The Enlightenment Business by Dr. Harsh K. Luther

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Religion and spirituality today are a big business. Generally the spiritual teachers, preachers, and the so called enlightened masters of the day are really motivational speakers and self styled self-help expert who are engaged in entrepreneurial ventures aimed at financial and commercial success. Every year people spend billions of dollars buying the books, CDs, and self-help programs offered by such teachers.

The commodity that the spiritual teachers in the new age sell in the free market is called “Enlightenment”. Enlightenment is intangible and not well defined as a product. The cost of production and storage costs of “Enlightenment” are very low, and so there is always plenty in the inventory to sell! Of course, there is the cost of marketing “Enlightenment”. Still even with that expense, the profit margins for this product or service have the potential to be very large for the established experts or the spiritual teachers.

In a very real and substantive sense, the so called modern teachers of “enlightenment” are far removed from the sages of old who cared nothing for money and financial gains and adopted a life of humility, poverty, and service. Some of the well known saints of India such as Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana did not even touch money with their hands. Generally, in almost all the pictures, Sri Ramana is shown wearing one simple cloth piece called Kaupina, which is equivalent to an Indian underwear. These sages were venerated by their followers because they demonstrated in their life what true enlightenment embodies.

Many of the spiritual entrepreneurs of the day appear to seek the adoration and veneration from their followers without much inclination towards demonstrating behavior or conduct befitting a sage. Although it seems self-evident to most objective observers, it is not always obvious to many disciples and students of yogis, spiritual teachers, and cult leaders that their gurus are simply human beings and therefore limited and sometimes deeply flawed.

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