Commercialization of Spirituality | What is spiritual materialism?

Commercialization of Spirituality

The Hope for Enlightenment

As long as there is hope, there is a false pursuit which makes the search more diverse, delaying the finality of things. This delay is where one finds time to find excuses and indulge in whatever is dear to the mind and the senses. The hope for enlightenment has been fooling the living organism through endless lifetimes perhaps. One wakes up in the morning to find himself being mauled by the second-hand of time, pun intended. One gets busy throughout the day, trying to keep pace with one’s routine, getting busy with a search which will inevitably continue the next day too. Every day, the routine has very few alterations and continues day after day without anything spectacular happening. Even if something spectacular were to have happened on certain days, it is seen as a great deviation from the regular routine and as a great disturbance which ought not to have happened, thinks the individual. This is what the mind perceives it to be. The routine rolls over successively through many years. Meanwhile even the routines have been completely overhauled, changed, replaced and yet nothing is being noticed. The mind simply clings from one hope to another.

Nature of a Mind in Hope

There is still hope in the future that at some point in time all this may stop and stop for the better. The mind likes to ruminate on memories and anxieties whenever a gap in the routine, even for a second becomes available. The slip over to the future in the mind either instills fear in the mind about the unknown that is about to transpire or at times the mind slips into the past with regrets and guilt. The whole energy system takes many beatings as days slip into months and years, our minds being in turmoil induced through heaviness of work and heaviness of relationships. All said, there is still hope for the future, this is what the mind likes to believe, period. This hope seems to somehow induce or pour more vigor into the actions. But the anticipation of the result or a possible gain out of certain business deals or activities drains the life out of the temporary surge in energy. All this energy gain finally comes to a naught.

A Change in routine through spiritual talks

Meanwhile, one hears the promises of spirituality either through a friend or through close relatives who accompany you to some absorbing lecture, where you finally get to hear what you always wanted to hear about life, the boredom of relationships, the fears of the mind and all those things. Since this appears to be a welcome deviation from the routine, you make an adjustment into your routine keeping a few hours of Saturdays and Sundays for satsanga or holy meetings. You take this time to meet some saints or holy men who have been labelled thus by society and you agree to these labels because you too could not escape their talk, inducements or offers so to say.

Fairy Tales not now, for the Future

Now that you have ended up with holy association, you take the baggage of your unanswered questions to these holy people. A point to make: Not that the questions could not be answered by the obvious, which probably, at the core you are always aware of, but one prefers to keep these questions dangling so that the future is secure in the womb of these questions. The problem was that, if these questions were to get answered in the here and now, why would anybody go through the routine of life with hopes hinging on to a far off future? The great thing about the questions you have for the mystic men who have entered your life through the doorways of your consent is that there is a great deal of romanticism in these questions. We ask such questions as “Why are we alive?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, “What should be the highest ideal” and a barrage of questions that I am certain, have no answers. There can be no answers to these “fine” questions. But we continue asking these questions to holy, wise or seemingly enlightened ones because somewhere we know within that we are about to get an equally romantic answer which can make a glint come to our eyes. The answers can possibly, make one glow with renewed energy so that one can continue with one’s self-imposed ignorance going well for another week. Well this is exactly the nature of spiritual materialism.

The Lullaby of Spirituality

Most of our journey in spirituality is intended for just a feel good factor. Most of us are happy to go on with the daily sleep, along with keeping our interests in spirituality going on, in the background as a lullaby playing behind us. This background music of spirituality restricts the mind from going in a certain direction, so that it does not start gnawing us from the inside. That is exactly why there is a demand for spirituality in current times, the demand for spiritual materialism. We as individuals want to go on with our lives probably in the same old ways and keep spirituality as a weekend agent to keep the stress under carpet through those repetitive lectures of modern day gurus and so-called spiritual geeks. These talks by the so-called wise lot is used by the audience folks as if it were small doses of powerful drugs that can suspend the mind into some dimension, such that it remains intoxicated for the week. Come Thursday, one starts feeling the pressure and stress of work. But come Friday, there is hope once again because Saturday is round the corner. The Spiritual Materialists get ready to have their weekly round of talk-drug. Thus these assumedly spiritual encounters with the Guru Lot, has only stoked the flames of hope. This keeps the “great question about existence” in permanent abeyance.

The Spiritual Guru Market

The Guru market is also well tuned. Just like all the commodity and consumer markets review their measurement dashboards and keep pace with demands, the spiritual markets have also learnt the great art of selling only that material which is in demand. The Spiritual Market has now watered down Spiritual subject matters and are competing with the Self-Motivation and Personal Development Bazaar. We see Spiritual Gurus of certain cults and spiritual organizations telling people what they should be doing with their lives. They are telling people when they should get up or go to sleep. They may even tell you how you should brush your teeth, just joking. Lullabies that were meant for the new-born and toddlers are now also been sung for adolescents, youth, adults and people entering old age. These are lullabies coated with sweetness of so-called spirituality. Their spirituality pills just taste sweet and comfortable so that people can keep munching these spiritual sweets over and over as they cozily go into weekly slumber. Once you enter the slumber of these talks delivered by the who’s who of the spiritual market, you will not want to taste anything else. This is because you are hearing only those things that you have always wanted to hear. You wanted to hear about the ideal “You”. You are unconcerned about the “you” of the present and this is the slumber. If somebody were to tell you the Truth, probably you may end up hating the speaker for pointing out your sullied face which you do not want to see or know about and hence, will not want to hear his lecture ever again. But you are hearing their lectures over and over again because they are giving you what you want and are keeping you away from what is true, to your euphoric delight. You do not want to be disturbed from your dreamy spiritual slumber because it is perhaps the best sleep that you have been introduced to and perhaps induced into. All this while I thought spirituality was about waking up or snapping out of a cosmic dream. This is what Sanatana Dharma truly talked about right?

All said, Spirituality today is a market that is progressively eyeing the self-motivation and personal development market space. That is sad indeed. The situation does not seem to be improving. So-called spiritual teachers do not want to make any difference to the current situation. All of them are making hay while the sun shines. They are getting money, name, fame and power at the cost of the gullible common folks, without the investment of a pittance. Their only skill is to understand well what you would like to hear. What more can they ask for? They do not want to scare away the innocent folks who are anyway coming to them for entertainment. The spiritual men are reveling in the light music of their talks while the common mind is being wooed into slumber.

Waking up to True Spirituality

True spirituality does not exist anyways in the modern context. Even if it exists, it is very hard to detect. It may also appear to be non-spiritual to many! People are willingly exposing themselves to spiritual gymnastics because this helps them sleep better by keeping the “Who Am I” question permanently in abeyance. I wonder whether there is anyone here to ask oneself this question “Is there any Truth at all in one’s life?” Truth is a controversial topic. When people start accepting truth, it is a great threat to the mind and it cannot then fool you with its imagination. People like to discuss about their spirituality with others because somewhere they feel that they are getting importance. Spirituality then becomes a subject of one’s vision about God or some strange things that happen to get categorized as “spiritual experience”. One fails to realize that it is the trick of the mind and our scriptures themselves allude to the fact that all worldly experiences, even what you call spiritual are also projections of the mind. Sometimes the deep hidden clandestine desires also manifest as a miracles. It is important to understand that we have been hypnotized by the world and all that is happening in one’s mind, is just getting reflected or manipulated in the world. But we erroneously conclude that these are mystical experiences. Other than a handful of good teachers who have understood the reality of the mind and are doing good work in the world to their best capacity, there are others who are taking advantage of the gullibility of the innocent seeking population of the world. What one needs to understand is that, all experiences are, of the mind and mind alone. This means that there can be no “spiritual experience.” A spiritual experience may be utmost about the mind getting extinguished thereby removing the veil of illusion permanently. This is possible. Other than that all talks about spirituality is just like the dog trying to grab its own tail.