Get the Lead Out of Your Ascent: All That New Age Glitterati Isn't Gold
Which brings to mind one of Don Colacho's Aphorisms: Nothing is more irritating than the certainty with which a man who has had success in one thing gives his opinion on everything.
Speaking of which, I'm thinking of another DC, who, just because he has had success in marketing himself to morons and in pleasing the state-controlled media, believes himself fit to opine on matters of ultimate significance. (Chopra reminds us that that beacon of banality, Time magazine, literally worships him as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.")
Chopra accomplishes the difficult task of being simultaneously not even wrong about both science and religion -- which is a little like being given two choices in a coin toss, but losing anyway:
The "theory of evolution has proved victorious over the Book of Genesis and its story of God creating the universe in seven days. Since then, God has been found wanting when measured against facts and data. With no data to support the existence of God, there is also no reason for religion and science to close the gap between them."
As wrong as Chopra is, only a floridly psychotic person has no part of the truth, for in the absence of truth we couldn't survive. Even animals understand the laws of physics in their own way. It is very hard to be completely wrong about subjects as vast as "science" and "spirit" -- which is why charlatans proliferate in both. The hard part is to appreciate their unity without facilely distorting either.
Upton notes that the gold-plated hypocrites "have a certain ability to manifest the Spirit," but that "the whole import of the Spirit is for them materialistic; they only value the Spirit in materialistic terms."
Thus, for Chopra to suggest that "The real goal of a new science will be to expand our reality so that spiritual truths are acceptable," is precisely backward. The goal of science is science. To pretend otherwise is to elevate it to an idol. But Nothing is rarer than someone who affirms, or denies, but does not exaggerate in order to flatter or to injure (Don Colacho).
The hypocrites have a glamorous surface appearance which may appear "light," but this is only because they are actually weightless. I think all readers with rudimentary spiritual attunement will agree with me that a single aphorism of the unglamorous Don Colacho has more spiritual "heft" than the complete works of Tony Robbins, or Wayne Dyer, or any other new age guru.
Thus, "in the afterlife" the hypocrites "are weighted down by the very glittering surface that once seemed so light" (Upton). Unlike here, bullshit doesn't float in hell. Rather, like the Sheen on Charlie, it plunges to the bottom, where it belongs.
It is not surprising that the WindyHindi continues to be one of the most intransigent supporters of perhaps our most outwardly glittering president ever (at least Kennedy had some real lead in his pencil).
Nor is it surprising to us that Obama has turned out to be simultaneously leaden and yet so light in the loafers. But in the teeth of reality, Chopra maintains just the opposite, and that Americans are just too stupid to grasp it:
"Bad faith, it would seem, isn't something Americans care about as long as image works. Obama is a good-faith President who is being punished for speaking maturely and soberly about our complex problems, trying to cobble together a master plan for the future that, frankly, the majority of Americans cannot grasp."
Ho! I think he meant that "Americans cannot afford." And that he has a plan for the state to be our master.
Upton notes that the hypocrite has certain advantages over the virtuous, since he is not constrained by truth: "The con artist will commonly look more sincere than the honest man," since "he can put all his psychic energy into appearing sincere." Conversely, the honest man "will often manifest an entirely appropriate reticence -- which the hypocrite will then attempt to portray as shiftiness or dishonesty."
Inappropriate confidence is a plague of our time -- partly a reflection of the new cultural ideal of "self esteem." No one is permitted to know that they are a genuine imbecile when the imbeciles are running the show.
Upton makes the subtle point that both hypocrisy and its seeming opposite -- cynicism -- are diverse expressions of the same underlying pride. Thus, as much as, say, Bill Maher may attack Christian hypocrisy, he is psychically attracted to it in order to manage his own spiritual affairs.
For "Cynics believe that sincerity consists in exhibiting shortcomings and that to hide them is to be a hypocrite; they do not master themselves, and still less do they seek to transcend themselves" (Upton). Through this sleight of hand they are able to convert shameful failings into virtues like "authenticity." Thus, it is also an act "of theft by which the passional and egotistic soul appropriates what belongs to the spiritual soul" (ibid.).
Which reminds me of another timelessly timely aphorism of Don Colacho: The bourgeoisie is any group of individuals dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with what they are.
In his spiritual narcissism, Chopra insists that God and truth are not to be found "in the church" but in his "personal experience." If so, then Upton has it all wrong in maintaining that he who has no Guide has Satan for a guide.