Fighting oil with (snake) oil: "What if it works?"
I haven't forgotten Wink Wednesdays, Dear Ones (and yes, I totally missed last week. And this one too, for that matter.). My excuse du jour? There has been a massive snark-chum spill in the oceans of my Whirled. So much snark chum; only one Cosmic Connie! I beg your indulgence and understanding.
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale recently sent an email and published a sales page about a new product he has created with his buddy Pat O'Bryan. This is another in the pair's series of "clearing audios." Past products have addressed such eternally popular topics as attracting wealth, increasing luck, enhancing romance, and losing weight. The audios, which Joe and Pat claim utilize the latest research and cutting-edge technology, feature "Dr." Joe nattering about this and that (both audibly and subliminally), while Pat plays music. This magickal but scientifical combination supposedly speaks directly to your unconscious mind, which, according to the hype-notic articles of faith, is where real change begins.
The latest product goes beyond such selfish concerns as romance, personal luck, and weight loss, and focuses on an environmental crisis that has been on everyone's mind and in every news medium since April: the BP oil-spill disaster. In a recent webinar Joe reasserted to his listeners that he doesn't listen to the news (it's so negative, you know), but his audience does, so he's just doing what he can to connect with them.
Still, he has to at least make believe that he believes his product "works," or else the whole scheme falls through. So what's the basic premise? How can an audio product affect something as huge and apparently external as the oil spill? Here's how, Dear Ones. Once you access your unconscious mind via JoePat's magickal technology, you can, Joe explains, also access the collective unconscious, thus enabling you to "impact the oil spill and anything else we perceive as bad." Flashing his impressive disaster-fighting and miracle-producing creds in both the email and the sales copy on the new site, Joe explains:
A few people wrote me, recalling that years ago I sent out an email inviting everyone to envision Hurricane Rita dissolving before it hit land.
A few others know about the Attract Miracles community I created with Craig Perrine to help people support each other to achieve their intentions.
Hundreds have been going there since we began it, and the results are a-maz-ing.
What you may not realize is that 23 scientific studies prove that when people focus on a common goal, using meditation to achieve inner peace, that goal tends to come about.
With all of that in mind, Pat O’Bryan and I created a special clearing audio designed to help Clear the Oil Spill.
And we’re giving it away.
The oil-clearing audio is indeed available for free (or "freeee" as Joe usually puts it in his emails), because "Dr." Joe wants to do his part to help heal the world, no strings attached. Of course you'll probably get more than one chance to join a fee-based membership "community" or purchase boatloads of other products.
Let's backtrack a bit. Take Hurricane Rita (please). As many who have been regular visitors to my Whirled know, over the years I've written numerous blog posts about the "wind whisperers" who try to influence the course of hurricanes. A Florida woman named Lynn S. Marks, who goes by the monikers "SpiritDiva" and "Phoenix," is one of my all-time favorites in this area. (As a matter of fact Lynn/SD/Phoenix has been leading oil-spill-clearing meditations of her own; I receive the notices by email.) And, being the considerate and careful quasi-journalist that I am, I have always taken care, when writing of the wind whisperers, to mention Joe's efforts with Rita in 2005, and similar efforts with the notorious Ike in 2008.
For some reason Joe did not mention Ike on the oil-clearing site or in his email, although he had sent out an "Ike" email similar to the "Rita" blast, but, as noted, he did mention his implied success with weakening Rita. However, I wrote plenty about Ike, both before and after the storm. Of course, much of it was negative, inspired in part by looking at the felled trees and wrecked buildings all around me (not to mention enduring a few long days and nights without power here on The Ranch), but that's just the way I am. Deal with it.
As for that "Attract Miracles" community Mr. Fire created with Craig Perrine, it draws deeply from the murky well of the late Maharishi's "Maharishi Effect" gimmick. I wrote about that too, in March of 2009. Of note, the copy on the Attract Miracles main page has changed considerably since I wrote that post. The headline has been changed and much of the body copy has changed too. One thing that stuck out for me is that Joe no longer describes the Texas Hill Country property where he lives as "a multi-million dollar estate." He now describes it as "a beautiful Texas home." (Maybe this was in response to criticism that resulted when another blogger pointed out that, according to public records, the real worth of his multi-million dollar estate is less than $320,000.) In addition, it's no longer obvious (at least to me when I read it) that the Attract Miracles "community" is fee-based. Currently there's only a link to sign up for a freee Miracles Meditation, and a mention that you only have to "participate" as long as you want. So either it's been changed to a totally freee program, or the real information about just what it's going to cost is only obtainable to those who surrender their name and email address to the big Miracles Marketing Machine. I'm too lazy to check it out.
As for those "23 scientific studies," as I noted in my March 2009 post, all were sponsored by people and institutions associated with the Maharishi's huge empire.
Although Joe normally dismisses skeptics and critics (sometimes referring to them as losers), he makes a passing nod to those who might doubt the efficacy of the oil-clearing product.
Scoff if you like but we feel it’s at least worth a few minutes a day to listen to our special audio and let it help you clean the world from the inside out.
If nothing else, consider it a relaxing few moments for yourself.
And maybe, just maybe, it may heal the Gulf, and the Earth, as well.
It’s worth a try, isn't it?
In a Tweet about the new "clearing" audio, he is a little more blunt:
Clear the oil spill. Yea its nuts but what if it works? 
So it all boils back down to that rhetorical gem: "What if it works?"
Once again I find myself rolling my eyes. I'm afraid, Dear Ones, that if this keeps up, my eyes might get stuck back there somewhere in my head, and then I'll have to walk around blind and zombie-like. But even then all will not be lost. Perhaps I can be my own Hoshun wish dolly and draw some new pupils on my blank eyeballs. I'm pretty handy with a Marks-a-Lot®.
* * * * *
In other recent (and, it seems, related) news, Mr. Fire appears to have been rather jealously defending his turf in the Hawaiian-wisdom wars. Shortly after a former friend and business partner of Joe's, Mark Ryan, announced that he was releasing a Ho'oponopono product, Joe announced that he has been working for more than six months on a sequel to his 2007 Ho'opo work, Zero Limits (reviewed here on July 9 and July 10, 2007. Good Goddess, has it really been almost three years?!?). Joe invited his readers and followers to contribute to his new book. (Don't scoff; that's a brilliant move. If you could get other folks to provide much of the content for your book, while you received all of the credit as well as the residuals or profits, wouldn't you at least consider doing it? Crowdsourcing, baby! )
Joe confessed that he was never planning to reveal these advanced secrets, which were taught to him personally by the great Dr. Hew Len, who, according to what I read in Zero Limits, has called Joe "the Jesus of business" and "the point man for change," and has said to him, "Joseph, you are as gods. I should be sitting at your feet!" Joseph was really intending to keep those advanced Ho'opo secrets to himself. But geez, it turns out there are all those folks out there teaching "false" versions of Ho'oponopono, and Joe just had to come to the rescue. He wrote, “Please don’t be taken by all the people who claim to know or teach ho’oponopono. Dr. Hew Len warned me about them and sure enough, they’re out there. Stick with the original source of the Zero Limits message.”
Mark Ryan's wife Kathy then published a post about the matter on Mark's blog, and that post inspired a discussion that is both lengthy (more than 100 comments as of now) and surprisingly loving, all things considered. A few days later, Joe published a blog post that was pretty much like his email, containing warnings about those false Ho'opo teachers, with a few additional caveats:
Maybe one litmus test is to see if the person or organization selling ho’oponopono practices unconditional love and 100% responsibility. If they (or their followers) spend time criticizing others or blaming others, it may not be the place to shop.
Just a word to the wise.
He claimed that he didn't have any particular person or organization in mind when writing those warnings. Uh-huh.
More than one person has suggested to me that I interview Mark Ryan for my blog. I have no problem with this idea, but I think that for now, Mark and Kathy are speaking quite well for themselves. After relocating to the stunningly beautiful Mt. Shasta, Cali area, they seem busy and happy. Their Ho'opo product launch seems to be going well, and currently Mark is in upstate New York, where just the other day he enjoyed a visit with perennially fascinating author George Cockroft (aka Luke Rhinehart) on George's lovely and verdant estate.
But do not think, Dear Ones, that I haven't spent time thinking about the controversies. I certainly can't speak to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Ho'oponopono, though of course I've snarked about it plenty. But I have explored some of the deeper questions around this recent situation (and I mean "deeper" in the sense that I am usually deep on this blog, i.e., "profoundly shallow"). The big issue is this: I can't figure out if, in the Ho'opo wars, Mr. Fire has been more like...
1. Gollum jealously guarding the One Ring...
...a painfully obvious comparison, perhaps, and, granted, one that I've already used for Rhonda Byrne here and here. Gollum has also been invoked recently on Salty Droid's blog, in reference to James Ray....
2. Aesop's dog in the manger, snarling at the bewildered ruminants who only sought a bit of hay to nosh on...
Some might say this is a less than perfect comparison because the dog in the fable supposedly had no use for what he so vehemently fought to deny the hapless bovines, whereas Joe apparently wants to continue to stuff himself with that good sweet Ho'opo hay as long as he can squeeze a few dollars from it. My understanding, though, is that there's plenty of Ho'opo to go around, and since Joe has so many income streams anyway, being a Whirled-famous New-Wage celebrity, why would he begrudge others the chance to make a few bucks of their own on something that is supposedly a gift of the Divine anyway? (Besides, Mark Ryan is the person who introduced Joe to Ho'oponopono in the first place.)
I've been thinking about this so much that my brain hurts...okay, not really. The truth is, I have some actual work to do, and that is taking most of my brain power. So I'll leave it up to y'all to decide in favor of Gollum or the greedy doggy (or both, or neither, or you can add your own comparisons). All I know is that my brain is tired. So I'm going to let you do my thinking for me, and we'll see how it goes. If you're good enough, I might even let y'all write a whole entire book for me. In return, you'll get to see your words published, and you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you helped me make some money. Oh, yeah, and you'll know that you helped humanity and the planet, blah-blah-blah. And you don't even have to thank me. Just cast your vote here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PTS83RH. I'll publish the results at a later date if I remember to.
PS Thursday, 10 June, 3:15 PM CDT ~ This just in: Mr. Fire is scheduled to go on Blog Talk Radio to talk about how we can clean up the oil spill. (Thanks to the contributor who sent me this link.)
 For the record, I actually like what I've heard of Pat's music. He's very talented. Joe's nattering, though, I can do without.
 The Rita link is my addition.
 If Mr. Fire has blocked you, as he has me and several other critics (for some reason we can't quite figure out), you won't be able to read the Tweet by following the link above. I guess you'll have to trust me on the quotation.
 Crowdsourcing is easy and fun, but be sure to work it into your Terms of Service agreement (if you follow the link, scroll down to "Submissions").
 I can't help wondering if Dr. Hew Len has since modified his opinion about the Jeezus-of-bidness thing, especially after the last Zero Limits event where Joe came up with a scheme whereby people could pay $100 to attend the event "remotely" -- not via Skype or phone or anything technological, but by having their names put on a piece of paper so the in-person participants could "clean" on them. I've heard from more than one source that Dr. Len didn't think too highly of that scheme and even said that the people who paid a hundred bucks had been suckered.
 As always, I welcome feedback from all "sides" in these controversies.