Apologetics Index

Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) – Research resources


  1. Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness | MSIA
  2. Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) - Research resources

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This page lists suggested research resources on the teachings and practics of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA).

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  • Arianna’s Mandatory Cult Meetings [Contra] Gawker, Oct. 17, 2008

    Arianna Huffington for many years sought to downplay the extent of her involvement in the Movement For Spiritual Inner Awareness, a cult ex-members described as sexually and financially exploitive in a series of Los Angeles Times exposés in the 1980s and 1990s. […]

    What about the role she has fashioned for her cult in HuffPo staff development?

  • Cult Leader John-Roger, Who Says He’s Inhabited by a Divine Spirit, Stands Accused of a Campaign of Hate [Contra] By Montgomery Brower, Suzanne Adelson, Leah Feldon, People Magazine, September 26, 1988, Vol. 30, Number 13.

    Claiming that he is the embodiment of a divine spirit, which he calls the Mystical Traveler Consciousness, and that he is able to guide people to God, the onetime California schoolteacher has turned his tax-exempt MSIA–pronounced “messiah” by his followers–into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Insight Seminars brought in $8 million in 1986-’87, and J-R’s organizations back various media enterprises and own real estate, including a $6 million John-Roger foundation building on L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard. […]

    [Former cult members] accuse him of abusing his spiritual authority by brainwashing his followers, seducing young male staff members and intimidating dissenters. Movement dissidents say J-R used hidden listening devices at the organization’s Santa Monica headquarters as a way of supporting his claim of having mind-reading powers. “What people thought was J-R’s clairvoyance was just his cunning and deceitful information gathering,” said one disenchanted member. Ex-followers also accuse J-R of subtly manipulating MSIA members with a kind of spiritual catch-22. “He says one thing–‘Check it out, think for yourself’–and then when you do, you are told he is the only one who can validate your inner experience,” says defector Susan Gray, an office manager. “Some people don’t even think they can exist in the world without John-Roger.” […]

    Once initiated into J-R’s circle, say former disciples, followers hesitate to leave, if not for fear of reprisals, then out of reluctance to blow their chances at salvation. John-Roger has warned, after all, that the Mystical Traveler Consciousness visits earth only once every 25,000 years.

  • The J.R. Controversy [Contra] “A Critical Analysis of John-Roger Hinkins and M.S.I.A.” by David Lane. In a postscript he says:

    This article was originally written in 1983 after I was approached by several highly placed members of M.S.I.A. who felt betrayed by John-Roger Hinkins. Since I was somewhat friendly with J.R. (we had met on several occasions at his home about my research on Paul Twitchell, shabd yoga, and Radhasoami), I called him on the telephone to get his response to the three main allegations made against him (plagiarism, sexual manipulation, and charlatanism). J.R. did not take kindly to my questions and did not want me to do any further research on him. Indeed, after that phone conversation in the Fall of 1983 I was subjected to a series of threats, including several made against my life and the lives of my friends/informants.

  • The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) [Contra] Statement by the Christian Research Institute.

    Although MSIA leaders will say that participants in their programs are not required to believe anything or to modify their own religious beliefs, the fact is that MSIA promotes and teaches a philosophy which is completely incompatible with biblical Christianity.  MSIA says there are no absolute truths; the Bible teaches that God has spoken specific truths which will stand as true throughout history (Ps. 119:89; Matt. 5:17-18; 24:35; etc.).  MSIA says that there are no rights or wrongs, no absolute good or bad; the Bible declares that certain things are right or wrong, good or bad, and condemns those who reject these standards (Is.5:20; Rom. 1:28-32; etc.).  MSIA teaches its followers that they are “fine just the way you are” and that they are “already perfect”; the Bible commands all to repent and turn from their wickedness, and states that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the spirit (John 3:3-8; Acts 17:30-31; etc.).  MSIA teaches that Jesus was one of many “Travelers,” the latest of whom is John-Roger; the bible teaches that Jesus was the unique incarnation of God in human form (John 1:1-18; Phil. 2:6-8; Col. 1:15-18; etc.).  MSIA says that every human being has a Divine Nature; the Bible regards this claim as the lie foisted upon Eve by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5).
    It is obvious, then, that MSIA is incompatible with evangelical beliefs, which are based squarely on the Bible alone. 

  • Tracking the Mystical Traveler [Critical analysis] by Bob Sipchen, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 1, 1994. “The church founded by John-Roger has sparked controversy over some of its teachings, now-defunct gala awards and a peace retreat near Santa Barbara. Now it is in the news because of Arianna Huffington.”


  • Life 102 [Contra] by Peter McWilliams. Official out of print, and and currently available only second-hand. Be sure to read the reviews.

    Regarding this book, Wikipedia says:

    Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You is a controversial book by the best-selling self-help author Peter McWilliams. Couched in the tone of the author’s Life 101 manuals, it levels a series of personal allegations against John-Roger (Roger Delano Hinkins), founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and of Insight Seminars.

    These allegations caused the book, self-published in 1994 under the imprint of Prelude Press of Los Angeles, to itself become the subject of litigation for libel. Remaining copies were withdrawn from sale. […]

    McWilliams describes his struggle with depression, and claims that Hinkins promised him “spiritual healing” in exchange for crediting “John-Roger” as co-author of a series of self-improvement manuals which later made the New York Times best-seller lists.

    Hinkins sued McWiliams for libel, and in due course obtained full rights to Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You. The volume has been out of print ever since. It is about the only McWilliams title not available via the author’s website. [2] When the book later appeared on another website without permission, McWilliams in a notarized letter [3] formally requested the site owner to remove it:
    – Source: Wikipedia, Life 102 (Book), Last accessed Thursday, August 11, 2011 – 5:00 AM CET

    The text of McWilliams’ notarized letter can be found at life102.com It says in part:

    … the content of the book is no longer one with which I would like to have my name associated. There are several reasons for this.

    First, it no longer reflects my thinking or belief on a subject far more important than MSIA or John-Roger.

    I am speaking, of course, of God.

    I do not believe anymore in an external God. […]

    I consider a belief in an external God (or “higher intelligence” or “omnipotent being” that is not firmly rooted in the natural world) to be an infantile fixation — like a teenager who refuses to give up the notion of Santa Claus — based, primarily, on an unwillingness to face our own mortality and fueled by clinical depression. A belief in God is the cause of most pain, suffering, and inhumanity on earth.

    When I left MSIA, I thought it was John-Roger who deceived me, so my anger poured out, rather lavishly, on him. In fact, the larger deception was that there is a God at all, and for that I have a lot more people and institutions to blame than John-Roger.

  • Seeking the Light: Uncovering the Truth About the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and Its Founder John-Roger [Pro] by James R. Lewis, a religion scholar considered to be a cult defender. The book’s publisher says, “His comprehensive study looks at MSIA under a microscope, examining the religious and spiritual heritage of MSIA, and presenting the truth about this so-called controversial movement. His conclusions are enlightening and informative, interesting not only in the context of MSIA, but in relation to our politics, our culture, and our response to alternative religious movements.” The book can also be read in its entirety online

Books — Online

Books — Reviews

  • Loyalty to Your Soul — A Critical Analysis Book Review PDF file A review of “Loyalty to Your Soul: The Heart of Spiritual Psychology,” written by H. Ronald Hulnick, Ph.D. and Mary R. Hulnick, Ph.D.

    Reviewed by David Christopher Lane, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Mt. San Antonio College and Lecturer in Religious Studies, CSULB

    The Hulnicks’ message in Loyalty to Your Soul is about taking responsibility for one’s life and actions, even under the most trying of circumstances. They write, “Within the spiritual context, you’d assume that you’re responsible for everything in your life. However, you usually don’t know the spiritual reason why your Soul would choose an experience such as cancer. What you do know is that all of life serves a spiritual purpose, and since illness is part of life, cancer must serve one, too.”

    Yet, curiously, they don’t write extensively about taking responsibility for the harm one’s actions can do to others, regardless of the right or wrong intentions behind them. They seem to be morally tone deaf when it comes to analyzing their own guru whose actions have caused deep and continuing turmoil in a number of his disaffected students.

    Moreover, the very idea that our souls actually choose each and every event in our lives can at many turns legitimize unconscionable acts of depravity. Is it merely coincidental that such a theology permeates the University of Santa Monica when its very founder has indulged in all sorts of abusive interactions with those closest to him and those who would criticize him in public?

    Furthermore, do the Hulnicks really believe that John-Roger, the founder and moral guide to USM, knows everything at all times? Because that is precisely what John-Roger has printed about himself. The 1979 edition of the MSIA Handbook for Ministers of Light states that “John-Roger Can See All. Remember, however, you might frighten a person in the beginning if you tell him John-Roger has the ability to know everything we’re thinking and doing at all times. Though the person may not believe this at first, once he does start realizing it might true, he’s apt to feel frightened.”

    Where is the accountability for such grandiose claims? As Carl Sagan often quipped (reformatting Laplace’s earlier declaration): “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.”

    The Hulnicks, obviously following J.R.’s lead in this regard, make so many over-the-top claims in Loyalty to Your Soul that it becomes fairly obvious that much of what they write is more a religious theology (with a large number of untested claims) than a genuinely scientific primer on psychology.


Social Media


  • John-Roger [Pro] John-Roger’s official website
  • msia.org [Pro] MSIA’s official website
  • msiafacts.org [Pro] MSIAFacts.org was set up, by MSIA to counter allegations that it is a sect,cult, or cult-like organization
  • MSIA Today [Contra] “Former Members of MSIA, and Students of USM, present Information on John Roger”


  1. Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness | MSIA
  2. Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) - Research resources

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Category: Movement Spiritual Inner Awareness
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First published (or major update) on Wednesday, August 10, 2011.
Last updated on April 17, 2019.

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