The Companion Web Site to the 'Lies My Guru Told Me' book



Bob von Holdt
San Francisco, California

I spent 3 1/2 years, from August 1982 until January of 1986 studying 'The Movement'. I attended meetings, both public and internal, while collecting the materials cited in this report. I first encountered 'The Movement', then still known as the Community, at the 1982 San Francisco Fair. I had a strong curiosity about the psychology of sects, cults and mass movements. How did they hold sway over their followers? What was the mechanism that turned the curious into True Believers? Living near San Francisco, I had naturally followed the gristly tale of Jim Jones and Jonestown. I had also read a lot about the Rev. Moon and his 'Moonies' and was familiar with the Hare Krishna sect. But I had never been in close proximity to any of these groups and what knowledge I had was second hand.

When I first encountered The Community I found a group of very dedicated, sincere people who fervently believed in their mission to 'Humanize the Earth' and who spoke of embracing a dignified cause'. They also spoke of themselves as 'launching a Unstoppable Force' and as having found the one true solution to solving the world's problems. (Over the next 3 1/2 years I would discover and observe just how totally consumed these individuals were by their all-consuming obsession with their cause, to the point where they were in many ways one-dimensional caricatures of normal, healthy members of society. I observed first hand the very subtle methods the Movement uses to make its followers psychologically dependent obediently and mindlessly following its dictates and serving as self-replicating recruiting machines programmed to carry out Silo's master plan.)

Fascinated, I decided to learn more and started attending local meetings and events to see what I could learn. This was the beginning of my adventure into the realm of 'internal work' - relaxation exercises, guided experiences, configuring an internal guide, working with 'the Force'. The more I learned the more curious I became (Like Alice when she disappeared down the rabbit hole) and the greater grew my appetite to learn still more. Like a viewer at a good horror film I was held by a mixture of fascination and dread. During the entire period that I was involved a little voice in the back of my mind kept telling me to flee, but a morbid fascination kept me from responding. There were a number of times that I was ready to walk away when some new internal document or some new development would rekindle my curiosity and I would tell myself, "just a little longer, just a little longer..." And so what was originally intended to be a brief encounter lasting no more than a couple of meetings turned into a prolonged investigation during which time I "went along for the ride" and posed as a true believer and gave the appearance of accepting their "reality."

I was told what a wonderful person Silo is. I heard how Silo, a truly original and new thinker, had discovered and announced the real, true solution for ending the suffering of humanity, how his followers were going to transform the individual and society and create a new world. I saw how some of his followers revered this man so much that they kept "shrines" to him in their homes, special photos of themselves with Silo on a trip they had taken to a conference. I heard the hushed, reverential tones with which they spoke of him. I learned how truly dedicated most of his followers were. I learned how many of them had left their jobs, friends and in some cases even their country to come to San Francisco and establish their movement here. Go, said their superiors, sending them on this mission, and unquestioningly and obediently, they came. I saw that they had in fact dedicated their lives, every fiber of their being and their every waking breath to the goal of building the movement.

At large meetings I saw how new people, recruited off the streets were surrounded by warm, friendly people, made to feel welcome, told how important and valuable as human beings they were and told how they too could play a vital role in the great cause, be a part of this unstoppable moral force and march arm and arm in solidarity with their comrades into the brave new siloist world.

At smaller weekly meetings I saw how the internal work, the guided experiences, made people feel better as well as vunerable to suggestion and more susceptable to being programed with the siloist world view and beginning the process of breaking down and reshaping the personality, eventually surrendering one's free will to the collective will of the group. If all goes well and the techniques are effective a new obedient true believer will be born.

I had people constantly exhorting me to share the benefits I was deriving from these wonderous experiences with others. I was told I should bring friends, relatives, co-workers, strangers I encountered on the street, anyone and everyone that I could so that they too could share in the wonderous benefits of participating in these experiences and also be given an opportunity to join in the great cause. I was told how I could rise rapidly within the internal structure, that if I was very clear about my task and didn't allow any resistances to interfer, and kept bringing in new people to be "integrated and clarified" I would quickly build my own structure. The more my structure grew, the higher the level I could attain.

If I was having difficulty attracting people, I must have internal resistances preventing me from working effectively and I must work with dillegence to 'overcome these resistances' and let nothing prevent me totally dedicating myself to the 'Work.' I also saw however, how competition was encouraged - who will be the first school member to reach the order level? This competition was part of the constant pressure that one felt to go out and recruit. We were often told stories about how Movement members somewhere in South America or Europe were working in the streets 12 hours a day to build the movement and what is wrong with us that we can only spare a lousy few hours a week?

Competition was also fostered between the 'lines' or major councils. The council with the greatest membership held more control over regional decisions. I remember one internal 'election' within the Humanist Party' where each council had a slate of candidates for the Humanist Party party offices and each of the two lines involved was trying to mobilize as many people as possible to vote for their slate. This contest for the party offices (which council or line would control the party offices) was used as a major incentive for people to redouble their recruiting efforts during a two month period prior to the 'election.' I came to the conclusion that competition is used by The Movement as in important tool in its arsenal for motivating people to do its bidding and to draw them deeper into its web of dependency. (To the great frustration of those 'orienting' me I never did manage to overcome my resistances - in fact I never brought in any new recruuits and never built a structure - my internal defenses (resistances) were just too strong and I just could not in good conscience see my way to subjecting anyone else to what I was experiencing and which aroused instinctive suspicions and a feeling of dread within me.

I saw that Silo was considered practically infallible (though never described in those terms) and that his words were treated as pearls of wisdom to be savored by the true believers. I saw how local minor activities were planned locally but that major strategies always came down internally from above, either from the Prime Magister or from Silo himself (it was never made clear if Silo was the Prime Magister but no one else was ever identified as holding this role and it seems logical that Silo is the P.M.). I learned that as one attained a higher level one became privy to information not available to those in the lower levels. While I was a member at the School Level I receive a number of internal documents (included in the collection on these disks) that I was told were for internal use only and shouldn't be shared with the lower level members, that they did not know enough yet to understand them and it would take to long to explain. I was also led to believe that there were directives and information available at the higher levels (Order, etc.) that I were not accessible to me. I noticed how 'Tito' (Ernesto De Casas), then an Accepted Member and the orientor of Council 'G' and most of the other true believers who held rank in the structure would frequently consult with Silo by phone to make sure they were proceeding correctly.

I saw over time a change in emphasis from internal work to external work - to going out into the streets and working hard to bring in new prospects to meetings. The Movement's leadership was gearing up for a shift from the 'stage of cadres' to 'the stage of masses.' I was encouraged to abandon friendships with people who weren't attracted to the movement. I was encouraged to find a girlfriend but to look within the Movement, that it would be too difficult, too distracting to have have such a relationship with someone outside the Movement, someone who didn't understand.

In 1984 the movement began launching the Humanist Party in various countries around the world. We were told that Silo had however decided the time was not yet right to do so in the U.S. (When I asked my orientor how Silo could so well judge conditions here even though he lives in Argentina I was told that Silo has many contacts and friends here both inside and outside the Movement who keep him informed). Sometime later, in early July, I attended a 'School' meeting (the level of school was the highest level I reached within the internal structure - at that time it was possible to reach that level without having the requisite 10 Active Members below oneself in one's structure, if one participated in certain retreats ). I was greeted by several very excited long term members who told me that we were now launching the Humanist Party in the U.S. As there had been no mention of this at another meeting I had attended only two days earlier I asked who had made the decision. I was told that Silo had decided that the time was now right for us to do so and that he had made the decision. There had been no local discussion, debate or decision involved that I saw or heard of - just immediate total acceptance of Silo's decision. I was also told at the same meeting that Tito, our orientor for Council 'G' would have to take a behind the scenes role because, being a foreign national (Argentina), he could not be directly involved in U.S. politics. I was also told it would be very important to downplay the South American (Argentinian) connection and to do as much as possible to give an American flavor to the Party.

At subsequent meetings we received a draft outline of the Humanist Party Platform which had been sent in Spanish from Argentina and then translated into English and given to us to use as a guide for formulating our own platform. During this entire period I observed that a great deal of telephone consultations between San Francisco and Argentina, specifically with Silo, occured. Many internal meetings would begin with "I talked to Silo last night and he says . . . " I also observed that there seemed to be a great deal of coordination between developments here and elsewhere in the Movement.

Finally, due to a great deal of stress from constantly being pressured to recruit, and other factors my dread out weighed my curiosity and I walked away from the Movement at the end of 1985. At that time I didn't feel any real need to report on my experiences to anyone because the HP has been very ineffective here as a recruitment tool of the Movement. In the spring of 1986 I began seeing members of the Movememt manning tables at local events and rallies as Green Future. Stopping at one of their tables, I was told that the Movement was launching an exciting new project to be more effective at building the Movement. I still was not very alarmed.

My concern rapidly mounted when I read an item in the Sept. 30th, 1987 San Francisco Bay Guardian detailing Green Future's attempt to insinuate itself into the Northern California Greens, an affiliate of the Green Committees of Correspondence. As it says in a document entitled, "Brief Information About The Movement": "The Movement may also be able to guide and transform existing organizations that have demonstrated the ability to contribute to general human development."

Since that time I have been exchanging information about the Siloists and the Movement with legitimate Green and secular humanist researchers and activists around the planet in an effort to stave off further opportunistic incursions by members of The Movement into legitimate organizations and movements.

Note from editor: For more information, see