October 30, 2007

For $4000, You Too Can Participate in Your Own Existence, Idiot.

Curious as to how Deepak Chopra might spend his time while not penning ridiculous straw man articles about science, I ran across an advertisement this morning for a seminar that Chopra is giving in March 2008 at a "chic hotel and spa" in Sedona, Arizona. The seminar is entitled SynchroDestiny and it purports to teach one:

...specific skills that will enable them to be a successful leader in any environment... Spend a long weekend in an intimate setting and learn how to tap into the field of pure potentiality where anything is possible and dreams come true...
Amazing; I can learn how to tap into a field of pure potentiality and make my dreams come true over the course of a long weekend? I mean, are you sure this is pure potentiality and not merely the standard 75.4% potentiality that I normally tap into on the weekends?

Well, it has better be. The "early bird" pricing for this little shindig is $3375! Normal pricing is $4175, so don't delay... call now! Operators are standing by.

So, the question here is, why is ol' Deepak only interested in helping people with a few extra thousand dollars tap into pure potentiality and make all their dreams come true? See, to my way of thinking as a chronically broke graduate student whose most fervent hope is to progress to the status of a chronically broke full-fledged scientist, people who the much money and time for one of Chopra's long-weekend seminars already have had a good number of dreams come true. Most of us dream of long weekends and lots of disposable income, do we not? You know, leisure time and cash to burn. Much of the world dreams of having enough food on the table, access to medical care and clean water. A goodly proportion of Americans dream of those things.

So, does ol' Deepak "provide the tools and inspiration to move you to your next phase of success and fulfillment" on a sliding scale? Will his next seminar be held in East LA or San Francisco's Bayview or some rural community in the Ozarks? No, of course not. You see, newage fluff like Chopra's seminars aren't about making your dreams come true, they're about making his dreams come true. His dream of buying a larger estate, a bigger car, a more expensive suit. Want to "tap into pure potential and make all your dreams come true?" It's simple; just do what Chopra does. Make it sound convincing and you'll find enough wealthy melon-heads to pour lucre into your coffers, too, and then you can fly around the world on your private jet, champagne in hand and joy in your heart.

All you need to do is abandon decency. It works better if you can convince yourself of the con as necessary. I mean, I would find it hard to tell someone that I was going to teach them how "to consciously participate in the manifestations of your dreams, wishes, and desires" for $4000 with a straight face if I knew that all they were doing was unconsciously participating in mine. Don't we all "consciously participate" in this sort of stuff, anyhow? I get up every morning and I go and work on things. I read, I learn. Someone else wakes up and goes to a job in a factory so that he can "manifest" food and shelter for themselves and his family. A woman wakes up, eats breakfast, and then boards a bus that she proceeds to drive around a city for the next eight hours so that she can tap into the "pure potentiality" of a paycheck that she will then "manifest" as new clothes for her kids. We had all better hope she's doing all this consciously; I prefer not to get run over by a bus driven by an unconscious driver, thank you very much.

See, people who live day-to-day, who actually have goals and dreams, don't need expensive seminars delivered by oily guru wannabes in order to participate in their own lives. Only those who are so detached from the daily grind, who don't live in the strain and sweat and grit of life, who have thousands of dollars in spare income that they can put toward staying at "chic hotels" in Sedona to attend "a magical seminar that unfolds the unfathomable mysteries of karma" in the first place, need somebody else to pretend to create meaning for their own existence. People who have it easy have to seek out struggles, have to design strange challenges for themselves, to feel like they're participating in their own existence. The rest of the world, the people who face real challenges, don't need Deepak Chopra's nonsensical mysticism to remind them to be conscious; they do that when they draw up the monthly budget and figure out whether they'll buy food or medicine this time around.

But hey, it's not like Chopra and his promoters make any secret of this. After all, what does his seminar promise?
SynchroDestiny will provide the tools and inspiration to move you to your next phase of success and fulfillment.
Implicit in this, I think, is that you must already have one phase of "success and fulfillment" to move on to the next one. These things are apparently measured by having enough money to head off to Sedona and shell out the big bucks in the first place. If you ain't got the cash, you ain't got the prerequisites for Chopra's advanced class for people with too much money and too little brains. Poor slobs need not apply.

Although I do hear that there's a job opening at Chopra's multi-million dollar estate. It involves toilet paper. Let Deepak Chopra move you to tapping into his "pure potential." Just remember to wash your hands afterward.

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