Once you begin waking up, you realize that the job you created for yourself—the job of waking others—is no longer important. You find yourself wanting to resign from the position. Or at least I did.
This idea that because I am awake, others must also be awake, is an idea that once encouraged expression. Today, that expression has turned into exploitation. It’s through the exploitation of expression that a market for positions has opened. In the enterprises of social media, we can quickly assign ourselves an executive title and begin rolling out the new strategies to help others awaken. And just like CEOs of corporations that exploit the poor for gains and greed, those who deemed themselves awakened can exploit those that are still asleep.
The theory goes that if I am awake, my obvious purpose in life is to wake others. I have created a new task for myself. Meaning comes from my ability to wake as many people as possible, even if they are not through dreaming. And if they don’t wake up, it is not because I haven’t done my job efficiently or effectively, it’s because they are idiots.
The position of executive exploiter grants me an exemption from them. Even if, once upon a time, I was looking through the dream lens, it matters not in the pursuit of waking the world. I do not have to remember what it was like to be ignorant of all that was taking place around me. I have elevated myself to a senior executive in which I am the one that sees and hears because only I have eyes to see and ears to hear. It’s kind of like saying that I am a prophet.
This position also grants one the ability to justify judgments. It’s like having a get-out-of-hell-free card, only many of these exploiters don’t believe in a literal hell, so it really means nothing but to say, “I know, and you don’t, therefore, I am better than you.” Therefore, I can judge you and the way you believe and see the world because it is clearly antithetical to the way in which I have interpreted the Bible.
It’s eschatological and epistemological elitism concentrated to one prophet who demands you follow him/her/they on their various social media platforms, imitating their arguments, quoting their books, all so that you can better your life and really be like Jesus (or Buddha, or Alan Watts). You see, you can be like Jesus, but only my version of Jesus.
It’s really all very narcissistic and ego-centered when you pause to reflect on it. But we are not a collective of pausers unless we must go to the bathroom during a Netflix binge session. Thanks to social media algorithms, we know that we must conduct ourselves as reactionaries. Yet if we look at the model of Jesus as presented, he was not reactionary, he was responsive, he reflected, paused, and thought about what he would say. He didn’t use executives or middle management to relay his teachings.
And yet, we all fall for the reactionary rebels who use profound, provocative, and controversial rhetoric to lure us in so that we may worship a new idol. I recall having to share every quote that reiterated my understanding of the world and feeling elevated for doing so. I recall jumping on the bashing bandwagons and calling out by name, every single individual that recited the wrong message. Strange feelings mixed together when I would do this, it was like experiencing a combination of cognitive dissonance and righteousness at the same time.
Once you’ve created on position for yourself, you slowly build that resume and add in all the attributes that demonstrate how exclusive you really are. You know, how the Pharisees did it 2,000 years ago. It’s truly ridiculous. And if you pay attention, it’s not really done so that one can continue encouraging another to think outside the box. It’s done so that you focus your attention on the one individual who needs you and all your friends to buy their book or listen to their podcast or follow them on social media so that you can be one of the thousands of followers who “like” what it is the executive exploiter is opining about.
All of this and none of it reflects any sort of Jesus model. The mission of awakening others, in the twisted sense, is not about spreading grace and love. It’s not about seeing your neighbor as yourself. It’s not even about transformation or wholeness. It’s merely a model that grows an audience and contributes to senseless popularity contests in which you elect a new idol to follow.
There is a reason that we are all seduced by such twisted models. It makes us feel included. It makes US feel more seen and more heard than THEM. And here is the red flag that you can look out for during your reflection. If the comparison model is utilized—if there is a dichotomy presented to you in which only one side must be chosen (less you be labeled racist, misogynist, or a bigot)—pause and reflect. Ask yourself if Jesus (or whichever savior or prophet you follow) drew lines in the sand. Because from where I am standing (and how I have interpreted the Bible) Jesus did no such thing. Based on how I see it, there were no lines with Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus showed that lines don’t exist; that your neighbor is yourself, and we are all one. If the new idol you are following has exclusive memberships, demands “like-minded” relations, or spends time demonizing those who don’t repeat the same rhetoric as they; this is not the guru you want to be taking notes from.