Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

A Grande Pike with Room for Spiritual Conditioning

buddha spiritual
On a recent trip which brought me through Dallas International Airport, I was inconvenienced by a spiritual attack. I never saw it coming, and I didn’t expect it to happen at Starbucks (though I probably should have).

I paid for a cup of coffee and received religious propaganda.

The attack was subtle, stealthy–maybe a bit subliminal. The untrained eye would have missed it for certain. After all, it was disguised as a coffee cup sleeve.

But the sleeve was dressed in more than the standard Starbucks design. I was about to drink up a cup of Eastern spirituality.

Fortunately, I was hyper-aware of this attack because I had just witnessed a television segment where a well-known actress was educating a CNN correspondent on the benefits of promoting “mindfulness” in our schools.

Mindfulness, mind you, originates from Buddhist philosophy and is an essential tenet of their faith. It is a religious practice. But since most people are unaware, and mindfulness has been associated with positive benefits, it remains outside any discussion of religion in our schools.

Of course, mindfulness is not new; it has another name: “sitting quietly and keeping your hands to yourself.” But that doesn’t sounds as trendy, it doesn’t sell as many books, and won’t keep you paying for those Hindu stretching indoctrination–I mean yoga sessions.

Back to my overpriced caffeine delivery system (CDS). The sleeve was adorned by a quote by Oprah Winfrey:

“Know what sparks the light in you, then use that light to illuminate the world.”

Sounds nice enough. It conjures up pleasant imagery and the aftertaste of Chinese takeout. No egregious proselytization here. Next to the quote was an image for a brand called Teavana, accompanied by more advice to stop and think about how much money you’re blowing on coffee:

“Steep your soul. Teavana and Oprah invite you to take a few moments to pause and reflect each day. Your own personal ‘steep time.'”

The icon was of a person in the traditional Lotus position with legs crossed and hands joined to hold, presumably, a cup of tea.

Rules of Engagement (ROE) stated that I would need more than the reference to a spark of light, the call to practice mindfullness, and the rounded Teavana figure doing Yoga to declare positive identification (or PID) solved for this spiritual intercept.

I needed more to confirm my cup of Joe was conditioning me to make positive associations with Buddhist philosophy and Hindu tradition. So I followed the link on my CDS heatshied to SteepYourSoul.com

Teavana is indeed a tea company, and a quick glance at some of the flavors confirmed my suspicions:

  • Maharaja Chai Oolong
  • White Ayurvedic Chai
  • Samurai Chai

I know an Eastern affinity for tea will naturally bring Eastern spirituality alongside, but I continued looking for blends that included other religions–maybe a Mecca Mint, a taste of Torah Tea-Leave, something in a Sagan’s Sage, or a dollop of Dawkins Delight (Earl Grey doesn’t count).

But these teas only came in two flavors: secular, and Eastern spirituality.

Though I continued to drink the coffee, I tasted something very different. It was the bitter recognition that the New Spirituality is still expanding its reach.

Where will I run into the next subtle call to follow the eight-fold path and forget myself? I don’t know. I think the problem will solve itself when Starbucks executives realize the ultimate aim of Buddhism:

To eliminate all desire

When we reach Nirvanah, our desire to pay for overpriced coffee and remain enslaved to caffeine addictions will be no more.

Then again, what matter is that to executives without the desire for profits?

Oh, wait. I just found the “Capital of Heaven Keemun Black Tea” blend. I take it all back. (Well, some of it.)

Photo credit: Frank Lindecke / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

7 Replies

  1. Susan Irene Fox

    Y’know, I hadn’t been to a Starbuck’s in a while; walked in yesterday to meet someone and was greeted by a huge poster with Oprah’s face. Didn’t even dawn on me. Won’t be going back for a while. (sigh) Thanks for the info, oh great information master of the grand coffee houses. 😉

    1. I don’t know if I’m ready to boycott just yet. But I’ll skip the sleeves for sure.

  2. wildninja

    I’m guffawing over here… “the problem will solve itself.” That is laugh out loud funny and so very logical.

  3. [chuckle] I really appreciate your use of satire and the military spin. Thanks for the info! 😀

  4. Lisa Rosier

    Hi Jason: I always like everything you write and share and never disagree. I have no idea about any Eastern philosophy agenda to rid the mainstream of the absolute truth of Christian principles. For some reason, I want to just tell you that ever since I’ve started paying attention to my breath and aiming to become mindful of all that I’m experiencing in the moment, I’ve become more convicted than ever of God’s promises to me that I need nothing more than Him and more willing than ever to take on Jesus’ yoke.

    1. Lisa, There is no doubt that a practice which involves focused attention on the present moment can be very beneficial. There are many different types of meditative practices, including prayerful meditation. I only bring up “mindfulness” because it credits a healthy practice (meditation) to a religion I believe is false. Every gift we have, including the gifts of self-empathy and focused awareness of the present moment, is a gift from God, not from the Buddha. Thanks for the comment!