Now, to bring all this back to your critique of modern spirituality … well, let me try to summarize. What you're getting at is that religious or spiritual "seekers" tend to behave exactly like consumers going into a shopping mall, and the people that sell them their "enlightenment" behave like corporate manipulators and ad men, and all this psychological consumerism seems to be related to just about everything that's wrong with the human race. It seems to be some sort of planetary disease. Or worse: human consciousness seems to function this way, period. Whether we speak of spirituality in India, major religions, corporate business, political ideology, nationalism—it all follows this pattern. Stimulation, manipulation, linguistic reinforcement, and so on—all that we've been talking about—it's all a form of consumerism. Or consumerism is the latest form of the psychic pattern, which comes down to the same thing.
All right, but a lot of people recognize this, a lot of people are aware of this—it's not the first time I've heard these ideas. Even if I agree, still, what alternative is there? It's easy for us to sit here and indict human nature for being all too human and not natural enough. And so? Is there an alternative?
I think the real question is how to face all these things—whether globalization, colonization, New Age cults, or whatever—all these things that function according to these same mechanisms in our psyche. Yesterday it was religion, then colonialism, and today it is globalization. Only the name and the form change; the spirit and the content remain the same, the psychic mechanisms remain the same.
The "don't-touch-my-car" mechanism.
Among others. If you can face these things, you won't have to seek an alternative, for you will be the alternative, incarnate.
So how will we face these things? We've always tried to fight them on their own terms—politically, socially, legally, rhetorically—and we've always failed. And we've failed because we fight mainly in society, in the courts, in the halls of government, which is valid and often necessary, but not enough, because the spirit and content of the problem are in the psyche. So the answer is to find a way to go inside. Every individual has to do it, one at a time. You, me, everybody. There is no other way. You have to forget the outer names and the forms—globalization, religion, and so on—and go into the spirit and content. The spirit and content are in the psyche, so you have to go into your psyche, into yourself, then find the mechanisms there—the mechanisms that connect you to all that and make you a part of it—and undo them. There is no other way. If you can get in there, and stay inside you—not in your mind, not in your experiences and gratifications, but inside you—then everything will change.
Collective stupidity and cruelty don't come from heaven or hell, but from individual men and women. The sum total of stupidity and cruelty in the world—the forty-seven wars currently happening on the planet, the destruction of the environment, all of it—comes from individual men and women. The individual is the key to the problem, and also to the solution. You have to work on yourself. ...
From my beloved teacher in India