Ok, I’m finally posting a long promised editorial, in several parts.
(also posted at taobums forum
PART 11 PREAMBLE
Before getting into it, I’d like to acknowledge the following
• This editorial is much inspired by a similar but much more eloquent posting by Purple Mist (Elizabeth)
… some of this is meant to add my view and responses to her conversation.
• There are many places where I have copied wording verbatim from other sources. I am not meaning to plagiarize and I apologize if anyone objects to me using their words out of context – you are welcome to point it out. It’s simply that I’m not a natural writer, so found it easier to borrow words that met my intuition than re-invent the wheel myself, and I don’t wish to spend further effort by sourcing it all. So much of this is not new, if any of it.
• Beyond needing to put a “name” on my issues with Dr.Sha, my intent in posting this is to facilitate critical discussion for the better, something that is so lacking within his organization. There is not a lot of joy in this writing, since it mostly is about important shadow work for me. Through my writing and shadow work I’ve recognized some of my own projections, and although I’ve become less attached to this piece, I’m recognizing I need to differentiate and cut chords with my obsessions, and move on separately to the better things I’ve become inspired with in the process (lest I write a book!). So this is actually “unfinished” and certainly “unpolished” –I’m posting what I’d written so far only because I feel a responsibility to provide closure to (readers of) my previous posts, as well as a number of individuals with whom I’ve had private correspondence.
• This said, I fully concede that there are many parodox’s within what I am saying - I’m knocking other belief systems with a belief system of my own, and I comment on Dr Sha’s issues of counter-transference, when there is no doubt that I’ve been projecting some of my stuff on to him. In other words, I’m railing against Dr Sha’s evangelism, but in doing so I myself am evangelizing. This is not about crucifying Dr. Sha, so don’t crucify me either! (I am not representing myself to be perfect…)
• So for what its worth…..continue the conversation if you wish…but I wont be replying – I’m moving on and wont be coming back to this topic.2 THE BASIC GOODS
I have no doubt that Dr. Sha has healing skills and (at least originally) his intentions were pure…he believes in what he is doing. There are positives: At the core of the teachings is a message of unconditional love and service. The teachings start with empowering statements that we are all healers and are able to heal ourselves, and he will spend time teaching you energy healing techniques. There is the power of chanting, the healing of t'ai chi and chi gung. Indeed, many of the self healing practices are based on 5,000 year old traditions that probably would not have continued if they did not provide benefit. But none of it is new, and is available from other sources.
Dr’s Sha’s use of new terminology such as ‘soul software’ etc. are not that problematic for me – its simply a new language (no farther “out there” than any other religion, we’re just not as familiar with it) used to access metaphysical concepts that are otherwise hard to grasp. They put a language to something so that a metaphysical change can take place, and that can be very empowering in the right circumstances.3 I’m not teaching a Religion
Dr Sha says he is not teaching a religion, but in my view his approach to concepts of karma are framed in a manner I would call “old style religion”: your soul is burdened by karma debt and you need salvation; there is guilt and insistence that we are running out of time and if you wait, it will be too late and you will be stuck forever. …these concepts of karma is no doubt attractive to western Christian culture who is so well accustomed to the concept of “original sin”.
Put another way, he frequently uses the expression to “heal the soul”. Do you not wonder though whether the soul does not need to heal because it is never broken? The soul is indestructible. Perhaps it is our psyche, our minds, our bodies and our hearts that need healing. People who are not clear on this very important boundary eagerly give away their power in hopes of healing something that can never break. We are either close to living our authentic selves (our souls), or miles apart from doing so. But that is not the same thing as observing something being broken and in need of “healing”.4 Dr. Sha’s New Religion
While some of the basic positives are based on “5,000 year old traditions” which are rooted in Buddhist and Taoist philosophy/practice and Traditional Chinese Medicine, its also clear that Dr. Sha has gone far in the “innovation” direction: He believes that a new era is beginning and that he is God’s one and only top chosen servant. So Dr. Sha feels he has a monopoly on Divine and the Divine’s wishes, with Dr Sha being fully “in the flow” to whatever inspiration is coming through. Are these claims not at odds with the Buddhist and Taoist philosophy/practice which are the positive origins of his teachings!?
There becomes a great disconnect from tradition as the teachings quickly move into 'only Dr Sha can help you' with his divine transmissions and treasures which are “so much more powerful” than the traditional techniques. Work really hard in service (to him), pay lots of money and you will possibly (and very slowly) get off the wheel of karma. And then there is his belief that he, and only he, can provide karma cleansings - Wow! A short-cut? A magic diet pill? instant gratification with little responsibility required- the whole setup is front-loaded, a perfect attraction for modern Western culture. All the while Dr Sha insists he is here to "serve you". Master Sha says “You have the Power to Heal Yourself”. If that is true, then he misleads those who come to him, because he sells them “downloads”, then “soul transplants” telling them that this will heal them.
My view of karma is that it is an innate desire to evolve and grow in relation to past events and experiences (which do predispose us to certain choices; our archetype), but it does not require anything –we are beings of free choice! Nope, let me nibble slowly and patiently, no need for instant healing and blowing away my karmic shit, this is my shit by the way, and I like it, otherwise I have nothing to work for!
PART 25 The Power of Belief for Body Healing (The Placebo Effect)
I believe Dr. Sha and other metaphysical healers can do a lot of good with the empowerments of their teachings, but I also believe in many cases it is the recipient’s faith which does the actual healing- an activation of our body’s natural capacity to heal itself, and that capacity is of god in itself!.
Western scientists call this the placebo effect
of course, and yes, the placebo effect is the bain of pharmaceutical companies who would love to eliminate it so they can make more profits (it’s the boon of homeopathic companies of course), thus it’s worthiness is suppressed in modern medicine.
But I feel the placebo effect is something beautiful, to be celebrated – it miraculous that our body’s healing abilities can be improved through the power of belief! (call it belief, faith, the placebo effect, whatever, to me it’s the same thing). And one of the most miraculous things is that new studies are showing that the placebo effect works even when one knows it’s just the placebo effect.
So, a belief system could certainly help facilitate or maximize the effect, and perhaps some modalities may be more effective than others (though I personally feel it depends most on the individual and is highly situational).
But, there are downsides when Dr. Sha’s representation of the role he himself plays in his healings is exaggerated to the degree that he does:1) Dependancy
(which actually creates potential for a feeling of lack when the needs aren't
If we focus on the positive and nurture those aspects of each person, we will grow the positives. BUT, if we focus on our fear, we will grow our lack. If we believe we need teachers like Dr Sha to pull us through, we will. According to Dr Sha, you can never do enough service to his mission.... for some, I wonder if when their limitations don’t allow them to contribute significantly, this focus on lack can actually bring on somewhat of a Nocebo effect
! ..if we don’t have time to chant enough (maybe we have children!), or do a enough service, etc. the anxiety or tough choices may actually lead to an adverse effect!2) Avoidance of other Medical Treatment.
Dr. Sha is careful to stay legal by not directly saying to avoid western medicine; he even pays lip service by saying he “honours” western medicine - but really his message is very clear: “heal the soul first and the rest will follow…” There is subvert pressure among devotees to produce a miracle from Dr Sha’s downloads without requiring any medical intervention. So there is no doubt that many of his followers do AVOID any medical treatment (conventional or even other alternative forms), even though they might have benefited from it. He of course attributes any positive results of the work to “the divine” flowing through him – not to him personally; but this is also particularly true when his methods DON’T work! Ok, you say don’t crucify Dr Sha for the times it doesn’t work- look at how many mistakes are made in modern medicine – thousands of deaths a year! I get it: there are many issues with modern western medicine, particularly in the US, which is plagued (pun intended ;-) by its ‘for profit’ nature, resultant power of big pharma, iatrogenesis
, defensive medicine
etc. Yes mistakes are made (one of the problems is that the “power structure” of modern medicine means there is no good mechanism for admitting mistakes – just like Dr. Sha, but I’ll get into that later). It is this negative view of modern medicine because of these issues that attracts so many to alternative therapies.
But I think a more revealing measure of modern medicine would be “how many lives are saved:, not just “how many mistakes are made”. Even so, yes we DO need to have wisdom in our use of modern medicine also – don’t just accept blindly what the companies want to sell us, and there are many complementary/integrative methods, including faith methods that can help provide benefit. Balance is key. Pray for the wisdom to make the right choices.5.1 Science meets God
Religious concepts once thought unbreakable have been shown to be erroneous by the tools of science (e.g. the sun revolves around the earth)… Despite the power of belief, don’t think you can entirely escape your DNA or other uncontrollable risk factors in your life. Miracles are ridiculous when they violate nature rather than work with it, the difference between "magic" and "miracles" (It’s true, from another’s vantage point the distinction looks like simple ethnocentrism: your "miracles" are "magic," but my "miracles" are "true miracles”….)
AND yet scientists continue to be amazed how shortsighted they are and how things are more complicated than first imagined- they just don’t “get” that “scientism
” will never “get it all”***. In what Ken Wilber calls “flatland”, scientism only focuses on the “exterior” mechanics and disregards the “inner experience”. Its my personal belief that science might one day discover the mechanism of how certain if not all mystical phenomenon ‘work’ - but that it doesn’t change anything…because all it does is explain the mechanism for inner experience that cant be predicted, it can only be experienced. An overly simplistic example: No human (not even “god”?) will ever be able to predict the weather on an particular day say a year from now, even if one day science shows that there is a mechanism for how are thoughts and actions today can effect the weather on that day. But we will still all experience the weather on that day!
(***there is a big difference between out-of-date “regular practitioners” who got their “old-school” science degrees years ago and call themselves “scientists” versus the “on the cutting edge” researchers – there are many cutting edge researchers who are starting to ‘get it’.)
It becomes interesting when those like Dr Sha try to use science to demonstrate the efficacy of his methods. He did initial cancers studies with John Gray in 2001, when he started the Sha Research Foundation. And the studies being done by the foundation in 2003-2005 were certainly touted to bring scientific credibility to Dr Sha’s work. (I doubt I’m not the only one who has noticed that so many of these modalities slam modern science, but do quote any science that does appear to back their claims, and they would love it if modern science could prove their paradigm). Anyway, it seems to me that none of Dr Sha’s research papers ever amounted to much, as I can’t find any of them - I guess they didn’t get the right answers? (there are rumors of dispute within the foundation because of the results)
Science is a tool that can test and validate the fallibilities of our beliefs, but it is not the be-all end-all either, or our existence would be very hollow one. Yes, balance is key…5.2 Dying with Grace
Yes, there are many illnesses that modern medicine cannot cure, so isn’t it ok to offer hope? I agree, but there is also a tipping point there too, since we will all die at some point - the number one cause of death is life! Get used to it folks!
Our western society has such a fear of death – we string our dying loved ones along on machines, imploring them not to die. Death is the enemy of old-science-based medicinal culture which views the body as a machine to be repaired by a mechanic; death as a cycle of life is not embraced. To me, a true spiritual path is about finding peace with death - to be able to die with grace. (And ironically it’s the settling in that which might actually facilitate a longer life!)
So I believe there is a point where the false hope that Dr. Sha offers to those who are terrified to die through his downloads and longevity retreats (which are about teaching the methods of Daoist immortals) becomes problematic: with his encouragement, he has followers who literally believe they will not die…so it becomes an ungraceful train wreck when they do become sicker and sicker, chant more and more, and die anyway. It’s going to be a train wreck for a lot of people when Dr. Sha dies a normal death just like the rest of us…6 The Power of Myth (for Mind Healing)
Like the Power of Belief for healing the body, the power of myth can help heal the mind, psyche, whatever you want to call it.
It is important not to forget that Dr Sha originates from China and is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM is the official title for the systematized, streamlined version of Chinese Medicine created under the aegis of the aetheist Chinese government. The Communist mentality, based as it is in Dialectical Materialism
, violently rejected, suppressed, and attempted to destroy anything which was 'spiritual' or 'superstitious.' (related side note: I’ve heard Dr Sha comment that his master Zhi Chen Guo has been investigated by the Chinese gov’t) However, as Chinese Medicine grows in popularity around the world, and Western scholars go beyond TCM, they are revealing the historical roots of Daoist medical practices, which heavily involve the use of talismans and invocations (i.e. myth and ritual). Certainly Dr. Sha is drawing some of his methods from these historical practices.
Consider the similarities of the shaman/priest to the psychotherapist/counselor, both who use concepts and systems largely unintelligible to the layperson to effect a behavioral, emotional, or spiritual cure in a psychologically troubled person through language…a form of Taoist psychotherapy. Demons are no longer a superstition if YOU find one in your living room! (my projection on Dr Sha is currently the demon in mine ;-)
So I’m not rejecting Dr Sha on the basis of his use of myths or rituals. But like modern psychotherapy, there is potential for misuse or abuse, particularly when myth/ritual includes the living human teacher – I’ll get into that later.
For the record, I believe there is more power in a personal myth - I have reverence for shamanic traditions who encourage individuals to develop their own personal myths on a vision quest, and tend not to center around a leader. Traditionally they had tribal mythologies which vaguely explained life and creation, and each individual was expected to make his or her OWN personal connection with the beyond though vision quests and other ceremonies in order to learn the best and most appropriate way to get through life. This way of proceeding is logical and healthy for individuals to function within small social groups and still not turn into sheeple or get in each other's way. However in today's "rainbow" social structure, the individual must move to his or her own "drum" and there really isn't any general mythology that serves as a backdrop. So, you're on your own. But thankfully we have easy access to a lot of mythical tools out there, so we should be able to find one that works for us – there are many pathways to god.
There is a point when mythology can become counter productive - when superstition based on a falsity of ‘magickal thinking’ impedes your life: When every encounter begins to weigh down the normal progression of life and a simple trip to the grocery store becomes a pilgrimage, or we can’t function if we missed the 6:00 am chanting session, we’ve gone to far. So there is a need for balance. Yes, there is that word again ;-)7 Mystical Experiences“Fall in love with God, not the method (or the teacher)”
Many of the sects out there start something like this: Someone has an experience in which they glimpse something of what's beyond normal or everyday perception. Then this person constructs a model to explain it. After this, the person follows/adheres to/lives the model and demonstrates certain abilities and/or capabilities in front of others. The others want to get in on what the person has going for him. Suddenly there's a leader and a bunch of followers. Of course, the followers never really experience what the leader does, but they're convinced that they eventually will as long as they keep following the program which the leader insists gives him his abilities and capabilities.
But I don’t think what is going on with Dr Sha is that simple. Some of the basic practices Dr Sha teaches probably lead to a mystic spiritual experience. But all experience is subject to context-bound interpretation, which will govern how you approach it – the ways you can speak about it to others or even think about it yourself, and it will determine your future relation to the experience!. And of course where there is a therapist or guru present during the interpretation, their explanations or suggestions will do much to frame the context. And like all interpretations, there are good and there are bad interpretations. Not all experiences or interpretations, as real as they may seem to the individual, are based in truth. A well documented example is the controversy around “recovered memory therapy
”. Plus our mind isn’t the most accurate (can’t always be trusted) when it comes to issues of memory recall, subjective validation
, availability heuristic
Therefore, even when our experience tells us otherwise, we always need to be open to that there could be various interpretations, and some may be more self-limiting than others.
Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong…. It’s like the weather forecast: they are too often right to ignore, and too often wrong to trust. And it will always be that way – because of things like the Lorenz equation
and chaos theory
, scientist’s will NEVER be able to predict the weather accurately beyond a few days. This kind of stuff goes on at a whole other level (i.e. quantum physics stuff) where our soul interacts with our mind and body. I believe this paradox is part of the inherent nature…can you see the beauty in it!? It is part of the ordinary magic of everyday life, proof enough of God and the miracle of life… it couldn’t be any other way.
PART 38 Co-dependency and Power
Many if not all of Dr. Sha’s followers worship him like a guru or even god – there is much bowing down to Dr Sha as our savior and direct link to God. His followers really believe this and are ardent in their testimony. Not only does this allow for much grandiosity and spiritual materialism (“hey I got the Mother Theresa for a saint soul, what did you get!?), some people would literally die if Dr. Sha was no longer a part of their lives - they would fall apart.
Elizabeth wrote:It's tricky, isn't it -- these issues of power and authority in relation to teachers? It may be the responsibility of each one of us (in our roles as students and teachers) to see through and hence avoid this kind of thing. Yet part of the reason for having a teacher comes from the acknowledgment of our as-yet-imperfect wisdom, knowledge, power, perception -- and a desire to associate with someone who, out of kindness and compassion, has agreed to support us on the way. And this is, potentially, beautiful!
Of course our capacity to intuit the "greater" wisdom, knowledge, power, perception etc. in another person has its source in our own (as-yet-unmanifest) capacities, of that same order. To the extent that a teacher is skilled, they will tune into the dynamics of this kind of projection, knowing that they are but a mirror of their students' own as-yet-unrecognized capacities -- and, as quickly as possible, and fully, "return" this projected power/authority to the student. The Guru Yoga practice of Tibetan Buddhism is an example of this kind of skillful working with what is perhaps a necessary projection of authority onto a spiritual teacher. We get to see Buddha/God/Tao in another, fall in love with this, and then come to recognize our non-separation from the mind of the Guru, i.e. our own Buddha Nature, our "true face."
I gather that Elizabeth is talking about a form of Skillfull means
...and the implication is that Dr Sha has these skills(?).
Before I talk specifically about Dr. Sha, indeed some time-tested traditions to make use of these means. But let's not kid ourselves: used out of the cultural context in which they were created, there is also an enormous potential for abuse by ignorant, unscrupulous, narcissistic and power-mad "masters" basking in celebrity, creating careers out of other people's uncertainties.
Putting Elizabeth’s first paragraph another way (I'll talk about the ‘responsibility’ stuff later), one of the risks of a student/teacher relationship is that it takes a mature person to give his or her heart to a teacher without projecting all sorts of impossible needs onto that teacher, yet we engage with a teacher to become mature. Psychology calls this fundamental problem "transference"
But the further problem is that many untrained or unskilled therapists and especially “gurus” end up engaging in their own form of countertransference: where they project their own needs for adoration and acceptance onto the client. This is rampant where the guru myth develops to the point that disciples elevate their teachers to Godlike status, and teachers act like God, and such relationships get “nutted up” all the time. Too often these gurus are much too narcissistic to ever enter into an honest and equal relationship with others, and that far from being fulfilled or enlightened beings, they actually need their followers at least as much as the followers need them. Recall Chögyam Trungpa's dictum that "ego can convert anything to its own ends, even spirituality"—to which I would add, "especially spirituality!". Our capacity for self-deception is infinite, and it is at its greatest among those individuals who have slipped their psychic moorings and are most able to lead us into both light and dark.
Others describe this issue as a “follower” mentality: A follower recognizes or seeks something, anything, person, place or thing outside of themselves because they don't realize they already have it within. The reason the "Master" may have “special abilities” is because the followers are giving their power away to him. They provoke, they insult, they charge fortunes, etc. and in the process of "upsetting", all of that energy, whether it be anger or adulation, etc. goes right over to the "Master". So they gleam with brightness and energy and everyone wonders why they can't have that too!
Zen wisdom deals with this issue with this little ditty “When you meat Buddha on the road, kill him!”. This is not easy when your Buddha figure is called Master. If we are naïve, a disciple/teacher relationship can teach us many truths, but inevitably the most important lesson we’ll learn is how to “kill the Buddha on the road”, or less dramatically, how to find the Buddha in ourselves.
Elizabeth Lesser, who founded the Omega Institute, and has hosted many spiritual teachers, including Dr Sha, puts it this way in her book Broken Open:
Working at the Omega Institute has put me in contact with some of the world’s most influential psychological thinkers and spiritual teachers. I am grateful for the mystical, intellectual and therapeutic wisdom I have absorbed from being around these people, but you may he surprised that the most important lesson I have learned. By knowing many of Omega’s teachers, I have come to understand that everyone—the saintly guru, the erudite scholar, the compassionate psychotherapist—is an imperfect human being with neuroses and problems and rough edges not unlike yours and mine. From rubbing up against the human dimension of the so—called enlightened ones, I accept now that the point of life is not to reach perfection but to befriend the fact that human beings are works in progress. The minute an authority figure claims to be perfect, I say run fast in the other direction. That is something I have clearly learned from my close association with religious leaders, spiritual teachers, and healers of all sorts. Power corrupts, whether you are in politics, a healing profession, or a religious organization. It just does. I have seen it so many times that I have made my peace with that fact. It is a law of nature, like gravity: Drop a rock from a tower, and it falls to the ground. Give someone a lot of power and it goes to his head. I am grateful that this insight has been ground into me through mv work. It reminds me over and over not to be seduced into thinking that someone or some group has the answers to my questions. Teachers, therapists, and healers are there to help us heal ourselves. As long as we remember that, and do not expect the impossible, we will be doing ourselves a big favor.
So Dr Sha is a guy with some bona fide skills and power and good intentions, who does inspire people and assist people to heal themselves. Yet, he seems to wish to take the credit - he constantly repeats how HE has made his followers into healers. Yes indeed they do believe that it is through their alliance with Dr. Sha that they now have the abilities they have (i.e. “he does too much for student”). Yet they do not seem to work for these abilities themselves, so it seems that what the master gives the master can take away. He is using his power to "inspire" others to project their power and authority onto him, without any evidence, to date, of an equally powerful capacity to return this power and authority to its rightful owners.
He does facilitate a strong energy coming through but it is not what he thinks: perhaps Dr. Sha is intoxicated on the power. It may be that feeling of power that he is ignorantly misinterpreting as a feeling of 'the divine'.9 The Exploitation of Service
A key issue with any paradigm is that if you really believe it, then it’s easy to feel everyone should, and the world would be healed! (isn’t that the source of the irony in so many religious wars!) And so if one succumbs to this, it is easy for one to rationalize the lacing of initially great or noble ideas with a specific agenda of their own. But another's agenda has nothing to do with how well you can be healed - this is a toxic and false premise.
So Dr Sha’s concept of Universal Service is a noble one: we are here to serve others. However, “universal service” for Dr. Sha seems to be entirely about promoting his mission (i.e. his agenda). In other words, service is to do work for or bring others to the mission, after all shouldn’t everyone believe it, and the world will be healed!
Now, to be fair, the consciousness brought on by Dr Sha might help his followers make better day to day choices that will help the planet….but in terms of practical teaching or activities, the devotees don’t do any practice that will really help the planet – they just work to further the Dr Sha’s “mission”. There are many other groups out there who will do more for humanity than this group ever will.
“Heal the world, heal the sick and let the blind see” - the classic messiah trap, a “healing roar” that is supposed to take away suffering and pain but feels more like a man trying to be god. If one is at all familiar with the history of Christianity, you are well aware of the moral irony in so many of their historical activities (i.e. the killing in the name of god stuff) Obviously Dr Sha isn’t at that level, but the ends he will go to motivate his students are downright exploitive in my view:
Here is a summary of typical sermon to his students:“There are only 400 spots in heaven beyond heaven- your souls are fighting to get there. For advanced soul enlightenment on your soul journey, it is vital to make a vow to the Divine. If you make a vow but you do not follow through, it will create major bad karma for your spiritual journey. Nobody wants this – its worse than killing. After you make a vow, accept divine tasks and also realize that the Divine will give you spiritual test to test your commitment, persistence, ability to overcome difficulties. Everyone must go to an advanced retreat and obtain downloads to uplift their standing if you want to go to highest heaven. There will be divine callings to do service; if you don’t do it you wont be certified. Time is urgent, we need to get as many people as possible to join the mission. The Divine has come to me with a divine task: everyone write a review of xxx book and post it on Amazon, the story boards and at least 10 blogs; "this is not we tell public". If you don’t do it, you won’t receive the ''treasures'.”
How can you say no if you literally believe it is the divine’s wishes? So there are stories of spending money they don’t have, people hiding their spending from spouses etc. If you don’t have the credit now, you can go a on a payment plan!. Sure Dr. Sha may tell those he sees going overboard to stop spending (this is not my experience), but these stories are far too common.
As a result of this kind of motivation, one of the most scary things is behind the scenes: you have many teachers wanting control and they will stop at nothing to reach the top, beside Dr. Sha. Dr. Sha should open his eyes and really see what is going on, except he is in the mix too… It would seem as though Dr. Sha’s life – as an individual life – is profoundly imbalanced. I mean, here’s a man who is basically working all of the time: retreats and teleconferences galore, in addition to private healing sessions, public talks, writing books, and training his senior students, and uses his sacrifice of his family and lack of sleep as an example for his students. Is this a well-balanced life you would like to emulate? Ok sure, many of our “Heros” had passion that drove them to success, but not all of the obsessed are heros (who's looking in the mirror?), which leads to:10 Who is going Crazy?
Dr Sha himself wondered if he was “going crazy” (his words), though attributes it to his spiritual testing. This is always an interesting question trying to determine what separates brilliant from crazy. It's sort of hard to pin down. Taking a stab, I'd say:
Brilliant: Unique vision of reality; Majority of others accept/share in
Crazy: Unique vision of reality; Majority of others don't accept/share in
I mean the only real difference between "reality" and "delusion" is that delusion is something not mutually shared. How does one not drift into the realm of the crazy? The answer here is not clear. The only thing I can come up with, is that the "not crazy" maintain an acceptance of the possibility that they are wrong and are willing to modify their beliefs based upon external input or evidence.11 Is Dr. Sha allowed to be Wrong?
Dr Sha’s techniques are very much about generating a lot of positive group or devotional energy. What’s most encouraged are testimonials - the reporting of positive experiences, and of just “riding the wave” of energy that is generated. This can be good thing, as long as balanced is maintained with the downsides and it is used responsibly.
The down-side of this kind of approach is that it leaves little room for public expressions of doubt. Dr. Sha takes this to the extreme, as he assures his followers that any doubts come from evil entities that may be drawn to you as you advance spiritually (and he will even “make an example” of anyone who raises doubts). His teachings constantly tell us to suppress any intellectual or intuitive concerns that come up, no matter if seemingly legitimate – any doubts are of course the expected “spiritual testing”, a self-fulfilling prophecy in my view. So all of his followers are afraid to say “Hey, the emperor has no clothes!”, and Dr. Sha never has to hear it.
Now of course there is some balance here – when we are exposed to new information we do need to have an open mind and tease out initial knee-jerk reactions that may be framed by our own pathologies. But I still think Dr. Sha is very unbalanced in this department.
PART 412 The Money Thing
Wouldn’t it be excellent if we lived in a time and place where spiritual teachers, as well as those choosing to devote their lives to spiritual enquiry, were provided for by the society at large? Alas, this is not generally the case … so each must find a way – either by charging for the teaching, or doing something entirely different – to support themselves financially.
Yes, it costs to run these organizations, and should our leaders and healers be well paid? of course. Money does not equal evil. Dr. Sha takes that to another level: he literally equates money with virtue: the money exchange is a central part of the “energy exchange”, and yet it is often said that you “can’t put any price on it”. Yes, he does also offer free services, but the ‘higher’ – and heavily promoted - services always come with a price. And the higher services are extremely expensive. Doesn’t this exclude most of humanity who can’t afford it? How about a income based sliding scale? But Dr. Sha wouldn’t do that because the poor are poor because of their karma, and therefore aren’t as deserving a chance at the “highest heaven”.
Whatever, perhaps the money is necessary to pay the overhead. But in most public-benefit institutes demonstrate it by having a level of transparency to demonstrate that there is no abuse- the non-profits and churches provide yearly financial summary statements to their members so that every one knows how the money is used.
However for Dr Sha, he clearly is not a non-profit. The fine print on his documents make it very clear that he is operating as a business, and no-one seems to know where all the money is going.
His closest followers say that he lives a very simple life, in a modest home with a modest car, etc. and that all of the money he receives is used to send his teachers out into the world, pay for travel, events, etc. (Some of his teachers are paid, though they all seem to have continuing financial difficulties, since they paid so much to get in to begin with- some are still paying off their payment plans…)
This may very well be true, but if you do some simple math, were talking on the order of 50 -100 million in net revenue over the last few years! I think most of his followers would be shocked to realize what it adds up to , and even more shocked if that much is being spent just on promotion (I find it hard to believe, considering how much of the work is done by volunteer universal servants). Think of how far that money could have gone otherwise.
If Dr. Sha were to release financial statements for the organization, I’d happily recant these statements. But I can’t see it happening.
Dr Sha aside, how much should one pay for “life changing" help (yes, we all need help sometimes) This is a tricky topic that is too much to go into here, but I’ll put out one suggestion: if it is putting you into debt, its probably counterproductive!13 Responsibility
So it seems that many of those following Dr Sha are getting into trouble, in all sorts of ways, and I feel that he has a responsibility to tune into this. But lets not blame it all on Dr. Sha – does the responsibility not also lie with the students for not recognizing it? (it may be part of their life lessons: “Everybody gets the teacher he or she needs.”)
Not everybody is ready to take full responsibility for their growth, they prefer to give that to others and Dr. Sha is filling that void for quite a pretty penny. Many people choose to believe that God communicates in special ways and only with special people. This removes the mass of the people from responsibility for hearing the message, much less receiving it, and allows them to take someone else’s words for everything. By listening to what other people think they heard God say, you don’t have to think at all - “someone else decide, ill go along, ill go along”. If you acknowledge you are receiving God’s messages directly, then you are responsible for interpreting them. For too many it is easier to accept the interpretation of others (this is true about much more than spirituality) than to interpret the message they may very well be receiving in this moment now.
This is one of the attraction’s of Dr. Sha’s religion: its firm, consistent, clear in expectation of the follower and rigid. Given these characteristics you can find people who believe in almost anything – the strangest behavior and belief can and has been attributed to God. And there are those who will accept that, gladly, because it eliminates the need to think!
We can all benefit greatly from authentic, non-power hungry, genuine, HUMBLE, honest healers. They are out there, but use your critical thinking skills before signing up:
1) How do I FEEL on a gut level when I hear of this person's teachings (what is my body telling me),
2) What is my INTUITION telling me about this,
3) Does it make sense intellectually?
4) What are they asking from me that I do not want to/am unable to give?
This is not about crucifying Dr. Sha. It's about not giving up my own best judgment to be replaced with someone else's. We all have the exact same abilities to channel divine wisdom, for healing and growth, and to help each other in a meaningful way. If someone says they have something over you, beware.14 Forgiveness“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Why did I write all this? I needed to name and understand for myself where my issues with Dr. Sha lay. In the process I’ve come to see some of my own projections and come to a place of compassion and empathy, for everyone, even myself for giving in to the very good justifications "my demon" gave me to post this.
There is much I could be wrong about, then who is the tyrant? Don’t’ keep searching for the truth. Just let go of your opinions. This too shall come to pass…one day we will all look back and smile wisely!
So all of this opens the door for forgiveness. Rumi says “Beyond these ideas of doing wrong and doing right there is a field. I will meet you there.”