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Vol. IX • 1987

The Compelling World of Mind Control
Judy Vorfeld

Personal biographical note: 
Until age 18 I was active in a biblically-centered church, but after leaving home was exposed to religious beliefs of people I respected and trusted, most of whose theology laid the triune God and the Bible to rest. Christianity became a social duty rather than a relationship with the living Christ.

About 1976, after many spiritually arid years, my husband and I joined a neighborhood church. The Bible was honored and used and the work of the Cross was central. A year or so later the minister's daughter contacted him from California and asked if he would let her give church members a presentation promoting the personal development program with which she was involved. He consented.

The religious philosophy behind this organization was syncretistic. It was patterned after Silva Mind Control. Members were urged to participate in Eastern meditation and other psychic activities, and were told that they were part of the Age of Aquarius, the New Age, and had the privilege of helping God usher in world peace.

The next year was a study in controlled confusion. The minister brimmed with enthusiasm for the Human Potential Movement, and integrated its basic philosophies into the church creed. In time he created his own organization based on the former group's concepts and activities. Once again the Godhead and the Bible were quietly put aside. My husband and I had actively supported the leaders. We also allowed them to have considerable influence over us. Finally, the Lord seemed to speak quietly to me, using the words of John 14:6. I began to comprehend the real Jesus and the real God, and this gave me the courage to break away from these strong, strong ties.

Since our exit, God has blessed us by giving balanced anointed church leadership. I've now met many people who've come away from groups similar to the one that was integrated into the neighborhood church. Many people are or have been exposed to syncretistic ideas in the community, in schools, at work, and occasionally in church.

Perhaps because of having been in a church that embraced syncretism, I began, several years after leaving, to do research in the areas of spiritual deception and cults. Much of my writing will focus on facets of spiritual deception. I want to minister to Christians who are being bombarded in many areas of their lives, with pressure to embrace all religions and to worship a permissive, laid-back "God." I want to minister to those with loved ones involved in a cult or in an area of religious deception.

In the early 1970's a new trend began to impact American culture; the Human Potential Movement, a huge conglomeration of interrelated self-help organizations. While some have either vanished or evolved to a higher esoteric plane, they are nonetheless thriving in the 1980's. Currently popular are Silva Mind Control, Lifespring, The Forum, Self-Realization Fellowship, The Science of Creative Intelligence (TM), and numerous other structures with copyrighted concepts for prosperous, successful living. These personal growth associations offer seminars, symposiums, classes, tapes, books, and correspondence courses in areas such as self-actualization, stress management, selfrealization, and positive mental attitude.

What is the drawing power of the mystical world of mind dynamics? Why are so many people, including numerous Christians, enchanted with this sphere? What types of experiences, for example, does The Silva Mind Control Method suggest?  

Imagine coming into direct, working contact with an all-pervading higher intelligence and learning in a moment of numinous joy that it is on your side. Imagine that you too made this contact in such simple ways that for the rest of your life you need never again feel helplessly out of touch with something you had always suspected was there but could never quite reach a helpful wisdom, a flash of insight when you need it, the feeling of a loving, powerful presence. How would you feel?

The world is full of lonely, bereaved, frustrated, confused, unhappy people, many of whom may visibly function on an acceptable level. When people like this, or those who are merely curious, meet attractive individuals who promise that within a few days they can learn to solve all their problems and tap into a vast spiritual power that lies deep within them, we shouldn't be surprised that many will investigate.

Almost without exception, those who promote and facilitate such ideas are compassionate, caring people who've found what they believe to be the way to God and me only way of life. Some sacrifice family and friends in order to affiliate with these groups, and are eager to share their beliefs with those they feel are, in a sense, lost.

The offerings of organizations like Silva's are normally a series of intensive four-day to one-week courses which reflect Eastern mystical perceptions of reality While it may never be mentioned, Hinduism with its beliefs in the sanctity of animal life, pacifism, worship of many gods, achieving higher states of reward through good works, and the law of cause and effect permeates, however subtly, most curricula.

Brilliantly planned and executed, the introductory exercises use both obvious and subliminal methods to gain total trust of the students. Through participation in psychological exercises, most pupils discover to their frustration and humiliation that their perceptions of themselves, others, and life were either wrong, limited, or both. Confusion is expected, and aides stand by to deal with all types of emotional outbursts. These assistants are generally former students, as are most instructors.

Traditionally, most Human Potential organizations, whether sponsored by a school system, university, corporation, church, or whether offered to the public in the organization's own facility, stake much of their credibility on the concept that mind is more powerful than matter. Psychology is almost sacred, and the formats are usually interwoven with some beliefs of Freud and many beliefs of Jung.

In the classroom setting, leaders liberally quote famous people who are philosophically in line with the basic curriculum. The Bible is often cited, but rarely in the context in which it was written. Students are usually introduced to some or all of these concepts:    

1. AT-ONE-MENT. Humans are equal and "at-one" with God. All is one and one is all.
2. I AM Within each human is divinity; each is an "I AM."
3. SOWING AND REAPING As a man soweth, so shall he reap, therefore share, give, to help bring about world peace. Givers gain.
4. BEINGS OF LIGHT Each human has within him a divine spark of light and energy, just like The Christ. We can all be transfigured just as he was.
5. THE WAY TO GOD Found in every sincere method and religion in the world, The Way can be prayer, meditation, Zen, the martial arts, acupuncture, biofeedback, running, autogenic training, Gestalt Therapy, hypnosis, dervish dancing, etc. Each person must find his own Way.
6. "GOD" Flexible relaxed micro-deity. Can be called by any name; isn't threatened if people refer to him as a personality, personalities, woman, cosmic consciousness, a rich Jew, or a glass of milk. The "God" of the Human Potential Movement has no ego problems.

During the opening exercises the leaders discuss the merits of personal integrity, courage, love, sharing, and world peace. People are told they must love and forgive themselves in order to reach their highest potential. Next comes meditation. Eastern meditation is basic to most courses, although each group will tailor it somewhat differently. Some attempt to westernize it, others to christianize it. A state of mental passivity is required.

Students are shown, in depth and with repetition, how to use the power of the imagination, the mind, and the will. People learn how to create pictures in their minds and to have those images perform as instructed. Guided imagery, using the mind as a TV screen, is an integral part of these exercises.

After the pupil centers down to the "workshop" or "lab" of his mind, having learned to alter his consciousness to Alpha level, he normally meets two Assistants/Guides/Wise Masters whose only function is to obey his will. These beings are a vital part of the meditation process, and are available each time he goes to Alpha level. Once the mind is empty, it's ready to be reprogrammed.

Leaders have already explained that as the mind expands, anything is possible. Students impatiently wait to absorb data that will help them learn quickly, have total recall, remember dreams, dream solutions to problems, stop overeating or smoking, perform psychic healing, heal themselves, improve their personal relationships, get the job they've coveted, earn money without effort, and have soaring self-esteem.

Most Human Potential groups stress community, bonding, interaction, interdependency, and love. They teach pupils forgiveness and release from guilt through visualization. Self-love and world peace are major themes. A day or so into the programs, students become unusually energetic. They're on a high that doesn't seem to stop. Recruiting for advanced courses is ever-present. Students are encouraged to use their psychic skills if they need money for tuition. Any who claim financial distress risk rebuke; they're told that if they have faith and can effectively visualize someone giving them the money, there should be no problem.

Many seminars feature variations on "The Game of Life." The class breaks out into teams; they are given a time frame in which to solve specific problems. Sometimes teams compete, using role-playing, and other times teams work on a theoretical problem within their own group. Leaders re-state the instructions, then switch to the role of observer. The action begins. Words and emotions fly. Most people then conclude that, given the stated problem, they would 1) fight back, 2)run away, 3) ask for help, or 4) be totally selfish. Those not wanting to agree to a stereotyped solution are usually overruled. When time is up, the class reassembles, only to discover that the problems had "win-win" solutions, and they'd been blind. If they'd listened carefully to the instructions, they would have known that everyone could have been a winner.

Most people are chagrined. Some are humiliated. A few are shattered. Hindu and Buddhist techniques, along with a great deal of Jungian psychology, are the basic foundations upon which most mind dynamic programs are built. By the end of the first course, people are ready to believe that they are becoming directors of psychic research, and are excited to think that for the first time in modern history spiritual alchemy is becoming respectable. They are poised to go into the world and help create a climate of change for the better. They are to share, care, love, and be.

"But wait," the student is cautioned. "Do you really want to help? Are you deeply committed? Stay with us and together we'll change the world." A small percentage will accept the offer, however, after a period of weeks or months, some will begin to see that they aren't free to be as much as they're free to be a part of a highly-organized structure that demands a great deal from its members.

In many Human Potential groups, members are asked to help with office work, cooking. handyman chores, baby-sitting, hosting overnight guests, planning and implementing future seminars, chauffeuring, hauling equipment, telephoning, recruiting, being on call 24 hours a day, and janitorial work. The slightest resistance usually finds someone in authority directing the member to "re-audit" the course.

If you're thinking of affiliating with the type of group we've been discussing, it might be wise to do some independent research before you make a commitment. Define the basics of Hinduism. Look into dhyana yoga. Read Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections. Analyze your present religious beliefs thoroughly. It is vital that you determine if a covenant to incorporate Eastern mysticism and Jungian philosophy into your life in any way compromises your faith.

"The Compelling World of Mind Control"
CSSHS • Creation Social Science & Humanities Society • Quarterly Journal

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