In my last post I alluded to those who possess secret knowledge, the key to the riddle of life. Want to be popular? Convince people that you have the secret knowledge that unlocks the doors to riches, wisdom, power or love. You will then develop a loyal group of dedicated followers. Or, if you want to make a lot of money, merely convince others that you have secret knowledge, even if you don’t. A lot of religious leaders have been doing this for years.
Yes, it would be great to find some dusty old tome in the backroom of a bookstore, one that had a chapter for each of our major concerns: how to make money, how to win love, how to make other people do what we want. Now if there were some kind of ancient alchemy or magic associated with the process, all the better (less work that way). Nerds could become popular chick-magnets overnight; the down-and-out could become prosperous, well-dressed and drive a hot new car. The people who have persecuted you in life could be put in their place, punished and humiliated. The meaning of life would be revealed and everything in life would suddenly make sense and fall into place. Great! Now what’s for dinner? Ah, if only it were all that easy.
As I mentioned, religious hucksters like to make use of this angle to appeal to their followers. Don’t misunderstand, I am not panning religion. I am panning those who misuse it. Just watch many (but not all) TV evangelists who want to convince you to send them buckets of money “for God.” One of the most effective ways to take money from the flock is to convince them that you have a special relationship with God, or have spiritual knowledge not available to anyone else, or that you are somehow “the chosen” guide to lead the multitudes to salvation.
I remember seeing a quote by the founder of the Church of Scientology who reportedly said that if you really want to get rich, start your own religion. But riches aren’t the only payoff. You also gain power over other people. Many false “prophets” have arisen over the centuries to take advantage of the spiritual need that burns in the breast of most people. I remember the late great Andy Kaufman’s role in the 1980 comedy film “In God We Tru$t.” Kaufman played a phony minister on the take who claimed to his television followers that he was “God’s buddy.” It was a hilarious film with a great point.
It’s okay to follow a leader, but first make sure he is worthy of your trust. A little skepticism is a good thing.Yes, there is real religion and many good people who serve both God and humanity through their faith. Mother Teresa was a good example. But beware of people claiming to have secret knowledge to sell, be it spiritual or otherwise. Anyone peddling books or tapes with “secret knowledge” that can make you rich, famous or popular should be viewed with skepticism. It could be that the only secret knowledge they possess is how to separate you from your money.