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Spiritual Materialism

Spirituality is not for show, its not for status, its not for fame or for mere physical pleasure. When spirituality is used in some way to serve more superficial values like these, this is called spiritual materialism. This means that the subtle, heartfelt value of spirituality with all its beauty and luster is taken as a tool to achieve superficial ends, or is reduced to superficial things or experiences. Take for example when people who have achieved some level of spiritual realization take themselves as being special and pretend to be fully qualified spiritual teachers. They call themselves gurus or saints or prophets and form cults that drain people's lives into false spiritualities that do not serve their highest good. They may even say that hurting or killing themselves or others is the spiritually righteous thing to do, that God intends for it. This is an example of how spirituality can be twisted for negative or superficial purposes.

Another way is when the culture of spirituality can become a little superficial, like you are more spiritual than me because you went on a special retreat, or wear spiritual clothing, or have a spiritual teacher. All of these things might be fine on their own, but they are used as a way to make judgements about who is better than someone else, rooted in insecurity. Ultimately it doesn't matter how many crystals you have or if you can do a special kind of yoga, or even if you have had spiritual experiences on drugs or even naturally. What it all comes home to is the recognition of the innate meaning of life, a meaning that everything and everyone shares in. That meaning is more important and more meaningful than a million gurus, yogas, saints, or spiritual experiences combined. If you can't recognize it in the highest places as well as the low, in the deep as well as the shallow, in the dirty and drunk as well as the pristine, then it is not the ultimate meaning. That meaning which we recognize in meditation is what nourishes our hearts and helps us endure any suffering. It is that which is within all of us, what we recognize in the preciousness of every person.

Spirituality does not serve the superficial, that is what is called idolatry. To rectify your direction of flow, where the deep informs the shallow, and not the shallow informs the deep, is to be unencombered, straightened, and true. May you come to know the difference between true spirituality and spiritual materialism, that you may ride the wave of your spiritual life, and not have it superficially crash over you.

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