In a secular world of mass consumerism, both spiritual teachers and their fans alike give no second thought to charging for the transmission and teaching of spiritual knowledge. Meditation retreats, courses, meetings whether in person or on line, whether livestream or on-demand, wrapped in DVDs or apps, all come with a heavy price tag. So costly it seems only the affluent and leisurely (mostly white upper-middle class) ones can afford these goods, charged in British pounds, Euros, and US dollars.
I’ve experienced this especially in megachurch prosperity Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, and a spate of neo-Hindu quasi-New Age teachers whether they be the nonduality or tantric or yogic or some weird combo types. For all the tall talks of God’s love, universal compassion, and nonduality of shared being, the real master seems to be money. Mammon holds sway.
When Jesus overturned the tables at the temple, He challenged this spirit of mammon and the slithery soul of spiritual materialism. The Buddha did the same when he admonished his disciples not to make a business out of the Dhamma. Sadly, we no longer remember their call to us and now wallow in the slimy pool of money, profit, and consumerism. The market society has well and truly colonized even our spiritual selves and lives.
We need to speak out about this. We need to examine our own hearts too. When teachings are offered to us freely and open-handedly, do we appreciate them with gratefulness or do we just take them for granted? Somehow do we regard them as less valuable or lower in quality because we have not paid a high price for them? Is this our mentality—hijacked and co-opted by hypnotic capitalism? Not everything in life is for sale. In fact, Life is never for sale! And what is for sale is not Life. Be forewarned. Let us reflect with ruthless honesty. Lest we perish.