3. The Law of Attraction, Spirituality and Anti-Capitalism

Rundown

In this episode we break down the Law of Attraction and “positivity culture,” and critique how they’ve been employed in the support of capital and other oppressive structures. In the second half of the episode, we temper this with a discussion around how we personally (or Mexie more specifically) reconcile our spirituality with anti-capitalist theory and praxis, acknowledging that these are loaded topics and that there will never be a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone.

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Transcript

TimecodeSpeakerDialogue
00:00:00:00
BEGIN FILE


[THEME MUSIC]

MARINEWelcome to the Vegan Vanguard.

MEXIEA show about all things from the perspective of two revolutionary vegan women.

MARINEI’m Marine.

MEXIEAnd I’m Mexie. And today, we’re going to be talking about the law of attraction. [LAUGHTER] 

MARINEWe should have thought about the title for this episode.

MEXIEWell, I think like more broadly, we’re going to be talking about spirituality and anti-capitalism. [TALKS OVER] But our inroads into this was…the absurdity of The Secret.

MARINEYes. I’m excited to have this conversation with you, because I feel like you told me that there was some things about The Secret that resonated with you.
00:01:00:00MEXIEWell, okay, so here’s the thing: I haven’t actually read the book, or watched the documentary. So, I’m full aware that when people think about The Secret, or I guess the people that The Secret was marketed to are [LAUGHS] basically like well-off, white, suburban moms. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEMm-hmm.

MEXIENot, yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

MARINENo, I think that you’re right, but I also think there’s this even more-perverse phenomenon, where The Secret is addressing people who have been disenfranchised by neoliberalism, and people who have been laid off by their jobs, or who have become sick, or whatever. And to basically tell them that they will feel re-empowered when they change their thought patterns, to will all of this money, and health, and wealth, and positivity into their life.
00:01:57:00MEXIEWell, I don’t know that, I mean, maybe you know more than I do, because I, like when The Secret came out…I just thought it was…fluff that I would not be interested in. And I say that as someone who considers themselves a very spiritual person. I just felt that… I don’t know, it just looked, [LAUGHS] I don’t know another word other than fluffy, is just what it appeared like to me. So, I never got into it, I never paid attention to it. But I’m wondering, is this something that’s actually…do people actually try to get disadvantaged people on board with this? Or is this something that just resonates with a particular demographic, like a particular white yoga-culture kind of demographic, that doesn’t immediately see structural constraints that are placed on the rest of society, because they are not [MIC NOISE] experiencing those structural constraints, and so the law of attraction resonates with them, because they just feel like…
00:03:00:00MEXIE[LAUGHS] you know, if I want something enough, then I will get it. And very possibly, they will. Is it more that it’s just targeted to that audience because they don’t have to think about [LAUGHS] structural oppression? Or is it that people are actually trying to market this to people who are disenfranchised in whatever way?

MARINEI think that it is that it’s trying to be mark-, it’s an easy that is marketed to…more disenfranchised people. I don’t know if The Secret per se, but insofar as we’re taking The Secret sort of as like the poster-child of positivity culture and wellness culture, I do think that has bled into corporate life, and this idea that it’s almost, if you want a job…what’s most valuable about an employee is not his or her work, it’s his or her attitude.
00:03:56:00MARINEAnd that idea that these oppressions aren’t structural. So… I don’t know, does that answer your question?

MEXIEI don’t know, kind of. But I guess, I feel like there’s a difference. I guess the way that I’m thinking about the law of attraction is like…the idea that if you think long and hard enough about something, or if you visualize yourself getting something enough, then you will get it. So, it’s kind of a material thing, or maybe it’s a personal-growth thing. Like if you visualize that enough, you will get it. I don’t know, I think there’s a difference between the way that you’re told to just be positive at work, or just be a really good capitalist. Obviously, there are co-opting ideas of positivity or whatever. But I think there’s a difference between that, and then the idea of actually helping to retrain your thoughts for your own personal benefit, not for your employer’s benefit, you know what I mean.
00:04:59:00MARINEMm-hmm.

MEXIEI think, okay, I think, first of all, why don’t you explain what the law of attraction is—especially as someone who’s read the book, and watched the movie. Because I think there’s a lot going on with different ideas of either spirituality, or just positivity culture, or this idea that you can just attract whatever. So, yeah, maybe we should just break down, okay, what is the law of attraction?

MARINESo, the law of attraction, in the way that I understand it, is basically the idea that you can change the physical world around you with your thoughts—that the physical world is just, that literally, through spirit or mind-energy, you can exert this force that is going to…attract certain things into your life, and not others. And actually, I haven’t read the book, The Secret. I read the book, The Power, which is a book that I read when I was [LAUGHS]… 
00:05:58:00MARINEEntering the vegan YouTube world for the first time, and hearing a lot of people talk about it, and recommending this book, The Power. And…so, I read that. That’s like a lot of people’s bible in this positivity movement. And then I watched The Secret, the movie. The Secret, the movie, is, I almost, I wish you had watched it, because it’s literally like you see this guy dreaming of a car, and the car shows up [LAUGHTER] in his driveway the next day. Or you see this woman, like I distinctly remember this woman, where this woman really wants a diamond necklace, and she’s lusting at it in a storefront—lusting after it in a storefront. And then…a man shows up in her life and gives her that necklace, or something like that. It’s really that kind of black-and-white. And there’s also, I mean, an extension of the law of attraction, and of just like positivity culture in general, there’s so many books about how to get rich, how to attract money into your life…
00:07:04:00MARINEBy thinking positively about money. There’s literally, I wish I could remember the name of the book, and we can write it in the show-notes. But I know that there’s a dude that talks about reciting mantras of like, ‘I love rich people’ every morning, to try and become [TALKS OVER] that rich person.

MEXIENo!

MARINEAnd it is also…it talks about spending your, basically living in abundance all the time, and living as if you already have all this money that you’re trying to attract into your life. Because by living this…delusion of pretending that you already have all these things into your life, the money is going to come. So, a similar extension of that, although I think it’s a little less harmful, because it won’t get you totally bankrupt, is if you want a partner, you can clear out a side of your wardrobe, and pretend like it’s already waiting for the…
00:07:58:00MARINEMan or woman that’s going to walk into your life and use that closet space. Or, only sleeping on one side of the bed. Writing lists. Constantly fooling and retraining your thoughts, to pretend like your dreams are already the reality. And if you do that long and hard enough, then that is what is going to happen.

MEXIEWow. That… [LAUGHS] that’s, it’s very upsetting to me that that is being put out there as a kind of spirituality, because that contradicts so many…ancient or whatever spiritual beliefs that people hold. I mean–

MARINEI don’t know if it’s being put out there as a sort of spirituality, though.

MEXIEI don’t know, I mean, it kind of seems like it.

MARINEBut I think you’re getting at precisely the crux of what it is and what it’s not. It’s not even spiritual, because it’s this ideology that so fiercely individualistic…
00:09:00:00MARINEAnd really just about rewire-, about materialism, or about getting change…yeah.

MEXIE[TALKS OVER] Right, which is the exact opposite of what—well, it depends what kind of spiritual practice you’re thinking about. I’m obviously thinking about like Buddhist ideas. But that’s the complete opposite of what those teachings would tell you, you know what I mean. Craving, and materialism, and greed, and…amassing things in this material world is not at all [LAUGHS] the point of any kind of, I don’t know, what I would call meaningful spirituality. But, I was going to ask, have you see The Bling Ring?

MARINEI have not. 

MEXIEOh, it’s so funny. So, you should watch it. [LAUGHS] It’s Emma Watson and…Leslie Mann. So, Leslie Mann is the mom…
00:09:56:00MEXIEAnd…it’s all about a group of teenagers who are really well-off and living in California. And they break into celebrities’ houses and take all their stuff or whatever, when they’re away at parties. And the mom is like, her whole thing is that she teaches her children, she homeschools her kids, and their religion is based on The Secret—like their religion is The Secret.

MARINEOh, my god.

MEXIEAnd, yeah, it’s absolutely hilarious, ‘cause it’s like all of the stereotypes you could ever imagine about The Secret, coming true. And…I don’t want to give any spoilers, but basically [LAUGHS] it’s like the kid who is doing all this stealing, and being put behind bars or whatever, basically just talks about how like, oh, I think I attracted this into my life to, for personal growth, and like, yeah, it just, yeah, you have to watch it. Anyway.

MARINEYeah, but that’s a huge part of The Secret, or I don’t even want to call it The Secret, ‘cause it’s really not restricted to that particular book or movie.
00:11:02:00MARINEIt really is, I think, a much larger cultural phenomenon, like spreading as positivity. But of basically thinking about obstacles in your life. If you get laid off, if you have, are diagnosed with a disease, if you…really anything as…a thing that you personally attracted into your life. But also, a way to help you grow. So, I was watching a talk right before…right before we started recording. A talk by Barbara [Ehrenreich]. Wow, that is a very difficult name to say. But she is a breast cancer survivor, and she talks a lot about positivity culture. And she was talking about how when she got diagnosed and when she was being treated for cancer, there was this mandatory optimism that was basically required of her, as a cancer patient.
00:12:05:00MARINEAnd she was talking also about the general infantilization she felt with the whole pink ribbon movement. But she was also talking about how she was in certain support groups, and…they were mandated to basically think about their illness as a personal-growth experience, and they had to stay positive about it because they, it was very important to not contaminate other people with your negative thoughts. And how there was this one particular patient who was in stage-4—no, her cancer had metastasized. I hope I’m saying that word correctly. And she was basically kicked out of the group, because she would be a downer.

MEXIEOh, my god. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEYeah, no, her talk is really great. And something else that she mentions which is really interesting, is how positivity culture was such a big part of the financial meltdown in 2007 and 2008.
00:13:03:00MARINEBasically that, in finance, there is this constant positive outlook that you need to maintain all the time…amongst the people in your office, and amongst [LAUGHS] the people on Wall Street. And how people who told Lehman Brothers that, I don’t think this is such a good idea, or this really seems like a housing bubble that we’re building up. It doesn’t seem like a very good idea to keep making stuff out of literally nothing. And how they were fired…for not being more positive. So, anyway, it’s interesting. We’ll link the talk down below, but so she talks about how it really does end up having an impact on our material world and neoliberalism, to have this idea that if you are positive—and also, I feel like the idea of infinite growth under capitalism is fueled by this, too, is like, everyone can be an entrepreneur.
00:13:56:00MARINEEveryone, we can just will all of this stuff into existence.

MEXIEYeah, absolutely. Or, we don’t have to worry about environmental hazards or damage, or consumption. That technology will find a way, and that we’ll be fine, basically. Yeah, I think that requires a huge, a lot of cognitive dissonance or whatever.

MARINEOne of the first things that I think anyone hears when they learn about the law of attraction is, okay, well, what about people who don’t have enough food, and people who are living in countries where they’re dying of poverty? Because that’s a very obvious thing to wonder. And you’re…wondering, okay, well, is it just that they don’t want water badly enough, or food badly enough to just attract it into their lives? It seems very odd that anyone would die from not having enough food, if really, they could just think about it.
00:14:56:00MEXIEManifest it.

MARINEAnd actually, the author of The Secret said, this is another thing I got from the talk that I was mentioning before, said that…the tsunami in 2007—so, I’m not exactly sure which tsunami she’s talking about. But, she was basically just saying that they had a tsunami—they were attracting tsunami thoughts.

MEXIEWhat?

MARINEYeah. Isn’t that the most fucking cruel thing [TALKS OVER] you could possibly say?

MEXIEThat’s actually disgusting. 

MARINEYeah.

MEXIELike as if people were sitting there, imagining a tsunami [LAUGHS] and trying to–

MARINE–just thinking about tsunamis.

MEXIEThere’s like a critical mass of people thinking about tsunamis, [LAUGHTER] to the point that it came at them. [LAUGHS] Yeah. 

MARINESo, she says, so, a lot of times, in positivity culture, the people who are starving and who are hungry, a big part of the law of attraction is also just learning to be grateful all the time. 
00:15:55:00MARINESo, being like, even just the fact that I can get on my computer, even just the fact that I have electricity and heating, I’m part of the 0.001%. I’m so lucky. And that is, obviously, we are extremely lucky. But you’re supposed to use that grateful mentality to help attract abundance into your life. And so, to think about the misery that goes on in the world, basically just as an impetus to be more grateful for what you do have. Bear with me, because these are just thoughts that I had—this is not actually said in that way or anything. But so, when you ask someone who subscribes to the law of attraction, what about those people who are starving? A lot of times, they’ll just bring it back to you, and just tell you, that’s even a bigger reason to be grateful. But I feel like that’s such a gross instrumentalization of poverty, to just think about people who are more disenfranchised than you, not as a reason why you should be more compassionate, and you should actually, you have a greater duty to give back, and to organize, and to help overcome structural oppression.
00:17:01:00MARINEInstead, just like use it as a way to personally fulfill and enrich your life, and attract more abundance.

MEXIEYeah. There’s a lot going on here. I think…I think with any kind of, I guess, quote-unquote positive, or quote-unquote spiritual ideal, there are different ways to read it. So, I think there’s obviously a more productive way to read some of these larger concepts, like positivity, like gratitude, like whatever. But obviously, as you’re saying, it’s been completely co-opted by this capitalist framework that we’re living under. Incredibly individualized, and making people more docile, or more accepting of the structural violence that is happening all around them.
00:18:04:00MEXIEAnd yeah, there’s obviously a real neoliberal focus on the individual, that whatever you do is kind of your own fault, if you fail or succeed in this capitalist system, it’s your own fault. And whatever is happening, you should just be individually grateful, and not perhaps consider yourself as part of a collective, that would…necessitate you, morally and politically, to get out there and actually fight for the collective. 

MARINEMm-hmm, I agree.

MEXIEI was listening to the Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack podcast, actually, the other day, about positivity culture. And they were talking about, yeah, specifically how this manifests in the workplace.
00:18:56:00MEXIEAbout the people at the top making these terrible decisions, and then…just kind of saying, well, change happens, change happens all the time, change is a part of life. And if you’re [LAUGHS] not adapting to change, if you’re not open to new directions, then you’re just not in the right framework. And you can leave if you want, you know what I mean. You can just go somewhere else. Which, of course, is ludicrous in this political economic framework. People cannot just go get whatever the hell job that they want, especially if they are coming from a poor background, they don’t have the education or training. And also, ‘cause there’s no work, because robots are taking over everything, and capitalism produces unemployment. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEYup. And like [two] people have all the wealth, at this point.

MEXIERight, yeah. And…yeah, plugging my precarious work video, but capitalism makes work more precarious, and flexible, and contract…
00:19:59:00MEXIEContract instead of full employment with benefits, etc. So, yeah, I think the way of reading it as something…that is very individual and very material-focused, is obviously something that is in service of oppressive systems. Like it’s obviously something that is actually in service of your own disenfranchisement, unless you are one of the few who is lucky enough not to be disenfranchised.

MARINEYeah, I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. And I’m actually really excited to have this conversation with you, because I’ve had a very hard time in my own life…like my own mind, [LAUGHS] reconciling the fact that…I wouldn’t call myself an atheist.
00:20:56:00MARINEI am somewhat spiritual. It’s funny, because I feel like I’m almost holding off until another part of my life, to explore that more. But I know that it’s there, and I want to keep it there. And it’s something that is still important to me, and that I’m very interested in. I’ve been watching a lot of Russell Brand lately—actually, not lately. I have fucking watched [LAUGHTER] everything that man has done for the past four years. I really, really love his work. And I just love the way that he talks about these concepts. I love the way he talks about capitalism. But I also really love…a huge part of his platform is talking about spiritual…spirituality and meditation, and the fact that we are all one, and the fact that there’s this infinite consciousness, that we have these five senses that keep us sort of bound to the material world, and that we’re only experiencing one part of reality, in this terrestrial, carnal existence that we are currently living out.
00:22:00:00MARINEBut that there’s actually an infinite space and realm for connection. Anyway, all these ideas. And I hate crediting a white man for them, because I know that they have–

MEXIEThose are Buddhist ideas.

MARINE–an extremely long time. And he absolutely, he credits them, too. He doesn’t, I’m not saying he’s perfect—I’m just saying that I love him. [LAUGHTER] But…yeah, he definitely doesn’t pretend to have come up with all this stuff on his own or anything, obviously. But I’m sort of crediting him for, I don’t know, bringing them into my life. But whatever, I feel like that is a huge part of his platform, is just talking about these ideas in more accessible terms, so that people can get down. And he talks a lot about the importance of spirituality to, and activism, or how he feels that there should be a greater, bigger vision of connectedness, and a bigger consciousness of oneness. And that idea has really spoken to me.
00:22:56:00MARINEBut then, I have this whole other part of me that thinks, separate from that, that the law of attraction is super…fucked-up, and has coerced the way that people think. Anyway, everything that I said in the first half of this podcast. So, I’m actually really excited to ask you how you reconcile your Buddhism, because you identify as a Buddhist, with your anti-capitalist beliefs. And I feel like you’ve, perhaps, thought about this more than I have, and so, could give me cool answers. 

MEXIEYeah, I’m actually so excited to talk about this, but this has been a common question. I mean, I used to have curious cat. I deleted it, ‘cause I was just, I didn’t have time for it. But yeah, many of the questions were about that. And I used to have some spiritual videos on my channel. And I had a few people go and watch those, like after I changed my channel to a really anti-capitalist channel, obviously, I had a few people watch those and be like, wow, that was super-reactionary.
00:24:00:00MEXIEAnd I was like, if you read it that way. But it’s not, I feel like people are kind of missing the mark when they just really oversimplify it, and then just write it off as something that is definitely just serving capital. Because I think it can serve so much more than that. So, I haven’t watched what Russell Brand has said about it. I think he’s funny [LAUGHTER]  

MARINE–you can get all of these ideas from other places.

MEXIEYeah, I think he’s hilarious, but I haven’t watched much of what he said, but…

MARINEI’m sure we’re going to get a few comments [CLEARS THROAT] talking about how he’s problematic in some of his [TALKS OVER] really problematic, but he’s trying really hard, [guys]. Don’t be mean to Russell. [LAUGHTER] 

MEXIEI mean, everyone’s problematic, so yeah, I’m sure you’re definitely going to get some comments about how [TALKS OVER] he’s just a capitalist and whatever.

MARINEOh, he’s definitely not. [TALKS OVER] But I see what you’re saying. [LAUGHTER] 
00:24:57:00MARINEI’m so defensive, it’s ridiculous.

MEXIEAnyway, so yeah, I really came into Buddhist philosophy when I was in my early 20s. I guess I’ll just open up and tell all the listeners that like…I’ve had…[NO AUDIO] issues with depression, I will say, since a very early age. And suicidal thoughts since a very early age. And a lot was going on for me at that time. I…yeah, I didn’t really know what I was doing with my life. I had this really tumultuous and unhealthy, very unhealthy relationship that had just ended. And I was just, yeah, I had no self-esteem. I had no positivity. I was stuck in…
00:25:56:00MEXIEJust feelings of anger, jealousy. Really feeling absolutely worthless, to the point that I no longer wanted to live. I…yeah, and it’s also…the way that I felt, just having, learning everything that I was learning, having all of this knowledge, and then just kind of, I mean, even from a very early age, I really kind of saw through what the society was, and I always just really was just like, why the fuck are we doing this? Even when I was a small child, I was like, why are we organized our world this way? This is really fucked-up. And I always kind of felt like…just this feeling of hopelessness, in the face of these broader structures. So, anyway, I was traveling a lot, ‘cause I was trying to figure out where to do my master’s. I was looking for different field-sites that I could go. So, I was in India, and Indonesia, and Thailand, and I started to really read Buddhist philosophy. And it just resonated so much with me.
00:26:58:00MEXIELike it just really shook my whole way of viewing the world, and reality, and myself, and my emotions, and…my actions, and…yeah, really everything. And the thing about Buddhist philosophy is that it’s the opposite of individualism. People are really like, oh, that’s just, you’re just meditating for yourself. And it’s like, but you’re doing this with the goal to help others. Like the whole thing is about how generosity, and selflessness, and whatever, that’s the route to real happiness. Whereas wanting, craving, desiring, ego, I, and mine—these are all things that ultimately bring suffering. And that are fueled by various delusions that we have in this society. Like delusions like greed, anger, selfishness…
00:27:57:00MEXIEJealousy—all these other problematic emotions that kind of keep us locked in these patterns, and keep us behaving in certain ways, that not only hurt ourselves, but hurt others. So, all of this just resonated so much with me. And the deeper I got into it, the deeper you get into it, it talks actually about the nature of reality itself. And as you were talking about, that everything is intimately connected, and that ultimately, everything is just this, I don’t want to say empty void, but voidness is a really big theme, where it’s like… [LAUGHS] basically because you will die one day, it’s like all of this material stuff is not really real. Like even this…wine glass, I’m drinking wine at 11:30 [LAUGHS] in the morning.

MARINEWhat time is it, Mexie? [LAUGHTER] 

MEXIEYeah. It’s happy hour somewhere. 
00:28:57:00MEXIEBut even this wine glass is, if you try to break it down to its smallest parts, it’s just these atoms. And then, even when you break down those atoms, it’s all just neutrinos and whatever. So, it’s just like, none of this is ultimately real. And even ourselves, even our bodies, none of this, we’re not inherently here. We’re all just connected to this very bigger thing. So, yeah, so that’s like one way to just, all of these things, all of these ways of thinking are ways to…get ourselves out of the negative delusions that we’re in, under this—especially capitalist—system. So, to get out of these ideas that like we need a fancy car, and a great house. And we need, even with things like, we need a husband, and kids, and everything. Even all these things that we just compare ourselves to everyone else. And it’s about like actually seeing through all of that, and seeing that…
00:29:56:00MEXIESelflessness is the way to be, and…yeah–

MARINEI have a question. It’s, maybe I’m getting…I’m trying to think about how everything you’re saying is fundamentally different from the law of attraction, and how the law of attraction, which it completely is. But how, I almost feel like what you’re speaking about is the fact that…we’re these blobs of atoms, that don’t really, like actually, reality and consciousness is infinite, and we’re only temporarily here to experience it, in this very particular and limited way. And we should, I guess like meditate, or develop a higher…a spiritual practice, to help the world, right, is that what you’re saying? Or at least, to try and access this…
00:30:56:00MARINEThis truth about life, that actually our human, material embodiment of it is an infinitely small part of what exists. And I feel like the law of attraction is different than that, insofar as it’s actually saying that the way that you experience life, from your own distinct positionality, is extremely, is fundamentally all that matters, and that you can attract, or you can rearrange life. As if life, and nature, and whatever, is actually there to serve you, or something that you can have an impact on. Whereas I feel like you’re saying that Buddhism is saying that you don’t really have an imp-, or even the ‘you,’ the individual person, is not…important, or doesn’t exist. 

MEXIERight, so I mean, it’s not supposed to be like, you don’t exist, and you’re not important.
00:31:55:00MEXIEBut it’s supposed to be–

MARINEDo I not exist, Mexie? [LAUGHTER] 

MEXIEBut it is supposed to be bettering yourself to help others. And so, for many people, the goal of their practice is to become bodhisattva or whatever. So, to become like an enlightened entity, so that you can help others to reach that state, too. So that you can help others to get out of their…clouded visions of greed, or anger, or jealousy, or whatever. So, you can help them find happiness, and also…yeah, just improve the world around you. So, it’s not supposed to be like you just do nothing, because nothing matters. Although, I suppose it could be read that way. [LAUGHS] But that’s not really the point of it. But yeah, the major difference is that, I mean, in Buddhist philosophy, the idea of wanting, and desiring, and craving–  
00:32:57:00MEXIEEspecially, desiring material wealth. I mean, of course, I’ve talked about this before, but this is also assuming that you have your basic needs met. So, you have food, you have shelter. You’re fine. So, myself here, I’m fine. So, the idea of me craving a bigger house, and more money, and more stuff, and more fancy clothes and whatever. That is considered to be a form of deluded suffering, that actually just leaves you unsatisfied, but it’s not, you’re craving things that themselves are not real. You can’t take this material stuff with you to the next life. You’re just gone. And so, this stuff is gone, you know what I mean. So, craving that stuff is just, is a delusion, because it’s like, these things, you’re craving all these things that don’t matter. But it’s leaving you unsatisfied. It’s leaving you in a constant state of want. Versus a state of just serene, okay, I have what I need to have, so let’s focus on others.
00:34:02:00MEXIELike let’s focus on bringing everything to others. Whereas, obviously the law of attraction is about wanting. It’s about desiring things, and like material things. So, that’s completely at odds with any kind of, you know what I mean. ‘Cause it’s just like, a Buddhist would say that people who are in that state, wanting, like oh, I want more money, I want this. I mean, but then again, you have to think about, okay, well, someone who is on the street, without money, of course they want money, right. So, it’s like, for that person, yeah. But for somebody else who already has their baseline needs met, sitting around, desiring material wealth, and things like that, is just considered like greed, and desire, and all these problematic things, that are actually forms of delusion and suffering.
00:34:57:00MARINEMm-hmm. I have two things to answer to, or two thoughts that are floating around my head. The first is that…what you’re saying about wanting, or about being in a state of want, is actually very extensively spoken about in The Secret and the law of attraction, and that’s why your whole basic mentality, before you start to desire things, is to be really grateful for what you have, and pretend that you’re living in abundance, and that you already have—not even just pretend, but really tell yourself like, I’m so grateful for everything I have, and I don’t…I’m satisfied. And that basically [LAUGHS] but see, then there’s a contradiction for me. I’m seeing your face, yeah, you’re confused, and I’m confused, too. [LAUGHTER] Because…I agree that it’s like, but I feel like if…being really grateful…if the way that they’re framing the need for you to be grateful on an individualistic level, is sacrificing your ability to have compassion for others.
00:36:03:00MARINEAnd even going so far as to sort of appropriate their suffering for your own personal experiment of being really grateful all time, it…seems gross. And what was my second point?

MEXIEWell, it seems like ultimately, the point of that gratitude, though, is to attract more wealth into your life, which is extremely contradictory to the point of being satisfied.

MARINEI know, man. I’ve been confused about that.

MEXIEI mean, I don’t get it. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEOh, and then, my second, when you were talking about reconnecting to higher consciousness, to stop desiring things all the time, or stop wanting things all the time, I wonder what the difference is between doing that through a Buddhist framework, or a spiritual awareness, and how actually it…
00:36:57:00MARINEHow anyone who’s atheist, or anyone who doesn’t believe in that, in particular, can talk about deprogramming yourself from neoliberalism, or deprogramming yourself from all of these things that we’ve been taught to want, that we don’t actually need or want. So, I guess my very long-winded question is, why do you find the framework of spirituality helpful to you, and to your activism, and to your anti-capitalist struggle?

MEXIEI’m glad you asked, ‘cause this is going to be kind of a long answer. But I feel like the reason that Buddhist philosophy really…resonated with me—and by the way, this is the same thing…people talk a lot about being a Marxist, and then it’s just assumed that you are 100% on-board with every single thing that Marx wrote. And if he wrote something that you disagree with, then you just think Marx is wrong, and you’re not a real Marxist, you know what I mean.
00:37:56:00MEXIEIt’s just like, no, all of these things are analytical tools. They’re all tools for understanding the world around us, for understanding different processes. So, yeah, obviously, the fundamentals of Marx’s critique of capitalism resonate very well with what’s going on in the world, but it’s like, you don’t have to take literally every word. And it’s the same thing with Buddhist philosophy. It’s like, there’s many different sects of Buddhist philosophy. It’s not like I’m taking every single thing at its word, or that every single thing resonates with me. But so much of it does resonate with me. And part of that is because it’s kind of the non-religion. And I say that because it’s not about believing in…a supreme deity. And in fact, it actually kind of criticizes, like many Buddhists will criticize…well, not criticize, but there’s the idea that a lot of those religions that are based on a creation story, and an ultimate deity, that these are actually…
00:39:01:00MEXIEThese are things that were created out of fear. And fear is one of the core…delusions…that Buddhists seek to overcome. So, the idea is that, we just feared, what is this world about, what happens when we die. And so, these stories were created about this ultimate deity that will save us. Even if we sin, we can just repent, and that that’s ultimately just about fear and insecurity. But that Buddhists would say, no, we don’t want any part of that. We want to overcome those insecurities and fears and whatever, and we don’t need to be praying to some ultimate power. So, that’s why I really liked it, because it’s not about that. It’s about personal growth for the good of the whole. Like for the good of the most people. But yeah, so…
00:39:57:00MEXIE[LAUGHS] I’m sorry, what was I going to talk about? 

MARINEI was asking you why that resonates with you more, or at least in a different, on a different level than would just learning about why capitalism is so fucked up.

MEXIERight, so…I feel like, for atheists who do kind of embark on this path of kind of retraining their mind, they are using Buddhist techniques and Buddhist philosophies. They’re just not calling it that. And maybe it’s because I came into it first through reading Buddhist philosophies, and then now, here I am. But for atheists who don’t believe in god, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be into these kinds of spiritual philosophies, because it seems to be consistent with a lot of things that they…well, I can’t speak for all atheists, [LAUGHS] but atheists who are anti-capitalist, and atheists who are trying to promote social justice, etc…
00:41:02:00MEXIEYeah, I mean, it seems like things are very similar. But I guess I just…coming from that place, where I was in my early 20s, this just really resonated with me. And it’s really helped me to do all of that work, to unpack…capitalism. And it’s really helped me in my activism, in the sense that…like first of all, I think just the idea of selflessness and generosity as a root to happiness, instead of greed or…oppression, or violence, or stepping on other people to get ahead for yourself, I think just these ideas really resonate with the ideas of redistribution of wealth, and helping marginalized communities, etc. So, I don’t think that that’s terribly at odds with what I’m working towards.
00:42:00:00MEXIEAnd then, just on a personal level, [LAUGHS] just anecdotally, even when I first started my YouTube channel, or when I would post, like I would post all these political things on Facebook or whatever, and I would get these horrible, horrible, [LAUGHS] reactionary comments. And I would just get so angry, and just so…I would just spend all my energy clapping back at this person, [LAUGHS] and just checking and checking, and refreshing and refreshing, to see what comments they had left next. And just expended every, I just really took things personally, and really felt, like I would just be swarmed with self-doubt, like do I actually know what I’m talking about? Am I the person who can actually speak about this? And it really hindered my activism, it hindered me actually feeling confident enough to have a voice, and to say something. And it really kind of made it about me, and about my feelings of being angry, or hurt, or pissed-off, or attacked, or whatever.
00:43:04:00MEXIEBut these kinds of philosophies really helped me to be like, you know what? This has nothing to do with me. If people are making shitty [LAUGHS] videos about me, if they’re leaving shitty comments, and–

MARINEDo they? [LAUGHTER] 

MEXIEYeah, do they? If people are doing all this stuff like–

MARINE–[they’re so insightful.]

MEXIEYeah. You know, it’s not about me—it’s about something much bigger than myself. And all of these problematic emotions, like anger, jealousy, delusion—these are all delusions that I’m able to overcome, really focusing on these kinds of philosophies. And then just, so all I do now is just put out my content, and if people are liking it, great. And if they’re not, then also great. But I’m doing this for myself, you know what I mean. And I’m just a lot more in-control of my emotions and my own state of being.
00:43:56:00MEXIEAnd I feel like I’m able to expend so much less energy fighting people. That energy that I used to spend fighting and being kept up all night just anxious and pissed off, I’m spending that energy now into just making more content, and spreading information that I think is valuable, and trying to do that from a place of love and compassion, as opposed to like anger. And I just feel like that’s more effective for me.

MARINEMm-hmm, thank you. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, that was useful. I still have this weird…I guess it’s because…I hate the law of attraction so much, and that’s where I’ve unfortunately learned about a lot of these ideas, that sometimes, that I wonder, is that ultimately still saying that…is it still victim-blamey, in a way, because you’re saying that people, not you, but…
00:44:58:00MARINEThis line of thought can lead to a place where you’re actually blaming someone’s thought-pattern, or telling that person that maybe what should change is how they react to the situation. And while that’s useful sometimes, I also see how that can lead down a very… I don’t know, something about structural oppression and…spirituality, I still haven’t fully understood how to completely fit those two pieces together, and have them coexist in my mind in a way that doesn’t make me uncomfortable. 

MEXIEMm-hmm. I guess, for me, I’m like…again, it’s how you read it. If you want to read it as something that’s victim-blamey, then whatever. But if you want to actually make your own practice about something more positive, then I mean, the core tenet of Buddhist philosophy is compassion. So, having compassion for marginalized peoples, to me, means fighting for them.
00:45:59:00MEXIEIt means, of course, being angry about their injustice, and of course, doing, like I have a position of privilege. I have my baseline needs met. I don’t need to spend my energy craving more things. I can spend my energy having compassion, and then working towards what will be the best for others, like being selfless, being generous. So, it’s how you read it. So, of course, if you’re going to read it as, oh, that’s so fucking reactionary, then fine. But if you’re going to actually delve into the philosophy, and take from it what you can, that’s what I mean about, all of these things are just analytical tools. All of these things are just things that you can use personally to enhance yourself, and to enhance the way that you understand the world, and the way that you do your praxis in it. If you’re going to take it as, well, fuck that, then fuck it, fine. But I personally think that these things are really useful, and they’re really, like a lot of things that I kind of came to realize…
00:46:56:00MEXIEIn studying this kind of philosophy, were that a lot of the ways that we’re taught to think and react in whatever, in this society, are actually really problematic. And that actually, forgiveness, and love, and compassion are the things that take real courage. And just…shutting down and hating someone, if they wronged you or something, is like…obviously, it’s cathartic. And obviously, in a lot of situations, that it is valid. But that ultimately, it’s going to ultimately hurt yourself. Just certain ways of reacting or thinking about things are going to actually harm yourself more than you realize. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to explain, but again, it can be read in a productive way, or a non-productive way. And I just kind of choose to take from it what I think is really valuable. And…
00:47:56:00MEXIEI think it’s valuable for anyone to actually look into this kind of stuff. ‘Cause I remember when you first were asking me about Buddhist stuff, and you mentioned the law of attraction. And I was like, that has nothing to do with my practice. [LAUGHS] That has absolutely nothing to do with how I think, or whatever. But yeah, like recently, I’ve even been just uncomfortable in even saying, I don’t even, I took it off my Twitter that I call myself a Buddhist, because I’m like, really I’m not out there going to temple, or whatever. But the thing about Buddhist philosophy is…it’s just something, it’s a tool. It’s a tool for you to work with, and practice with. And if things don’t resonate, then they don’t. And if they do, then they do. But it’s not like I’m part of a sect, and I actually go to temple and do anything. 

MARINEYeah, I mean, I don’t think temple is bad. I know that that’s not what you’re saying, but–
00:48:56:00MEXIENo, I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that…yeah, I just kind of am uncomfortable even saying that, oh, I’m Buddhist. Really, it’s just like, I resonate with a lot of the philosophy, and it’s really helped me in my life. And I think that people should actually look into it. [LAUGHS] Yeah.

MARINEYeah. It’s, for me, on a non-, on just an instinctive level, this…I guess it’s when I think about everything that I know about the state of the world, and the state of all…the oppressed people animals that are being just…killed every day, and are living in terrible situations, that I…start to sort of distance myself from it, or start to be like, well, I don’t really care to learn about this stuff, or I don’t, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that I don’t care to learn about it, but where it kind of conflicts in my mind. But then, on a very, on a more instinctive level, I’m very fascinated by it.
00:49:58:00MARINEAnd I also, I…this idea of things being eternal, or all of us being connected to each other, and everything being one. And this idea that my life is actually just this particular incarnation, that is so…temporary, you know? And in my activism, I think just fighting for, I don’t know, just the…knowing that there is something bigger out there, knowing that also…I’ll plug another [LAUGHS] Russell Brand reference. But he recently, on his podcast, has this scientist, Rupert Sheldrake, talk. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about him. But he talks about…he’s a scientist. He went to Harvard and Oxford, and all this impressive stuff. And he talks about, basically the whole, a lot of the science community has really just shut him out now.
00:50:55:00MARINEAnd he’s considered the most controversial scientist in the world. But he has all, he has done all of these experiments on the fact that, on this idea of morphic resonance. And that there is actual, that everything in nature has a memory. So that trees communicate with each other, and animals communicate with each other, and there actually experiments that show that if rats in a certain part of the world learn to do something, over time, rats in a completely different part of the world will also get better at doing that one thing. There’s an eternal…consciousness and memory that we all actually have access to. He saying, when I discovered all of this stuff, when I realized this made sense for how leaves learn to grow, and how nature works in all these cool ways, I decided to really study it, and I went to India. A bunch of scientists there were like, oh, yeah. [LAUGHS] Dude, everyone knows this here, you know?
00:51:56:00MARINEAnd how, obviously, these are ideas that are talked about…in…a lot of other places.

MEXIEYeah, yeah. Well, in terms of all the shit that’s happening in the world right now, a lot of kind of the Buddhist idea is that…obviously, structures are driving this. But even structures, even capitalism, I mean, as Marx would say, capitalism is just a set of social relations, and social relations are enacted by people. And so, they, a lot of the Buddhist idea is that a lot of the shit that is happening in this world is driven by these delusions, like greed, like materialism, like all these things that are actually forms of suffering, and that inflict suffering on others, and then inflict suffering on ourselves. And so, the idea is that if every person were to become this enlightened, selfless, understanding, generous, compassionate being, then can you imagine what kind of social structures we would actually form together, you know what I mean.
00:53:04:00MEXIESo, if everyone could actually be mindful of the things that are driving their wants and desires, and driving their ambitions. I’m thinking of a lot of people that I know, that I won’t, [LAUGHS] I’m thinking of some people that I know, that I won’t name, whose ambitions are really to become as quote-unquote successful as possible, meaning get the biggest paycheck that they can possibly get, and have all the security, and have a cottage, and have this, right. If people were mindful of those kinds of things, and saw them as delusions, and saw them as problematic, imagine, if everyone actually did that, imagine the kinds of new social structures, and networks, and everything, that we would be forming. So, the idea is not only to just do this individually, but to try and inspire others to do the same kind of mindfulness work. 
00:54:01:00MEXIEIn order to try and inspire a different kind of world. Obviously, that’s not, in itself, going to bring down these structures. But having that different outlook, and that different understanding of reality, I think is important for everyone—not for everyone, but for people who want to do this practice, and inspire others to do this practice as well. And then…sorry, go ahead.

MARINEYeah, I love the idea of spirituality being a driver for social change.

MEXIEMm-hmm. Like obviously, on its own, me sitting here being a wonderful, compassionate person, on its own, is not going, I still have to get out there and protest, and fight, and do my activism.

MARINEThe reality is not literally going to change just because you’re thinking about it in a certain way.

MEXIERight.

MARINEAnd I think that’s what fundamentally is different about [LAUGHS] I don’t know.

MEXIEYeah, exactly. But, thinking about this in this different way is still important.
00:54:59:00MEXIEBecause if we’re doing all of this activism, but we’re not mindful of the fact that maybe our wants and desires are influenced by a broader society, that is leading us into these problematic patterns, and this framework that just supports the status quo and capitalism—if we’re not mindful of that, and if we’re not actively checking ourselves, and thinking deeply about our emotions, our thoughts, our personal reality, then the kinds of social structures that we’re going to replicate might not necessarily look that different, if we’re still being driven by things like ego, and jealousy, and greed, or whatever, right. So, anyway…yeah, so in the show-notes, I will link some resources. The thing is, that a lot of what I read, that first inspired me, I was reading…from specific monks and stuff. I would buy them at local monasteries and things, when I was in Thailand, or…
00:55:59:00MEXIEIn India or whatever. So, I don’t think these things are readily available. But I will link some resources of like intro to Buddhist thought. Maybe things that I haven’t necessarily read, but things that are commonly encouraged for people to read. Just so, yeah, you can kind of get a taste for what this is all about. And again, you can read it whatever way you want. You can read it in a reactionary, individualist way, or you can read it in a way that might be really helpful for you. And just for me, like for my emotional well-being, and my mental well-being, it’s really made a lot of difference, for someone who has been chronically depressed for so long. It really has made a difference in how I handle just everyday stresses, and how I handle relationships, and my own practice and everything.
00:56:56:00MARINEGreat. 

MEXIEI mean, there are obviously people who are going to be like, but Buddhists are massacring people in Burma, or Buddhists are doing this, right. And it’s just like…yeah, well, Christians are doing that, too. Everyone’s doing fucking shit that really doesn’t have to do with the actual philosophy. That’s just a military dictatorship…horrible, reactionary thing, you know what I mean. I obviously can’t excuse what particular people who are calling themselves Buddhists are doing. But that’s kind of…they’re obviously not following the [LAUGHS] philosophies very well, if they’re… [LAUGHS] 

MARINEI mean, it’s interesting, ‘cause Buddhists, Buddhism is not considered an organized religion, right. ‘Cause I mean, that’s definitely the case for all organized religions. It’s like, none of them fucking actually practice what they preach.
00:57:56:00MEXIEWell, I feel like it is kind of organized in certain states. Like for example, the national religion of Thailand is Buddhism. The official religion of Burma is Buddhism. So, yeah, so I feel like when you get to that point, it’s kind of just like, you’re just calling yourself that, and it’s not necessarily that you’re practicing it. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEYeah, it’s like Buddhist-washing. [LAUGHTER] That was a joke, but…

MEXIEBut it is.

MARINEMaybe it’s offensive, I don’t know.

MEXIEYeah. 

MARINECool. Well, I really loved this conversation.

MEXIEYeah, me too. That was kind of good to get off my chest, just because I get so many questions about, how do you reconcile this? Well, I think people also ask me, well, how do you reconcile, ‘cause people are talking about revolution. It’s like, well, aren’t Buddhists non-violent? And I’m like, well, I’ve never really said I was for a super-violent revolution, [LAUGHS] you know what I mean.

MARINEInteresting.
00:58:57:00MARINEDo you not feel like violence has its place in revolution?

MEXIESo, I’ve talked about this very briefly. Mostly, I was just kind of echoing what the Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack people, [LAUGHS] Nichole and Callie, had said, basically, that for people who are experiencing, it’s like what kind of violence are we talking about, right? Because there is that quote from Angela Davis, where it’s like, you ask me if I’m okay with violence? Do you know what’s going on to the black community right now? So, it’s like, I’m very much upset by the structural violence that’s going on. I’m not particularly upset if Black Lives Matter organizes and breaks the window of a Starbucks or something. Like fuck that, you know what I mean. 

MARINERight.

MEXIEBut I feel like this probably is a topic for a whole other podcast, but what I think about…how we’re going to make change right now.
00:59:55:00MEXIEBut I think there’s a difference between, if you have a critical-mass of people that believes that we need very radical change to our social structures, and if that critical-mass is standing up and saying, no, we want change, and then the state is coming in with their tanks and shit, and trying to fuck people up. There’s a difference between defending your position, and outright wanting violence. And I’ve talked about this before, where it’s like, I feel like you may encounter violence, if you’re standing up for your position, you may encounter violence that you might have to respond to. But I’m not a person who would be like, yeah, let’s go fuck everything up, you know what I mean. 

MARINEYeah. It’s interesting, because I feel like you’ve made videos on spirituality, or you’ve labeled yourself as Buddhist, so people ask you how you reconcile that with anti-capitalism. But I made two videos.
01:00:55:00MARINEOne was old, and not that good, so I don’t recommend it. But the other one is called, what is it, like law of attraction: is it a capitalist hoax, or something like that. And…I feel like a lot of my viewers think I definitely am not spiritual. Or, I got a lot of comments on that video asking, well…’cause I think a lot of people do ask themselves that question when they have this anti-capitalist consciousness, and awareness of how wellness culture is so…destructive and perverse. Of okay, well, where do I draw the line, then? Or how do I reconcile that knowledge with this…maybe core belief of mine, that I can’t really put words to, that I do think that there might be a bigger…unity or something. So…
01:01:55:00MARINEYeah, I don’t know where I wanted to go with that, but just, yeah.

MEXIEI mean, I think for every person, you just have to have a lot of, you have to have nuance with it, you know what I mean. If you’re at work, and someone’s telling you to be positive, because they’re stripping away all your benefits, but you should just be grateful that you have a job, I mean, that’s very manipulative on the other person’s part. They’re not acting with compassion, they’re not acting with selflessness. They’re acting in a selfish nature. And so, you can recognize that that person is acting in a selfish nature, which is a delusion, you know what I mean. This is not an okay situation. But then, you can also understand when, in your own life, these ideas are actually fruitful and important, you know?

MARINEYeah, I think part of my resistance, too, to it, comes from the fact that I was deep into the law of attraction for a little while. I mean, this only lasted like…two months or something, but it is like, ‘cause the thing is like, you have to believe in it 100%, otherwise you’re told that it won’t work.
01:02:55:00MARINESo, it’s like, you have to be super uncritical of it, and you also…then, anytime you start to be a little bit, like ask questions that are sort of forbidden to be asking yourself, then you’re like, well, is this why the law of attraction is not working? Is this why I haven’t attracted this yet into my life, you know. So, and I think that, at that point, during that part of my life, it was sort of during my whole just like…you know, I’ve talked about this on my channel, just like…vegan, happy, hippie-dippy, everyone creates their own reality stage. And I don’t think, I do think it fundamentally, like now, being on the other side, and thinking back to how I started thinking about other disenfranchised people, I do think that it altered my world-view. I do think a part of you, if you believe in the law of attraction very strongly, and [into] your ability to will these things into your life, has to think that people who haven’t brought abundance into their life are partly responsible for it.
01:03:55:00MARINEOr that there’s something that they’re not quite doing right. And that really scares me.

MEXIEIt sounds to me like…the law of attraction is this extreme perversion–

MARINE[It like, sucks]. 

MEXIELike an extreme reactionary perversion of what would otherwise be okay ideas, into like… [LAUGHS] yeah. It actually just sounds like a really dangerous ideology, in my view. [LAUGHS] 

MARINEPretty much. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. 

MEXIESo, yeah. Okay, so we have a few new Patrons to shout out. So, thank you so much for your very generous pledges. I’d like to shout out [Atandra Anwa]. She made a very generous pledge. And also, I’m sorry, I don’t know this person’s name, because their screen-name is just, I Don’t Even. [LAUGHTER] 

MARINEI like it.

MEXIEI know. But shout out to I Don’t Even for another very generous pledge/
01:04:59:00MEXIESo, if you’d like to support the show, first of all, just sharing it with your friends, liking, commenting, leaving us a review on iTunes, or whatever app you are using, would be very beneficial to us. [LAUGHS] So, if you’d like to support the shows without giving monetarily, you can do that. Or you can support us on Patreon, which will be in the show-notes. Or, you can make a one-time donation on PayPal.

MARINEYay.

MEXIEYay.

MARINEOr, you can do all of those things.

MEXIEOr, you can do everything.

MARINEAnd make us so happy.

MEXIEYes. [LAUGHS] 

MARINENo, but I do think sharing goes…sharing an episode goes a long way. [TALKS OVER] I feel like that, and if a friend is like, hey, check out this awesome podcast—well, the thing is, I live with a podcast on my ears, so I’m always looking for new stuff to listen to. But that is my favorite way of discovering new stuff, is if I don’t have to…
01:05:58:00MEXIEBut also, giving us a rating on iTunes, or whatever you’re listening to it on–

MARINEMexie’s like, yeah, but also [INDISTINCT] 

MEXIENo, no, I’m not saying that’s not important. That’s very important. But also doing that would also be a good way to help people find us, even just searching for a podcast, they could find us.

MARINETotally. Do we have reviews yet?

MEXIENo. 

MARINE[GASPS] What? You guys, audience, please. [LAUGHTER] Maybe we can leave a review. Be like, I love talking to [INDISTINCT] she’s great. 

MEXIENo, maybe we can visualize people leaving reviews–

MARINE–that is how we’re, okay, let’s set a goal that by next time we record, which is actually in three days, we’ll have 100 reviews. And that will happen. We’ll make a vision-board.

MEXIEOkay. But you can’t think any negative thoughts about it. You can only think that [TALKS OVER] we already have 100 reviews.

MARINEYes, like no fucking question.

MEXIEWe already have 100 reviews.
01:06:55:00MARINEWe already have, we have so many that it’s overloading [TALKS OVER] our server. We do. Oh, my god, we thought we would get to 100 so soon. [LAUGHTER]  

MEXIELet’s pop the champagne.

MARINEWoo-hoo! Well, you’re already popping the wine.

MEXIEYeah, I know. I’m kind of… [LAUGHTER] [INDISTINCT] it’s noon now. Anyway, I feel like we should end this.

MARINEWe probably should, we probably should.

MEXIEAnyway, thank you so much to the listeners.

MARINEThanks for listening. 

MEXIEAnd see you in two weeks.

MARINEBye.

MEXIEBye.


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