The more successful MBS authors out there tend to be the ones who make the biggest claims. I’ve read books from people who reckon they can cure you of any ailment by getting you to think in more positive ways. If you can’t be cured by their wisdom, it’s lack of faith, or karmic debt, or you chose this path before you were born. If you were in trouble and do not magically fix, being told it’s karma is no great comfort.
When you’re absolutely desperate, when life seems to have dealt an unplayable hand, anyone offering a way out is persuasive. The greater the fear, the more willing we are to believe that someone can save us. The less we want to think logically about how much trouble we might really be in. And so the person who makes outlandish promises can be a lot more attractive than the person who says ‘this might help you a bit’ – even if it’s truly better advice.
It’s worth pausing for a moment to think about the pre-election promises of politicians. Sometimes those aren’t so very different in style from the worst excesses of MBS magical cures. The more afraid you are, the more willing you are to believe the politician who says they have simple answers. In politics it tends to be less about positive thinking, and more about blaming a minority. The more we back the people who tell us there are simple solutions to our complex problems, the more we are likely to hurt ourselves. In a political sense, Nazi Germany was the extreme example of what you get when you go this way, but plenty of other countries have succumbed to simple hate-based non-solutions to complex real world problems. At least if you decide to pray away your life threatening disease, only you are your loved ones are likely to struggle. Do this at the political level and a lot more people are going to die.
I’m not a wildly successful author in the MBS arena because I’m not prepared to tell people I have simple answers to all their problems, or that I have it figured out. I really, really don’t, and I think what usefulness I have comes from sharing the broken bits and the shuffling, lurching journey towards being… whatever it is I’m being. No grand terms, no how I saved my life with five minutes of meditation a day. No easy ways to cleanse your karma of negative vibrations and restore your afterlife to the right colour for your magical aura. I’m really bothered by the relationship between wealth, health and privilege, and this kind of teaching.
If we want easy, tidy solutions, probably the best one is: do everything you can as well as you possibly can, and pay attention to the small stuff. It won’t cure much, but taking the details seriously improves all manner of things. Be kind, be honest, look after your body but be willing to let it go when you are truly out of options. Accept that there are no magical cures for all suffering and that sometimes you will suffer, and then do the real things you can do to alleviate your own suffering and other people’s. Be willing to work at it. Expect to fall, fail, mess up, feel lost, be let down, as well as the moments of inspiration, wild hope, unreasonable success and pure delight that are also part of a life.
People who are offering to sell you simple solutions to make it all wonderful, are people who make a lot of money. What would happen, in our spiritual and material lives, if we became a lot more wary of people who promise to fix everything? Politicians and faith healers alike. Companies with wonderproducts. Advertisements. What if we put down the belief that a simple easy anything can save us from things we don’t like, and started to deal with the realities of what we’ve got, instead? It would be a whole other world.
(You could buy my books, but they won’t save you, they won’t cure you, they won’t transform your life into pure success and unmitigated bliss. You might find them useful – some people do – but then again you might not. Truth in advertising.)