I think I knew — in a way, when I was in it, that what I was doing with ESP could not last long. But there were times when I had the illusion not only of safety, but of permanence. So long as I was in the classes, I felt no harm could come to me. The classroom was sanctuary. I would hang on from day to day and from week to week, in Clifton Park, spinning out a present that had no future.
I only questioned the teachings of ESP when they viscerally touched my life. I was ready to accept the official mythology of the life of Vanguard simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to me. I knew most of his story was a lie. Once I even thought up a plan to tell him, but I had no intention of carrying it out.
Once when he happened in some connection to mention the lawsuits against Barbara Bouchey, I startled him by saying casually that he should not sue a former friend and lover. Then I said the legal attacks were probably meant to frighten others.
This was an idea, he said, that literally never occurred to him. Then he added, “You’re only defiant from the waist downwards.”
In a way, the world-view of Vanguard imposed itself successfully only on people who were incapable of understanding his teachings. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in knowledge or how the world works, or public events, to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding, they simply swallowed everything.
“Collateral is not betrayal,” he said after he told me I should provide video confessions of things I had never done. “What you say or do, doesn’t matter: only feelings matter.”
I thought it over. “I can’t do that,” I said finally. “It’s one thing I can’t do. I can’t make up lies so that anyone would believe it.”
“No,” he said earnestly “that’s not quite true. If you can feel that saying something is worthwhile, even if it is not true, it can have a true result, and then you’ve conquered your deficiency.”
It had never occurred to me that an action inherently dishonest can be meaningful.
He said, “when you have nothing else to give, you give lies.”
The terrible thing that Vanguard had done was to persuade me that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing me of all power in the material world. There was no possibility of success. I spent everything on courses and had no time to earn more since I was constantly volunteering, working for the mission. I was in the grip of Vanguard. What I felt or did not feel, what I did or refrained from doing, made no difference. Whatever happened, I vanished, and neither I nor my actions were ever heard of again. I was lifted clean out of the stream of individual identity.
To people who are not in NXIVM, this might seem all-important. But they were governed by private loyalties which they did not question either. And those loyalties were not as wise or unselfish or compassionate as Vanguard, as we were told.
Still some data could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by rational inquiry. But we never did it. If we found out something he had done was not ethical, it could be squeezed out of us by penance. If the object was not to stay alive, but be true to Vanguard, what difference did it make if they said he had sex with a 12 year old, lost $65 million in commodities, or that women disappeared or committed suicide. This could not alter my feelings: I could not alter them myself, even if I wanted. Vanguard told me these were lies made up to destroy our mission. When we have nothing to give, we believe lies.
The cult of Vanguard cannot be wiped out because it is not an organization in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible: You will never have anything else to sustain you except the idea that you are privileged to be in it You will get no comradeship and no encouragement outside of NXIVM. When finally you are caught, you will get no help. NXIVM never help its members.
In it you will have to get used to living without success. You will work for a while, you will be caught, you will do explorations of meaning, then you will admit you are deficient. Those are the only results that you will ever see. There is no possibility that any perceptible improvement will happen within your lifetime in ESP.
In a sense we are to die for the mission. Our life is in the future. We shall take part in creating a noble civilization where Vanguard will be given tribute. How far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It may be a 1000 years away. At present nothing is possible except to extend ESP little by little. We can only spread NXIVM outwards from individual to individual.
From the moment the Bronfmans made their appearance, it became clear to Vanguard the need for drudgery disappeared. The Bronfmans were used deliberately for that end. And without being used for any other purpose, but by a sort of automatic process—The Bronfman wealth was impossible not to distribute—from them to him. The Bronfmans did not raise the living standards of the average Espian. But it was clear that Vanguard had an all-round increase in power whereby he could threaten the destruction—indeed, in some sense was the destruction—of his enemies.
The object of suing one enemy was to be in a better position to prevent members from becoming enemies. At most, when it was absolutely necessary someone be silenced, he was able to sue them relentlessly or find a way to usher them into prison.
The Bronfmans funded a world in which he worked short hours, had more than enough to eat, served to him by women he kept on a diet; a world where he slept whenever he wanted, and visited any number of houses, where attractive slender, single women resided who were perpetually sleep deprived and who were honored by his visit. Most possessed a car, which was at his disposal. He would not need to drive. They would chauffeur him and, in the case of the Bronfmans, in a jet plane. And all of the women possessed a body which was at his disposal at all times.
The most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality that appeared with the Bronfmans was that he became the king of their wealth. He could pretend it would confer on him no distinction. He was a renunciant, above the need for money or sex. But in the long run, his hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of his control of Bronfman wealth.
Still a problem arose when the Bronfmans came: It was how to keep everyone busy without increasing the real wealth of the members. Something must be produced, but need not be distributed. In practice the only way of achieving this was by conducting continuous and expensive classes.
The essential act of ESP is destruction. In principle NXIVM is meant to eat up any surplus money that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the members. In practice the needs of the members are always underestimated, with the result being that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked upon as an advantage. It is NXIVM policy to keep members near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.
The Stripe Path not only accomplishes the necessary destruction of wealth, by substituting colored sashes for true success like creating something of value people can use and are glad to buy. The stripe path accomplishes this destruction in a psychologically acceptable way since promotions are based on the whim of Vanguard. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labor by building centers or statutes to Vanguard, or writing books about him. But it is easier to reward members with $10 sashes. Sashes provide the emotional basis for his hierarchical society.
The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of NXIVM. Even the tech can only be used when it can in some way be used for the diminution of liberty in the service of Vanguard.
The two aims of Vanguard are to indoctrinate people and extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought in them. The curriculum is its most important safeguard. When classes become literally continuous, there is no such thing as a necessity to sell them. when progress in the tech is based on colored sashes and stripes and not by money or other measure of success, the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded. Nothing is efficient in NXIVM except the satisfaction of the desires of Vanguard.