The Goose is out of "Miracle of love"

February, 2006
By a former member of the Miracle of Love

In my life I have changed my name a few times. This time the reason is maybe less "spiritual" and more to protect my identity. For my cult recovery I chose the name "the Goose is out" in honor of a very beautiful Zen koan of an ancient Zen story.

The goose thought she was in (in the bottle) and couldn’t find a way out, till she wakes up and realizes she was never in, in the first place. She wakes up to the dream and sees herself free, out. The goose has never been in!

I wish my process of regaining myself were that easy; it didn’t happen in a moment of sudden " Awakening" like in the Zen story. It has been more of a painful, day after day licking my wounds and healing my soul.

I will start with a background on Miracle of Love.

MoL is a spiritual organization revolving around a charismatic leader named Kalindi. The philosophy of this group is a mixture of Christian beliefs, Hindu beliefs such as reincarnation and a psychological awareness exercise coming from the new age movement.

The group originated in the beginning of the 1990s in San Diego, California, around a man who supposedly was an Incarnation of God. The incarnation, ‘Lord Gourasana’, who had taken over the body of David Swanson, knew how to help the people "to break free from the bondage of life and death and guide them straight to God, Home to the Father". After Gourasana died, allegedly because "he couldn’t handle God’s energy," his wife Kalindi took over the leadership of the group, and professed to be the "Voice of God". At her side is another woman called The Lady who is supposed to keep the "purity of the organization".

MoL has approximately 400-500 active members worldwide, who simply call it ‘the mission’. The main way to attract and recruit new people was and still is the ‘Miracle of Love Intensive’. This is a six-day, typical large group awareness training (LGAT) seminar where the participants are confronted, using confessional techniques and meditations with much crying and screaming. It is sold as the best things in the world for self-awareness and spiritual advancement. Ironically, it is also the first place where the indoctrination process starts and awareness is halted. At the end of the exhausting experience, the MoL belief system (Gourasana as an incarnation of God, Kalindi as the voice of God, the Gourasana Meditation Practice, etc.) is introduced to the participants. By then, they are highly vulnerable, and some participants become "believers" and stay in the group.

My story

I was one of them. I was in a highly vulnerable and critical moment of my life; the perfect presupposition to believe a group can offer a way out of suffering and that profess a path to freedom. I was definitely desperate on my search and was looking for a path "just like that".

I was never recruited, I called in the MoL office and register myself to participate to my first Intensive in 1996, and soon afterwards, I found myself moving into an MoL house to live together with other MoL members. And so it began.

I changed my life 180 degrees, moved to another country, had to find a new job, and spent all of my time inside MoL. I lived together in a household with other members in a very rigid lifestyle, forced to obey many rules, being practically controlled in almost everything I did, and forbidden to do many other things. I donated my money, clothes, time and heart, while paying a monthly fee of membership.

The activities in MoL are without end and your life becomes consumed by Mol. We met regularly at least twice a week for the long 3 hours meditation, plus other days for events, jobs, meetings or ‘advanced work’. Even weekends were fully scheduled.

My life during my eight years in MoL was a rebellious one. In some ways, which I understand better now, I kept questioning and fighting all the way. I was accused of being resistant and not really surrendering myself to the leaders and the purpose of the Path: the golden path, to reunite with God, a task that you can only achieve through MoL, and nowhere else! MoL made me believe that the only path to God is their path. I found out later that many cults are proclaiming the same exclusivity on God and the way to be with Him.

So however hard this path was, I stayed, hoping that the next event, the next Intensive (over the years I reviewed the seminar many times), retreat, meditation or personal guidance would bring salvation, so I could finally become a better person and fulfil the longing of my soul to reunite with God.

Or so I believed. I had, by then, become a "true believer", completely enmeshed in the teaching of our charismatic leader Kalindi. I was working hard to pursue the ideal of spiritual freedom and return to God, by trying to follow the rules and norms of MoL and by sacrificing with acts of self-renunciation any personal freedom and choice I had till then. Lalich explains it very profoundly in her book "Bounded Choice."

The very philosophy of MoL creates duality, although the goal is to let go of any separation I found myself investing all of my life energy in getting more spiritual, more holy, more humility, more desire, just more of anything. This wanting more creates a state of anguish, tension, anxiety, focused on a faraway God meanwhile forgetting to see what is all around us and therefore underlying any MoL activity with a very unhealthy attitude: feeling always stressed out and being in fear of not making it in this lifetime.

Nothing of what you do in a group like MoL seems to be good enough, and nothing that I did was. In my opinion this is the very essence of a destructive group, that you are always being kept small. And if you stand out in any way, for instance trying to improve things by offering a suggestion or simply questioning, you will be rejected and silenced.

My story is the story of a scapegoat, the one that gets all the blame for things done or not done. The one that keeps bothering the leaders and not letting the course or the path really take over. The one who is not surrendering.

In literature about groups called "cults," this is called "selective rejection." Inside a cult, a critical mind is not allowed to exist amongst his members. A critical mind needs to be suppressed.

MoL doesn’t accept a critical mind, MoL doesn’t answer simple questions and MoL is full of unworthy people trying to be worthy through guidance and overpowering others.

In the end, I had to be silenced once and for all, so I was kicked out, forbidden to participate in any MoL activity

MoL works in subtle ways. You don’t realize you have been persuaded, manipulated to believe in what I now consider a crazy belief system. You find yourself sticking to the rules and hoping for a reward in the future. In this way it seems to me that you become doubly bounded: you think you are free to choose, while in reality your freedom diminishes as you are kept on a short leash.

Your improvements are an expression of your devotion, and your devotion is what makes the leader, in this case Kalindi, the charismatic leader. She needs devotees to populate her kingdom and as subjects to rule over.

You are kept in check, by a serious of rigid group rules. Everyone in the pyramid, from leaders near the top to the ordinary ranks, is required to write letters and reports on various activities, so that no one is ever left free to think for himself or herself. The higher-ups in the hierarchy are always right.

I had to write letters every day to the leaders, on what was going on in my life and which illusion I was working on. These letters have a double function. One is to expose your illusion; in the MoL philosophy/jargon, the part of your ego, which is separated from God, therefore you need to fight this illusion to become pure, which is an impossible task. The other is that they feed the leaders’ narcissistic needs of feeling great and powerful with all these devotees expressing their praises. Of course the leaders also use your confessions to expose you and often humiliate you at the next occasion. I experienced many of such humiliations.

The attempts over the years to damage my true essence and to break my spirit have been many and were very abusive. I was considered a constant disturbance and always felt an outsider. I was ‘worked through’ heavily in abusive ways to mold my ego, silence my voice and more than once I was threatened with what my future would be if I left the group.

I was predicted a failure, but ultimately MoL failed with me! In the end, they had to admit that none of their ways worked on me.

I can’t describe the depth of disorientation I felt, it is beyond words.

Anger was the reason I was rejected and anger was what healed me when I left. I was told to go to a psychiatrist to fix what they called "my problems." I never did. Instead I went to an "cult exit-counselor," to regain my true freedom.

In all the years in MoL, I received so much personal guidance from leaders. For example, I was told not to draw any attention, never speak or ask questions in any meeting, to wear sober colors only, not use any make-up, give all my clothes away, let go of what little privacy I had left, even to let go of my boyfriend. I had to take cold showers, cut down on outside friendships, sacrifice my time, sleep, follow a strict diet, give money and of course find ways to make more money to give. I sold all of my jewelry.

In MoL, we had rules and programs for just about everything that could possibly happen in our lives. We had rules on how to clean the house, how to store your medical supplies, and even to have a full-fledged disaster plan. We had programs and regulations for exercises, and programs to take care of the sick, called "chicken soup." When I was sick for a long time and needed to be in bed to recover, I was sent back to my family home, otherwise I was "too much of a burden" for them.

We had rules on how to communicate with each other, verbally and by email; we had rules on what to say and what not to say. In our lives and in our houses, everything was labeled that could possibly been labeled using the one proscribed way of labeling, of course. In short, every detail of life was controlled; we were educated on all our choices, from which purse to have to what type of toilet paper. Our bags were always packed in case Kalindi would send us around the world for her recruiting and fund raising business. The list is endless.

All active members in MoL must have a job for the group. Besides translating written material and other tasks, my real job was to be a recruiter: to talk to other people about the Intensive and invite them to participate to the seminar. I have always been very passionate with people and with my temperament I can be often very insisting.

Like in any other situation in MoL even your job was a cause of intense drama and a playground for being worked through, controlled and manipulated and of course punished.

The sophisticated game of punishment and reward was constantly applied to us. No matter what you did, how much you worked, how many hours you cried in a meditation it was never good enough. If one day you were praised for having reached a state of "humility," having behaved according to the rules, or just feeling good and happy about yourself, the following day, you were humiliated for all to see. You were taken off your "job for God," moved into another house, stripped of any privileges and given strict guidance, for instance to share a room with someone you really didn’t like. Bottom line, I felt like a piece of shit, because nothing I did was ever good enough.

The high of the group was such a hook! In the first few months I was surrounded by these incredible sweet and loving people that wanted to become my best friends. This is called "love bombing" for a reason and it is overwhelming. But after a while it diminishes and when I started to show and express some criticism this was seen as a betrayal. From then onwards I needed to earn their friendship and care, and relationships were never spontaneous again.

My friends in MoL are another sad chapter of this story.

With all the love bombing professed, the deep bond I built with the people I lived with for so many years, the harsh reality and the cruel evidence is that when I left, hardly anyone cared about me or even called. This is a common, painful experience for any ex-member of a so-called "cult." It takes you into a very lonely place inside.

You are OK as long as you play by the rules of the group, because the group is right, has the only path of enlightenment and the outside world is seen as an enemy, lost in illusion. Once you are out, the people who are still inside see you as being lost in illusion, no matter how long and how deep you were once involved.

That is maybe the biggest pain I had to heal when I left MoL. It was hard enough to realize I lost years of my life to someone that I now see as a narcissistic con artist. I felt raped and deeply hurt in my soul. But it was even harder that after all these years of MoL involvement I didn’t have any of my MoL friends at my side. The trauma of rejection has been hunting me in my sleep for a long time. However I never felt the need to take any antidepressant or sleeping pill, like many of MoL leaders I knew were doing to "keep up with the energy." I instead stayed up and read a book.

It is very hard to sum up the past eight years of my life, but I just want to cover a few points of my process of waking up from a delusional dream to the reality that I was in what in my opinion can be seen as a cult.

Of course, when I was in, I thought it was OK to be called a "cult." None of us took that outside view seriously, and we were laughing away, saying that we loved to have our brain washed. So deep was the thought reform, and so deep was the damage to our true identity. In addition to that, Kalindi gives rigid guidance to not pay any attention to negative publicity either from people or newspapers, nor of course through the Internet.

Relationship and "breaking exclusivity/attachment" in MoL. For all the time I was in MoL relationships were banished out of my life as according to their philosophy they are between you and God. You have to let go of any attachment if you want to go Home, to God. Again this is very common in groups called "destructive cults." Intimate relationships are a threat to the cult and the leader, since they can be a source of criticism or a place to express your doubts. That way, you might open your eyes and eventually leave the group. In addition if you direct your love to another person you will give less to Kalindi. The narcissistic leader of MoL won’t allow that, you might then decide not to follow her anymore and go for a life with your partner. I knew some people who left MoL when their partner was asked to leave. Others did leave their partner, spouse, even their children to follow Kalindi’s guidance. The pain experienced in this area is hard to describe.

The other side of the coin is that if you need to work though sex issues, you have to date, sometimes you need to get together with certain people to "open." Recently there have even been cases in which people were told to have children, after Kalindi decided she has a purpose for them in the future of MoL organization.

In the end, you cannot be attached to anything. In the end you give up your ability to choose for yourself. In the end you give up living your life, as you want it to have it.

My recovery

After I was out of MoL, I refused categorically to listen to any spiritual teachings whatsoever and any form of MoL meditation including any of their music chosen to induce feeling and "open you up" or better break down your defenses. When I needed to recollect myself I would just sit quietly in silence. I wanted to have all sorts of spiritual beliefs evaporated from my system.

It took time to figure it out what happened to me. For one year, I just tried to put my life together. I moved to another city, found a new job and learned how to be in a relationship again. A very dear man was and still is at my side holding my hands in those difficult moments. Finally I had a lot of time to start to do things I always loved to do but that I "gave up" because I was told to do so.

I started to sing in a gospel choir, and my heart felt healing again. I went back to my mountain and walked alone to connect with my mountain spirit I know is in me.

I didn’t know then, this is the direction to go when you recover from cult. Steve Hassan [Warning: Steve Hassan is not recommended by this Web site. Read the detailed disclaimer to understand why.] described it magnificently in his books: look at who you were before the cult involvement, find your dreams again.

It was a spontaneous rediscovery of my freedom. That intuitive process led me after a year to research cults on the Internet.

On the Ross Institute Web site I found a support group listed on the Links page for ex-members of MoL called "Support for MoL Victims and Survivors."


Also then and only then I read books by Steve Hassan, Margaret Singer, Michael Langone and Janja Lalich about cults. I started to analyze and therefore understand what happened to me in years with MoL. Slowly I unraveled my past, bringing to the light the wounds of abuse, therefore understanding more and more.

The more I read the more I wanted so badly to find my true identity before MoL. There were so many emotions and I was lacking a sense of new direction and interest. The experts call this "post stress traumatic disorder" (PSTD). I was tired. Tired of starting again. Tired of everything.

My soul was feeling so betrayed that I couldn’t trust any longer. Having found myself for 20 years doing a lot of spiritual work I was disillusioned about real life and needed to start from scratch with the art of living. Before MoL I lived in India, as one of the Osho sannyasin, but that’s another story.

So I looked for an cult exit-counselor. After having lost so many friends I was, bottom line, looking for someone open minded, with whom I could talk about all these things and not feel judged or criticized. Luckily, I found someone good. Through her help I rediscovered my true identity and the passion I had for life long ago. It was all there, just submerged beneath the surface.

What happened to all those imposed spiritual identities? I don’t know if they’re all gone but I am truly recognizing my own spiritual nature now, and it doesn’t require a guru or a master or a psychologist any longer. The time for being a disciple is over for me. And the time to just be truly myself has begun.

Sometimes it takes a moment to have a dream, but it is the work of a lifetime that makes it real. I gave up too many of those moments in my MoL time and I decided it is now the time to let my true colors shine and become eternal on a canvas of real life.

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