Yesterday I had lunch with someone I met through a social networking web site, who bills himself as an “Avatar Master.”
Before meeting with him, I did a tiny bit of research on the net, saw that Avatar is some form of spiritual training, and didn’t think much of it.
The gentleman was pleasant to talk with, and we had a nice enough lunch. I quickly gleaned it is important to him that other people sign up for the same Avatar courses he has taken.
I asked him if the Avatar organization was ever accused of being a cult, to which he replied, “Yes, in France. They accused us of being a cult in France.”
Here, incidentally, is one excerpt from Benjamin’s summary which seemed indicative of his even-handed approach to evaluating the Avatar trainings:
Harry Palmer has come up with some significant and effective ideas and techniques to help people actualize their dreams. But the procedures are to be repeated verbatim according to Palmer’s instructions, from Source List, to the Creative Handling Procedure, to the Initiation Session. This verbatim repetition most certainly reminds me of the Dianetics Auditing sessions of Scientology, and I have no doubt that it is far more than a mere coincidence that these similarities of procedure exist between Scientology and Avatar, given that Palmer himself is an ex-Scientologist.
So the viewpoint I choose to adopt (in Avatar language) is that my low status of Assistant Avatar Master enabled me to make a narrow escape from yet another New Age spiritual organization. I had spent roughly $8,000 on Avatar, and there was an intensive sales pitch at the Avatar Masters’ course to sign up for the next Avatar Wizard’s course, the 13-day training in Florida that costs $7,500 plus all the extras.
It turns out that the organization which produces Avatar trainings does have quite a few cult characteristics, including: appearing on many cult lists, being considered a cult by people who study cults, stifling criticism, promoting “secret” techniques and doctrines, promoting a cultic utopia, condemning science and critical reasoning, using mind control techniques, getting in trouble with various national governments, and using policies that can be financially exploitative of its followers.
So, in sum, I think it’s safe to say that Avatar is a cult. (Objectivism, which was accused of being a cult in the 1960s, seems pretty pale by comparison.)
I’m posting this information here as a breadcrumb trail for others who may be wondering what an “Avatar Master” is. It is someone who has paid a few thousand dollars, and attended a couple weeks worth of trainings, in the techniques promulgated by former Scientologist Harry Palmer.
The gentleman I had lunch with was kind and obviously intelligent, and I think he has only good intentions. The organization he is involved with, however, seems very prone to abusing its members.
I hope that people who choose to attend Avatar training will do so with full knowledge of both the hazards and benefits of becoming involved with that organization.