“Leveraging Mindful Practices To Maximize Productivity”, reads a Forbes headline from last week.

“Using mindfulness to overcome financial stress”, reads another headline published a few days ago by Financy.

“The impact of mindfulness on businesses in the work from home era”, reads another by Business Review from last week.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a surge in the forceful mainstreaming of so-called mindfulness practices, a westernized iteration of various eastern meditative traditions emphasizing non-judgemental present-moment awareness which can, as a side effect, reduce stress levels. If you look at the headlines above, it’s not hard to see toward what end these practices are being promoted.

The way mindfulness is being so aggressively prescribed as a means to relieve the soul-crushing stress of meaningless labor under a meaningless system has been discussed at length in Ronald Purser’s 2019 book “McMindfulness“, which critiques the way “mindfulness has become a banal form of capitalist spirituality that mindlessly avoids social and political transformation, reinforcing the neoliberal status quo.” Are you experiencing financial stress from being ruthlessly exploited by your unfathomably wealthy employer? Mindfulness it away! Are you having trouble coping with the demands of empty gear-turning in an amoral corporate machine which benefits humanity in no discernible way? McMindfulness, baby!

The sticking point here is that mindfulness, like literally every other spiritual practice that has ever existed, can be used to psychologically compartmentalize away from certain aspects of reality. Bringing awareness to the present moment can indeed take mental energy away from stress-inducing impotent thought patterns, but it can also take attention away from real problems which should in fact be dealt with at some point: the fact that you are in an abusive marriage. The fact that you are in an abusive workplace. The fact that the working class is in an abusive relationship with the ruling class.

Hang out in spiritual circles long enough and you’ll realize that most of the people who frequent them are using spirituality to run away from themselves. Using spirituality as stress management instead of addressing the inherently stressful living situation they’ve found themselves in. Using spirituality to give themselves a few nice feelings here and there to escape from the unpleasant reality that all their close interpersonal relationships since birth have been with malignant narcissists. Using spirituality to give themselves a nice story about going to Heaven when they die to comfort themselves through the suffering caused by early childhood trauma.

This is false spirituality, and it comprises the overwhelming majority of what’s out there, whether you’re talking about personal spirituality, New Age/spiritual-but-not-religious spirituality, or organized religion. Probably ninety-nine percent of spirituality as it actually exists in our world is just glorified escapism. Nice stories, feel-good conceptual re-frames, practices to help you bliss out on the surface instead of addressing the deep sources of profound suffering underneath. Devices for reality avoidance, no different from drugs, overeating, compulsive sexual behavior, video games or Netflix binging.

False spirituality serves corrupt power. It always has: from the minute the local strongman discovered he can manipulate his subjects with fairy tales about invisible deities who only speak to him, to the Roman empire promoting a religion which promotes meekness, poverty, obedience and “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, all the way to mindfulness practices being promoted at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

False spirituality serves corrupt power because it draws awareness away from a clear perception of reality, and therefore away from a clear perception of corrupt power. True spirituality does the exact opposite.

True spirituality means expanding consciousness of what’s true and real, both within and without. It means bringing consciousness to the subconscious dynamics within us which generate our suffering, rather than using feel-good spiritual practices or religious narratives to sedate ourselves through that suffering. It means becoming conscious of our true nature, of the way self, experience and perception are really happening as opposed to how the mind tells us they are happening. It means bringing consciousness to the unconscious aspects of our lives, our community, our society, and our species. It means shining the light of truth on all the injustice and depravity the powerful work so hard to keep anyone from looking at.

True spirituality isn’t pretty. It isn’t cutesy. It isn’t comfortable for the ego. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real with yourself and calling the truth out into the light, regardless of how ugly or embarrassing it might be to realize. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real about the contradictions and sources of dissonance in your personal life, no matter how inconvenient or downright terrifying it can be when you have to eliminate them. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real about what’s going on in the world, even if it means flushing your old worldview and the psychological comfort it gave you right down the toilet.

Corrupt power relies on keeping things hidden and endarkened. That’s why government secrecy is a thing. That’s why mass media propaganda is a thing. That’s why the persecution of Julian Assange is a thing. That’s why internet censorship is a thing. Corrupt power structures cannot thrive in the light, because if people could see clearly how badly they’re being robbed and exploited and by whom they would immediately use the their vast numbers to overhaul that system. Corrupt power and false spirituality have therefore always had a symbiotic relationship, while corrupt power and true spirituality have always been natural enemies.

For this reason, it’s unsurprising that so much of what passes for spirituality in our world today is false. No matter what the age and no matter where the location, those with the ability to dominate culture the most successfully have been those with the most power. Healthy impulses to shed the light of truth in all directions would at best receive no platform and at worst get people burned at the stake, while unhealthy power-serving belief systems would be widely promoted by the powerful.

This remains as true as ever today. Colonialism, capitalism, consumerism and imperialism have left us so disconnected from ourselves, from our roots, from the land we live on and from any sense of depth that the majority of us end up turning in desperation to power-serving belief systems, not realizing what they are. We let old power-serving religions give us our spirituality. We let the news man tell us what’s good and what’s true. We let Hollywood tell us what’s meaningful, what’s worth living for, what’s worth dying for.

And it never satisfies. It never can. Trying to fill that hole we’re trying to fill with what mainstream culture offers us is like trying to quench your thirst with seawater.

Only truth can satiate us. Only by shining the light of truth inwardly and bringing our endarkened aspects into consciousness can we extend our roots downward in the way our spirit craves. Only by shining the light of truth outward to the reality of our current circumstances in this world can our branches extend upward and let our spirit soar.

The one advantage true spirituality has going for it that it didn’t have in ages past, if you can call it an advantage, is the fact that we as a species appear to have trolled ourselves into an evolve-or-die predicament, leaving ourselves in check on the chessboard where the only way to escape the checkmate of extinction via climate collapse or nuclear war is to collectively awaken to reality.

Humanity will not survive if we don’t all start getting very, very real with ourselves very, very soon, both inwardly and outwardly. We survive by purging ourselves of inner falseness and outer falseness, thereby reaching the level of maturity needed to shift to a collaboration-based planetary civilization where we work in harmony with each other and with our ecosystem for the common good.

We will either make the jump or we will not. Whether we do or don’t will have a lot to do with how courageous we are; whether we are brave enough to desire the truth come what may, or whether we succumb to the inertia of fear and fail.

The good news is we can all help building momentum for that jump right now, by doing everything we can to expand human consciousness both inwardly within ourselves and outwardly in the world. Sing the truth loudly, wake up as many people as you can to as much truth as you can, and wake yourself up to as much truth as possible by bringing consciousness to your inner dynamics.

Shine bright, and shine in all directions, and we just might win this thing.


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85 responses to “False Spirituality Is The Friend Of Corrupt Power. True Spirituality Is Its Enemy.”

  1. Title hereto confusing, at least upon excessive reflection. The concepts of “true” and “false” remain undefined within the open scope of that termed “spiritual”. As with our relatively new notions of quantum mechanics, spirituality is the anything/nothing/everything state of reality until such time the waves thereof crash upon an observer whose previously evolved senses, cognition and biases translate the ethereal into experience. As the field is prepared, so grows the garden, or not. IMHO, God bless Eostre.

  2. The English language has been found lacking in terms for describing spiritual phenomena. One word that can help is “shum”. It refers to anything that has a positive, uplifting effect on a person’s spirit.

    In English the closest word I know is “fun”. Increasingly, I am convinced that engaging in activities that uplift our spirits is an effective route to resolving humanities confrontation with planetary limits.

    More Fun, Less Stuff

    Belt tightening lacks broad appeal. Pointing out what we can reclaim, on the other hand works better: more time for relationships, creativity, appreciation, helping, sport, music, dance, learning and the like.

    Satisfied with living, we can provide optimum nutrition by manage nutrient elements through the soil / food cycle. We can adapt our dwellings so that they collect sunlight in cold weather and gather cool from the ground when it is hot.

    Top that off with unlimited educational opportunity and preventative health care (both composed predominantly from the unlimited resources of knowledge and good-will) and we are on our way toward sustainability.

    More Fun, Less Stuff.

    Pass it on.



  3. Render unto Caesar is badly taught in most western churches. It goes with quotes such as You can not serve two masters. The more you give Caesar the less you give God…therefor …give only to Caesar what yo absolutely can’t avoid …let him have his “money” while you build alternative communities and currencies. Usury is inexorably linked to Capitalism and without usury how do you fund a war? You could take up a collection I suppose 🙂

  4. “whether we are brave enough to desire the truth come what may, or whether we succumb to the inertia of fear and fail.”
    It appears much of the “fear and fail” is motivated by the preference to deny that one’s death is always immanent. That somehow, if we do the “right thing”, which the Psychopaths In Charge are always putting forth, that we won’t die. I don’t suppose it’s possible to escape fear of death, since it’s hard wired into the lizard portion of our brain and useful for survival, but one can come to terms with it. I think I have, mostly anyway, although it took a few near death experiences to achieve it.
    “If you aren’t prepared to die for it, put the word freedom out of your vocabulary”
    -Malcolm X

  5. I rarely disagree with Caitlin, but what she’s talking about here is self awareness, self reflection, truth seeking and aspects of psychology. Spirituality is something completely different.

    1. You are absolutely correct. The author has no understanding of what spirituality actually is. Reading her verbiage is like reading a text book on something not quite related to life.
      Religion is nothing but politics in sheep’s clothing, although for a few it can be a doorway to spirituality.
      Spirituality is a personal matter experienced in a being’s relationship with the spirit world. It is not about revealing truth (whatever that is), or illuminating something.
      The author writes like a communist trying to fathom something beyond her conception, quite simply because she mistakes material honesty with spiritual awareness.
      Many folk live a spiritual life while also living a physical life. Not because they are exclusive but because there is two worlds: the physical is just the material expression of the spirit world.
      We decide to reincarnate in to this material plane of existence to ‘understand’ a specific spiritual aspect of existence more readily learned in a physical world.
      The author seems not to understand what spirituality is and where the concept originated. Perhaps she should examine the Christian Spiritualist or the Moslem Druze movements together with Buddhism to really understand what she clearly fails to grasp in her writings.
      Communistic liberalism which she espouses makes her understanding of spiritualism extremely difficult since her political views prohibit perceiving true spirituality sadly.

    2. @Judy: Perhaps you have a different definition of spirituality. Carl Jung said spirituality was about meaning and inner experience. All those things you listed are part of that.

  6. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. after the fall of the Empire, the resistance has a meeting with the C. Thrownstone about the truer truth behind everything. https://youtu.be/l1_gqbQcI60

  7. Great essay and because happiness is so important to all living things, I won’t say what I really believe about the necessity of survival as that too is just another symptom of life’s manifestations.

    1. Excellent. Thank you for the post.

    2. The Greco-Roman civilization and primordial Christianity were implacably opposed to one another. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is among you,’ not ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is among the Greco-Romans and their armies and their emperors.’ In any case, long after the Greco-Roman polity was wiped out, capitalism arose, and wiped just about everything else out, and gave us ‘a world without a soul, without roots, without ideals,’ in which, as Uncle Karl said, ‘The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.”‘ If there is a way out of the morass, it isn’t by following gurus and leaders and other princes and powers of the present world.

      1. The big picture in a nutshell. But who DO we follow at this point? Both spiritual and political leadership are necessities, or we wander about blindly and ineffectively, each in going our own own way, which means going nowhere together. We sheep need shepherds–always have, always will. But right now there seem to be only wolves out there, waiting to pick us off one by one.

        1. Follow your gut Newton – I got faith in you.
          Hey, by the way, I’m through a good portion of Schumacher’s title “Good Work”. It is a trip back in time and you know how fond I am of Schumacher and so I’m reading it closely and appreciate his wisdom from the past and I wonder why, why, why…..wisdom such as his gets held back. I think I know the answer, and the beauty is, you can’t keep a good idea down.
          Trust your gut.

  8. Are you experiencing financial stress from being ruthlessly exploited by your unfathomably wealthy employer, or privileged spouse? Mindfulness it away! Are you having trouble coping with the demands of empty gear-turning in an amoral corporate machine which benefits humanity in no discernible way? Perhaps you’re a male who’s noticed that not only is the marriage contract a joke from your perspective, but that all males are now sitting at the back of the bus, second class citizens in every way that matters in life? McMindfulness, baby!

    1. P.S. I reposted with all due credit to you Caitlin, but using photos of female bishops. It’s also noteworthy that when I was fighting for some time to also be part of raising our children in the UK family kangaroo courts 20 years ago, I too used the “malignant narcissist” argument and pointed out ten ways that proved my female lesser half was one. I love your work, but invariably feel that it needs some balancing of its often misandric and/or gynocentric implications and suppositions.

  9. Spirituality and corporate should not be used in the same sentence.
    What these Ghouls are doing is polishing their personalities, managing their masks, asserting their arrogance and highlighting their hubris.
    Spirit is above and beyond the delusions of mind.

  10. I Ching for Dummies Avatar
    I Ching for Dummies

    True spirituality according C. Johnstone (2021) – I’m not cute, I’m not cool. I can’t practice what I preach. I have a big pig fat mouth. I don’t have good manners, so I fart on that question. Leave me be, next.

    1. There’s a bat on the premises – hit it with a bat and kill it. Cut off its wings and then eat it.
      I Ching that you dummy.

    2. After you eat it, spit out its rainbow eyes and squash them one at a time!
      Good times dealing with I Ching dummies and eating them up. Ooh, feels good in the tummy.

  11. Beautifully clearly and tenderly expressed, Caitlin. I am sitting in an Australian rural motel breakfast room and in the corner some kind of abrasively over-happy morning TV on-and-on – some country singer from the US being interviewed telling us to wake up each day and be grateful for all we see – mindfulness at its happy-clappiest!

  12. Roundball Shaman Avatar
    Roundball Shaman

    “Probably ninety-nine percent of spirituality as it actually exists in our world is just glorified escapism.”
    When people hate themselves (or at least, don’t value themselves enough for the right reasons), or they can’t stand the World in which they exist, that pain quickly becomes unbearable. And since most people NEVER look in the mirror at the real source of where their problems are (looking in the mirror is also just too damn painful), they will be attracted to anything that provides cheap and easy and lazy balm for the Grand Canyon of Emptiness they feel inside. Drugs, alcohol, sexual relations that amount to be nothing more than mutual masturbation instead of real love… and religion… and toxic partisan politics (which is just another form of civil religion). And also… (cue the angelic voices…) “THE SCIENCE!”… which is the false religion of choice for a so-called-modern misguided age sloppy drunk on a deluded and misguided belief in faux-science-for-sale-and-elitist-agenda-imposing. And also… Wokeism… Karen-ism… Covid Worship… The New Normal… all likewise false religions that lure those too lost in their Dark Caves of Delusion to know that they are being had.
    “True spirituality means expanding consciousness of what’s true and real, both within and without.”
    True spirituality can assume different forms but all of them are ultimately grounded in The Ground of Being, aka God or The Great Spirit.
    Those who care to encounter God and true spirituality first have to stop looking in all the wrong places. Maybe you won’t find God in a book. Or a building, whether a small industrial building rented out to a handful of believers… or the fanciest cathedral ever constructed. Maybe you won’t find God walking among nature. Maybe, you’re trying too hard. Or, you’re convinced yourself that there is nothing to look for. Even atheists have a god… that god is NOTHINGNESS. Worshiping at the feet of MEANINGLESSNESS is still worship of a “god”.
    Maybe you’re looking too hard. Stop trying. Stop looking. Stop trying false detours. Instead, JUST LISTEN for a while. Park your ego for a change. Shut down the loud voices of utter nonsense that constantly loop in your brain and listen to the real prompting of Spirit. Maybe God has been speaking to you all along but all that loud noise just drowns it out. In fact, Spirit HAS been talking to you all the time… but you’ve been too easily distracted. You’ll find God (and “true spirituality”) if you really want to find it. It isn’t as hard as some want to make it. It’s all around you, every moment. It brought you into this world.
    Or perhaps, maybe too many people just don’t really want to find it. That’s not hurting The Great Spirit. It’s only hurting someone else…

    1. Very good comment.

    2. I reckon you only hurt yourself when you don’t want to find the Great Spirit…..wherever, whatever, and whomever that spirit may be at any given moment in time. Time moves on. Endlessly.
      Sally awoke with a premonition that she knew not what to do with……
      The story is never ending, but I don’t know about you, I want to know what is gonna happen next!
      “To be continued……”

    3. Atheism is not about nothingness and meaninglessness. It is about human agency and dealing with real life as it exists on this planet in today’s society. Kind of like what CJ frames as “true spirituality “ here.

  13. Ah, once again, the Buddha Ms Caitlin Johnstone brings the absolute truth to her readers. This article is both a prayer and a sledgehammer for humanity to accept, to digest, and to spread far and wide! Truly great writing Ms Johnstone; magnificent in every way!!

  14. Until Constantine, Rome saw Christians as dangerous atheists: their refusing to sacrifice to the state gods could bring down divine wrath upon the Empire.

    It’s sometimes an idea to approach a difficult saying like ‘render unto Caesar’ almost as a koan: perhaps it’s not meant to make immediate sense, but is there to derail your thoughts.

    1. The traditional interpretation of this parable is yet another instance of the problem of taking quotations out of their historical context, and indeed of distorting them for political purposes altogether. A more appropriate reading rests on this analogy: imagine that the United States had been defeated in World War II and ever since had been suffering Nazi occupation. A fundamentalist preacher appears, attracts a following, and is shown an American quarter with Hitler’s portrait on it – would there be any question in anyone’s mind what “render unto Hitler what is due to Hitler” would actually propose?
      This is what Jesus’ words meant to ancient Judeans – a call to the removal of an alien occupier who thought nothing of their hope to rule the world. And this is how it would come about that Roman authorities executed him by crucifixion, a particularly cruel punishment reserved by law only for non-citizens convicted of insurrection.
      The coin in this story is thought to be a denarius of Emperor Tiberius. You can see one at http://cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=179249

      1. Paul also spends some time explaining how we should give everyone what is due to them. It’s the kind of thing you have to read twice, and in context. Give your life to God and the Truth; the rest is incidental.

    I sat upon a lotus flower,
    And closed my eyes for many an hour.
    I had no need for a world that betrays,
    And the weeks and the decades slipped away.

    Once it seemed that I had won,
    I cared for nothing, or anyone.
    I looked at all with detachment eyes,
    And I felt ready, if should I die.

    Then the walls of my castle cracked and fell,
    And I tumbled into a kind of hell.
    My faults and my weaknesses stood around,
    Like a crowd of ghouls arose from the ground.

    From us you can never leave,
    For your false virtue, you must grieve.
    But with this horror there is much more,
    A good you have never known before.

    BY PAUL CITRO 110820

    1. Barbara LaMorticella Avatar
      Barbara LaMorticella

      Fine poem Paul!

  16. Dear Caitlin,

    Shades of Huxley’s “Brave New World,” comforting us to sleep like the anesthetic before surgery.


    Horror/thriller author S.A. Hogan

  17. Caitlin

    You are a conspiracy theorist!
    Keep up the good work.

    George Carlin:

  18. Thank you, Caitlin. You have eloquently said what I’ve been thinking. It’s affirming to know someone else thinks the way I do.

  19. First, are we spiritual beings? I believe so though I can not tell you what that means. Ghost, spirits, afterlife who here really knows what is going on? Are there other dimensions? Who here really knows the details? No one, It is all just conjecture. Religion will say is can tell you, but which one do you listen to for the ‘Truth’? No one can tell me, we would never agree which one has it.

    What I do ‘think’ I know’;
    a. People are the same today as they were at the very beginning.
    b. If we are spiritual beings which I believe we are. Then we are all ‘spiritual’ all the time. We don’t go to work and forget to bring our spirit. We can’t turn off the connection, the reality of the spiritual dimension we all share.
    c. We are all unique individuals with our own perception of the world.
    d. We ‘Think’, we are intelligence beings/mammals. We have a ‘brain’
    e. We struggle as the individual in a often hostile environment.
    d. We as individuals form ‘conclusions’ based on our perceptions.
    e. We based on the conclusions we form over time, develop ‘beliefs’
    f. We at times form conclusions that are in error. We can have errors in our thinking
    g. After we have developed beliefs it is harder to see the errors in our line of thinking
    d. We form alliances in order to survive.
    e. We must at times make compromises when we form alliances
    f. Alliances help support us mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally (note I left out spiritually)
    g. Alliances form societies
    h. Societies adopt common beliefs

    So where does all this go wrong?

    a. The disadvantage is we are all only individuals with the limited perspective, talents, abilities, resources we have.
    b. The real weakness is in our limited perspective and our reliance on ‘Perception’ to form conclusions
    c. We all introduce for one reason or another ‘errors’ in our ‘thinking’
    d. We form ‘conclusions’ that may not be correct due to errors we have accepted.
    e. When we form alliances we must as part of the compromise accept the weak or invalid ‘conclusions’ of others
    f. We accept these invalid or weak conclusions willingly in return for the mental, physical, psychological and emotional support the alliance brings.
    G. We, those in alliance form common held ‘Beliefs’ based on mutually held weak or invalid conclusions
    H. Our societies over generations are by default left with these beliefs as ‘true’.
    I. We as individuals within a society in order to correct these initial ‘errors’ must go against our ‘alliances’ and our ‘society’ to the extent that this ‘belief’ supports or is integral to said alliance or society.
    j. Self interest of individuals or groups of individuals within society may manipulate ‘perceptions’, leverage beliefs thereby forcing errors and compromise to form new beliefs (this is where Caitlin comes in, she sees this)

    *** Please note here that none of this has anything to do with ‘Spirituality’

    How do we fix this

    a. ** Find a way to form stronger conclusion between alliances **

    Caitlin, “ Probably ninety-nine percent of spirituality as it actually exists in our world is just glorified escapism. Nice stories, feel-good conceptual re-frames, practices to help you bliss out on the surface”

    “The good news is we can all help building momentum for that jump right now, by doing everything we can to expand human consciousness both inwardly within ourselves and outwardly in the world.”

    I really don’t see much hope here,

    ** Change the word ‘Consciousness’ to ‘Rationality’ or ‘Logic’ and it is a different story though. Why because this is what will enable us to form stronger ‘Conclusions’.

    My take; This is not a ‘spiritual’ consciousness but an ‘Intellectual’ consciousness or rationality.

    Please take me to task where you feel I am in error.

  20. I so much avoid the mainstream that this article is the first time I’ve ever heard the word ‘mindfulness. The same goes for false prophets, articles and sources directed toward increasing business and interest in things that are so overpriced as to be an insult. I’m a firm believer in virtually every word of John Lennon’s Imagine.
    These are things I’ve come to mostly by myself, by observation and research. And, to be spiritual, one doesn’t need to be religious, or even believe in some sort of supreme being. I’m well-aged. However, if anything, I now have the advantage of available time to listen to my one understanding of right and necessity and also to recognize bullshit when I read, hear, or see it.
    I’ve never before used the word ‘woke’ as it is used today, but for those it might define, the major problem is that the majority of minds are closed. Those people respond primarily to external stimuli when they respond at all. But most, just slowly walk through a repetitive, mindless existence. They don’t question until something goes wrong in their lives. In fact, even then, many adopt the role of the victim, rather than ‘man-up,’ open their minds, take responsibility for their lives and for accepting the truth. Only then can they be capable fully understanding what is happening directly in front of our faces,
    The problem that I see is that those of us who understand and accept the wider need for both change and the truth, are still a vast minority. If we are 3.5 million strong in the U.S., we represent only 1% of the population. Almost everyone else, rejects any position, or truth, that is not in step with their propagandized minds. As I see it, the biggest problem we face, is how to open those minds before we, as a species, drive ourselves either into extinction or into the full totalitarianism toward which we are now slowly sliding.

    1. Wow! You really do avoid the mainstream if you haven’t encountered ‘mindfulness’ before. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed much. It’s something for those that have everything and still don’t feel satisfied, hardly a hit for those struggling to get by.

  21. Arguing about ‘spirituality’ is a waste of time. It’s all in the ‘I’ of the beholder. Meditation is very helpful. For me.

  22. Newton E. Finn Avatar
    Newton E. Finn

    What’s missing from Caitin’s spiritual musings is a narrative, that thing she believes is the most powerful force in the world. “Consciousness” of what? If my narrative of the big picture is that life is a cosmic accident, that survival of the fittest–red tooth, red claw–is the story of life, of how we got here and who we are, that we’re programmed to protect ourselves and assert ourselves to the max before sinking into oblivion, then why wouldn’t I go for all I could grasp, all I could consume, all I could exploit? Such has been the big picture narrative of capitalism, brought to its inevitable culmination in neoliberalism, where everything–outside us, inside us–is a commodity to be feverishly bought and sold Ferengi-style, until the curtain comes down, as it must, on all of our little ego-shows. Small wonder that the world we’ve created is as debased as our vision of it, our narrative about it–a world of materialism, in both the moral and philosophical sense, with a manipulated and malevolent market ruling over every aspect of our lives. Do we really believe that an amorphous allusion to “consciousness” is a sufficient antidote to this entrenched, pervasive poison? What we desperately need is a new RELIGIOUS narrative, in the full sense of that often-abused word, because make no mistake, we’re up against a full-blown religion from hell. Whatever power Marxism once had came precisely from its religious aspect clothed in secular garb. That’s what scared the hell out of the capitalists, the recognition of a competing religion, one more humane and hopeful than anything the capitalist religion had to offer. If we remain fixated on this “consciousness” drivel, if that’s as definite and specific as we can get in crafting an alternative vision, then we’re beat before we start, haven’t the foggiest clue of what we’re up against. Again, “consciousness” of what? It’s the “what” that is of crucial importance here, which takes us back to Caitlin’s essential insight, applied so incisively politically, so vaguely spiritually: the controlling power of NARRATIVE at all levels of our lives.

    1. Great comment Finn. I’ve thought the same about meditation. Meditation on what exactly?

    2. I often wonder about Caitlin’s pre-occupation with propaganda, when I tend to focus on the hard everyday realities of living in a world dominated by capital as determining our behaviour. She does hint at what this consciousness ight be, with “a collaboration-based planetary civilization where we work in harmony with each other and with our ecosystem for the common good.”
      Georg Lukács, writing about class consciousness, said the proletariat is revolutionary or it is nothing. I take that as meaning without being conscious of our collective power and consciously using it, wresting control from capital, we’re condemned to be nothing but ‘factors of production’ as bourgeois economists put it.
      Consciousness of what? Consciousness of our individual selves, allowing a few – a very few – to rise to the top of Maslow’s pyramid and float there in serene smugness? Or consciousness of our collective potential and the struggles needed to accomplish it?

    3. @NewtonEFinn: I think it’s going over your head — you’re missing the point. Need to also read it with a spiritual eye not just a material eye. Caitlin is saying be aware of the narrative — politically the stories are spun to control the people — spiritually the narrative is the story we tell ourselves about the world (in order for our ego to control it). Be aware of the stories. Be conscious of the world within and the world without.

    4. You make an excellent point I think, Mr. Finn. What we desperately need is a new religious narrative. But I think you are unaware that the groundwork for such a narrative has already been laid. Apparently you haven’t yet looked at my book.
      The book is called “The Tomb in the Garden, the First Easter and a Gospel of Jesus.” It is available as an ebook at the Amazon online bookstore. This Easter, from April 2 through April 6, it will be available at no charge.

  23. Continuing the story from the previous article, the navigator said to the driver named Sally:
    I don’t think “God” has punished us and we need to repent. (I kind of think that is a stupid idea…..). So, to be clear, I don’t think that either. With that said, if some folks need to think that in order to shake the shackles off their minds, then I don’t have a problem with others thinking it. Most of us are just trying to go along to get along and survive day-by-day. If there is a God, or a Goddess, and he, or she, is benevolent, then seems obvious to me, she, or he, would only want good things to happen for us. Does that makes sense? (Ha, ha). I hope so cause that is the only Goddess or God that I will worship.
    As if any supreme being would have gender….
    I don’t think we are on our own and I have faith in certain spirits, but you got the good ones and bad ones and then you have the whirling going round in your own mind (assuming you ain’t a zombie), and this whirling in your goofy brain, if that is where your mind resides, sometimes it can get confusing especially when you are deep in the hole. Mean rabbits down there.
    A principle, old wisdom it is, I hold onto is simply…..scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours…..Mutual Aid. If you want to get to the origin of Mutual Aid from the primate perspective (and so much other life), you got to figure it was when those microorganisms starting giving off Oxygen such that as some point we actually got to do some combustion in our own lungs breathing it in for the sake of energy! Give off a little CO2 with each exhalation.
    I’m rambling, so time to check out for awhile.
    Sally, here is the GPS….no turns for awhile, I’m taking a nap

  24. Caitlin Johnstone absolutely stands out with her written works as activism. However, as an atheist in this area, “true spirituality,” it/she will always fall far short of beginning to touch upon the (actual) reality of Spirit (holy or otherwise). Why? If one “preaches” about truth wherein the author/speaker/writer has no experience, how much moving validity would be forthcoming for the audience? Example: Denigrating and equating Jesus Christ’s teachings with the Davos assemblies exposes a total lack of learned awareness and literally experienced relativity within, as opposed to what is known, as facts, by Christian readers. Whom would we prefer to listen to and/or follow? One who has (actually) lived corresponding subjects? Or, one who criticizes matters from only having read about them – where believing in any core precepts was never even considered as an opening? The latter leads to a further sharing of blindness. Whereas, the former leads to further growth of overall possibilities (within and without).
    After many infallible/undeniable miracles: Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? John 16:31

    1. Oh please. Not even Jesus’ “followers” adhere to what that fictional conglomeration of characters was made by its authors to have actually taught. Convictions aren’t knowledge.

      Friggin leprechaun worshipers are hilarious

      1. OK, Break, except that I have actually experienced many of these things, as have many others I personally know. So we don’t rely on someone else’s second hand ideas from the past.

        1. That’s gnosis. It’s deeply personal and highly individual. Caitlin wasn’t talking about that.

        2. That’s gnosis. It’s deeply personal and highly individual. People of different and opposing religions and spiritual views experience it and sometimes it manifests as premonitions or other phenomena. Caitlin wasn’t talking about that.

    2. Faith in Jesus is intangible. Thus many will never believe.

      1. Thank you and Guard4her for your supportive responses.
        And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:25

    3. The Christian spectrum of believers ranges from right wing Conservative Evangelicals to Socialist Revolutionaires in the South American jungle. Often , and to their detriment, my fellow Progressives stereotype all believers, demean them, and lump them all together..Then they cant figure out why they turn to the right.

  25. I am a very Spiritual person and have been meditating for many years and am a teacher of meditation. I was with you all the way when you were going after “McMindfulness” but you lost me when, in true modern day white American Progressive style, you started going after every thing religious and spiritual. The only Spirituality thats any good and is worthwhile is, of course, your defintion of what true spirituality is. Gee, dont you just hate those narrow minded Religious people who think they have exclusive rights to “the truth”. They are right and everybody else is wrong. Judge much ?

    1. Here’s the spot we’re in. We have to know-ourselves-out of this flaming bag of feces.
      “The one advantage true spirituality has going for it that it didn’t have in ages past, if you can call it an advantage, is the fact that we as a species appear to have trolled ourselves into an evolve-or-die predicament, leaving ourselves in check on the chessboard where the only way to escape the checkmate of extinction via climate collapse or nuclear war is to collectively awaken to reality.”

    2. So you find it objectionable that Ms. Johnstone’s spirituality is in looking for the truth? I don’t know about you but I felt dinged when she mentioned Netflix binging as an escape. Yet, I will not use it to feel hurt and get angry with Caitlin Johnstone for having me face how I have used certain good things to get away from reality, instead of seeing it better.

      As a great and very kind man taught, good things should be put together with what is bad, if reality is to really be honestly seen. You may have to rend unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s but you never have to stop opposing the need for that. I think that religion should be used to get honest hope and self-criticism through seeing God better, not a means of assuaging or burying fear and currying favor with a deity.

      And whatever inaccuracies, if any, there may be in Ms. Johnstone’s article should be put together with the very valuable lucidity of the rest of what she wrote. But first, I think it is better to try and use it to see what is true about oneself. And then see what Caitlyn had to overcome in herself to wrote so importantly.

      1. I believe Caitlin often confuses or mixes activism with spirituality. Thus she has her own unique way of viewing the world.

        1. @Khatika: Caitlin is not confusing activism with spirituality. If your spirituality is not something you live and breathe everyday, perhaps you are simply espousing values. How you live your life, how you act — those are your true values.
          Spirituality or religion isn’t just about praying and meditating — it is about living well in the world and acting accordingly.
          Activism is about helping to make the world a better place. Spirituality is about making yourself a better person. But you can’t do that only by yourself — you have to do that with community, with the world. Helping to make the world better for others is part of spirituality. They are not separate pursuits.

          1. I will have to disagree. Activism and spirituality are indeed sepate pursuits imo.

            1. How much of the force driving the civil rights movement in the 60’s came from religious beliefs? Separating one from the other allows for unjust politics and fake religion?

              1. You ard confusing belief with faith. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow but have faith in something motivated by the spirit. Religious beliefs is distilling faith down to a simple moral code. It is so much more.

    3. “White American Progressive style”! Judge much?

  26. Philip Mollica Avatar
    Philip Mollica

    I have been saying for some time that “shifting” means you have to stop blowing smoke up your own ass. And THAT is the toughest thing to do, and the thing that most people will not do, and will simply disengage instead. And it gets real lonely for those who do, at least at this point. Because once you stop blowing smoke up your own ass, and once you make it unimportant what Society and our “Groupings” want us to do and believe, then basically no-one wants anything to do with you because you no longer play by the rules…

    It takes determination and tenacity, and utter gut-wrenching self-honesty to do this. And you have to be okay with the idea that most people will be utterly disquieted and uncomfortable in your presence, because your energy does not pretend, explain, justify, defend or compromise. You just really have to be okay with yourself, and not depend on any outside source to affirm you. Welcome to the Shift.

    1. Very good Phil, touches home. Unfortunately the next step after disquieted and uncomfortable is to get rid of the source of disquiet and discomfort.

  27. The U.S. Intelligence Community, Flouting Laws, is Increasingly Involving Itself in Domestic Politics
    A letter from House Intelligence Committee members demands answers from the DNI about illegal breaches of the wall guarding against CIA and NSA domestic activity. Glenn Greenwald

  28. Spirituality, if you want to call it that, has another advantage today it didn’t have in the past. When Mr Buddha left his palace, encountered suffering, and wondered what to do about it, changing the way we live wasn’t such an option. Mess with the tried and tested ways subsistence farmers keep themselves alive, and you risk death and famine. So he devised a way to accept the suffering inherent in life in those times. That doesn’t apply today. We can produce enough food, in a variety of ways, and we have technology and understanding undreamed of two thousand years ago.
    Changing the world wasn’t much of an option back then. Today it’s something that happens every day as a matter of course, and it’s imperative we start changing it consciously and for the better if anything we can call civilisation is to survive.

    1. But Buddha did profoundly change the world. Those who attempt to fix current temporal problems are forgotten. Those who attempt to redirect man himself are immortalized.

      1. Mr Buddha may be widely respected, but here at least his teachings are widely interpreted precisely as not changing the world.

  29. Caitlin,

    This above is a brilliant piece. So well considered and so well written. And, of course, it speaks truth.
    Being a fan of yours I, of course, expect these things in your writing . . . but this piece is above and beyond you usual brilliance. And I say that as a fellow Aussie, now living overseas practicing in the filed of true spiritual empowerment.
    Here: http://knowledgism-practice-group.org

    1. Yeah Roger I labeled it “inspired” when I shared it.

  30. First half of your article was good. The last half not so much. Any spirituality which focuses on ourselves is considered good by the world. Christianity focuses on God and your fellow man putting yourself last. Thus the world attacks and hates it. The state of the western societies loved Christianity at first until it became such a driving force that kings had to bow to the Vatican. That was too much. The kings rebelled and formed their own religions. Since then the state has hated Christianity. God first, then neighbor then self, the exact opposite of the world. Self first, neighbor only when convenient and ignore God. That is true false spirituality.

    1. Here is the key, I think.
      You don’t get peaceful.
      You suddenly have to deal with all of your shit…
      True spirituality isn’t pretty. It isn’t cutesy. It isn’t comfortable for the ego. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real with yourself and calling the truth out into the light, regardless of how ugly or embarrassing it might be to realize. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real about the contradictions and sources of dissonance in your personal life, no matter how inconvenient or downright terrifying it can be when you have to eliminate them. It means getting absolutely, uncompromisingly real about what’s going on in the world, even if it means flushing your old worldview and the psychological comfort it gave you right down the toilet.

      1. True spirituality is accepting the world as you find it and living life the best as you can with Love of self and others. True Christians will seldom go about and change the world with activism.. Jesus said he came to change the heart of man not the politics and social mores of the age. He knew that changing man would correct all else.

        1. Jesus was apparently executed (only one crime merited crucifixion) for his populist economic teachings, which were largely expunged from the record by the time Christianity was adopted as the state religion of the Roman empire. I do revere Jesus, and what I have been able to find of his teachings.
          Michael Hudson: He Died for Our Debt, Not Our Sins
          Posted on December 23, 2017

          1. Read your link. Interesting view from an economist but the message of Jesus goes much deeper than that. People cannot seem to grasp that Jesus ultimate message was not about this world at all but the next. He was a king but his kingdom is not in this world.

          2. Get out of debt and you are free.
            I have no monetary debt. My vehicles, my homes, my sense of self, they are all paid for in full.
            Now, if the country you reside within is in debt, then are you as a citizen in said debt? I reckon the answer is YES, but if the debt was accumulated after a coup, then the debt don’t belong to me or you (See the 14th Amendment).
            Even Jesus would know that. Mohammad as well and add the Buddha to the list. Add a bunch more wisdom to it all. We’ve been flowing in so much wisdom, so what is it that is holding us back? Fear is powerful of course, but one thing overcomes fear and I know what the one thing is. Do you?
            So, funny in a way, this is what I said to Sally as we drove after awakening from a good night’s sleep at the sanctuary camp:
            “Sally, it ain’t nothing but a virus of fear. Sprung upon us by those who love debt and usury. Let’s break the shackles they have on our minds, cause Sally, I don’t know about you, but I don’t owe anybody anything. I think for myself, and I practice thinking for myself every day religiously with the spirits I let into my mind, cause I needed the protection they offered after I offered them a place of repose.”
            Sally listened patiently to my soliloquy (page 2169, 3rd column, Webster’s, 3rd International, unabridged), and then she looked at me and laughed out loud! I laughed back and the remaining journey of that day was one filled with good thoughts and feelings.


            1. Funny correction. Page 2168.

            2. One other correction and then I’m going to get another drink.
              With a U.
              I think I can say his name without concern of vengeance and I won’t try to post an image, but even if I did, is that such a big deal?
              You know family squabbles cause so much suffering of innocence and ain’t it obvious what needs to happen to put an end to it?
              “I know what needs to happen Sally. I know.” I said it seriously and I wasn’t playing around and she knew that I knew what needs to happened and we both knew our destination and we moved on closer and closer day-by-day. We both knew. Better times on the way per our way of worshipping things. We took solace in this and we knew the reckoning was on its way and we knew what it is that we would do when we got to our destination. Others would meet us there and then, praise the Lord, the truth would be revealed.

              And such was the dream they both had that evening after a peaceful day of happiness and harmony.
              But, both knew the days ahead were filled with uncertainty.
              So ends todays segment of the never-ending story….so ends it.

            3. Debt is central to modern economies. You don’t escape that simply by not owing money yourself.

    2. Then neighbor then self? Some of your comments recently seemed to be saying if you’re OK, why should you care about your neighbour. Did I misunderstand?

      1. Yes. How do you want it spelled out – by the grace of god?
        Well I’m guessing that is unlikely cause like most things go, one is best off being self-taught. But yes, you misunderstand per my reading of it.
        Ah Ian lets sing a song of ole Eire, Erin if you like, Ireland if you prefer. The names all mean island, and so makes one wonder – why ain’t the island together as one? It should be.
        Now consider poor ole Scotland, so divided in such a horrible way just now as they haul the honorable Craig Murray off to jail. Celtic sisters and brothers they are with Ireland, basically one and the same, but Ireland goes first and maybe Scotland will figure it out. I pray to the ole Celtic spirits – they are in my head. Them and others who share a kinship when it comes to suffering. But the suffering is soon going to end when the pompous ones get their long overdue due. Its coming soon.

  31. I would go one step further and not use the word “spiritual” at all, particularly in the context of there being a “true spirituality.” It’s a bit of a weasel word to start with.. Too many people associate it with religion and religious ideas, and other “woo” ideas that need no scientific explanation. I would go with “class consciousness” or “power balance awareness..”

  32. Agreed. True spirituality is all about clear seeing and taking complete responsibility for ourselves. It’s seeing through all the beliefs and narratives, not changing the ones we have into something more “spiritual”. Thanks for all you do to shine the light!

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