This article comprises an adapted version of an appendice appearing in my book Pointed Observations (2005), pp. 405-410. That appendice was entitled "The Scientific and Medical Network: Critical Faculties or New Age Caricature?" Because of interest in a number of the subjects mentioned, I have decided to provide an updated internet version.
1. Resignation from the SMN
2. American Guru Andrew Cohen
3. SMN Critical Faculties in Question
4. LSD Theory Endorsed to Public Detriment
5. Ken Wilber in Dispute
6. What the SMN Accomodated
1. Resignation from the SMN
Kate Thomas (1) resigned from the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN) via a letter to the Programme Director, David Lorimer, dated 7th April, 2004. The resignation letter expressed some due complaints at SMN tactics, including the refusal of Lorimer to provide a review of John Greenaway's critical book on the Findhorn Foundation. (2) Thomas pointed out that Lorimer had written a laudatory review of Prof. Christopher Bache's controversial work Dark Night, Early Dawn in the SMN magazine, (3) and yet was prepared to ignore a book very relevant to the SMN milieu. Lorimer evidently had no intention of reminding the Foundation about their known breaches of conduct. Thomas duly complained at this unethical attitude, knowing that both the SMN and the Wrekin Trust (chaired by Lorimer) catered to Foundation clientele.
Thomas stressed that the Findhorn Foundation had banned her from membership after she had protested against their sustained "workshop" promotion of Stanislav Grof's Holotropic Breathwork (hyperventilation). (4) She had sent Grof a letter requesting an interview, a letter to which there was no reply, doubtless because she was a critic. (5) The Breathwork was sold at an exploitive price, produced some casualties, and was the subject of a medical warning from Edinburgh University; this resulted in the Scottish Charities Office making a recommendation to cease the practice. The complaint of Thomas was validated by the train of events. Yet the Foundation staff did not acknowledge the real situation, and instead resorted to defamation in her direction, even while claiming the honours of "spiritual education."
Applicable here are some extracts from the resignation letter addressed to David Lorimer:
"I would like to dissociate myself from what is often known as New Age mysticism, which operates commercially, and which spreads the belief that spirituality is easily gained. That belief is a convenient excuse for deception. The preparation necessary (for spirituality) is a factor ignored by commercial sectors. Such neglect results in delusory experience and the psychotic states so often confused with mysticism....
"When I became a member in 1992, I understood that George Blaker had founded the SMN for just the kind of research I have endeavoured to set into motion. He even kindly endorsed that understanding when I spoke with him shortly before his death....
"I now revert to my earlier reasons for resigning, which are the widespread evasion within the SMN of due criteria to be followed in scientific and medical interests, not to mention mysticism. Dr. King's evocation of neo-Advaita is not sufficient to convince me otherwise. Over the years, people have noticed that the SMN supports the work of Dr. Grof and Chris Bache, who advocate LSD therapy and related matters.... Certain SMN officials, including a newly elected Board member, appear to be advocates of Grof therapy, and so it is practically useless to be a member of the SMN and to complain about matters officially sanctioned....
"I have concluded that the SMN policy is too frequently influenced by fear of losing influential numbers and also related income. Your continued patronage of the Findhorn Foundation, in the face of the known record of their behaviour towards dissidents, also leads me to believe that the ethics get lost in a commercial policy. H.L. informs me that a number of Foundation members have of late become members of the SMN, and likewise the WrekinTrust....
"When I decided to resign last year, both yourself [David Lorimer] and other SMN members said that my concerns about, e.g., Holotropic Breathwork, were groundless insofar as SMN affiliation was concerned. Yet I still feel apprehensive. The Foundation have revived the indefinitely suspended Breathwork at one of their venues, a detail mentioned by Greenaway, and yet his book cannot be reviewed by the SMN."
David Lorimer did not reply to the lengthy five-page letter of Thomas, a fact capable of arousing suspicion. Instead, a trite and evasive response was sent by another SMN official, Dr. Bart Van der Lugt, deducibly at the direction of Lorimer. A number of issues were being consigned to oblivion, but these should not be forgotten.
2. American Guru Andrew Cohen
One complaint had been championed by Van der Lugt himself, and therefore his failure to mention this is the more questionable. Formerly, Thomas had protested at the inclusion of neo-Advaita guru Andrew Cohen in one of Lorimer's popular conferences at Winchester. (6) Van der Lugt had supported her on this point, having been alerted to dissident reports of Cohen. The relevance of criticism was obvious. Those increasing reports can be found in books and online at What Enlightenment? Cohen claims a new path called Evolutionary Enlightenment, and founded an organisation called EnlightenNext.
Thomas attended the "Mystics and Scientists" conference (of the Wrekin Trust) at Winchester in March 2004. She observed that many of the audience were disconcerted by the inclusion of Andrew Cohen (at the decision of Lorimer, who was the Wrekin leader). The audience were very sceptical of Cohen's inability to answer questions relevant to his supposed enlightenment. Many SMN members expressed their views to Thomas after Cohen's talk. Lorimer was also aware of the audience mood, and to such an extent that he felt obliged to apologise to attendees at the end of the conference. On that occasion also, Lorimer privately acknowledged to Thomas that Cohen should not have been included. "I respected him for this, but he did not publicly acknowledge that I had been correct." See Thomas, Andrew Cohen in Dispute.
The most well known of the SMN personnel was the distinguished neuropsychiatrist Dr. Peter Fenwick. Thomas discovered that despite his status as SMN President, Fenwick customarily deferred to Lorimer, who exercised an overwhelming jurisdiction. Dr. Fenwick had already mentioned to Thomas his sympathy with her critical standpoint in relation to Cohen. However, in his opinion the SMN could handle such matters. "I have great faith in the SMN's critical faculties" (letter of Dr. Fenwick to Kate Thomas dated 25th February, 2004). Yet that optimistic standpoint could not predict David Lorimer's need to apologise for a problem in clear evidence. Critical faculties had been in abeyance on the part of Lorimer.
3. SMN Critical Faculties in Question
Dr. Fenwick did not respond to the Thomas letter of resignation (a copy of which was sent to him and various other SMN Board officials). In the shadow of David Lorimer, all the others were content to let Van der Lugt speak for the whole Board of Directors in his evasive official response dated 21st April, 2004. Yet the party line was contradicted by Dr. Fenwick in an earlier communication to the dissident: "You also warn against the SMN signalling endorsement of any questionable medical practices, and I think you are absolutely right to do so" (letter to Thomas dated 25th February, 2004). Grof therapy was here the subject of reference.
The critical faculties of the SMN are open to question. Although there was sufficient scepticism to resist Cohen's influence, the response to LSD promoter Christopher Bache was far less concerted. In 2003, Lorimer had included the American academic Bache in a conference. There was no circumstance of embarassment in that context. The only clearly expressed opposition came in the form of a critical article written by Kate Thomas, and featuring in the SMN magazine. To be more precise, she contested Bache's manual of LSD experience, which was so strongly glorified in Lorimer's uncritical review. Some SMN readers are known to have appreciated her paper (including Dr. Fenwick). However, Lorimer was keen to give similar space to Bache's response, and substantially reduced the length of the opposing Thomas article (indeed by half). See Grof LSD Therapy a Major Issue.
Thomas actually wrote two articles on the Bache issue. (7) The second one was relegated to the correspondence section of the SMN magazine by David Lorimer, despite being far better annotated than many other SMN articles, including those written by Grof supporters. Indeed, Dr. Fenwick described this second article as "excellent," himself feeling concerned about the identification of "altered" mental states with "mystical" mental states (letter to Thomas dated 25th February, 2004). Dr. Fenwick was evidently not a partisan of Stanislav Grof, despite his inclusion in Lorimer's Cambridge seminar of Grof auspices which occurred in 1995. (8) Yet Fenwick had still not made this factor of reservation evident to everyone else, and never did so, being too deferential to Lorimer.
When Thomas resigned on matters of principle, no effective move had been made by the SMN to annul the calumny directed at her by the Findhorn Foundation internet tactic, which enlisted the distortion of events achieved by Bill Metcalf of Mable's Treat, Australia. The critical faculties of the SMN were elusive in this area. Much less commendable tactics had been occurring instead. For instance, Janice Dolley, Executive Director of the allied Wrekin Trust (chaired by Lorimer), was the fulcrum for gaining subscribers from the Findhorn Foundation, a form of revenue facilitated by Dolley's additional role as a Foundation Trustee.
I have given the maximal credit possible to Lorimer's obscure protest at the Foundation internet ploy. (9) My mother attributed to him this objection, but he did not confirm it, and I remain very sceptical. If it ever occurred, this very muted objection was, at most, only a fleeting gesture anxious not to curtail financial benefits reaped by Wrekin alliances and SMN membership fees. We are discussing here a caricature of science and medicine, supporting a sector of calumniators who opted for the groin level of neo-Reichian therapy, who did not scruple at using intimidation (as in the case of Franciscus and Stewart, two Foundation officials of the 1990s), and who discrepantly promoted concepts like "unconditional love" and "conflict resolution" as proof of prowess.
Back to the letter of resignation. Thomas complained at the curt attitude expressed by one of the SMN Board of Directors, Dr. Mike King, in relation to Board decisions. In support of this detail, she mentioned some rather provocative correspondence of the previous year. The present writer has access to her letters from Dr. King, who is described as a reader in Computer Art and Animation at London Metropolitan University. He strongly suggested that he could teach enlightenment to persons like her, who "would need to unlearn everything that they had so painstakingly worked for" (letter to Thomas, dated July 6th, 2003).
A subsequent letter of July 15th reveals how Dr. King had acquired this superiority complex. He refers admiringly to neo-Advaita teachers who are "mainly Westerners," including Eckhart Tolle, and "more indirectly Andrew Cohen." A posited identity is misleading. Tolle has very little connection with Advaita Vedanta, and is American New Age, having gained fame via the vogue for present-centredness. He became popular at the Findhorn Foundation, where he appeared in the workshop programme. The Findhorn Foundation charged over £200 in 2004 for two days of Tolle, whose Power of Now event was described in terms of: "Experience firsthand what has been called the 'awakened state' through the intense conscious presence of the teacher" (Courses and Workshops May-Oct. 2004, p. 27). Eckhart Teachings Inc. has more recently emphasised subscription to Eckhart Tolle TV for up to a hundred dollars in the "journey of transformation."
In a further letter dated July 21st, Dr. King stated that the neo-shamanistic teachings of Grof and Bache represented a greater level of risk than other teachings, but he added that "I am personally a risk-taker."
The risks taken by SMN officials did not demonstrate critical faculties. Dr. King later advertised himself as a "spiritual teacher." See Blocked by Lorimer and King. Meanwhile, the career of David Lorimer furthered a project of enlisting "new age" celebrities at conferences. Motivated by his sense of integralism, over the years Lorimer promoted numerous entities, with rather varying backgrounds, and including some very controversial speakers such as Grof, Bache, and Andrew Cohen. This contrasted with his more sober elevation (in a book) of the Prince of Wales. (10) Critics take the view that such "new age" integralism is reckless, and far removed from the due exercise of critical faculties associated with mainstream science and medicine. Citizen faculties can also be critical, as in David Lorimer and New World Values.
4. LSD Theory Endorsed to Public Detriment
In 2002, Lorimer supported Bache with a glowing book review. This recommendation effectively endorsed Grof's LSD theory and the attendant psychedelic experiences which feature strongly in Bache's Dark Night, Early Dawn. In his validating review, Lorimer also deferred to the Grof advocate Richard Tarnas, whose version of Western philosophy is controversial. (11)
Bache had divulged that he interrupted his psychedelic states "because the extreme nature of the states I was entering became too stressful for my family to endure" (Dark Night, p. 311 note 10). Bache identifies these stress states with "a spiritual practice," which according to critics, is a pronounced confusion.
David Lorimer's enthusiast review of Bache's Dark Night, Early Dawn employed the phrase "truly a landmark book in consciousness studies." That phrase was subsequently employed in a commercial ad for the same book, inserted by SUNY Press in Cohen's magazine WIE (Issue 24, 2004, p. 11). SUNY capitalism is brazen, and may be regarded as an affliction for the public. SUNY Press also employed an eulogy by Richard Tarnas in the same psychedelic ad. Tarnas here describes Dark Night in terms of a "spiritual transformation of the entire human species" (ibid.). The SUNY milieu was here exalting a manual of LSD experiences, using a confused neo-Advaita readership to extend the hallucinogenic influence of LSD.
The SMN thus became renowned in America as a major support for Bache's invitation to Grof LSD "therapy" (and the closely related Holotropic Breathwork). That support effectively legitimated Stanislav Grof's ingestion of high dose LSD, which occurred more than a hundred times, the dose ranging from 300 to 1200 micrograms. (12) Almost anything can happen in situations permitting such a volume of psychedelic ingestion. Both of Grof's wives suffered a nervous breakdown, a drawback glossed in Grof lore as "spiritual emergency," a belief that has caused widespread confusion.
5. Ken Wilber in Dispute
The major influence in David Lorimer's assimilation of Andrew Cohen was evidently the repute of Ken Wilber as an expert on metaphysics. Lorimer justified his inclusion of Andrew Cohen (at the Wrekin conference in 2004) by reference to Cohen's own glossy magazine What is Enlightenment? (WIE), in which "guru" Cohen and "pundit" Ken Wilber maintained a dialogue that exerted a fascination for their followers. "I have been impressed by the level of debate between Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in WIE" (communication from Lorimer to Kate Thomas dated 11/02/2004).
According to critics, this susceptibility of Lorimer was a symptom of the prevalent "new age" inability to assess what was happening in the world of "alternative thought." The Cohen-Wilber dialogue in WIE has increasingly been viewed as demonstrating a pretentious pseudo-knowledge. Wilber's Quadrant theory, supposedly all-comprehensive, has been considered arbitrary, producing a metahistory lacking in research of the diverse fields encompassed. Wilber emerged with a sequel format in Integral Spirituality (2007), and this version has also been rejected by fairly numerous dissenters and critics. (13)
The pundit of "integral spirituality" is believed by partisans to have achieved "non-dual awareness." The fact is that Cohen's magazine advertised "the Ken Wilber sessions - an unprecedented audio learning experience" (WIE, Issue 25, 2004, inside back cover ad). This commerce is described as an integral map of the Kosmos (sic). Ten cassettes for seventy dollars, so great a bargain that "satisfaction is 100 per cent guaranteed."
One of the themes advertised in WIE for the Wilber cassettes was "sexuality and lovemaking in the gross, subtle, and causal bodies." Audio gurus are not a convincing proof of enlightenment, even if the nonsense is very influential. Wilber also became a video attraction, and expressed the affirmation "I am Big Mind," which has not escaped contention. He founded the Integral Institute and dismissed the many criticisms of his output.
6. What the SMN Accomodated
SMN membership fees, in 2004, varied from £24 to £37 per annum. The paying membership is not proof of a scientific and medical body. New Age recruits were so important to revenue that ethics were jettisoned in the effort to accomodate, e.g., high dose LSD, various modes of alternative therapy, and the Findhorn Foundation subscribers who mounted an internet libel in the wake of defamation lasting for a decade.
In 2001, the Annual General Meeting of the SMN took the decision to become a Limited Company. Yet this organisation was also described as a registered charity. "It took quite a long time to get across to the Charity Commission that the Company would be exclusively charitable in the future" (B. Van der Lugt, Editorial, Network Review no. 83, 2003, p. 2). The Board of Directors featured David Lorimer as Programme Director, while Dr. King represented "the domain for universities and research" (ibid.).
Kate Thomas penned an account of the 2001 AGM, which was placed online six years later. Details are given of an economic strategy. David Lorimer was evidently preoccupied with funding. At the members forum of this AGM, Thomas expressed her sense of shock at receiving the SMN Members Directory, which revealed that many members had a strong interest in subjects like shamanism, alternative therapy, Tantra, and magic. Science and medicine were decidedly ambiguous. Thomas mentioned supporting data, found elsewhere, concerning dubious workshops and courses promoted by some members. Lorimer looked surprised, and expressed an ignorance of such matters. Thomas found this disconcerting, as Lorimer had himself been responsible for enrolling the parties concerned. At the same AGM, Lorimer also wished to turn a blind eye to surfacing details of Findhorn Foundation misdemeanours.
The SMN magazine Network Review was edited by Lorimer. Soon after the resignation of Thomas, this journal featured a letter glorifying Holotropic Breathwork, and describing the commercial supervision of Stanislav Grof in terms of "true wisdom and compassion" (Network Review no. 84, 2004, p. 31). Another article by Bache was also featured in the same issue (ibid., pp. 21-3). Psychedelic global transformation here included a reservation that the method of Grof LSD ingestion "does not lend itself to stabilisation of the state" (ibid., p. 22 column 2), instead requiring the exercises of Tantric Buddhism.
This significant disclosure meant that Bache's manual of LSD experience, promoted by State University of California Press, required support in medieval Tantric methods. Critics of this situation were easily able to make an association with Chogyam Trungpa (1940-87), the controversial Tantric exponent whom Bache had explicitly endorsed in his writings as an advocate of LSD (Dark Night, p. 303 note 11). Very briefly, Trungpa was an alcoholic, reputedly a user of cocaine, and became notorious for promiscuity. His early death is inseparably associated with his alcoholism. The vista of chronic instability is rejected by persons of a different persuasion.
Very soon after, the SMN website featured a pro-LSD article by Bache (accessed 21/05/2004), but not the relevant disputing articles by Thomas. The choice was revealing. Both of the Thomas articles had appeared in Network Review, a fact making the very lop-sided presentation that much less justifiable. The Bache article exhibited a strong advocacy of LSD consumption, and to the extent of glorification in terms of a neoshamanist "medicine path."
The SMN website included a brief disclaimer of responsibility for views published. Critics countered that the responsibility for pro-LSD articulation was clearly with the presiding SMN Board of Directors (prominently including David Lorimer, the acknowledged leader). The Bache article was publicly visible in that context for six years. See further Grof Transpersonalism.
This issue is the more pressing in that the favoured article by Bache explicitly repudiated the view of Thomas. The sole promotion of the Bache theory by the SMN accordingly gave the impression that a contrasting perspective was erroneous and irrelevant. In this manner, the pro-LSD argument was endorsed by the SMN, and the anti-LSD argument was negated by SMN web strategy.
In 2005, Lorimer launched the University for Spirit Forum (USF), supposedly an independent project. This attempt transpired to be inseparable from his other organisations such as the Wrekin Trust. In response to a request for donations, Thomas applied for membership, and then encountered a very revealing situation. The Findhorn Foundation Trustee Janice Dolley transpired to be the secretarial intermediary for Lorimer. Dolley expressed a strong pro-drug standpoint. The report of Thomas states: "My opposition to the Grof-Bache doctrines was clearly viewed as a problematic factor.... Janice explicitly stated that criticisms of drug use were not welcome in the USF." See Janice Dolley and the USF Sanction of Drug Use.
Dolley was the bridge between the Wrekin Trust and the Findhorn Foundation. Subscriptions were the all-important factor. Thomas was clearly viewed as a potential obstacle to subscriptions. In a telephone conversation with Thomas, Dolley strongly justified the Foundation against all criticism, and dismissed the dissident book by Stephen Castro entitled Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996). The subscriptions drive was in explicit support of psychedelic cases such as Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), who was legitimated by Dolley (and Lorimer) as having gained a spiritual experience. The reality is that Alpert was the inspiration for innumerable drug trips since the 1960s, some of them fatal. Many drug ingesters have become "spiritual teachers," adding to the substantial confusion in the "new age" sectors. The pro-Grof nature of Lorimer's new enterprise was obvious, and one of the reasons why I circulated in 2006 my Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer, profiling some discrepancies. There was no response to that lengthy epistle from the party in question.
The University of Spirit Forum failed to become established. Dolley was subsequently visible on the web as a status component of the Findhorn Foundation College (formerly Cluny Hill College), a separate business within the Foundation economic complex and conducting expensive courses. The economic complex is a registered charity, a situation which some have questioned.
Observers have sometimes wondered what the SMN phrase "scientific and medical" actually means. In a feature dating to 2011, Lorimer distinguished his viewpoint from the "orthodox experimental approach" in a university psychology syllabus. This is not at all surprising, given the nature of his known interests. He was more than usually explicit in this instance. His basic complaint is that "Jung, Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart" are not included in the conventional syllabus. He affirms that these entities represent "an approach which is far more meaningful." Furthermore, Lorimer here divulges a key theme of his approach. "One of the assumptions I am making is that my mind is the Universal Mind." This approach is perhaps not too far removed from Ken Wilber's maxim "I am Big Mind." It certainly encompasses Grof, Tart, Bache, and their psychedelic promotionalism.
Critics say that a scientific and medical network amounts to a futurist hope in the circles under discussion here. In other words, critical faculties are eclipsed by New Age integralism. The SMN presents a much more academic front than the Findhorn Foundation, but there are strong links in some conceptualism, and also via membership. At the Findhorn Foundation in 2009, Andrew Cohen and other disputed entities appeared in the workshop programme that is notoriously expensive. Despite the mood for ecology, the accompanying activities are clearly aimed at an affluent and non-critical clientele.
The well known patronage of NDE (near-death experience) by the SMN is not proof that wisdom inspires the contemporary "new spirituality." (14) Given the entirety of this scenario, the near-death throes of culture are a more likely prospect. Commercial vampirism is well attested. As a critic of the Grof-Bache message and other doctrines, I here abstain from influential lunacies. "I remain a total outsider [to the New Age] as a point of philosophical principle" (Pointed Observations, p. 220).
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
(1) Kate Thomas is my mother Jean Shepherd. The former name derives from her second marriage, and was employed as an author name, initially because her first husband did not wish for domestic identities to be revealed in print. In her books, she was careful to refer to her first husband (my father) as Patrick, which was his second Christian name. My father was thus placated, and reassured that he could not be readily identified.
(2) John P. Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation (London: Finderne Publishing, 2003). Greenaway's correspondence is profiled at Deceptive Priority of Economics.
(3) David Lorimer, "A Deep Ecology of Mind," Network Review no. 78 (2002), pp. 52-3. I have commented on this review of Bache in Pointed Observations (2005), pp. 378-9 note 155. "Lorimer's review is almost totally uncritical, and clearly endorses the Grofian paradigm." The book reviewed was C. Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind (State University of New York Press, 2000).
(4) This matter is documented in Thomas, The Destiny Challenge (Forres, 1992), chapter 14; Stephen J. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres, 1996). The same complex episode is described in several online articles, including Thomas, SMN Events. See also Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation and Findhorn Foundation: Myth and Reality. The latter are my own contributions, along with Findhorn Foundation Commercial Mysticism. Less well known is my early paper entitled "On Sociology and the New Age," which can be found in Shepherd, Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (1995), pp. 919-944.
(5) In her letter of resignation to Lorimer, Thomas also mentioned that one of the Foundation celebrities during the 1990s was Dr. Cornelia Featherstone (née Fellner), who was also an SMN member. Featherstone was described in the SMN members directory as being Medical Director of Holistic Health Care Ltd, one of the priorities here being listed as social justice. The doctoral credentials are given as M.B., Ch.B. The medicobiz (my term) of Dr. Featherstone has included neo-Reichian therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, Reiki, reflexology, shiatsu, and Californian massage. Such alternative therapy was disowned by proficient medical doctors in Forres, who made a public statement in this respect. Yet the SMN has fostered such anomalies, leading to an accusation that SMN medicine is too often culled from the New Age commercial sector. Medicobiz had a questionable relation to social justice via the 1990s events in which Findhorn Foundation staff demonstrated "New Age mafia" tactics. Cf. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996), pp. 10-11, 13, 85ff., 136ff. The disputed therapies of Dr. Fellner were part of her role as co-ordinator for the "holistic health department" of the Findhorn Foundation.
(6) "Some members of the SMN have expressed concern at the inclusion of the American guru Andrew Cohen in a 'Mystics and Scientists' conference organised by David Lorimer. Yet the objections were vetoed by Lorimer, whose decision included the reflection that 'I have been impressed by the level of debate betwen Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in WIE' (communication to Kate Thomas dated Feb. 11th, 2004)." This quote comes from my Pointed Observations, p. 220. The WIE dialogues became a target of critics, who viewed the "guru and pundit" as inflated entities spreading confusions. WIE is the abbreviation for the Cohen magazine What is Enlightenment?
(7) I referred to these articles in Pointed Observations, p. 378 note 151. The article of Bache favoured by Lorimer "was written in response to a critical assessment of his emphases," meaning Thomas, "Transpersonal Experiences - a Need for Re-evaluation?" These two articles appeared in the same issue of Network Review no. 81 (2003). Lorimer evidently did not think that there was a need for reassessment. Bache's article was entitled "Is the Sacred Medicine Path a Legitimate Spiritual Path?" Grof LSD theory here became a venerable shamanistic tradition of legitimate ancestry. Thomas afterwards contributed the article "Disbelieving 'Sacred Medicine' " (Network Review no. 83 (2003), pp. 29-30. Lorimer deemed this to be a letter, and did not grant article status, an act of pro-Bache favouritism which was critically received in some quarters. The Thomas articles can be viewed at Neglected Papers Against Grof Therapy.
(8) The Cambridge seminar was described in Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (2004), pp. 39-41. This conference occurred at St. John's College, and "was entitled 'Beyond the Brain,' a provocative and markedly Grofian phrase, being the title of a book by Dr. Grof which notably detailed his controversial LSD psychotherapy" (ibid., p. 39). The conference brochure referred to Holotropic Breathwork without criticism. "There is surely an ethical discrepancy in the sitation of a hazardous trademark therapy being endorsed by prestigious organisations with such elevated names as the Scientific and Medical Network and the Institute of Noetic Sciences" (ibid., p. 40). The holotropic activity (involving hyperventilation) was commercially furthered by Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. This activity had produced casualties in former years at the Findhorn Foundation, but all such mishap was covered up by partisan promotionalism. Kate Thomas was one of those who personally witnessed some of the casualties.
(9) This is a feature in my analysis of Findhorn Foundation matters at pages 217-18 of Pointed Observations. Those comments form part of the lengthy Note for Serious Readers (pp. 208ff.), presented in text block without paragraph divisions, to emphasise the title. That Note concluded Part Five (pp. 167-220), which focused on the Foundation in a critical spirit, employing data from dissidents.
(10) See David Lorimer, Radical Prince: The Practical Vision of the Prince of Wales (Edinburgh, 2003). Some recorded SMN events can be viewed as a contradiction to this celebration. "The radical prince does not appear to be a partisan of the drugs lobby, and hopefully never will be" (Pointed Observations, p. 379 note 155).
(11) See Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind (1991). This treatment evoked from me the web article Philosophy, Richard Tarnas, and Postmodernism.
(12) John Horgan, Rational Mysticism (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), p. 163. Horgan reports that Grof first took LSD in 1956, and later supervised more than four thousand LSD sessions involving other people. Grof "concluded that conventional Freudian psychoanalysis could not account for the tremendous variety of experiences inspired by LSD" (ibid.). The explanations preferred by neo-Jungian Grof can be strongly faulted. Horgan also met Grof's wife Christina. "Together with her husband, she argued [over the years] that many psychological problems - among them depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction - are actually 'spiritual emergencies' that stem from a deep-rooted yearning for spiritual meaning" (ibid., p. 172). The confusions created by such theories became widespread. Drawbacks in Holotropic Breathwork were described as spiritual emergencies by Grof Transpersonal Training. Cf. Grof, Psychology of the Future (2000). My earliest detailed reference to the Grof issue can be found in the new introduction (1990) to Meaning in Anthropos (1991), pp. xxxivff.
(13) The tireless Frank Visser maintains the critical website Integral World, where articles by Visser and others discussing Wilber can be found. Visser is the author of Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY Press, 2003). Visser here validated Wilber, but afterwards became the leading critic. My own critique of Wilber predates most others, and the first instalment appeared in Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (1995), pp. 101-127. A web contribution is Ken Wilber and Integralism. Cf. Wilber, Integral Spirituality (2007), and the multi-volume Collected Works of Ken Wilber.
(14) Commercial NDE is widespread, and converges with imaginations of new age channellers, who have frequently found haven at the Findhorn Foundation. My Citizen Initiative website (2007) was at first greeted with disbelief by those accustomed to deceptive promotionalism of the Findhorn Foundation, with whom the SMN are closely associated. After a while, some parties (more readily, the one representing Richard Dawkins) grasped that I was telling the truth. Recent political/legal events are of widespread interest. Scottish law court procedures revealed a complication for the Findhorn Foundation as created by an immigration officer acting for the Secretary of State. The legal opinion of Lord Stewart awarded concession to a petition of the Foundation, who clearly desired to maintain their expensive courses and workshops as a registered charity and NGO. The situation is now more controversial than formerly, even though BBC News still maintains generalities about the Findhorn Foundation. For a more radical perspective, see Findhorn Foundation Discrepancies. See also Legal Complexities, reporting a devious strategy of the Findhorn Foundation management in denying known membership details of a dissident. The management made this denial to an English solicitor, and the record will not evaporate. See Denial of Membership in Foundation Ruse with Solicitor. The matter has been considered extremely grave, and proof of evasive tactics.
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R.D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.