Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spirituality, Marketing, and Intelligent Feedback Loops

Last night, I enjoyed a video called "Last of the Dogmen" that I heard about on Netflix in a negative review of a different video. That got me to thinking. (Doesn't take much, I must admit.)
For a long while, I have felt that there was something a bit off in most spiritual advertising, that modern spirituality should not uncritically accept advertising/marketing practices that are so grounded in non-truth. But I did not quite see an alternative, other than to advertise poorly or not at all, which is pure but doesn't spread the teaching. And the sites I have seen that are not 100% adoration are 100% negativity. What is needed is the kind of review system they use on Netflix or Amazon and in many shopping sites.

Review: "I was disappointed in this workshop because it turned out to be all lecture and no workshop. The only thing workshop about it was the higher price".
7 of 8 readers found this review useful.
Review: "Tom is the greatest teacher in all history. We are so blessed to be alive and be able to sit in his presence!"
0 of 15 readers found this review useful.

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Much of the charge I had held about teachers, the expectation and the disappointment, dissolved recently at a retreat. But the question remains about the role of mystical/esoteric (not exoteric*) teachings in modern societies that are materially prosperous and politically freer but where those very advances are creating the desire and need for spiritual meaning faster than that meaning is being found, created, and spread.

Interesting planet.

* In other words, the role of teachings that focus on changing who you experience yourself as inside rather than on your behavior outside. "Do you belief in God?" is an exoteric question. "Who is the 'you" who believes or doesn't?" is an esoteric question.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

As the World Shrinks, It Gets Too Large

As the world shrinks, people come in contact with other nations, other cultures that they had been barely aware of. There is a limit as to how much change, how much of the unfamiliar people can assimilate in a given period of time. Education and material prosperity and security can raise this amount, but the limit is still there.
The Internet is changing and shrinking the world (or as Thomas Friedman puts it, flattening it) faster than people are comfortable with. Some of the symptoms of this are obsessive anti-immigrant sentiment in the 1st world, hatred of the West in Islamic nations, the rise of the Christian Right in the US.
What is needed is the capacity for a more conscious guiding of social development. Social development driven more by an overall vision that treats all people as important.
As it stands now, social development is unconscious. Much of it is good: the spread of education, increased capacity of ordinary people to understand the big picture, improved status and freedom for women and minorities, the shift of much of eastern Asia and now parts of India out of poverty and into modern prosperity. Some of it is not so good. In particular, the way that hyper-competitive globalization throws the "losers" onto the trash heap: much of rural China, 1st world blue collar workers, most of Africa, the Arab and other Islamic nations (except those people on the oil dole), much of Latin America, much of rural India.

The Long March (psychology of a movement)

If the need for the Long March really arose because Mao and his allies had purged the party so much that it could no longer hold its base area and was forced to flee, how did this purge change the party? Were the kind of people drawn to the organization different before and after? If the culture of the organization changed, would it not attract a different kind of person?