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A short discussion of Actualized.org

KeromeKerome Lovingness is the wayThe Continent Veteran

I’ve been wandering a bit further afield across the internet, and I spent some time looking at self development coaches on YouTube. One of the figures on there is Leo Gura, an American of Russian descent who has progressed from discussing self help and self development to now discussing psychedelics and spirituality. I thought you all might be interested in some of the other corners of the internet and how spirituality is developing.

First thing, I don’t actually like Leo. I look at his appearance and mannerisms and I don’t find him particularly suitable to be a teacher. I was more interested in the community which he has built at actualized.org, which is a forum which gets a lot of young visitors because of the YouTube channel. Some of the people there are interested in self development, building skills and self development and motivation, there’s a section on dating and a pick-up scene, and a section on mental health, but there are also quite a lot of people who are into spirituality.

The most promising part of the website are the contributions of some of the older people and the moderators, who are pretty advanced folks who often do some independent spiritual coaching. So there is this synergy, of younger people with questions and problems, who end up using these coaching services. It seems to help a lot of these youngsters find their feet spiritually and socially. The section on mental health also gets a lot of support from the mods.

Another thing that I found interesting is that there is a healthy group of people interested in Spiral Dynamics, which is a scheme for personal development which is built on a rainbow colour sequence of stages through which you progress. I recognised phases of my life in some of these stages, although I have my doubts about whether it is rigidly true and everyone conforms to this. But it’s an interesting model for progress which bears deeper examination, there is some cool stuff in there.

But unfortunately Leo did a month-long series of psychedelic sessions which culminated in a famous YouTube video in which he declared “I am God”. This has moved a lot of the community to follow suit, lots of people suddenly declaring they were all god, and that everyone else was god, and trying to work out some vaguely Hinduistic-sounding justifications for this. Now Leo has some standards which are supposed to promote a healthy use of psychedelics for self development, and he will call people out on not following them. But I think he should have taken his own advice, and limited psychedelic use to a couple of times a year.

Ultimately I curtailed my involvement with the community. I didn’t feel I had much to contribute there, and the longer I looked the less I got the impression that people were helping eachother, or that I could learn very much from them.

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Too woo-woo for my liking. Following the route of someone who is a self-proclaimed god is veering dangerously towards Cult-Culture.

    Keromelobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited July 22

    Our own Buddha Nature is such a wonderful recognition that many try to cling to it and make it into another identity we can adopt while shedding the last.

    I've had the whole "I am God" trip followed by the inevitable "We are all God trip" and it is a powerful feeling but when you live paycheque to paycheque it is hard to feel like you are getting anywhere. There is still much work to be done even if we are the Tao come aware.

    KeromelobsterShoshin1
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited July 22

    There have been tragedies reported in the news, resulting from young people following instructions posted on the internet or youtube for personal challenges of various sorts. This kind of thing is dangerous. Is anyone allowed to post whatever crazy thing comes into their head, imagining themselves to be a latter-day Pied Piper, to see how many lemmings they can get to run off a cliff? is this what "Freedom of Speech" is about?

    I think not.

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @David said:
    Our own Buddha Nature is such a wonderful recognition that many try to cling to it and make it into another identity we can adopt while shedding the last.

    Absolutely. It was interesting to see how many young people got carried away by what was held in front of them by an authority figure. In the wake of this some people have called Actualized a cult, although it originally started as a self-development movement. Leo’s entry on RationalWiki is not flattering.

    It was different from the Buddhist path, but it wasn’t particularly well-designed. As a method of self-development, I don’t think it functioned that well.

    David
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    There have been tragedies reported in the news, resulting from young people following instructions posted on the internet or youtube for personal challenges of various sorts. This kind of thing is dangerous. Is anyone allowed to post whatever crazy thing comes into their head, imagining themselves to be a latter-day Pied Piper, to see how many lemmings they can get to run off a cliff? is this what "Freedom of Speech" is about?

    I think not.

    While I had an account for the forum there was indeed a tragic case, a young man called SoonHei said he was going to commit suicide and actually followed through and died.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    While I had an account for the forum there was indeed a tragic case, a young man called SoonHei said he was going to commit suicide and actually followed through and died.

    That's horrible! Did anyone reach out to him (on the forum) when he said that?

    And this Leo character sounds like a loos cannon. People can manufacture charisma for themselves online, and attract a following. It's worrisome.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited July 23

    @Dakini said:

    @Kerome said:

    While I had an account for the forum there was indeed a tragic case, a young man called SoonHei said he was going to commit suicide and actually followed through and died.

    That's horrible! Did anyone reach out to him (on the forum) when he said that?

    And this Leo character sounds like a loos cannon. People can manufacture charisma for themselves online, and attract a following. It's worrisome.

    I saw some of his videos and I'll just say it was a hard pass. Talk about trying too hard. I am actually shocked the site is still going or that people take his schtick seriously.

    Dakinilobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I am actually shocked the site is still going or that people take his schtick seriously.

    Our capacity for supposedly volitional institutionalised and personal ignorance is a major obstacle.

    For example:

    • Corruption and unethical behaviour that we participate in
    • Justification through group/lemming reinforcement

    Personal responsibility is hard
    It is why ideally we try and resonate with a path that promotes:

    • discernment
    • improvement
    • insight

    I did hear Buddhism is quite good? o:)

    DavidDakini
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Lobster, I do feel a bit bad for my unskillful comment above but that site really did give me the creeps.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @David said:
    I saw some of his videos and I'll just say it was a hard pass. Talk about trying too hard. I am actually shocked the site is still going or that people take his schtick seriously.

    That’s not entirely wide of the mark, he does things like presenting a given technique and then saying it would take people decades to follow and become as good as him. He puts quite a bit of pressure on his followers to become better, which is not entirely a bad thing for the slacker teenagers in the crowd, but it’s not very good for everyone else.

    @David said:
    @Lobster, I do feel a bit bad for my unskillful comment above but that site really did give me the creeps.

    Unskillful comment or no, i do agree that from the top down it was a bit lacking in sympathy. Some of the people on the forum were sympathetic, but Leo himself can be massively blunt. Still it was interesting to hang around for a while with a young crowd of people.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @Dakini said:

    @Kerome said:

    While I had an account for the forum there was indeed a tragic case, a young man called SoonHei said he was going to commit suicide and actually followed through and died.

    That's horrible! Did anyone reach out to him (on the forum) when he said that?

    Yes people reached out to him, from what I heard, I haven’t seen the threads. But nobody referred him to a suicide hotline for instance. I did hear that the moderators now have a protocol for helping suicidal people.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:... Yes people reached out to him, from what I heard, I haven’t seen the threads. But nobody referred him to a suicide hotline for instance. I did hear that the moderators now have a protocol for helping suicidal people.

    >
    Better late than never I suppose...
    This is one of the reasons we are very keen to point out to new pertinent members that we do NOT offer Psychiatric advice, or any medical opinion, to those who clearly suffer some kind of mental medically-treated condition.
    Members will be aware that we recently had one person who "left in a huff" because he/she felt that this was an unsympathetic - not to say hostile - forum and that they were not liked by Admin.
    I'm sure you al understand that nothing could have been farther from the truth, but clearly, it's very possibly down to their mental state that they felt so alienated and ostrascised.
    We aren't here to deal wth that, neither should we try to, or be asked to.

    Please bear in mind that we are neither a counselling service, nor a quick-fix Forum. and we cannot, or should not, give any form of support, advice or assistance if we are neither experienced nor qualified to do so.

    Bunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @David said:
    @Lobster, I do feel a bit bad for my unskillful comment above but that site really did give me the creeps.

    Skilful is hard. I just read @Kerome initial post which was sufficient to realise a pseudo teaching. You are right to be creeped out. Oh sure better more skilful options are always possible BUT we all do the best we can-can …

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