Is Spiritual Business a
Contradiction in Terms?

image of lit candle

With all the beads, prayers, affirmations, “laws of abundance,” and other woo-woo business accoutrements flying around these days, you’d think there’s some fire sale promotion going on spirituality.

Maybe it’s the rough economy, or the unsettling pace of change. Business seems to be getting more and more difficult, and support is hard to come by. When you’re struggling, the idea of having the unseen realms backing you is pretty appealing.

But can getting more spiritual really help your business?

For some of us, spirituality is everyday stuff. It’s how you relate to the world, in business just as in all other things. It’s what’s for lunch. As the Zen master Suzuki Roshi said, it’s “Nothing special.”

For others, spirituality in the realm of business can seem profane, inappropriate, or just plain bizarre.

So which is it? Is spirituality the missing leverage point in business — or is it just plain wrong to use spirituality to get what you want?

What the Heaven is spirituality?

Spirituality is one of those words that can be tricky to define.

The Oxford American Dictionary defines it as:

… of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to the material or physical things.

I would define spirituality as any connection we feel to a greater purpose, existence, or reality than ourselves. It means there is a core Oneness that everything comes from and everything returns to.

Ever been in love? You know what I’m talking about.

Things spirituality doesn’t really work for

On a power trip? Spirituality is not going to get you world domination.

If you want to manipulate people into doing something that’s not in their best interest, your connection to love and all-that-is ain’t gonna help you.

Because spirituality isn’t a tool or technique, you can’t “use” it like that. When people describe their spiritual experiences, they tend to use words like:

  • “awe-inspiring”
  • “humbling”
  • “connected to everything”
  • “full of love”
  • “deep trust and peacefulness”

If you’re trying to trick people into spending money on something worthless, it’s pretty doubtful those words describe your state of mind.

But hold on … something seems familiar here.

Copywriting, business, and spirituality

Here are a couple of key themes about copywriting and sales that you’re probably familiar with if you’re a regular Copyblogger reader:

Great salespeople and marketers, the ones you feel good about and look up to instead of feeling slimed by, have this combination of confidence and humility, caring and willingness to deliver on their promises.

Are you starting to see what I’m seeing?

Maybe this spirituality thing could be helpful after all

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an amazing way to spend my time.

To be awe-inspired by the presence of the people you are wanting to help, to be humble and not distracted by trying to be something or someone you’re not, to feel connected to everything and full of love. And to have it all grounded in deep trust and peacefulness.

If your blog posts, tweets, products, content, conversations, and connections reflected that sort of approach, what would that do for your business? Or for that matter, for your life?

Spiritual teacher soup

Listen, I may have been designated as a master teacher in my spiritual lineage. I may have years of spiritual practice behind me.

But let me tell you, all I need is a bunch of cool people to launch cool things while I’m sitting on the sidelines and all my internal voices get going.

I’m an incompetent booby. I’ll never catch up with those guys. Maybe what I do doesn’t matter anyway.

I get worried and upset and angry.

The usual things that I’m tempted to do in moments like that (work harder, be brilliant, eat too much ice cream) tend to be completely ineffective.

In fact, they leave me feeling even worse.

Maybe you’re the same. You end up doing crazy things. Like buying yet another high-priced program when you already know what to do. Or launching a sales page that feels like it was written by a sleazy car salesman. Or retreating into a corner, too paralyzed and overwhelmed to do anything at all.

That’s one of the very useful things about spiritual practice. My practice allows me to drop all of those thoughts very quickly, saving me from acting on those impulses, from sabotaging myself or scaring off our clients.

It allows my heart to drink the love, peace and groundedness it thirsts for.

That’s the real payoff. The side effect? I’m more on-point with what I’m doing. Efficient, effective, connected.

Mother Teresa — you know, that once-unknown little nun who mobilized tens of thousands of people to care for the poorest of the poor, and trotted the globe bringing in millions of dollars and creating a legacy that has lasted far past her death?

She insisted that everyone associated with her Missionaries of Charity spend precious hours in spiritual practice every day, even when there was the pressing need of dying and starving people all around.

Why? Because getting stuff done simply wasn’t enough.

Ticking items off a to-do list is draining. But understanding that what you do and who you are into the world is an expression of profound love and caring — that’s when miracles happen.

It worked for her. It works for my business and our clients. It can work for you, too.

Have your spirit call my spirit, they’ll do lunch

As the great Sufi sheikh Ibn al Arabi said,

All streams lead to the Ocean.

There are a million ways to connect to spirit. Some are organized, some are eclectic. Some are communal, some personal. All, hopefully, are grounded in love and service.

I share my Sufism with two poets you may have heard of, Rumi and Hafiz. Sufis talk about Remembrance as a spiritual practice. That this connection with spirit is not something to cross off a to-do list or a technique to be mastered, but an essential part of who you are that is simply to be Remembered.

What if you were to stop in the middle of your busy day, right in the middle of your never-ending task list, right in the middle of the sales page copy or blog post you’ve been pushing uphill, and took time to speak to your heart and ask it to remember?

To remember that love and connection are essential to your business.

To remember that you aren’t alone, and that you don’t need to be anyone other than who you are.

To remember that it’s okay to be humble and in service, and that you are cared for deeply.

No one has to watch you do this. If you want help, I did a short audio to guide folks, Ack! Where’s My Heart?

Stop working so hard. Use all of that tremendous will power and individual force that you’ve been given to ease off the gas pedal and just stop. Stop. Breathe. Remember love.

When you step on the gas again, you just might find it easier to do whatever you were struggling with before, and making bigger ripples once it’s out there. Who, after all, can resist love?

About the Author: Mark Silver helps entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to make a difference, but also need to make a profit. Check out his website and blog at Heart of Business, follow him on Twitter, or take the free Remembrance Challenge.

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Comments

  1. I’m not so sure about the spirituality being seen as a means to an end as your article appears to say – especially when the end is essentially to do with making money. Surely spirituality is a way of life out of which all else flows? Combine this with the “buy this and I’ll show you how” flavour of the website, it comes across in the mould of televangelists and a whole load of people marketing self-help to people whose primary motivation is to get rich. Wrapping it up in the language of “it’s all about love” is surely false – it should be “it’s all about money”.

  2. Very interesting article. I liked your comment too @Chris. Maybe it’s about love and money. Or maybe it depends on who it is coming from and the source of their motivation. We all need love and we all want money so their has to be some kind of mix. I prefer that spirituality permeate the way that we do things instead of be a tool to get something but it is hard to determine where those lines cross.

  3. Thank you Mark for a wonderful and insightful post. Much needed and very valuable. Your point of merging the physical and spiritual is a vital idea for all of us to grasp in today’s world. There is far too many who insist that the spiritual and physical (business) can not co-exist. But as you eloquently make the point, they indeed are not separate and in combining the two the true essence of living the spiritual life and expression of the higher-self emerges. We need not express ourselves as simply human beings having an occasional spiritual experience but as true spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. If we live our lives from the latter perspective than all the goodness that is inherent in our true selves will be expressed in our daily business activities. And as it has been shown so many many times that only helps our businesses. For in giving with a self-less spirit of not what is in this for me but how may I serve – we will receive true abundance.

  4. I stuck God in the back of my book, “How to Make Money While You Look for a Job.” I couldn’t leave Him out because I know people need all the help they can get, but I also know how much I HATED hearing about God and how FAST I put down a book that talked about religion in my past. So I briefly mention it on page 7 and refer readers who want it to get it in the appendix.

    I get comments like the one above, but I always appreciate the tolerant folks who are also tolerant of believers’ faith. We know you think we believe in fairy tales, and of course fairy tales don’t help. But we sincerely believe in a God who cares, and that MUST include caring about business efforts. Wishing you success after success after success!

  5. There is nothing wrong with making money. It’s how you do it. If you are a spiritual person, you don’t leave the spirituality at home. It is a part of every aspect of your life, even the professional part.
    As Mark said,
    “If you want to manipulate people into doing something that’s not in their best interest, your connection to love and all-that-is ain’t gonna help you. ”
    Thanks Mark for a great post!

  6. Let me share what’s not being said. You can find people of all spiritual traditions teaching self-help, law of attraction, etc. There are many with big names and they charge quite a bit of money, for the “candy” they share. Now you might find a nugget or two of truth there – but at what cost?

    There are also an equal number that are hard to find – don’t advertise – and don’t charge an arm and a leg. They could have the same stature down the road, as the Sufis Hafez and Rumi you mention. If you can find them – they are the “real” spiritual teachers. They exist in the Eastern, Middle Eastern, Monastic and indigenous spiritual traditions (among others)

    As an old Lao-tzu saying goes: “Those that know do not tell; those that tell do not know.”

  7. Good write Mark.

    @Chris: Televangelists’ core message and starting point is religious spirituality. Copyblogger’s core message and starting point is “Let’s learn how to make money without being sleazy.”

    Knowing what Copyblogger is about, then reading Mark’s post simply echos the core message and adds, “Okay folks, let’s learn how we can make our goal a bit more loveable for everyone involved.” I don’t believe televangelists stick to their core message too well, but you can’t say the same thing about Copyblogger. Just my two cents.

  8. Simply brilliant Mark!

  9. Thanks for the gift of this post, Mark. Intuitively, I did a “remembrance” pause last night and I’ll try the 2-week practice (again. lol).

    One way I keep to the “heart” part of my work is by remembering to do the most soul-filling, loving (sometimes tough loving) parts of it, and making time for the people that I connect with on that level, too. That’s why the proverbial 1:1 work will always be a central aspect of my business. It keeps me “centered” in the way a dancer always knows where her center is, whatever the movement she’s doing.

  10. I think that ultimately you can be spiritual and successful. The two are not mutually exclusive, especially when your spirituality leads you to be, as you say “service oriented”.

    People want to feel special. You, your blog, your product can all be about what the user needs. And I think ultimately, this will help fuel lasting success.

  11. To be fair, according to the spiritual “secret” promoters, and the evangelicals pushing a “prosperity gospel,” there is so much abundance out there that we could all be very very rich, including the people pushing this spirituality. All we have to do is command this wealth to mosey on our way. Does it work? Who knows? It certainly seems to work for the preachers.

  12. Mark,

    No matter what spiritual practice a person uses, there needs to more beyond just the motivation to make a buck. You really ironed it our here, when you show how a business owner needs to treat his/her customers and keep moving forward even if it’s hard.

    This is the critical step.

    When you know you have to do something RIGHT, you know you need to treat people the right way, and you know you have a business that you need to get moving on, this is where the spiritual side of you kicks in.

    The business owners without it, simply have a harder time or an impossible time achieving their goals, because they are searching for the wrong things.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  13. Mark, that is a very thought provoking post and I can see where you are coming from. The goal of spirituality, in my eyes, has always been to improve the person we are. Every religion teaches people that core value, even the religions that seem intolerant of others.

    I have to agree with @Randy on some level. In many ways, spirituality is used as a scapegoat to sell self help programs. We all have seen the “You are not truly at one with or embracing positivity… until you take on our program” sales pitch.

    It is unfortunate too because there is a minority out there living spiritual lives that honestly want to help people better themselves. I commend those people.

  14. Mark, I loved this post. I appreciated the blend of wisdom, humour and practicality ~ and the way you were able to express Truths in a non ‘woo-woo’ way.

    My experience reflects the power of an undivided wholeness from within that is connected to a universal whole of which we’re all a part (vs. apart). Things flow from connection and struggle symptomizes a possible disconnect that might benefit from more learning, more information, more resources, more love, etc.

    I’m now following you on Twitter and have subscribed to your blog. Thank you!!

  15. Fabulous article. You brought the ‘oneness’ of it all to a place people are hesitant to go. I’m an artist, and my work comes from that place of presence, my ‘sales’ must naturally come from there as well. Good to see the thoughts in words.

  16. Business doesn’t have to be grubby money focused. Although it is required to maintain sustainability…it isn’t a contradiction, but more of an inconvience

  17. @Chris- I can get how you might think I was talking about spirituality as a means to an end- and I agree with you, taken from that angle, it totally won’t work.

    I was holding it differently- the spiritual practices and awareness help bring love and humility to everything you do.. and that happens to be a much more healthy and nourishing and effective way to run a business.

    And @Vince- the line can get very blurry. There are a LOT of people out there using spirituality as a brand to sell business programs, and you just want to be aware of your own heart and whether what they are offering really clicks with you.

    @Charles- Thanks! Love how you expressed that.

    @Donna- “I stuck God in the back of my book.” Oh… that’s where He is… I’d been looking for him all over… ;)

    Seriously- I contemplated that, and my own heart showed me that I wanted to work with people already open to spirit, so I let it all hand out. But God bless those who are wanting to show up with folks who aren’t as sure about it and maybe offer the pink spoon of God. :)

    @Lori- thank you for your kind words.

    @Randy- I so hear you- the true teachers are harder to find because they have a different aim.

    @Shane- Thanks Shane- you captured it perfectly.

    @Maryellen- It’s all done with mirrors. ;)

    @Janet- Yes- it’s in that connection that nourishment comes. I so appreciate your presence, Janet- I’ve benefitted from your heart several times recently.

    @Joella- I agree with you. They don’t necessarily go together- spiritual connection doesn’t necessarily = worldly success. But it sure helps walking whatever path you’re on.

    @John- Those prosperity teachings are actually true… just misunderstood. They aren’t referring to material wealth- but so many people teaching it misunderstand. I go into it in detail in Backwards: http://www.heartofbusiness.com/backwards

    @Joshua- Yes! Money is a byproduct, not a goal.

    @JayTurn- You are so right- if someone ever tries to sell you something on the premise that they have the one true secret that will save you… turn around and walk away. “If you meet the Buddha in the road…”

    @Sally- Yes- undivided wholeness- Unity- Oneness. Amen. Thanks for following me- let me know by @ing me and I’ll follow you back.

    @brenda- I’m so grateful you’re doing your artwork from that place. The more ways we all express that Oneness, the more we can drink it in.

    @Jailbreak- I wouldn’t say money is an inconvenience, any more than oxygen, protein or other nutrients are an inconvenience to our body. It’s part, not all, but part of what a business needs. It’s okay to acknowledge it.

    But, when we think it’s the only thing we need… well, perhaps there’s a problem with obesity in certain businesses, eh?

  18. We live in a imperfect world where it’s difficult to merge spirituality with our business in a “pure” way. Regardless of how spiritual we are, we always want something for ourselves–more business. While wanting money and to be successful are obviously necessary, we are always influenced by these motives to some extent in business. At any moment we are a risk for them to lead us astray where our own needs can take over at the expense of others without our awareness. Having said that, I think it’s important to try to incorporate our spiritual selves into our business as much as we can, while not fooling ourselves (and trying to fool our potential clients and customers) that we are doing it all for the sake of being spiritual. Thanks for addressing this topic, Mark.

  19. Spirituality and selling can certainly be a slippery slope…especially if done from a place of greed or deception. It’s quite easy to stay away from this though. I would hope the goal in any business is to help others in whatever way possible. I truly believe each and every one of us has a unique gift that we can share with others to make the world a better place and hopefully we can find that within ourselves.

    That’s why when I read so many articles on working from home starting your own business, etc, etc I tend to get a bit discouraged. It shouldn’t be this kind of path: I don’t like my job – I don’t want to work for the ‘man’ – therefore I need to start my own business. The first step should be looking within. Questioning why you feel the way you do. Examining your thoughts. Your last paragraph is wonderful. Very wise words and I encourage everyone to do this.

  20. Mark,

    Thanks for adding spirituality to the conversation here at CopyBlogger and for reminding us how it can help us thrive in business and in life. I like that you defined spirituality because many people get it confused with religion.

    I love the quote about “Nothing Special”. Ultimately, I think spirituality is like air — not special unless you don’t have it.

    p.s. Thanks for the audio. I noticed that it is on the same page with your awesome report, “The Heart-Centered Answer to ‘What Do You Do?'”. I’ve shared it with many people this year and it really seems to help them get clarity. So, for the record, thanks for that report, too.

  21. Wow, I really love this, and really, I love everything that you stand for Mark.

    I’m constantly making it my goal, to *maintain a goal* of keeping my serenity and attitude of service first and foremost in my life. Once I have some serenity and am spending *as little time as possible thinking about me*, then things just seem to flow so much quicker.

    It’s true that there is a great pragmatic value to being “spiritual” in that your serenity rubs off on others and makes them more comfortable doing business with you. But if I make spirituality a “marketing angle” simply to attract more clients, then I’ve missed the point and have cut myself off from all of the abundance that the spiritual approach to life offers.

  22. All i know is woo-woo’s are delicious drinks in the summer.

  23. I dig this article. I’m a big fan of entering the workplace at peace and leaving it at peace. Therefore, any action or exercise I undertake in any department is well… in service of giving a unit of myself that’s neither positive or negative. It’s just my essence– usable, good stuff.

    Thanks for the morning enlightenment.

  24. Lol – as if money could be separated from that that we call God. I know Mark, have taken his classes, will undoubtedly take more at some point and I know what he and his wife and staff bring to a class. Among other things I got to experience was the pause they each take before answering a question… I asked and yes, they were asking for guidance… great discussion here.

  25. My friend, Life Coach Gerri Helms, and I have run seminars on a Spiritual Approach to Business. I have also written some on how the Law of Attraction is actually based on an understanding of God as the source of all abundance. Anything else is manipulation or ego-based and won’t work. The universe is full of abundance….connecting to Spirit, as each person understands it, is the first step towards prosperity. Without an attitude of service, a business will not prosper for long.

  26. Thank you for helping set the record straight on the relationship between spirituality and business. When you use spirituality as a means to an end (profit, power…), we’re not really participating in Spirit at all. What I hear you saying is the Spirit is the beginning and end, that rightly applied to business it infuses what we do with grace and right action.

    Seems that spirituality in business has become a flavor of the month among marketers who have picked up on the world’s longing for meaning. I expect that those who are using it to sell rather than to serve will soon move on to another hook.

  27. @Juliet- a delight to see you here! Yes… the ego is constantly wanting more, and our hearts are constantly wanting less of what the ego wants and more love. In Sufism, in Arabic, the word for heart is “qalb”- and it literally means to turn. The heart is constantly turning between facing the glitter of the material world and the deeply nourishing connection with Oneness.

    The ideal, of course, is to witness Oneness no matter which way you are looking. “Wherever ye shall turn, there is the face of God.” to quote the Qur’an.

    But, that’s enlightenment. It can be quite sufficient to just keep turning one’s heart toward Source.

    @Nate- I love your focus on looking within first. Yes- starting a business isn’t an escape.. it’s a moving towards. And thank you for your kind words.

    @Mike- Nothing special- I like that one, too. :) And thanks for your kind words- I’m glad that workbook and audio are so helpful to you.

    @Doron- Yes- it’s such a subtle line- there are such tangible benefits to having a spiritual life- but if it’s about gaining those benefits, then we tend to lose our grounding in what brings us those benefits. Such an interesting journey. Thank you!

    @Nessa- that’s what I’m saying. It’s all about nourishment. As the Sufis say: “Don’t drink to quench your thirst, develop the perfect thirst so you never stop drinking…” ;)

    @nd- Enter in peace. Leave in peace. Peace.

    @Anne- You rock- thank you for your kind words. And yup, the last time I tried to separate money from the Divine I got a whupping…

    @Molly- My dear friend! So sweet to see you here- and I agree. We need to keep it clear that relationship. And I’m imagining the same thingyou are… people who are into the fad will move on…

  28. I agree that spirituality is a connection to one higher. We use it all the time when we encourage ourselves or others. It’s part a force that drives us to do things and work hard to make sure we reach our intended goal.

    Some will not recognize that connection and may soon become disconnected in more than one way.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  29. I just returned from yoga, and this was perfect timing!

    The neighborhood yoga studio is delicious, spirituality-inspired, and highly successful.

    I noticed how they combine spirituality and commerce so naturally–I really feel transformed by the experience.

    I think the key is to be authentic, and as you said, not try and be something you’re not.

    Because online social media can be so noisy and vast, it’s really important to provide readers with some element of inspiration and beauty.

    Thanks for the great post Mark!

  30. My God. What can I say. .Am humbled and so moved even just to read this. I have a wise coach whose been saying the same thing to me. Live from your heart, provide value from love and for that we have to be whole first, know that Light shines on our path. It is an honour to read this here. It is exactly what I needed, especially since I just wrote about some sufi wisdom in my new post. It reminds me to to offer unconditional compassion to all, to let the veils fall from the heart, to work on giving, and establishing my own connection with God. Thank u so so so much for this fantastic post. God bless u

  31. All really is one. Thanks for the great article.

  32. I’m not spiritual. At least, the word has negative connotations for me, and I avoid association with it.

    But I can say this: I accomplish my best work, make my best decisions, and love what I do when I feel zen.

    “Zen”, for me, means feeling at peace with my world. Content, happy, satisfied, fulfilled. I don’t have everything I want or need, hell no.

    But I can look up and think, “You know, this is pretty great. Life’s good.” And for a few brief moments, I’m just loving where I’m at in life, and what I have in my life.

    And then I go back to work, and I rock it.

  33. I don’t think spiritual and business are terms that can contradict. If you think of it, certain businesses have an undeniable spiritual component, usually set by leadership. A this is how we do it kind of thing. Look at some fantastic leaders, like Chouinard who grant “source” as the biggest influencer of business decisions at Patagonia. That decision is a bit more spiritual and has mighty strong legs to stand on. There are other examples I am sure, but that implacable desire to stand in that spot of hm…centeredness and bring offers from that place and brilliant products too…well…sign me up for that. :))
    BTW I highly recommend Mark’s two week Remembrance Challenge. Try it.

  34. Interesting topic.
    We just finished six months of Talk Show dialog on Dr. Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.
    Dr Murphy is well known to his constant reference to Spirituality in developing a Business Mindset.
    Over the past 259 episodes we also discuss other classic such as The master Key, The Miracle of Right Thought and of course Think and Grow Rich.

    The underlying tone of the message is that SUCCESS usually resides with the Spirit (Belief, Faith etc.)

    In my 50 comfortable years in the business community I have never met a true Success that did not reflect and act in a positive Spiritual Mode.

    If anyone would like to download any or all of 259 episodes
    just go to Talk Shoe (dot) com Show number 2855

  35. I’m sure there is business that involves spirituality. Eckhart Tolle’s books went on to sell millions of copies. However, he didn’t have a marketing intention behind it. He wrote what was true on how we can become more spiritual beings and basically the book sold itself. His writings influenced millions of people interested in what he had to say. I liked your references you mentioned in your post though. I think loving yourself, being beyond our thoughts and emotions, and learning to connect with others helps to create a successful business. Thank you Mark.

  36. Hi Mark! Of course i followed you here.

    Can we talk about this? “If you want to manipulate people into doing something that’s not in their best interest, your connection to love and all-that-is ain’t gonna help you.”

    Foe me the issue is in manipulating people – whether it is in their best interest is secondary. I don’t want to manipulate period. So I find a lot of copywriting and marketing tips and techniques don’t click for me because they really enter the realm of manipulating the reader/potential client through emotions, etc. Would love to hear your take on this.

  37. Lianne, if I may chime in real quick before Mark answers, consider this: every great movie, every classic novel, every wonderful story ever told is “manipulating” your emotions (if you choose to look at it that way). And since movies and books cost money, and rely on people to spread the word, I suppose you could say they are “manipulating” everyone for money.

    That’s an extremely cynical position, isn’t it?

    Copy can’t “manipulate” anyone into feeling anything, it can only connect emotionally with what is already present. Desire cannot be created by copy; copy can only channel existing desire toward a particular product or service.

    Good copy reassures people that they’re making a good decision. Even with Mark’s (and our) good intentions and care of the audience, you still need that final connection to actually help people make a decision, even with a fantastic product or service.

    The fact that a great product with great copy outsells the same great product coupled with bad copy is telling. Logically, the product should sell itself, right? Alas, such is not the way of the human realm.

  38. funny, we had a few commenters talking about Karma on the wax blog not long ago. I think it is going around!

  39. This is an interesting and provocative topic. I’m not sure that true spirituality boils down to love-feel good-ecstatic experience. In my view, true spirituality is for beyond any particular experience or wish for this or that, good or bad.

    That being said, the ideal is to bring spiritual values of love, compassion, kindness, tolerance, patience, and so on into whatever we do. Pure motivation is key in whatever we do. It’s easy for one’s motivation to get muddied in the pursuit of business so it might be wise to proceed cautiously.

  40. Spirituality in business (and the rest of life) is something that I have thought long and hard about. Here’s the thing – spirituality must come from the heart, not the head. If you are doing it with the agenda of making more money, you will fail. If you do it with the consciousness of sharing with others, then that energy will come back to you. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will come back. A spiritual perspective can also help you weather setbacks and disappointments and come back stronger and wiser.

  41. @Mike- I think it’s also a force that can stop us or slow us down from being so push push push workaholics.

    @Linda- That does sound delicious. Inspiration and beauty- I’m down.

    @Uzma- Sufi wisdom in your post! Share the love. I’m grateful for the connection here.

    @Amanya- Allah!

    @James- My dictionary tells me zen is translated as “quietude” or “meditation.” I love your description of all is right in the world even if you don’t have everything you want or need. Sweet. I think your a closet spiritualist- but don’t let me out you. ;)

    @Janice- Thanks for your kind recommendation of the Challenge. And I agree- they can’t contradict, they speak to different levels of reality. Business, and everything else, is held within a container of spiritual existence.

    @Chuck- Nice. That’s quite a lot of episodes- you all are dedicated to your work. Peace.

    @Hulbert- I can’t speak to Eckhart Tolle’s inner beliefs, but I’m pretty darn sure he had a publicist, and other marketing folks who were helping with the effort. And, he did catch a wave, and didn’t have to push.

    There are many books written that speak truth that don’t sell… what’s the difference?

    You’re welcome! Thank you for coming by.

    @Lianne- I of course agree- I don’t want to manipulate anyone to do anything. However, I do feel it’s impossible to avoid influencing others. The whole falsehood of the “objective observer” has shown that a scientist, merely by observing a phenomenon, affects it. So, whenever we interact with someone, we are influencing them, and they are influencing us.

    The question is- when does it become manipulation? It’s a tricky line and I’m not sure I can define it absolutely.

    I agree with Brian to a certain extent- and yet I also believe that there are techniques in copywriting that can manipulate or leverage certain feelings/beliefs over others.

    For instance, a common copywriting technique is to name the problem. One way to name the problem is to hammer it, describe worst case scenarios, and otherwise heighten reader’s fears and reactions. Do it enough and someone can be in a fearful state where they are susceptible to suggestions to buy something to relieve their fear.

    I call that manipulation in copywriting. Sure, the feeling already exists in the reader, but it was pushed on in a way that stretches or breaks ethical lines, imho.

    Another way to name the problem is with empathy and witnessing. To name the problem and the struggle in a way that lets the reader know that you get it, you see the struggle, and that you empathize. That you know they aren’t broken, and that hope is still available despite the struggle. This can be deeply healing.

    And, if you go on to make an offer, you will hopefully find the reader feeling more hope, more spaciousness already in their heart, making them less inclined to make a purchase out of fear. You can also suggest, in the copy, to have them check in with their heart and see if it’s right for them.

    Both ways of writing copy are effective- we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of programs and products using the second approach. But I don’t believe we’re manipulating anyone.

    Make sense?

    I very much agree with Brian that a great product needs great copy to help people see it and make a clear decision.

  42. @Bonnie- Nice- Karma going around… (you crack me up)

    @Sandra- I absolutely 100% agree with you that spirituality does not boil down to feel-good ecstatic experience. My own lineage tends to avoid the ecstatic experiences as distracting to the soul. However, I think there is a huge difference between ecstatic experiences and the essential Divine quality of Love. Love can come in many forms- I think we in business are very familiar with “tough love” for instance.

    Don’t read my mention of love as merely the soft, squishy versions of love. I mean the full breadth of that force of the Divine that turns everything upside down and inside out, smashes you to the ground and forces you to surrender until your heart is broken open and filled with the sweet, sweet light of Oneness.

    @Jennifer Dublino- Amen, sister- I’m with you.

  43. Nathan Williams :

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for a wonderful post! Believing in one’s good intentions, serving people out of a realization of connectedness, being more patient and tolerant of others are virtues that can be carried to any field. Providing value that is genuine and lasting is the end goal here. Remembrance is a great way to stay in touch with the inner self in the midst of everything. As for money, it always asserts itself with respect to our needs, can we go without it?

  44. I Love , Love, Love this post and I’m going to share it with everyone I know!

    My passion is helping soulful service providers monetize their gifts and talents in a way that feels natural and authentic to them. You beautifully iterate the point here,

    “Copywriting, business, and spirituality
    Here are a couple of key themes about copywriting and sales that you’re probably familiar with if you’re a regular Copyblogger reader:

    You’ve got to believe in yourself and your product.
    You need an attitude of service.
    Rather than talking endlessly about yourself, you have to listen to your readers and engage them in conversation.
    You have to care about your audience.
    Great salespeople and marketers, the ones you feel good about and look up to instead of feeling slimed by, have this combination of confidence and humility, caring and willingness to deliver on their promises.”

    Our human consciousness had been programmed for thousands and thousands of years that people with money and power are greddy evil oppressors and slave owners. That used to be primarily true.

    The beautiful, exciting and amazing shift we are experiencing is that money can and should be used as the ‘energy’ of exchange it was created to be to assist us in expressing more of who we already are! If you are greedy and fearful – more money will magnify that.

    If you are creative, generous and kind – more money will magnify that in you.

    One of the biggest obstacles soulful service providers have to overcome is an often hidden belief that if they make a lot of money people won’t think they are spiritual or worse, people won’t ‘like’ them for who they are.

    This is one of the most interesting topics of our spiritual development and I could talk about it all day.

    Mark, what’s your Spirits favorite lunch place? My treat!

  45. One way to name the problem is to hammer it, describe worst case scenarios, and otherwise heighten reader’s fears and reactions.

    You’re describing the news media. ;)

    It’s not “copywriting techniques” that anyone should be worried about. Any attempt to influence can cross over into manipulation and coercion — and the worst offenders throughout history have done it in the name of one God or another, let’s not forget that.

    If you’re not a manipulative person, exposure to sound copywriting principles is not going to turn you bad, just like the persuasive elements contained in news, movies, government, and the church haven’t been able to. If you look closely, they’re pretty much the same fundamental techniques, too.

  46. Hi Mark,
    Very interesting post. I get my spiritual guidance from surfing. I find that when it all gets too much i go off for a surf. I suppose it’s being at one with nature. It helps me think and find myself again. We all get days were we just want to quit. These are surfing days.
    Pete

  47. I have to admit that it took me a few tries to fully read this post. Like James, I’m really not a spiritual person at all, and spotting the word “Heaven” nearly turned me off completely. It’s only the fact that I trust Copyblogger (Ooh, there’s that “t” word) that I came back.

    I don’t fit into your definition of Spirituality – but I do have an abiding need to make relationships and connect to my fellow human, and it’s at the core of everything I do. I also have a deep love for the science and our Universe, because it’s just so awesome. (Cue the Discovery Channel song.)

    So I am glad I came back and finished your post. I don’t agree with you 100%, but I can definitely relate to the underlying message. To each his own, I suppose!

  48. Thanks for combining my most salient areas.

  49. Oh how I enjoyed this article! Inspiring, motivating and affirming. How often have I told myself, “Too bad, Corey, you are just going to have to override your deepest beliefs and play dirty if you want to make a profit.” Of course, then I find myself stalling and not getting anything done because it just isn’t worth it if I have to “play the game” like that. I want beauty and social connection and working together AND to earn enough to survive.

    Your article reminds me that yes, it is not only possible but that, in fact, I NEED to stay my course and follow my heart to truly succeed. I’m creative, I’ll use that to make my way!

    Thank you for this important reminder and all the support that this article provides!

  50. “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
    — Justice Potter Stewart

    Mr. Stewart was famously referring to what constitutes obscenity or pornography, not manipulative copywriting or spirituality, but each of these words are equally difficult to find a mutually agreed-upon definition.

  51. It IS possible to take a spiritual approach to business. We all have a good gut and it takes practice to start listening to it. When I am taking action that is not congruent with a spiritual life, it doesn’t feel right – I know deep inside that I’m off kilter.

    I enjoyed reading the comments as much as Mr. Silver’s article. I think people really do want to bring spirituality into every aspect of their lives, including business.

  52. Interesting article and definitely food for thought.
    I began blogging as a way to promote my business but very quickly found I could not fill every day with product promotion – it just wasn’t me!
    I started sharing bits and pieces of my own personal journey and struggles, dealing with faith and family.
    The product sales have taken a back burner, although I do mention my shop now and again. The feedback I receive from my more personal posts reassures me that this is what I should be doing, whether it generates sales or not!
    “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24.

  53. @Nathan- You are so welcome- thank you for your kind words.

    @Schelli- I like the sentiment you talk about. I do think it worth mentioning that access to money doesn’t always just magnify our good qualities- many people have been thrown off their center and lose their sense of north star direction when too much abundance enters the picture. It takes real grounding to hold on to your heart when material success shows up.

    @Brian- I am describing the news media! :) I happen to believe that much of the population is suffering from mild to moderate cases of PTSD simply from being hammered with bad news and atrocities on such a constant basis. It’s enough to trigger any number of strange and painful behaviors.

    I do take the position that there are certain copywriting techniques that are more prone to being manipulative than others, intention notwithstanding. And, there are some copywriting techniques that only a scoundrel would use, such as deceptive, non-legitimate deadlines and other scarcity/urgency tactics that aren’t based in true limits in the business.

    And it’s also true that many people who claim some sort of religious faith have carried out great evils in the name of their faith. Oy…

    That said, I tend to agree that if you have sound copywriting principles, purity of intention, and a clear grasp of your values and sense of where you will and won’t go, you can be ethical and moral in your copywriting.

    @Pete- Surfing! Beautiful. I’m guessing it allows you to let go of your thinking mind entirely and be in presence and in the moment, which is a very resourceful state.

    @Paige- Sounds like you’re walking a path of deep sincerity and faith in your own right- and I appreciate that you put in some extra effort to hear my message despite the language not being so comfortable for you. I’m glad you found the underlying commonalities- I think we all share the desire for love and respect, where ever we believe it comes from.

    @Kirill- My pleasure. :)

    @Corey- You are so welcome! It’s true that you may sacrifice obscene profit on the altar of morality and doing the right thing, but you can have a healthy profit and nourish and take care of yourself and your loved ones while being true to your heart. Glad your hear on the path!

    @Duff- As usual, Duff, you dig in where digging in needs to happen.

    @Gerri- Thank you, Gerri, for your kind words.

    @Karen- I love what you’ve found on your journey. I bet if you bring your shop back into the mix again your right people will be glad to hear about- because people love to support those they believe in and trust. I know I feel better buying from people who reveal themselves and show up in the way you have.

  54. Mark: Excellent, lovely, inspiring, awesome. This is the best insight I’ve read in a very long time – it’s got some very honest legs attached. So tired of the same tired lingo surrounding business/social media/content, et al. This is refreshing and thoughtful. Keep this train of thought flowing, growing & GLOWING from the inside out!

  55. Thank you Mark. I didn’t realize how much noise was in my head until I listed to your audio. I’ve been pushing so much on all the things I need to get done. I need to relax more, find that flow again.

    I believe good business is spiritual and based upon the Golden Rule. It has served me well all these years.

  56. And in the End the Love you make is equal to the love you take. Same in Business? I do think so.

  57. Hi Mark,

    Much of this post resonated with me. The purpose of my blog is to help others in remembrance. I combined Personal Development and Blog Tips with a spiritual undertone. We are all connected and this post affirms that we are raising our awareness.

  58. @Toni- I’m so glad it resonated so strongly for you. We’ve been working this line for quite some time over at our own site- I’m was honored that Copyblogger decided to host it, too.

    @Toronto Dentist- I’m glad for you and for your patients that the noise is getting out of your head… :)

    @Ken- Indeed. “Love is all you need.” Sorta.

    @Sean G- I’m glad you’re doing the work, too. The more the better- because there’s a lot to do.

  59. You said: On a power trip? Spirituality is not going to get you world domination.

    If you want to manipulate people into doing something that’s not in their best interest, your connection to love and all-that-is ain’t gonna help you.

    Because spirituality isn’t a tool or technique, you can’t “use” it like that.

    I’m afraid I disagree. People manipulate people all the time using “spirituality.” It’s a big draw and you can sure make plenty of money, or you can increase personal power, if that’s your bag, using the “tool” of spirituality. I’ve known of many spiritual leaders on power trips. I’ve seen many hurt by this use of spirituality, too.

  60. @Provender- I would have to agree that the use of pseudo-spirituality, the appearance of spirituality, the veneer of spiritual accessories and language, has been used to create cults, manipulate people, and cause a grievous amount of mental and emotional damage.

    However, I will continue to assert that true spiritual connection and presence is something that is humbling for the one affected, and to attempt to use the intoxicating power of love and connection to manipulate will cause the loss of the love and connection in the one attempting to manipulate.

    What often remains is the intoxicating power of ego and personality, and that can very definitely affect people negatively.

  61. I especially like the advice to remember you are not alone and you are already, all that you need to be. I think it is easy for business owners to question themselves and their “worth” when a downturn reduces revenues or they have to lay someone off. When they can remember they are not alone and that they are divinely guided, it allows them to regoup, refocus and get back on track!

  62. “What if you were to stop in the middle of your busy day, right in the middle of your never-ending task list, right in the middle of the sales page copy or blog post you’ve been pushing uphill, and took time to speak to your heart and ask it to remember?”

    Thanks for the reminder!!!

  63. So true. I’m hoping people will soon engage in a discussion about a topic they roll their eyes at when I mention it: pre-suppositions, a topic probably more fitting in the “spiritual” realm of thought, possibly.

    The huge opportunities in the path ahead are especially visible when we stop talking about click-through rates and return on investment and start talking about our basic assumptions about life: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics for starters.

    I know that’s way too deep for a Monday morning, but still, exploring what lies beneath why we do what we do holds the hidden treasure of our futures.

    [i.e., business leaders “assume” the nature of man is primarily economic and proceed to build models of production AND consumption based on an inadequate view of man. I say “inadequate” to be kind; it’s an utterly bankrupt and bankrupting view of man. It’s NOT about the money. ]

  64. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for highlighting the connection between spirituality and business, which is often overlooked and more commonly denied.

    I think people don’t feel comfortable with spirituality because they don’t understand what it is, or they aren’t prepared to take a leap of faith.

    But spirituality forms a part of our lives, whether we choose to accept this or not. It’s like having a diet. You can’t not have a diet, since everything you eat defines what your diet is!

    The same is true with spirituality. Whether you choose to give spirituality your attention or not shapes your spiritual life. But it’s best to approach spirituality mindfully, and to give it the attention it deserves.

    I see spirituality as being the “big picture” of our lives. How we understand the world and our place and purpose in it is a spiritual outlook. The values we develop based on our understanding of the world and ourselves should infuse everything we do, including the way we do business, and why we do it in the first place.

  65. I feel there is way too much negativity towards making money in response to this post. Money in itself is not evil but is a tool that some evil will use to get what they want. As spiritual business owners, managers, writers, etc; we should not be fearful to embrace what we are here for, making money. If you are here to make money without helping others, you will just be less successful at it than those of us who care about our customers.

    You could have boiled this post down to simply say; “There is great value in applying spiritual principles to our commercial work.” It’s less manifestation and more as you say, “Love.”

    Great post, I think you are on a great path here.

  66. Very interesting post! As a partner in a company whose products are based around “woo-woo” concepts for the business person, this is a constant dilemma. How much spirituality can you successfully introduce into a product or program geared towards professionals? A lot of what we do utilizes affirmations and we are trying to not use that word because it scares people off. I really agree that one’s own spirituality has a place in their professional life – it certainly does for me – and I look forward to seeing this transition take place one kicking-and-screaming businessman at a time! Thanks.

  67. Well said! Spirituality in business is nothing more than the expression of doing good (making a difference) while doing well (making a profit).

    Part intuition, part science. Equal parts of right brain and left brain. We are experiencing the coming together of these previously disconnected parts. The bad guys can’t get away with being bad thanks to the internet and social media. And we are human so we all know when we are being treated in a caring and authentic manner. Excited about the future – you bet I am!

  68. Wonderful post and very interesting topic.

    It reminds me of a Zen Koan which says “Unless you realize that your mediation is useless, your meditation really will be useless”

    True spirituality gives you nothing in the world, it is ultimately a simple shift of identity. I suppose that the incidental bi-products of the spiritual path – clarity, peace, and so forth, change the way we relate to the world, and therefore the way we do business.

    Another famous Zen phrase: “Before Enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water. After Enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water” Not too much of a stretch to substitute ‘chopping wood’ for ‘online business’. I believe the point is the same…

    Thanks,

    Jym

  69. Thought provoking! As sellers of Tibetan Buddhist ritual prayer items, it is difficult not to blend spirituality with business. Each item is handmade and thus has energy. The energy must be respected. Money will change hands, but it is of little importance compared to conducting such business with honor and respect. and Aloha.