Was poking around in my little library of weird spritual books and tracts and came across something by one Ilchi Lee, lurking up there beside an old first edition from 1968 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (aka Sexy Sadie) and a recent compilation by Osho, who is the reincarnated, or re-packaged, so to speak, Baghwan Rajneesh. Gurus who attract expensive cars, property and celebrities seem to congregate, at least on my bookshelf. (Missing from the guru region was the little red-leather-bound "Gospel of Ramakrishna" which I had
article called "The Yoga Cult," about Ilchi Lee, who is being sued (and possibly defamed) by some of his disenchanted former followers.
So I decided to read Mago's Dream, which someone had given to me when I was working at an environmental education non-profit, not long after 9/11. Perhaps I actually paid money for it: there is a $14.95 price imprinted on it. (I see on Amazon there are 22 copies available for 29 cents, and one collectible--not mine--for $14.95. Or you can just review it here.) I do remember that some ethereal middle-aged woman had arrived in my office, talked to me about the environment, and insisted that I read Mago's Dream.
Which I never did, until I opened it yesterday after reading the Rolling Stone story. Standard stuff, a Korean version of Taoist meditation practice (where qi is ki and the dantian is the dahnjon); heavily into Mother Earth ("Mago," which term you are supposed to repeat as a breathing mantra--conveniently, "go" is the out breath). Some not unwise observations about how our actions are often misinformed by all the "information" (beliefs, ideas, advertising) our brains have absorbed.
I think it is probably a sign that, though the new information may be in fact be "good", when people start to pay --and try to attract-- a LOT of money (way more than $14.95 for a poorly written, edited and illustrated tract) for seminars, rigorous and dangerous training, and high holy retreats to exotic proprietary gardens, there is something wrong, contrary in fact to Mr. Lee's own advice: "Do not let any information rule your soul. ... Don't let your brain be a slave to information manufactured by others and distributed under such brand names as tradition, religion, politics, philosophy and so forth."
promoted by Ilchi Lee and his rather large organization of followers. "There's a seeker born every minute," they say, and for every seeker, there's someone offering something to be found--usually for a price. (And it's pretty easy to find more than you're looking for about this on Google.) Maybe the Rolling Stone article has it all wrong; maybe he's just a Korean Mantak Chia with a spiritual-spa-garden in Sedona instead of Thailand, and lots of devoted followers and franchised operations. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I missed the first news of this to break on CNN; tell me it isn't weird; tell me it isn't true. Was that woman who visited me in 2002 just trying to make her quota of converts?
Funny isn't it...all the really old information and techniques-- e.g., through Lao Tzu, Jesus, Buddha, meditation, yoga, prayer-- have been there all along. Is it that people need the old information dressed up as something new? (And it appears that Ilchi's strange Korean mythology is all made up anyway, like Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon.) Our modern economic society needs to buy it as a commodity, and sell it pyramid style to someone else, for it to make any sense or difference? No wonder governments get funny about it: the Chinese government fears Falun Gong (an oddball qigong gang), we fear "cults" (though you could call almost anything a cult -- the Olympics, dog breeding, the Super Bowl, American Idol). Although, some of our own government representatives including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Al Gore have been pretty close to Ilchi Lee, who apparently shares their vision of the world as a nicely functioning ecologically healthy village. And some adoring Lee fans have even cited such literary giants as Dan Brown, guru of the divine feminine (Mago), among their wisdom sources.
Opportunity just knocks for these latter day gurus: global warming, 9/11--time to breathe! No wonder they get rich, just like the new "prosperity gospel" folks get pretty prosperous. (I was watching one of those guys on TV last summer with my surgically compromised friend on Maui when she strained her stitches laughing at the guy who confessed that once he found Jesus, he suddenly had a closet full of Armani suits. People just kept bringing him suits.) Which reminds me...we're coming up on the Passover celebration of Jesus disrupting the temple moneychangers! Prosperity gospel indeed.