The marriage of marketing and profound wisdom

Sometimes bad ad copy can create a metaphysics
Yoga principles: Yoga makes it possible for every human to discover the [1] real purpose of life and their [2] own true nature. Through Yoga we are able to awaken these inner power centres and make them accessible. 

Terrible English. Chonglish-like English. Also, what does “these” refer to? Nothing, actually; or, rather, it refers to the fact that, while the website monetizer who wrote this didn’t understand what these sentences meant, he did understand that they would look good on a Whole Foods poster or in an REI catalog. He was right. But each sentence was copied from a different wellness blog. They don’t belong together.

Bad plagiarism or profound?

So I thought it might be illuminating to act as if we believed the opposite—i.e., that their conjunction was intentional and meant by a profound thinker. Let’s pretend that they were written by an actually gifted mystic (or phenomenologist), like Ramakrishna, or Kant, or Heidegger, Then we would be fervent with reverence for the brilliance. We would approach it with the perfect surrender and reverence of a Fundamentalist. We would say that the “these” refers to raw set of “real purpose” and “true nature”—turning goals into substances. This makes the answer perfectly tautological and therefore certainly true—a rare joy in mystical writing.

Sloppy grammar or skillful means?

But the real sign of brilliance—we would call it the guru’s stylistic genius—is the bad grammar. By which I mean that the transition or link between the two sentences is absent. The fact that two side have no smooth link, that they are smashed together without warning, has a Chan-like liberating effect. When children settle into acted-out imaginary world-making, this is the way of speech. If one of them points to a rock and says, “I think she needs to potty!”—immediately the other girls understand, and one of them will pick up the rock and pretend to change “her” diaper. It makes the link stronger to fabricate mergers from completely unrelated things without any bridge or explanation. We become startled by the additive improvisation and delighted when we pass over and swallow something we know to be a lie. We can use it as a tool or means for other results inside other sentences. Knowing that God does not exist makes us enjoy chewing and expanding on sentences like, “Look at the many subtle and deceptive ways by which God shows his unlimited love for us.” Making an impossible combination and then incorporating it as a brick in something else is one of the more attractive aspects of a good con.

Will believing reward me with self-knowledge?

The other reason these pasted orphans make us wet is that the question of “Who am I really?” is the sacred Western fetish, the defining cultural thematic, according to Campbell and Crowley. It is also a boon to all marketers. The questions of True Will and True Self are the big questions for us. We all want to know, and we’ve all failed so far. Every few years a new system, model, metaphor—paradigm—hits the self-help book market and promises to really reveal who we really are, finally.

Point

Ta-da! That’s it. ThatÍ the punchline of this post: that fake yoga marketing blurb is supposed to be a yoga marketing blurb, from a yoga website. Our silly Western fascination with “discovering” the true self, and our veneration of an authentic inner self that is particular and determinate, is totally alien to Vedanta and the other schools, except maybe the Samkyha, but that is a pure self that lacks all empirical predication.

The Western belief that buried in the center of each person is unique essence that is a gift to humanity from God that must be excavated and realized (developed and externalized) is alien to Indian metaphysics. And if we did encounter a character who was obsessed with discovering its “unique contribution” or “precious uniqueness” it would be a narcissistic antagonist from the Puranic literature. “Oh Lord. Show me my true me! I want to know what is purely me about me! Show me what only I have, inside of me.”

So the fakir who made this “yoga” website knows nothing, got lucky with his domain name, and decided to try to paste together some copied text (and warm, candle-lit Indian art) graphics.

And that’s the world today. Everything that exists is a storefront.

Review

From our casual experiment we have learned:

  1. When we approach a text with reverence, everything is profound and revealing of deep mysteries and illuminating of the ordinary mystery of there being anything at all and things happening as they do. Kabbalah is a good example of this approach: Nothing, no ridiculous claim, no matter how blatantly metaphorical or mythical, is false. We assume deep, deep truth. If the text reads like nonsense, we simply haven’t gone deep enough.
  2. We expect wisdom to be difficult, and the guru to be oracular.
  3. Inside this reverent view, bad grammar looks like skillful means.
  4. Inside this reverent view, impossible combinations look profound. The more incongruous the terms identified, the more excited we feel. “A mystery!” The more counterintuitive a proposition, the more we will have learned when we finally see its necessity.