This has been an unusual Christmas here in Norway, with rain and storms instead of snow and cold. But while I am sitting here, listening to the wind outside, I get the opportunity to reflect upon the way people so often try to capitalize upon ideas and the free thoughts. I have nothing against that as such, but when they become dogmatic in the way that the monopolize what should have been free for everyone, I get annoyed.
First I went to a seminar regarding Open Space Technology, a way of stimulating creative processes in organisations. Harrison Owens, the creator of the method, is an open-minded man, suggesting that we just put his ideas into action, which I have done for some time. I do it my way.
On the seminar the lecturers presented their own way of doing Open Space, and they had trademarked their concept. That’s OK, because they also mentioned the possibility of doing this different, according to the original ideas from Harrison Owens. Of course they strongly promoted their own views, as expected when they believed this was the best. But they were basically also open-minded.
What happened though, was that those participants who was unknown to this method before joining the seminar, almost got a religious experience. And when I asked them if it was possible to to this in another way, using the mist important elements, but not all, they signaled that this was almost blasphemy. Someone had capitalized on a free thought, and they immediately got their own congregation. Not to provoke, I then named our way of doing this different from Open Space, but I got the feeling that even this made me an apostate. And I could observe how a religion developed on the basis of free ideas, and I could feel how the freedom at once became restricted.
That was the first episode. The second happened during Christmas, when a woman asked me about my meditation, and if I combined that with mindfulness. When I confirmed that combination, she told me that this was not acceptable. She used to meditate herself, doing ACEM meditation. And one if the founders of the ACEM method, who himself has really capitalized this, had told her that being mindful would destroy her meditation. So she had decided to avoid mindfulness to benefit from her ACEM meditation. Are Holen had told her so. He had also told her that to meditate on her own was of less use than meditating in an organized ACEM setting, which, if course, again make this even more profitable for the founders. And she strongly believed him.
I am not sure whether this was indeed what he ment, but I know for sure that ACEM is “big business”, and by monopolizing meditation, creating a congregation, this would at least not harm their business. They had got their believers, and they are willing to pay for it, both with money, and with their freedom of thought. The best way to capitalize a free idea, is to create a religion.