Guruphiliac: Princess Huff-Post And The Evil Red Monk

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Princess Huff-Post And The Evil Red Monk

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Wackadoo Gurus

We pulled this tip about Arianna Huffington from the spam bin this morning, and just spent some time explaining to the tipster why we weren't going to post about it:
The reason I won't post about this is that nobody is claiming special divinity. These kind of closed-circuit paths (strong leader whose ideas are rarely questioned) are culty, but that doesn't mean it's all exploitation. I'm convinced they can often work, but mostly out of a placebo-like effect. A persuasive description of the human condition leads to acceptance of the spiritual guidance it's packaged with, usually nothing more than a reflection of the leader's narcissism. Yet, despite how shaky the ideas may be, they can still work marvelously for right person.

Huffington's loyalty is only evidence that she believes it works. Her attempts to cultify her org are a function of her unconscious grandiosity more than evil cult impulse. If somebody was saying they were God, and it made them special, then I'd be inclined to comment.
But then we actually read the whole thing, and got to this:
John-Roger is depicted as a paranoid leader who secretly wires each room in Insight headquarters with a microphone connected to his office, who taps the phones, and who warns that his critics "had been infected by a powerful and contagious negative force known as the Red Monk," a spirit of whom members were terrified. He removed "negative entities" in a popular "exorcism-like" ceremony known as the "Super II's," organized hours-long "Prana Awareness Trainings" involving "repeatedly answering a simple question," and organized followers into a complex hierarchy, including a Melchizedek Priesthood and an inner, elite circle of attractive young male ministers known as "the Guys."
It's not like Huffington is the first well-regarded person to fall for a wackadoo guru (if these fables of psychic warfare actually do circulate in the org,) but it is a bit of a letdown to read about it in light of her substantial contribution to the national conversation these last few years.

But come on, evil red monks and awareness drilling? It sounds like J-R has been smoking too much Star Wars.

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At 10/23/2008 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, John-Roger appears to be an authentic nutbag. Jody, if you're interested, I recommend getting ahold of "Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You". I found it gripping.

It's written by a guy who was a high-level member of MSIA for years, and even ghost-wrote a book called "Life 101" for John-Roger". One day a friend of his suggested he get on one of the new generation of anti-depressants, and they were enough to wake him up to his situation and free him to leave. Eventually he wrote "Life 102" to document his time in MSIA, and the kerfuffle caused by leaving.

However, it turned out that they weren't done suing him. Eventually he gave up the rights to the book so they'd let him alone, and they will still actively go after anybody who puts the book's contents up on the net.

At 10/24/2008 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't much to contribute regarding MSIA--it sounds whacko enough to cause anyone with a shred of sanity to give it a wide berth.
It is interesting, though, that Huffington, long noted for her conspicuous intellect, is as vulnerable to this type of hucksterism as any other bog-standard human.

Just goes to show that none of us is totally immune to the hope of nirvana just around the corner.

At 10/24/2008 8:32 AM, Blogger stuartresnick said...

Here in California, Ms Huffington's connection to John-Roger caused a bit of a hub-bub when her husband was running for governor in the early 90s. But now that she's divorced and has become a political force of her own, I haven't seen her MSIA connection brought up much.

It's curious that Huffington's enemies on the Right haven't attacked her as a cultist. I think maybe critics hesitate to publicize this association, for fear of being seen as intolerant of religion.

The perception on the Left is that America is filled with fundamentalist religious nuts. But actually, a huge chunk of the electorate describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious." So maybe the majority really wouldn't condemn Huffington for being involved with this shady group.


At 10/24/2008 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good point about Huffington and the GOP, Stuart. I suspect Huffington is CIA and a mole within the Democratic Party. Her story of her partisan "switch" is full of holes and doesn't add up.

There is no "Oprah moment" when she realizes how bad all those controlling men in her life are, like that John-Roger. She left the GOP, but never left the cult. Also, Jody, read up on J-R if you don't think he makes "special claims of divinity". That's ALL HE DOES! He is God, period. I would consider that a "special claim of divinity". Of course, he probably doesn't say that in his rare media contacts.


At 10/24/2008 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly some of us in the cult-education community haven't forgotten Huffington's association with John-Roger Hinkins. I also recommend a look at "Life 102" for some background on what Hinkins was up to.

As a result of that past association, I've always been somewhat skeptical of what I read in the Huffington Post. From time to time it serves as a forum for characters like Deepak Chopra and the nonsense he regularly spouts.

At 10/24/2008 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I want to "third" the recommendation of "Life 102". For anyone interested in cults, this is absolutely a "Top Five" book. Not only insightful on John-Roger, it is very funny. What is said about J-R can be said about so many gurus.


At 10/25/2008 11:52 AM, Blogger Peggy Burgess said...

Huffington is an example of liberal flakiness, which seems to take an undeserved back seat to christian fundamentalism as an insidious evil, eating away at our freedoms. Hell there are any number of organizations , movements, teachers flourishing in the SF Bay Area that would gladly turn your brain to cheese while siphoning off your money. If these are her true leanings I can see why she might change teams, more toleration for groovy cults, on the left bank. It ain't cool to be saved , but fine to surrender to some self styled swami or social engineer /capitalist. All this makes Ekart Tolle look like a sweet little boy scout. the republicans are probably glad she's getting her brain reamed by some Pod-master.

At 10/27/2008 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Spiritual but not religious" is a phrase I often hear from irresponsible lala-land new-agers whose values changes like quicksand. A bunch of narcissistic airheads.

At 10/27/2008 6:54 PM, Blogger stuartresnick said...

taodancing said...
"Spiritual but not religious" is a phrase I often hear from irresponsible lala-land new-agers

Different people use the phrase "spiritual but not religious" to mean different things. I could mean, "I'm interested in the Great Questions of life, but I don't get my answers from any established dogma." Or it could mean, "I like to get good feelings from chanting and meditation and incense and tinkly music, but I don't want to be part of a congregation where I'm committed to dealing with other people's suffering."


At 10/28/2008 8:47 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

"Narcissistic airheads" is a phrase I often hear from a bunch of narcissistic airheads, and considerin how much wax and ear hair I got goin, I can still hear it loud and clear from toe-punk-dancin!


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