Friday, January 23, 2015

Capitalistic spirituality

Mark has a FB post on the spiritual entrepreneur here. My comments to date follow:

The Rifkin article on healthcare Eric cited is just basic common sense on diet, exercise, personal development, environmental responsibility, etc., and indeed promotes LOHAS. LOHAS per se is not the problem; it's only a problem when it's contaminated with capitalist markers like ego inflation, greed and profit as the main motive. I.e., when LOHAS is coopted by capitalism. There are plenty in the Commons movement that approach LOHAS from a completely different consciousness, one of sharing and caring where yes, of course one needs to make a living and charge a fee, often sliding. And/or trade. And/or, as Rifkin discusses in his latest book, by belonging to networks that exchange services, some of which also take into consideration one's training and skill level so trades are not simple 1 to 1 exchanges.

Like Mark I can understand why some spirit-oriented practitioners become 'entrepreneurs,' since they are embedded in a capitalistic system that idolizes the individual's heroic achievements. This happens even to the best of spiritual teachers in this system, as well as it's reinforced by the traditions in which they studied, that of heroic and individual attainment that leads everyone to a new Jerusalem. It's time to move beyond the fixation on Heroes, but understandable that even those with the best intentions have yet to let it go.*
Plus we're in transition from the capitalist to the commons paradigm. Hence we get all sorts of hybrids in different lines of development, and even in different contexts in the same line like the spiritual. So we can often find a spiritually oriented person who believes in a higher power, god or otherwise, still clinging to an ego-inflated notion that I'm in communion with god and know best what s/he wants for the betterment of mankind. While I don't reject such communion out of hand, still it requires feedback from others for a reality check. But in many traditions they are their only reality check so it's a feedback loop of grandiosity. And broader reality checks are not condoned because these others don't have direct access to god (or the universe or whatever), so fuck 'em. It's a hard nut to crack, but crack it we must.

(Especially for both the religious right, and the fellating capitalistic and oligarchic lapdogs, and some combination thereof, in the Republican Congress.)

The ill effects are particularly apparent when it comes to 'spiritual' matters, depending on how the spiritual is framed. When done so metaphysically, either from a mythic or rational perspective (or a mythic-rational transition), there is a strong tendency to have the mind-body and other dichotomous splits with distinct and separate realms. We even see it in kennilingus in that the absolute and relative realms are of "radically different orders."  This plays out strongly in those with more traditional spiritual backgrounds, even Buddhist, and carries over into more contemporary western spiritual practitioners so enamored. Thus one feels that the spiritual is about ultimate reality and one's direct connection to it via meditation or some other contemplative practice is literally talking to God (or communion with the foundation of the universe, or whatever).

The spiritual realm is so special and above the relative realm that what we provide to people is literally salvation. And how can we put a price on that, because it's invaluable? Combine that with our unconscious capitalist indoctrination and the spiritual becomes super valuable, more valuable than anything else, so the high price tag is justified. This is exactly why we need postmetaphysical spirituality. At least the traditional mythic-rational religions, including Buddhism, even with their metaphysical frames, thought the spiritual or ultimate realms were so invaluable that one could only ask for donations, for to put a price on it, any price, was to contaminate it with the earthy or relative realm. Not so with capitalism.

* On a related note, the new movie American Sniper is getting a lot of grief for making a hero out of the real life person the movie is based on, not telling the other side of his pea brain racism and Islamophobia. Such is the hero myth, a very powerful one in our and many cultures.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.