Reflections on Sane Spirituality

Of Netti-pots and Spiritual Lives

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I have a Netti Pot. It's a device that spritzes saline solution into your nasal passages. I use it to keep my throat clear for singing, but it also cleans away allergies, cold germs and general assorted gook. It is amazingly effective: works like a charm!

Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. Until my good-hearted dentist mentioned it, I never had either. That's because it is not advertised in major newspapers. Has no TV ads. Is not promoted or product placed on TV or movies. After all, it's not a drug that some pharmaceutical company can make its fortune on. After all, its nothing but a squeeze bottle and a bunch of saline packets you can mix with water. There's just not enough profit in it to pay for a major campaign.

Truth is, we hear about the stuff that someone can afford to advertise. We just don't hear much about off brand clothing labels, excellent books by small publishers, or even, except for the rare few, indie movies. Frankly, we hear about the stuff that someone can make a profit on.

I've always wondered why meditation hasn't gotten more play than it has. The TM that I do regularly has had an amazing number of studies showing that it reduces blood pressure, helps with focus, reduces illness of every stripe, and, from what i know, increases longevity. It also happens to help people with somewhat vaguer but more important issues: it helps people become more satisfied with life, happier, more fulfilled. It seems to be just about as effective as any form of psychotherapy for some kinds of internal troubles.

Though I'm less familiar with the studies, I know that Buddhist meditation helps similarly.

So why on earth aren't the insurance companies lowering rates for meditatiors; why aren't people clamoring for these amazing tools, and taking up meditation by the hundreds of thousands?

Same reason you've never heard of the Netti Pot. There's not much profit in it.

If it cost us $10 a day to pick up a mantra, so someone could make a regular profit on our choice, you know damn well that some company would be touting it endlessly: TM HEALS YOUR HEART. BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATION IS BETTER THAN RITALIN, would be splashed across billboards. Doctors would get pads and pens with TM emblazoning. Hospital Wings would be named after Vipassana Teachers.

But no. We have good hearted people doing good hearted things to improve others' lives, and having a hellova time getting 10 butts onto lecture hall chairs.

It's a travesty, that's what it is. We hear about and hence use drugs with obscure names, market tested shapes and complex forumlae to cure minor aches. And meditation hangs out there in the wings, remarkably effective, strangely easy to do and largely unknown.

It is too easy to mistake the promoted for the effective. My Netti Pot works like a charm. My meditation is much much better, as it has helped bring a life from the bowels of dank depression to something like productive, reasonably happy and helpful.

The Forge too: we exist to promote conversations that matter, interactions that go so deep as to discover the common spiritual ground beneath us all. It is a beautiful dream, of human beings coming together in grace and understanding. If my life and the life of people who are active in the Forge is any indicator, people were to undertake such conversations they would feel more connected, far less alone, and in a context of meaning and yes hope. It is a wonderful act, making depth contact like this.

Our problem however won't be that what we're doing is not wonderful. Its that we cannot make money on people everyday interactions. Once one has paid the modest membership fee, we do not charge for the contact. And thus we will not be able to promote this deeply human act as well as Pfizer can promote a pill to make harder erections.

What a screwy world we live in! Its not the meaningful but the profitable that carries the day. The wonderfully effective but cheap will lose out everyday to the modestly effective and the expensive!

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