Published December 07, 2012
John McAfee penned a yoga book in 2001 called "Into the Heart of Truth."
It contains the ramblings of a man who made way too much money, studied way too much Eastern philosophy, and then, in some absurdly cliche battle to find himself, moved to the tiny mountain town of Woodland Park, Colo., and opened a multimillion-dollar yoga retreat.
Every chapter or so, Mr. McAfee makes at least one lucid point.
"Self-observation is one of the most difficult things to master," he wrote in a book that now lists, used, on Amazon.com for a penny.
Self-observation is particularly difficult when you are rich enough to live in a reality of your own making.
Mr. McAfee, 67 years old, had made a fortune selling computer antivirus software. He then lost $100 million in the financial crisis of 2008, or so he claimed in a New York Times story. One can't believe everything Mr. McAfee says. He is an admitted prankster.
Earlier this year, he told Denver's alternative weekly, Westword, that he was starting a chain of "observational yoga studios," where customers would relax in easy chairs and eat snacks while they watched other people doing yoga.
The self-discovery guru claimed watching yoga offered as much benefit as actually doing yoga. He said he was also applying this concept to weight training and piano playing, but hadn't, as yet, had much success with the piano.
"There is a scientific basis for this, that through osmosis, as you watch others be active, the observation of something impacts yourself," he explained to Westword in a piece that at least raised the question of whether he was kidding in its headline.
Mr. McAfee has boasted on his blog, whoismcafee.com, that this was all in good fun. He said he also had fun making phony claims about discovering a legendary mind-altering drug that had been lost to history. He said his goal was merely to get more than 1,000 posts on a blog thread, a record for the online drug-culture discussion forum, Bluelight.
This much seems true about Mr. McAfee: After the financial collapse, he dumped many of his assets--his yoga palace in Colorado's "City Above the Clouds," estates in Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas, his fancy cars, and even his 10-passenger plane. Then he moved to Belize, where he's now in a whole lot of trouble.
Belize law enforcement authorities want to question Mr. McAfee about the mysterious shooting death of one of his beachside neighbors on Ambergris Caye. Instead of answering their questions, Mr. McAfee went into hiding with his 20-year-old girlfriend.
He wrote on his blog that he fled to Guatemala, fearing Belize authorities can't protect him from shadowy forces trying to kill him. Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has called him "extremely paranoid, even bonkers."
Like his yoga book, Mr. McAfee's side of the story is difficult to follow.
"I am a poor judge," he conceded on his blog. "If I am paranoid, it is a paranoid mind judging itself."
Self-observation, you see, has its limits. And so does law enforcement in a Central American nation.
After Mr. McAfee moved to Belize, he began donating money, starting up enterprises, and reportedly taking control of small, impoverished towns. He also started researching herbal medicines in a heavily armed jungle compound. Belize authorities became suspicious of a mad genius doing experiments in the jungle. They also suspected a meth lab, so they stormed his jungle compound in April.
Finding no meth, they set him free after a brief stint in jail. They continue, however, to detain some of his armed guards on weapons charges, Mr. McAfee wrote.
Mr. McAfee's big problem, however, started last month when his neighbor was found dead. The victim had argued with Mr. McAfee about his barking dogs, so, naturally, police wanted to talk to Mr. McAfee.
Instead of talking to authorities, Mr. McAfee began tweeting about his ordeal at twitter.com/officialmcafee. He also wrote blog posts claiming that he is innocent, and that Belize is a hotbed of corruption. He was also giving media interviews and allowing a film crew from Vice Magazine to follow him, turning a murder investigation into an international media circus.
He said he worries that whoever shot his neighbor was actually trying to shoot him. He said corrupt Belizean authorities are targeting him for donations. He spouted all kinds of theories, piling one scintillating piece of information onto the next.
Mr. McAfee also defended his many exploits with Belizean women as young as 17.
"I am wealthy and living in a country of extreme poverty," he wrote. "Parents here 'promote' attractive daughters to men with money constantly. It helps the families through 'trickle down' ... I am not foolish enough to believe that many young women could love a 67-year man. Being loved does not interest me much."
Mr. McAfee was detained in Guatemala on Wednesday for illegally entering the country. Then, on Thursday he was denied the political asylum he requested, clearing the way for his deportation back to Belize.
"We may think that only the paranoid or unbalanced have twisted perceptions, but we would be wrong," he wrote in his 2001 yoga book. "As perception becomes clearer ... we see the pettiness of our anger, the absurdity of our envies and the emptiness behind our ambitions."
We do not yet know the truth. But "Into the Heart of Truth" he shall go.
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. Contact Al at email@example.com or tellittoal.com)