l to r: Alex Walker, Koichiro Matsuura, Kate Thomas
Letter to UNESCO about the Findhorn Foundation - Introduction
In September 2007, the British author Kate Thomas sent the following letter to the Director General of UNESCO, namely Koichiro Matsuura. That communication to the Paris office of UNESCO complained at the situation relating to the Findhorn Foundation, a situation documented on this website and in published books. There was no reply from UNESCO, a fact which has led to the conclusion that UNESCO bureaucracy is too dismissive of public complaints against beneficiaries of UN status tags.
There were other recipients of the Thomas letter mentioned in a cc. list (deleted here), and this factor proved more positive. The Prince of Wales sent a courteous reply, and The Hon. Tom Sackville (Chairman of FAIR) expressed sympathy with the complaint. The ongoing dimensions of the basic matter at issue have begun to interest an increasing number of analytical observers. One of the major opponents of Thomas within the Findhorn Foundation was Alex Walker, who erroneously denied the fact of her membership in a local newspaper many years ago. Walker is an influential promoter of the Findhorn Ecovillage project, and has been described in that connection as a financial consultant, as the chairman of Ekopia Ltd, and as a board member of Findhorn Wind Park Ltd. Both of the lastmentioned enterprises are closely associated with the Findhorn Foundation, whose economic expansion has included an ecology drive.
In the face of UNESCO failure to respond, Robert Walter MP, acting on behalf of Kate Thomas, sent a due reminder to UNESCO in August 2008. This eminent person elicited a brief reply from UNESCO by email (02/09/2008) which disavowed any affiliation with the Findhorn Foundation. That email came from the Office of the Director General. Analysis of this matter has continued. Kate Thomas has proceeded with a complaint against the Findhorn Foundation via British solicitors.
See further Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation (2009) for the ongoing situation.
Letter of Kate Thomas to UNESCO about the Findhorn Foundation
Koichiro Matsuura (Director General UNESCO), Paris
1st September 2007
RE FINDHORN FOUNDATION
I am now seventy-nine years of age, and joined the Findhorn Foundation (abbreviation FF) in 1989. I have recently learned that the FF (in Moray, Scotland) is now part of the CIFAL network and has been officially endorsed by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). The Community News on the FF website (www.findhorn.org) states that on 22/09/2006, “representatives of UNITAR, Moray Council, Findhorn Foundation, and the UK Mission to the United Nations signed an agreement for the opening of the CIFAL Findhorn training centre in Scotland.” As with NGO status, such endorsement by the UN should signify a high degree of responsibility on the part of the FF, a factor which is contradicted in my experience of this organisation.
I wish to complain here about the FF administration, who for many years have been operating a hostile and slanderous policy towards myself and various acquaintances since the early 1990s. My former membership of the FF was unfairly nullified without any democratic hearing, and my lengthy autobiography (The Destiny Challenge, 1992) was subject to an attempted [legal] interdict by the FF management, and solely because that book contains details in chapter 14 about my contact with FF staff members. Despite my offer to work for the FF on a voluntary and unpaid basis, I was persecuted by a male staff member (Eric Franciscus) who banned me without good reason from Cluny Hill College, which was close to my home. His evasive manner survives in the form of a tape-recorded conversation dating to 1994. He represented the so-called Education Dept of the FF.
In this oppressive situation, anyone who pleaded that I was entitled to a democratic hearing was also stigmatised without further explanation. Many of these discrepant events are recorded in Stephen Castro’s book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996). That book was also suppressed by the FF management, a fact which has been recorded in other literature and on a website. The FF were then preparing to become an NGO and did not want any details revealed that conflicted with their preferred image of perfect performance. Factual details were consigned to oblivion, and the books concerned were unofficially proscribed and stigmatised.
In the early 90s my solicitor told me that I had a case against the FF and would receive substantial compensation if I took court action. This I declined to do as I still wished for reconciliation, having obtained a home in nearby Forres after moving from Cambridge (England) and living in Findhorn village.
The antagonism of FF staff towards myself had commenced because of my objections to their promotion of Holotropic Breathwork, which had started in 1989. The Breathwork was a commercial therapy devised by Stanislav Grof at Esalen (in California). I was an eyewitness to negative effects of that commercial exercise upon many clients, and some of the symptoms were extreme and long-lasting. This matter deeply concerned me, and also medics in Forres, and also the Department of Pathology at Edinburgh University. The Breathwork was suspended due to the recommendation of the Scottish Charities Office in 1993. That suspension justified the complaints. The Director of the FF (Craig Gibsone) had taken the role of a Breathwork practitioner and caused much confusion.
Despite the suspension of Holotropic Breathwork, the new Director of the FF, namely Judy Buhler-McAllister, proved to be a major obstruction to my obtaining a fair hearing. She blocked me repeatedly, adopting a dictatorial manner. She refused to discuss matters with a local medical doctor of repute, and declined permission for that senior medic to enter her premises. The stress I endured was such that I feared serious illness in trying to get the hostile situation remedied. Accordingly, I returned to England in 1999 at my son’s insistence.
In the year 2001, Dr. Malcolm Hollick, the new principal of the Findhorn Foundation College, attempted to reason with the FF staff on my behalf. He encountered strong opposition and indifference, which caused him to totally relinquish his attempt. He then ceased correspondence with me, evidently not wishing to jeopardise his own role.
In 2002 the hostile FF management opted to launch an internet stigma of myself and Stephen Castro (who now works in the Inland Revenue). They used a very inaccurate item by Bill Metcalf (an FF partisan), which was designed to offput any inspection or review of the book Hypocrisy and Dissent mentioned above. (See Kevin Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, pp. 167ff.). That internet stigma has continued for years. This matter, together with many other relevant details of FF discrepancies, is covered on the new Citizen Initiative website (www.citizeninitiative.com), in both article format and the reproduction of epistles. See especially The Findhorn Foundation: Myth and Reality, Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer , and SMN Events chapters 1 and 5.
Shortly after the internet stigma commenced , in 2002 I contacted Janice Dolley, an FF Trustee living in England. She stated in a letter of Nov. 2002 that “there is no power in the universe greater than the healing power of love that can pour in when we release issues to a higher hand” (quoted in Pointed Observations, p. 218). This justification of the dismissive managerial attitude, couched in favoured FF jargon, has caused other observers than myself to conclude that the ethical standards of the FF are gravely flawed. Their version of unconditional love and other pet themes is not convincing. The elimination of all democratic and moral scruple in mounting stigma, instead of duly correcting past wrongs, is currently said to be a drawback antithetic to NGO status, charity status, and CIFAL status (all of which are enjoyed by the FF).
The deficient situation was still operative in October 2005 when I again contacted Janice Dolley (by telephone). This FF Trustee now transpired to be in strong support of a policy to discriminate against me, including my objection to the use of illegal drugs. That policy encompassed deference to the careers of Richard Alpert and Christopher Bache, the latter being a disciple of Grof who promotes the use of LSD as a spiritual path. I had written two articles critical of Bache for the journal of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), who had since chosen to favour Bache on their website. The bias of the SMN was now reflected in the Wrekin Trust University for Spirit Forum, in which Dolley was a prominent official . See the opening paragraphs of Kevin Shepherd, Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer (2005), at www.citizeninitiative.com. The University for Spirit Forum (or Forum for Spiritual Education) is strongly supported by the FF, and also other organisations associated with “new spirituality.” Again, I found that I could get nowhere with the evasive attitude operative in such circles, who seek in all manner of ways to eliminate criticisms and who eschew any responsibility for past events and due rectifications.
The recent blanketing of discrepancies by the ecology factor at CIFAL Findhorn is not sufficient to satisfy the objectors to recorded anomalies. The UNESCO website (www.unesco.org) has also glorified the FF in terms of an ecovillage programme “for people involved in sustainable community or ethical development initiatives.” UNESCO also state that the FF is an “intentional community” and “offers a new model of holistic and sustainable living.” This is cosmetic jargon according to other observers.
In their commercial Courses and Workshops brochures, the FF invoke the auspices of the UN Department of Public Information. Critics do not consider this to be a sufficient excuse to mount stigma, to ignore published data, and to violate due ethical considerations over a period of many years.
UNITAR have recently become noted for not replying to pressing information despatches (see CIFAL Findhorn at www.citizeninitiative.com). Marcel Boisard and other officials have evidently committed themselves to the preferred image of the FF, an image which eschews contradictory data in a notably evasive manner. The UNITAR “screen out objectors” attitude has been contagious, influencing other bodies such as the Scottish Executive, who likewise appear to be incapable of due investigations. You yourself briefly told one despatcher to contact your London branch, who proved incapable of responding. So I decline to contact that branch. The UN has set an example of poor communication.
I no longer seek reconciliation, but merely clearance of my name from unmerited stigma applied by devious FF personnel. I therefore request here that the UN offices investigate the matters outlined in this letter and accordingly deliver due explanations. Please respond quickly as it is now my intention to take these matters further. I have been waiting for fifteen years, and am almost eighty. I do not believe that I should have to be dead and buried without a resolution occurring, though such an eventuality would doubtless be convenient for the FF management.
The Letter to UNESCO gained a covering notification (sent to those on the cc.list) dated 03/09/2007. This read as follows:
The enclosed letter to UNESCO profiles my complaint about the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. This matter has been obscured by the Foundation publicity relating to their NGO status, plus the recent endorsement of their ecology project by UNITAR. The overall performance of the Findhorn Foundation leaves much to be desired, as myself and other stigmatised victims can testify. Despite the worthy aims of UN departments, their assessment of Findhorn Foundation prowess is very deficient, and has ignored various published materials. The Foundation has promoted many questionable teachings and practices over a period of many years, and this fact requires due investigation as to the relevance of their “workshop” contribution. The popularity of the Foundation has relied upon uncritical acceptance of stock themes and catchphrases, with the consequence that dissidents have been stifled and stigmatised by the Foundation management intent upon commercial expansion and donations.
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