in belief that they would rise to meet
from ANewWorld Website
Higher Source group commits largest mass suicide
in U.S. history. Group leader turns out to have founded a UFO cult back in 1975,
claiming that his followers would be able to ascend to heaven when UFO’s come to
pick them up.
A former member who left the group when talk of
suicide started, said "They expected to be whisked away on a spacecraft
I guess when that didn’t happen, their philosophy changed," according to NBC
An interesting aspect is that the 39 victims were apparently influenced by the controversy over Hale-Bopp and a strange companion that may or may not be accompanying it. At the Heaven’s Gate web site (see screen shot at top), created by the Higher Source group, there is a reference to the Hale-Bopp comet as bringing “closure.”
The members were "quite joyous" about "leaving this planet," according to the page. The controversy revolves around the likes of Dr. Courtney Brown’s appearance on Art Bell’s radio show last November, on which the possibility of a UFO or other huge object following comet Hale Bopp was discussed.
Courtney claims that his "remote viewing"
students saw a huge craft following the comet. (Remote
Viewing is a controversial psychic / meditation technique for vaguely seeing
and sensing any time or place in the Universe) The Hale-Bopp controversy
started with the anomalous photo, shown above, taken by amateur astronomer
Chuck Shramek. The Saturn-like object to the right of the comet is
still unexplained, but whether it is an alien UFO or not remains to be
seen. Skeptics say it is a star, but there are many problems with that
Cults thrive in the vacuum created by "official
denial" and cover-up. The recent mass sightings (and videotaping) of strange
hovering UFO’s in Arizona is a good case in point. The military/government
explains it away as "flares" - a patently ridiculous explanation for
anyone who sees the videos.
The image at left, from the site, is labeled as "How a Member of Heaven might appear." Having had several close encounters and ET related experiences myself, I can say that it is indeed pretty representative of the many reports and descriptions of otherworldly beings. Everything from the seamless metallic suit to the nearly black eyes, the smooth grey skin, and reduced facial features have been described numerous times by those who have been visited.
But suicidal escapades and cults are not what contact with such otherworldly beings is about. The Earth may indeed be a "classroom" of a sort, but suicide has nothing to do with graduation. What really matters is that, in facing whatever challenges we face in the future, as a single humanity, we should focus on helping each other through the various trials that might come along. Those who manage to be in service to others, in the face of ordeals, will be the ones to "graduate," if anyone will.
Adding to the controversy is the background of the elder leader of the cult - Marshall Applewhite, called "Do" (pronounced "Doe") by his followers. He and his now deceased partner, "Ti" (actually Bonnie Nettles) met in a hospital where she was a nurse and he a patient, according to his sister. This was back in the early 70’s (coinciding with the "22 years of classroom" in the passage from the cult’s site, above).
According to his sister, the nurse then persuaded Marshall that he had been "sent by God," and that he should lead a group - partly because of his near death experience in the hospital. Together, in 1975, Marshell and Bonnie started a movement called Human Individual Metamorphosis, which preached that death could be overcome through,
At their talks, they predicted various mass landings
of UFO’s. The group became disillusioned when none of them ever ascended
and the mass landings never happened on the appointed dates. After loosing their
money, the group disbanded. But apparently a core group continued on,
believing that they would ascend, in time.
Heaven’s Gate Cult
from SacredTexts Website
On March 22, 1997, almost the entire body of adherents to Heaven’s Gate committed near-
simultaneous suicide. They died in their mansion in a California suburb outside of San Diego by voluntarily ingesting large amounts of painkillers in applesauce. The last two left suffocated themselves. Heaven’s Gate left behind 39 corpses and extensive documentation as to their beliefs--that they were disembodied extraterrestrials waiting for a mothership to take them home and the planet Earth was about to be ’recycled’. Their practices included communal living, taking new names ending in ’ody’, and mortification of the body (particularly abstention from sex and intoxicants, close cropped hair, unisex outfits and male castration).
Why did this small and ’mostly harmless’ group end up becoming one of the most famous mass suicides in US history? They had a history of millennial predictions (it was the late 90s, after all) and media stunts. Like many inward-facing spiritual groups, they lived simple lives in an authoritarian commune. On multiple occasions, their leader ’Do’ had predicted that they would be picked up by a UFO, and each time they had been disappointed. When a photo of comet Hale-Bopp with some background stars was interpreted by the UFO underground as having an accompanying spaceship in it, this opportunity seemed too good to miss by the Heaven’s Gate adherents.
This group is worth studying, if only because it is one of those rare opportunities to view the evolution of a belief system before it had a chance to start revising its own early history. We have a large volume of unedited documents from the earliest to the final days of Heaven’s Gate, transcribed by the group’s adherents in electronic form. They never got to the difficult stage that most religions go through when faced with having to sort out (and edit) their early texts. Of course, this is due to the fact that the group didn’t believe in procreation and ended up self-destructing in a spectacular fashion.
Why include this material at this site? We certainly don’t condone their tragic mass suicide. It is painful to watch these people, all of whom had families and potential futures, talk themselves into believing that it was completely rational to commit suicide. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened in the name of religion; for instance, the founder of Jainism starved himself to death. However, while this site’s ’prime directive’ is religious tolerance, we also believe in people making informed choices when it comes to matters of belief. It is worth noting that there are many similar groups out there, and perhaps looking at this particular example may help keep someone else from stepping into the void.
Note on copyrights. These materials, in particular the Anthology, are covered by copyrights. By explicit release, they are available for unaltered, non-commercial reproduction. How to obtain commercial clearance for these texts is unknown and sacred-texts can’t assist in this.