Tipping Sacred Cows:
The Uplifting Story of Spilt Milk and Finding Your Own Spiritual Path in a Hectic World

by Betsy Chasse

ATRIA Paperback and Beyond Words Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-582-70460-9.
Reviewed by Susan Schoch
Posted on 09/01/2014

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Betsy Chasse is one of the brilliant creators of a philosophical extravaganza that became the film "What the Bleep Do We Know?!" In "What the Bleep...," the filmmakers proposed connections between the theories of quantum physics and human spirituality. Chasse uses her new book, Tipping Sacred Cows, to say that spiritual enlightenment might be different from what the movie suggested. That maybe they got some things wrong in "What the Bleep...." That in fact, she's learned a lot since 2004.

Tipping Sacred Cows takes another look at the concepts involved, without any overwhelming scientific jargon but with references for those who want to know more. Chasse wants us to understand where her thinking changed and why, because it's the basis for her personal transformation. There is food for thought here, but no certainty. In her exploration of ideas, she "began to like the mystery of spiritual ambiguity." This is not a book that pushes a one-size-fits-all answer.

Instead, Chasse means to debunk the sacred cows that hold us back on our individual spiritual paths, things like expectations and fear. Her humor and fast-talking style are evident in this comment on a theory that many call the Law of Attraction:

This is a very complex, multilayered concept, which in our 'fast food, make it easy for me in three steps, please, because I don't really have the time or the energy to dig to the core of this concept, I'll just take the Cliffs Notes and run with it' world has been boiled down to the overly simplified idea that if you put out positive thoughts, good things (like cars) will come. I used to picture myself at Law of Attraction conventions wearing a t-shirt that says, It's about the inside, people. Seriously, how can the answer to anything be out there if it, by force of nature, is originating in here?

That last line is the essential discovery at the heart of this memoir. Chasse is a woman who has reclaimed her inner self, and found her answers there. As a child film star and model, it was appearance that mattered. Chasse earned a lot of money for her family and grew up pressured and spoiled. When puberty set in, and casting offices stopped calling, she absorbed the message of unworthiness just as fully as she had believed in her own exceptionality. It was a hard fall.

Years later, after creating a lucrative career as a movie producer, Chasse turned her back on it to start up a small business that came from her heart. The company failed. Her marriage ended in divorce, leaving her a financially-stretched single mother. "What the Bleep..." was a major film and an important recovery for her. She rode that wave for years, juggling the ideas as she went.

One morning, she woke up and knew her life was false. She lay in bed and every rationalization and explanation fell down. Her depression became unbearable. As Rilke put it, "there is no place at all that isn't looking at you. You must change your life." Gradually, that's just what Chasse did. She identified her particular sacred cows, picking and choosing which of them to topple. She worked toward a truer version of herself, and earned her voice, which has an edge.

At times her casual vulgarity and her insistence on hating her ex-husband can be strident, and even less appealing is an admission of once putting profit above friendship. That unpleasant exposure is intentional. Being strident or hurtful are just expressions of our shared fallible humanity. Tipping Sacred Cows asserts that what is worse is denying who we are, living a faux life. That can and does make us, and our culture, unwell. Betsy Chasse's bold memoir reveals her in all her flawed glory in order to show us the possibility for revival. It is a brave, intelligent, and compelling effort.

Betsy Chasse identifies herself as a filmmaker, author, speaker, and mother. She is best known as one of the creators of the film "What the Bleep Do We Know?!" and is at work on the follow-up movie, due out in 2014. She is also a featured columnist for multiple magazines and online sites. Find out more on her website.

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