Posts Tagged ‘Wealth and spirituality’

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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Law of Attraction is not a singular belief. Like religions and philosophies and musical tastes, we have a spectrum of flavors from which to choose. It ranges from the power of positive thinking to the belief that the universe is entirely of your own making.

Nor is it a singular course. Many (to most) of its teachers focus on wealth acquisition and accumulation, ranging from understanding your money blueprint (T. Harv Eker, Garrett Gunderson) to buying real estate (Robert Allen) to managing investment portfolios (Robert Kiyosaki). Others focus on personal growth (Byron Katie) and spiritual development (Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch).

The following table is an approximate overview of the personal responsibility assumption made to varying degrees in the Law of Attraction courses currently raging throughout North America and beyond.

I’ve tried not to pass judgment, as I am convinced that you can learn from just about anyone. While I would not personally take courses from some of the educational forums listed below, I would never go so far as to say they have nothing to offer. Each “teacher” in your life presents you with tools. What you do with them, how you apply them (if you choose to), and what you derive from them, is entirely up to you.

It is included here so that you can see the range. However, it is not definitive. What will make it definitive is your experience (direct or in-direct) with it.

Educational forum promoting…
partial personal responsibility substantial personal responsibility total personal responsibility
Philosophy You have some control over the outcomes of your life. You can shape the outcome of events that impact your life. You have created every aspect of your life.
Degree of action required Significant. Significant. Your thoughts are key, but only if you have the emotional desire to persist through and survive your trials and your failures. Insignificant. Your thoughts shape everything. That which follows is all a result of your ability to think the right thoughts.
Forums Books, counselling and therapy sessions, community workshops, one-on-one. Seminars, classes, leading to larger group. Large Group Awareness Training (LGATs).
Examples Positive-thought proponents, authors, counselors, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People

Events happen to you; how you respond to those events will have a significant ability to shape your future.

Jack Canfield’s formula E+R = O encapsulates it (Events + Response = Outcome).

Napoleon Hill advocated that you can receive what you conceive if you have an intense burning desire driving your action.

Landmark Education. Their philosophy is that personal responsibility begins and ends with one’s willingness to be central cause of all results in one’s life. Being both the cause and the effect is the ideal way to to live.

T. Harv Eker’s T > F >A > R formula encapsulates it (Thoughts lead to Feelings lead to Action lead to Results). It’s all you.

Extreme examples Your negative thoughts contributed toward your current situation. If you are down, it’s because you don’t believe you are worth better. Pat Robertson, an evangelical Christian suggests that the recent Haiti earthquake was brought about by the Haitians themselves in a deal they made with the devil to free them from the French.
Further research Irrelevant to the success of the relationship. Encouraged. The greater your exposure, the greater your chances at success. Not encouraged. The knowledge you will receive here is definitive. Stay away from the negative influence of fear-mongering newspapers and magazines.
Costs might fall into this range $20/book

Free consultation then typically $30-$50-$100/session depending on the type

Free intro nights

$100-1000/classes

$50-$500+/session

Free intro nights

$500-$30,000+/seminars

Seminars are frequently hosted by a high-profile success story, and run behind the scenes by volunteers.

Types Positive thinking

Therapy

Counseling

Community classes

Community classes

Seminars

Seminars

Several of the Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) programs

Techniques Comfort zone is challenged

Guided learning

Journaling

Peer-led group study

Comfort zone is challenged

Mental breakdowns lead to breakthroughs

Call-and-response technique

Comfort zone is challenged

Mental breakdowns lead to breakthroughs

Deprivation (contact, food/beverage, bathrooms, etc.)

Group chants or call-and-response technique

Deviation from the group can lead to personal humiliation

Independent thinking is discouraged (you are here, after all, because you are a failure and you want to learn from the successful expert so shut up and learn)

Spirituality Not typically present unless specifically seeking religious or spiritual guidance Implicit or explicit religious overtones Implicit or explicit religious overtones
Qualifications/ Status Academic achievement Track record success Cult-like status of the guru

Group conversations discouraged

Challenging the teachings discouraged (you can be physically removed from the session)

The Interpretation of Failure Failure means you haven’t yet been able to turn it around and look at it from a different perspective. Failure means you are one step closer to success. Success is built on a succession of failures. Failure means you are personally being punished. You haven’t “played” at 120%. You are personally weak. Typically, more classes will help you achieve a better rate of success.
The Interpretation of Success You can live in your current circumstances and be a happier human being. You can persist through the rough times knowing that the plan and the journey will get you there. You will be rich.

The Law of Attraction, wrapped in its mantra of self-improvement in the names of God and Wealth, makes for a lucrative industry. In 2006, the research firm Marketdata estimated the “self-improvement” business in the U.S. generated more than $9 billion in sales—including infomercials, mail-order catalogs, holistic institutes, books, audio cassettes, motivation-speaker seminars, the personal coaching market, weight-loss and stress-management programs.[1] It’s also an unregulated field, which means it’s buyer beware.


[1] PRWeb (September 21, 2006). “Self-Improvement Market in U.S. Worth $9.6 Billion.” Press release. http://www.prwebdirect. com/releases/2006/9/prweb440011.php. Retrieved 2008-12-18. “Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher, has released a new 321-page market study entitled: The U.S. Market For Self-Improvement Products & Services.”

The is an excerpt from my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman (Chapter 8).

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

13
Jun

A One-Hour Exclusive on Dateline

   Posted by: Britt    in On James Arthur Ray

On Saturday, June 12 2010, Dateline broadcast a one-hour special on the “Deadly Retreat” hosted by James Arther Ray at Sedona in 2009. It’s worth watching.

Deadly Retreat – Dateline

Tags: , ,

19
May

Remember Willy Loman?

   Posted by: Britt    in On Wealth Seminars

Willy Loman is the protagonist of Arthur Miller’s famous play, Death of a Salesman. Remember him? Anyone?

In brief, Willy lives the life of the successful businessman. He walks the walk, talks the talk, and believes in his imminent future success without fail. This is what he knows: He knows that all salesmen who become great are charismatic and popular. Essentially, Willy believes himself to have the potential of becoming a great man.

His fatal flaw is that he is in fact an ordinary man. A very ordinary man, trapped by the  unshakable conviction that greatness stems directly from personal charisma or popularity. His conviction is unshakable, and his entire being is emotionally convinced that if he plays the role, he will undoubtedly get to play the part. NLP’ers may say he is set for life. Alas, in the recesses of his mind, he knows that he is a fraud, that he is playing a game to which he was never invited. And instead of facing the ultimate truth of his inability to “think” himself to success, he draws the ultimate final curtain kills himself. A perfect snap-shot in time of the law of attraction gone awry.

There is a mass of “ordinary” men out there touting that they thought their way to success (and by that they don’t mean personal happiness, physical soundness, spiritual restfulness, or ecological harmony; no sirree bubba… they mean cash. And wads of it).

Vaguely reminiscent of the hordes of charismatic motivational speakers who all tout the similar story:

I wasn’t always like this. Before this extraordinary life, I was an ordinary person (typically without higher education). I then learned the secret, I learned how to attract wealth into my life. It comes from within; we all have it. I learned from the masters, and if I can do it, so can you. You too can unearth the fountain of wealth that lies just inches beyond your fingertips right now.

Eventually, they all quote the much-touted self-help book written by Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds. It’s the story of an African farmer who owned a plot of land. At that particular time, diamonds were being discovered in abundance in Africa. So the farmer sold his plot and headed out to find his fortunes. Sadly, he did not find them and he eventually died, poor and miserable. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the fellow who purchased his plot discovered that it housed a diamond mine beyond compare. Moral of the story: you need not look to far beyond your own existence to unearth the abundance that is available to you.

I know we are all compelled to hearing the success stories. But who is listening to the failures? To those who owned the plot beside the acre of diamonds that came up empty? The Willy Loman’s of the world who have learned the formula of sticking to your story without wavering, and if you just do this you will succeed.

Yes, there are gems in failures. But not all of them can be cashed in.

Tags: , ,

Here’s a link to an excellent blog that captures the essence of what I think is wrong with many of these “woo woo” get-rich gurus who like to bring in metaphysics and spirituality to argue their case. In it, LaVaughn makes the case that the universe does not exist to serve your ego. That thought, in and of itself, should be enough to stir some into a type of awakening.

I know just a little about Buddha. And I know enough to make the claim that enlightenment comes from ego-less-NESS. It’s about letting go of possessions, of ownership, of power. Of letting go of the concept of self.

Anyway, read thisblog. It’s a mental gem.

Tags: , , , ,

16
Dec

Oral Roberts dies at 91

   Posted by: Britt    in On Seekers

Oral Roberts died today of complications to pneumonia. He was 91. He’s the guy with the spiritual hands that could heal, and people would line up in droves to be touched by the man.

I don’t know that much about him (except for a vague memory of him in the 80’s where he said that he needs to fundraise several million dollars or else God would strike him dead). A blogger by the name of Karen Spears Zacharias has a very educational and entertaining article on Roberts. Following is the start of her article:

How Big is Your Mansion

I learned of the death of Oral Roberts through a Twitter post that said: “Celebrating with Oral Roberts as he came face to face with Jesus. Your mansion is sooooo big. I’m sure of it!”The news was jarring. Not that Oral Roberts was dead at age 91, though, I imagine for those who loved him his passing on to Glory was still very hard. What troubled me was the remark about the size of Roberts’s mansion.

Up until Roberts died and I read that stupid tweet, I never gave a second-thought to the real estate market in heaven. I just assumed we’d all get an equal share of prime property. Surely God knows me well enough by now to know that in order for me to be eternally happy I need a piece of beachfront property.

Read her blog for more information here.

Tags: ,

All’s I can say in all honest is be careful whenever you consider attending a wealth-building seminar or get rich quick event.

There’s this thing called the race for the bottom. I’d like to thank Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter for this, as their book, The Rebel Sell: Why Culture Can’t be Jammed for this insight. They explain it, saying that you’ve committed a bank robbery with an accomplice and the cops know it’s you but they can’t nail it on you. Then, one day, they find both you and your accomplice in possession of drugs, and they take you both in, to charge you and question you. They put you in separate rooms. The tell you that if you agree to testify against your accomplice as the bank robber, you will not be charged for the drug crime. You know they are making the exact same offer to your accomplice. Your choices are thus:

  1. You testify, he doesn’t. Your jail time: nil. He gets six years.
  2. You don’t testify, he doesn’t testify. One year each for possession.
  3. You testify, he testifies. Five years each for bank robbery
  4. You don’t testify, he does. You get six years, he walks out a free man.

The Cold War is another perfect example as a race for the bottom. It goes something like this:

  1. You spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy doesn’t. Optimum Safety, LOW risk.
  2. You don’t spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy doesn’t. Medium Safety, HIGH risk
  3. You spend money on weapons of mass destruction, and your enemy does as well. Lower Safety, Medium risk
  4. You don’t spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy does. Lowest Safety, HIGH risk

Because you can’t be sure that the “enemy” isn’t spending money on the arms race, once you are in, you are in a perpetual climb. And the more you accumulate, the more times you can blow up the world, the greater the risk.

It’s what the Americans engage in with their gun ownership laws.

  1. You have a gun and the intruder doesn’t. Optimum Safety, LOW risk.
  2. You don’t have a gun and the intruder doesn’t either. Medium Safety, HIGH risk
  3. You have a gun and the intruder does as well. Lower Safety, Medium risk
  4. You don’t have a gun and the intruder does. Lowest Safety, Highest risk

It’s why we’re all climbing over ourselves to through $2,000 to $6,000 per seminar to discover “insider secret.”

  1. You seek out the insider secrets and no one else does. Optimum Wealth, LOW risk. This is when you can become a wealth-plus-spiritual guru and charge $2,000 to $6,000 per head to anyone who will come and listen to you. You are accumulating your wealth on the backs of those who desperately want the knowledge and know they can get if they only find the right secret, the proper way of the applying the Law of attraction.
  2. You don’t seek out the insider secrets and neither does the population in general. Medium Wealth, HIGH Risk. Your wealth is medium because you will continue on your career path, earning, getting annual increases, and paying off your house. Your risk is high because you have no guarantees that the Jones’s won’t be going after the secret and perhaps they’ll get rich ahead of you. They’ll borrow the money you’ve deposited at the bank, and they’ll eek the gains, not you.
  3. You seek out the insider secrets and so does anyone the population in general. Lower Wealth, HIGH risk. You wealth will actually decrease as you wind up to take a kick at this can because you will be going into debt to get these secrets (T. Harv Eker charges $20,000 for the full meal deal). Also, according to the world’s best investor, Warren Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” If there are sixty to 2000 people in the room, and these seminars are recurring like revolving doors, this is the time to be fearful and suspicious. Simultaneously, your risk will be high because you will not be the only game in town. There’s only so many people who can charge $2,000 per head. I learned from a sub-“teacher”, ie someone who took some of these courses, and they were charging in the hundreds. They are now in deep financial straights, and have taken down a few others along the way, your truly included.
  4. You don’t have the insider secrets but others do. Lowest Wealth , HIGH Risk.

So why the hell am I writing about this? First, to get my own head cleared on the race to the bottom. Second, because on the Cult Education Forum (link to your right) today, there’s this headline: Wealth seminar a front for Scientology recruitment, say ex-members.

The question is, how many people have to bottom out before the madness ends? Bottom out financially, or maybe even pay with a bigger price.

Tags: ,