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Previous page: Lawsuit calls Dahn Yoga chain a cult
The BITE model as applied to Dahn Hak. As prepared by a former member with family members involved in Dahn Hak. Cult expert Steve Hassan checked the accuracy of the applied BITE model with several former members. More information is on file
I was surprised that enlightenment was for sale at an exercise centre, where instructors persistently urged members to purchase higher-level courses, costly healing products and Lee's books.
The costs varied from around $1,500 for "New Human" training and $3,000 for a world lifetime membership to around $10,000 for healer school training and $20,000 for an ancestor liberation ceremony.
Dahn is mostly about exercising, but Brain Respiration, the name of the program, while enhancing mental faculties, is also supposed to bestow paranormal abilities: seeing while blindfolded and bending spoons telekinetically.
Dahn makes itself available to most people, with a few exceptions: the homeless, Africans, people in small towns and skeptics. According to my teacher, they're not ready for enlightenment.
Lee's followers believe he holds great mystical wisdom, but they're discouraged from asking questions. A Dahn teacher told me repeatedly that Eastern philosophy should not face critical probing. I began to find this formula for happiness hard to swallow. Can we really find enlightenment where questions are not permitted?
Given the devotion many Americans feel for yoga, it was just a matter of time before someone hatched the idea for a yoga cult. But at Dahn Yoga, a 25-year-old Korean organization, there are no downward-dog poses, no sun salutations. At the group's 127 fitness centers nationwide, practitioners train in martial arts, engage in a head-shaking meditation known as "brain wave vibration" that is best performed while holding palm-size rubber vibrating brains ($80 per pair) and, after class, discuss their feelings in a "sharing circle." In fact, Dahn's calling itself "yoga" is just a marketing ploy to enhance its appeal to Americans, who make up some 10,000 of the 500,000 members the group claims worldwide. Many are supermotivated kids, like Amy Shipley and Ricardo Barba, who are recruited from college campuses, along with a healthy dose of older rich folks whom the group privately calls "VIPs." Last year, Dahn Yoga pulled in an estimated $30 million in the United States alone — and that's only a fraction of its 1,000 franchises across nine countries.
But critics say this lucrative fitness craze has a dark side. "Dahn is a destructive mind-control cult, very similar to the Moonies," says Steven Hassan, author of Combatting Cult Mind Control, who has counseled many ex-Dahn members. A federal lawsuit filed last year by 27 former members, including Shipley and Barba, goes a step further, claiming that Dahn is not only a cult, but that the profits generated by its brainwashed masses fund the rock-star lifestyle of Seung Heun "Ilchi" Lee, a paunchy, white-haired 57-year-old who travels the globe via private jet and is orbited by a worshipful entourage of personal assistants. Lee's disciples, meanwhile, live in communal housing, go deep into debt to meet financial quotas and say they are driven to exercise to an extreme degree. (In 2008, Dahn settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed sum when a college professor named Julia Siverls died of dehydration while hiking a Sedona mountain, allegedly lugging 25 pounds of rocks in her backpack.) The current lawsuit also accuses Lee of breaking wage and immigration laws, evading taxes and sexually abusing female disciples, who are assured they're being singled out for a sacred honor.
Dahn Yoga denies the lawsuit's allegations.
We, Vortex. Inc, primarily offer products assisting Dahnhak and Brain Respiration programs. We also distribute resources for personal growth including books, CDs and videos, which present Dr. Ilchi Lee's philosophy and musical performances. Our mission Statement is 'to provide resources and products that lead us to true health and the evolution of consciousness'.
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