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Warning signs that you are practicing spiritual materialism

Warning signs that you are practicing spiritual materialism 86

Let’s be realistic for a moment. There comes a time when our spiritual practices harm us more than help us.

However, most of us are so dedicated to protecting our fragile egos from the truth, that we live in a state of denial or total oblivion of what is happening.

When our spiritual practices reinforce and inflate our self senses (that is, our egos), this is spiritual materialism. And it is a toxic form of spirituality.

What is spiritual materialism?

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Originally coined by the Buddhist meditation teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, spiritual materialism is what happens when we use spiritual concepts, practices and tools to reinforce the false sense of self, the ego. As the ego is the source of all our suffering, reinforcing the ego through spiritual practice is completely at odds with the whole point of the spiritual path.

As Trungpa writes,

No matter what the practice or teaching is, the ego loves to wait in an ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain.

We need to be honest with ourselves and realize that we are not immune to spiritual materialism. As we all have an ego, its mission is to survive, no matter what it takes, because it scares the prospect of non-existence. However, being free from the ego is the very definition of enlightenment according to all the most important non-dualistic spiritual traditions.

Examples of spiritual materialism

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There is a disaster inside you: you clean the outside.

– The Dhammapada

By closely examining our own paths and practices, most of us can find instances of spiritual materialism quite easily. All we have to do is ask, “how this belief / practice / tool is reinforcing the ego (the separate sense of oneself)”.

In fact, the more we look, the more cases of spiritual materialism we will find. But the point is not to judge, but to be aware and compassionate with ourselves. The best way to learn is through our mistakes, and always reflect with an insightful eye on our own impulses and incentives.

But often, it can be difficult to make an objective view of ourselves. Sometimes, it is better to learn from the examples or behavior of others.

Here are four common examples of spiritual materialism that can often be found in the spiritual market of life:

“Possessing” and indirectly claiming a special state due to certain gifts (for example, clairvoyance, ability to read auras, communicate with spirits, etc.), which reinforces the separate sense of self or ego

Buy literally in the spiritual market: pursue workshops, methods, tools, trinkets and endless techniques that promise to make you a wiser, more intuitive, happier and more “spiritual” person

Practicing meditation with the hidden agenda of trying to avoid suffering by becoming peaceful / detached all the time (when the reality is that emotions / mind always fluctuate, which is normal and natural, we cannot avoid them forever)

Use the law of attraction to attract all your desires (because that “would make you happier” than being grateful for what you already have)
… And the list continues.

Now comes the difficult time: can you recognize some of this behavior within you?

It takes honesty and humility to admit where we have lost ourselves. But being willing to tell the truth about ourselves is a central part of the spiritual path.

Signs that you are falling into spiritual materialism

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Spiritual materialism is an attachment to the spiritual path as a solid achievement or possession. It is said that spiritual materialism is the most difficult to overcome. The images used are the golden chains; You are not alone in chains, you are in chains of gold. And you love your chains because they are so beautiful and bright. But you are not free. You are caught in a better and bigger trap. The goal of spiritual practice is to free yourself, not to build a tap that may look like a mansion, but that remains a prison.

– M. Caplan

Have you fallen into spiritual materialism?

Don’t worry if you say a “yes” hesitantly, we all have to some extent. Nobody is perfect. However, looking at ourselves honestly is an important part of shadow work: it will help prevent us from stumbling, falling and deviating in the future. It can be painful to admit it, but it is a very important job.

Here are the eleven crucial signs of spiritual materialism to pay attention to:

1. Spiritual elitism.
… Using ‘spiritual achievements’ or ‘gifts’ to disconnect and feel superior to others.

2. cultural appropriation
… Using the specific words, practices or ways of life of other cultures for their own benefit / self-image (at the same time as the trivializes them).

3. Create a spiritual curriculum
… Maintain a list of all important spiritual people, workshops, certifications, etc. You have managed to impress yourself and others.

4. Spiritual shopping
… Regularly buy trinkets / tools / spiritual items or accumulate the blessings and initiations of wise men, shamans, saints, etc. to feel somehow more “special”, “awake”, “aligned” or spiritually worthy.

5. Future obsession
… Believing that “if I do ___, I will reach this special elevated state in the future” without living in the present moment or without recognizing the fundamental egocentric of this driving belief

6. McSpirituality
… Looking for spiritual practices / teachers that are always bigger and better, and that promise “instant joy / abundance / happiness / enlightenment” and quick solutions

7. Focus only on the positive
… so that the ego avoids the reality of its own shadow (that is, its hidden pain, wounds and deceptions), it focuses on the purely positive aspects of spirituality, aka. “Think positive thoughts,” “be vibrant,” “love and light,” “just good vibes.”

8. InstaSpirituality
… focusing on aesthetically pleasing spiritual practices that are “worthy of Instagram” while neglecting the deepest and most disorderly aspects of spiritual transformation that cannot fit into a beautiful image

9. The spirituality of Hollywood
… Instead of honoring the ordinary magic of everyday life, look for the spirituality of lights and glamor and look for supernatural experiences such as angelic visits, visions, encounters with UFOs, spiritual guides, teachers with ‘extrasensory’ skills, etc.

10. Addiction to self-improvement
… You move from one teacher to another, practice to practice, in search of being “more healed”, spiritually awake, etc., without realizing that by constantly trying to improve, you are never happy and you are constantly reinforcing the illusory ego that feels broken

11. Spiritual narcissism (also known as the spiritual ego)
… this is the culminating result of spiritual materialism: the ego becomes so large, so bulletproof, that not only does it unconsciously believe that it is more “awake” than others, but will do anything to reinforce that “specialty”, even harm others through arrogance and narcissism

Wow… this is a confrontation list, isn’t it?

Let’s sit with these eleven signs and be honest with ourselves. How many can you identify with?

As we can see, spiritual materialism is what happens when spirituality feeds the ego: when we take something Divine and try to possess it as our own, when we feed ourselves with ego-centered motives. Once again, we all have this tendency, so there is nothing to be ashamed of.

How to stop spiritual materialism

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The reality is that as long as we remain attached to our egos, there will always be a certain level of spiritual materialism in our paths that creep here and there.

Until the moment of recognition, the moment in which we change from ego to Unity, Non-Duality, Cosmic Consciousness, whatever it is called, the ego will find ways to use spirituality to reinforce its existence.

How do we stop spiritual materialism? We find moments of liberation through practices such as:

Self awareness
Shadow work
We can also seek guidance and opinions from trusted friends and spiritual advisors / mentors. Simply asking: “In what areas could I be cheating myself?” It helps us and others a lot to get rid of self-deception and practice spiritual discernment.

So tell me …

What is your experience with spiritual materialism? Is there any other type that you have not listed in this article?



Why does Satan’s name mean “light-bearer”?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 89

In modern languages, Lucifer is one of the names of Satan. However, from Latin the word lucifer literally translates as “luminiferous” and comes from the words lux (“light”) and phero (“carry”). What kind of light is this that the infernal ruler carries?

Franz von Stuck.  Lucifer
Franz von Stuck. Lucifer

The ancient Romans called the planet Venus by the word Lucifer, that is, the “morning star”, which is better than all other celestial bodies visible in the morning (as well as evening) firmament. By the way, this name is “tracing paper” from ancient Greek: the ancient Greeks called this celestial entity Phosphorus (from Φωσφόρος – “carrying light”).

Lucifer means ‘that which brings light’. From φῶς (phôs, “light”) +‎ -φόρος (-phóros, “bearing”), from φέρω (phérō, “I carry”).

Venus in the morning sky in January
Venus in the morning sky in January

Why did the name of the star become the name of Satan? This happened as a result of “translation difficulties”. The Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, contains a prophecy about the death of the Babylonian king – a terrible enemy of the ancient Jews. It looks like this:

“… You fell from the sky, morning star, son of the dawn! He crashed to the ground, trampling on the peoples. “

“Morning star” and “son of the dawn” here are nothing more than magnificent oriental titles of the ruler. When Jerome of Stridonsky, the first translator of the Bible into Latin, translated this passage, he translated the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (“heylel”, “morning star”) as lucifer, because that is how the morning star was called in Latin.

Caravaggio.  Saint Jerome
Caravaggio. Saint Jerome

However, Christians, contemporaries of Jerome, associated this passage not with the king of Babylon – the embodiment of evil for the ancient Israelites, but with their enemy – Satan. And the word “lucifer”, which was just the title of the Babylonian king, began to write with a capital letter. So the innocuous name of the star became a terrible hellish name.

Jerome’s other translation error led to an amusing misunderstanding. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, European artists and sculptors depicted Moses – the main biblical prophet … with horns on his head! Why?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 90
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 91
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 92

The Bible says that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was radiant. In Hebrew, the words “ray” and “horn” are similar. So Jerome got it: “His face became horny because God spoke to him.”

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There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 93

Everyone has their own hobbies. Some are passionate about collecting, others are gardening, and still others are passionate about sports. But the hero of this article has a special passion. Ra Paulette is an American sculptor from New Mexico who burrows into hillsides and caves to create intricate artistic spaces within mountains. Maybe he is now the only one in the world.

You might think that he is a professional architect or sculptor, but no, it’s just that this person has a hobby. Although talent is undoubtedly present, he creates real works of art, sculpts caves like shrines, like sacred places.

He describes his places of work as “a sanctuary for prayer and meditation,” while others describe his caves as works of art. The caves are decorated with “scallops, patterns, smooth curved lines, smooth cornices, crisp ledges and inlaid with stones”. Its caves attract tourists from all over the world.

He has been hiding in a cave in New Mexico, USA for 25 years and has now decided to showcase the interior of his home.

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What he did to the inside of the cave is almost impossible to describe in words, as if we are entering the world of fairy tales.

In ancient times, people made dwellings in caves or dug new rooms in the sandstone, but only for the purpose of living. The works of this artist are more for soul resting.

All this beauty is made in white sandstone cliffs just an hour from Santa Fe. Has anyone from you seen this beauty in real?

Tired of the whims of his bosses and customers, the artist, who was bored with art, began his personal and independent project.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 95

The results of the project, as well as the process itself, are very impressive. Ra Paulette, who spent the last 25 years in the cave, completely alone, apart from his dog, away from society, spent time carving out walls.

He spent his time carving the sandstone cave he found, transforming it into a wonderful underground space full of light.

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Paulette created different designs and styles for each cave, giving each one a distinct quality and texture.

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The goal of this gigantic piece of art is to create an environment that inspires “spiritual renewal and personal well-being.” It will also serve as a venue for artistic events when its project is completed.
Ra Paulette works exclusively with hand tools, a pick and a shovel. First, he digs in various halls and vaults in any form, not forgetting about ventilation. The artist himself called his style – “dances of the digger” . When he likes what he gets, then he proceeds directly to creativity: decorates the halls and vaults with mysterious carvings and patterns.

In some places, his works look like real natural caves, and in other – like a completely civilized housing

Ra Paulette Cave
That is, you can wander and relax there.

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When Ra Paulette made his first cave, it attracted connoisseurs of beauty and tourists. But it was made on state land and, in addition, he could not guarantee the safety of visitors. The cave had to be filled up.

Only later, when he began to make safe projects and all legal issues were met, it was possible to create endlessly. At the moment, 15 underground palaces exist for sure.

A documentary film “Cave digger” was even made about him and this man became even more famous.

In the video below, you can virtually take a trip through one of the caves decorated by the artist.

We can only be surprised by such people who just alone create beauty with which, we become kinder and better beings.

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Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe 99

According to Hindu records, Christians believe that the earth is the center of the universe. In contrast to this belief, the Hindus consider Mount Meru as the universal center and home of their gods.

In the eyes of the Hindus, Mount Meru is quite large, its height is about 84,000 yojanas (about 1,082,000 km). Since Hindu and other Eastern religions idolize Meru, it seems to them that the sun and all the planets of the solar system revolve around it.

According to Jain mythology, Meru is surrounded by two suns, two moons and two “sets” of stars. When some of them are in sight, others hide in the shadow of a mountain, which they believe is about 100,000 yojanas wide.

For the Hindus, Meru is the axis of the earth. Without it, the planet will not be able to rotate. In addition, they see the mountain as the home of the gods, with their kingdoms spread across all of its inconceivable height.

Followers of each of these important gods travel to these heavenly realms to rest and await their next reincarnation.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe
A fresco depicting Mount Meru (left) and a painting (right) from Jain cosmology

For the Javanese, Mount Meru contributed to the origin of the island of Java. According to their legends, Batara’s guru ordered Brahma and Vishnu to fill the island with people. At that time the island of Java roamed and was not tied to any solid land. To stop the movement, the gods moved a part of the sacred mountain from India and attached it to Java. This new anchor was Mount Semeru, now the highest volcano in Java.

For Buddhists, the importance of Mount Meru also lies in their belief that it is the center of the universe. Unlike the Hindu version, Buddhists believe that the mountain was surrounded by a body of water and believe in 31 levels of life on Meru.

Since Mount Meru is the ecumenical center and sacred site, many mythological characteristics are attributed to it. First, it is so high that the mountain touches the sky, and the pole star shines directly above the mountain, giving it a sacred appearance. Secondly, it is said that the Ganges comes to the mountain as one river, and, having reached Meru, is divided into 4 separate rivers.

Third, there are 4 cities filled with residents, one on each side of the mountain. Ancient myths say that these inhabitants constantly see the sun at its zenith, and they always work. The sun rises and sets only for those who do not live on the mountain.

In addition, there is one lord of the heavens, God Indra, and he lives at the top. There are also four heavenly kings on Mount Meru, one on each side. The mountain extends to Jambudwip, which itself is divided into 4 continents. The southern continent is where Buddha was born and his teachings are followed here.

Many famous Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples were built as symbolic images of this mountain. The basis of the style is a characteristic feature of Chinese pagodas.

Although ancient Buddhists believed that the mountain was real, European visitors began to express other thoughts about the earth, which contradicted the Buddha’s teachings about Meru. Modern Buddhist scholars have decided that this is an allegorical story, and not a description of a real mountain.

However, many Buddhists still refuse to change their beliefs about the sacred mountain. For them, belief in the existence of Meru is the same as belief in Buddha.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

If you plunge into reality, Mount Meru is a volcano located 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 4562.13 meters high.

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