I want to talk about all of these viral pictures with positive affirmations, spiritual quotes, etc. Yes, Picture Quotes. You know the ones on Facebook with quotes from Rumi, Osho, Buddha, and anyone who is quotable.
Perhaps you have re-posted one of them, or a hundred of them, without adding your own note. I have. I’m human. Some of my current favorite sources are: Rumi Quotes; Buddha Bless You; Unconditional Love; and Wisdom of the Sacred Feminine.
A recent conversation with a friend spurred me to look at these pictures differently. He said:
As a community, we create our own reality.
I think that is partially true with these pictures. I think most would agree that too many people in society focus on the negative, feeding into the media and propaganda. A daily, or even hourly, dose of positive affirmations is sure to do a society good. Spread the love!
I also think the sharing of these picture quotes takes away people’s authenticity. Or rather, people are bypassing their authenticity and taking the easier way out. It’s like a spiritual materialism (a familiar topic, but new term to me) where people think that because they post all of these positive affirmation and pictures, somehow they are “spiritual” people.
I also believe that (God forgive me, for I’ve done this) we are driven or compelled to put out messages that we want certain other people to hear. Maybe we are trying to get something across to a certain someone. You may post a message hoping he or she will see it and wake up. This is passive aggressive, manipulative, and attached to the outcome. Therefore, it is not put out in the world in love and best faith.
And I am guilty of this. I Am Human!
I am SO going to Hell after this confession.
People say what they want to hear. If someone tells you something positive, it’s likely they want to hear it themselves. They see that exchange as an opportunity to affirm it to someone else, instead of affirming it in themselves.
By spreading positive affirmations, we are potentially creating a reality of more positive people, but like a virus, there are side effects.
What appears to be Spiritual ViTality is, indeed, a Spiritual ViRality
I can see this Spiritual Virality as a way of spreading positive thought, but also as a way of people avoiding doing their work and avoiding doing their own introspection. It is through our own work that we come to the same realizations in these quotes, except we find our own path there.
People can believe that they actually Believe all they read, that they actually practice these things, just because they make sense. Many of these realizations about life you have to come across through your own hardship and pain, and when they come organically from within, then they are authentic. Then you can spread that message.
“Hey! Here is what I learned! Through my own tears, sweat, sleepless nights, broken relationships, trauma work, inner child soothing, religious seeking, and Deep Inner Work, I have come to realize these things to be true.”
So while I partake in posting these beautiful pictures, I do try to add my own thoughts to them. And I am guilty of spreading what I want to hear, and what I feel is important to me. My posts are direct reflections of where I am, what I have learned, and where I am headed.
If it doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t share it. When we put a message out there, we are essentially giving it our stamp of approval. We are endorsing these messages.
The Non-Buddhist Way of Quoting Buddha
I also see a form of “spiritual theft.” Many businesses and independent people are capitalizing on this Spiritual Virality by putting their company name or website on the pictures with a quote from someone famous, such as any of the spiritual gurus. Spreading these positive messages with the attachment to the outcome of pushing traffic to your website, or getting people to buy your product, is not a spiritual act. IMHO, it is not acting in integrity.
Because these are spiritual messages, there is a direct contradiction to what is actually happening and the intent behind all of these messages.
Is Spiritual Virality Good or Bad?
Having these positive affirmations enter our psyche every day is great.
On the other hand, people may read them and feel that because it makes sense, they are embodying the message.
It makes so much sense. I must “get it.” I must be on the right track to being a spiritual being, worthy of the attention and respect of my peers.
Is it doing other people good, or is it just us trying to feel better in our lives?
Most importantly: Is it keeping you from doing your work? Part of your work (my work) is to look at the messages you choose to share, realize that is what you want and need to hear, then give yourself a good pep talk. Address the issues that are being glossed over with empty gestures.
Be always aware. Act In Integrity.