The Power of Schmower
|If you want to waste your money, don’t buy this book, just send it to me. Thanks.|
In my weakened state a total sweetheart let me borrow this book to read. I believe that she has nothing but good intentions and in her heart…she believes that this particular self help book will help me. I’m half way thru it and 1) it is helping, but not in the way she thought and 2) I can’t believe all the crap that I am reading.
First let’s look at the terminology: essence portals, inner energy, chi bridge, energy fields, the Unmanifested, psychic immune system, delusion of time and the Now. The last one is really good because the author, Eckhart Tolle, has coined a term that already exists.
The Now is the moment; ya know that thingy that lasts forever. If you can be in the Now, then you are living in the moment. There is nothing wrong with that. We should all live in the moment, and live in the moment for the sake of the future, but we should do so for the right reasons.
Look man, my weakened state is also called anxiety and depression with accentuated excessive worry. It can be approached chicken and egg style. Does environment come first, or does brain chemistry come first. Being the materialist skeptic that I am, I believe the latter. Does environment come into play, yes, of course it does-I’ve never denied that. But…
There are peeps, like Tolle, that believe if one can take care of one’s environment, then everything falls into place (and I’m sure that there are instances where that is the case, but not for me, this time). So far during this particular episode of depression, I have had peeps tell me, “just go outside and be around people (that only makes it worse)”, “dude you need to get laid (that in adolescent at best)”, and the super stupid “just don’t worry (well, when you have low serotonin levels, and randomly obsessive and excessive thoughts go into your head, then WTF. They are talking about the symptom, I’m talking about the root.). If it was as easy as taking care of the environmental factors, dontcha think I would have done it (and I have been doing it). Personally, I feel that even tho well meaning people are giving me advice, they are not listening to me, or they do not have enuff respect or belief in me to know that 1) I am doing all that I can and 2) that I already know the pop psychology that they are spewing at me. Thanks anyways y’all. Back to the book.
In the early 90’s, before skeptic and atheist Kriss, when I was Chris, I ate up many many self help type books. I was an ardent practitioner of the (failed) men’s movement, led by poet Robert Bly and fo sho I really really liked the books of John Gray (of the Mars and Venus series fame) (1). The thingy about that phase of my life is that it led me to the next phase and the next phase and eventually to…super awesome Team Atheist, Team Skeptic and #teambro phase(s). You have to learn how to crawl, then walk, and eventually…you learn how to run.
If this was the early 90’s I would have eaten up this book, went to dudes lectures and, of course, paid hella money for all those thingies. I’m not in that phase right now. What dude is promoting is a watered down version of Buddhism, Taoism and Eastern philosophy in general. If Christopher “Our Hero” Hitchens can call born again Christianity(ies) the cafeteria of belief (because they pick and choose from many beliefs to make their own belief), then I can call this particular New Age Mysticism the cafeteria of the New Age. What dude is doing is picking parts of established beliefs systems like Buddhism and Hinduism, repackaging it, and then calling it his own. There was a part in the book where he says that (insert his coined phrase here) is not chi (an established, and yet false, belief) but something more. He wants you to learn his terminology and beliefs and then and only then, will you be able to live a happy and healthy life. I call b*llsh*t on that, even in my weakened state.
Does it help or can it help. I have no doubt in my mind that it can help someone (even me.). The thingy about it is, will it help for the reasons they say, or will it help for another reason. Let me explain. In the book and in New Age-y stuffs in general, positive thinking, mindful breathing and general positiveness is always the prescription for anything that ails you (and anytime a panacea is prescribed I hope you skeptic meter is going off-otherwise I’ll revoke your skeptics card). In the book dude goes over mindful breathing. Mindful breathing is a cheap ripoff of the Chinese Martial art called chi gong.
Chi gong is the precursor of Tai Chi, Hsing Yi and then the highest level of esoteric Chinese martial arts Bag Gua. Basically it is just regular relaxed breathing. If you subscribe to the BS, then the mindful breathing, if done correctly, fills you reservoirs of chi and from there you will be more healthy, happy and, my intent of studying internal martial arts in the first place, you will be hella powerful. Yes and no.
Chi gung does work, but not for the reasons that they want you to believe. First of all, if you believe the philosophy then you are filling your reservoirs of chi (which I do not believe in) and from there everything happens. What is happening in the real world, the materialist world, is that you are relaxing and when you relax the evolved human brain is telling your evolved human body to release chemicals that, guess what, relax you. This has real world benefits like lower blood pressure, relaxation and overall well being. If you are a materialist, like me, then you acknowledge that there in nothing but chemical reactions in the brain. If that is not happening, then nothing is happening.
Does a tree fall in the forest, anytime anywhere. Well, not if there is not a human brain and a person attached to it to experience the tree falling. As Stephen Hawking said, take any component away from the brain, then the mind does not exist. What the New Ager’s want us to believe is that there is, mind without the brain, that there is some sort of consciousness, a collective chi-y-ness between all people and the universe that is connected to, here it comes…Gawd. We are ourselves, people here on earffs, and we are this chi-y collective that is universally connected. The materialist worldview states that that…is dookie.
OK, in my weakened state I’m babbling. So here is the wrap up. The author of the book wants us to believe that his made up terminology, the terminology that is a watered down version of legit, and yet fake, philosophies like Buddhism and Hinduism, it the way. His way is the way to happiness, and as far as my weakened state is concerned, it is a way thru anxiety and depression, which is purely brain chemistry (he does say that in the book). His particular mindfulness is the way, even tho it is stolen from Eastern philosophy and unoriginal. If you subscribe to his way would you get better, maybe, but not for the reasons he says.
Even tho I’m in a weakened state I still have my skeptics brain (for now). I still have all the knowledge that I have acquired in my 42 plus years of life, whether it is all the CAM I studied (esp). in the 90’s and all the scientific method-y stuffs I have studied since then. I know what I know. I know a liar when I see a liar and I know when I’m being deceived. There is a reason why many people poo poo New Age books and New Age mysticism…it is dookie.
(1) From that time I also started reading feminist books like Backlash, The Feminine Mystique and one of my favs, The Beauty Myth. I’m still a feminist, but I am no longer into self help or pop psychology.
* I cannot emphasize enuff that the sweetheart that let me borrow this book is, well, a sweetheart. I have known her for a long time, I have watched her grow up into a good person, I know her family and I sincerely believe that she is a good person. She let me borrow this book because she is a good person and she sees that I am in pain and she wants to help me. My thoughts and critiques of this book are no reflection on her whatsoever. Thanks “J” I really appreciate it.
* Oh yea, the way that the book is helping is that it is making me focus. If I do not focus right now them my brain will just run and run. Crazy thoughts will come into my head and wheter I am right or wrong, in thought, well…nevermind…….