What do we want? Spiritual enlightenment!
When do we want it? Now!
You see that “happiness” is marketed as a commodity by clever hustlers who understand that in an affluent society there are millions of people like Julia Baugher, born into middle-class comfort, who are desperately in search of some deeper meaning to their empty lives. There are corporate executives and other successful people who believe their career achievements and wealth entitle them to a greater share of happiness than is enjoyed by the common rabble. These would-be consumers of “happiness” represent the demand side of a market equation from which spiritual hustlers hope to get rich by providing the supply. Like the hippies of yore, however, the 21st-century seeker of spiritual enlightenment doesn’t want anything to do with the Bible or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Insofar as any belief system is part of the Western cultural tradition, this is sufficient to render it obsolete, invalid and worthless in the eyes of the spiritual seeker, who either craves “ancient wisdom” from some non-Western culture, or else will prefer a trendy new belief (e.g., “climate change”) as the basis of his enlightened worldview. After all, if happiness and “enlightenment” can be found by any hillbilly yokel attending a Baptist church in Kentucky, there isn’t much social status to be gained by this pursuit. No, the upwardly-mobile middle-class college-educated spiritual seeker prefers to believe in something exotic, and this requires innovation by the hustlers of the Happiness Industrial Complex.
When I was young, the catchphrase “spiritual but not religious” cropped up nearly as often as “cats ask for it by name.” Nothing has changed but the tone:
“Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations