Category Archives: Karma

Books for New Agers: Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

Reincarnation

So I just finished reading Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D.  Yes it’s a book about reincarnation.  But unlike a lot of books about reincarnation that will look at one case of past life regression…or another case of someone having spontaneous memories and working through each case this is a summary of a collection of cases. 2,500 cases covering decades worth of research.  All of them involving children under the age of six, you know before you could theoretically prompt a child to say things.   These cases are being reviewed by the University of Virginia, Division of Personality studies.*

Let’s review some of the main points.

All the children are under the age of six.

All children recall having been someone in a previous life.

About two-thirds of the cases have been “solved”, that is they have identified a specific individual that the child has memories of being.

About a fifth of cases the child has a birth mark or structural defect where the person they claim to have been received a major wound (e.g., a child is born with a birth mark where a shunt had been in their previous life or a child who had memories of being a cop who had died when a bullet destroyed his aorta, being born with a bad aorta that had to replaced).  225 of these solved cases that involve birthmarks and other physical markers are covered apparently in great detail in a 2,000+ page, 2 volume study entitled  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”.

There’s a lot of specific evidence I’m not going over because I actually think you should read the book.  But trust me there is evidence.lifeafterlife

Particular cases are reviewed, their flaws and strengths are laid out and the author goes through other possibilities of explanation which are reviewed.  Tucker spends a great deal of time on the only other remotely possible answer for these children knowing what they could not, that being fraud on the part of the parents.  But given that numerous cases for the U.S. where subjects don’t believe in reincarnation, it seems odd that they would try to fake a case of reincarnation.  Further even fraud leaves too many unanswered questions…reincarnation does not.
The book is an excellent summary of the scientific findings of this group at the University of Virginia** and so while much of the scientific and statistical evidence isn’t presented, it does lay out a sound scientific case for reincarnation.  It deals with the challenges skeptics would bring up and addresses them, then tears them down.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in reincarnation, or looking for scientific proof to back up their faith, read this book.

Some of the more interesting highlights from the book include:

Apparently you are more likely to remember a past life if that life ended only a year or two before your rebirth, there are relatively few memories of distant past lives among these children.

Gender Identify Disorder may, at least in many cases, be related to a soul switching from one gender to another between the two lives and the confusion from change.

The after life, at times, may be as chaotic as this life.

Not everyone remembers heaven, but some do, and you are less likely to remember it if your death in your previous life was particularly violent or sudden.

If you meditate you are more likely to remember heaven in your next incarnation.

There are cases of children remembering their last incarnation being a fetus that was aborted or miscarried.

All that said this book raises some questions that I have and if anyone has any information on this I would love to know.  After reading this book it appears that cases where children are remembering their past lives are becoming more common, or at least it appears that way to me.  I’ll admit that it may simply be that this is only being studied recently, whereas in the past it was not.  However there are cases in the past of people remembering their past lives, Gen. George S. Patton for instance, but these seem to be very rare in the past, where the 2,500 cases collected by the University of Virginia (and you know if they can find 2,500 there have to be ten times that many they didn’t find) don’t make it common, but it certainly does not seem to be uncommon. This makes me wonder if the memories are becoming more and more common.  Since, quite frankly, none of the children in this book  come off as enlightened beings (nor any of their previous incarnations) these memories do not seem to be caused by the individual soul’s level of spiritual enlightenment, my question is does this maybe indicate a greater awakening in the collective soul of humanity?  Certainly this is not going to be answered anytime soon, but it’s something to think about.

Also, the birthmark and other biological signs described in the book are suggested to be related not to karma but more to the mind’s ability to affect the body (the book references the ability to make a hypnotized person believe they are being burned to the point that their skin blisters or the fact that signs of the stigmata are now believed to be caused by psychological not miraculous factors).  Now if the mind, and specifically it’s attachment to certain memorable events (usually what killed you would have a more powerful impact on you, or at least you would think), and we also take into account the issue of some souls not being able to fully adjust to their new gender in the form of Gender Identity Disorder…I have to ask in lesser cases could a soul attached to their previous gender affect the DNA of their new body, thus being the spiritual cause of the genetic factor in homosexuality?  And I bring this up because I have also seen this suggested in the book The Messengers and the issues of Gender Identity Disorder reminded me of it.

*The book was published in 2005.  And deals primarily with 1,100 cases that had been entered into a computer system for statistical analysis.  I can only assume that both the computer database and the total number of cases has increased since the book was published.

** For my conservative readers, it is funded by private endowment, not by tax-payers (although I assume the same researchers are paid by tax payer funds for any teaching they do at the University) so don’t even begin to question if money should be paid for this.

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Weekly Meditation: Live for yourself

A few weeks ago I saw the following on twitter:

And I realized that this was the perfect quote for a meditation.

We often worry too much about others.  I know society has made us think such a thought is anathema, but it isn’t.  Rational interest is not some evil, it is the middle ground we should all seek.  It is place between the two evils of hedonism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of others) and altruism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of self).  Rather it is the middle ground of rational self interest that say you should “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

So this week you should consider yourself first.  Do what you want and don’t worry about if it annoys others.  Now don’t go out of your way to piss people off (that would still be letting them dictate your life, although with a slight amount of more pettiness*), just act like you would if they weren’t there.  Now if someone says that what you are doing is annoying them, then the polite thing is to reach a compromise…but your wants, your needs, your desires should be respected.  Do what you want to do.

The goal of life is to reach Happiness and Enlightenment and no one should harm you in your pursuit of those goal.  Those two goals should be your first concern (although you make sure you’re not harming anyone else on that trip).

Remember you’re a child of God, you have the right to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

*Now if you do what you want, like say, write blogs about what you believe politically, and get enjoyment out of watching people who disagree with you get infuriated, bully for you.  But it should first and foremost be because you enjoy the writing and expression of ideas…not just solely to piss people off…unless you to make a larger argument and win people to your side is to show how foolishly your opposition reacts, but again your first purpose is to win the argument not to piss them off as an end itself.

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Weekly Meditation: God in the silence

This week we return to holy books for inspiration in meditation.

This week I’m pulling from the Bible.  I usually don’t because unlike a lot of other holy books, which were generally written more or less at one period by one person (or at least one group) and has more or less remained consistent through the ages, the Bible was written by numerous people, rewritten by numerous others, recollected, reordered, mistranslated, rewritten again throughout numerous ages with numerous different values and beliefs…Also while you can find some questionable content in most holy books (just about anything taken out of context of the passage, the time and the culture, can be twisted), the Bible is singular in ability to come up with a passage to justify just about anything (want to hate gays, we have a passage for that; want to love gays, we have a passage for that; want to justify capitalism, we have a passage for that; want to justify socialism we have a passage for that).   But that does not mean there is not Truth in the Bible, there is, a lot of it.  You just have use reason and good judgment and not take everything, pardon the phrase, on faith.

But there passages that, to me at least, are self-evidently true.

John the Baptist…err, I mean the Prophet Elijah (who says there’s no reincarnation in the Bible) hearing those tiny whispering voices.

For instance:

“Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.” I Kings 19-11-12

The passage reflects a very accurate view that people look for God in giant powerful things, when it is in a small breeze that he can most easily be found.  Most commentaries on this passage tend to look at that last line as something along the lines of a statement of “and after the fire there was a breeze, and God was in the breeze.” And I’m not claiming to be making an incredibly new interpretation of this line, I’m not.  But I find this a very good passage because I often see so many people of many religions looking for God in miracles, huge events, lottery tickets, signs, portents, and burning bushes…when really they should be taking a minute to quiet their mind and listen to the voice of God that is always there.

So this week I want you to quiet your mind and listen…not just meditating on nothingness and keeping a blank mind, but focusing on what you hear.  Whether it’s in a corner of your house, on a grassy field, or even on a city bench (if that’s the only place you can find time alone).  No iPod, no radio, no friend talking or TV in the background, just whatever white noise is around you.  Every day for at least 10 minutes focus on the sounds around you, but don’t dwell on them, and see if you can hear that “tiny whispering voice” which is always there saying it loves you without restraint or qualification. 

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Weekly Meditation: Fear and Faith

Okay…

So I didn’t post anything during the weekend.  I did this because the internet has a nasty way of suggesting everything is an attack on something else…and publishing a New Age meditation on Good Friday, Passover, or Easer could be interpreted as an attack where none was meant.  I have no quarrel with you if you have found happiness in something other than New Age belief, as all paths lead to God eventually, and each time I considered it, it just seemed tacky to post on another religion’s holy day when I don’t embrace that holiday.  (Yes, I have issues with Easter…still too close to go into them).

Onto the meditation.

I thought it was time to return to A Course In Miracles for today’s meditation.

Lesson 48 from the workbook of the Course is a simple one:

There is nothing to fear.

Simple.  Hopeful.  To the point.

It goes along with the summary of the Course from it’s first page:

 This course can there be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

Now granted there is entire book explaining that sentiment, but it keeps coming back to the message: There is nothing to fear.  You are your soul, not your body, and thus you, the real you, can’t be harmed.  You are the child of a God that is infinite love, thus he cannot hate or reject you, otherwise it wouldn’t be INFINITE love.  There are no sins, only mistakes that are to be learned from and corrected.  In the end there is no punishment but what you give yourself, and even that isn’t going to harm you in any long-term sense.  There is nothing to fear, as, in the end, everything literally will be fine (now how far off that end is is up to you…but the longer you fear the longer it’s going to take to get to that end.)

So this week every time you come across anything that makes you worried, apprehensive, depressed, sorry or worried, repeat to yourself:

There is nothing to fear.

And believe it.

 

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A final word on Christmas Charity Part II of II—New Age Charity

 

Okay, so in the last blog I think I’ve shown all the idiots who claim Christmas is a time for redistribution are without basis.  Why?  Because Christmas is a time of charity, and taking money by force is not charity.

 

Charity is not blind altruism and denial of self.

Charity is not government redistribution of income.

Charity is not welfare or entitlements handed out by the state.

 

But just tearing down bad philosophy is only half the job.  You need to show what charity should be.  And as a New Ager I have a tendency to look to all the world’s spiritual teachings (not just one book but many) for insight into truth.  So don’t take my word for it…but let’s start with that one book most in the West turn to…

 

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. “

Proverbs 11:24-25

Clear and simple.  Charity is a virtue.  But notice that it is not given as an order but advice that it benefits the giver.  Odd it doesn’t seem to mention anything about “fair shares” or “moral duty” or “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.”  No, it seems to be personal charity and personal charity alone that is praised and rewarded here.

 

“Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “

Matthew 6:1-4

 

Seems to me that this is saying that charity and generosity are supposed to be private acts done by individuals.  And the closest thing to welfare and government entitlements at the time (the synagogues) is condemned as the work of hypocrites because it is done neither for the spiritual good of the giver or the desire to help the receiver…only for the vain attention that the public act of giving brings.  How much more despicable and ethically reprehensible it must be to demand that others give but that you don’t have to.  

 

Or we could turn to the East…

“Give up kindness, renounce morality,
 And men will rediscover piety and love.–Tao Te Ching 19

 

We have this in amongst the Tao numerous libertarian statements we have this one which suggests when you no longer demand altruism and rigid standards of morality and duty that people are once again allowed to deal with each other like human beings and then will treat others as such.

 

Or we could go to one of my favorites…

 

“Charity given for the sake of righteousness, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion. And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.”—Bhagavad-Gita  Ch17. 20-22

 

Notice how all conceptions of income redistribution and welfare seem to meet more the definition of “mode of ignorance”…and really it’s only called ignorance because I think Krishna thought “shit-for-brains” lacked the poetic nature that the rest of his words in the Gita had.

 

All of these quotes seem to be saying that charity and generosity should be personal, not a massive more by society.  They seem to be saying it should be done to improve the soul of the giver…not all that concerned with improving the state of receiver because you have no way to control the free will they have (although both the Gita and Christ seem to imply you should not give indiscriminately, but rather choose the object of your generosity to be a person worthy of such a gift).  All of these seem to suggest the amount to be given is a personal choice not some concept of what your fair share is as determined by society.  All of these are concerned with your soul, not with ending poverty (in fact I think Christ said something about there always being poor and you should worry more about personal connections with loved ones than with the poor…but then again, unlike many liberals who say they’re Christians, I’ve actually read the Bible).

 

So be charitable.  But because it feels good, not because you have any duty to do it.

 

And I’ll leave you with this from my favorite book, A Course in Miracles.

 

 

“The teacher of God is generous out of Self interest.”  A Course in Miracles Manual For Teachers Chapter 4 Part VII

 

 

 

 

 

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More Misconceptions of the New Age: Crystals, incense and the rest


So when I asked my friends what they thought of when they heard the phrase New Age I got a lot of responses regarding crystals, incense, and music. I was looking for misconceptions about the New Age, but this really isn’t a misconception…New Agers really do go for all of that…but I think it’s misunderstood as to why we do it.

New Agers believe, not entirely without basis, that everything in existence is really just energy vibrating at different levels (don’t roll your eyes this is one of the more popular theories of quantum mechanics). And with this we find that certain objects have certain vibrations that correspond to certain patterns of thought. That certain sounds and even certain stimuli (like scent) can also help raise the vibration level of the person using them.

Now do New Ager’s believe that just by putting a crystal in our hands we suddenly are lifted to a higher level of enlightenment? No. It’s something we use to focus, to help us remember and concentrate. You know like crosses, stars of David, rosary beads, mandalas, formulaic prayers, water in a baptism, and the Eucharist. Few of us believe in the full power of these things when we’re not of the faith that uses them, but we do understand their uses. They’re tools to help us control our thoughts. We just have quite a few more than most religions because we tend to draw items from every religion because we believe that almost all religions can be a way to truth. If a crystal works for you in helping you raise your thoughts, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. If a crucifix does the same thing use that.

So yes, we do have all those things that make New Age stores so profitable, but understand, in that aspect we’re not really different from any other religion…we all have our tools for helping our thought focus more on God. You have yours. We don’t insult yours when they don’t work for us…

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Weekly Meditation: Singing Fifth Chakra Meditation

So this week we’ll continue to deal with the throat chakra. The throat chakra deals with creativity, expression, courage to speak the truth and advocate for yourself. Last week we tried to get the negative energy out by making it easier to actually express your frustration, even to yourself. This week we’re going to work on doing something positive rather than just eliminating a negative.

As with all the chakras, vibrations are very important to the 5th chakra. The advantage to the 5th chakra is that it’s literally right next to the thing that vibrates the most in your whole body, your larynx. One easiest ways to thus to increase the vibrations of the this chakra is to sing.

Yes I said sing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a trained opera singer or me (whose singing should probably be categorized as a WMD), you’re going to have to sing for this meditation. Sing as loud as you can. With all your heart and force. If you don’t want anyone else to hear it, may I suggest singing in the car—it’s well insulated, and you’ll get drowned out by the music. But you need to sing for this meditation.

What should you sing? Well that’s up to you. I would only say that is should not be anything with any trace of negativity. No songs about how she left you heartbroken. No songs about your misery. No songs about how things aren’t working out. In other words, no country music, the music of pain.

However there is a benefit to singing you should consider. Some songs speak more to the energy of different chakras. Thus if you look for a collection of songs that hits every single chakra, you can not only raise the vibrations of your throat chakra but of those other chakras as well. Two birds, one stone.

If you’re having trouble finding songs for each chakra I have provided a few suggestion below. You don’t have to go with those songs, they’re just suggestions that speak to me…go with songs that will make you happy and reinforce the positive energy of your chakras. And sing! If I have ever written a meditation that you should engage in every day of your life it’s this one.

As this is a more complex kind of meditation (since it deals with multiple chakras) I want you to do this every day for the next two weeks. (Yes this means there will be no mediation will be posted next week. (Yes, I am partly doing this because this movie a day thing is very time consuming.)

1st Charka—Energies of abundance, security and safety.
Money

If I were a rich man (the nice part about this is that if you listen to the end what he wants isn’t money, but the freedom it provides)

2nd Charka–Energies of emotional control and desire
You and I–Ingrid Michaelson (honestly this song covers the energies of the first five chakras)

Up on the roof

3rd Charka–Energies of will power and strength
I won’t back down

My Way

4th Charka–Energies of love and compassion
Parachute

I will love you

Everybody

5th Chakra–Energies of creativity and self expression

The Impossible Dream

New Soul

6th Chakra—Energies of foresight and being in the flow of the universe

I can see clearly now

Only Time

7th Chakra—Energies of being one with God
Prayer of Saint Francsis

Somewhere over the rainbow/What a Wonderful World–Israel Kamkawiwo’ole

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The Law of Attraction and its detractors

So I’m suddenly getting comments about my blogs about the The Secret and the Law of Attraction. I don’t quite understand it. If you don’t believe it don’t believe in it, why do you need to insult other people’s beliefs? The supreme irony here is that more often than not these are the same people who claim I’m closed minded for critiquing Muslims for their rather backward religion. So let me see, beating up on people for a belief that doesn’t hurt anyone: good; beating up on people for a belief system that leads to tyranny, genocide, and massive human right violations: bad. Am I the only one who is confused?

My argument has always boiled down to two points. The first is that while I know I don’t have scientific proof in favor that the Law of Attraction, there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that it may likely be true. My second point has been that, let’s for a minute say that I’m wrong about it and the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, then playing on oppositions turf for the sake of argument it still isn’t worth arguing about, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm and it still leads to a better quality of life. For some reason this has been interpreted as a contradiction. Apparently being able to suspend my own beliefs for a hypothetical situation is wrong…despite in any other context this would be considered being open minded. And really I just do it because the detractors claim that following this law hurts people. I can only attack that point if I for a moment play on their premises that it doesn’t work. Obviously if we play on my turf it doesn’t hurt people, but even if you assume it doesn’t work it still doesn’t hurt people. So why attack me for going about it both ways? Oh, I know why it’s wrong, because I then prove that the people arguing with me are still wrong for attacking this. I have a strong respect for defending the truth at all costs, but I also believe in prioritizing. For instance I hate socialism in all its forms. However, while I hate socialism I hate tyranny a hell of a lot more. So do I spend all my time critiquing the economic systems of the U.K. and Israel? Nope. Why, because those two countries are our greatest allies in the fight against tyranny and I prioritize that at the moment there are bigger issues to worry about. Now if we turned Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, the majority of the Middle East, Cuba, Mexico, and at least a larger portion of Sub-Saharan Africa into functioning democratic-republics, then yes I would be harsher on socialist nations, but right now I have bigger problems. I complain about socialism mainly in the U.S. because it (A) affects my life more directly and (B) because we are at a point where we might soon collapse if we do not go back to capitalism and if we collapse then we are certainly going to cease being the biggest obstacle to the tyrannies of the world. The same applies with the law of attraction. If you don’t believe in it fine, don’t, I am a huge believer in free will and won’t begrudge you any belief in your own life so long as it doesn’t hurt mine. But even if you don’t believe in it, aren’t there bigger false ideas out there for you to challenge? The rampant misogynism in Western culture? Anti-Semitism? Even among religious beliefs you have homophobia and the culture of fear that so many religions propagate…even if you’re right that the law of attraction, basically the idea that focused prayer can lead to a better life, doesn’t exist this seems to be biggest false idea out there, why attack this one when there are far worse ideas out there?

Now of course I believe it to be true, but we’re still playing in the opposition’s ball park. They claim that they need to oppose this because it hurts people. Really. How? The basic idea of the law of attraction in all its forms can be broken down into a few simple premises.
I. Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.
II. Be grateful for what you have to eliminate negative thoughts in your habits of thought.
III. Focus on the end of what you want, not how you are going to get it.
IV. Act as if you already have what you want in life.
V. Believe that the universe will respond to your thoughts and it will come to you.
Now the argument over the science comes into the fifth part and again for the sake of argument, let’s say that is totally bunk. So you don’t get the payoff promised. How do the other 4 parts hurt you? “Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.” Now basic psychology tells you that people who take responsibility about their life, that they are responsible for their actions, their thoughts, and the outcomes of those are certainly happier and more productive. The opposite is that we are responsible for our actions, that it’s nature and nurture and chance and fate that determine our life and we aren’t responsible for what happens to us. I think we all have enough experience to know that the people who always take responsibility for their actions are much happier and more productive than people who always blame others for what goes wrong (and even those who never give credit to themselves when things go right).

Now someone might claim that there is a happy medium, people who take responsibility but admit there are things out of their control, and that seems rational on the face of it, but actually it’s not. Because responsibility isn’t so much what happens to us, it’s about how we respond to what happens to us. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up?” as one of my favorite movies puts it. The actual other extreme is taking too much on yourself. It’s saying that you are responsible for your actions but only looking at the past and not picking yourself up. It’s only dwelling in the guilt, the fear, the blame and being as paralyzed as the people who don’t take any responsibility for anything (if we weren’t playing on the opposition’s field I might also point out that the Law of Attraction will sometimes give you something bad so as to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to get what you really want, e.g. losing your job which forces you get the want ads in which you find your dream job has just opened up but you would have never seen it if you hadn’t been looking for a new job). And yes this obsession with the past and the blame could be a terrible side effect of taking responsibility for everything in your life. So I guess it is a valid complaint. If only every person who preached the law of attraction also told people that for the law to work they need to focus on what is already good in their life and be grateful for all those good things….oh wait.

Point two of any version of the law of attraction is that you have to focus on what’s good in life. So I guess we don’t have a valid complaint against the philosophy yet.

But maybe this optimistic outlook at what is good in your life is a bad thing. I’m going to assume most of you just rolled your eyes at reading this sentence. For those you who don’t know medical science and psychology have long since proven that optimistic, grateful people are happier, less stressed, healthier, live longer, and have a better quality of life. There are no downsides I have ever heard of to being optimistic and grateful for what you have. So how does telling people that they need to appreciate what they have hurt them? I guess you could argue that if someone becomes too complacent with what they have they’ll be come stagnant…but then you read points three and four and that kind of goes out the window.

Point three and four deal with having goals and acting toward them. Start with the goal in mind and act in accordance with getting that goal. Now it’s been a while since I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People but I seem to recall these are basic principles of any goal oriented system. Start with the goal and be the change you want to see. Typically speaking isn’t that how you get what you want, even if you the universe isn’t helping you get what you want because of your thoughts, these are still the actions that will result in getting what you want. So what’s the down side? How does this harm people?

So we’re playing on the opponents and there is no harm to a person’s life through the first four required points to the law of attraction. But, the opponents say, it will lead them to depression when they don’t get what they want! They’ll be more optimistic, more goal oriented, healthier, probably have more friends and more efficient in whatever field they have chosen for a profession (which probably means more money). Okay, so if I’m wrong about the law of attraction they don’t have the island they wanted…but they probably have more than they did before they changed their attitude to follow The Secret. I don’t think most people would complain.

Now those that complain that the law of attraction isn’t real will probably say that success in life is highly dependent on luck. But I think we’ve all heard the sentiment that luck is opportunity plus preparation. The first four points deal with preparations that are actually required for success even if you assume that the law of attraction doesn’t work. So there is literally no way this can harm people. All the law of attraction says is that the opportunity is dependent on you being prepared and you looking for the opportunity, that the opportunity literally doesn’t exist until you look for it, it is dependent on you looking for it (kind of the Schrödinger’s cat of destiny).

So please, tell me, someone who disagrees with the law of attraction, how on Earth do you claim that it harms people. That to preach this is wrong. That to make money by selling good psychological practices is a con? How?  By believing in basic psychology that everyone knows leads to better life?  I’d love to hear examples of how this could go be bad…not vague statements about well it could lead people to do have long term problems (which it won’t) but actual examples or at least hypothetical situations.

And of course there is that other point…you know the one where it is a fact of nature. Our thoughts do control our life. They do affect all those literal variables that cascade into the opportunities we can reap the benefits of or eliminate those opportunities before they ever even materialize. Now I will admit that this is an article of faith. I do not have irrefutable scientific data to show that I am right and all who disagree with me are wrong. But the opposition doesn’t have that either. I would say however that the preponderance of the evidence is on my side. There are studies that show prayer works, there are studies that prayer doesn’t work. The funny thing is that when you take a step back you find those who come into the study to prove that prayer doesn’t work prove that prayer doesn’t work and that those seem more unbiased or to show that prayer does work always seem to show that prayer has some effect (Wow, it’s almost like thought effected the reality around it…no I won’t go that far, but I will say perhaps it’s a little hard to ignore the fact that scientists are people and it’s hard to remove bias from people). Also, how do you set up a control group, only find people who have absolutely no people praying for them? Tell the patient “we’re going to perform major surgery, but you can’t pray for yourself.” Atheist in a foxhole? It’s not exact mathematical proof, but there is the suggestion of proof. (Here are a listing of studies done in looking at the effects of prayer…I I find most interesting the ones of people who told that they were being prayed for and then did worse than the control group…do you think that guilt and self hatred which may have put them in that medical condition would have made them feel even worse being told that they were being prayed for and maybe countered the prayers for them?). So I will admit that I don’t have iron clad scientific proof if you admit that you don’t either. It’s an issue of faith (one that interestingly enough doesn’t hurt anyone). Of course my favorite part of this argument against the power of prayer in scientific studies is that it’s just the placebo effect. As most of these studies rely on people not being told they were being prayed for there isn’t a placebo effect present…someone has to know they’re being given something for the placebo effect to be present. But what’s really funny about this is the problem modern science is having with the placebo effect. Apparently for the last decade or so, drugs that have previously been tested when retested show less of an increase over the placebo effect. And when you go back and look at the data it’s not that the drug is less powerful it’s that the placebo effect has been getting stronger over the course of time. So people expecting there to be a change is leading to stronger changes even if there is no real drug present…it’s not just that is seems like expectation is changing reality, but it’s almost like the thoughts of people are getting more focused and thus having a larger effect on reality. But you’d have to be one of those crazy New Agers who believe we are on the cusp of a New Age where there will soon be a major jump in the evolution of the human soul.  But I’m always open to hearing other theories as to why the placebo effect is getting stronger.   Now those who don’t believe in the law will probably argue that science doesn’t support the idea, but this is a foolish understanding of reality.  Things are true whether science and prove them or not.  The earth moved before Galileo, it was round before Columbus, gravity pulled light before Einstein…reality exists before science, just because modern science can’t prove something it’s the worst arrogance to say that just because science hasn’t proven it yet it isn’t so.  Real human life has to admit that science doesn’t know everything, especially when it comes how we live our lives.  Yes it would be foolish to fly in the face of science fact, but what science has not proved or disproved, (things like the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, or this law), it should not be assumed that just because science hasn’t proven something yet it should not be acted on.

Now I will concede that foolishness in conjunction with surface understanding of the law of attraction could lead to problems. For instance prayer healing, the idea that if you pray hard enough you can immediately fix life threatening problems. You know, prayer works great for a disease like cancer because they take time, and those who preach the law of attraction are very clear that it takes time for effect to appear. In terms of faith healing, it’s often something that requires immediate attention, if you think it’s only a matter of how hard you pray, clearly you don’t understand that there is a time delay issue involved in how the law of attraction works. Further, let’s take an extreme view of the law of attraction, if you attracted this disease you clearly do not have the law of attraction mastered, go get medical attention and with the extra time you have to live and take some more time to get it down. The spiritual text A Course in Miracles draws a line between what it calls miracles (a true understanding that the world is a reflection of our thoughts and the ability to control the world through our thoughts) and magic (an understanding that thinks the world is something more than just an illusion projected by our thoughts, which tries to control things in that illusion through the illusion, science is included in this). A Course in Miracles makes it clear the only way you are going to learn the truth of the world is by living, learning, and growing, you can’t do that if you’re dead. If you’re experiencing problems, especially medical ones, if you know how to control miracles (well you wouldn’t be in that situation) use them—if not, probably demonstrated by the fact that you’re in a situation that could really use a miracle don’t be an idiot and go for magic of science and medicine (you have to appreciate the apparent irony of that phrase). The law of attraction is something that works, but it’s not an immediate fix to problems (unless you’ve reached Enlightenment and then I seriously doubt you’ll be reading this blog if you have). The law is supposed to be used in conjunction with reason not in opposition to it.

Of course the thing that always surprises me is that the argument I made about the first four points of the law of attraction just being good positive psychology aren’t made by my opponent. Instead of arguing against it in totality they should be arguing, “well of course being goal oriented and optimistic leads to a better life, you don’t need any mystical element to explain that” which would actually be a much harder argument for me to refute and I would have to just fall back on “Yes, but my spiritual belief system says that it also affects the world around you and provides you with the opportunities that reflect your attitude. Can’t prove it but that is what I believe, and it’s not worth arguing because you can’t disprove it.” I admit that’s a weak argument philosophically, but it’s an issue of faith and only a fool would think that you apply the laws of science to faith. But no. They take the tack that it hurts people and it must be challenged at all costs. Again I’d love to see an example of where it hur.t someone. I suspect however that it has more to do with the first point. People don’t want to be responsible for their actions. They want to avoid thinking and doing. These are often the same people who argue their life is terrible not because they didn’t get an education or a job or what not, not because of their choices, but because the government didn’t give them this or that, that the system is broken, that life is unfair and we need to make it more fair for the disadvantaged. They dislike it because the philosophy leaves no room for excuses or others to blame. It requires that you think for yourself. It requires that you act in accordance with those thoughts. It requires that you take responsibility for those thought and actions. And for some people that is a horrifying idea.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Books, Books for New Agers, Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Happiness, Karma, Law of Intention, Meditation, New Age, People Are Stupid, Popular Culture, Prayer, Purpose of Life, Religion, Spirituality, The Secret

Another piece of BS from the RSA.

This is a long one. A very long one. It’s on a 10 minutes video that is just a string of lies, half truths and logical fallacies. In the word document I typed this up in this is 9 single spaced pages long. If you’re going to read this blog be sure to have a snack and a strongly caffeinated beverage at hand. I hate, I truly loathe and despise these liberal videos with cartoons, and they cram so much evil into so short a space there is no way to deal with all of it in a brief manner.

And this is the short version, there a hundreds of smaller issues I ignored.

Watch the video first.

The Royal Science Academy must have a mission statement of putting out bad videos with pretty pictures that include nothing but half-truths and logical fallacies that are supposed to come off as well thought out ideas. I blame that propaganda piece “The Story of Stuff”, it showed liberals how some people will not pay attention to the details if you speak fast enough and use shiny things to distract them (I once timed the Story of Stuff as having a logical fallacy or outright lie every 2.5 seconds. I don’t think even Obama can match that kind of record.) Today’s hack work comes from Barbara Ehrenreich and it is entitled “Smile or Die” and is a gross and misleading at best, slanderous worst, attack on the idea of Positive Thinking.
So Ehrenreich, who you may recall is the same hack who wrote Nickel and Dimed, which showed how you could succeed in America starting from the bottom…you know I’m no scientist, but I think in dealing with human behavior, if someone goes out to prove that they are incapable of doing something then 99.99999999% they will prove themselves right. Whereas amazingly enough several people have taken up the challenge and proved Ehrenreich wrong, that with willpower and character you can easily pick yourself out of the lower classes of socio-economics, it’s a matter of choice. But it might be helpful to keep in mind that Ehrenreich’s overarching theory is that you are incapable of doing anything on your own without help. Such a depressing outlook will help inform you about this little excuse for an argument.

The first problem is that I’m going to inform you up front she lumps a lot of disparate ideologies, practices and beliefs systems together (even when they don’t necessarily have any common base) and calls it all “Positive Thinking.” This little straw man allows her to attack the weakest forms of what she calls positive thinking and then make you think that all the other forms are just as inaccurate.
The first is the idea of support groups for employees who have been laid off. Apparently these groups are telling people “It’s not bad to be laid off” Ignoring the fact that the day I got fired was one of the best days of my life (looking a bully in the eyes and not backing down is fun…especially when they start getting more and more insane when you don’t cower as they expect you too) It’s getting people in the right mindset. She claims that skills and experience aren’t necessary, which she provides not even the hint of evidence for–I understand she is going quickly and has no time to include a bibliography, but I can also guarantee you 90% it’s not the people without skills or education who are getting fired, and it’s not the people without skills and education who aren’t getting hired; after all the unemployment for college graduates is around 4.6% and around 14.6 for those without a high school diploma; clearly education and skills count for something.  However attitude is important. And you need to have a positive attitude because no one is going to hire a depressed employee…why, because if they’re still depressed when they go looking for a job it means they haven’t gotten over it, which means they’ll sulk, they’ll bitch, they’ll be unproductive, and they’ll bring everyone else around them down. To get a new job you need a glass is half full outlook because being the in doldrums won’t help you.
And I seriously doubt anyone thinks that the only thing these support groups do is talk about being happy. I would assume they rather help people get through those 4 stages of loss, so they can get as quickly as possible to acceptance…now let’s get out of grief and into accepting it happened—you can whine or you can use this as the start of something new.
Now granted it’s a little cynical for a business to put their fired employees through this, but especially when they’re downsizing (i.e. often it’s a choice of some get fired or we all lose our jobs) it’s an attempt to not be completely callous. Further, I wouldn’t expect any of these support groups to start five minutes after you get fired. Yes, get over denial and bargaining and anger. But once you’re in grief, which is an important step, it’s also the step that’s easiest to get stuck in thus a support group of some kind can help you move out of it and onto acceptance and moving forward with your life. But the one thing that a support group has to kill right away is self-pity, because that’s never psychologically healthy.
Now I could wax long on the New Age theory that everything happens for a reason and every challenge is a learning opportunity, but no need to bring the New Age into this just yet. I will however go with that beautifully inspirational line from a Christopher Nolan film, “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” You might think it’s trite because of its source, but it contains a very valuable piece of truth, life is about moving forward and staying in grief and depression is not about moving forward. Does this idiot Ehrenreich think it would be psychologically helpful to condone and encourage self-pity and depression? I thank god this woman isn’t a psychologist, all of her patients would end up committing suicide (the only exceptions would be those who decided to go on a killing spree before suicide-by-cop).
“Don’t complain.” I think it’s more of don’t dwell on the past. Complaints are fine…what are you going to do about them? Complaining for complaining sake is by nature looking at the problem and the past. It’s not psychologically healthy. Get it out of your system and move on. If you’re constantly complaining it is a sign you have a problem and at some point you need to break yourself of the habit (or at least sublimate it into something positive). I seriously doubt any support group says “don’t complain.” They may say don’t complain during your interview because we do want you to succeed and learn how to sublimate all of your negative emotions into positive actions, but I think support groups are designed for complaining and then moving on.

Then after finding a healthy psychological approach she “saw a pattern” and by pattern she apparently means “I found a way to prop up a straw man argument.” Because it is here that she strangely equates it with bad business and denial in business. I know of no company that has a policy of “mandatory optimism and cheerfulness”…now there may be companies that fire the most pessimistic and rude employees, but that’s because everyone, not just management wanted them gone. And no I think companies want tasks done. Management in corporate America may most of the time be stupid beyond the telling of it, but they want stuff done not just happy feelings.
She then pulls a neat trick here and actually goes to the New Age idea of Positive Thinking or as it is actually called “The Law of Attraction” she does this to make you think that whatever corporate America is doing it is inherently crazy and stupid and vice versa that the law of attraction is dumb without having to prove either. She’s hoping you will think her non-sequitor jump in organization is because the business world makes no sense itself, this is not the case. I am not going to make the same jump and I will deal with the rest of what she has to say about business first and then come back to the New Age idea.
So she comes back to the business angle after about two minutes of pathetically ignorant mocking of the New Age when she describes the financial meltdown of 2007. She identifies other factors being class inequality, this wasn’t actually a factor in any way, shape or form , an economy being based on finance instead of manufacturing, again not a factor (and economic thinking that is nearly 50 years out of date), greed, which actually drives an economy (I think she meant short term thinking or perhaps avarice, but she didn’t say either of those). So in addition to knowing nothing about human psychology she doesn’t know anything about economics either. (Here are the real causes of the meltdown which is also explained in “Republicans and Reincarnation” And the Royal Science Academy gave this woman a platform? Then she claims there was a grip of positive thinking in the financial sector, that they had no idea what was going on. And she points out that the mortgage companies didn’t like whistleblowers. Let me see why. Could it be because they initially tried to not give out all of these sub-prime loans and then were sued by the government, under Janet Reno, pressured from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Congress (a charge led by Barney Frank) and sued by private firms like Miner, Barnhill & Galland for not issuing enough subprime mortgages (three guesses as to which lawyer at that law firm whose first name is Barrack that helped to sue banks for not making those terrible loans). Banks did try to not give those loans out, but when you got all three branches of government conspiring against you, what are you going to do? Banks were left with the choice of die now, broke, being sued by everyone or die later after making terrible loans that will never be paid back and make some money for ourselves. Is it any shock that people have short term thinking when that is all the government rewards? Is it any shock that in the choice of going down broke or going down after making my cut of the action people chose not to fall on their swords for an issue they knew the public wouldn’t back them on. It wasn’t the move of high character or personal nobility, but it was the purely logical move. So are you shocked they wanted the good times to roll a little longer before the house of cards came down? Of course not. That’s why they didn’t want the whistleblowers, not because they didn’t think it was going to come crashing down, they knew it would, they just wanted it to last a little longer. Again, not the most ethical move, but certainly not a delusional one. But I may be expecting too much of Ehrenreich to assume she would do even a modicum of research into what actually caused this behavior—she has prejudices and false faiths to defend godamnit and facts can’t be allowed to get in the way of that. It wasn’t willful ignorance; it was willfully trying to hide what everyone knew from the public. Unethical, but not delusional.
(Then we have another non-sequitor jump to bashing the New Age again)
Then there is the requisite Bush-bashing. Wouldn’t be liberal propaganda without Bush-bashing. Oh and let’s quote utterly useless back stabbing Condi Rice as saying she had doubts about Iraq but that Bush didn’t like pessimists. First, what I’ve read about Bush is that he didn’t like people who brought up problems but didn’t have a solution, granted there are better management styles, but it’s not deluded thinking (like, say, Obama’s who has nothing but yes-men who don’t even bring up problems with solutions because the divine One, Obama, can do no wrong). And which general was fired for saying we needed more troops (which I thought Bush sent in more troops) I don’t know who this General is and 10 minutes of Google search can’t find anyone who critized the war before they had already retired, so while there may have been someone fired at that point of time, I find it suspicious that she can’t give us a name. And let’s deal with Iraq as a whole. The problem with Iraq wasn’t positive thinking; it was not having a plan for what to do after we defeated the Iraqi army. We had no plan. That will get you in trouble whether you’re an optimist or pessimist…although pessimism is more often associated with a lack of planning.
Really none of this business or Iraq war stuff has to do with positive thinking. Nothing at all. But she thinks it offers a great straw man argument of “look, this positive thinking is bullshit, so that positive thinking is bullshit.” Problem is that she can’t even identify what the problems are.
Okay onto the New Age stuff. If you want to go back to 2 minutes and 18 seconds she begins dealing with the New Age idea of the law of attraction. (I love of all the people who they could draw for having control of the world through thoughts they pick Darth Vader…thanks I love that being an optimist puts me on par with a fictional genocidal psychopath, thank you Goebbels). Yes the idea is that if you concentrate and keep your mind focused you will have everything you want. She uses the trite example of a million dollars because she wants to make it seem that it’s ridiculous that we could all get a million (well, give Obamanomics enough time and a loaf of bread will cost a million). But really we don’t all want a million. We say we do, but that’s not really what we want. I think most of us would prefer a happy marriage, happy healthy children, and a job we enjoy to a million dollars. The problem is that our thoughts drift all over the place that we don’t often bring that to us. But she does grossly misrepresent the law of attraction, it isn’t that if we think hard enough we can go buy a lotto ticket today and win tonight. It’s that if we focus our ideas, it will affect the universe in a million different small ways that everything will match up. That the ideas that will make us a million dollars will come to us. That the opportunities to sell that idea and promote that idea and make money off that idea will all fall into place and be there for us to see and take advantage of. The psychologist Jung called it synchronicity, Taoist call it the flow of the universe, the Hindus call it sankalpa—the idea is that the universe changes to match your thoughts and provide the opportunities for your thoughts to manifest. You envision yourself as an actor. The universe shows you an ad for an acting course. You take it. You see yourself as an actor. The universe shows you an ad for an audition, you show up, and the universe helps put you with the director at the right time for them to want your take on the character. You see yourself as an actor, the universe directs the right critic to be at the show and you do your best one. You see yourself as an actor, that review, because of the universe’s gentle nudging, is seen by the right Hollywood producer…you get the idea. It’s not just a boatload of cash dropping from the sky, it is small things that give you the opportunity to act on your desires. But this is clearly an idea too advanced for Ehrenreich’s rather limited mind (her inability to craft an argument shows that).
So instead of trying to craft a logical argument against the law of attraction she makes fun of the word “magnetism” being used a lot of the time in the descriptions of the law of attraction. The idea of the law is that you pull the things you think about to you like a magnet. Notice the word “like”. It’s a simile. A simile is a kind of metaphor that uses the word “like” or “as”. Most of you know this because you took 8th grade English. Enrenreich apparently is completely ignorant of the concept of speaking metaphorically as she spends nearly a minute on this. Is she so stupid as to not know the difference between a literal statement and a metaphor to try and describe something so someone can understand it? Apparently she is.
And then of course she shows that she doesn’t understand Quantum Physics very well. Quantum Physics has a big problem, and that problem is that thought appears in every experiment to affect the outcome of all the experiments. Now if thought is the only thing that doesn’t change from the quantum to the atomic level it suggests thought is outside of the laws of physics, perhaps even outside grand unified theory. There are two camps of how to deal with this—pretty much it’s an atheist camp and a theist camp. The theist camp see no problem with this, it justifies the idea of the soul and free will, both of which are outside of the clockwork universe. The atheist camp has a bigger problem. You see one of the things about quantum particles is that they can randomly appear just about anywhere. There are likelihoods that they’ll appear in one place over another, but the only thing that seems to affect this, is again, thought. Now if you’re in the purely science and only science atheist camp you can’t have thought affecting where these particles show up when they collapse into a set state every fraction of a nano second. How has the atheist camp dealt with this problem? By going to science fiction. They now postulate that it isn’t that the quantum particle is collapsing into one state over another, it’s actually collapsing into both and with each collapse a new universe is created. So it’s only the appearance of the universe picking one possibility over another, actually all the possibilities occur, we just don’t experience them. Clearly no one thought this one out. One of the most basic rules of physics is the law of conservation: the sum total of matter and energy in the universe is constant, you can’t add or subtract it, it can change form, but the sum total is always the same. So if a new universe is created every time a quantum particle collapses, it must mean that the sum total of energy necessary for a completely new universe was just converted into a new universe. But it gets more fun if you think about it. That means every quantum particle in the universe (trillions to the trillionth power to the trillionth power would be a conservative estimate and let’s represent this number with the letter Q) each with let’s just say 2 possible states to collapse to (it’s more, but let’s make this number somewhat easier to deal with). That means that every nanosecond 2Q number of universes is created. And the next nanosecond there is 2Q created off of each of the 2Q new universes will be created. Ever seen a fractal pattern? If there were only 1 particle in the universe after one-one-millionth of a second you would have 10103 number of universes, and how many particles are there? How many nanoseconds since the big bang? So all of these universes must be drawing from some infinite reservoir of energy to be constantly created…infinite energy, as Thomas Aquinas would say, this we call God. But God would never be as stupid as to have a system this crazy, so actually, basic reason (even without Ockham’s razor) requires me to just admit that thought might have some effect on the universe outside my brain. But I’m just a dumb English teacher, I’m sure Ehrenreich and her understanding of Quantum Mechanics is so much better than mine.
Back to the argument against positive thinking. She states that one problem with this is it’s delusional. (Oh and why is a picture of America used with the word delusional?) Really? Part of her argument for it being delusional is saying the economy was based on positive thinking, but we already showed that wasn’t the case. She offers no other real evidence that it’s delusional, but I’ll substitute some of the more common arguments against the law of positive thinking. The most common argument is the almost common sense idea that your thoughts obviously can’t affect the world. For the sake of argument I will suspend my belief in the law of attraction and agree that thoughts can’t affect the world outside my mind. Guess what it’s still not delusional. Even if the law of attraction is bunk, it still works. If you say to yourself “I will do X” and act on that belief, you take the courses necessary to do that, you practice the skill required for X, you keep applying for the position of X. And low and behold the law of averages says that eventually between education, practice and determination, you will get what you want. If you want to be an actor, take all the courses, keep auditioning and guess what you’ll act. Now you may not ever become the number one paid actor in the world, but I can’t think of anyone who never got their shot. Now you may say what if a person is a terrible actor? It’s a skill anyone can do at a basic level if they actually try (hell I can think of a lot of people in Hollywood who can’t act well, but they got the job nonetheless) and will get in at some level. Now here’s the thing if they really aren’t good at it, they probably won’t enjoy it, and thus they’d have to be a masochist to not then desire something else…and if they’re still determined they’ll go after that other thing. In psychology it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it works almost all of the time. (You’ll also notice that the most self-destructive entertainers are the ones who say they never expected their fame or don’t deserve it, and low and behold they fulfill their own words). For instance anyone with even a bare bones knowledge of psychology, economics, sociology or education, or any social science for that matter would know that someone who went out saying “I’m going to prove this can’t be done” will create a self-fulfilling prophecy of their own because they will always look for the ways to screw up and make sure their thesis is proved, even if there was a way for it to be done. But then again you’d have to know something, anything, about how people act. Human psychology when coupled with determination tends to yield results. Even if the law of attraction is total BS, the attitude still drives you to learn, to practice, and to push yourself…in other words to succeed. Thus how is something that actually works delusional? It’s more delusional to say “I’m going to be a realist and look only at the practical odd.” Go find an oncologist. Ask them who will survive, the cancer patient who says “Well realistically I have a 20% chance of survival” or the cancer patient who says “I’m going to beat this.” I can tell you right now which group makes it into the 20% of survivors with more frequency, and you know that too. Thus looking at reality” by nature becomes pessimism. Thus it becomes the true delusion because it ignores the opportunities right in front of you.
Then she goes with the idea that the law of attraction is cruel because it says we bring all the negative things into our lives. She uses the idea that the tsunami victims were thinking those kinds of thought. She says she paraphrased from Byrne, I’m sure it was paraphrasing the letter and not the spirit of the statement. New Age belief says that sometimes we think negative thoughts into our lives and that brings negative things. It’s the laws of attraction. Sometimes however this is not immediate, sometimes this is a very delayed effect from karma and negative thoughts in our distant past. And sometimes, and this is especially true of large disasters, the people who suffer thought about these negative things, not as punishment or because they’re negative, but because they are often more enlightened souls who willingly choose to be put in a position where they will suffer, because at a more enlightened level it doesn’t matter as much to them, and they put themselves in this position to help spark the compassion in others. Massive suffering isn’t so much a punishment as it is a chance for you to help and be a better person and give up your own negative thoughts. What these all have in common is that negative situations are opportunities to learn and give up negative thoughts. How is that callous or amoral?
More importantly, again putting aside all my New Age beliefs, any psychologist will tell you that happiness is a choice. It has nothing to do with your surroundings; it has to do with your outlook. People who are dependent on the outside environment, as this idiot Ehrenreich is suggesting we be, are statistically always unhappy because if you’re looking for that promotion, that check, that car, that vacation, that person in your life, for your happiness, you will never find it. It is a choice totally and completely independent of your surrounding and situation. And before you try and give me some counterexample of someone in a miserable situation, I’ll raise the ante before you do. Do you remember Christopher Reeve in his last years? Few people on Earth are in a more miserable situation than sitting in a bed, being told you will never leave that bed and never be able to breathe on your own again, that you have at most a year to live. Oh wait, he breathed on his own, he got out of that bed, (because he believed he would…damn that sounds a bit like the law of attraction) and if you saw him in any film or interview he was a happy and hopeful man. Yeah he didn’t walk, but maybe that wasn’t his purpose in life, with what he from that chair alone he gave hope and showed the power of determination and the choice to be happy. Okay your turn, someone in a more miserable situation who really chose to be happy but still wasn’t. I can hear the wheels turning, (I’ve seen happy cancer patients, and hopeful people dying of degenerative diseases…I’ve seen poverty borne with honor and dignity…I’ve seen)…I’m waiting for a counter example….Maybe it’s more cruel to tell people to just be realistic about their situations.
She can say she’s not advocating gloom or pessimism, but by saying we should be “realistic” about our situations, that’s exactly what’s she’s saying.
What the hell is this shit about vigilant? Reasonable fear is not negative. But you know the way she is using vigilant, as in looking for problems and running away from them seems to be from the fight or flight response we all have. And it is also that fight response to fight even when things are hopeless and miraculously turns the tide in our favor that also got us where we are. Her flight vigilance is the attitude of thinking, ‘well, can’t do that, why bother trying.’ Yeah that got us far. So vigilance and looking for danger and running away from them helped our ancestors. Can I then thank the ancestor of ours who wasn’t vigilant and not only went toward the fire but learned how to control it despite the fact that it could have killed him? The people who survived may have said ‘move it’s a leopard’—the people who thrived and advanced civilization said ‘Oh, I wonder where this leads?”
Inclinations towards camaraderie? Solidarity? Outside of Pravda who uses those words as a basis for human behavior. What about our inclinations to curiosity? Imagination? Determination? Compassion?

Positive thought is the only way I can think of that is scientifically proven by scientists to actually make people happy and psychologically healthy is actually social control—that’s right, if you’re happy then it’s only because the evil corporations are controlling you.  Am I the only one who thinks that this dimwit had the hardest time not constantly using the words ‘proletariat’ and ‘bourgeoisie’ in this section, as it just drips with a purely Marxist view of war of the classes (a view that has been beyond proven to be limited and false). That’s why she tries to bring up the Soviet Union, to deny her own Marxist leanings. Did the Soviets preach optimism, possibly, in their case it was denial of reality and say 2+2=5. Positive thinking says 2+2=4 right now, but if I work at it the universe will provide me with another one (1) and 2+2+1=5. Positive thinking does not deny the past or even the present, but it says the future still is not written and it can be what I want to write not what will be written for me. What the Soviets called optimism was a denial of reality. (Ehrenreich seems to have a problem making this distinction and it’s probably her inability to form any semblance of deep thought.)
Oh we have class inequality again. Again she misrepresents the law of attraction. The law of attraction requires you act and work. It just says that if you believe that your work will be easy then the universe will line up the opportunities in such a way, that if you look for them, your path to your goal will be easy. For instance, passing high school is actually quite easy. Community college is rather cheap in the grand scheme of things. Two years at a state college not that much. Oh gee you now have a B.A. for a minimum amount of effort. You’re now pretty much guaranteed a job for the rest of your life. How hard was that? Anyone can do it if they choose to make the necessary sacrifices along the way and choose that they will do it.
But then it gets really fun when she attacks capitalism. She suggests Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand is a magical idea that corrects everything in the market without reason. Now anyone with a brain who looks at the invisible hand would notice that it destroys ideas that do not work, that every individual is striving to do what is in their best interest, that ideas that work multiply more, that larger and more diverse companies have a better chance of surviving economic shocks and a lot of other things. You know where we also see the exact same processes: the modern theory of evolution. Genes like people work in their own best interest and try to multiply. The ideas/genes that offer the best advantage live and multiply. The ideas/genes that are weak die off. The more complex creatures/companies can adapt better. So, as she claims to be a person of science, she wants me to believe that one system based on competition and survival of the fittest (biology) operates on a basic set of principles called evolution, but that in another system of competition and survival of the fittest (economics) it would just be beyond stupid to believe in the exact same principles only called the Invisible Hand and not evolution. I am going to choose to not be an idiot and believe in both evolution and the Invisible Hand. She can continue to the economic version of a creationist (we call them Keynesians) and be justly ridiculed.
It’s also kind of funny she’s making fun of people who believe in the ‘market’ and it will fix everything, when she clearly believes in ‘the government’ and it’s ability (with no track record of such) to fix everything. Oh, so if I’ve got a shrine I worship to and have to pay taxes or make sacrifices to it, then the miraculous deity that can save us isn’t ridiculous (even though, again, the market is based on a scientific principle). Does she worship Zeus? You can see him, or at least a statue of him, and you have to pay sacrifice. It would seem to be the corresponding religious belief to her Keynesian economics.
Actually the power of positive thinking doesn’t say you can “change the world” it says you can change your life. You’re not a lone individual against the world, you’re an individual being happy…and strangely enough those of us with a good understanding of the law of attraction do seem to have a George Bailey kind of effect on the world around us. But again she seems overly concerned with looking at the outside environment and not with actually living her life. Then she goes onto “collective power”…that’s right screw the idea of being the change you want to see in the world you can only do good by being a cog in a larger system and only then do we have power that “we could use to end a great deal of unnecessary suffering.” What worthless liberal drivel.

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Republicans and Reincarnation is for sale!!!!

It’s for sale.

Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of A New Age Conservative is finally for sale!!

You should buy a copy. Or three. One for you. One for your best friend whom you want to have one of the best books of the 21st century. And one just because you never know when you’ll need a back up copy.

Buy it at my publisher AuthorHouse

Barnes & Noble

Amazon  (although they apparently are not selling the Kindle version just yet, but they should have it up soon).  

Prices for the book are lower at my publisher, prices for the Nook at B&N is lower than the price at my publisher.  (Royalties are higher from my publisher, so you know where my bias lies).

Feel free to write a review or two…Feel free to mention it to every carbon based life-form you know…feel free to forward information to any member of the media you know.

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Pandemics and Karma

So the comments on the most recent blog were rather quick in coming, but really people you can post these comment on the comment board rather than emailing me personally.
Anyway, so this is a summary of my end of a discussion, half of it being about economics, sociology, and history–the other half on the spiritual implications of my statements.

Primarily this started over my comment that only a pandemic can quickly solve our economic problems. Now maybe it’s just the Malthus economist in me, but I have noticed a strange pattern in history. WWII followed by a major economic boom. Spanish Flu followed by the Roaring 20’s (and notice the economic boom started after the flu, not WWI). Civil War followed by the Industrial Revolution, and of course, the piece de resistance of my argument, Black Death followed by the Renaissance. Now one can easily argue that many factors went into all of these economic booms, but it seems that the massive drop in life seemed to be a catalyst for allowing those other factor to take full effect. Why is this? I’m not a trained economist but I figure some of the factors for this are I. these massive drops in life were not accompanied by massive destruction in the infrastructure (with WWI and WWII the economic boom primarily occurred first and foremost in countries not directly devastated by the fighting, the same with the post Civil War boom, where the biggest jumps were made in the North and West where the least damage was done) II. Under a true Malthusian prospect the death left a surplus of food production, but also of capital that could now be distributed through a much smaller populace, making it more likely for even the poorest person to own capital and have an opportunity to better themselves III. The human psyche’s desire to return to a mythic pre-destruction golden age coupled with human determination to make things happen (and the likelihood that government bureaucracy is usually one of the first things to be destabilized in such situations leaving less impediments to that determination).

Does that mean I want a pandemic to wipe out a lot of people? No, I would rather people start using their brains and pull ourselves out of this current economic crisis through intelligence, will, and common sense…but honestly that’s never happened in history and while I’m hopeful about humanity’s capacity for good, I’m not naive. Further the Malthus in me worries that if things aren’t fixed soon you will see more dire situations occur: like war and famine due to continued economic problems (again based on my study of history, when people feel they don’t have enough they soon become very open to taking it by force from others…which in turn destroys the infrastructure that allow for those goods to be actually provided). And given that war and famine tend to historically lead to that third horseman of pandemic…well if I have to choose between bad situations, could we just skip to the option that leaves infrastructure relatively safe and has a significantly shorter span of suffering (a bad flu will kill you in a week–war and famine on the other hand, as many a Holocaust survivor might be willing to testify to, will only make you wish it killed you in a week). I would love it if we could just evolve as a species and get our collective heads out of our collective you know what orifice–but I have yet to see proof of that, so yes I want the option with the less suffering involved.

At this point in my conversation with my friend, they claimed it was still terrible I could wish that kind of suffering on innocent people (Note this is where the spiritual discussion begins). I responded from my New Age perspective, with an understanding of Karma and intention, they had all in one way or another asked for it. This of course caused shock in my friend, but let me explain, because most people don’t understand how Karma works and why bad things actually do happen to good people.

There are three things that cause events to happen in our life: Intention, Karma, and Dharma (and while I am going to deal with them separately, they are probably best represented by a very tightly wound Venn Diagram).

1. Intention: From a New Age Perspective our thoughts create reality. What we focus on creates the reality around us (see “The Secret” and “A Course in Miracles”). When you do nothing about getting a dent on your brand new car, you worry about nothing else, until you bring that into your life, your car gets dented. When you focus on your career being nothing but one success after another, it is…why because this world is an illusion and only a reflection of our thoughts. Most people do not know how to consciously control these thoughts into series of desired outcome, which leaves their consistent subconscious beliefs to take over. These thought are often self-recriminating, self-loathing, and self-hating which most often manifests in the form of disease. Unhappy people don’t just have disease more often, but are often more accident prone, more disastrous and have more failures in life–they’re not unhappy because of this bad luck, they have bad fortune because that is how they see the world. Pain is life’s way of telling you’re not getting the message. Why do people’s cancer’s go into remission after they embrace life? Because the shock of the disease made them realize they were operating under a faulty belief system, change their beliefs, and the happier more productive belief manifested into a disease free body. So from the point of view of the Law of Intention, people often get sick because their negative and false beliefs created that in their life and they refused to correct their belief system–therefore they brought it on themselves.

2. The Law of Karma…which is really just a long-term view of the Law of Intention. If we believe we have done something good and should be rewarded for it, we manifest that into our lives–or Karma pays off. Now Karma often works at a subconscious level of intention, and the way most people think of it is as paying off for acts in a past life is correct. If we have done something in a past life that we have yet to forgive ourselves for, we will manifest a punishment of some kind in this life. However, Karma is a creation of our making, not God’s. God is a forgiving sort of fellow, and forgave you before you even did anything you thought might offend him, he’s really quite incapable of hating you. So Karma, in terms of punishment is only brought on us by ourselves…if you slaughter a million people in a past life, but in this life came to the realization that while it was terrible what is past is past and you have already been forgiven by God, and thus forgive yourself, there would be no Karmic punishment. Karmic punishment is only the universe’s way of trying to force you to a point where you can forgive yourself. So again, by failing to forgive themselves, if people died in a pandemic, it’s their own fault.

On a related note to both of these two points. Death in this case is not necessarily a bad thing. Often from a larger karmic perspective it take suffering and death to wake people up. People’s souls often feel they must pay some kind of “Karmic” debt for their past misdeed and can only move on until they have done so. Granted while this is a false belief, getting over their past misdeeds is still a step forward, just not as much of a step as fully forgiving themselves, but it is a step in the right direction. Further, many people sadly need a violent and often painful slap in the metaphysical face to realize how stupid their beliefs are. Someone I know thinks that people will only wake up if we have an all out WWIII between the forces of liberalism and conservatism before people realize that liberalism is, at its heart, evil–this is a foolish and reckless belief because even if you did have everyone who believed in liberty and free will stand up, draw a line in the sand and say “no more” the following battle would most likely only entrench the negative and hateful beliefs of liberalism into the souls of their opponents (fighting always makes you think you’re right, just having to suffer the effects of you beliefs leaves no one to blame but yourself). Granted we do need to stand up and kill some people (Al-Qaida, the Taliban, producers who green light reality TV) because these people are out to kill us, but liberals, while holding to a vile and hateful philosophy, aren’t directly out to kill us (yes their beliefs will result in suffering, but they need to learn that themselves).

3. The Law of Dharma: Dharma, roughly translated as purpose or meaning of our lives, holds that we come to Earth through each reincarnation with a purpose. Sometime we succeed, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes that purpose is quite pleasant. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Often many of the more advanced souls will come back into lives with great hardships, not because they need to suffer or their mind is focused on false beliefs, but to bring out the humanity in others. Think of it this way, the Holocaust while an unspeakable evil that we would all love to see never repeated, did bring out numerous acts of absolute goodness from those who helped the Jews. The fact that more than 20,000 are honored as Righteous Among the Nations for helping Jews during the Holocaust by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem does show that the adage that the light of humanity burns brightest when things are darkest, is true. Sometimes, perhaps too often, the suffering of another is often the very thing needed to teach us something about the power of love and hope. The point being that just because someone seems to be suffering from the bitch that is karma, don’t necessarily assume that they deserve it as punishment and move on; they may be an opportunity for you to help and learn. And this may be another reason why there is economic and cultural boom after periods of high death…after seeing the suffering of others and striving to reduce that suffering bring out the best in us, the right way of thinking, which in turn manifests itself into a better world.

So any way you want to look at it, people’s suffering is always brought on themselves. From the perspective of you the observer you should always assume it is a chance for you to practice compassion, because either it’s because they are intentionally giving you the opportunity to help or because they are suffering from false beliefs which should at least inspire pity in you and a desire to help replace that with a better belief system…but you shouldn’t feel guilty that others are suffering and you’re not.

So that is certainly the long way around of describing why I feel a pandemic would solve most of our problems. But I would be more than happy to find that we as a species just grew up, gave up faulty beliefs, and recovered quickly because we have the potential in ourselves to find opportunity and prosperity in any situation.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Death, Karma, Law of Intention, New Age, The Secret