Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer




l to r: David  Lorimer, Kate Thomas, Stanislav Grof

Introduction

This lengthy epistle of 2005 had cc. lists naming some four hundred persons as recipients, including many politicians, medics, psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, scholars, and yet other categories. There were also recipients not included in the cc. lists.  A case is made against known misdemeanours and flawed policies of the Findhorn Foundation, a community which David Lorimer has supported as a collaborator via other British "alternative" organisations, namely the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), the Wrekin Trust, and the University for Spirit Forum (USF). The author also focuses upon a questionable subscription procedure of the USF, Lorimer’s new project at that time, and one which demonstrated an affinity with "nonjudgmentalist" trends. The suspect latitude of the SMN is criticised.

David Lorimer was the guiding figure of the SMN, acting as Programme Director and editor of the SMN journal Network Review (also known as Network). He was also strongly associated with the Wrekin Trust, and has continued a role as Vice-President of the latter body. He is inseparably linked to the annual "Mystics and Scientists" conferences held at Winchester.

The Alister Hardy Trust (or Society) is discussed in the context of nurturing misunderstandings caused by Findhorn Foundation propaganda, whose spokesmen have confused many people into believing that dissident literature was in error. The Letter of Complaint  also provides an update on Foundation events and closes with a critique of lapsed SMN ideals. This last section is entitled "The Issue of Wider Horizons," and includes the observation that an opposing viewpoint would be at risk of suppression by the SMN, despite their explicit mandate to state opposing viewpoints. The evasive non-reply amounted to an attempted suppression, confirming the author's diagnosis.

Over sixty of the recipients in the cc. lists were members of the SMN, but only one of them replied, in a brief letter and in a personal capacity only. David Lorimer, the key figure in that organisation, did not reply. Seven years have now elapsed. The conclusion of spectators has, for some years, been that the SMN cannot answer the complexities expressed in the Letter of Complaint,  and that the case against their negligence is now strengthened.

The same conclusion applies to the USF, which claimed great prospects and abilities. Nine USF personnel were recipients, and none of them responded (though one proved non-contactable). Evasion is the keynote. The Alister Hardy Trust followed suit in this demonstration of incompetence; however, three distinguished affiliates of that Trust did reply. In other directions and contingencies, the response from academics and eminent persons has been ongoing. Some of the positive communications acknowledged that the lengthy document made a strong and relevant point, articulated in unusual detail, and one which merited a due reply from the SMN.

The Letter of Complaint was circulated in booklet format during the Spring of 2006 (along with the Letter to BBC Radio). Some five hundred persons were on the mailing list. The cc. pages have been omitted to avoid undue embarrassment in some more general directions, as the author concedes that a number of recipients (especially those in America) did not comprehend what was in process. The original bibliography is reproduced. A number of headings and images have been inserted to assist assimilation.

The USF subsequently become known as Wrekin Trust Forum for Spiritual Education, and later again changed name to Wrekin Forum.  David Lorimer has continued to be Programme Director of the SMN, and Dr. Peter Fenwick remained the President of that organisation.

The affiliation of the Scientific and Medical Network has been in question amongst some observers. What does science and medicine actually mean, in this instance? The conventional definitions do not apply. In an item dating to 2011, Lorimer distinguished his viewpoint from the "orthodox experimental approach" in a university psychology syllabus. The basic complaint is that "Jung, Maslow, Stanislav Grof, CharlesTart" are not included in the syllabus, but represent "an approach which is far more meaningful." Furthermore, a key theme of Lorimer is here relayed as: "One of the assumptions I am making is that my mind is the Universal Mind." Obviously, the universal mind of the SMN is beyond criticism in the preferred Jung-Grof perspective. Elsewhere, there are strong doubts about both the assumption and the protocol involved. See further David Lorimer, SMN and Contesting New World Values.

CONTENTS  KEY

  1.     USF  and  Janice  Dolley
  2.     The  Issue  of  Drug  Ingestion
  3.     Suspect  USF  Ideology
  4.     The  Prince  of  Wales  Issue
  5.     LSD  Dangers  and  New  Age  Relativism
  6.     Holotropic  Breathwork  and  Craig  Gibsone
  7.     The  Dictatorial  Eric Franciscus  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation
  8.     The  Forum  of  Ideas  and  Grof  Transpersonal Training  Inc.
  9.     The  SMN  and  Alternative  Therapy  Promotions
  10.     Kundalini,  Rajneesh  Sect,  and  Grof
  11.     A  File  Misunderstood  by  New  Age  Fundamentalism
  12.     The  Esalen  Influence,  NeoReichian  Therapy,  and  Child  Abuse
  13.     "Science  is  the  Only  Way  Forward"
  14.     The  Coffins  of  Relativism
  15.     Aleister  Crowley  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation
  16.     Mafia  Tactics
  17.     The  Alister  Hardy  Trust  and  Bath  College
  18.     The  Choice  Between  Busuttil  and  Franciscus
  19.     Apologist  Sociology  Versus  Dissident  Sociology
  20.     The  Issue  of  Casual  Sex
  21.     Value-laden  Sociology  Versus  Wertfreiheit
  22.     The  Presumption  to  Perennial  Philosophy
  23.     The  Findhorn  College  Fails
  24.     Prince  of  Wales  Lore
  25.     The  Game  of  Transformation
  26.     Dissidents  Pushed  into  Oblivion  by  Routledge    
  27.     The  New  Age  of  Censorship
  28.     Academic  and  Citizen  Philosophy  Ousted  by  Mind-Body-Spirit
  29.     Update  November  2005
  30.     The  Issue  of  Wider  Horizons
  31.     Bibliography
  32.     Update  February  2011

 

Letter of  Complaint  to  David  Lorimer

13/10/05 – 31/10/05

Dear  David  Lorimer,

This letter is a statement of complaint, and relates to the organisations closely associated with you, namely the University for Spirit Forum (USF), the Wrekin Trust (WT), and the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN). Also the Findhorn Foundation (FF), which is implicit within the general scheme of your memberships.

A former member of the FF and the SMN is my mother, Jean Shepherd, also known as Kate Thomas (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 210–211). She has been stigmatised by your parties for making due complaints about misinformation and dubious practices administered to the gullible public. This matter cannot be allowed to rest, far less to be eliminated as you so clearly wish.

1.  USF  and  Janice  Dolley

In 2004, Kate Thomas resigned from the SMN in circumstances where you (as the key figure) failed to reply to her complaints (ibid., pp. 405ff.). This year, she was sent details of the USF by Janice Dolley, the Executive Director of the Wrekin Trust and an official of the USF. A welcoming letter was accompanied by an information pack which featured an application form and "Benefits of association." Thomas was tempted to interpret this gesture at face value, though in retrospect it may be described as junk mail.

In response to her request, she was sent further details by Prof. Chris Clarke, a member of USF, whose attitude appeared to be amenable. She then twice phoned Janice Dolley (commencing on October 3rd 2005), but found that official to be dogmatic and dismissive. Thomas was prepared to become a member of the USF, but Dolley was so obstructive about this that the applicant decided not to pursue the matter further. The stigmatised intending member has since written a letter to Dolley stating that, in view of her hostile reception, she does not wish to become a member of the USF.


l to r: Kate Thomas, Janice  Dolley

I made a point of inspecting the pamphlet sent by Dolley. This features numerous brief descriptions of what the USF has to offer. The captions include "a holistic worldview and an integrated approach to learning." What does this mean, exactly? What is the precise location in practice of "a context for open spiritual inquiry and exploration." One phrase appears in larger print than the rest, and is obviously considered important, namely "balanced, wholesome spirituality." Just what does this imply? The statement also appears that donations are appreciated, and that cheques should be made out to Wrekin Trust USF.

The stance taken by Dolley in the telephone conversations at issue here is relevant for analysis. In an official capacity for the USF, she spoke as a staunch partisan of the Findhorn Foundation (FF), and informed Thomas that she is a Trustee of the FF. The FF are said to be represented and affiliated in USF membership. Dolley added that certain prominent members of the FF were also USF associates, and would not wish Thomas to become an associate. She then mentioned the dissident work Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation. Thomas features in that work by Castro, which gives many details supported by solid documentation. Yet Dolley dismissed the content of this book, stating that the FF were totally against it (as is well known), a detail which she treated as proof that the book was wrong.

Dolley accused Thomas of causing trouble by criticising FF policies. This dogmatic attitude reflects FF stigma, and takes absolutely no heed of such pertinent objections of Thomas as that relating to the practice of Holotropic Breathwork (hyperventilation) devised by Stanislav Grof (Shepherd, Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One, pp. 66ff., 945 ff.). This practice caused extreme and frightening symptoms amongst local participants. Thomas now reiterated that she had been deeply concerned about these people, several of whom she had interviewed personally. Yet Dolley ignored this clause, which had always been unpopular.

2.  The  Issue  of  Drug  Ingestion

There was no scruple in the argument of Dolley, only the standard "new age" refrain of nonjudgmentalism, which is reflected in the policy of the USF. She specifically referred in this context to the issue of drug ingestion, which covers illegal drugs. Such drugs are effectively legalised by her argument, as Dolley said that the USF must not criticise any "alternative" approach. She even mentioned Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) in a validating context, as having had a mystical experience after taking LSD. Thus the Ram Dass trend and all other suspect activities and claims are validated by the USF approach, which downgrades an intending member who is critical of the drugs lobby and the breathwork commerce of Grof and his supporters.

Therefore, in the WT-USF-SMN sphere of ideology, dubious entities like Ram Dass, Grof, and Christopher Bache are not to be criticised but instead condoned. The persons who are to be stigmatised are instead the critics of such entities and trends, especially Kate Thomas, who resigned from the SMN on related points of principle. Principle is suspiciously overlooked by the SMN, who are therefore scientific and medical in name only. Do they effectively constitute a mockery of both medical ethics and scientific analysis? The SMN and USF have opted for new age relativism, in which an illegal drug can be glorified and hyperventilation can be viewed as a spiritual practice.

Thomas made reference to the Bache cause of LSD shamanism in her letter of resignation from the SMN, a letter addressed to you and to which you would not reply. She had contributed an annotated paper on the subject that was relegated by you to the correspondence section of your SMN magazine Network [Review]. That paper was unwelcome in commercial sectors of exploitation, which is what much of the "alternative" scene is all about, though seldom seen in such an acute form as the workshop programme of the FF.

3.  Suspect  USF  Ideology

In 2004 you would not scruple to intervene in the slander of Thomas by the FF, instead preferring to cultivate the attention of the FF for purposes clearly related to funding support. The bland image of the FF as a planetary transformer is encouraged by such patronage, which is equivalent to the misleading version of the FF supplied last year by Channel 4. Critics have said that this tv presentation was very deceptive, missing out crucial events, trends, and drawbacks.

No academic subscriber to the "alternative" commerce is exempt from knowing the details about various lunacies that are widely promoted. For instance, an elementary detail is that Ram Dass admitted many years ago to having been a "phoney holy," a statement which invalidates his career as a yoga teacher, along with other forms of posturing. (See Shepherd, Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One, pp. 63–4; id., Pointed Observations, pp. 103–5; id., Philosophical Critiques, pp. 41ff.)  Yet Ram Dass is now a figurehead for the USF in the protocol for declining a prospective member possessing scruple.

In the second telephone conversation with Thomas on October 6th, Dolley mentioned that three members of the USF especially objected to the inclusion of Thomas in their organisation, a fact which Dolley clearly regarded (with approval) as an insurmountable obstacle to membership. Yet the only one of these three opponents whom she would mention by name was yourself, David Lorimer. This was possibly because you were the most vocal objector, who knows. Certainly, your name figured exclusively in the CC. reference at the bottom of Dolley’s subsequent letter of residual protocol hedging against prospective membership. It is therefore relevant to address you on these matters. You may be told that Thomas will not seek further to join the USF, having learnt what this organisation actually comprises in terms of ideology, contrary to some of the high-sounding themes found in the promotional literature.

The USF is a disgrace in terms of an underlying agenda.  Freedom of speech will occur outside the USF, with "alternative" approaches being subject to criticism when and where applicable.

4.  The  Prince  of  Wales  Issue

 

You have been a promoter of Grof and Bache, the two major exponents of LSD therapy. (Cf. Shepherd, Philosophical Critiques, pp. 40, 53; id., Pointed Observations, pp. 6, 408.)  In these areas, you run the risk of causing a confusion with the outlook of Prince Charles, whose sense of scruple is somewhat more acute than yours (cf. ibid., p. 379 n. 155). You have contributed a fair interpretation of the royal subject in your book Radical Prince, but this gives no idea of the extremisms that you have promoted elsewhere in the commercial "new age" sphere.

That sphere is the doubtful forum you are representing in the so-called University for Spirit. There are numerous people in the "new age" who are so confused by exponents like Ram Dass, Grof, and Bache, that some of them might not be able to tell the difference between the Prince of Wales and Timothy Leary. Indeed, it will be a major cause for concern if the USF gains government sanction as an educational body. I have been told that this is your objective. If so, then I must be counted as a front line objector. Grofian MDMA therapy alone would constitute reason for rejecting nonjudgmental education.

5.  LSD  Dangers  and  New  Age  Relativism

So many people have been misled by the LSD and related therapy bandwagon. Young people, under the influence of new age commerce, can too easily fall prey to the notion that such activities amount to spirituality, which is what they are told by Grof and others. The academic credentials often used in support of the bandwagon are so objectionably misleading that all patience ceases when so much is at stake. You and your officials should be saying that Ram Dass had no conscience about the fatalities he encouraged with Leary, and that he remained confused for many years after, being an entertainer more than anything else. As for Dr. Grof, he has resorted to such high intake of LSD that any support for him should be viewed in terms of a personal liability. Bache is a prime victim of Grof, having been brainwashed (in the psychedelic sense) by Grof Transpersonal Training.

What have you been teaching your assistants? Fashionable new age relativism is not philosophically compelling, even if it is commercial. Instead of expressing sober truths, Janice Dolley is a vehicle for FF beliefs. She has been strongly influenced by others, but is one of your close colleagues and defers to you. When Thomas expressed to her a feeling of upset at the accusing speech (of Dolley), the Wrekin Trust emissary justified her stance with the statement that she had been born to serve. At all costs of propriety, it would seem. Yet further, she (Dolley) was serving now, in the Wrekin Trust and the USF. Thomas was by now retreating from the unassailable prerogative.

The mentality in question is totally unable to assimilate such factors as "new age mafia," a phrase associated with media attempts to describe oppressive measures of the FF in relation to dissidents. You and Dolley are whitewashing the FF, but others will tell the truth.

6.  Holotropic  Breathwork  and  Craig  Gibsone

The "mafia" tactics of the FF started with the role of Craig Gibsone as a practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork. This therapy was opposed by Thomas during the years 1989–93. Gibsone had no medical credentials in that exotic role, and was instrumental in causing casualties (Pointed Observations, p. 197). By his own admission, Gibsone had a personal history of recurring alcoholism and drug use, and referred glibly to recreation chemicals. Along with many others at the Foundation, he tended to admire Ram Dass, who now became a stock feature of FF belief. Ram Dass visited the FF in 1991, and was lionised as a counter-cultural hero and spiritual authority. He was not viewed in any critical light whatsoever.

Dr. Grof also made a personal appearance at the FF at this period, and was celebrated by Gibsone, who was now the Foundation leader. Kate Thomas was in disagreement, and Gibsone was resentful of this. Thomas was the first major opponent of Grof in Britain, her criticisms antedating those expressed by Regius Professor Busuttil of Edinburgh University. The medical advice of this expert in pathology caused the Scottish Charities Office to recommend that Holotropic Breathwork be stopped at the FF in 1993. Gibsone and others chafed at this restriction, and nurtured plans of revival, believing that only Grof could be right.

 

Craig  Gibsone

The FF staff were frequently evasive and overbearing. They would not tolerate objections to their procedures. Gibsone changed the economic axis of this community, paving the way for a new entrepreneurial code that led to a disastrous debt of significant proportions. He retained Eileen Caddy as a puppet figurehead. She said nothing against his rulings, but Thomas did. There was no freedom of speech, and objections were met with repression. Gibsone was antagonistic to the prospect of Thomas giving a series of talks that were free of charge. The obstacles were such that she gave up in defeat after only two talks to a diminutive audience. Her promotion of Sufi and Christian mysticism was opposed by Gibsone and Eric Franciscus. She was shunned as a party daring to state a difference between therapy and spirituality. She was concerned about the many visitors to the FF who suffered from Grof and other alternative therapists.

She [Thomas] was blocked from continuing her associate membership, and the FF staff refused to create a forum for open discussion of the matters involved. Instead, a tactic of suppression prevailed. As for Gibsone, Thomas was wrong because she dared to question the eminence of Grof and the policy of a shaman like himself. The new age of shamanism was a supplicant of Grof and Ram Dass, with Rajneesh and Crowley in a subsidiary register of deities clearly visible in the FF bookshop. Sathya Sai Baba was also very influential, though Gibsone was content with Grof and Tantric Buddhism.

7.  The  Dictatorial  Eric  Franciscus  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Rather more intimidating than Gibsone was Eric Franciscus, a German member of the FF staff. He gained the reputation amongst British dissidents of a Gestapo officer. Franciscus threatened one dissident (a woman) with the prospect of getting "burnt," and the pressure was such that a medical doctor had to give support to the victim. Franciscus slandered Thomas without bothering to converse with her, and zealously prohibited her from the precincts of his therapy college; she was quite literally banned from making any appearance. He allowed her one meeting with him in a café located in the nearby town of Forres, where he presided in dictatorial and evasive mood. He was so convinced of his importance that he had the conversation recorded on tape, one copy of which is in my possession. He resorted to the justification of an "intuitive decision" bypassing any reason for dismissing Thomas.

Such events are all on published record. Yet the indifference to solid data is still alarming, and perhaps even incredible, especially when shared by other organisations like the SMN. Even Dr. Peter Fenwick, the SMN President, demonstrated this blindspot in correspondence with Thomas in 2004. He expressed no interest in a newly forthcoming publication featuring material about his own organisation. He instead dismissed the matter by suggesting that you would read the material and review it, which is laughable under the circumstances of neglect.

The mask for all the FF tyrannies was unconditional love, a nauseating phrase frequently used by the therapeutic elite. Combined with nonjudgmentalism, this was the ideal recipe for face-saving strategies in the most exquisite forms of hypocrisy. It was a crime to criticise the elite, because they were the representatives of love and healing. It is still a crime to criticise them, but philosophers may ignore the strictures.

Franciscus had broadcast his belief that God had given him jurisdiction over the therapy college on Cluny Hill at Forres. That college was anti-rational in emphasis. Franciscus was God’s unassailable right hand man, that was the implication. He was also known to have stated that his ego had diminished. Even some of the other FF officials were perturbed about his despotic rule. He had been there for over ten years, a long time by FF standards. His sense of elevation made him feel that he did not have to supply reasons for his decisions. It was said that the only way to deal with him was to avoid him.

Another problem was Loren Stewart, an American staff member who continually harassed Thomas and her friends. He would seek them out, taunting them and querying their intentions. Yet he believed that he always acted without prejudice, a belief which appeared as a heading to one of his dismissive letters. There were some people within the FF who disliked Stewart, but nobody stood up to him. He also had benign moods that lent a schizophrenic complexion to his personality. He was sometimes docile with Thomas, but more usually hostile, even to the point of attempting to ban her from the site known as the Park (which was open to the public). This was a display of New Age Fundamentalist Zeal. After a short while, Thomas only felt safe in FF precincts if Stephen Castro accompanied her from her home nearby. Castro was a sturdy man, but he was much alarmed at the hostility in evidence. He disliked going to the FF, and after a while Thomas had to persuade him to accompany her. Castro has left the most clearly documented report of what occurred during the 90s, but history is not popular in the new age.

Though many FF inmates were averse to Franciscus, Loren Stewart would cover up for him. Franciscus would interfere in other departments than his own, convinced of his guiding genius bestowed by God. A friend of Thomas wrote of her first encounter with God’s right hand man: "He acted as though he were invincible. He could say anything, and to whatever I said in return, he replied – so what ?" (Thomas, The Destiny Challenge, p. 979).

Castro told me at the time that he thought Gibsone was arrogant, that Stewart was oppressively overbearing, and that Franciscus defied description. He also felt that Eileen Caddy had developed withdrawal symptoms, and lived in a world of make-believe, totally unable to cope with her ideological offspring. Ironically, her ex-husband Peter, shortly before his death, wrote to Thomas from his home in Germany, expressing a high opinion of the autobiography of Thomas. This co-founder of the FF stated in his letter: "Many of your expressed concerns about the so-called New Age movement and particularly the Foundation, will, I trust, receive the attention they deserve" (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 189). Yet such details were anathema to the FF staff, who consigned them to oblivion and made their memory a punishable offence.

8.  The  Forum  of  Ideas  and  Grof  Transpersonal  Training  Inc.

Back to your theme of a forum.  I am familiar with the argument that when the SMN promotes speakers, this is no indication of affiliation, merely a forum of ideas. That theme is irresponsible in the case of the more extreme issues such as controversial therapies questioned by medical authorities in the interests of public safety.  For instance, when you promoted Grof at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1995 (Philosophical Critiques, pp. 39–40), the breathwork lobby in Britain took that as an endorsement for their impudent dismissal of medical cautions and renewed practice of holotropic breathwork. Grof lecturing at Cambridge means that breathwork, MDMA, and LSD are perfectly legit. That is how quack therapists think, and you must surely be aware of this.  More recently, the FF have again ignored official cautions by promoting breathwork via a team of practitioners (including Gibsone) who possess no medical qualifications (Pointed Observations, pp. 195ff.).


l to r: Stanislav  Grof, Christopher  Bache


As for Bache, your very enthusiastic review of his questionable book in Network [Review] could easily be interpreted as an invitation to become a convert to Grof Transpersonal Training. That glowing review failed to express any cautions, and since then your comments have been used as a major review quote by the American promoters of Bache, a quote also appearing in a salient American new age magazine having many gullible readers (ibid., p. 408). You describe Bache’s Dark Night, Early Dawn as "a landmark book in consciousness studies." All this amounts to a serious support for LSD therapy, and invalidates the evasive "forum only" argument expressed by Dr. Fenwick in a letter to Thomas shortly before she resigned from the SMN.

9.  The  SMN  and  Alternative  Therapy  Promotions

Instead of replying to the significant letter of resignation (from Thomas), you were more keen to promote in your SMN magazine that same year (2004) an item by a practitioner of breathwork (Network, no. 85, p. 34). The Grof-related item criticised the objection of Thomas to mind-altering techniques even while giving the impression that Thomas was conducting these. Bache was mentioned in this item, though the writer stated "I have not read Professor Bache’s book."

No mention was made [in the same item] of the argument in the annotated article of Thomas which had earlier appeared in Network. Indeed, the therapist did not once refer to LSD.  Instead, an aspersion was made upon the book by Thomas entitled The Kundalini Phenomenon, the implication being that she was setting herself up as a guru. This adverse nuance was accompanied by the elevation of hyperventilation, more especially in a form called superventilation.  Medical cautions were not mentioned. The therapist was promoting her own exercise; she has a B.A. degree, and is not a medic. One conclusion of mine is that it is useless to place annotated articles in a magazine like Network, which seems to be read largely by alternative therapists (who have swelled the SMN membership over the years).

Professor Bache, the unread great shaman, promotes his LSD trances via SUNY Press (who are causing havoc), while Thomas is the evil "guru" daring to say that there is a standard against which the therapy entrepreneurs can be measured as being in error. The present writer has read Bache’s book and agrees with the sober medical assessment of the misleading contents (Pointed Observations, pp. 41–2, 149ff., 408). Thomas has never taught mind-altering techniques, to which she is opposed; therapists are so obsessed by these techniques that they tend to read meanings into the work of non-therapists. The difference in viewpoint can be very substantial.

10.  Kundalini,  Rajneesh  Sect,  and  Grof

The obscure subject of kundalini is currently so vulgarised in commercial formats that some readers have expressed relief to find in the Thomas version a repudiation of new age bathos. Even the psychic magazine Prediction gave the critical book (The Kundalini Phenomenon) a fair and glowing review. Some academics can agree with the imprimatur there expressed: "A very valuable, well written and extremely readable counter-balance to the swamping of bookshelves promising ‘spiritual gifts,’ ‘powers,’ and [usually] sexually gratifying states of bliss with minimal effort towards character and personality development."

Compare the FF preference for the eroticism of Margot Anand, the heir of Rajneesh who was celebrated by the FF promoters in complete disdain for Thomas, who was kept bound and gagged in the subterranean vault of mafia tactics. [On Margot Anand at the FF, see the Letter to BBC Radio on this website.]

In relation to Grof, you stand in clear distinction to Edinburgh University and Emory University. A "university for spirit" which opts to validate the wrong standards is a potentially dangerous affliction for the public, especially the gullible people who inhabit the new age of retarded values and who pay to keep organisations like yours afloat. I have sided with Edinburgh University (Pointed Observations, pp. 198–9), despite the FF prohibition against rational analysis and the sifting of fact from fiction and calumny. Workshops undermine rationality, which is thus replaced by sensation, commonly mistaken for intuition.

11.  A   File  Misunderstood  by  New  Age  Fundamentalism

In the recent exchange, Dolley stated to Thomas that a large file of correspondence relating to her (Thomas) existed at the FF, as if this fact were proof of her error. That reasoning is seriously amiss. I also have access to a large file, including six or seven published books ignored and repressed by the FF. That file can be read very differently to the distorting mode of calumny in vogue amongst the nonjudgmentalists (who never judge, mark you, so loving and tolerant are they).  My file includes the tape-recording of the Franciscus-Thomas café meeting in 1994, and that tape alone is quite sufficient to cast permanent doubt upon any validity of the FF animosity towards the victim, which has no legal or logical support (ibid., pp. 214–15).

Much of the correspondence between Thomas and the FF related to her grievance at the constant misrepresentation of her standpoint, and also to her preparedness to conciliate, which was obstructed. The pride and spite of the FF staff was often acute. They proved that their vaunted therapy is useless, especially their pet theme of conflict resolution, which is just a sick joke.

The FF therapy does not work, and yet the FF relies for income upon a constant programme of therapy and workshops at exorbitant prices.  All this is mistaken for "spirituality" by them and their supporters. They cannot analyse documents properly, relying upon therapeutic cliché for a rationale, though cashflow is the ultimate standard. They are obsessed with stifling all criticism of their continuing errors. The book Hypocrisy and Dissent (written by an ex-member) was considered unreadable by them (and proscribed), to the extent that prestigious personnel would cross themselves piously at sight or mention of the heretical volume. This is New Age fundamentalism, and is beyond all reason. If they ever gain political power, the best recourse would be to emigrate before that opportunity ceases.

12.  The  Esalen  Influence, NeoReichian  Therapy, and  Child  Abuse

Much of the FF programme was modelled upon the Esalen Institute in California. Dr. Grof took root at this centre of unorthodox therapy. Another ingredient of Esalen was an acute hedonism that was convergent with neo-hippy appetites. One message was that neoReichian therapy liberated, though in reality such distractions blotted out all sense of discipline. The FF has similarly derided science, scholarship, and philosophy in the traditional mould. Preferred achievements include astro-shamanism and nonjudgmentalism.  Extravagant claims have been made about the FF as a centre of spiritual education. That means commercial workshops, pseudo-shamanism, nonjudgmentalism, and business consultants.

A peripheral matter deserves mention here. An alleged case of child abuse occurring at the FF has dimensions not usually stated. Thomas discovered that a number of FF people were not concerned about the alleged abuse (which they were prepared to credit as fact), but only about the bad reputation that could attach to their community as a result. The suspect was a neoReichian therapist known to lead a very promiscuous life, to the extent that he alienated his wife/partner, who made the major accusation. This matter was stifled by the management, who made out that the accuser was too judgmental. The dangers of this attitude should be evident to rational people.

13.  "Science  is  the  Only  Way  Forward"

Returning to the Dolley-Thomas conversation, one is obliged to report the very judgmental attitude of the USF official. Dolley accused Thomas of wanting everyone to listen to her views and to read her books. This judgment is very inaccurate and requires correction here. Thomas never got the chance to express her views in the FF due to the active repression exercised against her. Her books were proscribed and were not allowed to be sold in the Foundation bookshop alongside the monuments left by Crowley and Rajneesh. She was never able to give a talk, as the only role permitted her was that of a cleaner, to emphasize her inferiority. She could clean toilets, but could not give talks. Her teaching was taboo. Her worldview was merely something to be misrepresented, as the management had judged (note the deadly word) her to be heretical. Her friends were also stigmatised and mistreated, to the extent that one plucky woman (Jill Rathbone) stood up to the opposition and gained compensation in the law courts against the Moray Steiner School (effectively controlled by the FF). See Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 154ff.

The truth is that Thomas taught what Eileen Caddy should have done, but did not. Thomas taught discipline, humility, and other things uncongenial to the therapy mafia. The only time she ever gave a public talk was at an SMN venue years later, on which occasion she said that "science is the only way forward," qualifying this in terms of scientific psychology.

By that time, the FF had resorted to the Internet for their calumnies. Thomas was depicted as representing "arcane spiritual teachings" in hopeless contradiction to "one of the most successful communal groups in the world."


  Peter  Fenwick

After the resignation of Thomas from the SMN, Dr. Fenwick was the only member of that organisation to be in correspondence with her. He offered to arrange a video interchange between her and a noted scientist, but she respectfully declined his kind offer. She did not want that kind of publicity, which reflects the new age view of celebrity.  Photographs suffice for identification purposes.

14.  The  Coffins  of  Relativism

There is one other area of misunderstanding. It is true that Thomas did ask the SMN to research her books. She admits to having entertained the optimistic belief that SMN academics would analyse mystical experience in a quite different way to the FF and other parties. She was disappointed also that most individuals were too busy to find out what had actually happened at the FF. In fact, many SMN members were promoting their own new age enterprises which furthered the general confusion in priorities. She says that she has learned better and will never ask again for research assistance.

Yet ironically enough, both Sir George Trevelyan and George Blaker expressed interest in her case history (by letter and telephone) at the end of their lives. (These are founding figures for the WT and SMN respectively.) Alister Hardy, who founded the Alister Hardy Trust (AHT) and the Religious Experience Research Centre, was in the same category of expressed interest when on the point of retirement as Chairman in 1982 (he died in 1985), and passed the relevant material studied and commented upon by himself, to his successor, who chose to place it aside for future examination, which seemingly never occurred.

Thomas was a member of the AHT for a number of years, and only ceased her membership in 2003, after discovering an abortive misrepresentation of her contact with the FF written by an AHT Trustee (see below).  Yet you were so reluctant to give assistance and to stop calumnies. Instead, you have put the last nail in the coffin for "research" and have thus sounded the victory of the therapy mafia. The FF are in dire need of a re-education programme of extensive proportions, but you specialise in the coffins of relativism.  David Lorimer, new age fund-raiser and undertaker.

As for me, I am not a mystic and claim no mystical experience whatever. I am instead very pedestrian, having only experiences as a citizen philosopher. Kevin Shepherd, country bumpkin and old age man in the street.

15.  Aleister  Crowley  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Your patronage of the LSD lobby can easily be associated in the relativist mentality with Aleister Crowley, who has been a visible influence at the FF (Pointed Observations, pp. 4–5, 36). Crowley was not really a bad guy, we are told by contemporary fashion. Just a new age angel addicted to drugs, drug visions, wife torture, vampirism, and manic stimulation at the sensory level. Plus sympathetic magic of an alarming kind reputed to affect the victim adversely, as in the instance on record where, while walking down Charing Cross Road, he fixed his attention on a pedestrian ahead of him. Crowley is said to have "deliberately stumbled and in total synchronisation, the man ahead also stumbled and nearly fell." Watch out for new age magicians, especially as your relativism may assist them to breed.

In a different way, the unsuspecting citizen might get hit by the vulgar practice of leading bookshops who stock vast quantities of junk merchandise for public consumption. From Horror to Magic and Divination, it is all the same to the till roll exploiting the unwary. The FF bookshop is not the only disaster area. On this matter, see further the record of confrontation in Citizen Initiative publishing statement (2005).

16.  Mafia  Tactics

[The Findhorn Foundation were tagged by the Scottish press as "the 'mafia' cult" in 1995, and in relation to the case of the British victim Jill Rathbone, who successfully launched a legal action against the strongly associated Moray Steiner School that same year; see Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation, 1996, chapter 8.  Rathbone stated of the Foundation that "the hierarchy rules by fear" (ibid., p. 137).]

The cult deceit in which mafia tactics are concealed by "spiritual" camouflage is now well known in the activity of Sathya Sai Baba (who was still one of the favoured gurus at the FF during the 1990s, and strongly associated with Franciscus). Ex-devotees have uncovered details formerly ignored by, and unknown to, the nonjudgmentalists at Findhorn who insisted that it was wrong to criticise the incarnation of God. (Shepherd, Investigating the Sai Baba Movement, pp. 269ff.)

The leading Indian critic of Sathya Sai has survived four attempts to murder him by the terrorist henchmen of the guru. The courageous Basava Premanand "bears the scars from several savage beatings" (ibid., p. 287). Some cases of [alleged] terrorism were fatal, and one victim had his stomach cut out (ibid., p. 297). [The identity of the murderer in this latter instance is unknown, though the guru aroused suspicion by doing nothing to mount an investigation; see also article 23.7 at kevinrdshepherd.net.] The mafia details are accompanied by the sordid reports of sexual abuse. Because of the truths [and allegations] emerging (as distinct from nonjudgmental sentiments), the British Prime Minister is reported to have agreed not to meet Sathya Sai (ibid., p. 286).

One can hope that a similar development may one day occur in relation to the UN endorsement of the FF. The bureaucratic reasoning behind NGO status is not always beyond question, especially when an entrepreneurial community of such status abuses basic codes of civilisation while presuming to be a spiritual exemplar.

I might state here that one victim of NGO status has resisted attempts to be represented in any report of the FF in case she is drawn back into confrontation with the "mafia." I am not at liberty to disclose even her initials. [Cf. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 57ff., who names this person.]  I have concluded that the constant attempts of the FF to gain funding as an NGO do not exempt them from the charge of retarded PR.

17.  The  Alister  Hardy  Trust  and  Bath  College

Efforts to obtain a due response from the SMN and the Alister Hardy Trust (AHT) were also afflicted. Thomas was a member of the AHT and discovered to her dismay that one of the Trustees had written a misleading article about her inspired by FF propaganda (see below). The AHT did consider research into mystical experience as distinct from drug and hyperventilation experiences, but completely overlooked due investigation of FF issues. The biased anti-dissident article by Dr. York passed unchallenged. The AHT, like the SMN, were preoccupied with gaining funds from the Templeton Foundation. They were both successful in that pursuit, but some pressing matters on the home front were completely ignored in preference for, e.g., contemporary religious experience in China. That well funded subject did not restore the due ethics of research protocol in Britain.

Perhaps only earthquakes and hurricanes will stop the many duplicit charity status organisations who have recently been discerned as being in violation of ethics (Pointed Observations, p. 380 n. 166). What happens if the public attempt to communicate the true nature of events in relation to charity status organisations? Let me here remind you that the book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation was treated to a deplorable academic review which supported the presumed agents of planetary transformation. The tone of this pro-new age contribution to the Journal of Contemporary Religion may be gauged from the opening statement that "the venom of Castro’s assault is directed chiefly against the Findhorn Foundation."

The defender of the FF was here Dr. Michael York, representing Bath College of Higher Education (York is also a Trustee of the Alister Hardy Trust Religious Experience Research Centre). He refers scathingly to Thomas, and denies Castro any validity as an amateur sociologist seeking to get the FF in true perspective on the basis of tangible data. The objection to Holotropic Breathwork made by Thomas is dismissed in terms of her being the "Mary Whitehouse of the psychotherapeutic world." Regius Professor Busuttil is not mentioned by the Bath College representative, and presumably he is another Mary. York refers instead to Eric Franciscus as Director of Education in the FF, and in support of that role acutely minimises the description of Franciscus by Thomas. Dr. York is very evasive about the 1994 tape of the Franciscus-Thomas encounter in a Forres café. (York, review art., p. 235.)  What can one expect of higher education in these sectors?

18.  The  Choice  Between  Busuttil  and  Franciscus

No mention is made of Edinburgh University by the FF defender, who misleadingly gives the impression that it was the fault of Thomas to have influenced the Scottish Charities Office against Grof’s breathwork (ibid., p. 232). There is an increasing academic illiteracy caused by new age organisations. Lacunae are often preferred by new age academics. In any choice between Busuttil and Franciscus, it would be advisable to favour the former, who stood for medical principle in the face of Grofian propaganda [see no. 6 above, Holotropic Breathwork and Craig Gibsone]. One of the dubious statements made by Franciscus on the 1994 tape is "whoever told you that life is just?" (Pointed Observations, p. 215). Unjust representation is a speciality of the FF and their affiliates.


Anthony  Busuttil

[The credentials of Professor Busuttil include OBE, MD, and FRCPath; a Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at Edinburgh, he retired in 2006 and now has Emeritus status. He is joint editor of the prestigious volume Paediatric Forensic Medicine and Pathology (2008)].

19.  Apologist  Sociology  Versus  Dissident  Sociology

Dr. York claims to have spent an "Experience Week" at the FF in 1993, but this enthusiasm is not enough to invalidate the far greater time spent at the FF by dissidents, who were able to see through the façade presented to the gullible visitors. Academic enthusiasts of FF propaganda are far more objectionable than the rank and file who do not claim critical ability as a sociologist, which was one of the presumptions of  Dr. York, who had written a book with the sub-title of "A Sociology of the New Age."

The Castro book had duly mentioned Edinburgh University (Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 96, 101–2, 103, 131). Yet the AHT Trustee, eager to gain the advantage, stated that the dissident analysis was not "valid sociology" (York, review art., p. 229). In the apologist sphere, valid sociology means to ignore the relevant medical contribution. We are thus asked to believe that valid sociology is related to the achievement of censoring Regius Professor Busuttil, who had supplied a strong warning about the possible and actual dangers of commercial hyperventilation being inflicted upon the public. If Dr. York represents sociology, then that should be shunned as an obscurantist exercise and public hazard by sane citizens.

As a support for his misleading argument, the AHT Trustee quotes from a letter penned by another FF sympathiser, namely Dr. Benjamin Seel at the University of Keele. The latter was so out of contact with basic events that he complained of feeling "rather alarmed" to see the FF personnel criticised in print "without the chance to answer the accusations" (ibid., p. 232). In reality, it was the dissidents who had not been given the chance to answer accusations, their views being considered judgmental and therefore fit only to be censored. Unbiased readers have grasped this, but not new age academics. Dr. Seel was confused in his assessment because he had chosen to view FF personnel as "genuinely loving people with integrity" (ibid.). As authority figures, they must be right, and so the dissidents must be wrong. That is the purport of the argument from Keele University, which added that the dissident position was "rabid" and "reactionary." The relevant letter was dated 1996. Again, there was no mention of Edinburgh University, who were doubtless part of the reactionary package, one could infer.

When fiction is preferred to fact, take the funding away from academic sociology, otherwise the relevant medical perspective will be in danger of oblivion.

20.  The  Issue  of  Casual  Sex

A very suspicious feature of Dr. York’s apologist article is his strongly implied disagreement with Thomas for her having confronted (by letter) a senior staff member of the FF for his lapse in advocating casual sex of a homosexual nature in the FF internal magazine, which was permanently on display to newcomers in Cluny Hill College (the domain of Franciscus). To be more specific, this staff member had advertised himself as being available for such casual sex. This same man’s letter to Thomas evidenced his belief that the FF was a place for individuals to explore their sexuality (Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 125–6. Cf. York, review art., p. 235). T. B. remained unrepentant. Dr. York’s dubious commentary is very brief and does not divulge the relevant details, instead insinuating that Thomas was wrong to alight upon such a matter. That inflection has grave implications for new age Trustees and pseudo-sociologists.

The local medics in Forres knew that Thomas was not wrong, as they feared an outbreak of AIDS within the FF. The promiscuity (often heterosexual) at the FF was locally known; the FF staff usually tried to conceal it. One of the major opponents of Thomas had a bisexual reputation within the FF. The frequent heterosexual partnerships and liaisons occurring in that sector may be considered natural by comparison with the recent suggestion in some FF workshops that "being gay is a spiritual calling." No more so than heterosexual proclivities, but workshop commerce has no scruple. Almost anything saleable at the FF is deemed spiritual, which is a completely meaningless word in the new age.

The form of logic used by Dr. York to implicate Thomas as being in error includes the phrase: "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" (ibid., p. 236). She was merely a biased ex-member, is the supporting statement. The AHT and Bath College are welcome to the associative accusation of being patrons of casual sex, as moral objections to decadence are merely feminist pique in apologist lore. (Thomas is not actually a feminist, but it would be useless to broach subtleties to pseudo-sociology). The apologist argument would appeal to Sathya Sai Baba, whose own Colleges are a disgrace of almost indescribable dimensions, in which so many victims of homosexuality [allegedly] experienced hell on earth. Fittingly enough perhaps, Cluny Hill College was a focus for devotion to Sathya Sai Baba, amongst other disconcerting entities.

The FF inversion of spirituality was patronised by Eileen Caddy, whose habit was not to speak out against anomalies occurring. Instead she provided the validating formula of divine sanction: "Be at perfect peace; all is working out according to My plan." Eileen Caddy’s reward for this blanket approval has been to gain an MBE from a party totally incapable of assessing reality as distinct from fiction.

21.  Value-laden  Sociology  Versus  Wertfreiheit

According to Dr. York, "the Findhorn trajectory will continue to adapt and modify and grow with the times, if not also lead the times (ibid., p. 237). Those words were written nearly ten years ago. What actually happened was that the FF admitted to having incurred a massive debt. They became desperate for funding and resorted to an increase of entrepreneurial activity. Their propaganda became ever more impudent and exaggerated, even claiming projects that were discovered to be mythical by observers (Pointed Observations, pp.189ff.). There is no sign yet of the extensive modification needed to gain credence in rational quarters. If the FF are to lead the times, then medics, scientists, social scientists, philosophers, scholars, historians, political analysts, legal experts, and other categories might therefore need to develop life on the moon in order to survive.

That contingency would obviously not cover new age sociology, i.e., the standpoint which glibly assumes that "genuinely loving people with integrity" are the excuse to pour fundamentalist scorn upon dissident reports. This form of value-laden sociology is much inferior to the wertfreiheit of Weber. Although I have elsewhere argued for an improvement upon wertfreiheit (Meaning in Anthropos, p. 103), the new age academics pose a setback for such considerations, their attitude denoting a new dark age for science and reasoning. Before the darkness descends in greater pall, the new age academics should be set an exercise in value-neutrality by the bodies which sponsor them.

22.  The  Presumption  to  Perennial  Philosophy

The FF income dwindled substantially by 1997, the year when the apologist article by York appeared. The FF management team were obliged to resign, amidst circumstances that were almost completely covered up and which secured NGO status. Another management team (who included Franciscus) then gained power. The zealous stigma of Thomas (started largely by Franciscus) continued, this being a political strategy, as she knew what the management were actually doing, which was concealed by the propaganda. At the time of gaining NGO status, the American R. Doudna shouted at her when she was unguarded by Castro, threatening that she must never tell what the FF had done to her (Pointed Observations, p. 212). I am quite prepared to do so instead, having been a resident of Forres during most of the 1990s.

In 1995 was published my Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One, which included a disclaimer of the glib FF presumption to the honours believed to be invested in "perennial philosophy." They never acknowledged that book (their review schedule was considered barbaric by onlookers, and favoured alternative therapy). Their knowledge of religion was demonstrably nil, a situation which does not seem to have changed. Yet they claimed to represent "perennial philosophy," a subject so complex that much scholastic ingenuity is exhausted in covering the diverse materials. Popular lore is not history, which can sometimes be used to confirm that the lore is deceptive. Participation in the perennial was a claim in the FF manifesto The Kingdom Within (1994), juxtaposed with such poetic refrains as "our purpose is to find the divine within, the criterion for which is the practice and experience of unconditional love" (The Kingdom Within, p. 68). Cf. Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One, pp. 923–4. Their purpose failed miserably, the criterion being a sham.

23.  The  Findhorn  College  Fails

What was the actual educational status of the FF? A year after The Kingdom Within manifesto, the perennial philosophers and neo-hippies launched a new project called the Findhorn College of International Education. Think big. The combined talents of several leading hierarchs (including Gibsone) were enlisted for this enterprise, which charged high fees. The new College failed very quickly, to say the least, as the American college students (seven in number) who had been enrolled as pupils, rebelled at the lacklustre tuition. The College closed down in 1996 and was abruptly dropped from the propaganda, being an embarrassment for NGO status. Thus, the unwary might believe that this episode never really happened, an oblivion that can befall so many other tangible events on record elsewhere (Philosophical Critiques, pp. 44ff.). [See also Propaganda Tactics, which is article 13.17 at kevinrdshepherd.net. Click here.]

24.  Prince  of  Wales  Lore

A major prop for NGO status was Dr. Pierre Weil, of a certain Holistic University in Brazil, who naively believed what he was told when visiting. The presence of Eileen Caddy was often interpreted by visitors as a sign of divine sanction and faultless conduct. The FF staff delighted in telling Kate Thomas that she was not important enough to give a talk on the premises; she would not be a commercial draw and she was therefore superfluous. They preferred best-selling speakers like Caroline Myss and Peter Russell. They believed that great VIPs would become their patrons, and who better than the Prince of Wales.

The FF propaganda spoke as though the Prince would be attending an FF ecology conference in October 1995. The fact is that he had not said yes. The Prince had been promoted as an invited speaker before he had chance to reply to the invitation, and he actually said NO. The FF assumption had been wrong. The Prince had said no to conflict resolution, new age perennialism, unconditional love, Grof shamanism, the divine role of Eileen Caddy, and opportunist ecology. Even after the Prince had declined, he was still promoted as an invited speaker "subject to confirmation." The ill-fated Findhorn College of International Education needed American recruits at that time, and Prince of Wales lore was a potential asset. Dissidents complained at the misuse of the royal name, but they were dismissed as judgmental.

Eileen Caddy had sealed the trend for the new age perennial philosophy, stating in a circular letter: "When all of us can think in millions of pounds, we will draw millions of pounds to us." (Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 190, 194–5.) One can imagine what Gautama Buddha might have said of the FF. The royal invitee was later dropped from the propaganda, and the event had never really happened, except in the report of Castro, who was criminalised accordingly. The net result of the sanction for greed, spearheaded by neoshaman Gibsone, was a massive debt which was at first concealed. The new luxury eco-houses pursued by FF staff comprised only one symptom of malaise. A new communal kitchen (associated with Loren Stewart) had a funding target of £50,000 in donations. Criticism was unwelcome because that could stop donations. Scruple was worthless.

25.  The  Game  of  Transformation

The FF have been eager to consign complaints and medical expertise to oblivion, and their vaunted criterion of unconditional love is not sufficient to justify that ongoing lapse. The USF is now strongly implied in that lapse. The FF have been acquiring funds from various contributors, while mounting an annual programme of commercial workshops that is cause for wonder.

Let me here remind you of FF charity tactics, as they have been observed to charge £1,395 for a two-week course in the "Game of Transformation," a novelty which insults the intelligence of any reasoning citizen. That game is played on a board, and is an FF speciality, being advertised as enabling "a quantum leap into greater wholeness," and as providing a "powerful springboard for spiritual growth." Chess is far preferable, and can be played entirely free and without pretension. Yet further, the banal commerce entices subscribers "to offer Transformation Game workshops professionally." The word professional now denotes a lucrative board game with pretensions to spirituality. It is better to remain a sceptical amateur with a chance of intellectual survival.

Yet the game of transformation has been supported by Dr. York, the AHT Trustee, whose blanket approval of workshops has been so misleading and influential. "The New Age represents an innovative and experimental form of spirituality" (York, review art., p. 236), an assertion which was made in direct response to the warnings of Thomas about breathwork, neo-Reichian therapy, and other problems. (York misrepresented Thomas in terms of a theological dogma, which is far removed from the truth.) FF alternative therapy was validated by Dr. York in terms of: "There can be no guarantees for either certainty or safety" (ibid.).

No reference is made to such published instances as that in which a practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork experienced himself as a howling wolf during hyperventilation, which led to a violent struggle with his colleagues until he collapsed (Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 84–5). This "therapy" has been promoted by the FF as "a spiritual technique with an ancient shamanistic lineage," which represents the explanation of Grof (Pointed Observations, p. 7). A due nationwide medical probe should be mounted against any therapy lacking safety criteria, no matter what the specious claims involved.

26.  Dissidents  Pushed  into  Oblivion  by  Routledge

Yet safety provisos have been further annulled by parties in question. Routledge have recently published a book called Children of the New Age, written by a Research Fellow in Religious Studies at the University of Stirling. The FF are here celebrated, with no dissidents to detract from the picture of spiritual accomplishments (though with some slight reservations implied).

Routledge were keen to use as promotion here the statement of Professor Daniel Wojcik (University of Oregon) that Research Fellow Sutcliffe’s book is "a much needed and necessary history of New Age phenomena." Yet so many events have been omitted. Grof’s Breathwork is not mentioned, for instance, and nor is Edinburgh University, which still remains elusive in such accounts. The dissidents have been expunged completely from the New Age record by Research Fellow Sutcliffe, who is evidently relying upon Dr. York for holy writ. Though I have been led for many years to believe that scholarship tries to ascertain the dissident position in religion, I now find that the opposite is in fact the case. Permit me to dwell upon some of the implications here.

Only a few years after the events mentioned in published books, the dissidents have been pushed into oblivion by new age orthodoxy. Thomas never existed. Jill Rathbone never won a court case in the struggle against the undeclared mafia. The police never investigated an alleged case of child abuse in the early 1990s at the FF. The Franciscus-Thomas tape dated 1994 is not part of new age history. Castro is mentioned only in Sutcliffe’s bibliography, being represented solely by the title of the review article penned by York. That is the only possible clue afforded to later generations of text analysts in Oregon and elsewhere who might be anxious to find the obscure texts and entities rumoured to have existed.

Only seven years after the apologetics of Dr. York, Thomas disappears completely in the Routledge history. Regius Professor Busuttil is also in Hades. As indeed am I, having been consigned to oblivion by scholarship influenced by the AHT.  I have been referring to the FF (and Dr. Grof) in published works since 1989, but new age research ignores this minor factor. Yet  Dr. York did actually employ a citation from one of my books that he found in Castro’s account. Sutcliffe does not continue even that barbed courtesy. What should I do about this?  Pretend that I am dead, no doubt, which might please the new age political correctness.

Scholarship inspired by the new age does not relate to real life, one could reflect.  Incitement to casual sex in high places was glossed over by Dr York with an amazingly dismissive sexist remark. According to Routledge lore, the FF are immaculate in their dealings between "seekers and host institution." We learn that the FF has "developed considerable skill in managing the inherent tensions" (Sutcliffe, p. 173). The relevant sources should be consulted to disprove this gloss on PR. The truth is that Thomas had legal support from a solicitor, but chose not to use this expedient, instead attempting in a generous spirit to conciliate with obstructive personnel who maligned her continually. After moving back to England, she even visited the FF in 2001, being deceived by a telephone conversation. I told her that she would need a police escort, and when she came back feeling very unwell, she agreed with me and never went to the FF again (Pointed Observations, pp. 180ff.).

27.  The  New  Age  of  Censorship

On behalf of those excised from the New Age Record, I could suggest that the Templeton Foundation was perhaps too generous with the AHT in the recent donation of some £335,000 for research into contemporary religion in China.  Life in Hades is a far cry from China funds, and I might beg a loan for the postage costs involved in notifying various parties of the real nature of events.

In short, the new age of censorship has arrived. I suspect that if a petition was made for alternative old age research, one might get 50 pence funding for a project like: An investigation into why so many people in Britain are confused by new age literature and workshops. There are doubtless many more who could find their identity effaced if they ever dare to protest against the hierarchy.

One could echo from the new age graveyard the possibility of a ghost thesis like: Why are so many young people caught in the drugs net while SUNY Press purveys Grofian lore? That lore includes visions of the archetypes while under dosage of an illegal drug. Straight answers to such questions are not forthcoming in some quarters, because only relativism counts. Why is "mystical" cannabis so popular in universities? Straight answers are considered to be implausible, being related to the overdose from Ram Dass and many other hippies who never did see things in perspective.

28.  Academic  and  Citizen  Philosophy  Ousted  by  Mind-Body-Spirit

Leading  bookshops have been saying that philosophy (in the traditional sense) is more or less unwanted,  as Mind-Body-Spirit now reigns supreme. The recent book Pointed Observations was judged as being too academic by Ottakars in Dorchester, and therefore they could not stock it, even though I am a local author with a possible right to fair representation. That book was considered too closely related to academic philosophy and unsuitable for the Mind-Body-Spirit shelves. Annotations are superfluous in commerce.

In the popular sense, philosophy is indeed dead — what is now preferred are topics like magic, divination, and spiritualism. These topics do, of course, have an effect upon readerships, producing nightmare confusions in some parties. Only Nietzsche can compete with that tide. Other philosophers are falling into limbo, while more antique figures like Suhrawardi Maqtul, Farabi, Plotinus, Plato, and Aristotle are virtually unknown to the prevalent illiteracy.

Yet only two sections in Pointed Observations are devoted to Hume and Spinoza. The other six parts do not cover philosophy, but instead give information alien to the commercial network. Even the section on Hume is sub-divided into arts and crafts of the eighteenth century. The book in question is definitely unsuitable for the magic and lore shelves, being inimical to the misinformation currently causing havoc. That misinformation casually subsumes "spirit" as a component, while the relevance of "mind" in that scenario is very much in dispute. Let me just say here that some books are not immediately classifiable in terms of simplistic category, which is a drawback of new age consumerism.

Yours guardedly,

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

 

PS  It is relevant to add that, in a letter to Kate Thomas dated 7th April 2003, Professor Paul Badham stated:

"I also fully accept that it is important to clarify the difference between spontaneous transpersonal or religious experiences and the altered states of consciousness that can be induced either by Holotropic Breathwork or by drugs."

Professor Badham is Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, and was here far ahead of FF exegesis and the drawbacks contributed by Dr. York.


Paul  Badham

It had been discovered that Professor Roland Littlewood (Prof. of Anthropology as Applied to Psychiatry) of University College London, was willing to provide the expert supervision needed for research into this aspect of the Thomas data. Professor Badham continued:

"The whole point of sponsoring scientific research is to find out whether or not one’s hypotheses are verified or falsified. As such all one can do is to obtain adequate funding and find a suitably qualified research student able and willing to devote three years to this project."

Thomas had to find the funding and the research student. This she was unable to do, not being a wealthy person, and not having promoted herself commercially via workshops and other lucrative media. My own view of this situation may be worded as follows:

A substantial (though not the only) consideration for research, on the part of Thomas, was the distortion of her case history by the FF. She did not wish to express this point too emphatically, believing that highly qualified academics would realise all the implications. This they failed to do, pinning the whole issue down to the funding requirements of "testing hypotheses." As a mere citizen commentator, it is my argument that there is no hypothesis involved in extant factual details such as repudiating the propriety of casual sex when promoted by officialdom in a charity status organisation. Such matters are self-evident to the afflicted public. (See further The Destiny Challenge, p. 984, narrating the case of "looking for additional experiences including casual homosexual sex," a confusion that was subsequently rewarded with a managerial position at the FF.)

In 2004 you mentioned the possibility of research at a later date, but this sounded very much like a delaying tactic, especially as it had become obvious that you were reluctant to do anything about the FF problem, save apparently for the muted recourse of entrusting Janice Dolley (an FF trustee) with a sobering message for the FF management. I gave you credit for this at the time, though later I felt more reserved (Pointed Observations, pp. 217–19, 380 n. 166, 407). I now doubt whether this recourse amounted to anything more than a political gesture on your part, especially in view of the content of a Dolley epistle dating to that juncture in time (2002).

Both yourself and Professor Badham failed to reply to the lengthy Thomas letter of resignation from the SMN dated 7th April, 2004. The FF were here expressly mentioned as an aggravating factor. A copy of that letter was sent to Prof. Badham and to prominent SMN officials. There was an official reply from Dr. Bart Van der Lugt which invited Thomas to remain as a member while ignoring all the objections she had made. Only one person responded unofficially, namely the lecturer Max Payne; this was much to his credit, though his letter was brief, and lacked full comprehension of the complexities involved. Dr. Fenwick failed to reply, though at a later time he was in correspondence with Thomas.

Despite certain benign gestures made by Dr. Fenwick, it was obvious that he lacked due comprehension of matters involved. My mother always speaks well of him, and I am disposed to think that he is in a very different category to the FF. Yet it had become evident that SMN officials were insufficiently familiar with published records in relation to the FF, and for this reason I am sceptical of academic accomplishments in certain directions. For instance, I could not help noticing that Dr. Fenwick was completely uninterested in the forthcoming publication of Pointed Observations, despite my mother’s attempt to point out to him that the contents would be very relevant to the SMN. He even declined the offer of a flyer which gave a description of contents for that book, saying instead that this should be sent to you, as you are in charge of book reviews. Yet Dr. Fenwick was not being asked to review, only to read. Doubtless the work under discussion is of small significance and written by a mediocre citizen lacking in august credentials. My apologies on that score.

29.  UPDATE  NOVEMBER  2005

A grouping closely affiliated to the Findhorn Foundation have been loaned £1.36 million by an anonymous donor "connected to the FF." The affiliated grouping are known as the Shambala Trust, and have been able to acquire the property at Findhorn formerly known as Minton House, now renamed the Shambala Retreat. The leading directors of this new Trust have long-term status within the FF, and include Craig Gibsone. The Retreat is just across the road from the FF, and there is no doubt of a close relation. The Shambala Retreat has been described in the local press as an inter-faith centre for healing with a Buddhist flavour. Yet the accent is on therapy, and strong questions exist about the Buddhist orientation involved.

A critic of the FF (John P. Greenaway) has drawn attention to a recent article in the FF internal magazine Rainbow Bridge, which states that "much of Tibetan Buddhism is outdated and not in tune with the energies of the New Age." The affinities are clearly with contemporary Tantric Buddhism, further attested by a key reference to a book by Chogyam Trungpa. In a memo dated Nov. 11th, Greenaway informs that the Dalai Lama is nowhere mentioned in recent reportage of the Shambala Retreat, and indicates that the Tibetan leader has withdrawn from his earlier support for this project, which has very commercial aims catering for professional people and corporate organisations, and which plans to create "a luxurious health spa."

The substantial donation is said to have come from "someone that has recently arrived here" (Forres Gazette, 02/11/05), which raises questions as to whether the donor is sufficiently informed about what he is contributing to. In October, Rainbow Bridge emphasised investments and shares in the FF projects known as Ekopia Ltd and Duneland Ltd, with five and six figure sums being mentioned. Supposed spiritual significances comprise a vague umbrella for all the moneytalk.

Neoshaman Craig Gibsone has also been active yet again in undertaking Holotropic Breathwork workshops at Newbold House (Forres). A three day series of those commercial workshops, occurring in Nov. 05, was glibly promoted in Rainbow Bridge as being "ideally suited for those seeking greater awareness in psychological, mystical and spiritual realms." Further, the Breathwork "combines ancient spiritual traditions and modern consciousness research." That is sheer hyperbole for Grof neoshamanism, which is the only "tradition" represented here. Yet alluringly, the Gibsone-Grof distraction "affords a powerful opportunity to access transpersonal and blissful states of consciousness." This is the identity supplied for trauma and euphoria in such circles, not to mention the plastic buckets needed for vomiting during nausea.

Neoshamanism is here in continued defiance of the suspension of Breathwork inaugurated by the Scottish Charities Office recommendation in 1993. It is obvious that Gibsone considers himself to have a greater knowledge of hyperventilation than the medical experts, a Grofian presumption now sanctioned by an indeterminate variety of new age Buddhism associated with the dissolute Trungpa.

The FF donors are gullible recipients of planetary transformation lore, which harbours Holotropic Breathwork and numerous other questionable forms of commerce. It is considered (by them) unthinkable to question that lore, which provides Gibsone and others with a livelihood and pocket money. The lore has included the obscurantist resort to a dismissive item placed on the internet by the FF as a denial of Castro’s book Hypocrisy and Dissent. This item deceptively stated that the dissident book was "not worth reviewing" (Pointed Observations, p. 169). In other words, donors must never see what the critics say. Even a decision made by the Prince of Wales is taboo for readers. That is what affiliation to UNESCO can nowadays mean. This ideological blind evidently fits your perspective also in the USF platform that must have no contrasting voices. New Age democracy is medieval.

NGO status is currently that of an ogre with an insatiably commercial appetite. The SMN officials were also heedless of the Scottish Charities Office ruling against Grofian Breathwork. In that direction, a writer screened out by you was Greenaway (ibid., pp. 405, 410), who appeared in the Thomas letter of resignation abovementioned. You will doubtless feel squeamish about Greenaway having made available a disc copy of the professional document "which uncovers that the FF is running a hidden property fund, seemingly for the personal benefit of its leading affiliates" (Greenaway, DBA letter, 08/11/05). The revealing document was covered in Pointed Observations, pp. 383ff. note 175, and had been accepted by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in London.

Greenaway explains that the FF ruse had been possible because current Scottish charities legislation is "extremely weak" (DBA letter). Yet even the FSA do not have the power to act in this matter due to current legislation. In 2002–3 the FSA required the FF to stop an illegal banking operation, reminds the same writer, who duly presses the suggestion of incompetence on the part of the FF management in relation to their eco-sewage unit, which gained public money funding but which has continually run at a loss. Sustainability (to use the FF buzz word) is elusive.

We are not obliged to accept, e.g., neoshamanism as a sustainable commodity, especially in the face of contempt for medical warning and official recommendation. The laxity of Scottish charities legislation ought to become a matter for international concern, as the "inner healer" theme favoured by the Gibsone elite amounts to obtuse self-will and propagandist duplicity, not to mention mismanagement. The dangerous sanctions bestowed by the SMN and USF should similarly be assessed by improved legislation in England, with the FF satellite known as the Wrekin Trust also being liable to confrontation.

Contrary to the prudent action of the Prince of Wales in declining to speak at the FF (one of the details not worthy of review according to FF propaganda), three speakers at a recent FF conference were Craig Gibsone, Peter Russell, and Ervin Laszlo (Pointed Observations, p. 207). The usual sentiments, such as love heals distrust, were in evidence. Laszlo has a scientific reputation, is a member of the SMN, and is sometimes described as a science adviser to UNESCO. A core problem thus emerges, and one which props up Gibsone and NGO mismanagement of the type known to the FSA. 

Prof. Laszlo was one of those academics who participated in your pro-Grof seminar at Cambridge in 1995, along with Prof. Tart and Dr. Fenwick (Philosophical Critiques, p. 40). That event signalled a victory to Breathwork partisans who have ignored official restraints. All things considered, concerned citizens must accordingly resist to a compensating degree the errors of influential parties whose sanctions are so potentially damaging to trusting consumers in the public sector.

30.  THE  ISSUE  OF  WIDER  HORIZONS

A work edited by you for the SMN has a title that is in contention, namely Wider Horizons (1999). That book includes a list of SMN conferences occurring over the years. Talks are better than sensation workshops, one might reflect. Yet there exists the question of ideological auspices. In this respect, the "bibliography of significant books" is disconcerting, including explicit recommendations. Many of these books are in the "alternative" genre, and some have caused confusion. The field varies from, e.g., Larry Dossey, David Bohm, Ervin Laszlo, Ken Wilber transpersonalism, and the poetry of Sir George Trevelyan, to the drug advocates Grof and Tart. This bibliography was compiled by Dr. Julian Candy in collaboration with the editors (primarily including yourself).

Two Grof books are glowingly recommended, including the one most closely associated with LSD therapy. Beyond the Brain is described by the SMN in terms of "suggests we are each on a spiritual journey which began before we were born into our present life" (Wider Horizons, p. 346). Readers should first ascertain what their present life constitutes, in case that proves to be a psychedelic nightmare endorsed by the SMN.  Perinatal theory needs a far more critical approach (Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One, pp. 68–84), being intimately related to LSD sessions. Grof’s The Cosmic Game is described by the SMN as "a new view of human nature" (Wider Horizons, p. 353). It has elsewhere been described as a misleading argument for the psychedelic version of perennial philosophy (Pointed Observations, pp. 10–11). The new cosmologies which flood "alternative science" are no guarantee of accuracy.

Your own book Whole in One is described in terms of providing "significant implications for global and personal ethics" (Wider Horizons, p. 348). That prospect evidently covers your act of excluding from your new "University" (via an FF Trustee) an anti-drug protester who resigned from the SMN on pressing grounds that were ignored by you and your complacent colleagues. The "scientific and medical" relevance of the SMN is in question, and also the ethical shortfall. The theme of wider horizons can be misleading.

Your "Beyond the Brain" conference at Cambridge in 1995 (featuring Grof) is listed in the context of wider horizons (ibid., p. 359). There is no reference to the contrary signals from Edinburgh University, who would therefore be implied as narrow. Nor does your editorship make any reference to dire experiences of Grofian Breathwork victims such as the desperate woman who "collapsed in a quivering wreck, too exhausted to fight anymore" (Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 53). This extreme plight occurred after she had screamed so much that she could no longer scream. The neglect of such details is a point of contempt for medical warnings.

Professor Charles Tart accompanied Dr. Grof at your Cambridge event, these two being closely associated and the former being noted for his support of cannabis. One looks in vain to the SMN to contest such indulgences, an obligation which falls instead to responsible psychiatrists like Dr. Andrew Wilski (Pointed Observations, pp. 27ff.), who has shown what cannabis usage really amounts to.

Like the SMN, the FF also claims wider horizons. Yet the Prince of Wales declined to become their figurehead. Is he an example of narrow horizons? Or does he deserve to be celebrated as discriminating on that account? What is the difference between Discrimination and Enthusiasm? This does not seem to be known in the new age, only in the old age.

The SMN recommends The Passion of the Western Mind by the Grof supporter Dr. Richard Tarnas (associated with Esalen). This well known book is described in terms of "the masculine aspect of consciousness strives to reunite with the feminine" (Wider Horizons, p. 349; cf. Philosophical Critiques, pp. 18–19). The new age talk about gender fusion can be confusing for partisans. A current reality is that the USF strives to segregate a feminine voice of protest at the drug theories and Holotropic Breathwork.

Yet further, the details about how Kate Thomas warned against an American guru might gain more acknowledgement in the old age than in the evasive USF.  I took particular note of events when she cautioned at your inclusion of the neo-Advaita guru Andrew Cohen in one of your more recent SMN conferences. She had duly consulted such books as the one by Cohen’s mother, Luna Tarlo. Yet you strongly implied that she was wrong to discriminate against Cohen, who had been sanctioned by Ken Wilber (believed by the SMN to possess "profound scholarship," Wider Horizons, p. 351).  In the process she was considered to be in error by certain SMN personnel influenced by your policy (including Dr. Candy).

Yet at the time of the conference (March 2004), the audience transpired to be very sceptical of Cohen, to such an extent that you offered an apology for having included him (Pointed Observations, pp. 220, 406). That was much to your credit (taking into account that you had been influenced by Wilber), though you neglected to broadcast that the objection of Thomas had been totally vindicated by events. Instead, she continued to be the subject of criticism. An oral report was received that Dr. Candy had disparaged Thomas, and I gave in to the request of a colleague to send flyers of Pointed Observations to many members of the SMN [this book has chapters on the FF and an appendix on the SMN]. Only one of those members replied.  Dr. Fenwick had already declined even to receive the flyer, and he had presidential status. Was this a demonstration of wider horizons?

You tell readers that SMN members are "responsible in maintaining the highest scientific and ethical standards" and that they are "sensitive to the views of others" (Wider Horizons, p. 9). There are some citizens who do not believe you. You also say that the SMN is "rigorous in evaluating evidence and ideas" (ibid., p. 8). There is no convincing proof of that contention in some directions. Some onlookers are very doubtful that the SMN is "open to new observations and insights" (ibid.), as there are strong preconceptions about SMN achievements.

Further, your SMN guideline of "disagree sympathetically, sensitively and constructively" (ibid., p. 10) has discrepantly translated into FF-assisted suppression (of Thomas) from the USF membership after your dismissal of a letter of resignation from the SMN which contradicted a commercial policy. Would you really "be able to state opposing viewpoints in argument" (ibid.)? The opposing viewpoint would be at risk of suppression, even if it happened to be accurate.

In conclusion, a body like the SMN which has "no consensus view" (ibid., p. 9), and which endorses psychedelic and related theorism in the pursuit of being open-minded, is not necessarily at all scientific or medical in operation, only in belief and assumption. Further, a detail which may be relevant here is that one ex-member of the SMN (a Ph.D.) has written of his subscription period during the 90s that he "noted the accelerating dilution of the originally idealistic professional membership with entrepreneurial healers and psychics." (Private letter to Kate Thomas dated 03/06/05).

31.  BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bache, C. M., Dark Night, Early Dawn (State University of New York Press, 2000).

Castro, S. J., Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres: New Media Books, 1996).

Citizen Initiative publishing statement (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005). Now out of print, but reset in the abbreviated website version.

Greenaway, J. P., In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation (London: Finderne Publishing, 2003).

Grof, S., Beyond the Brain (SUNY Press, 1985).

Grof, S., The Adventure of Self-Discovery (SUNY Press, 1988).

Grof, S., The Cosmic Game (SUNY Press, 1998).

Grof, S., Psychology of the Future (SUNY Press, 2000).

Lorimer, D., Whole in One (Arkana, 1990).

Lorimer, D., et al, eds., Wider Horizons (SMN, 1999).

Lorimer, D., ed., Thinking Beyond the Brain (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2001), which includes a strongly approved paper by Grof (pp. 150–168), and one that refers (p. 162) to the new edition of Grof’s controversial book LSD Psychotherapy which became so influential at Esalen. Cf. Shepherd, Psychology in Science (Cambridge 1983), p. 200. Another paper approved by Lorimer comes from an American Professor of Philosophy and Religion, and affirms that "the laws proscribing use of the crucial entheogens are stupid and draconian" (Thinking beyond the Brain, p. 113). That reference denotes psychoactive drugs, and is a typical refrain of the drugs lobby. One may respond that the gossip about psi and transpersonalism so often amounts to a penchant lacking insight and social conscience. The context of the above reference appropriates NDE, and caution is therefore required in relation to this popular subject. A paper of a different kind is that by Dr. Fenwick ("Brain, Mind and Beyond," pp. 34–46), who recognises the need for some description in terms of brain mechanism, but whose treatment does not mention any drawbacks in the "postmodern" approach that is here favoured.

Lorimer, D., review of Bache’s Dark Night, Early Dawn in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 78 (April 2002), pp. 52–3.

Lorimer, D., Radical Prince: The Practical Vision of the Prince of Wales (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2003).

Lorimer, D., ed., Science, Consciousness and Ultimate Reality (Imprint Academic, 2004).

Shepherd, K. R. D., The Resurrection of Philosophy (Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1989), chapter five for moderate criticism of the New Age.

Shepherd, K. R. D., Meaning in Anthropos (Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1991), pp. xxiv–xxv, xxxiv ff., for an early critique of Grof.

Shepherd, K. R. D., Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995), including an Appendix on the FF, pp. 919–944.

Shepherd, K. R. D., Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2004).

Shepherd, K. R. D., Pointed Observations: Critical Reflections of a Citizen Philosopher on Contemporary Pseudomysticism, Alternative Therapy, David Hume, Spinoza, and other subjects (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005).

Shepherd, K. R. D., Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005).

Sutcliffe, S. J., Children of the New Age (Routledge, 2003), which has a sanitised version of the FF that excludes all reference to the dissident factor, blithely deeming the apologist article of York to be sufficient on that account.

Thomas, K., The Destiny Challenge (Forres: New Frequency Press, 1992), pp. 898–987 on the FF.

Thomas, K., The Kundalini Phenomenon (Forres: New Media Books, 2000).

Thomas, K., "Transpersonal Experiences – a Need for Re-evaluation?" in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 81 (April 2003), pp. 15–18, which evoked a response from Bache that was included in the same issue.

Thomas, K., "Disbelieving ‘Sacred Medicine’" in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 83 (December 2003), pp. 29–30, being a reply to Bache.

Thomas, K., SMN Events in 2000–04 (included on this website).

Walker, A., ed., The Kingdom Within: A Guide to the Spiritual Work of the Findhorn Community (Findhorn Press, 1994).

York, M., The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995).

York, M., review of Castro’s Hypocrisy and Dissent, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vo. 12 No. 2, 1997, pp. 229–38.

 

UPDATE  FEBRUARY  2011

David Lorimer did not reply to the Letter of Complaint. Over sixty SMN members were named in the cc. lists, but only one of these responded. Professor Kurt Dressler of Switzerland promptly sent a courteous acknowledgement dated 13/05/06.  With that sole and honourable exception, it is evident that a detailed complaint, complete with bibliography, has no chance of evoking due consideration from the Scientific and Medical Network. Accordingly, I remain very sceptical of their agenda.

This matter was exacerbated by the fact that the SMN website persisted in favouring a contribution from the Grof supporter Christopher Bache, and at the expense of a warning against LSD and Holotropic Breathwork supplied by former SMN member Kate Thomas.  A rather explicit article by Bache was hosted for six years (2004–2010) at www.scimednet.org. See further the introduction to Neglected Papers Against Grof Therapy, on the present website. The Letter of Complaint made no difference to the SMN promotion of Bache in such a loaded context. The message was clearly that LSD ingestion in psychedelic mysticism is OK, and should not be discouraged or critically analysed. The contrasting outlook of Kate Thomas is included in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of SMN Events 2000–2004, featured on this website.

Because of the prevalent indifference of the SMN and allied organisations (such as the Alister Hardy Trust) to pressing complaints on basic issues, I included certain information in my Second Letter to Tony Blair, also featured on this website. Some observers feel that organisations claiming a high study level and professional credentials should not so unanimously exclude protests which are viewed as legitimate elsewhere.

The BBC web media described the SMN as an “international group of professionals and scientists discussing ideas that are seen as falling outside the mainstream.” The SMN has included members like the new age activist William Bloom, who is not beyond reproach, despite his commercial status in Western Mysteries. See Letter to BBC Radio, on this website, and which the BBC ignored in the general habit  of evasion afflicting contemporary organisations [though it has been said that the BBC Radio addressee was a Radio 4 supporter of Bloom and not typical of the BBC hierarchy, who should be distinguished accordingly].

SMN promotions have sometimes indicated their position in terms of a challenge to scientific orthodoxy, though the more discreet Homepage of the SMN website acquired the tag of “An interdisciplinary forum for exploring the frontiers of science, medicine, spirituality and human experience.”  Anyone outside the forum may not be worth the price of a postage stamp, so the frontiers could be too narrow.

One glowing description of the SMN agenda is that “founded in 1973, the Scientific and Medical Network is a leading international forum for people engaged in creating a new worldview for the 21st century.” That commentary appeared at www.gurteen.com. One may here construe that the new worldview will suppress unwelcome information and alternative views in much the same way as does the closely affiliated organisation known as the Findhorn Foundation. The international forum here denoted has supplanted objections to psychedelic mysticism with a rather too obvious support for a major psychedelic advocate, namely Christopher Bache. The “progressive” pace of such developments is a cause for concern in quarters where science, medicine, and spirituality are viewed rather differently, and analysed accordingly.

The Letter of Complaint proved [via the non-response] that the SMN has marked limits in a worldview catering for in-crowd names and subscribers, a fair number of whom are said to be Grof-oriented. The SMN has cultivated claims to a knowledge of near-death experience, now a popular topic, although still debated. Subjects such as near-death have become too compatible with the psychedelic version in the relativistic worldview passing muster as "scientific and medical." See also the remarks in Grof Therapy and MAPS, featured on the present website, which includes reference to the SMN. The scientific validity of Grof and the SMN is in contention, while the spiritual dimension that is blandly presumed may also be contradicted.

While schoolteachers in Britain have been duly warning about the dangers involved in drug ingestion, the indulgent psychedelic academic Christopher Bache (influenced by Stanislav Grof) has been promoting his “disciplined” use of LSD as a spiritual achievement. This claim or pretension is not convincing, and glosses psychological problems encountered.

In a more general context, it is medically known that a high percentage of British victims addicted to cannabis and other drugs have contracted psychological drawbacks, and one of the discernible causes here is the “spiritual enlightenment” deception now chiefly associated with the Grof movement in America. That deception has been transmitted in Britain by the putative Scientific and Medical Network, who promoted on their website for six years, and in public view, a strongly pro-LSD article by Bache entitled “Is the Sacred Medicine Path a Legitimate Spiritual Path?”

Dr. Bache interprets his indulgence in terms of a legitimate spiritual path, which objectors consider to be a serious error. Bache has been misled by Grof’s ideology and repeated ingestion of LSD. The SMN claim to be neutral in their “forum” standpoint, a claim that is negated by their pronounced non-response to the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer. That epistle makes many references to Kate Thomas, who is opposed by the psychedelic ideology of Bache as found in the SMN website article abovementioned. Academics who promote or sponsor hallucinogenic drugs can be considered a hazard to society, and the lax code of the SMN in assisting and promoting (however indirectly) such extremist views may be regarded as very questionable.

 

LINKS

Scientific  and  Medical  Network 

Against  Grof  Transpersonal  Training

Kate Thomas  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation

David  Lorimer  and  New  World  Values

David  Lorimer, SMN,  Findhorn  Foundation

Findhorn  Foundation: Problems

Letter  to  Robert  Walter MP

Findhorn  Foundation

Findhorn  Foundation  Discrepancies

 

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