Jeremy Carrette and Richard King. Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion. London: Routledge, 2005. Paperback, xii + 194 pp.
Most consumers of so-called spiritual or New Age teachings are far too preoccupied with their search to realize that they are part of a vast and growing market. The authors, who are well qualified for the task at hand, convincingly demonstrate that spirituality has become a favorite commodity in the global marketplace, which is increasingly exploited or, as they put it, “hijacked” by corporations.
Carrette and King argue that far from being mere simple palliatives for the anxiety-ridden contemporary seeker, spiritual teachings and traditions—from Yoga to Feng Shui—are insidious symptoms of a culture-wide addiction that “reflects orthodox politics, curbs self-expression and colonises Eastern beliefs.” Their trenchant criticism cuts to the quick of New Ageism with its shallow interpretations of genuine wisdom traditions, remodeled to fit the expectations of the narcissistic seeker who, above all, wishes to maintain the status quo while simultaneously giving the appearance of inner growth and spiritual realization.
This book is must-reading for anyone purporting to pursue spirituality or advocate inner growth. It is a sobering sociopolitical account of how traditional wisdom is being perverted—an excellent complement to Chögyam Trungpa’s early work Spiritual Materialism, written from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective.