What follows is a response to Nicolas de Ruiter’s piece about his father, “Fire by the River” (March 10, 2017). This piece will most likely be part of a book I wrote (The Messiah Complex: The Unveiling of a Guru) about my experiences with de Ruiter. I wrote this book some years ago (2011), but have chosen not to publish it until now, due to uncertainty about my motives for doing so. I am now preparing it for publication due to these disclosures, as well as to the mysterious death of one of John’s followers, Anina H, in 2014, and out of a general awareness of the (I think now indisputable) damage which de Ruiter has caused to many of his followers through his deceptions and secret activities. Along with this piece, I am also now sharing a conversation I had in 2014 with another of his followers, which can be listened to here.
In his long ode to John, Nicolas rationalizes his emotional distress about his father’s behavior in a “diplomatic” attempt to explain (justify) it to John’s followers. He is like an ambassador between John’s (imagined) inner world of Truth and the incomprehension (and probably in some cases mild trauma) of John’s followers (the ones caught in doubt).
Reading between the lines of Nicolas’ ponderous appeal, I ended up wondering who his primary audience was. He seems to be trying to convince himself that it is only cultural conditioning that prevents him, Nicolas, from seeing how wonderful John’s being-in-truth is. Yet since he admits John’s marriage-ending adultery caused him “a decade of turmoil,” he is talking about more than just cultural conditioning coming undone. Nicolas was only eleven at the time of the break-up, and such early trauma has an impact at levels deeper than merely cultural. It goes into the body and is psychically formative. John’s own spiritual philosophy (which is like a psychological re-conditioning program) is that emotions are “not of the highest” and are to be ignored, suppressed, disowned, in lieu of listening to “what one knows.” Even so far as this may be true, it doesn’t address the question of affect, namely how powerful emotions that are encountered early in life imprint not the mind (the culturally conditioned self which is still forming) but the body.
Judging by Nicolas’ own words, he never had time to fully recover from the messy break up of his parents. He left Holland as a teenager, to spend time with John and try and find his father again, and it was soon after that John hurled him into a painful reenactment of that early trauma, letting Nicolas know about his, John’s, continued adulterous practices. To add insult to injury, he gave Nicolas a heavy burden of secrecy to share: a secret so dire it was “liable to upset thousands of sensible people.” (This is a calculated understatement on Nicolas’ part: there has been at least one suicide among John’s followers, Bryan Beard, attributed by some people to intense disillusionment at seeing the truth of John’s secret life. Then there is the recent death of Anina, which may have been related to that secret life also.)
Nicolas’ main argument in his piece is that his father’s character is beyond reproach and belongs to a higher dimension, i.e., is not of this world. Yet in his most “human” (socially and culturally normal) anecdote of his father’s parenting, he cites getting drunk with John as a teenager and being too inebriated to get himself into bed! If this is John’s (or Nicolas’) idea of father-son “bonding,” it’s hard to imagine a more culturally conventional (or unhealthy) example, short of maybe taking him to a prostitute. All the other tales of being fathered which Nicolas shares are about the shock, awe, and scorched earth of Nicolas’ soul from standing too close to this Man of Truth on his mission to undermine all cultural norms and values in the name of spiritual liberation. (It pays to wonder if Nicolas really believes in such a spiritual process in light of the past few hundred years’ history—or even the last fifty?) Boil it down and what Nicolas is saying seems to be something like: “My dad did some socially and morally dodgy things, and he caused me massive amounts of pain; but he also got me drunk as a kid and put me to bed, so he wasn’t such a bad dad!” Add to that the fact that, you know, he’s God, and Nicolas is reconciled to a few peccadilloes and a decade of turmoil.
According to one ex-follower I spoke to, John also hung his sons upside down off bridges when they were small, to help them to conquer their fears. In the process, perhaps he taught them to put their total trust in him. Is what he has been doing with Nicolas as an adult really any different? What choice does a young boy have, while hanging by his ankles over an abyss, except total submission and silent prayer that whoever has his life in their hands is trustworthy? Abuse works the same way: when there is no one to rescue the child (when the abuser is the parent), emotional dependency only deepens.
When John persuaded Nicolas into staying with Benita von Sass (one of the two sisters John slept with while married to Nicolas’ mother, even after it became insufferable to Nicolas, Nicolas says he became the “last bridge left in their relationship.” What was that all about? More pressure-testing and faith-building? Or did John need Nicolas there as his eyes and ears while that particular sexual experiment went bad? Nicolas writes of “the matrix outside of his [John’s] own conscience,” meaning that it is only the deceptive, enslaving world that sees John’s actions as morally wrong or harmful, while in his own inner space (read mind), John knows he is spotless. “I was also able to hear the tone of John’s voice,” he writes, “and see his face as he spoke about what he was doing.”
So Nicolas made regular checks of John’s facial expressions and his tone of voice, could see he wasn’t wrestling with doubt, and, big sigh of relief, knew everything was under control. Has Nicolas ever heard of a poker face—or that there are people who learn to modulate their tone of voice and facial expressions as a means to get what they want? Nicolas is testifying that his father is not a culturally normal human being, but does he recognize that this designation cuts both ways? His main justification of John’s actions is that John is beyond moral criteria for judgment, and Nicolas knows this because he knows John’s “character.” But what is a man’s character to be judged by if not his actions? Why do facial expressions and tone of voice count for more in Nicolas’ eyes than “willed sexual deviance” (to use a phrase out of Benita von Sass’ affidavit)? Are we supposed to believe that John feeling (or showing) no guilt over his actions means he is not guilty?
That said, I would be quite surprised at this point if Nicolas doesn’t see John’s inner struggle written all over his face, and that it has very little to do with “battling Satan,” and everything to do with a heroically sustained delusion that is starting to come apart at the seams.
Nicolas writes his key line of psychic defense against the nay-sayers:
“His equanimity reminded me that the conflict was in myself, not in John’s actions, which are a cultural and not an inherent issue. As I had learned to do when I was 12, being told about John’s relationships with Benita and Katrina, I left the drama, and followed the voice of reason.”
Nicolas is saying here that John’s actions can only be judged according to cultural norms of morality and that this criteria is irrelevant. This means he is actually saying: “John’s actions are not an issue,” period. No matter what John does, Nicolas cannot judge those actions, because to do so would betray his cultural bias. He is giving his father carte blanche.
By voice of reason, I can only presume Nicolas means John’s voice, installed in his head, a constantly running program reminding him not to trust his thoughts and feelings but only what he knows. Since Nicolas can’t trust his thoughts or feelings, however, or even his intuition, essentially this means trusting John to tell him what is reasonable and then trusting that. And the voice of reason is an odd choice of words here, because Nicolas is talking about embracing behavior that lacks any moral, cultural or human justification, and that belongs only to unseen dimensions of being. Reason implies intellect, but intellectually speaking, Nicolas’ arguments for his father’s benevolence are all at sea and out to lunch.
“What John was doing was real and the repercussions weren’t mitigated by ideology or philosophical ideas.”
He gets that part right at least.
On the one hand, I could hear directly how people were processing their involvement with John, in their difficulties, awakenings, and insights. These conversations opened inner eyes for me, and I saw the surface of reality peel away, levels of meaning cracking open; beings cohabiting our urban spaces. I saw an ache, cocooned in a man’s heart, break open like a butterfly of realization. I saw the skin of the world removed, showing structures of meaning that move subsurface, where controversy and confusion become two-dimensional.
Nicolas uses self-consciously mystical language to describe countless people’s pain, turmoil, confusion, and suffering as a result of John’s actions—all of which are being committed in the moral vacuum of “John-space.” This is an indication of how reluctant Nicolas, like his dad, is to look at or to feel the human dimensions, the actual, lived consequences, of John’s ideology and philosophical ideas. All of Nicolas’ flowery, turgid descriptions seemed designed to distance the events described from any coherent thoughts or feelings. They have a mythical, fairy tale flavor to them.
Nicolas has found a space of dissociation within which to come to terms with them and he is faithfully representing that state to the reader, as if to usher them into it. (I am sure many Johnnies gratefully submitted to be ushered). The accounts of soul-crunching confusion and despair in the face of John’s many betrayals are all couched in John-isms about endless pressure as necessary to the overcoming of the conditioned self, pressure that can only be increased, exponentially, by the prescribed suppression of all emotion as being of the conditioned self and not “what you know is true” (i.e., what his father tells him to believe).
When Nicolas writes that “Over time, questions were to be answered and deepen my integration of the extreme,” it’s another example of how he uses unnecessarily complex, codified language to cover the more brutal aspects of his experience. Integration of the extreme = shocking, possibly traumatic experiences that caused him disorientation, anxiety, panic, and probably dissociation as a means to cope with overwhelming psychic content. In which case, deepening “disintegration” is just as likely to be the result of extremity. Certainly, the style, as well as content, of Nicolas’ piece does nothing to reassure the reader. His reasoning sounds like someone being repeatedly dunked into a truth trough, mistaking momentary relief between dunkings for illumination.
Nicolas wants to believe John’s behavior is magnifying Truth, helping him to overcome his cultural and moral conditioning, and that his feelings of horror are nothing but culturally conditioned reactions. But what if the real cause of his horror is John’s shock and awe methods and his own deep aversion to them, his knowing that they are inherently, not just culturally, wrong? This would mean he is not going to find any relief except in the momentary gulps of air which his father allows him, during which John’s storytelling skills (the Truth-program) come to the “rescue” in the form of a dark lullaby.
As anyone who has followed John for any time at all knows, John teaches his followers (maybe the correct term for them is “thralls”) to be unemotional. Suppressing emotions might bring some relief, but if so it is only at a high cost. Where do the emotions go when they are suppressed, ignored, disowned, unacknowledged? Into the body, as toxins.
It’s an ironic, even tragic, fact that people who leave John are still tied to him as long as they have unresolved feelings about him. And how can they not, when he never acknowledges their feelings as real? It’s a powerful, devilish trick for keeping people waiting on the line indefinitely. Whether they are incensed, outraged, confused, bitter, angry, resentful, sad, or grieving, such seemingly unresolvable emotions (unresolvable because John is emotionally out of reach) will cause them to seek refuge in John’s own advice not to listen to or take seriously their feelings. And so, the ex-Johnnie, having no way to resolve that tension, finds him or herself perennially placing themselves back under their Master’s influence.
This is the Oasis revolving door: even as we think we are leaving, we find ourselves back again. If we reject John, criticize or question him, most especially with strong feeling, that’s just the proof of his power and purity, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the impurity of our “patterns” and our inability to appreciate the goodness of John or the goodness within us that only John, in his supreme virtue, can appreciate. This sort of “thinking” is built into the group’s mindset—it’s foundational to John-think—and it is designed to ensure there is no escape for the Birds of Being from the Nest John built. How can you escape from a mirage when it appears wherever your eyes fall, inside the desert of John’s “teachings”?
I went through this horrendous process myself, and it took months, years even, to stop drinking sand and locate my own source of sustenance. Maybe I am still completing the process, and this is why I never released the book. In the worst of it, John seemed everywhere, like a parasitical organism that regenerated itself from a single cell whenever I thought I’d got it completely out of my system. But was it really John, or was it the internal image I had created that was endlessly regenerating?
Returning to the so-called “disclosures”: Does Nicolas or anyone else not wonder why John’s choice of “timed revelations” essentially equals only owning up to stuff when there’s too much evidence to deny it? As the secrets are revealed, and he is inducted into the loop, Nicolas sees it (or wants us to see it) as all for his own spiritual edification. Couldn’t it just as easily be seen as a way to make him complicit with his father’s crimes and to corrupt and prepare him for worse to come? Such things as Nicolas may already be privy to, but which are not part of official disclosure because, so far, no one has blown the whistle on them?
So far as John naming names to Nicolas, were any of the women asked if they minded John sharing their info? Did he also share his private collection of racy emails, gathered from the many hopeful applicants to his harem? (John allegedly asked potential sexual recruits to describe their idea of moving unto him in much detail, via email.) Nicolas writes: “The reason for my inclusion in that information, as I understand it, is to create a third party for accountability and support.” It’s not clear if Nicolas is referring to the Accountability Committee here (a committee ostensibly set up to address the concerns of followers over the increasingly disturbing claims about John’s hidden behaviors; I think it first came into being after the von Sasses took John to court). But reading between the lines again, the words suggest that, insofar as Nicolas was informed, he didn’t really know why, so once again he was forced to speculate, ruminate, confabulate, and embellish (and above all, rationalize) John’s actions to reduce the massive cognitive dissonance they were causing him.
What is clear throughout Nicolas’ testimonial is that he cannot speak authoritatively. Nicolas may be the chosen heir to Oasis, but he is also only twenty-eight (or twenty-nine), and, from what I’ve seen, no one around John (not even a long-timer like Baba) has any kind of truth-authority or much of a clue about what John is actually doing or saying. The higher-ups seem more, not less, likely to fall back on blind trust in their Master, and on an admission of incomprehension backed by an avowed gladness to forgo the superficial comforts of intellectual thought, opinion, etc., all of which are not to be trusted because they are just part of conditioned self-defenses.
Since at Oasis, Ignorance is Strength, it seems reasonable to suppose that the so-called Accountability Committee has no power, no autonomy, and no clue about their purpose. It certainly isn’t there to make anyone accountable, unless it’s the whistle-blowers and victims of John’s power abuses, who are seen as troublemakers, disruptors, gossipers, and potential enemies of Truth. So then the Accountability Committee is a) all for show, to make it seem like something is being done to address the question of consequences; b) to cover up John’s actions and protect his image by managing the dissident voices (making them accountable) and amplifying the party line, thereby quashing doubts as fast as they can surface. Meanwhile, all support is directed exclusively towards John and his Oasian Empire of One.
In his film review of American X, Nicolas writes, in the same overwrought language, of redemption through death: “Returning to the Christian framework, ‘righteousness’ doesn’t earn perfection. Perfection requires the blood of the lamb.” So who is the lamb? John self-identifies as Jesus, the Lamb of God, forever making the ultimate sacrifice. He has even convinced Nicolas that having a harem of worshipful women is like being trapped under a mountain. But what does John actually sacrifice in this story? He is fabulously wealthy, has a bevy of ever-changing sexual partners (or concubines), is adored by hundreds, never has to admit he is wrong or apologize for anything he does, and effectively possesses absolute power within his day to day life. He eats, drinks, smokes, and fornicates to his conditioned heart’s desire, because that is all just superficial or, if it’s not, it’s a movement of truth that is not for his “person.” He charges for his time and gives nothing of himself emotionally to his followers. Where exactly is the sacrifice in all this?
On the other hand, by presenting himself as the supreme martyr whose every act is an act of self-sacrifice, John coerces everyone who is in thrall to his “goodness” to sacrifice themselves before him. In the current context, this means defending him no matter what he does or what the consequences of his actions are. It means lying in public. It means keeping silent about his abuses of power and then writing long, impassioned defenses of him that can only serve to silence others by throwing them into guilt and self-doubt for ever having questioned John’s goodness. It means joining an army of spin whose primary aim is the suppression of truth wherever it threatens to surface, and the continued crazy-making of promoting willed delusion, insanity, and self-indulgence as a devotion to Truth at any cost.
Meanwhile, his actions, as they become revealed (due above all to an inability to keep them hidden), are provoking more and more confusion, distress, despair, and anger in his followers, all feelings are to be suppressed or concealed, thereby making them all the more oppressive and consuming. For now, this “negativity” is likely to be mostly directed at other people in the Oasis group; but sooner or later, it is going to be directed at the Leader himself. What’s his contingency plan for that day? Is that why he bought Rottweilers and had security cameras installed in his home “complex”? Is John preparing his secret getaway for when the trumpet sounds, or is he going to make his stand, face the music, and risk losing everything?
So far, nothing about John de Ruiter indicates that he is the sort of man to take responsibility for anything—and certainly not for the consequences of his actions, for all the emotional, mental, and energetic harm he may have caused to so many of those who stumbled or staggered hopefully into his line of “friendly” fire, their hearts and palms extended. John’s four-by-four does not brake for pedestrians. He is on a mission from Truth, and everyone else is expendable. His real mission may be just that: to secure his own survival at any cost, the truth will out, taking no prisoners. And since John seems to believe his mission as Truth-Embodiment is worth more than life itself, when push comes to shove, where will he draw the line?