Although Netflix’s ‘How to Become a Cult Leader’ lives up to its title in almost every way imaginable by exploring the rise of six such figures, it merely skims the surface of their alleged depravity. We say this because while this documentary series touches upon their aims as well as intentions, it doesn’t really delve into their actual actions — with the seeming exception of Jaime Gomez’s. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about the cult he’d established, Buddhafield — with a focus on its background, purpose, and current standing — we’ve got the essential details for you.
Is Buddhafield Still Active?
It was reportedly back in the 1960s when Jaime Gomez relocated from his hometown in Venezuela to Hollywood, California, in the hopes of building an entirely new life for himself as an entertainer. The truth is he’s the son of a wealthy rancher and thus ostensibly had a myriad of similar opportunities available, yet he ultimately chose to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a global star. But alas, all he could land were a nonspeaking role in the 1968 horror-drama film ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ a brief stint with Oakland Ballet Company, plus not more than a few explicit adult movies.
In other words, Jaime couldn’t anchor the fame, the notoriety, or the success he’d been hoping for and that’s why he soon decided to take up a drama teaching position at a Florida high school. Though little did he know this was where his entire world would turn upside down as he’d purportedly realize he had more than enough charm to captivate people’s unwavering attention. After all, once his “classes would up being more spiritual,” he returned to California for good to “capitalize on the superficiality of everyday American life,” per episode 3 of the original production.
Buddhafield was hence established in the 1980s as a commune wherein Jaime placed himself in the position of God while encouraging his followers to think of themselves in the same manner. Yet there was a significant difference; Jaime did not lift a single finger to keep his venture running, but his disciples were required to perform hard labor just to reach the point of all-knowing. This was because he’d apparently been “spontaneously enlightened” upon coming across a guru, only to realize he “needed to become a leader of other people to raise their consciousness.”
According to the show, Jaime (aka Michel Rostand, Andreas, Reyji, or the Teacher) used to insist this transference of knowledge was done through his bare fingers, which didn’t really hold true. In fact, per some of his former followers, he didn’t have any power or even a master/guru — he merely researched other cult leaders as well as their innate practices to figure out his pattern. Nevertheless, by the mid-1990s, the leader had hundreds of followers from across the nation ready to follow his every command or lifestyle restriction, just for 2006 to turn a wholly new page.
We specify 2006 because that is when a former high-ranking Buddhafield (or Aloha Yoga Kula) member had sent an institution-wide email accusing Jaime of being a liar, fraudster, and predator. They claimed their leader had been untruthful regarding his past as well as his metaphysical training, all the while evading taxes, emotionally manipulating everyone, and sexually harassing members. It’s thus no surprise many parted ways with the cult due to their own experiences even though none of these allegations were ever legally confirmed — but Buddhafield remains active to this day.
Who Runs Buddhafield?
Per ‘How to Become a Cult Leader?,’ Jaime actually portrayed himself to be as celibate as his most devoted disciples, yet he had long-term relations with many of them, including Will Allen. “Nobody knew what was going on behind his closed doors,” Will said. “He even put two doors for his privacy and his protection, and nobody asked why because it was never assumed anything bad was going on.” Furthermore, it’s imperative to note that some, like Chris Johnston, have since come forth to express this leader often used threats like that of indirect ex-communication to instill a deep-rooted fear to keep them from calling their affairs quits.
Nevertheless, when it comes to Buddhafield’s current standing, despite everything to have transpired over the past few decades, it appears as if Jaime continues to lead the organization to this day. Though he’s reportedly doing so while staying rather hidden away in their new base of Hawaii, meaning members now have to resort to recruiting others through yoga sessions/studios. But most importantly, we should mention this cult is not to be confused with or has anything to do with the UK-based Buddhafield institution, especially as the latter is a registered charity merely running camping retreats and a festival in its homeland.