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?