Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Authoritarian Leadership in Liberation Unleashed and how this can be changed

This writing is an answer to my inquiry that I held for couple of months already: how should I show up in the world as a human being and as a leader when I was pushed out from the organization I co-created?  How to be? What should I do, say, if any?

I have been writing this for couple of weeks. This was not written in one day: I was looking at many things within myself, and checking what it is exactly I want to write about.  I sensed that I want this to be about the community:  how things can be re-arranged to preserve the spirit and intention of the community. How to go forward as a community and not as a business, or even a sort of a pool of volunteers doing the work for a power leader, where anyone can be deleted from the organization, if they dare to step up against authoritarian ways.

This letter to the community is to look into what is going on, and has been for many years, and find ways to insure these kind of things do not happen anymore: they are unnecessary, dangerous to the spirit of the community and this very work in the world.  Parts of this letter might carry some strong feelings, as I said I have been writing this for sometime and I went through different emotional states.  Still I feel it is beneficial to be true to myself, and try not to create something ironed and perfectly linear, and especially I will try to avoid absolutist views that are already plenty in many partially awake clinging to "no self" aspirants on the path of the spiritual awakening.

I have been openly vulnerable about my own post-awakening journey, especially in the last several years, with a certain mission.  I tried to counteract the writings and the ideas of some ideal awakeness that does not include human form, some disembodied ideal that holds many in denial, stuck in the absolutist view that does not serve them well in life.  And I do it with my own example of being totally transparent and sharing my journey.  So bear with me please: this probably is not perfect piece of writing. I am just a human here leaning into living her life honestly, so if you encounter some strong feelings in this writing, know they are real, and I wanted you to feel it.

You all know how Liberation Unleashed was co-created and set up as a community.  Only to see later on how everyone who was not in line with one of the co-founders (Ilona Ciunaite), was eliminated, pushed away, put into situations where they had to leave, bullied in different ways, deleted from groups, and forgotten as "casualties". I know these overbearing dynamics firsthand, standing by my former friend and co-founder, or standing out of her way.  I also got this back to me firsthand as well. Couple of months ago without any prior communication I was deleted from Liberation Unleashed official page where I had contributed for years my writings on awakening and post-awakening.  

I co-created Liberation Unleashed, the name, the vision, co-created the method of Direct Pointing, co-wrote a book, created several LU groups, promoted Liberation Unleashed on the Internet day and night, and then in the world by going around with first live Direct Pointing workshops and meetings.  I am a pioneer, and I paved the ways for this work to exist. It was not an easy work.  I was working REALLY hard, this was the MAIN focus of my life after I woke up to the illusion of separation myself: to bring this work to the world to as many people as possible, to build the community, to empower people to do this work, to write openly about my own experiences in post-awakening, so we are not building a cult of the leaders, and unnecessary expectations of what this work does and what it doesn't.  

I had been writing for Liberation Unleashed page for many years, and with my writings contributed to building the page, collectively attracting 5+ thousand visitors.  I had it all hit hard on me some years later:  one day I was just deleted.  I received an automatic message in the email that I am no longer a contributor and admin on the page. My access was shut down at 5 am, while I was sleeping.  I would expect communication on anything regarding the decisions on the official page, as it is the right thing to do in a situation within the community. But I was deleted without any prior communication.  

How this could happen within the community?  
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT PART: if anyone wants to change matters in LU, please read and implement proposed changes, or similar. This is why I actually stepped into writing this letter to the community.

Because all these years Ilona was gathering control in her hands. Now I look back and I see where were my mistakes as a co-founder.  You can't give all the keys of all the organizational structures into one set of hands.  This creates more and more temptation to a mind which holds controlling tendencies, to gather and execute control.  Instead of releasing the old tendencies, they get even stronger, and here you are -  stuck in the land of ownership, authority, domineering. There is no chance in this situation to give up the control, this is self-perpetuating loop.

The LU website, LU forum, LU youtube channel, LU donations, people in admin who are selected through the years - all with conforming tendencies - everything is under Ilona's control.  This is no accident; this was driven by wanting sole control, and the mission accomplished with me being eliminated, the last frontier to the sole control of the organization initially co-created as a totally democratic communal entity.

When financial matters are in the same hands as all the business structures, beware people! Donation button on Liberation Unleashed website is connected to Ilona's personal bank account, and unless there is a total transparency implemented as posting EVERY monthly statement for everyone to have access to, we set ourselves to big troubles.  Yes, there can be very little donations coming in at times, and then at some point someone might send a big sum of money.  And no one knows that, only the owner of the personal bank account to where the money gets transferred.  We have had that donation option for several years already, and no one knows what is going on. I myself never saw any financial statement.

It is easy to implement financial transparency.  Create a place on the LU Forum where every month should be posted 2 statements: one is a payment for the hosting of website and one is financial statement from the bank account connected to donation button on LU website.  It will be easy to see for everyone, and if help is needed with hosting, then people can help to pay. If there is a surplus in the donations, then the money needs to be distributed in some fashion. When this will be implemented, the donations will be more regular and more substantial, because people will honor such a transparency.  There is no reason why LU would not receive large donations with proper handling of it.

This is especially important in a light of the troubles Ilona was facing recently, like being detained in jail in Mexico for fake visa, then with her husband's health. For these two events she gathered tens thousands of dollars in personal donations, only for him to post later that there was something between them in the hospital and she ran away with money.  He took down the message later on, and posted a different one that he was under the influence of medication, she didn't steal the money, and she came back.  It still left many people pondering: "What is actually real?" This is personal matters, and hopefully they will sort out the situation of money between them, but Liberation Unleashed donation button is not a personal matter, and should not be Ilona's stream of income, but communal means.

I felt from the beginning, if we are building this as a community, people who started the "fire", who laid out the foundation, who built the structure, who supported it while it needed the support to survive in the first several years, never should be discarded as not needed anymore. Their contribution should always be remembered and respected; their energy should always be a part of the community.  In the first years of LU I created a list of the core crew.  I also want to see on this list people who gave all their focus to LU for 2+ years through different times. I am now trying to re-create original list and add to it. Please contact me if you want to help. This is very important, because new people do not know the history, they do not know what they are standing on.  Energetically they are standing on the hard work of many people, and I want to make sure people's names are not lost, just like their work lives now in the creation, survival and success of this organization.  If at any point LU gets large donations, these people should be included in the share of it, and besides financial concern for all those people, I hold a strong stance by anyone who left a significant imprint of their hard work in this organization and community, and they should not be pushed out, deleted, discarded and forgotten. 

As I was searching for the picture of Liberation Unleashed logo for this post, I came across t-shirts, mugs, purses and other merchandise with LU logo that Ilona sells since 2017.  No one ever communicated to me about this matter, nor to the artist herself.  If anyone would sell merchandise with LU logo it should be either a community council, or an artist herself, a single mother of a small child that gave her artwork to the community and not for the personal use. Using LU logo on the merchandise being sold in Ilona's personal store only solidifies Ilona's image as the owner of this organization.  And if the payment for LU website will be used again (!) to justify the selling of merchandise and taking all the donations to support herself and her husband to live a certain lifestyle, then in this case the community would need to take the responsibility to pay for website, so there is no shady financial areas left for speculation.  Create a council, make a legal agreement, transfer the domain name and hosting for the website under council's ownership where not one person is the owner of the main structures of LU, but a group. 

I am not in Liberation Unleashed anymore, I found myself out of LU structures, but it is still a fact that I am a co-founder.  I did not leave on my own will, I understood this later.  In a way I was set up by life itself, as most of us in a childhood, on the main dynamic and trajectory of life I lived, and mine was: not being able to be authentic but instead serving others in this conforming dynamic.  I served all my life in the same manner, including Ilona, day and night, and I am taking full responsibility that I was not aware of this dynamic in me at all. I am going to write about liberation from this dynamic in another essay (following), as now I am clear on it and clear from it.  This will be beneficial for anyone who still carry conforming conditioning which is the main cause of many types of autoimmune disorders or serious chronic health issues.  Who is physically and psychologically healthy if liberation is only in the mind, and not in the being?  How many are ill in Liberation Unleashed those who are standing by the domineering leader no matter what?  How attachment to partial awakening affects health?  How many are holding on to the feeling of belonging, attached to their special roles, the validation they feel, the significance and fulfillment they can’t get in their real everyday life?  And how many are willing to conform to a leader and pretend that all is fine and “life is just happening”, as we hear often from those stuck in absolutist stage of awakening?

How I ended up out of the Liberation Unleashed?  By standing up against domineering leadership.  There is a “sorting mechanism” of how Ilona rules LU.  Anyone craving for belonging and willing to conform - IN, anyone who has something to say or propose anything outside of domineering leadership direction - OUT.  Ilona attacks them or circles them out, waits when they leave, and if they stay, she eventually deletes people from LU mostly now through the faithful crew.  Ilona perfected these mechanisms during all these years so no-one really notices or wants to notice. New people coming to LU do not know at all what is really going on, until they might face it down the road, and they might think it is only happened to them alone, so they quietly leave.  There are many ways sorting out and expelling people who will not quietly agree with existing authoritarian structure.  One of them is: to create a new group and transfer everyone to the new group, leaving the one behind in the old group that will not be used anymore.  This is what happened to me a few years ago as soon as I asked Ilona in a letter that we have to talk about managing LU together.  She asked me not to write to her anymore and performed the groups juggling, so I ended up circled out. 

Usually after some sort of commotion with people who stood up against this kind of leadership, after pushing them out of LU, Ilona would release charismatic piece of writing, or a video in the recent years, to pacify and assure the onlookers that nothing really happened.  This is a method of mind control that is used at large in the world by establishment media and it is used in LU! This happened to me 2.5 years ago, while Ilona was openly degrading in LU admin group to me, bullying and humiliating me in front of other several admins, she simultaneously released an article that was picked up later by Non-Duality Press and posted on their website (they did not know what was going on).  This is how  conceptual shit turns into gold.  Then thousands of spiritual aspirants read it and build a projection in themselves what awakening is and how far they are from it.  After deleting me from official LU page 2 months ago the same manipulation of people's attention was performed to cover the actions, this worked well again!

Here is what goes next in this mechanism of sorting out people from LU.  After some sort of authoritarian decision and then pacifying publication usually goes a period of laying low and let things quite down.  Ilona knows how to wait, and she can wait behind well-run mechanism of LU guides just simply continuing doing their job. 

This essay today is about the vision of the community, and how it is undermined by authoritarian actions and decisions lacking integrity, how it gets discredited by sole ownership and unscrupulous actions toward people of the community who stand up.  I still care for what I have created and lived for many years. I can't delete that, forget that, I can't forget my vision of community, I am idealist perhaps. I also noticed I do not sleep well if I withhold, if I do not honor my value of courage, if I give up even a small space to conforming tendency.  I am a leader, and though it is not easy for me to do it, I speak up to set an example for others.  I will hold the intention the LU council will be created and Ilona will surrender the ownership of LU structures into the hands of the  council. That would be very right to do from the beginning, but it is not too late to do it now, if there is willingness in the community to remain a community, and not a one-woman business as a pyramid with a free labor.  

I want to make it clear here that I am not looking for any position in LU, LU council, or to be re-established in groups, or reinstated on the LU official page.  I've done my work, and I am still doing it by writing this letter to the community.  

My intention is that one day Liberation Unleashed is re-organized to its true vision of community.  My intention is to point people to get free from conforming or controlling tendencies, or anything else which may still be on a way of true liberation.  Liberation Unleashed organization is a great mirror for many mind hang-ups, I invite you to use it to liberate yourself even more, it surely served me well as a mirror.  My love and prayers to all of you, everyone.  We are one, and we walk each other HOME 🙏💗

Here is the list of people who gave a lot of effort, focus and time to Liberation Unleashed, but this is very much partial, I did the best I could from my memory. I do not have access to LU groups, and I can’t recall everyone’s names.  If anyone feel you should be on this list, please contact me, and I apologize that I didn’t mentioned you. Anyone who find yourself on this list and do not want to be on it, also contact me.  Please send me names of those who worked full-time one period or another for about 2+ years.  Let me know also what years and contact email.  If I put someone here that you strongly believe shouldn’t be on a list, I might be mistaken with my memory, let me know. I need contact email for everyone on the list to compile a document that we can post in Liberation Unleashed in a document section and on the Forum. Anyone who wants to help me to compile the list, I will be grateful for your help! 

Liberation Unleashed Honorary Members List (preliminary and partial): 

Ilona Cuinaite (co-founder), Elena Nezhinsky (co-founder), Ciaran Healy (helped to create LU), Damon Kamda (Sasha) (founding member), Bonnie Aungle (founding member), Tina Paytek (founding member) Elizabeth Blank (founding member), Nona Parry, Chandi Riaz, Delma McConnel, Lisa Hamilton Kahale (died), Lex Lissauer, Nick Fetko, Rohit Derasari, Bill Branczek,  Ingrid Lill, Otter Rivers, Dirceu Romani, Michel Tardieu, John R Shirley (died), Steve Dimond, Jon C Rice, Elena Smirnova, Vadim Tsyplakov, Stephen Blackheath, Paul Zen, Sonali Jaidka Kanaujia, Matthias Spahn, Sandy Almeida, Vince Schubert, Christian Shadlock, John Christopher, Christiane Michelberger, Kay Niemenen, Hannah Bailey-Thomas, Mark Marshall, Frédéric Constant, Sarah Seven, Mike Cheal, Peter Holdsworth, Wener Nower, Kento Hori…the last several members I do not know personally, I was suggested to add them for their prolific work as guides on the forum.

I will continue to create this list with your help to be posted on Liberation Unleashed website.

This article is posted in the Buddha at a Gas Pump group on Facebook: 
and Non-Dual Awakening Gate:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/241097475942811/

added: Steve Dimond - former LU website developer, admin and a guide