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Insight Seminars: A cult?

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Mar 14, 2001, 3:37:34 PM3/14/01
I'd like to hear of any experiences people have had with Insight seminars or
the group associated with the teachings of John Roger Hinkins.

My cousin has participated in two of these seminars and several things she's
told me about them have raised red flags with me. The seminars are very rigid,
structured, and last long hours sometimes late into the night. The upcoming
seminar she is planning to attend has the participants vowing to adhere to a
strict vegan diet and to abstain from taking any over the counter medications
whatsoever (i.e. aspirin, etc.). (when I inquired about the use of presciption
drugs, she has told me that drugs prescribed by a physican would be allowed
with a medical excuse). Additionally, the daily hours for this seminar are much
longer thanthose at the other two sessions she's attended. I guess the thing
that alarms me the most is that she got introduced to these seminars by her
therapist and I feel that this might some kind of unethical conflict of
interest on the part of the therapist.

Am I overreacting or has anyone experienced this/heard anything about this

Thanks for your input!

Mar 14, 2001, 8:02:57 PM3/14/01
lurk...@aol.comnojunk (Lurkydoo) wrote:
> I'd like to hear of any experiences people have had with Insight seminars
> or the group associated with the teachings of John Roger Hinkins.

John-Roger Hinkins was a "second initiate" in the cult Eckankar when he
broke off and started his own group, MSIA. Eckankar is the cult concocted
by Paul Twitchell, whose new young wife was tired of supporting them and
insisted that he make some money.

Twitch on John-Roger:

"Now, we had one man, maybe you knew about this up there in Chicago, when
we were talking about it in the crowd there. This fellow takes every
discourse we have, then he gets all the ECK books and he gets himself
initiated up to the second, then he goes out and starts his own group, see?
He had a meeting every night and he would give them what they call
aura-balancing or adjusting.

I thought this thing was awfully funny. I sent some people in to see him
and hear him, and he was having kind of a seance every night and he was
saying, "Well, Brother Paul's here, Brother Paul's going to talk to us
now." Then he was saying that I had lunch with him about twice a month
asking him if we could join organizations, see. And he was selling all of
his work upon the inference in that 1968 seminar over there. There were
two women who came up from Santa Barbara and she says, "Oh, we're ECK
students." And I says, "You are?" She says, "Yeah, we're studying under
Roger Hinkins." See, this fellow who had taken all of this and stolen it
from us and this thing was buildling up because he was using us to build
his organization.

So I wrote him a letter and said, "Stop now!" And he didn't pay much
attention to that. Then I told the attorney, I says, "Stop him." The
attorney wrote him a letter. He had this organization going down there in
Miami and was based in San Gabriel, California and I had the attorney fly
down there, and just walk in and talk to him." (from "Difficulties of
Becoming the Living ECK Master" which was mostly compiled from tapes made
by Twitch in July 1971, as well as hilarious snippets from from various
cult publications, etc.)

Anyway, it was John-Roger who probably inspired the Twitchster to write his
"irrevocable misdeed" warnings in the members-only secret high holy
discourse series "Letters To A Chela" (chapter 9) which you can read at

There's an excellent expose of MSIA by the late former member Peter
McWilliams, but unfortunately MSIA managed to buy the copyright and
suppress it. You may still be able to find used copies of it. Check out The title is "Life 102, or What to do when your
guru sues you"

I hope your cousin doesn't get mixed up in it. And I think she *should*
find a different therapist...this is *definitely* unethical (or at least
unprofessional) behavior. However...cult members do things like
this...Paul Twitchell, former "clear" in $cientology, wrote this cute
little passage, and cult members today are basically taught to "infiltrate"
and use very subtly deceptive methods of recruitment to get new members.
But...when you're a cult member as I was, just don't realize how
you're being used by a dishonest organization.

Best wishes, and good luck!


(An excerpt...for the rest of Paul Twitchell's Secret Discourse
Series....the one-year intensive indoctrination for eck "missionaries" ...
see )

From Letters to a Chela by Paul Twitchell---page 34

For Initiates Only---the discourse series that Harold Klemp and long-time
Eckists (including some here on ARE) studied & were brainwashed with--this
discourse series was reprinted in book form by Darwin, and continued being
sold for many years under Harold Klemp.

"So ECK of ITSELF must find those who are willing to plant themselves in
church groups, of every nature, and act as the ones to spread the message
of ECK. These are commonly called cells in political jargon, but we know
them as cadres. This is to get a foothold in any group, any institution
and to be able to quietly but effectively give out the message of ECK, and
act as reformers within these groups so that their members will come over
to the works of ECK. This is one of the efficient ways of educating others
to become sympathetic with the ECK and ITS works.

Since Christianity is only an aspect of the ECK there is no need of viewing
it or any other religion with awe. All religions and philosophies spring
out of the fountainhead of ECK. Therefore we must look upon each with a
sympathetic view that every group is respectively struggling to find the

Since every ECKist knows that the Godhead is that which is available only
through the path of ECK then he must be warm, sympathetic and helpful to
those in religions, occultism and philosophies for they are all the
subordinates of ECKANKAR.

There is no need to fight them, no need to have arguments with them or try
to give them truth when none are ready for it.

But we can find ways of entering into the middle stream of life
everywhere, in social clubs, on civic boards, in groups of people who are
seemingly without anything in their lives. You can get invitations to talk
to public groups on ECK, have your own festivals, such as an ECK festival,
or go on radio and television programs wherever available.

You can visit old folks homes and help cheer them up; visit hospitals and
help with people who are not able to help themselves. Become readers who
will talk to people who are handicapped, or read to them from the works,
the books of ECK.

You can also infiltrate young people groups and tell them about ECK. You
can make talks to high school groups and to university and college classes.

There are a hundred ways in which you can make yourself available to do
work for passing out the message of ECK. Everyone of them is a part of
your training for ECK leadership."


Center for Twitchellian Plagiarism:

Mar 16, 2001, 8:12:01 PM3/16/01
to (Ash) wrote:
> Hi Sharon (or anyone)
> Just out of interest, is there a way to report therapists who do this
> sort of thing? This is about the third time I've seen it here, and
> one of my friends nearly got involved with a similar group the same
> way (She found it more amusing than uplifting after the first session
> and didnt go back though)
> Ash

Well, I'd imagine you can report them to the state licensing agency, but
the sad thing is, therapists who do this sort of thing *do* mean well.
It's just very unprofessional.

Since we live in a Christian society, I think it's safe to say that a
large percentage of mental health professionals are church-going people,
but unless they advertise themselves as Christian counselors who are going
to counsel using the Bible, spite of their personal beliefs I
daresay they know darn well that it's unprofessional to tell their patients
that they need to join a church, get saved, or "whatever".

I popped into Bibliofind, and was very sorry to see that Life 102 by Peter
McWilliams wasn't available, although his pro-MSIA books written while he
was a cult member are available there.

I read Life 102 after I'd left eckankar, and it sort of gave me
"flashbacks" of horror, seeing it so plainly & clearly how John-Roger
(a/k/a The Divine Rumpranger) manipulated and deceived people, and
recognizing how that's what was done to con me into eckankar.

Well, one thing I *am* glad about, is that even though Paul Twitchell
learned a lot about declaring himself "God" and manipulating people into
joining his cult from L. Ron Hubbard, eckankar & MSIA aren't quite that
bad. Yet. You never know what might happen in the future, though.

Anyway, it's just too darn bad how cults use their members' money to
suppress freedom of speech by stifling information that would help people
avoid being suckered in. MSIA did that with Life 102, and eckankar's been
doing it for years with David Lane's "The Making of a Spiritual Movement",
most recently in the early 90's when Harold Klemp and his organization
threatened Lane's publisher with lawsuits if they proceeded with the
publication of the library edition of this book, which was already listed
in their catalogue. Garland just didn't have the big bucks to go through
the legal harrassment they'd have gotten because eckankar's got millions in
the bank to play around with.

It's sort of funny, because if the cult hadn't responded as it did years
ago when Lane was a college student doing a term paper for a religion class
and sent eckankar a copy...and they replied by threatening to sue, wouldn't have inspired Lane to continue looking deeper into it,
and eventually writing a whole book which for 20-some years has helped many
to get out of the cult.

eckankar to this day continues to rationalize and try to whitewash the
extensive plagiarism of its founder, and although it's pulled several
twitchbooks out of print, well...they are STILL publishing and profiting
from plagiarized material. It's a wonder THEY haven't been sued!!

There are still cybercopies of Life 102 floating around. I wonder,
if people "shared" these copies, would MSIA start pulling out the big
legal guns & sending armed police with warrants to people's homes?

Well...have a nice weekend, everyone!



Shakti Leela

Mar 14, 2001, 11:21:20 PM3/14/01
Thanks, Sharon! I will certainly check out McWilliams' book. I'm afraid that
nothing I can say to my cousin will disuade her from attending this seminar.

happy trails!
Om shanti,

"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make..."

Aug 10, 2013, 4:16:41 PM8/10/13
MSIA is a very dangerous, secretive and authoritarian personality cult and insight is a front to brainwash potential devotees. One thing that the cult does not tell you up front is that it worships the Traveler Mystical Conciousness, essentially the Holy Spirit, however, devotees believe that both leaders John-Roger and John Morton are living embodiments of this spirit and so are interchangeable with Buddha, Christ, etc. and are prayed to and worshipped as such.

Oct 11, 2013, 12:41:50 AM10/11/13
Hi Lurkydoo,

Good for you that you're looking out for your cousin. I can tell you that I have been to Insight I and Insight II and have had nothing but good experiences. They are intense, for sure, and lots of people talk about personal things all day long and go home feeling a little tired, but I, personally, also felt uplifted and grounded at the end. I finished Insight almost 2 years ago now and have never had anyone try to rope me back in or get me to give money, or anything else weird like that. It is a perfectly lovely organization and anyone who says it is a cult is misinformed. Hope that helps.

Mar 24, 2015, 10:33:12 AM3/24/15
I did a bunch of Insight Seminars back in the late 90s. The most disturbing part was where the leader, Patricia Heyman, got everyone to visualize their "special place," a room or a cave or a beautiful shaded grove in the woods, and took us through a guided meditation designed to make us feel very safe, happy, at peace, and that all was well with the world. Then she got us to imagine a screen before our eyes, on which appeared a number, and this number was--get this--the amount we were to donate to Insight! And I totally fell for it; you're in such a vulnerable state, so open to suggestion, that you just want to give money away at that point. It was hypnosis basically, and when I think about it now I can't even believe they did it. They are totally a cult and a very unethical one.

Nov 10, 2015, 10:32:19 AM11/10/15
I think you need to take a step up. Eating the body of Christ was considered to be a cult by the American Indians. Do I need o mention Mormons? Anytime someone get's a group of people together and gets them to give up money in the name of God or Spirits can be considered a cult. Buddhist have to give away all their stuff. Are they a cult? TV evangelists tell you God told them you should give them money. That doesn't mean you should not take lessons from the bible because the messenger is flawed.

Insight helped me become a better person, and I knew MSIA was a cult, so I was wise enough to stay away from that crowd. There are extremist in any place that offers a lesson. It is up to you to accept what works, and not to accept what doesn't seem right.

Jul 5, 2016, 7:20:18 AM7/5/16
I did Insight 1 and 2 about 25 years ago, looking at their website it is obvious to me it is still the same Insight.
Definitely not a cult, doesn't even resemble a cult. Confronting and very scary because The individual is layed bare (no not physically).

I still use the concepts I learned, including the 'Sanctuary' that one respondent outlined. I had so many issues that were destroying me, I am so thankful I had the courage to confront them.

They run on donations but were in no way pushy, one is very vulnerable but in a safe environment, they did not take advantage of the individuals' vulnerability at all.

No follow-up pressure, no pseudo religion, absolutely no cult stuff at all. If you have enough courage, and it takes courage, you can make your life so much better. A lot of us have issues we don't even realise but in a seminar you soon discover them, and deal with them in a permanent (25 years so far) way. It is scary, and totally worth it.

Phil Wynter

Aug 9, 2016, 1:52:45 AM8/9/16
I've had consistently great experiences with Insight--positive, loving and transformational. I assisted with trainings too, and got to see high integrity in the organization. No seminar I've taken has come close in the quality of the facilitators and caliber of the material.

Anyone who recommends Insight knows what a big shift it can make in someone's life. This training has been around for many decades and has impacted people worldwide. I've shared it as an option with many clients over the years, with favorable results.

Sep 26, 2016, 12:51:16 PM9/26/16
Wow, I can't believe all the negative comments on here about the seminars. The seminars gave me tools to cope with hardships and grounded me in may positive ways that crossed all aspects of my life. I took several of their seminars and can't wait to send my children there so they can learn to live a more purposeful life without guilt and judgment of self and others. I was never asked for more money than the price of the seminars. We were invited to donate if out hearts had the desire but never ever did anyone ask for money during any guided meditations. In fact many alumni feel the need to GIFT the seminars to future attendees or attending members who can't afford the next step up. And yes, the first couple of seminars are a couple of days in the evening and then throughout the weekend to make it convenient for those who work regular day hours. The third and fourth seminars are a week long. They are retreats, so you go away , they cost more and you're submerged in the intention of the program. And they STILL don't ask for more than the upfront cost. This investment in myself was one of the best things I ever did for myself and would highly tecommend it. Also, I know they have you sign a contract WITH YOURSELF that you don't consume alcohol, drugs, and that you keep your diet light and your body hydrated WHILE attending, so that your mind is clear and free from discomfort and its able to cleanse itself from toxins that the body discards through the emotional and spiritual work you have to do. And they do hold you to it. They hold you accountable. But it's NOT a cult. It's a conceptual marvel of a program and you're cousin is lucky to have found them.

Dec 2, 2016, 6:19:46 AM12/2/16
To me, the word INTEGRITY really means more to me because of the points of view that I encountered through Insight Seminars. At first, it was such a different experience to the mundane world in which I lived, that I dropped out.
A year later, someone who had been an ordinary school student of mine, gave me
a place in the seminar, which was really a generous gift. With a critical scepticism I stayed long enough to understand the good that was happening. In subsequent years, I explored all that was available to follow, and realised that there is considerable potential that I had not been inclined to see in myself. However, perhaps it was a product of the times, and I wish it was adaptable to the world we now live in. More people should benefit.

Mar 7, 2017, 4:38:22 AM3/7/17
Wow. What the fuck is all this shit?!
Insight Seminars UK doesn't sound at all like what you're describing.

It's non-profit SELF-DEVELOPMENT that helps people to overcome their problems in life, their past etc. etc.
Not once have they asked me to join MSIA or donate money because... Y'know... Non-profit.

This group is HIGHLY damaging to the image of Insight and it's quite upsetting to read. Especially after I've seen hundreds of people over the years just blossom and embrace loving in their lives and selves.

May 11, 2017, 10:36:53 PM5/11/17
I took two of the seminars in the late 90s, and felt they were very good. I had previous experience taking the Omega Vector seminars ten years before which were excellent. With those a fee was paid up front and no mention was made of money - the facilitators were professional, and volunteered their services. The techniques used are challenging to the attendee, which is necessary, and powerful. I can see where they can be misused. No proscriptions were required except not to use drugs or alcohol for the week. No red flags came up for me. I am currently researching these programs to recommend something in my community that is so lacking and in need of these tools.

May 22, 2017, 2:04:33 AM5/22/17
It is been 16 years since your original post, Lurkydoo. Whatever happened with your sister?

For myself, my mom put me in the Teen Insight 1 in 1980. I was 14. I took several Teen Trainings (up through Teen III) and Assisted in probably four or five Trainings off and on for about 7 years. It had a very positive influence on me.

The seminars were generally practical, focusing on figuring out what you want, how to deal with guilt and resentment, and things of that nature. The participants became very close because they shared a lot of private things about themselves. Also because parts of the seminar induced stress and then released stress which creates a sense of euphoria and closeness with those around you.

For example, a frequently used exercise was the Dyad where people would pair up and one would ask the other a repeated question. 'What do you want?' is typical. It is an interesting question and the repetition and rapid questioning brings up a lot of things for people. It also creates a sense of tension and stress. When the exercise is over, people are relaxed and more open with each other.

Is that a cult-like process? I didn't and don't think so. They also did guided meditations which were hypnosis to the entire seminar. We did build safe places in our minds and internally addressed issues in our minds. I seem to recall internally talking with someone we felt had hurt us. No one ever asked for money or anything inappropriate in my experience.

So I don't think Insight was a cult when I participated in it. (I eventually stopped going to seminars and assisting because I no longer lived in LA and life just got busy. With hindsight, I would have liked to have kept with it.)

Now, all that said, there is an additional point that is relevant.

The organization of Insight and the organization of MSIA were quite closely associated. I think many of the leaders of Insight were also in MSIA. MSIA was an explicitly spiritual\religious organization.

There were elements of MSIA that struck me as being cult-like. John-Roger was the spiritual head of that organization, saying he had the 'Mystical Traveler consciousness' within him. There were various levels of Awareness that people would advance through. Some people lived in a big commune-like building called Prana. Discourses and Advancement cost money, though I never gathered how much money. (i.e. I don't know if the prices just covered the actual costs or if they were outrageously high and exploitive.)

None of that stuff ever interested me. I never felt pressured to join any of it. I never heard anyone couldn't leave MSIA or would suffer consequences if they did. For these reasons, I don't feel it was a cult when I was involved with Insight.

Periodically you would hear about various higher ups leaving and there were gossipy rumors as to why. In that same vein, I did purchase Life 102 many years ago. (Peter McWilliams had been a casual friend way back when.) The book was interesting to me since I knew, or heard of, many of the people. The things it said did echo rumors you would periodically hear, but since I never had any direct knowledge of anything covered in the rumors I can't really say much about them.

(The rumors were things like so and so is having an affair with another member of the organization, or this person had serious disagreements with John-Roger which is why they left the organization.)

I got off on something of a tangent, talking about MSIA.

The bottom line is that I feel Insight is a fine and helpful organization which I recommend based on my experience in the '80's. I can see why MSIA which is closely linked to Insight could be viewed as cult-like, but I never had any issues with MSIA and don't think it was a cult, at least at the levels I interacted with it.

Hope this was helpful.


Jun 21, 2017, 7:24:33 PM6/21/17
How silly and uninformed.

Jul 25, 2017, 1:36:02 PM7/25/17

Aug 12, 2017, 9:22:03 AM8/12/17
I did participate in Insight l, ll & lll. There seminar is about self-development,taking full responsibility for your choices, awareness and re-frame certain issues as a blessing. Indeed there are some guidelines (f.e. no side talking, being on time etc.) to provide a higher result and nothing is an obligation. Nobody can force you to think, feel or do something you don't want to! You always have a choice. Certain food like sugar or eating all the time lower the consciousness level and/or are behaviors to avoid what is going on inside of us in the moment. And certain over the counter medication we use to suppress certain uncomfortable feeling (feelings are in fact just feedback of our body telling us that the things we are doing doesn't work for us or give us the result we want) that we are not aware of are restricted. And if you need to use them, you have a medical prescription or anything else... you can ask for an exception. And asking for this is the responsibility of the participant. The facilitator just present the information and it is up to the participant to participate at his/her level. Nobody can decide at what level the participant wants to participate nor let go of issues that are limiting you from being centered in your heart. Thank you for the opportunity to share about my experience. And I can assure you from personal experience... it wasn't a cult thing.

Aug 12, 2017, 9:24:27 AM8/12/17
On Wednesday, March 14, 2001 at 4:37:34 PM UTC-4, Lurkydoo wrote:

Oct 1, 2017, 6:43:12 PM10/1/17

Dec 28, 2017, 11:20:58 AM12/28/17
Insight Seminars are the best thing I have ever done in my Life. Open, caring and loving and Insightful. They assisted me in connecting to life in a way I hadn't before and help give me a foundation for living that has kept me on the best track in life. I would challenge previous writers in this thread who put out "fake news" and heresay and haven't done the seminar themselves. Insight is an extraordinary experience, highly recommended!

Jan 15, 2018, 9:34:15 PM1/15/18
Insight was the most amazing experience I ever had in my life. I went at the recommendation of a business mentor. I met amazing and inspiring people. It had a profound effect on my life and those who took the class with me. I met my wife there 20 years ago, we had 3 great kids, I started a disaster victim assistance business that now has 110 locations across the USA and 2 non profits. and
All a result of Insight
Michael Hosto

Apr 18, 2018, 11:03:34 AM4/18/18
Not at all a cult. Great experiential workshop for personal growth.

Jul 3, 2018, 2:42:46 PM7/3/18
On Wednesday, March 14, 2001 at 1:37:34 PM UTC-7, Lurkydoo wrote:

Sep 10, 2018, 6:06:53 PM9/10/18
Over reacting. I've experienced Insight. There are no vows involved. There are guidelines to create confidentiality for participants to feel safe sharing and suggestions to yourself that are geared to support the individual. Years ago a counselor recommended Insight. I've always been grateful since that time, 37 years ago.

Jun 28, 2019, 3:41:36 PM6/28/19
Hey, it’s been a little bit since anyone has responded to you on this, so I will chime in. For one, John-Roger Hinkins is dead, so all these people making claims against John-Roger Hinkins are doing so to a dead guy… so that’s healthy I guess???

Regardless, here’s my experience with Insight: it is a non-profit organization acting as a secular wing to the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, a spiritual group started in the late 1960s by a man who was a student of Ekenkar. I look at cults as closed door societies that take absolute control of its base, don’t follow laws, and motivate people to hurt themselves/others. Examples of that would be the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, the Manson Family, The Peoples Temple, etc. You could even construe that mainstream religions like Scientology are cult like. I don’t get this impression from either the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness or Insight Seminars. John-Roger Hinkins, whether or not one can physically affirm his spiritual significance, seemed to be someone who believed he had something to add to the world, and it’s reflected through his charitable works.

Taking a step back and looking at the allegations, I’d like to access 3 areas of claims against Hinkin’s organizations: tax issues with the federal government, alleged money-grabs (socially forcing donations) and allegations of brainwashing.

To start, I look back and read an investigative piece from the LA Times. I read it, and the headlines, and thought to myself “man, this must’ve been the 1980s equivalent of ‘clickbait.’” There was a lot of the article saying “alleged cult accusations,” and “accusations of tax fraud,” but I had to ask myself, where did those accusations come from? If they came from the IRS, the IRS never kept a record of it. Go to Downtown Los Angeles, and check out the Law Library of Los Angeles near city hall, where public records are kept, or the IRS’s public record archives, or go to Washington D.C. and check in those public archives and records (I haven’t gone that far in my research). There were never any criminal investigations of illegal tax or financial activity and no audits were done by the IRS outside of a very normal audit done every few years by the IRS to non-profits and churches to make sure they are what they say they are. The other allegation the paper made was about Hinkin’s large house off of Sunset Boulevard. It was said I think it the paper he had, “a castle of wealth, hypocritical to a man who took a vow of poverty.” The house was secluded for the reasons reported by stall in the church that he needed to be in a hard to reach area for concern of his privacy and safety. The house also served as an archive for his works, and a studio for the church’s media wing. As I recall, as well, he wasn’t the only person living there and staff lived up there. I do believe, however, the church sold that house sometime after Hinkin’s death. If you look at public record, you will see a few civil cases against Hinkins in all cases Hinkins not found liable and a civil case against his church and two civil cases against Insight Seminars, to which the church and organization was also found not liable. There were never any criminal cases on record against Hinkins or his church or Insight Seminars that I was able to locate in public record.

In terms of the money grabbing, I’ve done research into Insight Seminar’s operations. As a 501c3 non-profit a big source of income for them is donations. They do benefit concerts, auctions of donated goods, etc., like any other organization. Most of the donation base goes towards their scholarship fund, to help provide this service for those who can’t afford it. Other costs that the tuition pays for, according to statements by former staff members of Insight Seminars, is the cost of the instructors, or as they call it, facilitators, the cost of leasing out whatever space they do the seminar, the cost of insurance for the seminar, administrative costs to make sure everything is processed and supplies for the seminar. I think I read somewhere that the CEO or President or something is a volunteer for Insight Seminars? Huh… doesn’t seem like anyone is profiting off of that there. As far as the connection with the Movement of Spriitual Inner Awareness (John-Roger Hinkins’ church), there seem to be no d/b/a connections between them. Unless money is being secretly wired to the church, I don’t think there’s a feeder system there. I know that people have said they have joined Hinkins’ church through Insight Seminars, but I would attribute that to personal choice, not fiduciary obligation or brainwashing, which leads me to my final point.

With regard to the allegation of brainwashing, this serves as a massive gray area. Unless someone has been drug induced into a state of false reality, kind of like what Manson did to his followers with acid, it’s hard to say that someone didn’t have the choice to do that practice or not. You could argue that certain people had social choice, like “My boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife was in the practice, so therefor I was dragged into it.” Even that is a fallacy, because I knew someone who was married to someone in that practice, but he wasn’t in it himself and felt no pressure to be a part of it. I also heard of a person who majorly spoke out against Insight or Hinkins’ church was an ex-girlfriend of someone who was or is in that practice. Immediately there is a bias there, and anything that person said could be for the personal reason of spiting their ex. As for the Peter McWilliams thing, I research that a little bit. He and Hinkins co-wrote a book. In the mid-1980s, McWilliams wanted to take complete copyright control of their book “Do It!” claiming that John-Roger Hinkins did not write the book in any capacity, but rather advised Peter McWilliams during the writing of the book. There was a civil case that was settled, and since McWilliams was using funds from Hinkins’ church to write that book, the church made a claim on the book (since Hinkins took a vow of poverty and all his possessions belonged to his church). What sparked that claim? I don’t know. An argument between Hinkins and McWilliams? Who knows. The point is it was settled out of court, and McWilliams lost ground in his claim by threatening a lawsuit. According to a deposition I found (I’m serious, you can find A LOT of shit at Public Law Libraries) it was noted that evidence was presented towards Hinkins’ writing the book in the form of both drafts of chapters in his handwriting, and massive edits to McWilliams’ work. In short, allegations of brainwashing seem to be from bitter former members of the practice not getting what they want out of it, or from people with a bias, or from people who are afraid of things that can’t be easily identified.

Where the church aspect gets weird to me is the contradictory nature of the relationship between its followers and its leader(s). John-Roger Hinkins says he has a spiritual mantle, and that he holds a position and job with that. He also repeatedly says he’s not a Guru, nor does he want to be treated as such and he wants people who follow him to think freely and “check out” the information he says. His followers, however, seem to sometimes go into worship or Guru following, and that doesn’t show me that Hinkins is to blame, but more that he attracts unstable people.

The stuff like the whole “cult of no onions and garlic” thing, there was a reason for that, that I read about. Hinkins was extremely allergic to onions and garlic and with its potency and smell he couldn’t be in the same room as the vegetables or those who had eaten them not soon before they saw him.

In terms of Insight Seminars… no red flags for me, from what I’ve seen and read. Like Landmark, or Lifespring way back when, it’s another seminar with the intent to help one in aspects of their life using a specific method to do so.

In short, I think people are obsessive over what they don’t understand, refuse to understand or what they wish to bring down for personal reasons. I would say this to you: if what Insight Seminars does and teaches works for you and your family, go for it. If not, find something that does. What Insight and these organizations like Insight are doing aren’t for everyone, and there’s no shame is saying, “No thanks, not for me.” I find it laughable on this strand that people are going so far as to create this crusade about it, and saying “they must be stopped,” like it’s a disease. It’s really kind of amusing. I personally chose to be objective and look at these things with a stance of logic, proof and a drive to look past the emotional responses of a few radical people looking for attention.

Why am I responding to this thread after a year of no one responding? Because I felt like it and I had a few hours today. This has been something I’ve been looking into for a while. I’ve always been curious of the line between cult and alternative spiritual practice. I think the cult-push of the 1980s really made people hyper-vigilant and over-cautious of anything that couldn’t be identified within the Big 4 (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist). Being that I work in law, I am interested in seeking the absolute and objective truth, and I’m thorough about how I research. I have also done debate and philosophy, and in doing that I’ve learned that there is a clear difference between objective and logical truth and fact, vs. emotionally based and bias opinions. I have offered my opinion in this, and I’ve also offered you facts.

Good luck!

Jun 28, 2019, 3:43:32 PM6/28/19

Aug 21, 2019, 8:49:56 AM8/21/19
Hahaha it’s funny reading all the hating comments. I’ve taken several Insight seminars and definitely not a cult. As other people already mentioned, for me it is a training with very practical personal tools to be used for you on the day to day life. Yes, it was initiated by John Roger but it has nothing of worship or cult stuff about it. It is more working as the title says: inside of you. People that had very bad experiences is mostly because things inside them are not nice at all. It is not replacement for therapy, it is just learning tools to be practiced along your life to be happier... that is all. Amazing experience and I highly recommend it <3

Apr 30, 2020, 9:03:10 AM4/30/20
Full disclosure. I took ITS 1 & 2 in 1980 and have been studying with MSIA for nearly 40 years. I am still a practicing Jew along with my wife. I do not worship JR or John , they have been my teachers. Insight has no Vegan requirement. They ask that people refrain from non-prescription drugs and alcohol for the course of the training. While Insight was designed by a student of J=R, the program is not a spiritual one, it is a course on how to live your life, and look at the attitudes, judgements, and behaviors one chooses that help to create or block their lives. One of the things I love most about the workshops is they set up questions for each person to examine their own thoughts and feelings, and allows each participant to come to their own conclusions. Gaining clarity on how one lives their life, can lead people to greater self understanding which can lead to making changes if their are areas that do not serve them. Of course, others will find they like the way their lives are going and who they are, and will gain a greater awareness and appreciation for who they are.

May 9, 2020, 4:03:59 PM5/9/20
Very good seminars, have attended since high school. If people are out there trying to make others better than it’s a cult?? Give me a break.

May 9, 2020, 4:07:19 PM5/9/20
Wow donating? Is that any different than at a Church?? Come on.


Nov 8, 2022, 6:40:14 PM11/8/22
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