Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I don't usually write that  much personal stuff, or at least not about my (non-sordid) past, but a podcast I was listening to yesterday got me thinking.  The woman on the podcast was talking about how she was a Buddhist in the late 80s/early 90s, but how this brand of Buddhism was all about chanting "nom myoho renge kyo" to get what you want.  So, like the opposite of what Buddhism actually teaches, as far as I know.

My aunt and my mom were totally into this at that same time.  They both set up Buddhist altars (and spent a bunch of money on them, because the idea is that you would get more stuff if you had a sick altar) and would chant all the time with something in mind that they wanted.  These could be things like health, or actual material object, sometimes specific ones, sometimes just chanting for money.  I, of course, was cynical and sarcastic about the whole thing.  And bitter that my mom was spending money on that crap.

Around the same time, my mom and aunt also got super into Ramtha.  They would watch grainy videotapes of her/him.  What's Ramtha?  He's a spiritual warrior from Atlantis who is channeled by a women named J.Z. Knight, which is obviously a fake name.  That a picture of here above, and here's a clip of her on the Merv Griffin show, rocking her super fake Ramtha accent. I like that Merv Griffin is busting her chops.

Other things my mom got into in the 80s/90s: feng shui, herbal medicine (including trying to start an herb farm at our house). Her and my dad took a ton of St. Jon's Wort for a while, to try to cure their depression.  There's probably other stuff I'm forgetting/blocking out.  Oh yeah, way earlier, maybe 1984 or 1985 my parents tried writing a romance novel together.  They wrote some steamy scenes.  I remember a line about a man cupping a woman's buttocks.  In a real shocker, they fit perfectly into his cupped hands.


Anonymous said...

Steamy! We could have published excerpts in MM. You were holding out!

The mystic stuff drives me crazy, probably because a close relative has been heavily into TM (and a billion other crazier tarot/astrology/pseudoscience ideas) since the early seventies. She's always taken in by kooknik scams, the latest of which was buying 'positively charged' drinking water for something like $50 a gallon... all while she's falling behind on mortgage payments!

this stuff is the boomer generation's version of sending all your money to the TV evangelist.


Anonymous said...

Ramtha seemed to be everywhere in my childhood. Washington pride!!

The romance angle is so awesome. I love that they were a couple who would do this together.


Anonymous said...

In the A.M.
And the P.M.

-Mike Love

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your parents were pretty good role models for being open to new experiences. That's a good thing, right?

Still, the commodification of the human potential movement was pretty crummy in the 1980. It brings to mind Ronson's "Men Who Stare at Goats." If there is a way to twist and pervert an ideal, humans will find it.

On the other hand, we should thank people like your parents for filtering out, by way of trial and error, all the bunk, leaving us with the good stuff. Like Yoga, loving/kindness meditation and enlightened bros who drink wheat grass juice.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.


Shannon said...

Was there a line about a milky white bosom?

Anonymous said...

Nowadays it's probably more the Secret or Joel Osteen flavored versions of Evangelical Christianity that are all about using spirituality to get what you want, usual material gains.

None of this is certainly new given books like Think and Grow Rich or How to Win Friends or the Power of Positive Thinking. But The Secret is especially narcissism with a smiley face when you dig down into the beliefs that if you don't get something (like please don't let me die from this stage 5 cancer) then it's because you didn't wish hard enough.

Anonymous said...

Can't we vote to ban Mike Love from the blog?


Screen captcha words: "rvisea rviduct", which I can only assume is the title of Coldplay's next album.

wburg said...

My favorite book along those lines if "If You Can Count To Four." It's a lot like the other positive-thinking books about the power of creative visualization, written by the Rev. Jim Jones.

It seems like a lot of folks backing efforts like the new arena are really into this kind of mindset--always assume you're going to be totally successful, only put forth the best-case scenario, never express the slightest doubt about your goal because if you doubt for a second you're doomed to failure--that's why they call critics of their schemes "defeatist" and "negative."

The critics often comment that the "The Secret" types are "drinking the kool-aid" but I don't know if they are actually making the connection that Jim Jones, the guy where the Kool-Aid metaphor came from, was one of the main proponents of the power of positive thinking.

Anonymous said...

You'll be happy to know that Ramtha is still hustling in Western WA.

Yelm represent. JZ's got a big old parcel of land, big old GOLDEN GATES leading in, high walls around the whole place and they still do weird ish out there. Fun times.

beckler said...

Thanks for bringing it back to the arena, Bill. You're totally right! The backers just peg you as a Negative Nelly if you doubt anything they say. Could this ballot thing work? How do I get hooked up to go collect signatures? I think 30,000 would be easy if there is good grassroots organization.

DJ Rick said...

Did someone really just say "Yelm represent" here?!?! I've been there....The only thing it represented was boredom and bucolic-ness, but in an eerie way that suggests itself as a setting for a Harmony Korinne movie. A teenage girl ambled up to me at the park and asked me to buy alcohol for her in exchange for her dirty nasty mouth. Yelm ... Whatta place to lose all hope for humanity!

Anonymous said...

^hard eye roll