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Are You Creating A Spiritual Class Divide?

26. juli 2012

The last couple of years I have seen a trend in the spiritual business niche on internet. «Don’t sell yourself short» is the mantra. «Money is just energy». «Claim your worth, you deserve abundance.» And while I actually agree with most of this (except that money is just energy – you can read a thought – provoking piece about that here), I’m getting increasingly concerned about where this is going.

No, I am not trying to put you off by decreasing your value, nor am I saying that money is necessarily bad. But you are allowed to have more than one thought in your head at the same time, and that’s what I’m hoping to do with this post.

You see, we are not islands. We live within a society, and at this point, that society is confined within an economic system. You can look at it like a web – if you pull one string, the whole web will move and change. Sometimes this is great, and I look forward to seeing how the new economy will come to be, but sometimes… sometimes it can be disastrous.

Everywhere I look now, people are raising their prices. I’ve seen coaching sessions go for 4-5K a piece, and classes and courses becoming more or less impossible to enroll in because of the high rates. I even have an audio on my PC with a woman teaching other people how to manifest money to pay for her retreats, which would be a great idea if she didn’t also suggest that once you’ve gone through her excercises, you can just go empty your credit cards, because you will probably manifest the money and/or get an investment payback from spending them on her.

It’s not a good idea to make fear based decisions. I get that. But it’s certainly not a good idea to increase your personal debts in an already tough economy either!

And yes, I realize that I come from a completely different economic system than most of you do, as my government subsidizes everything from physical and mental health care to education on all levels, so I’m already spoiled rotten. But the fact of the matter is that they are doing that for a reason.

That reason is to defeat poverty and class divide, as health and education, or a lack thereof, are among the things that create such calamities. Maybe they can never change the fact that children might  follow in their parents’ footprints and never break out if they’re in a bad place, but they can provide the possibilities for them to do so, just the same. Equal opportunities for everybody is what they’re aiming for, and what I was brought up to see as a given.

And this is why I’m getting worried.

I just found out that one of the courses I was planning on taking at a later point, has just doubled in price. 10 online classes for around 1000 USD.

That’s actually more than I paid in tuition for my last bachelor’s degree at university college. Three full academic years of education, lectures, seminars, official exams and a diploma.

Compared to 10 online classes and a certification.

That’s batshit fucking crazy.

I realize that there are no one to subsidize private initiatives, and that a lot can be said about that and this system in general. I am not saying that you should give away your stuff because some of the European countries are heavily subsidizing their education and health care.

But I am saying that health and education are cornerstones in a strong world economy. And I’m saying that you’re not helping build that strong economy by making it impossible for the people who might need these services the most to enroll.

And interestingly enough, there are two main trends online right now, namely health concerns and how to make money (which in many cases translates to education). Now you know why everybody is a health coach and/or marketer with monetizing courses these days!

This is also rubbing off on the spiritual online world, and I like that. I like that spirituality gets mingled with the mundane stuff. But there is only one problem:

You are running the risk of cocreating a spiritual class divide.

You will have the «educated enlightened ones» on one hand, those who are able to advance through downloading books to their expensive Kindle, joining wonderful, premium online communities and take a certification or two when they feel like it, to enhance their own ability to raise their own prices for their own services and products, and teaching their customers and clients to do the same, thereby keeping the wave rolling.

And on the other hand… You have the rest. Those who are only able to get free scraps off the internet (if they even have an internet connection), or read whichever books the library has on their shelf. Or read or watch the spiritual equivalents of soaps in literature and on TV. Imagine what will happen if everybody starts «claiming their worth» with this scenario?

There will be a class divide, whether or not you believe that money is just energy or not, because while some may be able to make it to an avatar status alone in a cave somewhere, that’s not how it happens for the most of us. Information and community are essential for human, spiritual growth. When you are pushing your services too far up on the price ladder, you are essentially turning people away at the door.

And those people may be the ones who need it the most, to make a start somehow. There seems to always be that investment involved when you are getting yourself ready to make money. Sometimes you are in a place where you can take that credit card chance, because it won’t hurt you too bad if your manifesting skills fail you. But sometimes, you’re not. Sometimes, that will kill you financially, making it even harder to get back on your feet to give it another go. A Raisin in the Sun, anyone?

So, yes. By all means. Go ahead and claim your worth. But please remember that you also need to claim your society’s worth at the same time, making sure that if your services include health and/or education on some level, they are available to the public in general somehow, and not just to the high-end customers. You can offer payment plans, you can offer scholarships, or you can barter for services you and your business need, in addition to keeping the price on a sane level.

The economy needs a shape-up, no doubt about that. But I believe that the best way to do it, is to focus on making health and education available for everybody, and keeping spirituality free from a potential class divide.

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  1. «That’s batshit fucking crazy.» I laughed so loud at that that the dogs outside sat up and took notice!

    That link and the comments to the post really are thought-provoking, and it’s interesting how many are actually having the same feelings about money.

    Excellent, excellent post!

  2. It totally agree with you. These things have really got out of proportion. I guess they are raising the costs to make is sound more valuable or they just want to make a killing at a very minimal investment. Either way, it is just too bad.

  3. You said this so well and I couldn’t agree more. Of course a person and their time are valuable, but when it reaches the point that the price tag makes something which is supposed to be enlightening and to help someone advance on their spiritual journey and makes it out of reach for so many people…it’s just not right. As I sit here typing this comment, I find myself going on and on with yet more to say. Maybe I should continue my thoughts with a post of my own. Excellent post Nienna!

    1. Thank you, Tracy! 🙂

      I read your post, it’s great!

      I keep thinking about the slaves, actually, and how much spirituality meant to them, and to all others who have struggled somehow. I can’t imagine a world where that would have come with a high-end price tag. Before, it was kinda easy, no? You went to church, to see a priest, and that was free. Now, as many people are starting to have a somewhat strained relationship with the church and instead seeking spiritual inspiration and comfort and community elsewhere… many are starting to rely on the High Priestesses of the Internet, as they may not even have other people walking on the same path nearby (I know I don’t). And that will mean something in the long run. That will change spirituality, and who gets access to it or not. That is scary. Really really scary.

      And to all you others, you can find Tracy’s post here: Spiritual Enlightenment… At What Cost?

  4. Oooo…very thought-provoking! I too am occasionally bamboozled when I see the cost of the some courses – which I guess is probably a sign that I’m not their right person! Two people that really inspire me biz-wise are Havi Brooks of the Fluent Self and Hiro Bogo. Both have what I consider to be expensive top-end items, like retreats and coaching, and yet both of them also make a huge amount of stuff free or at much lower cost. Which is good business sense too.

    For me, it comes down to balance, and honouring my incarnational and soul purposes.

    Between doing everything free or low-cost, and then not helping as many people because I’m not able to make a full-time living at it, ending up working with people who opt for my services because it’s ‘cheap’ rather than really right for them, and not having the resources to grow my business, and going for all high pricing, which is likely to exclude people and be counter-productive in terms on sales cycle.

    1. Yeah, business absolutely needs to be worthwhile, otherwise no one would have done it. You need to get paid, and you need to cover your expenses. That’s a given. And funnel marketing, with free stuff on top and exclusive stuff on the bottom is a really good way to go, to reel in the customers and go deeper and deeper into your stuff. I actually love that idea, because it gets juicier and more meaningful the deeper you go with that. 🙂

      But. Here comes the but. There is a big difference in covering your expenses and being able to take out some money for yourself after everything has been paid for, and overpricing your products and services because you are branding yourself as the best thing since sliced bread (high price = high perceived value), not even necessarily rightfully. I think you do need to earn that value, by educating yourself, getting experience, learning and growing and developing every valuable step of the long and winding way, and not by simply upping your prices to enhance the percieved value of you (aka your brand), making you look better than the rest when you’re really not. I’m reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre now, and he’s telling some interesting stories about certain well-known nutritionists with some less than impressive credentials when you scratch the surface, by the way. It’s not new under the sun that perceived value is gold, with stress on perceived, sad as it may be, but there you go.

      On the other hand, though, it’s not such a good idea to take it too far the other way either, to price yourself too low, because that would undermine and kill the market. If the customers or clients are trained to pay a certain low price or getting it for free, then nobody would benefit much from having that business, as it would mean too much work, too many hours, too many clients, just to cover the costs and the time and getting up on the plus side of the numbers. Why bother? And we would lose so many wonderful people doing so many wonderful things.

      It’s a fine line. And it has consequenses either way, I think, you can’t not pull a string in the web, and it will shift something.

  5. Gorgeous piece which expresses some concerns I have, too. I also read what I imagine was the same piece about how to manifest money for a retreat (indeed, it is possible to do this, some of the advice given was very sound) and then recoiled at the bit about credit cards. Credit card debt is deeply, deeply damaging to moving ahead with one’s dreams as you may find yourself trapped in a job to pay off debts.

    However, you’re right – so many products are now priced so high there would be no other way for a normal person to afford them.

    I’m so happy it wasn’t just me worrying about that! The reality is, eCourses and Mentoring is a growing market, so prices will come down naturally I should hope. There is also a valid argument that Clients will start to see through the high pricing and shop around more.

    Me, I price where I feel happy & it’s a quite a lot lower than a lot of people, but I am still learning! That seems fair to me.

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