How bad is this “mildly dangerous” cult? And what’s their connection to near-death experience scienc

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    I agree... both would be nice :)
     
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  2. PTEHA

    PTEHA Guest

    An interesting light article by Andrea Diem-Lane - THE BIG KAHUNA'S DILEMMA (and Gidget)
    http://www.integralworld.net/diem-lane24.html
     
  3. PTEHA

    PTEHA Guest

    Yes, yes, yes! Thx Manjit.
     
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  4. Alex

    Alex New

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  5. manjit

    manjit New

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    Hi PTEHA,

    Absolutely wonderful post 2nd one above - thank you for sharing, I found it fascinating.

    I've actually realised who you are - I know of you by your real name (I was suspecting it earlier) - and somebody from RSS emailed me this morning to recount some (positive) recollection of you.

    I just wanted to apologise if my comments seemed too confrontational, coming as they were from my somewhat detached (from Eck) perspective. I have no real position or right to challenge your obviously more knowledgeable, intimate & emotional connection to Eck, and your experiences with them.

    You're a very brave & admirable person, and I have nothing but the upmost respect & admiration for all you've done. And I genuinely have been feeling that after becoming more familiar with your story.

    I've posted 2 questions for Dave at RSS, one about the death threats and the other about his personal opinion on how "dangerous" Eck is, should that be of any interest to anyone here (it is to me, I've been re-addressing my opinions at this point).

    Should have been somewhere 95 mins ago so gotta go, but thanks PTEHA!


    EDIT - I meant SEVERAL posts above, the one where you share a bit more about yourself. Fascinating, cheers!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
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  6. manjit

    manjit New

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    Be nice :)
     
  7. Well to be clear not saying you're necessarily wrong either. I was just thinking there's so many factors going into a possible spiritual reality it's hard to say much that's definitive.

    Sometimes at my most speculative I suspect we're all centers of our own realities, and thus there might be infinite regions where our realities don't overlap.
     
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  8. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Very much appreciated your post, PTEHA, almost all of it, and especially highlighting this:

    Yes, probably Catholicism was not the best choice of examples here, and yours are almost certainly better. I do think though that Catholicism is probably more knowledgeable in this respect than we would think to give it credit for.

    The only real "bug bear" that I'd pick in your otherwise excellent post is this:

    As I wrote previously, I don't draw a line at all. It's just that some spiritual experiences are positive and some are negative (swimming versus drowning, per the Joseph Campbell quote that I shared earlier). "Psychotic" is a psychiatric term that distances us from reality; I don't think that either it or "schizophrenia" are helpful. They hide the spiritual and metaphysical reality of the experiences to which they refer behind a veil of materialistic, biophysical imputations, and tend to compel the view that medication (read: drugging) is necessary. They also tend to impute the view that the experiences at issue are "diseases" or "illnesses" of the brain, rather than spiritual (albeit frightening) experiences.

    Point taken. Thanks for the clarification.

    Funny how a single sentence inspires so many potential responses and so much desire for further clarification! But I won't respond in this thread lest it be side-tracked. Would be interested in discussing this in a newthread if you're up for it, but no pressure if you're not.
     
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  9. K9!

    K9! New

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    Bruce Greyson might disagree with you. In both his keynote talk as well as during the psychiatrist's panel discussion at last year's IANDS, he went into some detail about the differences between mental illness and spiritual experiences. His keynote isn't posted online, but the psychiatrist's panel is. Having a mental illness doesn't preclude one from having a spiritual experience, and vice versa, but they are separate issues.



    This is from one of his older talks:

     
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  10. manjit

    manjit New

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    Hello All.

    Should anyone be interested, I just posed two questions to David Lane who I think it's fair to say is very knowledgeable in this field of knowledge.

    My 2 questions were (copied and pasted, as will be the responses):

    "1) In your interview with Alex, you said regarding the term paper on Eck that got cycled round the world "I got death threats and people wanted to kill me and sue me and blah"

    What was your personal feelings regarding those death threats? For eg. did they appear in any way to be coming from an organised/organisational/guru level, or did you get the feel they were coming from disturbed individuals acting purely & utterly independently?

    2) You've been around a while....in your personal estimation how "dangerous" a group/cult do you consider Eckankar to be and why? The title of the thread this is being discussed in is called "How bad is this “mildly dangerous” cult?...".so this is the context of the question..."



    David Lane's responses:

    "1. Back in the day when I got those threats I tended to think they were isolated Eckists who probably weren't too serious (I hope!), but there was one veiled threat from a person who was in the organization at the time that was very odd..... He basically warned me that what happened to Julian Johnson could happen to me..... The key here is that the rumor prevalent at that time was that Johnson was murdered..... We know more now due to Joe O'Leary's great research in this area that Johnson's death was apparently accidental and much odder than one might suspect..... See the issue in Sach Khand journal about it (we are planning on making a little movie about Johnson's death, as well).

    2. The more serious death threats came from John-Roger personally and from some deeply pissed off followers of Sai Baba..... at one time years ago I got a death threat a day on my phone at MSAC for nearly six months if not more. Thankfully, I don't get those any more (fingers crossed!).

    3. I have always enjoyed researching Paul Twitchell and I have found his creation, Eckankar, to be an intriguing one..... Harold Klemp, however, has so diluted Twitchell's influence that it is no longer that interesting to me.... As for the danger scale, I don't think of Eckankar as dangerous, unless one takes it too seriously..... I knew one guy who took is so seriously that he really thought that one Eck master was trying to eat his brain at night......

    Perhaps most religions can be perceived as dangerous if taken too literally. Eckankar is relatively benign compared to others.

    Thanks for the questions.... and fee free to ask more if something comes up."
     
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  11. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Yes, it seems so.

    Well, my focus was on "psychosis" and "schizophrenia" rather than "mental illness" in general, since those are the diagnoses that have been applied to me, so I have personal experience with them, and have also done some reading on them. From what I know about "bipolar disorder" though from a couple of friends who have had that diagnosis applied to them, I'd be fairly confident in also including that phenomenology in the category of "psychospiritual condition/emergency" rather than "mental illness". Beyond that, I can only speculate, but you can probably guess my hunch.

    Too, Bruce seems in these videos to be most focussed on NDEs in particular rather than spiritual experiences in general. I wonder whether you know his definition of a spiritual experience? Perhaps this is more of a semantic difference than anything. Even in that case, though, I think there are good reasons to prefer the nomenclature of spirituality to that of psychiatry or "mental health".

    Bruce and I would probably agree on the content of the inner experience, and the details of the external behaviour, of those diagnosed with "psychosis", "schizophrenia" or "bipolar disorder". Where we might differ is on their nature and causality. Hopefully, I explained my view in enough detail in the post a few back in this thread. Everything Bruce said in both videos in terms of the inner experience and the external behaviour of those diagnosed with "psychosis"/"schizophrenia" is compatible with my view that these are (generally) negative spiritual experiences, just as NDEs are (generally) positive spiritual experiences. I can only assume that either Bruce doesn't agree with me on their nature/causality, or that for some reason he simply prefers the nomenclature of psychiatry to that of spirituality (in which case, I'd like to know that reason, so that if I ever got an opportunity, I could try to change his preference!).

    A couple of other quick points/observations:

    "Psychosis" and "schizophrenia" are neither always, nor necessarily ultimately, negative spiritual experiences. I've seen/read reports that sometimes, when those undergoing these experiences receive the right support or guidance in the right environment, the spiritual emergency turns out to have been more of an initiation into a healing role, or simply a wholer life. Two examples of this (one of which has already been posted in another thread, and the other of which has had a related article posted in another thread) are the generally positive outcomes for those experiencers who passed through Soteria whilst it still existed (hat tip to Vortex for the vid), and the fortunate young American man who was taken by Malidoma Somé to Africa to undergo a (modified) shamanic ritual. As you can read in that article, people with the phenomenology diagnosed in the West as "psychosis" and "schizophrenia", and "treated" on the psychiatric understanding that they have a "mental illness", are viewed very differently in traditional African societies: as being chosen messengers for spirits.

    Also, some of Bruce's points in the panel video seemed too definitive, or otherwise inaccurate, to me: for example, not all of us who are diagnosed with "schizophrenia" lack interest in gaining insight into what's going on as he claimed we do; some of us keenly want to know.

    P.S. If a moderator feels that this is off-topic and hijacking the thread, please feel free to move it.
     
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  12. K9!

    K9! New

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    You mean seriously as in how a clergy member like AAB takes it?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
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  13. PTEHA

    PTEHA Guest

    Hi Laird, good comments thanks. I think you've touched on an important side issue that effects all discussions which I'd like mention fwiw. "We" often end up flipping between generalities and specifics when talking. "We" try to make the specifics either fit the generality or use specifics to undermine the generality. The specifics are usually each of our own personal memories, experiences and understandings. Be it a Bruce or yourself, imo, our own personal pov rules, yet usually it does not match the "others". So it's possible that Bruce's focus is one based on his own experience of mainly seeing people who are not interested in gaining insight. Maybe that is only because he had personally dealt with those on the more extreme end of the spectrum? I don't know, and maybe he doesn't even know either. So all he can say is what he recalls as best he can. Same with you, and I see no reason to deny your own experience opinions just because a Bruce (with authority/titles) says otherwise. He is also trying to "fit" his specific ideas with the generally accepted views of the day and the known data in his field. I am not saying either of you is more right or less than - I suspect you're both "right". One can only speak about what they know, unless they are lying for some other reason or some misguided self-delusion. That leads to issues usually difficult to judge fairly about authenticity and integrity and sincerity of others. Yet at the end of the day we do have to make our own choices and decisions, be they fair and fully informed or not. Today that seems to be a right minefield of drama (big and small) in the world.

    Sometimes philosophical sayings can help us eg "The exception proves the rule." However science and wisdom also tells us how often the exception can become the new rule proving that old rule defunct. And progress is slow it seems. Now I am not suggesting I have any solutions to offer as I am merely attempting to identify a problem with communication and "our" own default thinking. Though I did find the work by cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff at least enlightening as to why it is that I think and judge issues in ways very different than others despite apparently living within the very same time and space, and having the same "data" at our fingertips. http://georgelakoff.com/videos/ I can at least relate to his detailed scientific based insights being applied in the "real world". fwiw Best to you and thanks for your insights on this complex topic.
     
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  14. PTEHA

    PTEHA Guest

    Came across an old file today. Extracts from "My Experiences while out of my Body" by Rev. Cora LV Richmond 1915. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-M0yAR0UPhPY2t2Qm9yYXllZXM/
    One could change her identifying with "spiritualism" into any number of alternative "movements" today incl. Eckankar or Christian orientated NDEs. I'm sharing it as a good perspective over time of as much as things change, the more they stay the same. That in itself should be something worth looking into from a nde/oobe science research perspective of human nature/psychology and what makes us tick - and why such experiences occur to some and not the many? And how and why different people "colour" their own experiences in very specific ways and then might even fight to the death over their peculiar beliefs of what is and why. Thx
     
  15. PTEHA

    PTEHA Guest

    A quote from AABs book @ https://wisdom-magazine.com/Article.aspx/3674/
    Let me Google that for you...
    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=why+do+dolphins+save+humans
    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=rescued+by+dolphins
    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=proselytising+religion
    Interview AAB http://www.edgemagazine.net/2015/09/inner-guidance-anne-archer-butcher/
    Official Eckankar AAB Dolphins video
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2016
  16. K9!

    K9! New

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    It's based on his research questionnaires. Maybe Laird is an outlier.
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Member

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    That eckankar video about the Dolphins makes me cringe!
     
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  18. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Well, I thought it might have been a little tacky, but I noticed only a couple of passing references to Eckankar, nothing like a hard sell, and then, through the related links, I came across this video: Present! - Anne Archer Butcher: Inner Guidance from an NDE. Thirteen odd minutes from Anne from the IANDS 2014 conference with not *one* mention of Eckankar. It has changed my view of the subject matter of this thread. I do not see Anne as manipulating happless viewers into the teachings of Eckankar; I fully see Robert's (name? Sp? Interviewee in any case) point now - that her experience was just one amongst many other NDE experiences, and that her religious background is not particularly relevant. As always, open to different views, but right now, not so sold on the dangers of Anne's proselytising for Eckankar.
     
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  19. Trancestate

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    Laird, the video you linked to is not a conference talk. The talk in question is from the 2015 conference. Sadly, it's not available online for free, but if you're willing to spend $10, you can watch it here:

    https://www.streamingforthesoul.tv/index.php?pageID=80

    It's at the bottom of the page. You need to register with the site before you can buy the video. After that, you can watch it as many times as you'd like.

    I bought the video some time ago. While my memory is hazy about some of the details, I can confirm that Anne Archer-Butcher quoted many sayings from Paul Twitchell, Harold Klemp and other sources sanctioned and promoted by Eckankar, providing detailed attributions for each in her PowerPoint slides. And she performed a one-minute "HU" chant toward the end of her presentation, after referring to it a couple of times previously.

    I wouldn't call her performance a "hard sell", but it was very clear that she was really enthused about Eck and its spiritual practices. Having watched many IANDS conference speakers share their experiences, I can confidently state that the Eck quotes and "HU" chant were unnecessary, and totally inappropriate for an IANDS conference.

    Doug
     
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  20. Laird

    Laird Member

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    OK, thanks, Doug, I won't spend the $10 but will take your word for it. It's back to the "too invested in one's own religion" complaint for me.
     

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