Consumer vs. Curator Society

Mindfulness & Awakening: Consumer v. Curator Society
May 9, 2012

Futurist William Gibson, in his book of essays, “Distrust That  Particular Flavor,” (Putnam, 2012, $26.95) says: “We are all curators in  the postmodern world, whether we want to be or not.”
It is this otaku (Japanese for a passive, obsessive need for  data), he says, that defines the emerging world and its generation. In  short, we are being defined as consumers. Curation—or our choices in  consumption—is mindless, or not, perhaps in degree.
It poses a challenge that an adoption of spiritual precepts can help  define.
Why not be mindful of this otaku, and acquire a “center” for it  within one’s being and, thus, urge it along with spiritual power?
It need not be confined within any specific religion or spiritual  discipline or modality, but only require the transcendence of want that  consumerism implies—toward choice, an informed mindfulness with  integrity.
The concepts are what’s important.
If there were a broad generational move to shift gears to a deeper  level, say from otaku to the Buddhist idea of vipassana (Sanscrit:  vipashyana), meaning a spiritual consciousness of seeing things as they  actually are, freeing the self from the emptiness of conditioned  phenomena, it could channel and propel the information age.
This internal recalibration of the inner compass could help people be  resistant to the delusional roller coaster of manipulation to which  consumers are prey. To be mindful in choices would be liberating on a  massive scale.
How to do this? Consider these questions, for the individual: What  makes us happy? What’s good for the planet? What provides wealth and  plenty for those we love?
This type of awakening for a path of consciousness, called “living in  right relationship,” is not new or confined to any one religion or way  or path, from Quakers to Buddhists to Native Americans. (Indeed, the  common method of vipassana retreat for meditation is similar to the  “vision quests” or “pipe fasts” practiced by native peoples.)
Bryan Welch, for example, in his book “Beautiful and Abundant: Building  the World We Want” (B&A Books, 2010, $9.99), offers Quaker-style  queries for readers as a guide for any course of action:
• Is it beautiful? (to engage human imagination);
• Does it create abundance? (to entice innovation);
• Is it fair? (so no one is marginalized, all can share);
• Is it contagious? (so it can “go viral” or create a “tipping point” for change).
Let us not be mere consumers, led by our desires and bedazzled by  what’s put before us from the outside. Let us practice mindfulness in  our choices and lead society, indeed the globe, through following a path  of right relationships, curating our lives and our world.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit

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