When the good go bad…

How is it that so much harm is caused in the name of religion? How can people who do dreadful things look themselves in the mirror and think they are right?

I believe it has something to do with language. Not just the way we use words to justify what we do, but the very fact that we have language at all. Something in the human brain urges us to classify and categorise things. Language gives us names for our experiences; sentences encode our beliefs about them.

Most of us have moments of clarity and understanding, and many people have profound spiritual experiences. If only we could stay in touch with that profound understanding I’m sure there would be peace in the world. But once the moment of clarity has passed, humans feel the need to put it into words and then use the words as their guide. You could say the experience is spirituality and the words are religion, but it also applies to non-religious situations.

Words can be used to mobilise groups of people. But if the organisation, church or institution does not allow its members to connect with the internal/eternal truth that first inspired the words, they become rules, regulations and policies with a life of their own. I have heard that many organisations that start out with a holistic ideal, over time can become narrow, prescriptive and commercialised as people lose touch with the original aim.

I’ve come to believe that single words like love, peace and kindness are a more helpful guide than sentences. A sentence gives instruction or advice and often contains a value judgement, but a single word invites you to engage your heart and mind as you reconnect with its true meaning.

Be careful who you trust

Recently I decided to self-publish a novel I wrote before I went overseas. As a published author already, I am aware of the scam run by a lot of so-called ‘self-publishing’ companies. What these companies do is charge the author a large sum to help them design and print their book. They set the price of the book and take a commission on the books sold. The reason an author might sign up for such a deal rather than do the design and printing themselves, is the opportunity to be marketed by a large international company. Apparently some major publishing houses have set up ‘self-publishing’ branches, trading on the good name of the main company.

The scam is, the company has no vested interest in marketing or selling your book. They make their profits from the authors themselves. Many authors find themselves trapped into deals where they have to keep making payments for so-called ‘services’. If their book makes it into print, the marketing involves simply listing the book on a few websites.

Although I was aware of this scam, I was naïve enough to believe that someone with a good name – a person known for their contribution to society – would not stoop to this kind of dishonesty and using people in this way.

When I saw that Hay House, the publishing company of LOUISE HAY, was offering self-publishing help for writers of uplifting books, I became interested. Although cautious, and put off by the haranguing phone calls at inconvenient times from a hard-sell American woman, I put my trust in the Louise Hay name.

After I allowed them to take over $550 from my credit card, simply for the privilege of being able to read the contract, I read some absolute horror stories about this company and told them I would not go ahead. The agreement had stipulated that if an author pulled out before submitting their work, they would get a refund, minus $225 I admin fees. Otherwise two more payments of $550+ would be taken out at monthly intervals.

Interestingly now that I have pulled out, the phone calls have stopped and nobody is answering my emails. I have received no refund and I realise I will have to cancel my credit card before they help themselves to more money from it.

It seems I was wrong to put my trust in the Louise Hay name. This is absolutely a scam.