Confessions of a Cult Leader's Son

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posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 11:10 AM
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reply to post by getreadyalready
 


From what I understood, they were together because of some form
of enlightment, but the crazy binary of alienation / dependence of
society created weird and manipulative social patterns.

In the end, scarsity were the fuel to madness.




posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 11:15 AM
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I have seen people put out "feelers" on forums for a paper they are writing so ther is always that possibility. Small effort to get an "A" on a sociology paper. I have lost all interest in the subject myself after the realization that with population in the billions and being able to get around ir is not hard to gather followers, for one reason or another. Main thing is dont "get a hook in ya" be it drugs or some other deficiency.

The usual case studies are all i need to make a judgment though. Look at some recent Charles Manson videos and he didnt go off the deep end in one shot. That took years to finally manifest itself into full stop crazy.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Malcher because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 11:31 AM
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Thanks for writing, getreadyalready.


Originally posted by getreadyalready
Did your Dad and Ben's plan ever have a chance of being entirely good? You said you think their intentions were originally good, do you think the corruption and power-tripping was inevitable, or was there a time where he zigged instead of zagging, and do you think it could have remained a nice, open, charitable group that didn't manipulate


I think its impossible for a human to be entirely good, I don't believe in enlightenement or Masters or that some people are more "advanced" than others. That kind of thinking is part of the problem IMHO. I think something about the setup of the group made the corruption inevitable, yes. This same story seemed to play out in many groups at the time. Part of it was a bigger trend too, I think, beyond our specific group, something about the way society was for a certain segment of the population at the time.

It might be possible to have non-exploitative spiritual communities, or relatively non-exploitative, I think, at least in theory but it certainly isn't easy and the big lesson is that things change over time..



Do you think the walls, and the manipulation are paramount to making this type of group successful, or is there any chance of it being successful without the manipulation?


That's an intersting question. I think it can't be successful without rules and discipline. You can't have a groovocracy where everyone is welcome and expect everyone to pull their own weight, so you have to start drawing lines and making rules. Once you have rules in place you will have situations of exploitation and manipulation, that seems to happen with every group. We can hope that groups can be successful without serious power tripping. I have a sense there is something different between what we had versus a Zen or Benedictine monastic community, say. But actually I've never spent time in those places, and for all I know they may be just as corrupt and freaky.


Also, you seem very grounded and intelligent. Do you think your upbringing was superior or inferior to a more typical public school, suburbanite upbringing?


Thanks. I think my dad was a pretty meticulous and obsessive guy, and he made sure we had a decent education. Two of the women had teaching experience and their full-time job was to tutor us. They got treated well and exempted from other work. Our only entertainment besides playing in the woods was reading and writing, so we got good at it. My dad made me question lots of things philosophically and gave us a grounding in world religious history, at least as he saw it. When I left the community in my early 20s, though, I had no GED. My father's brother's family, who were not connected to our group at all, offered to let me live with them for a little on the condition I worked toward my GED. I finished it pretty quickly, and then went through community college and eventually college in my 20s, on and off intersperced with working.

A lot of this I drove myself to do. When I got out of the community I was very curious about the world and also very frightened of it, I didn't know what I needed to do, I was terrified of starving to death homeless somewhere so I buckled down and studied hard when I wasn't working, took it very grimly indeed, like I was planning a war or something, lol. It's really only in the last few years I've allowed myself to lighten up a little and enjoy life. I realized that whatever his other numerous faults, our dad taught us to be disciplined, to concentrate and study well, and to take things seriously.


In my opinion, I've seen some very good kids come from Mormon communities, and home-schooling, and even multi-family households. Do you think there is any benefit to living an unconventional lifestyle, or did you yearn for just a normal life?


Yes, I think there are benfits, or there can be. There are also lots of ways to screw kids up in these communities, too. When you go off the rails, maybe you get there faster or maybe you fall in a pit. Did I yearn for a normal life? Not growing up, beacuse we were made to fear the outside world, and I did. I yearn for a more normal life now, though. I'm getting there.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 11:33 AM
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What intrigues me most, OP, is your deep psychological insight into the dynamics of the commune/compound and how an innocent group of seekers went on this slippery slope. Very well written, too. You should do what one of the posters said and make a book out of this.



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 12:53 PM
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were there any repercussions to your decision to leave ?

were drugs an issue in the commune ?



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 01:06 PM
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Originally posted by Levelsquare
were there any repercussions to your decision to leave ?

were drugs an issue in the commune ?



By the time I left, I was 22, it was 1994, and things were really falling apart then. I haven't gotten to that part yet, but basically the community was no longer functioning and viable by then, and most of us had to leave and try our luck in the so-called real world. My dad moved with a very small group of eight other members into a large apartment in a midsized New England town, and that's where he spent the rest of his life.

ATS doesn't allow us to talk about substance abuse, its in their terms and conditions, so I'll respect that.

edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by Taupin Desciple

You might do well to keep one thing in mind here. This piece of advice is based on what you have written here about your dad. It seems to me that his meticulous method of trying to understand his "experience" was a natural precurser to control. He was trying to control his own understanding in a way that led to him controlling other people. It's as if he thought that would help him understand himself better. Maybe some people are just predisposed to control, and if they can't control themselves they'll turn to controlling other people.


I never thought of that before but it strikes me as completely correct after a little reflection. Thanks for that.


I think certain people become leaders, controllers, dominators. Yes, its probably natural and hardwired in some way. Animals have alphas and betas, I would not be surprised if that is some ancient trait from before we were even human, something that we aren't going to shrug off any time soon. And of course circumstance plays a role. Under different circumstances, my dad might have been assimilated by society more, for example.

I find people like my dad very interesing because they combine a lot of things that are seeming contradictions. One example: he was both a rebel/outsider to the wider society as a fringe cult character, yet at the same time he was an obsessive controller and the leader of his own mini-society. Perfect rebellion combined with a form of pure orthodoxy, its really funny in a way. Another one: He was a sincere seeker who never stopped appreciating the beauty of ideas for what they were; but at the same time he was a heartless chess-player with people and a greedy, power-lusting type.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 01:42 PM
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Hey ND, not sure if you didn't see my post ,or if you just don't feel comfortable answering....
But can you tell me if you ever learnt what happened to them all in the 'Experience'?
Also, if your mum is still alive & her feelings about it all now?
Many thanks



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 02:04 PM
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Originally posted by jewells
Hey ND, not sure if you didn't see my post ,or if you just don't feel comfortable answering....
But can you tell me if you ever learnt what happened to them all in the 'Experience'?
Also, if your mum is still alive & her feelings about it all now?
Many thanks


Hi Jewells, sorry not to answer earlier, I missed a few posts in here actually, my apologies.

Um...I think "The Experience" is what people call a "mystical experience." There seem to be examples in almost every religious tradition. I mentioned a few in the first post: Moses and the burning bush, Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, sudden Zen enlightenment. There are others: The experience of the apostles at the feast of Pentecost, some experiences of medieval saints. You might be able to draw wide paralells with things like vodoo trances and revelations, shamanism, and other traditions.

I think it was for them something wordless, vision-less. I don't think they "heard something" or "saw something." Whatever happened to them was maybe beyond words, as mystical writers always say down through history. They experienced a flash of something. I think its real, I think enough people had this and it changed their lives profoundly. Even so, they failed to translate whatever it was that happened to them into the perfection they expected -- if such a thing was ever even possible at all.

My mother...yes, she is alive. She left when I did, in 1994, my father and her divorced, but on friendly terms, more or less. She married another ex-memeber but they did not last long as a couple and she is alone now in another part of the country near some relatives. She works a humble but honest job and seems pretty cheerful. It's interesting, she always got along well with my father. She must have made some kind of decision early on that there was no way to control his relations with other women so she just accepted everything, and he rewarded her with a certain amount of status in the community. She wasn't touched by any other men, neither was another favored woman my dad took on as a kind of "second wife" a few years later.

What does she think about it? She's not entirely upset at the way things went, but I know she's conflicted to some extent. She's always seemd like a very calm, stable person no matter what happened. As I wrote in the opening post, she was one of the seven people that had "The Experience" along with my dad, and she still believes in it, and in what happened. I wouldn't have written this without her permission. She encouraged me to share this story, she is an amazing women and I love her a lot of course, as most sons love their perfect mothers.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 02:36 PM
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I don't think this is a "Gray Area" type thread - it all rings true to me. I feel the OP is wise beyond his years, neat, meticulous, a perfectionist, exceptionally insightful and a deep-thinker who has one of the best Best-Seller stories if it were available on the market today.

We thank you OP for sharing with us, and, we thank your Mom for giving her blessing on telling this story. It has helped me answer questions like, "What would my life have been like if I had X instead of Y."



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 03:09 PM
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Originally posted by Never Despise
reply to post by sputniksteve
 


I'm writing most of this in a word file piece by piece and then cutting and and pasting it here so the spelling is OK. If all the lines are the way they are, that's the reason. LIke I said in my earlier post above, ultimately I'm unable to prove stuff beyond a certain limit because this is an anonomyous forum.

Thanks to the others for the questions and comments, and U2Us. I'll go through them in a bit. About The Works, It's all typewritten, and maybe someday I'll convert all of it to computer format...but actually I doubt it, because not all of it is worth converting, IMHO. Some of the material is valuable. One of the things I'm trying to do is make an outline of it, and maybe I'll release an edited version on the net at some point.

More to follow later...


You don't have to convert it to "computer format" by typing it into a computer -- scan it into your computer. Your computer has to have OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software that is compatible with the scanner.



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by Never Despise

By the time I left, I was 22, it was 1994, and things were really falling apart then. I haven't gotten to that part yet, but basically the community was no longer functioning and viable by then, and most of us had to leave and try our luck in the so-called real world. My dad moved with a very small group of eight other members into a large apartment in a midsized New England town, and that's where he spent the rest of his life.

ATS doesn't allow us to talk about substance abuse, its in their terms and conditions, so I'll respect that.


Can you answer these questions Yes or No:

Was drug use allowed in the compound?

Was it beyond weed?

I'm not sure why ATS doesn't allow the discussion of substance abuse. Maybe they do not want it glamourized. Maybe they do not want the young "educated" about it's use. It's a strange prohibition considering how prevalent it is in our society: prescription drug addiction, alcohol addiction, as well as addiction to the more "notorious" substances.



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 03:38 PM
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Originally posted by Never Despise

I think it was for them something wordless, vision-less. I don't think they "heard something" or "saw something." Whatever happened to them was maybe beyond words, as mystical writers always say down through history. They experienced a flash of something. I think its real, I think enough people had this and it changed their lives profoundly. Even so, they failed to translate whatever it was that happened to them into the perfection they expected -- if such a thing was ever even possible at all....

... As I wrote in the opening post, she was one of the seven people that had "The Experience" along with my dad, and she still believes in it, and in what happened. I wouldn't have written this without her permission. She encouraged me to share this story, she is an amazing women and I love her a lot of course, as most sons love their perfect mothers.


I realize some experiences can be impossible to describe fully in words or even thru images, but this is so frustrating. What happened to these people that they would ALL simultaneously experience a profound, life-changing, mystical experience.

I'm surprised no one has brought up the UFO/ET angle yet. Were they all simultaneously zapped by the "Ray of Enlightenment" -- did they accidentally stumble across a glowing meteor of kryptonite, etc. ?



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 03:50 PM
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Originally posted by Never Despise
As I said in the first post, I haven’t talked about this too much with non-members, but when I do, one question I always get is: “Why did they stay?” What was my dad’s hold on this community? I think some people imagine him or other cult leaders shooting beams out their eyes and hypnotizing people into a zombie-like trance, but at least for us it wasn’t like that. The people in the group all had “issues,” sometimes serious issues, and they were under heavy mental manipulation by my dad, reinforced by group dynamics and each other. But they were not zombies, they were real people capable of all the range of emotions, capable of love and tenderness. It was their soft humanity that made them vulnerable, of course.

So why did people stay, then? Why tough it out in a not-really-all-that-comfortable community that was relying more and more on a river of “adult industry” cash and questionable lines of business? I have tried to identify the main reasons, and I list them as follows. I’m sure there are more. Anything powerful seems to involve more than one line of control.

True belief: Don't underestimate it's power.

Actual intimidation and threats: This became more of an issue as time went on. At first it was easier to leave. Later he confiscated ID and would use people’s children as a threat to keep them in line. Punishments such as time in an “isolation chamber” started to be implemented in the early 80s for people who got out of line or tried to leave. But this wasn’t the main way he kept people in line. The community was not a prison and force was not commonly necessary.

Lack of skills and other options: A lot of the people had given their lives to the community, sometimes for over a decade. They had few skills that could translate into a decent living on the outside, and virtually no connections. Some people had forgotten how to do basic stuff like buy groceries, never mind handle bank accounts, taxes, etc. The new wave of adult industry female recruits already had low self-esteem for the most part and didn't think they could succeed at much in life besides what they were already doing. My dad played these feelings up and made the outside seem more intimidating than it really was, encouraging helplessness, dependence, and inferiority.

Us vs. them mentality: This was a bigger and a bigger part of my dad’s message as the 80s went on. “Only those on the inside understand; the outside is of necessity hostile to the inside. Will they not persecute us, did not Christ and other great masters warn us? We must withdraw from the world, fear and arm ourselves. Walls are to be prepared, detachment is our shield and discernment our sharp sword.”(The Works 1488.00001)

Not wanting to admit they were wrong: Nobody wants to admit they made a mistake and wasted the best years of their life following a charlatan. People have a kind of “sunk cost” investment in their belief systems. They’ve put a lot into it, so it’s not so easy to just walk away. So lots of people in various holes double down and keep digging.

The place was not without its charms: this is what made it insidious. It was never a clearcut case of pure good vs. pure evil. The people in community tried to be good people, many were sensitive, they loved each other and there was real camaraderie forged from living a very peculiar life. Living in nature was good, there was much to recommend separation from a world gone mad. There was much good mixed in with the bad.

Inertia: It’s always hard to make a wrenching change if you don’t absolutely have to. Maybe tomorrow, yawn…

Head games: My dad played them. A lot.

Group dynamics: It wasn’t always my dad like the master puppeteer. A lot of what went on was self-enforcing. People competed with each other to seem holier-than-thou, there were the typical problems that set in any community, from gossip and backbiting to low-level bullying and power-tripping below the level of my dad. All this played a role. People are like a bucket of crabs a lot of the time; the crabs in the bottom will pull down any crab trying to climb up. They’ll do this quite spontaneously themselves, and no top-down pressure is needed.

Implicating people in questionable activities: This is an old trick of manipulators everywhere. If a person has done something she herself feel guilty about, or that could get her in trouble with the authorities, she’s going to fear the authorities and, eventually, normalcy in general. If she feels ashamed inside it’s harder to go home and ask mom and dad for help.


An excellent break down of why people stay with a dysfunctional group, or even with ideas that can be shown to be wrong. They don't want to admit they have built their life's work upon an error or misunderstanding.



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 08:30 PM
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Riveting post OP!

I have no doubts you are a well adjusted and intelligent person. You may (or may not) be a little different from the normals of society
but haven't turned out to be a mass murderer or anything...(I hope)


Everyone, whether from the 'burbs, inner city, cults, communities, churches, whatever...have idiosyncracies, anxities, fears, doubts, problems, etc, etc,.

The fact is that you may have a skewed view of things now out in so-called normalcy but what is normal anyways?? 9-5, commute home, American Idol, and a white picket fence? I don't know?

Your father may have been a manipulative leader but this seems to be a pre-requisite for leaders in any area of life, be it countries, states, town, corporations, etc. I think it's an inherent conclusion of power regardless of initial intentions.

People do not like to see other people living on their own terms.

Intriguing story and I look forward to the rest



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 08:44 PM
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reply to post by Never Despise
 


You mentioned your mother giving you her blessing with regard to the sharing of your experience and thoughts about life on the commune-turned-compound/community-turned-cult. I was just wondering if in any of your discussions with her, she has ever elaborated more on what "the experience" she and the others had was? I know you said you think to them it was sightless and wordless. But has she ever at least attempted to explain it to you? And if so, what did she say? Even if all she said was that it was indescribable, can you tell us that much?

If you feel comfortable sharing that information. It's entirely your prerogative.

Thanks, and please do continue with your story.
edit on 1/3/2012 by AceWombat04 because: Typos



posted on Jan, 3 2012 @ 10:44 PM
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Originally posted by Never Despise

Originally posted by Levelsquare
were there any repercussions to your decision to leave ?

were drugs an issue in the commune ?



By the time I left, I was 22, it was 1994, and things were really falling apart then. I haven't gotten to that part yet, but basically the community was no longer functioning and viable by then, and most of us had to leave and try our luck in the so-called real world. My dad moved with a very small group of eight other members into a large apartment in a midsized New England town, and that's where he spent the rest of his life.

ATS doesn't allow us to talk about substance abuse, its in their terms and conditions, so I'll respect that.

edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)
probably ok to talk about it in that context but that's ok . great story so far . glad to see you've adjusted well.



posted on Jan, 4 2012 @ 02:46 AM
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OP ignored me. Just dont ever lie to me.
www.youtube.com...



posted on Jan, 4 2012 @ 09:34 AM
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Hey ND,

You should consider changing the title of this thread for 'chronicles'.. =)
Please post more often!

-Robert



posted on Jan, 4 2012 @ 01:23 PM
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Originally posted by Malcher
OP ignored me. Just dont ever lie to me.
www.youtube.com...


Lenny Bruce. It never occurred to me to look for clips of him on youtube.

I've heard of him, but don't really know what he said. This should be educational.





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