If the Buddha were alive today, the odds are just as good that he’d be an Internet Marketer as the leader of a new religious sect.
Because the guy knew how to sell.
Let me talk about the Internet Marketing world before we return full-circle to the robed former Prince of the Sakya clan (that’s Siddhartha Gautuma — the Buddha — for those who are keeping score).
This morning, as background noise while I’m doing some last minute corporate accounting, I was listening to a well known Internet marketer’s lecture on how easy it is to make money online. I won’t mention his name because I don’t want to single him out, since what he does is the same as almost every other person selling “how to make money online.”
The guy spends 30 minutes getting people psyched that they can get whatever they want (apparently everyone wants to travel, have a bigger place to live, and work in their underwear… which, in an odd way, is one way to describe what it’s like to be homeless… but I digress).
Then he launches into his personal story of woe and misery. How he grew up poor, had no arms and legs, received alien implants that sucked out his brain, can’t say the number “5” and, in myriad other ways, shouldn’t have become successful.
Then, of course, he discovered the Internet (cue the Hallelujah chorus) and thought it was the coolest thing ever.
He found a group of people who were willing to pay for information he had…
And the next thing you know, he’s making money online, hand over fist over knees over toes.
See, it’s that simple!
Oh, are you wondering what information he had?
Well, this is the part that makes me want to toss my computer out the window… but since my office is in the basement and the window is a window-well, that would be more like rearranging my desk than getting the glass-and-plastic-shattering effect I’d like when I hear him GLOSS OVER this one, TEENY-WEENY factoid:
He discovered, after staring at stock and commodity charts all day, that he had a knack for making accurate predictions about the future prices in the market.
Let’s pause here, shall we. Let me see if I get this straight.
How rare do you think it is that someone can predict the movement of the market? Granted, he was doing this at a time where if you just said, “I think it’s going up!” you would probably make money. But, suffice it to say, it turns out that this guy with no training or education just happened to have a knack for doing something that people would pay a ton of money for.
He was a rare and unusual person with an even rarer and unusual-er skill. Out of the millions of people who TRY to do what he did, he was the ONE IN A MILLION (or better) who could do it.
But, again, he practically dismisses with a wipe of his hand the VALUE OF THIS STATISTICALLY UNLIKELY thing.
According to him, he didn’t make money because he could do something almost nobody else could do. He didn’t make money because it was a skill that could help other people make money (Want to make a million? Tell people that you can teach them how to make a million… for only $99.99).
No, according to him, it’s just the magic of the Internet and a few skills… hell, if he can do it, so can you! (that’s what he says, anyway).
I mean, sure, if you take out the rare, unusual, unreproduceable, unteachable, improbable, and unlikely part, then it SEEMS like something usual, reproduceable, teachable, probably and likely… and something you could do.
But add that back in and, well, it’s just a nice lecture from a mildly delusional-but-entertaining guy.
And that’s the problem with people teaching Internet Marketing. They typically leave out, or overlook, or simply don’t recognize the critical component of their personal story, the factor that actually led to their success (if there even IS a factor other than luck or good timing).
And, worse, most of the people listening to their pitch don’t recognize that missing factor and, therefore, spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn some “technique” that never reproduces the results attained by the teacher.
(Can you feel the circle about to close?)
Buddha had a great sales pitch.
Perhaps one of the best ever.
“Life is inherently unsatisfactory… but I have a way for you to get something even BETTER than what you ever imagined… in fact, if you imagine it, that ain’t it… and, unlike other religions that say you’ll get the bonus prize after you’re dead, with my religion you can get it all while you’re alive!”
While the Buddha couldn’t say, “I was poor and uneducated and walked uphill to school, both ways…” he did say, “If I can do it, so can you!”
And, like our Internet marketers, who get a long line of customers when they say, “I’ll teach you how for only $2995…” the Buddha says, “I’ll show you how by sitting on your butt for decades…”
But here’s the kicker… the very texts of Buddhism talk about how rare and unusual the Buddha is. How it was the thousands of past-lives that led inevitably to his awakening.
And, like the Internet marketers who can only point to a tiny fraction of their students who seem to have proven that the technique works (until you look more closely and see that they ALSO had rare and unusual skills), out of the millions of meditators who’ve spent time on a cushion, we’ve got only an itsy-bitsy handful who ostensibly got to the end of the Buddhist path… and, when asked, usually say that their “achievement” was not something predictable, or causal, or reproducible.
And, like the Internet marketers, they then go off to teach others based on, “If I can do it, so can you!,” overlooking that even they aren’t really sure how they did it, and ignoring that the lack of results by the students.
Of course the students perpetuate the rolling of the wheel by believing that they haven’t reached the goal (Buddhist or marketing) because they need to practice more, find a different practice, fix some fictional problem that’s keeping them from their goal, get over their “resistance to meditation” or “fear of success,” feng shui their bathroom, detox their liver, set goals, take another workshop, find another teacher…