Ex-Morninglanders

What the Gopis Said . . .

The Gopis mentioned below refer to Gopi Chokru, Gopi Saravati, and Gopi Ona-Ali. The same applies to Kamazi X5 who is, just like the Gopis, Sri Donato’s mouthpiece but is not explicitly mentioned below.

DOGMA

The Gopis said to us repeatedly that religions were full of dogma, but in Morningland there was no dogma, which made Morningland more appealing. Is Morningland dogma-free? According to Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries, dogma is “a belief or set of beliefs held by a group or organization, which others are expected to accept without argument.” In Morningland, anything Donato or Sri Donato said is taken as the truth at face value and became Morningland’s teachings. It was not questioned and cannot be reasoned with or changed. The words of the current Gopis also appeared to be considered as the truth dogma. They were video or audio-recorded, transcribed to ensure and preserve their “purity.” Yeah, no dogma, really?

DEPENDENCY

The Gopis looked down upon human attachments and encouraged us to detach from many people, places, and things. Therefore, by detaching from our former friends, family, and other social supports, we became trapped in emotional dependency on the leaders. Those working more closely with the Gops (not fringe members) were trained to seek their counsel and approval for every major life decision – who to marry, where to live, what job to take, when to take a vacation, etc. We were not encouraged to make our own decisions, which is what being an adult is all about. Our self-esteem was dependent on their approval.

PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE

The Gopis told us that our goal as disciples was to see what they were doing and validate it. “Aren’t the Gopis amazing!” This was perhaps one of the first and most persistent statements we heard from older disciples, and we pretty soon began emulating it. Praise was the quickest way to social acceptance in Morningland, but it often felt so empty and dull, so uninspired and fake. And yet, everyone did it. Praising them demonstrated spiritual awareness and shared ideals. It reaffirmed a shared reality, however misguided.

SPIRITUAL FAMILY OR BUSINESS?

The Gopis said that Morningland is a spiritual family. Our real family suddenly faded into the background as this newly gained “spiritual family” became more important than anything else in our lives. It appeared to be a pretty exploitative family for we were only good to the leaders and the group as long as we served their agenda and purpose. Without that, it seemed we had no real value to them. This model more closely resembles business, not family. However, family sounds a better marketing strategy as people can more easily emotionally attach to this concept.

“FRIENDS” IN MORNINGLAND

Morningland has a teaching that says, “True friends will follow you to Morningland,” which the Gopis repeated frequently. They added that being on this spiritual path meant we were outgrowing our old friends. This propaganda cut us off from our former social support and attached us to Morningland. They reinforced this propaganda with repetitions of how Morningland is a close-knit community. This had no real substance because in reality, friends are loyal to one another, but in Morningland, disciples are loyal only to the Gopis, not each other. Friends know one another, share of themselves, but in Morningland disciples are discouraged from engaging in anything personal – they are encouraged to only communicate or socialize to solve Morningland issues (mostly recruitment). Again, the relationships resemble those one would find in work environments.

PUTTING WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH

The Gopis told several of us that they teach us HOW to think, not WHAT to think. After careful reflection, I realized that this is not entirely true. From the beginning, they told us what to think and expect in Morningland. For example, one of the first things many of us heard was manipulation through priming, “You will feel peace (or love) here.” They also told us, ‘You had lunch prepared by a devotee? You must have felt that love in the food they prepared for you.” They also told us what to think about their theology. We did not come to Morningland exclaiming that Sri Donato was a saint – Seraphic angel – or spiritually 1000% correct. Instead, we were instructed by the Gopis about what to think about them. The instructions on HOW to think were given to keep the WHAT rolling smoothly. This is one way how (in my personal opinion) they influenced our perception and created our collective experience.

EVERYTHING THEY THINK IS TRUE

It appeared to many of us that whatever perception the Gopis had about us, they believed it was a divine insight and, therefore, true without any doubt. They did not always ask us about ourselves, for they already had “the truth” from “above” and even tried to convince us about it. This arrogance is a fast way to gaslighting, which is a form of psychological manipulation and abuse.

DOUBT YOUR SENSES AND GASLIGHTING

The Gopis told us that the eyes are the biggest deceivers. We were supposed to doubt our perceptions, especially our eyes and what we thought. For example, if we saw Gopis being rude to another member and confronted them, they denied our reality. “You had no idea what you saw., you can’t read the Gopis.” In the community, the Gopis were considered to a large degree, enlightened. No one dared question them. They claimed their actions or words were for our good with a deeper spiritual purpose, which we do not yet understand and therefore cannot judge. It was made clear that we did not see correctly because we were not sufficiently developed. Every time our experience did not match the party line, it was automatically invalidated. This overrode our judgment and trust in what we saw, felt, and experienced. This is gaslighting!

BEING ABOVE EMOTIONS?

We were told that the Gopis and Kamazi are fully anchored in their higher minds and no longer affected by emotions. Really? How many times have we heard them yell at us, clearly exemplifying anger? When we sought clarification about this public display, they answered that there was negative emotion “in the air” that belonged to another disciple. They explained they took these emotions onto themselves (their alleged sacrifice) and acted them out before someone got affected by them. In essence, their yelling at us was “cleaning the atmosphere” and a warning to us to better control our thoughts. How convenient! This way, they can never own unpleasant emotions but project them onto us. In this game, the Gopis remains infallible, and disciples carry the blame by default.

GURU-DISCIPLE JUSTIFICATIONS

This excerpt from the book the Guru Papers (p. 50) is fitting as it portrays many justifications we heard in Morningland:

People justify and rationalize in gurus what in others would be considered unacceptable because they have a huge emotional investment in believing their guru is both pure and right. Surrender of great magnitude requires correspondingly great images of perfection. It would be difficult to surrender to one whose motives were not thought to be pure and whose mistakes could have a significant impact on one’s life. Consequently, the guru can never be wrong, make mistakes, be self-centered, or lose emotional control. By holding guru perfect and thus beyond ordinary explanation, their presumed specialness can be used to justify anything. Some deeper occult reason can always be ascribed to anything a guru does: The guru is said to take on the karma of others, and that is why his body has whatever problems it has. The guru is obese or unhealthy because he is too kind to turn down offerings; besides, he gives so much that a little excess is understandable. The guru doesn’t get angry, he “uses” “anger to teach.”

SELF BLAME

The Gopis emphasized that we should not “point our finger at others but ourselves.” In other words, if you have a complaint or comment about someone’s behavior, you better forget it and focus on your own behavior. This is not a way to resolve any issue but a crazy-making advice where any issue with another is turned to self-blame. This is also a form of self-gaslighting and is potentially very damaging.

TAKE NO PRAISE AND NO BLAME

The Gopis (including Sri Donato/Patricia) said they take no praise or blame. I disagree on the praise part as they take it on a daily basis and even expect it. Chokru always said that she gives credit to Sri Donato but that does not prevent her from expecting praise for what she does daily. I agree on the blame part – the Gopis do not hold themselves accountable for their words and actions. I imagine that acknowledging that they made errors in judgment or that they hurt people could jeopardize their power and perceived infallibility. The facade would crumble and they would be just like the rest of us – ordinary fallible humans, just (in my opinion) more manipulative and entitled than most.

THE SACREDNESS OF MARRIAGE/ COUPLES

The Gopis said to us over and over again that marriage was sacred and no one should interfere with a couple. They even held couples classes in Morningland (gay couples were excluded, but since no one spoke about these classes, those excluded were unaware of their exclusion). However, it appears that marriages were to be considered sacred only for “the folks” (as they called us) because the Gopis had no problem manipulating relationships and influencing spouses for their benefit (carefully wrapped otherwise, of course). The loyalty in Morningland is expected to go to the Gopis before spouses or anyone by default.

VAGUE ANSWERS

“Vague, evasive, deceptive, or manipulative answers are a huge red flag!” says cult expert Steve Hassan and he is correct. Here are some pretty nauseating examples we were taught by the Gopis to say to newcomers to evade real answers:

  • How long have you been in Morningland? Ah, it feels like forever. (or) Not nearly long enough.
  • What is the program like here? Well, you just keep following the Gopis’ guidance, and it will all be unfolded perfectly for you.
  • Is this a cult? Oh, if you are looking for a cult, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you. Some other groups may offer that.
  • I hate what you just said here; it felt so wrong. Why don’t you go with love instead?

WAKING UP

When we first came to Morningland, many of us felt as if we woke up spiritually. Our view of the world was so new. The good feelings we felt during our meditations, feeling accepted and seen by the Gopis, and gaining a sense of belonging changed how we saw ourselves and everything about our lives. But when we left, we felt the same changed perception, only this time, it felt like we woke up from an illusion. The cherished bubble of a group fantasy was gone, and we felt we were waking up from someone else’s story (the Gopis’ or Sri Donato’s, to be more precise). We were no longer IN looking out but OUTSIDE looking in. Waking up from their deception may be the most significant healing yet.

Mantika, June 2023