The Teachings of Derwyn Lackey

I’ve told you about the cult known as the Center for Purposeful Living, another person has shared their experiences with the Center for Purposeful Living, and now another individual has come out denouncing the Center for Purposeful Living which is also known as Human Service Alliance.

The following was originally posted on the FACTNet thread dedicated to Human Service Alliance and the Center for Purposeful Living by someone referring to themselves as marcusrevelus and is being republished here because it is so incredibly powerful and remarkably true:

CPL differs from a cult in at least five significant ways:

1) “Family members, parents and friends of students are encouraged to visit the campus both before and during the student’s attendance. The campus atmosphere is open and honest. In cults, family members are definitely not welcome.”

This happens only if the family or friend is in line with the student’s decision to be at CPL or if the CPL is confident they can “manage” any such visitors. Family and friends who clearly disapprove of the organization and make it known are cast as “enablers”, “detractors”, “victims” who do not have the student’s best interests.

A note to the students from CPL’s leader, Derwin Lackey, about a young teenager who decided to go home for Christmas is revealing:

“It is interesting that when a student leaves, he or she often tells TG that they are following their soul; that their soul wants them to leave. Sunday night and Monday, as KB reaffirmed that she needed to stay and not go home for Xmas, she did not know that her parents had already made the decision that she would be coming home to stay. They were afraid they might be losing the ability to enable her if she stayed here, something to which they are addicted. That is not a sign of maturity. Actually, KB outgrew them during her short stay here. And while stating that her soul wants her to go home (how silly we can be), it is predictable that she will regress to the level of her parents own maturity. This is NOT a criticism. It is more of a lesson for all of us, one we have had many times at the UfHG, and one we are likely to have in the future.”

What are students to make of this? It casts the righteous leaders of CPL in the heroic role of savior and rescuer and places the parents (maybe even our own parents?????) in a most unfavorable light as immature and self-serving. This is a typical cult tactic of casting outside family members as “Them” or “They” who are against you, and inhibiting one’s growth. Surely this does not apply to most parents. This message is pejorative and harmful to family relations while sanctifying the guru’s position. So, just what if … what if the girl’s parents had come for a visit and realized that what they had been told was an educational program was, to their minds, indoctrination into a cult??? Obviously one way of spinning this to other students is to blame the parents, parents who have every right to be concerned about their daughter. And what is so “non-soulful” about going home for Christmas?

2) Teachers/mentors at CPL do not seek to control participants/students. They do, however, know what it takes to maintain the environment created at CPL and what will inevitably weaken that environment. Students are responsible for determining what changes they want to make in their lives while in the program. By participating, students give explicit permission to receive feedback and advice on how to achieve their stated goals. Some students say, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” CPL’s answer is, “What needs to happen is for you to discover, not for us to tell you.” Advice or suggestions offered to students are stated in such a way as to make the decision the choice of the student and not the direction of the teacher. The fact that they may feel pressure is of their own making. For example, internal pressure arises when the student chooses the traits to change, and then resists when advice and feedback are given regarding that very trait.

The choice factor becomes increasingly bounded as the student is indoctrinated into the cult’s requirements of submission, a high level of commitment, and performance of one’s duties as assigned. In classes, references are made to being “trapped by the soul” which really means trapped by CPL totalitarian rules which stipulate selfless group-based decisions versus individual choices, which they call selfish. A child has similarly bounded choices, bounded by a loving, all-knowing parent, which is exactly how the paternal faculty and their leader at CPL function, (minus the love part). The CPL mentors are totally convinced that they know what is best for students. They analyze and diagnose, do astrology and “readings”, and then counsel students in ways similar to the normal psychological counseling process that induces transference. But where ethical practitioners seek to free clients from having to transfer old unresolved issues, with parents and others, the CPL does the exact opposite by perpetuating the idea that THEY know, and presumably will always know what’s best for the student. EVERYTHING at the cult is conditional on the choice a student makes, and students are constantly reminded that being there is a privilege that is earned by their choices.

Here’s a message from the guru that went out to students after a one-year student departed without receiving a graduation:

Let us glimpse an apparent less than “happy” conclusion of the one year’s experience, just for its own lesson. A few weeks ago a student completed her year. She had not earned a graduation, for reasons which TG kept her apprised of for most of her one year. So no one ends their year here without having a clear sense of how they are doing. Then the wisdom of TG’s decision is made clearer several weeks after this former student’s departure (not a negative departure, just not a graduation), an email was received from that former student. I believe it was generally copied to the rest of us. The lady’s message fortified TG’s decision. She did not express negativity towards UfHG. Those who read her email saw a personality still living in abundant victim. It showed a cynicism about life in general, about her ex-boyfriend and about her life in particular, past, present and future. This was the same pathetic attitude (not the person, but the attitude) that came here.

That former student could have been given an exhaustive, esoteric analysis. Not only her ray pattern in this life, but in her previous lifetime and even the planned ray pattern for her next physical lifetime. Her past and present karmas and her soul’s intended dharma for a series of lifetimes yet in the future. Such deep and personal information could likely have penetrated her glamours (of separativeness) and illusions (about her role in life) and caused her to RESPOND to offerings made to her here.

So current CPL students who read this are supposed to be in awe? This is typical “we know your soul and REAL destiny” form of manipulation used as a lure and, more importantly, to establish the cult leaders as “all knowing” counselors. Choice is therefore bounded between the safety and security of the known and the much more insecure prospects of making an unapproved, unwise, and perhaps even dangerous choice. Note how, the student who left after an entire year remains in their eyes in the same “pathetic” state she started with.

3) CPL does not seek to “hold on” to people. Indeed, the hope is that graduates will go out into the world and lead lives of service wherever they land-in nonprofits, education, business, government, etc. Also, if students do not measure up to the demands of the program, or if CPL is just not a good fit for them, they will be asked to make a choice-either open up to the benefits of the program or leave and find another place to do their work. Students who dislike the program are never dissuaded from leaving. Cults, on the other hand, do try to hold on to people.

The notion that cults try to hold onto people is, intriguingly, a misinformed one. Sure, at CPL, they “release” students, and then a series of follow-up messages from the guru get sent out that spin how the student was flawed, adversely influenced, or unsalvageable (“we did our best”). NEVER do they hold themselves accountable as a group or demonstrate a collective example of TRP. Rather, notes like these, razzing students, are standard MO, (all couched as “learning” of course).

Students are informed that they should be open to feedback, but not offer any to CPL until they’ve been there for 6 months. If ever a student departs, any private discussion about the departure is called “gossip” and anyone who gossips or criticizes is branded a detractor and, if persistent, they will certainly be purged.

Addressing CPL’s misinformed notion that cults always hold onto people: Purging is actually common among cults, the Heaven’s Gate group experienced a number of such events, so that the wheat could be sorted from chaff, the wavering from the totally committed. We know the totalitarian regimes of Joseph Stalin and Sadaam Hussein instigated “purifying” purges. Then the leaders have more reliable followers so that “the work can soar”. If anyone takes issue directly with the Mentor, or TG… well, they’re most always booted out immediately, sometimes with only a couple hours notice to pack. Often a monitor is assigned to the “kick-out” as they pack to leave. This is to keep them from “water-fountain talk”: speaking to any fellow students about their treatment or issues. And then we have the admonitions about negative tension. Quote from the resident guru:

"For that brief time we are in negative tension, we need to release all decisions, or, have our Best Friend (TG) make important decisions for us until sanity returns and illusion leaves".

Note the catch-22 nature of this directive, especially if there are issues regarding the leadership. First of all, who determines what is and is not negative tension? The guru via his subordinate yes-men. And if it happens to take issue with CPL in any way, it HAS to be negative. One is therefore in a state of insanity and illusion. So, what is the prescription for a student with misgivings about the program… turn off your mind and let THEM make decisions for you. This promotes a very closed system designed to contain disruption and keep people there.

It’s the leadership that holds the answers as to what is “soulful”, and if a student’s choice or thoughts differ, it is automatically labeled as the “personality choice” (the lesser or wrong one). This creates the tension… essentially, “our way/thoughts/ideas are right, if you choose yours, it’s wrong, but hey, it’s your choice!” Then if you choose your way, they put on increasingly unpleasant pressure; hold increasingly unpleasant mentoring sessions, begin to broadcast teaching sessions to all, either named or usually thinly disguised. These letters and sessions are designed to single out your issues until you yield or bolt. This mind-control/brainwashing process paralyzes some because most people want to do the right thing; want to make more soulful choices, (and are increasingly indoctrinated that CPL IS that way and no other choice). Conversely, they don’t want to be labeled as quitters or losers. The CPL leadership place themselves as the soul experts, and this can begin to erode self trust and certainly has nothing to do with learning to listen to one’s OWN inner wisdom,(unless of course it happens to agree with the way they see it).

4) Leadership is diffused at CPL, not centralized around a single individual.

Biggest “myth” of all. All works, events, management level decisions pertaining to CPL are overseen and ultimately controlled by one person: a certain Derwin Lackey. At first it seems like it’s the Teaching Group of Christa Thornburg, Susan Baggett-Fyten and Dr. Stephen Leighton, plus certain faculty, until you begin to notice things, little things maybe at first, then they become more apparent. Derwin (DL) has informed students he was their “environmentalist”, monitoring the environment (and he means people not nature) of the entire campus. It becomes increasingly clear that he is also the “master manipulator” and the TG are his first string sycophants and deployable Gestapo along with the Center Coordinator (rabid enforcer), Penelope Kilpatrick and strong arm attorney Thomas White. Derwin’s influence is pervasive at CPL and “He” is beyond questioning. Due reverence is expected, and if “The Work” (which equates to the guru) is not recognized and revered, then the unappreciative get whatever “karma” they deserve. Quoting a message sent to students, the “Mentor” DL says:

But do let us remember that gold lies not out on the highways awaiting speeding motorists, but must be searched for and then RECOGNIZED, even when it is covered with other debris. What we have found here is more precious and more lasting. And if millions pass it up without seeing, without recognizing, THAT is their karma.

And further:

This is the first group of students to whom I have specifically addressed teaching messages. Others have occasionally received copies of teaching messages sent to BOD/BD. You all show much promise, despite the baggage that comes with every one of us. Consider TG to be your VERY BEST FRIEND, for, in truth, they are JUST THAT. That is what a spiritual teacher really is, our Best Friend. They will not judge our past nor criticize our present. They seek the Light of Truth and Soul, for EVERY STUDENT. Consider yourselves as each BOD considers ourselves, to have some really great karma to have made the decision to be here for this training. OM, DL

Note that all messages from “DL” are entirely emboldened, meaning everything written is most worthy of notice. Many of humankind’s greatest teachers have been known for their humility. Totalitarian leaders have been known by their inflated sense of self. What quality do the above messages from “The Mentor” DL, portray?

Moreover, there is a SEVERE amount of micromanagement going on so that a student gets the very appropriate sense that they are being watched from all directions. Phone calls are listened into, rooms are occasionally “inspected” by CPL staff and student e-mails have been “tapped”, fire walled from detracting outsiders, and monitored. Students are called in for impromptu mentoring sessions that amount to interrogations.

The TG and their mentor complain about how much of their time is spent dealing with students’ personality issues. A simple question is, “Why?” And whatever happened to serving as example of being a Totally Responsible Person? Should they be exempt from seeing such burdens as their own opportunity for learning and growth? AND, more importantly, if they were not so furiously trying to manage their “climate” by controlling everything and everyone in it, they might actually be freed up for some real service in the world.

5) No member of the board or participant in the program receives any money except for a few salaries at the restaurant. In fact, most board members donate to support the organization. All faculty members, the restaurant manager, and all but 15% of the staff at CFB are volunteers including many who also hold full-time jobs outside CPL.

OK, let’s pretend there is no monetary quid quo pro for the operators at CPL. But what about intangibles such as:

Being part of an exclusively enlightened, innovative, cutting edge, new wave spiritual enclave, just like having a high brow country club membership would be for a “personality-oriented” corporation worker.

Being allowed the privilege of living among advanced disciples of the new age and from time to time receiving special kudo’s from them for good behavior. A personal letter from Derwin Lackey is the ultimate favor.

Going on special outings and “pilgrimages” where so much is orchestrated around the “Mentor” and his legacy, not to mention evoking gratitude for the gift of his time and energy in planning and coordinating these travels. The students pay their own way for the more elaborate trips and are often coaxed, if not badgered, to get their deposit of several hundred dollars in early. Usually trip deposits are not returned, (and of course room deposits) if you leave early or are kicked out.

Being important, (better to be a big fish in a small pond), where students are lauded and stroked for making commitments to stay beyond their one-year term, and then, if they stay longer are “permitted” to qualify as being elevated to an upper level of the CPL hierarchy, thus able to lord over lesser students, often in an overbearing and petty manner, and in my experience, these individuals are highly UN-qualified to manage anyone.

Experiencing the feel-good effects of renouncing and submission to a higher authority are well-documented within all kinds of groups. Having someone enlightened take over and direct your life can be a release from many worrisome and tiring decisions, (though this actually disables one from being prepared to adequately take on that responsibility outside of the cult environment). It’s like a return to childhood. As long as one follows directions, all is well and wonderful.

As to what non-monetary perks the leaders receive, certainly adulation, the power over others, the inflow of money to create and expand new enterprises. Having all forms of transportation to ride around in like full sized luxury busses, and a private airplane. Not so bad.

As for the money, with hundreds of dollars pouring into the restaurant every night in tips alone, plus the daily profits, they are building a powerful entity that has become increasingly geared to be a successful, money-making business; to be a financially successful organization, (they talk CONSTANTLY about the money they’re making; it’s very exciting seeing money roll in and being a successful business). If that’s what they want to be when they grow up, then they should just go that route and stop the false advertising about training world servers and “human goodness”, but they’ve lost sight of the human factor, if they ever really had it.

They teach students that explanations are to be avoided because in so doing, the lesson isn’t learned, yet I attended teaching session after teaching session where their leaders EXPLAINED and wrote about why they were not a cult. Looking around at the audience, I did not see thinking people “humming” as they say, but instead glassy eyes ready to worship whatever The Mentor said. That’s why I decided to finally read up on cults, and discovered that many of these cult books could have been written about Center for Purposeful Living as the model. That’s scary. A cult profile, a leader who is worshipped (with other leaders to worship in training), never wrong or never questioned and obvious mind control techniques going on… this group is NOT what they say they are, and I had to eat humble pie with friends and family and acknowledge they were right. I am so grateful to be out and thinking clearly again and am glad to report that service and “soulfulness” did not begin nor end with CPL.

Derwyn Lackey (Derwin Lackey)

Derwyn Lackey (Derwin Lackey)

Derwyn Lackey, Supreme Ruler of the Center for Purposeful Living

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