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, April 03, 2009

So how's your Guru-Free Week going so far?

Well, Dear Ones, here we are smack-dab in the middle of Guru-Free Week, sponsored by Americans Against Self-Help Fraud. The Scammy Award winners have been chosen, as announced on Whirled Musings the other day (and if you don't understand why these people were chosen, following the links on the names will give you some insight). Today we'll celebrate a couple of those "winners."

If you meet the Buddha in a Rolls...
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale actually won several Scammys, but in my opinion, the most richly (in a manner of speaking) deserved Scammy was the Daddy Big Bucks Award, "for the self-help guru most obviously in it for the money." While Joe has often said that his greatest satisfaction is helping other people realize their dreams and making the world a better place, it appears that he possesses, to put it mildly, a strong mercenary streak.

"And your point is?" I can hear some of the New-Wage marketeers asking. Others will say that my own distorted perspective is to blame for my seeing the money obsession rather than his true heart. Obviously I share that distorted perspective with numerous other members of the "Academy" who voted in the Scammys.

Apropos of that mercenary streak, in recent years Joe has exhibited signs of a progressive personality disorder called carcissism. Evidence of this condition is apparent in his blog posts and Twitter posts, such as this recent Tweet:

Looking at the best magazine cover I've EVER seen. It's hypnotic. Sexy. A-maz-ing. http://www.austinfitmagazine.com

Not surprisingly, he was referring to a cover that featured himself and a Scorpion car much like the one that is being built for him. The Scorpion, which begins at $150,000 US (although the version Joe is buying is $250,000), is touted as a "green" car. The magazine featuring Joe and the Scorpion is one of those freebie newsstand rags called Austin Fit; if you click on the link above you'll get to the Austin Fit web site, and if you click on the picture of Joe you will get to the page that has a link to the interview.

He just can't seem to stop Tweeting about his latest obsession:

I drove Scorpion on airport runway and screamed out loud in exhileration [sic]

Discovery TV loved my off-the-charts love for the Scorpion. They said I reeked lust. heh heh. Driving at screaming speed on a runway did it.

Looking at 25 breathtaking pics of me and the Scorpion http://www.brianfitzsimmons...

The writer/interviewer for Austin Fit describes Joe as "the mind beyond the Law Of Attraction...a man who lives big, bold, and without regrets," and "one of the most environmentally-conscious people you'll ever meet." Uh-huh, that 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom of his is really a green car. (By the way, when the interviewer asked Joe how many cars he owns, Joe humbly apologized for having to hesitate a moment and count to himself. Joe's best guess is that he has seven cars, so far.)

Speaking of the Rolls, Joe refers in the interview to a pilot with whom he recently had dinner. He said the guy wasn't all that enthusiastic about having dinner with Joe, even though he'd paid five grand to do it. I can only assume the pilot in question was one of Joe's most recent Rolls Royce MasterMind "Phantom Riders." For the benefit of those who don't know, this is a deal whereby Joe charges people five grand each to ride to dinner with him in his Rolls and talk about ways to make money. As he took a husband and wife on a recent MasterMind, I am guessing that the husband was the less-than-enthusiastic pilot to whom he was referring. I'm also guessing – and again, I am just speculating here – that the wife wheedled her hapless mate into dropping ten grand for the two of them to ride in the Rolls. According to Joe, however, by the time the evening ended the reluctant pilot was alight with renewed passion to pursue his dreams.

At any rate, Joe insists that for him, it really isn't just about the money. It's about the spirituality too, you see. As he says in the Austin Fit interview, "I have one foot in the marketing world, and the other in the spiritual world." I imagine that some Buddhists, however, would say that the "spiritual" foot is actually in Joe's mouth (maybe that's one reason he also won a Scammy for Dumb Speak).

In his March 30 blog post entitled "Buddha's Money-Making Secret," he praises a book called The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life, penned by Geshe Michael Roach, a Buddhist monk whose very status as a monk is controversial at best. The book has so far received mostly five-star reviews on Amazon, though not everyone is enthralled.

But Joe loves it. He writes:

The Diamond Cutter is a practical and reflective book asking you to look at and change the mental imprints in your brain causing you to attract the results you have in your life. This includes whether you have money or not.

Personally I think just repeating the Zero Limits mantra (I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, thank you) non-stop can clean up those mental imprints. But I’m no Buddha. Do what you feel inspired to do.

Now, wait just a doggone minute.

For years Joe was saying that he was the Buddha of the Internet, and there's even a picture to prove it. Now he says that he's no Buddha. My faith has been shaken, once again.

Joe also says he's not a Buddhist, though he's gained insight and value from many of Buddha's teachings. He says he's more of a Transcendentalist. "I enjoy practical metaphysics, which is the take-it-to-the-bank school of philosophy," he writes.

Practical Metaphysics also happens to be the name of one of the companies belonging to one of Joe's joint-venture partners, Pat O'Bryan. Together Pat and Joe have been selling all sorts of tools to help folks create magic and miracles in their lives, or at least in Joe's and Pat's lives. Some of these amazing products are listed on the WealthAttractor.com web site; there are also some eye-opening history lessons on that site, including this one that appears in the description of the Pelmanism product that Joe and Pat are selling:

The Lost Art of Pelmanism

If you're the kind of person who wants to break free from limited thinkin [sic] and finally get whatever you want in life these 12 long lost astonishing e-books written in the 1920's will set you free.

Who knew that there were e-books in the 1920's? I learn something new every day.

I'm no Buddhist either, of course, and I'm far from qualified to go into all of the ways that various New-Wage hustledorks and pseudo-Buddhists subvert this or that teaching. My partner Ron is much more qualified to speak about these things. In fact, he has done so on his blog, Rev Ron's Rants, and I must say that he did it with far more balance, compassion, and eloquence than I can manage at this point.

Unlike many critics, I don't particularly care that the author of The Diamond Cutter, Geshe Michael Roach, still claims to be a monk even though he broke his monkly vows, was ousted from his order, and was even rebuffed by the Dalai Lama. Without a doubt Roach has broken with tradition, doing un-monkish things such as growing his hair long and living with a woman; he claims that he wants to modernize Buddhism and make it, among other things, more inclusive of women. Well, modernization, like charity, begins at home, I suppose, and Roach and his "spiritual partner," Christie McNally, live together in a yurt in the high desert in Arizona. They are literally never more than about fifteen feet away from each other – not ever – but both claim they are living as celibates.

At any rate, I'm all for modernizing religion, though it appears to me that Roach is trying to have his rice cake and eat it too by using traditional Buddhist constructs as they suit him, and yet making his own rules. I can't figure out why he's so intent on holding on to the title of monk – you can be a real Buddhist and still not be celibate, for Chrissake – but I'll leave that squabble to him and the purists.

But, good Goddess, I do get tired of all those New-Wage hustledorks who try to convince everyone that their shtick has been specially blessed from on high, and then write books about it to encourage other New-Wage hustledorks. Regarding Joe's penchant for using Buddhist teachings to justify his own lifestyle, a snarky friend of mine wrote, "Ah, yes, the teachings of the Buddha ... All that talk of money, possessions, fame. The Buddha spoke a lot about those things before he set up his franchising and merchandising operations."

Meanwhile, Transcendentalist Joe is getting ready to go to Peru to speak to a stadium of 35,000 people about the Law Of Attraction. So far he hasn't given many details, other than the fact that he will be meeting the president of Peru (a fact he mentioned on Twitter), but he has hired a tutor to help him learn Spanish, again, as noted on his Twitter page:

Scrambling yet again - Berlitz tutor coming again for three hours of immersion. I'll learn Spanish yet. Adious [sic]!

I guess spelling isn't included in those lessons.

Anyway, congratulations to Joe for winning not one, not two, but three Scammy Awards.

The Wanker of Oz
While Joe Vitale is using Buddhism to help sanctify his very conspicuous consumption, another Scammy Award winner, Aussie
David Schirmer, back in Oz after his US tour, is using Christianity for the same purpose. He's currently giving a series of lectures about prosperity, the stock market, and the millionaire mindset at his church, Rhema Melbourne, which is one of those prosperity-oriented institutions that preaches the eternal truth that God wants His children to be rich. David will wrap up the series in November with the one topic on which he is undisputably an expert: “What To Do When Your Business Faces Adversity Or Comes Under Attack.”

In the recent Scammy vote, David received a Hypocrite Award for displaying an enormous gap between expressed beliefs and actual behavior. According to numerous informed sources, in both his professional and personal life he has excelled in deviating from just about everything he teaches about spiritual/religious principles and wealth-building principles.

Regarding the latter, some have claimed that he has yet to actually prove that he can successfully trade. Recently no less than eight of his companies were struck off the register of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). In addition, he has spent a lot of time in court over the past few years, both suing and being sued. Bob Proctor successfully sued him last year in Australia's Federal Court for misleading and deceptive business practices.

Of course he has explanations for all of this, some of which you can see in the comments to this video on YouTube. Among other things, he says he was the one who suggested to Bob that Bob distance himself from Schirmer, due to the fact that a "gutter journalist" was nosing around Schirmer's business. Of Proctor, he wrote, "Bob has yet to fulfill his promises to alot of disappointed people (not just me) – time will take care of that. I have chosen not to settle injustices by taking court action as I believe in abundance for everyone." Uh-huh.

Notwithstanding his questionable trading record as well as other dodgy business dealings, David is getting ready for an international launch of his Complete Stock Market Home Study Course, which is apparently a recycled version of the program he's been selling for a couple of years now. The international launch is one of the deals he was "masterminding" during his recent tour of the United States, when he joined up with the profoundly ethical Internet marketing guru Perry Belcher to plot ways to bring his wisdom to a waiting world. Shortly after returning to Oz, David sent out this email to his list:

Well I'm back from my whirlwind trip around America...

What started as one seminar and one appointment Turned into a wild adventure where we flew all over the country, met a whole bunch of really amazing and influential people and made some fantastic deals...

The whole trip was really a trip powered by faith since we often Had no idea what was next... but as we got there the next step was revealed always just in time... It was incredible!...

...The upshot of all of this is that we masterminded a launch of My Complete Stock Market Home Study Course which is going to Happen in 2 to 3 weeks simultaneously all around the world...

...Now because of all the new promotional partners we have joined forces with we will be launching the Complete Stock Market Home Study Course At a new price point of $4997 US Dollars rather than the current $4997 Australian Dollars.

This means that in 2 weeks the price in Australian dollars will go up To $7619.92 - as per today's exchange rate...

That's more than $2500 more...So if you are serious about wanting to take control of your own Finances, sack your fund manager and retire in 3 - 7 years...If not sooner then I seriously invite you to consider looking at The home study course.

Historically graduates of this course have created around 30% Return on their investments which is more than twice the average Managed fund - with less risk and paying no fees and commissions (except to yourself :-)


And so on. So if you have five grand to throw around (in US dollars; more than $7,600 in Aussie dollars), and you don't feel up to riding around in Joe's Rolls, you can always spend it on an utterly useless exciting stock market course. Or better yet, just give the five grand to me. It's the right thing to do!

Y'know, whenever I see a comment such as, "The whole trip was really a trip powered by faith," I can't fight the urge to read between the lines. I am guessing that "Powered by faith" is faux-Christian hustledorkspeak for "someone else paid for it." In any case, it seems clear that David Schirmer is now poised to start selling his Home Stock Market Course in America. An anonymous correspondent speculated that since he recently opened a bank account in the US, he'll probably start funneling money to that account and still manage to not pay his debts in Australia. My correspondent suspects that the Schirmers' plan is to build up a nest egg in the US and flee Australia as soon as they have enough to survive on...and the cycle will start all over in the US.

Anyway, congratulations are in order to David Schirmer for his Scammy Award.

Addendum: He's baaaack.... As of 7 April, the whole Schirmer family is in California for a vacation. As I write this, there are Schirmers loose in Disneyland! Disney parks are familiar territory for David...

Gullibalooza alert!
Also falling smack-dab in the the middle of Guru-Free Week, ironically, are two events that promise to be anything but Guru-Free. To begin with, as announced in my recent post about the Maharishi Affectation...er...Effect, there is a big benefit concert in New York City on April 4 (that's tomorrow!), sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation, which, among other things, provides funds to inculcate students with pro-Maharishi propaganda...er...to teach students how to meditate so they can change their world from within. Headlining the concert will be the two surviving Beatles, Paul and Ringo.

If you can't make it to the David Lynch concert, but happen to be in the Dallas, Texas area and have an urge to be surrounded by Gullibaloozas, you'll be pleased to know that the Unity Churh of Dallas is hosting The Conscious Community Expo & Concert, sponsored by The Peace Project. There will be messages, lectures and performances by scads of New-Wage luminaries. According to the write-up on The Peace Project's web site, the rationale behind the big expo/concert is that "a collective, united consciousness has been scientifically proven to manifest results." The event is the culmination of the Peace Project's 10-month-long "Crime Reduction/Peace Enhancement Study" for AGNT (the Association for Global New Thought). One stated purpose of the gala is "to provide each community that uses THE PEACE PROJECT protocol substantial proof that these kind of community events are effective in increasing harmony and reducing crime – without cost to their city." If you've read my "miracles" blog post, or know anything about the Maharishi Effect, that will sound pretty familiar to you.

That's it for now. As Guru-Free Week progresses I will, if I feel like it, celebrate more of the "winners," and perhaps a few of the "also-rans" who made the finals but didn't win a Scammy. Meanwhile, I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.

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Anonymous hHH said...

Looks like someone vomited spirulina all over him.

Friday, April 03, 2009 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

What can I say...he's one of the greenest gurus around, at least according to that interviewer in "Austin Fit!"

Friday, April 03, 2009 8:51:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...

Just so you're aware, Connie--at some point in my lifetime I WILL be stealing the phrase "Gullibalooza" from you.

Whether or not I properly attribute it to you will depend on how badly I wish to impress my (future) correspondent(s) with my witty wordplay.

(In other words, probably not, short of a lawsuit. So I suggest you get someone on retainer, STAT!)

Saturday, April 04, 2009 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Oh, Mojo, it's enough to know that someone whose writing I greatly admire stole...er...borrowed from me. No worries!

(And there are always plenty of events all over the US and the world that would fit under the Gullibalooza label.)

Sadly, I can't lay claim to the word, "carcissism." I actually thought it up on my own, but Googled it, and sure 'nuff, it was in the Urban Dictionary. I guess it's one of those *obvious* words.

Saturday, April 04, 2009 1:34:00 PM  
Anonymous M said...

I LOL-ed so many times reading this piece!!!

It makes me wonder, why can't YOU be making the megabucks these beyond-greedy buffoons are??

This world, she is so unjust.

Oh, and that comment on vomited spirulina is killer. Kudos, hHH.

Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Ah, M, I often ask myself the same question. If I'm such a smart-ass, why ain't I rich?

Ironically, back in the days when Joe Vitale and I were friends (those long ago days before I went over to "the dark side" :-)), he told me more than once that with my humor, talent, etc. I should be rich. "You're sitting on a gold mine!" he used to tell me. But I always thought that was what he said to pretty much everyone, or at least to his friends, so I didn't take it very seriously. Who knows what sort of riches I could have realized if I'd stayed on "the other side" and had actually developed some sort of New-Wage shtick. Or, alternatively, if I'd created a more benign satirical shtick that still had a spiritual element, a la Swami Beyondananda (whom I like, by the way).

But neither one of those routes really seemed to fit me. So here I am in the cheap seats in Snarky Town... Sigh.

Saturday, April 04, 2009 6:38:00 PM  
Anonymous AngelinaIwish said...

What I find really amusing is that these guys just can't live together but they all want a piece of the same bit of meat like hyenas waiting the rip out a morsel of our flesh to survive another day.

Thanks for the news Connie, I appreciate reading it and being warned. Most of the people you write about edit everything that they don't like out of their comments because it just doesnt sit well with their egos. Well you take it warts and all and thats how it should be so in the end you are the winner.

Kudos to Connie!

Saturday, April 04, 2009 8:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JV is covered in BILE. To be so green he must be full of it. That Aussie guy is all blue because he's full of it too.

Sunday, April 05, 2009 7:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for your comments, Angelina. That hyena comparison is spot-on (groan)!

Sunday, April 05, 2009 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 7:14 PM: I just can't explain the JV picture. Like magic, it just turned green before my very eyes. (Then I took off the emerald shades and I saw the little man behind the curtain...)

As for being blue...hey, watch what you say about us blue folk. Some of us are blue because we're so spiritual-like. :-)

Sunday, April 05, 2009 11:49:00 PM  
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