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    Archive for the 'spirituality' Category

    Start watching TV, Maitreya is coming, Maitreya is coming!

    Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

    Over the last few weeks, there have been full-page ads in our local paper, The Daily Camera, announcing that Maitreya, the One World Healer, the World Teacher, the Messiah, the returning Christ (sorry for any confusion, all of the previous are referring to the same dude), will soon be back on earth and, even better, appearing on TV.

    I hope he comes back on basic cable and not Pay-Per-View.

    I was so excited to read that “The fifth Buddha, Krishna, the Imam Mahdi” (yes, still all about the same guy), was coming back soon, because I totally forgot he was on the way… after I first heard he would soon be here THIRTY YEARS AGO!

    Yup, I first read that we were entering this new age and that Maitreya would be appearing at a mall near you back in 79… but that was, apparently twenty years after the FIRST announcement that Maitreya was going to be here soon.

    Why is it that in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” it only took 3 instances of the boy crying wolf before nobody listened to him, but the man who cried messiah is still getting attention after fifty years?

    You’d figure after the fourth or fifth time he was a no-show, it would be hard to keep selling tickets to the concert, but, nope, somehow there’s enough cash in the coffers for a newspaper ad campaign.  I’m betting the people financing the announcement of his return are hoping that, when he comes back, he also announces, “By the way, I made a brief stop here back in ’83 and bought me a boatload of Microsoft stock… so let me reimburse you for all the ad spending. Oh, and my apologies for missing all those other times I said I was going to be here; I may be the World Healer, but I’m HORRIBLE with my day-timer!”

    And if this is truly the messiah, the World Teacher, the most ascended of the ascended masters, why is he making his appearance on television?

    Come on, people, it’s the 00’s… announcing your existence on television is so 90’s. Why isn’t the all-knowing one online?

    I won’t believe he’s actually here until he’s got a Facebook profile (if he’s on Myspace, you know he’s not the real savior), or he sends me an eCard with cutesy animated animals singing about his arrival with helium-flavored voices. I’m a skeptic about Maitreya’s existence on the Earth until there’s a Youtube video of him falling off a skateboard and smashing his nuts on a stairway handrail.

    Hey don’t get me wrong, I totally believe Maitreya is on the way. I mean who wouldn’t after encountering the logic that his gang uses:

    Every religion has a belief in the return of their leader, so it doesn’t matter what name you call him, he IS coming back.

    Can you say, “Huh?”

    This is a variation of the logic used to “prove” the existence of God (and, please, I’m not going to argue about whether God exists… I’m just going to mangle this crappy bit of “logic” for now): Well, every culture and religion believes in a creator being so, clearly, there must be one!

    Umm… not really.

    Everybody used to believe the Earth was flat, but that didn’t allow people to fall off the edge. If everyone suddenly believed that Brittney Spears was mentally stable or that Donald Trump had normal hair, I still wouldn’t want Brittney to coif The Donald.

    Ah, but who am I to demand solid rhetoric from people who have — did I mention this — continued to believe the same story for 50 years in the face of repeated lack of evidence?

    I must say, I’m fascinated with all the myriad ways we imagine a utopian future:

    • Returning messiah
    • Enlightenment (or any imagined future where we suffer no human ills)
    • Living happily ever after when you meet THE ONE (and I don’t mean Keanu Reeves)
    • Winning the lottery and never having to say, “I can’t afford it”

    I think I’ve figured out the math on how we get to these fantastical future beliefs:

    1. The mind’s job is to try to guess what will make us happy in the future (it seems to forget how bad it is at that job, how it’s rarely been right in the past, and how nobody who has gotten what we want has attained the happiness we think we will get from it… but, anyway…)
    2. When we imagine something, we can simultaneously get a “feeling of knowing” (again, let’s discount how often our feeling of knowing is completely wrong — remember the last time you KNEW that you left your keys in that place they weren’t?)
    3. Eventually, someone stumbles on the thought that the returning savior MUST be coming soon
    4. And it MUST be true, because, well, look how good and right it feels when we think about it!
    5. And then the full-page ads, 1-day workshops, best-selling “prophetic” books, and appearances on Oprah begin.

    All I can say is I’m glad I have my DVR set to record every one of the 500+ channels I receive, 24 hours a day, because I sure don’t want to miss the moment he interrupts an episode of Days of Our Lives to announce, “I’m ba-a-ack!”

    Who you are really… AS IF!

    Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

    Life is like a bowl of cherries.


    I just walked outside and life was in no way like a bowl of cherries. In fact, it was so unlike a bowl of cherries I can’t even list the differences between life and a bowl of cherries.

    All the world’s a stage…

    Ummm… not really.

    As far as I can tell, the world does not exist in a theater, there’s no audience whining about how “People used to get DRESSED to come to the theater.” No scalpers outside the world giving people access for a hefty “surcharge,” and no intermission.

    Now, I know you don’t believe these metaphors are literal. But, man, I’m getting tired of spiritual sales-people who don’t know when they SHOULD be using a metaphor or, worse, don’t know when they ARE using one.

    My more specific bitch-and-moan of the day refers to the use of the utterly meaningless phrases: “Your True Nature” and “Who you REALLY are.”

    Want to fill a room with eager-to-spend-money spiritual seekers? It’s simple. Tell them that, in your presence, thanks to your woo-woo technique, or due to the grace of your guru they can “experience their true nature,” and “discover who they REALLY are.”

    We all have a sense that something’s not quite right in our inner Denmark, and these phrases offer the promise of making it all okay.

    Frankly, once you make this sales pitch, you could take money from the people that show up, keep them in a stuffy hotel room for 48 hours straight, do NOTHING else and, guaranteed, some people would end up giving you testimonials like, “I released thousands of years of karma, got my chakras spinning at an octave of the frequency of the universe, reclaimed my soul energy from 2,300,000.38 past lives, and met my soul mate… oh, and I discovered who I really am. I give this workshop 4 Pleadian stars! Two chi-filled thumbs up!”

    But, if you feel guilty taking money for letting people have a weekend projection-fest, here’s what you do instead to assuage your guilt (and win this episode of American Guru-Idol):

    1) Lead them to a paradoxical experience

    2) Tell them that what they’re experiencing is THEIR TRUE NATURE, who they REALLY are

    Don’t know how to do #1? Then, see a urologist.

    (Sorry, I was channeling Bart Simpson for a moment.)

    Here’s how to give someone a paradoxical experience. It’s simple. Give them these instructions:

    a) Look straight ahead.

    b) Place your hands near your ears; about 2-3 inches away from the side of your head.

    c) Notice that BASED ON WHAT YOU SEE in front of you, you have no hands. You can see your elbows, you can see your forearms, but because your hands are behind your eyes, you can’t see them. It’s as if they’ve disappeared into space.

    So far this is pretty straightforward, right? I mean, it’s not news to you that you can’t see something that you’re not looking at, is it? It doesn’t keep you up at night that you can’t see the back of your head, does it?

    Okay, here’s the “paradoxical part”:

    d) Now notice that you are aware of the “space” where your hands are.

    e) Without moving your eyes or head, look for the location of that awareness. Notice that “the part of you which is aware of seeing” seems to be in the same space as  your now-invisible hands.

    All you’ve done there is looked at something physical, so you know how to look. Then you used that same tool to “look” for something that isn’t a “thing.” It’s not possible to see a not-thing. Trying to do so creates a neat, spacious feeling, a paradoxical experience. A “feeling of knowing” without an object.

    Okay, ready to lock your attendees into your new religion? Proclaim: “That spaciousness is WHO YOU REALLY ARE. That is your TRUE NATURE.”

    Bow to the applause, put out the collection plate and take your saffron robes to the dry-cleaner.

    Let’s check this out again, in slow motion. TRYING to LOOK at something you cannot see can generate a feeling of spaciousness, of emptiness. Realizing, then, that you cannot see your SELF transfers that feeling of spaciousness and emptiness to your sense of “me.”

    The idea that this IS who you are, or that’s the TRUTH of you… is just a metaphor (and not even a good one).

    Our 100,000+ year old brains are constantly searching for the answer to the question, “What do I need to do in order to be happy in the future?” Tell people that their suffering comes from not knowing who they REALLY are and convince them that a paradoxical experience is the TRUTH, and you’ve got a new seeker. Give them a more elaborate cosmology to go with the experience and you’ve got a convert.

    The more accurate way to describe the experience would be, “When you look for yourself, doesn’t it SEEM LIKE you are invisible, spacious and empty? Doesn’t it SEEM AS IF you are a big void?”

    If you say that, though, people will respond, “Well, yes, it seems that way. That’s interesting and cool, I guess.”

    But, for experiencing a metaphor or an analogy, nobody will reach into their wallets to buy your books and CDs, they won’t come back the next week complaining that they LOST the experience of who they really are and need you to give them another hit, they won’t beat themselves up for having their regular ole’ feelings and thoughts and see you as the solution to humanity.

    And without that, you don’t get to be the special amazing person who introduced them to who they REALLY are.






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