Selling Spirituality

I heard recently a ‘spiritual’ academic say that the worst thing anyone could do is to make money from their spirituality.  The way they said it was a throwaway comment, but it was loaded with an idealist theologian smelling judgement.   What they didn’t realise was how hypocritical it was for what they are doing and how damaging it was for others who have the calling to take their spirituality to the world.  It’s an old world belief that has never served anyone and only set up a great win-win situation for the church who have successfully monetized spirituality for thousands of years…even if only through tithing, taxing. 

Let’s look at this. It’s such a rich and juicy topic; I can feel myself wanting to bring in so many points!

To keep is simple, let’s look at the root of spirituality and that is consciousness.  

Grace for some.  God.  Bringing trust, faith, love and surrender to God to our world as our whole true self and in harmony with the pulse of the universe to me is living spiritually.  How that plays out depends on our individual paths of growth i.e., karmas and also the different, unique personalities and tendencies we have been given. 

If we have an institutionalised spirituality, then we tend to be tethered to that belief system which is fine if that brings you joy and makes you happy.  The beauty is that spirituality is as universal as consciousness itself so, therefore, can come in any shape and size and has nothing to do with institutions; they are like a consciousness collective that mostly are beneficial and with good intentions. Let me point out here that tribal is also an institution. What our tribe believes and practices and its impact on us is as institutional as a church. 

Where I’m heading is that as consciousness flows through us and as open as we are to the guiding grace of consciousness, is where we go with great love, reverence, determination and detachment from the outcome. That’s it.  There’s no more thinking involved. 

Back to money.  I can understand what would be seen as a vulgar interpretation of this.  The tricksters that lead so many up the garden path, the predominately business people seeing the potential $$$ in what seems to be the new black – spirituality.  It has an icky feel that takes away the sacred.  There are some of these people who’ve had a great meditation experience and turned that into a multi-million-dollar business.  They look good and sound good yet have seriously no real spiritual attainment themselves which we can feel and question. There’s a lot of spiritual, flaky and superficial stuff out there and you deep down know it.

There is also a lot of excellent stuff out there. 

We seem to be less harsh and judgmental on the occult practices.  We will pay for those.  Through the nose too. We see them as a magical, tangible gift.  We forget the universality of spirituality which is beyond the gift.  We will try anything so long as we can avoid the deep pain that comes up when we have to do the inner transformational work then this is a perfect solution. 

The real deal is internal.  Grace is an internal matter.  

To me right now I see three options for those who have really done the work and had the profound experiences of God and attainment of the Self.  

They can simply be happy with it and take on the full surrender of a monk and leave behind the worries and hooks of the world.  They can sit in bliss and allow the universe to look after them and accept handouts and donations. 

Another option is to live life as it always was and in have the spiritual side as another part, another world that entices and enlivens their daily life.  They may be accountants and love that work and are totally unattached to it so it becomes simply a means to an end, and the wisdom and love from the spirituality bring much grace to the job and the people around them. I think this is a beautiful option and if more of the world did it, imagine what an even more wonderful place it would be?

The third is the calling.  

Those that are summoned in each and every meditation to share, to help.  Here to be a game changer in some way, but not quite sure yet what that is.  Life becomes the practice; life becomes a full expression of that bliss of the self, and nothing else will work unless they step into the calling.  Some people have healed, have discovered techniques to help others heal and to be the best them they can be.  There is value here.  Taking it to the world as a service is damn difficult because many want to sit like option 1, in a lovely environment, totally absorbed in the self, but the universe is asking more of them.  They have to stand up.  To take that gold, that service to the world it can either be funded by another as the church does or they accept what needs to be done and gained as a simple flow of energy in giving and receiving.  

Money at the end of the day is just energy.  We put so much on it, so much baggage.  Not only on money itself but on what is seen as right and appropriate ways to make/use it.  We have centuries of baggage about spirituality too.  Great combo to get a little screwy about!

I fit into the option 3 category.  If tomorrow a big universal voice said to me to now just sit and be, then, believe me, I’d jump at that option.  Instead, I get the inspiration.  If I don’t follow it, there are dire consequences. Believe me.  I’ve rebelled and experimented too many times.  I’m lead by grace.  It’s that simple.  It doesn’t come easily either; it’s a lot of challenging work.  My personhood may not be ready, and there are days like any other of wanting to run away, of kicking and screaming.   It’s not safe and predictable like the normal routes in life and certainly not always cosy.  

I think it’s clean and good to have a simple exchange of knowledge and experience for the money.  People have become used to Church or Temple or what have you being a free service.  They like being given lectures and feeling good and going home. What percentage of people actually take on the words they hear? The Church earns well not only from the weekly small money donations but from enormous donations in general and the Government.  

I’ve known in Eastern traditions people offering up their houses to keep missions going and then hold great resentment at the end of their days when they have no money left for their old age or family.  Plus, they are usually left beholden to the organisation they gave the money.  Who wants that?

Our aversion is also the flashy display of wealth.  Most of us would love that amount of wealth, but seeing certain spiritual teachers driving around in rainbow coloured Rolls Royce’s turns us off.  Osho was like that.  I’m not sure about the rainbow coloured, but he had a collection of Rollers.  

I used to be hard on Osho.  I didn’t like his sex stuff, and I have to say his weird Star Trek way of dressing.  Now I’ve started reading more of his work; I see that he was as he claims.  He had a lot of attainment and Grace, and it flowed through him and was expressed as his personality.  If his nature were elegant, I’m sure the flashy wouldn’t be there. There was a side to him that loved it, and that’s ok.  My dislike of flashy wealthy is simply a judgement.  It's a taste thing. What if with that judgement I'm blocking potential flashy coming through me because that's how it wants to come? Hmmm?

Here is a very important point I wish to make:  

A being who is ‘supremely’ free is simply themselves.  

We put our limited experience puritanical church past on anyone with a personality or different way of expressing their true self and miss the fundamental point.  God flows through us, as us.  I heard that a million times from my spiritual teacher.  That’s all it is.  If we are still, if we are beyond thoughts and words, when we honour the energy flowing through us and follow how it wishes to manifest, then we are purely and simply, spiritual.  

Being nice, wearing an orange or black robe, having prayer beads or growing a white beard, smoking a peace pipe does not make us spiritual.  Of course, if that calls through us and we are attracted to it then go for it.  Us, as we are, beyond the limiting beliefs, our true manifested nature is where it’s at.  

I will say this as many times as is necessary but to be a good person by action and word is a choice and a damn important one.  Too many rogue spiritual teachers and holy men.   To cause no intentional harm to another is paramount. In my tradition, there had been hurt because there was no accountability by the teacher on when an action crosses the line to harmful to another.  So believe it or not, being free doesn’t necessarily bode well for those with not so great tendencies. A guide to follow for goodness is paramount for us all – liberated or not. 

On a rational level, we don’t understand love, at all.  The experience of love, real love, universal consciousness, blows our minds.  It’s beyond the categorizations and limits we give it.  Words really can’t describe it. The greatest act of love is to do what it asks and be ok with that.  Not another human being, I’m talking God.  

One last angle to consider.  I want you to be honest with yourself here.  Because going to communion is free and speaking to a monk is free, how much of the attitude and judgement of those earning a living from their attainment is really because you don’t want to have to pay? Even with all the crazy that has gone on in the name of religion, we love the fact, for most of it, it was free. I think this is at the bottom of most of our thinking.  Why should I have to pay? Also consider, how free was it?  How did the Church get so much wealth?  Where did it come from?  Would you like it clean or would you like the hooks?  I vote for transparent, upfront, and honest. 

Keep it a fair exchange and remember most people give a tremendous amount of free touch points.  Heck, even as an entrepreneur the basic formula is 80% of information is free or very low cost.  If you, want them to work for you though, to lead you somewhere, to have time with you and get their magic though, you pay.  Of course! We are just misinformed, and we are emotional because nothing makes us more emotional than money!  

Spirituality doesn’t cost money because that is our very nature.  To get help, ongoing support, guidance from those that have had a depth of experience we haven’t yet, then like anything else, pay for the privilege.   Believe me; you want that more than being hooked into some obligation system, something where you give up your life and time for.  We all have our unique relationship with abundance, let someone have what comes their way.  If abundance is energy then surely there is enough out there, the block is in our feelings and understanding of it. 

So if you want it free, then go back to the Synagogue, the Temple, the Church, Satsang, the moon circle, the community meditation group and be happy with what you get. Read the scriptures and go to a discussion or prayer group.   If you get to the point where you get your own inner breakthrough and amazing tools and techniques to help others with, see how it is being called through you to action on and get the bloody rational mind out of the way.  

Would you like to make your living helping others?  Well, you can.  Get ready for the expectations, though. Oh, that’s being spiritual, forever taking our limiting beliefs, feelings and actions to the source of truth to realign and bringing the divine reality back to transform and heal.  That was a free tip ;-)