Atheism has thrown the baby out with the bath water.
We live in a highly rational and intellectual society. Reason is so powerful and our devotion to it has given us so much, (education, medicine, a relatively fair justice system), that we assume anything “spiritual” is bullshit – the realm of fairy tales.
We’re missing the point.
Spiritual development = Emotional development
(And emotions are what make us buy things.)
By removing all the mythology and tribalism and dogma, we find that spiritual understanding is an understanding of human nature. It’s an understanding of the ego (the “earthly self”), and all of its negative emotionalism (“sin” or “bad karma”).
Through many months of study and self-investigation, I’ve come to understand subconscious drives better than just about anyone I’m likely to meet on the street. Via ruthless self-honesty, I’ve learned I am much more devious, prideful, and self-centred that I previously realised. Unearthing this crap is in the service of dismantling it, but it’s also useful for selling.
For example: My Guilt, though it hurts my sense of self-worth, led to a defensive shell of Pride forming around my identity. I love being “different from the herd” in a peculiar way. It’s sneaky enough to have taken months to notice and admit to, much less let go of.
Here’s the thing: If I look back to some of the largest (and sometimes ill-informed) purchases I’ve made, I see how they stimulated that very part of my ego. They knew to trigger my pride (without making me have to admit I had it), while taking enough of the onus off my own ability that my faith in myself was only a minimal barrier.
It seems too powerful to know this stuff. Too easily misused.
The ethics are for another day. For now, just consider spiritual work as an investigation of human nature. If you side-step the mythology, tribalism, and dogma, it might help make sense of people strange yet predictable buying behaviour.