I have Dr. PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula to thank for bringing this story to my attention. The story was originally posted on the website of The Seattle Times.
The Times reported last Wednesday that alleged channeler J.Z. Knight, (full name: Judy Zebra Knight) has brought a lawsuit against a former student of hers who allegedly started teaching Knight's spiritually-themed material without Knight's permission. Knight is the founder of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment located in the small town of Yelm, Washington, approximately 63 miles southwest of Seattle. The case was heard in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia, WA.
Knight testified last Tuesday that the lawsuit against her student, Whitewind Weaver, was nothing Knight wanted to do. But, as Knight claims, she was so disturbed that Weaver had "moved next door, taken my school's teachings, changed them around a little and then started teaching them," that Knight authorized the lawsuit. The "next door" of which Knight speaks is the town of Lacey, WA, 14 miles northwest of Yelm where Weaver owns and operates Art of Life Coaching Inc.
Weaver's San Diego-based attorney Robert Kilborne asked Knight on the stand why Knight took such strong legal action against Weaver when Weaver had been so supportive of Knight's teachings and school. According to Kilborne, Weaver advised her students in Oregon to follow her lead in moving to Yelm and becoming a student of Knight's. Weaver has since enrolled in more than $8,000 worth of classes. From the article:
"'If you were aware of all the facts, would you have still done what you did?' Kilborne asked Knight during intense cross-examination. 'Why couldn't you have just called her (Weaver)?'"
Who or what does Knight claim to channel and who is this mysterious Ramtha, you may be asking? Apparently, Ramtha is a 35,000-year-old male spirit warrior entity who first contacted Knight in 1977. Among other things, Ramtha has allegedly revealed to Knight that God is within everyone, and that every human being is divine. Knight has apparently made millions of dollars from lectures, books and classes at the School of Enlightenment.
So it's really no surprise that Knight got upset when Weaver allegedly horned in on her action. From the article:
"Knight was the second witness in her case accusing Weaver of breach of contract in connection with a seminar Weaver taught in August 2006. Knight claims the seminar violated terms of a registration form Weaver signed that says teachings at the Ramtha school are for the students' personal use only and cannot be disseminated or taught for commercial gain. Weaver's attorneys deny the allegations."
The second attorney representing Weaver, David Spellman of Seattle, cross-examined Knight's school administrator, Mike Wright. Spellman attempted to show that the registration form in question was inconsistent from year to year, and that the teachings allegedly used by Weaver could be items of public domain. The article goes on to detail one of the teachings, and a particularly humorous exchange between Spellman and Wright:
"Knight's attorneys claim Weaver copied seven school processes, including Fieldwork, an exercise designed to improve the ability to focus attention and intuition by finding a symbolic card on a fence while blindfolded.
'Is "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" focused attention?' Spellman asked Wright.
"'It could be,' Wright replied.
"'So, then is it Fieldwork?' Spellman said."'No, it's "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" ' Wright said."
The article reports that the case was expected to continue through last Thursday. No stories in the Times since then have provided any updates on the ruling.
For anyone reading this who may have felt a tinge of familiarity when they read the names "J.Z. Knight" and "Ramtha," that was most likely because both played heavily in the 2004 quasi-metaphysical docudrama What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?. In fact, the film's producers, writers, directors and a number of its stars are members of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment. A full review of the movie can be found at the bottom of the page which is linked above.
Since the college I attend is in Bellingham, WA, it seems I'm going to have to take a drive and see this School of Enlightenment for myself within the next year.