The Modern Day Messiahs

In days gone by, our messiahs wore robes, parted seas, were conceived through miraculous circumstances and died for our sins.

And to receive the Word, and deliver it to their flocks, they usually needed donkeys, lots of sand, lightning, fire, floods and a mountaintop.

But today, thanks to the blessings of modern technology from DVDs and podcasts, to audiobooks and the Web, inner peace or salvation is just a nanosecond away. Never have the secrets to financial and emotional success been so easy to achieve, or at least find.

My spiritual guide and new BFF Marianne Williamson has created a monthly telephone conference call called the Miracle Matrix, which she bills as a "private, intimate community." Ironic, sure, but effective.

Really, you would have to be oblivious not to have seen or heard of at least a few of these modern day messiahs. They come in a never ending variety of flavas -- just like Ben & Jerry's ice cream!

And they're not like the press-savvy (starved?) demigods so loved by the previous generation -- Jerry Faldwell, Billy Graham, Jim and Tammy Faye Baaker (the last my makeover co-star in the indie hit "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"), even Jesse Jackson, with whom I recently marched in New Orleans. These stars of the '70s and '80s all had a heavy dose of ego and self-righteous indignation, and in regards to media coverage, subscribed to the ancient Buddhist teaching, "If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it…"

Where corruption and scandal seemed to plague these older holy heroes, the new breed of New Agers has discovered that they must actually practice what they preach.

I recently attended an intimate conference of 40,000, an audience hanging on words of wisdom from Tony Robbins. He talked ? a lot ? of his success working with buddies like Bill Clinton, Sly Stallone, Andre Agassi and Quincy Jones. Hey, if they can make it to the millionaires club after talking to Tony, why can't the rest of us?

Though I initially approached this world of self-help with a heaping dose of sarcasm, I confess, dear cyberfriends, I am now a true believer.

I was first introduced to this realm of positive thinking through Shirley MacLaine's book "Out on a Limb," which taught me about karma and the bigger picture, and frankly, saved my life. (Or at least saved me from myself.)

I then stepped up to "The Forum," formerly known as Werner Earhard's EST, which opened me up to living a life of integrity and functioning from complete consciousness, even when life truly sucks. Then, as my life headed to a dark, sad place full unwanted change, I found Robbins and Williamson, who helped me to put things in perspective, find my path, and get me back in touch with positive mojo.

In a society where pop culture is often confused with Culture and Hollywood, Washington and Madison Avenue fuse together, it's fair to say that we -- like Starbucks -- are all about the blend. Unless, of course, you're a talking about a polyester blend.

Think about it: Oprah has launched her Friends Radio Network. Music and fashion impresario Russell Simmons has written several books that provide the hip-hop generation with a guide to higher purpose. Design diva Donna Karan recently hosted a "wellness forum" that she explains as a place where science, art and intellect come together to confront the challenges one faces in life. She called upon friends and fellow kabbalists Demi and Ashton, yoga buddy Christy Turlington, actor Michael J. Fox, fellow fashion goddess Diane von Furstenberg, and even rock legend Lou Reed to sit on her panels with expert doctors and gurus including Williamson, Robbins and the Rev. Michael Beckwith -- the founder of the Agape Church and teacher of "The Secret."

No matter where or whom you get your guidance from, just get it. And get it your way ? that is to say customized. Real playas in the game of life are active participants, not followers. Rather than passively listen to our leaders, we need to learn.And we must keep them honest so that they unite, not fight. There's enough fighting centered around those ancient icons who rose up in the desert.

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