There is so much BS around us! Since spirituality has become a commodity, the market place is filled with BS, too. Here are four indicators for this kind of BS and one tiny, little piece of advice.
BS is all around us. It’s driving me crazy. I deleted my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and any other social media accounts. I read news only in Feedly where I can decide, which sources I trust. I’m quite sensible about bullshit.
I think, that’s the only thing you can really do, because, the truth is: The Internet, Television, movies, music – our entire economy is driven by advertisement. And the whole advertisement business is BS. That’s not just a prejudice, in that case I know what I am talking about, I once took part in that machinery.
But we know that. We constantly mistrust any information, we don’t listen to arguments anymore, we listen to opinions. Every movie star can make political comment, any music idol is allowed to judge science.
Researching real data behind any topic is easier as it ever was, but no one wants to hear facts.
It’s true: BS is basically a form of lying. In most spiritual systems and religions lying is banned.
In Christianity: “Thou shalt not lie” is often quoted as the ninth commandment. That’s what children learn in bible school. Funny that this quote is BS itself, because the commandment literally says:
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” which is a ban of perjury, not of lying.
Lying is essential to any society. Everyone lies, we all lie on a daily base. Lies are a social glue that makes life more bearable for everyone. You don’t expect to have a deep emotional relationship with everyone you meet on the subway. That’s not possible.
“How are you?” – “Well, lately I feel really depressed. Last night I pondered suicide. And, how are you?”
And there are lies that save lives. The scholastics in the 12th century already knew that. If the man of the Gestapo asks you, if you are hiding your Jewish neighbour and you do – you will save a life, if you are lying and that’s absolutely the right thing to do.
So, lying is sometimes necessary. Which is exactly the excuse advertisers use. In most cases they do not lie openly, they simply don’t communicate negative aspects of a product – For example the fact, that you absolutely do not need it or that it is too expensive. Instead they emphasize the positive aspects – that’s okay, isn’t it?
Do you remember that Trident commercials? That four of five dentists recommend Trident, a sugarless gum? Well, it turns out that the question the doctors were asked, was:
If your patients chew gum, would you recommend sugarless gum as preferable, like Trident or any other brand?
That’s the high art of lying without lying, you see?
That’s the reason why advertisement is BS. Because it’s not simply lying.
It is lying with an agenda. It’s not telling the whole truth, because it wants you to do or believe certain things. That’s BS. Let’s take that definition. Lying with an agenda.
I like that one, because it makes the nonsense, I told my children regarding that Easter bunny thing less evil. I had no agenda, believe me!
Because spirituality is a commodity now, the market place is full of BS. And the hidden agenda is: Cash. Money. Euros. Dollars. Pounds.
All the spiritual BSer say they intend is to make it possible for you to lead a better life. They sell the unknown truth, because they are motivated by compassion. That’s what they all say. But even the Spanish Inquisition, which no one ever expected, was motivated by compassion.
So, the spiritual BSer put on their whole show business act to distract you from the fact, that they don’t care a single beep about you leading a better life, if you can’t pay.
And there are four spiritual BS concepts out there, that I really loathe.
Let’s begin with compassion.Most people I met that are no Christians anymore, say something like: I believe in Christian values, but not in the institution.
Then I ask: Which Christian values? Compassion is the one they all quote – “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”, you know.
When the West examined the spiritual thinking of the East, they were very confused. But there was one thing they understood, one thing that was the same:
Compassion! Look, this Buddhists are good guys! Let’s not kill all of them. They do have “compassion”.
But it’s not the same thing. Buddhist compassion originates in the idea, that there is no difference between me and my neighbour at all. It’s in no way meant as: First try to be compassionate, then you get your treat in heaven.
Once one of my students asked me specifically to do a Metta meditation. Which is a very Theravada thing to do, so I had no experience with it. “Why do you want to do that?”, I asked.
And she said, she wanted to train her compassion.
So that she could be a better wife to her husband.
Who, excuse my language, was a very pain in the beep and treated her like a piece of furniture.
In my opinion she needed no training in compassion, I should have recommended Krav Maga instead.
But I didn’t.
“Love and Light” is the next big thing.
Spirituality sells so much better if it constantly praises light and love and butterflies and flowers and peace and lollipops. That’s what we want to have. Did I mention chocolate ice cream? Well, then all that and chocolate ice cream.
I completely understand, that people need orientation and something to believe in, but I really can’t tolerate any spiritual system, that’s ignoring the dark side of existence. Ignoring the suffering, the sickness and death.
Because the shoah was a very real thing happening here, in the country I live in, it is important to me. I already told you about this one photograph that changed the way I think about suffering. The van filled with Jews that were transported to their death. And the way they looked in the camera.
If your spiritual way, your method, your philosophy would have helped those people in the van, then let’s discuss it. I’m interested.
But if you basically take the money of people that are wealthy and secure and healthy and have problems to cope with that – you are not helping at all.
I am sorry, if I’m a little old fashioned, but I can’t credit the inventor of a new diet that helps people to look a little more like the photoshopped models in advertising in the same way as someone who tried to help feed the one billion of hungry human beings out there. It’s a difference.
The dark is out there. Death, violence and sickness is out there. And it is inside of you, too.
Another favourite: Tolerance!
If you decide to do anything, there will always be a comparison with possible choices you could have made.
If you decide to play football, why didn’t you play basketball?
Comparisons are fine. And a personal decision is fine, too.
And it is important to stick to that, because nothing spiritual comes fast.
But: If you constantly are told that the way you have chosen is the most direct way, the true way, the way to put an end to all your problems – then run away as fast as you can!
This intolerance can come in the form of mockery:
“Look at all those! They use the wrong posture while they meditate! We know so much better!”
But this can end in hate. Antisemitism is, at it’s historical source, intolerance against another, related religion.
If your teachers pray tolerance, but are full of cynical comments about their competitors, you have detected spiritual BS!
And, last but not least: The master. Again. I know, I am repeating myself, sorry!
If any spiritual path is centred around one single person and not about a practice, then I will not waste any time with it.
When you hear the very first rumours about something supernatural your teacher has done, it’s time to leave the building.
I am not dropping any names, but if the spiritual leader is able to work miracles, then you have arrived in BS territory. That sounds funny, but it is very, very common.
“My teacher is so sensitive that he or she feels instantly what I am really feeling!”
I heard that one so many times! Believe me: He or she is not! You are projecting!
And it makes no difference if that person comes from a Hinduist, Buddhist, Muslim or Christian background. Even all the self-helpers and self-optimizers are included – if they have developed a method that solves all your problems, that’s working miracles. That means: It is total BS!
If the people around you are working on a pedestal for the teacher or the leader or the master of the spiritual path you are choosing, then remember: Most monuments out there in the whole world are build for the wrong reasons.
We did talk about the BS that’s all around us. BS being lies told with an agenda in mind.
But there is a problem. And I am not sure, if you want to hear that.
I believe, that the biggest and most juicy BS there is, is the BS you are telling yourself. Or I am telling myself, I am not excluded.
Regardless which path you will choose, if it does not require you to be honest to yourself, then it’s wasted time.
And being honest to yourself is a heavy burden. We lie to us every day.
The main problem is, that we don’t know who we are. No one does. That’s because it’s completely the wrong question. “Who am I” cannot be answered by ourselves ever. Self-actualization is nonsense. It happens. You don’t have to do anything. Self-actualization is BS. You will never, never know “who” you are. You simply are.
If you would live on an island, completely isolated, you would not spend one minute on the question “who” you are.
But, because we pretend to know “who” we are, we develop a persona, an image of ourselves that we identify with.
Normally there is not much room for the negative aspects of our emotions, we tend to suppress those. We build a nice person, because mainly we want to be loved.
And then we BS ourselves to be that persona.
We say things like:
“I had every right to be that angry, because: How could she or he say that to me!
I will start jogging, as soon as I get the right shoes.
I have every right to be sad, because I am constantly getting belittled.
I can write a book; I just need more time.
I will stop smoking – but not today, it’s not the right time right now!
This meditation thing makes me feel so much better. I am not bored at all. I feel enlightened already!
The list goes on and on. If we want to judge about wrong masters, spiritual celebrities, advertisers, politicians or anybody else, because they are BSing us – let’s not forget that we keep telling lies to ourselves all the time.
You are your biggest bullshitter. Sorry!