Ask and It Is Given Book Review
Ask But You Might Be Taken
By the time Jerry and Esther Hicks agreed to let Hay House publish , it was 2005, and they were well into what has since gone full cycle as Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your DesiresAbraham-Hicks and evolved into a lukewarm sideshow.
Jerry and Esther Hicks had been touring since the 1980s, audience sizes increasing, becoming more widely known with the support of high profile advocates like Wayne Dyer and Oprah Winfrey. But what really blew the cork out of the bottle was Rhonda Byrne's , a huge indy hit that leaned on Esther Hicks' Teachings of Abraham, especially the Law of Attraction for inspiration. The Secret (Extended Edition)
A caveat about authorship: Jerry and Esther Hicks list themselves as authors, but according to them, the entire book was channeled, word for word, through Esther from a "nonphysical entity" known as Abraham. Jerry has said that part of their deal with Hay House was that not a single world could be changed. So all the "teachings" belong completely to Esther and Jerry, her editor, as far as anyone who walks the earth and cashes checks is concerned.
Like many who read The Secret as well as this book, I like the message of positive thinking and personal responsibility enough that I shrugged past what, now, seem to be glaring errors and, ultimately, an amalgam of other peoples' ideas, many of them more than a century old. Nothing is new in these pages, except the marketing hooks.
I decided to read Jerry and Esther Hicks' Ask and It Is Given again and see if the fit still felt good. Here's what I found.
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Ask And It Is Given: The Teachings of Abraham - Jerry and Esther Hicks
Ask And It Is Given, Learning To Manifest Your Desires by Jerry and Esther Hicks is a title full of promise for a book with little if anything original to deliver.
Whatever credibility Jerry and Esther Hicks and Abraham might once have had as it helped them win over audiences, driving around the country on their "Monster Bus" with the legend, "Life is supposed to be fun," attached to the back, now seems a mystery, having reread this book.
Ask And It Is Given might be better titled, Seth For Narcissists or some play on the other versions of New Age thought from which all of their ideas seem to have been... let's say, "acquired," for lack of a nicer word.
Trouble is that when you take Jane Roberts' Seth Books, L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology, Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, some aspects of modern Christian thought and the ideas of several other authors from the New Thought Movement of the early Twentieth Century and you toss them all in a sauce together, you're as likely to get the worst of each as you are the best.
Esther and Jerry Hicks got the worst. No contest.
Possibly the most troubling feature of what Jerry and Esther Hicks and Abraham claim to be the "Teachings of Abraham" is that the basic claims are so fabulous no rational person would believe them if not tricked out in a clever sales pitch that reduces everything to processes or "games," as they call them in the book.
First and most ravishing is the claim that everyone has total freedom to create whatever reality they want, "no exceptions." The converse of this is total responsibility, of course, which is what seduced most of us in the beginning.
But you get into trouble when you try to apply it to real world situations.
According to the teachings of Abraham and consistent with what they insist is the most powerful law in the universe, the Law of Attraction, each of us chooses our time of birth as well as death, making every death a suicide. (I am not making this up. Honest.) It gets worse.
Pressed to clarify this "teaching" in subsequent workshops, Esther Hicks (Abraham) was asked to explain how all three-thousand victims of the World Trade Center disaster could have chosen to die that morning in a horrible conflagration none of them could have seen coming.
Stating, as usual, that there are "no exceptions. It is law,"
Esther meandered around this preposterous claim by reminding listeners of the few non-victims who canceled their flight that day or rescheduled for another day and were spared.
She also mumbled about how a bomb attempt had previously been made on the facility, which meant people working there must have known it was a target.
This, she concluded, proved her point that people jumping from ninety stories up to avoid being consumed in fire and others sitting calmly at their desks when a jetliner came through the windows--all were dying by choice, then and there.
Were this claim not sickening and disgustingly disrespectful to the victims and their families, you might be able to laugh.
The idea of creating your own reality was lifted from Jane Roberts' Seth, by the way, but Jerry and Esther Hicks dumbed down Seth's version considerably, probably to make it accessible to less educated or more gullible followers, until it became mean and goofy.
There are a couple of cliches that make my hair stand on end.
The new age one is: "...who you really are," as if what you are living is some odd brew of who you really aren't.
Jerry and Esther Hicks version arrives when she is explaining that your ultimate freedom and ultimate power is part of some bargain you enter into "when you come into this physical body."
They never explain who the bargain is with, but given other aspects of the teachings, they seems to be implying that it's God or, as they say, "Source: "Do you know how loved you are? Do you know how adored you are?"
Easy enough, of course, to accept that you are given life by God and are "blessed." Nothing so unusual about that.
But there's a problem: if you came into the world, direct from God, with all this power and ultimate freedom, what went wrong? Obviously, you're not living that way.
This is where Scientology lends a hand. The problem is that you forgot.
Fortunately, for a fee, Jerry and Esther Hicks, with Abraham as their authority, will help you remember your eternal being-ness.
But if you want to follow their road map with the tedious emotional guidance scale they inflict on you, your threshold for boredom needs to be very high.
For me, the place where the wheels actually come off and show this collection of wisdom to be, not the teachings of an eternal "nonphysical entity," as they describe Abraham Hicks to be, with access to all wisdom since the beginning of time, but the concoctions of exploitative hucksters who take strands of legitimate wisdom from multiple sources and patch them into a single package of nonsense that falls apart upon examination.
Wise people are clear in what they have to say. That's part of the deal with penetrating insight.
With Jerry and Esther Hicks, there is a continuous bouncing back and forth between the claims that your thoughts create your reality (You get what you think about, whether you want it or not.) and another that "It's a vibrational universe" in which your vibrations attract like vibrations.
They also claim that your thoughts attract similar thoughts and so forth. Then, at one point, they conflate the claims and say that your thoughts create vibrations which create your reality totally.
You, sir and madam, are responsible for Madagascar, global warming, Holland's tulips and the musical history of Fats Waller. Wherever did you find the time?
An overarching thread of foolishness starts when Jerry and Esther Hicks write that they admire Joseph Campbell's famous advice that, to achieve happiness, you "follow your bliss."
The Esther, Jerry and Abraham Hicks version of this is that you look (or reach) for thoughts that "feel good."
Gradually, you change your "emotional set point." Not a bad idea, but then, they go off into hyperspace.
The make a quantum leap from feeling good to feeling joy. It's the difference between inspired passion and giddy narcissism.
Kids, these are two different things, but they make the leap without any interval or step between.
One minute, Jerry and Esther Hicks are encouraging you to find thoughts that feel good. They next, you are told that your purpose in life is to find "joy."
Joy is something we can all appreciate. The joys of a new birth or music that touches your soul are wonderful.
But is that really my purpose in life? What about passion and desire? What about the mellow sensation of being "in the flow?"
What about efforts to reach a goal, the struggles of creativity and the integration of imagination into reality?
Expanding on this, Jerry and Esther Hicks (on stage as Abraham) declared that you should "joy, joy, joy" your way to happiness, not work hard and struggle.
Told that this is a Pollyanna-like approach to life, Abraham advises sagely that "Pollyanna was a happy ending."
Nobody has yet reminded them that Pollyanna was also fiction.
Alternatives To Ask and It Is Given - If You're Looking For Real Spiritual Answers
Esther Hicks teaches that life is supposed to be easy, that all you need to do is change over to happier, healthier thoughts (or is it vibrations?) to become both happier and healthier. No proof is given, and the inspirational teacher never appears in public except under controlled conditions.
The following teachers offer alternatives with more depth and complexity. None of them tell you that fulfillment is supposed to be easy. Value requires effort.
Dr. Wayne Dyer's new book is nothing less than a spiritual autobiography. He expands on the stories that have fueled and reaffirmed his inspiration for all of his 70+ years.
How staying awake to the moment, as much of it as you can gather can bring a rebirth that doesn't stop.
Four simple contracts with yourself to save you and the world around you.
The key phrase from Jerry and Esther Hicks's Ask and It Is Given:
You get what you think about, whether you want it or not.
What's your opinion on this book? - Give it a number...
On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?
So, what do you say? - Let's get your take on this review.
Esther Hicks still has adherents and followers, five years after the publication of this book. Are they onto something I missed?
What did you think of the ideas in this book?
For the record: Jerry and Esther Hicks on Death
For others, that is.
And death itself:
"'...death' is a matter of closing one's eyes in this dimension and literally opening one's eyes in the other dimension. And that, truly, is how all death is, no matter how it looks, up to that point.. The re-emergence into Source Energy is always a delightful thing."
Excerpted from the workshop in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday, September 25th, 2001
Note: This claim, that death is always "delightful" was dished out two weeks after the World Trade Center Disaster. For pregnant women jumping to their deaths from eighty floors in the sky, for professionals supporting families, for the captured passengers on commercial flights, a few with infants in their laps, death was a "delightful" experience
© 2011 David Stone