If it’s not called Champagne, but “sparkling wine”, you can tell something’s been lost.
Same thing if it’s called “Mindfulness Meditation” and not Samatha or Vipassana (the original Buddhist names): you can rightfully wonder why they needed to change the name.
Spiritualities are distributed through the same channels as convenience goods, therefore they need to be marketed.
Why did Yoga become a fitness method when it used to be a spiritual path taught to the members of the Brahman cast only?
Some will argue that it was a way to popularize these very beneficial tools, others will say that unscrupulous Gurus just wanted to make big dough.
In either case, by making something widely available, you often water it down.
Every junkie knows the lifecycle of heroin on the market: a new dope arrives, it becomes famous for its potency, by the time it becomes a major brand it’s already cut with detergents and other household by-products…In the end its name is all that’s left.
The way spiritualities are sold in the West is quite similar.
Which raises a question: do we want that to happen with Buddhism too?
So far, Buddhist teachings have traveled step by step through Asia and were transmitted carefully from one generation to the next, yet only an estimated 15% of the original message is left now.
It’s safe to wonder how the West will to succeed in keeping Dharma as powerful and transformative as the Buddha taught it (or at least, the 15% left).
From the individual point of view, we should always wonder what matters most: being changed by a spirituality, or changing a spirituality to meet our expectations. If we don’t see it that way, marketers will quickly do with Dharma what they do with everything else: a big pile of Bullshit.
It’s obvious that traditional aspects of Buddhism can be a turn off, and there’s probably a lot of chaff mixed with the wheat in every spiritual transmission, yet it takes quite a while before you can tell apart style over substance. It might be safer to study traditional ways before jumping into Spiritualities 2.0.
I remain very interested in new spiritual trends, and in some cases I feel happy they exist, but I always question the motives behind customizing old spiritual traditions to make them more palatable to a large audience.
When I hear of meditations “inspired from Buddhism”, I always wonder: what has been lost?