Posts Tagged ‘Law of Attraction’

Below is the document that I read in court to present my side of the story. The lawyer I consulted before-hand told me that nine times out of ten, the courts accepted the trustee’s recommendations. My trustee was recommending an additional 12 months in bankruptcy. Based on those odds, the lawyer felt that taking money to represent me was an expensive exercise in futility. So I delved into the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and wrote my story. The document was submitted to the courts a few days prior to my court appearance; the conclusion, which is below, was read in person by myself in court.

Here it is. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was recently challenged by a friend, who made it clear to me that she bases the control of her life on accepting that everything revolves around the choices she makes.

I’ve heard that a lot in Law of Attraction circles, and it smacks to me of blaming the victim. You wouldn’t have been raped if you didn’t wear that dress and didn’t go to that bar. Your father wouldn’t have touched you if you didn’t let it happen.

Yes, life is twisted and shaped because of our decisions. And I’m the last one to advocate blame. In fact, one-third of my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman, is dedicated to accountability. Accountability, summed up, means “owning your own shit.”

Yet, there is a time in one’s life that a line must be drawn in the sand, a line that separates my choices from your actions.

Yes, I wore that dress to the bar. Yet, he’s the one who raped me.

What you did and who’s at fault are two completely different things.

Yes, I let my father continue to touch me. I was stunned into submission and since he was the authority figure in my life, I didn’t know where else to turn. Yet, he’s the one who acted out his fantasy.

What you did and who’s at fault, again, two completely different things.

I think it’s an oversimplification to say that you are responsible for everything that has happened to you as a result of your choices. It’s an easy way out for the perpetrator. It’s a camouflaged deflection of responsibility using counter-blame.

The sweet thing (and the equally frustrating thing) about human beings is our complexity. And when you hear a gross over-simplification, examine it. You might be surprised at what you find underneath.

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While I think it’s still somewhat on the low side, at least the man is going to jail. I hope to hell he’s counting his blessings. Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow sentenced Ray to two years for each victim. Sadly, the sentences are to be served concurrently (at the same time). And Ray has to repay a total of $57,000 in restitution to the three families. A pittance, I say, a pittance. Especially given that he took in half a million dollars at an imitation sweat-lodge ceremony he led at the Angel Valley Resort, near Sedona in October 2009, that killed the three victims: Kirby Brown, 38; James Shore, 40, and Liz Neuman, 49.

Read the USA Today story here, which includes a video available to those in the US. I’ll be looking for a video for the rest of us. Let me know if something becomes available on Youtube.

I don’t think this will indent the lack of integrity in the self-help industry. It will just help them better cover their asses in case of, um, accidents. And it will make sure they don’t push to the point of death. You needn’t look death in the eye in order to succeed at anything.

James, enjoy your brief stay. Convert a few convicts and help them become millionaires when they get back to the outside. Look for Jesus. Pray that the one on the inside with the homemade blue-ink tattoos on both sets of knuckles doesn’t find you. And stay the hell out of other people’s business for a while. And consider this: if you hadn’t of stalled the process as much as you did, you would have been substantially through your sentence. Instead, now, you are just at the beginning. That’s a small comfort too.

My personal hope is that the judge structured the sentence as he did to avoid appeal. And if you do appeal, maybe the new judge will change “concurrent” to “consecutive.”

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So. Tomorrow is the day. The day that James Arthur Ray receives his sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow morning (November 18th, 2011), from 9am to 12noon, AZ time. Note that Arizona does not do the timeshift thing, so currently Arizona is on Mountain time. So for us on the West Coast, or Pacific time, tune in at 8am. Central time can tune in at 10am, and everyone else can figure it out for themselves.

Ah, Jimmy dear, will you get what you deserve? Funny. That’s probably what you are praying for right now too. Although I suspect that what you and others think you deserve wildly differ.

Here is a timeline from Wikipedia:

Ray is an advocate of the Law of Attraction; his teachings have been described as “including a mix of spirituality, motivational speaking, and quantum physics”. In an interview, Ray answered about personal responsibility, “I fully know, for me, that there is no blame. Every single thing is your responsibility … and nothing is your fault. Because every single thing that comes to you is gift … a lesson.”[2]

Concerns were raised since at least 2000 regarding the safety and soundness of his methods.[1]

According to Grant Cardone, in 2000 Ray consulted him for methods to increase sales at business seminars, and was warned to teach only sound business practices. After this time, Ray began incorporating sleep deprivation, fasting, fire and glass walking, and sweat lodge methods after studying in South America.[3]

Former attendees of Ray’s seminars have reported unsafe practices and lack of properly trained medical staff in 2005. A New Jersey woman shattered her hand after she was pressured by Ray to participate in a quasi-martial arts board-breaking exercise. After several unsuccessful untrained attempts, the woman sustained multiple fractures during the seminar that was held at Disney World.[4]

Participants of a James Ray “Spiritual Warrior” exercise in 2006, after signing waivers, were told to put the sharp point of an arrow used in archery against the soft part of their necks and lean against the tip. A man named Kurt sustained injuries during this exercise as the shaft snapped and the arrow point deeply penetrated his eyebrow.[5]

In July 2009, Colleen Conaway attended a seminar hosted by James Ray International in which the attendees were directed to dress as homeless people. She fell to her death at the Horton Plaza Mall in San Diego. She died as a result of injuries, and according to police, she had no identification on her person.[6][7]

In 2005, preceding the tragic events of October 2009, a serious injury involving hospitalization was reported at the Angel Valley Ranch during a “Spiritual Warrior” retreat led by Ray. Verde Valley Fire Chief Jerry Doerksen’s department responded to an emergency call that a 42 year old man had fallen unconscious after exercises inside the sweat-lodge.[8][9][10]

On October 8, 2009, at a New Age “Spiritual Warrior” retreat conceived and hosted by Ray at the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Yavapai County near Sedona, Arizona, two participants, James Shore and Kirby Brown, died as a result of being in a sweat lodge exercise. Eighteen others were hospitalized after suffering burns, dehydration, breathing problems, kidney failure, or elevated body temperature. Liz Neuman, another attendee, died October 17 after being comatose for a week.[11]

With the references as follows:

  1. a b Harris, Craig; Wagner, Dennis. “Sweat-lodge guru: A story of ups, downs”The Arizona Republic, 23 October 2009.
  2. Harris, Dan; Ferran, Lee; Shaylor, Jay; Pereira, Jen. “Beyond Sweat Lodge: James Ray’s Controversial World”, ABC News, 29 October 2009.
  3. “Grant Cardone: James Ray Was Warned”Huffington Post. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  4. Macintosh, Jeane (19 October 2009). “James Arthur Ray’s past contains serious injuries and suicides at seminars”New York Post. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  5. “Man: Sweat Lodge Leader’s Actions ‘Reckless'”KPHO.com. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  6. Baker, Debbi (2009-07-27). “Woman in fatal Horton Plaza fall identified”. SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  7. Macintosh, Jeane (2009-10-19). “James Arthur Ray’s past contains serious injuries and suicides at seminars”New York Post. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  8. “Sweat Lodge Retreat Leader ‘Being Tested’ by Deaths”. FoxNews.com. 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  9. Fonseca, Felicia; Christie, Bob (2009-10-16). “Sweat-lodge deaths cast negative spotlight on guru”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  10. Hensley, JJ (15 October 2009). “Resort near Sedona had previous sweat lodge incident”The Arizona Republic. Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  11. Hensley, JJ (15 October 2009). “Resort near Sedona had previous sweat lodge incident”The Arizona Republic. Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
Stay tuned…

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11
Oct

Unthink THIS

   Posted by: Britt    in Bankruptcy, On the Law of Attraction

Oh! if only it were true! If only we could think — or for that matter UNTHINK — things into existence. What a nicer place this world could be!

Here’s what is keeping me awake this tonight: banks and taxes.

Sigh. It’s a brain-full.

I’ll keep this simple, because it’s very complex-yet-simple stuff.

First, the banks. If you are like me, you have heard of the “fractional-reserve” banking system. The way I understood it was that banks could lend out the same amount of money ten (in a 1:10 system) or twenty (1:20) times. I understood it academically. Starting today, I actually began to grasp what it meant.

Let’s say I go into a bank and deposit $40,000.

(…and I haven’t yet wrapped my brain around the notion that banks write money into existence the instant you put your signature on to the promissory note to repay the loan, making this original $40,000 and the resulting $1,000,000 in profits even more insidious…) 

The 10:1 fractional-reserve system requires the bank to hold on to 10% of it (1/10th) and it then allows the bank to lend out the other 90%, or $36,000.

So then the other borrow, the new owner of the $36,000 deposits that loan into their bank. Again, their bank is required to hold on to 10% or $3,600, and it loans out the remaining $32,400.

The next borrow takes their $32,400 loan, deposits it into their bank account, and that bank in turn holds onto $3,240 and lends out $29,160.

This is only the first three layers of transactions. Ultimately, this system of deposit-and-lend can happen about a hundred times. By the time the bank is done laundering my money, it has taken my $40K and churned out another $360,000 in loans.

And then, the magic happens. Yes, there’s more: it’s called Compound Interest. Get out your calculators or just go on basic trust here, but generally speaking, any 20 year loan on 5% interested compounded monthly produces an amount close to 2.5 the original amount. So $40K times 2.5 yields about $120K. And we know %5 is low-balling it.

So the bank, in lending out $360,000 instantaneously now receives a cool million in 20 years of repayments that include principal and interest. Yes, the magic of Compound Interest.

So where does this $960,000 of hard cold cash come from, especially since it doesn’t even exist in the first place? Why, we borrow it from the banks of course. Business loans. Mortgages. Lines of credit. Credit cards.

A self-perpetuating system destined to leave the individual poor and the banks rich.

And you might think it stops there. Well, no. Actually it doesn’t.

There’s the second layer of shit called “governments.” The biggest misconception out there is that governments tax “things” or stuff. In Canada, we have personal and corporate taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, liquor taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, estate taxes,  and on and on the list grows.

But what it really boils down to is that “things” are NOT taxed. What is really taxed is the movement of money. If you have a $20 bill in your pocket that is 20 years old, stop and imagine for a moment the number of transactions this piece of paper has seen in its two decades. Consider how long it stays in your wallet. A week? Maybe two? If a $20 bill sees even just 10 transactions in a year, assuming a taxation rate of 15% (which it’s not, it’s more like 50%), it will have generated $15 for the government in taxes in one year. And $300 in twenty years.

(Consider just one transaction. You buy a thing for one dollar. Immediately, there’s sales tax. Let’s say 7%. Then with this one sale, the owner has earned an income. So there’s income tax. Let’s say 25%. So without even considering import/export  and employee taxes, 33% of this dollar has immediately gone to the government.)

Again, it has generated more than it’s original value for the government.

It’s really quite depressing.

And how does this all lend (haha) itself to the law of attraction? Simple. One of the biggest mantras of the gurus is: It’s a sin to sit on money. As quick (!) as you earn it, so must you spend it. In fact, if you don’t have enough money it’s because you refuse to spend enough money. You are tight-fisted and obsessed with holding on. And as long as you hoard what you have you won’t be free to get more.

But really, this multi-billion dollar self-help industry keeps money in circulation; and this, my friends, means more loans,which in turn means more taxes.

Depositing the money in the bank means more loans, more debt. Which in turn puts more money into circulation which in turn means more taxes.

But here’s the real crime of hoarding: If you put $40,000 of bills under your mattress, you have “robbed” the banks of a million dollars AND “robbed” the governments of the taxes that they would have earned with this extra million in circulation. And yet, sadly, you yourself cannot transform this $40K into a million.

Do you get this? While each and every one of us (capable of reading this and comprehending it) will be dead in the next 100 years, the system will survive. Taxation is thousands of years old. Fractional-reserve banking is about 300 years old. And we, the individuals cranking out our debt-ridden lives to climb to the top of this mad pyramid scheme, are all enslaved to this.

So given even this scratch-the-surface level of economical understanding, do you really think we can think our way out of this?

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
– Henry Ford

Problem is, who’s getting it? And of those who get it, what in hell can be done about it? Our national wealth — and indeed our entire economy — depends on this house of cards being upheld.

Is a storm is blowing our way?

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1
Sep

The biggest hoax of our time

   Posted by: Britt    in On Positive Thinking, On Seekers

The “Law of Attraction” has, um, attracted many famous mouthpieces. The most famous by far would be Empress O Herself, whose lips have launched the careers of many of those famous gurus featured in The Secret. Including James Arthur Ray, Jack Canfield, Reverend Michael Beckwith and the like. And, of course, Rhonda Byrne, author of this finely lifted work.

I think this is the most horrific actualization of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We’re all so darned busy nodding our heads and softly murmuring about Her fine philosophies of God, pasting thin smiles on our faces lest we be struck by the mainstays of life (like suffering and death), that no one dares to point out that she is naked.

In the American Declaration of Independence it is written that man (sic) has the inalienable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This line is actually lifted from the British John Locke’s 1690 document, the  “Second Treaty of Civil Government” where he claimed that every man (sic) was entitled to “life, liberty and property.”

The American Dream born from this concept where property, or more broadly, the possession of stuff, is the path to happiness. We’ve become so frenzied with that notion of happiness that it’s become almost like a new religion (actually, it’s two newish-old ones, the Church of New Thought merged with Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science).

And what do all it’s Preachers preach?

That good thoughts lead to money which in turn brings you happiness which is your God-given right as a human being. And yes, God lurks heavily in their gospel, but as a by-product of wealth.

And so we’re all busy paying the gurus, I mean Preachers, so that we can learn how to “think the right thoughts” so that we can earn our money and find our way to God Himself (sic). Meanwhile, we’re doing nothing to make the world a better place to live.

We’re smiling ourselves to death, kidding ourselves about the stylish mantle of success they have us believe they are wearing (isn’t it a little suspicious that each of them teaches the cornerstone of deception by encouraging everyone to walk the walk and talk the talk, to act “as if” even before they’ve achieved their goal? doesn’t that smack of a lack of integrity?). And when we find ourselves thinking critically — I mean negatively — we silent smack our souls back into place and smile. Stupidly.

I for one am stepping away from the admiring masses throwing money at the gurus as they parade naked down the street. I am in good company (see the blogroll). We’re a small group, but we’re wise.

James Arthur Ray is showing his true colours these days. Accountability? None, it’s the poisonous fumes in the sand.

But we don’t need the deaths of people to reveal the truth here folks. Just an open eye and a child that points out that the Emperor is indeed naked.

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The Train

Imagine this. It’s 1:34 am. A moonless night. For whatever reason (every story needs to start with an unknown trauma behind you), you are beside a railway track, just a foot or two to the side.

You have infamously fallen and you can’t get up.

In the ghostly distance you hear the ghastly hoot-hoot of an oncoming train. You struggle to get unstuck. No luck. A brief minute passes and you no longer just hear it: you see its ominously-deadly headlight doggedly lurching toward you. Chugachuga chugachuga choo-choo. This is it. Your big moment. The grand finale.

Admittedly, you’re being dramatic. For you are not square on the railroad track. You’re off to the side. You are also somewhat smart: you also know that trains are typically wider than the  track they run on. But visions of your own demise dance in your head. You are the train wreck. Soon to be the wreckage.

So you do the only thing any normal human being would do. You pray. Your life flashes before your eyes. You do a quick-and-nasty inventory of what you can do without and offer it up.

And, here’s the fun bit, you get to chose your own ending.

Option 1

Miracle of miracles happen. Before the train can hit you, it rumbles to a stop. Why? probably because you prayed to your god. A hobo comes along, gets you unstuck and helps you up. And you live happily ever after.

Option 2

Miracle of miracle happens. The train passes you by and you don’t get a scratch. You get a bruise. A big black-and-blue, ache-to-the-bone nasty bruise on your right upper arm. Because something happened, something incredible. Someone threw a bagful of freshly bundled unmarked bills out the window and it smacked you right there. Why? probably because you prayed to your god. A hobo comes along, gets you unstuck and helps you up. And you live happily ever after.

The End

All fairy tales end with that promise, aka Happily Ever After. It’s a lie, by the way. It gets a lot more complicated. But that’s for another tale. Let’s (ominously) stay on track.

Here’s what really happened. You think you discovered the secret. It’s called god. But now elevated to God. Intermingled with the glory of self wallowing and the new realization that this entire Universe is all about you. Thoughts are things, you realize. You control the Universe, as evidenced by the recent near miss. As evidenced by your very own life.

You set out to share the news with others. You know everyone is seeking this secret. This Secret. You know that people generally undervalue what comes to them freely (after all, you too payed the ultimate price of adrenaline). And so you charge them for this information. And you write books on how to think the right thoughts and have the right mindset. And you give seminars. Oh sure your seminars are free to start, but you give no real secrets away on these freebies. Just incentive. Motivation to move up to the next level (for $1,000). And the next (for $5,000). And the next (for $30,000). And you capture it all onto audio. So that you can continue to spread the word. At a significant cost of course.

Why gosh! you have become a guru. A Guru.

And in the shadows of Truth, with the layers peeled back, here’s what really happened.

Option 1

There was a train station. You were so wrapped in the drama of your own demise that you failed to make out its unlit shape in the shadows. Your sweet God actually had nothing to do with it. The train station, on the other hand, had everything to do with it.

Option 2

A  bank robber’s sleeper car was just about to be searched. He was tipped off by the bus boy (do trains have bus boys? No idea. Hey, it’s MY story about you. I’m the one telling it here), who has had a long standing crush on this swarthy and dangerous frequent flyer. Or rider rather. The bank robber made the split-second decision to trash the loot and live to steal another day, so he opened the window and tossed out his single (but incredibly valuable) bag of bills.

You were so wrapped up in the drama of your own demise that you failed to realize that this was a perfect example of opportunity, where luck meets preparedness. Preparedness had everything to do with where you were physically located in that moment. It had nothing to do with who you were or how hard you worked to get there (because face it, you didn’t).

Your sweet God actually had nothing to do with it. Another person’s story, which had nothing to do with you, had everything to do with it.

Epilogue

The Law of Attraction is taken to these same ridiculous extents. Oprah did not pray her way into her career. God did not reward her for her visions. She happened to be the right person with the right attitude, at the right place, at the right time. Dastardly end of sentence. Strike me down now or for ever hold your peace.

Well what do you know… I’m still typing.

When they (the ominous They) tell you that if you can conceive it you can achieve it, they mislead you. What they really mean is that if you can see it you may achieve it.

Think of yourself as an Olympic athlete running the hundred yard dash. In the moment that marks the beginning of the race, when that gun goes off and each of you pushes off, you are all the same. An athlete with a goal. You can all see it. You can all conceive it. But only one of you will achieve it.

Will it ever be you?

I don’t know. Are you persistent? Are you will to accept a personal best as a win? Or must must the entire universe revolve only around just you? Perhaps you didn’t think enough happy thoughts then. Or not in the right sequence. Or the smile on your face was actually fake. Never mind that the winning runner was faster….

In these times of extreme financial hardship, it’s only natural that we turn to those who have succeeded. Financially. Only you need to realize that the entire financial success of many (most?) of these Gurus depends not on the god they chose to pray to, not on their prior dramas, but on the fact that you are willing to dish up the dough that sustains them. They depend on your financial struggles to fill their coffers.

So give your head a shake. Get clear on what you want. Seek the council that directly addresses your path. (HINT: Getting rich is not it. That’s a dream, not a goal.) If you want to write a book, for goodness sake speak to authors. If you want to open a store that sells shoes for the hard to fit, for goodness sake talk to other niche store owners. If you want to work in a German deli, talk to the boss. Stop throwing good money away on gurus teaching you something as stupid as how to win the lottery.

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Meryl Davids Landau, author of the new spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog, writes an article asking the ultimate (I’m being facetious) question: Does the James Arthur Ray Trial Mean There’s No Law of Attraction?

I was shocked to discover that her answer to the question is a simple, No, of course not!

Wow. This was not at all what I expected to read from the Huffington Post. Quite the opposite indeed.

The few in this world who succeed to the point of having multi-millions and even billions of dollars at their fingertips find the concept of random circumstance too frightening. It ignores the ego. The notion that is has nothing to do with your goodness or greatness is inconceivable.

Believing that they were/are special is much more comforting than believing they got lucky. Indeed, our ego hungers to believe it received because it believed, making it exceptionally special. Godlike. As a species, we’ve spent thousands of years mimicking the gods in attempt to get close to what they’ve achieved. So when we achieve it, we believe we’ve arrived at that secret formula. So why not package and sell it? The rest of us also hunger for that validation. (The foundations of solid marketing here.)

Yet, there are far more Willy Loman’s in the world (Death of a Salesman, fellow who believed if he could just walk the walk and talk the talk then he too would become successful – a fundamental “belief” at the core of the so-called “Law” of attraction) than there are Oprahs. But LOA advocates easily rip this point to shreds by mindlessly stating that the Willy Lomans simply do not think, feel, or believe the right things. Akin to blaming the victim.

LOA is landmine of destruction. Sure, there are a few towering trees (a favoured LOA metaphor) that loom over the masses in the forest, but statistically most saplings will die before they can even cast a scrawny shadow. Not because of their thoughts, but because of the random placement on this earth, in this universe. Their potential for growth was doomed by a larger cast shadow. Or some random hungry cow. Whatever.

Statistically speaking, the popularity of motivational speakers increase in times of economic upheaval. The Great Depression launched Dale Carnegie’s career. Depressions, recessions, and natural upheavals invite the human hunger to know (and tap into the power of) God.

A fire here in Alberta recently wiped out one third the entire town of Slave Lake. Norman James’s house was left standing amidst the ruins, and he quickly commented that there must be a higher power looking out for him.

“All I can say is if anybody believes in God or a creator or whatever, I believe it’s a miracle,” said James. “I believe my house is still standing because of a higher power.”

What that blissfully simple  statement pleasantly ignores is that that same God finds James’s neighbours unworthy of the same level of protection.

Yes, it’s easy to believe in a God when you’re succeeding. Our ego craves this. And it’s easy to cling on to the notion of a God when your desperate to find your way out of disaster. It’s called Hope, and it’s there for us all. But to charge money for that, and then to blame Willy Loman for not thinking the right thoughts is where, in my books, an ethical line is crossed. When lives are lost, it becomes criminal. I think the people on the jury– not God — needs to find James Arthur Ray guilty.

Luck is random and subjected to the whim of time, place, nature, and the influence of others. Governments, banks; family and neighbours. Success is being prepared when an opportunity (should the opportunity arise) crosses your path. You can’t think that opportunity into existence. You can’t justify it into existence, using the exception (ie Oprah) not the rule (Willy Loman) to back it up.

Huffington Post, you’ve seriously let me down.

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Like many others, I’m avidly following the case of James Arthur Ray. Whatever the courts find will have an impact on the billions of dollars currently being “earned” by the Law of Attraction gurus. Okay, so it might just make a tiny dent in the big picture. While I think the likes of Canfield, Robbins and Katie are avidly glued to their sets, I don’t think the typical student is even aware.

When I “fell” down my rabbit hole and landed in state of bankruptcy, my “teacher” (earlier referred to as Missus) made it clear that I was fully accountable for my own outcome. On the surface, I agreed with her as no one held a gun to my head and forced me to make the bad investments that I did. But something underneath bothered me. And slowly it boiled up and now it’s spilling over.

I’m now of the mind that education is a two-way street: The student agrees to be open (hence vulnerable) and the teacher agrees to contribute genuine knowledge delivered in the best interest of the student. The very nature of learning, after all, is suspending your disbelief and trusting your teacher.

Back in the day, I was a motorcycle instructor, and those two aspects (genuine knowledge and student safety) were embedded in our teaching philosophy. For example, some students were terrified of revving their engines. As teachers, we had genuine knowledge to the contrary, and consequently required the student to suspend her disbelief. Trusting us was imperative to her learning.  And we had to respect that trust and ensure safety, so we taught in in a safe environment — the parking lot — at relatively slow speeds. We had to minimize the potential for harm. (And should harm befall them, we were all trained in first aid.)

When a student could not perform effectively as a student (ie he couldn’t suspend his disbelief and rev his engines), we as teachers were then required to act in that student’s best interest and discontinued him from the course. It was our job as good teachers to monitor their safety. It was not their job as a student to choose their own situation. If we let them do that, we’d loose our job. They did not yet know what they didn’t know (to state the obvious) so they couldn’t make a sound decision in their best interest.

When CBC’s Marketplace found the Robert Kiyosak course practicing questionable teachings, it was because the contracted instructors were claiming false experiential expertise (claimed a tract of land was earning them passive income when in fact it was a dead investment) and consequently were not acting in the best interest of the student. Following their teachings could land them in the same dire straights as their teachers (who were, it seemed, using teaching as the tool to dig themselves out of financial despair).

I do agree that it was a tragic accident. It was never a planned event. However, categorizing it as an accident does not eradicate accountability (and landing it in the laps of the dead students is a travesty — and a slippery escape from accountability). I hope true accountability lands in the lap of James Arthur Ray (JAR). The students job is to be open; the teacher’s job was to protect their safety (this usually goes without saying) while imparting genuine knowledge.

Becoming a teacher is serious business. It can’t just be a money-making factory. It can’t just be loaded with “good intentions” (which, BTW I think JAR had). It also requires a tremendous amount of expertise that goes beyond the experiential background of just the teacher her/himself. And it comes with a very high degree of responsibility.

So while my “financial” teacher, Missus and her snake-oiled partner were teaching with good intentions, they lacked the expertise in BOTH their own experiential background and in light of the entire financial industry. I am responsible for signing the document, and they are responsible for putting the option in front of me in the first place, and for guiding me to the “learned” belief that these were good investments (they all failed, one by one by one).

The awful reality comes down to this. When it comes to dealing with the results, that lands squarely on the shoulders of the student. It is only me who can step forward with my current financial reality. The teacher remains untouched. Untouchable. I think the James Arthur Ray case is an attempt to make an ethically bad teacher (ie he failed to keep his students safe, and he failed in being genuinely knowledgable) be responsible for the outcome.

I wonder how many people, like me, sit in financial despair because of the teachings of the gurus. I don’t think that litigation is the answer. And I also don’t think regulation is either (since when is the government truly representative of the people?). I think  the real answer lies in awareness and education.

And this blog is my small kick at that big can.

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Well, today is my birthday. Today is the day that I turn 46. Today will also mark the beginning of my blogging about my own process.

For anyone following this blog regularly, you will know that I too was taken in (“scammed” is another great word for it) by the Law of Attraction. My husband and I were “students” of what I now call quasi-gurus (those who had learned from the gurus and decided to make their own little fist-full of money teaching their watered down version of it … subconsciously perhaps having come to the realization that what made these gurus wealthy in the first place was not their own entrepreneurial ventures but their teachings).

The thing is, the whole reason why I fell for these quasi-gurus was anchored in the fact that I had known the husband of the woman teacher for about ten years. I trusted him implicitly — indeed I looked up to him — and through him I trusted his wife. The wife who I’ll refer to as Missus, had taken seminars from Robert Allen (Real Estate guru). She teamed up with another gleaming-toothed salesman (who I’ll call Snake) who had taken a number of T. Harv Eker courses (I’m assuming the one on teaching seminars as well). The two, I now know, were armed with their little success, which they puffily expanded in their free introductory course.

Selling us on a myriad of products, ranging from tax strategies to paper investments, the pressure was on to “start now,” as nothing was worse than financial gains delayed — nay lost — due to failure to act NOW, in the moment when an opportunity presented itself.

Before this, I had a pretty good financial situation in life. I had a credit rating of 825, which is in the top 15 percentile. Me and my husband had bought a condominium (mostly using my funds that I have saved for the down payment) that had doubled in value over three years. And thanks to a private contribution from my father given in perpetuity against my inheritance, our mortgage was pretty much paid off.

So I really thought I had a good foundational understanding of how money worked. And what the quasi gurus taught us made sense. And I’m one to shoot from the hip if it feels right. And their information felt right. They were very convincing. And even though I had little voices sounding off in the back of my head, we wanted the future they promised us. For us, but also for our newborn daughter. We wanted to secure a future for her. So on the “good” counsel from Missus and Snake, me and my husband tapped out our credit (their mantra is getting rich on OPM — Other People’s Money — which in this case meant the bank’s). We tapped into the “cheap money” available in our home (took out a second mortgage). And we purchased a range of “products” from their snake-oil business (which btw promised intentional wealth).

For about a year, we were held in the high esteem of these quasi-gurus, featured as star students for the other classes that came behind us (my husband was in their first seminar group, and I was in their second). They even went so far as to have me as a guest speaker on one of their many free seminars they held for bootcamp grads.

Fast forward a few years. One by one, slowly and painfully, each and every “product” or investment purchased from this “wealthy by intention” group flailed, then failed. They stopped touting our success as it was essentially a recognition of their profound failure. At first, Missus told me to stay the course. I just needed to stay strong, keep my mind on course. I could let a few failures make me stop investing (and of course the ultimate sales pitch is the frenzied cry, “If you stop, you’ll never get rich”), or I could stay the course. Believe it, and I will conceive it.

I got poorer and increasingly bitter. The relationship between me and my husband became strained. The quasi-gurus changed their tactics and started moving away from third party products and towards real-estate. And they definitely stopped looking in our general direction. We went from being their star students to being dust bunnies, frantically covered over least anyone should see us.

In our final consultation with these quasi-gurus, I distinctly recall Missus not-so-gently reminding me and my husband that no one forced us to make our decisions, that it was us, not them, who signed on the dotted line. And note that the Law of Attraction gurus are all notoriously good at this one: Failure can never be attributed to the teacher but rests solely on the shoulders of the student. (I am keenly following the James Arthur Ray trial to see which way this goes.)

I’ve given this a lot of consideration over the years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the teacher also holds a portion of responsibility. By virtue of being a teacher, you step into a trusted position of authority. If a teacher abuses her or his trust (say by teaching unethical concepts or practices), that teacher is also responsible for the outcome. If I as a teacher teach my students to hate a certain category of humans, and then one of my students goes out and kills someone, I might not have pulled the trigger but I am guilty of directly contributing to the death of another person.

Likewise, this particular agency presented their success under false premises. Missus and Snake each proclaimed they were financially free and were teaching this course from the goodness of their hearts. We later find out that that proclamation might have been true for a month or two, but not as a perpetual state of living. They also taught us the “five pillars” upon which all successful investments were based, and then showed us how each of their products lived up to at least four of the five (and they always had a great way of spinning the fifth). And then they’d backed it with the claim that their financial successes were all based on previous versions of these products. (In some cases, the revisioned versions were to salvage the first iteration. So essentially they were selling products in the hopes of salvaging their own original investments. Aka a ponzi scheme. Again, something we found out at a later date, when it was much to late for us.)

So, yes, we did sign on the dotted line. Not that accountability is an issue, as every single day I am confronted with the results of my signing on the dotted line. I have to live with my decisions, and I have to try to move forward each and every day. But without their “goodly” (snake-oil) guidance, we never would have made the decisions we did.

Fast forward to today. I’m working with a bankruptcy consultant. Our monthly cost of living is upward to $13,000 a month. It is unsustainable.

In an attempt to protect the money my father contributed toward my mortgage, I explored putting up their loan as a lien against our house. I consulted a lawyer. (Two emails cost me $180!!) In wanting to at least protect his investment, I  finally had to tell them, him and his wife, about my financial outlook. Not the details, because I’m still incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about having gone from almost mortgage-free with a credit rating of 825 at age 41 to bankrupt at age 46. But I did state that I wanted them to register a lien against our house so that they would be paid back should we have to go that route.

Turns out, the money came from his wife, so my dad turned it over to her. And she laid into me today, telling me how disappointed and troubled she is, that I’m trying to get them to register a lien on an already fully mortgaged house. She seems to have spun this around into me further taking advantage of them. And she’s laying it on thick and heavy.

Sadly, there’s nothing she can say or do to make feel worse than I’m already feeling. She cannot rake me over the coals anymore than I’ve already raked myself. I’ve lived in the depths of utter despair. Suicide had been a serious contemplation for months.

The money was given by them against my future inheritance, and it was given without a repayment plan. As the house increased in value, so to did their share. And whatever the value of the house was at the time of their demise, that was to be taken from my inheritance. We all signed papers to that effect, without lawyers.

And now my step-mother feels cheated, hurt and angry, and deserving an explanation. And I stand here in my midlife knowing that I’ve screwed up beyond repair. I’ve squandered my future, and I’ve also damaged my daughter’s financial future. My relationship with my husband is strained. And while the money was given with an initial intention of being permanent and without payment, it turns out there are tremendously thick strings attached. So when all this is said and done and put squarely behind me, when I can finally laugh about, “Oh, and remember the time where I got screwed over by … hahaha oh wasn’t that something,” I am determined to get this last financial monkey of my back. No idea how I’m going to do it yet, but I am going to pay that woman back and free myself from the burden of her disappointment. And firmly close that door behind me.

So the disintegration of family begins. Bankruptcy is truly just the beginning. And as far as the first day of my 47th year in life goes, it truly sucks.

I’ll keep you posted, because the only thing I have left is my story. And maybe it can help someone else travelling this same path beside me. Or prevent someone from going down that path in the first place.

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