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.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Burning question: What happens when Fire meets a straw man?

The other day when I read a tweet by Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, I figured he was gathering more ammo to use in his ongoing battle against some of his critics who (unlike me) actually seem to have an in-depth knowledge of the teachings of Christ and/or Buddha. I saw this tweet from May 3:

Reading 'Going Broke With Jesus'

The link Joe provided was to a site selling an e-book telling the shocking truth about what the Bible really says about money. The meta-title appearing at the top of the screen reads, "Bible Money | Christian Money | Jesus Money." Oh, yeah, work those search engines, baby.

Anyway. True to my prediction, Joe came up with a blog post a few days later: "Eye Of The Needle, Or The Shocking Spiritual Truth About Money." As it turned out, however, the "truth" was not so "shocking" -- rather, it was the same-old same-old defense of New-Wage materialism, which some perceive as greed.

From where I sit as a critic (aka "hater"), it appears to me that one of Joe's main reasons for writing that blog post was not so much to announce that money isn't evil, but to serve notice to those darned critics to please leave him the heck alone. That said, I think his "confrontational" post is a direct reaction not so much to my own ongoing snarkitude (or even to the muckraking efforts of some of my blogging colleagues such as Salty Droid), but to the well-worded criticisms from some more spiritually oriented people on previous Mr. Fire posts, such as this one: http://blog.mrfire.com/how-much-is-enough/ and this one: http://blog.mrfire.com/who-else-is-listening/

On his "Eye of the Needle" post, I noticed that while Joe says we shouldn't let our speculations about what Jesus or Buddha would do guide our opinions about money, he certainly uses his own speculations about Jesus and Buddha -- based on all of the prosperity-gospel propaganda he can get his hands on -- to bolster his argument. He must have been up all night researching. But that's just one of numerous quibbles I have with the points he made in that post.

I have discussed these issues numerous times on this blog and on other forums, but I think it's time to revisit them. To begin with, when it comes to wealth and spirituality, it seems to me that Joe, as well as other New-Wage gurus and fans and wannabes, are battling a straw man. And when I make reference to a straw man, I'm not talking about Joe's attempts to argue with those who take issue with him on theological or spiritual grounds. I'm talking about his larger message: his claim that his critics are saying money is evil.

In his latest blog post, as well as his other spirited defenses of his brand of New-Wage spiritual materialism, Joe completely glosses over the fact that not one of his main critics -- or the critics of the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality industry, for that matter -- has based his or her arguments on the premise that money is evil. Nor do most of us say that all rich people are evil. I've known too many goodhearted rich folks to believe such a stereotype.

It seems to me that for the most part, what critics have done is not to promote the false belief that money is evil, but simply to point out ways in which the love of money has prompted New-Wage gurus (and other money-obsessed types) to do evil things. I cannot pretend to speak for anyone else but myself, but I'm not "judging" Joe because he has money or because of what he does with his money. He can buy 100 Rolls-Royces, for all I care, just like his ex-guru, the late Rajneesh/Osho, did. But I do find his constant bragging about his acquisitions annoying, especially when he drapes it in spirituality and implies that he got this stuff because he is living a good, clean, "awakened" life and is practicing spiritual principles.

While I don't judge any New-Wage guru for the simple fact of having or spending money, what I do "judge" them for is the way they constantly and ruthlessly promote their (and their buddies') frauducts and flopportunities, as Salty Droid would call them, so other people will hand over THEIR money, which in many cases they can't afford to do. One example that comes to mind is the hard-sell campaign for Joe's pricey Miracles Coaching program, about which quite a bit has been written recently. The author of several critical pieces, In The Limelight blogger Jonathan Timar, confronted Joe on his "How Much Is Enough?" blog post, and the ensuing conversation was interesting. http://blog.mrfire.com/how-much-is-enough/#comment-198628

Here's a link to Jonathan's original Miracles Coaching piece: http://inthelimelight.net/2010/07/01/joe-vitales-miracles-coaching-hypnotic-marketing-at-work/
And here's a direct link to my comment on the dialogue between Joe and Jonathan:
http://inthelimelight.net/2010/07/01/joe-vitales-miracles-coaching-hypnotic-marketing-at-work/comment-page-1/#comment-7188

One main focus of Joe's "Eye Of The Needle" blog post was that his teachings and practices are in perfect keeping with the teachings of Christ and Buddha. Many take issue with that, of course, and some have taken the time to argue the fine points with Joe. As an agnostic, however, I have no attachment to Buddhism or Christian theology, and I don't base my criticism of Joe or any other New-Wage guru on whether or not their behavior is in keeping with Buddhist or Christian principles. I do get annoyed at what I see as a misuse of Christian or Buddhist concepts for marketing ends, although of course Joe is far from the only person to have done this. And New-Wage gurus certainly aren't the only ones who exploit spiritual figures for their own ends; there are plenty of prosperity preachers who earnestly tell their followers that Jesus H. Christ wants them to be rich, and dadgummit, He will make them rich if they just fork over to the preachers.

Another message in Joe's post is that critics are self-righteous and have a holier-than-thou attitude. While I understand how we can come across as self-righteous (and sometimes we are), the truth -- and again, I am speaking for myself -- is that I have never thought I am in any way better, or more holy or righteous or spiritual, than the people I criticize. As I noted above, as an agnostic, I'm not in the holiness contest at all. I have no interest in spiritual oneupmanship.

However, as I also mentioned earlier, I have a feeling that Joe's "Eye of the Needle" blog post is his response not so much to my brand of snark as to the serious challenges he has been fielding from people who actually possess some spiritual depth. He generally seems reluctant to concede that these folks might have a point, and that maybe he has been a bit over the top in his "spiritual" marketing. Instead he seems to just keep rationalizing, and finding more material to back up his perspective, while continuing to get reinforcement from the fawning Joebots. "Amen, Joe!" "Oh, thank you for that!" "This came at just the time I needed to read it!"

What about judgment?
"Judgment," as I've discussed numerous times before, is kind of a dirty word in the New-Wage community. Christ and other great spiritual figures famously spoke against the self-righteous form of judgment too, of course. A couple of friends and I were having some private discussions about these matters, and one friend made the point that where wealth and its lack are concerned, there is plenty of "judgment" to go around. It's not just a matter of critics being "judgmental" of those who have money. Law Of Attraction believers and New-Wagers in general are also quite judgmental of people who don't have money, or for that matter, of people who suffer from illness or other misfortunes. I've written about this very point too on several occasions. It used to be that sufferers of misfortune "created their own reality." Now, in these post-Secret days, they've "attracted" the bad stuff, including poverty.

In many ways these judgmental attitudes towards poverty and those who don't have money are no different from the hoary elitist mentality that likened poverty to moral depravity. More than likely, however, the New-Wage attitudes are informed less by classic elitism than by the classic motivational mentality of New-Wagers' idols such as Napoleon Hill and Wallace Wattles. The latter's 1910 book, The Science of Getting Rich, was famously what got the Secret ball rolling for Rhonda Byrne back in 2004, when her life was at a low point and her daughter gave her a copy of SGR. Wattles believed a fulfilling life was not possible without wealth, and he wrote that a “normal” person cannot help wanting to be rich, and that if you don’t become rich, “you are derelict in your duty to God, yourself and humanity.” He stopped short of saying that being poor is a crime (although there's a lot to be said for the argument that in our plutocracy, those who don't have money are criminals until proven otherwise, as Barbara Ehrenreich, among many others, has pointed out http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23260.htm).

Apropos of some of the above, here is a fairly recent blog post from one of Joe's b.f.f.s Randy Gage, whom he has frequently quoted: http://www.randygage.com/blog/poverty-is-evil/

In my opinion Joe is correct about a couple of things: We as a society have scads of emotional (and moral) judgments around money, and in some cases these judgments don't serve us and can actually keep us from trying to improve our lives. But he neglects to mention that there are, as my friend pointed out, equally vehement judgments about the lack of money. More importantly, the New-Wage racket of which Joe and his fellow Secret stars are a part is fueled by those very judgments.

And while Joe may get tired of having people second-guess his motives -- which seemed to be another clear message in his post -- we critics get tired of being endlessly pop-psychoanalyzed by the gurus and their followers. We grow weary of being told that we're full of hatred, that we're poverty-stricken losers (Joe and another b.f.f. of his, Kevin True-dough, have said as much), that we're unhappy with our lives, that we're railing against things we don't understand because we feel inferior to those who supposedly do understand these great mysteries, or that we're simply trying to keep others from realizing their dreams and just want to drag everyone down to our level. I should add that the gurus themselves very rarely engage the critics directly, since it wouldn't look good for them to be involved in something so negative, but their lap dogs and followers do the dirty work for them. I've been on the receiving end of some of that stuff, so I know what I'm talking about.

One more point: In his "Shocking Truth" blog post Joe invokes Jay Leno and Donald Trump, admonishing us not to judge their motives either. He says they may very well be deeply spiritual beings, and that for all we know, Leno's cars and Trump's ostentatious wealth could be spiritual expressions for them. But Jay Leno and Donald Trump are entertainers and businessmen and don't pretend to be anything else. Unlike Joe, they have not donned the mantle of spiritual marketer or Buddha of the Internet. In any case, once again Joe is waving his straw man about, trying to reduce the issues to a crass and simple envy of wealth -- a strategy that is certainly more comfortable for him than addressing legitimate criticism of dodgy business practices or just plain ridiculous marketing. Besides being another blatant attempt to silence or at least discredit his critics, his post also adds a whole new level to his rationalization of his own apparent wealth obsession.

But sometimes a straw man can catch on fire, and once it gets going, that fire can be mighty hard to extinguish.

PS added 6 June 2011 ~ Same song, next verse: Like a cat swatting at one of those fishing pole toys (except, one suspects, in a spirit of seething anger rather than playfulness), Mr. Fire once again bats at his favorite straw man: the money-is-evil mindset which he likes to pretend is the basis of his critics' arguments. On June 5 he published what appears to me to be a desperation post regarding "The Real Secret" about money. The Real Purpose of the post is to promote his free e-book, Attract Money Now, which, of course, he wrote and made free only because he cares so much about your success. (The Real Purpose of Attract Money Now is actually to promote his Miracles Coach boiler-room scheme, but that's another story, already discussed here.) In the June 5 post, he plays his favorite card, the conspicuous-altruism card. He introduces that hand by noting that once you clear all of those mental blocks about money and start attracting it, that money can allow you to do all kinds of good things. Then he shows you how it's done.

In the last few weeks I gave away three cars.

The one that I gave away today was one of the most expensive and emotional ones I’ve ever owned. But I let it go.

Word has it that Mr. Fire tried to sell "Ladybug," his beloved yellow Panoz roadster that was once owned by rocker Steven Tyler, on eBay for $100,000, but he could only get $30,000 for it. I suppose you could consider that to be "giving it away." (See PPPS below.) He has also been known to give (or at least to promise) cars and other cast-offs to some of his most loyal minions. But if the Carcissist of the Internet really is paring down his stable of beloved brag-wagons, I would lean towards the explanation that times must be tough rather than that he is doing this because he's just such a generous guy. Either that, or he's making room in his life and his garage for replacement expensive toys. But of course that's just my opinion; there I go second-guessing the motives of a great man again!

PPS ~ I just went back and looked at some of Mr. Fire's tweets; on May 26 he wrote, "Awaiting staff fr [Miracles Coaching]. One gets my BMW Z3 as gift." That's the reward for being a good little boiler-room "coach," I guess. And on June 4 he tweeted: "Giving away my BMW 645ci today," and he provided a link to his Attract A New Car web site. Which car will be next to go? Francine?

PPPS ~ Never let it be said that I rely merely on gossip or third-hand information. Here's the link to the eBay listing for "Ladybug," Mr. Fire's yellow Panoz roadster: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140546927673+&viewitem=&clk_rvr_id=231921425543

And here's a snippet of Mr. Fire's hypnotic marketing copy that got the offer all the way up to $30,000 in this now-closed bidding war.

Steven Tyler -- yes, THE Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and American Idol -- bought this incredible car new in 1998...I LOVE this car and will only part with it for $100,000 or more, else I'll just keep it. If it means anything, I'm a star in the movie The Secret, and author of numerous bestselling books, such as The Attractor Factor, so some might think this car was owned by two celebrities.

Here is the link to the bid history for that celebrity-studded ride (I bet things really got exciting when the bidding finally broke the three-figure barrier): http://offer.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewBids&_trksid=p4340.l2565&item=140546927673

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41 Comments:

Blogger Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 2:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I appreciate the invitation, Steve, but I will probably decline. I am just not that into anti-abortion, Jesus-is-the-only-way-to-heaven messages.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 3:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Duff said...

I think this is one reason why New Wage gurus don't use quotes from their critics when engaging in their own criticism.

Quoting one's opposition is a way of addressing exactly what is being said, whereas a straw man argument relies on a distortion of the other's view.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 3:40:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I think you nailed it, Duff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 4:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Fantastic post, Connie, and thanks for the link love.

Can I make a totally unrelated suggestion? It may be time to increase the font size of your blog a bit. Those of us are high resolution displays, or maybe just me, are struggling a bit. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 4:51:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Jonathan (and you're welcome for the link love). Because of the fugly dark background on this old Blogger template, I already have my font size set to "large" (which is basically 14 points). I seriously intend to change to a new more readable template at some point... but then again, I have been saying that for a few years now and I haven't done it yet. Meanwhile, it should be possible to magnify the view by pressing CTRL + (at least it is on Firefox and Explorer, using a PC. I am not sure about Macs). Or perhaps using "Print Preview" mode would do it. I apologize if this blog is giving you an eye-ache; that's the last thing I want. Thanks again for your all of your contributions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 4:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Oh Connie, no need to apologize! Although I think your blog is good enough that it deserves its own domain and a nice friendly WordPress backend ;-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 7:39:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

I think it's pretty obvious that Joe is feeling particularly threatened nowadays, as more & more people begin to actually think about what he's saying and see how empty his words really are. He tries so hard - too hard - to justify his own obsession for stuff, and that desperation is coming through loud and clear.

I really feel kind of sorry for the guy, but it is tough to stay compassionate when he spends so much time whining about those "haters" who are so committed to hurting him, instead of even once asking himself if maybe they might be seeing something he's missing. But I guess even acknowledging that he might be struggling would put a big chink in his supposedly highly evolved image, and that wouldn't be good for sales.

And that is the real bottom line for the Joe I've known for so long. In his twisted portrayal of Buddha and Jesus, the keys to the kingdom are on the same keychain as the keys to the Rolls, the Panoz, the Spryker (sp), and whatever other Freudian enhancement he might covet next. Must be mighty tempting to people who feel stuck driving one lowly Chevrolet.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Ron. It does seem that Joe has a longstanding pattern of being shocked, hurt, made ill, or grievously disappointed by the "betrayals" of people he says he thought were his friends. And while he may occasionally acknowledge in passing that he "attracted" the situation in question or has to "clean on it" (which at least implies some degree of personal responsibility) overall I have to say that his posts and comments about these situations sound kind of whiny.

A few examples:

http://blog.mrfire.com/how-much-is-enough/

http://blog.mrfire.com/patterns-self-destruction-mind-trick/

http://blog.mrfire.com/patterns-keep-happening/

And then of course there's that comment he made to Jonathan Timar on his "How much is enough" blog post:

http://blog.mrfire.com/how-much-is-enough/#comment-198809

And the most extreme story is "The Shocking True Story About Jonathan" in The Attractor Factor, in which Joe somehow made it sound as if he were the most grievously wronged party, when in fact he unwittingly makes himself sound like the enabler of a person he KNEW was a sex predator. He says right in the story that he knew the guy had a history, but he continued to try to be a friend to him until the last straw.

As I've often noted many times before, Joe is far from the only New-Wage guru -- or any type of person, for that matter -- to have his head turned by money and accolades. And he's certainly not the only one to have fudged personal details in order to more effectively market himself and his products. Sooner or later, many if not most people will "awaken" to the fact that the gurus are not the grand, glorious, perpetually ecstatic beings they are presenting themselves to be. But there will always be new believers, as well as die-hard defenders who are profiting in some ways from the gurus' deceptive marketing.

The believers, the defenders, and those lapdogs I mentioned in my post are the ones who are most vehement in their declarations that critics are "haters." They're the ones who do the dirty work of attacking the critics on their own forums, or performing the clever little SEO tricks in a lame attempt to hide critics from people who are earnestly seeking out information. At least Google -- and the information seekers themselves -- are becoming wiser to these tricks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous hhh said...

Wasn't Joe Vitale in that rubbish 'what the bleep do we know' film?

That was rubbish, that.

If the audience were not stoned enough to be harmless I would have found them scary nutso.

Do you think marijuana plays a role in the new age people gulping down endless stupid?

Glazed eyes, slack jaw, zombie like acceptance of everything...

I've heard it has effects like that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

Why don't we all install call of duty and challenge Vitale and all his other numpties to a death match?
Wouldn't you like to shred him with a mini gun?

Is that not a grown up thing to say?
Sorry

Sunday, May 15, 2011 7:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hello there, HHH! Good to see you here again. No, Joe was in The Secret, not What the Bleep (which came out a couple of years before The Secret). It's really hard to say which movie was stupider. But I think The Secret has been more successful, overall.

I'm not into Call of Duty or death matches or mini-guns, but y'all are welcome to go for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

Thank yaw.

Are you sure he wasn't in that, I remember a load of fake smiles and blather.
OK

Scrabble, then, loser has to leave the state.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

There was a lot of blathering in What the Bleep, and some of the blatherers were actual scientists, a few of whom reportedly later regretted their participation once they saw the context in which their interviews were placed. Here's a link to the list of "stars" of WTB:

http://www.whatthebleep.com/scientists/

There was also a bona fide Hollywood star, Marlee Matlin, and I lost a bit of respect for her for taking on the starring role in the hokey plotted story that framed WTB. In any case, the real "star" of the moviemercial was JZ Knight's imaginary pal, Abraham.

But as the disclaimer at the bottom of the WTB page noted:
"The people who were interviewed in What the #$*! Do We Know?! and What the #$*! Down the Rabbit Hole were chosen based on a number of criteria: books they�d written that were read by the filmmakers, lectures and presentations that they�d given which had been attended by various of the filmmakers, and recommendations by others in the experts� respective fields. Ultimately, we chose these people to interview because their professional work was germane to the topics being addressed in the film. Still, the filmmakers do not necessarily support each and every statement made by all the interviewees.

"By the same token, it�s also true that the people themselves who were interviewed in the film do not completely agree with each and every statement made in the film. Many professional perspectives are presented. The filmmakers chose to represent them all in the film, but it could never be possible in a film� or, perhaps, in life! � to get a group of 14 extraordinary people such as these to agree completely on a single cosmological view."

###

(Re those � and such: "Smart quotes" that were lost in translation. The WTB Web master needs to tend to those.)

Monday, May 16, 2011 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

In Joe's "Shocking Spiritual Truth" post he writes that remaining unattached to money is key, while in his "How Much Is Enough" post, he has readers virtually screaming, "No amount is too much!" like high school cheerleaders hoping to date the quarterback. It's positively weird.

I left a comment on his "Shocking Spiritual Truth" post this morning and I believe I erred on the side of mildness, but he hasn't published it yet. He had said that if Jesus and Buddha were here today, they would be using marketing to "get the word out" and so I asked him, "And what would that word be?"

Now that Joe has read John Kay's book Obliquity and has learned from him that the *wealthiest people* - "from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates – achieved their riches through a passion for their work, not because they set materialistic goals," Joe ends his post with "Focus on your passion."
Three times he says this (at least). He concludes: "That’s the real ticket to success and the real thing to focus on."

In "How Much Is Enough: he said in a reply to my comment: "Detachment and following the Divine is what I teach, which is the real secret to spiritual awareness.” And for Joe, spiritual awareness is just another lever for money.

At any rate, now he's saying that passion is the real ticket to becoming one of the uber wealthy. Well, you can't sell passion. So if that's the real ticket, what's up with all his other tricks? I should ask him that as well. But I don't know if that will matter to his followers. No matter how many dance steps Joe does to come up with new variations on real secrets and real tickets and the like, they just keep on cheer-leading. He just makes them so darned happy.

Monday, May 16, 2011 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Kathryn. Once again you've made salient points here and on Joe's blog. I see that he did publish your latest comment but hasn't responded to it (yet). My guess is that he has decided he doesn't want to argue any more, because he sees it as a waste of his precious time (and secretly knows that he is not going to win this one). But at least he is still publishing the contrarian comments.

I have noticed that, like virtually all New-Wage gurus, Joe likes to talk about focusing on one's "passion," because that is exactly what people want to hear. In reality, as most of us know, focusing on one's passions is not a certain way to riches, and sometimes it can be the road to ruin. If you "do what you love" the money may or may not follow, but if it does, more than likely several other factors came into play as well. Two of my passions, for example, are blogging snarkily and buying books and DVDs on Amazon Marketplace. Neither one of these things has made me even remotely wealthy. (Maybe I should beg for Amazon gift certificates like You-know-who does, but I'd rather beg for actual money. :-))

One point I didn't touch on in my own blog post was that in his "Needle's Eye" post, Joe made a point of mentioning the "dissertation" he wrote for one of his "doctorates." Beyond his attempt to convince his readers that all the great spiritual masters were also marketers, I have a feeling that his other motive for including this anecdote was to thumb his nose at the many people who have snarked about his questionable "degrees." He wanted to send the message that he did not just purchase those degrees, as some have accused him of doing; he actually "worked" for them. Someone sent me a copy of one of his "dissertations" a few years ago, and it read a lot like one of his blog posts, except it was longer and had footnotes, as I recall.

Anyway, my point in bringing this up is that it is true that religious institutions use marketing, especially nowadays. And to a certain extent they probably always have. But the key word here is "institutions." I seriously doubt that the spiritual masters of old were "marketers" even remotely in the sense that Joe uses the word. Eventually, if their teachings took hold, those teachings became institutionalized in various ways. But this wasn't necessarily a good thing. In many cases, corruption came right along with institutionalization, because religion (as opposed to spirituality) has in most cases been about power as much as about a search for the truth. The bottom line is that Joe's attempt to put a lofty spin on his type of marketing, and to claim that Jesus, Buddha, et al. were self-promotional maniacs on the order of today's New-Wage gurus, is...well...stretching the point, and when I say that, I am definitely erring on the side of mildness.

Monday, May 16, 2011 8:38:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

I won't err on the side of mildness, because people like Joe Vitale don't deserve anything less than the truth. And as I've stated before, I think Richard Brautigan spoke the truth in what is a perfect description of Joe and his ilk, in a poem titled "Negative Clank." It reads, in full:

"He'd sell a rat's asshole to a blind man for a wedding ring."

IMO, misleading people on their spiritual path in order to acquire riches and praise is far worse.

Actually, I AM being overly mild.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:24:00 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

"In reality, as most of us know, focusing on one's passions is not a certain way to riches, and sometimes it can be the road to ruin."

Connie, this is true. My latest passion - this going to seminary thing - God knows it doesn't look like it'll put me in the driver's seat of that Rolls. In what other field could I go to school for three years and probably make less afterward than I did before? (I must be a little nutso to do so, and don't think that thought hasn't occurred to me.)

Regarding New Wage materialism, which, as you mentioned in your post, some perceive as greed, I consider it greed when it crosses the line into wanting to amass so much that one begins to forsake all ethics in its pursuit, and one is, say, willing to walk away with a staggering bonus while the economy crashes. I think a person can be materialistic without being greedy, but when people begin to shout "No amount is too much!" - and they think that this is an entitlement from the universe for having the right mind set, it starts to get sticky, in my opinion.

But then, I don't know those commenting and their situations; they usually don't give a lot of details. Perhaps the rallying cries for Joe's dances come from people who are struggling to such a degree that only by something like magic can they perceive a way out. I thought of weighing in on Joe's blog with a link to Vicki Robin's Your Money or Your Life, a book about how to obtain financial freedom, but it isn't about any get rich quick schemes. It's about understanding what kind of lifestyle you want to have vs. how much freedom you want to have - and about how to align those in a way that helps you achieve financial independence, with freedom to pursue your interests. It involves getting and staying out of debt, cutting down your spending to what is really essential to you, and saving and investing modestly. I don't think Joe's fans have the patience for that, though, and there is no promise of being wealthy in it; only of being able to live reasonably and probably modestly while you pursue your interests. It's been some years since I've read it, so I don't know how current the investing part of it it is for these financial times:
http://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship/dp/0140286780

I do sympathize with people not wanting to spend their lives in dead end jobs, but to make the leap from that to all the wealth that you will "allow" yourself? Sheesh. How does that happen? I guess Joe only knows.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

"IMO, misleading people on their spiritual path in order to acquire riches and praise is far worse. Actually, I AM being overly mild."

Ron, I agree it is worse. I went mild as a strategy; I figured Joe wouldn't publish my comment if I didn't. He has ignored some of my comments, and I'm never sure where the line is that might trigger the "delete" button.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

See, Ron knows where to aim the mini gun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 1:34:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Kathryn, I'll grant that your way is the more productive, inasmuch as Joe allows you your say, whereas he long ago banned me from participation in his online dialogs.

It wasn't that I was actually rude to him, but I was probably less than diplomatic in pointing out that he was pulling a fast one on his marks, and knew it.

As it turns out, you and a few others have pointed out his behaviors, and done so in a manner that, while it does leave him whining and playing Harris' "Poor Me" game, it fails to meet the criteria by which he would justify silencing you altogether.

So keep on being your mild self. The little frog won't even notice that he's getting boiled. :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:59:00 PM  
Anonymous MZ said...

Had to laugh at Joe's comment in his Shocking Truth blog about getting "in your face", as similar to Ron he refuses to publish my thoughts on his blog. That's not in your face, that's hiding in the closet like a little boy.

Had challenged him on his assertions about good ole Dr Len, the Ho'oponopono guy, curing that floor of patients in the hospital - link here: http://blog.mrfire.com/free-hooponopono-training/

Told Joe that if it's possible for others to affect our thoughts, then LOA can't work 100% of the time as he has claimed. He then wrote that Dr Len didn't change their thoughts, he changed his own thoughts. Then of course, he told me to read his book.

So I questioned Joe on why Dr Len was credited with their cure, since he didn't affect their thoughts, or presumably anything else to do with them. But he wouldn't publish this, or any of my comments thereafter.

Yes Joe, big difference it is at that. Especially when you can't provide an explanation for a product you sell.

But I'm pretty sure he can read the unpublished posts (they don't even show up as waiting for moderation), because when I try to post a second time, I get a duplicate comment message.

So, I told him he should do some ho'ponoponono cleaning to get rid of me...but it doesn't seem to be working too well...

Ah, the man with 7 cars claims we shouldn't be attached to money. "Francine" might be offended if she knew that you're not attached to her Joe.

The man who sells a program called Attract Money Now...isn't attached to it?

Dude's hilarious.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, MZ. I've read and been amused by your various comments on Joe's blog. I didn't republish them here, although you gave me permission to do so, because they're already on Joe's blog.

You might be similarly amused (if you haven't already seen it) by the true fake story of the miracle cures in the psych ward.
http://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2007/06/mahalo-dr-yew.html

OMT: I respectfully request that you not put Ron -- my partner and fiance -- in the same category as Joe. I think you know better than that. You and Ron have more in common than you might think. He has also been banned from Joe's blog. Maybe the two of you can work with that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"OMT: I respectfully request that you not put Ron -- my partner and fiance -- in the same category as Joe. I think you know better than that. You and Ron have more in common than you might think. He has also been banned from Joe's blog. Maybe the two of you can work with that."

Sorry Connie, I think I didn't write that properly. I didn't mean to say Ron refuses to publish my thoughts or imply anything like that, in fact I've never written anything at Ron's at all actually. I had read Ron's comment here that he was banned from participating in Joe's dialogue's, and now Joe had done same to me. That's all I meant.

Hope that's clear. My bad.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Okay, MZ... sorry for misunderstanding. MY bad. And if I got you confused with someone else who's been hanging around here I also apologize. Carry on!

Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:37:00 PM  
Anonymous MZ said...

Looked at that blog about Dr "Yew". So that's what they meant when they said he was working himself...whoops I mean working on, himself...

$5k sounds like a bargain. You should raise the price, you're practically giving it away for nothing ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011 2:45:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Wink said...

CC,

As you know ---- what people say and do are not usually in sync. A rarity these days my friend! In my experience, most new age authors would not follow their own advice if their life depended on it. My favorite are those new age geniuses who write about concepts so silly - they explain the concepts in a parable. They do that because they know the concept is not proven and there's no story to substantiate the claim.

As far as Hick's cancer --- I think treatment is such a personal thing and I wish him well. Nobody deserves that in their life. Let's all cut him some slack on that one. :-)

Love to you CC!

Peter

Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:14:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

MZ (Thursday, May 19, 2011 2:45:00 PM) said:
"$5k sounds like a bargain. You should raise the price, you're practically giving it away for nothing ;)"

Hey, good point, MZ. You think $10k is enough, or should I go higher?

Thursday, June 02, 2011 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Peter, it's good to see you here again. I agree with you about the New-Wage gurus who base their entire shtick on a lame parable.

Are you saying that Jerry Hicks does indeed have cancer? Have the Hicks come clean to their followers about that? In any case, I agree with you that nobody 'deserves' that, and in my post about it I said I don't wish illness on anyone. I wish him a speedy recovery and no suffering.

My gripe has been that his decision to pursue conventional medicine (chemo, etc.) for whatever is wrong with him seems to be completely at odds with the teachings that have earned millions and millions of dollars for him and Esther. And I'm not cutting him any slack on this point unless he and/or Esther come out and admit they're being hypocritical or inconsistent and that sometimes conventional medical care is the best answer. But such honesty might threaten to unravel the profitable ruse.

Thursday, June 02, 2011 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Addendum to my response to Peter Wink: Oh, and I guess it goes without saying that I'm also not cutting the Hicks any slack on that whole imaginary-friends gimmick.

Monday, June 06, 2011 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Inasmuch as I don't have a vested interest in seeing hucksters' profits continue, I'll second rejecting the idea of giving the Hicks' some slack. How many people do you think followed their idiotic advice, eschewed treatment in favor of some costly woo, and suffered horribly as a result? Even if the answer is only one person, that's enough to preclude giving the Abe Brigade the benefit of the doubt.

I don't wish cancer on anyone, but neither I nor anyone else is qualified to determine whether or not any individual - including Hicks - actually "deserves" it.

Monday, June 06, 2011 7:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Amen, Ron.

Monday, June 06, 2011 8:39:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Peter, I'm sorry that you apparently fail to see any value in parables. Perhaps you're (understandably) jaded by the industry in which you've worked for so long.

While some parables are admittedly absurd and "silly," others serve quite nicely to get people to think differently about a situation, helping them to evolve intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, and are not deserving of the implicitly pejorative "genius" that you use to describe them.

Several sages - Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu - who spoke in parables come to mind. Geniuses? Quite likely, but not with the connotation you imply, IMO.

Friday, June 10, 2011 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Ron, I agree with you that parables have value in the context of a body of teachings. And you named some excellent examples. What I think Peter was referring to -- and I am basing this on a previous conversation I had with Peter -- were the New-Wage (and in some cases traditional religious) authors whose entire shtick revolves around a single parable. (Or, in some cases, a single metaphor. Either way, it's a gimmick.) At least that's the kind of thing I was referring to in my response to Peter.

In the silliness category, though, the metaphor slingers can't hold a candle to people like the Hicks who have built an entire empire on imaginary friends.

Which is why -- and I say this with all due respect, Peter -- given that you seem a rational sort and have previously expressed your non-belief in woo, I had trouble processing this unqualified endorsement of Abe-Hicks on your blog:
http://tinyurl.com/678efjp

But I realized that they may be friends of yours and you were just trying to help them out.

Friday, June 10, 2011 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

Interestingly, I've been reading about the function of parables this week as part of a study I'm doing on narrative theology, and the author that I'm reading, Sallie McFague, (Speaking in Parables) would concur with Ron's description. She also said that parables are not riddles that give privileged knowledge to those who solve them. I imagine that there are bad imitations of parables out there used as gimmicks by gurus, as you've noted Connie, and then they do appear silly. But the form itself is not silly.

On another, yet not unrelated theme, I came across an opinion piece today in the New York Times by David Brooks, who sat in on a panel at the Association for Psychological Science where the subject was humility. I quote a little bit at length here, but I think it applies to things that have been discussed in this forum about self-esteem and narcissism:

"June Tangney of George Mason University emphasized that humility is not equivalent to low self-esteem. Rather, the humble person has an accurate view of herself. She can acknowledge her mistakes. She has low self-focus. She is aware of her place in the grand scheme of things and is sensitive to larger and possibly higher forces.

The humble person has the ability to be “unselved.”

Humility is not modesty either, Tangney argues. The modest person has a moderate view of himself, but may still think about himself all the time. Humility is better seen as the opposite of narcissism. The narcissist has a damaged sense of self and is consequently self-centered a great deal of the time, reacting in defensive ways to ego threat. The humble person has an accurate and durable sense of self and can see the relationship between the self and the larger world.

Jennifer Crocker of Ohio State spoke next. She spoke of the costly pursuit of self-esteem. I suppose one could distinguish between actions that are done expressly to raise self-esteem (like buying a fancy car) and events that are done for other reasons that obliquely raise self-esteem (like writing a great symphony).

We have done so much to try to boost self-esteem over the past few decades, but in many cases we seem to have ended up with people with unstable self-esteem, who can zoom up to high pride and down to low despair."

http://brooks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/imho/

Friday, June 10, 2011 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Kathryn. You're right; it's the "bad imitation" parables that get my goat. I have no problem with the form itself, only its misuse by New-Wage capitalists. Or religious capitalists. Or business-motivational capitalists. You get the drift.

And wow... good piece by David Brooks. Though he leans on the conservative side politically, and I don't, I've quoted him on my blog more than once because his social observations make a lot of sense to me. The post you cited is extremely relevant to many of the themes we've discussed here. Thanks for sharing it.

Friday, June 10, 2011 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

Peter, number 11 of a synopsis of Abraham's teachings under the link "About Abraham Hicks" is the following: "You need not attract illness or pain as an excuse to leave your body. Your natural state -- coming, remaining, or leaving -- is that of health and Well-Being. (You are free to choose otherwise.)"

The Hicks' have been able to make quite devastating judgments about people in crisis under the guise of Abe. I followed Connie's link to the Independent interview -- http://www.rickross.com/reference/general/general946.html -- and Esther's comment about the victims of Hurricane Katrina was as follows: "They are poor in vibration before they are poor in manifestation." How judgmental and dismissive can one be about others' tragedies?

The point is not to judge Jerry by the Hicks' own standards, which are cruel, the point is that the Hicks' need to come out from behind Abraham and address the followers from whom they've taken boatloads of money over the year -- and address them with honesty and integrity regarding whatever Jerry might be facing. As Connie and Ron have noted, how many have suffered because they were shamed against seeking conventional medical treatment by these two?

As for Point #12 of the synopsis of Abe's teaching regarding "gentle" transitions back into a non-physical state -- I've been a hospice volunteer, and many transitions would not be gentle without medication. Birth is rarely a gentle process either, and you would think that if we all chose those transitions ahead of time, we would have been a little more considerate of our mothers and checked the box marked "easy transition" when we decided to choose our lives -- at least for their sakes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for pointing out some of Abe-Hicks' specific teachings, Kathryn. I've always had a little bit of a problem with the idea that in the interval between lifetimes we choose every detail of our next life. I realize some of this is derived from what was originally a Tibetan Buddhist concept (the Bardo State), but like many such concepts it has been co-opted and oversimplified by New-Wage capitalists.

At least in the New-Wage version, with which I am much more familiar than with Buddhist constructs, those who "choose" to be born into an abusive family, grinding poverty, or a hopelessly deformed body have supposedly done so in order to advance their spiritual growth. The idea, apparently, is that suffering is good for the soul. No pain, no gain and all that stuff. In some scenarios, it's almost like blithely choosing a heavy load of difficult elective courses for the next semester in college. But in the case of designing one's life, it's harder to drop out or make changes to the course load once it’s apparent that some of those choices were really sucky. Not everyone is privy to the great wisdom of Mr. Fire in The Secret – you know, that stuff about the magical Universal catalog where you can easily pick and choose whatever and whomever you want in this lifetime.

It seems that for most people, once they're born into the physical plane, all of those fine intentions and plans made while on hiatus in the Bardo State are forgotten as real suffering begins. Of course if one happens to be lucky enough to stumble on the right teachings, one can comfort oneself with the notion that one CHOSE all of this suffering. (And if one stumbles across LOA, Secret style... well, see the catalog reference above.)

And sometimes one can make lemons out of lemonade. Recently I received another comment to one of my older posts about "Grandma Chandra," a severely physically and mentally challenged young woman whose mom, Kat, has turned her daughter into a money op. http://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2006/09/i-come-from-twelfth-dimension.html

But back to Abe-Hicks. I imagine that many folks are attracted to their stuff because the teachings are all about how the individual has complete control over all details of his or her life, even if some of the particulars were "chosen" by the individual before birth, presumably in a state of greater enlightenment and insight. (Of course, some belief systems factor in karmic issues -- how a person treated others in his or her previous lifetime, and so on. It's complicated, and again, I don't claim to be an expert on the original belief systems, just the hyped-up versions offered by various New-Wage “teachers.”)

In truth I'm not dismissing the possibility of reincarnation (and my harder-core skeptical friends will roll their eyes, no doubt); IF there is such thing as a soul or some other nonphysical part that lives on after death, the idea of serial lifetimes isn't that much more of a stretch. What I do take issue with are the people who, with a perfectly straight face and a greedy hand in the pockets of earnest seekers, claim to possess THE knowledge of how it all works. Especially if they're sharing these details through made-up non-embodied friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Correction to something on my previous comment: "Grandma Chandra's" mother's name is Cat, not Kat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

Connie, I have a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead somewhere in my pile of books, although I can't claim to have read it in its entirety, or to have understood most of it. I am open to the possibility of reincarnation. I even believe, most of the time, that we are here to learn or evolve through our experiences. I say "most of the time" because on any given day I might experience doubts about that, and I don't mind admitting it. Overall, though, I feel that there is "something more," but I'm well aware that it's something I can't prove. Perhaps we even choose our incarnations -- I've considered this idea occasionally.

The problem I've encountered with those who tout this as the absolute answer to the question of existence is that it seems to lead to a lack of compassion for the suffering of others. Let's say for a moment that it *is* true that we chose to incarnate in the lives that we have. Does this mean that we are slow to assist others when they need it -- because, after all, they chose that life and those lessons? I'm afraid that I do find this attitude among many of the people I've encountered in LOA discussions. If I ask about something like the Holocaust, the answer is that the victims chose their lessons and the perpetrators chose to be the tool for them. The idea falls apart for me at that point. I just can't even go there in my mind.

I do think there is value in having a sense of a story or meaning working in and through our lives, something in which we consciously participate. However, I find it difficult to see how each event or property that we encounter could be preselected. There are just too many variables in the universe, in my opinion, and each of them seem to be evolving something of their own. That doesn't mean we can't learn from each experience that we have, even the worst experiences. But believing that we can learn from them is no excuse for indifference to the real pain involved in them, or for not attempting to prevent suffering when we can, or of telling people that their suffering is good for them. Only they have the right to say how an experience affected their lives.

I read the link to the case of Grandma Chandra, and I would say that's a case of making a little too much lemonade, and too much marketing of a child, presumably without her consent.

In considering ideas about ultimate meaning or purposes, I ask myself, "Who do you (or will you) become in service to this idea?" When I see people, in service to a concept, becoming less human as they seek to become more spiritual or enlightened, for me that is a sign that it's a way I don't want to go.

Sunday, June 12, 2011 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

My belief is that the choices we make while decarnate are made not by us as a solitary individual, but by the consciousness that shares the collective spirit. The opportunities that are most beneficial not only for the individual but for his/her fellow humans are selected, and then represent potential for all involved once they are incarnated. I say potential because I do not accept determinism - absence of choice - as a product of the Divine. We select the general environment into which we are born, but how individual events unfold, as well as our reactions to them, occur independent of any choices that we (or even God) might have made. But I could well be wrong... :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011 6:06:00 PM  

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