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    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

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Apotheosis

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Byron Katie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byron_Katie

Byron Kathleen Reid (or "Katie" as she is often called) became severely depressed in her early thirties. She was a businesswoman and mother who lived in a small town in the high desert of southern California. According to Katie, for nearly a decade she spiralled down into paranoia, rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide; for the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom. Then, one morning in February 1986, while in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, she experienced a life-changing realization. She called it “waking up to reality.” In that moment of enlightenment, she says,

"I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment."
 
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Alberto Villoldo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Villoldo

Four Winds Society

Since 1984 Villoldo directs The Four Winds Society, where he trains individuals in the practice of energy medicine and soul retrieval. The school maintains an office in Park City, Utah, and teaches in in New England, California, and Utah, and internationally in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland and Australia.

In 2006 he was instrumental in bringing the Munay-ki (9 Rites of Initiation) from the Andes to be accessible to anyone called to receive them. The Munay-ki are not indigenous rites, but Villoldo's modified version of traditional rites which have been stripped of their traditional Qero cultural forms in order to be more accessible to westerners. This was controversial within The Four Winds Society and caused the resignation of several principle teachers.
 
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Miguel Ángel Ruiz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Ángel_Ruiz

Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz (born 1952) is a Mexican author of New Age spiritualist and neoshamanistic texts.

His most famous and influential work, The Four Agreements, was published in 1997 and has sold around 4 million copies. It was featured on the Oprah television show, and advocates personal freedom from agreements and beliefs that we have made with ourselves and others that are creating limitation and unhappiness in our lives. Ultimately, it is about finding one's own integrity, self-love, and peace by way of absolving oneself from responsibility for the woes of others. The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
3. Don't Make Assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.

Ruiz also wrote a workbook as a companion to The Four Agreements. He then wrote several other books, including The Voice of Knowledge, Prayers, and The Mastery of Love. In Beyond Fear, by Mary Carroll Nelson, he discusses some of his beliefs through a series of interviews, including his belief in the legend of Atlantis; his belief that the sun entered its sixth age on January 11, 1992, which should lead to a new age for humanity; and his belief in the spiritual power of the pyramid of the sun at Teotihuacan. He can speak English. He often lectures and leads retreats in the United States. Many of his students are American. In 2002 he suffered a massive heart attack, but has since recovered. He has handed the Eagle-Knight lineage over to his son Don José Luis.
 
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There's a pretty in depth talk at the Cult education forum about Byron Katie
http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,12906,page=1
Hi Parker, Thank you for the Link. Interesting reading. It does indeed raise some important & interesting questions.

Apart from posting that Link above; I'm not familiar with Byron Katie, or Alberto Villoldo. Although I have read a few titles by Miguel Ángel Ruiz.

Years ago I read though most of James Redfield's work. I've read all of Eckhart Tolle's & Richard Bach's stuff as well. There is a lot in the way of alternative/new age stuff that I've looked into. A while ago I was attending Brahma Kumaris meetings. I've also attended a lot of 12 step meetings, & was obsessed with Christianity & the Bible in my late teens/early 20's. I've also read up on Occult practices & tried to study comparative religion. I've had friends from families of Jehovah witnesses; at school, & have read up a certain amount on Hare Krishna. I've worked with quite a few alternative healers, trained in Reiki, & the past year been attending Shamanic Gatherings - among other things.

Like yourself; I don't confine myself to any one system, religion or practise. I do admire a well thought out Atheism & scientific scepticism - although having strong personal ideas on the existence of an after-life, the existence of a soul, reincarnation, & a Creator.

I think that a lot does depend on intention with this stuff; & ego. Some things are very obviously money making schemes, whose purpose is influence, power & control; & a bell does go off with some of these people & organisations. I've never found any one system, person, religion, or teaching that I'm wholly in agreement with. Probably amongst the most interesting stuff that I've found has been Zen, past life regression (Books by Dr Michael Newton & Dr Brian Weiss), & systems that revere the Earth & nature.

In my own investigations; at the core of a lot of teachings - there doesn't seem to be anything new going on. There are many similarities, themes, practices & systems.

Certain principles would seem to correlate a lot of systems. Where I am at with my own spiritual practices these days is very simply just with awareness & observation.

The question of cults is a fascinating one. Can all of these things be considered cults? Including all religions? I would say; from a certain perspective that they can.

Some of the obvious contenders for cults - The Manson Family, The Church of Scientology, The Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven’s Gate, The Branch Davidians, Peoples Temple/Jonestown, & others - are all deeply fascinating stories of human behaviour & psychology. I find these stories fascinating. They are in a way just more extreme examples of natural human groupings, ritual, & 'normal' behaviour.

I suppose that the litmus test is what individuals get from such organisations, groups, teachings & practises.

I stopped going to Brahma Kumaris meetings after looking at depth into their beliefs, organisation & practises. A few weeks ago I attended an AA meeting; & got chatting to a guy that had been sober 20 years; & who was interested in Ancient Archaeology & comparative Religion. The Brahma Kumaris was mentioned; & I said that I no longer went & considered them a cult - he replied so what!, that he enjoyed going, & that many people considered AA to be a cult. Throughout the whole AA meeting that evening; I had a clarity of thought that AA was a cult; but it's purpose is to keep people sober, & it works in doing that.

Where do we draw lines here? Personally I see Christianity as the biggest & most destructive cult this planet has ever seen, & that is still going strong. Is the entire monetary system a cult? Can Nationalism - National Pride be considered cult like? What about adherence to a particular political system? What about psychiatry? Can psychiatry be considered a Religion/Cult? With reason & rationality, I think that it can.
 
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parker

parker

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New Age kind of got my attention because some people meditating had some of the same problems that I had. Now why would a has been meth addict (being me) have the same problems? What kind of doorways in the mind that are being opened because of this? IDK But other than that I’ve found New Age to be one of the most contradicting, manipulative religions out there.
 
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New Age kind of got my attention because some people meditating had some of the same problems that I had. Now why would a has been meth addict (being me) have the same problems? What kind of doorways in the mind that are being opened because of this? IDK But other than that I’ve found New Age to be one of the most contradicting, manipulative religions out there.
For me; there are no clear divisions between extreme altered states of consciousness (labelled as mental illnesses), drug induced states, & altered states induced by religious/spiritual practises. The lines are blurred.

"What is the difference between a mystic & a schizophrenic?

A mystic is careful whom he speaks with."

"The mystic & the schizophrenic are in the same waters; but whereas the mystic has learned to swim, the schizophrenic is drowning."

I think that there is some truth in such sayings. there is, imo, an inner World of the psyche; that can be accessed through many means (intentionally & unwittingly) - some people cope better with navigating such a World, & others don't. Recovery for me has been about trying to learn to cope with the experiences that I have been through, & can be prone to experience. Certain practises appear to help with coping with that.

New Age to be one of the most contradicting, manipulative religions out there.
Largely I agree. But it seems that a lot that is touted as 'new age' is simply a re-hash, or simplified version of some other older system or ideas.

I also think that there is great difficulty in finding the really genuine stuff & people connected with spirituality. There are a lot of charlatans & people out to make a fast buck. One of the difficulties is the materialistic & consumerist paradigm/system/society/World that we live in. Virtually everything is swallowed up & consumed by the system.

Hypothetically - lets just say for a moment that I'm a spiritual master & enlightened (I'm not). Now lets say that I want to bring my insights, teachings, & words to the world. What would I do? Virtually everything that would bring me into public awareness involves a direct engagement with a system that is the anti-thesis of spirituality - If I wanted to produce books, hold workshops, or whatever; I'd have to be engaging with the economic, capitalistic, materialistic system.

I found eckhart tolle's story of his initial enlightenment moving, sincere, & genuine. Byron Katie's account of what happened to her appears to be genuine too. Then what happened? They have cashed in; turned their lives into testaments & homage to Mammon, to the presumed supremacy of the materialistic, capitalistic dream. For me it kind of invalidated the spiritual experiences of enlightenment that lead to their work; for them to then be raking in extreme, & obscene amounts of money - how can that not be about ego, money, power & control?

Like I say - there is absolutely nothing new in eckhart tolle's teachings - he is simply spouting a very watered down version of Eastern Enlightenment/mysticism & Spiritual practices that are thousands upon thousands of years Old. I have got something from his books however, although I don't fully agree with everything he says. Maybe these people do provide a genuine service for people to access some degree of spiritual teachings, & to start some people on the inner Journey & spiritual path? I don't really know either.

There is also the perspective of having to live in this World. I think that my life would be better with large sums of money. If I wrote a best selling book, then I'd be more than happy.

I do tend to think though that those people that are truly enlightened & firm in their spirituality; are likely very non de-script people; working in obscurity, probably wiping arses in an old peoples home, or a as a janitor, & not talking about any spiritual matters much at all. They do say that all the greatest philosophers are living on park benches; I tend to think that's probably the case.

I know an older guy that lives in a very run down flat; living on the bread line, & with hardly 2 shirt buttons to rub together. His main job of work is odd jobs & gardening for old people, that he does cheaply. He is very widely read & knowledgeable; with a lot of life experience. In the past he was a high flyer, he was very much affluent & involved in many aspects of the business World. In the 80's he earned a lot of money from the self help/self development materials of the time; as a trainer, that started him on his own spiritual Journey.

Now he lives a humble non de-script life helping people. I've got far more from chatting with him, than I ever have from any self help book/or book on spirituality.
 
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