A lesson about authority
God's Country Place (GCP) people caused quite a stir when they arrived at the Omega Conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Their ecstatic practices of moving, shaking their heads, waving their arms and making sounds made them appear to be a kind of Miracles brand of Holy Rollers. They were bright eyed and lit up with energy, inviting us to visit their community in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, where they claimed that people are steeping into the light and becoming enlightened with the help of their "Master Teacher" and ACIM.
While I felt uninspired by their antics, several people from my Miracles group attended their workshops and were so intrigued that they wanted to go to Wisconsin. They were attracted to the non-conflictual, open-eyed look of the people and to working with this kind of energy. I decided to put aside my first impressions and find out more about these people by attending one of their sessions. Diana, a GCP student teacher, was teaching from the Course that day. She was inspiring, talking about light experiences, enlightenment and physical transformation, some of my favorite topics that receive little attention from most Course teachers. Having worked with the Course for over 14 years, I was excited about an approach to the Course that included these topics. Besides, I was curious to find out more about these people.
So I immediately headed for Wisconsin where I spent the next three weeks exploring GCP and myself. My experiences there were quite different than I expected. While I love the people, I strongly disagree with much that is taught there.
Since returning from Wisconsin, People have been calling me to get more information on GCP because they are concerned about their friends or family members who have gone there and stayed or who went to move there. It would be easier not to comment, and just let people go there to find out for themselves. However, I decided that it would not be loving to withhold information that might prevent someone from being hurt by going there. Love is fearless, and therefore honest, open and direct; and it is in this spirit of love that I openly share my experience at GCP with you.
What is God's Country Place?
God's Country Place is a large rural house in Wisconsin, functioning as the main house for the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor and its congregation. Most of them live within a 25-mile radius in group homes, which are also part of GCP.
They object to anyone referring to GCP as a community. They say it is not a community because everyone is doing his or her own individual process of enlightenment. However, the most important thing for each person's individual process is living in the protected environment of GCP and attending group sessions. Therefore, it is a collective experience. It is registered as a church, and I shall refer to it as such.
Their leader has absolute authority over GCP and is called "Master Teacher" by his followers. I refer to him as MT. MT is a charismatic teacher who promises people what we would all like to have - enlightenment, heaven, and immortality. He does not just promise this as the goal to be attained by those who apply spiritual principles. MT promises that he will enlighten everyone that follows him, and he promises that it will happen soon. He says only his followers are on the list to "get out of here" and go Home with him. They plan to "flash out" of here together. He asks people to give up everything they don't like - working for a living, paying bills, painful relationships, sickness, and death. How can anyone turn down such a deal? What an enlightenment! People want to believe MT.
People leave their jobs, and frequently, their families to live in GCP and be taken care of by MT. However, the fulfillment of these promises is based on the assumption that MT is the illumined super being that he claims to be, with powers beyond those of any spiritual teacher who has ever lived, enabling him to illumine everyone who follows him. MT claims that no master, other than him, has been capable of enlightening his followers, including Jesus. However, if he isn't who he claims to be, what will he do when he can't fulfill his promise to get them "out of here?"
He fosters feelings of superiority, specialness, and separation in his students by elevating them and demeaning everyone else. This was reflected in the condescending tone that many people feel from his followers when they attended the Miracles' Omega Conference.
"According to MT, people must recognize what a horrible place this is and learn to hate the world like he does so that they can `get out of here`"
Who is Master Teacher?
MT's personal identity was a closely guarded secret but his real name is Chuck Anderson, a retired real estate broker from Chicago. He was an alcoholic who led AA groups for many years. He claims to have had many spontaneous kundalini experiences that caused him intense pain, resulting in his full illumination in 1979, when his body was "gutted" and he was "inserted by brothers from out of time."
He says that teaching is just a job he "has to" do. He make it very clear that he doesn't want to be here, and that it takes great effort for him to remain in his body. "I drew the short straw," he said. MT says that God is uncompromising and so is MT, so he is here to help people out of their authority conflict with God.
MT says he doesn't like to appear in public, give interviews or talk to anyone on the phone, because "people will try to kill the Christ if they know where He is." He prophesies that someday they will come to destroy him and his church.
MT's following remained very small until this year. As of July, 1991, his following had grown from the original 4, to 12 people living in GCP. By October, when they went to the Omega Miracles Conference, there were approximately 70 people living there, most of whom were from an ACIM group in Denver.
The key to their sudden growth may have been his discovery of ACIM. His original followers said they couldn't understand anything he said until he started teaching from the Course. MT says that the Course explains what happened to him.
Does MT enlighten his devotees?
Several of his devotees claim that he has enlightened them. Diana, his top teacher, is the only one who claims to be fully illumined and no longer human. To be enlightened, they had to make a commitment to MT and give up everything. MT doesn't tell his followers when they are enlightened, they tell him. According to Ana, the one in charge of public relations, the way they know they are enlightened is that they recognize who MT really is. (The traditional criteria for enlightenment is that you recognize who YOU really are.)
Do MT's followers have light experiences?
No one was having light experiences until a student, named Glorious, had a spontaneous awakening of kundalini in which she began moving and experiencing light on her own. The others started to "raise energy" and moving their bodies like she did, including MT. One ecstatic follower describes her inner process as "raising her deepest desire to the light."
While there are no instructions available for experiencing this energy, people are encouraged by example and peer pressure to move their bodies, feel their emotions, tap on top of their heads, breathe deeply, raise their arms over their heads. This is done to the sound of religious or other emotional music. These are well-known methods to alter awareness, promote emotional catharsis, and/or produce inner heat or kundalini. Devotion is also a powerful energy, and MT's followers are very loving and devoted people.
Having taught kundalini yoga, TM and rebirthing, I know that this energy has to be integrated through grounding techniques or grounding activity so that people can maintain emotional stability. At GCP, grounding is not taught or encouraged by example. Therefore, people who are ungrounded can get so involved in their own cathartic process of raising energy that they become dysfunctional and unable to deal with the normal aspects of daily life.
Others do not experience this energy at all, including several of those who claim to be enlightened. Diana usually tells people that her movements are caused by the light. However, she told some people who weren't experiencing this energy that she doesn't feel it either. All she experiences is a slight opening on top of her head. She said that her constant movements are not caused by the light, but are her expressions of her love for God that help her to stay centered.
What is the purpose of their movements or demonstrations?
Like Diana, some people use body movements to remember God and stay centered. The movements also serve as a language of love between them, helping them to communicate loving feelings without words. People can experience joy expressing themselves in this way. These gestures also serve to ward off negative thoughts and painful feelings from "humans." Their sounds and movements can also be expressions of emotional catharsis, which can sometimes be very painful.
Normally, they don't do these movements when they are in public places. For example, they don't do them while shopping in Reedsburg. MT doesn't want them upsetting people who live in their area. However, he told these followers to do these movements at the Omega Miracles Conference as "demonstrations." The question is, what do they demonstrate? They do not demonstrate enlightenment, not even by MT's standards. Outside of GCP, they appear only to call attention to the "specialness" of GCP people, thereby setting them apart or separating them from others.
What is it like to live there?
Living with the people at GCP can be a wonderful experience. The residents are very loving people, who are committed to their own enlightenment process. They live in a vacation atmosphere, since few of them have any responsibilities there. It is a great life for them, having left there jobs, bills, and usually families behind to be there. Most of them are new to this place and are full of the anticipation of greatness, the feeling of specialness, and the safety of being taken care of by MT.
MT tells them to consume sugar, caffeine, and fat to give them energy. He wants them to eat simply without getting involved in health foods. They rejoice in being told to live on "a junk food diet." They can eat anything they want except meat. MT doesn't want them "taking on the karma of another consciousness."
Diana said they don't want anyone coming there who is still in conflict. MT's followers do not question anything that goes on there. They spend their time going to sessions, feeling the energy, relaxing, playing or being in silence. A few spend their time in service within the church. They avoid any form of conflict, including asking questions that might be considered conflictual.
People can't ask questions of MT during sessions, but they can make appointments to see him. However, people don't do that unless they have major questions. Most people say that they mentally ask questions and MT answers them in sessions. However, it is obvious that questions about the validity of what he is teaching do not get answered in this way.
Since questions are not always during meetings, those needing help can ask questions of advanced students or staff. However, they may not get their questions answered if their motive for asking them is not deemed acceptable. When asking a question, the questioner can be asked, "Who is asking the question?" or "What is the purpose of your question?" Some people are told that their questions can't be answered because it is too difficult for an enlightened person to communicate these things to unenlightened ones. Aren't enlightened people supposed to be enlightening, just like loving people are loving?
"MT claims that no master, other than him, has been capable of enlightening his followers, including Jesus."
How do they support themselves?
When people at the Omega Conference asked, "How do you support yourselves if nobody works?" They were told repeatedly "We need do nothing."
In practice, there are many wealthy people in the church who support others. They are very generous in giving money for current expenses to those in need. Everyone is asked to get rid of all their past debts and anything else that ties them to the outside world before they go there to live. While they are not required to have enough money to support themselves, it is strongly encouraged. The church takes care of all the current expenses of those who no longer have any money. Everyone, including MT, lives very simply.
They suggest that residents pay a minimum of $250 a month for a room in a house plus their own groceries and other expenses. Others own houses or pay rent according to the charges of the person owning the house. There are different arrangements in different houses. If a person doesn't have any money, they may be asked to work part time. They request that visitors pay at least $250 a week. No one is excluded if they can't pay. They are very good about this.
They take great pride in the fact that they are not involved in the exchange principle. People are encouraged to give everything. MT says that "God only gives," and he points out that holding onto anything keeps people from God. MT sometimes criticizes those with money for "holding." It is pointed out that those who have been enlightened give everything to MT, including monthly income, like pension checks.
Having money invested is discouraged, because that would be planning, and planning is seen as an attack on God. They call this "holding." Holding could be a real problem for older people who are trying to provide for their retirement with investments. MT promises that those who stop holding and make a commitment to him will not get sick and die. The desire to live could be a powerful motivation to give everything away to someone promising to make their bodies immortal.
Ana said that if the church runs out of money, people will have to go to work, and that's ok because they are talented people. However, church insolvency could be tragic for those who gave everything to the church and are too old to start over again.
When they move there, people are asked for a financial statement, but are not required to give money. However, pressure may increase as the church grows and needs more money to support itself. The church is very young right now.
In October, residents were told that they were responsible for making housing available for 10,000 new people who are expected to arrive soon, because the church didn't have any money left. They had spent it all buying property. The residents must also meet the expenses of the main house, which was $25,000 a month at that time. In a meeting with the heads of all the houses, they were told, "Some of you are still holding, and Master Teacher doesn't like that."
There is a master plan for financial support. MT calls it his "pyramid to God." He expects thousands of people to come to GCP. The ever-increasing number of new people will support the ones who are there and have already contributed everything. Therefore, this plan is based on the rapid recruitment of large numbers of people. Ana said that 144,000 is the figure mentioned in the Bible.
Some of these people will live in the 12 satellites that MT plans to set up around the world. MT predicts that he will fully illumine 12 people who will run these satellites and be capable of enlightening others. However, he has to leave before this can happen. This seems to contradict his promise to take everyone with him when he goes.
What does MT Teach?
MT teaches that the Course is a transformational journal designed to enlighten people and take them Home to Heaven without having to die to get there. He inspires people to realize that they can be enlightened now, not lifetimes from now, just as the Course says. Enlightenment is a foreign idea to most people, receiving little attention from Course teachers. He gets people to take this part of the Course literally. This makes the Course come alive with new meaning and attracts many people to his teachings.
MT approaches the Course like a 12-step program. He says people are "humaholics," because they are addicted to their limited identities as human beings. This keeps them from remembering who they are and waking up. According to MT, people need to "bottom out" with pain and realize the consequences of their addictive behavior by seeing just how much they are hurting themselves and others, before they will be motivated enough to even want to go Home.
MT is also a showman, complete with song and dance. He dazzles people with his fast thinking and fast talking. He connects thoughts and draws conclusions in ways that appear to be brilliantly logical, ending with statements like, "It cannot not be so." Many people can't follow his thinking, and they assume it is because he is so brilliant that he is far beyond them in understanding. So, they accept what he says as true. However, when his tapes are transcribed so that people can read what he is saying at their leisure, much of it doesn't make sense. It loses its glitter. His reasoning is frequently faulty. Even Ana admitted that "strange things happened" when his tapes were transcribed, so they stopped transcribing them.
In my opinion, MT is also a mental magician, doing "sleight of mind" tricks and distorting basic Course concepts. The Course says that there is no one but you; the world is a dream; and all that you are experiencing is only happening in your mind. MT does his "sleight of mind" tricks with these and interprets them to mean that each person is responsible for causing all the pain and suffering in the world. He shames people by saying, "Every child that dies is because of you. Every person that starves to death is because of you," etc. He wants each person to take total responsibility for making a mess out of the world, and "make amends."
The Course does say that it is our own thoughts that cause us pain, but it doesn't ask us to repent, as if we were sinners. The Course was written in the spirit of love and forgiveness to show us we are not guilty of anything. "If the sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself, and I assure you that it is, then the responsibility for what is atoned for cannot be yours. t79/85 Our only responsibility is choosing o forgive and be in a state of peace and love.
According to MT, people must recognize what a horrible place this is and learn to hate the world like he does so they can "get out of here." He says, "I hate the world." He thinks that as long as people love the world or are too happy or too comfortable here, even in GCP, they won't want to leave. He says that the problem with most advanced teachers is that they still love the world.
"MT's repeated attacks on me brought up my self doubts for me to see. Then the holy Spirit whispered in my ear, "What God thinks is true and nothing else is true." With that thought, I realized that I was feeling pain from MT's abusive attempts to surrender to him only because I hadn't really surrendered to God."
How do MT's followers see the world?
The world becomes increasingly repulsive and painful to MT's followers. This is considered a symptom of the enlightenment process as the "humanness" of others and visiting outside church becomes increasingly painful to those who are said to be transforming. They don't apply the same principle that "it is all in their mind" to recognize that their own pain is self-induced. They are not taught to change their own minds about how they see humanness. They are taught that people are "past associations" that can "murder them by holding them in identity." They are not taught, "Open your eyes today and look upon a happy world of safety and of peace. Forgiveness is the means by which it comes to take the place of hell." w214/218
The Course asks us to transform our nightmares into happy dreams, because it is a course in miracles, not a course in "getting out of here." Miracles are moment-by-moment perceptual shifts that take us from a state of fear, in which we feel pain, to a state of love, in which we see a loving world of healing and forgiveness. Out trust increases with each shift as we come to experience our real identity and become enlightened. The Course says that God takes the last step for us, as we awaken from the dream. We don't do that part.
MT teaches that even those who are already enlightened must hate the world, because loving the world could hurt them. Rosie, an assistant teacher and one claiming enlightenment, said, "I must be on myself every day to remember to hate the world. Every child that dies is because of me. Every person who is ill, murdered, raped or starves to death is because of me. If I don't remember to hate the world, I will be pulled back into the world again." Yet the Course teaches us that it not love, but attachment to the world that brings pain, because attachment is fear. We can love without attachment. In fact, we can only love when we are not attached.
Love is a state of mind in which we are loving everything and everyone, without exception, if only for that moment. Can a person be in a state of love and hate at the same time? Since the means and end are the same, can hating lead to the state of love? How can the world cause pain when it merely reflects our state of mind? Wouldn't a person have to be in a state of fear to see a fearful world? Can a person be enlightened and hate the world?
Is MT teaching "A Course in Miracles"?
The Course says we see a meaningless world, that no "thing" has value unless it is eternal, and that we can't fix the world. MT uses his "sleight of mind" tricks on these ideas to teach people that their lives outside GCP have no value. People get depressed even thinking about leaving GCP, because MT paints such a hopeless view of their lives.
MT uses people's pain to motivate them to quit their jobs and leave their families, if necessary to move to GCP. He says that no matter how hard they try to do good in the world, nothing works. He points out that even those in serving professions are merely wasting their time, because regardless of what they do to help people, people still have problems. the poor are still poor; there are still racial problems; and people still get sick and die. He wants people to feel that everything they are doing is pointless. He tells them that even the spiritual practices and meditations they have been doing are either destructive or useless.
According to MT, the world is bad and getting worse and there is nothing they can do to change anything, except "get out of here" and change the world. MT wants people to believe that GCP is their only hope, and make a commitment to him because they believe "there is no other place to go," (a line of surrender MT quotes from the movie An officer and a Gentleman). This line is used like a motto.
This fear-based approach is another grand distortion of the Course. The Course teaches us that things and conflict have no meaning or value, but that we can give a valuable meaning to our lives by choosing peace as our only goal in every situation. "The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful." t341/366
Love and peace have real value because they are eternal creations that will be with us after the world is gone. Touching the lives of others with love and peace has value, regardless of the form it takes. It is never a waste of time to love another as yourself. People still die when Mother Theresa holds them is her arms, but the love they create together is real and lives on forever.
Wanting to heal others is also put down as unproductive. MT said, "Don't let your brother be sick and then say "let me do something to make you well." That's absurd. You'll never make him well. You are the cause of his illness" (from MT's tape The Bright lights are Heaven). Cause is one way, according to MT. If people cause pain, sickness and death, can't they also cause healing peace and happiness in the world?
The Course teaches us to be miracle workers and love and serve others as our Self, because we are One Self. That is why "there is no one but you." Although it is true we can only heal ourselves, "it is impossible that anyone be healed alone." w254/261, because we are One Being.
"My self-doubts came from having given authority to my ego instead of to God ... I can see now just how painful and dangerous it is to give authority to anyone but God."
MT teaches that a person must get rid of all identity, because God doesn't have any identity, not even "I AM." However, the Course doesn't teach by negating all identity. It helps us recognize our false identities and accept the one Identity we share. "Your goal is to find out who you are, having denied your Identity" w105/106. "Identify with love and you are safe. Identify with love and you are Home. Identify with love, and find your Self" w415/425. "'I am as God created me.' This one thought would be enough to save you and the world if you believed that it is true" w195/199.
MT teaches that the Holy Spirit is ego and can't help people get out of here. He discounts the Holy Spirit, because it was made along with forgiveness during the separation. He says that the Holy Spirit was not created eternal even though the Course says the Holy Spirit was created eternal by God and will remain with us after the world is gone (see t68/74 & m85/89).
MT claims that Jesus can't help people either, because people made both the holy Spirit and Jesus in their dreams. He says that God can't help people get out of here, because God doesn't see the illusion. (However, the Course says that God takes the last step for us. "Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him." w350/360
MT gets rid of every source of love that people have, until they are totally dependent on him. So there they are, hating the world, needing to get out of here, and having no one to help them except MT. According to MT, he alone can help them because he is from "out of time." He is their future Self calling back to help them to wake up.
In my opinion, MT uses guilt and fear to intimidate people into surrendering to him through phrases like "shame on you," "dummy" and "you are attacking me." He says that people are "running out of time" and "unless you change your mind now, it will never change and you will be condemned to hell forever" (from MT's tape All You Ever Had To Know).
By saying, with an air of authority, that everything he teaches is from A Course In Miracles, he uses the Course to validate his opinions and authenticate himself. Everything MT teaches is not from ACIM, but people can't safely question his interpretations of the Course, nor do they ever hear anyone else questioning them, which only serves to give his interpretations credibility.
Why don't people question what MT is teaching?
MT's followers are uncomfortable questioning these concepts, because their questions are seen as "just perceptual" and MT says that all perception is an attack. Some people are fearful of questioning what MT teaches, because people are publicly chastised for "trying to figure things out." They are supposed to accept every word MT says without questioning. MT does not want people trying to figure him out either. Questioning of any kind is seen as a personal attack on him. He sees any attempt to figure him out as giving him an identity, and therefore an attempt to murder him. He says that people are murdering each other by holding each other in identity. In so doing, isn't MT teaching people to hold others responsible for their own states of mind?
In sessions, he commonly attacks people for having questioning minds and for asserting their identities. Although students aren't allowed to talk or as questions during sessions, MT claims to know psychically when they are attacking him in their minds. His psychic claim is supported by the network of people whose job it is to report what people are doing and saying.
After publicly chastising one student, MT said, "I'll bet you perceive this as an attack. If you perceive it as an attack, it is because you are defending yourself. This is a Course in Miracles!" (This is not a Course in Miracles, but a distortion of it, used to reverse cause and effect, thus blaming the student for MT's attack. The Course actually says, "If I defend myself, I am attacked" w245/252.)
While the students are told MT's attacks are only happening in their minds, MT doesn't apply the same principle to himself, even though he is always seeing people attacking him. Don't the attacks MT sees happen only in his mind? The Course says that an attack is really a call for love when seen from a perspective of love. Why doesn't MT see attacks as calls for love? Where is his compassion?
By applying principles only one way, MT can blame his students for anything. He has promised his followers that they will not have to get sick and die, but if someone in his group does get sick and die, he can always blame it on that person for attacking him, because MT has repeatedly said, "You'll have to die to prove me wrong."
Students are told that they can either make a master who lets them down or one who takes them to Heaven. It's all up to them, because it is only happening in their minds. So MT is off the hook. He is not responsible for anything. If he can't make good on any of his promises, or if he makes a mistake, his students will have no one to blame but themselves, according to MT.
"And gods demand that those who worship them obey their dictates and refuse to question them. Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane. It is their enemies who are unreasonable and insane, while they are always merciful and just." w319/327
How does MT deal with relationships?
MT says, "Every word of the Course is literally true," but he uses Course principles selectively and out of context, thereby distorting their meaning. He says he is only working with people who want enlightenment, so he doesn't have to deal with some of the concepts in the Course, like having relationships, and he puts down those that do. He uses his "sleight of mind" tricks again when he tells people that their relationship with God is the only relationship there is, because relationships are not interactive events, but events happening within their own consciousness. Therefore other people are just past associations holding them in their identities, murdering them and keeping them from God. "All your associations are attractions of guilt" (from MT's tape, The Bright Lights are Heaven). Contrary to what the Course teaches, MT says it's impossible to have a holy relationship, except with God. He also discourages marriage.
Transpersonal psychotherapists have warned that experience of spiritual light can cause psychological disturbances when people are not emotionally stable in their relationships with others. For example, when a person has a tendency towards presumption and self-centredness in relationships, what is going on within may be misinterpreted. A momentary experience of going beyond the veil may be interpreted as permanent illumination.
After returning from this altered state of consciousness, "level confusion" takes place and the distinction between spirit and personality is overlooked. The personality or ego assumes a divine identity, which is now only a fragile image that must be protected from close examination or questioning of any kind. >From this narcissistic and paranoid perspective, the world appears to be divided into two groups -- those who support this divine identity and those who are seen as attacking it.
To avoid psychological disturbances such as this, the Course prepares us for the awakening by establishing emotional stability through the forgiveness process. "Relationships in particular must be properly perceived, and all dark cornerstones of unforgiveness removed. Otherwise the old thought system still has a basis for return" m25/26. Healing relationships is the enlightening process because, "The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship with one another" t337/361
How does MT perceive other spiritual teachers?
MT belittles most spiritual teachers and all teachers of the Course, including Helen Schuman, the one who transcribed it. He says they are not enlightened and don't understand the Course. Kenneth Wapnick is a favorite target of ridicule, Paul Ferrini, the one who invited GCP to the Omega Conference, is another. These king of negative comments are usually edited from MT's tapes.
The following quote shows how he feels about spiritual teachers in general. "Where is the obstacle to you being with God except the spiritual path ...... you know the sentence in the Course? The only one on the spiritual path is somebody with their hands over their eyes. That's a direct sentence from Jesus." (The correct quote is, "Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all" w347/357 MT goes son to say, "All of these so-called teachers have absolutely no intention of going to God. They are specifically designed to keep their perceptions and protect themselves from reality" (from MT's tape, The Bright Lights are Heaven).
How does the "God's Country Place" (GCP) recruit people?
GCP uses its musical talented people to get invitations to give concerts. Then the "light team," consisting of about 8 or 12 evangelists, goes with the musicians, even though they were not invited to teach. Once there they use their demonstrations to get opportunities to speak. This is what happened at Omega when GCP offered to put on a play for us. Only that time, they sent 60 people. They were not scheduled to give workshops, but ended up giving workshops every day. They were a novelty attraction. They didn't go there to learn from us, but to teach us the "right" way to interpret the Course.
Conflict, not peace, follows GCP students wherever they go. Some ACIM groups have broken up over them. They make distracting demonstrations during meetings, frightening some people and giving new people a mistaken idea about the Course. MT's followers try to turn existing ACIM groups into MT study groups, because any other way of studying the Course is seen as inferior. Many followers do not hesitate to demean other people and groups, just like MT does.
Dissatisfaction with life is a part of MT's teachings and GCP's recruitment method. They believe that anyone who is not living in GCP is "living in hell." They want people to become more aware of their pain so they will move to Wisconsin and live in God's Country Place, their Haven from hell.
"The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise above the storm, into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasizes the guilt outside the haven by attempting to build barricades against it, and keep within them" and "You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it, but merely drive it under ground and out of sight." t314/337.
"Healing our relationships is the enlightenment process because, 'The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another'" t337/361
What did I learn from this experience?
I am grateful for this experience at GCP, because it provided me with an intense learning situation. I experienced a deep level of healing as the result of my confrontations there.
As you can tell from this article, I am one of those people with a questioning mind. MT's repeated attacks on me brought up my self-doubts for me to see. Then the holy Spirit whispered in my ear, "What God thinks is true and nothing else is true." With that thought, I realized that I was feeling pain from MT's abusive attempts to get me to surrender to him, only because I really hadn't surrendered to God. If I had accepted God as my only authority, I would have remained centered and at peace, knowing that I am still as God created me; holy, worthy and innocent, regardless of circumstances.
My self-doubts came from having given authority to my ego instead of God. The ego judges worthiness according to external circumstances and the opinions of others. Therefore, I either make others right and need their approval to be okay, or I will defend myself to be okay. Either way I give others authority over my state of mind. Only the ego cares what other people think. When I am in pain, my ego brings up my self-doubts by asking, "What's wrong with you that you are creating this situation?" This focus on external circumstances leaves me unaware of truth and therefore vulnerable to being controlled by my own reaction to others. I can see now just how painful and dangerous it is to give authority to anyone but God.
When God is my only authority, I can recognize truth easily by its loveliness. "Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes" t200/215. There are no exceptions to this, according to ACIM. However, I negate my own awareness of truth when I give authority to others, because I can't listen to two authorities at the same time. To be inner-directed, all authority must be given to God. Therefore the Course teaches us to see everyone as our equal brother and follow the Holy Spirit instead of any outer authority. Our Master Teacher lies within.
Every experience in our lives can be used for our own enlightenment, if we choose for peace in that situation. We can take the Course from anyone, whether they know ACIM or not, because the Course teaches us to see every situation as a lesson in love and a holy encounter, an opportunity to see the face of Christ in our brother.
The fact that I don't agree with MT's approach to the Course does not in any way negate the help that he has given me in taking the nest step on my spiritual journey. The controversy generated by me experience at GCP and the subsequent dialogue with my brothers and sisters within the nationwide Course community have profoundly deepened my practice of the Course. I am grateful to all the people who have been present for me as midwives for this experience.
I'm sure there are others who will choose to go to GCP for their own healing, even after reading this article. I support them in that decision and pray for their enlightenment. People must follow the truth within them, just as I have done by sharing my experience at GCP.
My private conversation with MT
I did not have a chance to say anything to Master Teacher while I was staying at GCP, but he told the class frequently that I was holding on to my identity and attacking him. He would shame me and call me the "dead one." His students told me that he was only trying to help me, and that he frequently did this to those he considered to be advanced teachers, because they had so much identity to get rid of.
After I had been there 2 1/2 weeks, Ana told me MT wanted to talk to me alone and straighten things out. She thought that a private conversation was very special, because he rarely sees anyone alone. When I saw him, I found out that seeing him alone was just a chance for MT to say things that he didn't want other people to know he was saying. The following dialogue is what he said to me in private conversation, to the best of my recollection.
Note: Our conversation immediately followed a class in which he was promising everyone at GCP that their names were on the list to "get out of here" with him.
MT: We're all alone, so let's cut the crap. Your name is not on the list. Get out of here. If you stay, my voice will become increasingly intolerable to you. Get out of here. It's not about this. It's all in your mind, and I can't get you out of here. You're trapped here. You aren't on the list. Oh I know that with your value system you think everyone is on the list. But they aren't. You aren't on the list.
He continued talking for quite a while explaining that there was no way out of the world without his help.
Kalie: If it's all in my mind, then all I have to do is wake up.
MT: You can't do that without help.
Kalie: I have God. God will help me.
MT: God doesn't know anything about this place. You're hopeless. You still need to suffer some more. You have to go back into the world and have something tragic happen to you. Get out of here. You're hopeless because you're still hanging onto your identity and your value system is still intact.
Kalie: I don't know how to not have an identity. How do I do that?
MT: I won't tell you what to do and have an identity with me. You want me to tell you what to do like those eastern teachers do, but I can't tell you what to do without giving you an identity with me, and I won't do that.
He continued talking about this for quite a while, but it made no sense to me. I was willing to consider the possibility that, from his viewpoint, this abusive treatment of me was just a teaching device to scare me into surrendering to him. So I looked into his eyes, trying to see beyond his words to find the love that must be behind them if this were true. But his eyes were cold and unfeeling, like death. Then I tried to dialogue with him, but ever time I said anything, even using his words, I was told I was wrong.
Kalie: Well, I have figured out one thing about this game, and that is whatever I say, I'm wrong.
Kalie: See! At this, he got up and walked out the door.
MT: Why do you attack me so? You still think we are equals. You think I am like you.
He said something else that sounded hateful, but I can't remember exactly what. I only remember thinking it was absurd. I looked directly in his eyes and said, "That's impossible, because we are one."
MT: Don't you teach me!
He started to walk away and then came back.
MT: The problem with you is, you still love the world. You still think there is something worthwhile out there. You need to go back out into the world and take a good look at what you made. Look at the people dying and suffering because of you. You need to feel their pain and hate the world! I hate the world!
He walked away and I called after him, "Are you telling me to leave God's Country Place?
He came back furious.
Perhaps the angry denial was because he realized that he had violated his own rule by telling me what to do. He came back to where I stood and said, "I won't tell you what to do and give you an identity with me. I don't care what happens to you. You can do anything you want to do." He walked away.
In this conversation, MT had blatantly revealed himself to me. Strange as it may sound, I felt like I had just awakened, and I saw MT as my equal brother, calling for love.