“Believe it or Rot” (Channeling)


Esther Hicks does what the voices in her head tell her to. This usually means writing books, giving speeches, recording videos and CDs, and appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Her products and message promise bliss, and Hicks distinguishes herself from other peddlers of the gooey by channeling spirit creatures. She gives them the collective name Abraham, and they impart to her “The Secret,” which holds that positive thoughts will cause the universe to bestow unlimited bounty.

Here’s an example of what’s on Abe’s channel: “When your attention is upon the way you feel, your attention is upon your vibrational climate, your point of attraction, it’s where you stand, which is everything. The way you feel is an indication of what you’re doing vibrationally, and what you’re doing vibrationally is everything about who you’re with, the timing of it, and your ability to realize and translate it.” My vibrational attentions are unable to translate any of that.

There are three main themes to Hicks’ teachings: The universe loves us all; We can create anything with our mind; We are immortal souls. So we are supremely important, there is nothing to fear in life, or in death, and no effort is required for any of this. It would be hard to convince someone in the Third World that all they have to do is imagine running water, electricity, and health care and it will manifest. So Hicks targets the young and wealthy, who already have optimism, a wonderful present, and bright future, so her sales pitch seems more reasonable. Some of the customers have been following her for decades, even though per her teachings, one day of positive thinking is sufficient for lifelong change. It’s also curious that Hicks sells these products, since her overarching point is that persons can wish items into existence.

Here are a few more of Abraham’s gems:

“Avoid anything that causes you to feel any discomfort.” Don’t like work, quit. Aren’t getting along with your spouse, file for divorce. Don’t like Maroon 5, smash the iPod from which they emanate.

“Anything that you can imagine is yours to be or do or have.” Falsely imprisoned? Born blind? Homeless with four children? Play make-believe and it will all go away.

“Stop trying to figure it out.” Thinking, bad. Following Hicks, good.

She has a lecture entitled, “Using a pendulum to figure things out.” But unless she’s teaching physics concepts, I don’t think this will work. Besides the pendulum is unnecessary, since Hicks elsewhere asserts that if you write things down and pretend that you have them, they will manifest.

Positive attitude and belief in one’s self are good starting points. But thoughts must lead to action, which must lead to results, which must lead to consistency. Jonas Salk didn’t cure polio by thinking about it. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs didn’t meditate in their garage about a technological revolution, they built products that made it happen.

The flip side of this is that negative moods are natural, unavoidable, and a necessary part of the creative process. A sense of dissatisfaction with the current status spurs people to improve their personal and professional lives.

Abraham’s message is a rehash of the 19th century New Thought tradition, which taught that “Believing makes it so.” This takes the positive traits of optimism and a good attitude to absurdly impossible heights. I’m unsure if happiness can be bought, but apparently it can be sold, along with wealth, health, and eternal life.

There are obvious dangers to believing you can think away a disease or wish yourself to prosperity. Hicks convinces her followers that feeling empowered is the same as being so. And since she uses undefined terms and esoteric language, she can twist anything make it fit. She also employs Magical Thinking, where any positives are due to her teachings and any failures are due to not adhering to them.

Her husband, Jerry Hicks, had cancer, which the couple swore they would fight not with chemotherapy, but by changing vibrations. They claimed this would vanquish the rouge cells in an afternoon. Here is Hicks’ manifesto on medical care: “Your physical body is sick, what’s been bothering you? What are you worried about? What are you angry about? What are you frustrated about?’ Because that is what is at the root of all of this. And then say, ‘Let it go, let it go, let it go.’”

This wasn’t working, so Jerry ended up going with chemotherapy, but it was too late and he succumbed. The lesson here is, do what Esther says or you’ll die.


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