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John Gray's big plans
Self-help author has a new book coming out, and that's just the start
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Talking to John Gray could be what it's like talking to the people who write questions for the TV quiz show "Jeopardy": Gray has an answer for just about everything.
Having trouble with your relationship with your significant other? He wrote a few books that you'll want to read.
Struggling through a lack of energy? Here's a diet for you.
Need advice on how to get what you want? He covered that in his latest paperback.
Wondering about God? Fret not, says Gray; he has heard angels sing.
He answers these questions with an Alex Trebek, isn't-it-obvious flair. Gray is supremely confident that his ideas not only work, but are the definitive maps to the fountain of youth, or happiness, or love -- whatever you're seeking.
Millions of readers have used Gray's maps, of course. He has made scads of money by packaging 1-2-3 advice into a self-help empire.
He is best known as the author of the best-selling book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus," and its associated "Mars and Venus" brethren. "Men Are From Mars ..." proposed the theory that, contrary to modern efforts to make men and women fly in the same orbit, the sexes are so different they might as well be from planets that are merely neighbors of Earth.
It was one of the most popular nonfiction books of the '90s, with over 6 million copies sold in the United States, according to HarperCollins.
The politics of Gray
And the best is yet to come, Gray says. For the next 10 to 15 years, he says he'll focus on teaching people "self-healing." Then, he wants to become a peace negotiator between bickering/warring nations.
"But I have no interest in politics right now," he says. "The world is not ready for my messages. I've got a whole -- it has evolved. If you get me talking about it, which I won't do because it's too distracting, I have a whole agenda, a whole political party -- what to do about poverty, what to do about drug addiction, what to do about economics, what to do about welfare, what to do about health policies.
"I have all these solutions, which right now would be inappropriate. The world is not ready for them yet."
For now, Gray will promote the things he believes the world is ready to hear: his latest books. "How To Get What You Want and Want What You Have" (HarperPerennial), originally released last year, is now hitting the paperback trail. And next month, Gray's latest hardcover, "Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus: Nine Principles for Lasting Love, Increasing Success, and Vibrant Health in the Twenty-first Century" (HarperCollins), hits bookshelves.
"'Practical Miracles' is going to be so big," he says. "It's really what my life has been preparing for. You get better and better in life. My tree is really blooming now."
If you could see Gray as he says this, you'd believe him. He's sitting in the backseat of a sleek limo, its windows as black as its paint. He's being zipped from one Atlanta appearance to the next, the picture of comfort in Teva sandals and socks, khaki pants, a light shirt and jacket.
His thinning brown hair is longer than it's ever been, hanging to his shoulders like the neo-hippies who still populate his home region of northern California. Like most things in Gray's life, the loose mane has a purpose. It's a tribute to his mother, who died seven months ago.
"I wanted to do something to honor and remember her," he says of his tresses. "I'd always wanted to grow my hair out when I was a young guy, so I decided to. I'm going to keep growing it out. I'm having fun with it. It's fun to be different."
It's fun to be healthy, too. Resting next to Gray, on the leather limo seat, sits bottled water -- a half-dozen bottles -- awaiting consumption. Gray calls himself a "water fanatic"; it's part of his new diet that includes drinking a gallon of H2O a day and eliminating refined sugars.
Gray, at 48, has never felt better.
"I'm pumped," he says. "I get up pumped. I go to bed pumped. I'm just pumped, because it's natural energy. It's water and basic foods. And meditation is a part of it."
This diet, along with tips on how to be successful and how to have loving relationships, are the content of "Practical Miracles," which is broken down into nine mottoes for living the happy life.
'Who are you?'
Gray spreads his wings in this book. He'll advise you on your girlfriend one minute, on your caffeine intake the next. It's all connected, Gray believes.
"In relationships we accumulate baggage," he writes in "Practical Miracles," "in business we accumulate debt, and in our bodies we accumulate fat and disease."
"People say, 'Where did you come up with all this stuff?' I mean, who are you?'" says Gray. "It's based on spending my life understanding relationships between men and women. It's ironic. If you understand relationships, you understand how life works."
He wasn't always in the know. Born and raised in Houston, he was the third youngest child in a family of six brothers and one sister. His mother ran a new-age bookstore.
His father, whom Gray calls a "good guy," was a captain in the military who used old-school discipline. Gray remembers him as "the punisher."
"I think there was a lot of wounding that happened as a child because I didn't really feel like I could go to my father, because I had to hide things and protect myself from my father, because he was the punisher," Gray says. "If your child can't come to you with their problems or they have to hide their mistakes from you, that's going to be a bit of a trauma for your child. And depending on how much punishment they get, the more trauma there is."
(Gray, for the record, has already mined these experiences into the self-help "Mars and Venus" parenting book "Children Are From Heaven.")
Gray says he enjoyed a wild teenage life."I had lots of relationships as a teenager," he recalls. "It was fun -- fun, not commitment. Then I went to the other extreme and became a Hindu monk for nine years."
Gray was 19 when he assumed the monastic life.
"Some people are just more spiritual than others and I really had a strong ambition to know God," Gray says. "Peace of mind, consistent happiness, the power to heal other people -- I wanted that, so I went in that direction ... I used to hear angels sing, and I just had wonderful fulfillment in my life.
"I did that for nine years, achieved those goals, and then discovered to really manifest them in the world, make a difference in the world, I had to come out in the world and be like everyone else," Gray says.
"Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was have sex, because I hadn't had sex in nine years, and boy, was that fun," he laughs. "My point, though, is that when I started having committed relationships with women, that's when the differences between men and women started showing up."
Gray was married for two years to Barbara DeAngelis, who is also a self-helper and relationship adviser. That marriage ended in divorce, but Gray took something from it.
"If I hadn't been through that divorce, I would have not learned what I learned to create 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,' " he says.
Today, Gray is profiting handsomely from his education (which includes a doctorate in psychology and human sexuality, complemented by a bachelor's and master's degrees in creative intelligence from Maharishi European Reasearch University). By some estimates, he makes $10 million a year. He commands $50,000 to give a speech. His best-selling books keep selling, of course, and they've also spawned the Mars Venus Institute, where students can take part in classes with subjects ranging from how to look for love to proper parenting to workplace communication.
"Men Are From Mars ..." is reaching out, too. The book has been turned into a Mattel board game and a CD-ROM. It's also the premise of a syndicated daytime talk show that will air on NBC starting in September to be hosted by Cybill Shepherd.
Gray also has a movie project in the works, and has even dared go where Elvis once ruled.
"I've got a Las Vegas musical opening September 28 at the Flamingo Hilton, which is going to be spectacular," he says. "You know, it's not like I sit there and write the music, but I have to be in the meetings and so forth."
Let us not forget the books. He'll be promoting new volumes, like "Practical Miracles."
At home, Gray nurtures a 16-year second marriage, while beaming with pride about his three daughters; the youngest is 14.
When he's writing, he gets up a 2 a.m. and taps on the computer until breakfast, takes his daughter to school, then returns to his other thriving businesses. Bedtime comes when the sun goes down.
In spare moments, he meditates.
"Who has time to sit down and meditate 20 minutes twice a day?" he says. "You don't have time to do it. I do it when I'm driving my car, listening to the radio, while I'm in the shower. I've developed a technique that fits into modern lives."
He eats right -- good food washed down with lots of water. And he's confident that he'll achieve his ultimate goal as a global peacemaker.
"When I was 9 years old, I felt that one day I would be a peace negotiator in this world," he says. "Way down the line. I saw 'War and Peace' when I was 9. That was my first conscious grand spiritual experience. I saw that movie, and that was the first time I was exposed to war. And I walked out transformed. I had never felt so much peace and a sense of purpose. Suddenly I woke up and I felt like I had a destiny, a purpose in this world, which was to bring peace."
In the meantime, he has books to write, speeches to make, questions to answer. He's ready to take on the world.
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