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 williambloom.com/writings/pissed-off-with-bbc-78.htm). 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
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