(1855–1933) [Public domain]
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There is abundant research on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. You can buy meditative aids for whatever you desire – health, family, prosperity, business, whatever. There is corporate meditation and guided meditation. There are mindfulness workshops and reasonably-priced guides to mindfulness. And perhaps all that is good, perhaps it helps many people start a spiritual practice. Selling meditation and mindfulness is big business.
Of course, the actual practices themselves are not for sale. They are free, innate, a gift of grace. Only decorations have a price tag.
It’s sort of like veganism, in a way. Veganism sometimes looks like affordable books and low-priced memberships. It sometimes sounds like marches and protests. You can wear badges for buying compassionate products. And selling veganism might be good too, if it helps people become vegan.
But, just like you don’t need to open your wallet for meditation, you don’t need meat substitutes or memberships for veganism. It’s free too, assuming we’re talking about added cost from lifestyle choices.
And that’s what really being sold: lifestyles. To meditate is free, to be mindful is free, to be vegan is free. But to properly appear as an advocate of those things is not. The uncountable money being made each year is being sold not to the higher minds recovered in spiritual practices, but to the pride and pretension of the lower minds. Not that these do not co-exist in the same individuals – they assuredly do – but let us not fool ourselves by supposing our bumper stickers and yoga mats are virtuous. They are like our necklace crucifixes made of gold. Spiritual dressings that blind us to spirit.
I do not mean to rant and rave, dear hearts. I’m sure that some of you came here for advice on commoditizing the spiritual lifestyle, but I could never tell you better than is amply demonstrated by folks like Deepak Chopra or the massively-profitable evangelicals. Run workshops! Write niche-targeted books and make supplemental CDs! Jewelry, bumper stickers, and yoga mats. Merchandising is the core of selling meditation and mindfulness.
I do not mean to throw over the tables of the money changers of the temple, either. Just the other day, I bought another Buddha statue. I was given another crucifix on my birthday. I too have that lower mind, that poser, that degenerate with a wallet. The ambiance of it all appeals to me. I enjoy the incense, the esoteric Buddhist texts, the guided meditations. But these purchases from those selling meditation are lifestyle choices, just as my occasional indulgence in a meat substitute is. There is no holiness, infinity, or unboundedness in them.
No, the divine and the spiritual is never bought or sold, never lost or gained. It is only looked away from, or looked toward again. When we sit in meditation, the swirling debris and chaos of mind subsides because we stop agitating it. As the waters still, we gain depth and clarity – we can see into the pool, and out of it. All the meditation accessories in the world have nothing at all to do with meditation. Meditation clears the mirror of dust and dents, uncovering stillness, love, and compassion. Meditation is throwing away all workshops, belief systems, and merchandise as so much rubbish. Sitting in meditation, you sit with the truth. Buying and selling meditation is about false appearance.
Mindfulness is about carrying the truth with you after you rise from sitting. When you are mindful, the health or corporate benefits of mindfulness are more trash to be thrown out of the window. When the fog of mind clears and you are strolling in Heaven’s garden, the very idea of a business agenda is laughable. Here, this tree prays to the cathedral sky! There, children laugh as they tumble in the grass! Bliss, grace, and miracles. The Beloved walks with us in our meditation and mindfulness.
We ourselves are the key, gate, and pure land. Jesus and Buddha are with us, in us, now and always. There is nothing to do, nothing to buy or sell, nothing to gain or lose. There are no right clothes, there is no required reading. Sit outside a while, and share hearts with the trees and birds. Stroll with your loved ones. All the lifestyle accoutrements in the world are dust compared to the priceless, free truth.