Enlightenment For Sale

I have been traveling along the New Age path for nearly 35 years of my life.  Not a long time by some standards but certainly long for me.  It all started with a comment from a colleague back in the early 80s.  We had been invited to her home for a Christmas party and while waiting for the food to be served I wandered into her kitchen where she was busily putting together some appetizers.  Of course I knew this would be the case and thought I might snag a bit of shrimp.  While making small talk I noticed a purple quartz crystal sitting on the widow shelf.  Very absently I asked what it was for; thinking she would tell me it was the latest kitchen decoration fad.  Much to my surprise she said it brought harmony to her kitchen and the food she prepared.  At the time I was very much the scientific academic and was a bit taken back by her response.  As I dug into her reasoning she began to falter and simply handed me a book which she said would explain just what the hell she was talking about.  This was the beginning of a very long journey.

Back in the mid 80s information flow regarding new age concepts was limited to what you could dig up at the local library.  The Internet was in its infancy and my only source of information was from new age book stores.  Communication with other travelers was limited by traditional social networks: which in my case was a professional academic community that walked on a tight rope of being politically correct.  You could study non traditional beliefs, but to attempt to apply them in your own life had to be done in secret else family, friends and colleagues would question your mental stability.  With the advent of the Internet this all changed and nearly overnight  information exploded across the planet.   Unfortunately there was also an inundation of spiritual hawkers : those who attempt to sell enlightenment.

Along with the brightly lit New Age messages came the business end of spiritual enlightenment.  It is big business and for the right price you to can become enlightened.  Try finding a new age web site that is not trying to sell you a book or a ticket to the latest life coaching seminar.  There was a time when gurus handed out knowledge for the asking (The Buddha and Jesus), but times have changed and faux enlightenment is now limited to those fortunate souls who can afford the price of spiritual freedom.

The answer to all of this is very simple:  you do not need a spiritual broker or guide.  It is true that for the short term they will give you a sense of well being.  But it will not last and will not serve you in times of stress.  I am not advocating abandonment of reading books on interesting spiritual subjects. What I am saying is that spiritual enlightenment does not occur by reading or attending seminars from  gurus or life coaches.   It comes from “unconditional” active participation in helping others.

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