Welcome! I'm glad you're here. I trust you'll find helpful and expansive stuff here, Chris Forsyth.

Antibiotic for New Age BS

Christopher Wallis is a debunker and a brilliant, sensitive one.


“Bunk means baloney,” writes Emily Ogdenis, an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia. “Bunk isn’t just a lie, it’s a manipulative lie, the sort of thing a con man might try to get you to believe in order to gain control of your mind and your bank account.” 


Wallis – known as Hareesh - a spiritual practitioner of 30 years and a teacher-scholar with a following, has written Near Enemies of the Truth: Avoid the Pitfalls of the Spiritual Life and Become Radically Free. A fellow meditation teacher calls the book “a deliciously disruptive inoculation against BS teachings in the world of alternative spirituality.” 


A Buddhist teacher explains that near enemies can create spiritual misunderstanding or drive misuse. For example, the close enemy of compassion is pity, and attachment is the next-door enemy of love. 


Some of the most compelling and elegant spiritual insights memorized and passed down to us over the ages have been corrupted and twisted into near enemies of the truth. You’ve heard them, no doubt. They’re primarily popular spiritual platitudes circulating in alternative spiritual communities (and sometimes mainstream religion).


They’re neighbors of profound and ingenious truths but spun just enough to lead one substantially off course over time, resulting in unnecessary grief. Among these enemies are Energy Healing, Follow your Bliss, Be in the Moment, and Everything Happens for the Best.


Commenting on Near Enemy #8, Everything Happens for the Best, Wallis explains the difference between religion and spirituality. He says religion is about comforting beliefs; spirituality is the willingness to strip away beliefs to see what’s true.


He also maintains that everything he’s said conforms with yoga philosophy. 


Until explained, some of the 17 listed near enemies will cause even knowledgeable meditators and yoga students to question why they’re listed.


It’s important to note that if a near enemy is close enough, Wallis says, it can be beneficial at first until they’re necessarily overtaken by continuing practices on the spiritual path.


“The real arc of progress in life, I argue, is not forward but down – deepening into the total experience of the now,” Wallis writes in the chapter headed Be in the Moment” (Near Enemy #4).


Be in the Moment, Wallis says, is the closest of all the near enemies. It’s central to many spiritual disciplines. While in no way opposed to spirituality, “the practice of presence” can easily be distorted. 


Many believe that to Be in the Moment is not thinking about the past or future. “Avoiding thoughts of the past easily becomes a form of spiritual by-passing in which we avoid taking responsibility for our actions and making amends,” Wallis writes.


Getting deep and fundamental truisms temporarily wrong isn’t a big deal, but in the long run, they’ll land you in the wrong place. Critics say that “wrong” is a bad word and argue that “‘It feels true to me’ is the only benchmark for truth.”  


Three ways determine what being present means. One is to observe the experience as a whole. The second is to avoid stressing over an imagined future. The third is the reward of years of practicing the first two. It’s an indescribable  “majestic wonder,” Wallis says. “When stabilized, it is the culmination of all spiritual, psychological, and somatic development,” he writes.


The point is, what does “being in the present moment” really mean? The correct answers to this and the other 16  near enemies will expose new-age spiritual gobbledegook that imitates  5000-year-old teachings that have stood the test of time.


“Spiritual teachings cannot transform our lives unless we deeply investigate what they really mean – that is the way of being they are pointing to. If we do not so investigate, any of them can be near enemies of the truth instead of truth,” says Wallis.


So what’s the near enemy of Love yourself (#6)? It’s tricky, and Wallis takes 11 pages to answer it. In short, it’s a mind creation called self-love, i.e., self-approval and self-praise, and not about loving your inner child, believing you’re special, or valuing your cultural identity. 


Most spiritual and religious texts teach that God is love, and most spiritual practices aim to help you experience that you really are God and so is everyone and everything else. If you bring these two teachings together as spiritual practice aims to do, you are, therefore, love. 


If, in the long run, you experience or, in some way, learn this, then love yourself works until it doesn’t. It’s a barrier to what spirituality seeks: i.e., reconnecting us with our genuine natural wholeness, our oneness with everyone and everything, or what some call our undivided self.


“Everything happens for a reason” Wallis concedes is true. However, it’s also open to doubt since it can lead to spiritual bypassing and, therefore, is a near enemy of the truth. Spiritual bypassing uses spiritual hooey to sidestep difficult and highly beneficial self-enquiry.


The problem with “Everything happens for a reason” is that it spins into “It’s all part of God’s plan” or some other cliche that breeds wishful thinking or dodges reflecting in inner-directed ways that are insightful but hard to do.


“Everything happens for a reason” can come with, “The universe is trying to tell you something” (“the universe” replacing “God” in some spiritual groups.) Like other enemies, this also reinforces a contradiction between you and “the universe.” Similarly, when you say “my higher self,” you amplify internal division.


“Believing that the universe sends you messages can get you stuck in a childish or adolescent mindset,” Wallis writes.


As an exponent of classical Tantra yoga (nondual spirituality described in his majestic first book, Tantra Illuminated), Wallis adds that “the ultimate teaching on this subject is yes, everything happens for a reason – and that reason is everything else that has ever happened. The cause of anything is everything.”


Read this book, it’s especially valuable for spiritual seekers and all interested in opening  their inner being. It’s the antibiotic for New Age claptrap --Chris Forsyth