Doesn’t it seem like everyone and their uncle is channeling these days? Maybe it’s true what they say about the veil becoming thin (not unlike the hair on your uncle’s head).
Recently I went to see a channeled entity named Lazaris in a posh Silicon Valley hotel conference room. I wondered if the martini-slinging businessmen down the hall had any idea that this generic-sounding event entitled “Concept: Synergy” was actually a disembodied entity speaking to a few hundred people through a middle-aged man with his eyes closed. My dear friend Sarah was pretty excited about it, so I had agreed to join her. That’s the kind of friend I am—the one who happily and unquestioningly accompanies you to an alien talk on a Friday night. I hadn’t actually read much of the written material she’d shared with me ahead of time because, admittedly, it wasn’t all that compelling.
The room got quiet as the channeler slipped into his altered persona. His voice and appearance reminded me of Burl Ives, though notably less endearing. I was puzzled by the accent. It seemed to take on a British flavor that faded in and out—or perhaps it was that rare kind of accent I’d heard upon occasion, befitting of an elusive unusually-proper-English-speaking subset of old-wealth Americans? My friend Debbie’s words from a previous event echoed in my head: “now why is it that every channel has to have a British accent?” Good question, I daresay.
The dude was basically saying a whole lotta nothin’ for hours. I don’t know about you, but if I pay to hear an extra-terrestrial speak, I want there to be some extra-ordinary content—a bigger or different viewpoint somehow, even if it’s wacky. But that wasn’t going to happen with Lazaris. He droned on about Wall Street and the mortgage crisis, spewing run-of-the-mill liberal political judgmentalism, pop psychology, new age gobbledegook and vagueries such as “the crisis of hope.” Blah blah blah. What’s worse, he underwent embarrassingly dramatic surges in his voice and hand movements for emphasis. I couldn’t help but think that he might be faking and that I’d seen better performances in high school auditoriums (or as Chris Rock says, “I’ve seen better actin’ in Fast-Actin’ Tinactin!”). Sometimes he would turn and scribble something on the chalkboard behind him. I wondered whether he opened his eyes to do that.
The other attendees seemed pretty anti-social, so rather than trying to mingle during the break I perused the merch table, next to the row of crystal vendors on the side of the room. (Yes, it was all right there in the seminar room. Classy, huh?) I was greeted briefly with a piercing scowl by the hater-ladies staffing the table, but they quickly ignored me and resumed their dishing. Just as the break time was about to end, I picked up a mounted flyer and began reading, hoping to identify the crux of the Lazaris spiel. Before I finished the first paragraph, one of the ladies tried to snatch it back while giving me an exasperated under-her-breath reprimand: €œexcuuuse me!! Jack is back! She pointed to the stage.
I said, “that’s okay, I can read and listen at the same time” (as if there was anything that required intensive listening). She was really freaking out and looking frantically around and behind me—I thought for sure she was about to call security. But I guess she decided to chill out and allow me to commit the reading crime of the century, if only because there was probably no security to be called. The flyer consisted of platitudes about Love and Joy and Healing, which I found pretty hilarious. I figured she could use some healing and she probably thought I needed some heeling.
There was a lot of hoopla and dramatic esoteric intrigue about the upcoming “ritual” in the next part of the show, which sounded a little creepy to me. It turned out to be nothing but a rather ho-hum guided meditation. Lazaris blathered on about “the ancients” and “the temple of the soul” and “surrendering” and other such cliches. He asked repeatedly—slowly, dramatically—”who…. are…. you…?”, sounding suspiciously reminiscent of a certain hookah-wielding caterpillar. Then he instructed us to “breathe in the chaos and the fear.” Pray tell, why in tarnation would I want to do that!? Sheesh. He seemed to be playing to the insecurities and superstitions of the crowd and amplifying the angst so that he could later uplift them from it all—a recipe employed by a phony psychic I once had the pleasure of visiting.
The best part of the event was the little kid seated in a wheelchair in front of me who seemed to be humoring his mom by cheerfully accompanying her: he was all full of sweetness and light. But his facial expressions and their timing made it clear that he wasn’t buying what Lazaris was selling. Ya gotta love kids—they can’t help but keep it real. My friend Sarah wasn’t having it either, and each time we stole glances at each other we’d start cackling contagiously, trying to keep quiet but simultaneously enjoying playing the bad kids in the back of the classroom. I was very curious what motivated all those other people to attend. Some of them have been watching this particular guru-channel for 25 years! We interviewed an acquaintance of Sarah’s on the way out and the woman was kind of odd. She made no usual social acknowledgement of being introduced to a new person (me) and stood with her eyes closed as she spoke. (Maybe she too was getting her channel on.) She told us that, while she herself is always initially bored by Lazaris, it gets much better as the weekend transpires. Maybe that’s when the Kool-aid kicks in.
Are we really so starved for wisdom and outside validation that we’re willing to accept any old channeled character as a sage worthy of our time and energy? Hasn’t the novelty of channeling worn off to the point where we can be more discriminating about the message?
Well, I can only assume that some people out there have received genuine life-changing inspiration from Lazaris, even if I don’t personally jibe with it. But I think what’s also going on is that people are seeking to fulfill a basic universal need: reconnection to the tribe. Whether it’s a Burning Man camp, a ladies knitting circle, Facebook, Jonestown, or the volunteer firemen’s drinking club, the cohesive sense of belonging is where the major value lies, regardless of whatever doctrine or activity serves ostensibly as the glue. We’re all just making our way up Mr. Maslow’s pyramid. Which is why the Abraham-Hicks circus is one of the most financially successful channeling operations—their seminars aboard cruise ships provide a unique social bonding opportunity for the participants. Another channeled entity, Kryon, tells his listeners (addressing them always as “Dear ones”) that they are almost exclusively a collection of Lemurians. I’m not sure what purported flavor of alien Lazaris is, or what tribe I might personally belong to for that matter, but it definitely felt like I was crashing someone else’s dysfunctional family reunion.
Then there are the Pleiadians. I’ve read a few books by Barbara Hand Clow and Barbara Marciniak, and seen the latter do her live channeling thing. There are certainly plenty of interesting ideas and uplifting sentiments coming from “the Ps”, but there’s also a thread of fear-mongering woven in. Their storytelling tends toward “us and them” mentality—you know, the old global-elite-versus-the-righteous-masses gag. It’s not hard to see how that sort of rabblerousing appeals to many, but how is this helpful? And why do Pleiadians seem to have an affinity for chicks named Barbara? These are the mysteries. (And furthermore, do we really need to know that Barbara and Gerry Clow engage in group sex? It’s enough to make you lose your cookies.)
Of all the channeled entities around these days, I’d say my favorite non-Martian has got to be Bashar. Initially I was turned off by his booming voice and strange delivery (which sometimes strikes me as Eastern European in pronunciation—a nice break from the usual pseudo-British variety). After listening to a handful of clips, I realized that this alien is giving us the straight dope! News we can use—nothing like the Lazaris fluff. Bashar is like the East Coast alien—all tough love, wit, and efficiency. He’ll answer any question at all, whether it’s got to do with teleportation, experiencing multi-dimensional reality, or just becoming a happier, more self-actualized human (not unlike the Abraham-Hicks material, but with a delightfully concise approach). But he’ll also call you out if you’re not being honest, and I love that. He’s not so much a guru, but more like the Great Gazoo on the Flintstones—a fun alien buddy who’s really smart, and a bit of a smart-ass too. Allegedly he’s the “future self” of the channel and is a hybrid gray/human being. Weird? Maybe. But it comes down to the substance of ideas. For me, Bashar’s words have been hugely instrumental, and it’s all about individual self-empowerment, not becoming a follower.
Shopping for a channel? The documentary film Tuning In interviews lots of them and provides insight about the channeling process. If it’s too freaky for you, why not assume it’s an act, listen to the content, then see if anything strikes a chord with you? We’re all free to discern and decide, but I think we do ourselves a disservice by deciding too quickly sometimes.
Now if I were to hop on the bandwagon and start channeling a random alien (or my higher self…which is maybe the same thing), I’d use Channel Zero as my stage name—as a nod to one of my favorite bands, Public Enemy, and because of the vague double-entendre inference to the zero point energy field concept. Or maybe I’d be The Channel Changer, bringing bold new meaning to channeling, like you’ve never seen before—just sign up for my special enlightenment workshop for a paltry five hundred dollars. Nah, the whole thing smacks of effort. Maybe I’ll just offer my naming services to New Age entrepreneurs instead. Any takers?
(cartoon/photo: Close Encounters Studios)