Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer

l to r: David  Lorimer, Kate Thomas, Stanislav Grof

Author: Kevin R. D. Shepherd


This lengthy epistle of 2005 had cc. lists naming some four hundred persons as recipients, including many politicians, medics, psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, scholars, and yet other categories. There were also recipients not included in the cc. lists. A case is made against known misdemeanours and flawed policies of the Findhorn Foundation (FF), a community which David Lorimer has supported via other British "alternative" organisations, namely the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), the Wrekin Trust, and the University for Spirit Forum (USF).

The author also focuses upon a questionable subscription procedure of the USF, Lorimer’s new project at that time, one which demonstrated an affinity with "nonjudgmentalist" trends. The USF subsequently become known as Wrekin Trust Forum for Spiritual Education, and later again changed name to Wrekin Forum.

David Lorimer was the guiding figure of the SMN, acting as Programme Director and editor of the SMN journal Network Review (also known as Network). He was also strongly associated with the Wrekin Trust, in which he continued a role as Vice-President.

Another organisation, the Alister Hardy Trust (or Society), is discussed in the context of nurturing misunderstandings caused by Findhorn  Foundation propaganda. FF spokesmen have confused many people into believing that dissident literature was in error.

The Letter of Complaint refers to Foundation events and includes a critique of lapsed SMN ideals. Section 30, entitled The Issue of Wider Horizons, features the observation that an opposing viewpoint would be at risk of suppression by the SMN, despite their explicit mandate to state opposing viewpoints. Some observers concluded that the evasive non-reply, to the Letter of Complaint, amounted to an attempted suppression by the SMN, confirming the author's diagnosis.

Over sixty of the recipients in the cc. lists were members of the SMN. Only one of these replied, in a brief letter and in a personal capacity only. David Lorimer, the key figure in that organisation, did not reply.

The USF claimed great prospects and abilities. Nine USF personnel were recipients, and none of them responded (one proving completely non-contactable). Evasion is the keynote. The Alister Hardy Trust generally followed suit in this demonstration of incompetence; however, three distinguished affiliates of that Trust did reply. In other directions and contingencies, the response from academics and eminent persons continued for long after. Some communications acknowledged that the lengthy document of complaint made a strong and relevant point, articulated in unusual detail, and merited a due reply from the SMN.

The Letter of Complaint was circulated in booklet format during the Spring of 2006 (along with the Letter to BBC Radio). Some five hundred persons were on the mailing list. The cc. pages have been omitted to avoid undue embarrassment in some more general directions. The author concedes that a number of recipients (especially those in America) did not comprehend what was in process. The original bibliography is reproduced. A number of headings, links, and images have been inserted to assist assimilation.

The affiliation of the Scientific and Medical Network has been in question amongst rigorous observers. What does science and medicine actually mean, in this instance? The conventional definitions do not apply. In an item dating to 2011 (formerly online), Lorimer distinguished his viewpoint from the "orthodox experimental approach" in a university psychology syllabus. His basic complaint is that "Jung, Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart" are not included in the syllabus. Lorimer says that these figures represent "an approach which is far more meaningful." Furthermore, a key theme of Lorimer is here expressed: "One of the assumptions I am making is that my mind is the Universal Mind."

Elsewhere, there are strong doubts about both the assumption and the protocol involved in the Jung-Grof perspective. The psychedelic componency of Grof theory has strong critics. The history of Grofian “therapy” is not inspiring, despite the elaborate promotion of hallucinatory content (Grof Therapy and MAPS).



  1.     USF  and  Janice  Dolley
  2.     The  Issue  of  Drug  Ingestion
  3.     Suspect  USF  Ideology
  4.     The  Prince  of  Wales  Issue
  5.     LSD  Dangers  and  New  Age  Relativism
  6.     Holotropic  Breathwork  and  Craig  Gibsone
  7.     The  Dictatorial  Eric Franciscus  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation
  8.     The  Forum  of  Ideas  and  Grof  Transpersonal Training  Inc.
  9.     The  SMN  and  Alternative  Therapy  Promotions
  10.     Kundalini,  Rajneesh  Sect,  and  Stanislav  Grof
  11.     A  File  Misunderstood  by  New  Age  Fundamentalism
  12.     The  Esalen  Influence,  NeoReichian  Therapy,  and  Child  Abuse
  13.     "Science  is  the  Only  Way  Forward"
  14.     The  Coffins  of  Relativism
  15.     Aleister  Crowley  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation
  16.     Mafia  Tactics
  17.     The  Alister  Hardy  Trust  and  Bath  College
  18.     The  Choice  Between  Busuttil  and  Franciscus
  19.     Apologist  Sociology  Versus  Dissident  Sociology
  20.     The  Issue  of  Casual  Sex
  21.     Value-laden  Sociology  Versus  Wertfreiheit
  22.     The  Presumption  to  Perennial  Philosophy
  23.     The  Findhorn  College  Fails
  24.     Prince  of  Wales  Lore
  25.     The  Game  of  Transformation
  26.     Dissidents  Pushed  into  Oblivion  by  Routledge    
  27.     The  New  Age  of  Censorship
  28.     Academic  and  Citizen  Philosophy  Ousted  by  Mind-Body-Spirit
  29.     Update  November  2005
  30.     The  Issue  of  Wider  Horizons
  31.     Bibliography
  32.     Update  February  2011


Letter of  Complaint  to  David  Lorimer

13/10/05 – 31/10/05

Dear  David  Lorimer,

This letter is a statement of complaint, and relates to the organisations closely associated with you, namely the University for Spirit Forum (USF), the Wrekin Trust (WT), and the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN). Also the Findhorn Foundation (FF), which is implicit within the general scheme of your memberships.

A former member of the FF and the SMN is my mother, Jean Shepherd, also known as Kate Thomas (Shepherd 2005:210–211). She has been stigmatised by your parties for making due complaints about misinformation and dubious practices administered to the gullible public. This matter cannot be allowed to rest, far less to be eliminated as you so clearly wish.

1.  USF  and  Janice  Dolley

In 2004, Kate Thomas resigned from the SMN in circumstances where you (as the key figure) failed to reply to her complaints (ibid:405ff). This year [2005], she was sent details of the USF by Janice Dolley, the Executive Director of the Wrekin Trust and an official of the USF. A welcoming letter was accompanied by an information pack, featuring an application form and "Benefits of association." Thomas was tempted to interpret this gesture at face value. In retrospect, the promotion may be described as junk mail.

In response to her request, she was sent further details by Prof. Chris Clarke, a member of USF, whose attitude appeared to be amenable. She then twice phoned Janice Dolley (commencing on October 3rd 2005), but found that official to be dogmatic and dismissive. Thomas was prepared to become a member of the USF. Dolley was so obstructive that the applicant decided not to pursue the matter further. The stigmatised intending member has since written a letter to Dolley stating that, in view of her hostile reception, she does not wish to become a member of the USF.

l to r: Kate Thomas, Janice  Dolley

I made a point of inspecting the pamphlet sent by Dolley. This features numerous brief descriptions of what the USF has to offer. The captions include "a holistic worldview and an integrated approach to learning." What does this mean, exactly? What is the precise location in practice of "a context for open spiritual inquiry and exploration." One phrase appears in larger print than the rest, and is obviously considered important, namely "balanced, wholesome spirituality." Just what does this imply? The statement also appears that donations are appreciated, and that cheques should be made out to Wrekin Trust USF.

The stance taken by Dolley, in the telephone conversations at issue here, is relevant for analysis. In an official capacity for the USF, she spoke as a staunch partisan of the Findhorn  Foundation (FF), informing Thomas that she is a Trustee of the FF. The FF are said to be represented and affiliated in USF membership. Dolley added that certain prominent members of the FF were also USF associates, and would not wish Thomas to become an associate. She then mentioned the dissident work Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation. Thomas features in that work by Castro, which gives many details supported by solid documentation. Yet Dolley dismissed the content of this book, stating that the FF were totally against it (as is well known), a detail which she treated as proof that the book was wrong. [In contrast, ICSA were quick to endorse the Castro book with a favourable review, being familiar with strategies adopted by cults and dubious organisations]

Dolley accused Thomas of causing trouble by criticising FF policies. This dogmatic attitude, reflecting FF stigma, completely ignored pertinent objections made by Thomas, including her resistance to the practice of Holotropic Breathwork (hyperventilation), devised by Stanislav Grof (Shepherd 1995:66ff,945ff). This commercial exercise caused extreme and frightening symptoms amongst local and visiting participants. Thomas now reiterated that she had been deeply concerned about these people, several of whom she had interviewed personally. Dolley ignored this information, which had always been unpopular amongst the FF staff.

2.  The  Issue  of  Drug  Ingestion

There was no scruple in the argument of Dolley, only the standard "new age" refrain of nonjudgmentalism, which is reflected in the policy of the USF. She specifically referred in this context to the issue of drug ingestion, covering illegal drugs. Such drugs are effectively legalised by her argument, as Dolley said that the USF must not criticise any "alternative" approach. She even mentioned Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) in a validating context, as having had a mystical experience after taking LSD. Thus, the Baba Ram Dass trend and all other suspect activities and claims are validated by the USF approach, which downgrades an intending member who is critical of the drugs lobby and the breathwork commerce of Grof and his supporters.

Therefore, in the WT-USF-SMN sphere of ideology, dubious entities like Baba Ram Dass, Grof, and Christopher Bache are not to be criticised but instead condoned. The persons who are to be stigmatised are instead the critics of such entities and trends, especially Kate Thomas, who resigned from the SMN on related points of principle. Principle is suspiciously overlooked by the SMN, who are therefore scientific and medical in name only. Do they effectively constitute a mockery of both medical ethics and scientific analysis? The SMN and USF have opted for new age relativism, in which an illegal drug can be glorified and hyperventilation can be viewed as a spiritual practice.

Thomas made reference to the Bache cause of LSD shamanism in her letter of resignation from the SMN, a letter addressed to you and to which you would not reply. She had contributed an annotated paper on the subject that was relegated by you to the correspondence section of your SMN magazine Network [Review]. That paper was unwelcome in commercial sectors of exploitation, which is what much of the "alternative" scene is all about, though seldom seen in such an acute form as the workshop programme of the FF.

3.  Suspect  USF  Ideology

In 2004 you would not scruple to intervene in the slander of Thomas by the FF, instead preferring to cultivate the attention of the FF for purposes clearly related to funding support. The bland image of the FF as a planetary transformer is encouraged by such patronage, which is equivalent to the misleading version of the FF supplied last year by Channel 4. Critics have said that this television presentation was very deceptive, missing out crucial events, trends, and drawbacks.

No academic subscriber to the "alternative" commerce is exempt from knowing the details about various lunacies that are widely promoted. For instance, an elementary detail is that Ram Dass admitted many years ago to having been a "phoney holy," a statement which invalidates his career as a yoga teacher, along with other forms of posturing (Shepherd 1995:63–4; idem 2005a:103–5; idem 2004:41ff).  Yet Ram Dass is now a figurehead for the USF in the protocol for declining a prospective member possessing scruple.

In the second telephone conversation with Thomas on October 6th, Dolley mentioned that three members of the USF especially objected to the inclusion of Thomas in their organisation, a fact which Dolley clearly regarded (with approval) as an insurmountable obstacle to membership. The only one of these three opponents whom she would mention by name was yourself, David Lorimer. This was possibly because you were the most vocal objector, who knows. Certainly, your name figured exclusively in the CC. reference at the bottom of Dolley’s subsequent letter of residual protocol hedging against prospective membership. It is therefore relevant to address you on these matters. You may be told that Thomas will not seek further to join the USF, having learnt what this organisation actually comprises in terms of ideology, contrary to some of the high-sounding themes found in the promotional literature.

The USF is a disgrace in terms of an underlying agenda.  Freedom of speech will occur outside the USF, with "alternative" approaches being subject to criticism when and where applicable.

4.  The  Prince  of  Wales  Issue


You have been a promoter of Grof and Bache, the two major exponents of LSD therapy (cf. Shepherd 2004:40,53; idem 2005a:6,408).  In these areas, you run the risk of causing a confusion with the outlook of Prince Charles, whose sense of scruple is somewhat more acute than yours (cf. idem 2005a: 379 n. 155). You have contributed a fair interpretation of the royal subject in your book Radical Prince, which gives no idea of the extremisms that you have promoted elsewhere in the commercial "new age" sphere.

That sphere is the doubtful forum you are representing in the so-called University for Spirit. There are numerous people in the "new age" who are so confused by exponents like Ram Dass, Grof, and Bache, that some of them might not be able to tell the difference between the Prince of Wales and Timothy Leary. Indeed, it will be a major cause for concern if the USF gains government sanction as an educational body. I have been told that this is your objective. If so, then I must be counted as a front line objector. Grofian MDMA therapy alone would constitute reason for rejecting nonjudgmental education.

5.  LSD  Dangers  and  New  Age  Relativism

So many people have been misled by the LSD and related therapy bandwagon. Young people, under the influence of new age commerce, can too easily fall prey to the notion that such activities amount to spirituality, which is what they are told by Grof and others. The academic credentials, often used in support of the bandwagon, are so objectionably misleading that all patience ceases when so much is at stake. You and your officials should be saying that Ram Dass had no conscience about the fatalities he encouraged with Leary, that he remained confused for many years after, being an entertainer more than anything else. As for Dr. Grof, he has resorted to such high intake of LSD that any support for him should be viewed in terms of a personal liability. Bache is a prime victim of Grof, having been brainwashed (in the psychedelic sense) by Grof Transpersonal Training.

What have you been teaching your assistants? Fashionable new age relativism is not philosophically compelling, even if this is commercial. Instead of expressing sober truths, Janice Dolley is a vehicle for FF beliefs. She has been strongly influenced by others; she is one of your close colleagues and defers to you. When Thomas expressed to her a feeling of upset at the accusing speech (of Dolley), the Wrekin Trust emissary justified her stance with the statement that she had been born to serve. At all costs of propriety, it would seem. Yet further, she (Dolley) was serving now, in the Wrekin Trust and the USF. Thomas was by now retreating from the unassailable prerogative.

The mentality in question is totally unable to assimilate such factors as "new age mafia," a phrase associated with media attempts to describe oppressive measures of the FF in relation to dissidents. You and Dolley are whitewashing the FF, but others will tell the truth.

6.  Holotropic  Breathwork  and  Craig  Gibsone

The "mafia" tactics of the Findhorn Foundation (FF) started with the role of Craig Gibsone as a practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork. This therapy was opposed by Thomas during the years 1989–93. Gibsone had no medical credentials in that exotic role; he was instrumental in causing casualties (Shepherd 2005a:197). By his own admission, Gibsone had a personal history of recurring alcoholism and drug use; he referred glibly to recreation chemicals. Along with many others at the Foundation, he tended to admire Ram Dass, who now became a stock feature of FF belief. Ram Dass visited the FF in 1991, being lionised there as a counter-cultural hero and spiritual authority. He was not viewed in any critical light whatsoever.

Dr. Grof also made a personal appearance at the FF at this period, being celebrated by Gibsone, now the Foundation leader. Kate Thomas was in disagreement, at which Gibsone was resentful. Thomas was the first major opponent of Grof in Britain, her criticisms antedating those expressed by Regius Professor Busuttil of Edinburgh University. The medical advice of this expert in pathology caused the Scottish Charities Office to recommend that Holotropic Breathwork be stopped at the FF in 1993. Gibsone and others chafed at this restriction, nurturing plans of revival, believing that only Grof could be right.


Craig  Gibsone

The FF staff were frequently evasive and overbearing. They would not tolerate objections to their procedures. Gibsone changed the economic axis of this community, paving the way for a new entrepreneurial code that led to a disastrous debt of significant proportions. He retained Eileen Caddy as a puppet figurehead. She said nothing against his rulings, but Thomas did. There was no freedom of speech. Objections were met with repression. Gibsone was antagonistic to the prospect of Thomas giving a series of talks that were free of charge. The obstacles were such that she gave up in defeat after only two talks to a diminutive audience. Her version of Sufi and Christian mysticism was opposed by Gibsone and Eric Franciscus. She was shunned as a party daring to state a difference between therapy and spirituality. She was concerned about the many visitors to the FF who suffered from Grof and other alternative therapists.

She [Thomas] was blocked from continuing her associate membership. The FF staff refused to create a forum for open discussion of the matters involved. Instead, a tactic of suppression prevailed. As for Gibsone, Thomas was wrong because she dared to question the eminence of Grof and the policy of a shaman like himself. New age shamanism was a supplicant of Grof and Ram Dass, with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Aleister Crowley in a subsidiary register of deities clearly visible in the FF bookshop. Sathya Sai Baba was also very influential, though Gibsone was content with Grof and Tantric Buddhism.

7.  The  Dictatorial  Eric  Franciscus  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Rather more intimidating than Gibsone was Eric Franciscus, a German member of the FF staff. He gained the reputation amongst British dissidents of a Gestapo officer. Franciscus threatened one dissident (a woman) with the prospect of getting "burnt." The pressure was such, in this instance, that a medical doctor had to give support to the victim. Franciscus slandered Thomas without bothering to converse with her. He zealously prohibited her from the precincts of his therapy college; she was quite literally banned from making any appearance. He allowed her one meeting with himself in a café located in the nearby town of Forres, where he presided in dictatorial and evasive mood. Franciscus was so convinced of his importance that he recorded the conversation on tape, one copy of which is in my possession. He resorted to the justification of an "intuitive decision" bypassing any reason for dismissing Thomas.

Such events are all on published record. The FF indifference to solid data is still alarming, and perhaps even incredible, especially when shared by other organisations like the SMN. Even Dr. Peter Fenwick, the SMN President, demonstrated this blindspot in correspondence with Thomas in 2004. He expressed no interest in a newly forthcoming publication featuring material about his own organisation. He instead dismissed the matter by suggesting that you would read the material and review it, which is laughable under the circumstances of neglect.

The mask for all FF tyrannies was unconditional love, a nauseating phrase frequently used by the therapeutic elite. Combined with nonjudgmentalism, this was the ideal recipe for face-saving strategies in the most exquisite forms of hypocrisy. To criticise the elite was a crime, because they were the representatives of love and healing. It is still a crime to criticise them [in their own estimation]. Philosophers may ignore the strictures.

Franciscus broadcast his belief that God had given him jurisdiction over the therapy college on Cluny Hill, at Forres. This college was anti-rational in emphasis. Franciscus was God’s unassailable right hand man, that was the implication. He was also known to have stated that his ego had diminished. Even some of the other FF officials were perturbed about his despotic rule. He had been resident there for over ten years, a long time by FF standards. His sense of elevation made him feel that he did not have to supply reasons for his decisions. It was said that the only way to deal with him was to avoid him.

Another problem was Loren Stewart, an American staff member who continually harassed Thomas and her friends. He would seek them out, taunting them and querying their intentions. He believed that he always acted without prejudice, a belief which appeared as a heading to one of his dismissive letters. There were some people within the FF who disliked Stewart, but nobody stood up to him. He also expressed benign moods that lent a schizophrenic complexion to his personality. He was sometimes docile with Thomas, but more usually hostile, even to the point of attempting to ban her from the site known as the Park (which was open to the public). This was a display of New Age Fundamentalist Zeal. After a short while, Thomas only felt safe in FF precincts if Stephen Castro accompanied her from her home nearby. Castro was a sturdy man, but much alarmed at the hostility in evidence. He disliked going to the FF. Finally, Thomas had to persuade him to accompany her. Castro has left the most clearly documented report of what occurred during the 1990s. History is not popular in the new age.

Though many FF inmates were averse to Franciscus, Loren Stewart would cover up for him. Franciscus would interfere in other departments than his own, convinced of his guiding genius bestowed by God. A friend of Thomas wrote of her first encounter with God’s right hand man: "He acted as though he were invincible. He could say anything, and to whatever I said in return, he replied – so what ?" (Thomas 1992:979).

Castro told me at the time that he thought Gibsone was arrogant, that Stewart was oppressively overbearing, while Franciscus defied description. He also felt that Eileen Caddy had developed withdrawal symptoms, living in a world of make-believe, totally unable to cope with her ideological offspring. Ironically, her ex-husband Peter, shortly before his death, wrote to Thomas from his home in Germany, expressing a high opinion of the Thomas autobiography. This co-founder of the FF stated in his letter: "Many of your expressed concerns about the so-called New Age movement and particularly the Foundation, will, I trust, receive the attention they deserve" (Castro 1996:189). Such concerns and acknowledgment were anathema to the FF staff, who consigned them to oblivion and made their memory a punishable offence.

8.  The  Forum  of  Ideas  and  Grof  Transpersonal  Training  Inc.

Back to your theme of a forum.  I am familiar with the argument that when the SMN promotes speakers, this is no indication of affiliation, merely a forum of ideas. That theme is irresponsible in relation to the more extreme issues, such as controversial therapies questioned by medical authorities in the interests of public safety.  For instance, when you promoted Stanislav Grof at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1995 (Shepherd 2004:39–40), the breathwork lobby in Britain took that as an endorsement for their impudent dismissal of medical cautions. They renewed practice of Holotropic Breathwork, in the face of official recommendation to the contrary. Grof lecturing at Cambridge means that Breathwork, MDMA, and LSD are perfectly legit. That is how quack therapists think. You must surely be aware of this.  More recently, the FF have again ignored official cautions by promoting Holotropic Breathwork via a team of practitioners (including Craig Gibsone) who possess no medical qualifications (Shepherd 2005a:195ff).

l to r: Stanislav  Grof, Christopher  Bache

As for Bache, your very enthusiastic review of his questionable book in Network [Review] could easily be interpreted as an invitation to become a convert to Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. That glowing review failed to express any cautions. Since then, your comments have been used as a major review quote by the American promoters of Bache, a quote also appearing in a salient American new age magazine influencing many gullible readers (ibid:408). You describe Bache’s Dark Night, Early Dawn as "a landmark book in consciousness studies." All this amounts to a serious support for LSD therapy, thus invalidating the evasive "forum only" argument expressed by Dr. Fenwick in a letter to Thomas shortly before she resigned from the SMN.

9.  The  SMN  and  Alternative  Therapy  Promotions

Instead of replying to the significant letter of resignation (from Thomas), you were more keen to promote in your SMN magazine that same year (2004) an item by a practitioner of breathwork (Network, no. 85, p. 34). The Grof-related item criticised the objection of Thomas to mind-altering techniques, even while giving the impression that Thomas was conducting these. Bache was mentioned in this misleading item, though the writer stated: "I have not read Professor Bache’s book."

No mention was made [in the same item] of an argument in the annotated article of Thomas earlier appearing in Network. Indeed, the therapist did not once refer to LSD.  Instead, an aspersion was made upon the book by Thomas entitled The Kundalini Phenomenon, the implication being that she was setting herself up as a guru. This adverse nuance was accompanied by the elevation of hyperventilation, more especially in a form called superventilation.  Medical cautions were not mentioned. The therapist was promoting her own exercise; advertising a B.A. degree, she is not a medic. One conclusion of mine is that placing annotated articles in a magazine like Network is useless. The SMN magazine seems to be read largely by alternative therapists (who have swelled the SMN membership over the years).

Professor Bache, the unread great shaman, promotes his LSD trances via SUNY Press (who are causing havoc), while Thomas is the evil "guru" daring to mention a standard against which the therapy entrepreneurs can be measured as being in error. The present writer has read Bache’s book and agrees with sober medical assessment of the misleading contents (Shepherd 2005a:41–2, 149ff, 408). Thomas has never taught mind-altering techniques, to which she is opposed; therapists are so obsessed by these techniques that they tend to read them into the work of non-therapists. The difference in viewpoint can be very substantial.

10.  Kundalini,  Rajneesh  Sect,  and  Stanislav  Grof

The obscure subject of kundalini is currently so vulgarised, in diverse commercial formats, that some readers have expressed relief to find in the Thomas version a repudiation of new age bathos. Even the psychic magazine Prediction gave the critical book (The Kundalini Phenomenon) a fair and glowing review. Some academics can agree with the imprimatur there expressed: "A very valuable, well written and extremely readable counter-balance to the swamping of bookshelves promising ‘spiritual gifts,’ ‘powers,’ and [usually] sexually gratifying states of bliss with minimal effort towards character and personality development."

Compare the FF preference for the eroticism of Margot Anand, the heir of Rajneesh celebrated by the FF promoters in complete disdain for Thomas, who was kept bound and gagged in the subterranean vault of mafia tactics. [On Margot Anand at the FF, see Promotion  of  Eroticism]

In relation to Stanislav Grof, you stand in clear distinction to Edinburgh University and Emory University. A "university for spirit" which opts to validate the wrong standards is a potentially dangerous affliction for the public, especially gullible people who inhabit the new age of retarded values while paying to keep organisations like yours afloat. I have sided with Edinburgh University (Shepherd 2005a:198–9), despite the FF prohibition against rational analysis and the sifting of fact from fiction and calumny. "Workshops" undermine rationality, which is thus replaced by sensation, commonly mistaken for intuition.

11.  A   File  Misunderstood  by  New  Age  Fundamentalism

In the recent exchange, Dolley stated to Thomas that a large file of correspondence relating to her (Thomas) existed at the FF, as if this fact were proof of her error. That reasoning is seriously amiss. I also have access to a large file, including six or seven published books ignored and repressed by the FF. That file can be read very differently to the distorting mode of calumny in vogue amongst the nonjudgmentalists (who never judge, mark you, so loving and tolerant are they).  My file includes the tape-recording of the Franciscus-Thomas café meeting in 1994. That tape alone is quite sufficient to cast permanent doubt upon any validity of the FF animosity towards the victim, a mood which has no legal or logical support (Shepherd 2005a:214–15).

Much of the correspondence, between Thomas and the FF, related to her grievance at the constant misrepresentation of her standpoint, and also to her preparedness to conciliate, which was obstructed. The pride and spite of the FF staff was often acute. They proved that their vaunted therapy is useless, especially their pet theme of conflict resolution, which is just a sick joke.

The FF therapy does not work. Yet the FF relies for income upon a constant programme of therapy and workshops at exorbitant prices.  All this is mistaken for "spirituality" by them and their supporters. They cannot analyse documents properly, relying upon therapeutic cliché for a rationale, though cashflow is the ultimate standard. They are obsessed with stifling all criticism of their continuing errors. The book Hypocrisy and Dissent (written by an ex-member) was considered unreadable by them (and proscribed), to the extent that prestigious personnel would cross themselves piously at sight or mention of the heretical volume. This is New Age fundamentalism, beyond all reason. If the FF fundamentalists ever gain political power, the best recourse would be to emigrate before that opportunity ceases.

12.  The  Esalen  Influence, NeoReichian  Therapy, and  Child  Abuse

Much of the Findhorn  Foundation (FF) programme was modelled upon the Esalen Institute in California. Stanislav Grof took root at this centre of unorthodox therapy. Another ingredient of Esalen was an acute hedonism, convergent with neo-hippy appetites. One message urged that neoReichian therapy liberated, though in reality such distractions blotted out all sense of discipline. The FF has similarly derided science, scholarship, and philosophy in the traditional mould. Preferred achievements include astro-shamanism and nonjudgmentalism.  Extravagant claims have been made about the FF as a centre of spiritual education. That means commercial workshops, pseudo-shamanism, nonjudgmentalism, and business consultants.

A strongly alleged case of child abuse, occurring at the FF, has dimensions not usually stated. Thomas discovered that a number of FF people were not concerned about the alleged abuse (which they were prepared to credit as fact), only about the bad reputation that could attach to their community as a result. The suspect was a neoReichian therapist known to lead a very promiscuous life, to the extent of alienating his wife/partner, who made the major accusation. This matter was stifled by the FF management, who implied that the accuser was too judgmental. The dangers of this attitude should be evident to rational people.

[An informant relates that the neoReichian therapist left the Foundation in circumstances of a scandal "completely covered over by the 'non-judgmental' sloganism; the erring therapist escaped scot free, and the Foundation received no blame for their strongly advertised and continual sponsorship of his workshops. The victims were perhaps told the same things - don't criticise and instead find the problem in yourself" (Shepherd 2005a:182). Although some non-participants have urged that the episode is one of allegation, informed observers of the early 1990s period were insistent that child abuse was a fact in this instance]

13.  "Science  is  the  Only  Way  Forward"

Returning to the Dolley-Thomas conversation, one is obliged to report the very judgmental attitude of the USF official. Dolley accused Thomas of wanting everyone to listen to her views and to read her books. This very inaccurate judgment requires correction here. Thomas never got the chance to express her views in the FF due to the active repression exercised against her. Her proscribed books were not allowed to be sold in the Foundation bookshop alongside the monuments left by Crowley and Rajneesh. She was never able to give a talk. The only role permitted her was that of a cleaner, to emphasize her inferiority. She could clean toilets, but could not give talks. Her teaching was taboo. Her worldview was merely something to be misrepresented, as the management had judged (note the deadly word) her to be heretical. Her friends were also stigmatised and mistreated, to the extent that one plucky woman (Jill Rathbone) stood up to the opposition, gaining compensation in the law courts against the Moray Steiner School, effectively controlled by the FF (Castro 1996:154ff).

The truth is that Thomas taught what Eileen Caddy should have done, but did not. Thomas taught discipline, humility, and other things uncongenial to the therapy mafia. The only time she ever gave a public talk was at an SMN venue years later, on which occasion she said: "Science is the only way forward." She qualified her expression in terms of scientific psychology.

By that time, the FF had resorted to the Internet for their calumnies. Thomas was depicted as representing "arcane spiritual teachings" in hopeless contradiction to "one of the most successful communal groups in the world."

  Peter  Fenwick

After the resignation of Thomas from the SMN, Dr. Fenwick was the only member of that organisation to be in correspondence with her. He offered to arrange a video interchange between her and a well known entity, but she respectfully declined his kind offer. She did not want that kind of publicity, which reflects the "new age" view of celebrity.  Photographs suffice for identification purposes.

14.  The  Coffins  of  Relativism

There is one other area of misunderstanding. It is true that Thomas did ask the SMN to research her books. She admits to having entertained the optimistic belief that SMN academics would analyse mystical experience in a quite different way to the FF and other parties. She was disappointed also that most individuals were too busy to find out what had actually happened at the FF. In fact, many SMN members were promoting their own new age enterprises, furthering the general confusion in priorities. She says that she has learned better and will never ask again for research assistance.

Ironically enough, both Sir George Trevelyan and George Blaker expressed interest in her case history (by letter and telephone) at the end of their lives (these are founding figures for the Wrekin Trust and SMN respectively). Alister Hardy (d.1985), who founded the Alister Hardy Trust (AHT) and the Religious Experience Research Centre, was in the same category of expressed interest. He was then on the point of retirement as Chairman in 1982. He passed the relevant material, studied and commented upon by himself, to his successor, who chose to place this file aside for future examination, which seemingly never occurred.

Thomas was a member of the AHT for a number of years, only ceasing her membership in 2003, after discovering an abortive misrepresentation of her contact with the FF written by an AHT Trustee (see below).  Yet you were so reluctant to give assistance and to stop calumnies. Instead, you have put the last nail in the coffin for "research," thus sounding the victory of the therapy mafia. The FF are in dire need of a re-education programme of extensive proportions, but you specialise in the coffins of relativism.  David Lorimer, new age fund-raiser and undertaker.

As for me, I am not a mystic and claim no mystical experience whatever. I am instead very pedestrian, having only experiences as a citizen philosopher. Kevin Shepherd, country bumpkin and old age man in the street.

15.  Aleister  Crowley  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Your patronage of the LSD lobby can easily be associated in the relativist mentality with Aleister Crowley, who has been a visible influence at the FF (Shepherd 2005a:4–5, 36). Crowley was not really a bad guy, we are told by contemporary fashion. Just a new age angel addicted to drugs, drug visions, wife torture, vampirism, and manic stimulation at the sensory level. Plus sympathetic magic of an alarming kind reputed to affect the victim adversely, as in the instance on record where, while walking down Charing Cross Road, he fixed his attention on a pedestrian ahead of him. Crowley is said to have "deliberately stumbled and in total synchronisation, the man ahead also stumbled and nearly fell." Watch out for new age magicians, especially as your relativism may assist them to breed.

In a different way, the unsuspecting citizen might get hit by the vulgar practice of leading bookshops who stock vast quantities of junk merchandise for public consumption. From Horror to Magic and Divination, the till roll exploits the unwary. The FF bookshop is not the only disaster area. On this matter, see further the record of confrontation in Citizen Initiative publishing statement (2005).

16.  Mafia  Tactics

[In 1995, the Findhorn Foundation (FF) were tagged by the Scottish press as "the 'mafia' cult." This aspersion arose in relation to the case of the British victim Jill Rathbone, who successfully launched a legal action against the strongly associated Moray Steiner School that same year (Castro 1996, chapter 8).  Concerning the Foundation, Rathbone stated: "The hierarchy rules by fear" (ibid:137). This verdict is confirmed by other informants on record]

The cult deceit, in which mafia tactics are concealed by "spiritual" camouflage, is now well known in the activity of Sathya Sai Baba (still one of the favoured gurus at the FF during the 1990s, and strongly associated with Franciscus). Ex-devotees of Sathya Sai have uncovered details formerly ignored by, and unknown to, the nonjudgmentalists at Findhorn who insisted that criticism of the incarnation of God was totally wrong (Shepherd 2005b: 269ff).

The leading Indian critic of Sathya Sai has survived four attempts to murder him by the terrorist henchmen of the guru. The courageous Basava Premanand "bears the scars from several savage beatings" (ibid:287). [Premanand is an important source frequently overlooked by casual readers] Some cases of [alleged] terrorism were fatal; one victim had his stomach cut out (ibid:297). [The identity of the murderer in this latter instance is unknown; Sathya Sai aroused suspicion by doing nothing to mount an investigation; see also Indian Rationalist Premanand] The mafia details are accompanied by the sordid reports of sexual abuse. Because of the truths [and allegations] emerging (as distinct from nonjudgmental sentiments), the British Prime Minister is reported to have agreed not to meet Sathya Sai (ibid:286).

One can hope that a similar development of exposure may one day occur in relation to UN endorsement of the FF. The bureaucratic reasoning behind NGO status is not always beyond question, especially when an entrepreneurial community of such status abuses basic codes of civilisation while presuming to be a spiritual exemplar.

One victim of NGO status has resisted attempts to be represented in any report of the FF, in case she is drawn back into confrontation with the persecuting "mafia." I am not at liberty to disclose even her initials. [Cf. Castro 1996:57ff, who names this person]  I have concluded that constant attempts of the FF to gain funding, as an NGO, do not exempt them from the charge of retarded PR.

17.  The  Alister  Hardy  Trust  and  Bath  College

Efforts to obtain a due response from the SMN and the Alister Hardy Trust (AHT) were also afflicted. Thomas was a member of the AHT. She discovered, to her dismay, that one of the Trustees had written a misleading article about her inspired by FF propaganda (see below). The AHT did consider research into mystical experience as distinct from drug and hyperventilation experiences, but completely overlooked due investigation of FF issues. The biased anti-dissident article by Dr. York passed unchallenged. The AHT, like the SMN, were preoccupied with gaining funds from the Templeton Foundation. They were both successful in that pursuit. Some pressing matters on the home front were completely ignored in preference for, e.g., contemporary religious experience in China. That well funded subject did not restore the due ethics of research protocol in Britain.

Perhaps only earthquakes and hurricanes will stop the many duplicit charity status organisations who have recently been discerned as being in violation of ethics (Shepherd 2005a:380 n. 166). What happens if the public attempt to communicate the true nature of events relating to charity status organisations? Let me here remind you that the book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation was treated to a deplorable academic review supporting the presumed agents of planetary transformation. The tone of this pro-new age contribution to the Journal of Contemporary Religion may be gauged from the opening statement: "The venom of Castro’s assault is directed chiefly against the Findhorn Foundation."

The uncritical defender of the FF was here Dr. Michael York, representing Bath College of Higher Education (York is also a Trustee of the Alister Hardy Trust Religious Experience Research Centre). He refers scathingly to Thomas, while denying Castro any validity as an amateur sociologist seeking to get the FF in true perspective on the basis of tangible data. The objection to Holotropic Breathwork made by Thomas is dismissed in terms of her being the "Mary Whitehouse of the psychotherapeutic world." Regius Professor Busuttil is not mentioned by the Bath College representative, and presumably he is another Mary.

York instead refers glowingly to Eric Franciscus (devotee of Sathya Sai Baba) as Director of Education in the FF. [Education here means alternative therapy, guru channelling, and suppression of dissidents]. In support of that "Education" role, York acutely minimises the description of Franciscus by Thomas (York 1997:235). York is very evasive about the 1994 tape of the Franciscus-Thomas encounter in a Forres café [evidently not knowing anything about this source].  What can one expect of higher education in these sectors?

[The contribution of ICSA is far more impressive than Bath bathos; the International Cultic Studies Association were not oriented to Sathya Sai Baba, or to Grof therapy, nor the psychedelic neoshamanism favoured at Bath. Accordingly, ICSA contributed a favourable review of Castro 1996, which capped York substantially. See M. Tachikawa, Cultic Studies Journal, 1996, linked in ICSA Fair Review. The reviewer here described Castro content in terms of "essential reading on the dark side of the human potential movement." By comparison, the state of "dark side" and medical studies at Bath was still medieval, viewing hyperventilation as a programme of the Inner Healer, a commercial indoctrination ploy of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.]

18.  The  Choice  Between  Busuttil  and  Franciscus

No mention is made of Edinburgh University by the FF defender Michael York, who misleadingly gives the impression that it was the fault of Thomas to have influenced the Scottish Charities Office against Grof’s surpassing Holotropic Breathwork (York 1997:232). There is an increasing academic illiteracy caused by new age organisations. Lacunae are often preferred by new age academics. In any choice between Busuttil and Franciscus, it would be advisable to favour the former, who stood for medical principle in the face of Grofian propaganda and channelling lunacy [section 6 above, Holotropic Breathwork and Craig Gibsone] One of the dubious statements made by Franciscus on the explicit 1994 tape is "Whoever told you that life is just?" (Shepherd 2005a:215). Unjust representation is a speciality of the FF and their affiliates.

Anthony  Busuttil

[The credentials of Professor Busuttil include OBE, MD, and FRCPath; a Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at Edinburgh, he retired in 2006, subsequently gaining Emeritus status. He is joint editor of the prestigious volume Paediatric Forensic Medicine and Pathology (2008)]

19.  Apologist  Sociology  Versus  Dissident  Sociology

The pro-Grof reductionist Dr. Michael York claims to have spent an "Experience Week" at the FF in 1993. This convert enthusiasm is not enough to invalidate the far greater time spent at the FF by dissidents, who were able to see through the façade presented to gullible visitors. Academic enthusiasts of FF propaganda are far more objectionable than the rank and file who do not claim critical ability as a sociologist, one of the presumptions of  Dr. York, who had written a book with the sub-title of "A Sociology of the New Age."

The Castro book had duly mentioned Edinburgh University (Castro 1996:96, 101–2, 103, 131). Yet the AHT Trustee, eager to gain the advantage, stated that the dissident analysis was not "valid sociology" (York 1997:229). In the FF apologist sphere, valid sociology means ignoring the relevant medical contribution. We are thus asked to believe that valid sociology is related to the achievement of censoring Regius Professor Busuttil, who had supplied a strong warning about the possible and actual dangers of commercial hyperventilation being inflicted upon the public. If Dr. York represents sociology, then that should be shunned as an obscurantist exercise and public hazard by sane citizens.

As a support for his misleading argument, the AHT Trustee quotes from a letter penned by another FF sympathiser, namely Dr. Benjamin Seel at the University of Keele. The latter was so out of contact with basic events that he complained of feeling "rather alarmed" to see the FF personnel criticised in print "without the chance to answer the accusations" (York 1997:232). In reality, it was the dissidents who had not been given the chance to answer accusations, their views being considered judgmental and therefore fit only to be censored. Unbiased readers have grasped this, but not new age academics. Dr. Seel was confused in his assessment because he had chosen to view FF personnel as "genuinely loving people with integrity" (ibid). As authority figures, they must be right, so the dissidents must be wrong. That is the purport of the blind argument from Keele University, which added that the dissident position was "rabid" and "reactionary." The relevant letter was dated 1996. Again, there was no mention of Edinburgh University, who were doubtless part of the reactionary package, one could infer.

When fiction is preferred to fact, take the funding away from academic sociology, otherwise the relevant medical perspective will be in danger of oblivion.

20.  The  Issue  of  Casual  Sex

A very suspicious feature of Dr. York’s apologist article is his strongly implied disagreement with Thomas for her having confronted (by letter) a senior staff member of the FF for his lapse in advocating casual sex of a homosexual nature in the FF internal magazine. This cheaply printed publication was permanently on display to newcomers in Cluny Hill College (the domain of Eric Franciscus). To be more specific, this staff member had advertised himself as being available for such casual sex. This same man’s letter to Thomas evidenced his belief that the FF was a place for individuals to explore their sexuality (Castro 1996:125–6. Cf. York 1997:235). T. B. remained unrepentant.

Dr. York’s dubious commentary is very brief and does not divulge the relevant details, instead insinuating that Thomas was wrong to alight upon such a matter. That inflection has grave implications for AHT Trustees and pseudo-sociologists [also Bath College of Higher Education, where public soliciting for attention should not be endorsed].

The local medics in Forres knew that Thomas was not wrong, as they annually feared an outbreak of AIDS within the FF. The promiscuity (often heterosexual) at the FF was locally known; the FF staff usually tried to conceal this excess. One of the major persecutors of Thomas had a bisexual reputation within the FF community. [This man was widely feared by members of that community for being unpredictable and aggressive. Stephen Castro independently reported the strong tendency of that American to harassment. The aggressor rejected his hapless partner, leaving her with a child and no income in a very oppressive environment. He moved on to other partners while she had to contend with predatory FF staff members who ejected her from a rented caravan at The Park, Findhorn. In the new age of "Build Green," the profits achieved by Ecovillage land grabbers eclipsed all other considerations. The full details are almost unbelievable. In the end, the caravan victim's predicament was so severe that she visited my mother, whom she had formerly encountered. My mother, Kate Thomas, commented that this woman had aged about twenty years in only two years, so great was the stress she had endured at the site of “planetary transformation.”]

The frequent heterosexual partnerships and liaisons occurring in that sector are accompanied by the recent suggestion, in some FF workshops, that "being gay is a spiritual calling." No more so than heterosexual proclivities. Workshop commerce has no scruple. Almost anything saleable at the FF is deemed spiritual, which is a completely meaningless word in the new age.

The misogynistic form of logic, used by censorious Dr. York to implicate Thomas as being in error, includes the phrase: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" (York 1997:236). She was merely a biased ex-member, is the supporting statement. The AHT and Bath College are welcome to the associative accusation of being patrons of casual sex, as moral objections to decadence are merely feminist pique in apologist lore. The pro-Franciscus apologist argument would appeal to Sathya Sai Baba, whose own Colleges are a disgrace of almost indescribable dimensions, in which so many young victims of homosexuality experienced hell on earth. Fittingly enough perhaps, Cluny Hill College was a focus for devotion to Sathya Sai Baba, amongst other disconcerting entities.

The FF inversion of spirituality was patronised by Eileen Caddy, whose habit was not to speak out against anomalies occurring. Instead she provided the validating formula of divine sanction: "Be at perfect peace; all is working out according to My plan." Eileen Caddy’s reward for this blanket approval has been to gain an MBE from a party totally incapable of assessing reality as distinct from fiction.

21.  Value-laden  Sociology  Versus  Wertfreiheit

According to Dr. York, "the Findhorn trajectory will continue to adapt and modify and grow with the times, if not also lead the times" (York 1997:237). Those words were written nearly ten years ago. What actually happened was that the FF admitted to having incurred a massive debt. They became desperate for funding and resorted to an increase of entrepreneurial activity. Their propaganda became ever more impudent and exaggerated, even claiming projects that were discovered to be mythical by observers (Shepherd 2005:189ff). There is no sign yet of the extensive modification needed to gain credence in rational quarters. If the FF are to lead the times, then medics, scientists, social scientists, philosophers, scholars, historians, political analysts, legal experts, and other categories might therefore need to develop life on the moon in order to survive.

That contingency would obviously not cover new age sociology, i.e., the standpoint which glibly assumes that "genuinely loving people with integrity" are the excuse to pour fundamentalist scorn upon dissident reports. This form of value-laden sociology is much inferior to the wertfreiheit of Weber. Although I have elsewhere argued for an improvement upon wertfreiheit (Shepherd 1991:103), the new age academics pose a setback for such considerations, their attitude denoting a new dark age for science and reasoning. Before the darkness descends in greater pall, the new age academics should be set an exercise in value-neutrality by the bodies sponsoring them.

22.  The  Presumption  to  Perennial  Philosophy

The FF income dwindled substantially by 1997, the year when the apologist article by York appeared. The FF management team were obliged to resign, amidst circumstances that were almost completely covered up, a feat thereby securing NGO status (which subsequently proved difficult to confirm). Another management team (who included Franciscus) then gained power. The zealous stigma of Thomas (started largely by Franciscus) continued, this being a political strategy, as she knew what the management were actually doing, their tactic concealed by the propaganda. At the time of gaining NGO status, the American Roger Doudna shouted at her when she was unguarded by Castro, threatening that she must never tell what the FF had done to her (Shepherd 2005:212). I am quite prepared to do so instead, having been a resident of Forres during most of the 1990s.

In 1995 was published Minds and Sociocultures, this book of mine including a disclaimer of the glib FF presumption to the honours believed to be invested in "perennial philosophy." They never acknowledged that book (their review schedule was considered barbaric by onlookers, favouring alternative therapy). Their knowledge of religion was demonstrably nil, a situation which does not seem to have changed. Yet they claimed to represent "perennial philosophy," a subject so complex that much scholastic ingenuity is exhausted in covering the diverse materials. Popular lore is not history, which can sometimes be used to confirm that the lore is deceptive. Participation in the perennial was a claim in the FF manifesto The Kingdom Within (Walker 1994), a book juxtaposed with such poetic refrains as: "Our purpose is to find the divine within, the criterion for which is the practice and experience of unconditional love" (Walker 1994:68. Cf. Shepherd 1995:923–4). Their purpose failed miserably, the criterion being a sham.

23.  The  Findhorn  College  Fails

What was the actual educational status of the FF? In 1995, the perennial philosophers and neo-hippies launched a new project called the Findhorn College of International Education. Think big. The combined talents of several leading hierarchs (including Craig Gibsone) were enlisted for this enterprise, which charged high fees. The new College failed very quickly, to say the least. The American college students (seven in number), who had been enrolled as pupils, rebelled at the lacklustre tuition. The College closed down in 1996, being abruptly dropped from the propaganda. The failed College was now an embarrassment for NGO status [an objective gained the following year in an obscure manner]. Thus, the unwary might believe that this episode never really happened, an oblivion befalling so many other tangible FF events on record elsewhere (Shepherd 2004:44ff). [See  Propaganda Tactics]

24.  Prince  of  Wales  Lore

A major prop for NGO status was Pierre Weil, representing the Holistic University of Brazil, who naively believed what he was told when visiting the FF. The presence of Eileen Caddy was often interpreted by visitors as a sign of divine sanction and faultless conduct. The FF staff delighted in telling Kate Thomas that she was not important enough to give a (free) talk on the premises; she would not be a commercial draw and was therefore superfluous. They preferred best-selling speakers like Caroline Myss and Peter Russell. [Only money and status counted in the new spirituality; Thomas offered to give free talks, contrasting with the fees charged by superstars]. They believed that great VIPs would become their patrons, and who better than the Prince of Wales.

The FF propaganda spoke as though the Prince would be attending an FF ecology conference in October 1995. The fact is that he had not said yes. The Prince was promoted as an invited speaker before he had chance to reply to the invitation. The fact is that he actually said NO. The FF assumption proved wrong. The Prince had said no to conflict resolution, new age perennialism, unconditional love, Grof neoshamanism, the divine role of Eileen Caddy, and opportunist ecology. Even after Prince Charles had declined, he was still promoted as an invited speaker "subject to confirmation." The ill-fated Findhorn College of International Education needed American recruits at that time, a situation rendering Prince of Wales lore a potential asset. Dissidents who complained at misuse of the royal name were dismissed as judgmental.

Eileen Caddy had sealed the trend for new age perennial philosophy, stating in a circular letter: "When all of us can think in millions of pounds, we will draw millions of pounds to us" (Castro 1996:190, 194–5). One can imagine what Gautama Buddha might have said of the FF. The royal invitee was later dropped from the propaganda. Promotion of Prince Charles had never really happened, except in the report of Castro, who was criminalised accordingly. The net result of the sanction for greed, spearheaded by neoshaman Craig Gibsone, was a massive debt at first elaborately concealed. The new luxury eco-houses, pursued by FF staff, comprised only one symptom of malaise. A new communal kitchen (associated with Loren Stewart) had a funding target of £50,000 in donations. Criticism was unwelcome because that could stop donations. Scruple was worthless.

25.  The  Game  of  Transformation

The FF have been eager to consign complaints and medical expertise to oblivion. Their vaunted [and deceptive] criterion of unconditional love is not sufficient to justify that ongoing lapse. The USF is now strongly implied in this lapse. The FF have been acquiring funds from various contributors, while mounting an annual programme of commercial workshops that is cause for wonder.

Let me here remind you of FF charity tactics. They have been observed to charge £1,395 for a two-week course in the Transformation Game , a novelty which insults the intelligence of any reasoning citizen. That game is played on a board. This FF speciality is advertised as enabling "a quantum leap into greater wholeness," and as providing a "powerful springboard for spiritual growth." Chess is far preferable, because that rival can be played entirely free and without pretension. Yet further, the banal commerce entices subscribers "to offer Transformation Game workshops professionally." The word professional now denotes a lucrative board game with pretensions to spirituality. It is better to remain a sceptical amateur with a chance of intellectual survival.

The Game of Transformation has been supported by Dr. York, the gullible AHT Trustee, whose blanket approval of workshops has been so misleading and influential. "The New Age represents an innovative and experimental form of spirituality" (York 1997:236). That assertion was made in direct response to the warnings of Thomas about Holotropic Breathwork, neo-Reichian therapy, and other problems. York misrepresented Thomas in terms of a theological dogma, which is far removed from the truth. FF alternative therapy was validated by apologist York in terms of: "There can be no guarantees for either certainty or safety" (ibid).

No reference is made to embarassing published instances. For instance, an FF practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork experienced himself to be a howling wolf during hyperventilation, a problem leading to a violent struggle with his colleagues until he collapsed (Castro 1996:84–5). This Grof commercial exercise in "therapy" has been naively promoted by the FF as "a spiritual technique with an ancient shamanistic lineage." This belief represents the facile explanation of entrepreneur Stanislav Grof (Shepherd 2005:7). A due nationwide medical probe should be mounted against any therapy lacking safety criteria, no matter what the specious claims involved.

26.  Dissidents  Pushed  into  Oblivion  by  Routledge

Safety provisos have been further annulled by parties in question. Routledge have recently published a book called Children of the New Age, written by a Research Fellow in Religious Studies at the University of Stirling. The FF are here celebrated, with no dissidents to detract from the picture of spiritual accomplishments (though with some slight reservations implied).

Routledge were keen to use as promotion here the statement of Professor Daniel Wojcik (University of Oregon) that Research Fellow Sutcliffe’s book is "a much needed and necessary history of New Age phenomena." Yet so many events have been omitted. Stanislav Grof’s influential Holotropic Breathwork is not mentioned, for instance, and nor is Edinburgh University, which still remains elusive in such contracted cosmetic accounts. The dissidents have been expunged completely from the New Age record by Research Fellow Sutcliffe, who is evidently relying upon the apologist Dr. York for holy writ. Though I have been led for many years to believe that scholarship tries to ascertain the dissident position in religion, I now find that the opposite is in fact the case. Permit me to dwell upon some of the implications here.

Only a few years after the events mentioned in published books, the dissidents have been pushed into oblivion by new age "professional" orthodoxy. Thomas never existed. Jill Rathbone never won a court case in the struggle against the undeclared FF mafia. The police never investigated an alleged case of child abuse in the early 1990s at the FF. The Franciscus-Thomas tape recording, dated 1994, is not part of new age history.

[Instead of listing the Castro book as a primary source, Sutcliffe opts for the Confessions of Aleister Crowley, noted elsewhere for being hazardous in relation to facts. Sutcliffe also prefers to list works of William Bloom, a quack therapist favoured by the FF]

The annotated book by Castro is mentioned only in Sutcliffe’s incomplete bibliography, being represented solely by the title of an aspersive review article penned by York. That is the only possible clue afforded to later generations of text analysts, in Oregon and elsewhere, who might be anxious to find the obscure texts and entities rumoured to have existed. [The academic apologist cartoons of the "new age" are to some extent amusing in view of the pretensions to reporting. However, the consequences of such format varnish and calculating expurgation are detrimental to a deceived readership]

Only seven years after the apologetics of Dr. York, Thomas disappears completely in the Routledge history. Regius Professor Busuttil is also in Hades. As indeed am I, having been consigned to oblivion by "scholarship" influenced by the AHT.  I have been referring to the FF (and Dr. Grof) in published works since 1989. New age "research" ignores this factor. Dr. York did actually employ a citation from one of my books that he found in Castro’s account. Sutcliffe does not continue even that barbed courtesy. What should I do about this?  Pretend that I am dead, no doubt, which might please the new age political correctness.

Scholarship inspired by the new age does not relate to real life.  Incitement to casual sex in high places was glossed over by Dr. York with an amazingly dismissive sexist remark. According to Routledge lore, the FF are immaculate in their dealings between "seekers and host institution." We learn that the FF has "developed considerable skill in managing the inherent tensions" (Sutcliffe 2003:173). [The lie is very substantial, as investigators of critical literature have found]. Relevant sources should be consulted to disprove this gloss on deficient public relations found in apologist text.

The truth is, for instance, that Thomas had legal support from a solicitor, but chose not to use this expedient, instead attempting in a generous spirit to conciliate with obstructive personnel who maligned her continually. After moving back to England, she even visited the FF in 2001, being deceived by a telephone conversation. I told her that she would need a police escort. When she came back feeling very unwell, she agreed with me and never went to the FF again (Shepherd 2005:180ff).

27.  The  New  Age  of  Censorship

On behalf of those excised from [and distorted by] the New Age Record, I could suggest that the Templeton Foundation was perhaps too generous with the AHT in the recent donation of some £335,000 for research into contemporary religion in China.  Life in Hades is a far cry from China funds. I might beg a loan for the postage costs involved in notifying various parties of the real nature of events.

In short, the new age of censorship has arrived. I suspect that if a petition was made for alternative old age research, one might get 50 pence funding for a project like: An investigation into why so many people in Britain are confused by new age literature and "workshops." There are doubtless many more who could find their identity effaced if they ever dare to protest against the hierarchy.

One could echo from the new age graveyard the possibility of a ghost thesis like: Why are so many young people caught in the drugs net while SUNY Press purveys Grofian psychedelic lore? That lore includes visions of the archetypes while under dosage of an illegal drug. Straight answers to such questions are not forthcoming in some academic quarters, because only relativism counts. Why is "mystical" cannabis so popular in universities? Straight answers are considered to be implausible, being related to the overdose from Baba Ram Dass and many other hippies who never did see things in perspective.

28.  Academic  and  Citizen  Philosophy  Ousted  by  Mind-Body-Spirit

Leading  bookshops have been saying that philosophy (in the traditional sense) is more or less unwanted,  as Mind-Body-Spirit now reigns supreme. The recent book Pointed Observations was judged as being too academic by Ottakars in Dorchester, therefore they could not stock it, even though I am a local author with a possible right to fair representation. That book was considered too closely related to academic philosophy and unsuitable for the Mind-Body-Spirit shelves. Annotations are superfluous in commerce.

In the popular sense, philosophy is indeed dead — what is now preferred are topics like magic, divination, and spiritualism. These topics do, of course, have an effect upon readerships, producing nightmare confusions in some parties. Only Nietzsche can compete with that tide. Other philosophers are falling into limbo, while more antique figures like Suhrawardi Maqtul, Farabi, Plotinus, Plato, and Aristotle are virtually unknown to the prevalent illiteracy.

Only two sections in Pointed Observations are devoted to Hume and Spinoza. The other six parts do not cover philosophy, but instead give information alien to the commercial network. Even the section on Hume is sub-divided into arts and crafts of the eighteenth century. The book in question is definitely unsuitable for the magic and lore shelves, being inimical to the misinformation currently causing havoc. That misinformation casually subsumes "spirit" as a component, while the relevance of "mind" in that scenario is very much in dispute. Let me just say here that some books are not immediately classifiable in terms of simplistic category, which is a drawback of new age consumerism.

Yours guardedly,

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd


P.S.  It is relevant to add that, in a letter to Kate Thomas dated 7th April 2003, Professor Paul Badham stated:

I also fully accept that it is important to clarify the difference between spontaneous transpersonal or religious experiences and the altered states of consciousness that can be induced either by Holotropic Breathwork or by drugs.

Paul  Badham

Professor Badham is Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre. He was here far ahead of FF exegesis and the drawbacks contributed by Dr. York.

Professor Roland Littlewood (Prof. of Anthropology as Applied to Psychiatry) of University College London, was willing to provide the expert supervision needed for research into this aspect of the Thomas data. Professor Badham continued:

The whole point of sponsoring scientific research is to find out whether or not one’s hypotheses are verified or falsified. As such all one can do is to obtain adequate funding and find a suitably qualified research student able and willing to devote three years to this project.

Thomas had to find the funding and the research student. This she was unable to do, not being a wealthy person, and not having promoted herself commercially via "workshops" and other lucrative media. My own view of this situation may be worded as follows:

A substantial (though not the only) consideration for research, on the part of Thomas, was the distortion of her case history by the Findhorn Foundation (FF). She did not wish to express this point too emphatically, believing that highly qualified academics would realise all the implications. This they failed to do, pinning the whole issue down to the funding requirements of "testing hypotheses." As a mere citizen commentator, it is my argument that there is no hypothesis involved in extant factual details such as repudiating the propriety of casual sex when promoted by officialdom in a charity status organisation. Such matters are self-evident to the afflicted public. See further Thomas 1992:984, narrating the case of "looking for additional experiences including casual homosexual sex," a confusion that was subsequently rewarded with a managerial position at the FF.

In 2004, you mentioned the possibility of research at a later date. This sounded very much like a delaying tactic, especially as it had become obvious that you were reluctant to do anything about the FF problem, save apparently for the muted recourse of entrusting Janice Dolley (an FF trustee) with a sobering message for the FF management. I gave you credit for this at the time, though later I felt more reserved (Shepherd 2005:217–19, 380 n. 166, 407). I now doubt whether this recourse amounted to anything more than a political gesture on your part, especially in view of the content of a Dolley epistle dating to that juncture in time (the year 2002).

Both yourself and Professor Badham failed to reply to the lengthy Thomas letter of resignation from the SMN dated 7th April, 2004. The FF were here expressly mentioned as an aggravating factor. A copy of that letter was sent to Prof. Badham and to prominent SMN officials. There was an official reply from Dr. Bart Van der Lugt, inviting Thomas to remain as a member while ignoring all the objections she had made. Only one person responded unofficially, namely the lecturer Max Payne; this was much to his credit, though his letter was brief, and lacked full comprehension of the complexities involved. Dr. Fenwick failed to reply, though at a later time he was in correspondence with Thomas.

Despite certain benign gestures made by Dr. Fenwick, he lacked due comprehension of matters involved. My mother always speaks well of him, and I am disposed to think that he is in a very different category to the FF. Yet it had become evident that SMN officials were insufficiently familiar with published records relating to the FF. I could not help noticing that Dr. Fenwick was completely uninterested in the forthcoming publication of Pointed Observations, despite my mother’s attempt to point out to him that the contents would be very relevant to the SMN. He even declined the offer of a flyer which gave a description of contents, saying instead that the flyer should be sent to you, as you are in charge of book reviews. Dr. Fenwick was not being asked to review, only to read. Doubtless the work under discussion is of small significance, written by a mediocre citizen lacking in august credentials. My apologies on that score.


A grouping closely affiliated to the Findhorn Foundation (FF) have been loaned £1.36 million by an anonymous donor "connected to the FF." The affiliated grouping are known as the Shambala Trust; they have been able to acquire the property at Findhorn formerly known as Minton House, now renamed the Shambala Retreat. The leading directors of this new Trust have long-term status within the FF, and include Craig Gibsone. The Retreat is just across the road from the FF, and there is no doubt of a close relation. The Shambala Retreat has been described in the local press as an inter-faith centre for healing with a Buddhist flavour. Yet the accent is on therapy. Strong questions exist about the Buddhist orientation involved.

A critic of the FF (John P. Greenaway) has drawn attention to a recent article in the FF internal magazine Rainbow Bridge. This item states: "Much of Tibetan Buddhism is outdated and not in tune with the energies of the New Age." [This downgrading of Tibetan Buddhist monasticism is typical of new age sensualism and Chinese Communism] The affinities of the FF are clearly with contemporary Tantric Buddhism, further attested by a key reference to a book by Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987) [a controversial alcoholic]. In a memo dated Nov. 11th, Greenaway informs that the Dalai Lama is nowhere mentioned in recent reportage of the Shambala Retreat, indicating that the Tibetan leader has withdrawn from his earlier support for this project, which has very commercial aims catering for professional people and corporate organisations, with attendant plans to create "a luxurious health spa."

The substantial donation is said to have come from "someone that has recently arrived here" (Forres Gazette, 02/11/05), raising questions as to whether the donor is sufficiently informed about what he is contributing to. In October, Rainbow Bridge emphasised investments and shares in the FF projects known as Ekopia Ltd and Duneland Ltd, with five and six figure sums being mentioned. Supposed spiritual significances comprise a vague umbrella for all the moneytalk.

Neoshaman Craig Gibsone has also been active yet again in undertaking Holotropic Breathwork workshops at Newbold House (Forres). A three day series of those commercial workshops, occurring in Nov. 2005, was glibly promoted in Rainbow Bridge as being "ideally suited for those seeking greater awareness in psychological, mystical and spiritual realms." Further, the Breathwork "combines ancient spiritual traditions and modern consciousness research." That is sheer hyperbole for Grof neoshamanism, the only "tradition" represented here. Alluringly, the Gibsone-Grof distraction "affords a powerful opportunity to access transpersonal and blissful states of consciousness." This is the identity supplied for trauma and euphoria in such circles, not to mention the plastic buckets needed for vomiting during nausea.

Neoshamanism is here in continued defiance of the suspension of Breathwork inaugurated by the Scottish Charities Office recommendation in 1993. Gibsone obviously considers himself to possess a greater knowledge of hyperventilation than the medical experts, a Grofian presumption now sanctioned by an indeterminate variety of new age Buddhism associated with the dissolute Trungpa.

The FF donors are gullible recipients of planetary transformation lore, which harbours Holotropic Breathwork and numerous other questionable forms of commerce. It is considered (by them) unthinkable to question that lore, which provides Gibsone and others with a livelihood and pocket money. The lore has included the obscurantist resort to a dismissive item placed on the internet by the FF as a denial of Castro’s book Hypocrisy and Dissent. This item deceptively stated that the dissident book was "not worth reviewing" (Shepherd 2005:169). In other words, donors must never see what the critics say. Even a decision made by the Prince of Wales is taboo for readers. That is what declared affiliation to UNESCO [and UNITAR] can nowadays mean. This ideological blind evidently fits your perspective also, in the USF platform that must have no contrasting voices (section 3 above). New Age democracy is medieval.

NGO status is currently that of an ogre with an insatiably commercial appetite. The SMN officials were also heedless of the Scottish Charities Office ruling against Grofian Breathwork. In that direction, a writer screened out by you was Greenaway (Shepherd 2005:405, 410), who appeared in the Thomas letter of resignation abovementioned. You will doubtless feel squeamish about Greenaway having made available a disc copy of the professional document "which uncovers that the FF is running a hidden property fund, seemingly for the personal benefit of its leading affiliates" (Greenaway, DBA letter, 08/11/05). The revealing document (covered in Pointed Observations, pp. 383ff. note 175) had been accepted by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in London.

Greenaway explains that the FF ruse had been possible because current Scottish charities legislation is "extremely weak" (DBA letter). Even the FSA do not have the power to act in this matter because of current legislation. In 2002–3, the FSA required the FF to stop an illegal banking operation, reminds the same writer. Greenaway duly presses a suggestion of incompetence on the part of the FF management in relation to their eco-sewage unit, which gained public money funding but has continually run at a loss. Sustainability (to use the FF buzz word) is elusive.

We are not obliged to accept, e.g., neoshamanism as a sustainable commodity, especially in the face of contempt for medical warning and official recommendation. The laxity of Scottish charities legislation ought to become a matter for international concern. The "inner healer" theme, favoured by the Gibsone elite, amounts to obtuse self-will and propagandist duplicity, not to mention mismanagement. The dangerous sanctions bestowed by the SMN and USF should similarly be assessed by improved legislation in England, with the FF satellite known as the Wrekin Trust also being liable to confrontation.

Contrary to the prudent action of the Prince of Wales in declining to speak at the FF (one of the details not worthy of review according to FF propaganda), three speakers at a recent FF conference were Craig Gibsone, Peter Russell, and Ervin Laszlo (Shepherd 2005:207). The usual sentiments, such as love heals distrust, were in evidence. Laszlo has a scientific reputation, is a member of the SMN, and sometimes described as a science adviser to UNESCO. A core problem thus emerges, one which props up Gibsone and NGO mismanagement of the type known to the FSA. 

Laszlo was one of those academics who participated in your pro-Grof seminar at Cambridge in 1995, along with the [pro-Grof] Charles Tart and [the more neutral] Dr. Fenwick (Shepherd 2005:40). That event signalled a victory to Holotropic Breathwork partisans who have ignored official restraints. All things considered, concerned citizens must accordingly resist to a compensating degree the errors of influential parties, whose sanctions are so potentially damaging to trusting consumers in the public sector.


A work edited by you for the SMN has a title that is in contention, namely Wider Horizons (Lorimer 1999). This book includes a list of SMN conferences occurring over the years. Talks are better than sensation workshops, one might reflect. Yet there exists the question of ideological auspices. In this respect, the "bibliography of significant books" is disconcerting, including explicit recommendations. Many of these books are in the "alternative" genre, and some have caused confusion. The field varies from, e.g., Larry Dossey, David Bohm, Ervin Laszlo, Ken Wilber transpersonalism, and the poetry of Sir George Trevelyan, to the drug advocates Grof and Tart. This bibliography was compiled by [new age enthusiast] Dr. Julian Candy in collaboration with the editors (primarily including yourself).

Two Grof books are glowingly recommended, including the one most closely associated with LSD therapy. Beyond the Brain is described by the SMN in terms of "suggests we are each on a spiritual journey which began before we were born into our present life" (Lorimer 1999:346). Readers should first ascertain what their present life constitutes, in case that proves to be a psychedelic nightmare endorsed by the SMN.  Perinatal theory needs a far more critical approach (Shepherd 1995:68–84), being intimately related to LSD sessions [including the psychedelic torture of terminally ill patients]. Grof’s The Cosmic Game is described by the SMN as "a new view of human nature" (Lorimer 1999:353). This dangerous game has elsewhere been described as a misleading argument for the psychedelic version of perennial philosophy (Shepherd 1995:10–11). The new cosmologies which flood "alternative science" are no guarantee of accuracy.

Your own book Whole in One is described in terms of providing "significant implications for global and personal ethics" (Lorimer 1999:348). That prospect evidently covers your act of excluding from your new "University" (via an FF Trustee) an anti-drug protester who resigned from the SMN on pressing grounds that were ignored by you and your complacent colleagues. The "scientific and medical" relevance of the SMN is in question, also the ethical shortfall. The theme of wider horizons can be misleading.

Your "Beyond the Brain" conference at Cambridge in 1995 (featuring Stanislav Grof) is listed in the context of wider horizons (Lorimer 1999:359). There is no reference to the contrary signals from Edinburgh University, who would therefore be implied as narrow. Nor does your editorship make any reference to dire experiences of Holotropic Breathwork victims such as the desperate woman who "collapsed in a quivering wreck, too exhausted to fight anymore" (Castro 1996:53). This extreme plight occurred after she had screamed so much that she could no longer scream. The neglect of such details is a point of contempt for medical warnings.

Charles Tart accompanied Grof at your Cambridge event, these two being closely associated, the former being noted for his influential support of cannabis. One looks in vain to the SMN to contest such indulgences, an obligation which falls instead to responsible psychiatrists like Dr. Andrew Wilski (Shepherd 2005:27ff.), who has shown what cannabis usage really amounts to.

[Tart remains controversial for his book On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Addiction (1971). Some critics said that he rejected medical evidence while favouring the views of marijuana users]

Like the SMN, the FF also claims wider horizons. The Prince of Wales declined to become their figurehead. Is he an example of narrow horizons? Or does he deserve to be celebrated as discriminating on that account? What is the difference between Discrimination and Enthusiasm? This does not seem to be known in the new age, only in the old age.

The SMN recommends The Passion of the Western Mind by the Grof supporter Richard Tarnas (associated with Esalen and CIIS). This well known book is described in terms of "the masculine aspect of consciousness strives to reunite with the feminine" (Lorimer 1999:349; cf. Shepherd 2004:18–19). The new age talk about gender fusion can be confusing for partisans. A current reality is that the USF strives to segregate a feminine voice of protest at the drug theories and Holotropic Breathwork.

Yet further, the details about how Kate Thomas warned against an American guru might gain more acknowledgement in the old age than in the evasive USF.  I took particular note of events when she cautioned at your inclusion of the neo-Advaita guru Andrew Cohen in one of your more recent SMN conferences. She had duly consulted such books as the one by Cohen’s mother, Luna Tarlo. [In defiance of facts,] you strongly implied that she was wrong to discriminate against Cohen, who had been sanctioned by Ken Wilber, believed by the SMN to possess "profound scholarship" (Lorimer 1999:351).  Thomas was afterwards considered to be in error by certain SMN personnel influenced by your policy [including the very confused Wilber supporter Dr. Julian Candy, a mouthpeice for kaleidoscopic new age beliefs].

At the time of the conference (March 2004), the audience transpired to be very sceptical of Cohen, to such an extent that you offered an apology for having included him (Shepherd 2005:pp. 220, 406). That was much to your credit (taking into account that you had been influenced by Wilber). However, you neglected to broadcast that the objection of Thomas had been totally vindicated by events. Instead, she continued to be the subject of new age criticism. An oral report was received that [Wilber fan] Julian Candy had disparaged Thomas. I gave in to the request of a colleague to send flyers of Pointed Observations to many members of the SMN [this book has chapters on the FF and an appendix on the SMN]. Only one of those members replied.  Dr. Fenwick had already declined even to receive the flyer, and he had presidential status. Was this a demonstration of wider horizons?

You tell readers that SMN members are "responsible in maintaining the highest scientific and ethical standards" also that they are "sensitive to the views of others" (Lorimer 1999:9). There are some citizens who do not believe you. You also say that the SMN is "rigorous in evaluating evidence and ideas" (ibid:8). There is no convincing proof of that contention in a number of directions. Some onlookers are very doubtful that the SMN is "open to new observations and insights" (ibid). There are strong partisan preconceptions about SMN achievements.

Further, your SMN guideline of "disagree sympathetically, sensitively and constructively" (ibid:10) has discrepantly translated into FF-assisted suppression (of Thomas) from the USF membership. This followed your dismissal of her letter of resignation from the SMN, [amounting to a protest] contradicting a commercial policy. Would you really "be able to state opposing viewpoints in argument" (ibid) as your text suggests? The opposing viewpoint would be at risk of suppression, even if accurate.

In conclusion, a body like the SMN professing a "no consensus view" (ibid:9), endorsing psychedelic and related theorism in the pursuit of being open-minded, is not necessarily at all scientific or medical in operation, only in belief and assumption. A detail which may be relevant here is that one ex-member of the SMN (a Ph.D) has written of his subscription period, during the 1990s, that he "noted the accelerating dilution of the originally idealistic professional membership with entrepreneurial healers and psychics" (private letter to Kate Thomas dated 03/06/05).


Bache, Christopher M., Dark Night, Early Dawn (State University of New York Press, 2000).

Castro, Stephen J., Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres: New Media Books, 1996).

Citizen Initiative publishing statement (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005).

Greenaway, John P., In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation (London: Finderne Publishing, 2003).

Grof, Stanislav, Beyond the Brain (SUNY Press, 1985).

------The Adventure of Self-Discovery (SUNY Press, 1988).

------The Cosmic Game (SUNY Press, 1998).

------Psychology of the Future (SUNY Press, 2000).

Lorimer, David, Whole in One (Arkana, 1990).

Lorimer, D., et al, eds., Wider Horizons (SMN, 1999).

Lorimer, D., ed., Thinking Beyond the Brain (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2001), including a strongly approved paper by Stanislav Grof (pp. 150–168) referring (p. 162) to the new edition of Grof’s controversial book LSD Psychotherapy, which became so influential at Esalen. Cf. Shepherd, Psychology in Science (Cambridge 1983), p. 200. Another paper approved by Lorimer comes from an American Professor of Philosophy and Religion, who affirms: "The laws proscribing use of the crucial entheogens are stupid and draconian" (Thinking beyond the Brain, p. 113). That reference, denoting psychoactive drugs, is a typical refrain of the drugs lobby. One may respond that the gossip about psi and transpersonalism so often amounts to a penchant lacking insight and social conscience. The context of the above reference appropriates NDE. Caution is therefore required in relation to this popular subject. A paper of a different kind is that by Dr. Peter Fenwick ("Brain, Mind and Beyond," pp. 34–46), who recognises the need for some description in terms of brain mechanism; however, his treatment does not mention any drawbacks in the "postmodern" approach here favoured.

------review of Bache’s Dark Night, Early Dawn in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 78 (April 2002), pp. 52–3.

------Radical Prince: The Practical Vision of the Prince of Wales (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2003).

Lorimer, D., ed., Science, Consciousness and Ultimate Reality (Imprint Academic, 2004).

Shepherd, Kevin R. D., The Resurrection of Philosophy (Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1989), chapter five for moderate criticism of the New Age not sufficiently resolved.

-------Meaning in Anthropos (Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1991), pp. xxiv–xxv, xxxiv ff., for an early critique of Grof.

-------Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995), including an Appendix on the Findhorn Foundation, pp. 919–944.

-------Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2004).

-------Pointed Observations: Critical Reflections of a Citizen Philosopher on Contemporary Pseudomysticism, Alternative Therapy, David Hume, Spinoza, and other subjects (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005a).

--------Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005b).

Sutcliffe, Steven J., Children of the New Age (Routledge, 2003), including a sanitised version of the Findhorn Foundation excluding all reference to the dissident factor, blithely deeming the apologist article of York to be sufficient on that account.

Thomas, Kate, The Destiny Challenge (Forres: New Frequency Press, 1992), pp. 898–987 on the Findhorn Foundation.

-------The Kundalini Phenomenon (Forres: New Media Books, 2000).

-------"Transpersonal Experiences – a Need for Re-evaluation?" in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 81 (April 2003), pp. 15–18, evoking a response from Bache that was included in the same issue.

"Disbelieving ‘Sacred Medicine’" in Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review No. 83 (December 2003), pp. 29–30, being a reply to Bache.

Thomas, Kate, Scientific and Medical Network and the Findhorn Foundation.

Walker, Alex, ed., The Kingdom Within: A Guide to the Spiritual Work of the Findhorn Community (Findhorn Press, 1994).

York, Michael, The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995).

-------review of Castro’s Hypocrisy and Dissent, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 12 No. 2, 1997, pp. 229–38.



David Lorimer did not reply to the Letter of Complaint. Over sixty SMN members were named in the cc. lists, but only one of these responded. Professor Kurt Dressler of Switzerland promptly sent a courteous acknowledgement dated 13/05/06.  With that sole and honourable exception, it is evident that a detailed complaint, complete with bibliography, has no chance of evoking due consideration from the Scientific and Medical Network. Accordingly, I remain very sceptical of their agenda.

This matter was exacerbated by the fact that the SMN website persisted in favouring a contribution from the Grof supporter Christopher Bache, at the expense of a warning against LSD and Holotropic Breathwork supplied by former SMN member Kate Thomas.  A rather explicit article by Bache was hosted for six years (2004–2010) at www.scimednet.org. See further the introduction to Neglected Papers Against Grof Therapy. The Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer made no difference to the SMN promotion of Bache in such a loaded context. The message was clearly that LSD ingestion in psychedelic mysticism is OK, and should not be discouraged or critically analysed. The contrasting outlook of Kate Thomas is included in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of SMN Events 2000–2004, featured on this website.

Because of the prevalent indifference of the SMN and allied organisations (such as the Alister Hardy Trust) to pressing complaints on basic issues, I included certain information in my Second Letter to Tony Blair, also featured on this website. Some observers feel that organisations claiming a high study level and professional credentials should not so unanimously exclude protests which are viewed as legitimate elsewhere.

The BBC web media described the SMN as an “international group of professionals and scientists discussing ideas that are seen as falling outside the mainstream.” The SMN has included many non-scientific members, such as the new age activist William Bloom, who is not beyond reproach, despite his commercial status in Western Mysteries. See Letter to BBC Radio, which the BBC ignored in the general habit  of evasion afflicting contemporary organisations [the BBC Radio addressee was a Radio 4 supporter of Bloom]. 

SMN promotions have sometimes indicated their position in terms of a challenge to scientific orthodoxy. The more discreet Homepage of the SMN website acquired the tag of “An interdisciplinary forum for exploring the frontiers of science, medicine, spirituality and human experience.”  Anyone outside the forum may not be worth the price of a postage stamp, so the frontiers could be too narrow.

One glowing description of the SMN agenda reads: “Founded in 1973, the Scientific and Medical Network is a leading international forum for people engaged in creating a new worldview for the 21st century.” That commentary appeared at www.gurteen.com. One may here construe that the new worldview will suppress unwelcome information and alternative views in much the same way as does the closely affiliated organisation known as the Findhorn Foundation. The international forum here denoted has supplanted objections to psychedelic mysticism with a rather too obvious support for a major psychedelic advocate, namely Christopher Bache. The “progressive” pace of such developments is a cause for concern in quarters where science, medicine, and spirituality are viewed rather differently, and analysed accordingly.

The Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer (above) proved [via the non-response] that the SMN has pronounced limits in a worldview catering for in-crowd names and compliant subscribers, a fair number of whom are said to be Grof-oriented, meaning psychedelic. Contrasting viewpoints are not welcome. The SMN has cultivated claims to a knowledge of near-death experience, now a popular topic, although still debated. Subjects such as near-death have become too compatible with the psychedelic version in a relativistic worldview passing muster as "scientific and medical." See also Grof Therapy and MAPS, including reference to the SMN. The scientific validity of Grof and the SMN is in contention. The spiritual dimension that is blandly presumed may also be contradicted.

While schoolteachers in Britain have been duly warning about the dangers posed by drug ingestion, the psychedelic academic Christopher Bache (influenced by Stanislav Grof) has been promoting his “disciplined” use of LSD as a spiritual achievement. This claim or pretension is not convincing, glossing psychological problems encountered.

In a more general context, medical data attests that a high percentage of British victims, addicted to cannabis and other drugs, have contracted psychological drawbacks. One of the discernible causes here is the “spiritual enlightenment” deception, now chiefly associated with the Grof psychedelic movement in America. That deception has been transmitted in Britain by the putative Scientific and Medical Network, who promoted on their website for six years, and in public view, a strongly pro-LSD article by Bache entitled “Is the Sacred Medicine Path a Legitimate Spiritual Path?”

Bache interprets his indulgence in terms of a legitimate spiritual path. Bache has been misled by Grof’s ideology and repeated ingestion of LSD. The SMN claim neutrality in their “forum” standpoint, a claim negated by their pronounced non-response to the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer. That epistle makes many references to Kate Thomas, who is opposed by the psychedelic ideology of Bache as found in the SMN website article abovementioned [the Thomas response being relegated by nominal neutrality]. Academics who sponsor hallucinogenic drugs can be considered a hazard to society. The lax code of the SMN in assisting and promoting (however indirectly) Grof psychedelic "therapy" may be regarded as very questionable.



Copyright © 2020 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2007, last modified December 2020.