Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lineage of Schemes

"Pigs and fishes are the least intelligent of all animals and therefore the most difficult to influence. The force of inner truth must grow great indeed before its influence can extend to such creatures. In dealing with persons as intractable and as difficult to influence as a pig or a fish, the whole secret of success depends on finding the right way of approach. One must first rid oneself of all prejudice and, so to speak, let the psyche of the other person act on one without restraint."

--Richard Whilhelm translation of the I Ching
(emphasis added)

She was born in New York as Alyce Louise Zeoli. The family moved away so her stepfather could find work. In Florida, a high school counselor recognized disordered thinking, and she was sent to Dr. Ronald Shellow, a psychiatrist, with whom she engaged in three years' worth of therapy. I do not know that she managed to graduate from either the school or the therapy. She moved away from home. She began her career as "Alyce Louise Perry," and when that didn't work, "Alyce Louise Mulloy." Later -- much later -- she would be "Alyce Louise Jones," and she would persuade one of her students to change her name to "Alyce Louise."

She came to live in a farmhouse near Asheville, North Carolina, where she never stopped doing psychedelic drugs, and circa 1968, reported having "strange dreams."

We all knew a hundred just like her.

Her root guru, if indeed she may be said to have one at all, is the late "Reverend" Jim Goure (var. Gore), of the Black Mountain Light Center, in Black Mountain, North Carolina (now the U R Light Center). She affords him no respect whatsoever; keeps no pictures of him upon her altar, and pretends not to recognize his name. This is, in some respects, a pity -- because spiritually speaking, this is where she comes from. Hillbilly hoodoo, spiritual salad bowl, we-are-all-light speaking.

Jim Goure (left), died in December 1986.
From Goure, she learned the charismatic tricks of the New Age trade, and -- fueled by copious amounts of cheap bourbon and marijuana -- began "channeling" a being she named "Santu," another one she named "Andor," and the prophet Jeremiah. Her claims became ludicrous. She was Mary Magdalene. She was the ruler of a distant galaxy. We all knew each other in another lifetime when I was queen this, you were king that: he was the prince, she was the princess.

"Alyce Mulloy" and North Carolina weren't working, so she became "Catherine Burroughs," and moved to Maryland, beginning a twenty-four hour prayer vigil in the basement of her home, using prayers composed by Jim Goure. She also began raking in money from the credulous: cleansing spirits, blessing money, selling hex candles, and all the other traditional profit centers of the gypsy fortuneteller's repertoire. By 1985, she was successful enough to form something she called the "Center for Discovery and New Life," and bought herself a mansion.

She went looking for that which the otherwise undistinguished mutt nouveau riche always so desperately need.

A pedigree.

This came in 1987, when she was recognized as "Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo," by the late Penor Rinpoche, head of the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School. Along the way, she also acquired (from her husband) the title "Jetsunma," and that is the name she is best known by today.

There have been persistent rumors and even outright accusations that Penor Rinpoche was somehow influenced by money to recognize Alyce Zeoli as a tulku. As nobody has ever been able to come up with any evidence to support these allegations, they remain only that: allegations. The matter is what it has always been: an inexplicably strange aberration in the history of the Nyingma School -- one on a par with Penor Rinpoche's other, equally controversial recognitions, and one that generates more questions than it answers.

However, it is certain that what began as a warm friendship in the late 1980s, had substantially cooled by the late 1990s, and by the time of Penor Rinpoche's death in 2009, the two were so estranged he openly warned prospective students against her.

When he died this past March, she did not even bother to attend his funeral.

The hot then cold aspect of Alyce's relationship with Penor Rinpoche is, in essence, the story of her life. It is the story of every relationship or friendship she has ever had. It is the pattern she cannot break -- the biggest single obstacle to her completion as a human being, and the lighthouse of her affliction.

On or about a date certain in August 2007 -- I believe it was two years ago today -- I began receiving email communication from Konchog Norbu (Thomas Fry), who was then in Mongolia. Fry commented favorably on my writing ability, and also posted comments in the online forum known as E-Sangha.

Subsequently, we began exchanging correspondence about diverse matters relating to the Dharma, Mongolia, and so forth.

There came a time, during the course and scope of this exchange, when Fry mentioned to me that his teacher, Alyce Zeoli, was in some distress. He stated that he had given my email address to Zeoli's close personal attendant, and former sexual partner, Elizabeth (Alana) Elgin.

Then, Alana Elgin herself contacted me, on September 8, 2007. Thereafter, she continued contact, stating that Alyce was in considerable distress and needed help. I made inquiry as to the nature of this distress, and received a number of detailed replies, inclusive of the admission that Alyce was under psychiatric care, heavily medicated, and drinking:
I continued to exchange emails with Alana, and these messages, which were read aloud to Alyce, ultimately resulted in a telephone call from Alyce on October 21, 2007, which lasted upward of an hour and a half. During this conversation, Alyce begged me to help her -- at times crying and sobbing -- asking over and over again that I come to visit her in Arizona.

Akhon Lhamo Rinpoche, the emanation of Mandarava, told me that her life was out of control.

Alyce had her daughter make matching sweatshirts for us.
So, that is how it began. I went off to meet her, in company with one of Penor Rinpoche's former attendants -- a ten-year resident of the apartment next to his at Namdroling Monastery in India.

I arrived at her farm in rural Arizona -- grandiosely called "Dakini Valley" but actually the poorly maintained remnant of an old cattle ranch -- in response to a cry for help, and was presented with a "Gringo Rinpoche's Lonely Hearts Club" sweatshirt. In its way, that sweatshirt was all I needed to see. This seductive little gesture, coupled with the history she had offered, and the observations of those closest to her, led me to an opinion that has not wavered since.

It became my opinion that Alyce suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, described by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as follows:
While a person with depression or bipolar disorder typically endures the same mood for weeks, a person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day. These may be associated with episodes of impulsive aggression, self-injury, and drug or alcohol abuse. Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values. Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are. Such symptoms are most acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lacking in social support, and may result in frantic efforts to avoid being alone.
People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). Thus, they may form an immediate attachment and idealize the other person, but when a slight separation or conflict occurs, they switch unexpectedly to the other extreme and angrily accuse the other person of not caring for them at all. Even with family members, individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and distress to such mild separations as a vacation, a business trip, or a sudden change in plans. These fears of abandonment seem to be related to difficulties feeling emotionally connected to important persons when they are physically absent, leaving the individual with BPD feeling lost and perhaps worthless. Suicide threats and attempts may occur along with anger at perceived abandonment and disappointments.
People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex. BPD often occurs together with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.
This describes Alyce better than I ever could: it is in fact a complete description from which she strives to hide. It is the origin of the lineage of schemes her mental illness forces her to perpetrate in order to defend herself from self-discovery. There is no aspect of this diagnosis that does not fit her her like a glove. There is no aspect of this diagnosis that she will not fight to the death to rationalize or deny. There is no person with whom she has had contact who has not, in one way or another, been damaged or disappointed by her lineage of schemes. Since she has established herself as a lama, that list unfortunately includes her students.

When Alyce looks back at my visit to her ranch, she conveniently ignores the reason why I came, or that an independent observer from Namdroling accompanied me. When Alyce looks back at her subsequent, repeated invitations for me to come visit Sedona, she cannot be honest with herself. In keeping with her lineage of schemes, Alyce has now been forced to invent an alternative history for these events: one in which she was misunderstood; one in which she was abandoned; one in which she was deceived; one in which she is blameless; one in which she is queen; one in which she is victimized.


Perhaps it is because the guilt and shame of knowing that her position was gained by guile and guile only forces her to seek value in herself by devaluing others. Her own feelings of worthlessness cause her to demean others. Her own feelings of isolation lead her to isolate others.

Excerpt from a "song" by Alyce

But, somewhere -- somewhere hidden -- she knows the truth, and the truth is so uncomfortable it makes her withdraw her breath: a sharp intake of pain.

She is losing her grip.

In the great and terrible Church of Cognitive Dissonance that her illness created, the faithful are restless: no longer able to rationalize their disconfirmed expectancy. Although she frantically tries to create new Bad Daddies to hate -- new Hitlers, new "enemies of the faith," new rallying points for her lineage of schemes -- the exhausted victims of her disorder are privately beginning to question the extremely wide gulf between what she says and what she actually does. When the answers to those questions are slow in coming, then one-by-one, people are beginning to leave.

The evidence is in the letters that arrived here, and continue to arrive here.

Although distinguished by different use of language, they all basically say the same thing.

They say "thank you for helping my teacher."

They say "please help me."

"Mandarva" wants to "consort," as New Years' Eve approaches.
Her proposal follows the visit to "Dakini Valley." Her latest ramblings
suggest that she feels unloved -- still looking for Vito Cassara?

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