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"Greg,

Are you Greg Mamishian from Topanga Canyon who attended meetings for some time with Carlos Castaneda?

I apologize if you feel I've invaded your privacy, but I find your personality and point of view to be very unusual. And oddly familiar. I worked in the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood area in 1976-77 and got up to Topanga Canyon a couple of times. I may have met someone that you remind me of. I don't have a great memory for detail however. I worked in a lot of houses, some quite expensive, installing and repairing alarm systems. Met a lot of very interesting people. I found I couldn't stay long in that area. People just seemed too loose, slow moving. I wanted to get back to the bay area where there was just more energy. Anyway, I checked your name and did a search, first for your name origin (helps to know a persons' heritage if you want to understand them). Nothing. But tons of activity on forums. And it appears you've been interviewed more than once by writers interested in Carlos Castaneda. That would be a fascinating story if you'd care to tell it, particularly your transition to Christianity and your belief in God.

"

Personally, I've never thought much of Carlos Castaneda, wasn't interested in him then, the more I find out about him the more I think he was a con man and a liar. A very lazy man and a cultist. Probably harmed many people made more susceptible by the times, full of bullshit and mysticism. Got rich doing it, but ruined a lot of lives. I find Greg very interesting and would like to hear his story about how he personally hacked his way out of this jungle. Thanks for you willingness to do this Greg.

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Call the question.

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What other forums?

I looked and I didn't see much of anything. A Tea Party Group... Maybe there's more. I didn't look too hard.

I think Greg's link to Castaneda is cool.

I never read Castaneda's books back in the day. Now that I have taken in interest in cults, the fact that this came up is like candy for me.

I'm not just interested in guru-bashing, though. That's the cheap way.

I'm interested in 2 things with cults:

1. The attractors for getting people into the cult's funnel. (This funnel always starts with a wide end where all is good and gradually becomes more constrained and stifling and the members become more zombie-like.) This includes personal empowerment techniques that provide immediate benefits, group persuasion techniques like love bombing, and other attractors like the nature of the guru's charisma. I'm interested in both ends of the attraction, too, i.e., what vulnerabilities or lacks exist in a prospective member that he or she finds fulfilled by what the cult offers.

2. Separation of the wisdom from the power and manipulation mind-fucks. All cults offer true wisdom and they all offer pure bullshit.

Those are my primary interests. On a secondary level, I'm interested in the victimization stories, but more, what people who left cults did (by themselves or with help) to deprogram.

Since Greg is so amiable, pleasant, has said in another thread he is willing to talk about this stuff, and he is familiar with the Randian perspective, I'm very glad he's here.

Michael

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Starting a new thread:

"Greg,

Are you Greg Mamishian from Topanga Canyon who attended meetings for some time with Carlos Castaneda?

I apologize if you feel I've invaded your privacy, but I find your personality and point of view to be very unusual. And oddly familiar. I worked in the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood area in 1976-77 and got up to Topanga Canyon a couple of times. I may have met someone that you remind me of. I don't have a great memory for detail however. I worked in a lot of houses, some quite expensive, installing and repairing alarm systems. Met a lot of very interesting people. I found I couldn't stay long in that area. People just seemed too loose, slow moving. I wanted to get back to the bay area where there was just more energy. Anyway, I checked your name and did a search, first for your name origin (helps to know a persons' heritage if you want to understand them). Nothing. But tons of activity on forums. And it appears you've been interviewed more than once by writers interested in Carlos Castaneda. That would be a fascinating story if you'd care to tell it, particularly your transition to Christianity and your belief in God.

I've always been a Christian because it's expression is living by a moral standard which didn't change just because I knew Carlos.

This whole adventure unfolded completely as the result of my wife who met one of the women living with Carlos (Florinda Donner Grau) when we were attending Florinda's talk and book signing.

Since both she and my wife were German, they immediately hit it off and we were both invited to a private talk Carlos gave in someone's home. After the talk we were both invited to attend private classes that Carlos taught. He did not allow couples in his classes, so months later when he found out we were together we were excluded from the classes. Since only one of us was allowed to attend, my wife continued for about another 6 months before she was turned out of the class. There was a constant turnover of people coming in and going out of his classes because he was culling through the attendees for suitable cult members. Carlos' cult consisted of 16 women with an outer circle of men who were jokingly referred to as the "castrati".

And just to be clear... neither my wife or I ever belonged to his cult. Our viewpoint was literally from the outside looking in. But from that undiscovered vantage point we were able to film a glimpse into the private side of his life. Realize that Carlos was a very secretive man. He forbade anyone to take his photograph, and destroyed any that he knew to exist. No one on the outside knew anything about how he actually lived. In fact, no one on the outside even knew where he lived. By becoming amateur private detectives we discovered where and with whom he lived and filmed him in the last year of his life.

Skipping a lot of details and going to the end: When Carlos died, the 5 women closest to him disappeared. The remains of one of those women was found in the desert years later.

Greg

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I'm interested in 2 things with cults:

1. The attractors for getting people into the cult's funnel. (This funnel always starts with a wide end where all is good and gradually becomes more constrained and stifling and the members become more zombie-like.) This includes personal empowerment techniques that provide immediate benefits, group persuasion techniques like love bombing, and other attractors like the nature of the guru's charisma. I'm interested in both ends of the attraction, too, i.e., what vulnerabilities or lacks exist in a prospective member that he or she finds fulfilled by what the cult offers.

Carlos was the sole attraction. If he decided to pursue a career in show business, he would have been one of the most talented and hilarious comedians alive. He kept us entertained with his funny stories for hours on end. As far as who he attracted, I'll just say that he was only interested in the women.

2. Separation of the wisdom from the power and manipulation mind-fucks. All cults offer true wisdom and they all offer pure bullshit.

All members cut off all family ties and changed their names.

We also knew one of Carlos' cult members who recently died. She was Amy Wallace, the daughter of Irving Wallace the author. I attended the memorial for her and her family got the opportunity to see film of Amy with Carlos during the most secret part of her life.

Greg

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Greg,

Months of classes? Consisting of simply being entertained by Carlos' charismatic personality? Sort of like paying to attend the Tonight show? I read that his "Witches" all committed suicide after his passing. Sounds like he could do more than just entertain. His "philosophy" sounds more deadly than my moms, and he didn't keep it to himself. I'm reminded of that bastard in Ohio who imprisoned those girls for decades. Carlos' chains and prison walls are more chilling. I'm with Michael, interested in how the power that people like that wield over other people works. I think, first, you have to make believe contradictions exist, A is not A... And keep saying it. Repetition after repetition. And mock anyone who disagrees, lock them out if they won't be convinced, shun them, make them feel like outsiders. I think it will only work on people who live in a constant state of bewilderment in the first place, with low self esteem. People who did not feel valued as children.

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Greg,

Months of classes? Consisting of simply being entertained by Carlos' charismatic personality? Sort of like paying to attend the Tonight show?

The private classes were free.

I read that his "Witches" all committed suicide after his passing.

I know that one offed herself, and believe that the other four did too.

Sounds like he could do more than just entertain. His "philosophy" sounds more deadly than my moms, and he didn't keep it to himself.

They share exactly the same dead end.

I'm reminded of that bastard in Ohio who imprisoned those girls for decades. Carlos' chains and prison walls are more chilling. I'm with Michael, interested in how the power that people like that wield over other people works. I think, first, you have to make believe contradictions exist, A is not A... And keep saying it. Repetition after repetition. And mock anyone who disagrees, lock them out if they won't be convinced, shun them, make them feel like outsiders. I think it will only work on people who live in a constant state of bewilderment in the first place, with low self esteem. People who did not feel valued as children.

Pretty close assessment. Carlos had the women constantly competing with each other for a higher place in the pecking order.

If you're this interested in cults, you might consider reading Amy Wallace's book "Sorcerer's Apprentice". It's about her personal experiences with Carlos and the cult. She's the only insider who talked. We were just outsiders looking in.

Greg

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Greg, did you know at the time you were attending his classes that it was a cult, or did you only recognize it as such later?

We had no idea at that time. When I first met Carlos I hadn't even read one word of any of his books, and so I knew him better in person than from what he wrote... which was two totally different things. We secretly followed Carlos for two years and filmed him for one. If our experiences were a movie, it would definitely be a comedy. :wink:

Greg

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The Unification Church was a cult.

I have a very close friend who was 3rd or 4th from the self proclaimed "Messiah."

Serious cult. Reached quite up into the Nixon Administration.

A...

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The Unification Church was a cult.

I have a very close friend who was 3rd or 4th from the self proclaimed "Messiah."

Serious cult. Reached quite up into the Nixon Administration.

A...

We were around when the Heaven's Gate mass suicide went down. Before that Carlos had all the women with their hair really short like men, but after that he had the women grow their hair out to minimize the similarity between the two cults.

It's ironic that the similarity that mattered... suicide, wasn't the one that was minimized.

Greg

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Thanks for your replies Greg.

There are many con men out there doing a smaller version of Castaneda's schtick. Like this guy. When I knew him he was a karate instructor in my town. My then wife was one of his students. She started behaving weirdly after some time with him. She then told me I would never understand the "way" unless I attended the classes and learned for myself. I started the classes, got a very strong impression he was a con man, I didn't believe anything he said. I thought the "karate" he was teaching was useless, endless mocking and criticizing your students and moralizing then belittling some hapless person (always a male) and wasn't teaching anyone anything except a few katas. I quit, told my wife I didn't trust him and he was a con man. Well, she filed for divorce and left. Fine. A year or two later he, Tony Molinar, is arrested for raping at least two of his students, 12 and 16 years old. They had him on videos he took himself. Convicted and spent hard time in prison. Not enough time evidently. I always wondered where guys like this come from. How do they know how to weasel their virus selves into people's lives. Why are the people who are susceptible to them so gullible? It's not stupidity, some of his students were very bright and professionals. Something about yuppies, knowing too much about too little.

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I always wondered where guys like this come from. How do they know how to weasel their virus selves into people's lives. Why are the people who are susceptible to them so gullible? It's not stupidity, some of his students were very bright and professionals. Something about yuppies, knowing too much about too little.

The fish always matches the bait.

Carlos' bait was entertainment and a charismatic personality. He easily could of had his own late night television talk show, because he was actually that good. We also knew his ex wife (now deceased) and son, whom Carlos used to take up into Topanga Canyon when he was a kid. Carlos had some really odd connections to Topanga. Much to my surprise, I discovered that one of my neighbors used to be the Editor of UCLA's University Press. He was the one who published Carlos' first book that got him the Doctorate degree, and had lots of funny anecdotes of Castaneda.

Greg

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Greg:

First, are you familiar with this article?

Castaneda, who disappeared from the public view in 1973, began in the last decade of his life to organize a secretive group of devoted followers. His tools were his books and Tensegrity, a movement technique he claimed had been passed down by 25 generations of Toltec shamans. A corporation, Cleargreen, was set up to promote Tensegrity; it held workshops attended by thousands. Novelist and director Bruce Wagner, a member of Castaneda’s inner circle, helped produce a series of instructional videos. Cleargreen continues to operate to this day, promoting Tensegrity and Castaneda’s teachings through workshops in Southern California, Europe and Latin America.

At the heart of Castaneda’s movement was a group of intensely devoted women, all of whom were or had been his lovers. They were known as the witches, and two of them, Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, vanished the day after Castaneda’s death, along with Cleargreen president Amalia Marquez and Tensegrity instructor Kylie Lundahl. A few weeks later, Patricia Partin, Castaneda’s adopted daughter as well as his lover, also disappeared. In February 2006, a skeleton found in Death Valley, Calif., was identified through DNA analysis as Partin’s.

Any truth to this paragraph and in the article, from what you concluded about him? The red highlight seems right out of the Woody Allen school of parenting...

http://www.salon.com/2007/04/12/castaneda/

Second, since apparently advocated for self insurance, I have asked you whether or not you purchase auto insurance, do you?

I can completely accept an answer that is none of my business.

A...

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Greg:

First, are you familiar with this article?

Castaneda, who disappeared from the public view in 1973, began in the last decade of his life to organize a secretive group of devoted followers. His tools were his books and Tensegrity, a movement technique he claimed had been passed down by 25 generations of Toltec shamans. A corporation, Cleargreen, was set up to promote Tensegrity; it held workshops attended by thousands. Novelist and director Bruce Wagner, a member of Castaneda’s inner circle, helped produce a series of instructional videos. Cleargreen continues to operate to this day, promoting Tensegrity and Castaneda’s teachings through workshops in Southern California, Europe and Latin America.

At the heart of Castaneda’s movement was a group of intensely devoted women, all of whom were or had been his lovers. They were known as the witches, and two of them, Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, vanished the day after Castaneda’s death, along with Cleargreen president Amalia Marquez and Tensegrity instructor Kylie Lundahl. A few weeks later, Patricia Partin, Castaneda’s adopted daughter as well as his lover, also disappeared. In February 2006, a skeleton found in Death Valley, Calif., was identified through DNA analysis as Partin’s.

Any truth to this paragraph and in the article, from what you concluded about him? The red highlight seems right out of the Woody Allen school of parenting...

http://www.salon.com/2007/04/12/castaneda/

A...

Yes. It's all true, and my wife and I know everyone mentioned in that article.

It was a Superior Court adoption hearing, and was done through lawyers so neither Carlos or Patti (cult name, Nuri)were there. It was a private hearing, but my wife and I found a piece of paper with the time and the date of the hearing in Carlos' trash, so I went to see what was up, and maybe get some more video.

What the author of that article didn't know was that another underage woman was also adopted as Carlos' daughter at that hearing, Maria Guadalupe Blanco, whose cult name was "Corolla".

There's a lot of compression in that article, but the author pretty well captured the absurd flavor of events. I tell you, it was no end of fun playing detective. :smile:

Second, since apparently advocated for self insurance, I have asked you whether or not you purchase auto insurance, do you?

I can completely accept an answer that is none of my business.

No problem.

I had addressed that before. Because I hold the pink slips on all my vehicles, I don't need to pay for full coverage insurance policies since there are no finance or lease companies involved. And so I only pay the minimum coverage required for registration. That comes to $1.70 a day for three vehicles. It's a pittance.

Greg

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Second, since apparently advocated for self insurance, I have asked you whether or not you purchase auto insurance, do you?

I can completely accept an answer that is none of my business.

No problem.

I had addressed that before. Because I hold the pink slips on all my vehicles, I don't need to pay for full coverage insurance policies since there are no finance or lease companies involved. And so I only pay the minimum coverage required for registration. That comes to $1.70 a day for three vehicles. It's a pittance.

Greg

Actually, my original question was do you purchase auto liability insurance?

Is that what you are referring to as the "pink slips?"

That would be $620.20 per year which is about right.

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I always wondered where guys like this come from. How do they know how to weasel their virus selves into people's lives. Why are the people who are susceptible to them so gullible? It's not stupidity, some of his students were very bright and professionals. Something about yuppies, knowing too much about too little.

The fish always matches the bait.

Carlos' bait was entertainment and a charismatic personality. He easily could of had his own late night television talk show, because he was actually that good. We also knew his ex wife (now deceased) and son, whom Carlos used to take up into Topanga Canyon when he was a kid. Carlos had some really odd connections to Topanga. Much to my surprise, I discovered that one of my neighbors used to be the Editor of UCLA's University Press. He was the one who published Carlos' first book that got him the Doctorate degree, and had lots of funny anecdotes of Castaneda.

Greg

You are not addressing how Castaneda works his way into a person's brain. I wasn't kidding describing him as a virus. People like him infect people. The bastard I described, the karate "teacher", somehow mastered conning people into believing things there is absolutely no evidence for. And believing he somehow had inside knowledge on profound secrets of life, spirituality, and secret power. Total bullshit, but his students were manipulated into feeling guilty about even raising a question about anything he taught. You were the lowest form of life on earth if you questioned the knowledge of the masters. Not everyone is susceptible to this bullshit, but many are. The questions are, what are the methods and how do they work. What kind of people do they work on. Frankly Greg, I believe I know why you seemed familiar to me. Some of this stuff, you do. This stuff works on the right people, maybe a little bit on most people. You can't have listened to a master con man for months without some of it rubbing off on you, even if it's unconscious. Some of the bastards students went on to have Karate schools of their own. Even after the "master" got sent off to prison. Something insidiously addictive standing up in front of a crowd making them believe bullshit I guess.

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Mike,

An attenuated version of what you describe in the post above happened and still happens with Objectivism. And it wasn't just Rand's and/or Nathaniel Branden's personal charisma making it work, since there's a carry-over to Peikoff as the replacement guru - and if he has any personal charisma, I've never discerned it. :smile:

Ellen

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Actually, my original question was do you purchase auto liability insurance?

Is that what you are referring to as the "pink slips?"

That would be $620.20 per year which is about right.

No. But that's ok. Hardly anyone one knows what a pink slip is, because almost no one owns their vehicles outright any more. Almost everyone makes either car loan or car lease payments which is the equivalent of renting a vehicle that someone else owns. A pink slip is a Certificate of Ownership that you get when you buy a car for cash.

And yes... the minimum policy is public liability/property damage. That $620 per year is for a 2012 car, a 2012 truck, and a 2007 motorcycle.

Greg

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I always wondered where guys like this come from. How do they know how to weasel their virus selves into people's lives. Why are the people who are susceptible to them so gullible? It's not stupidity, some of his students were very bright and professionals. Something about yuppies, knowing too much about too little.

The fish always matches the bait.

Carlos' bait was entertainment and a charismatic personality. He easily could of had his own late night television talk show, because he was actually that good. We also knew his ex wife (now deceased) and son, whom Carlos used to take up into Topanga Canyon when he was a kid. Carlos had some really odd connections to Topanga. Much to my surprise, I discovered that one of my neighbors used to be the Editor of UCLA's University Press. He was the one who published Carlos' first book that got him the Doctorate degree, and had lots of funny anecdotes of Castaneda.

Greg

You are not addressing how Castaneda works his way into a person's brain. I wasn't kidding describing him as a virus. People like him infect people. The bastard I described, the karate "teacher", somehow mastered conning people into believing things there is absolutely no evidence for. And believing he somehow had inside knowledge on profound secrets of life, spirituality, and secret power. Total bullshit, but his students were manipulated into feeling guilty about even raising a question about anything he taught. You were the lowest form of life on earth if you questioned the knowledge of the masters. Not everyone is susceptible to this bullshit, but many are. The questions are, what are the methods and how do they work. What kind of people do they work on. Frankly Greg, I believe I know why you seemed familiar to me. Some of this stuff, you do. This stuff works on the right people, maybe a little bit on most people. You can't have listened to a master con man for months without some of it rubbing off on you, even if it's unconscious. Some of the bastards students went on to have Karate schools of their own. Even after the "master" got sent off to prison. Something insidiously addictive standing up in front of a crowd making them believe bullshit I guess.

Michael did mention that he did not want this thread to degenerate into guru bashing. So I'm trying to keep things on the light side. Also my experiences with Carlos were not nearly as negative as yours because even though I was a participant, I wasn't in his cult. Nevertheless, I totally understand your sentiments and why you feel that way.

Greg

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Greg,

I don't think Michael wanted this thread to degenerate into bashing you. Self appointed megalomaniacs and perverts who brain wash people into self destructive behavior: open season [i think]. There is no light side, if you applied your memory and analytical abilities to exactly how Carlos plied his "magic" of warping perceptions it would be helpful. My memory of Tony Molinar was he did cull people who showed skepticism or asked the wrong questions after mocking them publicly, he acted as if he personally lived on a higher spiritual plane than other people, he mocked commonly accepted societal norms, especially sexual ones (big tip off). Mostly his lectures were on an impersonal level and he was always conscious of being "on" as in on stage. His classes were a mix of his lecturing and joking, and then the movements and katas, all choreographed. Same stuff, over and over. Lots of ritual. His "advanced" classes, meditation and going off to retreats. Mindless stuff, memorizing long chants in some other lanquage. Not necessary to know what the words meant. But it had to be perfect. My wife would get up in the early morning hours to do this stuff. Incense and clapping hands. All very important. And I couldn't understand it, it couldn't be explained rationally, I had to attend the classes, do all of the movements perfectly for a long time before I could begin to understand it. Hocus Pocus. I think he roped people into believing this crap by both tearing them down (making them feel guilty and embarrassed about not understanding) and building them up (praise for sticking to the program). By dangling this goal of understanding this other spiritual plane if they only practiced the ritual long enough he got them to invest time and money. After people invest enough time and money they tell themselves they are making progress, I think, if only to try to salvage their own egos.

Got to go.

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There is always some higher truth or all-inclusive way of living that only the cult leader fully practices and understands. Greg employs his own version of the psychology by reducing all of life's problems to self-inflicted wounds and prescribing simplistic solutions from his own new-age hybrid of Christian spirituality and Objectivist self-reliance. Contradictions in the framework are resolved through increasingly tortured layers of circular reasoning, baseless assertions, and knee-jerk moral judgments of others.

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