Norbu Chen

A somewhat inaccurate review of 3 chapters in
William A. Nolen's book. (Very critical)

The following is from a Yahoo message board HERE by sombody named "Danny". It's not really a fair representatoon of the book. You can read the chapters yourself as they are now included on this site.

October 16, 2004

I found an interesting book in the library about Norbu Chen. It's published by Random House in New York copyright 1974. In the book, Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle, William A. Nolen, a M.D., devotes 47 pages to exposing Norbu Chen as a "pompous, arrogant, and vulgar" (p 123) fraud. [Well, Nolen did say the words in quotes, but not the word "fraud" - this is Danny's own view. The following is what Nolen really said (Chapter 11): "Norbu Chen is a difficult man to put on paper. He is pompous, arrogant and vulgar; he is also humorous, warm and clever. He is a master of double-talk, and some of the things he says are prime examples of the "bullshit" to which he so often refers." Nolen does point out that Norbu Chen charged dearly for his services, $500 per treatment in 1972, which would be $2,800 in 2013 dollars.] Nolen spent a great deal of time investigating Chen's claims and visited him in Texas.

The parallels to other known frauds are astonishing.

He was in the Marine Corps and fought in Korea. He has a long history of lying about his background and accomplishments. He made claims in the sixties about working for the Kennedy campaign. He changed his name in 1972 and started making claims about his training to be a healer that can be traced to a popular work of literature. [Magic and Mystery in Tibet, 1929, Alexandra David-Neel.] He is described as very temperamental and prone to angry outbursts when physicians or skeptics questions him on the specifics of his "gift."

On page 125 Nolen does an excellent job of illuminating Norbu's character as well as documenting Chen's admission of fraud.

"Every now and then Norbu would talk about the gullibility of people. "A few years ago this 'past-life reading' stuff was popular, so I pretended to do it. Some guy came to me with narcolepsy (a condition which the patient often drifts off to sleep unwillingly and at any time). He was six feet four inches tall and two hundred and fifty pounds and all man. I told him that in one of his past lives he was a hermit and lived in a cave, and some guy used to come in once in a while and suck his dick. He didn't want to remember that, so he kept dropping off to sleep.

"An old woman came to me and I told her that in one of her previous lives she was the Queen of Sheba. But she had stuck a corncob up King Solomon's ass and that's why she's white now. "And can you imagine? They both believed me. How dumb can you get?"

I don't know many people who would be surprised to learn that a guy who makes bizarre statements like this is a sex offender. [Totally unwarranted comment by the reviewer. It's more of a reflection on the reviewer than on Norbu Chen. There is no suggestion in Nolen's book of this. And he overlooks the possibility that Norbu Chen was merely yanking Nolen's chain with such statements.]

The most striking and bizarre account of Norbu's character is on page 117.

Norbu claimed to get his psychic powers from the practice of "Rolang" "Roland means dancing with a corpse. You lie down on a dead body, and a body that's been dead about seven days, and you put your mouth on its mouth. Then the corpse gets up and starts dancing around. You hang on to that corpse while it jumps up and starts dancing around. You hand on to that corpse while it jumps and dances, and you keep your mouth on its mouth." [This appears to be language lifted from Alexandra David-Neel.]

This guy seems pretty unbalanced to me.

When Nolen checked into Norbu's background he received urgent phone calls from Norbu urging him not to investigate him. Nolen checked the offices in Harris County, Texas and found that Norbu Chen was really Charles Vernon Alexander II who changed his name legally to Norbu Chen on August 22, 1972. Alexander gave his birth date as November 13, 1934. Nolen obtained a copy of his birth certificate that revealed he was born in Lexington, Kentucky on November 13, 1924.

Alexander was briefly committed to a state mental hospital. Nolen doesn't believe it was because he had a mental problem. He spoke to an attorney that knew Alexander well who stated "they stuck him in this state hospital while they were trying to decide what to do with him. Whatever he was, even in prison, he was nothing but trouble for everyone." (p. 136)

So we know he was incarcerated for something prior to 1961. Between 1961 and 1971 Nolen believes he lived in North Caroline and in Wisconsin. He walked away from the State Mental Hospital in 1961 and became Norbu Chen in 1972. [Another distortion: he "walked away" from the hospital after they released him. Also the case suggests that he was committed to the hospital because there were no charges he could be held on.]

He had many different aliases. He went by Sam Jones – the name of the doctor who owned a house he was renting. He also went by Mike or Michael Alexander.

Most of his claims about studying with Llamas can be traced back to a book by Madame David-Neel entitled Magic and Mysteries in Tibet.

Colin Dangaard wrote about him in the Chicago Daily News on August 27, 1973 p. 15. He stated that "Norbu Chen sees about 20 patients a week." He told Nolen he charges $500.00 per patient. His minimum earnings would be $10,000 a week or $520,000 a year.

This doesn't sound like any legitimate healer I've ever heard of.

Nolen concludes his second chapter on Chen by stating, "I haven't written about Norbu Chen, his background and his credentials to discredit him; his record speaks for itself. I've written this chapter about him because he affords an excellent example of the fact that intelligent people, well-meaning people, can easily be persuaded by "healers" particularly when those intelligent people want to believe." (p. 138)

It's a question of people wanting to believe something so strongly that they believe it regardless of the evidence

There's a web site about Max, Interview with A Rock Star: Max the Crystal Skull Reveals All By Lori Lothian that states that Jo Ann Parks was Norbu Chen's secretary. http://www.accessnewage.com/articles/humor/skull.htm

I wouldn't be surprised if Norbu has a history or fraud and/or sexual misconduct. The best place to start would be with county records in all the places he was known to have resided – start with Harris County, Texas. Alexander is deceased, so these records are now public and can be obtained easily through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. If there is a history of fraud and sexual misconduct, it should be very simple to document. [Again, nothing to substantiate this, no facts - either prior to the post, which is already 10 years old and reproduced in many places on the web - or since. The reviewer is happy to throw out accusations but apparently found nothing, if he attempted this investigation.]

The library is closing now, so I'll post more next week.

Danny

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