Thought capitalism couldn’t get worse?
Do you feel lost? Like your life has been drained of meaning or purpose? During your work day, do you wander from task to task in a daze, just waiting to be released from this painful monotony? Yeah, well, guess what, your boss noticed and now she’s hired a spiritual consultant. Firms like Ritualist and Ritual Design Lab – there is also a robust selection of freelance consultants available, according to the quick and demoralizing Google I just did – help corporations imbue the office space with what the New York Times calls “some of the meaning that [people] used to derive from churches, temples, mosques, and the like”.
That sense of alignment with the divine, of guidance and belonging, of comfort and solidarity once provided by the act of congregation – that maybe got soiled or complicated by things like child sexual abuse scandals or a religious community that struggled to incorporate cultural shifts like social justice movements – can now be easily replaced by the same employer who recently refused to add dental to your health benefits. By promoting “mindfulness” and “intention”, by participating in group rituals, by making even routine tasks meaningful and soulful, employers can make the work day a kind of spiritual practice.
And to these consultancy organizations, I only want to say one thing: congratulations. You just invented the cult. This is just the next inevitable step in the secularization process that divides ancient tradition from its larger contexts or meanings. The ancient tradition of yoga is no longer a philosophical discipline, it’s about shapely buttocks; witchcraft is not about overthrowing your oppressors but instead about getting a raise at your job. Silicon Valley bros have been using the same psychedelics and mindfulness traditions once used to expand consciousness and pursue peace to increase productivity and come up with radical innovations like: what if we took the experience of being in a zen monastery and turned it into an app. This world truly can drain the beauty out of anything and then try to sell you the husk.