This is a review of a book which came to us via a friend. It’s called ‘Cosmic Ordering,’ author one Jonathan Cainer, and the blurb says: Turn the universe into your obedient servant. Cosmic ordering works for millions – and it can easily work for you. Whether you seek love, money, power, luck or success, you can have it. Often almost instantly.
The natural reaction to this is to say, what utter balls! But, mindful of the fact that authors are not usually responsible for the blurb on their jackets, let’s turn to the text itself. Purportedly written by your (or my) guardian angel, it states: ‘you want to know how you can fill your life with more of what you want – and less of what you don’t want. I’m here to tell you that this is gloriously possible. And what’s more, it’s easy.’
And, on the next page: ‘I am the genie of the lamp, your wish-granting fairy, your lucky leprechaun.’
Now, I have an instinctive dislike of self-help books which portray the universe as no more than a kind of giant Argos store where you can just order up whatever you want. And so far, that’s what this book seems to be. A page or two further on, my angel reiterates,’my job is to get you what you want…’ and then clarifies, ‘I did say want. I did not say need. Whatever you want, I’m here to supply it.’
Remember that, because we’ll come back to it. Want, not need. Chapter one goes on to say that unlike the fairy stories, you can have an infinite number of wishes. You can wish for whatever you want, at any time you want.
Ah, but then we find there’s a problem. Really? You astonish me. Well, the first caveat is that you can’t ask for something – like the Koh-i-Noor – that belongs to someone else. Because that would put your angel in conflict with that of another person and result in a stalemate. OK; I can see that. Besides, I don’t really want the Koh-i-Noor; I wouldn’t know what to do with it. But if I want to win the lottery I can’t do that either because that would put me in conflict with thousands – possibly millions – of others wanting the same thing. This is not a new concept; in this scene of Bruce Almighty shows what happens when the all-powerful Bruce says yes to everyone’s request:
OK I’ll have to upload that later as I’m in the library right now. But basically it’s chaos: nobody’s happy.
Right, so I can have anything I want whenever I want but I can’t win the lottery or have something that belongs to someone else. But anything else I just ask for and it’s mine, right? I mean, you are the genie of the lamp: my wish is your command. Right?
Well, not exactly: in subsequent chapters we learn that if we want something hard or far-fetched we have to put in a lot of work to make it happen (it’s no good wishing to be a famous author if I haven’t written anything yet); that if you’re in a hole the best way out may be to crawl through a tunnel; that if you are in a terrible situation, contentment may be a better solution than being removed from your circumstances; that the dead cannot be reanimated but that you can be helped to accept their passing; that an attitude of gratitude is helpful and a desperate longing can drive away the thing you desire, and so on. It’s all beginning to sound terribly familiar – and when I get to the final description of ‘how to order what you want’ it’s practically indistinguishable from many kinds of prayer and meditation. In short, these ideas are not new: they are prevalent in most major world religions and practised in many kinds of prayer and meditation. And it’s not that I have a problem with any of it: it’s just not what the book purports to be about. And when, towards the end, we are told that most people don’t really know what they want so they have to dig deep and ask for guidance I begin to ask, how is this want, as distinct from need? That of course is not defined. Very little is: it’s not that kind of book.
It wasn’t a complete waste of time: I did get one or two nuggets from it. And it could be worse; it doesn’t try to extort money for courses or enroll you in any kind of cult. But if this book was PPI, I’d be calling my solicitor right now.
Still, if you want to – ahem! – order the book, here it is:
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