About the Findhorn Foundation and UN

Letter to the Home Office by Kevin R. D. Shepherd

l to r: Craig Gibsone, Pierre Weil, Eileen Caddy, Kate Thomas, Stephen Castro


The document reproduced below was prefaced by a covering letter to the recipients, who are named in the accompanying CC. list. The original draft was sent to the Home Office in May 2006. The second and improved version was despatched to a larger audience in June 2006. The document was written in response to UNITAR accepting a proposal for a CIFAL centre in Moray. The proposal had surfaced in the press from obscure beginnings. In 2006, Moray Council nominated the Findhorn Foundation as the setting for a CIFAL centre. The origins of this proposal are probed.

The objection provides data which the Foundation had concealed and jettisoned, also other data which had not been duly assimilated by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). The Foundation claims about ecological sustainability are here viewed as shallow, economic setbacks having been minimised by the lavish promotionalism. The contending document does not deny an ecological project at the Findhorn Foundation (also known as Ecovillage), but places this in context,  as being partner to a commercial "workshop" programme  in pop-mysticism and alternative therapy.

The Findhorn Foundation had been active in pleading their eligibility for CIFAL status to UNITAR, the UN branch dealing with ecology and CIFAL centres. The Foundation had contrived a romantic image that did not match the reality found in dissident and critical reports. The contrasting reports were ignored by UNITAR, who chose to select the Findhorn location on grounds which can be strongly queried in retrospect. CIFAL Findhorn Ltd arose in close affinity with trends of a dubious nature. There are such factors to take into account as the Foundation reliance upon their idiosyncratic practice of "attunement," an ideological complication assisting numerous commercial "workshops" over many years. The promotion of alternative therapy, and related interests, does not decode to a viable ecology. Many of the fees charged by the Findhorn Foundation are notoriously high.

The Home Office replied to the document. However, they passed the buck to other departments who were similarly evasive. The CC. list in the second despatch includes twenty Moray Councillors and six members of the Scottish Parliament. Two universities in support of the UN project were included. The response was acutely deficient. There were only two acknowledgments from MPs, also a letter from an MP which comprised a standard excuse for not granting further attention. The influential Moray Council were motivated by economic considerations causing them to squash disquieting information. None of the Councillors responded.

CIFAL Findhorn quickly emerged in 2006 as a business project, to the puzzlement of some observers. CIFAL Findhorn Ltd subsequently became CIFAL Scotland Ltd, likewise based at The Park, meaning the site also known as Findhorn Foundation. The officers of this company were Findhorn Foundation personnel and Moray Councillors. A multi-million pound CIFAL centre, originally mentioned in the lavish promotion of 2006, never materialised.

An article by CIFAL executive May East ("Worldwide Crises," The Scotsman, 1st July 2013) informed that the Scottish government had awarded financial support to the CIFAL Findhorn project. Many of the company directors, in CIFAL Scotland Ltd, had resigned by 2016, after which very little activity is discernible. The CIFAL business company dissolved in 2018, terminating a CIFAL presence at Findhorn. For twelve years, the CIFAL business company acted as a shield against criticism of the Findhorn Foundation.

The main document reproduced here is also known as Letter to the Home Office. This is now regarded, in the face of political conveniences, as basic reading on the subjects encompassed. A number of headings have been added to assist online reading. See also the Second Letter to Tony Blair, reproduced on this website.


1.     Basic  Conclusions

2.     Deceptive  Promotionalism

3.     Craig  Gibsone, Holotropic  Breathwork  Practitioner

4.     Influence  of  Grof  Therapy  and  Doctrine

5.     New  Age  Enthusiasms

6.     Sustainability  and  the  Big  Debt

7.     Ecovillage  and  Career  Syndrome

8.     Sustainability  as  Facesaver  Slogan

9.     NGO  Status  Difficult  to  Confirm

10.   Informative  Dissident  Book  Banned  as  Unreadable

11.   Warning  of  Erased  History  and  the  Inner  Healer

Appendix  One: Intentional  Community  Drawbacks

Appendix Two: Stanislav  Grof  and  LSD


About the Findhorn Foundation and United Nations

5th June 2006


Dear Recipient,

The enclosed document is being sent out in response to the proposed UN (or UNITAR) training centre in Moray that will make the Findhorn Foundation a UN host. The disadvantages of that proposal are considerable, in view of the suppressed data existing about the Findhorn Foundation. A number of published books, and some recent letters (two in booklet format), are a reminder of the deficit. My Letter to Tony Blair (April 2006) only briefly touched upon Foundation anomalies, which were described more closely in the Letter to BBC Radio and the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer. The UN project in Moray may be considered an unmonitored blunder in view of the overall contour of events.

The proposed centre in Moray is conceived as the first CIFAL establishment in the UK, and the twelfth on a global basis. CIFAL denotes the promotion of ecological sustainability. I have nothing against that theme, having supported the ecological cause since my first published work in 1983. Yet the diverse "alternative" doctrines harboured by the Findhorn Foundation detract from ecological priorities, having caused much confusion. UN delegates are now likely to be influenced by Foundation promotions and lunacies, which include Holotropic Breathwork (this "therapy" is inseparable from LSD and MDMA therapies as favoured by the psychedelic lobby in America).

The enclosed document (plus cuttings and memos) was originally dated 12th May 2006, and supplemented on 27th May 2006. It was sent to the Home Office, who invited documents. The Department for Education and Skills was recommended by the Prime Minister for related documents posted earlier. The current despatch also includes Moray Council and some relevant MPs and universities.

Yours truly,

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

cc. Moray Councillors: Alastair Bisset JP, Thomas Bothwell, Alan Burgess JP, Robert Burns, Eddie Coutts JP, John A. Divers, Jeff Hamilton, John Hogg, Roma Hossack JP, Sandy Keith, Eric McGillivray JP, Rex McIntosh JP, George McIntyre JP, Pearl Paul, Ronald Sim JP, Joyce Stewart, Ronald Shepherd JP, Alasdair Urquhart JP, William Watt JP, Iain Young.

cc. Brian Adam MSP, Rosemary Byrne MSP, David Davidson MSP, Dr. Sylvia Jackson MSP, Richard Lochhead MSP, Peter Peacock MSP.

cc. Marcel Boisard (UNITAR), David Cameron MP, Councillor Chris Coates, Dundee University (Sir Alan Langlands), Alan Johnson MP, Tony McNulty MP, Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (Thomas R. Thorburn, Senior Investigations Officer), Oxford Brookes University (Vice Chancellor Graham Upton), United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (London), University of Edinburgh (Forensic Medicine Section).



1.  Basic  Conclusions

The data in these pages supports basic conclusions about the Findhorn Foundation (abbreviation FF). Those conclusions are as follows:

1)  Viable ecology is not best served or sustained by commercial "workshops" which purvey "new spirituality."

2)  In particular, continued promotion by the FF of the dangerous Grof therapy known as Holotropic Breathwork (HB) is strong indication of a flawed code of practise. Especially so, when it is taken into account that this therapy was indefinitely suspended at the FF by the Scottish Charities Office recommendation in 1993, as a consequence of medical warnings from Edinburgh University.

3)  The financial status of the FF has been unstable, and their managerial policy has been flawed in this respect also. Details of economic problems were concealed from the United Nations (UN) and other official bodies such as Moray Council.

4)  These and other factors do not warrant a UN (CIFAL) training centre in liaison with the FF. This project evidences a lack of due monitoring by officials within the UN and Moray Council.

2.   Deceptive  Promotionalism

Relevant data is missing from recent newspaper reports, such as those enclosed from The Northern Scot (the comments in ink were made by an informant in Scotland). The present document will dwell upon details that are missing in FF promotionalism. That deceptive promotionalism influenced a local admirer of the FF to award an MBE to Eileen Caddy (the FF founder). This award surprised Caddy herself, and caused onlookers to imagine that the award derived from a prestigious body in England. The award was made for "services to spirituality," ignoring the situation in which Caddy is the figurehead for an organisation exhibiting serious defects. [Lord Lieutenant Chesworth was commanding officer at RAF Kinloss Nato Air Base until the late 1990s. In his capacity as the Queen’s representative, he awarded the controversial MBE in 2004 shortly before his retirement from the lordly office. Chesworth knew a great deal about aeroplanes, but much less about "new spirituality." Caddy died in 2006. For a detailed obituary, see http//:www.timesonline.co.uk]

Moray MP Angus Robertson has collaborated with the FF in their plan to host a new UN (or CIFAL) training centre in Moray. Robertson has described this as an "audacious and innovative proposal." The audacity merits investigation. His alliance with the FF has only been in process for about two years. Critics say that he is not duly informed about FF history, much of which has been repressed in the facade presented. Robertson’s enthusiasm has replaced the earlier reserve of Dr. Winifred Ewing MP, who retired in 2003 after expressing scepticism. She had to wait six months for the FF management to reply to her pressing letter.

The incentive for the new UN training centre in Moray originated within the FF, not within the UN. Robertson has acknowledged the FF as "the moving force behind the project." The training centre is to be located at the FF, which some refer to as Findhorn Ecovillage. The local Moray Council has become enthusiastic about the new project because of anticipated economic benefits to the area. Yet some Moray councillors are not in agreement with the majority, instead urging a deferral of commitment. Councillor Alistair Bisset has formerly referred to the FF as a "mystical quagmire," also as the "funny farm" (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, p. 191). Scepticism of the FF conceptual approach is strong.

However, various other members of Moray Council have continually turned a blind eye to deficient conduct within the FF, including the continued promotion of Grof therapy workshops considered dangerous by medical expertise. Holotropic Breathwork was indefinitely suspended by recommendation of the Scottish Charities Office in 1993. The FF tend to make their own rules in such matters.

3.  Craig  Gibsone, Holotropic  Breathwork  Practitioner

You will notice that the group photograph in the newspaper cutting includes a woman named May East, who is designated by the phrase "International Training Centre for Local Authorities Findhorn project director." May East is also an FF Trustee. She is the wife of Craig Gibsone, a major celebrity within the FF whose influence should be reckoned with. The strong indications are that Gibsone and his wife were the instigators of the new UN project.

An ominous complexity is that Gibsone has been the leading FF practitioner of Grof therapy since 1989. He is the continuing promoter of workshops in Holotropic Breathwork (abbreviation HB). Those workshops represent a serious hazard to the clientele, not least because of the acute delusions engendered about "spiritual" experiences (medically certifiable as hallucination and other undesirable symptoms). Gibsone is ignoring the official 1993 recommendation of the Charities Office in this dangerous activity. He has created a lore of the "inner healer" which is very misleading. He believes in the shamanistic pedigree of HB as theorized by Dr. Grof (the psychedelic drug advocate). The fantasy is deep-rooted.

Craig Gibsone’s directorship of the FF ended in 1991. His celebrity stature in this community is only surpassed by the roles of Eileen Caddy and William Bloom (the workshop entrepreneur described in my Letter to BBC Radio). Gibsone has taken long absences in South America, where he was patronised by Dr. Pierre Weil, rector of the Holistic University in Brazil, which appears to have been a major support for FF elevation to NGO status in 1997. During his "return home" periods at the FF, Gibsone has been very influential and regarded as a global superstar of the new age. He has repeatedly undertaken HB workshops at Newbold House in Forres, in contempt of the indefinite suspension of this high risk activity as instigated by the Forensic Medicine Unit and Dept of Pathology at Edinburgh University. This matter urgently merits official intervention. If the FF are further elevated by UN presence in Moray, and if William Bloom and other alternative therapists contribute further to HB, then the consequences will get out of control, involving many undeclared victims from different countries.

There are strong indications that Gibsone was the primary instigator of the new UN (or CIFAL) project. For some years he has been actively involved in "ecovillage training," as in March 2002 when he prominently featured alongside May East in an FF programme devoted to this theme. That event was advertised in the annual FF Courses and Workshops brochure (a very commercial publication). The emphasis was upon "sustainability, not only in environmental terms, but also socially, economically, and spiritually." The promotion further stated that the ecovillage training had received endorsement from UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research), and to this affiliation can be traced the current project under discussion. Gibsone and East had evidently interpreted UNITAR in terms of a new workshop platform as a source of income. Their 28 day programme entailed a fee of £1,190. Critics were inclined to interpret this gesture in terms of a further manifestation of ecobiz. FF personnel have so often capitalised upon fashionable themes and causes. Thus, UNITAR became a profitable companion to dubious workshops in alternative therapy.

Gibsone has no medical or academic credentials, yet presumes to be an authority on hyperventilation. He is dyslexic. His recurrent addiction to alcohol and drugs was mentioned in an FF publication (C. Riddell, The Findhorn Community, Findhorn Press, 1991, pp 210ff; cf. Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, p. 47). Of senior age, Gibsone talks fluently about "sustainability" and "community," in a simplistic manner, and with no reference to dissidents. It was he who commenced the wave of suppression at the end of his directorship, and he who changed FF economic policies to accommodate a new structure of salary increases for personnel.

4.  Influence  of  Grof  Therapy  and  Doctrine

The promotion of HB has been totally overlooked by UN officials like Bernard Hoarau, who is featured in the newspaper photo alongside May East. Will the new UN (CIFAL) centre at Findhorn Ecovillage teach Holotropic Breathwork (HB) to UN delegates? That would mean spiritual sustainability to Gibsone. Official cautions are surely necessary rather than official endorsements. Prohibitions are more relevant for public wellbeing than the blinkered appeal to local economies.

You will note how one newspaper cutting informs that "Dundee Universities" are enthusiastic about the new CIFAL project [at Findhorn]. If true, those institutions are unlikely to be aware of all the complexities involved. The bland messages of FF propaganda have for many years been decoded by dissidents and critical spectators, and found wanting. The Home Office should be under no illusion about the Findhorn Ecovillage setting for UN delegates, which will be very likely to transmit influences like HB in the context of a spiritual illumination. Furthermore, if HB becomes acceptable within the lax UN domain, then in train could easily come MDMA therapy and LSD therapy, however covert in profile these extremisms might be.

The ideology underlying HB and LSD therapy is identical, sharing the same psychedelic "cosmology" supplied by Dr. Stanislav Grof in his tragically influential books. People like Craig Gibsone believe in Grof doctrines, which resorted to HB as a substitute for LSD because of the legal restrictions upon the danger drug. Underlying all Grof exegesis is the feature of LSD primacy as the source of cosmic insights which are supposedly rendered safe by sparing usage of the drug. Gibsone does not preach drug use. The Grofian "underground" in America is nevertheless a formidable drugs lobby involving academics like Prof. Christopher Bache. That trend could easily penetrate Findhorn much more acutely in any expansion. There is no safety in the sector denoted, which is indoctrinated by Grof Transpersonal Training. [Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. was an influential and lucrative activity in alternative ideology for many years]

5. New  Age  Enthusiasms

Gibsone and East represent the international "new age" which is attracted to Findhorn. He is Australian and she is said to be Brazilian. Their new project is evocative of other developments in which improbable beliefs have found a resonance amongst the more extremist UN personnel. One UN official became notorious for his conviction that he had been abducted by aliens (meaning space aliens). One UN centre in Europe is strongly associated with unstable promotion of new age "channelling" (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 320–1). Dr. Weil’s holistic centre in Brazil does not tally with the more exacting standards of analysis found in other universities.

During the 1990s, the FF was host to imbecilities such as the purported "channelling" from Sathya Sai Baba, who has since been exposed as a sham guru in the worst category of exploiter. Devotees at the FF claimed to transmit ethereal spiritual messages from this unlikely source. They might even still be doing so, as many Sathya partisans continue to resist the facts [and allegations].

Gibsone has demonstrated his intentions of a permanent presence at the FF, by his recent election as one of the directors to the Shambala Retreat, a new Trust which has gained lavish funding and is devoted to alternative therapy (see my Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer, p. 21). That offshoot organisation also has auspices of "new age Buddhism" associated with the late Chogyam Trungpa, an extremist Lama whose deficiencies included a resort to LSD. Gibsone has long favoured Tantric Buddhism, in an erratic manner that tends to be typical of contemporary whims relating to Eastern religion. Adding to new age confusions is the Grofian exponent Prof. Christopher Bache, who has recently stressed that LSD therapy needs the exercises of Tantric Buddhism as a stabilising factor. UN delegates will need special prior training to withstand the distortions they are likely to find in the ecovillage version of religion. But if they are educated by the FF, what will be the outcome?

6.  Sustainability  and  the  Big  Debt

The FF ecovillage does not demonstrate "sustainable community living," as is misleadingly proclaimed. Instead they have demonstrated an acute form of suppression in relation to dissidents, in a trend that started with Gibsone’s hostility towards critics of Holotropic Breathwork (HB) at the end of his directorship dating to 1986–91.

One of Gibsone’s keywords was "expansion." The consequences of his policy, in making the FF into an ecovillage for executive staff, underlay the phase of mismanagement which lasted until 1997 and after. In 1997, the entire management team had to resign because of the economic ailments prevalent. The details were stifled, and almost everything was concealed in the effort to gain NGO status at that time. The effort succeeded. The economic problem was glossed over. The new management team concealed ongoing difficulties until 2001, when they were obliged to declare a significant debt of £800,000.

Gibsone’s policy had failed dismally, but he did not dwell upon this. As an ecovillage celebrity of unquestioned wisdom, he chose to emphasise the magic word sustainability, including his favoured permutation of economic viability. All this is myth. The FF was and is dependent upon constant donations, plus commercial workshops and courses. Proliferating businesses within the FF have not achieved sustainability, being capitalist enterprises, not communal assets (which were sold off by the management). The ecological component amounts to a facade of cosmetic significance.

The FF accounting of the mismanagement period, up until 1997, has since received assessment from a professional. That analysis was submitted to the Financial Services Authority in London, who are said to have accepted the contents without being able to do anything about the discrepancy uncovered. A large sum of money is shown to have become part of a hidden property fund created by the management.

I have been told that the professional who made the analysis was too afraid to publish his findings, fearing reprisal from the FF because of his presence in north Scotland. To date, I have not been able to obtain his name or address, as he keeps these a secret, and my informant has not been permitted to divulge details. Is this a sign of the planetary transformation claimed by FF propaganda? I think not, but the propaganda is influential, having glorified the mismanagement phase of the 1990s as an ecovillage miracle. The myth is favoured by myopic local councillors and UN officials. These parties are accordingly further cause for alarm.

The "economic impact study," glowingly mentioned in the newspaper cutting, has met with local suspicions of being a manipulated falsehood. I am not in a position to confirm these misgivings, though I can here state that I would not trust a single sentence of the FF programme unless validated by cross-referencing. I have been studying their ways for over fifteen years. Their treatment of my mother and others was almost unbelievable. FF sustainability is socially undesirable. This community constantly spread the impression that they are agents of planetary transformation and spiritual education.

7. Ecovillage  and  Career  Syndrome

The substantial debt was evidently created by the desire of Gibsone and others for increased staff salaries and other benefits. By 2004, the value of FF "eco-houses" was suggested to have reached £250,000, meaning for each house. The days of caravan park simplicity were over. The general atmosphere was mercenary, not altruistic. The proof here is high fees charged for workshops purveying fantasy and sensation. Those workshops pass muster as "education." Very suspiciously, the debt has passed into oblivion. A credible deduction is that the problem was offset by the donations so continually encouraged. Donors subscribe to prevalent mythologies of planetary and spiritual transformation. Gibsone’s new umbrella, known as the Shambala Trust, has benefited from a huge donation of over one million pounds from a single donor.

The [enclosed] newspaper report states that Marcel Boisard, the assistant Secretary-General of the UN and executive director of UNITAR, is to visit Moray later this year to advance the new training centre project. In the public interests, the Home Office and the Scottish Executive should first confront him on the matter of that project being built upon the wrong basis, i.e., over ten years of FF dissimulation with regard to economic problems and public relations. The ongoing spectacle of high risk workshops is proof that UN officialdom does not monitor lapses from supposed planetary transformation. In such respects, no great confidence can be placed in the UN ability to create a better world.

Gibsone was not happy to work for a low salary when he was director of the FF. The ambition was to earn more, like people in the outside world. The underlying goal was a career which the drop-outs lacked. In his case, the neo-hippy ambience was one of recovery from alcoholism and LSD (with cannabis implied as an obtrusive drama in the FF caravan park). Grof therapy enabled practitioner Gibsone to gain more income, which he acquired at the expense of casualties known to the support group which had to be created (behind the scenes) for HB victims. He lived at the FF since 1970, surviving like many others on a shoestring budget. Progress meant a glamorous new age career in which the role of FF director was a stepping stone to the Holistic University in Brazil and "international consultant" status. See APPENDIX ONE.

The feted intentional community was afflicted by career syndrome. The ambition of some community members was to become staff officials. That meant more income. Additional perks could be gained in workshops, the supervisors being considered experts in therapy and spirituality. The inflation was remunerative. Anybody who spoke out against this miseducating system was segregated and shunned. The Trustees ignored protests; their negative responses to a plea for democratic internal inquiry are memorable (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the FF, 1996, pp. 230–2).

8.  Sustainability  as  Facesaver  Slogan

The increasing resort to an ideology of ecology was discrepant with the entrepreneurial spirit. [Sustainability became a facesaver slogan; the obvious fact that the FF charged extortionate fees for "workshops" was never mentioned by apologists].

Yes, the FF did install a wind turbine serving some power needs (but not all, a drawback said to have been rectified by recently installed turbines). That feature is hardly enough to compensate for Grof therapy and the many other misleading workshops mistaken for "Education." Yes, they did install an "eco-sewage" plant, using public money funding, with consequences that were not sustainable (the plant is said to be running at an economic loss). Yes, they did build "eco-houses," but in the spirit of status residences and ecobiz, with at least one instance where a caravan tenant was evicted to make room for the new staff acquisition. Yes, much gardening was done, but mainly by visitors who gave their services free, including the woman who worked like a man and who was twice vindictively snubbed and outlawed by officials of the deceptive utopia. Communal assets were privatised in the race for new business gains. There were many proliferating businesses, with eco-style names, to commemorate the demise of idealism.

Yes, as the propaganda states, the new "ecovillage" was awarded the UN Habitat Best Practice Designation in 1998. To be more specific, the FF was one of a hundred centres to receive a Best Practice designation on World Habitat Day. Further, they only obtained this distinction because they concealed from the UN their grave economic problems, together with other discrepancies such as the local resentment from Scottish neighbours (in Findhorn village) and the dissident literature which they proscribed and suppressed.

9.  NGO  Status  Difficult  to  Confirm

The FF achieved the status of an NGO in 1997. There was some considerable puzzlement as to how they managed to accomplish this transition from crisis. There were local theories as to how, but the details were elusive. Some believe that Dr. Weil’s patronage of Gibsone had smoothed the way, with the former pulling strings. The new NGO was associated with the UN Dept of Public Information, a prestigious link which should presuppose a high standard of programmes.

A few UN officials (though primarily Dr. Weil) attended some FF conferences. One concerned local (John P. Greenaway) records how he wrote letters to the DPI in 2000, but received no reply (In the Shadow of the New Age, 2003, pp. 243–4). Greenaway dubs the DPI as the "Dept of No Information," which does not seem an unreasonable verdict in his case. Ecovillage training passed as UN mandate. [Dr Winifred Ewing MSP was another who sought due explanation from the DPI, again with no reply; the negative situation has since become notorious amongst informed parties]

10.  Informative  Dissident  Book  Banned  as  Unreadable

The NGO distinction was granted in the same time slot that the struggling FF management team resigned in disgrace for their failures. Meanwhile, a recent book published at Forres (on the FF doorstep) was banned as unreadable within FF precincts. A subsequent statement appeared (years later) on the internet that Stephen Castro’s book was not worthy of review (the FF were responsible for this strategy). Yet this book was reviewed by ICSA and should have been read by UN officials. They were perhaps told that Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996) was irrelevant. Officials in charge of UN education have the responsibility to check all sources, not just accept a verdict of the holistic lobby in pursuit of career expansion.

[The FF ban was not official but pervasively influential. FF staff expressed strong aversion to the Castro book, which was endorsed soon after publication by ICSA (International Cultic Studies Assocation). The FF staff opponents told visitors that the content of this book was wrong, and should not be read. Reports of the negation continued over the years. In 2018, the FF staff were still deriding Hypocrisy and Dissent. Denunciations were assisted by their CIFAL status gained in 2006. That CIFAL status also deterred local journalists from expressing their former critical attitude to the FF. CIFAL status terminated in 2018. The Castro book is annotated and indexed, in contrast to many books published by the FF]

11.  Warning  of  Erased  History  and  the  Inner  Healer

Some spectators fear that if the FF gets any bigger, the dissimulation and confusing practice of "attunements" could be contagious. Grof lore might even become ascendant in patron universities. The FF habit, of erasing from their "history" any unwanted details, is very alarming. They need to be checked, at the least, by some urgent caution of a sufficiently public nature to inform their gullible subscribers that something is wrong with programme selection and organisational habits. One of the more obvious drawbacks is that Gibsone and three other FF personnel have been acting as practitioners of Holotropic Breathwork (HB) without any medical qualifications (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 195ff, 386–7).

Although some official departments in England may think that these problems are too far in the north for their attention, please be reminded that the overflow of HB activity moved down from the FF into the south of England during the 1990s. The FF are very influential in English sectors, being strongly represented in other alternative organisations located in England. The public, and even the blinkered UN, need to be protected from, e.g., "inner healer" therapy which ignores medical warnings. Attendant ideological disasters could easily occur in both England and Scotland, quite apart from any prospect of UN Grofism. Beware the Bache overdose of LSD neoshamanism, acting in tandem with Holotropic Breathwork. See APPENDIX TWO.

John Greenaway complains that he has contacted Scottish MPs about the FF, but they take no notice. The bureaucratic inertia is not commendable. There is little time left before the new UN (CIFAL) project at Findhorn will crystallize. A responsible body is needed to take relevant measures.

Yours truly,

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd


Appendix One: Intentional  Community  Drawbacks

Craig Gibsone has been described as a "community building consultant," which the most detailed entry defines in terms of "retrofitting houses to passive solar" (FF Courses and Workshops May –October 2005, p. 35 col. 2). This role would appear to be sane by comparison with his workshop profile [in Holotropic Breathwork], which seriously detracts from the theme of ecovillage education, of which he continues to be a representative.

In 2005, Gibsone and East undertook another four week programme of the "renowned ecovillage training" said to date back to the time of achieving NGO status. The fee was £1190 for participants with low income, and £1370 for those with high income. The celebrated programme promoted themes such as socio-economics, "conflict facilitation," and fundraising (ibid:18). Study of the economic factors would seem to be amiss. Conflict facilitation means conflict resolution, a popular FF theme which may be dismissed as imaginary in the case of dissidents and local Scottish objectors in Findhorn village. [Several years earlier, in 1999, the same programme had emphasised "Deep Democracy" in respect of "how we can listen to each other, integrating conflict and diversity." Such facile themes are merely fashionable commerce at the FF]

The eco-education, emphasising a celebration of ten years of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), refers to Millennium Development Goals (ibid.). One imagines that Grof therapy must be involved somewhere, however much as an optional goal. The Courses and Workshops publication of the preceding year (May–Oct. 2004, p. 21) informed that Jonathan Dawson, the executive secretary of GEN-Europe (see the group photo), had gained a new office at the FF. [Dawson was a director of CIFAL Findhorn Ltd until 2011, when he resigned in obscure circumstances; the CIFAL operation at Findhorn was attended by contradictions; none of the listed directors in the terminating CIFAL business were UN staff, but instead Foundation personnel and members of Moray Council; criticism of this project from close analysts is now very strong]

At the bottom of the same page 21 (Courses and Workshops, 2004) appeared the familiar caption stating that the FF is an NGO associated with the UN DPI. Impressive though all this may sound, the format of ecovillage education is still in query elsewhere [not merely because the eminent Dr. Winifred Ewing MSP was unable to elicit a response from the aloof DPI]. For instance, FF eco-education implies a strong affinity with commercial workshops. On the adjoining page 20 is featured a large photograph of a "Gay Pioneer" workshop group accompanied by the verbal suggestion that a "spiritual calling" is here represented.

Many local Scottish villagers have regarded the FF as a predatory invasion of their ancestral territory. FF affiliates were observed to be buying up numerous properties in Findhorn village, which was so frequently lumped together with the Findhorn Community, as if the two were inseparable. Some locals complained of feeling intimidated. Ecovillage education was not resistant to the urban trend of old age society. In 2002 the "eco-houses" gained notoriety when an owner in the "Field of Dreams" was the first to move away from the area. The local press reported that the asking price for this eco-house was "offers over £275,000" (Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age, pp. 256–7). That figure represented a very substantial profit.

The eco-house issue was mentioned in a recent paper appearing in Diggers and Dreamers: The Guide to Communal Living in Britain. The Green councillor Chris Coates of Lancaster is here quite strongly critical of FF trends; he reviews the Channel 4 television series The Haven, which profiled that community in 2004. Coates observes the anomaly in living "a supposedly ‘simple life of voluntary poverty’ in quarter of a million pound eco-houses." He gives credit to the FF for allowing the risk of tv cameras (though another view is that they want the publicity at all costs). Yet Coates is clearly unconvinced by the portrayal, and is averse to the "attunement" process favoured by the FF. "Everything it would seem is decided by sitting in silence and listening to your ‘divine inner voice'." He aptly remarks that the Quakers have been using a similar decision-making process for about 300 years or more, the difference being that Quakers recognise how the personal ego can supplant any divine voice. The example of Eileen Caddy (God Spoke to Me) has drawbacks for partisans unwilling to recognise the contrast.

The comment is also made by Coates: "There are many myths and legends about Findhorn" (meaning the FF). Channel 4 briefly sketched the "official story" of the early years of this community. There is no authoritative history, but instead "only half a story" or "somewhat ‘edited’ versions of communal reality." Dissident material is ignored, continues Coates, in preference for pop-histories and favoured autobiographies.

Coates relates how he attended the 1995 ecovillage conference at the FF, where he was offput by "an overlay of new age spiritual gloss." He concludes by saying that, despite three hours of tv, he is not sure that Channel 4 answered the question they posed as to what makes the FF "one of the most successful alternative communities in the world." He adds cynically: "Perhaps you need to go on an experience week to find the answer – if you can afford the £330, that is" (C. Coates, 21st Century Theosophy, 2005, internet ref: http//www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/Articles/2000501.htm).

The "Experience Week" is a standard feature of FF induction for subscribers. Even two academic researchers fell an uncritical prey to this initiation, writing partisan accounts which dismissed any relevance of dissident accounts. The danger of being misled by "attunements" and "sharings," by appearance and sentiment, is quite evident. Such people believe what the "focalisers" tell them. Others never return.

The "community" enthusiasm can be sampled in, e.g., Bill Metcalf, The Findhorn Book of Community Living, an in-house discourse designed to dispel all doubts. The zealous author of that partisan text declared in an internet item that the book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation is not worthy of review. The Metcalf online item clearly reflects the manipulative bias that is so strenuously denied (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 167ff). Metcalf even tried to deny that Stephen Castro (the author of Hypocrisy and Dissent) had been a member of the FF. [Metcalf employed an argument tending to affirm that an "intentional community," such as the Findhorn Foundation, is beyond conventional criticism]

That tactic sequelled the denial by Alex Walker that Kate Thomas had ever been a member of the FF. Walker’s unjustified denial appeared in the local press in 1992. Walker was an FF Trustee, sometimes described as a consultant; he was very influential during and after Gibsone’s directorship. Walker would not respond to the legitimate reply of Thomas in the same local press; she was obliged to state that she had indeed been an associate member for a full year while residing in Findhorn village (Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 15). The evasive and duplicit tactics of FF spokesmen are indication enough that one cannot take their statements at face value – everything has to be checked and sifted in order to determine basic details.

Walker was one of those officials involved in proscribing the autobiography of Thomas and attempting to place a legal interdict upon that book because of a critical chapter about the FF. The "don’t touch or else we will get you" attitude was supplemented by Walker’s edited work The Kingdom Within (Findhorn Press, 1994). This glorification of the suppressing community is transparent to careful readers of canonical and non-canonical materials. Holotropic Breathwork was here endorsed in defence of the Gibsone regime. The FF was here so spiritual that unconditional love is declared the criterion to find the divine within. Officials like Alex Walker, Eric Franciscus, and Judy Buhler-McAllister demonstrated something rather more unholy, making Craig Gibsone seem like an amiable eccentric.


Appendix Two: Stanislav  Grof  and  LSD

Dr. Stanislav Grof created what is known as LSD psychotherapy, which is now illegal. He is reported to have ingested a high dose of LSD more than a hundred times, this dosage ranging from 300 micrograms to 1200 micrograms (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, p. 408). He has discrepantly claimed that his method [and low dosage] is safe. When LSD became illegal, Grof improvised Holotropic Breathwork (HB) as a substitute. This operation was so commercially orientated that the phrase Holotropic Breathwork appeared with a trademark logo (which continues). The obsession is one of promoting a presumed mysticism. The "underground" use of LSD and MDMA is associated with the Grof movement.

Grof’s protégé, Professor Christopher Bache, has furthered "LSD shamanism." This format advocates the "sacred medicine path" of drug use, despite the fact that LSD is of recent manufacture. Bache has admitted that LSD therapy requires stabilisation. His recourse here is Tantric Buddhist exercises (ibid:410). The confusions created by this trend are legion. The Grof-Bache doctrines are influential in America, and could easily spread in Britain, where they have gained a footing in "new age" circles. This trend regards conventional medicine as a hindrance. Partisans could easily believe that Holotropic Breathwork is a stabiliser for LSD consumption; they are prone to the insidious persuasion that these activities are "safe."


Findhorn  Foundation  Commercial  Mysticism

Findhorn  Foundation,  Myth  and  Reality

Criticism  of  the  New  Age

Letter  to  Robert  Walter  MP

Findhorn  Foundation: Problems

Kate  Thomas  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Findhorn  Foundation


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