Saturday, April 18, 2009

dear reader -
i always pick up a copy of Open Exchange: Bay Area's Healthy Living Magazine to browse through it. i am curious about this circuit and all the people doing all kinds of therapies, creative arts, workshops, seminars in search of the "higher self" or "fulfillment" or "tantric experience" -- you get the picture. i have noticed in this recent publication that they have more Asian American practitioners than before. there may even be a Fil Am or two, am not sure.

recently, a friend asked - after attending a motivational event on how to find your authentic self - why there are no Fil Ams or Asian Ams at such events. she then began to reflect on the possibility that most Fil Ams have no problem with being authentic, that we are always just ourselves, unmasked. and so why pay to attend such an event? her next question was: well, if someone wants to build a career on the motivational lecture circuit and do it within the Fil Am community, wouldn't 'decolonization' be a good topic to develop? my brief answer:

I appreciate the questions and actually many folks have already asked if i would 'popularize' the decolonization framework and if it can be packaged to share with our community (much like the self-help event you cite). But the more I've thought about it, the more I'm convinced that what we/I have to offer doesn't lend itself well to the capitalist framework. I resist the idea of commodifying the work of Spirit. I think this is also the pitfall of the phenomenon that you are witnessing: as long as people feel they can purchase 'authenticity' they delude themselves into thinking that they can shortcircuit the deep inner work that is required.

... when you meet white folks who line up to hear motivational speakers and pay up...this is indeed a white, middleclass, maybe even suburban phenomenon. the proliferation of self-help books and gurus point to a deep -seated lack of ability in many folks to come to a sense of their own authenticity. i think this is what capitalism has done -- cultivate desires, fears, and then create commodities to satiate and palliate those desires and fears with products including selfhelp stuff. that is one layer. there are many more layers...but mostly when you point to the value placed on individualism (extreme) and folks lose track of their innate desire for community and erotic connection to nature and other species and other beings...you have the making of a culture that manifests itself in such events that you witnessed.

but, i admit, that the reason why i pick up "Open Exchange" is because I am fascinated by the capitalist marketing of what i call the work of Spirit. i understand that people need to make a living so why not advertise? people are willing to pay for services like these, why not sell?

so far, am not yet convinced.

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