What I wanted to explain to you was some of the reasons why I initiated contact with Anne and now see her on occasions. As most people know, for many years after the events in 1987 I was a prominent part of the public face of those that wanted to expose what happened to us children and to see justice done. It must be remembered however that - despite perhaps appearances to the contrary - at that time I felt enormous loyalty to Anne. To my mind, I had put my life on the line to oppose her, as I believed at the time that to do so, to betray her, was to die. We had been brought up to believe that she was Jesus Christ reincarnate. Therefore to do what I had done was to become Judas to her Christ, and - by logical, as well as cult doctrine, extension, amplified by her own and other members’ assignation - forever damned. On top of that she had cursed me, or so I believed at the time, to ‘go and die in the gutter’ when I refused to obey her order, and my defiance of her then resulted in her casting me out of the Family, a fate as good as and synonymous with death to my mind back then. Also, many were the stories - and my superstitious mind believed them at the time (in fact for very many years afterwards in an overt sense, and perhaps longer than that again subconsciously) - of people who had died, often after terrible suffering such as cancer or painful illness, or had been driven to take their own lives (aka Judas) after opposing her, even in such small matters as trying to leave the sect without overtly criticising her. And here was I, someone who was an initiate, perhaps the closest of all the children to her - certainly, I believe, the most simpatico with her belief system - daring not only to disagree with her, daring not only to oppose her publicly, but also betraying her to the police and later (but only as a reaction to feeling a strong need to tell our side of the story after she went public and then after that as a means of trying to obtain some sort of investigation into what had occurred to us) to the media. But the going to the police in my mind was at the cost of my life, and I only did it at the time because I strongly believed (and still do to a large extent) that without some sort of intervention, without someone telling them off and forcing some sort of change in the regime at Eildon (I could no more envisage the extent of what would happen in terms of the raid and permanent removal of the children than see myself flying to the moon) the appalling suffering that was occurring to some of my brothers and sisters up there would continue unabated to the probable extent of the cost of their lives. So for me, although it was difficult, and took some courage, and I needed the support of the people I had around me and the encouragement of two other sisters who talked to the police as well (they not sharing the extent of my dilemma or fear around this issue), there was no contest in my mind when it came to that. My life was worthless anyway in my eyes: having been cast out of the cult and damned already, it was an easy exchange for the chance of saving the lives of my sisters and brothers. I was fully accepting of the consequences of my betrayal and thought it worth it. As I describe in my book and as Dr Ed Ogden has talked about publicly, it was only by the skin of my teeth that I didn’t end up dying from self neglect at that time, as I - like the proverbial aboriginal who has had the bone pointed in their direction - believed myself to be already dead as forfeit for my action, and thus, until that belief was successfully challenged by Ed, was ‘killing myself’ so to speak by my own belief in her curse and in her power. But it was not because I disagreed with her regime, nor her belief system, nor with what we had been taught as children, nor with my vows as an initiate (other than of course breaking them by definition by betraying her). Indeed, without the neglect and abuse that occurred both wittingly and unwittingly (that is by default or forgetfulness), there would be little from my perspective even now to criticise about our upbringing (save perhaps too narrow and restricted a normal education and socialisation).
As I explained to you I have been in and out of favour with Anne, depending on whether she feels she is being persecuted or not. For many years I went no-where near her or the cult, and in fact I was regarded by them as close to their greatest enemy (perhaps Lex or Marie might have jostled for that position but they did not bear the additional charge of being an insider turned traitor). It was not until well after all the court cases - perhaps around 2003 or thereabouts - that I sought contact. And contact has been intermittent since then. Partly because I am not capable of it at times that I do not feel strong in myself, partly of course because it is impossible when there is action against her or the sect, whether I have anything to do with that or not. It matters not to Anne and the group that I do not initiate proceedings against her - for everything I am to blame, because without my going public (albeit with others) and without the book that I wrote, they feel that her reputation would be intact. Reality does not come into it here: whilst no doubt the book did place a large further dint in her public reputation, there was nothing left to defend at that point. The fact that her and their own actions might have brought the punishment (mild as it was at least to outside eyes), censorship and opprobrium down on their own heads does never figure - she and they are always victims in this, and I am, on the majority of occasions that anything untoward happens to them, the culprit, the aggressor and the wicked and evil betrayer that – that, according to them, through lying for my own ends (some of which are for sex, for money, for fame, for revenge) - has caused all the trouble. However, when things are quiet, Anne is usually fine with me, and I can go up there for cups of tea, occasionally for a meal and so forth. And when she is fine with me the others have to go along with it, even though they distrust me and dislike me intensely for harming their master, and would happily tear me into shreds given a small amount of encouragement from her.
For many years, I was not strong enough to talk with her frankly about what happened. I initially asked to see her because I had just completed a therapeutic course called the Hoffman process in which one 'works through' ones issues with parents, abreacts the anger involved (as it is in all people) in response to the failures that are inevitable in parenting (even with the best-intentioned parents), and then comes to a place of understanding and forgiveness: by recognising that one's parents are only human and do their best within their own limitations and so to forgive them is the only way to move forward in reconciliation and love. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting however. And understanding does not mean excusing. Part of this process involves rediscovering (or re-educating) your love for your parents and then going to them afterwards, when one is ready and reconciling if there is any difficulties and - despite their reaction and despite what might be perceived by you or others as fair or unfair right or wrong in their past or current or future actions - telling them that you love them, you forgive them and asking their forgiveness for your inadequacies as a daughter or son. And so I contacted her, about a year after I did the Process the first time: it taking that long for me to feel together enough in myself to have the courage to face her and Bill. Luckily for me the timing was right. She actually was open to me at the time, and very welcoming. Bill was very unwell and pretty much on his death bed. So I was forever glad that I had made the effort and gone up there at that time, because I got to sit with him and - despite his illness and the fact that he may not have understood anything that I said to him (given his advanced dementia and medical conditions) - I got to tell him the above and spend that small amount of time with him with love in my heart, understanding and peace between us.
This is important to me today. I cannot stand hatred and anger and fighting for no good purpose. Why should we all be enemies from then til now til all time? Why not make some sort of peace, at least as individuals in our hearts, accepting what has happened, accepting that all parties feel wronged, that all parties feel that they have suffered in some way, but not accepting that mutual antagonism and even in some cases hatred has to remain the status quo forever? As I have told Anne and again recently, I only ever opposed her when I felt that there was no choice - which I had to do it to protect or advocate for the other children. I never oppose her for money, for my own advantage or for cheap five minutes of fame on a tv slot. Why would i do that when i know the cost to me, and how ephemeral, fickle and fleeting the outside world’s attention is, and that moreover a million dollars would not compensate for my life or my soul if i put my integrity on the line in response to a dilemma that for me is life and death, not only mine but affecting others lives as well. I did not like ‘attacking’ her and the Family at the time, and I like the fact of it less even more as we grow older, but less than I dislike the fact that these things occurred in the first place that led to such a dilemma, that led to such an upheaval in our lives, that led to rifts and consequences that in some cases will never be healed.
So I see her because I forgive her, because also I feel some understanding and compassion for her, and also because I have a notion that it is only through rapprochement that healing can begin, in any situation. I teach that and believe in it for my patients, for example in Family Constellations (another type of psychotherapy that i have learnt, in Europe from Bert Hellinger and use in my practice and in daily life as well as a way of understanding systems of all kinds and the bonds and energies between members of those systems), that it is possible for love to be restored in a family system - no matter what has happened in that system - providing (at least) one element in it is prepared to change here and now and forgive and allow the love to flow through the family system. Teaching that, how can I hold my own system aloof from this paradigm? I figured it was worth a try – me putting myself up as a candidate to change the dynamics in the situation even a little bit. Even if it failed, it was surely worth a try. And also I felt some empathy for Anne. I know enough about her childhood, and I - having suffered it myself as well - can imagine it only too vividly: that abandonment that she suffered. I can also understand how she might have made up her mind to compensate for the atrocious reality around her as a child, to create a fantasy world. And create it she was able to do, which is also perhaps the sad thing, as in a better world she would have received help herself and instead of being allowed to run amok in this society, she might have been able to achieve a lot more without all the pain and suffering that occurred. She is a powerful and charismatic person, and I believe she initially meant well with both creating the cult and collecting us children, both of which acts were at least partly I believe in compensation and delusional repair for her own childhood and at both of which she failed ultimately to follow through because of her own pathology and inability to empathise with normal people and to love. This is a tragedy of epic proportions, to my mind at least. When I think that her collecting us was because of a reaction to wanting to save children that had been abandoned by society (as most of us were, and as she was herself to a large degree with an absent father and often mad mother), just as she collects animals in this way (but is similarly unable to look after them in the way that she dreams of and would like to I am sure, there being just too many for one thing and her ignoring the dynamics of a lot of animals of the same sex locked up together in a small space – fighting, territorial issues, obesity and other health problems etc etc), I do feel sad for her that she suffered so much that it led to that. And I feel upset and sad for our society that it let that happen, first initially to her and her siblings and then to us. And then of course our children are inevitably affected to some degree as well and so the net of suffering cast itself over many many people.
I guess somewhere in me I just wanted it to end, and hoped me engaging with her and showing her some love and understanding might have some effect, if not on anyone else (as there are so many (it would have to be thousands) people who have been hurt through this cult and the situation around Anne, past present and future), at least on her, because I believe she has never received true (adult as distinct from our childlike) love in this lifetime, and that too is a tragedy. Adoration mixed with fear as she has in the world that she has invented and then amazingly enough managed to create around her is not true love. True love I believe is given and received despite the wounds of both parties, it is given in knowledge that nothing is ever perfect and that it may not be returned. And lest I start to sound like a hallmark card, I believe also that giving and receiving true love is one of the hardest and ongoing battles of our existence.
There are other reasons I see her. Initially I had some spiritual ego around it. I thought that, because I had some understanding of her and the world in which she exists, both from a psychological and psychoanalytic perspective and from a spiritual perspective, I was maybe the only person that would be able to heal some of the suffering that came from the actions of the sect and the reactions of us and the rest of the society afterwards to them. 22 years have gone by since the raid, it was 15 or so, when I first began this process with Anne, I believe at first very ineptly. Because I wasn’t strong enough psychologically, mentally or spiritually to deal with her. And I was arrogant to think that I could, by myself, make some impact on her the consequences of her actions on a spiritual or psychic or even psychological plane. She is a much stronger practitioner than me. She has powers – minor siddhis – which she has demonstrated many times to me. I spend time in the meditational planes feeling her energy and her power, and although it has vastly diminished in recent years, it still exists. And to think that I could deal with the misery in this world or the next that has ensued from this, to think I could heal some of the suffering by myself, by my own minor spiritual power or meditational endeavour, by my own love or understanding alone, or even by me speaking to all the alive people involved and counselling them or praying for them or whatever, was a stupid thought in retrospect. It led to a psychological burden I was at many times unable to bear. I would get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task, and feel defeated, powerless and then like giving up, to the point of suicide.
Meanwhile my own life was hardly looking particularly wonderful, at least from the outside. I developed bipolar disorder (a genetic predisposition) and then a few years after that, post traumatic stress disorder, which tends to compound the psychological situation when I get depressed. I believe however that a lot of my mental illness so called is not so easily able to be labelled because those that do so tend to try to put me in a box which assumes a normal socialisation, and thus they get it wrong or at least make an inadequate diagnosis, and therefore an inadequate treatment. I might as well come from a tribal jungle society or an alien planet in terms of how my thinking and cultural assumptions and thus my reactions to stress and symptoms when suffering from depression are manifested. So what might look like psychotic depression to an outsider (and indeed at one time I received multiple ects for catatonic depression, leading to quite profound memory loss and I believe some degree of cognitive impairment compared to how mentally sharp I was before) who asks nothing of or about me and is not interested in how I perceive the universe but just assumes and applies their prejudice as well (sadly that would describe most psychiatric clinicians nowadays in their attitude towards most patients - they are simply not interested in any sort of cultural understanding of the person, they want to label and treat with the latest and greatest drugs and then send that person out of the wards as quickly as possible. This is a way of treating patients that I always have reacted strongly against, well before I myself came to know both sides of the fence and got unwell, and in my own medical and psychiatric practice I make a huge point of taking the time and energy to at least make the effort to try to understand a bit of the patient's past and current world). Anyway, when I am unwell the Medical Board does not let me work here in Australia so unless I go over to places like India for my voluntary medical work (which I do as often as I can afford to do so, saving up for a ticket being the main impediment as of course my income is very low nowadays and I rely on centrelink's grudging largesse), I have large periods of down time, which unless I can do some voluntary work and keep myself engaged with society through this, leads to a spiralling down of depression and hopelessness because I feel I no longer have a role or a purpose or something to do when I am unable to help other people.
But that has changed now. I am much more comfortable with myself and what gifts I can give to the world, whether or not I ever work again as a doctor here in Victoria again. I am currently suspended for self prescribing and the mental illness, but that is not deregistered. So theoretically, if I could trust the Medical Board which I don’t fully, as I believe it has ties to the Family, I could work here in the sort of things I have done on and off the past few years: in psychiatry and in general practice, or in a related field such as public health, or even a bit of emergency medicine like i used to do when younger. I spend a lot of my time helping others irregardless of my current condition, offering my energy, my income such as it is, my possessions and my house to those that need it at the time. I have sheltered refugees, taught Afghani doctors medicine for their Australian exams, helped out people with drug and alcohol problems and mental illness, both materially and with counselling and so forth and so on.
But just because I have compassion and understanding for Anne, and I spend my life serving others, it does not mean that I am a wonderful person. I am very very far from a saint, and at no stage in my life do I ever want to be saddled with such a mantle or image to live up to. I have done wrong things, including writing myself scripts for pethidine on several occasions. Although it was in response to severe untreated pain and in the context of manifest psychiatric illness and difficult social and emotional circumstances, I still bear the responsibility and have readily accepted the punishment for lying and cheating the system to obtain what I wanted by deception. Aside from that though, I have tried and lived my life in such a way under the mandate of saving the world. That does not make me a good person either, of course. After all it is merely doing what I was brought up to do, and using the skills I have learnt through all my education, degrees and experiences. Everything I have done, and I have spent my life since leaving the cult in learning about humanity – how they tick – and endeavouring to do what I can to help others, I have done in the way that we were programmed to do. I do endless volunteer work, here and overseas, and even when I cannot or am not allowed to work in my job as a doctor I spend most of my time engaged in helping others. If I am not doing that, I feel empty and dead inside, and incredibly useless and bored. It has been in fact - although mostly a great joy - somewhat of a burden to live up to at times, especially when I felt cast out and cast off by the society that I spend all my time serving, especially when I feel that I have failed and been failed in my mission of ‘service to god through service to man’. It has led to almost intolerable depression and worsening of depressive states in the past when I have been unable, due to my illnesses, to participate and contribute. It is quite a psychological burden to be brought up a child of a guru, trained to spend every waking moment serving others ‘unseen, unheard and unknown’. That is partly why I quite enjoyed the media around my disgraceful behaviour in writing myself scripts: now labelled officially as a ‘bad’ as well as a ‘mad’ person, I could with some relief drop the burden of appearing always as a success or as a heroic type. However, gaining these labels in such a public way has led to some dreadful and unforeseen consequences in my life, including the loss of my leg and disgraceful treatment (or lack of it) from the health care system and some of the medical and nursing staff within it. But that is another story, and I won’t tell it now.
Suffice to say that finally I am rid of my burden. I recently met a great Buddhist lama who inducted me into the Buddhist philosophy and practice. This brought me enormous relief as well as joy, as now I could feel the support of a teacher/guru – the Buddha, a teaching – the dharma, and a community – the sangha of previously enlightened and compassionate beings. It made sense of my life and provided me with some perspective on what I had been doing, and where I had gone wrong, and had taken on too much spiritually and emotionally out of misguided arrogance or ignorance. And having found a guru – one hardly anyone not even me can find fault with (and believe me i probably have one of the worlds best bullshitometers around gurus and religious scenes having spent a large portion of my time checking out and confronting all sort of groups and leaders as part of my research into the human condition (I reckon I’ve met more ‘enlightened’ masters than most people have had hot morning teas and have been cursed and bullied by more so-called ‘avatars of compassion’ and their disciples than is strictly healthy!) - I have that background of psychological and spiritual support that has been missing for so long, since being cast out of the Family.
Anne told me recently that I was always an initiate and not to forget that. I responded that I could hardly forget that. But now I can say and I say it publicly and without fear, to myself to the world and to her: I am no longer part of her group. I renounce my initiation and I renounce my responsibility as a part of her group, even a failed part, as I have now a different identification and a different and stronger support behind me, one that is much more powerful and much more wonderful than she could ever be. Even were I to have been wrong and opposed someone who was right all along, even if it turns out to be true that I was a judas to her christ – I did it for love and in compassion and that, or so my new philosophy tells me – is the correct motivation and negates any consequence or karma that might have gathered through ignorance or misunderstanding.
And yes, I do love Anne. And my feelings are still mixed about her. She was and still is important to me as the mother I never had, as a first teacher, as a guru figure – although now I renounce that relationship it still has been important in my life, despite everything. It is only in recent times that I have been able to speak my truth around her and not be afraid of her, in fact only really since this episode with losing my leg and nearly losing my life. I guess that experience led me not to be afraid of anything. I was not afraid of death beforehand and even less afraid when it came so close at the hospital recently, in fact was more upset than anything else that I lived especially in view of the fact that I now have no leg, and ostensibly my social circumstances and life prospects look a bit grim. But my purpose in life and mission has been restored, my engagement with the world and my ability to love and enjoy life has returned. I want to get back to India as soon as possible and also to restart my medical career here in Australia as soon as possible. I always got rave reviews from my colleagues and patients as a doctor, as well as from any of the small NGOs I have worked for overseas. So I feel I still have a lot to offer as a doctor, but if I can’t do that in Australia any more I still can contribute to our society as a human being, by volunteer work, by using my psychotherapy and counselling skills and my medical knowledge of course as well, even if I am unable to earn a living from it here.
Anne and I will continue to be in relationship, in this world and the next whatever it looks like from the outside, whether we see each other or not. She is a huge part of me and what I have become, and I believe that on some level I am important to her as well. Even after her death, which must of course come soon, we will continue to communicate, and I will refer to her and what the experience of growing up with her as a mother, and in her Family, has taught me and how it has moulded me in who and what I am today.
Dr Sarah Moore PhD (Rel studies), MBBS, MA (Psych studies), Dip clin hyp, Dip Fam Th.