I have to say it. While I am absolutely fine with whatever anyone wants to believe – including nothing at all – I am absolutely amazed at all of the crap that passes for spirituality that I see flying around on Facebook and other websites. So, in this post, I have decided to get some things off my chest.
Anyone who declares themselves enlightened, isn’t. The very nature of being enlightened involved the dismantling of the ego and therefore the destruction of the need to declare oneself enlightened. That means Eckhart Tolle, Andrew Cohen, Ken Wilber, and a host of others are just big wind bags of ego. What’s more, Eckhart Tolle never had an original idea in his life. He just spins Eastern religions around a bit, changes the language, claims them as his insights and original teachings and BOOM, Oprah thinks he’s a genius. Except that he isn’t, he is a plagiarizer – and not a very good one.
Andrew Cohen was the publisher of What is Enlightenment? magazine, which changed its name and all but disappeared. Andrew Cohen also declared himself enlightened and had a column in his magazine where he and Ken Wilber regularly dropped their pants and compared egos. Ken Wilber read Carol Gilligan’s work and, I suspect, Walter Hilton’s ladder of perfection and other Christian theology that envisioned the spiritual journey as similar to climbing a ladder. He turned the ladder into a spiral, grabbed the color idea from the Chakras and The Jesus Seminar and “created” his Integral nonsense. It’s allegedly a system that applies to every field of human endeavor and tells everyone everything they ever needed to know about anything and everything. Best of all, you’ll never guess who’s at the top of the spiral! Why, Ken Wilber, the ego that roared and the author who has written a series of “Integral” books, each of which spend a great deal of time trying to get you to buy his other books. Once again, ego is a sure sign of a less than enlightened being, and Wilber has it in spades. He actually has a video on YouTube wherein his sits on a bed with his shirt off and electrodes on his head – why the shirt is off I don’t know – to demonstrate how he can manipulate his brain waves. That is called biofeedback, and you can train a monkey to do it. No wonder Ken Wilber is good at it.
Of course, these aren’t the only ones passing off nonsense as spirituality. You don’t have to look very hard to find the endless groups of “teachers” who have banded together and built a reputation for themselves by going out of their way to praise each other and drop names. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a closed mutual admiration society that pretends to be happy all of the time isn’t a ringing endorsement of the teaching credentials of anyone. This is the seminar, webinar, and teleseminar crowd, a group of folks that interviews each other in the hopes of convincing someone who listens that they must be on to something because, after all, they are being interviewed. That might be true if the interviews were being done by someone outside the circle, but they aren’t.
Then there are the clowns who assume a spiritual name of some sort. You’ll have an American who was born John Doe change his name to Gunga Falunga and all of a sudden people believe he is some sort of Guru. Just as rose by any other name is still a rose, so is a turd. Invariably, old Gunga’s teachings will be either Hinduism or Buddhism with a few minor adjustments and name changes, passed off as unique and original. The most aggressive of them may even get a deal at Sounds True!
Let’s not forget the charlatans who claim to know everything that is going to happen to everybody this year based on the fact that it is 2013. It’s the old numerology scam, and the problem with it is that there has never been a year in history that we exactly the same for every person living. I hate to break it to you, but 2013 is not going to be a year of anything for everybody. What’s more, the fact that we have decided to call this year 2013 is completely arbitrary, so let’s not get all excited about what it “means.” After all, in the Hebrew calendar it isn’t 2013, so get over it!
Finally, there are the shortcut people. Listen to my CD and have all of your emotional wounds healed, become an expert meditator in seven days, and grow a very long penis like the men in porn movies. Sorry, Charlie, but it’s all just so much snake oil. There are no short cuts on the spiritual journey, your emotional wounds require a combination of therapy and spiritual practice, and if you think your penis is going to make people like you there probably isn’t much hope for you anyway.
The tragic thing about all of this nonsense is that well intended people are sucked in, spend more than they can afford, and waste time they could be using to develop a spirituality that would be helpful trying to hop, skip, and jump to nirvana. The people who sell this crap are unprincipled crooks, and those of us who are legitimate spiritual teachers need to call them out to protect the innocent.