I read an article recently which accuses much of the spiritual new age movement of being a tool of the ruling elite to dumb us down in the same way that religion was used for thousands of years to keep the masses in their places. It argues that meditation, yoga and mind training techniques so popular these days with the middle class are simply Prozac to stop people from actually doing anything to change the social problems we recognize but accept as reality. It further argues that if we do not participate in social change all of our meditation, worship and spiritual practices are actually victimizing us and subjecting us to the powers that be.
This is quite a reactionary argument that has merit to a greater degree than I have ever considered. I have to admit that much of what I have learned in the spiritual arena focuses on how to heal my problems and suffering and could care less about what is happening to my fellow citizens. The training that I have received from quite a few industry leaders focuses on my personal development at the expense of social change. When you think about all of the mind changing courses out there, all of them focus on personal development versus social leadership.
I do not agree with the proposition that personal development subjects us to control by the Illuminati, and I definitely believe that we have to heal our suffering and trauma before we can change the world for the better. However it is worthwhile to remember that being spiritually healthy has a purpose greater than personal wholeness. There is a new term floating around called “spiritual materialism”, which accuses body mind philosophy as being narcissistic, selfish and vane. It embraces the concept that we are to be optimistic no matter how bad it gets, and somehow this is wrong. I don’t buy into that.
What we must do as we heal ourselves and change the way we perceive our world is to take responsibility for everything we perceive. All perception is projection and we can change it as we change our perception of it. I have always insisted that we create our own reality, but that does not mean that we sit in a lotus position as the world goes to hell in a hand basket. We also have the responsibility to change whatever we can change outside of ourselves as well as inside of ourselves. We need to vote, we need to be vocal with our elected representatives, and we have to be informed. This is our responsibility in a modern age. The yogis are coming out of their caves to join the modern world. We can do no less.
To make this point even more vividly, the article proposed that teaching meditation to assholes only makes more efficient assholes. Interesting proposition to say the least, but it does raise the point of what is the goal of meditation? Is it to calm us down like Prozac or is it to raise our awareness? And if we are raising our awareness, what are we raising it for? After all, what is the point of giving a Maserati to someone that refuses to go faster than 25 miles an hour?
The good news of this article is that it does make one contemplate why we are on a spiritual path and what we hope to accomplish. Not everyone can go teach spirituality or mind control. I am seeing more and more people learn how to meditate and give up their day job to teach some aspect of the Spiritual Industrial Complex. Very few are able to maintain their lifestyle even though they claim that is not their purpose. It does strike me as odd that so many people are paying lots of money to learn how to go broke. If someone wanted to paint an authoritarian picture of that it would be illuminating and I can see how someone might think that the Illuminati were using this to control the masses.
I only bring us this discussion because it was useful for me to look deep inside myself and examine what my motives and objectives were in following this path. It does not escape me that I may just want to avoid getting a real job. However, I also recognize that meditation, self awareness and surrender have their place in my emotional, mental, spiritual and physical growth which will allow me to be a much more effective voice for social change. I hope that is true for us all.