Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday musings

A few snippets to start your week out right...

Creative recycling: it's the New-Wage way!

A reader and occasional correspondent, "T" from London, recently wrote to me: "Looks like Joe Vitale [in partnership with his good friend Pat O'Bryan] has discovered another 'secret.' They're selling it, of course, and, apparently, we're saving ourselves $200 if we buy it."

"T" was referring to Joe and Pat's "Pelmanism Online" site, which is listed thusly on Google:

The Lost Art of Pelmanism -- O'Bryan and Vitale
Dr. Joe Vitale and Pat O'Bryan bring an ancient mind-control method back to life.
On this site, Joe himself writes:

Lucky for you and me, Pat O'Bryan dug up the entire original Pelmanism course. It wasn't easy. This material is long lost, very rare, and almost buried in the vaults of history. If you do an intense search, you can find a volume or two here and there, but rarely more than that.
"Lo and behold," added my friend T, "a quick bit of Googling reveals this site:, which offers what I'm assuming are the same lessons, FREE!"

T subsequently wrote that the material might not be exactly identical, but I replied that it seemed similar enough.

According to the Weird Universe blog, "The Pelman Institutes of England and America apparently once claimed over half a million followers. But now they're long gone. Yet that has not stopped at least two folks from trying to resurrect the copyright-abandoned mind-strengthening course and claim and market it as their own." The blogger linked to Joe and Pat's site, as well as this one.

Pelmanism was named after British psychologist Christopher Louis Pelman; a colleague of his founded the Pelman Institute for the Scientific Development of Mind, Memory and Personality in London in 1899. I'm not sure if something that originated in 1899 could actually be classified as "an ancient mind-control method," but New-Wagers have never been all that good with historical perspective.

Little seems to be known of Pelman himself; the person responsible for both the founding of the Institute and the original Pelman courses was one William Joseph Ennever. If you follow the link in that previous sentence you'll see a portrait of a philanderer who had an almost obsessive fear of aging, a man who made and lost his fortune with his Pelmanism shtick, and spent most of the last years of his life in poverty.

Perhaps you are tempted to ask, "If Pelmanism apparently didn't work all that well even for its founder, why should we believe it would be such a miracle method for today's grasping New-Wage materialist?" I sure can't answer that, but I have a feeling there are some who would think that you ask too many questions.

And in all fairness, there are those who would probably say that the question is moot, such as John Karp, who, towards the conclusion of a fairly comprehensive article about Ennever, wrote this:

Ennever's life is not a cautionary tale, nor a didactic lesson in success and failure - he lived the same highs and lows that everybody does. Nor is it important to read about his life and apply it to the modern world. But nevertheless, in a world in which our knowledge of the past is unparalleled, it is strange that W.J. Ennever should have slipped under the radar and into obscurity. His life's work is the strangest quirk: a mind training system that drew on both the frauds of the past and the brightening world of empirical science, and that found success all over the world. In a historical backflip, the Internet has seen the resurgence of the frauds who use their Internet presence to sell all manners of magic and mysticism. They have discovered Pelmanism, and market it now as a lost miracle76

If you follow that footnote link, you'll see this:

See The Lost Art of Pelmanism, <>, Pelmanism, the success secrets that almost got lost, <>, and Powers of the Mind Personal Development Self-Help Course, <>.

So we're right back where we started, with the Internet marketing geniuses who have taken these "ancient" teachings and repackaged them to sell to you. And if Pelmanism doesn't work for you, there's always Pyschic Demand. No matter how "ancient" (and absurd) it is, someone will find a way to recycle it and try to make money from it. As I said, that's the New-Wage way!

[By the way, the image of WJ Ennever is courtesy of Thank you to Barry Ennever.]

"I've never told this story before..."
And speaking of recycling, Joe Vitale has found a new way to recycle his famous tale of former homelessness.

In his recent blog post, "The Cure For Despair," he claims he finally came clean about exactly how he became homeless. It was difficult to talk about, he says, but he just had to do it. He says he was persuaded to tell his story by a woman who participated in his $5,000.00-a-head Rolls-Royce MasterMind dinner the other night. Well, I guess if someone is paying you $5,000.00 for a ride in your car, dinner and a bit of face time, they deserve to hear a good story. So he spilled the beans, albeit reluctantly of course, and he says that everyone at the table was open-mouthed. A close friend of his who was also in attendance claimed that even he didn't know the whole story up till then. "You just have to tell this to the world!" the astounded dinner attendees said, according to Joe. "It's riveting! This will change everything!"

And tell it he did, inviting people to spread his post far and wide to those they thought would benefit.

Not surprisingly, his fans have chimed in, praising him for the courage it must have taken to write this "inspirational" blog post and to finally confess what he claims he never wanted to talk about. One regular contributor wrote:

Joe. Thank you for sharing this! What an inspiring story. I’m sure you didn’t know that then and were quite mired in the struggle and survival of it.

It is VERY CLEAR to me why you never shared this before, even though some might think it was your embarrassment. You shared it now because it is PERFECT to be shared now. Right now. It was Divinely orchestrated. The woman who asked, divinely guided.

This story right now probably is helping countless people, many more than would have years, or even a year, months or even a month or days ago.

But it seems that in reality Joe is all too eager to talk about it, and in fact, he has even told "the whole story" before. More than once.

To begin with, an abbreviated version of it appeared in an Ohio newspaper article in September of 2007. (He even mentioned the article in a blog post.)

According to this article...

[Joe] attended Kent State University, majoring in public relations and journalism, but left just shy of a degree because he couldn't pass economics, didn't like Ohio winters and had the promise of work in Texas.

In the late 1970s, Vitale gave all his money to a company that promised to find him work building pipelines overseas, but the company folded, leaving him homeless and without a penny.

He recalls those times as "desperate and unhappy" but made his way to Houston where he held various temp positions and worked as a car salesman, reporter, laborer and cab driver.

He was unhappy with them all but held onto his dream of becoming an author, saying he kept writing the whole time.

The link to that article is here. (It also provides a little insight about Joe's "doctorate degrees.")

But it gets better. A person on Joe's own blog, while praising him for telling the story, mentioned that he'd told it before.

Hello Joe,

Just two nights ago, I watched you tell this story on a YouTube Video from an interview in Maui.

On YouTube search: Life on Maui #23 with Steven Freid (5 Parts).

Great Interview.

To hear you claim it and share it again (for me in such a short time) is amazing.



Barry is exactly right, although I noticed he didn't overtly challenge Joe's assertion that the blog post was the first time he'd told the story publicly. In a December 2007 interview on Maui with super-SNAG Steven Freid (who, incidentally, also conducted a fawning interview with one of my favorite snark targets, Dreaming-Bear), Joe did indeed tell the story – almost exactly as he says he told it at that MasterMind dinner. Actually he told it in even more detail, though in the Maui version version he kind of makes it sound as if the owner of the company that screwed him committed suicide when Joe tried to get his money back. I'm sure that's not what he meant, but it sounds like it. The Maui interview appears as a five-parter on YouTube, but if you want to save yourself some time, the nitty-gritty of the homeless tale is here in Part 3, beginning at about 1:36.

Notably absent from Joe's various narratives about those poverty years is the fact that beginning in the late 1970s, and for about seven years thereafter, he was involved in the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's cult. Maybe it's not relevant but I thought it worth a mention anyway.

At any rate, it seems clear that Joe's followers either have short memories or aren't willing to do much research. As I've said here before, I imagine that's one of the things that Joe and most New-Wage leaders are banking on.

I will give Joe credit for honesty about one point in his blog post. He says his family in Ohio would have taken him back in, but he was too proud to let them know of his plight. Granted, given the abuse Joe suffered when growing up (which he wrote about in his spiritual autobiography, Adventures Within), you'll know that this was not a very desirable option. He had a lot of good reasons to get away and stay away from home. However, I think it worth noting that he did have a safety net, unlike many if not most of the folks today who are being forced out of their own homes because of the foreclosure crisis – and unlike many of the chronically homeless who are mentally ill or have other serious problems.

Lest you dismiss me as a complete cynic or hopeless curmudgeoness, I don't have a problem with what Joe purports to be the real message in his blog post, which is that any situation, no matter how bad, is temporary.* Yes, the sun will shine again, so you should never give up but should just keep on keeping on, and so on. Everyone needs to hear this message at one time or another.

My issue is with the disingenuous way Joe has exploited his "homeless" story all along. Putting aside the fact that I think it's kind of an insult for him to even imply that his situation compares to that of people who really are homeless for one reason or another (and don't have families to take them in), I've pretty much had it up to here with the rags-to-riches tales told by so many New-Wage luminaries. Many of them have made a big deal out of being formerly "homeless," and most of them, formerly homeless or not, finally became rich only after years or decades of trying one thing after another.

It's true that most of them – including Joe – are pretty honest about not being overnight successes. But then they use their success stories to sell you on the idea that the product/service/miracle weekend du jour that they're offering will save you similar years of struggle; you have but to fork over your money for their stuff and you can be rich and happy and successful almost overnight. That's pretty clever, I must admit. But it's also pretty deceptive.

Moreover, these rags-to-riches tales, whether they're completely true or are partly (or mostly) embellished, give people a distorted idea of what it takes to really become successful. Tales that purport to be inspirational, but are often little more than marketing ruses, actually serve to discourage many people. Why? Well, maybe because we all have a tendency to compare our own lives to others' stories. And our lives almost always come up short, no matter how many books or seminars we invest in. My pal Blair Warren wrote an excellent post about this on his blog, Crooked Wisdom.

As it happens, Blair also had this to say on a recent Tweet on Twitter:

If you begin a story with "I've never told this before" it's wise to have never told it before. Especially to the people you're talking to.
Somehow it seems appropriate here.

Even so, I think we can expect Joe to continue to recycle his homeless tale and milk it for all it's worth. Perhaps he'll even continue to reveal yet more details that he was previously "too embarrassed to talk about."

And the Joebots will continue to heap praise and money upon him.

Shameless Schirmer strives for new levels of shamelessness
I suppose I need to modify my previous remarks that the troubled Aussie Secret star David Schirmer has abandoned the "wealth coach" gig in favor of being merely a Christian hustledork (see, for instance, this post; scroll down to, "Onward Christian wankers"). David is still peddling his wares in the New-Wage market via his new web page, Wealth By Choice.

For example, he's still promoting himself as a stock market expert, despite the fact that, according to various sources, he has never shown anyone any trade sheets and in fact has never actually shown that he can make money from the stock market. In addition, word has it that the two people giving testimonials on his stock market page now have nothing to do with him and would probably, for various reasons, be embarrassed to be associated with him in any way.

He is also apparently challenging the authorities with his Entrepreneurship 101 course, in which he deliberately tells people how to find a way around the system in order to avoid lawsuits as well as taxes. He writes:

There is a right way and a wrong way to set up your asset protection.

You need to make sure that this is done the right way from the start. If you get it wrong and you get sued it will be too late to change it then.

The reason I know all of this is that I discovered it the hard way. I found that my accountant, who is great, really had no idea. My lawyer, good as he is, really couldn’t give me a definitive answer…

Finally I found someone in the legal industry who (like me had to find out the hard way) had spent years of research to get it right, and I found out exactly what needed to happen to ensure my wealth and assets were protected....

...So the key to preventing/minimizing lawsuits is NOT TO OWN ANYTHING IN YOUR NAME. The key to protecting your assets - is to make sure predator-plaintiffs and their gold-digging lawyers can’t get their hands on your money. When plaintiffs’ lawyers discover they can’t get your money, they won’t waste any time trying. Why should they!, they will get 1/3 of nothing? They can find someone else to sue....

Granted, David Schirmer is working in Australia, having been stymied in his efforts to enter the US market, so presumably his lessons apply to Australian laws. Still, he seems to be kind of rubbing the authorities' noses in it, not to mention the noses of those to whom he allegedly owes so much money.

But since we're on the topic, I have no doubt that many American hustledorks have set up their own businesses to take advantage of applicable laws that will render them impervious to lawsuits – just in case they're not fully protected by (1) the myriad legal disclaimers they put on the web sites where they advertise junk with 100%-guaranteed miracle results; and (2) the fact that most of their promises are sufficiently vague to prevent any actual fraud charge from sticking.

David Schirmer seems absolutely incorrigible. But, as the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And by the way, his much-touted Succeed magazine really does seem to be on the brink of failure, if not already there; no one seems to have received any issues after the August-September 2008 issue. Trouble in publishing paradise, perhaps? Who would have guessed?

Another reason the chickens might have human arms...
Okay, first of all, if you don't understand the title of this snippet,
you need to go here. (Standard warning: If you are offended by the "f" word and/or by mention of recreational drug use, don't go there. Just continue to puzzle over the title, and enjoy the mystery!)


According to a recent AP article, British stem cell research has officially entered a brave new world: the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research has won final approval from Brit lawmakers. The current plan is for this process to involve injecting an empty cow or rabbit egg with human DNA; the resulting embryos will supposedly not be allowed to survive beyond fourteen days, enough time to harvest stem cells. This skirts the whole abortion issue, since technically the embryo is not human.

I definitely support stem-cell research, but this particular development has me a little worried. Apart from the enormous potential for abuse, resulting in various science-fiction nightmare scenarios and ethical problems, my first thought was that the foreign proteins or whatever from those other species might end up in the stem cells and cause some serious trouble in the ultimate recipients. Maybe it's something we need to consider. But I have a feeling that the barn door has already been flung wide open and the chimeras have escaped. Yikes.

On the other hand, we might be able to train chickens with human arms to collect their own eggs, so maybe there's some commercial potential in this after all. I probably need to keep an open mind.

Well, that's it for now. I'll be back as soon as I can, and I hope you have a great week.

PS ~ If you need a jolt of real inspiration, here are some powerful life lessons from the guy who brought you the song I linked to above.

* Of course the opposite is also true; any situation, no matter how good, is also temporary. But that truth is not the stuff of which "inspirational" blog posts are made.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Imaginary friends to the rescue

So you say you're still uneasy about the world financial crisis, despite the fact that Joe Vitale now has a Rolls Royce? Boy, you're a hard case, aren't you? Well, relief is on the way.

Esther and Jerry Hicks, the George and Gracie of the New-Wage world, and the real inspiration behind The Secret, have once again called upon their imaginary buds, a group of disembodied entities collectively known as "Abraham." Earlier this month Abe spilled the beans about the crazy money stuff that's going on today, and also shared some wise words about the US presidential election and that whole politix thing.

Here's the vid.

Be sure to look at the faces of the audience – believers every one (well, most of 'em, anyway; one guy looked kind of skeptical). I will concede that some of the advice mean about personal responsibility is good enough advice, but you could find the same thing on any Libertarian blog. You don't have to pay to go and listen to Esther repeat what the voices in her head tell her.

Lest you think the Hicks' audience is restricted to just a few fringe loonies, you should know that Esther and Jerry are among the richest folks working in the New-Wage industry today. So a lot of people are buying their stuff and going to their workshops. How rich are they? Well, really, really rich. Here's more info about them and the way they work.

And by the way, in case you were thinking of going on the Abraham-Hicks 2009 cruise to Tahiti, I regret to inform you that it's sold out. (Look at the cabin prices. And it's sold out. Does that give you an idea of the kind of money that's floating around in New-Wage paradise?) But don't worry; the Hicks host several cruises each year.

As Esther and Jerry themselves put it, "We keep saying this----It just can't get any better than this! (But we know that somehow it will!)."

I gotta find me a scam.

PS ~ If you're considering going into the imaginary-friends business yourself, there are a few important points you should consider. Fortunately, I have just the old blog post for you. (Hey, I'm not rich myself (yet), but I can give really good useless advice on how you can get rich. No, you don't have to thank me. Well, okay. Thank me.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't worry, buy happy!

Just a few snippets and updates, partly in honor of the financial insanity that's going on all around us...

Buddha would be proud
As mentioned here a couple of posts ago (third item down, "It's because the Universe likes greed"), Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale – the man who says that Buddha wants you to be rich (and who calls himself "The Buddha of the Internet") – recently bought a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom. If you've read much of his stuff, however, you know that he doesn't actually refer to the process of acquiring a car as "buying." He rarely speaks in such mundane terms about his car purchases (or any of his other extravagances, for that matter). Instead he says he is "attracting" these cars, which of course is partly a play on the whole Law Of Attraction craze and The Secret, but is mostly a way to promote his own "Attract A New Car" scheme. Every time he egregiously overpriced automobile, he points to it as proof that his program really works.

Thus the meta-tag title (the
title appearing on the top bar on the screen) of his October 13 blog post, "Meet the Phantom," is, "Secret movie star Joe Vitale attracts $375,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom" – as if the car just magically appeared on his driveway one day as a gift from the Universe. He writes that he didn't expect to attract yet another new car when he went to San Diego a couple of weeks ago for his "Miracles Weekend," but by golly, he did, and wow, what a car! It makes him look and feel like a royalty.

He is now using his new acquisition not only to show the world how rich and successful he is (yes he is, he really, really is!), but also to get all of the mileage he can out of his readers' concerns about the current economic crisis. He writes:

There’s a lesson here, of course.

The Rolls-Royce motor car was created to serve the affluent market. It’s good to remember that even when the media says the money is gone and the sky is falling, life goes on and money still circulates.

On the day the stock market took its biggest dive, I bought a $375,000 car.

Naturally the Joebots were quick to jump in with oohs and ahhs about his new baby, thanking him for being such a bright and shining point of light on a generally gloomy landscape. But even though most of the respondents seemed to project a sense of optimism that they too would eventually reach Joe's level of success, one message from a perpetually sad but nonetheless loyal and devoted fan stood out.

I was at the Car Show today - Autoshow 2008 Istanbul.

Everything was beautiful… Cars, girls, people around. Even under the affects of the world economic crisis we enjoyed our time a lot...

BUT after that beautiful day why I feel sad & downhearted ??? Because I back to the same rented apartment on a slum quarter with taking buses and trains ? Because I have $1000 on my bank account and the cheapest car I like to buy was $30,000 ? Or because I don’t have a beautiful girl friend to warm my heart ?…

...I feel sad & downhearted right now because I’m focusing to the things I don’t have… I know I should focus on things I want and should say thank you to the divine for the great things in my life. But why I’m not doing that ?… I don’t know.

I feel happy right now to see you with your new baby - A Rolls Royce Phantom. One of the most amazing cars ever built. Keep me inspired dear Joe…

I snark about the silly side of selfish-help/New-Wage, but that young man's message, as English-challenged as it is, speaks more poignantly about the sadder side than anything any critic could write. It's not the first time this individual has written a message like this to Joe's blog, and he's not the only one who has expressed despair over the fact that life hasn't changed in spite of investing in all those breakthrough products and trying all of those magical techniques.

Such "woe-is-me" comments aren't the sort that Joe normally answers directly on his blog, but on a fairly frequent basis he does address the question of why, despite their best efforts, people fail at self-improvement, wealth creation or whatever. The answer to that timeless question, of course – the key to the missing secret, the hand up to the "next level" – is always contained in Joe's latest product or program or workshop. And if that product or program or workshop doesn't do the trick, well, there's always the next one. (Not that Joe is alone in this m.o. – hardly. It's just the New-Wage way of marketing.)

In any case, the vast majority of responses to the Phantom piece, as well as to most of Joe's boast posts, are more in the spirit of this one from a guy named Josh:
Like Joe says, we live in a world of abundance. It’s supposed to be like that!!!
Here’s the concept…You are supposed to be living the life you want. You are supposed to have the things that you want. This is how you and the Universe are made. It’s made that way and when you fight it, well… things go out of tune!!!
It’s true!!! Look at Joe he knows what he is talking about. Thank You Joe!!!
P.S. Nice Wheels.
If The Secret did nothing else, it expanded the New-Wage consumer's sense of entitlement. "We deserve everything we want, and furthermore, the Universe wants us to have it! That's the way it's supposed to be!"

The October 13 blog post wasn't Joe's first mention of the Rolls; it was merely its formal introduction, complete with photos, to readers of his blog. His buddy Pat O'Bryan shot a video this past weekend of Joe sharing a "prosperity lesson" in the Rolls. (And by the way, according to that video, the car cost not $375,000 but $400,000; maybe this is due to the fact that it is, as Joe said his banker told him, appreciating in value. Or maybe it's due to Joe's tendency to be a little creative with facts. But heck, what's a mere $25,000.00 or so? Any bets on how long it will take his Phantom to become a half-million-dollar car?)

the past couple of weeks Joe has also been "Tweeting" frequently about his Phantom on Twitter. At one point another "Tweeter" asked him, "Why do you find it so necessary to brag about your possessions?" He replied, "Why do you consider it bragging and not inspiration to reach for more?"

In addition to Tweeting and blogging about his cars, he has also presented a running account of his quest for the perfect mansion, one with a garage large enough to house his growing stable of jalopies and sufficient square footage to accommodate his ever-expanding ego. A recent Tweet informed readers that he was "Off to Austin to check out another multi-million dollar hidden estate. The Phantom demands it."
That's right, Joe. Blame the car.

When it comes right down to it, though, this picture tells us more than Joe's words ever could.
You can get a taste of Joe's wealthy lifestyle for yourself; just fork over $5,000.00 US and you will get taken for a ride. In the Phantom, that is. Not only that, you'll get to go to dinner with Joe, and you will get to participate in a Master-Mind session to brainstorm on ways to help Joe pay for his Phantom and next car and his mansion...I mean, ways to make loads of money for you.

Financial crisis? What financial crisis? Just keep spending your money on Joe's books and DVDs and workshops and seminars and special Master-Mind sessions, and you'll glide in comfort and luxury over these rough economic roads. Or at least Joe and his buddies will.

Like I said, Buddha would be proud.

Onward Christian wankers (the long-promised David Schirmer update)
Speaking of the stock market, we haven't heard much lately from that brilliant investment adviser, Law Of Attraction expert and Secret star, the Blunder From Down Under, David Schirmer, who is pictured on the left in a pose that somehow reminds me of the Joe+Rolls photo I linked to in the snippet above. Alas, Schirmer can't do much with the stock market these days because he's in a spot of trouble with the Australian authorities. But that hasn't stopped him from exploiting his Secret connection to the max, and trying to glom onto other Secret stars and selfish-help gurus.

There was, for example, the short-lived partnership with the elder statesman of the LOA crowd, "Scientist" Bob Proctor, who ultimately took Schirmer to court for deceptive and unfair business practices, among other things. Apparently Schirmer has violated some of the court orders and is in even more trouble with Proctor. But that still hasn't stopped him from promoting himself as a "wealth coach" and trying to grab on to the coattails of any guru he can. For a while he tried to make it look as if he had a special connection with Joe Vitale, using the fact that Joe was featured in multiple issues of Schirmer's publishing experiment, Succeed Magazine (which, rumor has it, is on the brink of failure).
And Schirmer's endorsement appears on the back cover of the new version of Joe's book, The Attractor Factor.
"Joe Vitale not only appeared in The Secret, he is one of the few who knows and lives attraction! Contained in the five steps that Joe maps out in The Attractor Factor are the keys to endless abundance. This book instructs on how to take control of your beliefs and focus, ultimately attracting the life of your dreams. If you just do what Joe tells you, you will create an abundance far beyond what you can currently imagine. The Attractor Factor is the secret that The Secret doesn't tell you."
— David Schirmer, wealth coach and star of The Secret.

Nevertheless Schirmer is apparently persona non grata in the upper tiers of the hustledork hierarchy, and scuttlebutt has it that a few of his fellow Secret stars have gone so far as to warn others to stay away from him. I suppose that it's professional courtesy as much as fear of litigation that prevents them from making a big public deal out of these warnings, but the train has left the station anyway.

Even New-Wage guru wannabe and former Schirmer admirer Keith Leon, who until recently had a series of events with Schirmer scheduled in California, seems to have dropped him from the roster. Keith was reportedly going to be Schirmer's ticket to breaking into the US market, but he has his own career to look out for; he is apparently trying earnestly to gain credibility in the selfish-help industry, as evidenced by the fact that he and wife Maura are in the line-up of life coach and Vitale bud Jennifer McClean's "Healing With The Masters" teleseminar series. It just wouldn't do for a rising star to be seen with the likes of Schirmer.

So what's an ousted hustler to do? There's so much money to be made in the New-Wage/selfish-help industry, but if you've been shunned by some of the industry's leading luminaries, whaddaya gonna do?

I'll tell you what you do, and in fact I've already made mention of it here: you try to break into the Christian hustledork market.

Now, it's not that I have anything against Christianity, though I don't consider myself a Christian, but I have to say that if there's anything worse than a New-Wage hustledork, it's a Christian hustledork. That's a person who combines crass materialism, greed and arrogance with traditional religious self-righteousness, as opposed to New-Wage sanctimony. Gaggggh!

Word has it that Schirmer used and abused the folks in the church he used to belong to, and was kicked out. He subsequently became involved in another church,
RHEMA Melbourne (formerly Word Family Church). For all I know, he may have been ousted from that one too by now – I'm kind of behind on my Schirmer updates – but until I hear differently I'll assume that he's still trying to capitalize on his "Christian" faith via that church.

Lately he's been promoting one of those intensely annoying motivational Christian types, a former baseball coach named Chip Brim, founder of Champions 4 Christ. Chip is the son of Branson, Missouri evangelist Billye Brim. A few years ago Chip had a mystical experience while stalking Bambi.

Eight years ago, while deer hunting up in a tree-stand, God gave me a divine visitation. I was taken out of my body for two hours, back in time to my high school football field. With this encounter, God gave me an illustrated message to the Church for these last days—“why prayers are not being answered.”

When it happened, I thought it was ten minutes, but two hours had passed by. I've never even heard of anyone being taken to another place in time. However, I have since and have seen it in the Word. So, I'm O.K. I am on, thank God.

You can read the rest of this exciting story on Chip's web site. Anyhow, apparently Schirmer's church is infatuated with Chip, and last month Schirmer sent out this email:

Subject: A special invitation for the people of Melbourne ... and the world

Date: 2008/9/13


This is an unusual email for me to send you ... in fact it is unlike anything I have ever sent before!! I'm sending it to you because I'm so excited!

Read it carefully - it could impact and change your life forever.

Last night I had the privilege of listening to one of the most inspiring, exciting and stirring speakers I have ever heard and I want to invite you to listen to him ... either in person or online.

Millions of people know that I am one of 24 Teachers on the movie 'The Secret.' Many thousands of people have had their finances increased and lives transformed by what I have taught in both the stock market and abundance thinking areas. I am truly grateful for the experience and knowledge God has given me to enable me to impart the financial wisdom.

What most people don't know is that I have another passion that is far greater and more profitable than all the stock market and abundance thinking put together.

Let me share with you a glimpse of my story:

I was born into a wonderful Christian home of farming parents, one that upheld the values of hard work, honesty, integrity, kindness, love and God. My Father always treated my Mother with honour, respect, equality and love. He taught us a work ethic that very few people have or understand today. He often said, "If it is not true, not kind or not helpful don't say it!" We got a belting with a stick if we were disobedient ... or talked back! We went to church every Sunday, rain, flood or drought!

We never had a TV or went to the movies ... imagine my disbelief when I went into the world and workplace and saw husbands that bashes their wives, and employees who stole from their employer and people disrespectful to authority. I will share more about this another time!

I started to study the mind and thinking 20 years ago this year ... what an amazing journey.

I have been down many, many rabbit holes ... from astrology and past lives to quantum physics and the metaphysical occults. Down many holes I didn't find much of value ... not ever rabbits.

While studying the mind and why we get the results we get, I always tried to bring it back to the truth written in the Bible. Why you might ask? Because I had and have an absolute faith and belief that the Bible is God's written word and everything must align to that.

Yet the more I studied it and the more I listened to some of the world's personal development guru's, the more lot of teachings didn't seem to line up. Some of my mentors would quote verses out of the Bible as truth yet say that all roads and all beliefs lead to the same end and that there is no hell or Satan only God and love.

Now that really confused me!! The Bible says clearly that there is Satan and there is hell and if you don't get your act together here, that is where you are headed regardless of your beliefs; so how can they quote part of the Bible as truth and not believe the complete story? It's either all truth or not!

The other challenge I had is that many religions and beliefs teach and preach it is ok to be broke ... even righteous ... and that if you live in poverty or sickness then it is your lot in life. Yet when I studied the Science Of Getting Rich and the science of the mind it directly opposed such crazy beliefs. Then I went back to the Bible and re-read and studied it ... Guess what? The Bible doesn't teach poverty and sickness either ... it teaches prosperity, abundance and health.


Well, it was for me because many of the beliefs I had been brought up with around money and prosperity where not lining up with my new awareness. We are not meant to be unhappy, sick and broke ... we were made in the image and likeness of God; and God certainly is not unhappy, sick and broke!!!

Many people's lives are ruled by fear and lack ... many people are in pain. There is a way to live in complete joy and abundance.

My question for over 16 years has been, "Is there a Christian group or church that teaches the abundance that is promised in the Bible?"

16 months ago I found such a group of people who not only taught what I understood to be the truth about the mind, the Bible and abundance, prosperity and health, but lived it daily!!! I have learnt more in the last year than I have in the previous 45 ... now that's saying a lot!

As I said in the beginning, last night I had the privilege of listening to one of the most inspiring, exciting and stirring speakers I have ever heard (I have travelled the world and listened to some pretty good ones); A man who knows how to live and walk in abundance and peace, free of fear and teach others to do the same. He is Chip Brim - a great baseball coach from the USA.

How would you feel if you had no worries, no cares just abundance and prosperity flowing to you?

The purpose of this email is to invite you to listen to Chip Brim. If you live in or around Melbourne then do whatever you can to see Chip. It is totally free ... you don't need to be a Christian either to learn from him. Here is the only place you can see him:

This Sunday, September 14 @ 10:00am and 5:30pm
RHEMA Melbourne (formerly Word Family Church),
100 New Street
Ringwood, Vic Australia

If you are somewhere else in the world or in Melbourne and can't make it then Chip Brim's talk will be posted on on Tuesday.

I hope his message and this information helps you as much as it has me.

David Schirmer

P.S. Feel free to forward this email on to those who you know would be interested.

Amen, Brother David. And what a blessing to know that Jesus, like Buddha, wants us all to be rich.

One of the things I find truly remarkable about the above message – I mean, besides the way Schirmer tries to set himself apart from those other LOA proponents who don't believe in Hell or Satan, and will therefore probably burn in Hell themselves – is the wholesome story he paints of his family life when he was growing up. That's not exactly the version of his background that I've heard from numerous other sources. And as adults, Schirmer and several of his brothers have lived, to put it mildly, very troubled lives.

Let's face it: revisionism is a way of life with the hustledork crowd. Whether they're counterfeit Christians or bogus Buddhists, they're all cut from the same cloth. The good news, though, is that it looks as if Schirmer's US debut has been stalled indefinitely...that is, unless he can get here via the Christian Hustledork Express. I'll keep you posted.

"You've got to do something about that negative attitude!"
That's what some teachers, a couple of past employers, and even an ex-boyfriend or two told me. Let's just say that more than once in my life I've been lectured for having a bad attitude. (And I'm not even counting the lectures I've received from Secretrons and others since I've been writing this blog.)

Well, I think there's a lot to be said for having a bit of a negative attitude. Furthermore, there's a good case for the argument that perpetual positivity can have...well...negative effects. Among other things, argues SHAMblog's Steve Salerno, the emphasis on a positive mental attitude is part of what has landed us in the current financial mess. In a recent post Steve wrote:
To me... Tony [Robbins]—more specifically, the sky's-the-limit mentality he sells—is part of the problem. It is directly related to the analysis I presented in my Journal piece last week at this time. I blame Robbins for being a major contributor to the climate of faux optimism that seized hold of America roughly a decade ago and is just now being revealed for the, well, sham it is. What's wrong with faux optimism? Who does it hurt? It hurts everyone, and in surprising ways. It makes people far less inclined to have a Plan B (since they've already put their full faith in Plan A). It bullies people into sticking with a given course of action until long after its dangers have been revealed—because after all, if they "just keep a positive outlook," how can they fail?
You can read Steve's Wall Street Journal piece here. I also recommend his recent "Can This Market Been Saved?" series of blog posts, the latest of which appears here. Among other points, Steve does a good job of tying the "irrational exuberance" perpetuated by the selfish-help industry to the current economic mess.

* * * * *

Okay, that's it for now; it's time for me to get back to my real work. There are bills to pay, and I need to buy a new laptop, and one of the cats has an ear problem and needs to go to the vet. There's always something. So Ron and I are constantly dreaming up new ways to make extra money, and as it happens, we are now planning a series of rolling Master-Mind sessions of our own. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime for you; for a mere ten grand in US dollars, you get to ride around in our Honda Odyssey mini-van with us and bask in the presence of our scintillating personalities. Of course, dinner is included with the ride; you can even order the large fries. If you're interested, send me an email. Or better yet, just send me the ten thousand dollars and continue to enjoy my scintillating personality via this blog, and Ron's scintillating personality via his blog and his participation on Steve Salerno's blog, from the comfort of your own home. You don't need those fries anyway. And if the Universe guides you to do so, feel free to send more than ten thousand dollars.

It's the only way to get the economy back on track.

PS ~ In case you're wondering about the graphic at the top of this post, I didn't steal anyone's original artwork and fail to attribute it. I did "borrow" and crop a photo of the Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament, and then applied a few cheap tricks (e.g., water color effects) in PhotoPaint, which is Corel's equivalent of PhotoShop.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

One-hundred grand...and counting!

A while ago I glanced down at the site counter (left-hand side, towards the bottom of the page) and noticed that the "original hits" count for this blog has finally rolled over past the six-figure mark. This doesn't actually reflect the entire visitor count, only the number of first-time visitors, and it doesn't even reflect the total number of those since the blog began in July 2006. (I installed that site counter on February 22 of last year.) Still, I thought it was a milestone worth noting. Now if only I had ten dollars for every one of those "first-timers," hey, I'd be a millionaire! Not that that is a particularly impressive achievement these days, but at least I'd be able to pay off my credit card debts and buy a few little things.

I would just like to say thank you to everyone, first-timers and old-timers, for visiting and participating in Whirled Musings. And in keeping with today's theme, such as it is, here's an oldie but goody. It could probably be updated by changing "million" to "trillion," and substituting all the talk of tree forts and emus and green dresses with a few lines about bailouts and buyouts and such. But it's a catchy little tune anyway.

PS ~ My own RevRon wrote one of his rare blog posts today.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Stop, look and glisten: The Secret on estrogen

"Glow is an energy. It is an aura. It is a sparkle... You stand out when you glow. You illuminate. It is what differentiates the most successful women from those that WANT to be successful. The good news is, every one of us has it. We just need to learn how to tap into it."
~ Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO eWomen Network, Inc.

"Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies merely glow."
~ One variation of an old proverb (which has nothing to do with this piece, but I just thought I'd throw it in)

Okay, so I'm a woman, and a business owner (or co-owner, anyway), and as such, I'm definitely in favor of organizations and web sites that offer resources for women business owners. I'm all for recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women – or anyone, for that matter – particularly if those people have overcome enormous obstacles in order to get where they are.

In the past, women had problems being taken seriously in the "man's world" of business. While we still have a way to go in the equality game, women have pretty much demonstrated that in the world of work, they can do just about anything a man can do.

But that's not enough any more, if it ever was. Now there's a whole new level to which women in the bidness world must aspire. Mere success is not enough. A truly successful and fulfilled bidness woman has to have... GLOW.

And just what is GLOW? The web site for the new Glow Project explains it all.

GLOW is a powerful word that is often used by women praising women who exude grace, confidence and strength. GLOW is unique in that, while it is invisible, women can see it, and while it can't be touched, women can feel it.
To spread the message of GLOW (which, more often than not, does indeed appear in all caps on the site), The Glow Project has created...yes, you guessed it... a powerful, inspiring and uplifting movie, in the grand tradition of The Secret, The Opus, The Meta-Secret, and numerous other offerings in the new genre of Hustledork Cinema. The big difference between The Glow Project movie and all those others is that this one features women only, which means, among other things, that Joe Vitale is not in it. And I suppose it wouldn't be entirely accurate to call it "Hustledork Cinema," because many of the women featured are not, strictly speaking, hustledorks (or hustledorkesses). Many have actually achieved something in the world besides producing a large body of self-promotional work.

Still, the format is very much like The Secret. And when you watch the trailer and listen to the opening narration by eWomen Network founder and CEO Sandra Yancey (who sounds and looks, quite frankly, as if she's punch-drunk on New-Wage Kool-Aid), you'll probably feel as if you're in awfully familiar territory.

It's not the Law of Attraction, it's not some miracle cure-all technique such as tapping, it's not some ancient secret recently "rediscovered" and poised to usher in a new era for humankind. But it's still a gimmick. It's... GLOW.

Click here to watch. But don't say I didn't warn you.

PS ~ My own RevRon just reminded me of another GLOW that predates this one by a couple of decades: Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Sylvester Stallone's mom Jackie was one of the main brains behind this franchise. (Here's more information.)


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

And now, back to our regularly scheduled snarping

First off, that last word in the title isn't a typo. I've decided that "snarp" is often a more accurate description than "snark" for what I do here. It is, as you might have guessed, a combo of "snark" and "snipe." At least that's my definition; other people have different ideas.

Anyhoo, I think that for the time being I've had enough of hurricanes and Angry Bloggers, so to take my mind and yours off of that stuff for a while, I thought I'd share a few snarpy snippets (or snippy snarps). (And I'm sorry if the fonts look weird; I can't figure out what happened. Everything I do to correct the situation just makes them look weirder.)

Lust Love Guru cleared of charges
Back in May I wrote a snippet about a so-called love & prosperity guru, Bijan Anjomi,
who was facing rape charges by two of his former followers. Those charges have now been dropped. The moment it became news that Bijan was in the clear, a person I'm guessing to be a Bijan fan wrote this comment to my blog:

May I add to the discussion that you seem to have based your comments on "observations" and "opinions" and "conclusions" based on your personal belief system which is that all new age coaches have false motives. This way of looking at the world, seeing male authority as evil, leads to that being the reality you see and present.

Bijan is beyond your belief system and he is human but he is also transparent. He and his wife do not hide their life and sincerely wish peace to all, including you, me, all the blog readers and the women who made the false accusations.

Because we are all One....this includes you, me, Bijan ........and all the other people who have committed sexual offenses or false accusations.......this is part of all of us and we are healing from this all together.

I hope it gives peace to all to know that these charges were dropped by the ladies involved.
I replied:
"May I add to the discussion that you seem to have based your comments on "observations" and 'opinions' and 'conclusions' based on your personal belief system which is that all new age coaches have false motives. This way of looking at the world, seeing male authority as evil, leads to that being the reality you see and present.

"Bijan is beyond your belief system and he is human but he is also transparent..."

Condescension duly noted, Anon, but if you think that *my* opinion about most New-Wage "coaches" is based merely upon a "belief system," particularly one that "sees all male authority as evil," then I would suggest that you have not been paying very close attention to this blog!

But then, you probably never did really make an effort to read anything here except the post and the comments about your god, Bijan. If the charges against him were false or exaggerated, then I agree that it was only just that they be dropped. However, none of this does anything to change my opinion about New-Wage coaches in general. Some are fine people, but there are many scammers, charlatans and sexual predators in the lot too. And even though the charges were withdrawn, I still wouldn't rule out the possibility that Bijan, like so many others, has indeed used his position of power to exploit some of his followers sexually, financially or both.

I did notice that the article said that even though the charges were withdrawn by a judge, there is a peace bond between Bijan and the two women who accused him. A peace bond, in Canadian law, is an order from a criminal court that restrains one person from bothering or threatening another. This could simply have been done to ensure that Bijan would not turn around and counter-sue. Then again, there could be something more to this story. As I said in an earlier comment, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Maybe I do have a "limited belief system." But it's the kind of "belief system" that keeps me from being taken advantage of in a hotel room by a slick-talking joker wearing nothing but a towel and a smile.
As for that "we all are one" rationale my correspondent used, Jody addressed it on the Guruphiliac blog, in a post aptly titled, "A 'Love Guru' Gets Off." He described the oneness-of-humanity concept in this context as "a meaningless interpretation of nondual truth in an attempt to skate...out of a tough spot." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Is it ACCESS...or are they just H.A.F.?*
Recently a commenter to my blog sent me links to a couple of YouTube offerings presented by the very silly ACCESS Energy Transformation cult, which I've snarked (and snarped) about on more than one occasion here.
First we have the two main"leaders" of ACCESS – former real estate agent Gary Douglas and former chiropractor Dain Heer – sharing their wisdom and expertise on childhood nutrition and ADHD, among other things. (Their expert advice? Let your kids eat anything they want, even the sugary junk food, and let 'em eat till they puke. That'll learn 'em not to eat stuff that's bad for 'em.) It's kind of disquieting to watch some of those parents and their kids in the audience...
Next we have this video, which is absolutely classic.

At one point on the clip an ACCESS devotee says, "It was something that I always observed, y'know, but could never really name."

That person's lack of ability to name "it" was, I assume, pre-ACCESS. However, it seems that post-ACCESS, people still can't seem to name "it," whatever "it" is. In fact, they seem to have a great deal of trouble expressing themselves verbally about anything at all – which, I suppose, is only fitting, since the ability to speak well requires at least a rudimentary ability to think, and ACCESS actively discourages thought.

The blond who appears towards the end of this vid is priceless; her vacuous facial expressions and equally vacuous attempts at verbalizing appear to be textbook symptoms of ACCESS indoctrination.

I realize that some folks who have read about ACCESS and/or have watched the promotional videos might be somewhat curious, perhaps in the way people are curious about car wrecks they pass on the road, about that special state of enlightened mindlessness these folks are babbling about. I think that to truly understand it, we need to turn once again to a lovely song that I know I just linked to recently, but it's so fitting that I feel obliged to do it again. I believe this guy 'splains it better than anyone else. (And by the way, why don't they sell porcupines on the Internet?

* H.A.F., If you don't already know, you can figure out what it stands for if you follow the link in the paragraph above.

It's because the Universe likes greed, Michael.
I'm on the mailing list of a New-Wage guru named Michael Mirdad, a third- or fourth-tier spiritual teacher who hasn't made it really big in the New-Wage world yet but is still out there trying. He's into everything from A Course In Miracles to Christ consciousness to Buddhism to sacred sex to prosperity. His persona leans much more towards that of the wise-but-humble master than the slick, materialistic hustledork, though I imagine he does a little elbow-rubbing with the hustledorks, merely by virtue of the fact that he often speaks at New Thought churches, which, let's face it, are hustledork magnets. In a recent newsletter he addressed the greed in today's spiritual teachers. Here's what he wrote, in part:
As I hope you have noticed by now, it's rare indeed to hear me spend time on such worldly issues as politics, the economy, and monetary gain. Nevertheless, after much deliberation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts about something, namely the huge emphasis within "popular" New Age thought over the last year or two on people learning to "get more of what they want" from life-particularly when it comes to money and material possessions.

I can't help but notice that Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, and numerous other masters forgot to tell us this newly discovered "prerequisite for enlightenment." How is it that the ancient masters failed to tell us what so many New Thought teachers and authors are now commonly addressing? These modern teachers tell us to use the creative power within our minds to get more "stuff." Instead, the masters of old taught that we should practice getting rid of our "stuff." This should make us wonder if the teachers of old were missing something or if today's teachers have perhaps fallen prey to the lord of this world-greed. Of course their greed is disguised as "creating your reality." But, who do you think is giving them the finances for the material possessions they are "creating"? It's you, the spiritual student! Don't get me wrong, I agree that we should all be abundant, but why do spiritual teachers (or anyone, for that matter) need several cars, houses, and boats, while failing to be equally okay giving such possessions to others in need?
Actually, Michael kind of overlooks the current trend of what I like to call "conspicuous altruism," wherein various New-Wage gurus and hustledorks work earnestly – in between car-shopping and mansion-hunting – to look as if they're trying to make a difference in the world by distributing copies of The Secret to third-world countries, or by vowing to end poverty or homelessness in our lifetime, or whatever. I'm not making the claim that all of this altruism is mere posturing. But it does seem that many of these enlightened do-gooders are in it for the ego rush and the publicity as much as anything else, and it appears that some of their programs are mainly about making yet more money for themselves and a few cronies. Well, that's a topic for another blog post (coming soon).

Mirdad continues:
Once the movie The Secret (which was great) made it so big, too many teachers and authors jumped on the bandwagon writing books, making more movies, and creating seminars, in effect telling people how important it is to get more from life. Sadly, it's rare for any of these same teachers and authors to allow those who have little or no money to attend for free-mainly because such folks who have no money can't help to supply these teachers with another boat payment.

I recently saw an interview with one of these teachers/authors. Asked how he was doing, he replied by stating that he had just paid cash for a new house, as though this is the measure of one's state of being. Instead, imagine answering such a question as "How are you doing?" by the measure of how much you are able to give to others.
Once again he's overlooking that conspicuous-altruism trend, which at least pays lip service to the value of giving; nevertheless, his point is well-taken (except for the bit about The Secret being "great").

But here's the part that really made me pay attention:
Also, I recently heard from the coordinator of a popular spiritual conference that she was having difficulty getting speakers to attend her next event because most have followed the trend of asking for $15,000-$25,000 per hour for their time, which they usually want to have paid in advance. This seems absurd to me! While teaching and speaking at conferences for over 25 years, I have met all of the well-known teachers and authors (many of whom are friends and colleagues) and have not found one that has wisdom worth $25,000 dollars per hour. In fact, I personally find that many of my students have more sincerity and as much wisdom as the most popular of these teachers and authors.

It seems acceptable even for students of spirituality to complain about the profits the government makes on our taxes or the oil tycoons make on fuel or large corporations give to pad the lives of their CEO's, but nobody bothers to notice the greed of modern spiritual teachers. Buddha laughed at the likes of these individuals; Jesus rebuked them and referred to them as blind guides and hypocrites. Furthermore, neither Buddha nor Jesus ever charged a dime for their teachings, which by the way, far surpass the teachings of any of today's authors...
If the fees currently charged by Secret stars such as Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale are any indication, the events coordinator that Mirdad quoted was spot-on. Joe's current fees for speaking are $25,000.00 an hour for domestic events and $35,000.00 an hour for international events, plus first-class travel for two and hotel accommodations in a suite. James Arthur Ray, another Secret star, charges from $30,000.00 to $75,000.00 for keynote speaking, depending upon the length of the presentation, distance to venue and other factors. Travel and other expenses are extra.
Mars-and-Venus author "Dr." John Gray's keynote fees range from $50,000.00 to $75,000.00, according to a speakers' bureau that represents him. Some speakers such as Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield, who was also in The Secret, don't even list their fees; the various speakers' bureaus that represent them just say, "Call for fees."

I hasten to add, however, that the amounts listed above actually fall well within the accepted current range for "celebrity keynote speakers," and some of the bigger names in the selfish-help world charge $100,000 and more for a keynote speech. (And real celebrities, such as actors and top athletes and such, charge $200,000 and more.) So you might say that some of the spiritual "teachers" are charging bargain-basement prices, relatively speaking, for their keynotes. Still, it's all quite a bit more than Jesus and Buddha charged for their stuff. And perhaps the whole keynote-speaking price structure could be looked upon as yet another reflection of our culture's misplaced priorities, particularly when real teachers – you know, those dedicated women and men who work in our schools – are generally so underpaid and under-valued.

Gosh darn it, I'm sounding moralistic again. Sorry.

As for another point that Michael Mirdad addressed, the ancient spiritual masters' views on wealth, there's no shortage of rationalization among the New-Wage "leaders" about that. On more than one occasion, Mr. Fire (to give but one example) has defended his own brand of spiritual materialism as being right in sync with the teachings of Buddha. In a fairly recent blog post he mentioned a book he'd been reading.
The Buddha’s Teachings on Prosperity at Home, at Work, in the World by Bhikku Basnagoda Rahula. What a great book! I’m relieved to see someone show that Buddha was not against wealth or success. He instead wanted you to be wealthy so you could help yourself, your family, and your community. That’s exactly what I say is the best reason to get rich. I never knew Buddha agreed with me. Anyway, this is an insightful, practical book that I keep returning to. Get it. Make it your devotional reading for a while. Rich stuff.
Prosperity Buddhism is to the New Wage as Prosperity Christianity is to the Born-Again camp. And I'm sure Buddha would be pleased and proud to know that Mr. Fire just bought himself yet another car, a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom, auto of choice for sheiks and tycoons. Prices start at $340,000.00 US. He offers this latest purchase as further proof that his "Attract A New Car" program really works.

Anyway, Michael Mirdad admits that he too charges for his services, products and workshops, but says that in the more than twenty-five years he's been in the biz, he and his staff
"have NEVER turned away a student who couldn't afford our workshops or sessions – that is, as long as that student or client was sincere about learning or healing." He added:
At our recent mastery intensive, our attendees were surprised to see that such a large portion of their fee was spent on workshop supplies, guest facilitators, and on beautifying the property for their further enjoyment. In other words, we directly gave back to those who gave to us. We see this as a win-win scenario, rather than being one person benefiting from what they take from others.
In all fairness I should say that judging by what I've seen and heard, some gurus and leaders, including Mr. Fire, do occasionally make exceptions for people who can't afford their workshops or other events. But Mirdad's main point seems to be that when it comes to keynote speaking engagements (as opposed to seminars and workshops and such), most of these folks are waaaay overpriced in the first place. Even realizing that concepts such as "overpriced" and "affordable" are generally subjective judgments, and even being aware of the keynote-speaking price tier, I am still left with one thought: Holy crap, $35,000.00 an hour?!?

I gotta find me a scam. (So, okay, that's two thoughts.)

Contents of magical briefcase revealed!
Speaking of scams, on several occasions I've mentioned the magical mystery briefcase you get when you shell out the nearly two thousand US dollars required to join "Scientist" Bob Proctor's famous Science of Getting Rich Program, in which he partners with two fellow Secret hustlers, the aforementioned Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield and the Reverend Michael "Zormak" Beckwith. But just what is in that briefcase?

Well, here's a clip that reveals everything.

And as a special bonus for my faithful readers, here's Scientist Bob himself unzipping it and showing it all. (I promise this is not as disgusting as I made it sound.)

The take-away lesson from Bob's show-and-tell: "The main thing is to keep The Main Thing the main thing." It is this thought (along with that briefcase, of course) that is supposed to hold the key to making millions of dollars.

Look, I know we're supposed to respect our elders and all of that stuff. But can someone please explain to me WTF so many people see in this guy?

Apparently enough people see enough in him that he has sufficient resources for yet another sea cruise this year (I wrote about last year's cruise here). This year's theme is all about prospering in the changing economy. Here's a link to the speaker list.
They probably won't be giving briefcases away on this one. I'm sure they're way past briefcases now. (Perhaps miracle steamer trunks, a la Joe Versus The Volcano...?)

DNA activation really works: scientifical proof!
Among the conspicuously enlightened, many of whom like to pretend they are highly trained scientists, DNA is a really, really big thing. Some of these folks can barely spell DNA and aren't even sure exactly what the initials stand for, say nothing of what DNA actually is; nevertheless, many of them either sell or promote various techniques, products or gimmicks that aid you in reprogramming your DNA in order to achieve wealth, health and happiness, and/or to raise your vibrational level. Naturally, I have made fun of this, and so, as it happens, has my pal HHH in the UK.

But HHH had a humbling lesson recently, and he wrote to me about it.
I felt I should check out Gregg Braden's work before casually dismissing it, and boy am I glad I did. Gregg says that our maintaining a positive state of wellbeing can activate the hidden divine code within our DNA. So, both before and after a period of intensive prayer and offering of gratitude to the all spirit, plus a bit of chanting and wotnot, I had my DNA tested. I know technical stuff like DNA analysis bamboozles less cutting edge people, but I'm sure anyone can see the hidden code in my DNA. Find attached the highly scientifimicological diagram of my DNA, before and after activation.

[Note: Click on graphic to view it full size.]

Wow. I too am a believer now. Thanks, HHH!

Another brain destroyed by The Secret
Speaking of The Secret, a dear friend of mine who at one time was kind of a Secret fan sent me an email recently about a pal of his who had been introduced to The Secret around the same time as he.
I had a real sad eye opener re “self help.” My friend who watched The Secret about the same time I did has gone off the deep end. He quit his nice easy PhD. job, cashed in his retirement, went to Mexico to live with his Internet bride, made $0 in 6 months while launching his breakthrough website; had to beg borrow and steal to get back to the US; hasn’t paid child support in months (but has managed to learn all the secrets of the ever expanding universe). [He] met some “prophet” (read: down and out retired PhD) in the Caribbean and they are starting an “online university” to revitalize and reinvigorate the universe.

All of a sudden “Democracy” and the US government are evil incarnate (OK, so a lot of folks say that, but guess where he came when he finally
bottomed out and needed $$?) [Other beliefs and stuff he's into]: Extraterrestrials “seeded” Terra Firma and spoke through Ra, god of Egypt...worldwide alignment of the Pyramids…Rothschild banking conspiracyBilderbergs…the Trilateral CommissionIlluminati…Bush, etc. A handful of people control everything that the other 6 billion of us do on a daily basis…

It was really sad to see this guy go from slightly eccentric to full blown wacko, and he’s all about Proctor, Hicks, etc. “The Secret was just an introduction to the truth as it is being revealed to the universe…BTW have you ever noticed how some humans look like space aliens?"

ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!! That’s me losing what’s left of my flipping mind.
Granted, my friend liked The Secret, and its inspirational message seems to have helped him through some rough spots he was experiencing at the time. So I know that some might point out that because The Secret apparently was somewhat helpful to him, I could just as easily have titled this snippet, "Another life enriched by The Secret." But The Secret was just one of several factors in his life at that time. In the end it was his own hard work and determination that really made the difference. He didn't just sit around and wait for the Universe Genie to deliver good things to him. (And when he decided to go back to school to get his Ph.D., he went to an accredited university to get a real Ph.D., rather than one of those Faux-h.D.'s that are so favored by New-Wage "leaders.")

I also know that some might argue that had it not been for The Secret, my friend's buddy would probably have found some other road map to lunacy. And that may be true, especially in light of all of those conspiracy theories floating around. But the fact remains that in this case, it was The Secret that provided the "inspiration" for this guy to turn his back on his life and on people who were counting on him.
That's it for now, snippet-wise. I leave you with another song that I just can't get out of my head (thanks to Shaza). This is an old one by Phish. The video part leaves a bit to be desired, but this is the studio recording of the song, which is far superior to the live-concert version that can also be found on YouTube. For some inexplicable reason this song was going through my head all through Hurricane Ike and during the power outage afterward. And even though I was sick of hearing it in my head, it was the first thing I played on my computer once the power came back on. Thankfully, I wasn't actually wading in a sea of any kind during or after Ike's visit, but unfortunately, many people were.

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