Spirituality For Sale
I was watching an episode of Bill Moyers Journal about how the greed of Wall Street is based on fraud. The guest on this particular show was William Black who identified the problem of our economic crises as a betrayal of people’s trust. People create a sense of trust through a series of manipulations designed to put a target at ease and when the opportunity presents itself, something of great value is exchanged for products or services of little value or, as in many cases when spirituality is involved, no value.
Bankers and other people in the financial world sold people on the idea of investing in assets that were either worthless or significantly overpriced. And as long as people were interested in becoming unwitting targets, people were interested in making them targets.
The same is true for people who prey on people in the ancient African spiritual tradition. Babalawos and iyanifas and people who claim to be of all kinds of priestly titles in the African tradition will prey on people who trust their spiritual development in people who claim to be in the spiritual know. Many people who may consider themselves spiritual neophytes want to entrust their spiritual development to other people who might appear to be more spiritually knowledgeable. And in order to become more spiritually developed, many people are willing to pay good hard earned money for it.
But spirituality is something that is totally subjective and open to interpretation. To some, spirituality is nothing more than being talented. A spiritual person can manifest their spirituality as a talent to entertain others. Other people may think that spirituality is having a string of priestly titles and paying for expensive rituals. People who are spiritual will know ritual and will know African words and dress only in traditional African costumes. Spirituality is measured by how many Orisa pots somebody has or how extravagant an Orisa shrine is put together or spirituality is dependent on how big or how festive an Orisa pot might be. Some people think being self centered is evidence of spirituality. People highly spiritual are royalty and deserve to be waited on hand and foot on a round the clock basis.
But spirituality is nothing so simple. Although spirituality can be developed, it is nothing that can be bought and sold like a commodity. It is nothing that should be shopped for. Although some people can help others develop their spirituality, if such help comes only at extreme cost how can that be spiritual? The though of paying extreme amounts of money for anything is stressful for most people. So how can the stress of paying for an expensive spiritual ritual help induce spirituality?
And while we’re asking questions, why does spiritual rituals cost so much anyway? People with priestly titles simply pull fees for spiritual work out of thin air. Exorbitant prices are supposed to assure quality of the work. But how can spiritual quality be verified? Do divination services come with a guarantee? Do people who perform rituals intended to induce good fortune give the money back when bad fortune is the result? Of course they don’t.
There’s absolutely no way to verify spirituality. I don’t care how well somebody boogies across the bimbe or how high somebody can jump with a machete in his or her hand spirituality is not a quantity to be measured. No priest is more spiritual than I am. I cannot claim to be any more spiritual than the next soul. People who pay extravagant fees promising to deliver your Ori into the waiting arms of Orisas should be avoided like the plague. No human being has the power to deliver another person to his or her spirituality.
A person who says that they should be paid handsomely for spiritual development is the same type of person who would be willing to sell worthless property to investors at over the top prices. There is no difference. Most people who spend a lot of money for their spirituality will simply turn around and look for their own spiritual suckers to fleece.
People need to wake up and realize that spirituality is not something that is bought and sold. Spirituality is something that is carefully developed on ones own. It is understandable to pay someone for his or her help in the process to develop spirituality. Teachers deserve to be paid to teach students. But the payment should be reasonable. And spiritual development takes time, not money. Anyone who says otherwise is someone that should not be trusted. Spirituality is hard to measure and hard to qualify. People out to cheat others are much easier to spot.