Cults Have Always a Grand Vision
During my intervention with Karl, the first video that he showed me was called “The End of the World Cult.” It featured a cult leader (coincidentally named Michael) who claimed to be the next Messiah. He had set a date for the end of the world for a particular day in 1997 and all his followers eagerly waited for this day of salvation to come. The journalist who interviewed the cult leader was incredibly curious as to what was about to occur on that day. The reporter came over to the compound with his camera crew to film the festivities.
At midnight the members of the cult paraded outside, shouting out jovially. Then they went back into the building. Time passed. The world stayed put and none of them rose to heaven. The really interesting about the whole ordeal was that the cult leader conveniently moved the date of the end of the world and many of his devoted followers did not blink an eye. Some of them left but most of them stayed on. They had believed the cult leader’s explanation as to why end of the world’s deadline changed.
Later on, Karl made the connection for me with Michael Guen’s proclamation of the “One Effort Living website.” Just like the End of the World Cult, many different deadlines existed for a “big coming out.” There must have been at least four aborted coming out attempts this year. For years, Michael had been talking endlessly about his business schemes and plans which would involve a large organization with the men and women as teachers. In fact, when I took the personal training program in 2005, he was already envisioning all of us as teachers. I really believed even back then that I would earn money as a teacher. Conveniently, he had put the responsibility back on us for gathering students.
For the past year, he had told us that a website would be developed where we would be able to display our writings, our program “offerings,” biographies, etc. There would be a forum for people to get relationship advice – and of course Michael would be the mastermind behind it all. His plan was to get everyone to work for free until his organization was built up. And then apparently everyone was set up to make a lot of money from social medial marketing. He talked all the time about the “vision” – where pods of women would come together to discuss the “women’s principles.” He made us believe that we were going to be respected and well paid consultants.
The date of the big “coming out” has moved several times. Over the time I was there, there were supposed to be at least four to six “coming outs.” Since I was in the group, it was originally planned for July 24th and so far absolutely nothing has come of the website www.oneeffortliving.org. You can go there yourself and see – it has been perpetually in maintenance mode. The fact of the matter is that Michael Guen does not have any substantial substance to his teachings and he has created followers who cannot produce anything themselves. The supposed autobiographies and writings that they wrote with his one-on-one assistance (that you had to pay thousands of dollars for) actually are just promotional material for his business.
I am waiting to see if this website would ever come out. One of the women in the group stated that she needed to earn $60,000 per year with this business. Back when I was in the cult, I thought I could earn a living as well. I wanted Karl to be patient. I would often say to him, “Just wait until the website comes out!” as though this would solve all the answers. In the meanwhile, the men and women continue to work towards this vision, just to have Michael Guen’s pockets lined. Michael has never proposed any solid contracts for the people who have been giving their blood, sweat and tears to this organization. He says vague things about a “co-operative” model much like REI. But in actuality, all of it is to be seen.
Here is an example of the promotional emails that Michael would frequently send the group to get everyone excited:
“As with the rest of OEL’s offerings, the women’s teaching home page could show the OEL logo stamp of authenticity. And even though my empire book will be entitled “One Effort Living,” in the public eye, I would prefer that OEL present like a supportive parent or proud grandparent, letting the children and their causes (YOU!!!) hog the spotlight. The more I think about it, the better I’m liking the idea of giving OEL’s leading chat-forum, pod nation based “70/30 Project” over to you to promote and run as a business, while concurrently I publish and share my OEL teachings.”
This email was written in May 2013, the same month that I left the group through the intervention. Since that time, I have not been able to find online any shred of evidence that things are moving forward for the business. Furthermore, what he is promoting here in this message is that the men and women would take the spotlight of the business. This is so far from being true. In reality, Michael Guen will hog the spotlight and he will use his followers to do all the behind the scenes work for minimal financial reward. He is setting up his business to be the all powerful director, the mastermind behind the projects. In fact, when the website was up for a short period of time, there was a whole page devoted to him as the “founder.” The people below him may be running the nitty-gritty details of the business while not getting paid what they are worth.
If you ever come across One Effort Living and the website, don’t get trapped into this destructive cult. The supposed tools they have to offer you are really just some bait. You go into a cult for one reason but then once you are in, there is a completely different agenda. I really encourage you to be careful and trust your intuition. This organization claims that they have a way to healing and wholeness. They claim that they have a lineage and a system. But in actuality, they really don’t have anything to offer.
– Ruth –
Photo Credit: Ruthie Kansas via Flickr