For a society that strives to be so simple and easy, how does everything somehow seem to be getting more complex?
The western world is one that relies on instant gratification in almost all areas of life. We don’t want to work for things; we just want them handed to us in a nicely wrapped package. We live in a society destined for daily disappointments. “We almost never see things as they are in themselves, but our vision is colored by whether we want them or not, how we can get them, or how they can bring us profit. Our view of the world is distorted by our greed, and this often leads to ill will and enmity” (Buddha, 74).
Societies reliance on instant gratification is a result of the industrial revolution, a time when people became increasingly reliant on technology to do things for them. Today, the repercussions are that we are basically addicted to industrializing and technologizing every aspect of life that we can. Now, more than ever, rates of depression, stress, and anxiety are rising in result of these technologies not meeting the expectations of users, which is also known as "technostress" (18).
And with the increase of information communication technology use, there is a wave of information overload. It’s proven “the average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960", which only stresses people out further, causing impatience, forgetfulness and addiction, according to research at the University of California, San Diego (9).
The western world is not only addicted to instant gratification in terms of technology but also consumerism and commercialization. Since yoga blew up in the past 20 years, so has the amount of companies and different products associated with yoga and the whole meditation “trend” or “look”.
For example, exercise clothes are not enough to walk the walk and talk the talk. Today, people spend around $100 or more on yoga pants from Lululemon and $60 on one of their yoga mats to sport to an hour-long yoga class that is, on average, another $20. There are so many westernized products related to meditation. From traditional Buddhist shrines and statues, to healing crystals, incense, chimes, and desk-sized Japanese sand gardens, the market for meditation is exploding. For example, Urban Outfitters, a huge brand name company has sold shirts with Buddhist symbols on them for no less than $30 and faux healing crystals.
As if cultural deterioration and disrespecting traditions is not enough, these products also are really only marketed and affordable to those with high socioeconomic status, which is not congruent with the traditional conceptions of meditation.
The monastic roots of the Buddhist and Hindu meditative practices and concepts seem to be lost in this modern society that is driven by technological advancements and consumerism. As much as these companies guarantee enlightenment with the purchase of their product, the reality is that there are no short cuts to enlightenment.
Enlightenment comes from within ones core and cannot be reached by solely relying on a technology. Even the Buddha said, “once he has banished the mental habits of laziness and indolence, he is not only free of laziness and indolence but has a mind that is lucid, conscious of itself and completely alert. Once he has banished anxiety and worry, he lives without anxiety and his mind becomes calm and still” (Buddha, 76).