Willie, Ya Gotta Get Into the Spiritual Thing
Like many I was saddened when I heard of Wayne Dyer’s passing, but hearing his name also brought back some Glasser interview memories for me. I began the interviews with Glasser for his biography in late 2003. During several of our early interviews Glasser talked about Dyer. He had attended one of Dyer’s presentations and was very glad that Dyer had written a cover endorsement for the book Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health. Not being all that knowledgeable myself, I mentioned to Glasser that I was surprised that he was so interested in getting an endorsement from Dyer when I felt that Glasser was so much more well known than Dyer. Glasser assured me that wasn’t the case. He realized that Dyer could tap into a spiritual market that he himself could not.
In his own words from our very first interview on September 26, 2003 –
Glasser: I’m still pretty healthy, and this, this Maine thing, that could be a big deal. They really want me there. They’ve heard me. I’ve been a big speaker at the ACA two years in a row. I’m speaking at the Michigan ACA in October, Wisconsin in February, these are big states, and then in March the state of Maine. And then, and then, a few days later I’m going from the state of Maine to the national, where I’m making four presentations now. And Mark Polk, the head of them, is firmly behind me and trying to get these ideas going. So I think there’s going to be some positive movement. I think it’s really, it’s really going to happen. And Wayne Dyer, that’s his letter, I read it, but, when I was on with him and, and you know, he had his daughter there and she sings and he was singing and all this thing, but he’s a really . . . Wayne Dyer is a good guy. His latest book is called There’s A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem. And, but when he describes what the spiritual solution is, it’s a relationship not only with God, but with the people around you. And so, uh, and then he recognized me in front of the audience. I had never met him, although he said, he said in the group, it was a big meeting there, and he said to the audience, that when he was starting out he had read two books and these books got him started on his path. One of them was Reality Therapy and the second was Schools Without Failure. He was working at that time in schools, I think. He then picked me out of the audience and had me stand up, and then explained how Dr. Glasser has written a new book called Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous To Your Mental Health. He gave me a very good plug and that was wonderful, but uh . . .
Roy: Where did this . . .
Glasser: This was in a conference in Ohio, in Cleveland, which was a spirituality conference, and uh, he’s . . . he’s spiritual, but he’s spiritual in a very tangible way. He’s not spiritual in that you should sit around and pray. You should go out and do your work, and, I can’t describe exactly, but boy the audience was mesmerized by it. And he talked about getting in touch with your spiritual side.
Roy: Is he spiritual but non-religious, or is he a . . .
Glasser: Well he mentions Jesus, but he mentions other religious leaders, too. It’s not, it’s not just one . . . he said that all religions kind of have a common core, which is basically to me the common core of all religions, if they practice properly, is the golden rule. I mean, I’m a firm believer in the golden rule. And anyway, I wrote him a letter afterwards, a nice little short letter. I don’t know what his letter says, and I don’t want to read it cuz I might be upset and it would screw up our thing here. But Linda says it’s a very good letter. That’s what she said. I said I’d appreciate it, because you have such a powerful influence on people, if you could, without mentioning me or the Warning book, cause I don’t want to ask him to push me or the book. If he would just say that he, too, has serious doubts about the overdrugging of people in our society, that would be enough. And I think he’s going to, which would be good because I saw how the people were just absolutely entranced by everything he said. I don’t threaten him at all, because he’s way, way too powerful and well known for me to threaten him. I’m one of the people on whose back he’s riding, you know what you said, because I’m about twenty years older than him, a little more than twenty. No, no, no, fifteen years exactly. Fifteen years older than him. He’s 63 and I’m 78. But, uh, so now if he’s going to get behind it, it could be very, very powerful. So I’ll read what he says and then I’ll write him back and support him a little bit. See he doesn’t use a computer. He only writes by pen.
Glasser: Yeh, see that letter. That’s the only way he writes, so, so he doesn’t use, and he wrote me, the blurb was all by pen, and he says he doesn’t want to use a computer. There’s something for him that’s unspiritual about the machine, but to me there’s something super spiritual about the machine. (laughter)
The first four books that Glasser wrote were by hand – Mental Health or Mental Illness (1960); Reality Therapy (1965); Schools Without Failure (1969); and The Identity Society (1972). He really appreciated being able to use a word processor for his writing. The handwritten Dyer endorsement that Glasser refers to appeared on the front cover of the Warning book and went like this –
“Dr. Glasser is a pioneer in every sense of the word. This is his most powerful contribution. We are being bombarded by the drug companies to put drugs into our brains to cure any and all difficulties. Dr. Glasser offers us a sensible preferred alternative to being drugged as our way of coping with life.” Wayne W. Dyer
During our second interview on October 17, 2003, Dyer’s name came up again.
Roy: The last time we were together you were very, very pleased, actually, because of a fax from Wayne Dyer . . .
Glasser: Oh yeh. Yeh.
Roy: . . . that indicated that he was planning to say something on a PBS special, I think in support of your ideas. The thing that caught my attention was how you went on about how big this was, and how big and important he was, you felt he was way bigger than you are . . .
Glasser: Right now, yes I think he is. I saw his audience of 400 people, when I had about 120 people in my group. He had more than twice the group that I had when I was in Cleveland. It was packed, and, I mean, they’re just hanging on his every word. Now Wayne Dyer has something that I don’t have, that I can’t have because I have a different belief system. Wayne Dyer’s book is, There’s a Spiritual Solution for Every Problem.
Roy: Right, right.
Glasser: And, my friend Frank, who’s just a moneymaker, he says, Willie, you gotta get into the spiritual part, you’re missing . . . (laughter) So, that’s, that’s what I’m using you for, you’re gonna, you’re gonna get me into the spiritual part here. (more laughter)
Roy: Well I, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you, but I actually, uh, I actually think of you as a secular Christian.
Glasser: (he chuckles) That’d be ok.
Roy: You know, because you’re . . .
Glasser: (chuckles again) I’m, I’m a secular Jew, too. (laughter)
Roy: Yeh, when I’m, so much of what I have observed, and so much of what I’ve read, uh, your ideas actually strengthen my Christian perspective, and uh . . .
Glasser: Yeh, I’m basically, really, I’m not a selfish person. I’ve never been. I’m willing to do this work for nothing and help people.
I guess you can say that Glasser stayed true to his agnostic underpinning, even as he recognized that he could have made some significant money catering to a spiritual audience. I think Dyer was staying true to his underpinning, too. As listeners and readers we seek information and experiences that help us make sense of the world, and that help us achieve personal satisfaction and peace. People relate to Dyer and to Glasser on a deeply personal level. I have found help from Glasser’s ideas as I travel on my spiritual journey even though he never presented himself as a spiritual guru.
Glasser respected Dyer as a fellow lecturer and author who wanted to help people make the most of their potential and live lives of happiness and peace. They said things differently and they reached a different audience, but they saw tremendous value in each other. I know that my life is better because of their influence.
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One of the best ways to learn about choice theory is to read Glasser’s recently published biography – Champion of Choice.
Thanks again Jim for your historical and perceptive insights
You are welcome, Ivan. Very good to hear from you! I want to encourage you in your good work.
Nice that you write this Jim! This past May, I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Wayne Dyer and opened the door to Glasser’s ideas and he told me exactly the same thing about how Glasser’s work influenced him early on when he was teaching at the University. I told Wayne about how Dr. Glasser was so pleased to have him endorse his book and he thanked me for telling him that. It was a special moment that we shared. He told me he thought he had healed himself of his leukemia and I believed him because I had seen him two years previous. To read that there were no signs of the disease when they did his autopsy was confirmation for me of the importance of Total Behaviour. Our thoughts, actions affect how we feel and what happens physically.
Thank you for sharing this, Maureen. I appreciate the affirmation of the accuracy of what Glasser related to me from his memory. I also appreciate the details regarding his overcoming leukemia.
Cool to read an excerpt of the interviews, felt like I was right there!