Spiritual Materialism: Don’t Let Ego Get In Your Path To Enlightenment

by Conscious Reminder

The term Spiritual materialism was the invention of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He used this term to explain the hankering after material fulfillment in the spiritual pursuit of man.

This description is not very new. It has echoes of a sentiment addressed by the spiritual teachers for many years.

Modern psychology when it migrated from the study of the spirits to a pseudoscientific study of mind, it focused on both the developing identity and the self as a kind of object.

Freud the scientist, Jung, a mystic, James, the philosopher and Adler as the humanist – they all had one common ground. Individuation was a key concept of the development of human beings was believed by them.

They all had the notion of regarding the “I” as something of significance. This has its reflection in the concept of self-actualization, which is a materialistic characterization of God-realization.

Our ego defines the roles we play in our material world. We have tags- mother, daughter, brother, or rich, poor, beggar, thief.

When we define our roles so minutely, ego draws us away from our understanding of the Self in the realm of the superconscious. The greater we can dissociate with the “I”, the more we can associate with the Witness.

Terms like the Witness, the One Mind, and the Dweller all describe the superconscious state. This state keeps us in connection with our higher Self, thus defining the spiritual experience of what we may call God.

Atheists relate this to the higher humanity in us, including our moral compass, ethos, and altruistic investments in the community.

The ego, dwelling in the materialistic and conscious realm, identifies with the items, objects, tribulations, and the triumphs of our material world.

Spiritual materialism is a process for the ego to grasp the progress of our self in our spiritual path – an act which by its own nature opposes the Self. Immediately as we claim something as ours, it remains no longer be ours.

Very rarely in this life, the common man gets to experience nirvana. But when you get greedy of the experience and are eager for its repetition, your ego shines through. Nirvana is a milestone on the path of the state of enlightenment but the want of it will reduce it.

The whole concept and understanding of spiritual materialism hinges on the very first line of the Tao Te Ch’ing – “the Tao is that which cannot be named…”. Enlightenment is like a wisp of thin smoke. Spiritual materialism uses the ego to greedily hanker after that smoke.

Any time you label or name a thing, we give life to it by the virtue of our ego. This renders it powerless and into a mere event. It turns into a simple material experience instead of having been a spiritual revelation.

Curb your ego and bring spiritual revolution within yourself. But don’t yearn for it – go through it naturally.

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