The Posturing Herds and its Debauchery
I once stayed for few days in an astounding meditation center. The huge, misty green-blue shaded mountain which hovered over the dome & pyramid-shaped buildings bestowed an idyllic look so as to hail it as ‘temple of meditation’. I must confide that I haven’t deeply immersed myself in the art or practice of mediation (or in other body & mind-relaxing techniques). But the visit to the place reinstated a sense of inner peace or calmness which I couldn’t find in the deafening silence of a corporate cubicle or in the joyous mayhem of friendly gathering. Like many other meditation centers, the place came about because a genius spiritualist wanted to clear a path to personal enlightenment without allowing us to get bogged in the swamp of religious beliefs. The aim was not to create followers or bestow knowledge that’s strictly labelled as ‘sacred’, and most importantly they treated money as obsolete factor (there was no begging for donation or clear-cut, money-driven meditation packages).
More than a year back, I went back to the same place. The spiritual genius has passed away, entrusting his dream-child to trustees. Furthermore, the place has gained popularity because of the ability to live (for few days or weeks) in perfect harmony with placid nature. Everyone from hedge-fund managers to doctors and bureaucrats wanted a chance to experience the ‘authentic’ surroundings of the place. Soon, there were neatly demarcated packages for different classes of people. They all wanted a brief escape from the city life, yet they weren’t ready to reject their life defined by materials. By the time, the gadgets made its way into the meditation center (of course you must switch it off during the meditation session) and photos were taken of the organic, green food served there, people started to transcend the ‘authenticity’ of the place.
Placards asking people to ‘keep calm’, ‘switch off your mobile phone’, ‘to not throw plastics’ occupied the ever-extending camp. The former, soothing reality was hacked to pieces and the public gorged those little pieces to click selfies for the sake of acknowledgement from social media ‘friends’. The depressed herds ran aground into the meditation center, thinking the enlightenment is a commodity, achieved through check-in updates and by selecting better packages. What else could provide temporary relief and long-term damage than our species’ love for ‘make-believe’? The homo sapiens who flocked the place wanted to store their experience (within the smartphones) than live a single moment of that experience. One of my narcissistic relative’s widely-grinning image, taken in those lush-green terrains, gained immense likes and assuaging comments. People in the social (media) circle interpreted that image as an achievement (achievement of what i don’t know). Carl Jung said: “You are what you do, not what you say”. In social media, the slogan is: “you are whatever you fancy and project”.
Perhaps, people addicted to social media are the same as the people flocking to money-driven, erroneous spiritual or meditation classes: they are duped to think of themselves as unique individuals or even geniuses, forgetting that they are just negligible part of a herd; a herd which besieges itself within hyper-reality. I wouldn’t say I have always stood high above these herds, only watching them stampeding their way through every unique atmosphere or original thoughts. Sometimes, I have been part of such herds (in virtual as well as physical space). But I am trying my best to learn about the abyss, waiting all around us in the contemporary mundane life, offering eradication of loneliness and personal enlightenment as the chief bait. The end result is to make one a consumer; not just the consumer of a material, but instills the need to consume half-baked ideologies or absurd social behaviors.
The words ‘Self-improvement’ or ‘self-help’ or ‘success’ or ‘friendship’ have become the most corrupted words in this era of ludicrous corporate spirituality, information obesity and exaggerated sense of self-importance. In a society where the line separating real and fantasy diminishes or the line separating truth and lie blurs, any odd behavior or snippets of (non-factual) information can be purported as ‘spiritual experience’ or ‘knowledge’. Beware of the self-styled spiritualists who lure us into their sprawling camps, built after burning out acres of forests, in order to instill a sense of misguided optimism. Beware of the self-proclaimed social media philosophers and think-tanks who talks of various ‘isms’ with no profound knowledge, boasting a simple need to look ‘cool’. It does become confusing or even intimidating when people say ‘we are living in post-deconstruction, post-modern world; a world with never-ending stream of confessions and opinions’. May be, I am not clever enough to fully understand the complexities of such well thought-out jargon. Nevertheless, great books and genuine friends have helped me to fill the inner emptiness and to not fall into the chasm of addictive and annoyingly narcissistic conduct. May be that’s what matters, while we wait for the dawn in our respective lives.