Healing readers: Hey, it's a living

April 25, 1999|By San Francisco Chronicle

How-to books promising ways to achieve both worldly ambitions and inner peace are a booming niche in today's self-help market. There's Suze Orman's "The Courage to Be Rich," Iyanla Vanzant's "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up," and even the Dalai Lama's "handbook for living" -- "The Art of Happiness." Last year, the big spiritual how-to's sold between 500,000 and 750,000 copies each.

But only one of these many books comes with a guaranteed daily meditation-prayer for every buyer by the author himself.

That would be "How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have," a new mix of Eastern meditation, simplified Western psychology, common sense and fortune-cookie aphorism ("Money can't buy happiness") from "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" mega-guru John Gray.

Author-entrepreneur Gray, 47, a former Transcendental Meditation monk whose "Mars/Venus" empire now encompasses sequels, videos, workshops, counseling centers, a board game and a forthcoming cable-TV talk show, does weekly hands-on healings near his home in Marin County, Calif. But he says he also spends several hours a day sending "healing energy" and "blessings" to his millions of readers.

"I can just think of the person and send them energy," explains Gray, a former personal assistant to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. "The blessing is helping them to know what they want and get what they want; the healing energy is to heal the blocks or the sickness in their bodies."

He does this, he says, with the aid of such spiritual beings as the Virgin Mary and Krishna, who appear to him as visions in his mind's eye. "I spend half the time sending out the energy, half the time drawing out negative energy from [readers'] lives," he says. "It's just like I'm doing a long-distance healing on them."

Luckily, having what he wants helps Gray get rid of all the negative energy he soaks up; he "decharges" it out into nature. "I sit by the pool, or sit by the garden and put my hands out. I go for a walk in the oak forests of Marin County, and it just pours off of me."

So, yes, he says, "I'm a spiritual healer. But I don't say that in any lofty way. I mean, it's like a job."

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