Indian spirituality has long been one of India’s greatest exports, and the US has always been a destination, not just for the swami’s of every ilk, but also Quakers, Shakers, home grown Mormons (thought they didn’t have it very easy when they first started) and Scientologists. Now the US can make spirituality its latest export as well. Along with accusations of cultural imperialism, the US can look forward to being blamed for foisting its particular brand of capitalist-spiritualism on the world. According to The Guardian:

The US Kabbalah Centre, the movement’s most powerful body, wants to open a dedicated Kabbalah school near London. In October it will start a 10-week pilot programme involving 30 pupils at an unnamed non-Jewish school in Hertfordshire. The US Kabbalah Centre, the movement’s most powerful body, wants to open a dedicated Kabbalah school near London. In October it will start a 10-week pilot programme involving 30 pupils at an unnamed non-Jewish school in Hertfordshire.

I had a friend in school, who was a practicing Rabbi, and he told me that in order to study the Kabbalah, you had to be over forty, and could only study it in the early hours of the morning, around 3 am or so, but a mere technicality like this doesn’t seem to bother the folks at this Center. The London Rabbis aren’t too happy either:

…the project is alarming Jewish leaders. London rabbi Yitzchak Schochet said: ‘The fact that they are now peddling their gibberish to children only compounds the tragedy of how the good name of Judaism is being brought into ill repute.’ But the project is alarming Jewish leaders. London rabbi Yitzchak Schochet said: ‘The fact that they are now peddling their gibberish to children only compounds the tragedy of how the good name of Judaism is being brought into ill repute.’

There is concern about a number of Kabbalah practices. Some recruits have told how they were pressured to hand over large sums of money to the movement. Others said they were told to sever their ties with friends and family who expressed scepticism about the faith.

But this is what the London rabbis are up against:

A recruitment drive could prove popular with British children, however. Britney Spears and David Beckham have both been seen wearing the red bracelets while Naomi Campbell is a recent convert.

I guess the swamis have some competition.

I have always felt a certain amount of discomfort with spiritual consumption. Some years ago we had gone to visit my brother-in-law who was living in Berlin, and almost everyone we met, was really into the fact that the family was Jewish (not me though, I am a Hindu), and lots of them were into the Kabbalah, it was kind of creepy. I’ve met lots of people in the States who are into Native American spiritual practices or Tibetan Buddhism, so I suppose anytime there is a new spiritual fad the people of that culture should worry, it just might be a sure sign that they are on the way out and are in the process of being museumized! or am I just cynical and paranoid?