Every few months I do a review on a popular book. This one I read on a recommendation, but I can’t recommend it.
Dr. Joe Dispenza has some great quotes, like: “A memory without the emotional charge is called wisdom.” And, “Change as a choice, instead of a reaction.” I’m sure these quotes, and his desire to help people become better people, has helped folks. But I still can’t recommend this book.
That’s because other quotes are closer to Buddhism than realism, and, for me as a Christian, sound like the serpent talking to Eve. For example, “To be empowered—to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are…. Once you feel this way, memorize this feeling; remember this feeling. This is who you really are….”
No, it’s not who I am. It’s not even close. I am not divine. If I were, we wouldn’t have cancer. Or cats. Or ear hair. Speaking of things I don’t like…
Others have taken the author to task for his “science.” Since I’m no scientist (nor is the author), I’d like to focus instead on the theology being taught, and contrast it with Christianity. Dr. Joe teaches a doctrine of looking within, of focusing on our inner selves to find divine happiness. This is just a short list to demonstrate the contrast of Dr. Joe’s New Age religion to Christianity.
- Joe teaches that success and joy is within you: P.300 “I fear that this so-called recipe for ultimate success in life has kept us looking outside of ourselves for answers and true happiness, when the real answers and true joy have always been within.”
- The Bible teaches success and joy come from God, that deceit is within you: Philippians 3:3, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in the flesh.” And Psalms 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” And Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things.”
- Joe teaches that we can create a new mind for ourselves: p.299 “You are a multidimensional being who creates your reality… you are going to have to lose your mind and create a new one.”
- The Bible teaches that our minds are transformed by God: Romans 12:2, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
- Joe wants you to pray to the Universal Consciousness within yourself for yourself: p.310 “It’s time to turn to the power within you, introduce yourself to it, and tell it what you want to change about yourself… it is real. It already knows you it doesn’t judge you. It only loves. Say to it ‘Universal consciousness within me and all around me, I have been _____ and I ….”
- The Bible teaches us to pray to the Father through the Son for His will: John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
- Joe teaches that you are God: P. 303 “The greatest habit you will ever create is the habit of expressing the divine through you. That is when you inhabit your true nature and identity. It is to inhabit self.” p.312 “I want you to move into a state of being. It is time to change your energy and broadcast a whole new electromagnetic signature… become it… to be empowered—to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are.”
- The Bible teaches that God alone is God: Isaiah 43:10 “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.”
Much of this book reminds me of Star Wars. George Lucas has been open about borrowing his “Force” ideas from Buddhism and Taoism, as a way of bringing spiritualism into his movies. Dr. Joe Dispenza has not been so open. However, an overview of the schools he has been connected with helps explain where he is coming from. I believe all the information below came from Dr. Joe’s site, Amazon’s book site, the school’s sites or Wikipedia, but there could be sites I don’t remember. I tried to go to original sources, not those upset with Dr. Joe or his teaching.
His bachelor’s degree (I never could find what it was in) is from Evergreen State College, his Dr. of Chiropractic is from Life University. But his other connections help to understand the New Age leanings in the book.
- He is a faculty member at Quantum University in Honolulu, Hawaii. This school’s accreditation is by an organization in India. I know nothing about it, but would guess they don’t serve hamburgers for lunch.
- The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York. This is a non-accredited New Age retreat center. It started from the teachings Eastern meditation teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.
- The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to the interweb, Amrit Desai, who was a disciple of Indian yoga master Swami Kripalu, started the school. It focuses on Yoga and other eastern religious thought.
- Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment(RSE) is located in Washington state. This school is the most interesting. J. Z. Knight, who claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior named Ramtha the Enlightened One, established the school in 1988. I read that, “the school bases its teachings on these channeling sessions.” If so, it would be a helpful place to go if one needed schooling in the art of war in 33,000bc.
- Joe taught at Ramtha, but doesn’t often mention this school. On the back of this book he highlights the film he was in called “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” which was produced to promote Knight’s teaching. In googling the movie, I read that it got a Pigasus Award for “the media outlet that reported as factual the most outrageous supernatural, paranormal or occult claims.” I have not seen the movie.
- Their four cornerstones of this school are: 1) The Statement, “You are god.” (I wonder what the real God thinks about that) 2) The mandate to make known the unknown, 3) The concept that consciousness and energy creates the nature of reality, 4) The challenge to conquer yourself.
Is Dr. Joe a god? His book forward and website claim postgraduate training in neurology, neuroscience, brain function and chemistry, cellular biology, memory formation, brain imaging, neuroplasticity, epigenetics, psychoneuroimmunology, aging and longevity. I could find no school names or evidence of these claims, but if they are true, and he understands it all, maybe his is a god.
I read this book on a recommendation, but I can’t recommend it.
5 thoughts on “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
Thank you for writing this! It was refreshing to see a perspective like my own. In the online world of entrepreneurship, people are grasping for straws trying to become the next 7-figure earner. I love that you validate your thoughts with scripture. Robyn Graham
I enjoyed your article about Dr. Joe, however I am a little confused as to your idea of how Dr. Joe thinks. Being a Christian, I believe that God is in me, with me, and all around me. That being said, why can’t I express God through me. If I want to change my mind, can’t I ask God to assist me in that to his glory? I am just a little confused as to your interpretation of his ideas.
Great question, which is why I believe this book is so dangerous. It is a shadow of the Truth, a twisting of God’s word. Your question points out the problem. Who is God, is He transcendent and holy, totally and utterly and eternally existing on His own, as the great I AM, or is he subservient to me, a part of me that I can control? You ask, “why can’t I express God through me?” God in His grace can and does choose to express Himself through His creation, but I don’t get to demand that He express Himself through me. His statement, p.312 “I want you to move into a state of being. It is time to change your energy and broadcast a whole new electromagnetic signature… become it… to be empowered—to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are.” is a lie. You are not divine. There is only one divine God.
Your second question ‘If i want to change my mind, can’t I ask God to assist me in that to his glory?” Surely, we can and must be transformed in our minds to the Glory of the Father Romans 12:1-2. He has promised to assist that through the renewal of our minds through His Word, the Bible. But that is not what this book teaches. Again, quoting from the author an my review, he says, p.299 “You are a multidimensional being who creates your reality… you are going to have to lose your mind and create a new one.” Absolutely false teaching here. We must not create our own reality or lose our mind. We renew our minds through God’s word so that we see His reality, truth as God sees it. Christianity is about submission to God, trust in His work on the cross and following Him. it is never about trusting in some reality that we create. We are fallen.
It is a subtle twist of the facts of Scripture, a shadow of the Truth, but not the truth, and as such quite dangerous.
Hey, I haven’t read or listened to as much of Dispenza’s work as others surely have, but in criticism of the repeated and false notion that we are divine and God – even if God can be in and with us – I still want to point out that I have heard parts from him that are in line with the the right perspective.
In one of his guided meditations (Blessing of the energy centers, which is one of his fundamental ones), after envisioning wholeness and health he tells the listener to finally surrender these thoughts and emotions (prayers?) to a greater mind for it to organize everything in a way that’s best for us – something that we’re not in a position to do – that it’s not our job. That sounds like an admission of God, without explicitly saying so. Necessary and better than nothing, even if not consistently or coherently presented.
Sometimes I think people (especially consciousness researchers) seem to know that God exists and that the individual self isn’t equal to God without actually understanding that they know. I hope his work continues to help people, and in doing so that they recognize that there’s something infinitely greater than themselves.