Just change one letter in the guy’s last name…
"In 1992," says the bio blurb for Gary Renard on the Hay House Publishing web site, "a mysterious couple, claiming to be Ascended Masters, appeared from out of nowhere to Renard in his living room. Over the next decade, Renard had numerous conversations with these beings."
"I’ll just bet he did," responded critical-thinking wag Skeptico, quoting that bio blurb on an April 2005 blog post. "The question is: why would anyone be interested unless their job was treating schizophrenia?"
To answer that, one only has to take a glance at the booming imaginary-friends segment of the New-Wage industry. From JZ Knight with her wildly lucrative invention known as Ramtha, to Jerry and Esther Hicks with their imaginary gang Abraham, to Vladimir Megre with his made-up nekkid gal-pal Anastasia, to Gary Renard with that enigmatic couple in his living room… imaginary friends that come bearing the secrets of the Universe have become hotter than ever in the past few years. And, as the above-mentioned gurus and numerous others have discovered, pretend pals can be a terrific source of income. Somebody is listening to, and putting money in the pockets of, the inventors of these make-believe mates – and I'm pretty sure it isn't the membership of the American Psychiatric Association.
On first glance, Gary Renard is just another dolphin-kissing, Ascended-Master-quoting, New-Wage capitalist with a few books under his belt. His promo material is pretty ho-hum, describing him merely as "one of today’s most interesting spiritual speakers combining a disarming sense of humor with radical, cutting-edge metaphysical information and experiential exercises."
The big difference with Gary is that his imaginary friends weren’t pompous, humorless beings who took over his body and forced him to speak in a bad phony accent. Instead they chose to communicate via one-on-one, or rather two-on-one (no, nothing kinky) interactions in the privacy of Gary's own home – and, far from being humorless, they were apparently real smart-asses. In addition, the female in the couple, Pursah, was so horny-looking that Gary says he sometimes wished she were human. Alas, she wasn’t; she was a manatee. Dolphins he could handle, but a manatee was just too much; he never could quite figure out which wrinkle to…ha, ha, I’m just making up the manatee bit. Gary did say in an interview that he sometimes wished Pursah were human, but I believe what he really meant was that he wished she were an embodied, presumably boinkable, human instead of a spirit disguised as an attractive woman. As it was, he had to be satisfied with spirited (so to speak) verbal exchanges in which he asked impertinent questions – he was quite the Ascended-Master baiter* – and Pursah and her partner gave smarty-pants answers.
The actual identity of the mysterious couple is a little confusing, because, like most of us, they’ve been many different folks over the eons. Says Gary: "My teachers explained that at the time of the historical Jesus, Pursah (who appeared to me as a female) was Saint Thomas and Arten (who appeared to me as a male) was Saint Thaddaeus, two of the original disciples." But these were not their final incarnations.
More importantly, this couple revealed to Gary that the most profound spiritual wisdom in the world can be obtained from two sources: the Gospel of Saint Thomas (that Pursah was really full of herself/himself, wasn’t s/he?), and A Course In Miracles (ACIM). Some followers of ACIM criticize Gary for distorting the teachings of ACIM, which were received by a Jewish woman several decades ago, straight from Jesus H. Christ Himself. But that apparently hasn't slowed Gary down a bit.
Over a period of nine years or so, Gary had a total of seventeen conversations with the mysterious couple; from these exchanges rose several books and numerous ancillary products. Gary began to be in demand among the conspicuously enlightened set.
He is now a movie star as well, being one of numerous "living luminaries" featured in a recently released movie, The Serious Business of Happiness. Described as a docudrama, the film features some of the brighter stars in the New-Wage constellation, or, as the film’s promoters describe them, "the consciously evolved A-list of stars in the Cultural Creative movement." Included in the lineup are Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, a few trendy rabbis, ministers, and Tibetan wise
guys men, and more. I’ve not yet seen the film, but it appears to be part What The Bleep Do We Know?!? (without the hokey animations, bad quantum physics, and Ramtha), and part The Secret (without so many blatant hustledorks,** and minus a mystical magical "scientific" law). The movie appears to be yet another contrived story of a person going out in search of answers to life’s most profound questions, and then getting them from a series of various "experts" in the field. However, it does have one redeeming feature: one of the people in it is Swami Beyondananda, a punster after my own heart, and a man who has never taken himself too seriously. (Hey, he even liked my BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief.)
You can see a film clip featuring some of the stars of The Serious Business of Happiness here. It should come as no surprise that the clip is accompanied by a comment that the movie "picks up where The Secret leaves off!" This description is practically required by law for any New-Wage product today. And for those who just can’t get enough of the luminaries’ wisdom in the film, a companion book will be released any day now.
As for Gary Renard, he’s pleased as punch about being in the movie, as he noted on his web site last year. He seems to be doing very well as a New-Wage capitalist these days, making the rounds on the lecture circuit and giving workshops based on his books. In fact, he was here in Houston just last weekend delivering an all-day workshop on breaking the cycle of reincarnation. No doubt about it, he’s a rising star in the mystical self-help field.
And regarding Skeptico’s implied question about his mental state, well, here’s what Gary himself said in the interview I linked to above. In one fell swoop, he answers not only the "is-he-crazy" question, but he also attempts to clear up the "did-he-make-the-whole-thing-up" issue:
Interviewer: You know, some people will think you’re crazy, and others will think you made this whole thing up no matter what you say. You’ve already been called everything from "someone whose words ring true" to a con man. What do you say to the skeptics?
GARY: Not too much, because my teachers told me that people will think what they want to think. First of all, I can’t prove that I’m not crazy, other than to show evidence that I’ve never been treated for any type of mental illness, never been institutionalized and never been placed on any kind of medication. As for making the whole thing up — if anyone who reads the whole book [The Disappearance of the Universe] actually thinks I could write it by myself without inspiration from these masters, then that would be an even bigger compliment to me than the fact that the masters appeared to me. Humility aside for a minute, I’ve seen a lot of spiritual books, but I’ve never seen one like this,*** with this much information and useful insights. People can save an incredible amount of time by using the ideas in this book.
Well, I’ll leave it to others to argue the fine points of who wrote what in Gary’s books. As far as I’m concerned, the most profound things we can learn from Gary Renard have nothing to do with the Gospel of Saint Thomas or A Course In Miracles. More than anything, Gary is another outstanding example of how imaginary friends can truly be our best friends when it comes to helping us extract money from other people’s pockets. And I sincerely hope that my pal Blair Warren, who received the Law Of Extraction from his own make-believe bud Ralph, is paying attention here. Blair, my friend, you are sitting on a gold mine.
* Oh, come on, you saw that one coming, didn't you?
**Although The Serious Business of Happiness does have some of the same "stars" that were in The Secret, most notably, Reverend Michael Beckwith, aka Zormak.
*** Of course you knew this great work would have to be one of his own books, didn’t you? But he doesn’t consider this to be boasting since, after all, Pursah and Arten were the real source of the information. Gary was just transcribing. I’m thinking, though, that Pursah and Arten probably aren’t getting any of the royalties