This is probably going to piss off some of my friends. But best to get it out of the way now, rather then whatever future time my book is published.
I'm including a chapter in my book-in-progress about the dark underbelly of the spiritual quest. The idea, basically, is
There is an old aphorism, often attributed to Otto von Bismarck, that those who love sausages or the law should never watch either being made. I've always disagreed with this -- if people saw the truth behind the production of these things, we'd have many more vegetarian anarchists, which would seem to me a positive development.
And so it is too with religion and spirituality. The hazards of cults, superstitions, delusions, hypocrisy, and manipulation are very real. A peek behind the scenes of both ancient traditions and the modern cults of personality around self-help gurus and peddlers of enlightenment-lite, is an unpleasant but necessary requirement for spiritual health.
In this chapter I talk about scandals in Zen (Japanese and American), about Chögyam Trungpa's misbehavior, about sex scandals in the Pagan community, and about some new age-y sort of "Plastic Shamans and Goofy Gurus". And one of the folks I deal with under that heading is Daniel Pinchbeck.
I first mentioned Pinchbeck over three years ago, when Rolling Stone profiled him. I was not impressed, but I didn't give it much more thought than that.
A year or so after that, my good friend Robin Gunkel, whose opinion I regard highly, met him at Burning Man and she was impressed. So I suspended judgment -- maybe the Rolling Stone profile was an unfair hatchet job. That happens.
Robin has since become involved with Evolver, a social network arising out of Pinchbeck's blog, "Reality Sandwich". I've gone to several events put on by the Baltimore "spore" of Evolver, and heard some good discussions.
But with that said, when I sat down to look more deeply into Daniel Pinchbeck, what I found was not favorable. Here's a first draft of the section about him that will go into my book.
Daniel Pinchbeck is the guy probably most responsible for kicking off the idea that some great transformation is going to occur in 2012. In his book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, he claims to have received "transmissions" from the Mayan deity Quetzalcoatl telling him about this momentous event. An excerpt from these transmissions: