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The Three Cards "Mindfuck" Trick

This was posted during the height of Wilber's "Earpy" rant. The perceptive anonymous author noticed a number of cultic (mindfuck) characteristics in Wilber's beahavior. He originally posted it on blog Matthew Dallman's blog (11 June 06). Matthew was impressed enough to make it the blog Comment of the day

Here is the original version that appears on the Dallman blog:

Being an old time poster on the original Wilber forum, what strikes me is how the online discussions back then, mirror those taking place now. For those who don't know, the original forum also served as a place for Adi Da devotees and ex-members to hash and re-hash, back-and-forth, about whether Adi-Da was a divine avatar or simply an abusive psychopath. There was no end to it, and the current devotees defended their god-man through anything and everything, including very real sexual abuse. How, one must wonder, could folks defend such stuff? To understand this, you have to look at the mix of eastern religion and western megalomania that manifested in cultic ways during the seventies. It's really very simple how these cultic groups defended the indefensible, and this very much holds true the Da-is-divine crowd on the old Wilber forum. They play three very simple cards, which can not, NO MATTER WHAT, be trumped. What's remarkable is that Wilber and his groupies now play those same exact three cards, which are:

(1) The Higher Level Card (i.e. Sorry, it's just over your head). Sorry, but you're just not smart enough to realize I am smarter than you, because you're on a lower (less divine) level.

(2) The Projection Card (i.e., I know you are, but what am I). By criticizing me, you are really just criticizing yourself, because any problem you see in me is just a projection of a problem in yourself.

(3) The Skillful Means Card (i.e., it's all your own fault, dickhead). The most potent card of all! It's not abuse; it's not pathetic or ridiculous or wrong; it's a crazy-wise teaching. You know, like Zen stuff. So when I call you a dickhead, it's not because I'm a dickhead, it's because you have a dickhead-complex that you need to evolve past, and I'm here to help you see that.

Note that these cards are not designed in any way, shape or form to prompt a discussion or dialogue. What can one possibly say to any of these cards? Nothing…and that is exactly the point. They are designed to end all discussion, and they are used only when folks know the actual substance of their beliefs has run, or is running, dry. Wilber's latest attack of Visser, and the defense provided by his young (and getting younger by the day) followers, consists nearly in whole of these three cards.

It would be interesting to challenge Wilber and his followers to defend his attack on Visser, but only if they first promise to use none of these 3 cards. Wouldn't it?

Matthew adds:

Indeed it would, though I'm not optimistic it'll ever happen...I, too, am a old-time poster on a Wilber forum. I got in after the whole Adi Da thing blew over, though, which was legendary from all accounts. I got in, as it happened, just a Jeff Meyerhoff did. I was "Goose" and he was "Critic" and we had a good brawling time of it.

While Paul S. blog (blogger) homourously adds two further cards

4. The "He's Only Human" Card

5. (the one i use) The "At Least It's Fucking Entertaining!" Card

See also further comments on that page (pro- and anti- Wilber).

The next day (12 JUne 06) the original author also posted a variant on Tuff Ghost (one of the few mainstream Wilberians to be appalled by Wilber's behaviour) blog Vomitting Coinfetti blog (scroll down to comments), from where it was taken up by Jim Chamberlain and external link posted on Visser's Integral World site. The original poster had elaborated their prespective with this further comment on the Chamberlain page dated 16 June:

The underlying essence of the previously mentioned 3-cards, played often by cultic leaders and apologists of the eastern religious/western psychological milieu, is this: any negative response to the leader or inner circle of the group can only be ones own fault (i.e. blame the victim). You're either not smart enough to understand (at a lower level), lack sufficient self-awareness (are simply projecting), or have failed a very deep test (when the group/leader hurts you, this is actually helping you). Consider the following in regards to Ken's latest Blog, and notice how he's now playing a few new cards, equally cultic: http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/50

(1) The Ultimate Guru Trump Card (Witness me, and see the truth): The evidence Helen offers in support of Ken's actions is not at all relevant to the issues at hand, but is, instead, this: "(I've) SEEN YOU, SAT IN YOUR AURA, and HEARD YOUR VOICE". Helen offers nothing of substance in regards to the actual issues being discussed. This is nothing more than GURU talk by a devotee and should be seen as a huge red flag to folks at II. This card is a real 'trump card' favorite among cultic apologists (i.e. if you felt his spiritual energy, man, you'd know it's true).

(2) The Hook, Then Heal Card (Listen, and be healed): Ken calls his previous Blogs "Hooks", which is just another name for the skillful means card. The "hook, then heal" combination deal, however, is necessary once the GURU trump card has been played. That is, once wisdom is established, it's time for compassion, forgiveness, and healing. This particular card implies two things at once: (a) Ken is the teacher (wisdom), you are the student; and (b) there is something wrong with you that can be healed by the teacher (compassion).

Consider how this has all come about. Ken, after taunting someone into a fight, with derogatory comments and snide remarks (HOOK), tries to then HEAL their angry nature by asking that they look at their own shadows (if they have the COURAGE to do so). The implicit point of this move is the following: if you listen, now that you've been HOOKED, and follow my instructions, you just may realize what is wrong with you, and be HEALED, never to get HOOKED again. In other words, when Ken hooked you, he did so only because you don't really know your true Self (IAMness). By listening to Ken, however, you might truly "RE-OWN" yourself, "RE-INTEGRATE" yourself, because he does care, he does FORGIVE YOU, and he is filled with compassion for you (notice he mentions he did this out of much love for Frank and Don) and will not teach you through his Blog and classes at IU (so sign up now!).

Ken, bringing it all together now, concludes by combing his wisdom and compassion, with spiritual waxing about bathing in the infinite well of rehabilitation.

Folks, outlining how and why this is classic cultic behavior is too elementary to even go into. Just pick up any book on the subject, or go read about the true root of all this: Adi Da.

(3) The Game Over, I Won Card (everybody stop, I'm the game-master): In the end, Ken is trying to silence critics/outsiders by asking that they simply STOP, which is all he really wants at this point. He asks that they take a moratorium on judging others, on loathing and condemning him. Notice that none of this addresses anything of any real substance; it's just an attempt to bring it to an end, with him still on top as the teacher. He is the game-master, after all. In real academic and/or spiritual circles (or within an adult community) such cards are considered completely and totally out of bounds. They only work in guru and cultic environments. Ken, PLEASE, you are the one who needs to STOP.

Although written in reference to Wilber, by someone familar with the movement and appalled by what was happening, this analysis can very appropriately be applied to any cultic and/or authoritarian and/or abusive and/or ambigious guru. In fact, the use of the Three Cards Trick is certainly proof that one is dealing with a cultic, not a genuine organisation.




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page by M.Alan Kazlev; original material by Anonymous.
page uploaded 16 December 2006