Sunday, March 18, 2007

Our Own Anti-Guru Gets Press

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Our very own anti-guru, Steve Shasen of the Anti-Guru blog (and the comments section of this blog), a gem we came across a few weeks ago, was interviewed by the Toronto Star for an article about Rhonda Byrne's flimflam book and DVD entitled The Secret:
For Steven Sashen, it all amounts to the same thing. A self-described "recovering guru," Sashen, who studied cognitive psychology, adhered to all the self-help he could glom on to for 30 years, He even taught and ran classes. "It took me that long to get less stupid," he says, laughing.

Based in Boulder, Colo., he runs a web site, http://www.anti-guru.com, where he addresses what he calls "the compulsion we have to believe, and the aversion we have to critical thinking."

He would know. After a lifetime spent looking for the answer, "I had this `oooohhh' moment," he says. "I was looking for ever more subtle notions of what was wrong. And when one didn't work, I would look for whatever the next thing was. And I realized, `Why should I think that the next grand solution to come along will be any more effective than the last?'"...

The "secret" – it's an enticing notion, Sashen says. "It's the carrot on the stick. If someone says, `I know the answer,' you're going to want that. If you tell people that the answer has been there all along, and it's been hidden from you – well, people will beat down the doors to get that."
Kudos to Sashen for speaking out against this monstrosity of infantilism that threatens to turn the world into a sandbox full of entitled little shits, all operating under the woefully mistaken impression that spiritual realization has anything to do with material prosperity.

It does... just as much as our dog's ass.

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52 Comments:

At 3/18/2007 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the point of these so-called "advanced" meditation courses? They don't seem to differ much from regular meditation despite the attempt to differentiate purification and realization techniques.

All It Is, for example, sends your mind into a tail spin by (ultimately) asking you to experience yourself experiencing. The presentation may differ, but I don't see anything new here and even if it is new, what is the point of this?

All I've heard are emotional testimonials from confused (and/or easily amused) folks as being the result.

Steven may be on to something, but I would genuinely like to know what that is. Thanks for any insights!

 
At 3/18/2007 7:31 PM, Blogger jody said...

What is the point of these so-called "advanced" meditation courses?

To charge you a bunch more money for something you could easily find in a hundred books for free.

 
At 3/18/2007 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't this guy himself though selling "Quantum Wealth" or some other "solution" to what ails ya?

 
At 3/18/2007 10:50 PM, Blogger jody said...

Isn't this guy himself though selling "Quantum Wealth"

Actually, he'll teach you the first class for free. I still haven't quite figured out what "Quantum Wealth" is myself, but if he's offering to teach the class for free as his satisfaction guarantee, there must be something to it.

 
At 3/19/2007 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this steven...
is a smart seller man

 
At 3/19/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger Steven Sashen said...

That the posts about me have been tagged with "The Siddhi of PR" is perfect.

Obviously, I haven't figured out how to talk about Quantum Wealth in a way that clearly describes it and, simultaneously, differentiates it from what I criticize... proving that good PR/advertising, which isn't based on false or undeliverable promises, is not easy.

Jody, it's not that "the first class" is free. There is only one Quantum Wealth class. Unlike every other "money class" I've been to, I don't use the "free" class in order to upsell anything.

Regarding the meditations, Anon, while many people say they've enjoyed or benefited from the practices, I can't think of any "point" for the meditations. Definitely not "curing what ails ya." If I misunderstood, I'd be happy to try to answer another question.

BTW, the Toronto Star reporter found me by Googling "anti self help"... something I didn't try to and had no idea I ranked for.

 
At 3/20/2007 7:59 AM, Anonymous Same as it ever was said...

Sorry, but U.G. is the only "anti-guru," and he's on the way out...literally.

Your boy is no different from all the other transparent woo-woo hucksters who play the lucrative "spiritual" market. Spin is spin, regardless of whether it's clockwise spin or counter-clockwise spin.

Let's move on, shall we?

 
At 3/20/2007 8:06 AM, Anonymous durga said...

"Kudos to Sashen for speaking out against this monstrosity of infantilism that threatens to turn the world into a sandbox full of entitled little shits, "

That is the best line I have heard about the secret yet!

 
At 3/20/2007 8:17 AM, Anonymous mule puky said...

Same as it ever was said...
Sorry, but U.G. is the only "anti-guru," ...Let's move on, shall we?

There is no way of knowing anything about U.G.'s motives anymore than Steven's. U.G. could have simply enjoyed the life he choose and kept going. You seem to have faith in his presentation. If so, you have chosen to believe him for your own purposes.

Let's put a cork in it, shall we!

 
At 3/20/2007 10:05 AM, Blogger jody said...

That is the best line I have heard about the secret yet!

Thanks, D!

 
At 3/20/2007 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer, Steven. I don't really know what my question is, unfortunately.

 
At 3/20/2007 12:57 PM, Anonymous durga said...

"our boy is no different from all the other transparent woo-woo hucksters who play the lucrative "spiritual" market. "

First of all, who is U.G.?
Second, Sashen does not seem to be the same as all the other woo woo hucksters. Check out his site. it is very different from the hucksters I am familiar with. So, stop lumping everyone together.

 
At 3/20/2007 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sashen , seems to be someone who takes so much time of his life, enjoying promoting and "selling" his courses, even if they are all free, but he sells them well.
Then, people will know about him, and he will be satisfied on his own fame as the new "good" guru.
And his ego will get a bit more inflated, but since he is a "cool" guy, he will manage it in a very "cool" way.
That's my opinion.

 
At 3/20/2007 3:14 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

For weeks, anyway, I've been hearing references to "The Secret." Now I've just read an article on it in Newsweek, and watched Bill Maher joke about it with Deepak Chopra on HBO. BTW, Deepak was less wacko than I expected him to be.

On the one hand, if I had to summarize what I've learned from a lifetime of meditation and exploration, I'd say something about thinking being much much more profoundly powerful than I'd thought it was. So "The Secret" at least points in that general direction.

On the other hand, "The Secret" seems to be all about getting this or that for oneself. This neglects the big questions -- Is getting what I want really the most important thing? What exactly is this "I" anyway?

It's surely true that "The Secret" isn't as effective as it pretends to be (if you're hungry, you can certainly use your thinking to remedy it, but actually eating is important too). But perhaps the deeper problem with "The Secret" is it's failure to look beyond I/my/me.

Stuart
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

 
At 3/20/2007 4:06 PM, Blogger TheBlade said...

'The Secret' is following an age-old flim-flam forumula that appeals to the three-year-old in us all: basically, you can do magic -- pay us, and we'll show you how. And magic means that you can get all the candy and all the kudos you want and keep the monsters at bay.

You can do magic with the help of the Lord Jesus -- we'll show you how.

You can do magic with snake oil.

You can do magic with the seven spiritual laws of success. You can do magic with quantum healing.

You guys didn't know you can do magic? Guys, open your minds. Re-connect with the inner three-year-old. Pay me, and I'll show you how.

 
At 3/20/2007 5:41 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

TheBlade said...
Re-connect with the inner three-year-old. Pay me, and I'll show you how.

........................

Blade, that would be a step up for some of us here, namely semblance and mule puky! If it's not too expensive, I'll pay for both these guys. Nice to see you back, Blade!

 
At 3/21/2007 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve says, "I haven't figured out how to talk about Quantum Wealth in a way that clearly describes it and, simultaneously, differentiates it from what I criticize."

Maybe because there isn't a difference.

 
At 3/21/2007 4:15 PM, Anonymous durga said...

"On the other hand, "The Secret" seems to be all about getting this or that for oneself. This neglects the big questions -- Is getting what I want really the most important thing? What exactly is this "I" anyway?"

Stuart, one of the major problems with the secret is that its promotors say it is based on "the Law of Attraction" which they claim is a universal law like relativity. They claim that our thoughts attract absolutely everything that comes to us- no exceptions (I have seen this on a website).This would mean that the Jews attracted the holocaust, the people in Darfur attracted massacres etc... This is one of the issues that critics keep bringing up, but as far as I know, the promotors haven't answered those questions adequately.

 
At 3/21/2007 4:25 PM, Blogger semblance s and orchestra said...

Yes blade. Send the bill to chuck. But the only thing I always dread is a piggyback ride on chuck, especially after the reconnect.

However, WB blade. Nice to seeya 'round here!!!

 
At 3/21/2007 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"as far as I know, the promotors haven't answered those questions adequately."

The Law of Attraction says you can thank your own thoughts for that.

 
At 3/21/2007 6:54 PM, Blogger jody said...

The Law of Attraction says you can thank your own thoughts for that.

And that's exactly how these assholes can get away with this crap. When it doesn't work – and you know it hardly ever does – they put it all on you. "You just didn't believe. Your doubts sabotaged your success. Your intentions weren't pure enough."

"But don't forget to make that final payment for the course we just taught you."

 
At 3/21/2007 9:59 PM, Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Jody, don't leave out the "If it's not working for you, then sign up for the ADVANCED course" technique.

Have you noticed that every person in TS is now selling their "Secret of the Secret" or their "What the Producers of the Secret didn't want you to know" book/tape/cd?

 
At 3/22/2007 3:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

zmfqgdsteven,
what is the difference berween their products an yours? That yours are free cost?
Maybe you want to be remembered in few years as the generous guru?
Are also your healing sessions also for free?
It happen that I jumped yesterday over an article of yours telling a story about Ramesh
Yor presumptions that every other one in Ramesh's satsang was an imbecile, except you, are very suspicious. All your blog, is ful of self engrandizement,only that with your sense of humor, and your free products about meditation, you try that it doesn't look so.

 
At 3/22/2007 7:24 AM, Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Steven wrote: "Have you noticed that every person in TS is now selling their "Secret of the Secret" or their 'What the Producers of the Secret didn't want you to know' book/tape/cd?"

Yep, Steven, the "stars" of The Secret are milking it for all it's worth. Some are spending a great deal of time and effort backpedaling, and/or qualifying the principles touted in the DVD. Yet even today the official Secret web site says the same thing it always has: that the DVD contains everything you need to put the secret (the law of attraction) to work for you. So I guess the promoters lied to us.

 
At 3/22/2007 7:39 AM, Anonymous durga said...

"Have you noticed that every person in TS is now selling their "Secret of the Secret" or their "What the Producers of the Secret didn't want you to know" book/tape/cd?"

Somebody I know who saw Joe Vitale at the new age expo a few weeks ago told me Joe is now saying that the secret doesn't tell us about all the hard work we need to do before being able to "manifest". Supposedly, his new book tells us how to do that. I haven't seen it but it's probably on his website.
I agree with Stuart that thoughts are powerful, but the stuff the Secret is based on has been around since the beginning of the century. it's nothing new. What is new is the absolutism of the LOA and the exaggerated scientific claims it makes.

 
At 3/22/2007 8:30 AM, Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Durga, it's not just Joe's new book that you need. You also need regular sessions from a "Miracles Coach" (and Joe just happens to own a Miracles Coaching company.) Your Miracles Coach can help you weed out all of those subconscious "counter-intentions" that keep you stuck in attracting the bad stuff instead of the good stuff. The deal is, you can be focusing on that new multi-million-dollar mansion in California that you've had your eye on...but if at some subconscious level you're still focusing on the fact that the place you live in now is a real dump, the Universe will get all confused. It will just leave you where you are, or put you in an even dumpier dump, but it won't put you in that mansion.

Whereas if you pay Joe for a Miracles Coaching program, he'll be that much closer to his own mansion...the one he's been bragging about on his blog for a while now. Even if you don't end up in your own mansion, at least Joe will have his, and that will make the Universe happy. And it will make his followers ecstatic, and will give them hope that they can either have their own mansion someday, or help Joe into an even bigger mansion. Maybe they can even help him buy Southern California!

At least that's how I think it works.I get confused sometimes.

 
At 3/22/2007 8:51 AM, Anonymous vivek said...

Have to say, in my book U G stands out as well. He is at least saying it in a radical different way and style. And so beautiful completely with out compromises. Man I feel so refreshed every time I read or hear anything by him.

But to Give Sashen credit, if we had to be at U G or shut up only U G would be left, and that after all is exactly the opposite of U Gs message. U G as I experience him is the ultimate empowerment of every individual. That guy is so amazing, always liberating and empowering those he talks to, straight to the point. Not all this pleasing the masses and the egos.

Sashen seems to be making a honest atempt to live and share knowledge in a model consistent to western mind and culture, without all the Guru projection game. His title actually reminds me of the "If you meet the buddha on the road kill him" book, wich is quite good, and in its essence about how to empower people.

Love your article Steve about the percentage who got it through the work of maybe the most gifted teacher of them all, Buddha. Gets all that enlightenment luggage out of the way.

 
At 3/22/2007 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vivek said:
Sashen seems to be making a honest atempt to live and share knowledge in a model consistent to western mind and culture

may I punctualize, that you are probably reffering to "american" culture, cause to say western, reffering to what u are reffering is quite inapropiate.
Thanks

 
At 3/22/2007 1:24 PM, Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Anon,

Thanks again for your questions. I want to give them the consideration they are due, which is challenging for me at the moment -- I'm visiting my family and attending a conference over the next few days, then travelling back home, and preparing to leave for Europe 5 days later.

Knowing that it would be easier, faster and, frankly, more fun to respond in real-time, let me extend this invitation: Drop me an email (it's all over my site) and I'll give you my cell # and we can find a time to chat.

Of course doing that would make you Non-anon ... so, up to you.

 
At 3/22/2007 1:52 PM, Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Anon,

I thought of this quick response as I was running out the door:

What I'm doing is not based on the false premise: "You have problems because there is something wrong with you... that some magical technique will fix."

Nor is it based on the false promise: "Do *this* and you will DEFITINELY get *that* result... and then you'll be happy."

I could say that what I now do is what was left once I stopped believing those lies (about myself and others).

I don't expect this will fully satisfy you (since I didn't fully answer the questions)... and it's a start.

More later, I expect. Thanks again.

Running... -SS

 
At 3/22/2007 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steven, you might be confusing one anon for the other. An understandable mistake, given that you may have been practicing All It Is at the time. :)

FWIW, I posted the first and eleventh comment. Now I am posting the thirty-first... particularly I want to respond to your last comment (30).

How is any of what you say there different from Gautama Buddha's approach, Zen Buddhism, etc?

You seem to be saying that you have discovered something new. But I have read what you have just written in a dozen of books on the Buddha and Zen Buddhism.

One question for you: Someone once said that getting a glimpse of Satori is easy, but remaining in it at all times is not. Are you able to remain in Satori at will?

Have fun with your family!

 
At 3/22/2007 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your Miracles Coach can help you weed out all of those subconscious "counter-intentions" that keep you stuck in attracting the bad stuff instead of the good stuff."

Scientology?

 
At 3/22/2007 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

steven
the truth, is that I don't really need those answers , but maybe you need those questions.
Since u don't have an answer yet, is maybe because you never asked yourself the questions.
Anyways,
u say: "... what I now do is what was left once I stopped believing those lies (about myself and others). "

Maybe there are still a few more lies to look at.

I like you anyways. But won't call. I live faaaaaraway from America, and no plans to go visit. But if when u are in Europe feel like visiting Ibiza, give me a sign, and I will let u know where to find me.
;-)

 
At 3/22/2007 2:44 PM, Blogger jody said...

Someone once said that getting a glimpse of Satori is easy, but remaining in it at all times is not. Are you able to remain in Satori at will?

Satori is not something you "enter" or "remain in." Jnana exists as the ground of our being AT ALL TIMES in everyone. It's not a matter of going there, it's a matter of finding what is ALREADY THERE. Once it's seen, there's no going "back" to ignorance. It becomes as plain as the nose on your face. Any "glimpses" are nothing more than mental constructions. Not the "thing" itself, but an idea that we may have about the "thing" combined with a unique state of consciousness at the time.

Satori isn't a state, nor is it a feeling, thought or sensation of any kind. It's simply seeing what's always been there. You can look for hours for a moth on some tree bark and miss it because the camouflage is so good. But once you finally see it, you'll not miss it again. Satori (and jnana) is the same case as that.

 
At 3/22/2007 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for attempting to clarify, Jody. Maybe I should have said Kensho instead of Satori? I have no first-hand understanding of this.

This is along the lines of what I meant:

"Traditionally, in Zen it has always been said there can be Little Kensho and Great Kensho --- the opening can be small or it can be large --- but it is basically still just an early glimpse into Enlightenment.

Semantically, Kensho and Satori have virtually the same meaning and are often used interchangeably. In describing the Enlightenment of the Buddha and the patriarchs, however, it is customary to use the word Satori rather than Kensho, the term Satori implying a deeper experience.

Having had a Kensho experience doesn't mean you are Enlightened any more than sinking a one-time jump shot means you are ready for the NBA. The difference is years of practice, practice, practice. The scholar Robert Thurman says that the classical Indian texts give a description of complete Enlightenment as being something akin to what we might describe in modern terms as "cleaning out our unconscious." The process is long and difficult; the Indian texts describe it as taking many lifetimes to accomplish. One thing that sets Zen apart from the Indian traditions is that Zen insists that Enlightenment can be attained in this lifetime."

http://www.geocities.com/jiji_muge/kensho.html

 
At 3/22/2007 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But once you finally see it, you'll not miss it again. Satori (and jnana) is the same case as that."

Ignorance is the same case as that.

 
At 3/22/2007 7:20 PM, Anonymous durga said...

"Maybe they can even help him buy Southern California! "

Connie, can you ask Joe to maybe buy New orleans? I'm sure they'd sell it for cheap now, and Joe could give the citizenry some miracle coaching since Bush isn't making good on his promise. Or maybe ask that other hollywood looking guy in the Secret to do it, you know, the one who already has his big mansion.

 
At 3/22/2007 7:53 PM, Blogger jody said...

Ignorance is the same case as that.

It's saying the same thing. Once you see that you've been ignorant about the the truth of your own nature, it can't prevent you from seeing that truth anymore.

 
At 3/23/2007 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you see that you've been ignorant about the the truth of your own nature, it can't prevent you from seeing that truth anymore.

Once you hear your own doubletalk, it can't prevent you from hearing it.

 
At 3/23/2007 12:26 AM, Blogger jody said...

Once you hear your own doubletalk, it can't prevent you from hearing it.

Once you develop the ability to see what I'm talking about, I won't have to deal with your own ignorance anymore.

 
At 3/23/2007 12:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you develop the ability to see what I'm talking about, I won't have to deal with your own ignorance anymore.

See yourself and you'll know what you're dealing with.

 
At 3/23/2007 12:36 AM, Blogger jody said...

See yourself and you'll know what you're dealing with.

See that you are seeing yourself in me and you'll be that much closer to seeing what's real yourself.

 
At 3/23/2007 3:17 AM, Blogger semblance s and orchestra said...

Jody ! What is the name of your dog ? Im much taken up by it these days. Just that im paranoid if it smells. Lemme know !

 
At 3/23/2007 4:07 AM, Anonymous peter said...

maybe there are 2 kinds of humans, the ones who can Be inTruth, and the ones who are predestined to be in the Illussion, for ever. Maybe these people have come to have all kind of experiences, being those of " glimpses", etc, their ultimate goal, therefor unable to just Be without the veil of illussion,
therefor ignorance is their inherent "thruth".
could it be possible?

 
At 3/23/2007 8:26 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

peter said...
maybe there are 2 kinds of humans, the ones who can Be inTruth, and the ones who are predestined to be in the Illussion, for ever...

...........

Talk about your barn yard bullshit. Pull that peter out of your ear, Peter!

Semblance, you can be sure that Jody's dog's ass doesn't smell near as bad as our own. That's a clean dog Jody has!:} This recent anon and valentina seem a little smelly to me!

 
At 3/23/2007 8:50 AM, Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"Connie, can you ask Joe to maybe buy New Orleans? I'm sure they'd sell it for cheap now, and Joe could give the citizenry some miracle coaching since Bush isn't making good on his promise."

Durga, while Mr. Fire may very well be able to afford to buy New Orleans, there's no way he'd ever *give* his Miracles Coaching services away, and I'm afraid most of the residents just couldn't afford his fees. So they're on their own.

 
At 3/23/2007 7:29 PM, Anonymous durga said...

"So they're on their own."

Shoot! I guess they'll have to go back to asking France to buy them. Wonder if they do free miracle coaching there?! Le secret, ooh la la.

 
At 3/24/2007 12:08 AM, Anonymous Same as it ever was said...

U.G.'s obituary, a good overview for those upthread are unfamiliar with him.

 
At 3/25/2007 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody, how and when did you find Satori?

Thanks!

 
At 3/25/2007 9:03 PM, Blogger jody said...

Jody, how and when did you find Satori?

Me? Satori? Where'd you get that idea? I'm just talking straight out of my ass.

 
At 3/25/2007 9:17 PM, Blogger jody said...

What is the name of your dog?

Cisco.

Just that im paranoid if it smells.

Cisco has a natural perfume that smells rather nice. His breath is another matter altogether.

 
At 3/28/2007 10:52 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

jody said...
Cisco has a natural perfume that smells rather nice. His breath is another matter altogether.
...........

Kind of like Semblance!

 

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