7 Signs Spiritual Materialism is Ruining Everything

yoga mat

Remember “The Secret”? The 2006 movie and book that promised to change your life just by, you know, wishing for stuff? (But wishing in a really spiritual way.) That may have been the thing that kicked our modern spiritual materialism movement into high gear, but it looks like that chapter might be coming to a close.

We’re not talking religion here. (That would be too dogmatic.) But, really, what is spirituality? We know what it’s not. And these signs signal the End Times of a culture that’s been way over-commercialized and marginalized to the point that it’s lost all meaning.

1. Overuse of the phrases “I’m spiritual but not religious” and/or “I’m an atheist, but I’m spiritual” have become so dogmatic that you can almost pinpoint who’s going to say it, usually right after someone rolls their eyes about your expensive yoga studio membership.

2. The same goes for explaining the many reasons why splurging on Burning Man boosts ones “spirituality” year after year. But instead of spending that time to go meditate, or plant trees, or offer relief to disaster areas, or walk needy shelter puppies, thousands of people continue to spend millions of dollars every year just to go and sit in a temple in super sexy outfits before it burns to the ground all in the name of spirituality, dancing and drugs (of course).

3.Bikram Choudhury,the millionaire luxury car-collecting yogi to the stars, has been slammed with lawsuits over allegations from former students that the enlightened, bendy, and sex-deprived yogi sexually assaulted them. Why is it so believable? It’s not just the number of allegations, or the fact that the man is more often than not photographed in Speedos, but that he continues on—teaching and preaching about a spiritual lifestyle in the face of such controversy.

4. Spiritual materialism is at an all time high. Just today I saw advertisements in my Facebook feed for “Dress Pants Yoga Pants.” As in, one in the same. They go perfectly with that mala bracelet that’s supposed to be used in meditation, but rarely ever is. Except maybe when road rage cursing takes over the Prius driver after yoga class because someone almost scratched their Coexist bumper sticker and made them spill their kombucha!

5.Veganism, the ethical diet and lifestyle choice for the hippie-freak animal lovers, has hit mainstream in a big way. Mike Tyson’s a die-hard vegan now. The diet has even captured Al Gore and Bill Clinton. So what happens when the woo-woo diet of the spirituality movement becomes really popular? Well for one, vegan cuisine gets really expensive and restaurants impossible to get into. Then, those people who used to be vegan start eating meat, of course. From the flip-flop celebs to the backyard gardeners/urban Brooklyn hipsters who “used to be vegan” but now find more of a spiritual experience in slaughtering expensive breeds of rabbits because they “make a better stew.”

6. Marianne Williamson is running for Congress in California. And now that Henry Waxman is stepping down, the best-selling spiritual teacher, author and lecturer may have a realistic shot at moving from the self-help genre to the self-helpless world of elected officiating. Is it time better spent? Or just egotistic pursuits and arrogance in thinking she can bring some kind of awakening to Congress? Or another book opportunity in the works?

7. Lululemon ruined yoga clothing forever. Not that we need clothes specific designated for yoga anyway, but those pants were kinda comfy. That is, until we could see right through them to everyone’s stinky arses. Offensive comments about thighs made by the now former chairman, founder Chip Wilson, led to his ultimate retirement. The company has brought in Laurent Potdevin from TOMS shoes—another sign the spiritual movement is being overly commercialized. Instead of meditating on or working through your privileged white guilt in real, tangible ways, brands like Lululemon and TOMS tell us to just shop. With a cause, of course. Feel better?

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Fashionbyhe

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.