More wisdom in less time.

Via elephant journal
on Jan 29, 2010
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As seen on Facebook: an ad reading:

“…Top Personal Growth Product of 2010: PhilosophersNotes – more wisdom in less time.”

Spiritual Materialism…or Accessible Practicality meets Self-Help?

We here at elephant are on the fence when it comes to spiritual products like The Secret…the materialistic focus seems out of place on a path or system of paths that’s devoted to connecting us more directly to reality.

Still, though, of course, we don’t have a problem with money, with buying or selling, with basic practicality. It’s all a part of life. And Brian Johnson is an established entrepreneur in a self-help, spiritual demographic that is willing, nay eager to live life fully, and wisely, and well.

Still, though, this latest…er, “personal growth product” via our colleague Mr. Johnson—a Serial Social/Spiritual Entrepreneur (he was the founder of Zaadz, a spiritual networking site we took part in that was bought up by Gaiam)…gives us a goose bumps.

So, on behalf of, I hereby cordially invite Mr. Johnson to enlighten us as to said Product in comments below and/or in his own writeup, which we’ll feature on this site…and while we look forward to reviewing and learning more, we promise in the meantime to refrain from outright cynicism.

Still, though, doesn’t mean you have to. Vote below, enlighten us, which way doth the spiritual materialism or practical wisdom winds blow?

brian johnson philosophersnotes personal growth product

Yay or nay?


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75 Responses to “More wisdom in less time.”

  1. gwenbell says:

    Wholeheartedly concur on the "function" before "transcend" piece, Brian.

    Side note: I have a connection to thank you, for. I suppose that's disclaimer number four. A kind word you said to someone at Experience Life has brought about something wonderful. Look forward to bumping into you in LA (will be there this weekend – who knows…) and continuing the conversation.

  2. Hear, hear. It's been a great discussion, of benefit to all, I'm sure.

    And yes, Waylon, no need to resurect the Trungpa issue here. That comes down to a matter of personal spiritual preference. I have actually gone back and read all those no-holds-barred debates from the past, and they are pretty thorough. I will only bring it up when it's directly relevant to a current discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg

  3. Great to run into you and your family, Jayson! And thanks for connecting this post with Brian himself, his comments and emails add a great deal to our view of this product.

  4. Frankly, given the general heartening tone of comments here and who they're coming from, I'm sure I'll be impressed.

  5. I haven't looked in-depth at all, but do very much look forward to doing so. The above post really was inspired only by the marketing, and by no lack of integrity or perceived lack of integrity in the product itself.

  6. Shambhala Training was Trungpa Rinpoche's expression of a more direct boiling-down of Dharma for a Western audience. You can read Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior, or a few other books that focus on the Shambhala teachings. They've certainly helped me to anchor myself in sanity, to some extent, and to open my heart and enjoy life and care about others, personally speaking.

  7. Seems to be some misconception here: the ego is, in Vajrayana Buddhism, not viewed as a problem to be quashed but as a misconception to be transmuted, embraced, celebrated. We're not about nihilism over here in non-theistic Buddhaland.

  8. I look forward to reading many of those for first time, or second time…thanks to you!

  9. Just to be clear, I welcome any questions or doubts, as does anyone who studied with Trungpa Rinpoche or his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I just can't ably tackle two discussions here, when I've already done so elsewhere on this site, and I'm not getting much backup on the Wanh Wanh Danger of Spiritual Materialism in Self-Help Marketing front to begin with!

  10. Thanks, Waylon. I'll take a look.

    I will continue to pay attention to Trungpa just because you like him so much. That alone impresses me.

  11. John Tischer says:

    I was a student of Trungpa, Rinpoche and around him when Cutting Through was just being published, and, yes,
    he drank…vast quantities…but…he never hid anything he did…and every moment of personal contact I had with him
    was on the dot and very helpful. He was an intense human being…incredibly kind and thoroughly uncompromising.

  12. John says:

    Holy Shit! I have to go with having a primer to prepare for future study can be helpful. If used just to sling new-age barbs at people then its crap. But then again, any book gets put into that category.

    Did Bob Weisenberg comment like 45 times on this post? Damn, I may have dreams about him tonight…..


  13. Thanks so much for providing first-person context, John. I wish other students of Rinpoche's would. Seeing him called an "alcoholic," dismissively, by a prominent member of the American spiritual community, and seeing no one provide context…is a bit heartbreaking.

  14. Greg says:

    I was in Boulder at the time Trungpa started his public lectures. First, I had met with him privately in the mtns then I went to the first public event. At that time, he appeared on stage in local garb (plaid shirt, jeans, boots) and carried a bottle a fifth of Jack Daniels on stage with him.

    My understanding of what he was doing ties in directly with Spiritual Materialism. The crowd that had gathered was totally into worshiping the spiritual guru – their image of what he should be. And Trungpa was set on defeating those expectations, which stood in the way.

    Those who criticize Trungpa for being an alcoholic perhaps bought off on his ploy and were stuck at that same condition of looking for a guru to worship rather than moving ahead in their practice toward enlightenment.

    Comparing the work above with Spiritual Materialism is definitely comparing apples and oranges. Not even on the same playing field.

    I am always amused by the reaction (and no reaction) I receive when I point out the last verse in the Dhammapada:

    "Whoever knows all his past lives,
    Sees both the happy and the unhappy realms,
    Is free from rebirth,
    Has achieved perfect insight,
    And has attained the summit of the higher life,
    Him do I call a Noble One."

  15. "Personally, I would far, far rather see people introduced to Philosopher's Notes than the other products that facebook's algorithmic ad server seems to think I might enjoy."

    That's a pretty low bar..!

  16. "marketing and advertising are inherently awkward for anyone sensitive to self-promotion…"

    They don't have to be. Again, check out Baked in, by Winsor and Bogusky. It's vital for marketing to have the same style, fun, integrity and seriousness of purpose as the product. You don't have to sucker folks in with cheap hooks.

  17. "As an employer and businessman and friend, to me he embodies more integrity than nearly anyone else I know."

    That's awesome to hear. He feels like the kind of gent to walk his talk, it's great to hear so, firsthand.

  18. Thanks, Greg! That said, not sure if you read the post, I"m not comparing Trungpa Rinpoche's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism with Brian Johnson's Philosopher's Notes.

  19. Greg says:

    Right. I knew you were not comparing. They just ended up on the same page, so I yanked out my soapbox. I never miss an opportunity…. :>))

  20. BrianJohnson says:

    thx for your amazingly generous words, siona! big hug as always! 🙂

    i think waylon in 100% on with this: "It's vital for marketing to have the same style, fun, integrity and seriousness of purpose as the product. You don't have to sucker folks in with cheap hooks."

    and too funny on the low bar. and too true. heheheh

  21. BrianJohnson says:

    pilar just told me the news. omg that's cool. literally gave me tears in my eyes! YAYUH!!! 🙂

  22. BrianJohnson says:

    *fingers crossed* 😉

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