CITIZEN   INITIATIVE   HOME   PAGE

 Kevin R. D. Shepherd

Citizen Initiative (CI) is my internet project commenced in 2007. I am a British writer, born in 1950, with eleven published books to date, including those under the self-publishing logo of CI. My formulation of a citizen philosophy (in Pointed Observations, 2005) is ongoing. I view citizen independence in philosophy as a relevant option in the current situation, though without negating various traditional factors in the philosophical heritage.

My version of citizen initiative has included an incentive to confront drawbacks in “alternative” thought and practice relating to “new spirituality.” This website (my first) appeared in August 2007, and includes various documents which dispute factors in malfunctioning British organisations. Evasive political and bureaucratic agendas were also encountered.  Issues relating to drugs and alternative therapy are incorporated in the coverage. There is also a webpage on Wikipedia issues, including sectarian editing.

In relation to British events and epistolary efforts, some assessors have generously credited me with starting an unprecedented form of confrontation with trends and doctrines that are elsewhere beginning to be accepted without question, and to the detriment of the public. Whatever the case, I hope that the information provided will be of interest and use.

The second of six websites is kevinrdshepherd.net (2008), featuring 25 articles. See also kevinrdshepherd.info and independentphilosophy.net, both of which are still in process. My fifth website is citizenphilosophy.net, commenced in 2010. The varied content of these sites link with my project of a philosophy of culture, first appearing in the book Meaning in Anthropos (1991). I also maintain Commentaries. See further my bibliography at the sixth website.

Webpage  Summaries:

PHILOSOPHY, RICHARD TARNAS, AND POSTMODERNISM



Richard Tarnas

A citizen encounter with the provocative and widely read book by Professor Richard Tarnas entitled The Passion of the Western Mind (1991). That work reviews Western philosophy from a perspective that posits a contemporary "epochal transformation," and there is scope for disagreement in some of the themes employed. The controversial Epilogue favours a neo-Jungian trend as the current solution, and more specifically, the psychedelic and related therapy of Stanislav Grof. The book ends with the reflection that "today we are experiencing something that looks very much like the death of modern man, indeed that looks very much like the death of Western man" (p. 445).

Such themes can obviously evoke a critical response. Some forms of academic literature create confusions amongst the public, and the related "postmodernist" trend is a source of confusion amongst academics themselves. There is also the factor that Grof holotropic therapy became part of the commercial "workshop" vogue. Despite the original "new age" intention to detour materialism and capitalist habit, contrary tendencies mean that the favoured word "holistic" is acutely devalued by diverse entrepreneurial "workshop" enthusiasms that are critically viewed by many observers.

Among the topics covered in this webpage is the argument of Immanuel Kant (d. 1804) in his Critique of Pure Reason, a book which proved influential in the formation of academic philosophy. Tarnas tends to depict Kant as being part of a sequence in science and philosophy that led to contemporary alienation. It can be argued that, despite certain limitations of viewpoint and the consequences, Kant had some redeeming features, and furthermore was not a major cause of contemporary problems.

Tarnas tends to glorify Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Gustav Jung, who represent "Romantic" factors that are open to dispute. The contemporary Nietzsche myth is not realistic, and conceals a very disturbing mentality. The confusion about these subjects is currently extensive. Furthermore, the attendant theme of postmodernism allows for critical treatment of a subject notorious in some academic quarters for a relativist attitude, a drawback associated with Jacques Derrida and other exponents.

WIKIPEDIA  ISSUES  AND  SATHYA  SAI  BABA  




l to r: Sathya Sai  Baba, Basava  Premanand

Sathya Sai Baba (c.1926-2011) created the wealthy ashram of Puttaparthi in South India. His many devotees included politicians and court judges. His followers celebrate the multi-volume work Sathya Sai Speaks. He claimed to be a God-man, to perform miracles, and to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba (died 1918). From the early 1970s, many Westerners became devotees of the "miracle" guru. Yet there were numerous defections in the West after adverse internet reports commenced in 2000. It is strongly alleged that many Indian boys and also Western males were the victims of homosexual molestation. Sathya Sai Baba has even been called a paedophile. There are other accusations also. The allegations are denied by the sect.

Basava Premanand (1930-2009) was the representative of a growing Indian Rationalist party in reaction to Sathya Sai Baba, and he pioneered exposure of the “miracles” claimed by the guru. Premanand complained of a terrorist dimension to local support for the guru, himself having suffered violent beatings as reported to the BBC. However, the notorious “bedroom murders” of 1993 are more salient in the web archives. A lengthy book on those controversial murders was contributed by Premanand (Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom, 2001). A basic complaint of the Indian Rationalists is that socially prominent devotees in India obstructed the due investigation of allegations.

Influential devotees like Dr. Michael Goldstein repudiated many allegations of sexual abuse made against Sathya Sai Baba. These allegations were strongly profiled in the BBC documentary The Secret Swami (2004), and are represented by numerous web commentaries. A problem emerged on Wikipedia during 2006, involving web tactics of the American branch of the Sathya Sai Baba sect. In my case, the attacking User page of SSS108 was contrived, and several years later deleted by Jimmy Wales.

The original Citizen Initiative webpage (of August 2007) was a defence against the Wikipedia User page of 2006. The Pro-Sai activist Gerald Joe Moreno (SSS108, Equalizer) countered with another attack resorting to libel. The extension entitled Kevin R. D. Shepherd in response to Gerald Joe Moreno answered the renewed offensive of Pro-Sai activism. See further The Internet Terrorist Gerald Joe Moreno and Not Exposed.

GROF  THERAPY  AND  MAPS



Stanislav  Grof

Dr. Stanislav Grof is the author of numerous controversial books such as LSD Psychotherapy (1980) and Beyond the Brain (1985). His name is strongly associated with LSD therapy and MDMA therapy, two very controversial practices which became illegal in America many years ago. The most commonly visible Grof "therapy" is now Holotropic Breathwork, a trademark exercise which is also disputed. This very commercial package was developed by Dr. Grof at the Esalen Institute in California when LSD therapy became illegal.

The original title of this webpage was Criticism of Holotropic Breathwork and MAPS. There are many references to Holotropic Breathwork in my letters described below. The ideology of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) is also described, MAPS being a Grof-related project of Rick Doblin. MAPS has depicted the legal restriction on psychedelic drugs in terms of political misinformation, and urges that those drugs should be used in "scientific research and spiritual exploration."

In another avenue, Grof’s influential disciple Dr. Christopher Bache has advocated LSD therapy to a marked extent. A critical response to Grof theory is necessary not least because there are current indications that many people are resorting to psychoactive drugs in the belief that these confer spiritual experiences, a belief that is insidiously furthered by Grof and his disciples.

THE  FINDHORN  FOUNDATION:  MYTH  AND  REALITY



l to r: Alex  Walker, Eileen  Caddy, Craig  Gibsone

This webpage analyses the Findhorn Foundation from their inception in 1962, together with antecedents. The co-founders of the 1960s were Eileen and Peter Caddy, who established themselves in the Findhorn Bay caravan park of Moray, Scotland. The account describes accumulating problems and discrepancies attending this “new age” community, and which became acute during the 1990s and after. One feature that emerges is the contradictory role of Eileen Caddy (died 2006); details supplied by dissidents serve to accentuate omissions in the Times online obituary and other sources. Factors covered include community economic problems, the promotion of commercial therapy by the management, and the severe treatment of dissidents.

The article also mentions a disputed elevation of the Findhorn Foundation to CIFAL status via the Ecovillage extension. The presiding personnel named in recent promotionalism for the Ecovillage project include individuals associated with suppression of the dissident Kate Thomas and her maligned friends. The dissident problem tends to strongly contradict Findhorn Foundation sentiments and catchphrases relating to intentional communities and the commercial “conflict resolution.” A society or grouping which stifles dissent and creates stigma is basically questionable. See further Findhorn Foundation Discrepancies.

CIFAL  FINDHORN – A  CRITICAL  STATEMENT

The Findhorn Foundation ecology project (an extension of Findhorn Ecovillage) became officially known as CIFAL Findhorn in 2006. This investiture occurred via UNITAR, the UN branch based in Geneva. Critics maintain that relevant data was suppressed by the various bodies involved. In such respects, the “low carbon footprint” theme promoted by CIFAL Findhorn and the Ecovillage is not regarded as proof of surpassing accomplishment.  Anomalies are observed in the closely attendant commercial workshops of “new spirituality” occurring within the Findhorn Foundation, an ongoing matter persisting over decades. CIFAL Findhorn is a facet of the Findhorn Foundation Ecovillage, and is not effectively a separate entity in real life. The Ecovillage has the same shared identity as the Foundation, existing on the same territory. Close attention must be given to the hindrances and exploitation for which the ecological themes provide a questionable camouflage.

CIFAL Findhorn has described itself as “an International Training Centre for knowledge sharing on integrated sustainable development and other global goals of the United Nations.” Such claims were promoted via CIFAL Findhorn Company Ltd (alias CIFAL Scotland). The operative patron is UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). UNITAR have been called “the UN training arm for social and economic development, environmental services and multilateral diplomacy.” The diplomacy has involved total neglect of varied complaints about the inauguration of CIFAL Findhorn, including a warning from a professional accountant about former Findhorn Foundation accounts.

SEVEN  LETTERS  OF  KEVIN  SHEPHERD




Tony  Blair

These seven epistles of complaint revolve around deficiencies visible in “new age” or “alternative” trends. The seven letters are reproduced in their entirety, along with introductions for the guidance of readers. Those letters include two to Tony Blair during his term as Prime Minister in Britain.

The First Letter to Tony Blair (April 2006) argues against the partiality for controversial Grof therapy doctrines visible in the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN) and associated with the nonjudgmentalism of David Lorimer, a key figure in both the Wrekin Trust and the SMN. These are prominent “new spirituality” organisations in Britain.  In addition, an extension dwells upon alternative trends of “Mind, Body, Spirit” that are commercially misleading.

The Second Letter to Tony Blair (September 2006) continued the identification of problems attaching to “new spirituality” in Britain, and also complained at bureaucratic inefficiency. The primary argument is pitched against the Findhorn Foundation, who are strongly associated with the promotion of alternative therapy and pop-mysticism of a lucrative kind. Findhorn Foundation promotions have been observed to charge high fees for these indulgences. Yet this organisation gained the benefit of closely related CIFAL status in 2006 via the Ecovillage project associated with Craig Gibsone, Alex Walker, and other Findhorn Foundation celebrities. This project amounts to a telling compromise when the situation is closely analysed. Several of the other epistles also dwell upon the discrepancies involved.

I was a supporter of the Club of Rome in my first published work Psychology in Science (1983), and have commented upon the vindication of that approach in Pointed Observations (2005), Part 8. I have urged that purist ecology is not reducible to, and nor compatible with, the cause of alternative therapy (which has created misleading doctrines and health problems in some directions). It is now well known that alternative therapy relies heavily upon the subscription of affluent people who are beguiled by the ads for weight loss and other presumed benefits. The ecological cause should be separated from such commercial considerations.

In 1983, the ecological cause was viewed as speculative (even in the most sober versions) by politicians and industry. Yet the cause has since been validated by climate scientists (after costly and potentially fatal delays). See further Climate Change Complexities. My conclusion is that ecology must comprise a science, not a convenience supporting commercial “workshops” of the Esalen variety. There are also other considerations which support the verdict that UNITAR, based in Geneva, did not accomplish due research into events occurring in north Scotland by 1996. Busy bureaucrats frequently overlook relevant data from other countries.

A document sent to the Home Office was About the Findhorn Foundation and United Nations (2006). That message was also circulated to various other bodies, including Moray Council, who failed to respond. The political and economic agenda created to support CIFAL Findhorn was committed to ignoring details that contradicted Findhorn Foundation promotionalism. The Home Office document affords information about obscured matters consigned to oblivion elsewhere. The oblivion was largely preferred by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

The two Letters to OSCR (2006) attest the reluctance of that body to duly intervene in some doubtful tactics of the Findhorn Foundation, even though this organisation was officially discovered to be evasive about the promotion of Holotropic Breathwork. The OSCR was overawed by UNITAR and Moray Council, declining to reply further. The status of Scottish Charity regulation is currently in dispute.

Two earlier epistles were circulated to a wide audience of politicians, academics, and other categories. The results are still ongoing. Noticeably failing to respond (save in one isolated instance) were the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), whose pivotal figure was addressed in the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer (2005). This lengthy epistle is now considered to be significant in British commentary pertaining to the “nonjudgmentalism” and “new spirituality” trends. The accompanying Letter to BBC Radio (2006) queries the activities of alternative therapy as visible in the curriculum of the Findhorn Foundation and their exemplar William Bloom, both being linked to the SMN and the Wrekin Trust. That letter arose in response to a radio chat programme considered to be misleading by some assessors.

NEGLECTED  PAPERS  AGAINST  GROF  THERAPY

This webpage relates to the “LSD neoshamanism” issue associated with Stanislav Grof’s American disciple Dr. Christopher Bache, and as contested by the British writer Kate Thomas, whose contributions have been neglected by the British organisation calling itself the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN). The SMN chose to favour a contribution by Bache on their website for six years, ignoring the warnings against LSD therapy (and the strongly associated recreational use of LSD and MDMA in Grof circles). The Grof movement is inseparable from the subject of psychoactive drugs. The books of Stanislav Grof are based upon LSD sessions which have been given misleading interpretations in the “perinatal” idiom devised by Grof. An influential book by Bache describes experiences of the latter arising in LSD sessions and Holotropic Breathwork. Thomas supplies a different interpretation of those experiences.

The Thomas version of mysticism is attended by an unusually realistic assessment of shamanism in counter to new age romanticism. SMN “nonjudgmentalism” discarded the Thomas version in preference for Bache's LSD neoshamanism, which remained an influence in public view on the SMN website until 2010. The two neglected but relevant articles of Thomas are here reproduced. In addition, a paper by Stephen Castro appearing in 1995 is included as testimony to the drawbacks in Holotropic Breathwork that were observed at the Findhorn Foundation during 1989-93 before official intervention occurred.

Shortly after, Castro wrote his significant book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres, 1996). That work was published in the face of overwhelming odds created by deceptive promotionalism, but has since gained acknowledgment from close analysts as a courageous stand against bad management. The Castro report was favourably reviewed in some well known journals before the Findhorn Foundation internet ploy of 2002 discrepantly declared that Hypocrisy and Dissent was not worthy of review, a dogmatic verdict which showed no awareness of other published viewpoints.

SCIENTIFIC  AND  MEDICAL  NETWORK  AND  THE  FINDHORN  FOUNDATION



l to r: Dr.  Peter  Fenwick, David  Lorimer, Kate Thomas

The Scientific and Medical Network (SMN) is a British organisation having the anomalous reputation of being a haven for alternative therapy and “new spirituality.” Kate Thomas was a member for some years until she resigned in 2004. She here describes her encounters with the SMN, the Wrekin Trust, and the Findhorn Foundation. These three organisations are interlinked in terms of affiliations and some degree of shared conceptualism. The account of Thomas has been considered a unique insight into the problems denoted by “new spirituality.” In particular, she describes her contact with David Lorimer, the leading organiser of the SMN and a major official of the Wrekin Trust.

A crisis occurred when Lorimer sanctioned the inclusion of Dr. Christopher Bache as a speaker in 2003, making no objection to Grof doctrines of LSD therapy. Lorimer had penned an enthusiastic review of Bache’s LSD book Dark Night, Early Dawn (2000). The eminent neuropsychiatrist Dr. Peter Fenwick, a presidential figure of the SMN, was in private agreement with the counter-argument of Thomas, but was not prepared to openly contradict David Lorimer.

When Thomas resigned in 2004, Lorimer instigated the inclusion of a controversial pro-LSD article by Bache on the SMN website, and neglected to include the opposing article by Thomas which had appeared in the SMN journal in 2003. The pro-Bache tendencies of David Lorimer were thus confirmed in an obvious gesture of favouritism. The Bache article advocates LSD therapy as a spiritual path, and is far more decisive on this issue than the questioning title suggests ("Is the Sacred Medicine Path a Legitimate Spiritual Path?").

The extremist pursuit of LSD therapy, via the Bache article, was still being openly promoted on the SMN website (www.scimednet.org) in 2010. This was the sixth year running that the SMN were openly celebrating LSD therapy, despite a trite disclaimer of responsibility for views expressed on their website. The absence of appropriate social responsibility has been perturbing. That same year, the Articles Archive was moved from public view to a log-in procedure for SMN members, with only the article titles being publicly visible. The title of the Bache article was still openly listed, with no accompanying details.

Critics say that the SMN form of “new spirituality” nonjudgmentalism is potentially disastrous for the younger generation, and also very inadvisable for the older generation (especially the gullible sector frequently recruited by the SMN, the Wrekin Trust, and the Findhorn Foundation). The absence of a due sense of moral responsibility is a frequent hallmark of new age nonjudgmentalism. Six years of public view web advocacy of LSD ingestion, ignoring all the complaints made during that period, is something not easily forgotten. See further David Lorimer, SMN and Contesting New World Values.

LETTER  OF  KATE  THOMAS  TO  UNESCO

In September 2007, Kate Thomas sent a substantial letter of complaint to the Director General of UNESCO at Paris. That document describes discrepant policies and attitudes maintained by the Findhorn Foundation, an organisation here revealed in a very different light to the promotionalism favoured by the management. This promotionalism has influenced official parties who have taken no account of drawbacks in a suppressive milieu undertaking continual commercial expansion since the 1970s. However, the dissident complaint has gained influential support.  A belated reply from UNESCO was evoked in an ongoing situation of confrontation with the Findhorn Foundation, a situation involving a complaint via British solicitors. See further Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation.

 

None of the written materials on this website may be copied for public use or posting without written permission.

The photographs of Kevin R. D. Shepherd, Kate Thomas, and Stephen Castro are all copyrighted and require due written permission for public use or posting.


Copyright © 2013 Citizen Initiative. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2007, last modified September 2013.