2011 / february / 28

Miracle of Love exposed on Dutch tv

Yesterday, on february 27th 2011, the program Undercover in Nederland ran an episode on the Miracle of Love, a sect that I've been part of in the past. It made for interesting viewing, to say the least. These are my thoughts.

Other links:
Watch the episode online (on sbs6 uitzendinggemmist)
Milena's thoughts, part of her dedicated site "My life with Miracle of Love".
Gina reviews the show (on her 'Coming to Life stories')

TL;DR = The verdict? Overall, much better than I expected, given the sensationalist approach of the program. Thumbs up to the team, especially the (young!) journalist who went in.

The program clearly showed what it looks like to get involved with, and slowly become immersed in a cult.
It starts with an information evening, then the one day course, a four day seminar... After which you get a buddy assigned, and you get frequent calls and invites for seemingly social evenings such as dinner together.

And it's all still new and exciting, and all these people are showering you with attention, so its attractive to participate. And continue to participate and go deeper into the lifestyle - an annual event with pep talks for members only, staffing the Munich intensive.

All this takes time and energy, which you can spend only once - and if you choose to spend it on the mol people, you can't spend it on your regular friends and family. That's how the sucking in happens.

What the program did not do very well, was explaining the mechanism behind it - why don't you see it happen? And what makes it so appealing? That was a bit of a missed chance.

It's important to explain the mechanism of the Manufactured God Experience. This is a 'natural high', an euphoria created by seratonin, induced by the hysteria of the meditations, other techniques such as the breathing, and the whole atmosphere around it with the rituals and digging up of traumas. These euphoric moments work like a powerful drug, not unlike heroin, and you are made to believe that it is a religious experience, that it is truly meeting God. If you get hooked on the euphoric experience, you'll want to get more, no matter the cost. Which happens to be high, as this is when the cult starts to demand more time and money, disguised as steps on the path to freedom (implied, permanent MGE).

But anyway, a good program. And as an ex member of this cult, I didn't see anything that was staged. As far as I can see, it was very much the real thing. Rather sensationalist it focussed on the sex, I'd love to see the raw footage, to see what more they had.

Watching it as an ex member, seeing how nothing had changed, with the organisation and with the people, had the most impact on me. At the higher levels, it's still the same people. Still Marianne running the show in Holland, and W and D and S... And higher up, C and 'Mata Mazzarati', who still was called Lynn when I first met her. Who all have been involved for more than a decade (some more than two!), the timespan that mol implicitly promises their program will let you reach enlightenment.

But instead, of enlightened, self realised free people, they've become stiff and more tense, in a sense that they seem very controlled. And so much more miserable than they used to be. It seems all their sense of joy and spontaneity has been sucked out of them.

Seeing G at the end, talking with Alberto outside the Munich centre, having his cigarette break - he's such a nice guy and has been on the fringe of mol for ages, and there he was again. Given up so much, done so much 'work' on himself, for years, and still the same guy with the same mannerisms. Stuck, lured in by false promises.

That scene in front of the door was pretty priceless anyway - Stegeman playing the worried father, asking what was going on inside with his daughter. "Surely no wild naked dancing or something weird like that?" yielding an absolute, repeated "no, of course not" from poor D outside. Not that D could have done anything else at that moment, he had to stick to the party line, and do a "White lie". But a clear lie, nevertheless, from what is supposed to be an orgaAnd then D got mad at the undercover 'Charlotte', that she hadn't taken care to prevent it:

"You should have prevented this situation. This is of course not... you really should have thought about this, that this could happen... what you are doing to us."

At this moment, he points very clearly with his hands to his chest. Clear gesture: this 'us', does not include 'you' if you behave like this!

This was an important moment. It showed the beginning of the coming around process, showing the backside of the oh so friendly atmosphere the cult shows to the outside and to newcomers. This is when the punishment comes in, to alternate with the memory of the euphoria, enforcing in the poor new low level member a sense that nothing she does is right and there's still so much she has to learn - and importantly, so much to learn from the cult techniques.

Another important point the program made was unmasking the professional nature of mol, and their taking on of people with real problems despite saying the contrary. mol always stresses taking care and being professional. The intake forms indeed always had questions on mental health and all that. To the lower staff and minor members it's always presented as taking care, and that people with 'real' history are not taken in. The program showed that actually, they are taken in with no questions asked.

(of course, all this private and highly personal information that the participant writes in the form, is thoroughly examined by the leaders, and used to break the participant down during the group)

I've seen people participating in the intensive who experienced the 'high' of let go day, falling into a big collapse afterwards. In several cases back into severe alcoholism, in one case a woman ended up in a psychiatric clinic. the ease with which these people were subsequently forgotten by the insiders - they just dropped off the horizon - troubled me already during my time inside.

The psychiatrists observation that the leaders didn't undress, enforcing the power pyramid structure, was spot-on.

Which brings me to the sexuality: the intensive meditation guidance have become a little more explicit (the 'everybody shout butt fuck' moment). Of course the program jumped on it, enabling it to call mol a 'sekssekte'. sex sells, after all. But well, what's the big deal about that, or dancing naked? (this would have been a good point for the program to explain the Manufactured God Experience, or at least the nature of the induced euphoria)

The psychiatrist was rather of the conservative type. He stressed at the end that barriers aren't bad, as the prevent us from doing weird things.

He's right of course, but he didn't mention the other side: that most people have an internal system of barriers preventing them not only from weird things, but also from things that would be beneficial. That's what any form of therapy examines and looks at changing.

For me, and I suspect for other people like me that take a rather open minded view on therapies and 'working on myself', these remarks psychiatrist are like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The danger is that because of that, the warning may not come through clearly precisely with those people that are most likely to be interested in seminars such as mol offers!

And that's also the same with the overemphasising of the sexual aspect. Well, sex happens, duh. Dancing naked with loud music and stroboscopes, duh. It may be manufactured, but it's still a real high that you experience.
(though of course, this is ok only as long as it's done without coercion and in full consent of the participant)
The real danger is the programming that follows immediately afterwards, when you're prone to believe anything. Including that the only way to god is theirs. (though the party line to the outside says that there are many paths to god, of which mol is only one - in practice there is a strong sense of elitism in mol from which it is inevitable to conclude that their path is the fastest and strongest, as opposed to other 'traditional' paths).

* Miscellaneous thoughts

I would love to see the internal communication inside mol, how they were spinning it to the community.

The filming started around the time kalindi died, must have been around April 2010. The undercover operation lasted seven months, say until December 2010.

Mol must have heard about it in December or January, after the infiltration finished. Via an inside source, I heard that the woman that went undercover is gossiped about as 'she did such very strange things'. I wonder if the leadership asked people not to watch, like they have the policy to not 'waste time' on websites critical on mol. Or maybe they asked them to watch, and focus on how this is the work "of the illusion", mol-speak for the dark forces.

In P&W on Friday, Stegeman commented that an acquaintance told him the story of someone disappearing into a cult, dropping out of sight. He didn't give any details (and made it clear he didn't want to). However the Dutch mol community has actively recruited members from the tv production industry - it's not unlikely that this strategy has backfired.

* Questions on the program itself

Was it one visit to the Munich centre, or two as the narrator suggested? The footage appears to be from one day; similar grey weather, snow on the ground.

How did they set up paying for the courses and membership? All in cash? That would raise suspicion, the workshop costed 700 euro. But a credit card or by debit would be attached to a real name, unless the program is sophisticated and ruthless enough to open bank accounts under false identities. Ah well, next week bank fraud is on the agenda, maybe they combined these two investigations...

Korenslag video | main | Acapella arrangement: Price Tag, by Jessie J





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