Saturday, August 12, 2006

The word is Hawaiian for "give me your money so I can buy a bigger yacht."

It takes a lot to get my jaw to drop these days. Suffice it to say that in the course of researching SHAM, and prepping for media work in the year since, I thought I'd seen and heard it all. But the subject of this post may be the all-time topper. It comes to us courtesy of motivational guru Joe Vitale,* whom we've met before, and who now claims to have stumbled upon an ancient Hawaiian miracle cure known as Ho'oponopono. The brilliance of this, from a sheer marketing standpoint, is that Vitale's latest gambit doesn't just represent a program for (supposedly) infallible self-help. That'd be pretty pedestrian. Instead he touts ho'poponono'opopopoopoo, or whatever it's called, as a way of healing everything. That's right! Everything in this big wide world. And how would one do this? Simple. By "healing you," Vitale explains. "If you want to cure anyone, even a mentally ill criminal," you do it by "healing the part of [you] that created them," writes Vitale. "In a literal sense the world is your creation." Talk about empowerment!

The article speaks for itself better than anything I could say in critiquing it. But the most incredible thing to me is that as I write this, Vitale's piece is a hot commodity online, buzzing 'round the Web via email forwarding and newsgroups. Not so much because folks think it's hilarious and are sharing the joke with their friends. No siree. People are taking it at face value--click here for a typical example**--and are distributing the inspirational gem to everyone in their address book. Just unbelievable.

* and actually, I must give credit where credit is due: It was one of the most faithful of the faithful, Cosmic Connie, who first brought it to my attention.
** and note the "adult friend finder" ad that pops up alongside the copy, at least on my browser.


RevRon's Rants said...

Many years ago, I took a vow of poverty. My initial perspective was that I had agreed to deny myself those things for which I yearned. Upon reflection, however, I came to realize that the vow I had taken was actually an affirmation of my own affluence; rather than proclaiming that I would sacrifice my desires, it carried the awareness that I had "enough," and that my greatest sadness arose from desires that were borne not of my actual needs, but rather, of my own relentless attempts at ego fulfillment.

From that context, I cannot help but wonder at those people who seem to be obsessed with always having "more." I can only drive one car at a time, and a single automobile pretty well fulfills my needs. Yet, according to this new-age "pseudo-prosperity" credo, I should strive to acquire two , three, or more. How many would it take to feel satisfied? Since only one would serve me at any given time, I would literally end up serving the others. What a waste of energy!

Furthermore, I cannot help but wonder what it is that compels some to so aggressively market themselves and a neverending progression of "life-changing" products/services/"technologies." Such behavior is generally based in an obsession with gathering ever more praise and esteem. Perhaps those who find themselves continually seeking "more" would be better served - and better serve those around them - by gaining a better understanding of their hungers. Granted, such a quest would not make for a very entertaining seminar series, and has already been documented in countless books (which rarely achieve bestseller status). But if the intent is truly to improve the world around us...

Like anybody else, I am occasionally filled with frustration over what seems to be missing from my life, and throw my own little pity parties to soothe the horrible injustices I suffer due to some perceived lack. You've covered that mentality already in another blog. But I hope that I never feel the need to peddle illusory hope to other people, just to feed my own insatiable need for "more."

Cosmic Connie said...

Regarding the efficacy of Ho’oponopono:
Steve, I am sure that if you get any replies to this one from believers in Ho’oponopono, they will say that you grossly over-simplified the principles behind the process/technique. No doubt most of those who are embracing it are similarly over-simplifying, but they won’t mention that. Those who are good sports might say something along the lines of, “Hey, I thought the same way you did…I thought this was absolutely crazy…till I learned more about it, tried it myself, and it changed my life, etc. etc. etc.” But my guess is that when it comes to SHAM rebuttals, you don’t get the “good sports” here very often. :-)

I have no problem with the notion that thoughts and intentions can have a powerful influence on our own inner and outer “reality.” Thoughts, and the emotions that accompany them, can have a significant positive or negative effect on our physical health. That only makes sense because, after all, the brain is part of the body. (I’m thinking of your post “Hey, it’s all in your body,” back on June 21.)

And, obviously, our intentions can affect our reality as well, particularly if we follow through on those intentions (duh). To the extent that our thoughts and emotions and intentions drive our behavior, we certainly do affect the “realities” of those around us as well.

Furthermore, despite my skepticism and “cosmic” clowning around, I believe there is a lot of value in some non-Western / non-allopathic healing methods and systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one that comes to mind; I think it has a lot of merit (but that’s a topic for another thread, I guess).

But Ho’oponopono? Ancient or not, this Hawaiian “healing process” has now become another contemporary fad, a gimmick, a new “bright shiny object” to attract the easily attracted. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m easily attracted / distracted too, so I’m really not being elitist here. I’m simply not attracted to Ho’oponopono at this point in my life.) And obviously Ho’oponopono has become a new cash cow for some as well.

When doing some web research on Ho -- I’m just going to call it Ho from here on out, because it’s too much trouble to type that long word -- I found lots of references on “official” sites of one type or another, but I also found several blogs in which starry-eyed believers related their experiences with Ho. One blog I came upon was from a lady who had had a profound Ho experience in, of all places, Costco. In fact, she titled her blog entry, “Divine Appointments at Costco!” (Her exclamation point, not mine.)

The woman related an experience she had at the food counter at Costco. Knowing she would soon be walking out into sweltering summer heat, she decided to buy a cold drink. There were three folks in front of her, and only one nervous-looking, probably new, cashier. The guy at the head of the line had a big order, and the two women in front of the Ho believer began complaining because it was all going so slowly; there should have been more registers open.

“As has happened a lot since finding Ho'oponopono I immediately saw it as a Divine Appointment with these women,” the blogger wrote. “They were here in this line, at this moment to help me heal the impatience within myself. I began humming my Ho'oponopono song very softly and lightly swaying from side to side…The woman in front of me turned around and I sensed her irritation at my humming…[I was thinking], yes, I'd love to heal the irritation within myself that you are mirroring back to me. I didn't know I had that in me, but here you are and so I must. I Love You. I'm Sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank you ran silently through my head as I softly hummed the melody…”

So did all this thinking and humming and swaying affect the outcome? Yes, according to our blogger. Next thing she knew, the woman at the front of the line was called to the counter, and at the very same moment, another cashier appeared and called Ho gal to the register.

She continues, “As I walked out of the store I smiled as I realized that the ending of this story (having a line open up for me like the parting of the Red Sea) that used to make me feel so good is not nearly as satisfying to me anymore as what happened prior to this...the middle of the story…The Divine Appointments, and in my Joy, my complete unawareness of a line or a wait…Life can be a dream…”

Come to think of it, the Rev and I had a similar experience at Costco while standing in an insufferably long line. Just as we were thinking we couldn’t stand waiting any longer, another cashier opened up another register! And when this happened, now that I recall…Rev was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and I was wearing one of several Hawaiian-print mini dresses I own. And I may very well have been silently humming the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World” medley that’s been used in several movie soundtracks and commercials.

So maybe there is something to this Ho stuff…

But seriously now. There may be powerful invisible forces / energy fields that Western science just doesn’t have the tools to measure yet. Believe it or not, I’m open to that possibility, even in my advanced state of cynicism. But I reject the notion that “the Universe” is hovering over each of us like an obsequious waiter, ready to deliver anything we attract, good or bad, by our mere thoughts. I reject the notion that working on my own inner growth is going to heal the sick or solve world problems. And I certainly reject the notion that paying some guru a thousand bucks to spend a weekend learning about how to “get more” or “be more” is going to change most people’s lives in any significant way.

Steve Salerno said...

CosCon, this may surprise--if not shock--you, but I too am open to the idea of paranormal phenomena, forces we don't understand, etc. I can think of many episodes in my own life where it seemed as if the hand of someone (God, possibly the devil, my dad from on high, etc.) was acting to influence my life in one way or another. I merely fall back on what I said about my approach to SHAM: This is an industry we're talking about here, not just an armchair discussion between people of open mind. Guys (and gals) like our friend Vitale are extracting money from other people by seeming to PROMISE benefits that--for all of our intuition and "get feelings"--remain empirically unproven. Also, I think that as intelligent people, we must be willing to separate what we feel instinctively from what we know we can prove under controlled conditions. Orwell's concept of "doublethink" comes to mind here. It's like my attitude towards God. I'm sure He exists. And yet I also recognize that I'm probably wrong, or at least, that as an intellectual being, I have to admit the strong possibility that I'm wrong. And yet I remain certain of His existence. Congitive dissonance? I don't know. Maybe that, or maybe the natural tension between the head and the heart (which, as I theorized in the earlier post that you mention, may actually be tension between the heart and the heart, or the head and the head, or different nerve centers on opposite sides of the body, or whatever actually "calls the shots" in human beings). Whatever the case, we're not gonna solve it in this blog.... Though that shouldn't stop us from trying. :)

Rodger Johnson said...

Um, Yeah...I've found a book for everyone to read.

It addresses just this sort of phenomenon.

Amazon is selling for less than $10. I own a copy -- though I bought mine at Borders.

Here's that URL:

If I've screwed up the URL somehow, go to Amazon and look up "On Bullshit."

Great philosophical work for our time -- Happy reading!

Maybe we should pitch in and send Vitale a copy.

Paulette said...

Thanks so much for this. It's hard to keep up with daily White House scandals & The Secretron files.

I suggest if Joe really desires this ancient Hawaiian miracle cure to catch on with the public he should simply call it what it is "Ho'".

Paulette said...

Oh damn! I hadn't read the replies yet! Cosmic Connie beat me to it! :) "Ho'" is definitely the way to go. (for Joe that is)

I'm enjoying your Blog Steve. Thanks for the great topics & all the fantastic information.

Paulette said...

I love the book Rodger J recommended, "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt.

In fact, when I first began reading The Secret I re-read "On Bullshit" which I think was like a soothing tonic for my tummy.

PS ~ The way to find out if someone can be saved from their delusional doublethink (although I'm not convinced Rhonda & Co really believe in the wares they are peddling) is to have them read "On Bullshit" & then ask them a few simple questions about Frankfurt's theory. It will become evident early on what kind of person they truly are imho.

Paulette said...

Yikes! 1 glass of wine & somehow I thought this was recent? Oh well since I heard no mention of Joe's "Ho'" miracle cure on a few of the metaphysical sites where he is sometimes brought up - I guess it didn't do well? Definitely interesting to read even though I've arrived 7 months too late!