The Business of Spirituality and its Slippery Slope

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

I spent Sunday at the region’s largest “holistic health” fair and came home exhausted and relieved the day was finally over. That isn’t how I’m supposed to feel. These events are meant to inspire seekers and to provide them with tools for unwrapping the gifts of their true selves. In theory, anyway.

I don’t go to fairs often, whether they are spiritual/psychic fairs, carnivals, or something in between. My introverted nature finds crowds hard to deal with and the empath in me has trouble shielding from all the myriad energies that fill these spaces. Yet, I was intrigued by this expo that I’d heard so much about, and I had two friend who wanted to go.

As often happens, the red flags went up before I left the house. There was that strangely familiar feeling that the day would not play out comfortably…

Spirituality and holistic living has become a big business. You can sell your spirit to someone almost as easily as you can buy a can of soda. And, sometimes I wonder if the one can be just as bad for our wellbeing as the other. In the midst of the authentic healers, readers, and vendors, there are the charlatans who tout their wares with a conviction that their offerings will change you and the world. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the real from the fake. The ego can be a trickster. It is often unaware of itself.

Then there is the issue of the seeker’s addiction. You can get lured into the business of “spirituality” as easily as you can a casino in a search for the pot of gold they both offer. I know people who attend fairs on a regular basis in the hope of finding that magical thing they can’t quite define because the cure is never outside of them. It’s easy to get sucked into the belief that someone else has the answer you seek. I’ve found myself on both sides, and it’s not easy to balance it with the larger truth of life.

After the three of us got our wristbands and settled our ticket admissions, we made our way to the workshops housed in another building. Although we spend some time amongst the vendors in the middle of the day, it would have been impossible to visit every cramped booth. There were nearly 300 of them, and it was enough of a challenge to find the two that housed friends I wanted to make sure I saw.

I attended five workshops on Sunday, and found most of them to be, at least in part, strangely depressing. Halfway through one, I left because I could no longer subject myself to the presenter’s aggression. Instead of a heart-felt passion, ego reigned through his voice with the tone of reprimand and anger. Ironically, the presenter was talking about water, using Dr. Emoto’s work for some examples. I was left wondering if he was aware that his own words and tones were most likely distorting the water in his body more than the water he was so worried about drinking. It was, if nothing else, a reminder to check in with my own thoughts and emotions, which were tipping toward unease and irritation the longer I lingered in the room.

In another room, I listened to a healer I really, really wanted to admire because he seemed to have an access to the mysteries of Egypt that have always intrigued me. Instead, I found myself leaving the room after the workshop had ended wondering if I had just sat through a marketing promotion. It felt uncomfortably akin to a timeshare presentation I once found myself roped into. I did’t bother to count the number of times we were told, with various words and demonstrations, how much greater his healing methods were than your average because of the “codes” he had created. There was a price tag, of course, if you wanted to discover the power of the codes for yourself.

Once again, I was left feeling frustrated by the ego’s tainting of something that should have been beautiful. Although I don’t have a problem with people making a living, we all need to, a system of internal checks-and-balances is often needed, especially when it comes to the business of selling spirituality.

And so it was that I found myself at the end of the day feeling more irritated than enlightened. I couldn’t wait to get home to my family and the quiet warmth of my house. I found revival in the “mundane.” Eating the salmon, heated up in our “toxic” microwave that my husband had cooked hours earlier, alongside takeout Chinese food. It’s amazing what gratitude can do for you. I soon felt more revived and nourished than I had from my lunch of delicious Ayurvedic Indian food as I settled onto the couch with the dogs. When I turned on the TV, I show on ancient Egypt just happened to be on.

Later, I found home again inside the pages of The Sun and the Serpent and thought about how grateful I was to have found this book through Sue and Stuart’s writing. And I thought about how much more comfortable I am roaming the ancient landscape of England, or the quiet landscape of the inner self, rather than the frenetic energies of a fair.

The Box of Fear & Why I Believe We All Must Find Our Own “Religion”

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I  have recently received an email from a friend I met years ago at a metaphysical class. We were both searching and seeking a deeper understanding of life, like all who are drawn to unravel the mysteries. Now, she has turned to religion, following the urgings of a man she loves. I am not surprised, but there is a sadness to her desperation to be loved and accepted into a secure form of life.

In her email, my friend urged me, and the rest of the group of friends to which she sent the email, to follow her path as a born-again Christian so that our souls, like hers, could be saved. She has labeled us as “New Age,” a label I have never tried to own.

I don’t care for labels, and this one I find offensive and incorrect. Although I cannot speak for the others in the group, I consider myself a spiritual being who seeks, in each moment, to heed the inner voice of truth that aligns with the core Truths of being. I do not follow one guru, or worship within the confines of one sect. I simply try my best to live a life in alignment with love.

If that makes me a sinner in some eyes, so be it. Yet, it troubles me that is should be so. Perhaps, in some ways, I am fortunate to have not been raised in what feels like the confines of a particular set of beliefs. As the child of agnostic parents who leaned toward atheism, I had to find my own spirituality in my search for inner peace and wellbeing.

I can recall many sleepless nights lying in bed wondering if my last breath would lead to my oblivion. I would wonder if my life was meaningless as a mere conglomeration of cells adhered into a body with an intelligent brain that allowed me to think both rational and irrational thoughts.

It was only when I started to think beyond the confines of my brain, and stepped into the realm of the heart, that I found a home that stretched beyond walls into the vast expanse of being. My path has lead me to explore many teachings, which all possess the same core of truths. The yoga sutras, which predate all religions, echo the words of the oldest Egyptian texts. The furthest back you go, the more threads of common truths you find. This, to me, feels like home.

Yet, it is not my place to judge another’s beliefs, nor to where they feel most at home. We are, in essence, all searching for belonging. But, do we have a right to label others as incorrect and ask them to follow the way we have chosen? This troubles me. It reminds me that we are still fighting wars and killing each other because of our spiritual beliefs, the color of our skin, and the sexual physiology and orientation of our bodies. This is not okay.

The need to destroy and convert are premised upon fear, not love. At the core of all religions and spiritual teachings, from what I have found, is Love. That is all. Love. It is a calling to find home in the knowing that we are all born from and a part of Love, which unites all life. When I breath into the stillness of being that is what I find. It fills me with a connection not only to myself, but to all life. It reminds me that I am not above or below anyone else, I am simply a part of all life. That, to me, is enough. It is a coming home.