10 questions to ask before you take the Avatar Course
I have received numerous questions about the Avatar Course and Star's Edge, so I thought I would sum up my observations and opinions. If you're being encouraged to take the Avatar Course, I encourage you to do some due diligence. You have every right to do so. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
1. Why do you believe you should take this course?
Eldon M. Braun
This is an important question, one that deserves thorough consideration, because Avatar is directed at changing your personal beliefs, supposedly at your own volition. Let's consider two ends of the spectrum.
One person feels OK about life. In general, things are going pretty well. This person might feel the urge for some excitement or enlightenment or knowledge, but doesn't feel an immediate urgency to fix anything that's broken.
Another person feels something is seriously wrong with or lacking in life. This person is experiencing considerable psychological discomfort, and feels an urgency to fix the problem. Maybe it's depression or an obsession.
If you identified more with the first description, taking Avatar might be a rewarding experience. But if the second description sounds more relevant, you might be better advised to work with an experienced, legitimate therapist first. Unfortunately, some Avatar Masters have been known to promise unrealistic miracle cures for medical conditions such as bipolar disorder. People with various psychological problems have experienced adverse effects from the course, including mental breakdowns.
2. What are the credentials of the "Master" who teaches it?
A related issue is that few Avatar trainers have any professional training or credentials in the field of mental therapy. Most have only completed the ten-day Avatar Master Course, mostly a rehash of the basic Avatar course. Some have also taken the four-day Pro Course, which is largely devoted to marketing Avatar. (There is also an "upper level" course called Wizards that has little if anything to do with delivering the Avatar course.)
You should ask this question and consider the answer so you'll know whether you're about to take the course under the guidance of an unlicensed and inexperienced "therapist." On a related note, you might ask how many students they've trained, and with what overall level of success. This isn't to say Avatar Masters lack sincerity or good intentions--just that many are inadequately trained in the techniques they use.
3. Why is it confidential?
It isn't, no matter what you are told. Many people are uninformed about the status of "copyrighted" materials. Manuals that describe processes and procedures are only protected to the extent that they contain original expression. The Avatar textbooks were registered with the US Copyright Office as published (made available to the public), which means they cannot be treated as secret by definition. Despite that, they have been presented as "confidential" over the past 17 years, which implies that they contain proprietary trade secrets. That is a sham. The concepts and technique are contained in many books you can buy in bookstores.
So why do they make you sign that bogus confidentiality agreement? Here are three theories. Maybe because it makes some people feel special to receive esoteric teachings; they become part of an in crowd of initiates. Or maybe because it restricts students of the course from sharing anything they learn. They mistakenly think they can't teach anyone else to use the "secret techniques" as they could if they took a conventional course in meditation or cooking. Or maybe because the fake confidentiality agreement appears to give Star's Edge control over a part of the student's consciousness: they own what you're learning.
4. Is this a cult?
It's not established as a religion. Star's Edge is a for-profit, multi-level marketing company that promotes itself as creating "an enlightened planetary civilization" made up of beings with quasi-magical powers. Just look at the name itself, and the designation of graduates as "Avatars." That name is taken from Hindu mythology, where it describes a descended religious deity like Krishna, Christ or Mohammed, who might show up on earth once in several centuries. Star's Edge has supposedly churned out around 100,000 gods incarnate within the past 17 years.
Because Avatar is centered on the purported "revelations" of a guru, practices secret initiation rituals, and preaches salvation of the individual and civilization, it qualifies as a cult in the opinions of many experts. In France and Germany it is considered a "psycho-sect' (cult) by government authorities.
5. Why does it cost that much?
Avatar, like Amway and similar schemes, is set up as a multi-level marketing economic engine where licensees (Masters) peddle the course and send money "upline" to Star's Edge. Royalties range from 15 to 25 percent of the course fees. Masters also get financial benefits and supervision fees for students they refer to take the Master Course.
However, the price of the basic course cannot legally be set by Star's Edge--vertical price fixing is entirely prohibited in most countries. Avatar Masters are at complete liberty to charge whatever they want, so the price is negotiable, no matter what you're told to the contrary.
Of course, people deserve to be paid for their time. But if you take the Avatar Course in a large group of people, the economics are easy enough to figure out. You might want to ask for a group discount based on the number of students. Make an offer. No harm in that.
6. Will this really change my life?
Chances are, it will change your view of life--at least temporarily. Avatar contains a sequence of processes that induce trance (or self-hypnosis). While in an altered state, students address various areas of existence as belief systems. Critical thought and reservations are treated as "resistance" to experiencing a state of enlightenment. One of the main goals is to become "identity-less" by eliminating different aspects of your personality. Then you can supposedly adopt another identity at will if you'd prefer not to remain who you originally were.
The course is systematically engineered to put students into a state of euphoria through the production of brain chemicals called endorphins. It gets you high without drugs. It also makes you vulnerable to suggestion. The mechanics are similar to what you might experience in some meditation courses. The difference is that during the Avatar Course--both within the written materials and the suggestions of the trainers--it's likely that you will be fed a number of beliefs designed to manipulate you in ways that promote the financial and authoritarian goals of Star's Edge.
People often leave the Avatar Course in a high state of bliss; their reality has indeed been changed as seen through the lens of altered brain chemistry. A couple of weeks later, some will say it was a nice experience; some might say it was life-changing; some will become devotees who can't wait to take more courses; some may slip into depression, obsessive thought patterns and dysfunctional behavior.
7. What will happen during the course?
You can buy the manual for Part I, Resurfacing, as a published book. It contains a number of theories and exercises that can be performed on your own or done in a three-day workshop. It propounds the "beliefs create reality" principle at the core of many New Age teachings and contains some exercises designed to induce trance through focusing and de-focusing attention among other things.
One thing I advise you to do before signing up for Part Two is this: Get a yellow highlighter and go through the book, marking statements that overtly or subliminally promote the agendas of Star's Edge. One example is "yes sets." There will be a string of two or three statements anyone would agree with as being true. As you read them, you will automatically say "yes." Then there will be an arbitrary statement of an opinion the author wants you to buy into by continuing to say "yes." Check it out, just in case.
On Part Two of the course, you will first be instructed to do "Feel-Its." This is a meditation technique where you observe and identify with various things and people. These quiet the mind and induce a sense of being "one with the universe."
Then you will repetitively state lists of affirmations (primaries), looking for miscellaneous contradictory thoughts or doubts (secondaries) that crop up as you say each one. The primaries include such statements as "I create it all," and "I am Source." The outcome is that you can state an affirmation and feel it is unequivocally true. In other words, you're in a trance where you perceive that you can "create your own reality" at will.
Up to this point, you were told that your fees would be refunded if you weren't satisfied. When you enroll on Part III, where the "good stuff" is, you will sign a statement stating that no refund is possible. Depending on where you live, consumer protection laws might say different.
Part Thee unveils the crown jewel of the Avatar Course, called the Creation Handling Procedure. It appears to be derived from a Tibetan meditation called the Void Gem. It's similar to the Sedona Method, and has been quoted in public domain documents.
In this process, a thought, feeling or belief is treated as a spatial construct with boundaries. It's a "thought-form" or energy field. You enter it within mental space, expand out to its perimeter, observe it dispassionately from outside, and watch it disappear or "discreate." It goes like this:
- STEP 1: Identify with and experience
[the creation or thought form].
- STEP 2: Define the outermost limits
[by expanding outward within the form to its edges].
- STEP 3: Label it without judgment
- STEP 4: Disassociate from the creation
- STEP 5: Discreate the creation.
- STEP 6: Create what you prefer.
You'll be guided through this process by the Master in charge of the course during an "initiation" session that addresses a laundry list of areas that will be covered in more detail during later "rundowns." During the initiation, you will discreate, among other things, your conception of your parents and yourself.
Following that, you will discreate many more aspects of existence as you have experienced it: your bodily sensations, various identities representing personality traits, and so forth. You'll also attempt to discreate the beliefs and feelings of other people telepathically, including those embedded in mass consciousness. The course culminates with the Ultimate Process, another guided session, in which you repeatedly discreate "all that is."
And then, in a state of disoriented, giddy euphoria, you will be pressed to write and sign a success story, just in case you change your mind later. Proof on file as it were.
8. Where did the Avatar materials come from?
The Avatar Course theories and exercises appear to be a hybrid mixture of Scientology processes; New Age teachings and techniques such as affirmations and visualization: Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP); and ancient meditation techniques. Harry Palmer's former Scientology staff members say he also did extensive study in mind control.
He claims to have independently discovered the basics of the Avatar Course during a prolonged series of flotation tank sessions he undertook at the time he was forced to close his Scientology mission. People who were there at the time say he was also selling copies of tapes made by Daryl Anka, the channeler of an entity known as Bashar. There is a striking similarity in the language.
9. Who is Harry Palmer?
He is a former high school English teacher who became enamored of Scientology in the early 1970s, studied it extensively, and ran a franchised Scientology Mission in Elmira, New York for 15 years until he was disenfranchised and sued, resulting in a settlement in 1986. His former Scientology followers claim he swindled them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars they paid for courses they never received. When he introduced the Avatar Course in late 1986, he claimed it delivered "the entire Scientology Bridge." After a series of exposé articles appeared in the local newspaper, he moved his operation to Orlando.
10. Why do people promote this course as "The Answer"?
The best answer to that question is: They probably believe it is, or at least they hope it might someday lead to The Answer. Of course, Avatar Masters also have an economic incentive to promote the Avatar Course. They themselves have already invested a large amount of money, time and self-esteem in this program, so they wouldn't like to admit they made a mistake.
If they took the Wizard Course, they have also been sold the idea that world peace, prosperity and even the planet's ecological survival depend on the transfer of wealth to the Star's Edge Network. Yes, like all cult leaders, Harry Palmer has invented a myth about saving humanity by assuming control of it. L. Ron Hubbard had his own version, and Reverend Moon still promotes his.
Once people buy into that idealistic agenda, they desperately want Avatar to be The Answer. If they weren't able to create that reality so far, they're told, they didn't fully get it. Somewhere down there is a hidden belief they need to get rid of. Once they do, it will all work out. So they repeat the Avatar Course and the Master Course and the Wizard Course for another endorphin fix and more indoctrination.
An extra question you might want to ask any hard-selling Avatar Masters is how many times they themselves have repeated each course in the lineup. If this is indeed The Answer, why is it necessary to keep going back again and again?
If the answer you get to that question sounds a bit evasive, consider the alternative.