Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about anything. These are just my thoughts, opinions and personal experiences. May the Buddhas bless us all and free us from our egos and the torments of samsara.
Please don’t go against the flow by going against the teacher. We’ll call him Jonah. Jonah is a flowing river of truth.
I said this jokingly to an organizer who had tried to get me to go to the Buddhist Recovery convention. I’d told her well, if you want me to speak, of course I’ll come. But if you want me to come there and be a follower of these knuckleheads, then no. Not interested.
In fact, I wrote my first book, The 12-Step Buddhist, in response to the book that came out at that time that sort of talked about Buddhism and recovery. The response that I got from the world was amazing. The book is still in print and selling more copies than ever nearly ten years later. But the response I got from the Buddhist recovery organization was highly critical. They came to my groups and heckled me. Wrote bad reviews. I was told I had no right. In fact, at one point I was told that although they didn’t let people “into the fold,” who weren’t in their lineage, since I was a “friend,” I could pay $5000 to take the teacher training. To learn how to be a Buddhist in recovery. I impolitely declined.
In my groups and retreats throughout the years I have not tried to be a guru. Didn’t create a brand or a movement and never asked people to train under me. I just wanted to be sober and talk about the teachings that were so powerful for me. I grew up in the 70s when cults were rampant. Being some kind of spiritual leader was not what I was after. But I am a thought leader and a lot of people like to listen to those of us who think about this stuff a lot.
Have you watched the Netflix show Wild, Wild Country at all yet? It’s quite fascinating. It’s about a real cult leader who was eventually banned from 18 countries. Bagwahn Rajneesh, who was later repackaged as “Osho,” was a big hit on the early 80s cult scene in Eastern Oregon. Was he a real guru? Oh hell yes he was.
Well this guy had thousands of followers in frenzies in India, his home country. With millions of dollars at hand, he came to the US to spread his message. And apparently, as many legs as he could pry open.
His chief lieutenant, who was 16 when he told her, “I love you, you love me,” stayed with him till the bitter end and now lives in an undisclosed location. She still defends him. Even though he/she allegedly poisoned their followers in the first bio-terror attack on US soil, according to the FBI.
An online comment about some recent alleged sexual allegations:
At this point we do not know the truth. It would be the same if it implied the women were telling the truth. As we don’t know the facts.
It’s the whole rape culture mentality. Accuse the accuser. Blame the victim. All that. Not to say that people don’t make shit up to hurt others, because they do. Or that people aren’t sometimes falsely accused, because they are. But everyone’s not making shit up and everyone’s not pure as the driven snow.
Makes these issues complicated.
Yet for the true believers, well. They’ll go down with the ship. Or up with the space ship, depending on the particular cult paradigm. The space ship one is a personal favorite, but punk rock Buddhists are cool too. There are people who still defend OJ.
Sports coaches, movie producers, spiritual “teachers,” parents, bosses. Human beings lust for power over the weak and vulnerable. The recovery treatment field is rampant with it. There’s big money in getting desperate addicts and there families to pay up. There was a guy in Santa Cruz when I got sober in 84 (I think Jonah was 10 then), who ran a treatment facility called Star Lodge. He and his counselors, as it was told to me in AA back then, hand select incoming patients that they wanted to fuck. Like shooting ducks in a pond.
One of them, we’ll call him John, an old neighbor of mine from San Jose, was actually drinking while he worked up there. Was supposed to have 12 years sober. But was drinking, while working as a treatment counselor. Last I checked, the relapse rate for treatment counselors was 50%. John came down the hill on Hwy. 17 and killed a grandfather driving his grandkids.
Know who was in that car?
We’ll call him Larry. The internet Porn King of Santa Cruz. That was his grandfather that was killed by John in that car and he was in that car when it was hit. Now Larry got sober the same time as Jonah. In the same town, Santa Cruz. They’re bros. And bros stick together.
Back then, Jonah was my AA sponsor. He was a bit of a cult legend for some reason then. Halfway through my steps he “fired me,” with no reason. Well, Larry and I had a falling out because I got carpal tunnel while working for him on some internet porn sites. He didn’t have worker’s comp, which is illegal. Court case, etc. I became a pariah in Santa Cruz AA. Interesting, I went back there last summer and the people who had 10 years back in 97 now have 30 years sober and are AA gurus. I was in tears due to some severe trauma and was there to heal. All of those gurus walked right by me and never said a word. Twenty years later.
So these connections are interesting.
Larry, whose grandfather was killed by a perpetrator….who ran treatment centers….
was against me because I was against Jonah for how he treated me, and the women of AA.
Now Jonah runs treatment centers. And is accused of sexual abuses. You see where that thought might lead someone.
Oh, the irony.
But it makes sense if you understand the history. If you know the real story of Jonah when he came up, the story of who we’ll call Bob, his guru, is quite clear in that book. Bob was an AA guru who lived in the Santa Cruz mountains with his wife. They were ‘healers’ and ‘teachers.’ So Bob had a cult following up there. Would show up to AA meetings with 15-20 guys. They had people up at their house and so on. When Bob touched Jonah, according to the book, he felt a spiritual charge.
So Jonah really, really wanted to be like Bob. Know what happened to Bob? He was run out of Santa Cruz as an alleged child molester. See, Jonah had a following in AA just like Bob, long before he wrote any books. AA was a playground for him. He said that he slept with a lotta girls. This goes back to ’97. I’m not saying anything happened or didn’t happen and I have no idea who did or didn’t do what to whom. But i do find these dynamics, patterns and histories extremely interesting.
Spiritual or pseudo spiritual communities in the West very often have a lot of sickness. Like our yoga community. Bikram. Other famous yoga teachers are sued and jailed for abuses on those who follow them. A lot of people are drawn to spiritual communities, recovery communities, self-help guru, life coaches, yoga teachers. We want to heal and we want someone to lead us. So we stand in line to drink the Kool-Aid. If you’re not familiar with that reference, Google Jim Jones, Jonestown. I still know people who’s family members died in that cult massacre. These leaders are charming. as sociopaths and psychopaths often are.
People don’t know how to see the truth when these sociopaths are hip, slick and cool. Charming and disarming.
But eventually the roosters 🐓 come home to roost.