Thai Massage | Globalization and Commercialization

Published: Nov 7, 2021 | Updated: Nov 7, 2021

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Extraordinary Times

Without doubt we live in extraordinary times — all so-called “sacred knowledge” and most of what used to be secret and kept within “esoteric circles” has in some way or the other materialized on the public stage.

I suppose it’s the result of the continuing globalization of human affairs, driven by a dazzling international development and integration of information, communication, electronics, and applied mechanical technology. Since about roughly a hundred years mankind has entered a self-accelerating spiral where things, achievements, and values change within an increasingly shorter amount of time… worldwide.

What used to be a nine months journey, is now a nine hour flight, and what used to take weeks or even months to reach our ears, now takes a single click on the CNN website or a pop-up Twit on our Smartphone, and even a new life is just this single brain transplantation away.

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Well, basically nothing new. We all know this, and today we are ever more aware of these relatively new dynamics. And we also know we haven’t seen the end of it yet. Not by far.

I don’t know where we’re heading at (and perhaps I don’t want to know), and I don’t know where this all ends — or if it even ends at all — but what somehow bothers me, is the ongoing corrosion (if I may call it that way) of traditional knowledge and disciplines.

The whole thing bothers me, because what I see emerging worries me. And it worries me, because I see people taking traditional healing methods and positioning them in ways that are utterly remote from what they represented not even thirty years ago.

You see, it’s going fast. Not only in the West. In Asia also. Let’s take Thai Massage as an example. The last three decades are characterized by a constant redefinition of what Thai Massage is. And today, it seems like everyone can just freely add his or her own methods, techniques, styles, and labels to it, and simply get away with it.

A massage school or teacher claiming or promoting to have found “the real” or “new thing,” finds in too much of us an enthusiastic party. Because we want to hope and we want to believe that there’s still something very special, something real, genuine and authentic out there. We crave for it. And that’s why we buy it. And that’s why they get away with it.

But don’t get me wrong here, and let’s not get too dramatic. Fortunately, there are still many sincere practitioners, teachers, and massage schools doing an honest job. Making an honest effort in keeping the records straight. Who value the tradition and at the same time acknowledge the changes we’re going through and try to cope with them.

Practitioners and teachers who try to blend in and integrate, in realistic, responsible and grounded ways. Who refuse to be swept away by utter madness and who try to keep rock steady.

I respect that. And I honor that. Because let us remember that in most cases “the tradition” did not become “the tradition” for naught. It became tradition, because it worked.


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