People’s inhibition threshold to copy something from others and pass it on as own achievement seems to have fallen dramatically. More than ever before, ideas, information and initiatives get copied, remixed and reissued (often blatantly so). This is certainly due to instant availability and circulation through digital media. But lack of own efforts and the lack of recognition of the person who created the original content, reflects also absence of respect, gratitude and fairness. The road of good intentions is often paved with misunderstandings. And it’s possible that there is simply a widespread lack of awareness of the consequences for a copycat. While in academia, theft of intellectual property and plagiarism are illegal, cloning in the field of spirituality even comes with certain dangers for one’s personal development.
Whether writing a book, an article or diploma, one thing is a non-negotiable to do: the list of references and source citations. Statements must be verifiable and quotes as such recognisable. A scientific citation includes verbatim as well as analogous takeovers. It must be obvious what’s our own train of thought and what is not.
Unfortunately, scientific integrity of internet sources is not a given as with print sources, which are often backed up by scientific journals or specialist publishers (according to studi-lektor.de). Online publications get produced relatively quickly and therefore have a reputation of being unfunded.
Why references and source citations are needed:
- To honour the work and achievements of others, whether your own mentor or pioneers in specific areas;
- To explain where your own work and inspiration springs forth from, as well as to signal the trustworthiness behind your publication;
- To avoid the dissemination of misinformation / misunderstandings;
- To provide stimulus to others for further investigation;
- To make your work more meaningful;
The same applies to design, art, photography, products, services and business ideas:
I remember well, what an ex-colleague told me years ago: prior to leaving the agency, where we had worked together in the past, he had copied all sorts of files from the corporate server. He felt smart, proud to have useful information and well positioned to start his own company. I have no idea what has become of him.
Even if there is no safe strategy to avoid data and idea theft, there exist the copyright law, according to which the originator owns the exclusive rights for reproduction. In addition, there are the patent law and trademark law, as well as the option to have non-disclosure agreements (source: designmadeingermany.com). But what’s the point if the contracting parties do not comply to their agreement? When there is no integrity within a person, an ‘integrity contract as reminder’ often won’t help either.
Why copying is not a good idea:
- Because a copy is not the original, and can not be. Because the originator has usually dealt with the matter intensively and for a long time, overcoming hurdles and backlashes, honing his work with considerable effort. The original carries his energetic and stylistic signature. Thus, copies tend to be of poor quality and lack depth.
- Because a copy is often cheaper and thus reduces the value of the original.
- It engages in unfair competition and violates copyright and trademark laws.
- Because copying reduces the motivation to create something unique oneself. Copying undermines one’s own intelligence, effectiveness, creative power and expansion (in the sense of progress). It levels down the mental capacity of the individual, but also of society.
- Attempting to succeed and earn money with the work or product of others is basically theft and fraud. First and foremost, the imitator deceives himself and deprives himself of the opportunity to be an innovative channel himself.
But what does this have to do with self-healing, awareness and yoga? A whole lot. Especially in the field of spirituality and healing work, never before has so much hijacking and reproduction taken place as in this day and age. Seminars, workshops, biographies, instructions, insights, diagrams, teachings and methods, nothing is safe from imitation.
Copy & Paste seems the method of choice to present oneself as knowledgable and wise. A snippet from here, a few ingredients from there, stir it well, spice it up with a few own ideas, and the impressive profile of the yoga teacher, guru, spiritual healer or therapist is ready to go. Inadvertently or intentionally the original sources are forgotten. To name one’s own teachers, mentors and their modalities only occurs to a few people.
Why is this a problem? Because an unfounded method or stolen content is like a puzzle piece torn out of a whole. It lacks the knowhow and context of its original creation, as well as the physical experience and insight in the development process of the author. The credibility of the duplicator goes down the drain, even if no one else knows or realises the fraud (and there may even be recognition and glory for the foreign feather headdress). On a spiritual and soul level, nothing remains hidden.
But not only that. The spiritual development of the imitator gets limited because he is – in the truest sense of the word – besides or outside of himself: he is embracing the experience and work of another instead of looking inward and discovering something valuable out of his own self. This could be called ‘convenience’, or more directly: theft or corruption.
Of course, in the absolute sense, there is no copyright on consciousness. Consciousness is open to all to experience it. But exactly this experience is personal and highly individual. Our spiritual aha-moments and unfoldings are unique and uncopyable. So if somebody takes insights and sells methods that others have worked out in their own effort with discipline or received by grace, it is fraudulent, and even dangerous. Because the copycat not only takes on an authority role that is not eligible, but also does so without knowing the bigger picture and exact background (which includes with certain modalities, also the risks). The free-rider spreads half-truths, no matter whether he makes a name for himself or not. And the more he copies from others, the more distracted and fragmented he becomes. And: the bigger the already confusing, gluttonous esoteric labyrinth in the marketplace gets.
Undeniably, there are individuals spread across the planet who have similar experiences and overlapping insights. But that’s a different scenario altogether.
“Certain wisdom can be acquired. True wisdom can only ever come from one’s own experience.” – Marina
To receive a spiritual dedication (also called ‘initiation’) from a master typically marks a new life phase and a consciousness shift. Since ancient times, initiations also have the purpose to preserve the purity of a tradition or method, and avoid potential falsifications and distortions. In the Kriya Yoga tradition for example, there are strict rituals and transferences (e.g. Shaktipat initiation). Same goes for the Juna Akhada, the largest Sadhu order of India, whose initiations tend to take place during the Kumbh Melas.
While an initiation is an energetic process for spiritual purification and illumination, it is also about the transferring information and sacred knowledge (which is kept away from the public to prevent abuse and malevolent interferences).
A spiritual transmission takes place when we are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for the next step in our evolution. We have to be mature and ready to take responsibility for what we receive. Hence, spiritual initiations usually do not happen when we want them, but when we are invited by our master or mentor who can judge whether we are ready, or not.
Those who embrace spiritual techniques or healing methods at random guess, have only incomplete versions at hand. Complete ingredients, detailed steps, tricks or even precautionary measures of the originals will never be made publicly and readily available. Therefore replicating something will always have a defect. On the one hand because integration remains superficial as insider information is missing, on the other hand due to the lack of integrity on the part of the copycat. The original material is overwritten and undermined. The connection to the original channel is blurred, distorted or completely erased.
This has nothing to do with integrity, self-efficacy and creativity. And it is all the more unfortunate because each one of us is endowed with unique gifts and talents that want to be brought into life. But to track down one’s inherent skills requires dedication to self-realisation, a commitment to one’s inward journey.
Decorate yourself with your own or foreign feathers… Image top: Illustration ‚The Vain Jackdaw‘ from Gallaher Fables And Their Morals 71 The Vain Jackdaw Cigarette Card (CC6), Image bottom: Painting ‚Peacock und Peacock Butterfly‘ by Archibald Thorburn (1860 – 1935)