Mar 6, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles: 3/6/2023 (Larry Ray, Documentary, The Family, Australia, Buddhist)

Larry Ray, Documentary, The Family, Australia, Buddhist 

Hulu: Under his Spell: Sarah Lawrence Dad Turned Predator

"The case that horrified the country; a dad moved into his daughter's dorm at Sarah Lawrence College. For about 10 years, Lawrence Ray violated, extorted and sex trafficked her friends and others. See the disturbing recordings and hear from the survivors." Includes comments by Patrick Ryan and Steve Hassan.

"Felicia Rosario and Daniel Barban Levin are featured in the new Hulu documentary STOLEN YOUTH: INSIDE THE CULT AT SARAH LAWRENCE 

The film which is available now for streaming offers striking first-hand interviews with con man Larry Ray's victims and incorporates personal audio tapes and video recordings to tell the story of his grim 10-year influence over a group of young people."

" ... They lived in a mansion. They prayed together. They cooked and ate and did chores together. They worked side by side and shared their earnings and expenses. They cared for one another's children and vacationed together.

Some insiders say it was a cult.

They called it The Family, and a former pizzeria owner and martial arts teacher named Mohan Jarry Ahlowalia was it's unlikely charismatic leader.

For decades, the communal living arrangement seemed perfect. Ideal.

Until allegations of sexual and physical assault, death threats, human trafficking, extortion and gun violations tore the Burlington household apart. The ugly accusations pitted Ahlowalia's followers against each other.

Details of The Family's strange life became evidence in a long, complicated criminal trial that had Ahlowalia fighting for his freedom.

Thirty charges were laid against him. For three years the case meandered through the justice system. Eventually 14 witnesses testified at a trial that took 57 days spread over a year.

In the end, Ahlowalia was found guilty of absolutely nothing.

The judge eviscerated the Crown's case.

Key witnesses, she said, were discreditable at best. At worst, some may have colluded to frame their former leader.

The judge even suspected guns were planted in Ahlowalia's bedroom and car.

"This case turns on the credibility of the witnesses," Ontario Court Justice Jaki Freeman wrote in her judgment.

The Family, a seeming hub of nurture and love, had turned on itself."
" ... For the fourth week in a row, a white ex-Catholic Buddhist sits down to teach us about humility. We, a group of six or seven teenagers, roll our eyes at each other. It's 2013, and we've just left the gompa—the shrine room—of a Buddhist center in Raleigh, North Carolina, to attend youth group. The mostly white adult members will stay in the gompa to listen to the teachings of the Nepalese geshe (an advanced title earned by high-level Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns). A different parent teaches youth group every week, but a surprising percentage of them grew up Catholic and converted to Buddhism in young adulthood.

Being raised Buddhist from birth put me in a unique position among white Americans. I've heard white peers, professors, and Uber drivers praise Buddhism for being the only "unproblematic" religion—Buddhists typically don't proselytize, the religion tends to accept and incorporate scientific discoveries, and there aren't teachings that discriminate against minority groups. But I've come to understand that when Buddhism is filtered through a Christian culture of indoctrination, it can have similarly harmful effects: obsession with purity, victim-blaming, and abuses of power.

A large percentage of American Buddhists are highly educated—among the subscribers of one of the most prominent Buddhist magazines (where I used to work), 42 percent have master's degrees and 15 percent have doctorates; 77 percent have at least a bachelor's degree. Yet, when I was growing up, it became a running joke among my fellow youth-group teens that nobody could seem to put together a curriculum. We kept repeating topics, and apparently many parents thought the lesson we most needed to learn—this group of soft-spoken kids, half of us homeschooled and all on the outskirts of popularity—was humility. These parents' model of humility, however, taught us more about deferring to authority than it did about not being cocky. Most of our conversations circled around the importance of not thinking we knew better than those around us, and how the people who hurt us were actually suffering just as much—or more—than we were. These lessons solidified in me a pattern of acquiescing to people who held power over me that followed me far into young adulthood.

During my elementary-school years, Tibetan monks lived with my family. My parents hosted them in part because offering alms to monks is one of the strongest ways to generate positive karma. Buddhists believe that the intentions behind every thought and action produce karmic "seeds" that later manifest as suffering or the absence of suffering. When, in the face of suffering, you act with intentions that balance compassion and wisdom, you purify the karmic seed so that it no longer affects your present and future circumstances. Once your karma is neutralized, so to speak, you may achieve enlightenment.

The monk who stayed with my family the longest—a few years—became integrated into my family's life. He woke up with us on weekends so my parents could sleep in, came to my and my sister's school events, and prayed in Sanskrit before every family dinner. He also really liked kissing me and my sister on the mouth, even though we would shriek and run and push him away whenever he tried.

We even had a kissing game: When the monk and my mom made thentuk (a Tibetan soup), they'd make one noodle longer than the others. If you got what became known as "the big noodle," you got to choose whoever you wanted to kiss and they had to let you.

I don't fully blame my parents for letting this happen. People commonly view religious figures—especially those who have taken a vow of chastity—as more "pure" than laypeople. (We've seen it play out with Catholic priests.) That the monk was Asian, had grown up in a monastery in India, and wore his maroon-and-gold robes every day contributed to this."

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