Let The Buyer Beware
By Judy Andreas
The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been eliminated to protect the innocent...ME.
Attending the NYC Expo has become routine for this seeker. The Expo is a yearly gathering of holistic doctors, self-help experts, consciousness explorers, prophets and profits, psychics, mediums, and snake oil salesmen of all sizes and colors. My mission, should I choose to accept, is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In exchange for a modest registration fee, I was given a brochure with the day's speakers. Should I attend the doctor lauding ozone therapy or the panel entitled Strange Universe?
It wasn't long before I realized that I had made the wrong choice. This universe was beyond strange. The facilitator opened by introducing the "esteemed" panel of channelers and psychics. Everyone introduced himself and waved his credentials like the American flag. Most brought a message of peace and love. Then a channeler began to demonstrate her gift She was in contact with an alien entity who had a message to bring to the eager earthlings. To prepare for the revelations, she gulped prodigious quantities of water. This , she explained, was to clear her channel. Clear Channel ? I should have suspected they would begin buying up alien entities.
Without adequate warning, the channeler broke into a barrage of unintelligible sounds. If John Ashcroft had issued an Orange Alert, I probably would have been fleeing the building. During this somewhat disquieting routine, a large African American Queen, with red shoes, and a small blonde psychic left the panel. When they returned they explained that the energy had been so powerful that they were afraid their channels would not close for the rest of the day. My channel seemed to be stuck on Looney Tunes.
The Queen spoke next. With a mysterious giggle, he told the audience that he had been in the same room as Dick Cheney. My ears perked up in anticipation of some lascivious punch line. Nothing followed. The speaker then disclosed how the government does not want to scare the people and that is why they have not shared all the terrorist attacks that have been averted. HUH? Are those color alerts supposed to give us the warm fuzzies?
It was time for the blonde psychic to speak. She talked of her background with Jean Dixon and her numerous appearances on television. She had even, back in the day, been voted the number one psychic on Ripley's Believe it or Not. (giving me a choice was a mistake) She talked about working with the police on several cases. And now, she was gracing the New York Expo with her predictions. Hurdling the time loop, our psychic told a booing audience that George Bush was going to be reelected. Then she quickly comforted the crowd by saying that bin Laden would be found after the election and everything would be fine in this country. Another.... HUH? Had I left my logic at the registration booth? Maybe my chakras were clogged. I looked forward to the question and answer session.
The channeler broke into another round of messages from her alien invasion. Oddly, the Queen and the Princess did not exit this time. Perhaps their cable was down?
The question and answer period followed, and my hand waved wildly in the air. The facilitator called on me. "Yes?" I directed my comment to the psychic. I questioned her statement that everything would be OK in this country when bin Laden was captured. I mentioned the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, as well as the wars in Iran, Syria, and North Korea warming up in the bullpen. How would the capture of bin Laden put an end to the devastation and carnage that is being done in our name. How would the capture of bin Laden help our flailing economy and our loss of jobs. How would the capture of bin Laden help our polluted air and our polluted food and our polluted minds. She responded by telling me that she has been on NBC and has worked with the Jean Dixon and the police. And don't forget Ripley's Believe it or NOT. Well...I had made a decision. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was getting this woman's resume. I did not remember placing an ad for a psychic (or a psycho)
"Next question" the facilitator came to the rescue of the damnedsel in distress. This sounded like a cue to exit. My cynicism was clashing with the love decor.
I recalled a time in the mid 80's when a cynical friend had remarked "If Adolf Hitler were alive today, he'd probably be reading Scott Peck and lecturing on transformation "
How much truth lay in his hyperbolic statement, I wondered. How much power-tripping was masquerading as transformational guidance in the New Age. How many self-appointed gurus and healers were using nothing more than the gift of gab to manipulate the searchers.
People are desperate for answers. They bring their suffering and confusion to lectures and workshops where the charismatic leader stands confidently in front of the flock. He has found the route to enlightenment and is generously mapping out the spiritual path for all to follow. But who is that lecturer when he leaves the podium? Who is that man with the wide open heart chakra?
In the summer of 1984, I attended a New Age Peace Effort. Love was in the air as we discussed our true unity on the planetary logos. The man presiding could not have been better cast. He was loving and open and genuinely interested in everyone's ideas. A well-known psychotherapist, he proclaimed to be a living embodiment of unitary consciousness.
During a break, I found myself at his side. "You are a very attractive young lady." He massaged my muscular armature as he launched his private "piece" effort.
We played our final scene in his palatial apartment where I was invited to dine.
"Welcome home, darling," the greeting at the door seemed premature. He gave me a tour of his playpen. What had happened to voluntary simplicity in the New Age?
He looked at me adoringly. "There's no need to speak. I'll never hurt you. I want you in my life forever." He puffed hungrily on a joint.
"Have you ever made love to a woman?" I confessed that I had not.
"It's what you need for a healing. I will be present when you do."
The gay experience had never tempted me, but I was having difficulty keeping a straight face.
Another cue to exit. I was always good at knowing when to exit. It was knowing when to enter that had been my problem
As I left Manhattan, that night, I wondered what had happened to this man who lectured on integrity and intimacy. Had he been possessed by Saturday Night Live? Carlos Castenada talks about "The Path with a Heart" If he'd inserted the prefix "socio" I'd have known to whom he was referring.
I recalled an article I'd read by Idries Shah, a well-known leader of the Sufi community. Shah stated that it was time somebody took the lid off the guru racket. In an interview with Elizabeth Hall, that appeared in a past issue of Psychology Today, he'd revealed how gurus approached him assuming he was as phony as they.
"They want to know how I get my money, how I control people and so on."
Suddenly, with a thud, I was back at the Expo, exploring the plethora of vitamins, potions, tonics, and crystals. People seated in chairs were getting treatments that ranged from Reiki to Pranic Healing. I was back in the state of confusion, a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.
I am not saying unequivocally that treachery and deceit are the rampant rulers of the New Age, but ofttimes it is the love of power and money and the need for public adulation that motivate the mentors and the healers. Spirituality is suffering from word abuse in the millennium. The true healers and sincere helpers are being upstaged by the greed and agile intellectualism of the fraudulent. Perhaps a caveat would best be issued to anyone seeking guidance to higher consciousness. Caution and discernment should be an integral part of any spiritual exercise program.
We are in desperate need of viable alternatives. We cannot keep drowning our pains, both physical and emotional, in the sea of pharmaceuticals. We cannot continue to subjugate our will to the dogma and doctrine of religious institutions that have usurped both our power and our money. But can our alternative be found amongst the New Age messiahs?
With all its promise of instant cures and instant enlightenment, the New Age runs the risk of being retitled the "Age of AssHolism."
Judy Andreas may be reached at: JUDE10901@AOL.COM
Copyright 2004 Judy Andreas



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