Daylong Retreat: Spiritual Liberty or Religious Tyranny

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A Daylong Retreat at PIMC, with Robert Beatty and Gary Sanders (Sat., Nov. 10, 2018)

Most of us have encountered religious systems that have required us to be less than we really are. We have been constrained by fear into prescribed roles and limited behaviors.  We have been told what to think and with whom to socialize. For some, there has been financial or sexual manipulation, as well as abuse. We have believed that, if we left the guru or the group, we would lose our spiritual way and be lost forever. We have believed that the group to which we belonged was the “one true way,” and that all others are inferior and need to be converted. We have been separated from loved ones and family.

This experience is much more common than most believe.  We tend to personalize and feel shame about our having fallen prey to such experiences. This daylong retreat will provide an opportunity to bring fresh air, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding into our experiences.

We will use Robert Lifton’s framework, "The Eight Criteria of Thought Reform" as a guide for understanding how we are vulnerable to religious manipulation and how we can help ourselves and each other to be free.  

Participants will be invited to share what they wish of their own experiences with constricting or coercing groups, as well as their stories of how they escaped.


About The Teachers
Robert was raised Catholic. This religious system fell away in his teen years and his longing for “spirit” took him to nature with mountaineering, skiing, and camping. He went to Nepal to go trekking in the Himalayas and encountered Buddhism. After returning to North America, his quest led him into a small Buddhist cult, where he remained for five years. His emergence from that constricting group led to his study of mind control processes, exit counseling, and spiritual liberation   

Gary Sanders was raised Jehovah’s Witness. There was extreme indoctrination since birth that involved a mix of repression, delusion, and narcissism. When he broke away at 18 years old, he was shunned by his parents and the whole community, which was horrendously painful. Drugs and alcohol were the one refuge that he found from the severe religious trauma he carried, until it didn’t work anymore. After years of therapy, sobriety, and a commitment to this Buddhist path of lovingkindness, compassion, and non-harm, he now works frequently with addicts, at-risk youth, and other ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, helping them find freedom.

WHEN: Saturday Nov. 10 (9:00am – 4:30pm)

WHERE: PIMC, 6536 SE Duke St., Portland

REFERENCE MATERIAL: Robert Jay Lifton’s "The Eight Criteria of Thought Reform" (see the following link)


SUGGESTED DONATION: $60 (No one is ever turned away due to lack of funds.)

TO REGISTER: Please use this link ( )

LUNCH: Potluck (please see Note below)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Gary ( if you have questions.

(While money will be accepted at the door, please pre-register if you can so the teachers can have a good sense of the number of attendees.)


NOTE: There will be a one-hour lunch break with a potluck. Please bring food and/or drink to share (and please bring a clear listing of ingredients for your prepared dishes, so our friends with diet restrictions can easily take care of themselves). PIMC will provide tea and coffee.