The video from my last post got me thinking about personal futures. We are under so much pressure from society to conform to dominant ideas about what an ideal life should look like. A recent book by Maggies Hamilton, called What’s Happening to Our Boys , suggests that boys as young as eight years of age are obsessing about their image, and advertising, consumerism and IT culture lie behind the problem. There are primary school students who are worried about what they were wearing to school, while some teenagers are scared to take their shirts off at the beach because they don't have abs. The problem is thus more acute than ever.
Here’s what the Sydney Morning Herald story noted about the problem.
Some of this is because marketers are recognising boys as the last great untapped market.
"Parents are very worried about not looking cool," she (Maggie Hamilton) says." Advertisers have ... done an effective job in undermining parents' confidence, leaving them constantly worried they're inadequate and/or uncool unless they are buying this or that," she says in her book.
Australian parents spend around $1000 per child per year on toys and related products for kids aged zero to three, Hamilton says.
Her book quotes James McNeal, a Texas-based professor who has published books on children and marketing, as saying that consumer behaviour patterns start at 16 weeks of age.
Meanwhile, the former president of children's clothing retailer Kids-R-Us, Mike Searle, is quoted as saying "if you win this child at an early age, you own this child for years to come".
Kids are basically growing up in rooms full of branded junk watching DVDS over and over," Hamilton says.
"The kids associate (branded toys) with the character they have seen in the DVD ... they don't even have an imaginative repertoire around those characters. What they do is replay the stories they have seen over and over on the DVDS."
Boys' natural attraction to computer games and gadgets means that many are missing out important interaction with not only other people, but the outside world, Hamilton says.
Modern IT culture is deeply tied up with the dominant myths of consumer society. It exploits those values to sell products that are, in many cases, simply not necessary. Even worse, these devices, and these values, are cutting the young off from inner worlds. They are losing all capacity to witness the contents of their own minds, and develop a spiritually healthy relationship with themselves. Instead, they become focused upon superficialities and surfaces. Further, they lose the capacity to be present.
Right across society, we are bombarded with consumption-based images of what it means to live a successful life. Even many so-called spiritual philosophies buy into this. The best-selling video, The Secret, for example, is almost entirely focused upon how to acquire material assets. The bulk of New Age and self-help philosophies are geared this way.
Further, as we have seen, modern society has multiple rewards for buying (excuse the pun) into the system. The system has no “off” button. There is no “No thanks, I’m choosing something different” option. It’s buy, or be bought (controlled).
Where then, is the place for valuing psychological and spiritual development in all of this. Why are so few spiritual teachers telling us that the most noble goal is to lift ourselves out of the mire of collective, materialist, image-focused culture?
What David R. Hawkins says is true. Each of our minds is embedded within consciousness fields, which have particular levels of resonance. They act as attractor fields, and are self-organising and self-regulating. You can think of these fields as having an emotive “feel”. Low-density fields are dominated by fear, shame, guilt, hatred and so on. Higher level consciousness fields resonate with courage, reason, love, and the very essence of enlightenment itself.
It is very difficult to pull oneself out of these fields of consciousness. I know. I have worked with them for years. One of the problems is that the mind is deeply entangled with the consciousness fields of other minds, most of which are embedded within low-density energy fields. We become emotionally dependent these relationships, and thus to the energy fields they are embedded within. You are constantly being bombarded with this manipulative energy, or projecting it yourself. Existing within the low-density consciousness field thus becomes a habit, and the mind knows know better way to exist, and becomes terrified of shifting away from the consciousness field which it knows. This resistance to change is the eternal demeanor of the spiritual seeker.
In the end, a person on a genuine spiritual path has to make a choice of which story to believe, and then have the courage and commitment to live that journey. It requires courage, because the known has to be left behind, and one has to surrender the illusion of personal power. This is precisely what many consumer-based New Age philosophies fail to teach us. They tell us that we can stay in control an have it all if we just believe it enough. This is magical thinking.
The truth is that the undeveloped mind does not understand enough to know what it really needs. Once the illusions of the ego and the consumer society have been left behind, the realisation dawns that the things that were desired at a lesser level of awareness are not needed at all, and in fact get in the way of genuine spiritual development.
This realisation is a gift resonates out from the soul, and is a priceless “teaching” for others, even though those affected will never know from where the “teaching” came.