The battle between Amazon and Walmart has become legendary. Google the two company names together, and you will find enough reading material to keep yourself out of mischief for the foreseeable future.
However, this battle is also a legend in another sense: Amazon and Walmart have become corporate characters in an epic cultural myth of powerful heroes (or anti-heroes) battling it out. And like all myths, the characters and their conflict symbolize something deeper about human society.
- Walmart, as the largest retailer in the world, represents the traditional brick and mortar or storefront method of selling merchandise to customers.
- Amazon.com, as the largest online retailer in the world, represents the newer electronic business or Internet method of selling merchandise to customers.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple in real life. Walmart does have a large online selling operation. And though Amazon has no “brick and mortar” storefronts, it does use physical buildings to warehouse and ship its products.
But myths and legends don’t get hung up on nitpicky details like that. It is common knowledge that there is a battle royale going on between Walmart and Amazon . . . and that Walmart is the champion representing the old guard method of selling in stores, while Amazon is the champion representing the new wave method of selling online.
Yes, there is a paradigm shift going on in the marketplace.
It is a shift toward spirit.
The real presence of spirit
The new spiritual era that we are now entering is changing everything—including the world of business and economics.
Old methods of doing business that require people to travel to the same physical location in order to trade with one another are making space for new methods in which people who are located thousands of miles from each other can easily transact business.
Why is this a shift toward spirit?
Spirit is not some shadowy, ethereal realm beyond our reach from this material world. It is a substantial reality that we inhabit every day even while we are still living on earth.
Spirit is the realm of the mind. The actions of thinking and feeling, loving and understanding, intending and making plans all take place in the spiritual realm. And though we cannot weigh or measure love and understanding, these are the core realities of our self and our experience. These are what make reality real for us:
- Love is what gives substance to all of our experience.
- Understanding is what gives shape and form to all of our experience.
Without love, does anything really matter to us? Of course, there has to be love for relationships such as marriage and friendship to be real and meaningful. But love goes far beyond relationships:
- We eat because we love food and we love to stay alive.
- We sleep because we love to have energy and be able to do things.
- We bathe and groom ourselves because we love to be clean, fresh, and attractive.
- We work because we love to have money to buy things, and we love to be of service to others.
- We watch movies, surf the web, and read books because we love to be entertained and to engage our minds and hearts in meaningful stories.
Without love, would anything have any meaning to us at all? Would we even bother to get up in the morning? No, we wouldn’t. Love is the fundamental substance and force of our human reality. Without it, we would be nothing. We would just curl up and let ourselves die.
And without understanding, would we have any idea how to achieve or express what we love?
- In order to eat, we must know what food is good to eat, and good for us.
- In order to sleep, we must find or make a place suitable for sleeping.
- In order to bathe and groom ourselves, we must know how to wash and how to use combs, razors, toothbrushes, and so on.
- In order to work, we must learn how to do the tasks employers are willing to pay us to do.
- In order to watch movies, we must know how to get to the movies. In order to surf the web and read books, we must learn how to read.
Without understanding, our love would be ineffective. We would have no idea how to go about doing what we love to do. Without understanding we would be completely lost in the world. Nothing would have any meaning for us. Our understanding of the world shapes how we perceive things and how we act. It gives definite form to our life and our aspirations.
Yes, love and understanding, and all of the related workings of our mind and heart, are the substance and reality of our lives as human beings. They are what drive us to do what we do, and guide us in the doing of it. Without love and understanding, our life would be nothing.
Love and understanding are the basics of spiritual reality. They are the environment in which the world of the human mind and human experience exists.
The shift toward spirit
How does this relate to the battle between Amazon and Walmart?
Selling goods in a physical store relies heavily on physical reality for the business transaction. The store is made of “brick and mortar,” or physical building materials. Customers must physically travel to and enter the store, pick up the items they want with their physical hands, carry them to a checkout counter, have the cashier ring them up, and then carry them out of the store and back home with them.
Of course, there are also mental elements involved in buying from a physical location: deciding we want to buy something, picking out exactly what to buy, interacting with store employees, and so on. However, the need to use our body in moving from one location to another is a key element of the transaction. This is an essential part of the “Walmart” experience of buying from a brick and mortar store.
Not so when we buy from Amazon.
Yes, we do use our body even to buy online. We must type on the keyboard, click with the mouse, and go to the door to pick up the item when it arrives.
But most of what takes place in buying online involves mental activity. We look through various online sites for the items we want at the prices we’re willing to pay. We provide the seller with our billing and shipping information. If we’re buying an electronic item such as an ebook or an itune, even the physical shipping is eliminated.
In other words, though there are physical aspects to buying online, they are reduced to a minimum.
Also, while physical location is a key element for brick and mortar stores, for buying online the old real estate advice of “location, location, location” hardly applies. Yes, shipping might sometimes cost a little (or a lot) more, especially if we’re buying something from overseas. But in general, using the Internet anyone who lives anywhere in the world can buy an item from any person or company anywhere else in the world.
This relative freedom from the constraints of physical activity, presence, and location makes online buying more an exercise of the mind than an exercise of the body.
Another way of saying this is that compared to buying merchandise in a store, buying online works more the way things do in the spiritual world.
How do things work in the spiritual world, you ask?
That will be a subject for future posts.
But here’s one teaser: in the spiritual world, our location depends entirely on our state of mind. So if we think about another person and wish we were with him or her, and the feeling is mutual, the very thought and desire to be together will bring the two of us together instantly.
All of the technology we have invented here on earth to communicate and transact business with other people across vast distances has always been part of the basic “operating system” of the spiritual world. Internet-based companies such as Amazon are using our still rudimentary material-world technological versions of the capabilities that angels and spirits inhabiting the spiritual realms have been enjoying all along.
And the winner is . . .
This is the spiritual shift taking place all around us from the brick and mortar Walmart model to the online Amazon model.
Whatever may become of these two companies from a business and financial perspective, in their cultural role as legendary heroes they represent the physical presence of brick and mortar storefront business vs. the mind-driven realms of the Internet and online business.
While there may always be a need for physical stores, the powerful spiritual currents represented by electronic technologies, the Internet, and online business seem set to dominate the future of our world’s economy.