Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Originally published by Watkins with Shambhala publishing the US edition
£14.99, Available from Watkins Books
Selected by Mike from Watkins Books:
‘This is a classic and sits on the bookshelf of every spiritual seeker. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche warned that the biggest obstacle to genuine spiritual practice was ‘spiritual materialism’. The basic problems of spiritual materialism are common to all spiritual traditions, not just Buddhism. He taught that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the control of ego. Real involvement means the complete elimination of ego, of concepts of ‘me, me, me’ and ‘mine’. Unfortunately, we tend to see spirituality as a process of self improvement or therapy, an impulse to develop and refine the ego – rather than letting go of this false idea of self which is the root of all our problems. This is a challenging, uncompromising work that cuts through our deception, confusion and neurotic mind to question our true motivation. It is also truly inspiring.’
‘The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality. Ego is constantly attempting to acquire and apply the teachings of spirituality for its own benefit. The teachings are treated as an external thing…we don’t actually want to identify with or become the teachings… We go through the motions but don’t actually want to sacrifice any part of our way of life…we find some comfort in pretending to follow the path….We reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure as ‘spiritual’ people…. Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centred version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism.’ Chogyam Trungpa.