Wisdom Warrior

How do you unblock yourself when teachers, parents and most everyone has blocked you from your inner light and source? I have spent a lifetime on trying to reclaim what once was mine and what I was born with. I was not meant to be angry, hateful and resentful. I remember when I was full of love and creativity in my childhood. Those other qualities were tacked on as a result of abuse and my love and creativity went underground. I was so full of potential and gifts galore.

Fast forward to another time, another place where I was finding myself again at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. I was open, full of budding faith and determined to heal. The meditation brought me home again to me. It was powerful and transformative I went deep. I was deep. I was a beautiful, expressive and talented musician. I fell in love with this place and the teachers who provided this meditation haven where I could relax and be me.

Meditating helped me to center myself and it was good. I learned a lot and I needed to unlearn a lot too. I loved retreats and just sitting with myself and my breath. That was the good part and I need to remember the good because it was there. My heart was open, loving and my creativity was surging and soaring musically. The meditating fed my divinely, inspired music and I poured my heart and feelings into my own unique sound footprint on this planet. it was a wonderful time for me.

On my second 9 day retreat at IMS I tapped into my power intensely. My internal light was so bright and my energy was off the charts and I was pure experience, pure me and it was heaven on earth. It was the beginning of something and it connected me to my divinity. The light was very important to me. I felt/saw it so bright in my core and I could see it and feel it when my eyes were open, not hallucinating but the brightness made me be able to see it internally even when my eyes were open.

I knew the light was a part of me and an important part that would never leave. It was a budding faith and a connection to something deep, profound and greater than me, greater than the small me. I knew I could call upon this light and see it whenever I wanted to. It was almost blinding. I was on retreat in the country and I spent the rest of the retreat walking around the roads into fields and sitting on haystacks and feeling this energy surge through me. It was almost too much for my body to bear as it was combined with crying, but crying tears of joy, not pain.

The pain came later due to what happened with the teachers at the center after this experience that I openly shared with them who I trusted. I never wrote about tor defined what it meant to me. I wanted to explore it and see where this light led me. I think it is time to realize a defining experience when I have one. I worked, meditated long hours to get to this beautiful place inside and I wish I could say that no one could take it away from me but that’’s precisely what happened and that threw a roadblock in my way and into my personal internal world.

I guess I’m trying to reclaim my memory of this as I write because this was a turning point where I could now turn to the teachers and say, “Thank you for bringing me here but I must move on and forward on this path of light that I have found and explore it the way I was meant to. What does that look like to me? It takes great strength to turn away from a path and embrace my own spiritual direction which is what I need to do. I am reclaiming my faith, my way of meditaiting, my power, my light and that defining experience for me. That was the beginning of jumping ship with no life preserver and no one to turn to for direction but I can now.

I do believe in God, my inner light and love and the higher powers that be. That’s what it is about for me. Reclaiming my faith, my truth, my very being is what is important. I’d like to say no one can take it away from me and I’m free to discard anything or anyone that tries to block me. My music will continue on as I reclaim the spiritual side of it and become whole in the process.

Spiritual Freedom

Wisdom Warrior
Looking back has enabled be to go forward but there comes a point where it is important to know when it’s time to just put the boat in gear and move forward. To do something completely out of character for me could be the biggest freeing thing ever. I wonder and brainstorm about the possibilities that seemed impossible before but don’t seem so far-fetched now. That’s mental freedom. I think I’m getting ready to take leaps!

I don’t think there’s a better word on the planet than “free”. That’s it. Freedom is such a word to relish and savor. So many seek to imprison people with words and judgments and beliefs and rigidity. Maybe they are afraid to allow freedom when they don’t feel it themselves.
To see someone else who is a free spirit can be very threatening to those people who cling to their old ways of thinking and believing about “truths” that don’t even apply to now and certainly not to every single person.

When I told Narayan, my “teacher” that I was a free spirit it made her angry. She didn’t want to hear my protest against what they were saying. It would have made her have to see her own lack of freedom. That’s when she spewed out, “It’s a certain path which leads to happiness and freedom!” What a childish response. I was feeling happy and free before I talked to her. These people were very ignorant and emotionally immature. That why they meditated so much. That’s why I meditated.

There is an emotional immaturity that can happen if all you do is observe the passage of feelings in meditation and life itself. There is something so important that is missing with meditation practice. Creative artists like me use feelings to guide their art and music. Feelings aren’t merely observed. They are expressed into a work of beauty and/or pain. I see where spirituality can truly get in someone’s way of being a human and some teachers are too blind to see it.

We are all humans from the day we were born till the day we die. There is no nobility to rising above what makes us who we are. That idea seems utterly crazy and total nonsense. It’s not right to assume we need or want to be programmed this way. We are not all Mr. Spock as much as we may envy him. There are so many so called spiritual people who are clueless and trying to herd a bunch of sheep into a trap of their ignorance.

So called “spiritual” Narayan detested my feelings. What does it say about her? What does her anger and defensiveness say about her? Certainly it isn’t compassion and the willingness to look at her stuff. She wanted to be in the seat of power. That’s how she saw herself and that’s how she behaved. It was very reckless of her to talk to me the way she did in her condescending and judgmental way. It was very toxic and there was a lot of rage in her judgment of my feelings.


How was I supposed to react to someone who had been on a pedestal for so long in my eyes and to someone who enjoyed and perpetuated the teacher/student pedestal image?

Moving from Hell to Healing

Wisdom Warrior

There comes a point in my healing process where everything can exist at the same time: the past, the present, the future, discomfort, holding on, letting go, fear, love, strength and stability. When I feel one thing intensely the others seem to take a back seat as they witness the one that is at the forefront. As I get stronger and more stable the healthier part of me which has been a seed waiting for the right nourishment to grow is crescendoing into the happy hot seat and the other voices recede and fade.

The voices of fear, doubt, stuckness, the victimized role and the intense reactor are in the back seat now. I am the driver and have the power to choose between the new self and the old self that I have identified with for so long. I certainly can get “attached” to pain and the memory of pain when it is extreme and excruciating for long periods of time. I think a lot of humans do who have had trauma in their lives.

The important thing to know for me is that it does get better eventually if I just hold on for the ride. It can be a long long ride in a hell you would wish on nobody or it can be a short ride or somewhere in between. As the present becomes more bearable and there are many more days of living without torment it is possible to see that I am healing, certainly not in the timetable that I would have wished but in what appears to be my soul’s timetable. If I could have healed more quickly I would have, simple as that. I am now on the other side guided by the wind of my soul.

I compare this to music where there are loud sections and softer sections and the composer mirrors our internal emotions and the healing that is possible through expressing all of them. Who I am is who I choose to be at this point. When I am in the midst of a turbulent storm I have to ride it out and when I finally land on solid ground I can get out and walk in my own glory, celebrating and claiming the soul I have worked so hard to find and the beautiful self that has been there all along.

The more I can walk on my land, my ground and claim it the less my pain will be. Ultimately after seesawing back and forth for a while between pain, strength, pain, wholeness I can reach a point where I’m balanced and know I have come through the worst of it and of the freezing rain and hail. The pain decrescendos until just a whisper remains and there I am, a proud eagle basking in all my glory, flapping my wings and admiring how strong and steady they are and now I can fly to the theme of my heart and soul, free to be me at last in my experience of wholeness. This is the ultimate freedom for me and my path.

The Fallout after Leaving the Cult

                                                                       Wisdom Warrior

I gave everything I had to this center. I gave my heart, my love, my spirit, my devotion, my time, my energy and my power. I put my whole being into trusting this place and the teachers and everything that came out of their mouths.

When I left, I lost my faith, my center, my love, my teachers, my friends at the center, my practice and serenity I had gained. I had no one left. I have heard it said that when you leave a cultish group it is like 4 or 5 divorces occurring simultaneously. I can honestly say that is true from my experience.

Everything in me was tied to this group. I believed in all their jargon until I couldn’t anymore. I left feeling shamed, betrayed, wrong and no one was around who understood me or could help me. It was a hopeless situation for me. I had cut off from my family as well because my therapist at the time had suggested it. I was alone. My friends outside the group disappeared and my musical groups fell apart and I descended into a quagmire of muddy despair and hopelessness as my sleep deprived nights piled up one after another.

I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t go forward. It was just shock and anger and sobbing and an inability to function anymore.I had no idea what I was dealing with. It was a death but the teachers were still alive and the center went on without me.

When you give so much to a place it also takes something from you although you don’t realize it at the time. I lost my perspective and there was no one to help me to get it back. Everything coming in from the outside triggered me. The disillusionment with the “church” of Buddhism and the teachers led me straight to re-experiencing the trauma from my childhood in the present. There was no me then and no me in the present. I was so fragile that if anyone even spoke and had an opinion I was triggered deeply.

I felt spiritually raped and my faith was invaded so to speak so I had nothing to sustain me during this tumultuous time. My people pleasing survival skills from childhood led me straight to the this center and I think I stayed as long as I did because I was trying to please them. I was competitive and wanted to be the teachers pet and the best yogi there. That was my stuff.

Spiritual Betrayal: My Experience with the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center

Spiritual Betrayal: My Experience with the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center Part 1

                                                  Wisdom Warrior

This story relates to the late 80’s, early 90’s version of The Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. I do not know what they do now but all I know is that I was psychologically, emotionally and spiritually abused at this place. I devoted two and a half years to these teachers, the center and to meditation. There was no closure to be had when everything blew up in my face.

I leaped in blindly as many do at a young age with spiritual groups. I went in with an open, loving heart, vulnerable, desperate to find some peace of mind in those months of early recovery in 12 step programs. I didn’t care about the religion Buddhism. I cared about meditation, the practice, the solace and the center within me that I found from going to this place and sharing weekly with Narayan, one of the two primary teachers there. I loved meditating but did not care about the Buddhist path.

I went in believing in God, higher power or whatever you want to call it and the power of faith and prayer. Narayan seemed to be open and fine with whatever I believed in. “Everything was practice”, she said. They were fairly new to the community and they wanted people to come back of course. There were a number of 12 steppers there so it seemed like a good fit. Little did I know. What I do know is that somewhere along the way I stopped praying, the teachers and center became my whole world and I felt like I finally belonged somewhere for the first time in my life.

Initially I was in love with the charisma of Larry, the primary teacher who could spew a bunch of Buddhist philosophy with an animated weaving of words that left one breathless in awe and high on meditation at the same time. I was devoted and had my one on one “interviews” with Narayan regularly. I never took a formal meditation class. I jumped right into a one day retreat and went on every retreat possible after that. I simply wanted to be with myself. I elevated the teachers to infallible gods which they seemed to enjoy and was an obedient, loyal meditation member of this group.

Everything seemed perfect for a while…

My critical thinking was gone from the get go. I really never had it to begin with. If it felt good it was good was my ruler to measure anything by. There were red flags along the way. I thought meditation was the answer to everything. As long as one didn’t question the path or the teachings you were in good with the teachers. They were very convincing. Larry was an attractive, charismatic teacher and had basically given up his college professor life to devote to meditation when hallucinogens didn’t do the trick. Oh he had convincing credentials. He studied overseas with some esteemed monks and teachers and could pronounce their complex names so effortlessly. I admired his command over the language and words. I was convinced he knew what was right for me.

Narayan was the perfect female teacher looking like an angel in her white feminine attire. She appeared to be very open to the fact that I believed in a God or higher power of sorts so after a while when I was ready to take the Buddhist refuges and precepts in a ceremony I was having a problem with the wording of taking refuge in the Buddha. Another 12 stepper said just substitute the word God for Buddha so Buddha was elevated to the position of God and on equal footing apparently. I told Narayan I was going to substitute God for Buddha in the ceremony. She seemed fine with it. No big deal, right? These people did talk about Buddha and the teachings like they were the word of God or some supreme being. Really he was just a human like all of us.

My openness and free spirit seemed to be a match for this place at first and second glance. Where things turned sour for me was when Narayan thought I was getting too attached to her. She was part of that process. It’s a two-way street. In one big swoop at an interview with me after she got back from a retreat she turned our relationship upside down. She went a full 180 degrees from a warm, loving being to a cold, judgmental, detached being and that’s how it remained for the duration. My feelings or even talking it through to my satisfaction were no concern to her. She made it all about me and somehow it was all my fault. She of course had nothing to do with my attachment to her. That was a red flag right there but I was so invested in this place that I could not leave.

Oh I learned all about detachment I learned about detachment and that coveted word, “mindfulness.” I loved to sit and watch my feelings and not get swept up in them. I was a regular human robot. I sat on a mound of feelings from my past so high that they were bound to burst eventually. I had a very disturbing past and I was a very sensitive artist as well. I was fine until the volcano erupted and the lava of feelings poured forth and hardened on my sensitive skin. This happened during and after after my second 9 day meditation retreat. My whole identity was tied to the group and the teachers and the community. I wanted to be the best meditator and the teachers’ pet.

I had an incredible eye-opening experience during and after this 9 day retreat and wanted so much to share this discovery that was important to me. I thought I could be open and trust these teachers after two and a half years so unfortunately I shared what was important to me and sacred with the wrong folks. I thought I could trust them to be happy with my progress and happy for me. Boy was I wrong. I told Narayan I didn’t want to be taught about “that”. Her response was, “I should keep certain things to myself.”

I had been a depressed person most of my life and I needed so much to feel good and I needed to feel excited and totally embrace my internal experiences whatever they were. The problem was this required some kind of attachment on my part and this brand of Buddhism didn’t allow for any of that.

Basically after sharing with Larry and Narayan something personal like this what they said ultimately took me from being present in the moment to being in my head about something that I did not need or want to be in my head about. I was simply being myself which supposedly Buddhism leads you to and I was already there.

It was about opening like a flower and connecting to my heart of divine love and light. They judged my experience and their negativity got inside of me. They didn’t have boundaries and I didn’t know what a boundary was.Would you go in a field of blooming flowers opening in the sun and stomp all over them, cutting out their beautiful existence? This shut down the positive good feelings within me and it cut short an internal process that was important for my body to complete.

The belief and connectedness to the divine or the source within me was an attachment that I came in with. This was my soul, my spiritual faith. It was just budding and new to me. They obviously didn’t get it or try to resolve my dilemma with being mindful to the point of obliterating my experience and being detached with something that did not require detachment or mindfulness or observing what’s around this God of mine. That really screwed with my head and heart. I just wanted to be one with my experience.

When I heard and felt Larry’s judgment and was upset I was met with a very defensive Narayan defending Larry and once again blaming me for my feelings and her behaving very irresponsibly with no compassion whatsoever. Larry was a broken record of, “Don’t get attached” which in my world did not compute or make sense in this particular case.

My ensuing confusion led to disastrous sessions with Narayan who basically shut the door in my face and was cold and detached like a good Buddhist at the time. After all, I was too loud to sit with the group any more and all I did was cry and that was disturbing the peace of the group. I said I missed being able to sit with the group and she said, “ Don’t be so dramatic.” I got the, “It could take up to 7 years” for this explosion to pass. Have a good life, forget about closure and by the way meditation can only be done this way and any meditation teacher would respond like Larry did which isn’t even true.

At the time this was devastating so basically I was given the message that what I was doing was wrong. The message Narayan gave was,”This is a certain path of meditation leading to happiness and freedom, the only way to meditate. I wasn’t looking for a specific path to follow. I’m a free spirit. Narayan said it must have been a misunderstanding? Really? I was judged which was a big trigger for me, I was the one with the problem and there was no accountability to be found with the teachers. I feared them now and I had devoted two and a half years to this place and practice. I was on my own and I took what they said to heart and was tormented spiritually, psychologically and emotionally from the dynamics of my experience there and my soul was screaming.

I never went back but I couldn’t move forward. The pain inside was excruciating and I was inconsolable and in a full-blown spiritual crisis with no way out.

For some reason my faith went with my meditation and I couldn’t do it anymore without feeling that my inner world was wrong. My mind triggered by what they said and their negative energy got in the way of my heart. Since we dealt with breath awareness it was a nightmare. How could my perfect teachers be so wrong about me? Why would’t they allow me to experience myself fully? I was a gifted artist and my feelings and emotions and divine attachment fed my art. The tool was good but the path they were preaching was not mine which took me a long time to figure out. They just weren’t open to other points of view when it came to meditation.

Without feeling like I was allowed to practice meditation in my way, I essentially had nothing to fall back on including my faith. My self, meditation, faith and everything had been and was tied to this place, this center which turned into a hellish experience for me. I didn’t know what happened. I was so confused. What did I do? How come everyone I talked to including a psychologist/ teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center said, “That’s not what “this” is. That’s what it was for me. He also said,” “Boy they really missed with you.” Why couldn’t I believe in a higher power, be attached to a higher power and meditate the way I had been doing? What the hell? That vague word, “This”. Why weren’t they up front about “this?” How come other people could have a higher power of their own understanding and be able to meditate there? Was this two and a half years a total waste?

How come even today if you go to their website they are open to all faiths? Maybe they changed since it’s basically under new leadership with the 3 main guiding teachers being people I meditated with in that soft cult. Who knows? Also they still don’t see the need for the “Ethics and Reconciliation Council” which many Buddhist centers have in place for this kind of thing. That speaks volumes that they don’t feel the need to have a committee in place for those who have been harmed in some way and had the burden of more suffering as a result. It reeks of arrogance and ignorance that they don’t feel the need to have a grievance committee.

People need to have a voice especially in the wake of a guiding teacher who has overstepped their bounds. It would help members to feel safer if they know that they will have a voice in the event that something happens with a teacher.

Spritual Betrayal: My Experience with the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center Part 2

Wisdom Warrior


They appeared to be open and accepting but once you were really involved and a member you were somehow converted to Buddhism through repetition, deception, confusing mixed messages, manipulation and “interviews”. I didn’t even know it was happening. It was so subtle and while I was meditating those messages got into the cells and core of my body and I didn’t even question anything.

They claimed their pedestals. That was not my imagination.These teachers were arrogant and narrow-minded and quite controlling.They had the power to be so convincing that this was the path. They were running their own agenda.They should have been called the Cambridge Buddhist Purist Center. That’s what it boiled down to.

They were hypocrites not practicing what they preached. Where was the compassion and right speech and right action? They clung to their precious egos and didn’t care that someone right in front of them was in extreme pain and spiritual crisis. Boy was Narayan detached and cold and she was the one preaching and practicing loving kindness to all beings? What about the suffering person in front of her? Where was the love and compassion then? Where was the right speech? Why was she so angry and defensive? What did I do?

The feeling of being spiritually raped is common in most ex-cult members That is what these teachers did through these two and a half years. Larry and Narayan would just assume they knew what was happening internally with me before really finding out where I was coming from and they didn’t know. How dare anyone try to tell someone how they should experience their inner sacred experiences? That is spiritual rape. They were caught in their blind attachment to detachment.

They didn’t know how to just listen. A good teacher listens and tries to get where someone is coming from before reacting and blurting out damaging crap that has everything to do with their baggage and not mine. My practice somehow became their practice and I felt completely blocked by both the teachers as if a strait jacket had been put on me.

No one I tried to reach out to could validate what happened at the CIMC. No one thought this benign center could be anything related to a cult. I heard from various therapists along the way that others had been harmed there but due to client patient confidentiality I never got to talk to any of them. We were just lone floaters with not even the umbrella of being an official cult to help us heal. We were left holding the bag with no ex- member to heal with and feeling all the shame and fear and being alone with our trauma essentially.

It is hard to have closure and move forward without someone to have closure with or someone to validate my cultish  or soft cult experience. It turns out after finally finding someone who had counseled ex-members of this group that this was a power cult. Both teachers abused their power, of that I am sure. I didn’t imagine that. I spoke to someone someone who had left TM and said that I sounded just like her when she left her group.

To this day I still struggle with my faith. It’s certainly come a long way but it’s not the unwavering faith I once had. I have reclaimed my own way of meditating which varies and is best for me. My relationship with my higher power is much stronger. I stay away from spiritual communities and try to live life to the fullest and I have certainly moved forward. It took many years to get unstuck from this devastating experience and cult. I did eventually have some good help along the way. I own my part in this situation. I wish the teachers would have or could have owned their part and just been human and get off their pedestals to help a sincere person who was suffering greatly.

I have since learned  the term “soft cult” which I will be defining in other entries. I wanted to start this blog with my story to open the door for other survivors to share their spiritual trauma stories where they fell between the tracks so to speak. This a safe place for others to share their experience, hope and healing from spiritual wounds. I want to hear from you!