In last week's blog, I listed some of the true inner workings of the cult that I escaped from. After doing more research into this area, I am shocked to find even more tactics and tricks the cult leader used that I was unaware of. More could be written on the inner workings of this cult and its leader but that is not the subject of today's blog. Today, I want to share the brutal truth of how and why I finally left the cult after 12 years.
It all started about 3 years ago. After having been faithfully training and being a member of the cult for about 9 years, my intuition and gut started to send me signals that something was off. At first I couldn't really articulate anything specific, I just knew something didn't feel right.
I brushed aside my gut feelings and moved on. I was feeling good again for a while until the gut feelings resurfaced again, this time more powerfully and with more specificity. I got the subtle feeling of suspicion that the leader was hiding something from me and all the members. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but my gut knew that the leader was concealing something. However, due to the power of the brainwashing I had submitted to and my own selfish desire for the "hidden, secret knowledge" that the cult leader continued to promise, I rationalized away my feelings again and pressed forward.
At this time, I freely admit that I had sufficient information to warrant investigating the cult but I didn't want to. My gut was telling me something was off but I chose to ignore it or sweep it away because I wanted what I wanted. Selfishness blinded me and pride caused to me to dig in and ignore my conscience. Bad decision - a mistake I will be far less likely to ignore in the future.
Finally, after about a 6 month period since my last gut feeling, they resurfaced again. I was very emotionally distressed at this point because I knew if I swept these feelings under the rug again without investigating them, I would regret it. I remember crying one night as I was praying and thinking about all this because I knew what needed to be done but I didn't want to do it. I knew in my heart by this point that the cult leader was lying to me and the members, I just didn’t know the specifics. How did I know? I just knew in my heart. I’m sure you can relate. I then hit upon the discovery that gave me the final push to investigate the truth for myself and finally fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle.
We had recently finished a major training program with the cult leader. It was supposed to be very special, elite, and was supposed to finally give us access to very specialized knowledge and resources. This training program cost me $5,000.00 and 2.5 years of time. I sacrificed an immense amount of personal time, time with God, time working on my own business, family time, etc. to be able to complete this program - all with the promise of secret knowledge that would help me teach people how to stay safe from violence. Well, that knowledge was never revealed nor given to me or any of the other 19 people who finished the program with me. This caused major red flags - why were we not given what was promised?
To compound that, 2 female members who had just completed this program with me (with the same time and financial commitment) had suddenly vanished from the organization. They were just gone. No announcement, no well-wishes to send them off on their new life path, nothing. They simply vanished. I wanted to know the answer to one question, why? Why would these two highly intelligent and dedicated women spend all that time and money and then sever all ties with the cult? It didn't make any sense to me.
While I was racking my brain to figure out why I began to remember many other people who had done exactly what these two women had done - finished one of the "elite" programs of knowledge and then suddenly disappeared altogether never to be mentioned again. At this point, I knew something was very wrong so I did what cult members are not supposed to do - reach out and talk to non-members and get their side of the story.
I had a moderately good idea of what kind of information I would find but I never imagined it was as bad as it was. I talked to all kinds of people from the past who had been in the cult and gotten out and I found they were relieved to hear I had taken the red pill. I received more graciousness and help from the "bad outsiders" than I ever received in 12 years from the cult leader.
I continued having discussions and digging into the stories from people of the past who had gotten out and I found that their stories all matched. I think it is best to contrast this with an example:
An ex-girlfriend of mine is now a member of the cult. I introduced her to the cult when we were dating. We haven't spoken in over a year and half. She recently (within the last 6 months) dropped out of a program that the cult leader was conducting and in the time since then I have been told or seen in writing 4 different stories as to why she left the program. To this day, I am ignorant of the whole truth in this matter and so are (I would imagine) nearly all the other members of the cult.
I use that example to illustrate the following point: There are 4 different stories going around (perhaps more for all I know) as to why this member quit a certain program. Different members within the cult believe 1 of the 4 versions. Nobody is on the same page and it is likely that few members know the true reason. Why all the deception? Why all the secrecy? Are all the members even aware that there are multiple stories going around? If this one, simple story has 4 different versions, how many different versions of a story exist when real consequences are on the line? How many stories will the cult leader tell when he really needs to protect his image? Who knows…
All the people from the past I spoke with had their stories matching - some of which didn't know that I would be contacting them nor did I tell them what questions I would be asking ahead of time. I spoke with people the cult leader hurt quite badly and continue to speak with members within the organization. Many have expressed their concerns and doubts to me about the cult leader, his legitimacy, and what red flags they have personally experienced which has caused them to doubt and question things. I am very proud of these people - it takes tremendous courage to follow your intuition and seek the truth - especially when you've been "programmed" not to do so. To them I say "keep searching". Ironically, listen to what the cult leader has said and "question everything", "keep diving deeper" and "Defend the paths of truth"!
Now we come to the big question, why did I leave? Simply stated, I left because it was the right thing to do. Imagine that you are an employee at a company and you have an owner who runs the company. Imagine you become aware that this business owner is committing fraud and ripping off you, your fellow employees and customers. Imagine you became aware that this business owner has made sexual advances against female employees (your co-workers) some of whom were even married. Imagine you become aware that this business owner is in full knowledge of what he is doing but continues to do so without remorse. Imagine that you were taken through a Management Training Program and promised that this would make you a legitimate manager with full access to all the resources required to be a good manager - you pay thousands of dollars for this training, spend 2.5 years going through it, and at the end, you are not given what was promised.
In light of all this, I ask you, would you remain an employee of that company? Would you continue to tolerate such lies and perversion from the owner?
On top of that, what is your higher moral duty here? If you left this company for the reasons stated but you saw someone else joining the company and you said nothing to them about why you left, could you sleep well at night? "I saved myself but that person, that neophyte who doesn't know any better, eh, they're not my problem." I do not feel called to such a shallow moral character. I was taught to "love thy neighbor" and that warriors look out for fellow warriors on the battleground.
If you were a Marine and you knew where the land mines in a battleground were but you failed to warn your fellow Marines, could you live with yourself if one of those Marines stepped on a mine and died? If your sin of omission was responsible for the death or maiming of a brother or sister soldier, could you bear the weight of that guilt and shame? I cannot - hence these blogs and hence my private conversations with many members still in the cult and those who have since left the cult.
Let me be clear, I am not saying I will force my will upon anyone - I have no desire to do this. All I can do is share the truth and at least give current members and potential new ones the ability to make an informed choice. If all that I said to you about being taken advantage of, having female employees sexually exploited, wanting to deal with a narcissist who knows what he is doing but couldn't care less - if all that sounds appealing to you then by all means, exercise your freedom of association and go for it. If however, you have even a shred of moral courage and virtue and all that doesn't sound appealing, then by all means, use your freedom of association and leave this cult.
As an interesting aside, I have spoken with many people about leaving the cult, current members (some who have been in longer than me) and those who left a long time ago. Out of all the people I have spoken with, not a single person has attempted to defend the character of the leader. I have gotten some flak from long-time members but not a single one has said, "Alex, all those things you are saying about the leader's character, I know them to be false and incorrect." Even the members who have been in for over 20 years who know the leader best (better than I) have not said such things - because they can't. They know the leader is corrupt & that he treats people like shit but they stay for whatever reason seems right to them - they enjoy the information and specialized knowledge they receive (not realizing the leader is just a copy-cat and they could easily get the information on their own) or because they have spent too many years promoting and elevating this leader so that if they reneged now, they couldn't bear the social consequences. Or any number of other reasons that I cannot fathom.
The real truth if you are one of these members is that you are losing your social standing and credibility by staying in. The longer you stay, the more you support a known fraud, liar and narcissist. You are not saving face by staying, you are losing. I was involved for 12 years and the "expats" who escaped have given me more love and graciousness than the cult leader ever did. They understand, and I understand. We all went through the same thing.
To those who have admitted to having bad feelings about the cult but want to stay to "finish a program" or to "get the good information" I have one question for you, is this information more valuable to you than your integrity?
Go back to my employee example: Would you respect an employee who says "Yeah, I know the boss is a fraud, lies constantly, rips people off, tries to have sex with married women in the company, heck, I even know the boss will lie to me if it is expedient for him, but I just want to stay to finish this program and to keep getting the content because the content the leader teaches is so good." Really? That's your justification to sell your soul? Your reputation, your credibility, your image, the trust you've worked so hard to build with your family, spouse, children, co-workers, siblings, etc. is worth throwing away for some "good content"?
In my opinion, this is a pitiful excuse because the cult leader doesn't have a monopoly on this content. If you bothered to search Google or YouTube you could find the content. There is nothing new under the sun, no man has a monopoly on truth, so why you would choose to associate with such a prolific liar in light of this information is beyond my comprehension. If this is you, I love you and care for you and want to see you do well, but I do not respect your decision to stay in the cult. We have preached "Defend the paths of truth" and "Strive for the perfection of character" for over a decade - it is time to actually live up to these axioms and do the work.
This is why I left. This is why I cannot support anyone who stays in the cult. Knowledge is power and knowledge brings with it responsibility. I avoided seeking the truth for nearly 3 years on this issue because I knew once I investigated, my behavior would need to change accordingly. It has been hard but it has also been easy. I've received overwhelmingly more support than criticism or backlash. Even people who have no idea what cult I am referring to are emailing me saying, "Hey I faced a similar situation in the past and it sucks. I'm with you." I've gotten emails, texts, & phone calls all saying that they can relate and appreciate what I am doing. I've even been thanked by many members within the cult itself telling me that these blogs have been very helpful and that they are glad I have written them.
What should you take away from this if you cannot relate to leaving a cult? A few things:
1. Truth should be its own reward.
2. No amount of information or knowledge is worth more than your character, integrity and virtue.
3. If your conscience is telling you something is wrong persistently, something is wrong. Have the courage to listen to your conscience and investigate. Your conscience lives to protect you.
If you are a member of this cult or an "expat" who wants to share your experience with me, I would love to hear from you. Email me at info@AlexLanshe.com. I have nothing to hide and have told anyone who takes the time to call me all that I know.
Be vigilant my fellow warrior and remember, truth is its own reward!
“Scientology always has been a game of power and control. L. Ron Hubbard was the ultimate con man, and it's hard to figure out how much of Scientology was an experiment in brainwashing and controlling people, and how much of it was truly intended to help people.” ― Jenna Miscavige Hill, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
I never thought I would live to see the day when I could actually relate from personal experience to Jenna's words. Jenna is a young woman who grew up in Scientology and went on to escape from the "church" at the age of 21. You can find more about her by going here: Jenna Miscavige.
As a warrior, I thought I was immune to joining cults or following cults. Surely I would have recognized a cult leader when I saw one. Boy was I naive. Turns out, cult leaders don't come with big stamps on their forehead that say "CULT LEADER - AVOID". I was taken in for 12 years! Wow. 12 years? Yes. 12 years.
Having personally experienced being in a cult and successfully extracting myself from one, I wanted to expose and reveal how things really were in the cult. Next week in part 2, I will talk more about how I personally came to know the truth and removed myself from the cult.
While I was inside the cult, many tactics were used to keep me there. These tactics were so successful, I stayed for 12 years as I already mentioned. What were some of these tactics? Let's explore and reveal them now:
I could go on for pages more but this is sufficient for now. Why am I sharing this with you? Because myself and others who were and still are in this cult have been hurt. Some have made tremendous personal sacrifice of time, money and even dignity to join, remain and endear themselves to the cult leader. I am sharing this with you to implore you not to be naïve as I was. Here are two major points I want you to take away from this:
I’ll leave you with this analogy: You cannot speak of the ocean to a well-frog. The frog can only imagine the well because it is all he knows. He has never seen the ocean or even a lake or pond. Ironically, the cult leader I just left would tell us that EVERYONE WHO WASN’T IN OUR CULT was like the well-frog when the truth is the exact opposite.
If you only follow one man, one “source”, one “lineage” or one “system” you have made yourself a well-frog. You have cut yourself off from the rest of the world – you can no longer gain wisdom, knowledge, virtue, morals, or life experience from anywhere else because the cult leader has gotten you to voluntarily cut yourself off from everything and everyone else (forced compliance).
Since leaving the cult, I am now free. Free to explore the vast ocean with no cult leader telling me where to look, how to look, or why to look. I have true freedom of association & can correctly prioritize my faith, my family, my business and my personal growth again. It is amazing and if you are someone who can relate to everything I just said, I invite you to join me in experiencing freedom. Because the truth is this:
If you leave the cult, you don’t sever yourself from the “source” and “all legitimacy” and you won’t be alone. There is a vast community of people who have “left the plantation” and who are ready to reunite with you once you take the red pill. But remember, Morpheus only offered the red pill to Neo; he didn’t force it down his throat. I will be as Morpheus, I am offering you the red pill or the blue pill. The red pill gives you the truth and freedom the blue bill keeps you a slave to the cult. You decide.
This is Part 1 of the Cult blogs. Next week I shall discuss how I red-pilled myself and how I actually left the cult.
If you haven't read last week's blog, it may help you gain a deeper understanding of today's post. Go here to read last week's blog: CLICK HERE.
Two weeks ago, I shared a personal story of how I lost a mentor. I received tremendous feedback from several people and I want to thank you for your support (you know who you are).
Today, my emotions have shifted a bit from several weeks ago. Whereas last week I was feeling some anger at having been lied to, today, I feel no anger. The reason I feel no anger is because this person isn't important enough to deserve anger. I still feel pity for this person and I am not sure that will ever go away. I just can't help thinking about how great a life this person could have had if they had bothered to be honest and caring.
If you have gone through a similar situation with a mentor and you still feel angry, I just want to ask you a simple question: Why do you still feel that way?
Holding a grudge is a way you let the bad person win. You may have banished them from your life but if you are still angry (holding a grudge) they are actually winning. Author and violence expert, Rory Miller once told me that "The measure of any man is self-control." If you cannot control your mind and thoughts enough to stop holding a grudge, you are the one that is at fault. Let it go.
I prayed and realized this for myself in my situation - initially, I felt some anger as is natural to feel. But once I became aware of it, if I continued to feel that way, it was my choice. I decided to not spend too long in that emotional zone. Anger clouds judgement and clouded judgement leads to poor decisions which lead to hazardous outcomes in your life. The fallen mentor is not worth making bad decisions over. Let go and move on.
One thing I am shocked by is the overall lack of curiosity from other people who continue to associate with this former mentor. Some people have asked why I am no longer associated but few have. Of those who have, few have actually gotten into real conversations with me. While I am surprised at them I am not angry or bitter towards them. For I once was in their position. I sympathize with the tough decision they have to make.
One feeling or emotion that I cannot describe how good it feels is FREEDOM. The psychological and spiritual burden that has been lifted from me has felt amazing. My soul is lighter, more peaceful, and calmer. I have decreased anxiety, and improved my options for the future. That is rewarding and fulfilling.
If you have lost a mentor but are still holding on emotionally and mentally, let go. That is where true freedom lies. It is perfectly possible to be a free man in the world but a slave in your soul. Freedom of soul and mind is the true freedom.
Viktor Frankl was a POW in Nazi Germany and wrote an excellent book, "Man's Search for Meaning." He talked about how the Nazi's could never take away his ability to choose his attitude and how he chose to feel about something. Despite being a prisoner, he was free. Though my situation is nowhere close to the hardships that Frankl suffered, it is similar in the sense that I control my attitude and how I choose to feel about what happened. I choose freedom.
Lastly, I want to emphasize one more emotion that I am experiencing. I have prayed and continue to pray to be able to forgive my former mentor. I interviewed Capt. Charlie Plumb recently (a Vietnam POW for 6 years) and he told me that he had to forgive his torturers or else his hate would have destroyed him. Wow. What a powerful lesson. I forgive my former mentor. That doesn't mean I will associate with him ever again, but I do forgive him. Just as I doubt Capt. Plumb would voluntarily put himself back in a POW camp, but he did forgive his captors. I have chosen to do the same. Why? Because God demands it. Because my well-being is predicated on letting go and forgiving. Because the former mentor is not important enough to my life to hold a grudge against. It feels amazing to be free.
If you are holding a grudge against anyone, do yourself a favor, and forgive them. Only through forgiveness are you set free. Only through forgiveness do you really have the power to move on.
Lastly, forgive yourself too. For a while, I blamed myself for being fooled. "How could you have not seen it?" I said to myself. What a lesson in humility that was - it was that easy to fool me. Talk about smacking your pride down a few notches. But you must forgive yourself too, not just others.
Forgive and let go my fellow warrior - that is the true path of peace which all warriors strive to live by.
What do you do when a mentor you've known for over a decade is revealed to be a liar? How do you process that you have been systematically lied to for over 10 years? What do you do when someone you respected and admired has such a tremendous fall from grace that you must completely sever all connection to them?
A good name is seldom regained. When character is gone, all is gone, and one of the richest jewels of life is lost forever. - Joel Hawes
If I told you this was an easy thing to go through, I would be lying. It is rather unnerving when someone you respected and admired falls so far. Worse still, this former mentor has no remorse and continues to lie to others. They are not interested in healing and making things right - they care only for themselves.
When you have a mentor for over a decade and they are shown to be liars and frauds, you feel a whole host of emotions. Shock that you were lied to for so long and didn't realize it. Anger that this person took advantage of you and your belief in them. But the greatest emotion I have felt towards this former mentor is pity. Pity because they have chosen to live a sad, lonely life of lies, cheating and deception. They were smart enough to have chosen to live with honor and integrity but instead, they chose lies & deceit.
Pity because all their talk about being a strong, virtuous man of honor and integrity is a complete sham. Sadness because you realize the man you once thought was courageous is actually a coward. This former mentor is so hostile towards the truth that there is no persuading or reasoning with them to abandon their deception and come clean.
Have you ever lost a mentor? Was there someone you once admired and respected greatly but you discovered later that they were not deserving of such affections? How did you handle it? How did you feel once you discovered the truth?
I have chosen to handle my situation with silence and resignation. Resigned to the fact that others who admire this man will falsely accuse me of being a coward or an ingrate. Resigned to the fact that others will not understand because they don't want to know the truth either.
My petition to you today my dear warrior is this: no matter how hard a task is, be of the truth. Take a stand for what is right, regardless of personal cost. Lies and deception are only ever short-term benefactors which exact a cruel and punishing tax later on.
This former mentor is reaping what he has sown - the inability to form close human relationships (because if anyone gets too close, they'll see the web of lies and he'll be exposed), the taxing mental exhaustion of always having to remember who you told what lie to in order to hold the mythology together (I cannot fathom the mental exhaustion that requires), the subtle, perhaps even sub-conscious, gnawing feeling and knowing that the people who follow you only follow you for your perceived utility to them, not because they genuinely care for you as a person.
Simon Sinek once said, "There are leaders and there are those who lead. And they are not the same thing." This mentor was a leader but he is not someone who leads. He has the titles, and position of authority, but he does not lead. Real leaders have followers who would lay their life down for them. When an outsider asks a follower of someone who leads, "Why do you sacrifice and toil at personal loss for this person?" The follower says calmly and with conviction, "Because he'd do the same for me." This former mentor would not “do the same for me.” He cares only for himself.
I say to you my fellow warrior to be strong in your conviction and to defend the truth. In the short term, you will be hard pressed to see the benefit due to the lies and indignation of those around you. But over time, you will realize that the truth is a firm foundation that gives you stability. Lies can only ever off the illusion of stability. In truth, you must work fervently, day and night, to maintain the fabric of the lies lest your deception be discovered.
"A false witness shall not be unpunished: and he that speaketh lies shall not escape." - Proverbs 19:5
In the long run, there is no way to avoid paying the debt of your lies. Be strong now, and speak the truth. Do not be as my former mentor who lives in misery due his lies. By misery I mean internal, spiritual and mental misery. Oh no doubt he will give the outward appearance of being "never better" but inwardly, what chaos.
I have one more word of advice which I have now earned and learned the hard way. Listen to me very carefully and what I am about to write. Take it to heart now so you do not have to experience what I have:
Place your trust first in the truth of a man's words & actions; not in a personality, charm, or charisma. The latter things can be faked and manufactured, but a character built on a foundation of truth cannot be faked. My pitfall, and what allowed me to be deceived for over 10 years, was because I looked to the man's personality, his command presence and his charisma instead of to the truth of his words and deeds.
Hear me! NO MAN HAS A MONOPOLY ON TRUTH! Follow truth instead of a man. The Truth is eternal and unchanging, stable and reliable. A man is fickle, deceitful, & oftentimes full of wickedness.
This is my prayer for you dear warrior. Place truth above all else. "...And the truth will set you free." - John 8:32
Welcome to the Anatomy of a Warrior Blog!
National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.