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Kenja:
Dedicated followers left rudderless in a sceptical world
Sydney Morning Herald
August 4, 2007
www.smh.com.au

David Millikan spent weeks with Ken Dyers making a film about him. Here, he recounts his strange experiences with a man convinced he had extraordinary powers.

You meet a person like Ken Dyers only once in a lifetime. Driven by an internal force which could be frightening at times, he vented in explosive fits of rage, sometimes turning onto those closest to him, including the followers who had given everything to be with him. They would stand before him, white-faced, trembling and so frightened they seemed to lose the shape of humanity itself.

Once, he told how he had been confronted in the street by a group of 20 men who were there "to do me in". "I walked up to the leader and grabbed a handful of his genitals. A man is useless when he is intimidated. I attacked them with mental pictures. I gave them a picture of flipping their eyeballs out onto their cheeks, out there, flapping around. They walked away."

At other times, he could appear broken, a shell of a man himself. In his home on the cliffs of Bundeena one day he suddenly turned and, using the plaintive voice of a young boy, said: "I can transform DNA through what I do in Kenja. You know that means we could change the evolutionary process. If only, if only, I can convince the world. But they hate me."

In 1982, at the age of 60, Dyers set up Kenja Communications with Jan Hamilton, a sometime actress who taught classes in the art of clowning. Dyers claimed special gifts, insisting he could turn lost and fumbling souls into confident, beautiful leaders of men. Together, the couple began teaching what they called "energy conversion".

The Kenja website describes this meditation as a "way to permanently eliminate the suppressed emotion, thought or energy that can divert us from what we want to achieve".

Today there are Kenja centres in Melbourne, Canberra, and its headquarters in Surry Hills. Kenja has about 250 members.

In the years before he established Kenja, Dyers studied Scientology. In 2005 when asked about this foray into L. Ron Hubbard's "religion", he angrily said: "I've moved way beyond that."

He said a group of scientists had come to study his methods. "They said: 'You're doing quantum physics." Laughing derisively, Dyers said: "I told them: 'Bullshit, I'm so far beyond quantum physics you wouldn't have a clue'." Among his other claims, Dyers said he was a troubleshooter for Sir Frank Packer - "I worked with Clyde, not his brother" - and had been trained by the world's top samurai teacher.

"The foreign minister in the Fraser government offered me $24,000 to go to the Philippines and teach the peasants my secrets of survival."

You meet a person like Ken Dyers only once in a lifetime. Driven by an internal force which could be frightening at times, he vented in explosive fits of rage, sometimes turning onto those closest to him, including the followers who had given everything to be with him. They would stand before him, white-faced, trembling and so frightened they seemed to lose the shape of humanity itself.

Dyers compulsively alluded to earlier friendships with the titans of Australian business. But before Kenja, he ran a window sash replacement business in the eastern suburbs.

Central to Dyer's mythology of his own greatness was the story that his remarkable"powers" were honed in the fierce battles of World War II.

He said he had been seconded to British intelligence, had learned Arabic within two weeks of arriving in Cairo, had advised top brass on battle tactics.

"I've got every medal an Australian soldier can get," he insisted. His war record says nothing of this.

The central act of the Kenja approach was what Dyers called "processing". During the period that I spent filming Dyers, he used this as a test for allowing me to continue the project. In Surrey Hills, in a room filled with 80 people, he set up lines of chairs to face each other. Those on the right were "processors", while two comfortable office chairs were allocated at the end of one row for Dyers and me.

I took my place next to two women in their 20s. As Dyers walked into the room, there was a buzz of appreciation. He strode to me, ruffled my hair and said: "I'll be processing David. He's my white-haired boy." He again ruffled my hair and in a low voice that only I and the two girls nearby could hear, he said: "Or maybe I want to be his white-haired boy." Then he sat himself opposite, pulled me in close and put his legs outside mine and pressed in.

"Some people throw themselves around in processing," he said. "I need to hold you." He stared into my face and said: "Look into my eyes and concentrate on the energy." That was it. There were no words, no movement. The room became suddenly still, with 40 couples locked in this embrace.

It was not long before Dyers began to have trouble keeping his eyes open. He began drifting into sleep for minutes at a time, offering an opportunity to look around. Others around the room appeared to be transfixed in a strange dance. Joined at the knees, they gazed into each others eyes, searching for that communication which goes beyond thought and words.

At first it was intensely uncomfortable, difficult to settle on the left or right eye. I decided to distract myself and began building a wood-fired brick pizza oven in my mind.

Forty minutes later, Dyers sat back. He said: "You're good at that. Not a lot of people can sit still that long."

I said: "I actually found it quite relaxing. Once I knew what I was doing."

Dyers said: "What did you feel? Did you feel the energy?"

I said: "No, not really." He patted me on the knee and moved away.

The members of Kenja passionately believe they hold the key to the wellbeing of the world. They have made enormous sacrifices in making Kenja first in their lives. Until last month, Kenja was held together by the sheer force of the guru's self-certainty. While the great man was alive, there was no reason for questions or doubts. There was, in a sense, no reason to think.

Jan Hamilton, his partner for 28 years said: "He was so evolved, beyond anything I have ever seen before."

Now they face the world without him and they need three things to survive: money, recruits and publicity.

While the faithful remain and tithe their incomes, the money is there. As for publicity and recruits, that could be a problem. They must now find a way of explaining themselves to a sceptical and jaded world.

While Dyers was alive this was not a problem, for nothing seemed to daunt his spirit. Those who remain now face the terrible possibility that it was all about Dyers and not about the salvation of the world.

The Reverend Dr David Millikan is a Uniting Church minister. He works part-time as a producer with Channel Seven and lectures at Charles Sturt University.


Disclaimer:This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been called "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively. Readers are encouraged to read widely on a topic before forming an opinion. Never accept information from a single source at face value. This website only holds a small amount of information and should not be relied on as a complete source. For example, if you find older information, this should be weighed up against newer information as circumstances can change.
 
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