I’m too busy lighting candles to say much else except please don’t buy anything from James Arthur Ray, or for that matter, anyone who has refused to sign the Seek Safely pledge. And never forget what happened.
Archive for the ‘Guru Criticism’ Category
Cosmic Connie recently alerted me to this April Fool’s blog post from A-list personal development blogger Steve Pavlina. In it, Pavlina jokes about not wanting employees but slaves to work for free for him:
I have to admit that I don’t really want employees. If I wanted employees, I’d have hired some years ago. Deep down, I know that hiring employees isn’t the right direction for me. It’s not what I truly desire.
What I really want is to build a staff of slaves. (more…)
Just a quick update: for those of you who don’t already know, psychopath new age leader James Arthur Ray who killed several people in a sweat lodge in 2009 is now finally on trial.
The Salty Droid is doing an excellent job on his site collecting all the James Arthur Ray trial updates in one place (and with “80% less snark,” i.e. without his characteristic foul language so the grandmas and kids can safely read it too).
Check it out and pray for justice. Notably, I still haven’t seen a single guru featured in The Secret with Ray speak out against him.
Many recent comments on my 4-Hour Body review have largely missed the point of my article. I’ve grown tired of responding to each in turn, so I figured I’d write a summary response here.
Tim Ferriss appears to me to have a history of misrepresenting himself (see evidence in previous article). All of his claims to fame and tips for self-improvement should immediately be suspect as a result.
Ferriss advocates for ruthless, self-serving, borderline unethical tactics to get ahead in life. Yes, this is relevant to the kinds of tactics he promotes in his new book, The 4-Hour Body. It is relevant because there are two basic approaches to personal development:
- Build character.
- Create a character and play the part. (more…)
I hate to break it to you, but if you’re reading this and your name isn’t Steve Pavlina, then you don’t exist. Nope, you’re just a dream character in his reality. Only his identity and consciousness are real, only his impulses matter. You and I, well, we’re merely projections of Pavlina’s inner world. In his reality, all these images that appear to be other people, other subjective consciousnesses, are actually just dream characters. Or at least these are some of the results of Pavlina’s recent experiments into what he has aptly named “Subjective Reality.”
My last two posts have been about what I’m calling “the logic of evil”—the self-justifying rationalizations that lead a sincere seeker to become a psychopathic guru. In what could only be explained as an act of The Universe, I just happened to cruise by A-list personal development blogger Steve Pavlina’s blog today and found that he had produced a great example of exactly what I’ve been writing about. In fact, in the last few months he has been experimenting with taking the plunge into full and complete narcissism—and even Solipsism—which even he admits that he won’t be capable of turning back from once he has fully done so. (more…)
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Personal development saved my life, but not without some side effects. In college, I had been in a troubled relationship for a couple years and when it finally ended, I was overwhelmed with depression. I found that by focusing on the positive, making new friends, and trying new things, I pulled myself out (with a little help from a therapist who had more of a Life Coaching style). I surprised myself with my charisma and extroversion, having always been a geeky intellectual kid. But then I graduated, moved halfway across the country, and had to start over…in the Real World.
As a Philosophy B.A. and an anti-corporate, environmental activist, I wasn’t exactly well-prepared for the job market. I had worked at the Help Desk in college so I found a job doing tech support. While I was good at the work, I found the corporate environment stifling to say the least (I watched “Office Space” over 50 times during this period). One day I got sick with something awful. So weak I could hardly get out of bed for two weeks, I neglected to tell anyone—including my employer—and lost my job in the process. (I’m convinced now that my unconscious decided to quit for me since I couldn’t muster up the courage to do so consciously.)
I fell into a terrible depression. A friend of mine loaned me some of Tony Robbins’ tapes (Personal Power II) and I threw myself in wholeheartedly. On tape one, Robbins describes his own depression and how he overcame it by controlling his focus and physiology, as I had done in college but with far more enthusiasm. I listened to all 30 days worth of tapes in less than 2 weeks. I got myself pumped up, made a huge list of goals, and did every exercise and homework assignment. I suppose this is the point in the story where I’m supposed to say that my life totally turned around and now I’m a massive success, but it didn’t quite work that way…. (more…)
Due to a cease and desist letter sent from Bill Harris’s lawyer, I have edited this article on 12/22/2009 to be more clear regarding facts vs. opinions. Thanks for the feedback, Bill! (Although maybe next time a friendly email would be the best way to initially communicate your feedback.) UPDATE 12/28/2009: I actually haven’t received a cease and desist letter. I was confused and thought Harris’ email was a C&S letter, but then I heard from several people that such letters are delivered by certified mail or courier, and haven’t received anything in the mail or from a courier from Mr. Harris or his lawyer. UPDATE 12/29/2009: Harris has since emailed his C&D letter to me, which you can read here.
Bill Harris—star of popular New Age infomercial The Secret and former marketing partner of James Arthur Ray—is founder and CEO of the (in my opinion) manipulative marketing organization called Centerpointe Research Institute. His main product is the “Holosync” binaural beat meditation CDs, which I find very expensive compared to competitors products, and less effective as well.
While the name “Centerpointe Research Institute” makes it sound like this is a non-profit think tank, this organization is simply a for-profit business. Part of the “research” apparently includes that co-branding with killer gurus is good for business—at least until people die, at which point it’s most profitable to pretend like it never happened. Or at least that’s how it appears to me, given that Harris used to market products with James Arthur Ray, but since the “death lodge” incident of November 10th, 2009, Ray’s testimonial has disappeared from Holosync’s web page. But perhaps Bill Harris didn’t know Ray’s character, or perhaps no one could have predicted such an awful turn of events. But why not? Why did we all not see the signs? (more…)
The Dark Side of The Secret: Reading James Arthur Ray’s Sweat Lodge Disaster through a Magickal LensSaturday, October 10th, 2009
As I reported on yesterday, participants of James Arthur Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior Event” got more than they paid for (and they paid $9,695 each) when two people died and 19 were injured in a large sweat lodge with 64 people.
What can we learn from this?
One thing we might conclude is that all spiritual teachers or personal development gurus are bad, and should be avoided. Or that James Arthur Ray specifically is a greedy, evil person. Or that the Law of Attraction and The Secret are total bullshit. And these would indeed be ways to read the situation that have some merit. I’ve been tending to take this more cynical view of personal development and spirituality lately.
But what if we read this event through the eyes of magick? James Ray claims lineage in the Western esoteric or occult tradition, so perhaps we could learn something interesting from reading this terrible event in this way that would deepen our understanding. Perhaps we could even find some ideas for moving forward in a positive new paradigm for personal development.
When I begin to think about the deaths of Ray’s seminar participants in this way, I find myself having a change of heart towards the man, far less cynical about his words and basic message while still holding him accountable for what transpired. Perhaps you will have a similar change of heart.