as Director of Tibet House in New York City which he co-founded with Richard Gere, he sponsored “the Kalachakra Initiation at New York’s Madison Square Garden.” (Farrer-Halls 1998, p. 92) The Tibet Center houses a three dimensional Kalachakra Mandala and the only life sized statue of the Kalachakra deity outside of Tibet. Following the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, “The Samaya Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Port Authority jointly sponsored the Wheel of Time (Kalachakra) Sand Mandala, or Circle of Peace, in the lobby of Tower 1.” (Darton 1999, p. 219) For over thirty days, many of the World Trade Center workers and visitors were invited by the Namgyal Monks to participate in the construction of the mandala. It is said that, “ Its shape symbolized nature’s unending cycle of creation and destruction and in the countless grains of its material, it celebrated life’s energy taking ephemeral form, then returning to its source. At the end of the mandala’s month long lifespan, the monks swept up the sand and “offered it to the Hudson River.” This ritual, they believed, purified the environment. (Darton 1999, p. 219)

Report of a former participant of the Kalachakra Ceremony in New York: “Get a call from one of my Kalachakra sisters I haven't heard from since the Indiana Kalachakra in '99. […] The topic shifted to the Kalachakra Mandala that was made at One World Trade Center. I was at the dissolution ceremony there, may be around '96. The monks gathered up all the sand from the Mandala at 1 WTC, put it in a vase, then carried it across the bridge into World Financial Center through the Winter Garden, then dumped the sand ceremoniously into the Hudson River for the sake of World Peace. The surface of the river glittered with the afternoon sun, and I cried. 5 years later, the whole building is gone, just like the sand Mandala.”
See: http://home.earthlink.net/~kamitera/news.html

Thurman’s devoted commitment as Lamaist initiand, his absolute loyalty to the Dalai Lama, his consistent vision of an earthly “Buddha paradise”, his uncompromising affirmation of a Buddhocratic state, his involvement with the world of the Tibetan gods which reaches even into his own dreams, his systematic training by the highest Tibetan lamas over many years—all these certify Thurman to be a “Shambhala warrior”, a Buddhist hero, who according to legend prepares for the establishment of the kingdom of Shambhala over our globe. This is the goal of the Kalachakra ritual (the “Wheel of Time” ritual) performed all over the world by the Dalai Lama. Thurman has, he reports, seen the Dalai Lama in a vision as the supreme time god above the Waldorf Astoria. But even here he conceals that the Shambhala myth is not peaceful, and can only be realized after a world war in which all nonbelievers (non-Buddhists) are destroyed.

Perhaps such a perspective frightens some Western intellectuals? No worries, Thurman reassumes them, “who is afraid of the Dalai Lama? Who is afraid of Avalokiteshvara? No Tibetans are afraid” (Thurman in Bonn). How could one be afraid of the supreme enlightened being currently on earth? He, in whom all three levels are compressed, “that of the selfless monk, the king, and the great adept” (Thurman), who is (as great adept) preparing the creation of “a buddhaversal human society” (Thurman 1998, p. 39), even if he (as king and statesman) is still concentrating chiefly on the concerns of Tibet. Then, “Tibet’s unique focus on enlightenment civilization makes the nation crucial to the world’s development of spiritual and social balance” (Thurman 1998, p. 39).

Thurman is convinced that the Dalai Lama represents a projection of the ADI BUDDHA, who can liberate the world from its valley of sorrows. He describes very precisely the micro- and macrocosmic dimensions of such a redemptive being in the form of the Fifth Dalai Lama. If humanity were to recognize the divine presence behind the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, it could calmly place its political matters in his hands, just as the Tibetan populace did in the time of the “Great Fifth”: “Small wonder”, Thurman tells to his readers. “Suppose the people of a catholic country were to share a perception of a particular spiritual figure as not simply a representative of God, as in the Pope being the vicar of Christ, but as an actual incarnation of the Savior—or, say an incarnation of the Archangel Gabriel. In such a situation it would not be strange for the nation to reach a point where the divine would actually take responsibility for the government. In Tibet, this moment was the culmination of centuries of grass-roots millennial consciousness, the political ratification of the millennial direction that had been intensifying since the Great Prayer Festival tradition had begun in 1409. The sense of the presence of an enlightened being was widespread enough for the people to join together after the last conflict and entrust to him their land and their fate” (Thurman 1998, pp. 250–251).

There is no need to read between the lines, simply paying close attention to the text of his book is enough to be able to recognize that, for Thurman, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama represents the quintessence of political wisdom and decisive power for the coming millennium. The author draws attention to the five principles of his planetary political program: “nonviolence, individualism, education, and altruistic correctness. The fifth [principle], global democratism, is exemplified in His Holiness the Great Fourteenth Dalai Lama himself” (Thurman 1998, p. 279). The Tibetan “god-king” as the incarnation of universal democracy—a true piece of bravura in Thurman’s “political theology”. No wonder the “god-king” applauds him so roundly in his foreword: “I commend him for his careful study and clear explanations, and I recommend his insights for your own reflections” (Thurman 1998, p. xiv).

According to Thurman, the USA is the first western country in which the lamas’ Buddhocratic vision will prevail: “Most of the teachers from the various enlightenment movements seem to agree on one thing: If there is to be a renaissance of enlightenment sciences in our times, it will have to begin in America. America is the land of extreme dichotomies: the great materialism and the greatest disillusionment with materialism; great self-indulgence and great self-transcendence” (Thurman 1998, p. 280). The Dalai Lama (“the fifth [principle of] global democratism”) as the next American president? —But if he dies?—No worries, thanks to the system of incarnation he may remain among us as priest and king for ever.

Thurman’s methods, adapting himself to the point of self-deception to the consciousness and the customs of his environment (in this case the western democratic environment), but without losing sight of the actual grand metapolitical goal, has a long tradition in Tibet. Padmasambhava, for instance, Buddhized the Land of Snows by integrating with aplomb the various tribal cultures which he encountered on his missionary travels into his tantric system, together with their particular ideas and cultic practices. In doing so he was so skillful that the pre-Buddhist inhabitants of Tibet believed Buddhism to be no more than the realization of their own traditional expectations of salvation. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama is masterfully repeating this heuristic principle from his eighth-century incarnation on the world stage. In the meantime he knows all the variations and rules of the game of Western civilization and has managed to generate a public image as a great reformer and democrat who brilliantly combines modern political fundamentals with old Eastern teachings of wisdom. There are countless sermons from him in which he strongly advises his audience to stay true to their own religious tradition, since in the end they all come to the same thing. Such superior invitations have as we shall see a double-bind effect. People are so enthused by the ostensible tolerance of Tibetan Buddhism and its supreme representative that they become converts to the Dharma and ensnared in the tantric web.

[1] During the UN-organized Millennium Festival of Religions at the end of August 2000, at which over a thousand religious representatives were present, the Dalai Lama was supposed to stay in the Waldorf Astoria. Without doubt, thanks to his charisma and pretended precept of tolerance, the Kundun would have become the center of the entire occasion. But after great pressure was applied by the Chinese he was not invited. At this, a segment of the organizers resolved to encourage him to take part in a kind of private rally at the end of the assembly in the Waldorf Astoria hotel. But the Kundun declined. Robert Thurman’s vision of the Kalachakra Buddha at the summit of the Waldorf Astoria did not eventuate.

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

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The Battle For Your Mind

Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques
Being Used On The Public Today

By Dick Sutphen

The following is an expanded version of a talk Dick Sutphen delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the paper carries a 1984 copyright to protect the contents from unlawful duplication for sale, Dick invites individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information. Since the paper was released, it has been distributed to millions and is currently available on dozens of Websites. As a result of this awareness, Dick has been contacted by law enforcement officers, the BBC and investigative reporters. On numerous occasions, the information has helped to bring public attention to the misuse of conversion tactics.

Some government agencies don't want this information generally known, for the techniques are used in armed forces basic training. Some Christian Fundamentalists, cults, and human-potential trainings would also prefer that the public remain unaware of how they are recruiting new members.



I'm going to talk about conversion, which is a nice word for brainwashing. Everything I'll share only exposes the surface of the problem. I don't know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped other than through public awareness. It isn't possible to legislate against what often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage.

In talking about mind manipulation, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars, I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent and self-sufficient. But, any time I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They're also aware of the desired result of participation.

So, to begin, I want to share a basic fact about brainwashing: IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF MAN, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN BRAINWASHED AND REALIZED, OR BELIEVED, THAT HE HAD BEEN BRAINWASHED. Those who have been brainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming they have simply been "shown the light" ... or have been transformed in miraculous ways.

The Birth of Conversion

Any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalism in eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the sinners attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. He would tell those attending, "You're a sinner! You're destined for hell!"

As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. The neighbors of the suicidal converts related that they, too, were affected so deeply that, although they had found "eternal salvation," they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.

Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phrase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are open to new programming. New input, in the form of suggestions, can be substituted for their previous ideas. Because Edwards didn't turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.

Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults, human-potential training, some business rallies and the U.S. armed services.

Let me point out here that I don't think most revivalist preachers realize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.

The 3 Brain Phases

The Christians may have been the first to successfully formulate brainwashing, but we have to look to Pavlov, the Russian scientist, for a technical explanation. In the early 1900s, his work with animals opened the door to further investigations with humans. After the revolution in Russia, Lenin was quick to see the potential of applying Pavlov's research to his own ends.

Three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition were identified by Pavlov. The first is the Equivalent phase, in which the brain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. Second is the Paradoxical phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. Third is the Ultra-Paradoxical phase, in which conditioned responses and behavior patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive.

With the progressions through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The ways to achieve conversion are many and varied, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is to work on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormal level of anger, fear, excitement or nervous tension.

The progressive result of this mental condition is to impair judgment and increase suggestibility. The more this condition can be maintained or intensified, the more it compounds. Once catharsis or the first brain phase is reached, the complete mental takeover becomes easier. Existing mental programming can be replaced with new patterns of thinking and behavior.

Other often-used physiological weapons to modify normal brain functions are fasting, radical or high sugar diets, physical discomforts, regulation of breathing, mantra chanting in meditation, the disclosure of awesome mysteries, special lighting and sound effects, programmed response to incense, or intoxicating drugs.

The same results can be obtained in contemporary psychiatric treatment by electric shock treatments and even by purposely lowering a patient's blood sugar level with insulin injections.

Before I talk about exactly how some of the techniques are applied, I want to point out that hypnosis and conversion tactics are two distinctly different things -- and that conversion techniques are far more powerful. However, the two are often mixed ... with powerful results.

How Revivalist Preachers Work

If you'd like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of a human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a high percentage of people. And, once you are in an Alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full Beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.

Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trance -- body relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will come out. He usually speaks with a "voice roll".

Voice Roll Technique

A "voice roll" is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers (several of the most famous are highly trained hypnotists), when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome, or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 35 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.

Now the assistant pastor begins the "build-up" process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generate the excitement and the expectations of the audience. Next, a group of young women in "sweet and pure" chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great for building excitement and involvement. In the middle of the song, one of the girls might be "smitten by the Spirit" and fall down or react as if possessed by the Holy Spirit. This effectively increases the intense atmosphere in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience's attention is now totally focused upon the communication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.

Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced Alpha mental level has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, "Give to God ...Give to God...Give to God ..." And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already wealthy representative will.

Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He induces fear and increases the tension by talking about "the devil", "going to hell" or the forthcoming Armageddon.

In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a "bloody ax of God," which attendees had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that some people saw it -- the power of suggestion given to a group of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.

In most revivalist gatherings, "testifying" or "witnessing" usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up on stage and relate their stories. "I was crippled and now I can walk!" "I had arthritis and now it's gone!" It is a psychological manipulation that works. After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings, the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed. The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement and expectations.

Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, "Be healed!" This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis, the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.

For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will last four days to a week -- a week is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestion given to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healing doesn't last, if they come back every week the power of suggestion may continually override the problem ... or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physical problem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the long run.

I'm not saying that legitimate healings do not take place. They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativity that caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet I contend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mind function.

The techniques and staging will vary from church to church. Many use "speaking in tongues" to generate catharsis in some while the spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.

The use of hypnotic and conversion techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become ever more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building and reworking a lot of churches around the county. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man's track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.

Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primary importance in inducing an altered state of consciousness -- I've been using them for years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the process and what they can expect as a result of their participation.

6 Conversion Techniques

Cults and human-potential training companies are always looking for new converts. To attain them, many use conversion tactics, which must be effective within a short space of time -- usually a weekend, but in some cases as quickly as a single day. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate the conversion.

Conversion Tactic 1: The meetings or training takes place in an area where participants are cut off from the outside world: a private home, a remote or rural setting, or a hotel ballroom where the participants are allowed only limited bathroom usage. In human-potential trainings, the controllers will give a lengthy talk about the importance of "keeping agreements" in life. The participants are told, "If you don't keep your agreements, your life will never work." Generally, this is good advice, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow to themselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who doesn’t concur will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave the training. The next step is to get the participants to agree to complete the training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organization. They will usually have to agree not to take drugs, smoke and sometimes not to eat ... or they are given such a short meal break that it creates tension. One of the real reasons for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases the conversion potential.

Before the gathering is complete, the agreement's manipulation will be used to ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They are intimidated into agreeing to bring in at least two potential converts. Since the importance of keeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twist the arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending the free introductory session offered at a future date by the training organization. The new converts are zealots. The inside term for merchandising one of the largest and most successful human-potential trainings is, "sell it by zealot!"

At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think about the potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealots programmed to campaign for their guru.

Be wary of an organization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar. Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on a regular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking. These regularly scheduled events are used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.

Conversion Tactic 2: A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.

Conversion Tactic 3 : Techniques are used to increase the tension in the room or environment.

Conversion Tactic 4: Uncertainty. One of the most effective ways of creating uncertainty is to subject the participants to the fear of being "put on the spot" or encountered by the trainers who play upon guilt feelings, or convince the participants to verbally relate their innermost secrets in front of the others. Activities that emphasize the removal of masks is another powerful ploy. One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public poll showed that the most fearful of all situations is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building. So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the seminar participants who have agreed to complete the training. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an Alpha state, which automatically opens them to being 25 to 200 times more suggestible. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.

Conversion Tactic 5: The introduction of jargon -- new terms that have meaning only to the "insiders" who have participated in the training. Vicious language is also frequently used to purposely make participants uncomfortable.

Conversion Tactic 6: There is no humor in the communications until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly "found".

I'm not saying that good does not result from participation in such gatherings. But it is important for people to know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not be in their best interest.

Over the years, I've conducted professional seminars to teach people to be hypnotists, trainers and counselors. I've had many of those who conduct human-potential training and rallies (from the training companies who use the tactics I've just described) come to me and say, "I know what I'm doing works, but I don't know why." After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.

Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversion. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people seem to want to become true believers and give away their power.

Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe firsthand what is technically called the "Stockholm Syndrome". This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled or made to suffer, begin to love, admire and even sometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.

But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfect example is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Haitian Voodoo. In her report, she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn. The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be the Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.

I once attended est (Erhard Seminar Training). The training is no longer offered, although a current incarnation of the seminar is called The Forum. My goal in attending was to be an observer -- to be Buddha throughout the process, which took place in a Phoenix hotel ballroom with 200 people attending. I remained detached until late afternoon of the final day, when a doctor stood up and accused the est trainer of using brainwashing tactics. The incensed trainer argued back, using ridiculous Zen riddles to try to intimidate the doctor.

After 45 minutes of ranting, the trainer began using the other participants against the protesting doctor, who was speaking the truth. That did it. I stood up, snapped a karate kick at an est staffer and took a spare microphone out of his hands (the kick was to distract and did not inflict pain). Then I verbally went after the trainer. He responded by yelling for his people to call the police. Both the doctor and I walked out of the training room as the police arrived. I'm probably still listed in the est computers as someone who doesn't keep agreements.

Before leaving the six conversion tactics, I should mention military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before rebuilding them as new men -- as marines. That is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I'm not making a judgment as to whether this is good or bad. As a simple fact, these men are brainwashed. Those who won't submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.

Decognition Process

Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members must respond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise, they are dangerous to the organizational control. This is normally accomplished as a three-step Decognition Process.

Step One is Alertness Reduction: The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplished in several ways. Poor diet is one; watch out for brownies and Koolaid. The sugar throws the nervous system off. More subtle is the "spiritual diet" used by many cults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally spacey. Inadequate sleep is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity. Being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achieves the same result.

Step Two is Programmed Confusion: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information, lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.

Step Three is Thought Stopping: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go flat -- altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with that focuses awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The mental takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use thought-stopping techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become better soldiers or attain enlightenment.

There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is Marching: The thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus greater susceptibility to suggestion. In the early stages of his rise to power, Adolph Hitler used marching demonstrations and the excitement as a mass conversion technique for those attending his rallies, and in the decognition phase for his soldiers.

The second thought-stopping technique is Meditation. If you spend 90 minutes or more a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is high probability that you will not return to full Beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of Alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I'm not saying this is bad. If you do it yourself, it may be very beneficial. But know that you are causing your mind to go flat. I've worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups call this nirvana -- which is just another manipulation. The mental state is simply a predictable physiological result. If heaven on earth is non-thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.

The third thought-stopping technique is Chanting, and often chanting in meditation. Speaking in tongues could also be included in this category.

All three thought-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be desirable if you are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in Alpha that, although you'll be very mellow, you'll also be more suggestible.

True Believers & Mass Movements

Before ending this section, I want to talk about the people who are most susceptible to conversion and joining mass movements. I am convinced that at least a third of the population are what Eric Hoffer calls true believers. They are joiners and followers ... people who want to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning and enlightenment outside themselves.

Hoffer's book The True Believer (Harper & Row, 1951) is a classic on mass movements. He says, "True believers are not intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of an unwanted self. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!" Hoffer also says that true believers "are eternally incomplete and eternally insecure."

In my years of conducting seminar trainings, I have constantly run into true believers. All I can do is advise them to seek the True Self within, where meaningful personal answers will be found. I teach that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibility (karma) and the attainment of self-actualization (being compassionate, while also accepting others without judgment, expectations, blame or attempting to control.) But most of the true believers just tell me that I'm not spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma and structure they desire.

Never underestimate the potential danger of these people. They can easily be molded into fanatics who will gladly work and die for their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves and offers a substitute for individual hope. Hitler's Brown Shirts were true believers. The Moral Majority is made up of true believers. All cults are composed of true believers. You'll find them in politics, churches, businesses and social-cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.

Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followers want to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life -- if necessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced by the activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment, which is the bottom line in law enforcement.

A common hatred, enemy or devil is essential to the success of a mass movement. Hitler's devil was the Jews; the Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn't enough -- they've added the New Age and all who oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in the political reelection campaigns against those who opposite their views. In revolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Some human-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to join anything, thus labeling themselves a cult -- but, upon close examination, you'll find that their devil is everyone who hasn't taken their training.

There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status. True believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those without hope or friends. People don't look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a new order feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.

Persuasion Techniques

Persuasion isn't technically brainwashing, but it is a manipulation of the human mind, without the manipulated party being aware what caused his opinion shift. I only have time to very basically introduce you to a few of the many techniques in use today, but the basis of persuasion is always to access your right brain. The left half of your brain is analytical and rational. The right half is creative and imaginative. That is overly simplified but it makes my point. So, the idea is to distract the left brain and keep it busy. Ideally, the persuader generates an eyes-open altered state of consciousness, causing you to shift from Beta awareness into Alpha -- a shift that can be measured on an EEG machine.

First, let me give you an example of distracting the left brain. Politicians use these powerful techniques all the time; lawyers use many variations which, I've been told, they call tightening the noose.

Assume for a moment that you are watching a politician give a speech. First, he might generate what is called a yes set. These are statements that will cause most listeners to agree; they might even unknowingly nod their heads in agreement. Next come the truisms. These are usually facts that could be debated but, once the politician has his audience agreeing, the odds are in the politician's favor that the audience won't stop to think for themselves, thus continuing to agree. Last comes the suggestion. This is what the politician wants you to do and, since you've been agreeing all along, you could be persuaded to accept the suggestion. Now, if you'll listen closely to my political speech, you'll find that the first three statements are the yes set, the next three are truisms and the last is the suggestion.

"Ladies and gentlemen: are you angry about high food prices? Are you tired of astronomical gas prices? Are you sick of out-of-control inflation? Well, you know the Other Party allowed 18 percent inflation last year; you know crime has increased 50 percent nationwide in the last 12 months, and you know your paycheck hardly covers your expenses any more. Well, the answer to resolving these problems is to elect me, John Jones, to the U.S. Senate."

You've heard it all before. But you might also watch for what are called Imbedded Commands. As an example: On key words, the speaker makes a gesture with his left hand, which research has shown is more apt to access your right brain. Today's media-oriented politicians and spellbinders are often carefully trained by a whole new breed of specialists who are using every trick in the book -- both old and new -- to manipulate you into accepting their candidate.

The concepts and techniques of Neuro-Linguistics are so heavily protected that I found out the hard way that to even talk about them publicly or in print results in threatened legal action. Yet Neuro-Linguistic training is readily available to anyone willing to devote the time and pay the price. It is some of the most subtle and powerful manipulation I've ever seen. A good friend who recently attended a two-week seminar on Neuro-Linguistics found that many of those she talked to during the breaks were government people.

Another slippery manipulation is called an interspersal technique and the idea is to say one thing with words but plant a subconscious impression of something else in the minds of the listeners and viewers.

As an example, assume you are watching a television commentator make the following statement: "Senator Johnson is assisting local authorities to clear up the stupid mistakes of the companies contributing to the nuclear waste problems." It sounds like a statement of fact, but if the speaker emphasizes the right word and especially if he makes the proper hand gestures on the key words, you could be left with the subconscious impression that Senator Johnson is stupid. That was the subliminal goal of the statement and the speaker cannot be sued for libel.

Persuasion techniques are also frequently used on a much smaller scale with just as much effectiveness. The insurance salesman knows his pitch is likely to be more effective if he can get you to visualize something in your mind. This is right-brain communication. For instance, he might pause in his conversation, look slowly around your living room and say, "Can you just imagine this beautiful home burning to the ground?" Of course you can! It is one of your unconscious fears and in forcing you to visualize it, you are more likely to be manipulated into signing his insurance policy.

The cults, operating in every airport, use what I call shock and confusion techniques to distract the left brain and communicated directly with the right brain. While waiting for a plane, I once watched one operate for over an hour. He had a technique of almost jumping in front of someone. Initially, his voice was loud then dropped as he made his pitch to take a book and contribute money to the cause. Usually, when people are shocked, they immediately withdraw. In this case they were shocked by the strange appearance, sudden materialization and loud voice of the devotee. In other words, the people went into an Alpha state for security because they didn't want to confront the reality before them. In Alpha, they were highly suggestible so they responded to the suggestion of taking the book; the moment they took the book, they felt guilty and responded to the second suggestion: give money. We are all conditioned that if someone gives us something, we have to give them something in return. While watching this hustler, I was close enough to notice that many of the people he stopped exhibited an outward sign of Alpha -- their eyes dilated.

Subliminal Programming

Subliminals are hidden suggestions, perceived only by your subconscious mind. They can be audio suggestions, hidden behind music, or visual suggestions airbrushed or cleverly incorporated into a picture or design, or words/images flashed on a screen so fast that you don't consciously see them.

Some subliminal programming tapes offer verbal suggestions recorded at a low volume. I question the efficacy of this technique -- if subliminals are not perceptible, they cannot be effective, and subliminals recorded below the audible threshold are therefore useless. The oldest audio subliminal technique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music so subliminals are impossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique is patented and, when I wanted to develop my own line of subliminal audio cassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory. My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to talented Hollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found a way to psychoacoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that they are projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving them the effect of being part of the music. But we found that in using this technique, there is no way to reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words, although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannot be monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.

If we were able to come up with this technique as easily as we did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, with government or advertising funding. And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what is behind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voice behind the voice to which you are listening.

The series of books by Bryan Key, Ph.D. on subliminals in advertising and political campaigns, well documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising in newspapers, magazines and posters.

The big question about subliminals is: do they work? Based upon the response from those who have used my tapes, the answer is yes. Subliminal suggestions behind the music in department stores can be advising customers not to shoplift. An East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in thefts in the first nine months of testing.

A 1984 article in the technical newsletter Brain-Mind Bulletin states that as much as 99 percent of our cognitive activity may benon-conscious, according to the director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Psychophysiology at the University of Illinois. The lengthy report ends with the statement, "these findings support the use of subliminal approaches such as taped suggestions for weight loss and the therapeutic use of hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic programming."

Mass Misuse

I could relate many stories that support subliminal programming, but I'd rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of such programming.

I have personally experienced sitting in a Los Angeles auditorium with over ten thousand people who were gathered to listen to a charismatic figure. Twenty minutes after entering the auditorium, I became aware that I was going in and out of an altered state. Those accompanying me experienced the same thing. Since it is our business, we were aware of what was happening, but those around us were not. By careful observation, what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations were, in fact, artful manipulations. The only way I could figure how the eyes-open trance had been induced was to pipe a 6- to 7-cycle-per-second vibration into the room behind the air conditioner sound. That vibration generates Alpha, which would render the audience highly susceptible. Ten to 25 percent of the population is capable of a somnambulistic trance level. For these people, the suggestions of the speaker could potentially be accepted as commands.


Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cycle-per-second range causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were not allowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered state and have fantasies, often sexual in nature.

People who attend opera or enjoy listening to singers like Mario Lanza are familiar with this altered state induced by the performers.


Now, let's carry this awareness a little farther. There are also inaudible ELFs (extra-low frequency waves). These are electromagnetic in nature. One of the primary uses of ELFs is to communicate with our submarines. Dr. Andrija Puharich, a highly respected researcher, in an attempt to warn U.S. officials about Russian use of ELFs, set up an experiment. Volunteers were wired so their brain waves could be measured on an EEG. They were then sealed in a metal room that could not be penetrated by a normal signal.

Puharich then beamed ELF waves at the volunteers. ELFs go right through the earth and right through metal walls. Those inside couldn't know if the signal was or was not being sent. And Puharich watched the reactions on the technical equipment: Thirty percent of those inside the room were taken over by the ELF signal in six to ten seconds.

When I say taken over, I mean their behavior followed the changes anticipated at very precise frequencies. Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become emotionally upset, and even disrupted bodily functions. At 8.2 cycles, they felt high -- as though they had been in masterful meditation, learned over a period of years. Eleven to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation which could lead to riotous behavior.

The Neurophone

Dr. Patrick Flanagan is a personal friend. In the early 1960's, as a teenager, Pat was listed as one of the top scientists in the world by Life magazine. Among his many inventions was a device he called the Neurophone -- an electronic instrument that can successfully program suggestions directly through contact with the skin. When he attempted to patent the device, the government demanded that he prove it worked. When he did, the National Security Agency confiscated the neurophone. It took Pat two years of legal battle to get his invention back.

In using the device, you don't hear or see a thing; it is applied to the skin, which Pat claims is the source of special senses. The skin contains more sensors for heat, touch, pain, vibration and electrical fields than any other part of the human anatomy.

In one of his tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audience -- one seminar one night and one the next night, because the size of the room was not large enough to accommodate all the attendees at one time. When the first group proved to be very cool and unwilling to respond, Patrick spent the next day making a special tape to play at the second seminar. The tape instructed the audience to be extremely warm and responsive and for their hands to become tingly. The tape was played through the neurophone, which was connected to a wire he placed along the ceiling of the room. There were no speakers, so no sound could be heard, yet the message was successfully transmitted from that wire directly into the brains of the audience. They were warm and receptive, their hands tingled and they responded, according to programming, in other ways that Pat doesn't want publicly discussed.

The Medium For Takeover

The more we find out about how human beings work, the more we learn to control human beings. What scares me most is that the medium for takeover is already in place! The television set in your living room and bedroom may be doing a lot more than just entertaining you.

Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of brain opiates: enkephalins and Beta-endorphins, which are chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good and you want to experience more.

Tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered state more often than not. They were getting their Beta-endorphin fix.

To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children's brains produced a majority of Alpha waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than 30 seconds.

Most viewers are already hypnotized. To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation perceived only by the subconscious mind -- the ideal pace to generate deep hypnosis.

The commercials or suggestions presented following this Alpha-inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that naturally attains a somnambulistic-depth could very well accept the suggestions as commands -- as long as the commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion or self-preservation.

The medium for takeover is here. By the age of 16, children have spent 10,000 to 15,000 hours watching television -- more time than they spend in school. In the average home, the TV set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per day.

A research project by Jacob Jacoby, a Purdue University psychologist, found that of 2,700 people tested, 90 percent misunderstood even such simple viewing fare as commercials or a TV series they watched regularly. Only minutes after watching a show, the typical viewer missed 23 to 36 percent of the questions about what they had just seen. Maybe this is because they were going in and out of trance. When in a deep trance, you must be instructed to remember -- otherwise you forget consciously, while your subconscious mind remembers everything.

The Tip of the Iceberg

I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. When you start to combine subliminal messages behind the music, subliminal visuals projected on the screen, hypnotically produced visual effects, sustained musical beats at a trance-inducing pace, you are talking conversion -- brainwashing. Every hour that you spend watching TV you become more conditioned. In case you thought there was a law against any of these things, guess again. There isn't. There are a lot of powerful people out there who probably have plans for you?

Partial Bibliography:

Influence -- The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. (Quill 1984)

The Battle for the Mind by William Sargant (Perennial Library 1957)

Snapping by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman (Delta Books 1978)

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (Harper & Row 1951)

Mind Wars [/i]by Ron McRae (St. Martin's Press 1984)

How To Organize & Manage Your Own Religion Cult by Duke McCoy (Loompanics Unlimited 1980)

Behavior Modification by Richard Camellion (Paladin Press 1978)

Cults by Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg (Beaufort 1983)

Holy Terror by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman (Delta Books 1982)

All subliminal books by Bryan Key, Ph.D.

Hitler propaganda films produced before World War II

Newsweek magazine
American Dream
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:58 am



by Baksheesh the Madman


Sex and the Life of the Spirit

The sexual urge is inseparable from the basic character of humanity. Nevertheless, the life of the spirit has often been associated with celibacy. This tendency derives from the ascetic tradition, which required that one weaken the body, and the desires associated with it, in order to gain power over the spirit. Celibacy has also been justified on the grounds that it liberates clerics from the expense, work and worry associated with caring for a family.

However, celibacy has not proven to be as attractive in practice as it might seem in theory. Celibate clerics often become caught up in the work of providing for the material needs of their spiritual family, so the labor saving concept falls by the wayside. Perhaps more important, the celibate lifestyle imposes stresses on the individual practitioner that are probably unnecessary. For most people, the fallout from attempting a celibate lifestyle is simply too much, and becomes just one more obstacle to the life of the spirit.

For your average spiritual aspirant, celibacy is highly impractical. Thus, we can consider ourselves free to explore the ways in which sexual activity can be helpful to pursuing a spiritual life. Indeed, once we take off our traditional blinders, there is every reason to believe that sex and the life of the spirit are mutually beneficial.

On a physiological level, given what we know about the way the body works, we can safely presume that the experience of orgasm releases myriads of substances into one's bloodstream that send the body an encouraging message: "Success! We have just made another contribution to the gene pool! Every reason to keep living!" The flood of neurotransmitters and other substances that begin coursing through the body at the mere thought of sex, and which crescendo at the moment of orgasm, are very likely triggers of future vitality. Far from being a precious, limited resource that we must hold for a lifetime, our sexual vitality is a resource that we are rewarded for expending. This characteristic of natural systems was described by Jesus of Nazareth in his illuminating saying: "To him that hath, more shall be given, and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath."

The Real Tao of Sex

Sexual fulfillment is consistent with an optimal human experience of life.

Sexual relationships open people to criticism from their lovers, which promotes introspection and fosters growth and maturation.

Sexual relationships generate children, who make further demands upon the parents, which often results in a deepening of character and spiritual warmth.

A love affair generates powerful, clinically documented effects on body and mind. People in love literally can stay high for years, enjoying a little bit of paradise.

The state of sexual ecstasy eventually wears off, presenting people with psychological challenges that, once resolved, make them even deeper people.

Through family relations, people experience the most loving and protective emotions known to humanity. In Buddhism, the kindness and self-sacrifice that a mother shows for her offspring is routinely invoked as an example of the depth of concern that the bodhisattva feels for all sentient beings. A parent experiences this emotion directly. Experiencing concern for others provides a way to expand beyond the narrow confines of self-concern.

Sexual Imagery in Devotional Art

Fertility is the first icon of worship. The primordial neolithic stone Aphrodites are a key to the psyche of humans in that distant time. For our ancestors, life itself was the primary good. We are told that neolithic peoples had plenty of spare time, but on the other hand, they didn't live very long. A headman looking about at his tribe, facing an oncoming winter and depleted by hunting accidents, would be looking extinction right in the eye. In this environment, the sight of a woman giving birth was undoubtedly the best thing after the smell of cooking meat. Replacing the dead was an important activity. Hence the image of the pregnant goddess.

We may presume that neolithic works of art were primarily objects of devotion. How would such primordial rituals have developed? What genius turned rock into the shape of the primordial mother, and lifted it before the eyes of the tribe, that they might be inspired to live? Those early priests faced daunting challenges in their efforts to rally the minds of early humans around the central goal of survival. These works of art were not idle aesthetic expressions; rather, they were psychological anchors in a world of chaos. The very act of artificing, of changing a rock to a goddess, demonstrated an ability beyond that of any other animal. It was proof of human superiority, of our ability to turn even ordinary earth into a mirror of our own human features.

Those familiar with tantric imagery from India, China and Tibet know that explicitly sexual art has again and again found its way into mystical religions. Like the ancient Aphrodites, these works are meant to be used, and provide a mirror of the inner self. Traditionally, a meditator visualizes their own body as consisting of both a male and female deity clasped in sexual union, united by a single mantra in their unified heart. Thus, the individual experiences a simultaneous duality and unity. The inner experience that the meditator triggers by use of the visualization soon makes the image that is painted on canvas or wrought in stone a matter of small moment. Traditional sexual icons are often crudely drawn, and frankly exhibit a lack of aesthetic refinement. Sensory beauty is simply not the object of these pieces. Their raw, evocative power is simply intended as catapult for contemplation. Once having invoked the inner experience, the art object ceases to be of importance.

The Contrabandization of the Body

People are born naked. Usually, they are conceived by people who are naked during the act of conception. In a medical setting, nudity is not considered shameful. Nevertheless, modern humans routinely have embarrassing dreams in which they find themselves naked out in society. We may presume that such dreams do not afflict people who live in primitive tribes and wear little clothing.

The nudity prohibition is, however, internationally accepted. I am sure that you can get yourself thrown out of most any restaurant in any country for going around bottomless. Indeed, "no shoes, no shirt, no service," gets the idea across pretty well. So, we are all born naked, but required by law and custom to conceal ourselves. To go about wearing little is earn the name "exhibitionist," a pejorative, last I checked.

Which is not to say that nudity is unavailable. As many a standup comedian has noted, the United States seems to have developed a rash of "gentleman's clubs," where partial or total nudity is sold one dollar at a time by girls working "for tips and tips alone." Video store shelves are burgeoning with x-rated films that generate billions in revenue. Hollywood films market their own soft-core versions, having progressed from titillating by exposing the lascivious conduct of the underclass to depicting the freewheeling sex life of the affluent. All of which keeps the wheels of commerce turning.

What more can we say than that our own images have been stolen from us and licensed back in socially-approved and disapproved versions. The approved version appears as glamour, fashion, and privileged promiscuity. The disapproved version appears as pornography. This is a difference in marketing style, not a moral distinction. Hand in hand with the nudity prohibition we find pervasive and profitable commerce in images of nudity and sexual activity.

Sexual repression has turned the body itself into an item of contraband. As with the prohibition against alcohol and drugs, efforts at suppressing the illicit substance only give birth to profitable black markets. A prohibited line of business that remains profitable will attract criminals, who will conduct business in a criminal and extortionistic fashion. Compared with the tremendous financial value generated by the sale of their images, models in the pornography industry are grossly exploited. Worse is the situation for prostitutes, who face an elevated risk of being robbed, infected with venereal diseases, assaulted and murdered, all because society is unable to come to terms with its sexual appetite.

Modern western society has rid itself of many superstitions. However, the nudity prohibition remains. It is unlikely that anyone will formulate an agenda to repeal the nudity prohibition. One can hardly imagine a political platform more likely to incite obloquy. "Crackpot," would be the kindest epithet applied to a candidate who would champion such a social initiative. Which simply shows how deep rooted some prejudices are. As usual, society cannot be changed.

What can be changed is your own awareness. You are free to experience the effects of sexual art on your body and mind. You are free to do so without feelings of guilt or immorality, once you realize that these emotions are merely the artifacts impressed on your personality by the social pressure of the nudity prohibition. Consider the source of the anxiety you feel when you find yourself naked in a group of people while dreaming. Once you relax internally with the idea of nakedness, these dreams will either become less frequent, or you will find yourself surprisingly nonchalant about your nakedness. Appreciate your own body. Appreciate the bodies of others. Appreciate the genetically engineered perfection that makes us live, breathe, walk, talk, flirt, love, and mate.

Cruelty-Free Sex

Once we step off into the realm of sexual art and experience, we find ourselves in a strange new world. By exposing ourselves to greater and more diverse sources of sexual stimulation, we will likely find ourselves thinking and engaging in sex more often. The question is, where does this lead us? There are plenty of negative images already pressed into our minds by society.

As in meditation, difficult thoughts will arise, so in sex, difficult experiences will be stimulated. The sexual experience is one of vulnerability, but social norms make it difficult for men to accept vulnerability. They may substitute sexual performance for emotional tenderness, feeling obligated to satisfy their partner through stimulation. Women, on the other hand, feel obligated to protect their partner's self-image, and famously pretend to have orgasms they have never felt.

The fundamental purifying factor in sexual relationships is gentleness and empathy. Social depictions of sex, in pornography soft and hard, represents a caricature of a sexual experience. Due to generations of bad acting in film, people have exaggerated notions of how to behave in bed. Frustration and misunderstanding can bubble up in intimate moments, making a love relationship a source of embarrassment and humiliation. To navigate these experiences with a lover is the work of a relationship that is sexual in and out of the boudoir. Whether one may grow through sex without love is a matter of contention. One thing is certain -- it is an inestimable aid.

Finally, there is the business of sex. The creation of erotic images has been thrown into hyperdrive by the digital cameras and the Internet, and funding for the business of photographing naked bodies has never been more abundant. Ethical rules are needed, and notably lacking. Balanced against the right to enjoy free access to sexual art and imagery is the need for fair treatment of the human beings who work in the industry. At a very minimum, erotic art should be created in a safe, healthy, non-threatening environment in which the vulnerabilities of the models are respected. The prohibition against child-involvement in creating erotic imagery is of course fundamental. And the industry as a whole should move toward fairer compensation of the people whose images feed sales. Simply put, like any other product, sex should be cruelty free.
American Dream
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:51 am

http://www.american-buddha.com/1stchurc ... rnpath.htm


by Charles Carreon


The purpose of this writing, that was begun, continued and completed at the insistence of my lifelong companion Tara Carreon, is to establish a new religion for a new time and a new place. It was she who insisted on many of the humanizing elements expressed in the philosophy, including the avoidance of solipsism and affirmation of the self and the world.

The word “religion” comes from the Latin root “ligare,” a verb meaning “to bind.” Usually this is interpreted to mean that religion binds us to “God,” but this new religion will bind its adherents to the planet, all life, and ourselves.

Everything requires a name, and this religion has the name “Oestia,” because it is a religion born in the West, and the “west” is “oeste” in Spanish, the predominant language of the western hemisphere. The religion of Oestia is called The Oestian Way.

In the past, humans have embraced religions based on revelation. Revelations are discovered by, or bestowed upon, one human being by a supernatural power. A revelation is often depicted as a light dawning in the head or heart of the person receiving the revelation. Revelations bring with them the warrant of certainty, a sense of confidence in the revealed truth that is communicated to the minds of the revelators. Revelations are translated into human speech by the revelators. Once recorded, revelations receive the status of holy writ, and thereafter, cannot be questioned. All statements made regarding holy writ are considered a debasement of the original revelation, a diminution of the original illumination – commentaries that are necessary, even desirable, but nevertheless, something less than the original fire of revelation.

Although the revelators never doubt their revelations, those who hear the revelations may have doubts. In order to overcome those doubts, religions have adjured their adherents to adopt a doctrine called “faith.” Faith was aptly described by Paul the Apostle, Aka Saul the Prosecutor, as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The Oestian Way is not based on revelation. The Oestian Way is based only on a clear statement of things that can be known by everyone in an ordinary state of awareness.

The Preciousness of Human Life

When we begin, we ask of each student whether they can accept certain basic principles, and each student may take the path as far as they wish to go. As to the preciousness of human life, there are three fundamental principles:

1. Life is a self-evident good.

2. Each person wishes to retain his or her own life.

3. Each person is bound to respect the right to life of others.

These principles are discussed briefly below.

First Principle: Life Is A Self-Evident Good

It is only because you are alive that you are able to cognize this statement, that “life is a self-evident good.” What is meant by this? Let us first consider what we mean by “good.”

Something is good if we are disposed to retain it. Garbage we discard. Food we conserve. We keep our loved ones close. Those we find inimical are gladly removed from our presence.

Among likes and dislikes, nothing is more liked than life itself. No one discards life lightly, even those who end their lives because the pain of living has become too much to bear. Therefore, life is a self-evident good.

Second Principle: Each Person Wishes To Retain His or Her Own Life

The second principle is an inference from the first. Everyone recognizes that they, personally, do not wish to die or have their life taken from them. Yet it is an everyday circumstance to hear that one person has intentionally killed another. This can only occur because the killer has ignored his victim’s desire to live. The decision to kill another person is routinely redefined as an incident of duty: “I was only following orders.” But in every case, the killer has ignored the victim’s desire to live, a desire that lives within his or her own heart as well, a desire of which they cannot claim actual ignorance.

Acceptance of the Second Principle means that the practitioner of the Oestian Way will always maintain an awareness that all humans love their lives and wish to continue living in precisely the same way. By accepting the Second Principle, we place ourselves on the same level as other humans.

Third Principle: Each Person Is Bound To Respect the Life of Others

We began by noting that the word religion contains the root of the verb “to bind.” The Third Principle does in fact bind us to respect the life of other humans. In the First Principle, we have recognized that our own life is precious to us. In the Second Principle, we recognize that all other people are equally attached to their own continued existence. In the Third Principle, we recognize that we may not take the lives of other humans without negating our own right to life.

The Vow To Always Preserve Human Life

If you accept the first Three Principles, then you are ready to take the vow to always preserve human life. You may ask why this is not simply a vow to never take human life. The reason is simply that it is not the purpose of the path of Oestia to create a group of believers incapable of defending themselves against aggression. Rather, it is to establish a path that eliminates all grounds for killing other human beings for purposes of personal or political advantage – conduct that cannot be justified on any moral scale. The possibility remains that Oestians may engage in lethal combat to protect themselves or others from aggression. Oestians are not required, on grounds of religion, to surrender their own lives to aggressors who have displayed no regard for the Third Principle. To formalize the vow to always preserve life, it is sufficient for the follower of the Oestian Path to simply affirm, with presence of mind, “I shall always act in a manner that will preserve human life.”

The Corollary of the First Vow: To Refuse Military Service and Conscription

The Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu states:

"A brave and passionate person will kill or be killed. A brave and calm person will always preserve life.”

Bravery serves the prime evolutionary imperative to preserve one's own life, and that of others. Calmness is necessary to bring that imperative into harmony with the life-impulse of all living beings. The calm person realizes, even in the moment when their life is threatened, that the lives of other beings are equal in value to their own. Thus, it is not through cowardice, but through calmness and reverence for life, that the follower of the Oestian Path rejects the path of war.

For countless generations, humanity has engaged in warfare. War kills and injures people, wounds families, tribes, and nations, and destroys our planet, our property, and all of its living residents. Although political leaders decry the purported necessity of war with their talk, they keep on making war. The apologists for our warmaking leaders have gone so far as to award the Nobel "Peace" Prize to a head of state who orders the death of large numbers of innocent people. Scientists claim to be leading us to progress, but thousands of them work in weapons design and manufacturing. Through biowarfare, life itself has been conscripted. It is up to us, individually, to end the cycle of violence.

Examples from all of known history up to the present day simply reiterate the point that since time immemorial old men have armed young men and sent them to fight each other. There are two reasons for war -- one true and secret, the other false and widely disseminated. The true reason for war is to spread and put into effect an atavistic philosophy that promulgates murder as the way to resolve human disagreements, and legitimates mass murder as a necessary means to acquire property and territory, and assert power over citizens and foreign peoples. Warmaking serves these purposes so well that today every country, from America to Zaire, is ruled by its conquerors, and the conquered live in hereditary subjugation and second-class citizenship. The false reason for war is self-defense. Hydrogen bombs are said to be defensive weapons, even though they are actually merely devices for planetary suicide, vehicles of the ultimate terrorist threat, not even true armaments at all, since armaments by definition destroy only the enemy.

Of all the issues we face as humans, preserving life and the habitability of the planet are the greatest. These issues transcend our individual fate, and therefore give meaning to it. The threat of universal annihilation invoked by the nuclear terrorists has lead to a nihilistic, depressed mood among humans in developed nations, who are well aware that all life hangs by an electronic spider's thread, that the winds of chance have repeatedly threatened to sever while men with red phones debated the wisdom of first strikes with their advisors. To decisively reject killing as a self-defeating strategy for individual and group survival is thus fundamental to the Oestian Path.

If killing continues to be accepted as a way to solve human problems, we will very likely end the process of human evolution. If we do that, all philosophical endeavors will be moot. Rejecting killing as a survival strategy is not difficult once we reject the notion that humans can be divided into groups of enemies and allies divided along racial, national or religious lines. Each generation of old, greedy men invokes this lie to motivate young, inexperienced men to engage in mortal combat. The munitions makers and their public relations outfits make killing easier by demonizing the enemy and developing weapons that kill efficiently, remotely, and without messy, hands-on involvement. Drone warfare is the latest innovation in this progressive process of turning men into warbots.

To inoculate oneself and others against this mental virus of dividing people into classes of allies and enemies, the Oestian Path declares first that its followers shall never invoke Oestia as a banner of aggression, and second that its followers shall refuse conscription in national armies.

Real Existence of Self and the World: The Fourth And Fifth Principles

The Fourth and Fifth Principles are:

4. Each person has a genuine identity.
5. The world genuinely exists.

The Fourth Principle: Each Person Has A Genuine Identity

By "genuine identity," we mean something that is undeniable and yet ultimately indefinable. We know we exist, and when we "look at the looker," we experience a peculiar sensation of presence without articulation. What is true of ourselves individually must be true of all human beings, for surely our experience of self-existence is not unique. Let that person who denies his or her own existence demonstrate their non-existence by some proof. Little more need be said.

The Fifth Principle: The World Genuinely Exists

There may appear to be a vast gulf between our genuine identity and the world around us, but without mind we would know as little about the world as a rock, and be equally unable to formulate ideas about it. Mind reflects the light, sound, and other stimuli arising outside and within our body, and creates an image of the world in our mind that we call the world.

The reflective capacity of the mind is its "tautological nature." The “tautological nature of the mind” is a term derived from the language of logic, that defines a tautology as a statement that is always true, like "A=A." Similarly, the mind reflects what is delivered to the senses and recomposes an image of the world inside our awareness. Our senses are portals into this inner theatre, and our experience of the world is a marvelous composition, an intricate reflection, of our surroundings.

Because the mind creates a reflection, and this is our only contact with the world around us, some people question whether the world is not in fact an illusion that arises from the mind itself. Often called “solipsism,” this notion is rejected by the Oestian Path, because it requires belief in something for which there is no evidence – a mind separate from the world itself, in which the “illusion of the world” could appear.

The Oestian Path takes a common-sense approach to the world – we all see it, therefore, it exists. The world is reflected in our mind with variable accuracy, and subject to our experience. Infants, for example, are unaware of the existence of separate objects. When an object is removed from an infant's field of vision, she does not seek to discover its whereabouts – she accepts its disappearance as a natural process in a world of changing shapes and colors.

Once a child conceives of the world as a gathering of separate objects, she will identify and give them names. She sees a silvery disk high in the sky and learns it is called the moon. As the years pass, she adds concepts to that name as we learn why it changes from a crescent to a circle and back again, and then we learn about the solar system and so forth and so on, until gradually, a whole system of astronomical concepts comes to envelop us, and we can speak of galaxies, metagalaxies, black holes, and the Big Bang. Our knowledge expands exponentially, and yet it is a type of knowledge of which Chuang Tzu said, "Great knowledge makes all into one. Small knowledge breaks things into parts. When there are parts, they must have names. There are enough names. One must know when to stop."

It is not difficult to take a rest from the activity of naming, the endless pairing of perceptions with concepts, and the interactions of concepts with each other. There are many practices for loosening the net of conceptual thinking, and a practitioner can find lots of help and advice in developing this ability. What is most helpful, however, is to remember that the pre-verbal, pre-conceptual awareness is present at all times, a few moments of mental activity before the arising of names and notions. By remaining at the level of pre-verbal awareness, and watching as names and notions arise and dissolve, one will lose the sense of separation from genuine identity and taste direct knowledge.

We must, of course, allow ourselves to use names and notions to describe our world to ourselves and each other. A world of speechless beings is not our goal, but the experience of wordless awareness is necessary to self-knowledge and seeing the world and other people in true perspective. With an understanding of the distinction between objects and the names we associate with them, and the distinction between our genuine identity and the self-description we call our self-image, we are prepared to use the tautological nature of the conceptual mind creatively. We can understand that what we call things, and how we describe ourselves and other people determines how we experience life and choose to act. The tautological nature of conceptual mind dictates that things become more like what we think and say they are.

Because things come to resemble what we say they are, we must be attentive to the names we give things, and be certain those names are accurate. We are all prophets of our own destiny in a very substantial degree. Thus, in order to keep a firm ground for wholesome growth under our own feet, we must affirm, first, last and always, that we possess genuine identity. The source of this affirmation is as near as your own existence. No one can deny his or her own existence, and the very expression of the idea, "I do not exist," negates its truth. If you do not exist, who is making the statement?

The tautological functioning of our minds makes us vulnerable to believing lies, accepting superstitions, and granting superior status to those who wear badges of authority. A considerable volume of speech and imagery is directed at us daily, directed at destroying our belief in our genuine identity. Appeals to nihilistic sentiment abound, in high-flown, scientific, philosophical and artistic forms, and in crude, depressing expressions common in popular culture. Thus, we must actively repel self-denying, nihilistic beliefs, and like removing poison darts that would leak toxins into our bloodstream, discard these bad ideas before they take root tautologically in our own thinking. We should clear the mirror of the mind so it reflects the genuine existence of the world and the genuine identity of our fellow living beings.

The Sixth Principle: Be Your Own Guide

"It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself." -- Thomas Paine.

It is a postulate of this Western Path that all practitioners are capable of understanding and developing the path, and that no one is uniquely qualified or divinely appointed for that purpose. These words are not the product of revelation. They have not been passed down from guru to disciple. They are not secrets to be shared only among the few. To paraphrase Descartes, who saw farther because he stood on the shoulders of giants, these words have been written thanks to the efforts of generations of thinkers. These words will be best used by being debated, discussed, tested and applied by those personally convinced of their worth.

If these words do, in fact, add to human understanding, they will become the foundation for further insights, and will be used to develop future structures of understanding. This is the test of genuine thinking -- that it leads to new discoveries, which lead to further discoveries. For example, so long as astronomers believed the sun, moon, planets and stars, orbited the earth, all of their observations and calculations led only to limited refinements of a bad idea. Their ability to predict astronomical movements improved, but only at the cost of making an ever-more-complex model of the solar system that bore no resemblance to the real thing. Once the sun was put in its proper place at the center of our solar system, many other valid discoveries followed.

Opposition to the heliocentric model of the solar system was ferocious and not limited to the ignorant. The most erudite men of the day -- the Pope and his cadre of hyper-literate Church scholars -- persecuted those who proposed the heliocentric theory, forcing Galileo to recant his "heresies." By subordinating science to dogma, the Pope confined humanity to darkness, and restricted human understanding to what could be seen by the feeble light of a mistaken notion that seemed to be confirmed by routine observation. Only a fool would deny that the earth remained still while the heavens rotated around! Alas, the fools were right.

Thus, there is nothing written here that can be cited as authority simply by virtue of having been written here. To regard this work as authority would be to mistake its intent, and to invoke it as authority would be to misapply it. Please, dear reader, think independently, and regard the Oestian teachings as you would a mirror. You know the look of your own face. If you see anything in a mirror that does not accord with your own knowledge of your features, you conclude there is a flaw in the mirror. In the case of this work, I have tried to write only things that are true, but I will not make the absurd claim of infallibility. If these words elicit your agreement, helping you see things you already know in a clearer light, then my words have hit their mark. If they give you the confidence to move from clear understanding to positive action, my goal is achieved.

The Seventh Principle: Show One Face to Yourself and All the World

When we stand before the mirror and look ourselves in the eye, it should be no different than when we present ourselves to others. Concealments burden the soul, and confuse our relations with others. Have one face for all occasions. It is not necessary to have one face for friends and another for enemies. To be gentle with one and fierce with another is the sign of an unstable character. To present the same face to oneself and others is proof of maturity. By showing the same face to yourself and all the world, you will never be in doubt about which face to wear.

Your face should always be, in the first instance, kind and accepting, and to the extent possible, should remain that way, even in the course of a difficult encounter. When ferocity is required, don't cling to the feeling, but let wrath do its work like lightning, and quickly be gone.

Deception, unfortunately, is an art in which we are exceedingly well-schooled. From early childhood it is made clear to us that only some of our desires and impulses are acceptable, and the remainder we must conceal or enjoy in secret to avoid punishment. We are presented with goals for our achievement that are unrealistically high and beyond our capacity, and told that certain privileges and necessities will be denied to us if we fail to achieve them. We observe that those who cheat and lie are more often rewarded for their deceptions than punished, and thus, adopt a calculus of risk that enables us to ration our deceptions, keeping them in step with our desires, avoiding disaster while enjoying the occasional taste of the forbidden. Thus adultery, illicit intoxication, business as theft, and politics as betrayal of office have become more the norm than the exception.

Yet deception, that seems to facilitate the accomplishment of our will, ends by betraying it. Since we can enjoy forbidden pleasures only by keeping them secret, a substantial portion of our time, thought, and concern must be devoted to sham events, impostures, and disseminating lies. This activity eats up a lot of time, and except for the truly pathological deceiver, who enjoys the act of deception even more than its purpose, it is burdensome and produces anxiety that tends to poison the entire atmosphere of life. The careful deceiver trusts no one, and fears disclosure above all, thus becoming ever more isolated in an obsessive embrace with the object of desire.

Small wonder that many people express relief when their secrets come out and they are able to rejoin the company of other people. Better to be seen for what one is and reviled than to always have to conceal the truth of one's identity.

Courage is the antidote for the poison of deception, and it acts in many ways. First, there are people who have the courage to embrace unpopular virtues, like Thomas Paine, Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, the Berrigan Brothers, and many others who braved prison and even death to stand for what they believed was right. Second, there are those who reveal an aspect of themselves that society rejects, like Gays and Lesbians who insist on the right to have their relationships respected and solemnized through marriage, and accept the social ostracism that follows from their disclosure. Third, there are people who reveal actual wrongs that they have committed and disable themselves from committing them in the future. Fourth, there are people who reveal wrongs that others have committed, or are about to commit, and thus protect society from future harm. And beyond this enumeration, there are many other ways that courage dispels the curse of secrecy and concealment, and makes life better for everyone.

Courage also helps us in another way -- which is to discard habits that have held us captive, causing us to engage in deception. Many things that we do in secret are things we would be better off not doing at all. When forced to choose between being socially rejected or continuing our secret habits, we will choose to abandon the habit. At this point, it requires courage to say no to the ingrained impulses that have established a stronghold in our behavior by custom, and in the case of intoxicants, by physical, chemical addiction.

Our reward for honesty is immense. We can show one face to all the world, and when we look in the mirror, we will like the person we see.

Eighth Principle: Be Neither a Beggar Nor a Tyrant

Each person is born with their own will, which quickly becomes the target of other wills. Parents, siblings, playmates, and an endless parade of people soon appear to confront the will of the developing child with challenges, demands, directives, and most unfortunately, threats. Will, which by nature is straightforward, soon becomes bent, twisted, and convoluted as it attempts to cope with all of this counter-pressure. Some develop habits of servility, and others adopt bullying tactics. Most of us adopt a mix of the two strategies, exerting our authority whenever we can, and knuckling under whenever we must. The net result is we actually have no spine whatsoever, and are potentially petty dictators and bootlickers, depending which way the winds of fortune blow.

As it happens, circumstances in a single life will vary greatly, such that a man who eats crow from a nasty boss comes home and browbeats his wife and children. A cop whose father treated him cruelly abuses citizens he encounters on the job. Thus, if you meet a person whose manner is extremely subservient in one situation, it should not surprise you to see that, when the tables are turned and they get the opportunity to lord it over others, they take full advantage. Thus, cravenness and cruelty often coincide in one character.

You can cure the defects of both arrogance and slavishness by cultivating genuine self-respect and moral uprightness. Give more weight to how you feel about yourself than to how others view you. Abandon equally the habits of making demands and of begging for favors. Ask yourself, before you seek to enlist others to do your will, whether you can do it yourself. If your purposes require the aid of others, assume that they have their own uses for their time and energy, and plan on requesting their assistance in exchange for your own. Avoid threatening harsh consequences, and never make a threat you lack the means or will to accomplish. Refrain from forcing others into submission, because the victory will be temporary and the resentment long-lasting. When an issue must be decided by force, and you prevail, always accept your adversary's surrender graciously, never humiliate the defeated, and return relations to normalcy as quickly as possible. Do not relish the status of a dominator, for it is the most precarious of all. Do not adopt a posture of submission, for that will undermine your integrity.

Ninth Principle: Act with Clear Intent and Awareness of Consequence

We act with our bodies and words in a world of form, peopled with persons like ourselves. What is done cannot be undone, and although errors can be corrected, it is usually best to accomplish one's goal the first time we make the attempt. Words, once spoken, are impossible to retract, and while an apology may be accepted, more than once an unwise expression or foolish remark has led to the loss of fortune, life, and honor.

We are blessed with minds that allow us to reflect upon what we intend, and to consider the likely consequences of our acts before we do them. Impulses arise without warning, and often our bodies are propelled into action without even the opportunity to exercise this power of reflection. Thus, to act with clear intent and awareness of consequence, we must observe our mind and consider how our actions will bear fruit, before taking action. By reflecting in this way, we learn to draw a distinction between ourselves and our notions, impulses, fancies and predilections. Even when we are under great time pressure, a deliberate approach is necessary to make the best use of the small time available for action. Often, when in danger, doing nothing is the best of all possible choices, but it requires great clarity to see this option.

When considering an appropriate course of action, consider as many of the factors as are applicable -- the place, the time, the people and other living beings, the intended effects, and the incidental effects. The place refers to the physical setting, which may be vast, like the entire planet, a country, or a city, or a smaller place, like a home, school, or office. The time includes the time during which you will be able to take action, the time in which others will respond, and the time over which the consequences will be felt. The people and other living beings includes all of those acting and affected by the actions you intend to take. The intended effects are the purposes you wish to accomplish, like building a house in the woods, the incidental effects of which would be cutting down trees, building a road, driving to town to buy supplies, and seeing fewer people on a daily basis.

By taking the time to consider all of these factors, you will be able to make decisions about who to involve in your project, how to take their interests into account, how to avoid harm to people and living creatures, how to elicit cooperation of others, and many other factors essential to achieving your goals. You can make your actions more efficient and productive by thinking about the order in which things should be done, which acts must precede which others, which actions are appropriate for which season, etc.

Because we live in a world of finite resources, and because our own lifetime is relatively short, using our time on earth to accomplish beneficial actions should be one of our main concerns. Satisfaction in life is born of meaningful action, and we will best achieve our goals if we act with clear intent and awareness of consequence.

Tenth Principle: Improve Our World

Each of us enters this world in a helpless condition, and during infancy and childhood we fare only as well as our environment permits. During old age and sickness we are similarly compelled to seek the aid of others. Disabled people require assistance every day of their life. And even in our strongest years, we depend on other people to provide virtually every one of life's necessaries -- food, water, shelter, clothing, and so forth. All of these necessaries are generated solely from the productive capacity of the earth, the sun, the wind and rain, in a phrase -- from the planetary environment.

We can, if we choose, do nothing but take from this planetary environment. The rewards from this approach are dubious. While one individual can amass impressive wealth, he or she can only wear a few clothes, a few jewels, and can only occupy one house, airplane or automobile at a time. They can hear only one symphony or opera at a time. They can eat only one mouthful of food at a time, and howsoever many drugs they take, they have only one brain to drench in intoxicants. And as they intensify their efforts to encompass more pleasures, the frustration builds, because the power of desire far exceeds our capacity for fulfillment, and focusing on the single sensory network contained within one human body actually narrows and reduces the scope of perception and experience.

The avenue of fulfillment goes in the other direction -- outward, along the vector of expanding benefit. A creative person is like a tree, that grows larger and larger, sheltering ever more creatures in its branches, casting shade and preserving water in the earth, purifying the air, and dropping fruit that is eaten by creatures that transport the seeds far and wide, growing more trees in other places.

We may wonder what such generosity will bring us in return, on a personal level. No one can answer that with predictive precision, but when good deeds are done, someone benefits, and when bad deeds are done, someone suffers. Nor can we predict who that someone will be. People build fire stations so their houses will be safe, and hospitals so they can have medical care. We share a common fate and labor in common to improve it. Not one of us can say why or how they came to be born of their parents, in their homeland, in the year and season when it all came to pass. And since none of us can say that their awareness, having once emerged in this world, might not emerge again, somewhere else, then even ordinary self-regard suggests that we should strive to improve this world during our present stay upon the planet.

True generosity is environmental, and a generous actor does not really care whether the benefit comes back to them or not. They are focused on making a better situation for whoever happens along. When we help sick people to recover from a contagious disease, we reduce the likelihood that we will get sick. When we educate a child, we increase the likelihood that some good ideas will be developed that will make life better for everyone. And in the meantime, we are surrounded by positive developments, people doing better, the planet getting cleaner, the future getting brighter. And if, as it happens, we turn up to inhabit that future, we will benefit very directly from our own past actions.

Eleventh Principle: Feel Safe

The eleventh principle is to feel safe. You may ask how we can feel safe in a world full of dangers to our person and loved ones. Feeling safe might seem to depend on faith in some mystical explanation of our existence, because it flies in the face of many bodily instincts, and is challenged by our fear of death. Accordingly, most religions urge us to affirm faith in our eternal, indestructible nature. However, except for the rare person who experiences a subjective perception of their own deathless nature, the belief in one’s eternal, indestructible nature remains a mere conceptual notion that we dogmatically resolve to affirm. Experience shows that affirming the eternity or indestructibility of the soul alternates with doubt, and leaves our ultimate position uncertain. The sense of safety thus eludes the dogmatic believer.

By contrast, the eleventh principle invokes the feeling of confidence that allows us to walk across an abyss without fear, on a well-constructed bridge. We are simply urged to feel safe, to allow ourselves to rest. Feelings are distinct from ideas, and can be invoked even in the absence of justifying notions.

Some physiological knowledge may help us here. The feeling of safety actually has a physical root in our sense of balance, movement, stillness, and postural self-awareness. We have two subtle sensing organs in our inner ear, located behind the heavy mastoid bones you can feel aft of your ears on either side of your skull. These fluid-filled chambers are lined with touch-sensitive neurons that feel the position of the fluid inside the chamber and also perceive the settling activity of tiny crystals suspended in the slightly viscous fluid. As these crystals settle on the floor of these chambers, the neurons receive the message of stillness. Scientific research shows that this feeling of stillness, mediated through what is called the vestibular system, is essential to our sense of security. Those tiny, falling crystals make us feel safe. Stillness stimulates the feeling of security.

Thanks to our vestibular system, which has a unique characteristic among the neural receptors of the brain – it does not stop transmitting a signal when stimulation ceases, but rather transmits an “at rest” signal after all stimulative motion has ceased – we can feel safe. By actively embracing our capacity to feel safe, something that might be called a psycho-physical gift of nature, we can draw strength from our inner resources to pursue the peaceful western path. Feeling safe obliterates a thousand false fears and trivial anxieties in the first instance, and helps us relate creatively with justified fears.

Being still leads to feeling safe, calm and clear. Still water reflects like a mirror, and in the calm mind the tautological functioning of awareness is restored to its original purity. The mind, capable of endless movement, fluid and reflective, reveals its clarity and mirrorlike qualities to us when we allow stillness to suffuse our body and mind. In this clarity, understanding arises naturally, and all of the articulated principles are known intuitively, directly.

Principles & Practice
The Western Path

Oestia – the name derives from the word “oeste,” meaning “the west” in Spanish, the language most spoken by people of the Western hemisphere. The world's best-known religions have their roots in the east, and are thus basically imports that came with the colonists from Europe, and were imposed at least initially, by fire and the sword. But the most unique characteristic of Oestia is its rejection of revelation as the source of knowledge.

The essential Oestian Principle is that each person sees only by virtue of their power of understanding. All education depends on engaging this power, and all learning can go no farther than the aptitude of the pupil will permit.

There are many obstacles to engaging the power of understanding, and the first of these is a lack of faith. We speak not of a lack of faith in anything other than ourselves. She who turns away from learning, calling herself ignorant, or he who turns aside from reflection, saying such tasks are for persons of greater wit, may as well blindfold their own eyes and stuff wax in their ears, for they will gain the same result. Their knowledge of life will be limited to what others tell them, and if they find themselves guided to destruction, they may blame their errant guides, but the fault is truly their own.

In Oestia, you will find no revelation but the revelation that your mind is the source of the light by which you steer your way through the abysses and precipices of your daily existence. It is not the purpose of Oestia to spread a doctrine or inculcate beliefs, but rather to empower each one who hears to have faith in him or herself, and to put their understanding into action.

A thousand church fathers would tear such a statement out of their holy works, if indeed it had ever been found therein, or would so coat it with slavish notions that its meaning would disappear. Therefore, be ever alert for compromise notions that turn warnings like these into dead formulas, and enjoin listeners to belief. For belief is not a virtue in this path, and faith in the formulations of others is a denial of faith in oneself.

All of these warnings against faith in others, however, will not make this Oestian path a perch for libertines, solipsists, nihilists, and other self-idolizing fools who believe that whatever notion suffuses their brain-tissue is the light of self-understanding. “Do what thou wilt” shall not be the whole of the law, or the smallest fragment of it. If there is a symbol for “Beware, Begone, and Do Not Dare,” it is directed toward those who would make Oestia a banner under which to proclaim a license to act without consequence. Let them cleanse their intentions, and come again with a pure heart.

If this Western Path does not arise from revelation or from unfettered subjectivism, whence does it arise? From common sense. By common sense is not meant the judgment of the herd, that mooing that we hear arising from the masses as they are moved from the feed-pen to the abattoir, but rather what Thomas Paine meant by common sense – the application of reason to the questions of existence without resort to revelations, nostrums, or willful ignorance.

Wherefore, then, is it “common” sense? It is “common” because we test our individual knowledge and discoveries in the crucible of public conversation, because we confine our discussion to subjects that can be comprehended by people of ordinary wit, and because we admit as evidence that testimony that can be confirmed by others, without resort to belief, dogma, revelation, or supernatural aid.

The objection is heard, however, that while such methods of inquiry may be suitable to discover the genetic composition of humanity, the structure of the atom, the orbital characteristics of the planets, and the distance from here to the farthest galaxies, they are not sufficient to answer questions regarding the nature of the soul, its disposition after death, and how justice is accorded among those of disparate virtue. It is high time this notion was put to rest, which lives on only because it has not been put to an honest test, and is ever being coddled like the only child of a noble family, who while afflicted with ill-health, is yet the only hope for the continuation of the line.

The simple test is this – if you would not rely upon an authority for the preservation of your body, do not rely upon it for the preservation of your soul. If you do not make haste to the temple door when the body of your newborn infant is assailed by a fever that is visibly consuming her life as the seconds pass, but instead race to the hospital, then why would you do so when the health of your spirit is at issue? For while the hospitals often return the sick to health, what temple displays in its pews all those of the faithful who have turned death aside with a prayer? The best that can be said is that some of the believers assert that they comport themselves somewhat more decently than would be the case if they abandoned their beliefs. At recovery meetings they declare themselves helpless, fall down begging for aid from a Higher Power, then strut with pride at being the servants of a Living God. They may as well have twirled themselves about twice and claim to no longer be themselves, for the truth is, having conceived themselves to be trapped in a hole, they have imagined a rope to climb out with, and with great satisfaction declare that the problem has been solved – at least so long as they do not question the cause of their recovery, and ceaselessly declaim, “not by my power, but thine, O Lord.”

Consider how little basis the average believer has for his choice of a religious faith. Billions default to the beliefs of their parents, who surely knew no better than they whether Allah, Buddha, Christ or Krishna was most worthy to be deified. This is but inherited ignorance, masquerading as wisdom. But then consider the case of the person who studies religions like a shopper, tasting this one and that one, until at last she settles upon her choice, casts aside doubt, and resolves to believe. If there was reason to the choosing process, why must reason be abandoned once the choice is made? One might as well stake one’s worldly future in a casino on the roll of a single die or the placement of a single chip on an expanse marked with odd and even numbers. Surely this is no way to dispose of your most precious possession, your own identity. Since it is, after all, your own identity, should you not keep hold of it, take responsibility for its destiny, and do all you can to understand how that destiny can be shaped for the best?

Do you tremble at the thought of being your own refuge? Does loneliness assail? Does darkness threaten? Perhaps it does, and if so that is evidence that whatever comfort you have obtained from doctrines and beliefs, you are still a shivering child, naked in the world but for borrowed notions.

To those who remain bereft despite the spiritual assurances disseminated by believers of various faiths, the Western Path offers the following assurance. There is knowledge that is objectively verifiable, subject to questioning and discussion, available for our consideration, acceptance, or rejection. There is a path that you can follow that is neither your own, lonely trail through the wilderness, nor the broad, domesticated highway paved with conventional notions. It is a path where you will be presented with postulates, principles, and practices for your consideration, examination, and adoption, according to your own decision. If you find, as many honest people have, that you are capable of standing on your own, you may well regard the doctrines of established religions as a pile of crutches, canes, and prosthetic limbs for which you have no need.

What then is the purpose of calling this path the Western Path? What is the need of this finger pointing at the moon when the moon is there for all to see? Why set up Oestia in the marketplace of faiths to compete with other religions like Coke, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi? Because you have the right. Because no one has done it. Because, if it has been done, it has been covered over again, and requires a renewed declaration. Because, if you are asked, “Have you a religious belief?” You can say, knowing exactly what you mean, “Yes, I am a follower of the Western Path.”
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:52 pm

http://www.american-buddha.com/sleepers ... RS%20AWAKE!


by Charles Carreon

In this review of the essential lessons to be drawn from the notorious "Zimbardo Prison Experiment," attorney Charles Carreon draws parallels between the Buddhist cult experience and the voluntary assumption of a prisoner-role. He concludes that, just as the experimental subjects in the prison experiment were unable to extricate themselves from the psychological bonds they assumed when they joined the experiment, similarly, the Buddhist cultist is unable to end cult servitude without the outside assistance that brings an "intrusion of reality." Modern American Buddhists must take up the work of knocking on the cocoons of modern Buddhist sleepers who have forgotten freedom in the dream of joyful subservience.

You have probably heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment, aka "The Zimbardo experiment." Conducted in 1971 at Stanford by Philip Zimbardo, the study sought to uncover the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Zimbardo set up a simulated prison to observe the effects of the institution on behavior.

Starting out with a single group of young men who volunteered to participate in the study for $15/day, Zimbardo randomly assigned half the participants to serve as prisoners, and half to serve as guards, for the duration of the experiment. The prisoners were arrested at their homes without notice by real police, and delivered to Zimbardo's custody. They were placed in a mock prison that had been created by fitting offices with barred doors to create cells, walling off a hallway for a common area, and establishing a special room for solitary confinement. The guards worked shifts and wore uniforms, including mirrorshade sunglasses. The prisoners wore smocks, a chain around the ankle, and stocking-coverings on their heads to simulate buzzcuts. Guards were given discretion to adopt rules and policing strategies as needed.

After one day, the participants had gotten so far into their adopted roles as prisoners or guards that they could no longer distinguish their role-playing from reality. Several prisoners experienced breakdowns, one went on a hunger strike, several served time in solitary confinement, and a rumored jailbreak never materialized but put the guards on red alert and overtime for an entire night. On the sixth day the experiment was halted, by which time one third of the guards were displaying sadistic tendencies, three prisoners had been released due to psychological breakdown, and Zimbardo himself had become absorbed in the role of prison warden.

While stone walls alone may not a prison make, Zimbardo was able to create a reasonable facsimile by using the following behavior triggers:

1. Arrest and confinement;

2. Notice of a rationale for the loss of freedom -- the warden informed prisoners of the seriousness of their offense and their new status as prisoners;

3. Procedures to make prisoners feel confused, fearful, and dehumanized, such as stripping, searching, blindfolding, delousing, and shaving their heads;

4. Providing uniforms for the prisoners that were debasing, emasculating and de-individualizing, and also chains around their feet;

5. I.D. numbers instead of names;

6. Badges, tools and uniforms of authority for the guards, such as khaki uniforms, whistles, billy clubs, and special mirror sun-glasses to prevent anyone from seeing their eyes and reading their emotions;

7. Small living cells and a minimally adequate diet;

8. Occasions for the guards to exercise control over the prisoners, such as the 2:30 a.m. wake-up count;

9. Lack of specific rules to guide guard behavior which led to use of physical punishment for infractions of the rules, or displays of improper attitudes towards the guards or institution, such as push-ups, jumping jacks; and menial, repetitive work such as cleaning toilets, psychological tactics of harassment, intimidation, control, surveillance and aggression, such as stripping the prisoners naked, taking their beds out, forcing prisoners into solitary confinement, and granting special privileges to make the prisoners distrust each other, as well as placing informants;

10. Manipulating appearances on “visiting day” to make the prison environment seem pleasant and benign; making the prisoners wash, shave, and clean their cells, and feeding the prisoners a big dinner, and playing music on the intercom, and having an attractive cheerleader greet the visitors.

What followed from the imposition of this regimen? A virtually immediate disconnection from reality and near-total absorption in the roles of prisoner or guard, including the gamut of pathological and coping behaviors.

Participants were helpless to re-start their former sense of independence. Prisoners referred to themselves by number, obeyed the rules because they felt powerless to resist, and because their sense of reality had shifted to no longer perceiving their imprisonment as an experiment.

Even though they hated their situation, none of the prisoners asserted their right to terminate the experiment, a right that they unquestionably never lost, since the criminal laws against unjust imprisonment remain in effect. Many suffered from acute emotional disturbance, disorganized thinking, and uncontrollable crying and rage. One prisoner testified that he felt he had lost his identity and had in fact become his number. Another had to be forcibly reminded that he was not a prisoner, and could leave since his health required it. “Like a child waking from a nightmare,” Zimbardo described the young man’s face as he realized that he was a free man.

None of the guards voiced unwillingness to proceed with the experiment, and in fact were extraordinarily punctual and volunteered extra time when prisoner rebellions required it. Some of the guards were hostile, arbitrary, and inventive in their forms of prisoner humiliation and appeared to thoroughly enjoy the power they wielded. Most were upset when the study was prematurely ended.

We noticed some similarities between the Zimbardo experiment and religious cult behavior, including:

1. Voluntary entry into a system that limits freedom of action and speech;

2. Imposition of a doctrine that rationalizes the loss of freedom as being in the best interests of the members and makes students feel confused and fearful;

3. Using dharma names instead of real names;

4. Establishment of a hierarchy of authority;

5. Adoption of badges of authority by those in the dominant position;

6. Adoption of signs of submission on the part of subordinate members;

7. Lack of modern rules to guide behavior, and many aspects of students' behavior falling under the control of the leaders;

8. Small living spaces; and a minimally adequate diet;

9. Occasions to exercise control;

10. Physical exercise; menial, repetitive work; psychological tactics of intimidation and control; special privileges;

11. Manipulating the situation to make the environment seem pleasant and benign.

By adopting these rules, the students lose their connection with the self that existed before becoming a cult member. The loss of identification with the former self that voluntarily chose to enter cult society, develops into rejection of that former self as a pitiful fool or stubborn blockhead. Students compete within dharma society for authoritarian roles. Students begin to identify with the cult system adopting its social norms as their own rejecting any suggestion that their loss of freedom is undesirable.

Clearly role-playing games are a form of psychological quick-sand. Role playing is addictive, and evidence shows that role-playing participants feel psychologically compelled to continue role-playing because of interpersonal self-esteem issues, commitments and vows. Once it happens, you are indeed a prisoner. Like in the song Hotel California, “you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.”

Another shocking piece of data from the Zimbardo experiment is the rapidity with which the transformation occurred, and the power of behavioral triggers to induce psychological assimilation of role characteristics, such as the emergence of genuine sadistic traits among 1/3 of the "guards." Guards and prisoners quickly identified each other as adversaries in a game of dominance that the guards were fated to win, stimulating the creativity and paranoid strategizing of the guards to outwit and frustrate prisoners' bids for dignity and freedom. To the guards, freedom itself became the enemy in short order. For the prisoners, release became the only goal towards which they could progress, but since no act of theirs would assist in reaching that goal, they became fragmented and depressed.

The only threats to the experimental mindset were occasional incursions of reality. A "prisoner" who became deranged was derided as a faker, trying to cheat his way out of participation, until at last his behavior became so outlandish, that his actual insanity had to be acknowledged. Another psychologist, Christina Maslach, delivered the reality-based insight that brought the experiment to a halt when she saw that the abuse of the "prisoners" by the "guards" had become frighteningly inhumane. This fact had apparently escaped Dr. Zimbardo himself, who perhaps unwisely placed himself in the position of prison "warden," a role from which he found it psychologically impossible to remove himself.

Eruptions of reality seem to provide the only opportunity to break out of self-disempowering role playing.

So since people cannot re-assert their ability to think and act freely after having renounced freedom of speech and action, the spell of the role playing must be broken through by the intrusion of reality outside of the role playing environment. It is unlikely that the individual will generate this force from within, once the role playing process has gotten underway. While this renunciation of freedom may seem to be a matter of voluntary choice, similar to the decision to become a heroin addict, inasmuch as the renunciation of individual freedom undermines political democracy, it may lead to the establishment or strength of overtly authoritarian regimes. Thus, it is well within our rights of political self-protection to strike that blow of intrusive reality that can break open the cocoon of self-delusion that the role player inhabits. While many individuals, cocooned away in their voluntarily adopted subordinate role, may perceive such criticism as an assault on their freedom of belief, an annoying distraction from the effort to become fully absorbed in their assumed role, the racket that they are objecting to is being raised for their own benefit.

Structuring roles is very important. We have to get out of bad roles and it's fair to go around knocking on people's cocoons and telling them what's going on. That's called helping people out. Because they are deluded. It is something genuinely for their benefit. Inducing vow-breaking is fair and what we should do is shine the light on the situation.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
-Malcolm X
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:44 pm

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:49 am


Excerpted from 2012: Carnival of Bunkum
By: Mark Dery
Published: November 11, 2009

...Who cares if every tie-dyed Elmer Gantry working the Esalen hot-tub and Burning Man circuit is predicting ecstasy, or dread, or both, in 2012?

The answer, in brief, is that the stories we tell ourselves, as a culture, do matter. Profoundly. Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (the Nahuatl name for the feathered serpent god of the Mesoamerican peoples), is an object lesson in the hidden costs of myth. Bidding fair to become the media face of the 2012 phenomenon, Pinchbeck is a tireless publicist for the global cataclysm and universal outbreak of cosmic consciousness he believes will ensue when the digital alarm-clock numbers click over to 2012.


Which makes him the poster child for all that’s worst about the 2012 craze. Pinchbeck’s feathered serpent-oil salesmanship offers a case study in some of its most pernicious aspects.

First, there’s the gape-mouthed credulity required of true believers in the 2012 prophesies — the unblinking, irony-free ability to swallow groaners that would make a cow laugh, such as Pinchbeck’s pronouncement that 2012 may beckon us through a psychic portal, into a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.”

Pinchbeck, like New Age thinkers all the way back to Madame Blavatsky, preaches a refried gospel of ancient wisdom and mystical, supra-rational knowledge. In 2007, he told The New York Times that “the rational, empirical worldview…has reached its expiration date…we’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic.”

Well, somebody say “Amen”! There’s entirely too much rationalism and empiricism clouding the American mind these days, in a nation where, according to the Harris and other polls, 42% of Republicans are convinced President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, 10% of the nation’s voters are certain he’s a Muslim, and 61% of the population believe in the Virgin birth but only 47% believe in Darwinian evolution.
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsam ... rungpa.asp

This article/chapter is excerpted from Stripping the Gurus by Geoffrey D. Falk.




CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA, BORN IN 1939, is the first of the “crazy wisdom” masters whose effect on North American spirituality we will be considering.

The night of my conception my mother had a very significant dream that a being had entered her body with a flash of light; that year flowers bloomed in the neighborhood although it was still winter, to the surprise of the inhabitants....

I was born in the cattle byre [shed]; the birth came easily. On that day a rainbow was seen in the village, a pail supposed to contain water was unaccountably found full of milk, while several of my mother’s relations dreamt that a lama was visiting their tents
(Trungpa, 1977).

As the eleventh incarnation of the Trungpa Tulku, the milk-fed sage was raised from his childhood to be the supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries in eastern Tibet.

In Trungpa’s tradition, a tulku is “someone who reincarnates with the memories and values of previous lives intact” (Butterfield, 1994). Of an earlier, fourth incarnation of that same Trungpa Tulku (Trungpa Künga-gyaltzen) in the late fourteenth century, it has been asserted:

[H]e was looked upon as an incarnation of Maitreya Bodhisattva, destined to be the Buddha of the next World Cycle, also of Dombhipa a great Buddhist siddha (adept) and of Milarepa (Trungpa, 1977).

Having been enthroned in Tibet as heir to the lineages of Milarepa and Padmasambhava, Trungpa left the country for India in 1959, fleeing the Chinese Communist takeover. There, by appointment of the Dalai Lama, he served as the spiritual advisor for the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie, until 1963 (Shambhala, 2003).

From India Chögyam went to England, studying comparative religion and psychology at Oxford University. (A later student of Trungpa’s, Al Santoli, “suggests that the CIA may have had a hand in getting the eleventh Trungpa into Oxford” [Clark, 1980].)[emphasis added] He further caused quite a stir in clashing with another tulku adversary (Akong) of his who, like Trungpa himself, had designs on leading their lineage in the West.

To the amazement of a small circle of local helpers and to the gross embarrassment of the powers that sent them to England, the two honorable tulkus entered into heated arguments and publicly exchanged hateful invectives. In an early edition of his book, Born in Tibet, Trungpa called Akong paranoid and scheming (Lehnert, 1998).

In any case, Trungpa and Akong went on to found the first Western-hemisphere Tibetan Buddhist meditation center, in Scotland, which community was visited by the American poet Robert Bly in 1971.

It was, Trungpa remembers, “a forward step. Nevertheless, it was not entirely satisfying, for the scale of activity was small, and the people who did come to participate seemed to be slightly missing the point” (Fields, 1992).

That same center later became of interest to the police as they investigated allegations of drug abuse there. Trungpa, not himself prone to “missing the point,” avoided that bust by hiding in a stable.

The Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo (in Mackenzie, 1999) related her own experiences with the young Chögyam in England, upon their first meeting in 1962. There, in finding his attentive hands working their way up her skirt in the middle of afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches, Trungpa received a stiletto heel to his sandaled holy feet. His later “smooth line” to her, in repeated attempts at seduction beyond that initial meeting/groping, included the claim that Palmo had “swept him off his monastic feet.” That, in spite of the fact that he “had women since [he] was thirteen,” and already had a son.

In 1969 Chögyam experienced a tragic automobile accident which left him paralyzed on the left side of his body. The car had careened into a joke shop (seriously); Trungpa had been driving drunk at the time (Das, 1997), to the point of blacking out at the wheel (Trungpa, 1977).

Note, now, that Trungpa did not depart from Tibet for India until age twenty, and did not leave India for his schooling in England until four years later. Thus, eleven years of his having “had women” were enacted within surrounding traditional Tibetan and northern Indian attitudes toward acceptable behavior (on the part of monks, etc.). Indeed, according to the son referenced above, both his mother and Trungpa were under vows of celibacy, in Tibet, at the time of their union (Dykema, 2003). Of the three hundred monks entrusted to him when he was enthroned as supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries, Trungpa himself (1977) remarked that

one hundred and seventy were bhikshus (fully ordained monks), the remainder being shramaneras (novices) and young upsaka students who had already taken the vow of celibacy.

Obviously, then, Trungpa’s (Sarvastivadin) tradition was not a “monastic” one without celibacy vows, as is the case with Zen.

Further, Trungpa himself did not formally give up his monastic vows to work as a “lay teacher” until sometime after his car accident in England. This, then, is another clear instance of demonstration that traditional agrarian society places no more iron-clad constraints on the behavior of any “divine sage” than does its postmodern, Western counterpart.

Trungpa may have “partied harder” in Europe and the States, but he was already breaking plenty of rules, without censure, back in Tibet and India. Indeed, one could probably reasonably argue that, proportionately, he broke as many social and cultural rules, with as little censure, in Tibet and India as he later did in America. (For blatant examples of what insignificant discipline is visited upon even violent rule-breakers in Tibetan Buddhist society even today, consult Lehnert’s [1998] Rogues in Robes.) Further, Trungpa (1977) did not begin to act as anyone’s guru until age fourteen, but had women since he was thirteen. He was thus obviously breaking that vow of celibacy with impunity both before and after assuming “God-like” guru status, again in agrarian 1950s Tibet.

In 1970, the recently married Trungpa and his sixteen-year-old, dressage-fancying English wife, Diana, established their permanent residence in the United States. He was soon teaching at the University of Colorado, and in time accumulated around 1500 disciples. Included among those was folksinger Joni Mitchell, who visited the tulku three times, and whose song “Refuge of the Roads” (from the 1976 album Hejira) contains an opening verse about the guru. Contemporary transpersonal psychologist and author John Welwood, member of the Board of Editors of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, is also a long-time follower of Trungpa.

In 1974, Chögyam founded the accredited Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado—the first tantric university in America. Instructors and guests at Naropa have included psychiatrist R. D. Laing, Gregory Bateson, Ram Dass and Allen Ginsberg—after whom the university library was later named. (Ginsberg had earlier spent time with Swami Muktananda [Miles, 1989].) Also, Marianne Faithfull, avant-garde composer John Cage, and William “Naked Lunch” Burroughs, who had earlier become enchanted (1974, 1995) and then disenchanted with L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. Plus, the infinitely tedious Tibetan scholar and translator Herbert V. Guenther, whose writings, even by dry academic standards, could function well as a natural sedative.

Bhagavan Das (1997) related his own, more lively experiences, while teaching Indian music for three months at Naropa in the ’70s:

The party energy around [Trungpa] was compelling. In fact, that’s basically what Naropa was: a huge blowout party, twenty-four hours a day....

I was in a very crazed space and very lost. One day, after having sex with three different women, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was traumatized. It was all too much.

Jack Kornfield offered a less “traumatic” recounting of his own days lecturing there, being invited to teach after he and Trungpa had met at a (where else) cocktail party in 1973:

We all had this romantic, idealistic feeling that we were at the beginning of a consciousness movement that was really going to transform the world (in Schwartz, 1996).

Befitting the leader of such a world-changing effort, in 1974 Trungpa was confirmed as a Vajracarya, or a “spiritual master of the highest level,” by His Holiness the Karmapa Lama, during the latter’s first visit to the West (Trungpa, 1977).

* * *
The practice of “crazy wisdom” itself rests upon the following theory:

If a bodhisattva is completely selfless, a completely open person, then he will act according to openness, will not have to follow rules; he will simply fall into patterns. It is impossible for the bodhisattva to destroy or harm other people, because he embodies transcendental generosity. He has opened himself completely and so does not discriminate between this and that. He just acts in accordance with what is.... [H]is mind is so precise, so accurate that he never makes mistakes [italics added]. He never runs into unexpected problems, never creates chaos in a destructive way (Trungpa, 1973).

[O]nce you receive transmission and form the [guru-disciple] bond of samaya, you have committed yourself to the teacher as guru, and from then on, the guru can do no wrong, no matter what. It follows that if you obey the guru in all things, you can do no wrong either. This is the basis of Osel Tendzin’s [Trungpa’s eventual successor] teaching that “if you keep your samaya, you cannot make a mistake.” He was not deviating into his own megalomania when he said this, but repeating the most essential idea of mainstream Vajrayana [i.e., Tantric Buddhism] (Butterfield, 1994).

Q [student]: What if you feel the necessity for a violent act in order ultimately to do good for a person?

A [Trungpa]: You just do it
(Trungpa, 1973).

A perfect example of going with energy, of the positive wild yogi quality, was the actual transmission of enlightenment from Tilopa to [his disciple] Naropa. Tilopa removed his sandal and slapped Naropa in the face (Trungpa, 1973).

We could, of course, have learned as much from the Three Stooges.

Q [student]: Must we have a spiritual friend [e.g., a guru] before we can expose ourselves, or can we just open ourselves to the situations of life?

A [Trungpa]: I think you need someone to watch you do it, because then it will seem more real to you. It is easy to undress in a room with no one else around, but we find it difficult to undress ourselves in a room full of people
(Trungpa, 1973).

Yes, there was plenty of undressing. At the Halloween costume party during an annual seminar in the autumn of 1975, for example:

A woman is stripped naked, apparently at Trungpa’s joking command, and hoisted into the air by [his] guards, and passed around—presumably in fun, although the woman does not think so (Marin, 1995).

The pacifist poet William Merwin and his wife, Dana, were attending the same three-month retreat, but made the mistake of keeping to themselves within a crowd mentality where that was viewed as offensive “egotism” on their part. Consequently, their perceived aloofness had been resented all summer by the other community members ... and later categorized as “resistance” by Trungpa himself.

Thus, Merwin and his companion showed up briefly for the aforementioned Halloween party, danced only with each other, and then went back to their room.

Trungpa, however, insisted through a messenger that they return and rejoin the party. In response, William and his wife locked themselves in their room, turned off the lights ... and soon found themselves on the receiving end of a group of angry, drunken spiritual seekers, who proceeded to cut their telephone line, kick in the door (at Trungpa’s command) and break a window (Miles, 1989).

Panicked, but discerning that broken glass is mightier than the pen, the poet defended himself by smashing bottles over several of the attacking disciples, injuring a friend of his. Then, mortified and giving up the struggle, he and his wife were dragged from the room.

[Dana] implored that someone call the police, but to no avail. She was insulted by one of the women in the hallway and a man threw wine in her face (Schumacher, 1992).

And then, at the feet of the wise guru, after Trungpa had “told Merwin that he had heard the poet was making a lot of trouble”:

[Merwin:] I reminded him that we never promised to obey him. He said, “Ah, but you asked to come” (Miles, 1989).

An argument ensued, during which Trungpa insulted Merwin’s Oriental wife with racist remarks [in return for which she called him a “Nazi”] and threw a glass of saké in the poet’s face
(Feuerstein, 1992).

Following that noble display of high realization, Trungpa had the couple forcibly stripped by his henchmen—against the protests of both Dana and one of the few courageous onlookers, who was punched in the face and called a “son of a bitch” by Trungpa himself for his efforts.

“Guards dragged me off and pinned me to the floor,” [Dana] wrote in her account of the incident.... “I fought and called to friends, men and women whose faces I saw in the crowd, to call the police. No one did.... [One devotee] was stripping me while others held me down. Trungpa was punching [him] in the head, urging him to do it faster. The rest of my clothes were torn off.”

“See?” said Trungpa. “It’s not so bad, is it?” Merwin and Dana stood naked, holding each other, Dana sobbing
(Miles, 1989).

Finally, others stripped voluntarily and Trungpa, apparently satisfied, said “Let’s dance” (Marin, 1995). “And so they did.”

And that, kiddies, is what they call “authentic Tibetan Buddhism.”

Don’t let your parents find out: Soon they won’t even let you say your prayers before bedtime, for fear that it might be a “gateway” to the hard-core stuff.

The scandal ensuing from the above humiliation became known as, in all seriousness, “the great Naropa poetry wars.” It was, indeed, commemorated in the identical title of a must-read (though sadly out of print) book by Tom Clark (1980). If you need to be cured of the idea that Trungpa was anything but a “power-hungry ex-monarch” alcoholic fool, that is the book to read. (Interestingly, a poll taken by the Naropa student newspaper in the late ’70s disclosed that nine of twenty-six students at their poetry school regarded Trungpa as being either a “total fraud” or very near to the same.)

For his journalistic efforts, Clark was rewarded with “lots of hang-up phone calls,” presumably as an intimidation tactic on the part of Trungpa’s loyal followers.

And incredibly, even after enduring the above reported abuse, Merwin and Dana chose to remain at the seminary for Trungpa’s subsequent Vajrayana lectures.

At any rate, Chögyam’s own (1977) presentation of the goings-on at his “seminars,” even well after the Merwin incident, predictably paled in comparison to their realities:

I initiated the annual Vajradhatu Seminary, a three-month intensive practice and study retreat for mature students. The first of these seminaries, involving eighty students, took place ... in the autumn of 1973. Periods of all-day sitting meditation alternated with a study programme methodically progressing through the three yanas of Buddhist teaching, Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

“Mature, methodical progression,” however, does not quite capture the mood earlier expressed by the traumatized Das or the involuntarily stripped Merwin and his wife.

How then is one to understand Chögyam’s “extra-curricular” activities within the context of such Vajrayana teachings?

The notorious case involving Trungpa ... was given all sorts of high explanations by his followers, none of whom got the correct one: Trungpa made an outrageous, inexcusable, and completely stupid mistake, period (Wilber, 1983).

Trungpa’s own insistence, however, was again always that he and his enlightened ilk “never make mistakes.” (The explicit quote to that effect, above, is from 1973—a full decade prior to Wilber’s attempted, and wholly failed, explanation.) Rather, the day following the Merwin “incident,” Trungpa simply posted an open letter to everyone at the retreat, effectively explaining his previous night’s behavior as part of his “teaching.” No apology was offered by him, and he certainly did not regard himself as having made any “mistake” whatsoever (Marin, 1995).

Even in the late ’70s, when Allen Ginsberg asked Trungpa, “was it a mistake? He said, ‘Nope’” (in Clark, 1980). Ginsberg himself, too, “said Trungpa may have been guilty of indiscretion, but he had not been wrong in the way he had behaved” (Schumacher, 1992). And indeed, any disciple who might ever question the stated infallibility of such a guru would again only be demonstrating his own disloyalty. The only “option” for any obedient follower is then, quite obviously, to find a “high explanation” for the activities.

“I was wrong,” Trungpa might have said. Or, “he was wrong,” his disciples might have said. But they cannot say such things. It would interfere too much with the myth [of Trungpa’s supernatural enlightenment] they have chosen to believe....

I think back to a conversation I recently had with the director of Naropa’s summer academic program.... [W]hen, in the course of the conversation, I asked him whether Trungpa can make a mistake, he answered: “You know, a student has to believe his master can make no mistake. Sometimes Trungpa may do something I don’t understand. But I must believe what he does is always for the best”
(Marin, 1995).

In 1978, the emotionally involved Allen Ginsberg was confronted with the suggestion that the obedience of Trungpa’s followers in the “Merwin incident” might be compared to that of participants in the Jonestown mass suicides. He then gave his own heated, and utterly irrational, analysis:

In the middle of that scene, [for Dana] to yell “call the police”—do you realize how vulgar that was? The wisdom of the East being unveiled, and she’s going “call the police!” I mean, shit! Fuck that shit! Strip ‘em naked, break down the door! Anything—symbolically (in Clark, 1980).

Yes. “Symbolically.”

Further, regarding Wilber’s intimation that the guru’s actions were an isolated “mistake”: When a former resident of Trungpa’s community was asked, in 1979, whether the “Merwin incident” was a characteristic happening, or a singular occurrence, she responded (in Clark, 1980):

It is a typical incident, it is not an isolated example. At every seminary, as far as I know, there was a confrontation involving violence.

In any case, the regarding of such actions as Chögyam’s versus Merwin, as being simple “mistakes,” certainly could not explain away the reported premeditated means by which disciples were kept in line within Trungpa’s community:

We were admonished ... not to talk about our practice. “May I shrivel up instantly and rot,” we vowed, “if I ever discuss these teachings with anyone who has not been initiated into them by a qualified master.” As if this were not enough, Trungpa told us that if we ever tried to leave the Vajrayana, we would suffer unbearable, subtle, continuous anguish, and disasters would pursue us like furies....

To be part of Trungpa’s inner circle, you had to take a vow never to reveal or even discuss some of the things he did. This personal secrecy is common with gurus, especially in Vajrayana Buddhism. It is also common in the dysfunctional family systems of alcoholics and sexual abusers. This inner circle secrecy puts up an almost insurmountable barrier to a healthy skeptical mind....

[T]he vow of silence means that you cannot get near him until you have already given up your own perception of enlightenment and committed yourself to his
(Butterfield, 1994).

The traditional Vajrayana teachings on the importance of loyalty to the guru are no less categorical:

Breaking tantric samaya [i.e., leaving one’s guru] is more harmful than breaking other vows. It is like falling from an airplane compared to falling from a horse (Tulku Thondup, in [Panchen and Wangyi, 1996]).

In many texts, the consequences of breaking with one’s guru are told in graphic terms, for it is believed that, once having left a guru, a disciple’s spiritual progress “comes to an absolute end” because “he never again meets with a spiritual master,” and he is subject to “endless wandering in the lower realms.” In the case of disrespect for the guru, it is said in the texts that if the disciple “comes to despise his Guru, he encounters many problems in the same life and then experiences a violent death” (Campbell, 1996, quoting from [Dhargyey, 1974]).

Such constraints on the disciple place great power into the hands of the guru-figure—power which Trungpa, like countless others before and after him, was not shy about exercising and preserving.

[Trungpa] was protected by bodyguards known as the Vajra Guard, who wore blue blazers and received specialized training that included haiku composition and flower arranging. On one occasion, to test a student guard’s alertness, Trungpa hurled himself from a staircase, expecting to be caught. The guard was inattentive, and Trungpa landed on his head, requiring a brief visit to the hospital (Miles, 1989).

We could, of course, have learned as much from Inspector Clouseau.

Or, expressed in haiku (if not in flower arranging):

Hopped up on saké

I throw myself down the stairs

No one to catch me

I was scolded by one of his disciples for laughing at Trungpa. He was a nut. But they were very offended....

He had women bodyguards in black dresses and high heels packing automatics standing in a circle around him while they served saké and invited me over for a chat. It was bizarre
(Gary Snyder, in [Downing, 2001]).

Interestingly, Trungpa considered the SFZC’s Shunryu Suzuki to be his “spiritual father,” while Suzuki considered the former to be “like my son” (in Chadwick, 1999).

* * *
There is a actually a very easy way to tell whether or not any “sage’s” “crazy wisdom” treatment of others is really a “skillful means,” employed to enlighten the people toward whom it is directed.

Consider that we would not attempt to evaluate whether a person is a hypochondriac, for example, when he is in the hospital, diagnosed with pneumonia or worse, and complaining about that. Rather, hypochondria shows when a person is certified to be perfectly healthy, but still worries neurotically that every little pain may be an indication of a serious illness.

We would likewise not attempt to evaluate any author’s polemics in situations where the “righteous anger” may have been provoked, and may be justifiable as an attempt to “awaken” the people at whom it is directed, or even just to give them a “taste of their own medicine.” If we can find the same polemic being thrown around in contexts where it was clearly unprovoked, however, we may be certain that there is more to the author’s motivations than such claimed high-minded ideals. That is, we may be confident that he is doing it for his own benefit, in blowing off steam, or simply enjoying dissing others whose ideas he finds threatening. In short, such unprovoked polemics would give us strong reason to believe that the author is not being honest with himself regarding the supposedly noble basis of his own anger.

We would not attempt to evaluate the “skillful means” by which any claimed “sage” puts his followers into psychological binds, etc., in their native guru-disciple contexts, where such actions may be justified. Rather, we would instead look at how the guru-figure interacts with others in situations where his hypocritical or allegedly abusive actions cannot be excused as attempts to awaken them. If we find the same reported abusive behaviors in his interactions with non-disciples as we find in his interactions with his close followers, the most generous position is to “subtract” the “baseline” of the non-disciple interactions from the guru-disciple ones. If the alleged “skillful means” (of anger and reported “Rude Boy” abuse) are present equally in both sets, they cancel out, and were thus never “skillful” to begin with. Rather, they were simply the transplanting of pre-existing despicable behaviors into a context in which they may appear to be acceptable.

In the present context, then, since Akong was never one of Trungpa’s disciples, Chögyam’s poor behavior toward the former cannot be excused as any attempted “skillful means” of awakening him. Merwin and his wife were likewise not disciples of Trungpa. Thus, his disciplining of them for not joining the Halloween party arguably provides another example of the guru humiliating others only for his own twisted enjoyment, not for their spiritual good.

We will find good use for this “contextual comparison” method when evaluating the reported behaviors of many other “crazy wisdom” or “Rude Boy” gurus and their supporters, in the coming chapters.

* * *
Allen [Ginsberg] asked Trungpa why he drank so much. Trungpa explained he hoped to determine the illumination of American drunkenness. In the United States, he said, alcohol was the main drug, and he wanted to use his acquired knowledge of drunkenness as a source of wisdom (Schumacher, 1992).

[Trungpa’s] health had begun to fail. He spent nearly a year and a half in a semicoma, nearly dying on a couple of occasions, before finally succumbing to a heart attack (Schumacher, 1992).

Before he died of acute alcoholism in 1987, Trungpa appointed an American acolyte named Thomas Rich, also known as Osel Tendzin, as his successor. Rich, a married father of four, died of AIDS in 1990 amid published reports that he had had unprotected sex with [over a hundred] male and female students without telling them of his illness (Horgan, 2003a).

Tendzin offered to explain his behavior at a meeting which I attended. Like all of his talks, this was considered a teaching of dharma, and donations were solicited and expected (Butterfield, 1994).

Having forked over the requisite $35 “offering,” Butterfield was treated to Tendzin’s dubious explanation:

In response to close questioning by students, he first swore us to secrecy (family secrets again), and then said that Trungpa had requested him to be tested for HIV in the early 1980s and told him to keep quiet about the positive result. Tendzin had asked Trungpa what he should do if students wanted to have sex with him, and Trungpa’s reply was that as long as he did his Vajrayana purification practices, it did not matter, because they would not get the disease. Tendzin’s answer, in short, was that he had obeyed the instructions of his guru. He said we must not get trapped in the dualism of good and evil, there has never been any stain, our anger is the compassion of the guru, and we must purify all obstacles that prevent us from seeing the world as a sacred mandala of buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Yet, in spite of that, and well after all of those serious problems in behavior had become widely known, we still have this untenable belief being voiced, by none other than Ken Wilber (1996):

“Crazy wisdom” occurs in a very strict ethical atmosphere.

If all of the above was occurring within a “very strict ethical atmosphere,” however, one shudders to think of what horrors an unethical atmosphere might unleash. Indeed, speaking of one of the unduly admired individuals whom we shall meet later, an anonymous poster with much more sense rightly made the following self-evident point:

One problem with the whole idea of the “crazy-wise” teacher is that [Adi] Da can claim to embody anyone or anything, engage in any sort of ethical gyration at all, and, regardless of disciples’ reactions, Da can simply claim his action was motivated as “another teaching.” He thus places himself in a position where he is utterly immune from any ethical judgment (in Bob, 2000; italics added).

More plainly, there can obviously be no such thing as a “strict ethical atmosphere” in any “crazy wisdom” environment.

But perhaps Trungpa and Tendzin—a former close disciple of Satchidananda, who was actually in charge of the latter’s Integral Yoga Institute in the early ’70s (Fields, 1992)—had simply corrupted that traditional “atmosphere” for their own uses? Sadly, no:

Certain journalists, quoting teachers from other Buddhist sects, have implied that Trungpa did not teach real Buddhism but a watered-down version for American consumption, or that his teaching was corrupted by his libertine outlook. After doing Vajrayana practices, reading texts on them by Tibetan authorities, and visiting Buddhist centers in the United States and Europe, I was satisfied that this allegation is untrue. The practices taught in Vajradhatu are as genuinely Buddhist as anything in the Buddhist world....

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, after the Tendzin scandal, insisted to Vajradhatu students that Trungpa had given them authentic dharma, and they should continue in it exactly as he had prescribed
(Butterfield, 1994; italics added).

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche—“Rinpoche” being a title meaning “Precious One”—was head of the oldest Nyingma or “Ancient Ones” School of Tibetan Buddhism from 1987 until his death in 1991.

Even with all that, Peter Marin (1995)—a non-Buddhist writer who taught for several months at Naropa in 1977—still validly observed that the activities at Naropa were relatively tame, compared to the oppression which could be found in other sects.

In the end, though, Andrew Harvey (2000) put it well:

In general, I think that nearly all of what passes for “crazy wisdom” and is justified as “crazy wisdom” by both master and enraptured disciple is really cruelty and exploitation, not enlightened wisdom at all. In the name of “crazy wisdom” appalling crimes have been rationalized by master and disciple alike, and many lives have been partly or completely devastated.

One is of course still free, even after all that, to respect Trungpa for being up-front about his “drinking and wenching” (in Downing, 2001), rather than hypocritically hiding those indulgences, as many other guru-figures have allegedly done. That meager remainder, however, obviously pales drastically in comparison with what one might have reasonably expected the legacy of any self-proclaimed “incarnation of Maitreya Bodhisattva” to be. Indeed, by that very criterion of non-hypocrisy, one could admire the average pornographer just as much. Sadly, by the end of this book, that point will only have been reinforced, not in the least diminished, by the many individuals whose questionable influence on other people’s lives has merited their inclusion herein. That is so, whatever their individual psychological motivations for the alleged mistreatment of themselves and of others may have been.

To this day, Trungpa is still widely regarded as being “one of the four foremost popularizers of Eastern spirituality” in the West in the twentieth century—the other three being Ram Dass, D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts (Oldmeadow, 2004). Others such as the Buddhist scholar Kenneth Rexroth (in Miles, 1989), though, have offered a less complimentary perspective:

“Many believe Chögyam Trungpa has unquestionably done more harm to Buddhism in the United States than any man living.”

* * *
Sometimes the entire Institute seems like a great joke played by Trungpa on the world: the attempt of an overgrown child to reconstruct for himself a kingdom according to whim (Marin, 1995).

Through all of that celebrated nonsense “for king/guru and country,” the Naropa Institute/University continues to exist to the present day, replete with its “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.” Previous offerings there have included courses in “Investigative Poetry”—though, sadly, no corresponding instruction in “Beat Journalism.” Also, at their annual springtime homecoming/reunion, participation in “contemplative ballroom dancing.” (One assumes that this would involve something like practicing vipassana “mindfulness” meditation while dancing. Or perhaps not. Whatever.)

Indeed, a glance at the Naropa website (http://www.naropa.edu) and alumni reveals that the ’60s are alive and well, and living in Boulder—albeit with psych/environmental majors, for college credit.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
-Malcolm X
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby crikkett » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:12 pm

Charles Carreon wrote:http://www.american-buddha.com/sleepers.awake.htm#SLEEPERS%20AWAKE!

...The only threats to the experimental mindset were occasional incursions of reality...

...Another psychologist, Christina Maslach, delivered the reality-based insight that brought the experiment to a halt when she saw that the abuse of the "prisoners" by the "guards" had become frighteningly inhumane.

...it is well within our rights of political self-protection to strike that blow of intrusive reality that can break open the cocoon of self-delusion that the role player inhabits.

It was more than just someone delivering a reality-based insight. Zimbardo had a romantic interest in Christina Maslach and was trying to impress her by bringing her to the prison, and she humiliated and denigrated him after getting over her initial horror. And then, she got the hell out of there.

Or at least that's what I remember.
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:45 pm

crikkett wrote:
Charles Carreon wrote:http://www.american-buddha.com/sleepers.awake.htm#SLEEPERS%20AWAKE!

...The only threats to the experimental mindset were occasional incursions of reality...

...Another psychologist, Christina Maslach, delivered the reality-based insight that brought the experiment to a halt when she saw that the abuse of the "prisoners" by the "guards" had become frighteningly inhumane.

...it is well within our rights of political self-protection to strike that blow of intrusive reality that can break open the cocoon of self-delusion that the role player inhabits.

It was more than just someone delivering a reality-based insight. Zimbardo had a romantic interest in Christina Maslach and was trying to impress her by bringing her to the prison, and she humiliated and denigrated him after getting over her initial horror. And then, she got the hell out of there.

Or at least that's what I remember.

I believe that Phillip Zimbardo- an alleged human rights advocate- was funded by the Office of Naval Research (a documented MKULTRA funder) for that very famous experiment he did at Stanford...
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