Increasingly, spirituality is being woven into marketing approaches that target our deepest yearnings and connect them to products that can only address superficial needs.
It’s a brave new world.
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Much of what was predicted—a Jetson’s lifestyle of 20-hour work weeks and an abundance of leisure time’has failed to materialize. In its place we’ve developed a crises laden environment where the very survival of the human race is now threatened… and the list of threats is growing daily.
What might this have to do with the sea change we are witnessing in the field of spirituality? “ … the rise in spirituality has been happening among both highly religious people and the religiously unaffiliated. For instance, among U.S. Christians, there has been an increase of 7 percentage points between 2007 and 2014 in the share who say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least weekly (from 38% to 45%).2
This articulates a fascinating trend. Here we are in the midst of escalating challenges, yet more and more people are reporting this increasing “deep sense of wonder.” Is that an escape and, if so, from what? Or is it the forced shift in priorities? What are we saying no to and what are we opening to?
“If I were selling a product (and I wanted it to sell!), then I would market it in such a way that it appeared to be the solution to everyone’s greatest need. However, when thousands of other companies use the same strategy in trying to sell their products, suddenly the market is full of thousands of solutions to our greatest need. And next year, there will be a thousand new “solutions”. Why? Because all of last year’s solutions didn’t satisfy. Why do we think this year’s marketing will be different?” 3
What is our greatest need? Abraham Maslow developed the hierarchy of human needs back in the 40’s and listed Self-Actualization at the top. Is that still relevant, 70 years later? His work appeared in a paper called The Theory of Human Motivation. Perhaps another motivation is now impinging on human experience, a spiritual force that is affecting us all, to expand our awareness from being merely human—and capable of fulfilling ourselves as humans, or not—to a broader experience of ourselves as spiritual beings in human form.
That understanding might conjure up a yet higher need, sitting atop Self-Actualization, something we might term Spirit-Connection. If true, this would explain the emerging phenomenon revealed in the study that found such an increase in the daily sense of wonder.
Just as scientists propose laws that only work in a closed system (while admitting there are no completely closed systems), we retain faith in the human bubble, imagining ourselves impervious to influences from “beyond.” What, then, is causing this increasing sense of wonder, and the shift from religion to spirituality?
Marketers can work their magic, connecting this urge to products and profiting from the alliance, but that doesn’t explain why that deeper connection is increasing. And the emergence of spirituality as a significant force in people’s lives cannot ultimately be contained by Madison Avenue. Pandora’s box has been flung wide open and we’ve entered a gold rush of a spiritual awakening. What’s the future for this trend?
Novelties wear thin. As disappointment replaces the initial thrill of any new purchase, whether it be a car or a yoga mat, were left with what motivated that acquisition, the growing desire for something more. But what we seek cannot be found in any product, no matter how it is presented and no matter what it can do for us. What we seek lives within us and it is priceless. All sages have taught this, urging their devotees to turn away from the material world to actualize their own divine potential. In that sense, the song remains the same. What’s new is the scale of spiritual awakening. Small seeds have grown large!
This interesting riddle might give us pause: If lilies double in number every day and it takes 19 days for a pond to be half full, how many more days will it take to fill the pond completely? Some of you will perceive the answer immediately; for others it will come as a shock.
Just one more day.
It might take 48 days to get to the half full mark, 600 days, a thousand days, but if the math of exponential growth holds true, going from half full to all full will occur in one final day.
Is something like this happening with the spirituality trend? Regardless of the bleak news that saturates the media, humanity does seem to be awakening, even though it may appear to be an agonizingly slow process. But we can take heart, because the expansion of awareness is exponential and we may live to experience a spiritual revolution taking place, virtually overnight.
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