What Were My First Impressions of Michael Guen and the Group?
After my friend begged me to come, I attended the first intro night for the women’s group. It was held at one of the women’s homes in a converted double garage. There were huge mirrors to observe yourself in, as well as a picture on the altar space of Michael Guen and his old master. She seemed very devoted to have converted a whole garage in her home just for this purpose. I later learned that she was one of Michael’s long time student, having studied with him for twelve years. We all sat on cushions on the floor.
There were probably eight women or so who attended. Three of them hovered like hawks and I learned later that these women had been in the group for eons. They were three women from the “early days” in Mill Valley when Michael Guen turned his group into “a frenzied cult” as he writes in his book Way of the Saint in Chapter 12. When Michael came into the room, it almost felt as though the “early days” women were paying him homage.
This was my first impression of Dr. Michael Guen – he seemed really full of himself and had a huge ego. But I brushed that aside as he began to weave this elaborate description of the “Women’s Way” and how women are “the last greatest untapped human resource” of our time. Knowing him now, I am completely disgusted by that statement, as it implies that women are a resource which you may take advantage. He was automatically trying to elevate women’s position of power and to flatter us.
Michael wanted to make us all feel special and important. Furthermore, the way in which he spun his language was completely mesmerizing. Even though I thought that he had a big ego, the talk about the “women’s cause” captured my attention and that was already part of my indoctrination process.
That was my first exposure to the group and it created an excitement in me. In retrospect, I didn’t even realize that he was actually using some hypnosis techniques on me from day one. Oftentimes when he droned on during his lectures, we were in a daze. Keep in mind, this was an intro night and his goal was to make sure that the newcomers felt welcome. He paid a little extra attention to the new women who had come in, much to the jealous despair of his hawk women that circled around him.
I remember he made a comment of my ethnic background when I began sharing. Everyone was encouraged to share and this was a way to get to know us immediately and gauge our susceptibility. We were asked to say a little bit about ourselves and of course I mentioned that I was recently engaged and studied holistic healing. His direct attention gave me a little boost. It was all very intentional. Cult literature calls this “love bombing.”
I really did want to heal myself and help people in a significant way. He was promoting women’s natural abilities and how we had this intuitive power. He also talked about this mysterious idea of “opening the lower chakras in order to access the energy.” Now I know that all his talk was complete non-sense. He went on to talk about how women hold their power in their lower body and had to get in touch with this.He was really just making things up in order to captivate us and make it seem as though he had something very special to offer that we could not get anywhere else.
He had a charisma about him and used the Asian mystique in order to make himself even more appealing. Furthermore, he was flaunting the fact that he had a Ph.D. and had a clinical practice as a licensed acupuncturist. That was also a way to bring more self-entitlement. The women he already pulled into his cause were obviously gaga about him and I made a note to myself to not feel this way.
We ended the class with the special women’s martial arts exercise with another person to prove that we were strong and able to “not be moved” if someone was coming at us. He had already introduced the idea that “women need to first learn the highest techniques.” I believe that he said this to make us feel important and special. Michael also claimed that back in the day these tiny master women in the lineage would ward off men twice their size. It was a perfect story to pull me in because I am pretty small and could relate to those women. All of this was part of the mysticism and appeal. When I did the exercise for the first time, I suddenly felt powerful. I opened up my body and felt I could rule the world. He intended to get us hooked on this power.
By the end of this class, I was hooked. In a way, the woman who invited me already knew that I would be hooked by the seduction, flattery and compliments. He was a focal point and he knew exactly what to say. I can honestly tell you that from day one, I was captivated. It was also the beginning of my indoctrination into the teaching. He had planted many seeds in me and I was already starting to believe that I can make a big difference in the world as a woman and that I could really reach my fullest potential. There was so much hype around being a master and bringing the chi down to my feet (whatever that was.) I was in without a doubt. I would give him my $180 per month without question and that was just the start of it. My friend was elated that she had a “sister” now in the group.
There was still a big problem. I had no idea what I was getting into. It was absolutely not clear what “the work” was about and how it really related to me. Much of the intro talk that night was just sheer promotional nonsense. I could not grasp the concepts and everything seemed very foreign to me – the language, the movements, the jargon talk and what I was actually supposed to be getting for my $180 per month. This was incredibly vague. But it didn’t matter to me at that time. What mattered was that I felt excited, fresh and eager to start. I was going to join the “Women’s Way.” Little did I know about indoctrination, which had just begun.
I was about to enter a destructive cult.
– Ruth –
Photo Credit: Thomas Favre-Bulle via Flickr