Many thanks to the Guruphilliac blog for their short article on this blog, and for linking to us.
I think there is a pretty significant overlap between the ideas used in Large Group Awareness Training and the methods used by the many false gurus who are out to exploit people.
Today, many people are making a move to spirituality, as opposed to religion, and this has spawned a rapidly growing industry where a guru or teacher is willing to lead pupils to the promised land – but at a price.
Many of these gurus use mind control methods as described by Robert Jay Lifton to gain the confidence of prospective devotees. One that would immediately come to mind is that of Mystical Manipulation. Get that one right and it is amazing how many people becoming instantly willing to hand over their power to someone else.
And funny, isn’t it, how often someone else finds the answers in a divine revelation? Just like Werner Erhard, aka Jack Rosenberg, after he walked out on his wife and kids, and then suddenly – BOOM! – while driving into San Francisco it all came to him in a divine revelation and the Est Training (which was then reinvented and became Landmark Education) was born.
So, how much came to him from this great revelation and how much had to do with his self training as described in The Skeptic’s Dictionary? Indeed, did part of Erhard’s revelation include studying all the influences described in the Skeptic’s Dictionary article?
Erhard’s story is simply an example of many similar stories out there.
Apart from Guruphilliac’s excellent blog, another source for finding out more about gurus is the website Guru Ratings. Also, James Randi has made a career out of exposing people’s false claims.
There is a great video featuring Randi on Xenu TV called The Power of Belief. It is an ABC News special. It shows, among other things, how people can be tricked by someone claiming psychic powers. The amazing thing is that even when the hoax was shown, people still wanted to believe in the false guru!
And if you thought Uri Geller was the only one who could bend spoons and read minds, you're wrong. Randi did it too!
As a word of warning about the high ideals and dreams false gurus sell, I want to share the following quote with you (not that the works of false gurus extend to this degree, but the potential for serious damage is there):
"When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you've ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you've ever met, and then you learn that the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!
Don't give up your education, your hopes and ambitions, to follow a rainbow."
-- Jenne Mills, former member of the People's Temple and subsequent victim of assassination a year following the November 18, 1978 Jonestown suicide/murders of 911 adults and children.