Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lusty coaches & Christian retreats: it's a mad, mad Whirled

I'm afraid this is going to be another one of those drive-by blog posts. I have tons of real work to do, but I did want to point you in the direction of a couple Whirled-class items.


An alert reader sent me a link to a story that Steve Salerno also wrote about on SHAMblog, regarding a "prosperity guru" who has been charged with sexual assault. Bijan Anjomi, 64, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault after two alleged incidents in Toronto, Canada hotel rooms. According to Toronto police, the two women, ages 27 and 37, believed they were attending personal coaching sessions when the incidents allegedly took place. They called police once they snapped to what was really happening.

And so another hero of the conspicuously enlightened bites the dust. And my, what a shame, since Anjomi had apparently amassed quite an enthusiastic following. Here's just one bubbly write-up from a June 2007 blog post:
Bijan Anjomi is a man who intimately knows miracles. Moment by moment Bijan expects miracles, lives them and expresses into the world from the mist of them. And ... he creates a space in which others effortlessly begin experiencing their own miracles. Communing with Bijan is nothing less than a step into a shimmering blue healing pool of miracles. You are instantly healed and your consciousness is elevated. Miracles happen!
Hmmm... maybe we'd better make that a "shimmering pool of misdirected lust." And perhaps "intimately knows miracles" and "expresses into the world" is code for what was really going on.

On one of Bijan's web sites, The Perfect You, we learn that "his award-winning physique, sculpted and symmetrical, is a metaphor for his philosophy of life: 'Everything in balance and proportion, nothing to extreme.'" Bijan's main site is EffortlessProsperity.com.

According to the Canwest News Service story I linked to above, Bijan's defense attorney, Stephen Bernstein, said that the charges against his client will be "vigorously defended." Interesting choice of words, Counselor! Good to know that we can look forward to yet more "vigorous" activity in regard to Bijan.

On his SHAMblog post, Steve Salerno cited the excellent chapter about life coaches in his book, SHAM: How The Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. In that chapter he wrote about, as he puts it, " a subset of life coaches known as 'relationship coaches' or 'intimacy experts' who offer a more personalized kind of training that may ultimately become, in effect, a form of prostitution. " Seems like our guy Bijan is another shining example of this phenomenon. Oops, make that "is allegedly another shining example of this phenomenon."

Last year I too was inspired to take a stab at the life-coaching epidemic. At that time I was receiving a ton of spam emails from New-Wage entrepreneurs who were surfing the Secret wave and claiming to be Law Of Attraction coaches. Thinking about the life-coach problem put me in mind of an experience I'd had with a "coach"; an essay about that experience appears on my old Cosmic Relief web site. Let me hasten to add that there was no illicit sex, or any sex, involved in that incident; it was merely an intensely annoying experience.

But I've been around New-Wage culture long enough to know that the "hands-where-they-don't-belong" gurus and "therapists" and such aren't all that uncommon. I almost had an encounter with one years ago, but fortunately got "creepy" vibes after one phone conversation with him and I never followed up. (I honestly don't think I could have been manipulated into any sort of intimate encounter with this joker, but I'm still glad I listened to my instincts.) Later this person was immortalized as a sexual predator in a book by a bestselling New-Wage author.

Before I leave you and go back to work, Dear Ones, let me point you to a most excellent article that one of my favorite regulars, HHH, showed me. I've often thought that few selfish-help experiences could be worse than one of those intensive New-Wage retreats where you get in touch with your raw primitive emotions and engage in group vomiting and so forth. But I was wrong. There is something worse: an intensive evangelical Christian retreat
where you get in touch with your raw primitive emotions and engage in group vomiting and so forth – AND learn to speak in tongues.

Have at it... and have a terrific weekend. And thank you again, HHH, for the link.

PS ~ I neglected to mention above that Jody Radzik at Guruphiliac was also on the Bijan story; he's the one who really keeps on top of which gurus are on top of their followers. Here's the link to his post on the "prosperity guru."

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30 Comments:

Anonymous hhh said...

See, where he describes how he started to grow a new personality over his real self and started to get consumed by it, that's the crux of the whole business, he nails it right there. I mean, that's the crowning point of the piece about this whole thorny issue.

Casting out the demon of handwriting analysis!!!

Friday, May 09, 2008 7:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

deal lord, it looked like that pic of the dude in the towel was a photoshop joke...but it ain't!

ok folks, here is a tip. Don't take Life Coaching from some guy flexing his pecs in a towel.

Actually, don't take any Life Coaching whatsoever from anyone. The entire field is just an easy income stream for slick smooth-talkers.

If you need some counselling, see a licensed professional, like a psychologist.

I am offering Life Coaching about how to not go to Life Coaching.
Its only $280.00 an hour, with a 6 month weekly contract paid in advance. What a deal...

Friday, May 09, 2008 8:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

You got it, HHH. And sadly, it's a story that is repeated over and over and over. I'm reminded of the main lesson in my favorite Vonnegut novel, "Mother Night" ""We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

Friday, May 09, 2008 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, the only Photoshop-like trick I did was to turn Mr. Muscle blue, the way I do virtually everyone and everything else around here. As you noted, the pic itself is real.

And hey, good luck with your Life Coaching Avoidance scam! :-)

Friday, May 09, 2008 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My honest opinion is that these men in the Personal Development industry are in it because they have access to emotionally needy people but particularly women. They know it and they abuse it because people hang off their words in HOPE. David Schirmer for one has been accused of abusing the trust of many women and in particular people who worked for him...

Pec flexing is one way deliberate emotional manipulation is the worst and they are good at it. It is only a matter of time before the authorities get onto these guys and haul them off to jail big time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Everyone: The above comment was slightly edited to delete expletives. (I hope you understand, Anon.)

Also, I wanted to add that to my knowledge, David Schirmer has not been formally charged with sexual assault as has Bijan Anjomi. The information that has been made public about him mainly concerns alleged financial misdeeds.

That said, my general observation is that many selfish-help "professionals" and spiritual leaders alike abuse their power, not only for financial gain but for their own sexual gratification. (Just pop onto Jody Radzik's Guruphiliac blog, and take a look at all of the posts he's labeled with the tag, "hands where they don't belong.")

At any rate, it seems that Bijan Anjomi is being brought to justice (though his attorney plans a "vigorous" defense), and from what I've read, the wheels of justice are turning in Australia too for David Schirmer.

Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

It is good to know that the victims of these people do actually have some justice because these people have absolutely no idea how deep the damage of their misdeeds is nor how far reaching. We have friends who have been affected by one of these people and it has not only affected them but their children also and no doubt their childrens relationships etc.etc.

I believe that the personal side of things be kept personal for the sake of the children but I believe if anyone is concerned about someones actions in business they should speak up as loudly as they want because that affects the public and afterall how do businesses improve if the customers who are annoyed don't speak up?

I don't think they should get away with any personal shinanigans but it requires a very different approach. Its funny though how when things go wrong for these people and the public starts speaking out, they find everything and anyone to blame and usually the person they blame is the very person that they have unfinished business with.

Saturday, May 10, 2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

You make some excellent points, Joy. As may be obvious, I am trying to maintain some "balance" around here, partly in the interest of giving a voice to all sides, and partly in the interest of avoiding anything that could be construed as libelous or defamatory. (Although I must add that "libel" by definition is something that one knows to be untrue, and I have not knowingly printed anything that was untrue about these sexual predators.)

However, I am very well aware that some of the most irksome (or even loathsome) selfish-help gurus have been known to sic their attorneys on people who dared to express a negative opinion about the gurus.

On the other hand, I too know of and have heard from people who have been deeply damaged on a very personal level by certain New-Wage hustledorks. And I suspect that if some of those New-Wage sexual predators were actually to pursue defamation or libel charges, the victims would crawl out of the woodwork and make their voices heard -- loud and clear! So perhaps it is better for the predators to slink back into the shadows.

I have a feeling that sooner or later, they will be exposed for what they really are.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

These people may have tried to get people to stop talking but in the end if they have done wrong then they will never succeed if those people truly feel hurt and wronged. What right do they have to judge another persons hurt when they are being accused of being the perpetrators? If there was an ounce of care they would really look deep inside and ask themselves why are these people so upset? What can I do to change all of this for them and for me? There may not be many laws stopping them from ripping people off if that is what they intend to do but there are plenty of laws for victims reardless of what these people think they have or have not done. That is where there actually is some justice and also where these people should be very very careful not to tick people off too much because it just might backfire and destroy them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 6:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI: Just passing along information about another of these New Age sexual predators. This one was posing as a shamanic sexual healer (whatever that is), running a New Age website and working at Kalari Spiritual Resort in Big Island, Hawaii.

http://wikisposure.com/Todd_Perkins
(Warning: this is very disturbing and graphic)

Sunday, May 11, 2008 8:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bijan Anjomi has had a dark side he has been struggling with for years. He got into EST in the 1970's and then decided to do seminars himself. He was married in California to a gal who left him when she learned he was a screwing a teenager when she was pregnant with there second child only to find out that he had alsp been raping her 12 year old sister repeatedly while offering to give the child personal training at the gym. He later ran a gym in Australia in the early 80"s where he moved to since his sister lived there, and was kicked out of Australia because of some sort of allegations of abuse....a pattern in his life. I don't know if it is due to his Iranian background as a child that has caused him to be attracted to very young girls and viewing women as objects but he fights his baser instincts all the time but his dark side often takes over. He is not someone to mentor anyone. I was related to him by marriage and everything I have said is true. I think this is also just the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, May 12, 2008 2:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Interesting insights, Anon 2:29. If everything you write is indeed true, it looks as if Bijan is yet another selfish-help/New-Wage guru who has benefited from the art of self-reinvention. (The founder of est, Werner Erhard, was himself a master self-reinventor.)

As it happens, I paid tribute to the phenomenon of New-Wage reinvention on a September 2006 blog post:
http://tinyurl.com/6gd2v4

But back to Bijan. I honestly didn't know he was married now but he apparently is; according to the Social Register of Las Vegas web site, he is married to "speaker and life coach" Samia Hyjazi. (Well, as they say, "He's not married, but his wife is." And maybe if she's smart, she will get herself out of that marriage.)

Here's what it says about Bijan on the Las Vegas Social Register site:

"What makes Bijan different than just about any other speaker? Other than his great sense of humor and always walking his talk, Bijan sees and feels the participant's energy, beliefs and thought systems. This allows him to know exactly how to work with the audience and to know what to say to them to help them release their negative belief system and have their vibration rise to a higher level. This enables the participants to remember who they are and get in touch with their incredible power within so they can create what they desire effortlessly."

Ooo..."feels the participant's energy." I just bet he does.

Anyhoo, here's the link (or a tinyurl version thereof):
http://tinyurl.com/3nkhub

Of course, I welcome comments from Bijan himself, or from fans, refuting any of what has been written here.

That said, I have a feeling that the tale of Bijan is just another in a long line of "buyer beware" lessons -- and, sadly, the New-Wage industry is rife with those.

Monday, May 12, 2008 4:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 8:25 PM: I guess one dubious advantage regarding pervs such as Todd Perkins is that at least they are very open about the sex aspect. He comes out and says he has a thing for young boys, and he has web sites and other online forums where he gives advice to other pedophiles.

Still, one wonders why he hasn't been caught and locked away yet. And the fact that he has a teaching certificate in New York and has held other positions where he might come in contact with potential victims is pretty scary.

And what's especially disturbing is the fact that he has infiltrated some of the New-Wage communities in Hawaii. We've already seen that the conspicuously enlightened set in Hawaii are particularly gullible... witness the way Maui embraced Sri Lankan guru Tilak -- another alleged sex predator.

Another "buyer beware" lesson... in this case, though, since underaged boys are involved -- someone catch this Perkins guy and put him in a cage!

Monday, May 12, 2008 4:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

oh dear god the whole thing about these new age people is incredibly sickening.

I am beginning to think that the whole personal development industry is infiltrated by sexual predators and sick individuals. Is that why they are seeking to please other people so much? They have never dealt with their own problems.

This guy for instance didnt' learn a thing and others have mentioned things about other people even in the secret movie also. They seem to get into a pattern of use and abuse and then move on frequently and are never happy, always seeking happiness.

How sad must these peoples lives be but they always have a very false exterior on show. Neatly dressed and groomed, eat at nice places when people are looking, book into nice hotels, drive nice cars and live in nice houses all at everyone elses expense. That is just so sad.

Monday, May 12, 2008 6:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

It *is* sad, Joy. And they will keep doing this stuff as long as they can possibly get away with it.

Monday, May 12, 2008 9:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I just saw some comments on "The Canuck News Blog" about the Bijan incident. Not surprisingly, Bijan has his defenders. One woman wrote:

"You should be ashamed of publishing false accusations on Bijan Anjomi and those two crazy women I heard that some people are mad and are going to go after them. It is going to cost them a lot because those people are powerful....Apparently one is very disturbed mentally and accuses every body she meets of flirting and she’s so overweight, she looks like crap and she’s so ugly on top of it."

The blogger wisely replied:
"If the police have filed charges, there must be something to it. The courts can decide his guilt or innocence."

Here's the link:
http://tinyurl.com/67wpnb

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

It's not too hard to imagine people being taken advantage of by "spiritual guides", therapists or priests. There is a strong power exerted by these personalities over individuals who are particularly vulnerable.

There are things which people do when they have such power and influence over another. There is a thinning of morals and ressponsibility.

The problem is that in the new wage world of "realtivistic" morality, this is often overlooked, approved of or expected.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 2:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Citzen Deux wrote:
"The problem is that in the new wage world of 'realtivistic' morality, this is often overlooked, approved of or expected."

I think you hit it on the head there, CD. While I'm not comfortable with the traditional fundie-religious hellfire-and-brimstone "morality," I'm also not at all comfortable with a culture that seems to believe the greatest "sin" is being judgmental. As a result of the latter mindset, not only are followers of some New-Wage gurus getting screwed (in more ways than one), but they are lambasted when they open their eyes to what is happening and speak up about it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 4:06:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

Unfortunately, this stuff is pretty common in corporate seminars. I have even heard a former CEO use the same phrases as this "coach." Now the corporate big shots don't rape the female attendees, but they do prey on them. No one is very original about this stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008 1:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

"I believe that the personal side I believe if anyone is concerned about someones actions in business they should speak up as loudly as they want because that affects the public and afterall how do businesses improve if the customers who are annoyed don't speak up?"

I speak up, but it does not matter. People believe what they want to believe until they have to go to court and sue. I know of an ex BAD CEO who is doing this "leadership" coaching and no one believed me until one contractor had to sue him. The BAD ex-CEO was having his mansion redone and did not pay the contractor. I showed court documents of how many times he had been sued, his lack of paying child support, his allias, and a host of other facts and I was branded the "lunatic." He even went as far as saying I was a "crazy ex-girlfriend." I had to sue him for slander and his brother for deframation for posting that. I was doing a story for a finanical magazine. The BAD CEO tried to get me fired. It was one big mess. So I agree with your sentiments, but the road is rocky.

Friday, May 23, 2008 1:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mary Anne, your experience with the ex-CEO sounds downright book-worthy (but you'd probably have to fictionalize it a little). Let's face it: the New-Wage/selfish-help industry is rife with money grubbers and sexual predators -- and some of those gurus are both; they have one hand down your blouse and the other in your pocketbook. (I'm using the impersonal "you" of course.) A rocky road, indeed.

Friday, May 23, 2008 7:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

I actually am going to write a book about my experience with the BAD CEO. It will be fiction of course. The BAD CEO just wrote an even worse book. It should be under the fiction section, but he calls it non-fiction. It is his personal story of "abundance." Somehow he made his shark existence seem like he was a guppy in the corporate ocean. He can teach you to claim your "inner leader" and "inner peace" just like he did for $24.95. Personal coaching is only $350 an hour. This includes telephone consults if you get confused about life and leadership. Life coaches just make me ill.

Is it just me or does Bijorn look like Jim Carey when he played the Mask? He also resembles Mr. Clean. I don't think I need life help from that combo.

Friday, May 23, 2008 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mary Anne, I'm glad you are going to turn your experiences and observations into a book. Go for it!

I couldn't help thinking that there are several similarities between "your" CEO and David Schirmer. Like the CEO, Schirmer has often shared his "success" story, and he's really into "abundance," and teaching others how to have an "abundant" life. And he's even said that the allegations against him were mainly fueled by an ex-lover, the proverbial "woman scorned."

But y'know, I don't think that even a tabloid show such as "A Current Affair" would have bothered to do not one, not two, but (so far) five segments on his misdeeds if there had been no substance to the allegations, and if indeed they had been merely the product of a smear campaign by one woman.

Anyway, the point of all this is that so many of these New-Wage "leaders" seem to be cut from the same cloth. And they deserve to be exposed, even if indirectly, through works of fiction.

PS ~ I agree with you about Bijan's appearance. He seems to be anything *but* Mr. Clean, though.

Sunday, May 25, 2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

They are all cut from the same cloth. Schirmer is not unique in blaming his victims. That is one of the most common tactics to get someone to shut-up about you. It’s a shame tactic that has worked for years. I bet more women come out against Schirmer too. These guys generally have high sex drives and can’t help putting their hands in the cookie jar. I wouldn’t be surprised if A Current Affair does not find a few more “scorned” women. I am sure Bijan is going to find a way to make it all the victims’ fault. Their “abundant” tree stopped growing or something.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Joy, how do you know for sure that the 2 women are suppose victim? did you know that they are friends actually patient and doctor? what does that tell you, i would do my homework before talking i know the only victim here of a scam in Bijan Anjomi, i would do my homework before talking for those who don't know both side of the story.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 4:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and for the owner of this blog, you say you want to have a balance in both side well have you done your homework on who these 2 ladies really are? i bet you i know more about them then you know, you didn't even know that they knew each other huh, that one is the doctor of the other that right there should tell you something, but i guess you have your side picked cause you don't even bother telling the truth. they are scammers investicate i dare you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 4:34 and 4:45: I simply reported what the news story reported about Bijan. Then I offered my own opinions based on long-time observation of New-Wage culture. I have also shared opinions from other women who apparently have had unfortunate first-hand experience with similar 'life coaches.'

My general feeling on these situations is that where there's smoke, there's fire. (And what do you have to say to the Anon commenter who wrote a couple of weeks ago (Anon 2:29 PM), re Bijan's past?)

I have never claimed to be a journalist or even to be completely objective here. That's not my job. I will, however, present opinions from anyone who cares to comment, as long as they keep it civil. And so, to my latest Anon commenter, if you have something to say about who these ladies really are, say it. You've apparently already done "the homework" -- and I don't have time to do it. So come on, spill the details.

I am very well aware that you could be just another apologist for Bijan -- a faithful follower or someone close to him -- which might influence your opinion of the situation. Of course I have no way of knowing because you are writing anonymously.

OMT: I am also well aware that sometimes people make false accusations of sexual assault or other crimes. I will gladly report any new developments on this story if I am made aware of them -- whatever the outcome, even if Bijan is cleared of all charges.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 6:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charges Withdrawn

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/502861

May I add to the discussion that you seem to have based your comments on "observations" and "opinions" and "conclusions" based on your personal belief system which is that all new age coaches have false motives. This way of looking at the world, seeing male authority as evil, leads to that being the reality you see and present

Bijan is beyond your belief system and he is human but he is also transparent. He and his wife do not hide their life and sincerely wish peace to all, including you, me, all the blog readers and the women who made the false accusations.

Because we are all One....this includes you, me, Bijan ........and all the other people who have committed sexual offenses or false accusations.......this is part of all of us and we are healing from this all together.

I hope it gives peace to all to know that these charges were dropped by the ladies involved.

Monday, September 22, 2008 7:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 7:17 PM said:

"May I add to the discussion that you seem to have based your comments on "observations" and 'opinions' and 'conclusions' based on your personal belief system which is that all new age coaches have false motives. This way of looking at the world, seeing male authority as evil, leads to that being the reality you see and present.

"Bijan is beyond your belief system and he is human but he is also transparent..."

Condescension duly noted, Anon, but if you think that *my* opinion about most New-Wage "coaches" is based merely upon a "belief system," particularly one that "sees all male authority as evil," then I would suggest that you have not been paying very close attention to this blog!

But then, you probably never did really make an effort to read anything here except the post and the comments about your god, Bijan. If the charges against him were false or exaggerated, then I agree that it was only just that they be dropped. However, none of this does anything to change my opinion about New-Wage coaches in general. Some are fine people, but there are many scammers, charlatans and sexual predators in the lot too. And even though the charges were withdrawn, I still wouldn't rule out the possibility that Bijan, like so many others, has indeed used his position of power to exploit some of his followers sexually, financially or both.

I did notice that the article said that even though the charges were withdrawn by a judge, there is a peace bond between Bijan and the two women who accused him. A peace bond, in Canadian law, is an order from a criminal court that restrains one person from bothering or threatening another. This could simply have been done to ensure that Bijan would not turn around and counter-sue. Then again, there could be something more to this story. As I said in an earlier comment, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Maybe I do have a "limited belief system." But it's the kind of "belief system" that keeps me from being taken advantage of in a hotel room by a slick-talking joker wearing nothing but a towel and a smile.

Monday, September 22, 2008 8:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so interesting how people can be taken in by so called experts. This was a good article I appreciate the post. I don't understand why people are so needy, but I definitely know alot of groups take advantage of a deep seeded desire that people have for acceptance. I wrote a blog about a quest retreat...

the quest

Thursday, January 28, 2010 12:36:00 PM  

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