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Ramtha's School of Enlightenment
Location
Yelm, Washington
Information
Founded 1988
Founder JZ Knight
Number of students 5,000
Website

Ramtha's School of Enlightenment (RSE) is an American spiritual school near the rural town of Yelm, Washington. The school was established in 1988 by JZ Knight, who claims to channel Ramtha the Enlightened One, a 35,000 year-old being. The school's teachings are based on these channeling sessions.

About the school[edit]

Overview[edit]

Ramtha's School of Enlightenment is located outside Yelm, Washington on property owned by the school's founder, JZ Knight.[1][2] The school's 80-acre (320,000 m2) fenced campus is usually open only to staff members and students, and not the general public.[3] However, the school occasionally offers introductory events for the public at its campus.[4] Many of the school's classes are held in Yelm, though events are also held at other locations worldwide. Additionally, the school's teachings are available through books, tapes, CDs and videos.[2]

The school's operations are managed by the company JZK Inc. According to estimates from the school, students attending events in Yelm contributed nearly $2.5 million to the local economy in 2007. The same year, the company's profits were reported to be around $2.6 million, according to Hoover's Inc.[3][2]

Ramtha[edit]

The school's teachings are focused on the knowledge of Ramtha the Enlightened One, whom the school's founder claims to channel. He is more commonly referred to as Ramtha.[2] Knight has described Ramtha as a male warrior who is approximately 35,000 years old.[5] According to information provided by Ramtha during channeling sessions, he is originally from Lemuria, but migrated to Atlantis.[6][7]

According to Knight, Ramtha first appeared to her in her home in Tacoma, Washington in 1977, while she and her husband were experimenting with pyramids.[6] During Knight's early encounters with Ramtha, Knight says she was told that she was one of his daughters in an earlier life and that he wanted to use her as a channel to share his knowledge.[8][5] Knight has described Ramtha as being 7 feet tall and having black eyes and a shining aura around him.[8][2] Though there is no concrete evidence of Ramtha's existence, students of the school have accepted his accounts as factual.[6]

History[edit]

Origins of the school[edit]

According to Knight, Ramtha's spirit first appeared to her and her husband in the kitchen of their Tacoma, Washington home on February 7, 1977.[3][5] After his initial appearance, Ramtha continued to appear to Knight over the next several months.[8] The following year, Knight claims to have channeled Ramtha for the first time.[9]

Knight first channeled Ramtha publicly in 1978. Early on, Knight would channel Ramtha for small gatherings of people in their homes. Later, her events grew to include thousands of people and took place around the country.[6][10] In 1979, Knight purchased the property in Yelm, Washington that would later become the location of the school.[9] Knight continued to tour and channel Ramtha throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, delivering talks known as "Ramtha Dialogues" across the United States.[9] In 1985, Knight appeared on The Merv Griffin Show for an interview while channeling Ramtha.[3][8]

Foundation of the school[edit]

Ramtha's School of Enlightenment was officially established in 1988 in Yelm.[6][3][5] A few years after the school's foundation, Knight was involved in a legal dispute with a German woman who also claimed to channel Ramtha. The lawsuit, originally filed in 1992, was settled in 1997 by the Austrian Supreme Court, which ruled that Knight had the sole rights to channel Ramtha.[11][12][1][13]

In 1997, the school invited researchers from universities including Temple University, the University of Oregon, Colgate University and Chicago Theological Seminary to study Knight as she channeled Ramtha. The researchers determined that Knight undergoes physical changes when channeling Ramtha.[14] In 1999, the school began a World Tour which included events in Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa and Scotland.[9]

Recent history[edit]

In 2004, students of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment worked with other Yelm-area residents to oppose a proposed NASCAR track in the area over concerns that the track would negatively impact local traffic, contribute to pollution and place a strain on the local law enforcement.[3][15] The developers withdrew their proposal in favor of another Washington state location.[5]

Two years later, the school participated in a series of community events in to help educate Yelm-area residents about the school. This included Knight's appearance at events at The Evergreen State College and the local library, as well as a three-day event on campus, where Knight invited local leaders and members of the media to learn about the school.[9]

Throughout the 2000s, the school continued to host World Tour events. By 2008, the school had conducted events and seminars in 22 countries, including the Czech Republic, Romania, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.[3] Also in 2008, the school was involved in a lawsuit against another spiritual teacher who had presented Ramtha's teachings at her own workshop event two years prior. The spiritual teacher, a former student of Ramtha, was found to have broken the agreement she signed while attending the school that stated that students may not use Ramtha's teachings for commercial gain[3][16] and was ordered to pay Knight $10,000, which is what she received from the 2006 workshop.[17]

In 2012, a former student released several videos containing clips of Knight channeling Ramtha, which received media coverage because they contained profanity and featured Ramtha making comments about Catholics, homosexuals and Mexicans.[18] The school has stated that the footage of Knight channeling Ramtha was spliced together and was taken out of context.[19] Following the release of the videos, the school filed a lawsuit against the former student for releasing copyrighted materials. In 2013, the former student was found to be in breach of the contract she had signed with the school while she was a student there.[20] She was also ordered to pay the school's legal fees.[21] The former student has announced her intent to appeal the case.[19][21]

Teachings[edit]

Although the school does not consider itself to be an institution that teaches religion,[5][1] scholars classify the school as a new religious movement[6] of the New Age type.[22] According to religious scholar J. Gordon Melton, the schools teachings are similar to gnosticism, which previously prompted the school to use the name The American Gnostic School.[1][9]

Gate to Ramtha's School of Enlightenment northwest of Yelm, Washington.

Lessons at the school are based on the teachings of Ramtha and incorporate a combination of philosophy, science, history, psychology, self-help and paranormal activities.[9] Classes are often taught by Knight while she is channeling Ramtha.[5] According to students of the school, when Knight channels Ramtha her posture, voice and eyes all undergo changes.[8][1][2] According to Knight, she is in a trance when channeling Ramtha and has no recollection of what was discussed during periods of channeling.[6] Beginning in 2006, Knight started to teach classes herself.[9] She also appoints long time students as teachers to lead classes.[1][5] The school's teachings are also available in books and other forms of media published by Knight.[2]

The school teaches students that they are capable of creating their own reality through a practice known as Consciousness and Energy, which combines kundalini yoga and focused concentration.[6] The school also teaches that god is present inside everyone.[3][23][5] Students are encouraged to know God in human form, to try to know the unknown and to create the life they want to live.[5][3]

Some of Ramtha's teachings focus on catastrophic millenarian predictions for the future, including natural disasters. Students of the school have been encouraged by Ramtha to become sovereign and to prepare for catastrophes by building underground shelters and gathering emergency supplies and food.[3][24][2][25]

Teaching techniques used at the school include completing tasks while blindfolded and meditation, which includes the school's breathing technique "Consciousness and Energy".[2][23][26] Students are also encouraged to practice telepathic powers. In 2004, the Willamette Week reported that Knight sometimes uses wine in "wine ceremonies" during lessons.[2]

Students of Ramtha[edit]

People who attend the school are called "students" or "adherents".[8] Prospective students must attend an introductory course and additional follow up courses designed to provide a more detailed overview of the school's teachings and disciplines. Following the completion of these courses, individuals may join the school as students. To remain a student of the school, students must attend two seven-day retreats each year.[6]

Students do not live at the school, but may stay on campus while attending events.[1] Only Knight lives on the school's campus.[2] There are approximately 5,000 current students who attend the school, of which approximately 2,000 live in the Yelm area.[2][5] As of 2008, the school estimated that between 50,000 and 75,000 students have studied Ramtha since Knight first began delivering lessons in the 1970s.[3] The majority of the school's students are from the Baby Boomer generation, female, college educated and caucasian.[2][5][9]

Research into Ramtha[edit]

In 1997, Knight was persuaded by religious scholar J. Gordon Melton to invite researchers to study both her, as she channeled Ramtha, and the students of the school. The researchers came from Temple University, the University of Oregon, Colgate University, the Chicago Theological Seminary and other institutions and included individuals who specialized in psychology, physics, parapsychology, religion and other fields.[14] Some of the studies conducted determined that Knight's body undergoes physical changes when she is channeling Ramtha. Changes were noticed in Knight's blood pressure, breathing and heart rate.[14][2]

After the research was completed, Knight and Melton, who had also conducted research on the school, held a conference in Yelm inviting the researchers to present their findings. The researchers determined that the existence of Ramtha could not be verified or denied and that Knight is not faking the channeling episodes.[14][2] For the conference, Knight covered the travel and lodging costs for the presenters. As a result of this, some of Knight's critics suggested that she had influenced their research. Researchers involved in the studies denied the accusations.[14]

Prior to the 1997 studies, Melton studied the school for five years as part of his work on his book about the school, Finding Enlightenment: Ramtha's School of Ancient Wisdom. In his book he explains his findings that Knight's channeling is authentic, that the school's philosophy is an emerging religion and that the school is similar to other spiritual groups.[14][1][3]

In 2009, Joan Hageman published a paper examining the results of the physiological testing on Knight and six students while they were meditating using the Ramtha-taught Consciousness and Energy breathing technique.[26]

Criticisms of the school[edit]

Some former students of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment have spoken out against Knight and the school, including several former students who formed the group Life After Ramtha School of Enlightenment (LARSE). LARSE members have claimed that the school used fear and "brainwashing" to ensure the obedience and retention of students. The organization has been called a cult or a scam by both members of LARSE and several other former students.[3][8][2]

One former student has also claimed that the school threatened him with stories of lizard people who would come to earth and hurt those who were not protected by Ramtha. The school has denied these accusations.[3] Another former student alleged in 1987 that, though Ramtha was real at one point, Knight no longer has the ability channel him. The former student believes that Knight has continued to act as though she can channel Ramtha to grow the school.[8] Christian organizations have also been critical of the school because channeling Ramtha is in opposition with Christian beliefs.[5][9]

Sign along WA 510. The entrance to Ramtha's School of Enlightenment is in the background on the left.

Knight's former husband Jeffrey Knight was also critical of the school following his divorce from JZ Knight. In 1992, he claimed that the channeling was fake and that he had been under Ramtha's control when he agreed to the original divorce settlement.[27] The divorce settlement was reevaluated in an evidentiary hearing following which the judge presiding over the case determined that Knight had not used mind control and was not operating a cult.[3]

In response to criticisms of the school, a school spokesman has noted that the majority of former students have had positive experiences with the school and that the criticism presented by groups like LARSE represents only a small fraction of the school's estimated 50,000 to 75,000 former students. The school and several former students have spoken about their positive experiences with the school, saying that they have used Ramtha's teachings to better their lives.[9][3] The school has also repeatedly denied allegations that it is a cult[5][2] and have pointed to the 1997 research conducted on the school in which the researchers determined the school was not a cult.[3]

Related projects[edit]

In 2004, three members of the Ramtha's School of Enlightenment directed a film that combined documentary interviews and a fictional narrative to posit a connection between science and spirituality called What the Bleep Do We Know!?[2] The film includes portions of an interview with Knight channeling Ramtha,[28] though the film does not include a direct reference or connection between the school and the film.[2] The directors of the film have asserted that the school did not fund the project.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Macdonald, Sally (May 9, 1998). "Christianity Vs. New Age". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Lydgate, Chris (December 22, 2004). "What the #$*! is Ramtha". Willamette Week. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Brenner, Keri (January 27, 2008). "Disillusioned former students target Ramtha". The Olympian. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ Wyble, Steven (May 3, 2013). "RSE opens its doors Saturday". Nisqually Valley News. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Leventis, Angie (July 31, 2005). "Ramtha - Just another neighbor". The News Tribune. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i James R. Lewis (2001). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus Books. pp. 596–600. ISBN 1573928887. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ Ramtha (2004). A Beginner's Guide to Creating Reality. JZK Publishing. pp. 61–64. ISBN 1578730279. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h French, Thomas (February 16, 1987). "Ramtha: ancient teacher or fraud?". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Pemberton, Lisa (July 16, 2006). "Behind the gates at Ramtha's school". The Olympian. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  10. ^ Lindsey, Robert (November 16, 1986). "Teachings of 'Ramtha' Pull Hundreds West". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Ramtha Is Solely Knight's, Court Says". Associated Press. June 12, 1997. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Ramtha Can’t Speak German, Court Rules Austrian Judges Put Gag Order On Atlantean Warrior". Associated Press. June 13, 1997. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Scott, Marion (May 23, 1999). "She's Some Profit!". Sunday Mail. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Iwasaki, John (February 10, 1997). "JZ Knight Not Faking It, Say Scholars". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  15. ^ "One proposed NW site sparks debate". Associated Press. August 4, 2004. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Knight defends lawsuit against spiritual guide". The Seattle Times. September 10, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Jurors side with Ramtha School founder". Associated Press. September 16, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  18. ^ Shannon, Brad (October 26, 2012). "Democrats to give away JZ Knight’s donations to the Anti-Defamation League and to R-74". The Olympian. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Pawloski, Jeremy (July 9, 2013). "Attorneys for JZ Knight want former student to pay $715,000 in attorney's fees". The Olympian. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  20. ^ Pawloski, Jeremy (July 8, 2013). "Judge bars former Ramtha student from posting more videos". The Olympian. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Wyble, Steven (July 26, 2013). "Virginia Coverdale ordered to pay JZK, Inc. $600K". Yelm Online. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ Dawson, Lorne L. (2006). Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-542009-8. 
  23. ^ a b Wyble, Steven (July 3, 2013). "Ramtha 101: RSE teaches hands-on techniques at retreat". Yelm Online. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  24. ^ Bamford, Helen (January 22, 2011). "Insider lifts lid on 'deep paranoia'". ioL news. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  25. ^ Wojcik, Daniel (2004). "Apocalypticism and Millenarianism". In Christopher. New Religions: A Guide. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 393. ISBN 0-19-522042-0. 
  26. ^ a b Hageman, Joan H.; Krippner, Stanley; Wickramasekera, Ian. "Sympathetic Reactivity During Meditation". Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine 19 (2): 26–27, 47. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Ex-mate calls spiritualist a con artist". Associated Press. September 26, 1992. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Yahr, Harriette (September 9, 2004). "Let’s get metaphysical". Salon.com. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]


Category:New Age organizations Category:New religious movements Category:Thurston County, Washington Category:Mysticism Category:Parapsychology