Quota / Penny: An Introduction

The following essays discuss events and overriding themes or issues from my Morningland experience. I’m sharing these thoughts and stories as a part of my own process of recovering from Morningland, and I hope it unlocks ideas, experiences, or issues within you that you will be willing to explore either individually or with others who also were in Morningland. All of us who were affiliated with Morningland share the desire to grow in self-awareness — and many of also share personal blocks in some areas because of confusion, disillusionment, fear, and/or shame resulting from our time or exit from Morningland. These essays are my contribution to that process of recovery of self for all of us.

In 1975 I was working part-time while putting myself through a Master’s Degree program in Latin American Studies. TiOva, a very good friend then and still, invited me to a Festival of Light at a metaphysical bookstore in Escondido. I liked it a lot – the vibe, the people, the interesting mix of religions, and the New Age spiritual use of astrology, tarot, and palmistry. I became more interested, started coming to Sunday services, got an astrology reading, got more involved, was accepted as a disciple by Donato, dropped out of graduate school, got a job, and moved back to North County.

I didn’t get lured into a cult. I was becoming disillusioned with the lack of applicable classes offered in my field each semester, tired of the tedium of academia, and of the time and money it was costing me to get my degree. I was ready for a change. Morningland was way more interesting and a lot more fun. It was an uplifting, positive group of people who supported my aspirations and dreams, something rare in my experience.

Your path into Morningland may have been similar. You reached a point of change, dissatisfaction, or disillusionment in your life and this bright, shiny New Age organization gave you something you felt was missing. It may have been spiritual, it may have been social, it may have been progressive, or it may have just been fun.

You and I got what we wanted. And as we became more involved in Morningland, it seemed that we got more of what we wanted. But we also gave up bits of ourselves, a little at a time, and then chunks at a time. Slowly we were separated from the lives we knew – our family, friends, jobs, routines, ideas, and even our names. We were told with whom to associate and date. Subtly and not so subtly told how to look, act, what music to listen to, what clothes to wear. I obeyed orders – I did everything they told me to, even burning documents and photographs of my past. I “donated” treasured belongings for swap-meet style sales. I behaved and I complied in ways that today I just can’t fathom.

I don’t know what your personal experience was. Mine was at times ecstatic, and other times devastating. Morningland ultimately became a daily torture, one that sucked every bit of energy from me. And I let it. Notwithstanding the fact that I was brainwashed, I did chose to be in Morningland. Despite everything that happened, which I describe in the following essays, I stayed. I believed Morningland was The Path and that if I ever left The Path, I would lose my one last chance at salvation. I can not blame Morningland completely for absorbing my entire life. I’m not one for balance to begin with, and I do like to throw myself into things.

Along the path toward what I thought was enlightenment and salvation, I sold my Self for my rewards. In my case the rewards were substantial – I was elevated to the top of the heap, had status, was recognized for my songwriting, had a hand in creating the “As It Is” magazine for a time, became the right-hand of Sri Patricia, was acknowledged for a host of skills and talents [some of which I did not have so the acknowledgement made me squirm], and was designated as the scribe who would work with Patricia on all her books. We were going to change the world – in fact, save the world — and I was going to have a very productive role in it. That’s everything I ever wanted. I had a vision of that role when I was 16 years old.It was my heart’s desire and I believed it to be my destiny.

So yes, I am responsible for getting hooked into Morningland and although I didn’t know what I was getting into, I got into it willingly. Enthusiastically. Joyously.

Why am I harping on personal responsibility? Well, sometimes when we tell our stories, we sound like we’re whining, complaining, and blaming others. There’s a reason for that. Most of us have been abusing ourselves in a variety of ways for a couple of decades, assuming enormous and often inappropriate responsibility for what happened to us. Part of our healing process is to dump the crud we’ve been hauling around for so long. Now it’s time to give credit where credit is due, and often that looks like blame. Ultimately we come to a balance where we’re able to see where we’re responsible and where we’re not.

Some of you are not troubled by the negatives of Morningland, but instead by the good things you left behind. You miss the community, the sense of spiritual destiny, the energy in the temple, or a host of other good things.

This is where we can learn from one another and come to see our Morningland experiences as a combination of positives and negatives. We complainers need to remember there was a lot of good stuff in those times. We complainers will encourage you gentle souls to take off your rose-colored glasses. Morningland wasn’t always “bad” nor all “bad,” nor was it all roses. It was both.

That perspective, combined with the ability to take responsibility for some things and stop blaming ourselves for other things, will create a truer picture for each of us. We all have different truths and yours may contradict mine, but that invalidates neither. In the end, the result of the healing process could be — and I hope it will be — peace of mind.