Prophets to Profits: The Corporate Takeover of Spirituality

The self-help and “mind-body-spirit” scenes are billion dollar industries, but how has the commodification of spirituality affected our ability to practice it? As sacred principles are co-opted and watered down to sell feel-good mass-market products, those unwilling to sellout spiritual principles are pushed further to the margins – where they are increasingly maligned as “cultist” for putting spirituality ahead of materialism.

commercialization-of-spirituality

Pages: | | | Next → |

About Vida Narovski

Vida has always felt there is more to life than what is considered public knowledge. She is dedicated to helping re-establish spirituality in the world by uncovering and exposing the hidden agendas that are suffocating it.

16 comments

  1. If someone teaches full time I can see some small recompense to cover time and gas, and keep body and soul together – with the emphasis on “small.” Forget the Mansion and the Maserati, though 😉 After all, Ramana Maharshi was even paid due to the culture he lived in. He had a place to live rent-free and Prasad, or food, brought to him. But this is not India. Sadly, in a capitalist society all the caves are for rent and you have to buy food at the supermarket. Religious teachers are not recognized unless they part of a traditional religion or a large organization. If you try being a wandering mendicant the cops will pick you up for being homeless or begging.

    When in Rome do as the Romans. I don’t think it would be possible to be a full-time spiritual teacher in the US without charging Something. That said, the something should be small and reasonable, and also optional. Those who want to support the work, can. But if you can’t afford it you don’t get turned away. Come to think of it even donations in a Christian church are optional, so this should also be the rule for alternative teachings.

  2. Very much in agreement with this article. England as a segment of the whole Isle is no longer what can be called a Christian country any more. Sorry, but that is true. The Spiritualist movement also has almost totally dis appearered and is now corperate controlled – Why ? Yes because it it is a multy million dollar industry. That can be be partly understood, but where have the real people gone? Many of them are still here, so why is it so hard to find them because of the myrid of rubbish on advertised mediums growing on the internet?

    • Was telling friend the other night the fun of being involved with this movement without seeking the profit … in one case, I quit a $500 per month website gig simply because it was all, total profit oriented … gave them 6 months of my best while attempting to adjust their ways and they just kept calling me cute and stating I did not understand how things work ????

      I sent articles to many of these popular sites out here based upon actual rubber-meets-the-road experience with nearly a canned response, (if one at all,) “… that’s nice, keep going …”

      Spirit chat rooms and forums seem like nothing more than honey traps to find new customers and shut down integral seekers who want to help.

      What I thought would be a journey to document how well applying these old, hidden principals to ones life would work, turned into a journey of meeting frauds, liars, thieves of every ilk, being turned into a servant by them countless times, pouring gold into their varied lies and helping them succeed.

      One young lady, a wonderful musician that could get a congregation to cry with her voice and then empty their wallets into collection plate, (after gaining 2 years of my best for free), actually called one day and asked, “Can you erase all this Christian **it from the web? I’m going back to Nashville.”

      As it was in the beginning, this is all a control mechanism, profit making biz – no $ profit in actually helping with the healing … l

    • Sorry to say but religion has become a multi million pound investment club, just look at the Vatican and their investments around the world. I became spiritual after an inner revelation and I know there is a God but I pray to him without going through a third party which I don’t need. As long a people feel they need a third party (what ever their religion) to reach God, the money will keep rolling in.

  3. Thanks for speaking so well on this – when first stepping out many moons ago I met several for-profit ‘lightworkers’ who would waive their fee if they judged you as someone really on a path and not just playing with hocus pocus attempts at being rich or getting a lover

    … the new age industry that infected the internet truly disgusted me and I became a thorn in the side for a few before giving up on chat rooms and forums … my take as a novice long ago was pretty much to challenge the real smart person with, “Well, gee, you work for God, why do you need money from me?” funny, I know … anyone is welcome to come see my rants and take on things, no donation button, nothing to buy … http://jimamidon.com/stumblin-in-the-light/

  4. Thanks Vida, great article with a lot of important information.

  5. A very interesting and comprehensive article, thank you for the research.
    The watered down versions of spirituality sell so easily… just be in the moment and you have ‘awakened’. It can help with daily life etc and for many that is all they want. I have seen many equate ‘wow moments’ (insight and understanding) of a situation as ‘awakening’. The word awakened has become watered down, ubiquitous and distorted.

  6. The sad thing about all this is that it has become common place and people expect that they must pay for spiritual imformation, I remember a friend of mine was participating in a spiritual group paying a lot of money and I mentioned this to him but he told me that its ok to charge for it and do it as a business and thats what they taught, I really dont mind paying for this information as I find it extremely important and necessary but when there is a price put on it its also limited to the people who can afford it, thanks for the article and pointing this sad side of spirituality

  7. Great article. I see a massive difference between the great ancient teachers and the commercial spiritual gurus of today. The amount of money involved is just ridiculous!

    What also stands out to me is the lack of “hard work” from most of today’s “spiritual” feel-good offerings. In my understanding, nothing comes from nothing, but to actually understand yourself and change is a great struggle – exactly as the ancient teachers said.

  8. Thank you so much Vida (and everyone who participated in this thorough research) for uncovering these hidden forces and agendas that exist in the society today “right under our nose” so to speak, but people often don’t realize what it is all about. I think your last sentence sums it up quite nicely:

    “… these forces serve to drown out truly alternative spirituality with a wave of more socially acceptable and better marketed products while simultaneously vilifying it as something dangerous.” – I think thats a clearly revealed strategy here, which hopefully won’t work to their expectations.

  9. Great article!

    I wonder if this topic is something that occurs to most ‘normal’ people, or normal people with a spiritual side? I hope so – I hope they ponder all that’s written here deeply and question whether they are being fobbed off with cheap imitations of the real deal – fobbed off by others and hiding from it themselves. It sure seems rife to me! And sad, when you realise how precious and rare the feeling for spirituality are, that they can be so easily distorted by cleaver and cruel forces.

    “Unfortunately, this natural interest in alternative spirituality along with the rise in feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness has made it relatively easy for the self-help industry to capitalize on the “market,” using both our insecurities and spiritual yearnings against us.”

    I can really relate to this! Finding a spiritual movement with integrity felt like such a struggle! Along with the awakening of spiritual feelings was the realisation that they aren’t shared by everyone – youthful open-mindedness soon hardens against the reality of giving up material gain for a spiritual life. For people who do feel the calling of the spiritual, I hope they recognise it as something special and powerful, something that can, by the affinity of these longings to invisible forces, bring real spiritual teachings to their lives. Don’t settle for a watery, sugary version!
    I have tasted many different schools in my search for truth. Each one stuck in their corner of the universe and ready to defend it fiercely (without a sense of the irony of doing so angrily!). It does seem that there are many many cases of the blind leading the blind in spiritual circles. I can especially relate to the great phrase, “tyranny of happiness”, it sums up the pervading feel-good atmosphere that surrounds a great many of the present new-agey communities. Spirituality becomes a way of perfecting your fabulous self-image and teaching it a way of promoting it to others. Where is the depth, the sincerity, the integrity? So much of it seems riddled with both commercialism, or this sense of being successful, as well as lust.

    I remember some family members having a reaction to my life-choices which reflects societies ideas of what a spiritual person should be like. They had a kind of logic that went: ‘well, you’re not being successful at the material thing, you’re not producing any babies, but you’re also not a shining, smiley, bouncy yoga fanatic, i.e. you’re not living up to our image of a spiritual person, so it can’t be right or working for you. Now we’re really worried!’ The idea that this practice had to make me ‘happy’ and that its worth was measured in my display of ‘happiness’ felt like it had been placed there by a shiny image of a woman cross-legged on a patch of daisies.

    I wanted to share something I recently read about the witch hunts that spread through Europe in the wake of the Crusades. I had heard about them of course, but I only recently understood the scale – they killed what would be in proportional terms to today’s population around nine million people. 80-95% of whom were women – so called ‘witches’. It may seem inconceivable by our self-image and ‘standards’ today, but the same forces of fear that stamp out alternative spiritual practice now were at play then. It’s easy to see how an event like this helped shape a patriarchal society and religion.

    I hope this article helps anyone who’s interested in spirituality to reflect on how they can make choices to truly strengthen their spiritual work, not to sell out, or through supporting organizations that mislead people, indirectly help this selling off of what remains precious and sacred in this world.

  10. So many important points in this article. This really stood out to me:

    Commercialized spirituality and the efforts of anti-cult activists to persecute new religious movements have two important things in common: they both effectively limit people’s ability to explore spirituality outside of the mainstream, and they both masquerade as something positive and helpful. While commercialized spirituality can appear like a wonderful influence – advocating peace, and happiness – it can also serve as a justification for hedonism and materialism while parasitically using and distorting the messages of spirituality while obscuring the source. Similarly, the anti-cult movement can appear as a helpful and noble protector of society from dangerous forces, but beneath the surface it effectively functions as a modern day witch hunt or inquisition.

    You can really see how easily ideas about what spirituality is, and how it should be practiced and what’s considered “normal” behaviour in society could completely limit people’s freedom to pursue whatever spirituality they choose. Ideas like this are so subtle and all-encompassing it seems too that people could limit their own freedoms without even realising what they’re doing or missing, because of all the misinformation and pressure coming from different aspects of society.

    There are some really insightful articles linked to from this one as well, thank you!

  11. “Corporations and individuals who sell spirituality select fragments of ancient spiritual concepts or teachings and then repackage them to be more appealing as a product to sell. In the process, however, they violate the integrity of the original source and distort the original meaning and purpose.”

    If you substitute “medecine” for “spirituality” then one can see how the theme of this article so easily transfers to our vested monopolistic state-mandated, bankster-controlled, trillion-dollar sickness-maintenance-industry, with Big Pharma attempting to replace the harmony in Nature.

    Remove the active ingredient without all its supportive components, repackage it in tinsel, and flog the ineffective remains to a gullible sychophantic consumer.

  12. I grew up in Unity HQ & they never asked for money aside from a Love Donation. I heard great speakers & you gave as you could afford or were led. Fast forward to around a decade ago I noticed that churches or spiritual conferences etc. started demanding fees for talks, speakers, etc. At first the excuse was travel expenses, etc. but in fact it is often GREED. I visited many spiritual church groups or new age centers once – as you could immediately tell that the sole purpose was to make $. It is obvious that many elements of spirituality and new age today are all about & only about the money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Shares
Share This