Once upon a time I was a freelance editor. I suppose I still am, technically. I just haven’t pursued work in that arena for quite some time. I enjoyed it, yes, but mainly did it to keep the wolves from the door. The wolves are still out there, but my door is a little more solid these days.
Anyway, early on I was approached by an owner of an independent press to edit a new age book about enlightenment. The author, basically, felt that he was enlightened and had written a book so that others could reach that same state. He claimed to be “beyond ego”, and yet he felt he had all the answers. The book was basically one long conversation with a woman who was seeking enlightenment, but apparently was going about it the wrong way. The author spent the entire time explaining how wrong she was and how his way was the only correct way.
About halfway through our professional relationship, the owner of the press asked me my honest opinion about the book. It’s never a good idea to ask my honest opinion, because I’ll most definitely give it to you. So I told him that the guy came off as arrogant, egotistical and full of himself, and I therefore found it impossible to take him seriously.
That’s when I found out the owner had written the book himself under a pseudonym. I was mortified. My opinion hadn’t changed, but I was still mortified. And I was also politely told that clearly I didn’t have much experience with new age books, because that was simply “how it was done”.
I wasn’t fired, but he certainly didn’t thank me in his acknowledgements. Actually, he thanked no one. I don’t suppose it would do to admit that you needed any form of help or support if you are supposed to have all the answers.
What did I learn from this experience? From that day forward I couldn’t take any new age book seriously. I think it’s natural to seek answers and attempt to improve our lives, but I’ve never personally known anyone whose life was completely transformed by reading a book. Even followers of the most widely accepted religious tomes are inherently flawed.
It’s good to expose yourself to other philosophies, it’s great to be inspired by others, but it’s rather insane to think that one person writing one book is going to solve all your problems. Life just doesn’t work that way.
The world is full of gurus. I would like to think that many of them are sincere, albeit overly confident. Others see the weakness in people and decide to profit off of it. Either way, you should always maintain a healthy skepticism.
I sincerely believe that there are many paths, and each of us has to find our own, and while you may meet a lot of people who can impart wisdom to you on your journey, to fixate on just one is pure folly. Travel with caution.
[Image credit: imgkid.com]