or Confessions of a Recovering Follower
All of us are born into cults - our families. The term cults has a negative connotation from incidents at Waco, Jim Jones and other secluded groups. The fact is that we all live in one sort of cult/culture or another - National, Religious, Corporate, Fraternal, etc. To be truly free, like Harry Browne talks about, one has to be able to distinguish themselves from the ideas and beliefs that they have. In my mind, my beliefs and me are the same thing, which makes the process of being aware, difficult.
Culture is good and necessary, and like anything else can be abusive. I have come to identify a cult in the negative sense, as an institution or organization that presents its path as the one to experience a successful life From my journey below, I will relate the lessons that I have learned about life. Normally, this stuff would be quite embarrassing, but then you wouldn't have the opportunity to see how myself/we get to work the kinks out of our psyche. Hopefully, I would inspire you to be interested in your own kinks enough to work them out, also.
My Family (My birth ->)
I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida during the Cuban Missile crises. There is nothing more mystical and wonderfully enduring than family. I learned most of my behaviors from my parent's teachings and modeling. After the loss of my mother in 1967, I was primarily raised by my father. My father worked all the time and still does at the age of 72. This seems to be a pattern for modern upper middle class men. With my father, hugs, compliments and blessings were a rare and prized commodity. Complaining was the best tool for garnering the attention of Daddy, but it didn't work well outside of my family. I attended normal schools until my father was to re-marry in 1977 and I was off to have my great adventure at the Flint School.
Flint School (1976-1980)
At the Flint School, the basic rules were simple. Do as Captain Stoll says, these are his ships and his society and your parents spent a pile of money for us to be there. The basic approach was simple to me, be RATIONAL and accomplished. Under this approach, emotions are not honored, nor does anything else related to the mysterious side of life, such as, intuition, hugs, generosity, desires, etc. Like the most kids, I wanted to secure the ("non-rational") love and affection from my parents - and if you were there long enough George Stoll was your surrogate father. After all, for me, Captain Stoll was very similar to my father - never satisfied with my progress.
After the beginning of the second year, lofty goals were set. I sensed that my primary mentor, JW, didn't know what to do with me and I fell into the worst lingering depression that I have experienced to this day. At the start of my third year, I realized that I could use school's principles as a righteous weapon on anyone thinking or performing an irrational deed. After becoming one of the more lonely students on board, I, thankfully, decided to be productive - and really earn my engine room bo'sun(s). After realizing that accomplishment would insulate me from major humiliation, I was hooked on workaholism and staying busy for years to come. In the years following, I noticed that many Students of Objectivism aligned on a similar path and developed similar dry personality traits.
For more commentary on why I created this web site, see My Reasons
Tulane University and Blanchard & Co. (1980-1985)
After leaving the Flint School, I attended engineering school and started working for Jim Blanchard. This was a very worthy path by the values of the Flint School and my father. Engineering school didn't have much of a message other than being a great refuge for introverted young adults like myself. Business School indoctrinated me in to merits of the yuppie corporate life and ambition.
Like many, I was enthralled by boss, Jim Blanchard. He was not only a libertarian and Randian, but he had a fun, trusting personality and had actually done great things other than being an academic intellectual. He knew how to make me feel valued and I would have put my life on the line for him. Unfortunately, I rarely had the opportunity to spend quality sober time with him.
Est Training and Landmark Education (1984-1991)
At the start of business school, I had no close friends. My landlord, who would actually listen to me, seduced me into doing the Est Training. This was first taste of enlightenment for me - The ability to sit in a room full of people, pour my guts out and everyone loves me for it instead of shaming me - what a novelty and miracle. I was hooked on being open then and ever since! But this organization was not satisfied with a weekend, they wanted my money and volunteer labor for life and had few ethical dilemmas about how they would achieve this. But I stayed with this organization as I moved from New Orleans, Orlando and Detroit for the some sense of community.
Amway (& the End?) (1991-1992)
In 1991, I met Molly. Molly, a former employee of Landmark Education, was a go-getter. I think that I may have even confused her for Dagny Taggert. She was into Amway and I signed-up to be in her orbit. I convinced her to move in with me and before long, I was ready to give up my career, accost everyone I knew with Amway's MLM and hand over my existence to Molly. With the help of her mentor, Frank Kahle, the illusion of glorious way of Amway 'Success' and greed gave way to reality. At this point, I could see that I could rationalize anything, but yet I could not make the most simple observations about how I was. I was ready to die. I realized that I couldn't approach life like this anymore.
Male Initiation & Men's Work (1992->)
As I was having an accelerated mid-life crisis at the age of 30, I decided that maybe Frank Kahle had some wisdom or way out the paradoxical mess for me. After a few weeks in his philosophical study group, he decided that my ability to access common sense in my personal/emotional life was solacking that there was nothing he could do for me. He eventually recommended an outward bound type of weekend called the New Warrior Adventure Weekend. This weekend turned out to be the most meaningful experience in my life, after being born. This experience is a classic, ancient male initiation experience in adulthood. During this weekend, I learned how to really express my feelings powerfully again and have my emotions complement my integrity instead of forsaking it. Men possessed profound wisdom long before the scientific approach arrived. This fraternal group uses ritual to resuscitate emotions, intuition and other arational forms of intelligence. Another big piece of my humanity and masculinity was healed. Finally, graced with an adult mentality, I understood that the rules were different - Looking to others for answers was not the answer anymore.
After attending the Warrior Weekend, I returned to Frank Kahle's study group. Frank has a strong presence and leadership. He was a P.E. coach and leader of seminars at one time. He authoritatively read and interpreted Krishnamurti's teachings to us. It is from his teachings that I started my really examining all my ideas/beliefs and saw how little I really know. All the ideas/beliefs that I have where like a big fortress keeping life and others out. Although Krishamurti's wisdom is extraordinary, I don't think that I could have much of any of the liberating experiences that he talks about without some benevolent intervention. Frank, like many of the my other leaders and gurus, turned out to be human and in denial about many of his not-so-harmonious behaviors, also.
I have also come to see that others have taken their own journey and have their own truth. As well meaning as our intentions may be, trying to force our truth upon others is violence - a spiritual assault. Only being present to a direct experience of life can create real happiness and intelligence, ideas are just a tool of the mind not an ends. At this point in my life I am working on discovering my grace, integrity, courage, empathy and other human virtues. This is a very abridged version of my story and as Krishnamurti said and I have discovered that: 'The truth is a pathless Land'.
You may have many judgements about me after reading this. You may think what a terrible self-image? Well, after years of self-images, I can spot them quicker and laugh more at them now, although that was not always so. And my journey continues, I seek to discover my personal truth, be free and present to the wonders of life, find happiness and inner peace. I have included a list of some of my favorite titles to recommend.
(Compassionate Feedback & Questions Welcome)