Friday, August 13, 2010

Council or Cartel? You decide

Dear Ones, I apologize for not blogging for a couple of weeks. (Did you miss me?) I've had this post in the hopper for at least two weeks and decided I might as well finish and publish it before it becomes even more long and meandering than it already is. (If some of it looks familiar, it's because I borrowed a few passages from comments I'd previously made on Salty Droid's blog. I've also written about some of this stuff in earlier blog posts.)

As you may know, late last month the exclusive New-Wage guru club, the
Transformational Leadership, aka the TLC, wrapped up its semi-annual meeting and sent its attending members back on their respective merry ways, presumably refreshed and renewed and primed to help each other sell millions of dollars worth of new products and events. The TLC has been described by some as the, I mean the Bilderberg Group for the leading lights in the personal-growth industry.

As is the case with most excloooosive orgs, TLC's Top-Seekrit meetings are always held in posh and trendy spots; the recently adjourned gathering was in Santa Fe, in the Land of Enchantment. TLC also holds a meeting every January, generally around the time of Cosmic Connie Day (I'm honored and humbled); this past January it was in Puerto Rico. The July meetings, interestingly enough, are held very close to Whirled Musings Day (once again, I am humbled and honored).

What goes on at a TLC meeting? Oh, the usual: naked pagan rituals that include old men dancing nude and urinating on trees in old-growth forests; simulated human sacrifices; the porking of young male prostitutes... no, wait. That's Bohemian Grove, the summer camp for conservative politicians and other filthy-rich power brokers. My mistake.

The truth is that few folks outside of the members and those very close to them know what goes on at a TLC meeting because, hey, it's Top Seekrit. Although the occasional underground video gets leaked (see the bit below about New-Wage torture), it's very hush-hush for the most part. Well, except for all the tweeting and blogging by those who can't get over themselves for being TLC members (again, see below). And then there are those who don't seem to be listed as members but get to experience a meeting anyway, as did Soulwave Institute founder Katie Darling, who wrote about speaking at a Mexico TLC gathering in January 2006. (This was just before The Secret really hit, which is why there's no mention of it in the post. There is, however, a mention of the Victoria's Secret catalog and its possible role in getting Katie to the TLC.)

A little history...
You can skip over this part if you already know it; you won't hurt my feelings.
It's merely a rudimentary review of the Transformational Leadership Council's history and some of its esteemed members. The TLC was formed in 2004 by Jack Canfield, perhaps best known for his hand in the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, also fairly well known for being a motivational coach, later very well known for being in The Secret, and perhaps less known for being a New-Wage Daddy Dearest. Damn, I don't know what happened with that font sizing. Blogger must be acting up again.

What was to become the TLC initially convened at Jack's home in Santa Barbara, California; the second meeting was at the Mendocino County ranch of John "Mars and Venus" Gray, (who is also mentioned in this article) and it just took off from there. Since that time the group has met twice a year, in January and July. Membership has grown steadily but is by invitation only, meaning that one has to be nominated by a TLC member and voted in (or not).

In the summer of 2005, at the TLC meeting in Aspen, Colorado, an Aussie TV producer named Rhonda Byrne descended upon the gathering and conducted a series of interviews that became the foundation of The Secret. Almost all of the speakers featured in her famous moviemercial are TLC members, though not all who were interviewed were enamored of the project, especially as they learned more about it (e.g., Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks).
James Arthur "Death" Ray was of course one of the luminaries in the film and, more relevant to the topic of this post, he was one of the founding members of the TLC, though his name was removed from their web site a couple of weeks after Sweatgate happened. I still don't know whether he was officially ousted or was just temporarily removed from "member in good standing" status pending the outcome of his manslaughter trial (whenever that may be).

Bill Harris, now known as much for threatening his critics as he is for his pricey Holosync scheme, is also a founding member of TLC and, notwithstanding his bad behavior regarding said critics, is still listed on the TLC site. For you nostalgic types, here's a blog post about Billy from none other than James Ray, written in the happier days of the summer of 2006, when The Secret had just taken wing and was soaring to giddy heights.
I just wanted to give you a quick "heads up" about an incredible opportunity to meet with me and a good friend of mine.
As you may know, I'm a member of an amazing mastermind group of some of the most influential leaders in personal and spiritual development called the Transformational Leadership Council. Many of whom contributed to the movie The Secret with me.
Well, my good friend, Bill Harris (founder of Centerpointe Research Institute and creator of Holosync Audio Technology) is also a member of the TLC.
Our next TLC meeting is going to be held near Vancouver, BC, and Bill has decided to do something special for his local friends, readers and clients (and he has graciously allowed me to invite you as well)...
It's called "An Evening With Bill with Special Guest James Arthur Ray."
...By the way, when Bill and I get together, it's... well... it's just electric. The excitement and energy literally pulsates throughout the room. If you've heard any of our previous interviews, you know what I mean. It often ends up being like point/counter point, and it always promises to be fun and informative...
But that was then, and this is now. Still, despite Death Ray's troubles and his being bumped from the TLC rolls, apparently he and Billy got married, as announced earlier this year on Salty Droid's blog. Isn't it romantic?
Two others listed as founding members of TLC are Marcia Martin, who is a co-founder of est, which later morphed into The Forum and then into The Landmark Forum; and Belgian Feng Shui expert Marie Diamond, aka Marie Vyncke, one of the lesser known Secret stars. Marie was later the target of a lawsuit involving her failure to deliver more than fifty thousand dollars' worth of copies of The Secret (a lawsuit that she apparently lost), but it must not have been a very serious matter because her name remains on the TLC rolls.

And speaking of The Secret, if I remember correctly Rhonda Byrne was also listed at one time as a TLC member, but her name is not on the list now and apparently hasn't been for a long time. Could it be because of all those legal troubles that revealed a greed too blatant even for the usual New-Wage love-and-lightwashing? No matter; her absence from the TLC members list online hasn't stopped at least some TLC'ers (specifically, those who were stars of The Secret) from promoting her new book, The Power, which has been steadily climbing the bestseller lists even though it hasn't even been released yet. Lawsuits or not, the "teachers" in The Secret, even those who aren't in the TLC and probably never will be, are still getting mucho mileage out of their part in that franchise. And, as many of you may recall, TLC founder Jack Canfield wrote the blurb for Rhonda when Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people of 2007. He marveled at Rhonda's perpetual state of childlike bliss as The Secret project progressed:
Even when she ran out of film, when the money to complete the next phase of the project hadn't yet materialized or when her original TV distribution deal fell through, to her it was always "perfect." She radiated a confidence and a trust that it was all being handled perfectly by the universe. Obstacles that would defeat most people didn't seem to daunt her. She just kept moving forward in joyous faith that it would all work out. What I didn't realize at the time was that the way she was living her life and approaching her work was teaching me even more about how to live in harmony with her Law of Attraction than her movie or book.
Her Law of Attraction? Hmmm.

According to an article in The Australian magazine, Jack also spoke up for Rhonda when her legal troubles started coming to light in 2008:
Unfortunately, the teachers from the film who were contacted by this magazine were reluctant to discuss the current litigation, including Rhonda Byrne herself, who declined repeated requests for comment. The one exception was Jack Canfield, “America’s #1 Success Coach”, who believes that the bad publicity generated by the lawsuits is merely a “blip” in the relentless global spread of The Secret.
Like all of those who appeared in the film – except Esther Hicks – Canfield received no payment, but says he has benefited many times over from the exposure. And Byrne, he says, has since donated $400,000 to the Transformational Leadership Council he runs with several teachers from the film. “I think all of us … thought that was a generous amount,” he says.
So did TLC oust Rhonda despite her generosity, or is the absence of her name from the site an error? Or is she not officially a member but just an extraordinarily supportive friend? I've been Googling here and there but keep running into brick walls. Maybe someone less lazy and more determined than I am could find out for certain.

Another match made in hustledork heaven
Despite all that has happened with the stars of The Secret, and notwithstanding the rising tide of criticism of their industry, the members of the TLC are apparently still laboring hard to convince themselves and everyone else that they are part of a very special group that is striving to elevate humanity. If only humanity would quit resisting, snarking, criticizing, or — most nervy of all —
getting injured or croaking under their tutelage.
Last summer the TLC gang gathered in Bermuda, and I blogged about that meeting on July 26, 2009.

This was the day after
Colleen Conaway had met her tragic end at a James Ray event in San Diego, and James and his top people covered it up, although at that time I knew nothing of this tragedy. Sweatgate was still two and a half months in the future. (I'm probably far from the only person who longs for a Quantum Leap type scenario in which we could go back in time and stop it from happening....)

Though he was still a member at the time, James was not at that summer 2009 TLC meeting in Bermuda, because, of course, he was busy destroying lives in San Diego. Regarding his alleged ousting from the TLC, it isn't surprising that there have been no public statements from the organization one way or the other, since the Cartel is, after all, a Seekrit Club, and they don't go broadcasting their stuff. However, as noted above, some of their members do love to blog and tweet about how exclusive the whole thing is and how proud they are to be a part of it.

Case in point: Steve Pavlina, aka Pervlina, who, as he did last year, once again boasted at length in his falsely modest way about what an honor it is to be a member of the TLC. What he both loves and hates about the TLC, he says, is that everyone there is so darned authentic. They have all the dirt on him — his D/s activities, his bankruptcy, his felonious past, and so on — and by golly, they still love him, or so he claims.

He particularly seems enamored of Joe Vitale, writing:

Joe and I have something in common in that we are both content machines. He’s authored 52 books, for instance, and he’s constantly giving birth to new products. I haven’t been working in this field as long as he has, but I’ve authored a respectable 1000 articles in less than 6 years, which is enough to fill about 25 books… not to mention getting one actual book published as well.
By the way, Steve's book was published by none other than Hay House, New-Wage dowager queen Louise Hay's baby. Even Joe, with all of his 52-and-counting books, hasn't achieved that yet, though he has implied that he would like to be a Hay House author like his friends Jerry and Esther Hicks and their imaginary friend collective, Abraham. Joe really admires Louise, though he was surprised she hadn't heard much about him when he visited her a couple of years ago and gifted her with his works. (I'm thinking that if he can't get a good deal through her traditional publishing arm, Hay House, maybe he can self-publish through her recently-launched Balboa Press.)

But I digress. Pervlina adored what Joe had to say about inspiration during his talk to the TLC. Gushed Steve, “He was simply brilliant.” Apparently Joe's sweetie Nerissa shot a video of this bril presentation, which Joe posted in six parts on his blog. It provides a little insight about the TLC meeting; f'rinstance, judging from the banner behind Joe's head, it seems that the theme for this summer's gathering was "The Excellence Effect." Wow, excellence: shades of 1980s Corporate America hustledorkdom. Tom Peters, where are you?

Anyway, here's a link to Part 1 of Joe's talk, which appears to be built around a form of New-Wage torture known as whiteboarding. This is a devious technique whereby the torturer scribbles a bunch of crap on a whiteboard (alternatively a flip-chart pad) or, as in this case, convinces a couple of volunteers to do the scribbling for him or her. Notice in this one how Joe is hypnotically trying to undress the female volunteer with only the power of his mighty mind, causing her to continually tug at her gauze frock to keep it from slipping down. I didn't watch long enough to see who won, Joe or the frock. I find that I don't really care all that much.

Whiteboarding is insidious because it causes the torturer's captive audience to be temporarily overcome by the sense that they are drowning in profundity and wisdom, when in fact all that is happening is that their brain cells are being whited out, one by one. In this case, as I discovered by skipping ahead to watch the last few minutes of Part 6, the talk ended with Joe's whiteboard wiped clean of words and rendered as empty as a New-Wage follower's mind is supposed to be in preparation for being invaded by the Divine (near as I can understand it, anyway).

The whiteboard shtick seems to be pretty much the same thing that Joe has used in the past, on more than one occasion, I'm guessing. Hey, if you have a spiel that works, why not use it again and again? Comedians do, after all. It's all entertainment. Anyhow, here's what the August 12 entry on the Mr. Fire's Pyre blog says:
I saw Joe Vitale speak about ho'oponopono about 4 years ago back before his book Zero Limits was written. He did this exercise where he had people brainstorm up all of these ideas on a white board and then he told us that none of that stuff ever matters because what really matters is inspiration and going back to a clean whiteboard.

Then he said that he didn't know what he was going to talk about that day, it was going to come from inspiration.

Indeed, Mr. Fire seems to really like whiteboards, and once he even invented something called Divine Whiteboard Meditation. Of course Joe is not the only New-Wage speaker who loves to scribble on whiteboards and flip-chart pads. His good buddy James Ray, to name just one random example that simply popped into my head unbidden, did a fair amount of stage scribbling too, back when he was allowed to have public events. If there's any justice in the world, those days are over, but you never know.

Recycled shtick or not, Joe's TLC talk really inspired Pervlina, who wrote that he quickly got the idea to perform a 30-day trial of "acting on inspiration whenever it hits me, whether it has to do with content creation or some other idea." The very same day he heard Joe's talk, Steve was in his hotel room around 8 PM, and a stray thought popped into his head: why not put an auction off a 60-minute consultation on eBay?

At first he considered putting the idea on the back burner till he got back home to Vegas the following week. But then he stopped and smacked himself, possibly enjoying the rare opportunity to be both D and s simultaneously (or perhaps more accurately, S and M), and he decided he needed to catch the wave now and not let it pass.

So, no doubt still atingle from that sound self-smacking, he dove into action and reactivated an old eBay account. He wrote a quickie blog post, which also fed to his Twitter and Facebook pages, about the hot new auction item. "Imagine that," he wrote. "Less than an hour after getting the idea, it was already up and running." A few minutes after the posting, he was Skyping about it with ex-wife Erin, who said she loved the idea. "Beats the hell out of that old polyamory scheme of yours, anyway," she said. (Oh, not really. That was uncalled for. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.) 

Anyway, Erin checked the auction and informed him that the item was already up to $51.00. By Steve's bed time it had reached $132.50, by the next morning it was $425.00, and as the day progressed it hit $1,000.00. "There are still 3 days left till the auction closes," wrote Steve on his July 27 post. "I can't predict where it will end up."

The important lesson concerned riding the waves of inspiration as they come rolling in, which, Steve warned, he fully intended to do.
In any event, you may see some rather erratic behavior from me in the coming weeks. I’m extending this trial across all areas of my life, both personally and professionally. It’s a 24/7 commitment with no breaks except those that occur naturally as the inspirational waves ebb.
He shared the exciting news about his auction with several other TLC'ers, including his fellow content machine Joe Vitale. He whipped them all into a lather about the idea, and Joe was apparently so overwrought that he was inspired to tweet about it: "Sparked by my talk yesterday, he took action: 60-minute consult w Steve Pavlina" (and Joe provided a link to the auction page). Steve wrote that throughout the rest of the conference people would check in with him to see how the auction was going. "I think they were just as curious as I was," he wrote, meaning that more than likely the light bulb$ had blinked on in their own heads. 

But alas, spoilsport eBay soon removed the posting. In a blog post titillatingly titled "Spanked by eBay" (he is nothing if not thematically consistent), Steve explained the situation. Still, he seemed undeterred from his 30-day, 24/7 inspiration experiment.

Don't blame the Universe
New-Wage gurus do love to go on about acting on "inspiration" at the moment it hits you, rather than waiting to act, because, after all, the Universe loves greed... I mean, speed. The gurus are basically preaching and teaching impulse buying, which of course helps line their pockets, but they generally frame it as advice to be open to messages from Spirit or God or the Universe or what have you. Apropos of that, ethics columnist Randy Cohen recently wrote, "...when you hear a voice that says it's the universe speaking, a bit of skepticism is appropriate. It may well be a crank call from your self-interest." (
Here's a link; the quotation is in the answer to the second question.) Of course many a New-Wage narcissist would not make any distinction at all between the Universe and one's own yearning self, so Mr. Cohen's point is probably moot for them.

I don't believe I am the only one who thinks that any talk about being in a state of "inspiration" 24/7, even for a 30-day trial period, is just as bogus as the implication that it is possible to live in a state of complete "wakefulness" if you follow the advice on a product that the person making that claim just happens to be selling. You can be completely "awake" or "inspired" for brief periods, perhaps. Over the long haul, you can be "awake" in some areas of your life and dead to the world in others. (Why, you can even market entire courses purporting to teach people how to be "Awakened," including a product about The Awakened Relationship... and still be apparently asleep at the wheel when there is major discontent brewing under your very nose. Or, alternatively, totally awake but just focused more on money than on love. I'm just sayin'. (And here's a small visual, by the way.))

Regarding "inspiration" in the sense that I think Pervlina is talking about it, I doubt that it is possible to live in that state on a continued, non-stop basis for any appreciable length of time, and still function in this world, no matter what the gurus tell you, though I suppose it is possible to convince yourself that you are doing so. Somewhat related to this, a friend of mine turned me on to the very interesting You Are Not So Smart blog, which pokes a hole in some of our favorite delusions.

But let's get back to the Cartel before I get too sidetracked.

More wisdom from the content machine
Pervlina’s "Inspirational Week" blog post about the TLC is full of numerous other gems. For example, he 'splains the exclusivity of the Cartel gatherings by noting: “One of the most important elements is that we do this away from the public eye, sans fans and critics alike, so we can keep the energy very positive and loving but also honest and real.”

I'm sure that some of the bidness deals that are struck there are quite real, anyway. We can be pretty certain that attendees trade frauduct ideas along with their hugs, laughter, and tears. Pass me that joint venture, my friend, and I'll take a deep hit and pass it on. In his review of the new Julia Roberts movie Eat Pray Love, Houston Chronicle film reviewer Mick LaSalle made an observation about the rather contrived nature of the spiritual quest that forms the basis of the story: "Thinly veiled in Eastern robes, Eat Pray Love is the ultimate American success story, in which every warm human contact becomes grist for commerce." That could easily be said about the TLC as well, and for that matter, about many of the personal interactions that occur in the New-Wage/McSpirituality industry.

But I cannot help wondering if damage control has been a topic at all since Sweatgate happened, or if the ethics of the New-Wage way of doing business are seriously discussed, or are these issues just ignored? I'd welcome insights about this from anyone inside or outside the TLC.

Another amusing bit was Steve's observation about the motives of his fellow TLC members.
I can’t say I’ve encountered anyone there who does this kind of work for the money. If such a person exists, I’ve never met him/her. Even the ones who teach about wealth and abundance seem to be primarily motivated by the love of the work and the desire to contribute. The truth is that it breaks their hearts when they see people suffering from lack, and they want to do what they can to alleviate suffering and spread more happiness and abundance.
I think if you got to know the people behind the scenes as I have, you’d feel immensely grateful for them. Even when they’re dealing with major personal and professional challenges, they just keep giving, giving, giving. Maybe their contributions aren’t perfect, but they do the best they can.
Oh, yeah, I'm sure they do. By the way, in this post Steve makes a passing (or perhaps passive-aggressive) mention of Tony Robbins' now-failed "reality" TV show. Tony is arguably the most successful "name" in the industry, and is notably absent from the TLC roles. Was he not invited, or simply not interested? Deep Pockets Chopra isn't there either. Numerous other big names seem to be missing as well.

Have you driven a Ford lately?
Speaking of Mr. Fire, he's another one who likes to name-drop TLC. While all of us critics and haters and losers were still hanging out in the Salt mines jawing about the World Cupple (
Joe+Pat), Joe himself was being charmed and bedazzled at the TLC gathering, and was, least in his own mind, being equally charming and bedazzling. He has long professed to be an admirer of Chopra protege Debbie Ford, author of numerous books about topics such as the Shadow Self.* He seems to have a major crush on her, and you can hardly blame him because she is pretty darn cute. But now it has come to light, so to speak, that the Shadow Queen admires him too. Writes Joe:
I loved relaxing with her, talking, sharing, and playing. When we met, she looked at me and said, “You’re gorgeous.” As if that compliment could be topped, one of the most flattering moments is when she said she wanted to co-lead a workshop with me.
Imagine how this feels: a great teacher I’ve studied wants to share the stage with me. (!)
I keep telling people that as long as you keep working on yourself, your life will blossom. Teachers I’ve studied years ago when I was broke, are now partners, peers and pals of mine. Many of them are in TLC.
Do I even have to tell you that the words "keep working on yourself" link to Joe's Miracles Coaching scheme? And do I even have to mention that in Joe's case, "working on yourself" has meant, for the most part, aggressively working the hustledork/Internet Marketing circle jerk?

In any case it's clear that he is seriously kissing up to Debbie Ford, because there's a picture of the two of them together, and that pic links to...get this...Debbie's site. This would be NBD except for the fact that there are two other photos in the same post, and they link, as do the vast majority of pics on his blog, to Joe's Extract Money Now book site – which in turn is little more than a promotional piece for the "Mormon boiler room" (as Salty Droid would put it) that Joe's House o'Miracles-Coaching has become. Speaking of that, here's a link to the tale of one person's interesting experience with Joe's Miracles Coaching. I have a feeling we'll be reading a lot more about this stuff soon.

Given Joe's past history of accuracy, you have to wonder how the exchanges with Debbie Ford at the Cartel meeting really went down. I imagine that in many cases, "I'd love to do a workshop with you" is the h-dork equivalent of "Let's do lunch some time." I'm thinking that the Shadow Queen may yet regret the friendly overtures she made to Mr. Fire at the TLC gathering, much as, according to a rumor I once heard, she regretted tossing him a crumb of praise during a private conversation in the past.

But even if she does end up ruing the day she ever allegedly told him he was gorgeous, I imagine no real harm will be done. After all, the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality industry is an easy-come, easy-go world of "friendships" and alliances that can turn on a dime, or, more accurately, on the promise of a lucrative joint-venture deal or the agreement to share a few hundred thousand mailing list names. Point being that if the James Ray debacles could be swept under the TLC rug so easily, as they apparently have been... and if someone like Bill Harris is still a member in good standing at TLC, for gosh sakes... anything else can be swept away as well. Hugs, tears, intimate sharing at the clandestine confabs...and then it's off to the next scheme. Business as usual.**

It is indeed a magic circle jerk, and the circle remains essentially unbroken despite the calamities that have hit the industry over the past year. The real purpose of the TLC's existence couldn't be more clearly expressed than it is on the blurb on their web site:
The Transformational Leadership Council was founded so leaders of personal and organizational transformation could support each other in their contributions to the world.

Sounds like a cartel to me! But at least the TLC'ers aren't running around pissing on redwoods or dallying with for-hire gay boy-toys.
Well, at least not that I know of.

PS ~ Speaking of cartels (or syndicates, if you will), The Salty Droid really nailed it in his August 12 post, illuminating not only the business models employed in Internet marketing but also in the frequently-overlapping "transformational" racket.

* One of my own critics advised me last year that I need to own up to the darkness in myself and that reading Debbie Ford's books would be helpful in this regard. This person was obviously unaware that I claim and actually like my shadow self. Or at least I like my shadow, particularly when it looms large on the moonlit wall at night, like an Amazonian Cosmic Connie. Those giant cat shadows that sometimes sneak up behind the big CC are kind of unnerving, though.

** 23 August 2010: Those of you who have been following this post from the time I first published it may notice that I have deleted a brief passage about Julia Rogers Hamrick's book, Choosing Easy World. I can see how people reading the original passage might have thought that the mention of the book in this context was an implication that Ms. Hamrick is a TLC member. At the very least it was an implication that she is peripherally part of the "circle jerk" the post reviles. After conversations with Julia's husband Rick, whose comments appear in the discussion section of this post, I believe it is possible that I have unfairly painted her and her work with my "broad brush strokes," and I think she and Rick deserve better than this. For the record, Ms. Hamrick is not a TLC member at this time, and, whatever one might think about the concept of "Easy World," this author does not appear to be in the same sorry league as many of my snark targets. For further discussion about all of this, hurry on over to the "Comments" section.

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Duff said...

A very enjoyable post, Connie. Thanks for this.

I wasn't aware of Pervlina's latest posts because I unsubscribed after I simply couldn't stand reading it anymore. I found this telling though:

What you may not realize is that these people question everything they do. They question whether they should use certain Internet marketing techniques, or if the methods would be manipulative. They wonder about how they can help more people. They wonder how they can be more impactful on each person they connect with. They wonder about what to work on in themselves so that they may become better teachers.

For all the criticism they receive, they are their own harshest critics. If their critics actually knew the personal standards these people hold themselves to, it would make those critics cringe and say, “Whoa… go easy on yourself.”

I have no doubt that the "teachers" of the TLC are harder on themselves than their critics--we are downright nice! I doubt that Mr. Vitale whom Pervlina adores questions whether his marketing tactics are unethical or not though considering his $7500 ride in a leased vehicle.

Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for your comment, Duff. As always, I appreciate your support. Although I didn't quote it in my post, I too found the passage you cited to be pretty revealing. I am sure that on an individual basis some of the members of the TLC question the propriety or the ethics of some business strategies. I do wonder, however, if ethics is (are?) actually an "official" topic of discussion at TLC gatherings.

While I have no way of knowing for certain, I imagine it has been many years since Joe has seriously questioned the ethics of what he's doing. You might have seen how he responded when ABC's Dan Harris asked him if he, Joe, ever woke up at night with the thought that he was "getting away with something." Joe of course said no. He said he feels he is helping people.

I know I've brought up the old Three Amigos briefcase scam many times before but I find it a truly classic example of overpriced New-Wage gimmicks that sucked a lot of folks in before they woke up. The scam in question, an affiliate program that cost $1,997 to join, was a joint venture among Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, and Michael Beckwith. It was such a blatant money grab that even some ardent fans of The Secret were dissing it, Rhonda's organization felt the need to publicly disavow it, and Oprah herself was apparently none too pleased. Early on, Beckwith withdrew from the project, leading some to speculate that perhaps he alone of the Amigos had a conscience. But before long he was back in on the scam. Months later, the briefcases were being offered at a deep discount, and these days it's difficult to find anything at all about the scam except, of course, in the archives of snarky blogs like this one. :-)

Naturally, there are folks who will say that they felt the $1,997 briefcase full of self-help material was a good value. But I wonder how many disillusioned briefcase affiliates are out there...

In any case, the briefcase saga does seem to be an object lesson in the way that the prospect of money can trump any sense of propriety.

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, once again I must say, you do a wonderful job with this stuff. The "insider" feel in particular is unparalleled by anything else out there, including SHAMblog. Keep up the great work!

Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Steve. Coming from you that means a lot.

I think all of our "hater"* blogs have their own value, and, I hope, are contributing to the common good. I like to say I play with my food before I eat it. Mostly I just play with it, though; I roll it around a while, and sometimes roll it in the direction of other bloggers. People like you and Duff, on the other hand, are more likely to provide a detailed lab analysis of the "food." And then there are Salty Droid and Burned By Fire, who just scarf it up and spit it out.

We all have our place in the critical blogosphere. We're no cartel but we do serve, perhaps, as a counter to the cartels.

* Of course I use the word "hater" ironically, that being the description one of my fave snargets has used for critical bloggers.

Burned by Fire said...

Great post. Now this is the definition of fine form. :)

I was finding Pervlina's posts on inspired living interesting, until he got into inspired lovemaking and the lines between intellectual investigation and pornography got blurred. Apparently he even posted a picture of a hickey to his facebook, which is something even my 19 year old nephew doesn't do. He cheapens the whole inspired practice, but he's done a pretty good job of cheapening a lot of things... which makes him the poster child for all things TLC.

I could write more about how Pervy doesn't know the difference between an unconscious belief, a biological pattern, hormones, or an inspired notion. But who am I to judge.

I suppose its no surprise that Pervy was so inspired by not-doctor Joe Vitale. Pervy is apparently rather new and superficially investigating spiritual pursuits and fireboy is apparently right up his alley.

All of these assholes in TLC who think they've got the corner on some kind of magic mojo spiritual crap are a buch of narcissistic sociopaths who show no kindness or compassion to their fellow men. For people who espouse spiritual principles, they seem to flip their middle fingers towards any standards of human decency.

As Fathead O'Bryan once said in a debate with you (I believe), in business, we keep score with money.

Well, in spiritual pursuits we also keep score. But there's a different type of currency involved. Jesus said you'd know them by their fruits, and from what I can see, there are some real turds hanging from that tree.

Anonymous said...

Roger, "ABalanceOfHope" - Part 1 /2:

Interesting snarking, CC. I have often wondered what happened with Rhonda Burns-everyone-that-helped-with-the-secret and the subsequent legal action by Drew Hariot and Dan Hollings. Last I heard, Drew Hariot was planning an appeal.

I think it's important to document all the successes vs failures of the teachers that appeared in the secret, and, furthermore, were / are members of TLC. I mean, almost all of them had a black suspicious mark against them.
I also thing it's important to have an independent website database of all these teachers, listing all of the newspaper articles and negative as well as positive reviews of their services / products, so that people can make an informed choice before purchasing the products or employing the services of these supposed "experts". If members of sweatgate knew what temperature the sweatlodge would be prior to enrolling, would they go? If people knew that a member of James Ray's outings jumped off a mall building, would they be prone to signing up for that same course? Of course not. Ignorance is bliss, according to these new-age gurus, and in fact, it's what they rely on so fresh new gullible victims can be recruited.

The real stories and truths behind the secret teachers should be available to all who are considering using their products or services, as much as they are available to us who regularly read blogs like Whirled Musings and Salty Droid. After all, knowledge and truth is power, isn’t it?

Marie Diamond, Bob Proctor, James Ray, Mr. "Fire" (what kind ofa name is "Fire"? :P)... (and the list goes on) are all examples of questionable and objectionable business practices conducted by dubious individuals. It seems that none of them are scandal-free and almost all show clearly they're not in it for anything but the money.. and oh yes, almost all of them make their big bucks from pushing the "attraction" onto everyone else, rather than using it themselves. So are we gullible people to understand that the real way to make money is to push the law of attraction onto others? Is this the real secret? What are we to learn from Rhonda's "secret", other than it's acceptable to deny others financial renumeration for services rendered in helping them achieve their goals and dreams?

The people in the TLC have become a law upon themselves and, in my opinion, have claimed "ownership" of the Law of Attraction and the pinnacle of all that is supposed to be spiritual. For God's sake, James Ray is still preaching his usual spiel without so much as acknowledging any sort of remorse for the students his methods contributed in killing. It bothers me that many people in the world are taken in by what these people are preaching, which by all accounts is indicative of an organised religion. Yes, I would go so far to say that this TLC group is acting like an organised religion.

(To be continued...)

Anonymous said...

Eww, I just watched that syndicate video and now I have the urge to hold on to something warm, soft and comforting. That was scary. Ewww.
In particular the bit where the guy draws a circle of his fellow fiends around the unsuspecting customer.
Dark alley, no where to run, shark eyed mind rapists every which way you turn carrying lengths of pipe, chains, knives, surrounding you, closing in on you. Pray you are just going to wake up in a cold sweat.
That's a business model?

abalanceofhope said...

Part 2 of 2 from Abalanceofhope
(Anonymous Saturday, August 14, 2010 8:40:00 PM):

[re the TLC group acting like an organised religion]...

A very impressionable and dangerous organised religion, possibly the worst the world has ever seen, due to it's very nature that puts blame of every success and failure on an individual, including cancer and mass genocide.

I'm no psychic but I'm guessing that it won't be long before we see official LOA Churches which could turn out to be another scientology - and we all know how very difficult it is for the law to differentiate between a dangerous cult and peaceful religion, given that freedom of religion is protected under different national laws. Unfortunately, scientology will continue to flourish despite the frequent reports of abuse that hit the news headlines. An Australian Senator is STILL struggling in getting the Government to even investigate Scientology. Cults are allowed to grow and build under freedom of religion and sometimes, in the case of Waco, leads to tragedy for it's members.

So I'm really not surprised that the TLC conduct their "meetings" in secret, but I would love to be a fly on the wall at one of their huskster parties. It would be a fair assumption that the majority of the conversations would be "back-scratching" related - "I'll endorse yours if you endorse mine" - so to speak. I'm sure they're also discussing new and fresh ways of manipulating people to expand their little piece of the new-age pie.

I do remember that DiMartini quackster mentioning something about TLC, maybe in one of his 2 hour droning speeches in Brisbane a year or two ago. I wasn't paying that much attention. Something took my attention though - he mentioned that he was part of a group that lived on the sea, sort of like a floating new-age flotilla. One can only wonder whether such a community may be avoiding taxes and laws in their pursuit of world-wide manipulation of the sheepled masses.

Thank God for sites like Whirled Musings, Salty Droids, and others that tell it like it really is. They and the readers that contribute to it are the real spiritual revolutionaries.

Anonymous said...

CC, did you catch that story about the guy who died in the world sauna championship?
Immediately thought of James Ray.

Duff said...

Here's a related article from Jonah Lehrer in the WSJ about how power affects (corrupts) us:,,SB10001424052748704407804575425561952689390,00.html?mod=vocus

A number of quoteworthy things here, but this applies directly to critical blogs like ours:

There is no easy cure for the paradox of power. Mr. Keltner argues that the best treatment is transparency, and that the worst abuses of power can be prevented when people know they're being monitored. This suggests that the mere existence of a regulatory watchdog or an active board of directors can help discourage people from doing bad things.

However, people in power tend to reliably overestimate their moral virtue, which leads them to stifle oversight. They lobby against regulators, and fill corporate boards with their friends. The end result is sometimes power at its most dangerous.

Cosmic Connie said...

Burned By Fire, I didn't even get as far as reading about Pervlina's inspired lovemaking. I find the topic rather distasteful. (It's not that I find the topics of inspiration, lovemaking, or inspired lovemaking to be intrinsically distasteful; it's only when Pervlina gets into the mix that I find myself going, "Eeeewwww!")

I think you hit it on the head about Pervlina being new-ish to the McSpirituality biz, despite his having apparently been involved in his ex-wife Erin's decision to turn her "psychic" skills into a business. Steve has claimed to have psychic skills of his own, and of course that overlaps into a lot of spiritual stuff... but I am sure that Mr. Fire has opened up a whole new world for him. As I noted in a comment on Jonathan Timar's "The Limelight" blog, Perv is very much a New-Wage social climber at this point.

And he seems to value his membership in TLC.

I agree with your assessment of the TLC-ers, and your imagery of the turd tree might just inspire a Photoshop effort from me at some point. :-)

Cosmic Connie said...

Roger/abalanceofhope: Thank you for your insightful two-part comment. (I know it's frustrating to have to break it into multiple parts...Blogger and its character limits!)

The TLC group does seem like an organized religion in a sense, with the emphasis, of course, on the "organized" part. Whatever the motives of the individual members may be (and, human nature being what it is, those motives may change over time), it seems to me that the TLC itself is, for all practical purposes, a cartel. Its main purpose appears to be to help its members make more money. Some would say there's nothing wrong with that, and I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with making money, but I do find myself annoyed by the insinuation that there are far loftier motives for the TLC's existence, and the implications that the money grab is secondary.

As for John DeMartini, for years he has claimed that his "permanent" address is a cruise ship that slowly circumnavigates the globe. The ship is called The World:

Whether this is for tax shelter purposes or for the sheer novelty of living on the high seas -- or both -- I couldn't say.

Here's the Wiki entry on JD; it's one of those problematic entries as defined by Wikipedia. To me the biggest problem is that the "Controversy" section about that arrogant, egotistical h-dork is woefully incomplete.

Anyway. I appreciate your comments and, as always, your support, abalance.

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon August 14, 2010 11:39:00 PM wrote:
"Eww, I just watched that syndicate video and now I have the urge to hold on to something warm, soft and comforting. That was scary..."

I agree with you, Anon. For those who might not know what Anon is referring to, it's the Salty Droid entry I linked to at the end of this post. Here it is:

Cosmic Connie said...

Anonymous August 15, 2010 7:03:00 AM said...

"CC, did you catch that story about the guy who died in the world sauna championship?
Immediately thought of James Ray."

Yeah, but the difference is that the World Sauna Championship contestants presumably went into it KNOWING how risky it was, and with no other apparent motive than to compete for money and recognition in an endurance contest. It's much the same as any other marathon or endurance event in which people willingly compete and are aware of the risks. For most of these events there is adequate medical and physical support on hand, and nobody is pressured or shamed into staying the course if they find themselves in real trouble. Sometimes, unfortunately, people underestimate the trouble they're in, or the event brings some congenital condition or other medical problem to the foreground, and fatalities occur.

The James Ray event, on the other hand, was supposed to be about spiritual and emotional growth, etc. etc. etc. Despite the disclaimers and waivers that participants were compelled to sign as a condition of their participation, there is no reason anyone should have died in that sweat lodge.

Here's a link to the sauna story:

Cosmic Connie said...

Duff (Aug. 16): Thanks for providing the link to that article about power and its effects on the brains of the powerful (and on the rest of us). I saw your Twitter post about it and re-Tweeted too.

Everyone else... if y'all didn't catch it up there in Duff's comment (or if that link doesn't work), here is the link to the article he cited:

Zon Lives said...

You have an interesting blog.You don't cut Mr. Fire any slack at all. Mayhaps you really shouldn't.

Some of his books are brilliant to say the least. But a lot of his products are very questionable. I forget where I saw a reference to him being an Internet Marketing Weasel.

His pseudo-spirituality really reeks. You really never know what religion he's going to be hawking next week.

If he really wants to become a trillionaire, I'm not sure if that is how you spell it, he is going to have to go beyond his nickel-and-dime websites.

Cosmic Connie said...

Ya know, Zon, I think I cut Mr. Fire a lot more slack than many of his critics do. 'Specially here:

I have actually enjoyed some of Joe's books myself. I am not sure I would go so far as to describe them as "brilliant," however.

Thanks for the reminder of his stated goal to be the world's first "trillionaire." Maybe he'll get around to that after he's been on Oprah, ended homelessness in one day, etc. For further infopinion regarding his aspirations, check this out:

Sigh. So many goals, so little time.

Rick Hamrick said...

I have not yet read the entire post, Connie, but I am thrilled to know that we (my wife and I) are at least on the outer fringes of a Magic Circle Jerk. At least it beats a circular firing squad!

Just to inject a hint of reality into your musings, my wife is a spiritual teacher of nearly 30 years standing, and has been honestly and fully invested in helping people all during that time. She has never been even peripherally involved with TLC, although she has great admiration and respect for lots of the folks who are members.

We published her first book, Recreating Eden, ourselves. Something about Choosing Easy World, though, made it impossible for a mainstream publisher, St Martin's Press, to turn down. It also seems impossible for big names--and TLC members--to avoid endorsing it.

Of course, with a title like that, we know folks will be taking shots at the concept (Duff and I have had a good discussion via Twitter already), and it's okay.

As I said to Duff, it does make me wonder who is served when one snarks about someone else's work without any knowledge of it. When I suggested to Duff that he might have valid criticisms (as opposed to blithely ignorant disregard) if he spent ten minutes reading the free first part of the book, I could hear the snapping shut of his mind all the way from Boulder to where we are in Denver.

And, that's okay, too.

Choosing Easy World is not for everybody, and for those who are looking for a reason not to check it out, the silly name is as good a reason as any.

Careful about criticizing the song, though! That guy in the video looks pretty tough to me. Better stay out of Memphis, Connie! [grinning]

Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Rick, for taking the time to write to me. I will check out the free first part of the book.

While my snarking about your wife's book was of course was based only upon a superficial glance at the project, it wasn't the title that I found most problematic. If you have read much of my blog at all, perhaps you will understand why endorsements from people such as Joe Vitale (with his spiel about "taking an escalator through life") would attract the snark in me.

Even so, as an author's advocate in my other life, I'll say this: If the book is selling well, more power to both of you. Congratulations. Moreover, I will take your word for it that your wife is sincerely interested in helping people. Despite my snarkiness I know people in the personal-growth business who are sincere and really do want to help others.

I am willing to consider the possibility that I am unfairly judging, and that your wife is "collateral damage" just by virtue of having her project endorsed by people I do not admire.

That said, I still do not care for the song. But I'm willing to give that creative team another chance. Maybe they could come up with a tune for *this* song :-) ...

Cosmic Connie said...

Oh, one very important point I neglected to mention in my reply to the comment by Rick Hamrick, husband of the "Easy World" author: Duff is the last person I would ever define as "closed-minded." I think that a perusal of his blog will help you understand this, Rick. Like me, Duff has seen more than his share of simplistic and insipid offerings from the self-help world. (Sorry, Duff, I didn't want you to think that a fellow member of the "circular firing squad" didn't have your back. :-))

Mary Ellen said...

Connie, I couldn't help notice the passive-aggressive way that Mr. Easy World addressed you. It actually reminds me of the way Byron Katie's husband has responded to critics and dissenters, which i believe you cited in your Katie post some months ago.

Mr. Easy starts right off by saying he didnt read your whole post yet but is going to "inject a hint of reality into your musings." Besides the obvious condescension, wow, talk about remarking on something without knowing anything about it, as he said/implied you and Duff were doing about his wife's book.

And then he goes on to talk about how wifey's book is not for everyone, but all of this is in the context of Duff supposedly having a mind snapped shut. "Closed-minded" seems to be the big argument/accusation newagers have whenever anyone doesn't want to buy into their unicorn dreams.

I think you were almost too nice to him but at least you ended with a link to your Scam song!

Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Mary Ellen. I had some of the same thoughts about the passive-aggression but thought I would err on the side of politeness since Rick Hamrick (aka Mr. Easy :-)) did take the time to write to my blog.

I will post a follow-up response to his comment (and my responses to same) as soon as I finish perusing whatever free previews are available of his wife's book.

I will say a couple of things now, though, regarding the latter. I remarked to him that my drive-by snarks about Easy World were based only upon a superficial glance at the project. It occurred to me later, however, that perhaps I should have specified what I meant by "superficial." I simply meant that I hadn't taken the time to read the book (or even to read excerpts) or to do a lot of research on the author. However, I did much more than just glance at the title, contrary to what he seemed to be implying in his remark. I perused the promotional pages on the Easy World web site pretty carefully, and I read a few of the author's blog posts. I also noticed that Joe Vitale was tweeting about the book (which he wouldn't do unless there was something in it for him), and I noticed that Joe and several other TLC members had contributed products to the "bonuses" available for the author's book launch.

So even if, as Rick says, Julia has "never been even peripherally involved with TLC," it does seem that she is part of the circle jerk, or aspiring to be anyway. That the book launch date was at roughly the same time as the TLC summer meeting, and that several members of the TLC were in on the launch, may have just been coincidence. It seems clear that Julia had been pursuing endorsements from some TLC members for some time. It also seems she has aspirations to hit the big time -- or to "play varsity" instead of "playing junior varsity" as she says she has been doing for so long.

So I'm off to read the excerpt from Easy World, to see if I perhaps misjudged it, based on what I've seen so far: i.e., extensive promotional copy about the book, the author's blog posts that I've read, etc. If the excerpt is markedly different in tone and spirit than what I've read *about* the book, then I will issue a retraction and apology. (However, that would also indicate that the promotional copy does not accurately represent the product.)

Anonymous said...

"Some of his books are brilliant to say the least."

Aarh Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Cosmic Connie said...

Good for you, Anon. Laughter is healthy! :-)

Anonymous said...

No, that was the hollow demonic laughter of infinite cynicism echoing out over a gullible humanity.

Cosmic Connie said...

Even so, Anon, it was a far more genuine expression than much of the contrived joy and feel-goodism that one sees amongst New-Wagers. Therefore, healthy by comparison, anyway.

Rick Hamrick said...

CConnie--It's great to see you defend Duff. I don't know him, so my reference to his mind snapping shut had to do only with his reaction to my suggestion that he read for ten minutes and we reconvene. Why? I know more about Buddhism than he does about Easy World, and I was looking forward to continuing the conversation with each of us having a little knowledge of the other's central guidance system.

When he declined, I called it as I saw it. I have no reason to think him anything other than delightful and open-minded. He wasn't open-minded in that moment, that's all.

I have now read your entire post, and I'd like to add my thoughts to the rest of what you wrote last week.

"The Power" is now out, falling already to # 5 at Amazon and trending, now, away from the top rather than toward it. (update: now # 7) It feels like this is like a bad sequel to a good movie.

To your point that the average narcissist ignores any hints as to a possible distinction between guidance of their Spirit (or the voice of Gawd, or whatever) and guidance from their own self-interest, my wife explains her sense of the difference in her book.

Spirit-sourced messages are opening, expanding, and make one feel that sense of expansion.

Self-interest-driven messages tend toward producing a feeling of contraction in the solar plexus, a closing down and retracting.

What really tickles me is the expectation that there is some grand organization or overarching direction of the TLC. A cartel.

Those folks, at least the ones we have had contact with, are generally blessed with egos somewhat smaller than Chicago, but not by much. They won't be led by anyone who doesn't have a TV show and at least a 20 share.

It's like the conservative TV talkers who want to speak of the vast left-wing conspiracy. The left wing political folks have so many separate agendas and causes that they could no more get on the same page than...well, the Republicans can, who are left trying to herd the ping-pong balls known as the Tea Party while trying to keep whatever few remaining centrists they have in their fold.

TLC? More like, a party they can write off on their taxes as a "conference." It is no accident that the twice-yearly meetings are held in delightfully enjoyable places at expensive resorts.

That doesn't make them nefarious, just successful. The ones who are nefarious tend to be found out, be it by a horrendous mistake as happened in the case of James Ray, or simple exposure when they let the mask down and someone is able to grab big media time showing them without it.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of the folks who endorsed Choosing Easy World were paid a penny for their endorsement or from their contribution to 10 Radiant Seconds, the live event we held twice on the day the book launched. Nor, to complete the list, did the folks who wrote and performed the Easy World song.

And, Mr Fire is on our "not so sure about you, buddy" list because he committed to doing a short video (a minute-long thing which he could do off the cuff, nothing requiring production or anything other than a flip-phone vid) for 10 Radiant Seconds and then backed out.

So, the cartel has done a so-so job in every regard I can think of when it comes to Choosing Easy World. While there were some wonderful contributions which we gleefully webcast over and over during the four hours we were Ustreaming, there was no attempt to turn the event into a commercial for anyone or anything. The book was mentioned peripherally, but the focus was on exactly what we said it would be: radiating Love.

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my earlier comment, Connie, and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the three chapters of CEW which are available to read.

(Mary Ellen--not sure who you are talking about, but it sure doesn't sound like me)

Cosmic Connie said...

Rick, thank you for your follow-up comment. I'm having kind of a busy Monday but will (finally) post my own follow-up response either today or tomorrow. At any rate, I decided to delete that drive-by snark about Julia's book from my blog post, and in a double-asterisk'ed footnote I 'splained why I deleted it. This somehow seemed the decent thing to do. While I may not agree with Julia's point of view about many things, painting her and her work with the same brush strokes I used on the likes of Bill Harris or James Ray seemed increasingly not right.

I'll explain more in my next comment(s).

Anonymous said...

Connie, do you mind if I ask, has anyone read 'Saints and Psychopaths' by Bill Hamilton?

Cosmic Connie said...

I haven't read it yet, Anon, but I don't mind the question at all. For those who are interested here is a link to the Amazon page:

Cosmic Connie said...

And it looks as if it might be another day or so before I get to my follow-up comments to/about "Easy World," and whether or not the TLC is a cartel, and other burning issues. I wanted to put more thought into my responses than I had brains for today. (Granted, I have been participating on other forums today but in those cases my contributions did not take much thought and effort.)

So hang on, this discussion isn't over yet.

Anonymous said...

I just wondered if anyone had read it before I shelled out cash monies for it.

Anonymous said...

Then again, I think I'll save my money instead.

hhh said...

But what I do want to know about is what is that mural at Denver airport about? You are a Coloradovian are you not CC?

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm finally getting back to this conversation...

Anyone who has read "Saints & Psychopaths"... feel free to respond to Anon 8-25.

HHH: As a child I lived in Lakewood, once a suburb of Denver but now its own incorporated city, and as an adult I lived in nearby Littleton for a while. I still miss Colorado. Ron has also resided in that lovely state. We may yet end up there if we don't end up in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Northern California, or Nelson, B.C.

To tell the truth, however, I haven't been to a Denver airport since back in the day when Stapleton was the major airport. I understand there's a new-ish one now. Let me go Google for a few minutes and I'll get back to ya...

Okay, I'm back. OMG. Why didn't anyone tell me about this?!?

Rick, since you're in Denver, could you provide any insight about this?

Cosmic Connie said...

Now at last I want to follow up on my responses to Rick Hamrick.

To begin with, Rick, I will admit to having had the same initial impression about your first comment as Mary Ellen did, regarding the passive-aggressive bit. But then I realized that you were, after all, defending your wife/life partner, and I was being pretty condescending myself in my blog post. So perhaps one bit of condescension deserved another. (Come to think of it, Ron has been known to be rather forceful in defending me against online detractors as well. :-)) At any rate I realized that if we were ever to move the conversation past the level of mutual sniping I needed to more seriously consider the rest of your message. I’ll comment on some of your general points first and then talk about Julia’s book(s).

Not being particularly spiritually oriented myself these days, I tend not to judge material by whether it is spirit-centered or self-interest driven. Who am I, a devout agnostic, to take the assessment to that level? Given the type of people on whom this blog normally focuses, however, I have a tendency to automatically assume that many if not most of the “rockstars” and wannabes in the personal-growth/pop-spirituality business are driven primarily by self-interest, and I have to say that in most but not all cases this seems to be a pretty safe assumption.

That said, you did bring up a good point about how it is possible to overplay the “cartel” theme and in so doing, sink to the level of various bug-eyed conspiracy theorists. So let me make this perfectly clear (as a notorious dead President used to like to say): I don’t think that there is any tightly knit “conspiracy” amongst the TLC members. The TLC does, however, provide fertile ground for networking, intricately entwined cross-promotional schemes, potentially lucrative business deals, etc. ... which does amount to a sort of perpetual circle jerk.

One might argue that this could be said of virtually any professional organization. In this case, however, we’re talking about “professions” that exert undue influence in our culture. In a certain sense the gurus do form a loosely knit cartel, not normally as deadly as an illegal drug cartel (with a few notable exceptions), nor quite as rich as an oil cartel, but a cartel nonetheless. Lest it appear that I’m inching back towards the paranoid camp with this statement, I don’t think that the TLC members are out to rule the world, Bilderberg style. But I do think they’re playing very heavily on the “exclusivity” theme of their org in order to elevate themselves in the starry eyes of their followers, and to bolster their own sense of self-importance. Some would contend that we critics are contributing to all of this just by giving them press and playing on that cartel theme; nevertheless I sense that some of the critical blogs are making the gurus highly uncomfortable.

One thing I think we can agree on, Rick, is your observation about the size of many TLC members’ egos. And perhaps that is key to the point you’re making, and a point I might do well to remember: that when it comes right down to it, most of the gurus are pretty much out for themselves, which would weaken the "cartel" scenario somewhat. The “friendships” and alliances among and between members are very often thin veneers. This point has been driven home to me by private conversations with insiders who have revealed things to me about what some joint-venture partners, inside and outside of the TLC, REALLY think of each other.

I am sorry but not surprised about your disappointing experience with Mr. Fire. My guess is that he didn’t see much of a money op in it for him.

I’m probably running up against the 4,096-character limit, so I will continue this in a separate comment.

Cosmic Connie said...

BTW, whatever one might think about the veracity of the "cartel" scenario in regard to the TLC, it does appear that there is real collusion among some Net-based entrepreneurs whose line of work intersects, with increasing frequency, with that of some of the self-help gurus. Yes, I'm talking about the "Syndicate" that Salty Droid wrote of in his August 12 blog post, to which I linked in my own post.

Here's that link again for the benefit of those who may have missed it:

Cosmic Connie said...

Okay, so now to Julia’s books.

I looked at as much of Creating Easy World as Amazon's preview tool would allow me to look at, but I didn't stop there; I looked at Julia’s previous effort, the self-published Recreating Eden, as well. These opinions are based only upon my "previews" of the two books and not on a thorough reading of either. Also, I looked at the books as an authors’ advocate and book doctor as well as a snarky blogger.

I was actually impressed with the writing and the design of Recreating Eden, and thought it was a very professional effort all around. Regarding content, although at present I do not really share Julia's view that Paradise can be re-created here and now – and have my doubts that there ever was a literal Paradise on Earth or anywhere – I confess to a longtime fascination with the whole lost-Golden-Age/back-to-the-Garden theme. On my desk right now is my old copy of the original edition of Richard Heinberg's well-researched Memories and Visions of Paradise. And even though the more scientifically minded might dismiss Julia's mystical “glimpse of paradise and the fall” experience in Switzerland as a series of easily explainable physical/medical phenomena, it seems clear that the experience was powerful for her and that it stayed with her in a way that helped to fuel a career and a growing body of work.

While Easy World was no less professionally executed, it seems to me that Recreating Eden is the deeper of the two works. Maybe I am just stating the obvious or maybe I am way off base here, but it seems to me that Easy World, though a continuation of a theme, is a deliberate over-simplification of more profound concepts, crafted to appeal to a wider market. (Or, to put it in snarky terms, to pander to an audience accustomed to instant gratification.) And my guess is that either the agent or someone with the publisher had a hand in this crafting. In any case, although the snarks may circle and snap at it -- as I and some of my Twitter-mates have so aptly demonstrated -- I have to say that from a marketing perspective the whole Easy World concept is a clever gimmick and makes for easy (if you will) branding, so it is understandable that the publisher would find it appealing.

Perhaps this is unfair, but for me one turn-off about the Easy World concept in the beginning, apart from the notion that it seemed patently unrealistic and overly gimmicky, was that it reminded me of one of the shticks perpetrated by that crazy sex cult Access Consciousness. The Access slogan du jour is: “All life comes to me with ease, joy, and glory.” Many apparently repeat this mantra even as they’re seriously messing up their own lives and those of others. “Accessories” are also into something about “living life in ten-second intervals,” which unfortunately gave me a negative impression – again, unfairly – about your “10 Radiant Seconds.” (Anyone who doesn’t know about Access can learn more using the search engine on this blog.)

I am not insinuating that Julia is in any way part of the Access scam, but am just explaining some of my initial negative impressions.

As you have noted, Rick, what makes Julia’s book an easy target for many is the whole concept of a world where “everything is easy,” which seems simplistic as opposed to merely simple. It is perhaps reminiscent of those commercials for a national office supply chain that feature an “Easy Button.” The latter, however, is clearly a gimmick and doesn’t pretend to be trying to make a serious point other than that shopping at this office supply center can make life easier at home, at school, and at the office. It’s more difficult to make a serious case for an “Easy World” that can be applied to all aspects of real life. To her credit, however, Julia seems to make a genuine effort to make that case (judging from the Table of Contents), and she at least appears to acknowledge that there are times when the concept of Easy World seems ludicrous or cruel even for true believers.

Continued on next comment…

Cosmic Connie said...

Continued from previous comment…

Although the concept of Easy World does not completely resonate with me, I can’t throw my lot in with those who cling too tightly to the notion that all life must be about suffering. Life too often does involve suffering, and I abhor certain selfish-help gurus’ attempts to deny this fact outright or (equally awful) to brush it away with arrogant pronouncements about the reasons behind that suffering (e.g., Joe Vitale and the San Diego fires in the fall of 2007). But if an author with sincere intentions believes that there are ways to deal with or lessen one’s own or others’ suffering without arrogantly dismissing it or going into complete denial about it, who am I to say, categorically, that this author is full of crap?

I confess, however, that I'm actually more interested in Julia's experience as an author who has finally caught a glimpse of what it might be like to "play with the big kids," as she put it, than I am in the messages in her books.

As I noted in an email to you, Rick, it was your mention (in your first comment to my blog) of Julia's self-published work that gave me pause and, I think, led me to take a closer look at her work than I otherwise might have. For one thing I am always interested in hearing of authors' experiences with self-publishing v. trade publishing, and I have a nearly lifelong fascination with books and the process of their creation. These interests trump even my snarkitude, though sometimes the two worlds collide in ways that never fail to teach me interesting lessons.

Over the years, Ron and I have had many clients and associates who have had both good and bad experiences with self-publishing and trade publishing. One thing seems clear: Writing a book is generally hard work despite what the hustledorks say when they're trying to sell a product that they claim will virtually write the book for you in no time at all (e.g., Joe Vitale's "Hypnotic Writing Wizard" software). And writing the book is only the beginning. Promoting and marketing that book is a nonstop effort. Running one's own publishing business is hard work. On the other hand, having a trade publisher pick up your book isn't necessarily the road to riches either. There are so many factors that determine whether a book will be successful or not, and the author's efforts are key, no matter how the book is published.

But the important point I want to make is that an author who works so hard to bring her ideas to life, self-publishing one book and ultimately landing a trade publishing deal, has my admiration -- even if I do not necessarily share that author's worldview. So for that alone, Rick, kudos to Julia and you.

And to fans of my snarkitude, this doesn't mean I've sold out. It just means that to me, at a certain level, a book is a book is a book -- at least if it has been penned by someone who by all appearances is *not* a card-carrying member of the slime brigade. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Human gullibility is a bottomless well, from which the hucksters drink deeply and often."

You are the gullible person and the huckster you are unwarily projecting onto some imaginary world "out there". The bumper sticker terms you casually and quite thoughtlessly and gleefully and self importantly brand millions of strangers with does not exist in my world FYI.

Hi beautiful! Just passing through had to say Hi and lay down a point, god forbid some random opinion of mine goes unexpspressed on the internet :-)

Cosmic Connie said...

Hey there, my old friend. I do get carried away with my metaphors sometimes, don't I? But there is a world "out there" that is full of hucksters and gullible people. I'm glad they don't exist in your world but I know I didn't dream 'em up. (I have been one of the gullible though not one of the hucksters.)

Anonymous said...

Connie Connie Super Connie,

Sounds like victimish rhetoric rather than reality to me.

You show me an actual " "out there" that is full of hucksters and gullible people" and I will do your laundry, dishes and take out yoru garbage for one year. I promise to God!

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, through my blog I have painted a picture, for four years and counting, of one aspect of the world as I see it. You obviously do not see it the same way I do. Where I see hucksters fleecing the gullible, you perhaps merely see the wheels of commerce turning, or people learning lessons they need to learn, or whatever.

I sense your LGAT does not approve of the concept of victimization, since this is an issue you have brought up before, but many people do feel they have been victimized in some way by New-Wage hucksters. You might consider visiting some of the cult awareness forums, where perhaps you can get in on some of the conversations where people recount personal horror stories. Maybe you can explain to these people why feelings are unfounded.

Anonymous said...

Con Knee

So are you going to show me an actual " "out there" that is full of hucksters and gullible people" ? I know you can show me a " "out there" that" that you think and view as being "full of hucksters and gullible people" but can you show me it in reality where there is uniform agreemant or where peopel self identify or where there is scientific proof of this " "out there" that" is full of hucksters and gullible people".

We both know full well you can't and won't and you resort to generalizations about me and how I am. = no accountability for what you are saying.

I have no porblem with your opinions buit when you project it on others like it is a reality, switch to troublemaking "troll" mode.

As for the "cult awareness forums" - never saw a nuttier incosiderate small culitish gathering of misanthropes in my life.


another hot day!!!!! whew! It is no longer politically correct to say "Indian Summer"?

Anonymous said...

And from my poiint of view, there are most definitely people who are victims and victimized and unconciounable people with bad intent or negligence who do in fact victimize others, I would write that in stone Super C,...... BUT I draw a clear distinction between true victims and on line skeptics and blog blabbers who are not victims but who ride on the coattails of victims and who use victim rehtoric on line to make points and promote not being responsible nor accountable to the masses.

Anonymous said...

"you perhaps merely see the wheels of commerce turning, or people learning lessons they need to learn, or whatever. "

No I do not see it that way at all.

I see that it is much more complex then yours and Steve's bumper sticker simple minded bultit point ctach all pphrases represent.

Given the size of tghe United States I think everything you and Steve is probably occuring somewhere in some way but so is everything else. It is not the lop sided evil bad picture you paint IMO. There is stuff happening and people are accomplishing things for themselves and others in the catch all "new age" "transformational" "self "help" world you coin, that is remarkable and mind blowing and contribution to this planet that is tangeable,and real and is the source of people flocking to it.

I already know no one is perfect and that I am not, I don't need to single out the Madocs or the sweat lodge people or whoever. We are all in this mess together. Singling out perps actually sets the panet back in my opinion, as it does not adress how we really all are in one way or the other and that we all have a sinking boat to fix, not just a few culprits to obsess on and persue.

Cosmic Connie said...

We've been through this discussion before and you're not going to change me or the direction of this blog. Argue on if it makes you feel better about your world.

Anonymous said...

Most of the events and quotes you and Steve and Ron post are out of context and out of their setting, where they might have a chance of making sense and even being useful. There are little things you and Ron may say or do in the privacy of your home that would no make sense to outside observers if some bullet point snippet of some private detail of your private life or private moments were presented out of context by a third party without your consent and against your wishes I have no doubt that context is the very first thing you would want to inject into the discussion, so it made sense to others.

You guys recklessly trash and work out of context with great dishonesty and give yourselves great licences under the label "skeptic" or "critic" IMO. If the spotlight could be turned on your own private lives you would get a visceral experience of this.

It took me multiple posts to get the whole thing out. Thanks for your divine patience and light touch GuruConnie.

Anonymous said...

We are discussing C, no? You don't have to change...I am challenging your ideas. Why is that not a turn on :-)?

There is a rich hoistory of covering the same ground and repetition in yours a Steve's never get tored of flogging certain names and events. Am I wrong?

HhH said...

I never suspected Peaky Heinberg wrote books like that.

Which makes me ask a question, is there a peak bullshit?
That is, are new discoveries of bullshit being made fast enough to replace dwindling supplies?
Is the Bullshit-Return-on-Gullibility-Invested increasing or decreasing?
Could the huge geyser of bullshit from Bullshit Petroleum lately be simply a symptom of all the easy bullshit being used up?

And is there a bullshit-house effect?
I think possibly so, I think that like pollution from coal fired power plants the BS gushing from the hucksters spreads evenly around the planet causing a steady rise in the average levels of delusion - of course with short term variations.
Expect more intense winds of change you can believe in, storms of prayer, droughts of common sense and paradoxical lowering of bullshit in baloney shadow areas.

Connie, what are you going to do when you have to compete with the Chinese for all the remaining bullshit? With all that new capitalism and marketing, they are projected to pass the US in bullshit consumption within 20 years.
Face it Connie, our bullshit addicted society is just unsustainable.

Hhh said...

OMG, Tony Blair live on TV!
A bullshit blow out!
He-e-e-e-lp! We're drowning!

RevRon's Rants said...

Connie, Methinks somebody's off her meds today. Given the illogic and tenor (not to mention the grammatical descent) in her most recent comments, I would not be too surprised if those she submits in the near future deteriorate into random keystrokes such as one would expect from a meth-infused primate set before a typewriter. Alternately amusing and profoundly sad...

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, just a few random points here...

I generally provide links to the source/context so people can judge for themselves whether or not I am misrepresenting the people and ideas I write about. That is about as accountable as one can get on an opinion blog such as this.

The promotional blogs for these people or for self-help schemes and products are not any more balanced or nuanced than my blog, and in fact present an equally distorted view of the world. You just have to pick and choose what you need from each, or stay away from them if they upset you.

If I misjudged your own opinions and perceptions about some matters I apologize. However, if you'll look again at one of my recent comments, you'll see that I said that "you *perhaps* merely see the wheels of commerce turning, etc...." I was speculating but not decisively stating what was on your mind.

The people I write about have chosen to make themselves public figures and, in many cases, have deliberately chosen to exploit not just their public accomplishments but also their private lives in order to demonstrate how successful they are. This is unlike Ron and me and most people who try to keep their private lives private (and who are not constantly bragging to the world that they have achieved the pinnacle of success and fulfillment).

When I write about the private lives of self-help gurus I am commenting on things they have written and/or spoken about in public (e.g., Steve Pavlina and his quirky sex experimentation).

However, I have always erred on the side of discretion here when writing about anyone's private life, and I have never betrayed anyone's confidential information here.

Please provide for me specific examples of private information about public figures that I have presented here out of context.

And yes, I repeat myself on my blog and Steve repeats himself on his. One big factor is that the same issues keep coming up again and again, particularly in the discussion sections.

It seems you still have some anger issues where blogs like mine are concerned. If bloggers such as Steve and I really upset you, just ignore us. We're not doing anything to hurt your heroes, nor are we doing anything to keep people from using self-help concepts to accomplish amazing things in the world.

I do agree with you that we are all in this together, but many of the people who are being looked at as transformational heroes are, IMO, doing nothing to help this sinking ship; they're merely pimping their own lifeboats.

Anonymous said...

RevRon's Rants

I am a chicken pecker, looking down/ hitting keys with two fingers and sending. I can't believe some of the typos and incomprehensable writing that ends up being posted. Thank-you Connie for just being a hot school teacher type but not going grammar and spell nazi on me.

As for "meds", while a grotesque % of our community in the US is hopped up on meds they do not need, I have not and never would touched them and don't recommend them to most, except when it is an absolute must. But keep the ad homynims coming Ronnie old boy, "I am not "bovered" :-)

Anonymous said...

"Please provide for me specific examples of private information about public figures that I have presented here out of context."

I as not clear about that. I was saying that many of yours and Steve's references are out of context. Like, you or Steve might quote (and proceed to mock) some "magic saying" or incantation or snippet said or espoused by some person or "group" and it is out of context. Most of what is said in those groups sounds like 100% goggledygook and nonsense out of context. But inside the context of that discipline of setting it can have power. A certain Buddhist teaching or Koan might make sense to a student or inside a monastery or even in the life of a Buddhist but regurgitated on-line in some anti- spirituality blog , some aspect of that rich tradition can easily be made to sound like compete and total pie in the sky shite.

I brought up your private life to say that that would be a quick way for you to get an experience of the importance of a setting and context. I was not saying that you had targeted and dug up and posted info about people's private lives.

Anonymous said...

I just read the transcript of Steve Salerno on Anderson Cooper. Right off the top Anderson Cooper says:

"COOPER: Steve, some of the criticisms that you're making of the industry could basically kind of be said to yourself. I mean, you've kind of come up with this over arching theory. And you're kind of -- you know, trying to prove a point of it in your book. Isn't that the same thing that some of these self-help books do?"

I am not a fan of CNN but the dishonest hypocrisy of know-it-all "self- help" skeptics and critics is so obvious - it is the first thing that has be talked about before any discussion can take place IMO, and of course CNN brings that up first. That is what I dwell on it, it is flawed criminals judging and sentencing other flawed criminals.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I am a chicken pecker..."

Thanks for clearing that up. Not necessarily the descriptive term I would have used, but effective, nonetheless.

As to "ad homynims," if you notice, my responses typically address the very predictable illogic and obfuscation so obvious in your comments. It was only when you seemed to be slipping ever deeper into incoherence that I saw fit to consider the possible reasons. If your disclaimer is true, I would only point out that as Vonnegut once stated, some people's bodies manufacture their own drugs, and sometimes, the fault lies with little corkscrew-like creatures.

RevRon's Rants said...

"aspect of that rich tradition can easily be made to sound like compete and total pie in the sky shite."

From what I've seen (and I've looked. A LOT.), it's the New Wage McSpirituality "gurus" who do this far more than anyone else. I addressed this on my own blog some time ago:

Anonymous said...

RevLon's Rants

"From what I've seen (and I've looked. A LOT.), it's the New Wage McSpirituality "gurus" who do this far more than anyone else."

I was not saying one group or person does it more or less than another. I am saying that you , Connie and Steve do it, and whether you do it more or less then some abstract bumper-sticker grouping of people in your mind was not the point. You casually pull and post ideas and things people say out of their setting and proceed to misrepresent them out of their context in these blogs.

That others might also do it is irrelevant IMO. Any spiritual tradition could be and probably is abused and trashed on blogs just as you are doing. It is a no brainer. Pick a favorite koan or sacred saying of yours that you may have or ever have had some reverence for, and I will find some person calling it "gobbledygook" and shite on line.

No context = nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Revron's Rants

"As to "ad homynims,"

Sell and justify your falling to ad homynims all you like RR, they are not necessary IMO and you could do better. And, it is revealing that some of the more vicious and personal ones get a pass from Connie and Steve.

Anonymous said...


In all fairness, I will concede that the snippets you Connie and Steve deleberately post out of context - does makes sense inside the context of these blogs and makes sense to subscribers of these blogs. I do see that. But as I see it, you are in part, immersed in an on-line critic culture whose pracitce is to post other people words, lives and work out of context to portray and sell them them as nonsense. That is your whole game.

RevRon's Rants said...

"But as I see it, you are in part, immersed in an on-line critic culture whose pracitce is to post other people words, lives and work out of context to portray and sell them them as nonsense. That is your whole game."

The operative phrase here is "as I [you] see it," or likely more accurate, "as you would have others see it." I get no pleasure out of criticizing others' efforts, and certainly get no money out of it, since I'm not selling anything (unlike the scammers I criticize). And the criticisms to which you so strongly object are hardly taken out of context; they are directed at modern-day snake oil salesmen and women who knowingly market useless crap, and do it in such a way as to ensure that their customers never realize the goals they seek, all in an effort to maintain cash flow.

Your continued efforts to deflect attention away from these hucksters are quite transparent, which is why you eventually get yourself banned from several blogs, this one included. Ad hominem? I have quite frankly been far more gentlemanly than you deserve.

Cosmic Connie said...

I keep drifting out of and back into this conversation (distracted elsewhere, etc.). HHH, I wanted to acknowledge your comments about "Peaky" Heinberg. It's true that after the Paradise book he went on to write about issues such as peak oil, an issue about which I still have no strong opinion one way or the other (sorry to disappoint). However, I *do* have strong opinions about people who make magickal audio products to clear away oil spills. Regarding your other point, HHH, I think there is such an endless supply of b.s. that we in the West do not have to worry about competition with China.

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, as I've said before and as Ron noted too, I do provide context for my opinions about the people I write about. I do this not only via the links to their material (so readers can easily see the words in their original context) but also by occasionally elaborating on what I perceive to be the role of the gurus' ideas in shaping our culture. It seems to me that the only "context" with which you would truly be satisfied would be one that painted my subjects in a far rosier light.

I provide my opinion about these people's words and in some cases their actions. Remember that this is what this blog is: a forum for my opinions. It isn't Wikipedia (or what Wikipedia is striving to be, which is a source of more or less objective information).

I've been told by various people that my criticisms have actually made them more interested in the works of some of the folks I criticize, and in some cases have prompted them to buy these people's books. This doesn't bother me and I do nothing to discourage it.

I recognize that I am part of an "online critics' culture," as you put it, and that to you I must be almost boringly predictable, but something keeps you coming back here. I think the critical blogs provide a useful counterpoint to what I see as endless drivel from the self-help community. Again, it's obvious that your perception is different.

Hhh said...

Hmm, you may be right Connie, the b.s. may simply become more localised, more organic. As we see the great b.s. institutions fragment maybe more decentralised grassroots b.s. will become the norm. Or maybe people will revert to more old fashioned forms of bull, adapting their grandparents nonsense to the new situation. Then again, with modern telecommunications making b.s. so easy to spread globally then perhaps we have passed a b.s. tipping point and cannot return to, say, prewar levels of waffle and flimflam and hokery.
I am surprised, as an anti b.s. activist, that you do not have any projections or big picture thinking. B.s. production certainly seem to be coordinated on a global scale and planned well into the future.
Perhaps the charting of bull is a science waiting to be born.
I think we would have to start in prehistory with early life forms using trickery as part of their struggle for existence, an unconscious sort of ur-bullshit.
(Been waiting to use 'ur' for ages)
Then I would expect the b.s. curve to really take a steep gradient uptick with the advent of language, primitive religions. As we move into the agricultural age we have a steady increase in the amount of shite talked, with the first bullshit institutions being founded. Then we have the spread of European civilisation and technologies like the printing press bring exponential increases in the level of gibberish and lies. Now we have almost a new paradigm of mind crap with the internet, it's hard to see how it could grow any further.
Have we reached the Limits to Bullshit Growth, the end of the exponential growth of cobblers?
Maybe forces such as Moore's law will take us into new realms of it, a level of b.s. so intense that the mind cannot grasp it.
Maybe we will be forced to seek new sources elsewhere, maybe the Pleidean light beings will show us where it is. Maybe that's what all this channeling is about, a global initiation into galactic bullshit as mankind reaches it bullshit limit.
You got me thinking there CC.

hhh said...

Is that too much swearing? Other cultures get sensitive about stuff like that. I can always use heck, dang, golly etc if needed.

Anonymous said...

Con, both you and Ron deny that you take anything out of context. I could say more but I think I said enough about context on this thread. I will leave it there.

Thanks Connie. xo

Your own personal adoring critic,


Anonymous said...

Despite saying the matter was going to be left, I would like to add this one more bit, so at least it is understood what I meant by the word. Wikepedia is pretty close though not entirely, in how I am using the word context:

"Context is the surroundings, circumstances, environment, background, or settings which determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an event."

I was saying that these above are all missing from your blogs and when missing - words and actions are left = nonsense.

An you may give lip service to context, but world you agree that you and Steve and Ron do not provide a balanced and fair and complete view of surroundings, circumstances, environment, background, or settings which determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an events or words you are discussing? It would be almost impossible to do so IMO Just providing a link to the thing you are talking about does not provide, create and presence context in a way that gives a thing the world it needs to be fully understood. In that way your critiques are unbalanced.

So when you mock something and say that it is nonsense, it in fact may be nonsense and look like nonsense and that is because you are leaving out the context.

Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that the only "context" with which you would truly be satisfied would be one that painted my subjects in a far rosier light."

Nope. That sounds like I want you to be a cheerleader or a advertiser for someone else. Not what I am saying at all.

I am talking abut providing a balanced and fair and more complete light. There is a reason millions of smart savvy successful decent people are engaging with the ideas of Buddhism, philosophy, esoteric and metaphysical ideas in groups settings, besides just the notion you have that they are all duped or weak or needy or vulnerable. There are also the reasons they are actually saying they are and you give very little value to that and second guess individuals who make the choice to pwersue such educations and put all the emphasis on your opinion that big bad evil self serving guru leaders are pulling the wool over people's eyes.

Anonymous said...

Rev Ron

Am I deflecting attention away from the subjects of your commentary? I see it that I am disagreeing with you and I am if anything directing attention towards, not you , but on the quality or incompetence of your commentary on the topic, and that that is not unreasonably far from the topic IMO, and that I am on safe grounds on this. I am not switching the topic to movies or food or Obama or the weather.

Ronnie, do you view that any contributor who does agree with you or who does not forward your point of view on this topic as "transparently deflecting attention away" from the topic?

Anonymous said...


I can't say I am an opinion one way or the other about the person you are taking the shot at but how dare you call someone "Pervl--a".

Would you dare to utter your clever play on that person's name if you were standing in a local bar or in a bank line up and that person was standing next to you listening to an exchange between you and a third person? The freedom people feel to slander and smear others behind their backs on-line is breathtaking IMO.

That somehow people who end up in the public eye or spotlight are "fair-game" is one of the saddest aspects on our neandertal media and internet useage I have seen.

Not too mention cowardly at times. And all that and I don't even know who you are talking about. :-) Nor do I need to.

Cosmic Connie said...

Cowardly and Neanderthal...yup, that's me described to a tee.

The person you mentioned whose name I played on is well aware of my writing about him and has even participated in this forum. And he has been a good sport about it too. He's actually quite proud of his quirky experimentation -- which he has described in detail on numerous blog posts -- and he realizes that many people disapprove of his choices, but he seems to take it in stride.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go out and hunt some critters for dinner, and gather firewood for the cave. Hunting is hard to do when one is a coward so I'll probably stick with small non-threatening life forms such as squirrels and grubs. Them cows out thar are looking kind of tasty too but they're big and intimidating.

Cosmic Connie said...

HHH, no worries about the swearing; I mainly try to avoid it on my own posts and I generally don't publish obscenity-laden comments. But I suppose an occasional bullsh-t is okay.

Anonymous said...

Haha. you funny and light with the notes. That is why I come and why many people (in parts at least) adire and adore your hairey hunched over club weilding yet effeminate self I suspect.


P.S Did not know that person had given you his approval.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Despite saying the matter was going to be left, I would like to add this one more bit..."

Wow! THAT was a surprise! :-)

You really can't see that you're furiously attempting to dig yourself out of a hole, can you?

And you might consider the fact that one need not offer glowing praise to crap in order to be "fair and balanced." One only need be truthful, which Connie is, unfailingly.

As Connie has said before (albeit more gently than I), if the discussion is so offensive to you, perhaps you should find a forum more to your liking. You're not going to change this one, any more than you were able to change Steve's or mine before being banned. Obnoxiousness can only carry you so far, and the blogs in question don't suffer fools very well.

Anonymous said...

Ok Ronnie. Keep on with the good fight against the ocean of evil trying to dupe the dimwit little world of people not quite as savvy as you. Thank Allah for you. If it were not for the education you give of no charge $$$$ where might we be??? You are the thin line between planetary slavery and feedom. What a guy! An on-line braveheart!

Thanks for just being you.

Anonymous said...

btw super Ronnie

"...glowing praise..." and context are not the same thing and never were. Did you not know that? I see now that we were just two ships passing in the night. You do not know what context is. I don't fault you for not knowing everything.

I still like you. You are a great man.

RevRon's Rants said...

At least the passive aggressiveness is more entertaining than the obfuscation, which grew tiresome long ago. Reminiscent of Vitale's standard sign-off when he's trying to mask his anger: "blessings." It's all in the context. :-)

Anonymous said...


sarcasm is all about you and your great skills at sticking it to others. Rather then defining or deepening a discussion for looking at how context is or is not relevant to this exchange - it is you that obfuscates. But it is not you, I notice that most internet critics go to similiar places that you do when challenged in any way. Most resort to emotional sarcastic ad homynims much like yourself when they do not get the agreement and cultish agreement they seek.

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, it seems that both Ron and I have a tendency sometimes to resort to sarcasm and snide remarks when relatively calm and rational explanations of our point of view continue to result in the same "I know you are but what am I" responses from *our* critics and detractors. We've explained our positions over and over and over. You don't agree with them and we don't agree with your positions, so why can't we just agree to disagree?

I will say, though, that it seems you have a different definition of "context" than either Ron or I do.

I think all of us are guilty of the ad hominem remarks at times. I know I see them all the time from the true believers who speculate that critics of self-help think the way they do because of rage, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, etc. A given critic may indeed be jealous or envious and sometimes angry, but that doesn't make the scammers any less scammy.

And by the way -- in response to one of your earlier remarks -- I've *never* categorically condemned everyone who is "engaging with the ideas of Buddhism, philosophy, esoteric and metaphysical ideas in groups settings." I do snark about scammy, transparently money-grubbing gimmicks such as Joe Vitale's and Craig Perrine's Attract Miracles "Community." Group "intentions" have never been proven to change anything or do much except line the pockets of your Maharishis and Joe Vitales and such. Group *actions*, on the other hand, have effected real change.

Cosmic Connie said...

I meant to add something to my remark about "ad hominem" comments. In the interests of fairness and looking at it from both sides, I have at times resorted to what could be construed ad "ad hominem" when I speculate, Anon, about your personal agenda -- e.g., which LGAT(s) or guru(s) I imagine you to be specifically attempting to defend (or from whom I imagine you are attempting to deflect criticism). I have also criticized you more than once for choosing to remain Anonymous and not revealing more about your agendas and beliefs.

I realize many would argue that my bringing up these points about you is actually an attempt to introduce (here's that 'c' word again) context into the discussions here. Many would contend that if you are, say, a die-hard fan of a given LGAT or are a faithful follower or affiliate of someone I criticize, that *is* relevant information and would help other participants more objectively evaluate your ideas.

That may be true, but as you are not willing to be forthcoming about your identity or affiliations then the discussion has to center around the ideas and points themselves. And I think that for the most part we have stuck to these points.

One thing I can't seem to let go of, however, is that there is kind of a double standard here. People such as Ron, Steve, and I write under our own identities. Yes, I use the cute moniker "Cosmic Connie" and Ron uses "Rev Ron," but our real identities are out there for all to see. Even Salty Droid has revealed his real identity. By being critics, we're putting ourselves at personal risk (death threats and the like) and, to a certain extent, professional risk every day. Our detractors for the most part remain safely anonymous, as is their prerogative of course. As you've pointed out yourself, Anon, anonymity is a common ploy in Net discourse.

Regarding ad hominem and the questions about participants' agendas, I do think that when strong opinions are expressed, people who disagree with those opinions are more likely to want to know the personal agendas and motivations of the one expressing those opinions. We're less likely to dig for such information about those with whom we agree. This is true in online discourse about self-help as well as in discussions about politics and religion. Funny how that works. :-)

Anonymous said...

Got it Connie.


Your # 1 "die-hard fan",

Anonymous Anon

Anonymous said...

"One thing I can't seem to let go of, however, is that there is kind of a double standard"

Connie, can you please clarify what the "double standard" you perceive that you are being held to or being expected to adhere to by me or anyone re: anonymity? I don't get what you mean it.


"Anon, anonymity is a common ploy in Net discourse."

ploy   –noun
1. a maneuver or stratagem, as in conversation, to gain the advantage.

It is my view that anonymity is a common and acceptable and advised practice on the www. How is that you frame it as a "ploy" when it comes to contributers to a blog? I thought anonymity was a prudent and reasonable approach to entering into a random www discussion where one has no control over who has access to it. But a "ploy"? I just don't want strangers calling or showing up at my house.

Anonymous said...

One of my thoughts as to why LGATs inculcate the "no victims" paradigm is so that . . . LGAT victims will not see themselves as LGAT victims! "Victim" is an unenlightened and disallowed view, and those who *have* been victimized are left without means to identify exactly what's going on. A tricky set-up, and it's one which allows LGATs to dodge that 'accountability' thing they push on the followers. "No victims" is in line with the "no gossip" rules of LGATs & cults: when followers cannot "gossip" (er, talk) about others in the group-cult, notes will neither be exchanged nor concerns addressed amongst the followers regarding the slimy leaders.

Love love love your style, Connie!!

I LOL when I read you!


Anonymous said...

Jane C (JC) Willhite is also a founding member of TLC. She has a goog gig going up at High Valley Ranch in Clearlake Oaks CA known as PSI Seminars. People are encouraged to sign up for the next, then next, and even next expensive course. It costs about $25,000 to attend all of the PSI Seminars courses. The money goes to her, Jane, and her daughter Jenessa Helene Willhite Meyers and Jen's husband Jeffrey Widdecombe Meyers, plus long time JC friend, Shirley Hunt.

Pat Allen, Bob Proctor, Joe Vitale, John Asseraf, Ariel Ford, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Byron Katie, Lisa Nichols, Stewart Emery, Susan McNeal Velasquez, Berny (Bernard) Dohrman - he owns CEO Space, and Shelli Hunt all speak at the big late summer Principia event known as "Jane's Party" to ramp up everyone's vibrations to a higher level.

The courses run on free labor known as "staffing" or "giving back."

Many of the facilitators have tried to make it out on their own and realize they don't have what it takes to make it and run back to PSI such as Tim O'Kelley, Chuck Morrison, and Kathy Quinlan-Perez.

The only successful facilitator to make it out on his own was the late Brian Klemmer.

Brett Williams and Jeff Rogers attempts to set up trainings outside of the PSI network went poof.

PSI offers a Kid's course, Teen Experience facilitated by Annie Yoder, PSI 7, Men's and Women's Leadership courses facilitated by Kathy Quinlan-Perez and Shirley Hunt, and Principia. Front and Center is a public speaking and presentation course to develop new crops of facilitators. Front and Center - Jenessa uses her theatrical training from her USC theater degree to teach the breathing class.

The ranch in Clearlake Oaks hosts "Camp Choice" every summer for wayward Oakland CA kids to do the ropes course and get some higher thinking training.

Jimmie McMahon hosts "Camp Be It" for budding singers, actors, and songwriters every summer too. The kid's parents pay several thousand dollars for them to go make a demo tape, do the ropes course, and learn some higher thinking skills along with developing their entertainment career goals.

You never know, maybe one of them will write the next "Living Synergistically" jingle!

Cosmic Connie said...

Hey, Anon Sunday, February 12, 2012 5:51:00 PM: Thanks for pointing out PSI (and for the recent comments on Salty Droid's blog too, if that was you). I hadn't yet turned my loving attention to this devious cultish purveyor of LGAT madness. It dismays but does not surprise me to see that they are attempting to reach their tentacles into the minds and hearts of the younger generations as well as the so-called grownups.

But I would like to know if they really are still scheduling folks such as John Asshat... I mean Assaraf? Even after his famous bankruptcy? And what about Bob Proctor, whose current legal and financial battles are the stuff that snarky blog posts are made of? Or were you just naming past featured speakers?

Anyway, it's clear to me that this is just another money grab, playing to the elitist mindset of those in the "transformational" (read: New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality) industry. Icky, icky, icky.

Anonymous said...

John Assaraf spoke at PSI Seminars Principia last year. Ever since OneCoach went belly up, their marketing man, Scott Allen, moved over to PSI Seminars and is now the vice-president of marketing.

Scott Allen wrote, or the truth about PSI Seminars. The principals, Jane Willhite, her daughter Jenessa Helene Willhite Meyers, and old lady Ernestine Fischer, all donate to the Democratic Party, Barbara Boxer, and Hillary Clinton. Since this is public knowledge on the Huffington Post, PSI is trying to back peddle by saying that the money made from the seminars doesn't just go to the Democrats.

Tom Willhite's tutor, William Penn Patrick, owner of pyramid scheme Holiday Magic Cosmetics made an unsuccessful run for the Republian nomination for the govenor of CA being beat by Ronald Reagan in 1966. My how the world has turned with the PSI brass assuaging their guilt and donating to the Democrats over the millions they make from their profit making venue known as PSI Seminars.

Jane Willhite sent out a personal message to all PSI graduates urging them to sign up for PSI7 graduate Lanny Morton's Six Minutes to Success. Now people are losing their shirts from being involved with this. Lanny and Deena Morton are being sued by Bob Proctor who ownes "Six Minutes to Success" leaving the graduates holding the bag.

So yes, John Assaraf of The Secret speaks at PSI Seminars Principia. It costs $25,000 to take all of the PSI classes: The Basic, PSI 7, Men's or Women's Leadership Seminars, PLD (Pacesetter Leadership Dynamics) seminar, and Principia (where all of the top brass from the new thought crowd speaks).

Anonymous said...

The complete PSI Seminars Life Success Manuscripts are posted on the pissed consumer blog. It starts from the bottom up. The books of Tom Willhite’s bible start with The Book of: Beginnings, Attitude, Desire, Consciousness, Mastermind, Wealth, Wisdom, Fears, Leadership, Power, Liberty, and end with Visions. This is the leather bound book Jane hands out after one completes PSI 7 or as it's now called The Life Success Seminar.

The concepts are harmless. PSI runs into trouble with Tom's exclamation with "You are God" on the last page of his book. This is especially disturbing because Tom claimed to be a Christian. If he hadn’t claimed to be a Christian, he would appear as a hypocrite.

The Christian Research Institute as well as the Dallas Theological Seminary labeled this writing as blasphemous. Some PhD student refuted Tom's bible line-by-line against the real Holy Bible. There are other discrepancies with Tom's instance that "Jesus did what he wanted to do" omitting the fact that he was following and fulfilling his heavenly father's will. Maybe the dissertation will become a popular book someday to set the record straight.

Here is an excerpt from the Dallas Theological Seminary dissertation:
In the Book of Consciousness on page 51 . . . Tom states “He did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. - Well, this is technically true . . . but when talking about The Lord, Jesus obeyed Abba, his Father in heaven because he was there in the beginning.

See John 17:4 - I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do. And, Luke 2:49 - “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “You should have known that I would be in my Father’s House.”. . . Jesus obeyed his earthly parents (Mary and Joseph) and His Father in heaven.

Matthew 3:17 - And a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, and I am fully pleased with him.”
Mark 1:11 - And a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.”
Luke 3: 22 - and the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.”
2 Peter 1:17 - And he received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious majestic voice called down from heaven, “This is my beloved Son; I am fully pleased with him.”

. . . in a nutshell: Jesus pleased and obeyed Abba, his Father as a member of the Trinity . . . all three persons of the Trinity are alive and active. God is one, yet in three persons at the same time.

John 15:24 - If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be counted guilty. But as it is, they saw all that I did and yet hated both of us - me and Abba, my Father. . . . Jesus warned us about the world’s hatred towards Him and His believers.
Here is what Tom writes on page Page 55 . . . I have said that this concept . . . the I AM concept . . . is the foundation of all the concepts. Now from the Dallas Theological Seminary dissertation: I AM is God’s personal name. See Exodus 3:13-15. God called himself I AM . . . a name describing his eternal power and unchangeable character. Hebrews 13:8 says that God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” Exodus 3:14 - I AM who I Am . . . or, I Will Be What I Will Be.

Jesus also used the title I AM for himself. See John 4:26 . . . “I am the Messiah!” And, John 8:58 . . . Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!” or, “Truly, truly, before Abraham was, I am.” – This is one of the most powerful statements uttered by Jesus. When he said that he existed before Abraham was born, he undeniably proclaimed his divinity. Jesus applied God’s holy name to himself. It does not apply to humans exclaiming that they are God.

I think in a time of crisis one reaches out to a higher power (God) other than themselves and not within to their finite self. Just my guess. Or, is Jane’s granddaughter going to go around saying that she is God?

Anonymous said...

I'm Rev Kev, a former PSI facilitator who came to know the real JC and shucked off the phony-money-grubbing teachings of PSI.
The teachings of PSI Seminars, Thomas D. Willhite and his Co-Founder wife Jane are pure plagiarism from previous self-help, money-snatching frauds. Jane C. Willhite, or JC as she refers to herself, is a founding member of the Transformational Leadership Council.

Tom Willhite didn’t have a single original thought: his experience on the Golden Gate Bridge of having a vision of “First Day – Last Day) described in his First Day-Last Day lecture, was stolen from Werner (John Paul Rosenberg-EST-Forum-Landmark Education) Erhard.

All of the “TLC” people are in bed together and have been for years. Stewart Emery, a friend of Jane’s, was the President of EST way-back-when. At the end of Stephen Pressman’s book, he stated that EST was “all about nothing . . . the emperor had no clothes.” Nothing for poor paying saps and everything for Werner and Jane.

William (deceased) Penn Patrick, Werner (took-the-money-and-left-the-country) Erhard, Stewart Emery, John Assaraf, Jack Canfield, Jane Willhite, and the list goes on and on . . . are in it for the money . . . not to actually help someone become more successful, educated, thinner, and richer!

John Assaraf is speaking at PSI's Principia again this late summer at The Ranch along with Bob (same-old-sheet) Proctor. Bob Proctor's January interview with Dori Locke was filled with dirty words. It can be heard on the iTunes podcasts.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen did not write the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul"! It was a compilation of other people's stories that they snatched for free. To get your story in the book you had to sign a notice that you could not collect money from them. They started out in the Founders District of Toastmasters International in Orange County CA. They went everywhere to hawk that book . . . even gas stations!

All of these Transformational Learning Council people (it's by invitation only) all sit around and laugh at all of these poor saps who shell out big bucks to attend these "self growth" "self-help" and "maximize your potential" seminars and classes. It's religion without God!

PSI Seminars are way overpriced . . . if they were really interested in “transforming people” they would give it away!

Someone outed her on her lack of compassion for the kids in her own backyard of Lake County CA.

She's cheap and won't help poor kids out in Lake County. Let's see her peel off some money to really "make a difference in poor people's lives!"

If you've been to PSI Seminars, you got taken for a ride by the manipulative expert, JC Willhite. Funny thing is . . . the real JC as in Jesus Christ, is the real transformer of people into Godly leaders. And, I’m not talking about “religion” or “money-grubbing-churches-priests-pastors-ministers” . . . I’m talking about getting to know The Lord in your private space, by yourself and studying his teachings yourself. I’m talking about clearing out your bullshit and getting rid of your past actions that “hang you up” so you can’t move forward . . . lay them at the foot of the cross and let The Lord love you, forgive you, and die for you so you won’t beat yourself up any longer! Isn’t it funny that people can pray, worship, create, and perform positive acts in His name and it doesn’t cost them $25,000?

Anonymous said...

Musings from a former PSI facilitator - The Rev Kev

Did anyone notice that the PSI brass had all of the manuscript chapters deleted from the PSI is a copy of EST and the Forum thread at Pissed

What are they afraid of? Tom Willhite clearly writes "You are God" on the last page numbered 166.

Read the Book of Job and ask yourself the same question God asked Job: Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?
Job did not create the heavens and the earth and we can't either. Only God can. We are not God.

Tom Willhite was terribly misguided.

Tom was foolishly disrespecting the risen Lord Jesus Christ when he wrote these blasphemous words.

At the annual convention of the Assemblies of God church last year, PSI Seminars was discussed and the TDW PSI manuscript was brought to light and analyzed. It was decided that believers in Jesus Christ should not partake of this hypocrisy.

Cosmic Connie said...

Good to see you here again, RevKev. FYI, I have seen identical comments on Salty Droid's blog but have published them here anyway. Since I am not a Christian, I don't see the issue of blasphemy as you define it here as a huge concern, but I understand your point. The larger point, I think, is that the PSI people are scammers, and that should outrage all of us, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof. Thank you as always for your insights.