How to Choose the Right Spiritual Product for You
I recently attended a talk where the speaker made reference to the ‘spiritual supermarket’. In my mind, this title infers two things. The first inference is the idea that there is a huge variety of spiritual products from which to choose. The second inference is that you have to pay for the spiritual products you purchase.
This raises many questions.
Which spiritual product is good for me?
Is the spiritual product good quality or home brand?
Should I be paying or how much should I be paying for spiritual product?
Is there such as things as a spiritual farmer’s market?
There are so many products labelled spiritual, are they all really spiritual products?
Is there such a thing as an authentic spiritual fad? Right now it’s all about mindfulness. What is spiritual anyway?
I have had these questions cross my mind on many occasions, made more poignant but the fact that I promote a ‘spiritual product’ – The Enhances Awareness Program (EAP). Being the case, this leads me to being challenged, from time-to-time, by spiritual consumers. Typically they will ask – if this is divine work, why do you charge so much? Why do you charge at all? They also observe that they have a ‘pantry’ full of books, seminar workbooks, mediations, mantras and magic, but still struggle to stay in stillness, to remain aware, to be compassionate. They explain that they are still attached to their lifestyle, their possessions and needing to be liked. They will say ‘If all of this ‘stuff’ is meant to be so good for me, why am I still suffering?’
How to Stop the Suffering
The first place to start is to define what spiritual means. From the 13th century, spirit as a noun meant ‘animating or vital principle in man and animals’. The verb from the 16th century meant ‘to make more active or energetic’. Before that spirit was associated with the idea that breath gave life.
From the EAP perspective, spirit and spiritual refer to the sponsoring desire or want that motivates how you engage life physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s the animating force for how you engage life. For example, if your sponsoring desire is survival, then you will use your physical, mental and emotional capabilities to meet that need. It becomes the energy that gives vitality to the sum of these three elements – consciousness.
What You Can Focus On?
The next thing to consider is whether to focus on the symptoms of an imbalanced consciousness (the result of being poor in spirit) or the cause. The symptoms might included depression, divorce or separation, material loss, retrenchment, or a life-style disease, to name a few. By focusing on ‘treating the symptoms’ you typically end up in the spiritual supermarket, often having tried the medical supermarket. These ‘spiritual’ interventions for the symptoms not only cost money, but in many cases also turn out to be unsustainable. That said, some of the interventions are necessary for resolving the effects of the symptoms, and as they say, ‘different strokes for different folks’.
Exploring the Cause
A more holistic approach would have you explore the cause, and of course the authentic spiritual product would have you identify the desire (the wants) that inspired the values and beliefs. The very same values and beliefs that fuelled the consciousness that in turn was the catalyst for your symptoms. That same product would also have a clear strategy for how to transform your desires, which would lead to values and beliefs that sustainably serve you in the best possible way. This enhanced awareness would result in you being more mindful of how you treat your physical body, more mindful of the thoughts you entertain, and more mindful of your feelings and emotions.
Create a Match
The next thing is to see how your spiritual product matches up against the teachings of the great spiritual masters, i.e. Buddha and Jesus (and there are many more). Both of these teachers taught that ignorance, avoidance and attachment were the cause of our dis-ease. Buddha called them the three poisons. Jesus identified them in The Parable of the Sower’ as the seeds that fell in three different types of unprepared soil. In short, the remedy they both subscribed to was heightened awareness, being the remedy for all three ‘poisons’. It would appear that unless a spiritual remedy is based on expanding your awareness then it will generally be about treating the symptoms.
The Question of Money
Then there is the question of money. New Zealand advocates for compassion in healthcare, Hearts in Healthcare, have approached their paid work by asking clients to cover the out-of-pocket expenses up front and to pay what they felt the service they received was worth, once the work was completed. Typical of the remuneration that people in this type of work get is reflected in a recent study into the financial rewards for massage therapists working in the USA. A 2014 survey in the United States showed the average income of a massage therapist was one third that of the rest of the country. It also showed that fifty per cent of therapists have a second job to ensure they can cover their bills. It’s funny that people are prepared to spend large sums of money on material possessions, entertainment and food, but struggle to see the value in spending money on their spiritual wellbeing. As with your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, there are times when you have to seek paid help when things get out of balance. And like the spiritual supermarket, there are supermarkets for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
It makes sense that the thing that gives your life momentum needs the best attention. That is your spirit, and is reflected in how you relate to life spiritually. Since we can’t expect government regulators to control spiritual product, it becomes a case of consumer beware.
Finally, there are a couple of ways to tell if a spiritual product is working for you. If you keep on experiencing what you have always experienced, then there is a good chance it’s not working. If it doesn’t empower you to be self-determined in how you live your life, then there is a good chance it won’t work. If there is a lack of transparency in those facilitating then it may not work. In summary, it pays to be aware when you enter the spiritual supermarket. Oh, and don’t be afraid to window shop before you buy!
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