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Comment From a Reader

January 31, 2019

I received an interesting comment from reader Valerie, who tried to send it as an email but the address didn’t work, so she posted it to the comments in the ‘About’ page (sidebar top right). I was happy to get it, not only because she took the time to share some personal experiences, but also because she noticed that I am not blindly hostile to ‘spiritual’ things, which is something I am often accused of (by Louise Hay fans).

I don’t do anything at all to promote this site, because it is aimed, above all, towards people who are interested in some ‘spiritual’ product but have asked themselves ‘Is this real?’ (I also appreciate those couple of dozen or so people who read here regularly and those among them who comment — I doubt I would do any of this without that, and it also makes me want to take care and try to maintain some standards. And it is an important experience for me to learn to express my thoughts and feelings without concerning myself with what the neighbours will think of me.

Anyway, I thought that many who read here will find plenty of resonance with much of what Valerie shares here (posted of course, with her permission). Please feel free to share your own experiences here too…

Hi..your email comes up as not valid, so I am just going to paste it here instead;

Dear Mr. Y;
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, which I just stumbled upon last night after being given a copy of Mutant Message by a well meaning friend. I decided to google author Marlo Morgan, since it looked like another one of those white lady as indigenous savior tales..and pretty much was. (Fun read, though!)
I’m particularly thrilled that you can spell and write well,….that always gets my attention on the interwebs! Your observations are really interesting and, I think, very helpful to anyone with an open mind. Plus I love exposing frauds.

As I read your observations about Marlo Morgan and a few others, I was impressed by the fact that although you have a critical and discerning approach, you don’t rant on and on about what jerks these people are, or really look down on the people who follow them..and it’s clear that you are knowledgeable about numerous traditions. You don’t condemn the message as much as the deceptive messengers.
I myself was formerly of two minds about much of this stuff. I converted to Tibetan Buddhism 24 years ago..Nyingma School. I have also been a Tarot reader for about 30 years, something that runs in my Scottish family for several generations, and something I do not charge money for. I wanted to grow up to be Thomas Merton.
But I also feel that the New Age movement is just ridiculous and is mostly large white, middle aged ladies who wear lots of scarves and men who want to start their own cults. People who want to use potential mystical experience as a drug..something to get high on and entertain themselves with.

I studied with my Lama for 3&1/2 years.. and watched my love of the dharma be turned into some sociopathic, narcissistic man’s sex cult..because “Tantra”! I left. I tried studying with HIS teacher, who arrived here after we all busted our guy..but it was the same girl in a different dress as it were. I still do some of my practices, but steer clear of teachers now, though I did study for a time after that with a very ethical Pure Land monk whom I liked a lot, just to experience another Buddhist tradition.

I am also a breast cancer patient for the past 3 years and have been on the receiving end of all the ‘create your own reality’ crap that is out there. “Stay positive!” “Eat only this, don’t eat that!” and on and on. When people tell me to “stay positive”, or “you’ll be fine!” I tell them to go fuck themselves. I know tons of “positive thinking” women who are just as dead as anyone, and that’s just an easy way for a healthy person to imagine that THEY will never be in my position, because they do their stupid affirmations or whatever. Making cancer a “choice” as it were, is the worst kind of victim blaming and causes a lot of suffering among patients. I’ve always been a happy soul, am thin, exercise, don’t smoke..and here I am..all cancer-y. (I’m not a huge fan of regular oncology medicine either, but I did subject myself to the basics in addressing my cancer, while refusing some treatments due to extreme side effects.) All these purported “natural” cures and protocols just make us poorer.. and feel like WE have somehow failed when they don’t work. Forget the toxic environmental problems we all face..cancer is because we don’t think right, or ate some candy!

5 years ago I was introduced to a Native American couple who host a local pow wow and who introduced me to a lovely Grandmother/Elder who has taught me some things. I asked if she could give me a few teachings because Buddhism is very focussed on getting out of here and never coming back..nature is just something to transcend. I work in animal rescue and humane education and liked the NA respect for the natural world..but here again.. she and NA’s in general attract lots of white people, who want to play make believe and live at a sort of “spiritual buffet”. This week it’s angels, next week find your spirit animal and learn to be a shaman in only three days, and oh look, a Medicine man is visiting, so let’s all vision quest! (Not to mention the two Lakota medicine men the grandmother hosted turned out to be the usual sociopathic narcissists in holy person’s clothing and really screwed over this lovely old woman.) So I’m out of there as well and now just see Grandma privately at her house.

All this to say that I think the human impulse to connect with the All That Is, the Mystery, is a universal one and very valid..but I no longer feel that teachers and the parent/child dynamic have any value, leading as they do to very human abuses of power, and learned helplessness on the part of seekers. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other, or that people do not have things to teach that are valuable..but in the final analysis, spiritual practice is between the individual and Spirit itself. There are no prizes for it, a chosen path is not some pink cloud. It can be, and should be, difficult as one digs deeper, and outside validation means nothing. When I was younger I longed to be “seen” somehow..for someone to recognize my sincerity..but consider myself so fortunate that my Lama turned out to be a shitty person, because it cured me of this in record time. Now, halfway through my sixties, it pains me to see people fall for things that are not sincere or real in their quest for communion. So I really like the things you have to say!

Lately I am very taken with the writing of Elaine Pagels…just finished her new book “Why Religion?’ She is the theological scholar who translated the Gnostic Gospels from Coptic, in case you aren’t familiar with her. If you haven’t read the book, you might find it interesting.
In any case, I thought it would be fun to write to you..it was! and I will now be checking in on your blog with interest!

Thanks and be well!

I can’t help but note that not only have I found Elaine Pagels’ work valuable, but that the work of her late husband has also been featured here. He was a physicist who wrote a book which Bruce Lipton read and completely misunderstood. I covered it in a post called The Book That Changed Bruce Lipton’s Life (this is really stupid!).

 

2 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this Yakaru, and thanks to the writer for allowing it to be posted. I found it very interesting. I was particularly struck by the cancer message. The “stay positive” etc message is one that really makes me angry too. My sister is a breast cancer survivor, and basically in my immediate family the genetics are such that cancer is all but a given. Another two family members opined that my sister got cancer rather than them because they worried about things less than her. The damage that kind of comment does is horrendous. A friend who is also a breast cancer survivor posted the following meme on Facebook just today: “If you eat and sleep well, exercise and drink plenty of water, you will die anyway.”


  2. Something I’ve learned from doing this website is how widespread this positive thinking BS has spread through the culture. I always thought it was only to be found among spiritual folk. It really seems to have metastasised. Thank you Louise Hay and Oprah and Norman Vincent Peale.

    …One of the first posts I wrote about Lipton I noted that in every single photo of him of on the internet he’s giggling stupidly — trying to show how positive he is ever since quantum physics rescued him from the horrors of Darwinistic biology that had made him so sad previously.



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