vinay on spiritual colonialism

vinay gupta Cutting Through Spiritual Colonialism

We are all pretty clear something is profoundly wrong with the world, and maybe with humanity itself.

But what is wrong, and what do we do about it?

Vinay Gupta, Sunday 17th May 2020, written in a single sitting

grabbing it from a jon rt:

“#capitalism is legitimised violence. The goal of capitalism is to make it possible to practice violence without accountability.” @leashless #CapitalismKills
Original Tweet:

First draft of “Cutting Through Spiritual Colonialism” a new book in much the same format as “The Future of Stuff.”
14,000 words, written in a single sitting. I have become a *remarkably* grumpy old man, and I expect to lose a lot of friends over this.
Original Tweet:

notes/quotes from 25 page google doc []:


we are wired to see power and the abuse of power, but we need three vanishing points put in place to draw the world in its true perspective.

I’m going to tell you what those vanishing points are right now: technological acceleration, limits to growth, and the invisible hierarchy of abuse. Each one of these stories is pretty simple in itself, allow me to summarize.

1\ tech accel: Even if you try to keep up, it’s too much innovation over too much front to really keep an eye on

2\ limits to growth: There are some high quality of life, ultra-low consumption enclaves in the world..We all know these examples exist, for hundreds of millions of people, but there’s very little interest in scaling them.. why not?


3\ invisible hierarchy of abuse: is the answer to most of these questions, but it’s a little harder to see: consider this question. “How much child abuse goes on in boarding schools?” .. Why is it invisible? Why don’t we have some kind of measured dialogue on these issues? (mac via abused workers et al) .. This ability, to turn a blind eye “because we have to” is what makes the hierarchy of abuse invisible. It’s what allows a game which is almost entire made of losers to continue to be played by everybody, as if they were winning.

Why aren’t these people happy? (even ones seemingly rich and in control.. zuck, musk, gates, et al)


the game most of us are playing is about avoiding loss.. fear masquerades as greed.. Although the entire game appears to be about greed, about the lust for more, in actual fact the big motivation for most of these people is the desire to avoid eventual losses to inflation and their own lifestyle spends.

safety addiction et al

How much labour is required to stay alive? How hard must I work each day to eat?

(bluntly: on average people prefer partners with lots of earning power, and we detect them by their demonstrated spending power).

Humans are sensitive to social cues. “Are you one of us or aren’t you?”


At this specific moment in time, we are most deeply cursed by delusional optimism. The bedrock of this delusion is the 1960s Human Potential Movement, possibly just a franchise of the US government’s MK ULTRA drugs and brainwashing program. The HPM’s idea was that there were secret supermen, free of ego, fear, delusion, waiting inside of all of us. These evolved beings would be tapped into a single global consciousness, and this wider “us” would be incapable of hatred, greed, fear, and the rest of the kleshas. However, the main tools of transformation were not the traditional Asian religious tools of thousands of hours of meditation practice and severe renunciation, but drug-fuelled transformation

we just need the right mech (*tech as it could be) for the natural entropy/chaos of said 8b truly free people

*to listen & connect in order to undo our hierarchical listening ie: 2 convers as infra

However, for whatever reason, drugs seem to have been very poor at producing the type of evolved spiritual consciousness which the Asian religions promise…there’s never been a tradition in which chemistry was the main event. The transformation processes, particularly in repair of PTSD and depression, do appear to be real for some people in a clinical sense, but the spiritual transformative work which these approaches offer does not appear to develop anything like the same consciousness which is produced by years of seated meditation or other serious spiritual practice. In particular, the difficult work of disentangling oneself from the most morally compromising aspects of the material world – lying and lust for material resources of various kinds – result in an extreme imbalance.

begs tech/mech w a detox embed.. because sync matters

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

The theory of change associated with this model of the world is worth investigating. The basic HPM concept is that higher states of being are possible: this is undoubtedly true, and I myself have taught technologies which access those states for most of two decades. However, there is a bizarre hybridisation with Christian Millenarianism where, in the Californian model, if enough individuals transform their consciousness, a sudden non-linear transformation of the masses will kick in. The entire thing “flips” into a new state.

yeah.. begs leaping for sync


We have made essentially zero durable progress forwards, as a civilisation, since Gandhi was assassinated. .without Gandhi to lead the way, these ideals have been rapidly forgotten. And nothing substantial has taken their place: the mass awakening does not work, because the masses are not meditating at anything like the required level of intensity, and without mass meditation there appears to be little permanent catalytic transformation in consciousness from drugs alone.. Even meditation is not enough:

3 min a day from 8b people.. seems small.. but perhaps enough.. if in sync

ie: 2 convers as infra

self-talk as data/detox

.. Does any of this stuff (burning man et al) have the grounded awareness of other people’s suffering which was so much a hallmark of the Gandhian perspective on the universe?

Of course not: its job is not to challenge colonialism, but to complete it: spiritual colonialism has supplanted spiritual materialism as the curse of our age.

Spiritual colonialism is an attempt to ransack the treasure houses of spiritual wisdom found in colonised cultures, and put that wisdom to work for colonialist and capitalist ends.

The formation first of “consensus buddhism” and then mindfulness as institutions separate from traditional Buddhist practice destroys the fundamental integrity of Buddhism.

public consensus always oppresses someone (s)

this is why we need a means to undo our hierarchical listening


Spiritual colonialism is the act of using traditional spiritual methodologies from other cultures to advance the goals of capitalism. Once you can see it, you can see it everywhere.


I’m not telling people to stop doing yoga: you exist, you deserve to be health. But understand that decontextualised yoga is simply another part of the capitalist apparatus,with its rockstars and its schisms, its lawsuits and its feuds. It’s just more of the same, at every level above the physical.

If the goal was as simple as money, people who attain infinite money would immediately win capitalism, become <happy, liberated, free> or whatever the concept is, and that would be the end of that. Done.. So it is not Money which is the goal of capitalism, because *money alone won’t do it.

*money (any form of measuring/accounting) at all wont’ do it.. will keep us from it

What is it then? What does capitalism want? Who is happy? Who has won capitalism?.. The happiest people I can find in capitalism are mid-tier professionals in respected professions who are making a little more money every year than the year before..let us call this state prosperity. It is rooted in family life, and the reasonable expectation that your children will have better lives than you do.

Now let us juxtapose this position with wealtharistocrats are cheap, ruthless, and obsessed with maintaining social status. It’s been hammered into them that you don’t spend the money, because compound interest wins, and peasant revolts suck. ..only a handful of them. The trust fund babies are generally in awe of these people.

..So the wealthy live with the knowledge that, in most cases, their children will have worse and less interesting lives that they had. They may inherit wealth, but there is a lot of inherited wealth around, and trust me on this: most of these people are miserable.


The rich are mostly helpless and the aristocratic are mostly in hiding.

This leaves the pirate kings, the so-called wealth creators, the makers of empires.

The money comes from trade.


That’s basically the entire structure of the real economy right there: people who can marshal enormous demand for things can then pay somebody else to run incredibly efficient manufacturing operations,.. And..The internet makes its living as a vehicle for advertising.. bulk for material things.. So is the goal of capitalism to produce this stuff? You could very easily make that claim, but it’s not obviously true: if that was the case, why don’t we just get on with it and do the mass production inside of some kind of command economy context if the objective is just to produce masses and masses and masses of stuff?

If it doesn’t produce welfare for individuals even at the top of the pile, and the production of goods and services is not objectively the goal, what is capitalism actually accomplishing?

My answer is simple:

capitalism is legitimised violence.

The goal of capitalism is to make it possible to practice violence without accountability. The same might also be said of socialism, but I have not lived under socialism, so I do not feel entitled to make such a bald statement.

But capitalism runs on violence, of three kinds. 

1\poor people can be beaten for doing the things necessary for their biological existence to continue. ..Once you have no money you have essentially no rights.

Money is therefore the right to act without violence: it is exchanged for consent of various kinds..t

structural violence

shoot.. thanks to dil’s and michel’s notice.. that sentence doesn’t really read as stand alone

@monk51295 Property is by definition the right to exclude, and our money is tied to property, with capitalization as power which is extremely badly distributed. So to me this statement does not make sense.

Original Tweet:

so yeah.. out of context.. but (i think) vinay is saying same thing.. property/money is right to violence (act w/o people noticing/calling it as violence because it’s invisible/structural et al)

bauwens property law et al

..No money means no consent means criminalisation, and the State legitimises violence of various kinds against criminals. This is the internal violence of capitalism. ie: the homeless are homeless because we will not permit them to build homes of plywood and sheet metal on spare scraps of ground. They would all have homes quickly enough if we did not invest massive resources in keeping them homeless by protecting the property rights and building codes and so on of polite society. Note this is not an argument for libertarian style deregulation, but let us observe that it is the law, not nature, which makes people homeless. They will build, if not stopped.


2\ violence is against nature. This is completely obvious: trees are felled to make furniture, and have no rights as trees. ..The same is true for animals. If it doesn’t have a bank account, it doesn’t exist.

3\ the violence of being embedded in a system in which the poor and nature are being destroyed, theoretically in our name and for our benefit.

This is violence against the soul.

..During that time I got a lot said and invented, and little done because doing things requires financial power in almost all cases. And inside of capitalism, as I started a company, I soon discovered that treating other human beings as if their humanity mattered was a fast road to nowhere. If I’d been willing to destroy people to get where I was going, or to enslave them to my will just because I was paying them, how much more effective would I have been? It is practically impossible to be both egalitarian and effective.. The measure appears to be how effectively can the whip be cracked.


Capitalism has no goal, and more than fire has a goal. Fire is burning in much the same way that capitalism is violence

The notion that capitalism is fundamentally purposelessness fundamentally matters, because humans are not fundamentally purposeless. This mismatch between the meaning-finding nature of human beings, and the meaning-vacuum of the system they have constructed around themselves explains why even the rich are miserable: the environment they are in has sucked away stability and meaning in a way which leaves them afraid for their kids and their souls.

rock or flower ness

At the lower tiers of society we are encouraged to think that money is the answer to our problems, because a lot of problems are caused by the lack of money. But as I’ve found out on the few occasions when I was doing alright, past a pretty low level in the grand scheme of things, money does not solve the actual problems, because anything less than enormous amounts of money cannot buy stability, and no amount of money can create meaning or purpose.

perhaps let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money..people forget about measuring

..if even those who are perceived to be winning the game are, in fact, losing then we have every right to assert that the game itself is broken. ..What I am saying is that money does not solve the problems we think it solves problems, even in very large amounts. ..people just get their heads down and plough forwards on behalf of their families, and push all the moral issues aside.


if you have the time on your hands to ask what is going on? the answers are so disturbing as to be showstoppers.

costello screen/service law et al

need a means for 8b to leap to a nother way to live

The ability to get those lies right is what separates the nouveau riche from the real aristocratic deal. The true blue have so internalised the lies that maintain their position that they cannot allow reality to penetrate without complete meltdown, enter the vast psychotherapy industry, to care for the psychological flesh wounds of the rich, without ever addressing the systemic infection.


roots of healing et al

Things are broken, but now we are the ones holding the bag. This is a new situation and presents a new moral problem: this stuff is all wrong, but I still have to do it to feed my kids, and it was not ordained by God that things be this way.


The guilt sink of “well, I’m saving the world” has worn thin: I’ve piled up quite a bit of possibly world-saving innovation over the years, most notably the hexayurt refugee shelter and the simple critical infrastructure maps planning tools, but the adoption is so slow that it appears I’ve done little more than keep a book in print which nobody chooses to read. Updating and expanding the work of Buckminster Fuller was a big job, but even done quite well, very little change has resulted.

Can I justify my consumption if what I’m doing is, I don’t know, building digital identities for physical stuff? Is the link between my existence, and some kind of overwhelmingly good and useful deliverable too fragile to actually make the necessary sacrifices to maintain a high productivity lifestyle?


Am I doing this for you, in the abstract, or for me?

We built the entire system on a credit card that we thought was being paid for by the Blood of Christ, as outrageous indignities were committed by all parties to build this civilisation, and now we discover that those credit card bills are actually being delivered to our house, and we ourselves are responsible for our actions, not the absent god.

Western civilisation has few or none of the necessary mechanisms required to handle the moral weight of people being responsible for their own actions, and the resulting split between reason and our history is the major driving force behind syndromes like global warming denial and praising HIV as “the wrath of god.” 

It’s not that people have simply lost their mind: Faith built this hell, and the loss of Faith leaves us responsible for fixing it. We have a civilisation-level moral hangover.


Spiritual Colonialism is the futile attempt to steal methodologies from, for example, the Dharmic civilisations of Asia and apply those methods for individual spiritual absolution for members of Western society who are unwilling to give up their lavish lifestyles just because they require bloodshed on an epic scale to maintain.


The desire is to find a framework which allows colonialism to run wild by convincing people that they are not personally responsible for their own personal participation in and gain from the evils of society as a whole. In short, they’re looking for an equivalent of the Nuremberg Defense, in which Nazi officials claimed to have been “just following orders.”

ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work

If one can say “I was just playing out my role in the great wholeness of life” as one slaughters in the mall with a credit card, unconcerned by the child labour making the clothes, and the piled bodies of generations of union activists who were shot in the back of the head by guys trained by guys trained by guys who were trained by the CIA back in the ‘70s, then there is no fundamental responsibility: once again, all is as god wills it.


(under mass awakening is another destructive delusion)

the bottom line is that awakening individually takes 20 years of diligent effort for most people, .. if it was instant enlightenment, South America would have been a utopia decades ago, if not centuries. 

like you say.. drugs (alone) won’t work.. but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a mass awakening.. esp if we find a means to hasten that detox..

if detox is part of our everyday focus/accessibility for 8b people.. we can shrink your 20 yrs down to months.. or less

Now, this is not to say that it’s impossible ..I’m sure there are good teachers and good students doing diligent work over decades to achieve an intercultural spiritual understanding of depth, integrity and deep mutual respect.

i’d say if we think we need ie: teachers/students; training;.. we’re doing it wrong

mass awakening (leap) won’t work unless our focus is something that is already in 8b people

If the drugs can ship that kind of change, they would have already. ..mass awakening? Progress towards that goal should be visible by now if it worked, and it just isn’t. The test of spirituality is what people do: not what they see, not what they say, not what they tell you is coming. 

tragedy of the non common


If there is no human solidarity, then no awakening has occurred.

spot on.. begs a means for all of humanity to leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

Where do we go from here?.. Gandhi was right.. We are morally responsible for what we buy, 

actually deeper than that.. responsible (and/or answer lies in) thinking we need to buy anything

If there is to be real spirituality, it must come in the form of what we do, not simply the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

How, then, are spiritual beings to live in this world?

imagine if we focus on facil-ing daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city


the bedrock spirituality of the progressive edge of Western culture is rooted in the Great Awakening Myth, and it is utterly paralysing our ability to get anything done about the real integrated moral spirituality which the world so desperately lacks.


However, we should be warned that these massively educated, informed and effective human beings have such a grim view of the world and its governance that they are working extremely hard on getting us off-planet. This obsession is prevalent among some of the best minds on earth not as a distraction or a game, but because they have essentially given up on fixing the governance of this world in time to make any difference to the survival of our species


I’ll take the Gates philanthropies and the Musk-Bezos rocket ships over luxury condos any day of the millennia. They may share the guilt of the rich, but their chosen mode of atonement genuinely does benefit everybody, and possibly protects life itself in the process.


I want to kill some pernicious weeds which have grown up in my patch. I am an enlightened householder yogi of the Nath Sampradaya tradition. I’ve made a complex and difficult pass through the West, from my birth in Scotland, through to my current life today as CEO of, a company which seeks to track the carbon and slavery footprints of manufactured goods, as well as authenticating art work and collectibles. We have a long manifesto (about as long as this document) on precisely how these mechanisms of accountability can result in less inefficient and morally cleaner global trade

This is my attempt to square my spiritual values with my desire to get enough resources to go and fix the problems I started to work on when I designed the refugee shelter.

I’ve watched for years as wave after wave of phony, disconnected spirituality has washed through western society, deceiving and deluding people in their search for truth. It’s made it extremely difficult to get things done, as people confuse a certain shiny, distracted quality (mostly coupled with some bullshit story about mass awakening) for real spirituality. 

distractions yes.. but perhaps part of the answer.. if not just another ie: tragedy of the non common

The real thing is hard work. And we need more people doing the real thing, doing the hard work of personal transformation, so that they can be upstanding moral forces to help set this planet to rights in the current unpleasantness, and can bravely face the challenges to come. 

we don’t need ‘more’ people.. we need all the people.. everyday

ie: cure ios city

less about facing challenges.. more about not creating them in the first place


(after global democracy – i don’t know).. but i do know this..  We need a grounded, worthy, dense, durable, and above all responsible spirituality for the global conditions which now pertain.

 There is no Great Mass Awakening, and all action taken and justified on that basis is just more investment in delusion and folly.

depends how you define it.. how you carry it out

The hard path is open to all of us: morally justify your actions with service to your fellow beings, and especially service to the earth.

yeah.. i think what we need is to get away from judgment

perhaps that can happen if we code for tech w/o judgment ie: tech as it could be

(i can see you rolling your eyes.. if you only you would/could hear me out)

We need mass collaboration, perhaps in the Free Software / Open Source model, to design lifestyles of voluntary simplicity which allow us to live well and take no more than our fair share of the earth’s resources in the process.

the best way for us to collab.. is to not focus on collab.. that only brews more violence.. what we needs is mass daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city

i’m thinking that’s the way to get us all back/to the garden-enough ness of an undisturbed ecosystem

..we are as God made us, but we are also imbued with free will, and responsible for what we do with it.

like above.. the best way for us to be responsible is to not focus on responsibility.. that only brews more violence.. what we needs is mass daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city

Freedom comes from having multiple paths forwards, each of which represents spiritually, morally, ethically and creatively correct behaviour. If the choice is between one evil and another evil, you have no freedom: you are enslaved.

also true with not just two choices.. but with any finite set of choices.. ie: multiple isn’t enough

we have the means to facil that.. let’s do that

ie: let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

By this metric, who among us is truly free?

none of us

We must work together to build a moral base for human freedom..t

ie: 2 convers as infra.. based on something already in each one of us.. maté basic needs



1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people


literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

begs means to undo our hierarchical listening


2013 article by michel – is there any value in new age thinking – posted in open democracy

Is there any value in New Age thinking? | openDemocracy
(my own article, related to the article we just shared from Vinay Gupta)
Original Tweet:

In my view, the essential characteristic of New Age thinking was that it was a corrective reaction to the excessive rationalization and mechanization of western life, the dissociation between desire and reason that lies at the basis of civilization in the west. This reaction was both necessary and exaggerated.. was an attempt both to heal the self and to re-enchant the collective through connections with the natural world and the world of spiritual experience.

The flowering of the New Age coincided with the defeat of the 1968 social and political movements. Many people turned their attention inwards, but at the same time they felt obliged to adapt to a world in which they could no longer recognize themselves. They continued to live out their values and make concrete changes where they could, but on a smaller scale as individuals, families and communities.

New Age traditions contained a vast array of methods that could open up new vistas of perception. For many people, they created an opportunity to re-integrate these methods into their lives and experiment with different alternatives.

New Age thinking also provided a vehicle to overcome the separation of mind and body that was characteristic of western individualism prior to 1968. ..Unfortunately, it frequently stayed in that regressive mode. New Age thinking was too anti-rational, too disdainful of the critical subjectivity that was one of the hard-won features of the West. ..It also offered avenues for people to work on themselves, a positive orientation in an otherwise dark period for social change.

Whatever the negative features of the neoliberal age, many institutions have become more humane, more egalitarian, more respectful, and more attuned to the whole individual. People have changed, institutions have evolved, and many small-scale communal experiments have yielded valuable learning experiences even if they have failed to change the bigger picture.

Nevertheless, this thinking was also reactionary in its exaggerated rejection of ‘cognicentrism’ – the Western focus on the thinking mind alone. It went too far in dismissing the role of critical intelligence.

huge.. reactionary ness is killing us

Finally, being born in an age of hyper-commerce, New Age thinking took on the trappings of the market, and it started functioning in ways akin to market logic. It encouraged people to behave like consumers in picking and choosing what they wanted. It became too focused on the individual and neglected processes of social change.

yeah.. let’s make sure common\ing doesn’t take on the trappings of the market..

If both New Age thinking and anti-spirituality are exaggerated reactions to each other, the task now is to find a critical subjectivity that rejects the ‘dictatorship of the mind’ – the belief that societies already know the direction or end-point in which they are heading.

What would that consist of? For me, the key step is to reject the view that sees spirituality in terms of individual experience alone, and replace it with a spirituality that functions around relationships between different people.

In this new context, the view of human beings as fragmented is no longer a reason for despair. On the contrary, our inner multitude of interests is what enables us to contribute to a range of different, peer-driven projects. The individual psyche can then be constructed through each person’s contributions to the life of the whole, and through the recognition they receive from the communities in which they take part.

ie: cure ios city

won’t work unless we’re all free

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

Today, individuals are no longer defined only by their membership in traditional communities or rigid roles. .. In this context, the key to an integrated self is to construct a rich identity of contributions that stem from active participation in many different communities. No longer New Age or Old Age but building on elements of both, a relational spirituality could form a cornerstone of the contributive societies on which the twenty-first century will be built.

imagining daily curiosity as our only label for the day.. everyday

listen & connect to undo our hierarchical listening ie: 2 convers as infra


vinay on rights of children