Tag Archives | Cults

Grisly Death At A Mysterious Buddhist Desert Retreat

Southwestern chic and cults are both very hot right now. The New York Times on a strange Buddhist sect which blends years of silence, the pursuit of riches, and perhaps ritual stabbings:

Bowie, AZ— The rescuers had rappelled from a helicopter to a cave 7,000 feet up in a rugged desert mountain. Inside, they found a jug with about an inch of browned water. They found a woman, Christie McNally, thirsty and delirious. And they found her husband, Ian Thorson, dead, apparently from exposure and dehydration.

The puzzle only deepened when the authorities realized that the couple had been expelled from a nearby Buddhist retreat in which dozens of adherents, living in rustic conditions, had pledged to meditate silently for three years, three months and three days. Their spiritual leader was a charismatic Princeton-educated monk whom some have accused of running the retreat as a cult.

The monk who ran the retreat, Michael Roach, had previously run a diamond business worth tens of millions of dollars and was now promoting Buddhist principles as a path to financial prosperity, raising eyebrows from more traditional Buddhists.

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Living With The Jesus Of Siberia

The Church of the Last Testament is equipped with solar energy, vegetable gardens, and trampolines, money is meaningless, and children sing pop songs and chase after adorable animals. As far as 21st-century Jesus reincarnations, this has to be one of the most convincing:
Deep in Siberia's Taiga forest is Vissarion, a cult leader who looks like Jesus and claims to be the voice of God. He's known as "the Teacher" to his 4,000 followers...who [possess an] unflinching belief in UFOs and the Earth's imminent demise.
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Swiss Woman Starves to Death on Sunlight Diet

SunlightVia the Herald Sun:

The woman embarked on the diet after watching the controversial 2010 documentary film In The Beginning There Was Light, newspaper Tages Anzeiger said.

The movie centres on Swiss chemistry doctor Michael Werner, 62, and 83-year-old Indian yogi Prahlad Jani, who both claim to derive sustenance from spiritual means rather than the intake of food — a concept also known as breatharianism.

Werner claims to have lived without food since 2001, while Jani told the documentary of how he had lived for 70 years not only without food, but also without water.

The woman, from the east of Switzerland, saw the movie and decided to try to survive entirely on light, preparing for the process by reading a book by Australian breatharian Ellen Greve, who goes by the name Jasmuheen. In line with the book, the Swiss woman, who was in her early 50s, did not eat or drink anything for a week — and even spat out her saliva — before resuming drinking in the second and third weeks.

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Eight Santa Muerte Followers Arrested For Occult Sacrifices In Mexico

SantaMuerte deathMormonism or worship of the goddess of death? Which of the two major fast-growing religions will you pick? Via the Daily Mail:

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult, which has been growing rapidly in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers.

The victims’ blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes. ‘They sliced open the victims’ veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,’ said Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors.

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Yoga Is A Sex Cult

tantraYogis embroiled in sex scandals shouldn’t surprise anyone, writes William J. Broad in the New York Times:

… Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.

Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness.

The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex. One text advised devotees to revere the female sex organ and enjoy vigorous intercourse. Candidates for worship included actresses and prostitutes, as well as the sisters of practitioners.

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Upstate New York’s NXIVM: Marketing Business Or Extreme Cult?

raniereIn the 21st century, combining a brainwashing sex cult with a Ponzi-scheme-esque multilevel marketing company makes perfect sense. The Times Union reports:

In a Saratoga County townhouse complex, a man who wears a Jesus beard and seeks to patent his philosophies keeps a cluster of adoring women at his side. He has drawn more than 10,000 people to his mission of ethical living. But some disciples say he has delivered a much darker reality.

Keith Raniere, a multilevel-marketing businessman turned self-improvement guru, has peddled himself as a spiritual being to followers, most of them women. A close-knit group of these women has tended to him, paid his bills and shuttled him around. Several have satisfied his sexual needs. And a few have left their families behind to wrap him in their affections.

Claiming one of the world’s highest IQs and holding three degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Raniere has evolved over the past two decades from the fresh-faced founder of Consumers’ Buyline Inc., a buying club business investigated for being a pyramid scheme, into the 51-year-old intellectual commander of NXIVM, a Colonie-based company promising followers from Canada to Mexico it can “help transform and, ultimately, be an expression of the noble civilization of humans.”

Raniere has convinced some followers he doesn’t drive because his intellectual energy sets off radar detectors.

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Eighties New Wave From The Children Of God Cult

The apocalyptic, kidnapping and brainwashing California-based cult known at various times as Children of God, Family International, Family of Love, and the Family apparently stumbled upon a knack for catchy power pop melodies for a brief period in the 1980s. The result was a string of music videos concerning subject matter such as the impending arrival of the Antichrist, and "Cathy Don't Go (To The Supermarket Today)", which breezily delves into being implanted with RFID chips, barcodes, and the mark of the beast:
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Leaked Emails Fuel Scientology Scandal

David Miscavage. Photo: Scientology Media (CC)

David Miscavige. Photo: Scientology Media (CC)

Guy Adams provides details on a senior Scientology member’s letter to 12,000 followers attacking their leader’s “obsession” with money, in the LA Times:

A simmering conflict at the Church of Scientology has been made spectacularly public after a former member of the organisation’s clergy circulated a letter raising severe criticisms of both the management style and financial policies of its current leader, David Miscavige.

Debbie Cook’s email, which was sent to 12,000 fellow Scientologists shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day, alleges that Mr Miscavige has adopted a dictatorial leadership style which is at odds with the doctrines laid down by the church’s founder, the science fiction author, L Ron Hubbard.

She further claims that, since succeeding Hubbard after his death in 1986, Mr Miscavige has become obsessed with fundraising. His regime is now “hoarding” a cash reserve of more than a billion dollars, she claims, and has spent tens of millions more on a portfolio of large, “posh” buildings which largely sit empty.

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The Hidden Story Of The Up With People Singers

UWPColwellslowres Failure Magazine examines the bizarre hidden story of “Up With People”, the gigantic 1970s singing ensemble which operated almost as a cult, performed at the Super Bowl and met with presidents and the Pope, and was quietly funded by corporations such as Exxon and Coca-Cola that were eager to put forward a youth-y alternative to authority-questioning counterculture:

Before there were yuppies, there were uppies—the term Up With People members use to refer to themselves. Most Americans over the age of 35 are vaguely familiar with Up With People, as its cast members have sung to more than 20 million people worldwide, and at the height of the ensemble’s fame it provided the halftime entertainment at four Super Bowls (1976, 1980, ’82, ’86). But many are unaware of the group’s cultish utopian ideology, its political connectedness, and how it was funded by corporate America, part of a deliberate propaganda effort to discredit liberal counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s.

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