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Humanistic psychology sought to find an alternative to Freudian psychology and behaviorism, and its intellectual leader was Abraham Maslow, who thought that traditional psychology had paid too much attention to pathological behavior and should concentrate on helping individuals to “actualize themselves” and attain what he called “peak experiences.” The Esalen Institute, founded in Big Sur, California in 1962, was the center of the Human Potential Movement—the phrase “Human Potential” was coined by Aldous Huxley, an early ally of Esalen.Huxley and others at Esalen perceived parallels between the emotional opening-up process of Western cathartic therapies (such as primal therapy), the peak experiences described and advocated by Maslow, and the altered states of consciousness produced by Eastern methods of meditation. ” Then two women grabbed me, and then the whole group.“What happened next was like an evil dream,” Renzi continues. The second, underwritten by the Oregon Public Broadcasting system several years back, all but exonerated the cult of its multitudinous wrongdoings; technically inept to boot, it was a fiasco for which the station’s financial supporters should have called the management of OPB to stern account.
You have to discount these results a bit because the cult members were undoubtedly instructed by their leaders in how to answer the questions, but experienced students of cults would in general not find such survey results surprising.Most of what I am going to write will paraphrase, or quote directly from, a series of columns I wrote for Oregon Magazine, under the rubric “Rajneesh Watch,” between 19.Obviously, I can’t document my positions as extensively as I did in those columns, but I hope what I can offer will be convincing enough. I want to get out of here.’ At a signal from the leader they let me go.”Renzi concluded her account for the German public of her experience of Rajneesh group therapy techniques by saying: “This craziness garnished with sadism, this fanaticism with world-beating claims, had I not already heard it somewhere before?It could be that film is not the appropriate medium in which to explore the deeper and more complex issues of a phenomenon such as this one, in which case what I write can serve as both a corrective and a supplement to their work, which appears to have piqued the interest of multitudes of people in a way no written account so far has done.
Many of the truths about this cult will seem outlandish at first glance, beginning with the opening one.