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Caution: Mind-Free Zone - John Weldon; Neil T. Duddy

Teaching that denies the use of the mind in favor of intuition sometimes gains a popularity in religious circles that is fed by bursts of short-term membership. The vogue of mindlessness, however, is quickly jettisoned by members who find the irony of such articulate perspectives too much to bear in the long run. The depleted ranks then replaced with new adherents, Thus, a movement of this type may last for some time, particularly when the teaching of intuition is presented in a clever, convincing fashion. When one brain possessed of certitude announces the futility of thought, it seems that other brains resonate and, if you will, think the same thing. As heirs of a Christian heritage, biblical mystics, pietists, and fideists have voiced beliefs about reason's limits in the achievement of religious fulfillment, and they have recommended various meditations to produce peace and solitude within the mind and being. But their emphasis on the limitations of rational activity in religious practice differs from much of today's radical no-mind commitments offered by the Christian fringe.

Among some new religious movements of the Christian variety, the mind is harpooned as the enemy of God and self. A frequent but not surprising result is a disoriented and distorted gospel message. Obviously, modest concessions must be made so that leaders of such movements can actually speak to their members, deliver lectures, and teach others. That peculiar conflict--denying the mind while actively using it--is sometimes revealed in a leader's shrewd claims: his or her reliance on direct revelation from God or an exclusive interpretation of the pure word of God as it is really written in the Bible amount to the confession, better the mind of God than the mind of humanity, if any mind at all. At other times mind-denouncing declarations are coupled with exhortations for members to »be in the spirit.« That seems to imply that decision making and discussion in the spirit are unrelated or separated from the work of the mind. Consider, for example, the views of Roy Masters, whose ministry is ennobled by no less a title than the Foundation of Human Understanding.

Founded in 1961 the Foundation of Human Understanding is located in Los Angeles, California and brings itself to society's attention through daily radio broadcasts and publications. No meager effort, the public broadcast »A Moment of Truth« is heard from coast to coast in the United States and is syndicated in other countries as well. During the broadcast, Masters interacts with listeners (who either call in or have written letters) with the ease of a practiced pop prophet. Masters' general message encourages listeners to turn inward and find the God who resides within. A Masters brochure puts it broadly.
The Foundation of Human Understanding has only one objective; to refer the individual back to himself, to help him achieve an inner perspective on his problems and their causes.[1]

Masters promotes a meditation which he asserts is the spiritual technology required for a successful trip inward. Much of Masters' emphasis on the divine self is illustrated by his interpretation of Genesis chapter one which, by most literary standards, appears to rewrite of divine writ.
In the beginning, there was only a spiritual dimension in which things existed. Since God had dominion over His »world,« and His face could be seen, there was only mechanical obedience to His rule. And nothing was free to love Him, for men were not free to love Him, for men were not free to disobey. Neither could they offer themselves, for everything was made by Him, given by Him and everything was Him. So God expressed Himself and set them free. And as the converging rays of sunlight flow through a lens, there appeared an inverted image of this spiritual world in material form. A world of evolution and growth, where in time, substance could attain the spiritual form. A life without knowledge of Him, a world unconscious to law, and freed from rule and control. A world of time, illusion, suffering and greed, contrast the timeless truth, bliss and love. Now, free from spiritual rule, men could learn to love, possessing freedom and power; therefore men could »give up,« as God did, in His love. And this is the purpose of God when He expressed Himself. So He created the Heaven and the earth.[2]

Via meditation the divided God reunites. Phrases such as »we are human beings with our own original power source--endless and eternal,«[3] »If we are going to understand our divine nature,«[4] and »Man is the 'negative' humble end nature of God«[5] are common in Master’s teachings. And, like many Eastern meditators, Masters considers internal concentration on the pineal gland of paramount importance in successful meditation. »...depending on how this organ is stimulated lies the 'secret of life or death.'«[6] It is not surprising that Masters' divine human must turn inward and focus on consciousness in order to be self-realized Although such themes are not uncommon in certain schools of meditation, Masters puts an uncommon edge on the rejection of mind and thought. Masters' acerbic, broad rejection of thought and language in spiritual practice in general and with regard to the Bible in particular contrasts startlingly with Christian-oriented meditation. For instance, he says:
The whole process of growing is not from words but from realizing and then you can throw your Bible in the garbage can and there's no sin in that.[7]
The Scriptures can poison you, and destroy you. They are lethal, they are deadly. They are more deadly than any drug.[8]

It would seem that because the pineal gland neither reads nor thinks, Masters rejects propositional knowledge of God in favor of an »inner knowing intelligence« and »higher life forces« that jive with that gland. Of those who gain propositional religious knowledge Masters writes, »Alas! Not recognizing his true inward nature man becomes the degenerate receptacle for intellectual space garbage.«[9]

Waste is the fitting end product of propositional knowledge which comes through training and discipline and, in Masters view, is unworthy. »Evil is in charge of the system of learning about God.«[10]

Obviously, such barbs are the rusted plows of anti-intellectualism and would only be favored by those passing through new age fads and meditating under pyramids were it not for Masters skillfully promoting an enticing alternative, namely, intuitive and experiential salvation. Consider, for example that Masters’ meditation method has been adopted by perhaps 100,000 people, together with a handful of new age psychotherapists interested in meditation frameworks that are ostensibly divorced from the Judeo-Christian heritage but not antagonistic to notions of God.

Masters reports that the kingdom of God is within the meditator[11] and should be the focus of attention.
No form of outer assistance can substitute for inner direction. Direction must come always from within. Moved by the spirit of intuition, we move without excitement, effort, or strain. The more we exercise our dependency upon the Within, the stronger this relationship becomes, and we know it to be Grace.[12]
...we have a spiritual center which is timeless. We must find our proper relationship with the original stillness and live forever.[13]
...you can correct the error and find Truth by perception and inner revelation.[14]

Significantly, that inner revelation is always non-propositional in its content and safely eludes description as well. Using words nonetheless, Masters gives some pointers to his meditators. »And through that inner illumination, God wordlessly suggests the way to go and grow.«[15]

When reading Masters on meditation, we are reminded of variations of Christian mysticism, but there are differences that take Masters beyond the tolerant limits of broad ecumenical standards. Masters does not have an appreciation for biblical records and does not support a simple, basic confession like the Apostles' Creed. Biblical language is abundant, but biblical concepts are few. Salvation, for example, can only be gained through meditation à la Masters and is basically apart from the work of Christ. Writes Masters:
You need to be saved. Allow yourself to realize the Truth, and the Truth will relieve you of your futile efforts to save yourself....Realize your helplessness in a wordless knowing, and from your need will arise a wordless cry to the Savior.[16]

Lest we be mistaken through a narrow interpretation of Masters' words, he minces no ideas when he writes, »You can’t believe it (salvation) the way Christians believe it, the way they swallow it hook, line, and sinker.«[17]

Historical actions by God are neither avenues of salvation nor objects of meditation. Rather, they are distractions that cause a lost inward focus. Asks Masters rhetorically, »But now, how can you believe in the truth and be saved by the Divine Presence unless you know how to reach inwardly to where his presence is?«[18]

In contrast are passages of Scripture that specifically address Masters' position while affirming inner conviction arid historical awareness as they relate to each other.
...if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:9, 17).

To such notions Masters replies:
You shouldn't be swallowed up in words, be swallowed up in a teacher. You must not have any concepts of what Christ is like or God is like. It all must be an inward revelation process.[19]

Words, it seems, have little use as Masters describes the life of the truly religious, both when they meditate and even when they don't. His call for non-thought is extensive, and his phrase on meditation »Let your mind remain empty--it's better that way«--seems equally relevant when meditators are in repose or actively engaged in daily affairs (»engaged« here possessing modest meaning). Internal knowing is intuitive and rather magical.
The Light behind your knowing IS NOT a set of rules or concepts that you can use to solve problems. It allows you to see--you simply see, and therefore, you don't have to figure things out anymore.[20]
To the degree that you are willing to abandon your faith in knowledge, pride ceases to be and things are then seen in a light of Truth. Problems are resolved as if by magic. Here in this objective state, in the full awareness of God through His Son, there are no decisions to make, for there is no need.[21]

The intuitive, wordless »light of Truth« is not without its potential liabilities, however, and Masters is somewhat up front with his followers about them. Nevertheless, he exudes confidence that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Let your pride suffer the humiliation that accompanies giving the rote knowledge that made you high in the past; exchange low kind of knowing for the higher, life-giving knowing that makes you truly humble. Don't be surprised it your memory becomes feeble, for realization has nothing to do with memorized knowledge. Learning in a mechanical way will seem pointless to you. Why? Because God does not want you to learn in a way that is not conducive to realizing Him; He wants you to live by faith not by facts.[22]
In the Ever-Present, I am becoming absent minded, in that I cannot remember like other men do. I cannot learn as others learn. The willfulness and mindfulness of this present world are passing away as new knowledge--understanding--comes.[23]

Thinking no matter how fast or slow, is more than an aggrevating pressure on the pineal gland, and it is more than simply unnecessary work. It is sin, according to Masters' cogent explanations.
Lose the ego animal life; gain the spiritual life. Become less emotional and realize the Kingdom of Heaven... Realize innocence. Separate from the sin of taking thought which allows you to escape from the Light of Reality; for as you float along in your imagination the Light cannot enter but darkness does.[24]
Were you not so involved with thinking, you could know the truth about things....You could be free to do what is wise. Your problems are in your thinking; otherwise there are no problems. Being lost in thoughts causes you to lose the true wisdom and courage Reality provides in the objective state.[25]

Knowing is, in fact, the original sin. »Remember that Adam sinned by knowing God and evil.«[26] Internal knowledge that is neither self-conscious nor logically connected to itself in time or space is truth in the ultimate sense, and Masters tells meditators that knowledge of that type is objective.
The greatest obstacle to learning is knowledge....There are two ways to believe and learn: a right and a wrong way....Your intellect is impressionable two ways It can receive education from the outside in or from the inside out....Whenever your soul, for reasons of pride, rejects understanding, you, like the animal counterpart, become insensitive to the deep mystical way of knowing and responding....Happily when you begin yearning for understanding, you become objective regaining that special sensitivity that can be educated from within.[27]

In addition to the adamant theological perspectives that remove Masters from broad Christian acceptance, few Christian mystics have taken such a big stick to the mind in the attempt to beat back reason in religious and non-religious spheres of activity. Words, knowledge, thought, and the mind are appraised as worthy by the Bible, as are Peace, solitude, and quietness.

The Scripture tells us to love God with all our mind. He will put laws into our minds; »we have received the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given to us by God,« and we speak the words taught to us by the Spirit. The believer is to appraise all things. We are to live off every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that is, the Bible. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

The Word of God itself is vital--by it we are born again, grow spiritually, are cleansed, sanctified, protected, edified, illuminated, satisfied, made joyful, and given peace. Masters, however, denies very basis for both preaching and Christian growth as they are outlined in the following representative Scripture passages.
The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14).

In Masters' worldview it is inevitable that even decision making is denied.
All decisions lead to conflict....All decisions are both prideful and compulsive. Your love is compulsive and so is your rebellion against it when you realize it has enslaved you. You are damned by any decision....All decisions are an exercise in futility and lead to guilt. All decisions favor the hell that has teased you, pressured you and made you what you are.[28]

Masters' disciples, however, are thoughtful personalities who apply cogent, intelligent, propositional thought when reading their newspapers or balancing their bank accounts or preparing their tax forms. Masters and his disciples may profess otherwise, but surface investigation shows that even Masters himself works hard at producing and marketing his meditation program. The skeptic concludes that Masters has simply baptized the working of reason as intuitive, then proceeded to lambaste the mind. For the non-Master crowd, Masters' views are a fiction that raises such questions as, why is he so bellicose?, and why is the Foundation so attractive? The optimist interprets Masters' pseudo-Christian theology as an indication that the opportunity exists for creative Christian meditation to emerge as a force of value in the lives of many seeking people. A more sober theological observation suggests that such movements are working in a mind-free zone that insults rather than elevates human dignity. When the Los Angeles Times quoted Roy Masters in December 1978 as saying, »I could get people to die for me any day. I've got more power over people than Adolph Hitler and Jim Jones combined, because I'm smarter,«[29] readers did not use their intuition to take his meaning.



John Weldon, a Californian, is a church worker who has co-authored several books on new religiousity, including such diverse topics as UFOs, thanatology, and new religions. Weldon's critique of Werner Erhard's est appears in InterVarsity Press's recently published collection of essays titled A Guide to Cults and New Religions. Neil Duddy is editor of Update.




»The Foundation of Human Understanding,« brochure, no date, p. 2.

Roy Master's, Secret of Life (Los Angeles, CA; Foundation of Human Understanding, 1977), p. 10.

Ibid., p. 41.

Ibid., p. 138.

Ibid., p. 139. Cf, Roy Masters, How Your Mind Can Keep You Well (Los Angeles, CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1976), p. 185 and Roy Masters, How to Control Your Emotions (Los Angeles, CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1975), pp. 273 and 305.

Ibid., p. 7.

Roy Masters, »The Mystery of Golgotha,« tape (Los Angeles, CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, no date).

Roy Masters, »The Sayings of Jesus--Right Tradition,« tape no 20 (Los Angeles CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, no date)

Masters, Secret of Life, p 19.

Roy Masters, How to Conquer Suffering Without Doctors (Los Angeles CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1976), p. 204.

Roy Masters, No One Has to Die (Los Angeles, CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1977), p. 120.

Roy Masters, How Your Mind Can Keep You Well (Los Angeles, CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1976), p. 165.

Masters, Secret of Life, p. 16.

Ibid, p. 165.

Roy Masters, The Satan Principle (Los Angeles CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1979), p. 121.

Masters, How to Control Your Emotions (Los Angeles CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, 1975) pp. 68-69.

Roy Masters, »The Mystery of the Cross,« tape no. 55 (Los Angeles CA: Foundation of Human Understanding, no date)

Masters, The Satan Principle, p. 81.

Masters, »The Mystery of Golgotha.«

Masters, How to Control, p. 84.

Ibid., p. 126.

Ibid., p. 109.

Masters, The Satan Principle, pp. 122-124.

Masters, How to Control, p. 76.

Masters, No One, p 49.

Ibid p. 153.

Masters, How to Conquer, pp. 184-185.

Masters, The Satan Principle, pp. 144-145.

Bella Stumbo, »Crowd Told of 'Peace' Retreat,« Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1978.