Celebrity, Dangerous Teachings, and Responsibility

Yesterday Luis and I recorded an episode in which we explored some of the “conspiracy theory” claims about global elites, Satanism, and child torture and sexual exploitation.

We’ve recently been talking about doing some additional interviews with people with celebrity to explore their humanness.

These two things combined to cause me at one point during the recording of the episode to mention to Luis that perhaps we should see if we can schedule a talk with Teal Swan.

Teal Swan is a person with celebrity who claims to have been subjected to child torture and sexual exploitation at the hands of a Santanic cult.

Teal Swan is also a highly controversial and polarizing figure.

After making that comment to Luis – something I didn’t think anything of at the time – I later had a thought: “I don’t know anything about Teal. I don’t know if she’s honest or not. Would it be disastrous if we did interview Teal and publish it?”

I could already see it: the comments proclaiming that Luis and I were promoting dangerous teachings, dishonest “spiritual teachers”, and so forth. Basically, a scandal.

Such is the insanity of celebrity, as Luis has rightly been pointing out lately in our conversations.

This is the insanity of celebrity first and foremost in my own mind. Because nothing is happening. Nothing. I haven’t even sent an email to Teal much less published an interview.

And already I am worried about the repercussions for my celebrity, Luis’s celebrity, the celebrity (to the tune of just shy of 400 YouTube subscribers) of our show.

This is how we police ourselves. This is how I police myself. This is how I try to protect an image – a future self – at the expense of present honesty.

Celebrity is dangerous. And it’s not even real. That’s crazy.

The reason Teal is so controversial is because she has a huge following as a celebrity. Huge is relative. But she has hundreds of thousands of views on her YouTube videos. And a Google search turns up not only a ridiculous number of pro-Teal websites, but also a lot of anti-Teal sites.

The anti-Teal sites argue that she promotes a “dangerous teaching” and that she is a psychopath (which is intended to dismiss her entirely – because apparently psychopaths have no value). And they further claim that she is a pathological liar.

They make her into a caricature. According to the claims, she sounds like a bumbling idiot with massive delusions.

The pro-Teal sites argue that she is a spiritual teacher to awaken humanity to some greater truth.

What is the truth?

How could we know?

And are we sure that there is the truth? A singular, objective truth.

“But there must be! We have to get to the bottom of this! The teachings may be dangerous!”

I don’t think so. I don’t think a teaching is dangerous.

And yes, my views on this subject have matured. Because a few years I all but proclaimed some such as Rajneesh and Bubba Free John as dangerous.

But now I see it differently.

All these people are doing is making sounds.

Just sounds. And relatively, the sounds aren’t even very loud. Compare their sounds to the sound of a bomb exploding. Their sounds are barely worth noting. So quiet. So insignificant.

What is so dangerous about these sounds?

I don’t see it.

And this gets to responsibility.

If Teal or Rajneesh or Byron Katie or Donald Trump or Joey Lott or Luis Campos or your mother or your neighbor or your teacher or whoever makes sounds, are they responsible for what you do, what you believe, your reactions?

There’s a quote attributed to Frank Zappa: “If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”

I am swayed by Frank Zappa’s celebrity because I like his music and his public persona.

But I don’t blindly agree with this quote. In fact, I don’t even agree with the conclusion (“you deserve it”) because I don’t even know what it means to deserve something.

I only share the quote because it points to something that might be useful to consider.

Just because Teal Swan has half a million views on some of her videos and because there are thousands of adoring “Tealers” does not mean anybody is obligated to believe her.

Just because somebody agrees with something she says doesn’t mean they are obligated to agree with everything she says.

Just because somebody is on YouTube or television or radio. Just because somebody is in a movie. Just because somebody published a book or two or a hundred. Just because they are published through a big name publisher. Just because your friend agrees with the person. Just because you agree with some things the person says. Just because the person is affiliated with your preferred political party. Just because everybody else says so…

Doesn’t make my interpretation of the sounds being made true.

If somebody is doing actual harm to me – harm that is visible – I know what to do. I can take action to evade or protect myself.

But if somebody is making sounds, why do I need to do anything? It’s just sounds.

Of course, we can argue that when people believe their interpretation of these sounds, it can and does have harmful effects. No doubt. Millions of people believed their interpretation of the sounds made by Goebbels and Hitler. Tens if not hundreds of millions of people believe their interpretation of the sounds made by George Bush and Barack Obama and Lyndon Johnson.

So there’s that.

But I’m not actually arguing that it’s “perfectly okay” to say hurtful, hateful, or untrue things. I’m just saying that I no longer believe that the sole responsibility lies with the sound makers. It seems to me that we each have a choice to blindly believe and act according to our conditioned avoidance of our experience. Or…we can inquire and see that we have no such obligation.

What does it mean to be truly free? Can we explore that openly, without clinging to presuppositions or conclusions.

Life is messy. I can’t figure it out.

But what if I don’t have to?


About the Author

Luis Campos - February 9, 2017

Celebrity is a type of slavery through purchasing a better version of ourselves in another human being. It is two objects trying to become whole. These supposed objects were never in need of anything but something artificial to appear as though one can separate and then be made whole.

The enlightenment story is the story of all this…

It seems benign but the self inflicted violence and subtle ostracization of ourselves even within the groups that we supposedly belong to are on a massive scale and have artificially democratized us to make us seem that we the individuals are FREE!

It is a perfect system or better said a perfect storm of isolating ourselves from one another.

Thank you,

The Pursuit of Truth Is Violence | discovering truth without all the dogma - February 10, 2017

[…] P.S. – This post was partially inspired by another blog post I published today on the website for the podcast I do with Luis Campos. You can read that post here if you’d like: http://completelyordinary.com/celebrity-dangerous-teachings-and-responsibility/ […]

Baz - February 10, 2017

Celebrity, betterment, self-help, to me are all tarred with the same brush; separation : yet also blessed with the same fragrant scent ; life.

Why anything *at all* exists is a wonder.

To be honest I am feeling all loving about everything at the moment – it won’t last (lol) –
Teal my be a fraud or a saint but as we know we need both saints and frauds to be able to have a scale, one is a benchmark for the other, each are codependent, mutually arising, two sides of the same coin and only together , having opposites can the wonder of life occur at all.

Love to all

pip - February 10, 2017


Whilst I get the point that people need to tune in and take responsibility for their decisions. There is a distinct difference between those who preach dangerous teaching and their followers.. The followers are usually coming from a place of naivete and innocence . where as the psychopath isn’t. The psychopath knows full well that they are defrauding people out of money…. I really don’t see it the same way as you .. Honestly the way you write here reminds me of Ben Smythe ..

    completelyordinary - February 10, 2017

    Hi Pip,

    Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    It’s a tricky thing to sort out. So tricky, in fact, I am beginning to suspect it may be impossible.

    So as I wrote, I’m not intending to suggest that lying or doing mean things is nice or even okay. I don’t know how to know that. And it doesn’t feel good to me when I see people doing mean things or lying.

    My preference is for honesty and kindness. I would like it if people would be honest and kind.

    What I am saying in this post is that I personally started to wake up from my personal delusion that people who lie and do mean things are the bad guys whilst the victims are the good guys.

    That was my delusion. That is what I am saying.

    And I now question that and realize that there aren’t the neat and tidy answers I once thought there were.

    I used to write indictments of Rajneesh and the like precisely because I believed that they were the bad guys who were doing harm.

    But now I see that harm that may occur as a result of the lies and unkindness of Rajneesh or anyone else is not solely on the shoulders of Rajneesh et al.

    I spoke with a guy who was still entranced by Rajneesh over 30 years after having left Rajneeshpuram.

    I saw him as the victim – the good guy and Rajneesh as the bad guy.

    I am simply saying that I now see the one-dimensional view that I once believed to be true as not believable.

    Rajneesh was a little man. As far as I know, he never pulled a trigger on anyone. And I don’t believe he blackmailed people.

    He just made sounds.

    The man who left Rajneeshpuram and has remained victimized for 30 years, by his own account, nothing happened. He just went to Rajneeshpuram and got a new name, then submitted to some spell of sounds for 30 years.

    And I don’t believe that we have to be victims to sounds.

    Sure, in our naivete, we can become spellbound in a sense. But do we have to remain that way? Can’t we wake up from the trances through honest self-inquiry?

    And who can take responsibility for that? Rajneesh? Teal? My parents? My teachers?

    Or me?

    I honestly see this as an optimistic and empowering inquiry. Because if I am a victim of the people who make deceitful claims and cast spells with words, I am in big trouble. But if through my own inquiry I can discover that I am already free, none of their sounds are actually dangerous. I am not a victim in that case.


Alison Lufkin - February 10, 2017

My reply was stimulated by this sentence:

“It seems to me that we each have a choice to blindly believe and act according to our conditioned avoidance of our experience. Or…we can inquire and see that we have no such obligation.
What does it mean to be truly free? ”

This question is very alive in me these days. As yet, I’m not finding choice, or at least I’m not finding it in my personality. Life seems to have choice, but I cant always harness it.
I am capable and used to doing both of the above. I would say that blindly acting according to conditioning and avoidance is very common for me. In fact, its most of what I do, first, except for now and then.
Seems to come in clusters, as if one act of freedom “sticks” to others, and I find myself on a roll, and then fear arises again, or something, a bad nights sleep, an argument, a piece of experience I find to be too much….. maybe I reign my freedom in to restore some kind of balance, and I return to my conditioned ways of coping.

There are days when I inquire more deeply and perhaps more freely. But what is that freedom that I sometimes find myself in the midst of? Is it my freedom? So far it seems to be life’s freedom, kind of a moment of awakeness when I can “see” that inherent freedom is there, available to every living thing, always. I just cant find choice so far, though I am sincerely open to the idea of it.
My moments of freedom seem to have more to do with how I slept, what is in my stomache, how much appears to be at risk, the stories I’ve accumulated, the agendas of the day, the weather…
I love the invitation to experience sounds. The idea of it, the creative idea you write, speaking of “sounds” versus inherent meaning is very compelling. It may be so compelling that I will remember it and the memory will stimulate a new response. I’d like to think so. I know the idea of sounds is creative enough that it will push some other stale ideas out of the way.
Which will be more compelling? … the novelty of a free idea? … or the inertia of all my other conditioned responses to my stickiness to someones sounds. I imagine there is a cumulative effect. It seems that novelty accumulates until a threshold is reached and I spill over into new behavior and courage. I wonder if that accumulation of novel ideas is the freedom from obligation that you write about.

    completelyordinary - February 10, 2017

    Hi Ali,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. That is really beautiful.

    I like your question: “is it my freedom?” My experience sounds similar to yours in that regard. Life is apparently not interested in my agenda or my ideas about what is right or good or how things should be. So it definitely doesn’t seem like my freedom to me. It flies in the face of my freedom. It’s freer than my freedom.

    After all, my freedom would a lot safer and more comfortable than what actually happens.

    I’m glad to hear that notion of sound as sound “struck a chord” (pun intended) with you. I find it very interesting to notice how much I’ve been focused on the content, the stories, the interpretations versus the raw experience such as the sound as sound.


Annie Charnley - February 10, 2017

Amazing article.

This reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson, who talked about how we’re hypnotised by language.

And Terrance McKenna, who said that ego is the problem, (with the world, with us).

I love the simple realisation that sounds are just sounds, and like Paul Hedderman says ‘we give everything all the meaning it has.’

Chris Stewart - February 13, 2017

I’m someone who realized too late I had been worshipping celebrities. The conditioning is inevitable. Particularly in the West. Having said that, I realize there are celebrities I still worship. However, spiritual teachers insinuate (to me) that they have attained something greater than any celebrity status, which is essentially a constant realization of their Divine nature. Or enlightenment or whichever word you’d like to use. But they still need pain medicine when they’re in physical pain, and they still have to sit on the toilet like everyone else. To me, many pretend they don’t; however, and I have problems with that. Great topic. Thanks guys.

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