Wayne Dyer: Snake Oil Salesman, High Priest of Modernity or Both?

WayneDyerby Tim Jones9/3/15
Wayne Dyer, who died not too long ago, is the epitome of the high priests of the secular age. Including Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, they surreptitiously blend the language of Christianity into their pitch with seductive messages rooted entirely in emotion and feelings that appeal to the “worried well” generation where all of their creatures comforts have been met in terms of easy access to food, transportation, housing, recreation, etc.

What remains is the search for the small and trivial short-comings in oneself and what is really a selfish need to shape one’s personality to the dictates of feeling good about yourself in our age of narcissism (which is an offspring off secularism) where it’s practically become a right that one feels good about oneself not to mention financial freedom. Dyer, Robbins, Williamson and even America’s new age pastor, Joel Olsteen, preach the prosperity gospel that one’s final destination resides in the material world where success and good health, both mental and physical, will reign. 
 
But the problem is that we’ve arrived at a point of time where the self is reflecting the larger society as a whole, that it’s in a state of perpetual discontent in which therapeutic platitudes are just perishable band-aids hiding much deeper spiritual and moral failures. What secular humanism attempts to do is con people with the hoax of creating heaven on earth where people seek eternal happiness in the ‘here & now’ through magical silver bullets perpetrated by the modernism’s easy solutions and  instant gratification.
 
The self-help gurus of our times co-opt use their language of pseudo-spirituality with its false and deceptive promises of self-realization, self-actualization, or whatever you want to call it. But man cannot perfect himself. There is the saying “Man is one dog-bite away from fallibility” that accurately describes what is wrong with these techniques.  Can the indigent, mentally and physically disabled, sociopaths and psychopaths self-liberate by a false promise of perfectibility?  What happens when a natural catastrophe, an accident or the onset of a debilitating health condition destroys one’s sense of security and all that’s left is misery?
 
It is the neurosis of the ‘worried well’ that obsess with personal shortcomings in a society obsessed with success. It’s Americans following the high priests of self-help towards the mirage of moral and while the world burns while ignoring the inherent evil and corruptness in man. It is highly doubtful a “self-actualized” person is going to solve the problems of radical Islamic terrorism, drug addiction, poverty, crime, cancer, hunger – and the list goes on ad infinitum. Nature is unforgiving as is evil. Self-directed feelings and positive thoughts are not going to change that at all.
 
Dyer could have been an outstanding spokesmen for conservatism. according to the CNN’s report on his death, Dyer was a self-made man who was an orphan and bucked the liberal ideology of victimization without envy for the rich and successful in society. My guess is that with the success of his first best-selling self-help book, Your Erroneous Zones  and the large amount of money it made for him, he embarked on a career to reach the widest possible audience in the least offensive manner. By touting a conservative message he knew he would be alienating and cutting off a huge segment of the population who would buy his books. 
 
In later years he began talking more about God, a ‘higher power’, a Creator, possibly because he could see his own mortality more vividly as he got older but more likely to try to gain more of the religious demographics, a cynical attempt at straddling both markets of the secular and the spiritual in order to maximize book sales. From Yahoo News’ story on his death: 
 
“His focus on self-help shifted later toward issues of spirituality, quoted on his website as once saying: “My purpose is to help people look at themselves and begin to shift their concepts. Remember, we are not our country, our race, or religion. We are eternal spirits.”
 
Like all of the self-help and new age gurus, Dyer’s emphasis on feelings and emotions and how to make one feel good about oneself was like candy for the soul. It provided a temporary ‘sugar high’ but it was a buzz that would wear off shortly after reading one of his books or listening to one of his seminars, leaving you right back where you started, living with one’s personal insecurities and inadequacies and the reality of a world filled with tragedy and evil. 

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3 Responses to Wayne Dyer: Snake Oil Salesman, High Priest of Modernity or Both?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    the “worried well” generation

    That’s an interesting way to express it. Haven’t heard that before.

    Dyer, Robbins, Williamson and even America’s new age pastor, Joel Olsteen, preach the prosperity gospel that one’s final destination resides in the material world where success and good health, both mental and physical, will reign. 

    Yep. Add to that those who stump for “social justice.”

    It is highly doubtful a “self-actualized” person is going to solve the problems of radical Islamic terrorism, drug addiction, poverty, crime, cancer, hunger

    That brings to mind that in many ways I think we’re talking about the cult of the self.

    But the problem is that we’ve arrived at a point of time where the self is reflecting the larger society as a whole, that it’s in a state of perpetual discontent in which therapeutic platitudes are just perishable band-aids hiding much deeper spiritual and moral failures.

    By George, I think you’re right.

    On the face of it, there’s is nothing wrong with “self help.” The problem is, this isn’t about adding a new skill (which could be deemed “education” or even to some extent “self improvement”). “Self help,” on the other hand, is about the conception of man as a psychological thing (despite the mysticism Dyer and others sprinkle on top to try to pretend otherwise) who must be placed on the couch and tweaked.

    And, good golly, couldn’t we all use a little psychological tweaking? But that goal in itself can be crazy-making because I don’t think we can ever transcend our psychology. We seem rather hard-wired into certain traits.

    The old-fashioned way to “self help” was to identify with the perfect being, God. You knew you had flaws that weren’t ever going away, but you’d do the best you could with guidance from someone presumably without those flaws. One accepted what one could not change and replace endless psychobabble and self-analysis with simply doing something. Occupying one’s time in productive efforts has long been the balm for the balmy.

    With the cult-of-self version of “self help,” you don’t accept your flaws (or characteristics). You work to change them. And on the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that. And yet I think the problem is that the unstated goal is perfection, some kind of personal utopia where all emotions are warm and fuzzy and you’re safe from any type of neurosis, those having been extinguished forever by the “spiritual” magic of attending lectures and buying books.

    I’ve read my share of self-help books and it went just as Tim said:

    It provided a temporary ‘sugar high’ but it was a buzz that would wear off shortly after reading one of his books or listening to one of his seminars, leaving you right back where you started, living with one’s personal insecurities and inadequacies and the reality of a world filled with tragedy and evil. 

    Perhaps the bigger issue here is the psychologizing of humanity. We’re simply a neurosis waiting to be untied. This jibes with the Rousseauian vision of man as inherently good as well as the libtard idea that man is a blank slate to be programmed at will. With this conception of humanity, then if something is wrong or you have an uncomfortable habit or feeling:

    A) This can be fixed because something specific caused you to veer from the norm of mental and psychological well-being (a position at some time in the past you must have occupied and can regain again), and

    B) Being infinitely malleable, it’s just a matter of pushing the right buttons (reading the right book, watching the right seminar, drinking the right herbal tea, burning the right incense, chanting the right mantra, etc.).

    Snake oil? Well, I don’t know if snake oil ever turned anyone into a foolish person other than regarding throwing away good money. But “High Priest of Modernity” certainly fits the bill. These are gurus of the cult of self.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Another way to view Dyer and company is that they are representative of a generally non-believing secular culture having moved the needle from wanting spiritual comforts to wanting psychological/emotional/economic comforts. No, that that’s a precise divide. But in the end, if you don’t believe in a Creator you’re left to sift through the tea leaves of various cultish or Paganish things, include New Age spirituality.

    This kind of secular spirituality, in my opinion, is about the gratification of the ego. It’s an inward journey, if you will, instead of an outward one into a bigger world which demands that a lot of our small beliefs and self-centered ideas be stretch, tugged on, and even busted. It’s perhaps the easiest thing in the world to think “I’m okay” and much harder to realize that you might indeed be okay, but not because you’ve shrunk your vision down to a few pop-psychology nostrums. (“All you need is love,” or whatever.)

    I don’t think Wayne Dyer was a bad guy, any more than Pope Francis is. But I think at the end of the day, these guys are about pseudo-spirituality and pseudo-healing and a whole bunch of pseudo-stuff. What’s the real thing? I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s found in a rah-rah get-rich-quick scheme or a get-emotionally-warm-and-fuzzy book or video. We are a society that now expects there to be the equivalent of a pill for whatever ails us, or whatever problems we elevate to big problems because, as Tim said, the normal creature comforts have all been met.

    I think real things are much harder than our made-up dramas, so there is an element to this New-Age stuff that is fast-food spirituality or fast-food psychology. One thing I eventually noted about all self-help types of gurus and books is that they are very good about what worked for them (assuming it actually did)…and then they project out and just assume that it’s going to work for everyone else.

    That sounds sound enough, but life doesn’t seem to work that way. We all have our own paths to walk. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. And that, in the end, is what they are selling. It’s almost as if their own healing process (or attempt to heal) is getting others to buy into their methods. Every book sale is some kind of confirmation that they’re okay. But you may simply be 20 dollars lighter in the wallet after the transaction.

  3. Lucy Peixoto says:

    Wayne Dyer was full of shit.
    I know. I once bought and read all of his books and meditation tapes. Manifest Your Destiny….attract whatever you desire……what you really really really want you can get. You are God. It was all lies. And as I returned back to my Catholic Faith and to God, and to Jesus and his Blessed Mother, I discovered the real truth and the truth is found in God’s word called THE BIBLE. Wayne Dyer was a victim of the New Age lies perpetuated by the devil himself. And if he (Wayne Dyer) said he was God, was God-Like, had Divinity in him, could heal himself, and could manifest anything then why did he die of Cancer? Plus his books near the end were rehashing bullshit. Do yourself a favour, and avoid the New Age like the poison that it is.

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