I first discovered Laura Knight-Jaczyk’s work in 2007. I had spent over a year doing some truth seeking of my own and had become familiar with a number of topics she discusses in her books. After reading her book High Strangeness I was very impressed with how meticulous she was in her research, and also with her insightful interpretations of the evidence she presented. Never did she try to exclude evidence to try and fit an hypothesis, she would always try to come up with an hypothesis that would include all the evidence. Furthermore, she never tried to claim anything as fact that could not be proven. The honesty and objectivity inherent in her work was quite refreshing. It was for these reasons that I decided to check out her websites, and eventually join the SOTT forum, in 2008. I have been a member ever since.
To say that my time spent participating on the forum has helped me, would be a gross understatement. I have been encouraged to read well-recognized books about psychology, history, health/diet and the esoteric, among other things, by many different authors. All of the suggested reading has been chosen with the specific goal of helping people to better understand themselves, the people in their lives and the world we live in.
When I visit the forum I have the opportunity to discuss any of the topics I’ve been studying with a number of people who are doing likewise. I can also share my experiences, ask for feedback from forum members and give feedback to others, if they ask for it. Never has anyone tried to tell me what to do or how to think. They simply share their observations, opinions, knowledge and they make suggestions. What I do with them is entirely up to me. I have never before come across a group of people with such a keen desire to learn, to help others and to respect each other’s free will.
I have learned a lot about myself, identified attitudes and behaviours of which I had not been previously aware, and this has enabled me to change the way I interact with the people in my life – particularly my family. I have much better relationships with my wife and kids because of the time I have spent as a member of the SOTT forum.
Most importantly, everything that SOTT has to offer – the forum, Laura’s writing, the EE breathing program – is all available on-line for free. They do not ask for any kind of payment.
It is because of all this that I find any attempt to label SOTT a “cult” simply laughable. Well, it would be laughable if it were not for the fact that such accusations are very hurtful – not to mention libellous and defamatory – and that people have a tendency to believe them without looking into the subject themselves.
One might think that mature adults would have shed that tendency after observing the harm that is caused by the rumour mill in high school. How many teenage girls have ended up with a reputation of being promiscuous, simply because a teenage boy tried to impress his buddies by lying about sleeping with her? The only people that know the truth about those girls are the people who know them.
And so it is with any group accused of being a “cult” – one must find out for oneself whether the accusation is valid, or not. In the case of SOTT, it is very easy to do so because the forum, and all their information, is open to anyone. Why? – Because they have nothing to hide.
Part and parcel with the “cult” label is the accusation of brainwashing forum members in order to break up their families and draw them (and their money) into the cult. Again, in SOTT’s case, I find this idea laughable. Not only because forum members, moderators and administrators have a track record of encouraging each other to try and identify and change what they, themselves, might be doing wrong in their relationships, but also because my own personal experience with this subject confirms that track record.
In 2009 my wife and I decided to get a divorce. We had announced our intention to both our families, and our children, and I was actually out looking for an apartment. We both felt it was the right choice to make in the situation, but we were very worried about the pain it would cause our kids. So I decided to share our story with the forum to see what kind of advice I would get from the same group that had helped me with simpler problems in the past.
I received a number of responses from people expressing empathy and understanding, sharing their own similar experiences, observations and some helpful advice. I even received some thoughts from Laura, the leader and founder of the group, who could have seen this situation as an ideal opportunity to help break up a marriage (if that was the kind of thing she did). Here is the most important part of what she wrote, which was accompanied by some other really good advice:
“…it really doesn’t seem like such a desperate situation, just one where your selfishness is exposed, and the real sufferers are your children. Please re-read Gurdjieff’s take on “External Considering”…”
Laura pointed out what she thought might be wrong with my way of thinking, and my own behaviour. It led me to make a closer examination of myself, and I realized that she was right. As a result, I told my wife that I thought we might be making a mistake, and I asked her if she would like to stay together and try again. She agreed, and we did. Today we have a stronger, more loving relationship than ever before, partly due to my efforts to be more externally considerate of my wife.
Laura Knight-Jadczyk was instrumental in helping me save my marriage, not trying to destroy it. Judging from what I have observed of her interaction on the forum over the past three and a half years, I can say that helping others the way she helped me is simply her nature. And she never asks for anything in return. In my humble opinion, that is not the sort of behaviour one would expect from a manipulative “cult” leader.
Whenever I think back at that rough period in my marriage, I think of how grateful I am to Laura, and how lucky I am to have found her.