Dear reader

Why do I write about pitfalls of spirituality?

My purpose with this blog is to crystallize and share my thoughts and experiences, in the hope that you and I may benefit from them. From 1993-2005 I practiced a so-called spiritual method (Sahaj Marg). Ultimately I realized that this method - and especially the organization around it (Shri Ram Chandra Mission or SRCM)- was contrary to some deep spiritual layer in myself. I came to some clear conclusions, and also to some still developing insights.

One still developing insight is that almost everybody is looking for some form of spirituality in their life. Therefore there are many spiritual methods and movements, often with similar pitfalls to the ones I experienced.

Many people follow a well-trodden path which is defined by the group in their immediate vicinity. Others are prompted by their heart and/or head to look for spirituality that makes sense on a personal level. Spirituality gives fulfillment -humanity as one, universal love growing, one with the buddha- as well as direction through life's tough questions.

I write about the pitfalls of spirituality because so many others seem to write mostly about the bliss of their own approach to spirituality. This bliss to me actually seems a pitfall.

Understanding the pitfalls I deem essential to gain more spiritual insight. For me this actually translates into a lighter and more loving heart. I do not believe that understanding is the key issue in spirituality. But I do believe that misunderstanding can block key issues (although to which degree probably varies with each person).

Please bear with my frequent use of I feel, seems to me, in my not so humble opinion and so on. It is to emphasize that I do not consider any of my opinions to be more than that. I cannot bring you universal truth. In my not so humble opinion [imnsho] universal truth is a major pitfall in spirituality.

Dear reader, I hope you find something worthwhile on these pages. Friendly reactions, which may be as critical as you like, are always welcome.

Tips how to read this blog

* Please start with the closing remarks (click on the link), they should provide a balanced perspective on this blog.

* There is a list of 20 pitfalls in the sidebar. Clicking on a pitfall will provide a number of posts in which that pitfall is discussed to some extent.

* If you have time, consider starting with the oldest post, and simply going through to each next post. This probably gives the most faithful ;-) reading...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spiritual marketing techniques 1: So you wanna be a spiritual teacher

I recently came across a wonderful article called `Spiritual marketing techniques', written by Andrew P on Energygrid.

It is quite lengthy for a web article, but I will reproduce it in 3 parts. (Kind permission is granted by Energygrid).
Part one: So you want to be a spiritual teacher
Part two: Techniques for promoting spiritual teachers
Part three: Techniques for promoting spiritual teachings

[This post is part one.]

Spiritual Marketing Techniques
Andrew P—10/2009

An examination of methods used to market spiritual teachers and teachings. Whether you are an authentic spiritual teacher or just playing the guru-game, there is good money to be made in active spiritual marketing.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A SPIRITUAL TEACHER? You want to have your own paying customers who look to you for inspiration and spiritual support? Why not? Always remember there are many people just like you who have done it very successfully, and you don't actually have to be that awakened or enlightened. All you generally need is to understand and apply spiritual marketing. It really couldn't be simpler. Whether you are someone who had a flash of inspiration on a bus, a simple meditation or yoga teacher, or a fully-fledged guru, these techniques will help you to be more successful by increasing your customer base and your income.

Spirituality is something that many of those in the New Age and New Consciousness movements focus upon. These individuals want to be spiritual because they have a yearning for a more meaningful life than the one officially sanctioned by society, and they have a strong disdain for the limitations of ordinary material perspectives. After all, spirituality usually offers inner happiness; unlimited love; physical, emotional and mental healing and wholeness; and even the ability to create our own realities — having anything and everything we want (even that Ferrari). No wonder spirituality is such a popular buy!

New Age spirituality is currently one of the huge growth industries (and has been since the 60s/70s), an industry that is worth countless millions in annual turnover as individuals, reaching the limits of what they feel society can offer them, reach forward into what spirituality can offer. After all, why settle for the house, the car, the TV set, the family and the food on the table when we can add to these inner fulfillment, God's love, a place in the afterlife, a magical ability to manifest things and events, and even physical immortality?

The thing about spirit is that you can't see it, touch it, hear it, smell it or taste it. Spirit is formless and ephemeral, and so just about anything and everything can be said about it and attributed to it (and has been). Because of this, it is a marketer's dream: it costs nothing to produce; it is in infinite supply; a large percentage of the population wants some of it, especially in desperate times; and it can be packaged in any way desired without risk of trade descriptions legislation. Not only that, but what makes it especially valuable is that spiritual awakening is usually considered a one-way process, making it a one-in-all-lifetimes' purchase. In other words, spirituality is the perfect commodity.

Consider the mapmaker analogy: When you promote your spiritual philosophies you are really promoting maps of a mysterious territory called "spirit". The thing about spirit is that it is invisible to the mind, the senses and the emotions, and so the general public are in the habit of buying maps of this mysterious place from the explorers who claim to have been there — and that includes you. The fact that the territory is actually unmappable is an in-house secret; most people just do not want to believe this. Whilst spiritual maps were culturally integrated for most of human history — basically there was no choice in the matter — today with the burgeoning to cultural and religious freedoms, at least in the West, there are numerous maps now on offer. And you want to be one of those people with a successful trade in your particular spiritual map or maps.

The only snag, of course, is credibility. If spirit cannot be experienced objectively because it is formless, how do you convince your customer base that it exists as you have described it, let alone that it exists at all?

Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to do this that have resulted in the success of many different teachers and gurus. You can't convince everybody, so do not even try, but you can convince those who are open to being convinced (for whatever reason). To be successful, you should market both yourself as the teacher and your teachings.

Below are listed some of the marketing techniques that have been successfully used. Some of these you might feel are too transparently marketing techniques, but always remember that the type of customer you are trying to attract is pushing for a relationship with a teacher — your target audience is more open and gullible than you could imagine — and will actually thank you for hooking them even with the most obvious marketing techniques. Remember, there will always be people you will NEVER convince so don't even try to set your sights on convincing closed-minded, rational people; it is a complete waste of time and resources.

Although there is overlap between the marketing techniques used on the teacher and the teaching, they will be listed separately for clarity.

* * *

[to be continued in part two, next post on this blog]

1 comment:

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