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Holistic Practices Gone Astray

Pratiques holistiques

An agnostic society needs practices that support its ideological individualism. Holistic practices that are thousands of years old have been taken over by enthusiasts who are not only convinced but also opportunistic, who have set out to deconstruct them in order to profit from them. Let’s take a look at two trends that originated from holistic and spiritual practices but have been isolated to fit the 21st century: yoga and minimalism.

Yoga is an offshoot of Hinduism. What is commonly called yoga is in fact the asana, whereas yoga designates the state of union with the divine, which can take several forms: Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, etc.

There is a kind of cultural appropriation in the sense that the sacred (and a fortiori free) dimension of a practice has been hijacked to make it a commercial object. Fortunately, there are many associations that try to transmit the yogic tradition, but they remain a minority in a nebula that constantly generates new products.

Minimalism also has its roots in the East, and more particularly in Zen Buddhism. It can be said that Zen Buddhism is not the only one to advocate deprivation, it is also found in Greek philosophical traditions (Stoicism, cynicism with Diogenes etc.). However, the contemporary aesthetic codes of minimalism are strongly tinged with the East, starting with the Japanese vision of this art of living. Zen Buddhism, although born in India, took a very particular form when it took root in the Japanese archipelago. The idea of minimalism is linked to the material detachment induced by the Buddhist philosophy which underlines the impermanence of things. It was part of a monastic life punctuated by fasts, mantras, prayers and asceticism.
Today, however, we can say that minimalism is becoming fetishistic: we fight the quantity of objects to venerate their quality, as evidenced by the photos taken of a collection of well-counted objects and posted on social media of all kinds.

Minimalism is a reappropriation of a distant tradition to be carried as a standard of a form of struggle against consumerist capitalism. However, we notice that it is rather a detour of consumption towards better products, almost luxurious in some cases. Where Zen Buddhism is a true art of living, minimalism is a pale copy of an alternative way of living since it lacks substance. At best, it is a new emanation of consumerism, more connected and calculated. It is the passage of a consumption at all costs towards a more conscious consumption. Minimalism is nonetheless a philosophy that orbits around consumption and not deeper concepts such as anitya (impermanence), anātman (non-substance), or duḥkha (dissatisfaction or suffering).

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