Lee James werd nooit uitgezonden naar Ground Zero om slachtoffers bij te staan, hij heeft nooit voor de VN gewerkt, Hij is geen rijk of beroemd acteur, geen psychiater of trauma counselor, geen raadgever voor de slachtoffers van de bombardementen in Bali en niet gevraagd om te onderhandelen. Lee James werd wel door de Brahma Kumaris aangedragen als 1 van de belangrijke “sprekers” terwijl zij wisten dat zijn curriculum verzonnen was.
In 2006, liet de Brahma Kumaris Lee James “Geavanceerde Counselling technieken” onderwijzen in een “Women’s Crisis Centre” in Penang, vermoedelijk een front voor de introductie van BK Raja Yoga. Hij heeft geen kwalificaties of ervaring maar de “kracht van een blanke man ‘in Azië? De brahma Kumaris zogenaamd non-profit organisatie, gewijd aan “het verbannen van geweld tegen vrouwen en kinderen, gelijkheid van vrouwen en een samenleving die vrij is van geweld en discriminatie. Tegelijkertijd worden op het BK hoofdkwartier in India elk jaar 1.000 jonge Indiase vrouwen als onbetaalde werknemers tot slaaf gekroond en ter huwelijk aangeboden aan de BK God.
Wat zijn die “advanced counselling techniques” Is daar onderzoek naar gedaan door NIET BKs en echte geleerden?
He specialises in tackling the imaginary and real fears of man. His technique is to make people draw upon the energy within themselves to come out of a crisis. In a talk with C. Maya
A COUNSELLOR and psychologist, a professional actor, spiritualist, a management trainer… the roles that Lee James assumes in his daily life are many.
But he finds it quite easy to slip from one role into another because, as he says, counselling, theatre and spiritualism are all about the mind and its effect on an individual’s behaviour.
“In theatre, I use my spontaneity to elicit reactions from the audience. As a psychologist, I encourage people to look inwards, draw upon the energy within them. Mind is everything and once we learn to manage our mind and thoughts, we will move forward regardless of the changes around us,” says Lee James.
Lee James, a specialist in trauma psychology and a researcher in spirituality, has been working with the UN for several years now, in the fields of palliative care, disaster management and emergency preparedness, hostage negotiations, post-trauma counselling and therapeutic theatre. He was in the city recently at a management workshop organised by the Brahmakumaris Iswariya Vidyalaya here.
In 1983, a chance meeting with Brahmakumaris, a spiritual and educational institution, changed his life forever.
“I was a popular and wealthy actor and revelling in the fame that I enjoyed when I joined Brahmakumaris. I found myself changing my approach to life and liking it also. I also discovered how theatre can be a marvellous medium for therapeutic workshops, especially for youth,” he says.
He began practising Yoga and meditation and also did intensive research on the healing powers of mind on body, stress management and spiritual empowerment. He has been involved with several international projects for the UN and WHO in post-trauma counselling, working with emergency crew and victims after social or natural disasters. His notable missions include post-trauma counselling at Ground Zero in New York in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 tragedy, at quake-ridden Kobe and Iran, rehabilitation of landmine victims in Cambodia, suicide intervention/prevention in Japan and Korea, hostage negotiations at Indonesia in 2003, among many others.
“I was at work at Ground Zero on September 11 afternoon itself; the rescue workers too needed a lot of support to help them take right decisions. I could not afford to be sentimental, I had to be detached and take the role of a problem-solver if I wanted to assist people to get back to life,” he says.
But the environment was torturous and by day three, he was drained emotionally and physically. “By the third day, America’s reaction had moved from shock to intense anger and all around me there were heated discussions. Those were moments when I had to struggle to renounce my socio-political beliefs and concentrate on getting people to pour out all their anguish and pain. This went on for nine days,” James says.
He also did a therapeutic theatre workshop for people. The relatives of the victims put up a play, in which they tried to portray the last thoughts of the victims. At the end of it, everyone in the audience was crying. But for the actors, they had finally put the tragedy behind them.
He feels that every educational institution should invest in giving their students training in life skills and a value education. Youth today should be taught how to overcome their feelings, to cope with changing environment and to move on with the tide.
“They claim that they are under `stress’, but stress is a creation in our mind. We are always trying to justify and prove that it exists. Go through a process of self-reflection and you will find that even stress has positive affirmations,” says James.
In toenemende mate gebruiken BKs het voorkomen als coaches en therapeuten en oefent de organisatie ongepaste invloed uit op de volgelingen. Zij proberen een valse voorstelling van zaken te gebruiken om invloed in de samenleving te krijgen.
diiogenes wrote: As I knew Lee quite well (we were in the same year at NIDA), what I have to say may flesh out the picture of this soul who recently expounded the significance of the Mayan calendar. Prior to our BK lives, as an actor, I knew Lee to be a fearless, enthusiastic, talented and eccentric performer. I liked Lee a lot, and there was a mutual respect/friendship between us without us feeling we had that much in common.
It is interesting that most of those traits survived his entry into, and commitment to, Sydney Brahmin life. I did the course in Melbourne, April ’84, but wasn’t ready to don the whites and become Brahmin like. I happened to stay with Lee at his home in Sydney a year later.
He told me all about his Raj Yoga life (he’d done the course six months earlier) that he was in the very process of moving into Indraprasht (living with Didi Nirmala, her male assistant nicknamed Radar, and Anthony (Strano?) – who was kicked out of Indraprasht for showing a girl through the premises soon after, I remember) … how he’d changed his mind about becoming a politician, and now knew he was to become a Yogis.
He told me about his experience at a BK programme in (I believe) NZ where one of the Dadis had chanelled baby Krishna, and that he would take up learning Hindi so he could become an interpreter for the senior yogis, and had no doubts about what he was doing. I told him I’d done the course previously, which was met with a kind of ambivilance. My girlfriend went into another room and Lee gave me drishti, I remember.
Early ’86 I think. I’d been a good little yogis, attending Amrit Vela, following Shrimat, somewhat awkwardly transforming from wearing light colors, to cream, to white BK style, to fit into the Brahmin family. It was six months later when I next saw him. Our meeting in Sydney was preceeded by a number of phone calls from me. Initially I just asked him science questions that I was curious about – what happens to the satellites and space probes at cycles end (he said a senior yogis had told him the entire universe turns to light – OK, at least someone was willing to offer some answers now).
The third or fourth call I blurted out the frustration and misgivings I was observing and experiencing, particularly within the leadership of the Melbourne Brahmin family. His response was I should move to Sydney. I said it wasn’t practical at the time. I remember him saying a lot of the Brahmin family were in bondage, that center-in-charge Michael Smith ‘(the soul) doesn’t know who he is’.
I got the impression my calls, though infrequent, were testing Lee’s patience. He actually said to me on my third? call before I organised to visit Indraprasht a couple of months later, ‘let the questions cease’. Hearing that, I felt like a door had been closed, while I was in the thick of Brahmin weirdness and dysfunction down in Melbourne. To wit, a 2 hour Bhatti and special programme was held at the inauguration of a Sister’s Center – run by Gope and Mahoney (pronounced Marny) bhen, I remember.
As was her fashion, Didi Nirmala got the newbie Sister living in the center onto the ghadi stage to give her experience. She was a school teacher I’d met briefly, a coupla months before. She did not say much but I’ve never forgotten, “Sister Gope and Mahoney are so positive and supportive. They tell me what to do and, even before I can open my mouth, they’ve said, ‘You’re attached'”. This woman had tears welling in her eyes, and they weren’t tears of liberation.
Gope (an ugly piece of work and for good reason nicknamed Groper by a then friend of mine) and Mahoney sat near her with that learned air of superior detachment, that accompanies indifference to the plight of a lesser being. No one said anything about the obvious reference to the bullying. I had steam coming out of my ears. I waited until the programme ended and followed Groper and Mahoney into the kitchen, fully intending to fix their little red wagon one way or the other, so frustrated, repressed and despairing I was at too many months exposure to similar behaviour (Sparkal, your classic post on Sisters opened my eyes a lot, thanks).
I don’t remember exactly why I couldn’t get near them, too many other Sisters between us, they moved away out of the kitchen fairly quickly and I was both angered and relieved. The serve I was ready to give them was monumental. All it would have taken was for them to make eye contact, which they did not.
It’s interesting, looking back, why I did not hold Didi Nirmala more accountable on those occasions. I think it was because she just wasn’t accessible on so many levels. I’ll address that one a bit more further along. In any case, by the time I later arrived at Indraprasht I was hoping for a lot more enlightenment. What I got was more disturbance in general. I remember it was saturday morning class, just finished, Didi Nirmala had began calling non-Indraprasht BKs and newbies to introduce themselves and give their experience.
My jaw nearly hit the flaw when several Sisters, two whom I knew, scurried to sit and fawn and stroke Didi’s knee as she pontificated on something or other, “The importance of sharing, you must love Baba, blah blah blah”. Sorry? I am a bit distracted that you’re not addressing this idol/icon worship going on at your feet. I stiffened up the sinews and did my duty when my turn came to ‘share’. It was pretty excrutiating, but I did it as honestly and positively as I could.
I also remember starving most of the time I was there, which was only several days (in reference to the girl’s classic post here, who was crippled with guilt about wanting a second chapati). I got so hungry at one point I followed my nose to the kitchen, was eyeing some bowls of custard or the like on a bench. In one of those surreal moments Didi Nirmala walked through the kitchen, without giving me a glance, and I was caught in my intention to take something.
Boy, did I feel small, hungry and embarrassed then. Lee James was telling me to afford Didi Nirmala the same respect I gave to Baba, that this was the level of cooperation they deserved for their role. But I just began to see her as an obstacle. I think she knew I was in the kitchen because I was damned hungry. She knew I’d travelled up from Melbourne the night before, was new to the place. She couldn’t afford me a look, let alone the gesture of offering a bowl of food, but I was being asked to treat her on par with God.
Lee showed me his lifestyle up there, and talked a lot of Gyan, some of which I was able to absorb. The atmosphere of the BK family in Sydney was quite different to Melbourne, to say the least. Creative types were trying to get a few progressive things happening. Million Minutes of Peace programmes had started going into the community (on a slightly bizarre note, I’d offered my services in presenting/public speaking and, being NIDA trained, thought they’d find some use for me in a programme somewhere at some stage, nope. I ended up tagging along with two pukka bros, to a women’s auxilliary charity group – it was, literally, lamingtons, cups of tea and knitting needles at ten paces stuff).
These two pukka bros pulled out a white board and one then began drawing Venn diagrams while describing the aggregate statistical effect of co-operation in a community, and how to fit a few minutes peace into that, I kid you not. Besides pukka bros no.1’s voice, the only sound in the room was the woosh of air as the information sailed over their heads. I had the temerity to later criticise the Venn diagram approach as slightly inappropriate for these sweet old ladies. Pukka bro no.1 nearly went apopleptic at the criticism. You begin to lose faith in ‘the family’ when long serving Bhai’s like these two show they cannot relate to people, and a criticism nearly kills one.
On the note of family, it wasn’t long after my next visit to Sydney I think, Lee had not long gone to Japan, that he admitted he had virtually nothing to do with the Brahmin family anymore! He also said he wasn’t serving individuals anymore. I’d been complaining how intolerable things had become in Melbourne with mistreatment and weirdness. His reply astounded me, ” I have to admire your arrogance”. I then said I believed the BK family was a cult that was harbouring all these unhealthy things. He replied, “Hmmm, cult. I don’t know what that means, I’ll have to look it up”.
You don’t get into NIDA and begin studying for a psychology degree and not know that word. It was his way of giving me short shrift. But I expected more of him. He had access to the BK Seniors and did not want to know or see what was going on. He wasn’t serving individuals anymore. He was a world server!! God knows what was going on in his head.
Before he left for Japan, he helped co-ordinate a large public programme I attended, so it must’ve been my second visit to Indraprasht. I remember running into Lee and a guy called Niall, a bass player on a then recent English BK music album. I complimented Niall on his playing (seriously, I was so glad to hear something Western, and easy on my ear in meditation). They both stared at me for about three seconds, exchanged a few words with each other and walked off together as if I wasn’t there!
Boy, they must’ve been busy in service, or perhaps my compliment actually came out, “hey you Irish git, lets have a jam!”. I later offered my services to Lee to help with that evening’s public programme. Though he did not say, or particularly show it, he might have been under pressure as he again gave me short shrift.
He was discussing flashpots/fireworks onstage for a big finale (lots of BK bhais and bhens onstage holding hands singing something I forget). I had just directed a large event on stage in Victoria and knew there were stringent laws governing naked flame and fireworks indoors at theatres. I asked if he’d spoken to the theatre manager about it, and suggested to check with the fire department about regulations.
He dismissed my suggestion out of hand saying it was unneccessary and he knew what he was doing. I spoke to him by phone a couple more times when he was in Japan. I was a mess by then. I got him to organise to have Didi Nirmala answer a phone call from me to suggest a course of mental health treatment, which I felt I needed then. I’d been starving, isolated, miserable and increasingly depressed, unable to hold down employment as I fell out of the BK lifestyle over a 14 month period. Didi’s response was she did not know of any mental health professionals to recommend. That was pretty much the extent of her interest and our conversation.
This has probably been covered on this forum before, but looking back, I suspect she just didnt’ bother making any effort to adapt and understand anything of the Australian BKs’ makeup, existance and the culture she was coming into. She was probably used to having grateful souls turn themselves inside out to serve, fit in etc. So much so she presided over experiences such as are posted here in almost complete ignorance.
My first trip to Sydney, on a drive with Antony (Strano?) we stopped at a bhavan for some reason, where a 19 year old BK kid from the US grabbed my arm and in quiet desperation pleaded with me to help him get out of the BKs. He said he had no money to get home, couldn’t get help from anyone around him and was trapped there. I remember urging him to speak to Didi Nirmala!! Talk about a hollow gesture of help.
The thing that stuck with me was how clearly he was just a kid! Antony and I then went off to harrass Antony’s executive Brother about The Cycle and re-incarnation. What a bizarre experience the BK family has been. As I refer to in my earlier post (diogenes) I returned to the BKs briefly in the late 90’s to reassess what it had all been about.
Encountering the very same types of problems over several months – bullying, mistreatment, reticence, oppression, suppression within the family, I remember initially speaking to Charlie Hogg on the phone. His reply? “There aren’t very good quality souls coming in”. I kid you not!! Not, “in the nearly 15 years since you were here we’ve really understood what Baba means by as is the teacher, so are the students”.
At the retreat, I had a private meeting with Didi Nirmala. I did not want to. I felt very little positivity toward her. There hadn’t been more than two dozen words spoken between us in the past. I spoke about the bullying I was observing and the lack of effective communication between people (I’d actually said to Charlie Hogg to get Lee James back here in Australia to start teaching communication skills).
I cannot remember her response now, to be honest. But later that weekend she did something I’d never seen her do. She gave me, actually wrote it out on a little ‘spiritual blessing’ piece of paper, a huge compliment about my skills and creative gifts, how they’d inspire and bring positivity to many people. Now, I’d only been back in the BK fold for about six weeks at that stage.
The night before, Andy Travis, another soul and me had done a humourous sketch as part of the cultural programme. I played a cow’s butt/tail, the other two were a coupla flies on the imaginary cows back. Next day, everyone’s lining up to recieve their bit of paper from Didi. Poor old Andy, who’d been pukka for about 6 years solid, got some namby pamby wishy washy blessing. When he saw mine he all but cried in frustration. I don’t think Didi Nirmala has had the slightest clue of the effect of her ‘leadership’ on people, and I suspect it’s been like that for so long because she did not really care. She wasn’t responsible, Baba was. Whatever the specialty of this soul, it is not eliciting and spreading love.
As for Lee. I don’t doubt his commitment. He’s operated in relative isolation over 20 years in Japan. He was quite eccentric when I knew him. He’s pretty knowledgeful. I guess you’re really doing your own thing when you reject the ordinary BK family members, and I don’t know what blessings or attainments he’d be elligible for in that case. It would appear he’s either a great example of a liberated soul who doesn’t experience obstacles, or he’s settled for Guru ji in the absense of that progress none of us found either.
In any case, he’s done more good in the world than harm, and I’d still say hello to him.