Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Curious Case V

What are Corky Ra and his successors asking the world to believe?

First and foremost, Corky wants Summum members, potential converts, and maybe even skeptics, to believe that he experienced a series of revelations from Summa Individuals. The entire edifice of his life’s work—the pyramid, the nectars, the book—is built on his claim that he was motivated to act by those extraterrestrials who, he maintained, first appeared to him on that October day in 1975.

This is a hard sell for most sentient beings, including those who have other religious commitments, those who are bewildered by being faced with many claimants to their religious loyalties, and secularists who are skeptical of any such claims. A salesman named “Corky” who was reared in Southern California asks us to believe that, while relaxing on his girlfriend’s couch, he entered another dimension and met a bevy of beautiful, blue, hairless humanoids of both genders who told him to build a nice little temple with a winery, to sell mummification services at $67,000 a pop—not a misprint; see summum.us’s sister site, summum.org—and to “rewrite” an old book? Really.

Second, they want us to believe that Corky’s revelations were on a par with those of other founders of religions, and that he has every right to be added to a list that includes Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed. And not just on a par with them; superior to them, because the Summa Individuals told him about something none of them knew, the “Principal” of Creation.

Well, no. Jews would consider his claim the height of chutzpah. Buddhist monks and nuns might feel a kinship with his emphasis on meditation but would be as aghast as a Buddhist can be at the sexual slant of his gospel. Muslims would treat him as a false prophet. Nonbelievers would consider him a charlatan. Christians would pray for him.

Third, Corky and his brain trust try to convince us that his use of The Kybalion was not plagiarism.

But, we might be forgiven if we ask, Why didn’t Corky just write his own book from scratch?

Anu Aua’s story about Ron Temu seems to be an answer to this question. Recall that Temu, on reading The Kybalion, recognized that it “complemented and confirmed the information he [Temu] received at Corky’s presentations.” He then showed it to Corky, who found that it “re-affirmed the things he [Corky] had been initiated into during his divine encounters.” Therefore, Anu Aua goes on, “when Corky was preparing to write a book about the Summum philosophy, he decided to use The Kybalion as an outline since this is essentially what The Kybalion discussed.”

This apologia assumes that somehow Summum Bonum Amen “Corky” Ra’s disciple Summum Bonum Anu “Bernie” Aua knows that, in his own words, “Corky started teaching about the principles . . . after he was initiated into them by . . . the Summa Individuals.” How can Bernie be so certain about this? Was he there? Did he have a visit from those extraterrestrials, confirming Corky’s story? Is he flying by the seat of his faith? Or is he complicit in what might be a massive case of pilferage?

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