by Federica Morrone
“Last places available”; “Only for you discounted price”; “Gentlemen come”; “I will change your life”. The historical moment gives way to the commodification of spirituality. War, crisis, pandemic, we are immersed in a Middle Ages with the threat of end of the world. We just have to cry: “Remember that you must die”; “Yes, yes, now I’ll sign it”.
The sellers of salvation and easy solutions multiply, feed beliefs and addictions. The lighting ofsoul it has become a product. Too many coaches, counselors, gurus, professional huggers, pseudo-experts of life, food, emotions use the same market rules with the sole aim of earning. “You’re still in time”, “It’s the turning point”; “Come to the New Year retreat”; “Detox with me”; “Unique and extraordinary opportunity”; “Don’t waste time, take the shortcut”.
I have taken countless courses as a student and have conducted many of them. They work when the transmitted techniques they are the result of serious scientific verifications, however none change life. You often come across braggarts who concoct businesses fished out of hippy festivals fifty years later and sell them as their own invention to secure a salary. Without a professional ethic, the lust for profit takes precedence over everything. Competition is ruthless: it is the vendors who need members, by now the number of instructors is close to that of practitioners. There is a real run-up to those who go through pain, mourning, separation, are the more attractive customers.
One of my closest friends felt himself falling into a abyssit can happen to anyone. We’ve been living in two different cities for a few years and I can’t be as close to him as I would like. However, I tried to follow him in his choices. He was determined to take different paths all together, as often happens when he suffers and wants to feel good right away. I took the liberty of suggesting that he eliminate the immediate from his intentions, of give yourself time; and then to select the different possible ways preferring the help of people who have studied a lot and who have been practicing the profession for some time.
He is a pragmatic man: before he had never dealt with the mental health and he was hardly inclined to consider the soul. He entered the world of courses and retreats that heal, detoxify, save, confused and without previous experiences. He was overwhelmed with a multitude of offers. “There seemed to be a lot of people who loved me,” he told me on the phone, “after a while I realized that I had mistaken the fake kindness of the sellers for love. I encountered inordinate egos, superficiality and the desire to get rich. And then so many strange names, little clarity”.
He stayed in the days when it was a doctor who suggested a diet. He found himself to be detoxed by a self-styled nutrition expert “whom I understood to have no academic qualifications”. Then there was the yoga master who, after just a few lessons, had organized future weekends and holidays for him starting in Umbria and Tuscany, soon ending up in India at exorbitant prices even for a luxury tour operator. “Some people venerate him as a master, to me he seemed like a dodgy who speaks in catchphrases copied from the aphorism”.
Luckily my friend even in distress did not lose lucidity and sense of irony. Others, on the other hand, need to blindly rely on a guide, while the real work is done alone, at home, every day. Having clear of this bar openings to cheaters. There discipline it is important, but without becoming excessively rigorous and upright, it is better to keep flexible, closed cages create frustrated and potential monsters.
In times of intense suffering, it would be wise not to rely on anyone and to hold the wheel firmly. Yeah, easy to say, but while theremood sucks it is difficult to maintain command of oneself; and then the help of professionals with a verifiable curriculum is welcome. Mental health is precious and is a matter of knowledgeable peopleeverything else is fine for playing.
Not the case with my friend, but in this new millennium there is still one multitude of people who blindly follows spiritual guides letting their choices be influenced by priests of any religion. The modern buying and selling of indulgences – with relative remission of penalties – prolific where there is non-knowledge that leads to superstition. It is easy for the inculcated sense of sin to cause a form of self-flagellation.
Spirituality is a wonderful inner journey, free from religious influences, it does not involve inhibition. It is intimate, private, it does not need to be codified by sometimes hypocritical individuals, by whitewashed tombs. Religions prevent evolution: entangled in perverse and harmful mechanisms. The dogmas, the beliefs, the inviolable facade rules, the illusion of a promised land that one day perhaps will arrive, repress the present, the only reality that exists. Conquering the time of now protects against the expectation of a future that may never come true. Free from a past that no longer exists and is therefore healthy to let go.
Converting to any creed is equivalent to triggering new dependencies: preferable to face the relationship with oneself by releasing it from the bonds. Considering science by eliminating all forms of superstition. So back to serious mental health professionals. Rightfully my friend came to sit across from a qualified psychotherapist, he dated him for a while, sadly the relationship didn’t work out. And he was really good, because, despite him being sick, he had the strength to change. It didn’t stop at that highly competent but lacking empathy doctor. The second possibility was the good one, the new specialist has the same academic qualifications as the first but combined with one deep sensitivity.