A powerful journey where faith, philosophy, and family collide...
The philosophy was perfect. The image, so new-age. And the idea of Zen enlightenment, so fantastically nontraditional. For Jake, the Zen Center in remote New Mexico seemed like the perfect answer to life's problems, and for ten years he knew little else. His life was slowly consumed by the cult that he thought was saving him.
Acclaimed exit therapist [I am not a licensed therapist] and cult expert [expert is a relative term--specialist is better] Joseph Szimhart crafts a narrative that explores the complex interactions between faith, family, and reality. Inspired by the author's own experiences in a cult, the story's framework is set in the emotionally rooted trappings of a fringe religious commune, which provides a poignant backdrop for examining the problems we all struggle to overcome. It also presents a chilling look at the subtle manipulations that charismatic figures use on the rest of us.
The sensei or “the old man” who is Jake’s cult leader with no revealed name in the story is a composite of the flawed characters and abusive techniques of several foreign Zen teachers that set up shop in America, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.