It seems really easy to impress people these days. If you talk about how we’re all part of the earth, or the trees are alive and thinking, or something sort of off-kilter like that, everyone will think you’re really smart. If you tell people that corporations are evil and mumble about “the narrative,” everyone will listen with rapt attention.
I wonder if earthy gurus saying obvious truths are a distinctly Western fascination. If you wander around barefoot in the woods for a month and come out rambling about how the grass talks to you, you’ll likely get a lot of Westerners interested in what you have to say. Bonus points if you use incense.
Our resident swami gives these sorts of speeches a lot. He’ll do poetry readings that everyone thinks are profound, and lecture us on how we’re all part of the world and of each other and that all of our disagreements are manufactured. It’s a lot of nothing wrapped up with a pretty bow, which is exactly the sort of thing people yearn for. This isn’t unique to today—Pete Townshend was obsessed with an Indian mystic who claimed he was God—but it’s disheartening to see it continue through the years.
Perhaps it’s our obsession with the exotic. If somebody smells funny and repackages things everybody knows but hasn’t heard from a cool dude who smokes weed, it magically turns the message into something profound. And because the messenger has an air of the East, he commands attention more than, say, a St. Benedict or a monk from St. Meinrad—a little too Western, don’t you think? People can believe what they want. I just wish people wouldn’t be taken in so easily by those who claim profundity but deliver monotony.