Mind Over Money
They shuffle their way through the door, a few shaking hands, others grabbing a quick hug before meandering toward the giant semi-circle of chairs. Sitting down, one woman pulls out a batch of needlework. A man is fiddling with a stereo in the corner, trying to get a microphone to work.Bijan Anjomi is at the center of it all. Tucked below a painting of a rippling brook, Anjomi is waiting for his class to settle down. A former Mr. Universe, he looks like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. Clean, his shaved head shining in the light. But for the next couple hours he's treated more like a prophet. Or a banker. As the founder of Effortless Prosperity, the class is looking to Anjomi to make them rich."Effortless Prosperity is about how much work we do and how much reward we receive," Anjomi says. "All you have to do is be able to sell yourself and be open to receiving. And once you are open to receive, you become very prosperous."Part New Age spiritualism, part Forbes magazine, Effortless Prosperity melds faith and fortune. Pulling bits of thought and philosophy from Buddhism, Christianity and on down to Scientology, EP teaches that those who are willing to put their trust in God will reap a hefty bounty, both in the pocketbook and in matters of the heart. Anjomi promises if you give him a month, Effortless Prosperity will change your life. People seem to be buying it. In the seven months that EP has been open, more than 1,000 people have taken one of Anjomi's free, month-long seminars. The group now has their own radio show. Anjomi's book has made its way to L.A. and New York. Five satellite EP centers have opened up around the country, with Anjomi departing at the end of September to help set up more.It's all based on Anjomi's life and his search for peace and plenty. A commercial real estate agent by trade, he began laying the groundwork for his teachings several years ago. Through heavy meditation, Anjomi says that his "guide," a spirit that helps him steer through life, began telling him to give up control and let God handle things for him. Though Anjomi resisted at first, he says now his life is carefree and easy. He works only a few hours a week, teaching whenever he can. But Anjomi says Effortless Prosperity is about more than money. It bleeds into everyday life, making your relationships simple and giving you peace of mind.The key, Anjomi says, is a "combination of faith and letting go of the old perception that we don't deserve prosperity." EP classes teach people to see the small miracles of everyday life. Yet to the untrained ear, EP at times comes off as hokey. Anjomi's devout belief in spirit guides seems tailor-made for the "X-Files." His basic premise of waiting for the cash to roll in is a slap in the face to the American Dream. And when he urges his audience to look away from car accidents -- life is already full of too much pain, he says -- Anjomi sounds like Rev. Lovejoy on "The Simpsons." His exhortations are long on optimism, short on concrete solutions.Still, EP breeds intense loyalty. Rose Wiley has been coming to classes almost every night since May. She read about Effortless Prosperity on a flier and decided that it wouldn't hurt anyone if she just went to one class. "As soon as I walked in the door I knew I was in the right place," Wiley says. Though she now realizes that she was already practicing some of Anjomi's principles, having read a lot of metaphysics books over the years, Wiley says her life has become, well, effortless. "It's like being in the right place at the right time all the time," Wiley says. "You have no worries, no guilt, because it is all so effortless."Judith Pinkerton is the same way. She and her husband, somewhat skeptical, attended the very first EP class. Their goal: See if Effortless Prosperity could help sell their second house in St. George that was draining their income. At first it didn't work. Pinkerton kept the faith. Eventually, after allotting extra time for her "consciousness to shift," selling the house, and life in general, became easy. "When you shift perspective, it's amazing how things happen to you," she says. "The whole world changes color, and you really open up to the receiving."As class comes to an end, Anjomi asks everyone to stand and hold hands. He leads them through a chant designed to open the heart to receiving -- "All that life is is mine to use. The law of circulation is active in my life now. I give generously. I receive very, very abundantly. And so it is." Anjomi rings a small bell to signify the releasing of negative energies, letting the positive flow in."Your father said, 'You have to work hard to make it. Money doesn't grow on trees.' But it does," he says. "Life is not suffering. It is a joy to be alive. Life should be effortless."