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.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It would be tragic if they all got lost in the Triangle...

To anyone who has ever doubted that the New-Wage movement is just a tad elitist, despite its egalitarian ideals, I give you what someone on one discussion forum referred to as the "Bilderberg Group for lightworkers," the Transformational Leadership Council, or TLC. Formed in 2004 by Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield, this is a group consisting of the crème de la crème of New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality luminaries – the conspicuously enlightened, in other words. They hold their secret meetings twice a year, and for the past few days they've taken over beautiful Bermuda to, as Kate Winslet's character famously said in the 1997 film Titanic, "congratulate each other on being masters of the universe." (Though humbly, of course.) Steve Pavlina, perhaps best known for his Personal Development for Smart People book, blogs, and forums, was among those privileged to attend, and he blogged about it, though discreetly.

...I think there are around 200 TLC members now, but that’s just a guesstimate. TLC isn’t open to the public; you can only join by being sponsored by an existing member. I became a TLC member earlier this year, and this is my first retreat with them.

The purpose of TLC is basically for teachers/leaders in the personal growth field to hang out together, share their best ideas, have fun, and encourage the heck out of each other. You could call it a lightworker networking group.

If you’ve seen the movie The Secret, it was filmed at a previous TLC retreat in Aspen, so many of the teachers from that film are here for the Bermuda retreat as well. The Secret was an independent project though, not part of TLC itself. I think The Secret was filmed at TLC because it was a convenient way to gather all those teachers in the same place for filming.

Since this is an invite-only gathering, not a public event, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to blog about all the details. Consequently, I’m intentionally being a bit vague...

Not unexpectedly, Steve received some supportive comments on the forum thread linking to the post. One member gushed:

You mean you get to meet Paul Scheele? Sonia Choquette? Jeddah Mali? Chunyi Lin!?

The positive energy there must be palpable indeed!

If you could share some pictures with us when you get back that would be great, so I can live vicariously through them

And Steve couldn't resist sharing...

We met Paul last night, and I'm headed downstairs to do some qi gong exercise with him this morning before breakfast (along with anyone else who shows up for it). Sonia and I already knew each other because we're both Hay House authors, and I interviewed her for my blog a couple years ago. Haven't met Jeddah yet but I should today. Chunyi isn't here for this one.

Lots of positive, upbeat energy here as you might expect. Feels like a fun family reunion.

Another forum member had mixed feelings, however, confessing to intense jealousy and surprise at the intensity of that feeling.

I think it might be the combination of amazing people and the beautiful location that's leading to these feelings. I admire many of the people that belong to TLC and would love to spend just an hour with any of them. Combine this collection of brilliant souls in a setting like Bermuda and I'm feeling very blue about my current life situation.

Will have to sort this out.

To which Steve responded that he understood this feeling, explaining:

...The reason I'm able to enjoy this kind of experience is that I'm a vibrational match for it. I don't see the people I'm hanging out with this week as separate from me. They aren't idols or celebrities or gurus in my eyes. We're all equally valid and worthy expressions of spirit. We're all one. You're just as worthy too, but perhaps you've forgotten that simple truth.

Everyone here is very human. They all have their faults and foibles. But they accept themselves as worthy anyway. I think that's part of what draws so many people to follow their work...

Or to put it more honestly, they use their unique combination of New-Wage "star power" and the illusion of accessibility to make their promises of miracles seem credible to the unwashed masses ("If I can do it, you can too, if you just invest in my [fill in the blank]!"). And forgive me for observing that the commenter on Steve's forum may indeed be "just as worthy" as the TLC members, but apparently not worthy enough to actually be a TLC member. But then, neither am I, and neither are most of us. We'll just have to work on our vibrations, I suppose, although if all of us got our vibes in sync with the TLC-ers, I have a feeling that would only raise the bar, vibes-wise, and most of us still couldn't gain entry to that elite group of transformational leaders. (Further, if everyone became zillionaires, with the zillionaire egos, ambitions and material longings to match, wouldn't there be that much more competition for all of the world's toniest spots? The former riff-raff would think they actually deserved to live on Maui or convene in Bermuda. Instead of "NIMBY" ("Not In My Backyard!"), we'd be hearing more "NOMI" ("Not On My Island!").)

Interestingly enough, neither the famous Louise Hay, founder of Hay House, nor Rhonda Byrne, main brains behind The Secret, is listed as a TLC Member In Good Standing. (But then again, Steve Pavlina isn't listed as a Member In Good Standing either, but he says he is a member, so maybe they're just slow to update.)

Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale has also been in Bermuda for this gathering. He isn't currently listed as a TLC member either, but was no doubt either invited by a member, or the organization just needs to get on the ball with their updates. Anyway, he has Tweeted nonstop about it on Twitter, with virtually every Tweet including the words, "here in Bermuda." Among other things, he's been filmed for another couple of "movies," an indication that the Hustledork Cinema genre is alive and well. And he didn't miss a chance to play the altruism card:

Talking w leaders here in Bermuda about ending poverty, homelessness on planet. It can be done.

At the very least, these "leaders" can continue to gather in the world's prettiest places, and, in between playing on the beach, doing qi gong exercises, filming infomercials, encouraging the heck out of each other, and lolling around at the local spas, they can jaw about trendy problems in order to convince themselves and the rest of us that they care about something besides stroking their own egos and fattening their own wallets.* To date, I have yet to see anything substantial about Joe's own program to end homelessness, Operation Y.E.S., which was first announced in March of 2008, to great fanfare. He says he's joined up with some others who are working on similar issues (most notably, Scott Miller of www.movethemountain.org, which has a proprietary and copyrighted method to eliminate poverty), but as for Operation Y.E.S., well... the suspense is just killing us. In an April 2009 interview with Austin Fit magazine, Joe revealed, "I know how to end foreclosures and end homelessness in one day." So tell us already, Joe! Or did you actually end homelessness and foreclosure in one day – a day that has come and gone – and the negative mainstream media simply failed to report it?

Next scheduled meeting for the TLC-ers is January 20-24, 2010. (Hey, January 24 is Cosmic Connie Day, aka My Birthday. Maybe I could be an honorary TLC member for that day.) No word yet on where the meeting will be, but it's bound to be someplace ritzy.

PS added 23 October, 2009: My new friend and fellow blogger Duff McDuffee, who runs the excellent Beyond Growth blog, wrote an interesting post about Steve Pavlina in September of this year, "The Unquestioned Gurus of the Religion of the Self." At the time Duff wrote this post, Steve had recently announced his own affiliation with and promotion of a fairly pricey DVD set, Eben Pagan's "Man Transformation," which pretty much seems to be one of those pseudo-sophisticated how-to-pick-up-and-boink-as-many-wimmin-as-possible guides for the horny but enlightened male consumer. Duff writes, "Pavlina seems to have become interested in dating advice right around the time he announced that he and his wife decided to have an open marriage and explore polyamory." Here's the link to Steve's first blog post on the polyamory experiment. And here's his follow-up post. Perhaps the Pavlinas should look into ACCESS Consciousness.

PPS added 2 November, 2009: No sooner had I posted that PS above than Steve Pavlina announced that...and I know this will come as a huge, huge, shock...he and his lovely wife Erin have decided to "transition their relationship into something other than a marriage." Yes, that's pretty much the way he expressed it. "We love each other enough to see that we must allow each other the freedom to pursue our own individual dreams," explains Steverino, since he is far too much of a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) to say something like, "I'm bored and horny and there are all those hot young chicks around, and Erin, despite that lovely conversation between her ego and her higher self ** shortly after I made the decision to open up our marriage, decided she didn't like my polyamory idea so much after all." Steve is staying in their big house and Erin and the kids are moving into their smaller one, since, as he 'splains it, it will be more affordable for her. (I guess the psychic biz doesn't pay as well as the personal-development blogging biz.***) For those who want to know all of the details of the Pavlinas' separation, Steve has thoughtfully provided them on his October 25 blog post. Of note, a little over a week later he provided yet another update, explaining that he and Erin would most likely not be blogging any more about their relationship, because there were "lots of immature reactions to our announcement." It seems that some bloggers were writing "ridiculous" things about the separation (and the polyamory issues that preceded it) in order to draw attention to their own blogs, according to Steve. So apparently he and Erin decided that it would be better for them to seek support from people close to them who actually know them, instead of from hundreds of thousands of random strangers on the Internet. Really. And it took being ridiculed by some of those strangers for him to figure this out? (And he's the one who writes about "personal development for smart people?") Anyway, for those who simply must have details, here is that update (scroll down to "Relationship update").

* This is not to deny that some of these gurus and guru-ettes really are altruistic and actually do some good in the world. For the vast majority, however, most of the time it seems that doing good takes a back seat to the ego-stroking and wallet-fattening activities. But maybe that's just my low-level vibes talking again.
** After that conversation between her ego and her higher self, Erin Pavlina wrote: "I have learned to put myself in a high state of awareness and consciousness whenever I need to process something that is causing me fear. If I stayed in my fear state, I would be very panicked and unsure of myself right now. When I remind myself that Steve is not taking his love somewhere else, but simply expanding his field to include others, I feel blessed to be with a man who has the courage to explore life honestly even if it means defying social norms. It’s all part of his path to make the world a more conscious and loving place." Uh-huh.
*** Yes, Erin is a gen-yoo-ine psychic medium who currently charges upwards of $800.00 an hour for "readings," and even coaches people who want to be gen-yoo-ine professional psychics/intuitives/etc. themselves. Here's a link to a 2006 post where Steve 'splains Erin's decision to go pro. And here's a link to a skeptic's view, also from 2006, of the Pavlinas.

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Anonymous Rational Thinking said...

Ah ... "faults and foibles". Wouldn't you just love to know more about those?

Just imagining all of those gigantic egos bumping heads is hilarious. Wonder what they're cooking up for the next "big thing"?

Monday, July 27, 2009 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, RT. I think I already know more than I want to about the "faults and foibles" of some of these New-Wage bigwigs. I certainly know more than I am presently at liberty to blog about. But I imagine that the only "faults and foibles" to which the gurus themselves would admit would be things such as occasionally getting a little upset at a critic's remarks. (And generally, such upsets are quickly neutralized by fawning supporters and/or the guru's own rationalization that the critic is merely seeing things through his or her own rage/inadequacy/mediocrity/limited vision/other defect of choice.)

In general, I don't really have a problem with "elite" groups, or with organizations that have specific membership requirements, limited membership, etc. It's just that the whole New-Wage shtick centers around core concepts such as "we all are one," "we're all equal in the eyes of Spirit," "we're all divine expressions of the Universe," etc.... and yet there seems to be this need for a highly exclusive Transformational LEADERSHIP (emphasis mine) Council. Who are they "leading?" Some might also see absurdity in the very idea of an "elite" group of con artists...er...brilliant self-promoters.

Monday, July 27, 2009 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

'....Transformational LEADERSHIP (emphasis mine) Council. Who are they "leading?" '

The world by the nose?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 2:39:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

New-Wage -- Did you make that up? Never heard that one before. It's clever but doesn't quite fit because wages are for the minions who have regular jobs, right? ;)

Thanks for the links.

Saturday, August 01, 2009 4:32:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

disillusioned said...

" '....Transformational LEADERSHIP (emphasis mine) Council. Who are they "leading?" '

The world by the nose?"

They're trying to, anyway, disillusioned, but some of the world just ain't following. :-)

Saturday, August 01, 2009 9:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Steve said...

"New-Wage -- Did you make that up? Never heard that one before. It's clever but doesn't quite fit because wages are for the minions who have regular jobs, right? ;)

"Thanks for the links."

Ah, Steve, therein lies my great quandary. It doesn't fit perfectly, but sometimes one must sacrifice accuracy for the sake of a pretty good pun. Or pretty bad pun, depending upon one's point of view. As far as I know I *did* make up "New-Wage," which, though not quite on the nose, nonetheless manages to convey the message that the conspicuously enlightened (or the mystic bourgeoisie, as Chris Locke might say) have a powerful mercenary streak.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, I hasten to add, knowing that "the Universe loves greed," as the saying goes. (Well, that's close enough, anyway.)

To my knowledge, "New Wage" first appeared in print in my 1996 magnum dopus, "Cosmic Relief," in which I offered a questionnaire entitled, "Have You Been Violated & Experimented Upon by New-Wage Practitioners?"

By the way, I don't know if this information will be useful to you, but it *is* rather a badge of honor to be snarked about on my Whirled. I have it on good authority, from someone I once snarked about, that some people in the biz who have not yet been snarked about here are feeling a little left out. Given enough time, however, I *will* get around to everyone whom I consider snarkworthy.

Saturday, August 01, 2009 9:30:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Steve should be aware of the fact that your other application of the phrase - sans hyphen) rhymes (quite fittingly, I might add) with the word "sewage."

As to those who hold themselves forth as the "leaders" of a spiritual movement, one should remember that such a position has been eschewed by the founders of virtually every true spiritual path throughout history, for good reason.

Brings to mind the wisdom in the title of a popular book, "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road,..."

Sunday, August 02, 2009 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, Ron. Actually I came very close to adding this to my reply to Steve: "At least 'New-Age' is kinder than the term frequently used by some skeptics, 'newage,' rhyming with 'sewage.'"

The truth, however, is that I have never taken credit (or blame, depending upon one's p.o.v.) for 'newage'; it's been bandied about the skeptics' community for years.

BTW, speaking of neologisms, I think everyone should know that our own Rev Ron is the one who invented the word, "hustledork."


The first time he uttered the word, and the first time I heard it, was in the mid 1990s. Ron had just returned from a meeting with a potential client who had been referred to us by one of the people I've written about on this blog. I asked Ron about his impression of the prospect, and Ron shrugged and said, "He seemed like a typical hustledork."

I laughed in delight. "Did you just make that word up?" I asked.

"Well, yeah," he said.

History in the making!

BTW, Ron, my pal Chris Locke of Mystic B has suggested that you add 'hustledork' to the Urban Dictionary online. I think that's a good idea.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Oh, yeah, Ron, and as for your second and more serious point about spiritual leaders: Amen (if you'll pardon the expression).

This is in no way to suggest that affluence and success are evil or that they cannot co-exist with spirituality or elevated consciousness. But there is something eminently snarkworthy about people who attempt to turn spiritual development into an elitist sport.

Some may argue that at least the elitism of the conspicuously enlightened is an improvement over that of the "robber barons" of a past century, who "congratulated themselves on being masters of the Universe." After all, the pride of the latter was based mainly on their enormous material wealth and their success in business. True, many of them at least paid lip service to the Creator, claiming that God must be on their side, proof of which was the fact that He had rewarded them so richly. But this is different on many levels from today's spiritually (and financially) elite whose pride so often appears to be based on their self-perception of being more evolved and vibrating at a higher frequency than the masses. (Well, they like to brag about their fancy cars and mansions too, but they always have to drag spirituality into those boasts in order to make it all more palatable to themselves and their marks.)

Of course most of them claim a desire to elevate the masses to their level (even if they don't state it in quite those terms). This "altruism" is in fact one of their most powerful marketing tools. I don't doubt that some are sincere in their desire to help others, but so much of that sincere desire seems to dissipate once they reach a certain level of success and fame.

And, as I noted in my earlier comment, there's such a disconnect between the "we all are one," "we all are equal" mindset, and the very idea of an "elite" group of "leaders."

Yet there seems to be a continuing need for this elitism. And it looks to me as if Steve P, whom I wrote about in my post, has reached the point in his career when he is being noticed and accepted by some of the "bigger names," and he's so giddy about it that he just HAD to write about it. (Joe V has been in that stage for quite some time now himself. He just can't quit dropping names.)

And although I have no way of knowing, and could certainly be wrong, as I've occasionally been about these matters, I have a feeling that many of the conspicuously enlightened who boast are doing so at least as much to provoke envy as to inspire others to reach for the stars.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Sam Freedom said...


I've popped back every now and then to read your blog and I'm never disappointed. Your thoroughness, coupled with your wit, make for a tremendously fun, and informative, read... and, at the expense of people who live posh lives at the expense of the unwary...

If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. If you Google my moniker, you'll find all kinds of weird stuff. But, most importantly, I was observing Vital'e when he was proudly boasting about "hypnotic marketing" and how to use phrases in ways to manipulate people into buying things.

Those who purchased were, similarly, unwary that he was using those techniques on them because those people were never able to qualify themselves as being able to employ such techniques after reading about them.

What a joke...

Here's an article I wrote that links to one of your articles. I realize one video there is dead

Scientology and The Secret - Perils On the Way to Your First $100 Month

There's a few others there, too, such as a hypothesis on Google using Wikipedia as a tool for social engineering, etc.

Anyways, keep up the good work.


Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for the support, Sam, and you're spot-on about Vitale and the hypnosis gimmick/scam. (BTW, the link you sent leads to a Cookie Monster video on YouTube. :-)) I hope you'll keep coming back to my Whirled.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Here's a better link to Sam Freedom's article:


(Thanks again, Sam!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Sam Freedom said...

Thanks, Connie, for posting the proper link. I was multi-tasking with that Cookie Monster video and, as you see, I either need more practice, or I need to return to doing one thing at a time.

Or maybe the solution to my problem will be in the next great New Wage book.


Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

No worries, Sam. You can never go wrong with a Cookie Monster video. I enjoyed it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 2:37:00 PM  
Blogger Duff said...

Connie, you are awesome. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Duff. And right back at ya with the "awesome" bit. I am really enjoying your blog posts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 9:02:00 PM  
Blogger Babzilicious said...

Hello Connie,

I would have read this topic of your Whirled Musings a lot faster had I not paused every other sentence to roll my eyes and let out exasperated sighs. Then I read Steve Pavlina's Polyamorous Q&A, which ... *sigh* ... what a mess.

Due to the Sedona tragedy, I feel as if I am coming out of The Secret fog. I can't believe I ever bought into this bullshit.

Overall, I was struck by how FAKE all this Bermuda Bamboozling sounded. Oddly enough, James Arthur Ray's admonition to be impeccable (he's obviously forgotten he ever said that) helped me begin a journey to be more authentic - to be myself, what you see is what you get, baby. But these people! Nothing genuine, no fellow-feeling. It's all ego. And THESE were the people I was following to become a better person? I'll be my own "self-help guru" thank you very much.

P.S. Sonia Choquette recently decided to use the name "Sonia Vibes" on Facebook. (*more eye-rolling*)

Monday, January 18, 2010 1:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Babz. Being your own guru sounds like the wise thing to do. In that sense, the selfish-help/New-Wage gurus *did* teach you -- and all of us -- a valuable lesson. It just might not be the lesson they were intending to teach.

As for polyamory -- well, you can see what it apparently did for the Pavlinas' marriage. I believe Steve Pavlina refers to it as "intimacy abundance." Whatevs! (as the Salty Droid likes to say)

And hey, I know what you mean about the eye-rolling; I have a headache from rolling my eyes over this stuff. That's why God made Excedrin (or generic equivalents thereof).

Monday, January 18, 2010 1:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man i love this blog, lol. You should post about his new 'slaves wanted' post.

Friday, April 08, 2011 10:54:00 PM  

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