And now, back to our regularly scheduled snarping
First off, that last word in the title isn't a typo. I've decided that "snarp" is often a more accurate description than "snark" for what I do here. It is, as you might have guessed, a combo of "snark" and "snipe." At least that's my definition; other people have different ideas.
Anyhoo, I think that for the time being I've had enough of hurricanes and Angry Bloggers, so to take my mind and yours off of that stuff for a while, I thought I'd share a few snarpy snippets (or snippy snarps). (And I'm sorry if the fonts look weird; I can't figure out what happened. Everything I do to correct the situation just makes them look weirder.)
Back in May I wrote a snippet about a so-called love & prosperity guru, Bijan Anjomi,
who was facing rape charges by two of his former followers. Those charges have now been dropped. The moment it became news that Bijan was in the clear, a person I'm guessing to be a Bijan fan wrote this comment to my blog:
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.I replied:
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.
"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.As for that "we all are one" rationale my correspondent used, Jody addressed it on the Guruphiliac blog, in a post aptly titled, "A 'Love Guru' Gets Off." He described the oneness-of-humanity concept in this context as "a meaningless interpretation of nondual truth in an attempt to skate...out of a tough spot." I couldn't have said it better myself.
"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.
Is it ACCESS...or are they just H.A.F.?*
Recently a commenter to my blog sent me links to a couple of YouTube offerings presented by the very silly ACCESS Energy Transformation cult, which I've snarked (and snarped) about on more than one occasion here.
First we have the two main perps...er..."leaders" of ACCESS – former real estate agent Gary Douglas and former chiropractor Dain Heer – sharing their wisdom and expertise on childhood nutrition and ADHD, among other things. (Their expert advice? Let your kids eat anything they want, even the sugary junk food, and let 'em eat till they puke. That'll learn 'em not to eat stuff that's bad for 'em.) It's kind of disquieting to watch some of those parents and their kids in the audience...
Next we have this video, which is absolutely classic.
At one point on the clip an ACCESS devotee says, "It was something that I always observed, y'know, but could never really name."
That person's lack of ability to name "it" was, I assume, pre-ACCESS. However, it seems that post-ACCESS, people still can't seem to name "it," whatever "it" is. In fact, they seem to have a great deal of trouble expressing themselves verbally about anything at all – which, I suppose, is only fitting, since the ability to speak well requires at least a rudimentary ability to think, and ACCESS actively discourages thought.
The blond who appears towards the end of this vid is priceless; her vacuous facial expressions and equally vacuous attempts at verbalizing appear to be textbook symptoms of ACCESS indoctrination.
I realize that some folks who have read about ACCESS and/or have watched the promotional videos might be somewhat curious, perhaps in the way people are curious about car wrecks they pass on the road, about that special state of enlightened mindlessness these folks are babbling about. I think that to truly understand it, we need to turn once again to a lovely song that I know I just linked to recently, but it's so fitting that I feel obliged to do it again. I believe this guy 'splains it better than anyone else. (And by the way, why don't they sell porcupines on the Internet?)
* H.A.F., If you don't already know, you can figure out what it stands for if you follow the link in the paragraph above.
It's because the Universe likes greed, Michael.
I'm on the mailing list of a New-Wage guru named Michael Mirdad, a third- or fourth-tier spiritual teacher who hasn't made it really big in the New-Wage world yet but is still out there trying. He's into everything from A Course In Miracles to Christ consciousness to Buddhism to sacred sex to prosperity. His persona leans much more towards that of the wise-but-humble master than the slick, materialistic hustledork, though I imagine he does a little elbow-rubbing with the hustledorks, merely by virtue of the fact that he often speaks at New Thought churches, which, let's face it, are hustledork magnets. In a recent newsletter he addressed the greed in today's spiritual teachers. Here's what he wrote, in part:
As I hope you have noticed by now, it's rare indeed to hear me spend time on such worldly issues as politics, the economy, and monetary gain. Nevertheless, after much deliberation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts about something, namely the huge emphasis within "popular" New Age thought over the last year or two on people learning to "get more of what they want" from life-particularly when it comes to money and material possessions.Actually, Michael kind of overlooks the current trend of what I like to call "conspicuous altruism," wherein various New-Wage gurus and hustledorks work earnestly – in between car-shopping and mansion-hunting – to look as if they're trying to make a difference in the world by distributing copies of The Secret to third-world countries, or by vowing to end poverty or homelessness in our lifetime, or whatever. I'm not making the claim that all of this altruism is mere posturing. But it does seem that many of these enlightened do-gooders are in it for the ego rush and the publicity as much as anything else, and it appears that some of their programs are mainly about making yet more money for themselves and a few cronies. Well, that's a topic for another blog post (coming soon).
I can't help but notice that Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, and numerous other masters forgot to tell us this newly discovered "prerequisite for enlightenment." How is it that the ancient masters failed to tell us what so many New Thought teachers and authors are now commonly addressing? These modern teachers tell us to use the creative power within our minds to get more "stuff." Instead, the masters of old taught that we should practice getting rid of our "stuff." This should make us wonder if the teachers of old were missing something or if today's teachers have perhaps fallen prey to the lord of this world-greed. Of course their greed is disguised as "creating your reality." But, who do you think is giving them the finances for the material possessions they are "creating"? It's you, the spiritual student! Don't get me wrong, I agree that we should all be abundant, but why do spiritual teachers (or anyone, for that matter) need several cars, houses, and boats, while failing to be equally okay giving such possessions to others in need?
Once the movie The Secret (which was great) made it so big, too many teachers and authors jumped on the bandwagon writing books, making more movies, and creating seminars, in effect telling people how important it is to get more from life. Sadly, it's rare for any of these same teachers and authors to allow those who have little or no money to attend for free-mainly because such folks who have no money can't help to supply these teachers with another boat payment.Once again he's overlooking that conspicuous-altruism trend, which at least pays lip service to the value of giving; nevertheless, his point is well-taken (except for the bit about The Secret being "great").
I recently saw an interview with one of these teachers/authors. Asked how he was doing, he replied by stating that he had just paid cash for a new house, as though this is the measure of one's state of being. Instead, imagine answering such a question as "How are you doing?" by the measure of how much you are able to give to others.
But here's the part that really made me pay attention:
Also, I recently heard from the coordinator of a popular spiritual conference that she was having difficulty getting speakers to attend her next event because most have followed the trend of asking for $15,000-$25,000 per hour for their time, which they usually want to have paid in advance. This seems absurd to me! While teaching and speaking at conferences for over 25 years, I have met all of the well-known teachers and authors (many of whom are friends and colleagues) and have not found one that has wisdom worth $25,000 dollars per hour. In fact, I personally find that many of my students have more sincerity and as much wisdom as the most popular of these teachers and authors.If the fees currently charged by Secret stars such as Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale are any indication, the events coordinator that Mirdad quoted was spot-on. Joe's current fees for speaking are $25,000.00 an hour for domestic events and $35,000.00 an hour for international events, plus first-class travel for two and hotel accommodations in a suite. James Arthur Ray, another Secret star, charges from $30,000.00 to $75,000.00 for keynote speaking, depending upon the length of the presentation, distance to venue and other factors. Travel and other expenses are extra. Mars-and-Venus author "Dr." John Gray's keynote fees range from $50,000.00 to $75,000.00, according to a speakers' bureau that represents him. Some speakers such as Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield, who was also in The Secret, don't even list their fees; the various speakers' bureaus that represent them just say, "Call for fees."
It seems acceptable even for students of spirituality to complain about the profits the government makes on our taxes or the oil tycoons make on fuel or large corporations give to pad the lives of their CEO's, but nobody bothers to notice the greed of modern spiritual teachers. Buddha laughed at the likes of these individuals; Jesus rebuked them and referred to them as blind guides and hypocrites. Furthermore, neither Buddha nor Jesus ever charged a dime for their teachings, which by the way, far surpass the teachings of any of today's authors...
I hasten to add, however, that the amounts listed above actually fall well within the accepted current range for "celebrity keynote speakers," and some of the bigger names in the selfish-help world charge $100,000 and more for a keynote speech. (And real celebrities, such as actors and top athletes and such, charge $200,000 and more.) So you might say that some of the spiritual "teachers" are charging bargain-basement prices, relatively speaking, for their keynotes. Still, it's all quite a bit more than Jesus and Buddha charged for their stuff. And perhaps the whole keynote-speaking price structure could be looked upon as yet another reflection of our culture's misplaced priorities, particularly when real teachers – you know, those dedicated women and men who work in our schools – are generally so underpaid and under-valued.
Gosh darn it, I'm sounding moralistic again. Sorry.
As for another point that Michael Mirdad addressed, the ancient spiritual masters' views on wealth, there's no shortage of rationalization among the New-Wage "leaders" about that. On more than one occasion, Mr. Fire (to give but one example) has defended his own brand of spiritual materialism as being right in sync with the teachings of Buddha. In a fairly recent blog post he mentioned a book he'd been reading.
Prosperity Buddhism is to the New Wage as Prosperity Christianity is to the Born-Again camp. And I'm sure Buddha would be pleased and proud to know that Mr. Fire just bought himself yet another car, a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom, auto of choice for sheiks and tycoons. Prices start at $340,000.00 US. He offers this latest purchase as further proof that his "Attract A New Car" program really works.
The Buddha’s Teachings on Prosperity at Home, at Work, in the World by Bhikku Basnagoda Rahula. What a great book! I’m relieved to see someone show that Buddha was not against wealth or success. He instead wanted you to be wealthy so you could help yourself, your family, and your community. That’s exactly what I say is the best reason to get rich. I never knew Buddha agreed with me. Anyway, this is an insightful, practical book that I keep returning to. Get it. Make it your devotional reading for a while. Rich stuff.
Anyway, Michael Mirdad admits that he too charges for his services, products and workshops, but says that in the more than twenty-five years he's been in the biz, he and his staff "have NEVER turned away a student who couldn't afford our workshops or sessions – that is, as long as that student or client was sincere about learning or healing." He added:
At our recent mastery intensive, our attendees were surprised to see that such a large portion of their fee was spent on workshop supplies, guest facilitators, and on beautifying the property for their further enjoyment. In other words, we directly gave back to those who gave to us. We see this as a win-win scenario, rather than being one person benefiting from what they take from others.In all fairness I should say that judging by what I've seen and heard, some gurus and leaders, including Mr. Fire, do occasionally make exceptions for people who can't afford their workshops or other events. But Mirdad's main point seems to be that when it comes to keynote speaking engagements (as opposed to seminars and workshops and such), most of these folks are waaaay overpriced in the first place. Even realizing that concepts such as "overpriced" and "affordable" are generally subjective judgments, and even being aware of the keynote-speaking price tier, I am still left with one thought: Holy crap, $35,000.00 an hour?!?
I gotta find me a scam. (So, okay, that's two thoughts.)
Contents of magical briefcase revealed!
Speaking of scams, on several occasions I've mentioned the magical mystery briefcase you get when you shell out the nearly two thousand US dollars required to join "Scientist" Bob Proctor's famous Science of Getting Rich Program, in which he partners with two fellow Secret hustlers, the aforementioned Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield and the Reverend Michael "Zormak" Beckwith. But just what is in that briefcase?
Well, here's a clip that reveals everything.
And as a special bonus for my faithful readers, here's Scientist Bob himself unzipping it and showing it all. (I promise this is not as disgusting as I made it sound.)
The take-away lesson from Bob's show-and-tell: "The main thing is to keep The Main Thing the main thing." It is this thought (along with that briefcase, of course) that is supposed to hold the key to making millions of dollars.
Look, I know we're supposed to respect our elders and all of that stuff. But can someone please explain to me WTF so many people see in this guy?
Apparently enough people see enough in him that he has sufficient resources for yet another sea cruise this year (I wrote about last year's cruise here). This year's theme is all about prospering in the changing economy. Here's a link to the speaker list.
They probably won't be giving briefcases away on this one. I'm sure they're way past briefcases now. (Perhaps miracle steamer trunks, a la Joe Versus The Volcano...?)
DNA activation really works: scientifical proof!
Among the conspicuously enlightened, many of whom like to pretend they are highly trained scientists, DNA is a really, really big thing. Some of these folks can barely spell DNA and aren't even sure exactly what the initials stand for, say nothing of what DNA actually is; nevertheless, many of them either sell or promote various techniques, products or gimmicks that aid you in reprogramming your DNA in order to achieve wealth, health and happiness, and/or to raise your vibrational level. Naturally, I have made fun of this, and so, as it happens, has my pal HHH in the UK.
But HHH had a humbling lesson recently, and he wrote to me about it.
I felt I should check out Gregg Braden's work before casually dismissing it, and boy am I glad I did. Gregg says that our maintaining a positive state of wellbeing can activate the hidden divine code within our DNA. So, both before and after a period of intensive prayer and offering of gratitude to the all spirit, plus a bit of chanting and wotnot, I had my DNA tested. I know technical stuff like DNA analysis bamboozles less cutting edge people, but I'm sure anyone can see the hidden code in my DNA. Find attached the highly scientifimicological diagram of my DNA, before and after activation.
[Note: Click on graphic to view it full size.]
Wow. I too am a believer now. Thanks, HHH!
Another brain destroyed by The Secret
Speaking of The Secret, a dear friend of mine who at one time was kind of a Secret fan sent me an email recently about a pal of his who had been introduced to The Secret around the same time as he.
I had a real sad eye opener re “self help.” My friend who watched The Secret about the same time I did has gone off the deep end. He quit his nice easy PhD. job, cashed in his retirement, went to Mexico to live with his Internet bride, made $0 in 6 months while launching his breakthrough website; had to beg borrow and steal to get back to the US; hasn’t paid child support in months (but has managed to learn all the secrets of the ever expanding universe). [He] met some “prophet” (read: down and out retired PhD) in the Caribbean and they are starting an “online university” to revitalize and reinvigorate the universe.Granted, my friend liked The Secret, and its inspirational message seems to have helped him through some rough spots he was experiencing at the time. So I know that some might point out that because The Secret apparently was somewhat helpful to him, I could just as easily have titled this snippet, "Another life enriched by The Secret." But The Secret was just one of several factors in his life at that time. In the end it was his own hard work and determination that really made the difference. He didn't just sit around and wait for the Universe Genie to deliver good things to him. (And when he decided to go back to school to get his Ph.D., he went to an accredited university to get a real Ph.D., rather than one of those Faux-h.D.'s that are so favored by New-Wage "leaders.")
All of a sudden “Democracy” and the US government are evil incarnate (OK, so a lot of folks say that, but guess where he came when he finally bottomed out and needed $$?) [Other beliefs and stuff he's into]: Extraterrestrials “seeded” Terra Firma and spoke through Ra, god of Egypt...worldwide alignment of the Pyramids…Rothschild banking conspiracy…Bilderbergs…the Trilateral Commission…Illuminati…Bush, etc. A handful of people control everything that the other 6 billion of us do on a daily basis…
It was really sad to see this guy go from slightly eccentric to full blown wacko, and he’s all about Proctor, Hicks, etc. “The Secret was just an introduction to the truth as it is being revealed to the universe…BTW have you ever noticed how some humans look like space aliens?"
ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!! That’s me losing what’s left of my flipping mind.
I also know that some might argue that had it not been for The Secret, my friend's buddy would probably have found some other road map to lunacy. And that may be true, especially in light of all of those conspiracy theories floating around. But the fact remains that in this case, it was The Secret that provided the "inspiration" for this guy to turn his back on his life and on people who were counting on him.
That's it for now, snippet-wise. I leave you with another song that I just can't get out of my head (thanks to Shaza). This is an old one by Phish. The video part leaves a bit to be desired, but this is the studio recording of the song, which is far superior to the live-concert version that can also be found on YouTube. For some inexplicable reason this song was going through my head all through Hurricane Ike and during the power outage afterward. And even though I was sick of hearing it in my head, it was the first thing I played on my computer once the power came back on. Thankfully, I wasn't actually wading in a sea of any kind during or after Ike's visit, but unfortunately, many people were.