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.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Katie, bar the door!

NOTE: I've added to this post since I first published it. It occurred to me that some readers might not be familiar with Byron Katie, so I added a little bit of biographical information, as well as additional insights, opinions, and links. ~ CC

"...we all want to be special, and hiding underneath this desire is the thought that we also really feel we are special, and we all think we are right. This can be the reason that sometimes we start to believe in our own legend or myth."
~Janaki, former devotee of Byron Katie

This being the fortieth anniversary of the last day of the original Woodstock (and
Happy Anniversary to everyone who attended, wanted to attend, or lied about attending), I didn't want to let the day go by without a nod to "the event that defined a generation." There's been way too much written and spoken about it, so I won't add to the fray; all I'll say is that if you didn't celebrate Moon Day by watching A Walk On The Moon, as I suggested here last month, you can observe Woodstock Days with the same flick, because it covers that celebrated event as well. Of course there are other films, both new (Taking Woodstock) and old (Woodstock (1970)), that cover the territory in more detail. I urge you to hurry, though, Dear Ones, because the 1960s' Major Anniversaries are almost over, and the next big fortieth-anniversary observations will be the deaths of Jimi, Janis, and Jim...and then, before we know it, Watergate. Ugh.

So now to the matter at hand.

Over the past couple of years, several people have mentioned to me that I ought to do a blog post about Byron Katie, the sweet-faced, silver-haired perp behind The Work (not just work, mind you, but "The Work").

Many of you have heard of Byron Katie and The Work, but for the benefit of those who haven't, here's a bit of backstory. Born Bryon Kathleen Reid, she was, once upon a time, merely a mom and businesswoman living in the desert town of Barstow, California. But she wasn't happy, and suffered from depression, anger, mood swings, agoraphobia, overeating, addiction to alcohol and codeine, and thoughts of suicide. She was, by all reports, not a nice person to be around.

Then in 1986, while sleeping in the attic of a now-defunct L.A. halfway house where she was temporarily residing to work on her eating disorder, she had her epiphany. (She was sleeping in the attic because the other residents were afraid of her.) As the story currently goes, she awakened one February morn and found that she had been transformed into a giant cockroach. She was lying on her back and had trouble getting out of bed in her strange new body; all she could do was wiggle her six legs helplessly. Wait...that's another story entirely.

The "real" story goes that Katie was awakened by a cockroach running across her feet. That would have made most of us scream and jump out of bed looking for a shoe or a can of Raid, but Katie says that when she opened her eyes, it was as if something else had awakened within her and was seeing the world anew, through her eyes. This new being was "intoxicated with joy," according to Katie. She claims that it was at this moment that the four questions central to The Work appeared in her consciousness. She applied those questions to her own life and immediately felt all of her suffering lift. She now claims The Work can end all suffering.

By many accounts besides her own (most notably, those of a therapist at the halfway house, and her own kids), the person who woke up that day in 1986 was completely different from the rage-filled, mood-swingy bee-yotch who had entered the halfway house. (Katie herself has been quoted as saying she hasn't been angry or sad since 1986.) She attributes the sudden dramatic change to "waking without memories," and claims that she couldn't even recognize her own husband or kids at first.

Subsequent to leaving the halfway house, Katie says she dropped 75 pounds, stopped eating meat (it made her tongue bleed), and began meditating, often sitting motionless for hours, though formerly she'd been a salt-of-the-earth type who had no experience with Eastern traditions. (There has, however, been some speculation that she had exposure to esoteric ideas at the halfway house.) She also took to wandering the streets of Barstow embracing strangers and vagrants (there are a lot of the latter in Barstow), eventually inviting some to her home...and her following grew. Many folks claimed to be healed in her presence, but she said they were healing themselves. Though she rejected many of the labels that others tried to place on her – "mystic," "enlightened," "self-realized" – it was clear that something had been set in motion.

Her kids were puzzled, her husband was baffled, the marriage became strained and eventually broke up. But the seeds of The Work had been planted, workshops were developed, the business grew and grew...and, love her or loathe her, today Byron Katie has an international presence and is truly a force to be reckoned with in the New-Wage/selfish-help bidness. And maybe it's just me, but, despite her apparent humility when it all began, it seems that all of that adulation has gone to her head a little bit.

* * * * *

I'm not the only blogger who has been asked to blog about Katie. Many have prodded Steve Salerno over at SHAMblog to do the same. He has yet to do so because, as he explains...

...If you're going to attack a public figure in a (reasonably) visible venue like SHAMblog, it shouldn't just be 500 or 1000 words of clever, lively snark; it should be a fully researched piece of journalism that could stand up to formal scrutiny, if it had to.

Fortunately, I have no such standards here on this Whirled. I won't knowingly print untruths, and I do nominal fact-checking, but I will print snarky opinions. How clever and lively they are is up to the reader to decide.

There has also been some heated controversy in the past about Katie on the site of another of my blogging mates, Jody Radzik of Guruphiliac fame – most notably here and here.

And the discussion about Katie on Rick Ross's forum, which began in December of 2005, is 238 pages long as I write this, and shows no sign of fizzling out. Here's a portion where participants speculate on the Great Cockroach Legend (as well as that "waking without memory" phenomenon). They raise an excellent point; after all, The Work is supposed to be all about losing your "story," but much of the BK mystique – not to mention her marketing – is based on her story. New-wage marketers, and indeed, hucksters of all types, know that you can never underestimate the power of stories. Rhonda had her Wallace Wattles experience, Werner had his drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, and Bryon Katie has her cockroach in the attic.*

Speaking of stories...
One source quoted at length on the Rick Ross discussion is the long blog of a
Dutch writer and life coach who goes by the name of Janaki. Janaki is a former Katie devotee/assistant who was with "BK" in various capacities for about twelve years. Someone sent me a link to her blog several months ago, and I finally got around to reading it. It is pretty straightforward and detailed, and while it is obvious that the blog is a catharsis for the author, it does not seem mean-spirited or snarky; further, Janaki doesn't hesitate to document her own shortcomings and weaknesses that made her especially vulnerable to BK's influence.

In many ways Janaki's story is all too typical, both in her own self-description and that of her fearless leader's behavior. Much of it mirrors what I have either experienced firsthand or have heard and read from former devotees and friends of other New-Wage gurus.

Katie appears to share many traits with those other gurus: most notably, an enormous ego, bordering on megalomania; a gift for manipulating individuals as well as crowds; and a tendency towards passive-aggressive behavior that often leaves even the closest friends or colleagues stunned and reeling, wondering what they did wrong and scrambling to make it "right." For people who have supposedly done so much work (with or without a capital "W") on themselves, and have been through years and sometimes decades of every kind of therapy and workshop on the planet, and who now make their living teaching others how to be better people, some of these gurus are genuine a--holes, if you'll pardon my saying so. Of course the gurus and their followers would just dismiss that opinion as "my stuff." And in a way it is, because (to name but one example) I too can be passive-aggressive. Just ask Ron. The problem is that I don't like that trait in myself, and, even worse, I'm not getting paid for it.

The gurus are getting paid because not only are they easily able to disguise, or at least put a good spin on, their private foibles, but, more importantly, they are adept at convincing the hordes that they are providing something of enormous value. And, "value" being so often a subjective judgment, perhaps they are, for some. I'm reminded of something a wise friend noted in the context of a fairly recent discussion: even the most imperfect, broken, and egregiously hypocritical gurus can inspire hope in many people.

Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not. All too often, what the New-Wage gurus do is simply inspire a transitory exhilaration. When the high wears off, the seekers scurry in pursuit of the next level or the next guru or teaching, and many use these as steppingstones, hopping from one charismatic personality or teaching to the next one to the next, in order to avoid the mundane or painful reality of their own lives. I am not saying that every "serial seeker" is trying to avoid life; to the contrary, many are trying to confront it head-on, and spiritual shopping is their means of doing so. Shopping around surely beats resolutely sticking to something that's not working for you. But the point is that one can't entirely blame the gurus for taking advantage of a ready market.

At any rate, the traits and techniques of gurus have been analyzed in painful detail by greater and more thoughtful minds than mine. Janaki herself seems to have a pretty good handle on the dynamics of the guru/follower relationship, even though she still seems to be in seeker mode, though in a much less cultish way now. On her blog she refers several times to the unassuming nonduality lecturer Tony Parsons, who actually has some interesting ideas. Be that as it may, she is right on the button about many things, including this passage where, in simple language, she explains what commonly drives guru/workshop junkies:

Most of the people that I know who do The Work, do it to get out of a bad feeling. In other words, to become happy. We all seek pleasure and want to avoid pain. There is nothing wrong with this. It is what we all want, all day long. However, people who keep doing this are noticing that it ultimately stops working, like any other substance that you use to alleviate pain. You need your fix faster and in a higher dosage.
At the risk of disappointing a few readers, I have to say that my post here will be neither the comprehensive analysis nor the skewering of Katie that some might long for. But I will share a few things that made me raise my eyebrows while reading Janaki's blog. The first two snippets are from Chapter 10, "Working for Katie":

I was in need of making money and I found a well paying job. I told Katie that it was becoming very difficult to combine making money and doing all the work for the Foundation. She offered to put me on the BKI [Byron Katie International] payroll. I agreed and then panicked. The next day, I went to her room and read her the one liners I had written. One of them was: ‘if I start to work for you, you will treat me as an employee and not a friend’. She said, ‘I probably will, I lie about this friendship thing, I am a self realization machine’. She asked me how much I wanted to earn and I asked for $ 2500 per month. Katie told me that she would expect me to work full time for this. Even though I was already doing this above and beyond the call of duty, I took her literally and for as long as I was on her pay roll, I took no weekends off and no vacations. The agreed salary only lasted a few months. Soon I received a phone call from the manager at the head quarters, telling me that BKI was almost bankrupt, and would I work for $ 1000 a month. I told him I would, and I asked him if they would let me know when they were solvable enough to pay me my regular salary. They never did. Finally, when I felt that things must be financially sound again (after 1 year), I requested and received my regular salary.


[Katie] told me that she and Stephen [Mitchell, her husband and frequent co-author] had made a pact with each other. She said that if ever either one of them would attract a disease that would involve a slow dying process, they would throw a party, invite all their close friends and both drink a death cocktail.

At the time, even though this information overwhelmed me, I cheered what she had said. But I remember the thoughts that followed later. I happen to think in pictures, so in my mind’s eye, the whole scene flashed before me. I thought, I wonder who gets to clean up the mess, after you are both dead? Would people be seen as accessory, if they know a suicide is going to take place and they don’t try to stop it? How are we going to explain to the world that both the authors of a book called Loving What Is, just committed suicide and one of them was perfectly healthy? And what about all those sessions where she does The Work with people who have cancer, and asks them, ´Do you love your cancer yet?’

Could this be an example of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’?

In a brief chapter (15) called "Katie Goes Blind," Janaki reports:

Katie was losing her eye sight. In one of the newsletters she announced she had succumbed to a genetic disease called Fuchs Dystrophy, and finally, after she was almost blind, she had a cornea transplantation that restored her eye sight fully.

What struck me was the word genetic.

I was in the car with Katie and some others, when a friend asked her which thought causes blindness. Katie started to go into an explanation about metaphorical blindness, when my friend told her she was actually talking about Katie’s physical blindness that was going on. Katie then told her that her blindness had nothing to do with a thought, that it was a genetic condition.

I remembered how Katie used to say, Body follows mind, and there are old tapes of Katie sessions where she actually said to people, ‘that’s how you cancer you’ and ‘that’s how you heart attack you’. I have never heard her say, ´that’s how I blind me’.

Hypocrisy. Inconsistency. Egotism. Money-grubbery. Yawn...just another day in the life of a New-Wage guru. The more important question is, does The Work work? Like anything else in the New-Wage bidness, that's debatable. For many, though, it doesn't seem to live up to its promise of "ending all suffering." Janaki writes in Chapter 37, "The Downside of The Work":

I know people who made the conscious decision to stop doing The Work and who felt greatly relieved. One particular person I am referring to here was doing The Work all day long, to get out of her anxiety. She said that she found a therapist who claims that he is treating a lot of people whom he has advised to stop doing The Work because it doesn’t seem to help them and it increases their sense of shame and guilt.

There was a girl in one of the recent Schools in the States. During one of the sessions Katie had done The Work with someone. Afterwards this girl stood up and gave Katie feedback. She commented that she actually didn’t experience Katie as kind and that she also didn’t feel it was very appropriate what Katie had said. Later on in her room, she was visited by a staff member who gave her the message that Katie wanted her to pack her bags and leave immediately. I personally have witnessed this before, that people were asked to leave a School. Katie’s explanation was, ‘it can hurt the curriculum’.

Following that, Janaki says that Katie's take on it is that if people don't like that sort of behavior from her, they can do The Work to work on it.

And so on. You can read Janaki's blog at http://janakisstory.wordpress.com/. A PDF version is available at http://www.theworkingcompany.nl/story.html.**

Finally, one of the most recent comments on the Rick Ross forum concisely describes the workshop hypnosis effect that, of course, is far from a uniquely BK phenomenon. (I've experienced it myself at one of those "crying and screaming" workshop series, which I should probably write about.) This is from a participant using the handle "Meadow":

It has been said before on this forum, but I don’t think it can be said enough, just so that people are warned before attending one of BK’s programmes.

This video shows how [magician, illusionist, and mentalist] Derren Brown robs someone of their possessions by just asking, while using the conversational hypnosis technique. [www.youtube.com]

That is exactly what Byron Katie does. She robs people just by asking. She is clever enough to warn them by announcing that if they want their possessions back, then now is the time to come and get them, because after this they won’t get them back. After this they belong to HER. It has been told before on this thread, BKI's offices are stacked with laptops that came to them through this 'Giving' exercise.

First people have been worn out emotionally through all the crying and screaming sessions. They are on a full ‘workshop high’ by the last day of the school, they have been detoxing and are going through withdrawal through enforced fasting. They are completely infused with the ‘love bombing’ atmosphere. They feel very intimate with complete strangers. They think they are part of a peace movement that is going to end war on this planet. So naturally they will give her anything she asks for. The criminal part is that this whole thing is being presented under the pretence of 'voluntary'.

But Byron Katie is very aware of the fact that, in a crowd of 300 people, it is very hard for a lot of people to ask for their possessions back. They think they will be seen as Indian givers. They feel ashamed and weak if they did so. They don’t want to feel they failed this last precious exercise. They don’t want to lose face in front of the crowd.

The correct term for this is STEALING, and Byron Katie is nothing short of a common THIEF.

At least (if I may digress momentarily) the above-mentioned magician Derren Brown doesn't pretend to be a spiritual leader; whatever he may have tried to get away with in previous endeavors, these days he knows he's an entertainer. (Plus, he gives people's stuff back to them after he takes it.) I've long said that much of selfish-help/New-Wage is expensive entertainment masquerading as something much more profound. The paradox is that in order to keep it truly entertaining, both guru and follower have to pretend, on some level, that it's all for real. Anyhow, this is from the "Criticism" section of the Wikipedia page about Derren Brown:

In his book Tricks of the Mind, Brown writes, "I am often dishonest in my techniques, but always honest about my dishonesty. As I say in each show, 'I mix magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship'. I happily admit cheating, as it's all part of the game. I hope some of the fun for the viewer comes from not knowing what's real and what isn't. I am an entertainer first and foremost, and I am careful not to cross any moral line that would take me into manipulating people's real-life decisions or belief systems."

But back to Katie. What struck me even more than the blatant-thievery aspect of the BK workshops was the bit about the workshop attendees feeling they are "part of a peace movement that is going to end war on this planet."

At least the original Woodstock attendees had acid (brown or otherwise) for an excuse. Eventually those hippies grew out of the hallucinogenic phase...well, sort of. A lot of them are now attending New-Wage workshops.

* Of course, the phenomenon of sudden enlightenment is nothing new. Whatever its physical, emotional or spiritual causes (and results) may be, it has a loooooooong tradition. Forty-four years before Werner's experience on the bridge, Bucky Fuller (who is often wrongly credited with inventing the geodesic dome), supposedly had one of those enlightening/out-of-body experiences that led to a life of brilliant innovation, though that story is also suspect. (This is not to discount his subsequent accomplishments in the real world, only to question the veracity of his "awakening" story.) And of course, there was Paul on the Road to Damascus. (You can question that one all you want, but true believers won't budge, and Paul's enlightenment experience did land him a major role in a book that has sold more copies than even The Secret. Paul's revelation has had a lasting influence on the beliefs and actions of uncounted millions, and therefore on history itself.)

And so on. Much has been written about enlightenment/revelation as a spiritual phenomenon, but it seems to me that the most lasting product, at least of famous folks' enlightenment, is the story/legend of how that enlightenment came about. That being said, for some really worthwhile thoughts on enlightenment, you need to check out Blair Warren's No-Nonsense Guide.

** In January 2010, Janaki added an interesting update to her blog. Here's the link.

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Anonymous Rational Thinking said...

Well I've got a soft spot for BK's "Work" myself - because when I subected the thought "there is a law of attraction" to those four little questions, it enabled me to break that little delusion! Probably not the way it was intended to be used, but useful all the same. I still occasionally subject the odd belief to the questions, and don't think the technique on its own is objectionable. More seriously though, as to the School, I have no experience of it, and never felt any desire to try it out. The discussion on the RR forum and Janaki's blog itself were surprising and informative, though I take it ALL with a pinch of salt. Having read BK's early books (A Cry in the Desert and Losing the Moon) as well as her later stuff, I just don't know what to make of it. There certainly appears to have been quite a sea change over the years.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 5:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for weighing in, RT. Although it wasn't really apparent in my post, I think I do understand how Katie's technique -- the four questions and the "turnaround" -- can be useful for many people in many situations. And I find Katie's own story fascinating; whether or not the "cockroach" bit is literally true, she does seem to have undergone a profound transformation rather quickly back in 1986, judging by what others close to her said about her.

Another New-Wage guru whom I've snarked about frequently here has said that he thinks Byron Katie is one of the few folks on the planet who is genuinely enlightened. Apart from the fact that his testimony automatically makes her suspect in my book (and I realize this may be an unfair bias), I can't help but wonder: was her sudden "enlightenment" the result of some medical event such as a mini-stroke, or was it mostly contrived, or was it the Divine at work? I'm not in any place to say, and on one level I suppose it doesn't matter (any more than it "matters" whether or not Dr. Hew Len really "cured" those psychotic patients in that Hawaii hospital decades ago). What matters is the results people are getting from the techniques that grew from the legend -- an issue that is definitely open to debate. On the other hand, the stories/legends ARE used as marketing tools, so if they are not true, then on one level The Work (and Dr. Len's Ho'opo empire) are based upon deception.

What I object to about The Work is what I object to in any other self-help technique: the one-size-fits all notion. Whether it is perpetrated by the founder or the followers, the idea that it works for everyone, for everything, all of the time, is ludicrous and sometimes downright harmful. Among other unintended consequences, this notion only encourages obsessive types to become more obsessive. For all too many it becomes a meaningless ritual that some folks nonetheless feel compelled to keep performing. (Janaki writes about a woman who isolated herself and was apparently doing the "four questions/turnaround" NONSTOP, all day, and was still in despair.)

Other similar methods that rely on asking questions, such as The Sedona Method with its ritualistic question-and-answer routine, are similarly annoying and, I suspect, potentially harmful (though undeniably lucrative for the likes of Hale Dwoskin).

And yes, I take the RR forum discussion and Janaki's testimony with a pinch of salt too. Regarding Janaki, it seemed to me that above all, she felt hurt and betrayed by a woman whom she considered to be a close friend. To me, Katie's behavior as described by Janaki seems typical of New-Wage gurus who, though they may have started out humbly, eventually developed outsized egos. Still, you can't blame the guru entirely. Being surrounded by toadies and adoring followers surely has contributed to the "sea change" in Katie. (And her husband Stephen seems to be a model of SNAG-gy passive-aggression himself, at least judging from some of the emails he wrote to Janaki.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

BTW, re my previous remark about Katie's husband Stephen: For the benefit of those who aren't familiar with the acronym, SNAG stands for "Sensitive New Age Guy" (or "Gal").

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

I was originally prepared to give Byron Katie the benefit of the doubt as the four questions are quite useful when examining fixed ideas. What starts to grate, however, is the mythmaking around these ordinary questions which were recorded as in use by the Ancient Greek Stoics-- who themselves did not claim ownership or to have thought them up.
Janaki herself found that a lot of BK's stuff was cribbed from the 70's work of Ken Keyes Jnr (which BK admitted being familiar with) rather than the divine revelation of a kindly cockroach. Janaki's pointing this out and asking for an explanation seems to have been the catalyst for the final souring of the relationship between herslf and Katie.
I'd post a link to the above Janaki doc but I downloaded it as a PDF and now can't remember where from--somewhere on Janaki's site.

Not quite a mystic maybe but just another plagiarist?

Reading your concise summation of Paul's cockroach event on the road to Damascus and his subsequent influence on the mindset of millions makes me shudder to think that BK may have a similar shelf life. Cockroach worship, what a dreadful thing to inflict on future generations. At least Kafka could write a compelling story.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Excellent points, Disillusioned. And never fear; my post includes links to both Janaki's blog and the PDF version thereof. Janaki did write at length about the possibility that Katie may have borrowed some ideas from Keyes' books, as well as from other material to which she was exposed while at the halfway house. When Janaki asked Katie about it, she was met with a heap of SNAG-gy passive aggression from Katie and Katie's loyal hubby, Stephen. Stephen dismissed the idea of Katie getting her ideas from any books, writing:

"Dear Janaki, My goodness! Anyone who knows Katie knows that she doesn’t read books. Furthermore, even if someone had been with her at the halfway house, even if that someone had given her homework assignments from Ken Keyes, how could he know that she actually read the books? Was he hiding underneath Katie’s bed? It must be painful to believe that Katie is a liar and a rip-off artist. In addition to the Keyes books, I could find a hundred books on spirituality or cognitive psychology where there are echoes of Katie’s words. And I could find even clearer echoes in the words of the Buddha. But nowhere are there the four questions and turnarounds, which are The Work. If you can’t see Katie’s astounding originality from comparing the passages that you sent in the pdf, then you’re not seeing very clearly, in my opinion.

Very surprised, very amused, and with love, Stephen"

Oh, yeah, you can just feel the love and hear the anger...er...amusement in Stephen's words. He might as well have said, "Bless your heart" (which is Church-Lady code for "I am royally pissed off at you, bitch!"), or wished Janaki "love and light" (which is SNAG code for the same).

BTW, Janaki notes that she didn't mention the words "liar" or "rip-off artist" at all in the email she wrote to Katie asking about the matter. Those were Stephen's words. Hmmmmm....

I agree with you that the Keyes incident seemed to be a catalyst for the souring of the relationship between Katie and Janaki, but it seems that Katie was a capricious "friend" to Janaki from the very beginning of their relationship. And for the longest time, Janaki blamed herself. At least that's how it looks to me after reading Janaki's story.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I should add a couple of points about the question of whether or not Katie actually committed plagiarism. After reading the Keyes passages that Janaki scanned, as well as J’s comparison to Katie’s work, I think plagiarism is too strong an accusation. It certainly appears that Katie was influenced by Keyes, although Janaki’s friend who mentioned the similarities also expressed the opinion that Katie got most of The Work from A Course in Miracles. (And later the friend seemed to back down a little on his original assertion.)

The plain truth is that virtually EVERY selfish-help/New-Wage/McSpirituality guru was influenced by past and present gurus and philosophies, and therefore, virtually every technique/ “technology” / path / scheme is derivative in some way. While many contemporary gurus more or less freely admit the sources of their influence and inspiration (and they all give each other “strokes”), the truly successful ones add their own proprietary elements to distinguish themselves and their work from that of their fellow hucksters. Very often, those proprietary elements are rooted in stories of what Disillusioned refers to as “cockroach experiences” (revelations/visions/sudden enlightenment) or other supernatural/mystical experiences that can be neither proven nor disproved. (Re the latter, think Dr. Hew Len and his “miracle cures” of the loonies in Hawaii, or Gary Renard and his conversations with the Ascended Master and Mistress who just suddenly showed up one day in his living room.

I need to find me a good hallucination and build something around it.)

That said, Janaki herself did not directly accuse Katie of plagiarism; she only made pointed remarks on similarities between elements of Katie’s work and that of Keyes. However, Stephen's “loving” condescension in response to her email leads me to believe that her observations put him and Katie on the defensive.

Friday, August 21, 2009 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

I put my hand up as the one who introduced of the suggestion of 'plagiarism' and having read your comment, CC, now withdraw that suggestion.

Stephen Mitchell, he of the loving, passive-agressive condescension, already has form as a 'reinventor' and has drawn considerable flack from scholars for 'reinventing' rather than translating a version of the Tao Te Ching and other oriental classics.

Perhaps BK is a similar 'reinventor' of other peoples' scholarly efforts?

"I need to find me a good hallucination and build something around it"

BTW, I'm not an advocate of doping, mainly because I find myself all too easily confused and misled whilst sober, let alone whilst inebriated, but I have it on good authority that Salvia Divinorum is a pretty reliable hallucinogenic if you're heading into the guru bidness.

I wish I'd known that decades ago, maybe I wouldn't have calluss on my bum from all that mystic meditation . ;-)
Of course an even smarter move would be to make up or reinvent someone else's experience a la Mitchell or BK.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mitchell on one point, it is quite painful to think that a formerly trusted person is a liar. But it is infinitely more painful to continue with misplaced trust and then find out much later that the trusted person is nothing more than a scam artist/rip-off merchant.

For myself, I daily give thanks to the divine cockroach (praise be its name) that it blessed me with a brain that can do some research and keep learning.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 4:25:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for the additional insight, Disillusioned. It's interesting that even though Janaki may have danced around the suggestion that Katie was deceptive about the origins of The Work, it was Stephen Mitchell himself who actually came out and used the words "liar" and "ripoff artist."

Reinvention is definitely a strategy of the New-Wage entrepreneur, and Mitchell and BK are far from the only ones to engage in this activity.

Of course I am kidding about hallucinations, and I have a friend who had an absolutely nightmarish experience with Salvia, so I am not even remotely interested in that.

Still, whenever I read about New-Wage gurus getting rich off of reinventing and recycling and repackaging other people's ideas and traditions, the lyrics to a certain (as yet tuneless) song come to mind...

Saturday, August 22, 2009 8:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Byron Katie....Byron Katie....Byron Katie.....Buy Ron kaye Tea


Monday, August 24, 2009 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Yeah, but Ron is a coffee drinker. Hmmmm...

Monday, August 24, 2009 5:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's where he is going wrong. Can't you see? It's a sign!

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

Perhaps you're right, but I can only do so much, Anon. I can Buy Ron Kaye Tea, but I can't make him drink it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009 1:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could tea-board him in the basement.

Sunday, August 30, 2009 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Yeah, but...we don't have basements in this neck of the woods.

Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But where are you going to hole up when the times of tribulation come?

Sunday, August 30, 2009 7:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Probably some place where there *are* basements.

Sunday, August 30, 2009 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, OK forget the basements thing then.
Comfy sofas instead.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"Oh, no! Not the comfy chair!"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 8:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't expect that, did you?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 8:45:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

NOBODY expects that... etc. etc.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck Norris would expect it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 2:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck Norris would be sat back in the comfy chair puffing on a cigar with four cups of tea on the table ready and waiting.

Saturday, September 05, 2009 3:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Sorry, HHH...I mean, Anon. I didn't mean to bail on the conversation, but a tornado hit The Ranch on Thursday afternoon, knocking out our satellite Internet, and the Internet provider couldn't get a service tech out until the following Wednesday...today, in other words.

Right about now, both Ron and I are wishing we had Chuck Norris to help us deal with that lousy Internet company.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the sound of one hand clapping?
For Chuck Norris it's a round of applause.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 8:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen Mitchell is right in that echoes of the Work can be found in many places. Keyes, Eckhart Tolle, Dan Millman's Peaceful Warrior all say the same things. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was all about the turn-arounds. The difference is that Katie put all the esoteric and psychological insight into a very simple, straight-forward package. Keyes takes it all to childhood, others get lost in esoteric philosophy, and cognitive therapy is clunky and convoluted.

Yes, there is nothing new in The Work and Buddha and the Taoists have been teaching it for millennia. But there is a distillation of all this wisdom into a simple method that does work, and that alone is very, very worthwhile and unique. Don’t believe me? Give someone who does The Work a Keyes worksheet with his obscure language and Freudian emphasis and see the difference in clarity and how well it “works.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009 1:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for weighing in, Anon 1:12 AM. I imagine that BK's Work "works" for some and not for others. What I find interesting (read: snarkworthy) are the cultish aspects around BK and The Work (and Tolle, Keyes, Millman et al.).

Sunday, October 11, 2009 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the banter. I am more cautious now and definitely less likely to go to the School. I do, however, do the Work for myself with fabulous results.
Whatever works!

Friday, October 23, 2009 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 1:35 PM: Thank you for your comment. I think it is indeed possible to find substantial benefit from a given technique or teaching without spending tons of money or becoming a worshipful follower of the person(s) doing the teaching. As you said, "Whatever works!"

Friday, October 23, 2009 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Note to "Sexy Lady Asian Escort": I do not knowingly publish porn spam or links. But I have a few blogs I could send you to, if I were so inclined, which I'm not.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Leila Cherradi said...

Hi dears, joining the conversation. I am always interested in people being very precise as to how The Work revolutionized their lives. Unfortunately here, it seems that the last person who gave that kind of report did it in a way that disables me from reaching out to him/her.

I am amazed at the defence of what Katie did in terms of potentially having used other people's material and changing it. Especially that she has copyrighted her own. That defence here makes what Katie may have done look ok, and even more than that, is praised as having added value to what she may have taken from others. This is kind of an upside-down statement about copyright issues that is unsettling to say the least. If someone is not for copyright at all, that's cool. There's the super copyleft movement. It would simply be fair that one who loves to take freely and improve something from someone else would love to give freely as well. And Katie does not appear to do that last part when it comes to The Work®.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:14:00 AM  

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