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Kate Thomas

David Lorimer and New World Values

By Andrew Cohen, Findhorn Foundation, Kate Thomas, Ken Wilber, Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), Stanislav Grof, Wrekin Trust
David  Lorimer
In 2005, I composed a letter of complaint to David Lorimer. The mailing list was extensive,  including over sixty members of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), led by Lorimer. Only one of those recipients replied, and in a purely personal context. The key addressee, David Lorimer,  was notable for a total lack of response.
The contents of that letter included reference to various anomalies within “alternative” organisations influenced by Lorimer. Details were provided of the Findhorn Foundation, closely linked to SMN membership and subscriptions. Discrepant behaviour of authority figures was a primary feature of content. Evasion was preferred by SMN recipients.
Lorimer is known for his activities as a writer and lecturer, including the book Radical Prince (2003), the subject here being the Prince of Wales. He was Programme Director for the SMN, and Vice-President of the closely associated Wrekin Trust, “a charity concerned with adult spiritual education,” to use one of the media descriptions. Lorimer’s blog emphasised “vision and values for a new world view.” So what are the royalist connotations of “spiritual education” and “new world”?
Lorimer had expressed estimation for both Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen, two controversial new age celebrities promoted by the Findhorn Foundation. His arguments were not convincing. In 2004, Lorimer even stated: “I have been impressed by the level of debate between Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in What is Enlightenment?” This deference to a commercial magazine, the well known vehicle of Cohen, tends to confirm “new world” drawbacks in spiritual education. Elsewhere, Wilber and his “integral spirituality” are the subject of strong critical attention from former enthusiasts and other commentators. Cohen has gained a very unenviable reputation as an American guru of extremist tendency.
To provide an update here,  other  entities are favoured  in the SMN ratings. In 2011, Lorimer named “Jung, Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart” as being “far more meaningful” than the psychology syllabus in British universities (article formerly online). In particular, the explicit deference to Grof merits close attention.
In the same interview, Lorimer stated: “One of the assumptions I am making is that my mind is the Universal Mind.” Reminiscent of the Ken Wilber “Big Mind” lore promising enlightenment, this belief can cause acute confusion. We should be very careful before assuming that our very limited individual bundle of mental impressions has any relation to a “Universal Mind.” The neo-Advaita of Andrew Cohen is noted for a theme of cosmic identity, which is flippant to the point of absurdity in new age circles. 
The designation of Scientific and Medical Network is problematic. This organisation is not calling themselves, e.g., the Alternative Scene for New Age Beliefs and Daring Theories. No, they are something far more reliable, far more ultimate, and indeed far more authoritarian. To the extent, indeed, that they can ignore complaint. They are too scientific to be criticised. That is the implication. They are too medical to be taken to task for supporting the holotropic and psychedelic beliefs of Stanislav Grof. New world values mean, for instance, that hyperventilation (employed by Grof) is a deceptive avenue to cerebral hypoxia, denoting a decreased supply of oxygen to the brain (Stephen J. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation, 1996, pp. 45-6). The results are purely material, not spiritual, like the blatantly commercial motivations involved.
Holotropic Breathwork (HB) was a very lucrative exercise devised by Grof at the Esalen Institute in California, subsequently employed at the Findhorn Foundation for several years until official intervention occurred. In this “new age workshop” sphere, everything is done for money. Grof resorted to HB because his LSD psychotherapy faced legal problems in the 1970s reaction to the hallucinogenic drug. He also employed “MDMA therapy” until the mid-1980s, his method having been described as “drug-aided mind manipulation in order to create paranormal beliefs” (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, p. 126). Grof chose to gloss psychological problems as “spiritual emergencies.” Grof transpersonalism has enjoyed a big dollar turnover via Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.
In this suspect scenario of  new world elite, wealthy academics and promoters can profitably ignore complaints. Entrepreneurs thrive on the absence of criticism, which is banished from the convenience of commerce and pseudo-meaning. On the basis of LSD experiences and holotropic sessions, Grof has devised a “cartography of the psyche,” which critics reject as spurious (cf. Grof, Psychology of the Future, 2000, pp. 20ff).
Alternative therapy was big business, for several decades, at places like Esalen and the Findhorn Foundation. I have related how a 1990s unfortunate lost his wife in this popular quicksand, after she had suffered most of the following drawbacks created by group sessions of “therapy”: nervous breakdown, suicidal tendencies, severe headaches, involuntary muscle spasms, memory failure, and lack of decision making ability. Despite realities, therapy deceptions have gained the status of “a unifying shift in our worldview,” to quote one of the ubiquitous celebrations on the new age media.
In the direction of drug use, exhortations are widespread on the internet. Some channels are strongly associated with the Grof bandwagon. Even at relatively low volume pitch, on email responses to journalism, one can find strident web voices urging that humanity has been taking drugs for thousands of years,  the police therefore being an obstruction to presumed benefits. More realistically, there are devastated LSD victims in wheelchairs, while the more recent craze for ketamine has involved extreme bladder problems and stomach operations for young victims. The new age now features teen sufferers with incontinence. Also in evidence are daily “recreational” users of skunk cannabis who favour the popular “shift in worldview.” They are unable to stop their drug habit, which can prove deadly, being only a step away from cocaine and heroin.
The main subject of the Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer was a former member of the SMN, whose situation (as a relative of mine) I was closely familiar with. Jean Shepherd (Kate Thomas) suffered discrimination because she was a critic of drug use. The agent of cordon here was Findhorn Foundation Trustee Janice Dolley, a close colleague of David Lorimer. The victim expressed an opposing view that drug experiences are counterfeit, comprising a delusion of “spirituality” for the partisans, and a misleading cue to addiction for the clientele. However, the critic was downgraded by the SMN in favour of Grof’s academic disciple Christopher Bache, an exponent of psychedelic neoshamanism. 
The Bache encounter with LSD involved a major problem: “I interrupted my work [for seven years] because the extreme nature of the states I was entering became too stressful for my family to endure” (Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn, SUNY Press 2000, p. 311 note 10). Anomalously, the academic drug advocates deny causing any complication, talking of their “moderate” usage as distinct from street excesses. The pro-cannabis refrains of Tart, and the LSD lore of Grof and Bache, have been very influential, permeating counterculture with false concepts, thereby assisting drug-pushers on the street.
The academic drug advocates are viewed, by citizen philosophy, as “shallow mystics who invent a form of specious logic that misleads thousands and millions of people deceived by prestigious credentials” (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, p. 50).
In the strongly contested new age, Scientific and Medical now signifies evasion, commercial “workshops,” Jung lore, and psychedelic theory. The “new world” orientation leads to a blind alley of “channelling” delusion, hallucination, visits to real medics for assistance in survival, aversion to criticism in the interests of income and economic expansion, and  a  neglect of ethical considerations.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

ENTRY no. 53

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved

Findhorn Foundation Discrepancies

By BBC News, BBC Radio, Conflict Resolution, Holotropic Breathwork, Kate Thomas, William Bloom
A book by Eileen Caddy
My Citizen Initiative website, launched in 2007, was at first greeted with disbelief by those accustomed to deceptive promotionalism of the Findhorn Foundation. After a while, some parties grasped that I was telling the truth. Evasion and exploitive commerce are involved in the project at issue. The “workshops” at this venue are notorious for the high prices charged.  The  glowing promotions about love and healing are offset by real life events ignored by partisans.
Some law court actions [no longer on open view] in Scotland are of interest. In 2012, a complication was created for the Findhorn Foundation by an immigration officer acting for the Secretary of State. This event occurred at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The “accredited education,” advertised by the Foundation, was mentioned. Critics say that much of what is taught there has no accredited basis outside the entrepreneurial sphere of “new spirituality” innovation.
The legal procedure provided a support for the defending party, mentioning (amongst other matters): “The Scottish Charities Register shows that the Findhorn Foundation is a charitable trust,” having objectives such as “the promotion of human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.” This amounts to a shoddy legal contrivance when many submerged details are investigated. Many complaints were made about the Foundation charity status in the 1990s, a situation suppressed by official incompetence. The theme of conflict resolution is elsewhere known to be a farce in the case of dissidents. The defendants also favoured a theme of Findhorn Foundation economic impact. This was designed to offset all criticism. Only money talks, even in law courts. 
The economic  impact  is controversial. This matter is associated with insistence upon tourist income, favoured by Moray Council, who proved to be money-oriented, with no interest in ethics. Bureaucratic laxity is widespread. In 2006, Moray Council acted in concert with the Foundation propaganda about a multi-million pound CIFAL centre that never materialised. Instead, the UNITAR presence gradually receded to the point of termination in 2018. CIFAL Findhorn Ltd was a business venture. The extant facts are more revealing than the buried propaganda. Critics affirm that the Foundation should never have become an NGO, a disputed accomplishment shrouded in the obscurity imposed by unreliable UN offices on different continents.
The immigration authorities wanted to restrict overseas attendees at the Foundation. The “alternative lifestyle” system would have lost about half a million pounds sterling a year if the test case decision had been passed in 2012. Judge Lord Stewart soberly reflected that Foundation courses on offer did not lead to “an approved qualification.” Courses such as “Healing Through Art” and the “Blessed Way of Passion” were under review. Lord Stewart was told that a 2002 study revealed how Findhorn Foundation economic benefits to the local economy had been second only to RAF Kinloss. Completely missing was the relevant data that informed critics, a decade earlier, urged that this partisan assessment was much inflated. Alternative therapists can easily mislead court judges who do not inspect all the sources. Critical analysis was likewise not in vogue with Moray Council, who consigned doubts to oblivion in their pursuit of tourist income and other dividends.
BBC News continued misleading coverage of the Findhorn Foundation, without reference to ongoing controversies and dissident reports. The BBC deficiency is habitual. Nearly thirty years ago, I was living at the same building in Forres (Moray) where a BBC television camera team snubbed a major local critic of the Foundation. The BBC attitude here was completely partisan to the Foundation, with no cognisance of any facts involved. The camera team provoked a reaction from their intended subject, who refused to be filmed. I knew that this development would be welcome to the Foundation, whose insidious propaganda had influenced the BBC team. I now confronted the impudent leader of the camera crew, who had derisively said to the critic: “It is just your view against theirs.” This gesture strongly implied that the Foundation could not be wrong in any way. The BBC spokesman proved evasive when confronted. 
I was then obliged to telephone the BBC management in London, to find my worst fears confirmed about the total irresponsibility of BBC officials.  At first, the official I spoke with groaned and said “Oh no!” Afterwards he became evasive, and would not acknowledge any error of deportment. The image of the Findhorn Foundation was thus preserved as being one of perfect charity (and the BBC as a role model of public relations). A due apology was overlooked. No surprise to me that Sir Jimmy Savile fooled the BBC excusers for so many years. The paedophile could do anything he wanted, because the BBC media protected him as a praiseworthy exemplar of charity.
A relevant fact, neglected by the BBC television fiasco, was that the local critic (Kate Thomas) had been ostracised by dictatorial Findhorn Foundation officials. One of these oppressors was an American with near schizophrenic moods of aggression and amity; he was notorious within the Foundation community for intimidation. Another bully was a dogmatic and persecuting German partisan of alternative therapy who declared that God had given him the custodianship of Cluny Hill College (now the Findhorn Foundation College), a centre for new age therapy, channelling, and neoshamanism. The extremist behaviour, including harassment, did not accord with the glowing publicity created by such personnel.
Commercial promotion of a disputed trademark therapy, known as Holotropic Breathwork (hyperventilation), was another problem in the “spiritual education” package at the Findhorn Foundation. The entrepreneur Stanislav Grof made grand claims for his investment, otherwise known as Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.  At Findhorn, many women were observed to undergo distressing symptoms in related “workshops” conducted by Foundation staff with no medical training. Dissenters from “therapy” were blacklisted; the promoters were glorified. Money was obtained from suffering clients of hyperventilation who were indoctrinated with Grof  “spiritual emergency” lore.
Kate Thomas (1928-2017) strongly resisted Holotropic Breathwork, as did medical doctors. This disagreement meant that Thomas (Jean Shepherd) had to be suppressed by the Foundation management.  The BBC failure to negotiate anti-medical bias occurred in 1992, a year before an important medical verdict from Edinburgh University emerged. The Foundation management were reluctant to comply with the expert warning. They never did acknowledge that Thomas had been correct, instead opting for a continual hostility towards her. She had compromised the much publicised (and fabulated) economic impact. Medical knowledge was a subject of derision amongst the alternative “therapists.”
A decade later, Thomas was cordoned by a Findhorn Foundation Trustee (Janice Dolley). This was because of her resistance to drug use and related matters. Standing for principle in the new age is a dead-end, as this instance confirms. Scruple is very unpopular, in view of widespread indulgences. Cocaine, cannabis, Ecstasy, LSD, all these are recreation and confectionery for lazy mystics and “therapists.” The role model damage is pervasive. 
BBC Radio is another defective organ of the media, to date neglecting any due response to a quite lengthy complaint made in 2006 concerning a Findhorn Foundation “workshop” entrepreneur, who was hosted on BBC Radio as an authority in “holistic” matters. BBC Radio made no mention of the fact that William Bloom had promoted, in London, the hazardous exercise in hyperventilation devised by Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. The commercial therapist promoted this activity despite the medical warnings occurring in Scotland. Bloom, a new age quack parading a Ph.D credential, totally ignored a Regius Professor (and medical expert) at Edinburgh University. The warnings of Professor Anthony Busuttil  caused the Findhorn Foundation to desist from promoting Holotropic Breathwork, advertised as a therapy by irresponsible money-grabbers with no medical credentials. See further Letter to BBC Radio
Only heavyweight medical objections galvanised the lethargic Scottish Charities Office into action against Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. That lax Office otherwise conveniently pardoned all transgressions of the Foundation, whose attitude to conventional medicine was dismissive. Only alternative “therapists” knew the answers to life problems, which meant they could abuse Foundation members and visitors alike with a resort to intimidation. The pecuniary greed of “therapists” was never to be criticised, including the lore devised for expensive “eco-houses.”
Bloom subsequently stated, in contemporary idiom, that he felt “pissed off with the BBC” (quote formerly online at The depreciatory item was deleted in a cosmetic strategy by no means unprecedented in such circles. Perhaps the BBC were suitably impressed by holistic gestures of respect for services rendered. The desultory speech, of new age yobs in “workshops,” is elsewhere viewed in terms of subcultural (and anti-cultural) gangrene. 
The continuing evasion of Findhorn Foundation staff, and supporters, has been evident in such matters as online book reviews. One of these deceptive items (in 2011) was composed by a pseudonymous person stating that he lived in the Findhorn Foundation neighbourhood. This semi-literate troll asserted that Kate Thomas had made a “brief stay” at the Foundation; he strongly implied that she wished to be accepted there as the “leader.” She was here accused of an “ego trip.” In reality, the dissident stayed in the near vicinity for ten years (as is quite well known), and never wished to become the Foundation leader, only to be given a fair hearing in the face of suppression, and eventually illness. See Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation. I happen to know because the misrepresented person was my mother, and I myself lived in Forres at the period under discussion. Findhorn Foundation gossip, like their promotionalism, is totally unreliable.
The Findhorn Foundation management effectively detoured a complaint made via solicitors; the response to this complaint by the management did not show refinement. The record is online, read by a number of persons with legal expertise who are unlikely to become Foundation partisans.
In 2015, a cash crisis at the Foundation was mentioned by journalists. The Foundation needed the Bank of Scotland to raise their overdraft limit from £450,000 to £650,000 for the purpose of paying current bills. 
More recently, Home Office representatives have visited the Findhorn Foundation in relation to a “Minister of Religion” visa, considered inappropriate by the authorities. The fact that several suicides have occurred amongst Foundation affiliates is not the best publicity, whatever the precise causation involved. These and other matters are mentioned at Findhorn experience (2018).

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

February 2013 (modified 2021)

ENTRY no. 52

Copyright © 2021 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.