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Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – October 14, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The usefulness of this book lies in Trungpa's uncanny ability to cut right to the heart of the matter and presents his understanding of Buddhism and the way of life it teaches in a manner that is applicable to his students' living situation."— Journal of the American Academy of Religion --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Examines the self-deceptions, distortions, and sidetracks that imperil the spiritual journey as well as awareness and fearlessness of the true path. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Library
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590306392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590306390
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 1.1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A no-nonsense, firm, but gentle warning note to those of us committed to the so-called path of self-development. Trungpa patiently brings into fresh air the dangerous and destructive method by which we typically approach the notion of spirituality: i.e. as something to be developed, learnt through discipline or otherwise achieved much as we seek to aquire the prizes in our everyday material life. Trungpa's message was ideally suited to that aspect of ourselves - the Eastern mind as much as the Western - which is constantly looking for something external through which we hope to secure our sense of self and make us happy. Exposing this tendency with great skill and clarity, he outlines a more open, direct and yet infinitely more challenging way to experience Mind beyond the self through correct meditation. Even amongst Buddhist literature this is wonderfully refreshing and at once destroys all hope of bettering oneself and yet points to a far brighter fact: that true liberation inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. The often rather painful process of spiritual awakening is made sense of in this book if we begin to see that our emotions and thoughts cloud our direct experience of reality. An apt message befitting an enlightened being who wore his suits 2 sizes too small as a constant reminder of the irritation and dissatisfaction of the samsaric world.
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Format: Paperback
Chogyam Trungpa, often referred to as one of the few oriental, Buddhist lamas who truly understood the Western mind, here transcends East and West by addressing simply and eloquently, the processes of the mind and ego. Trungpa illuminates how some of these processes can undermine an otherwise wholesome relationship to ourselves and our basic goodness (buddha nature) and our relationship with others. These processes can cause our suffering and the suffering of others and disrupt our efforts to be decent and skillful. The non-theistic text, transmitted by this extraordinarily gifted meditation master, is presented freely without prostelytizing and is offered clearly without judgment, blame, guilt, hope or fear. Cutting Through is an important stepping-stone towards developing self-awareness, fearlessness, friendship and loving kindness. A 'must-read' for any diver or warrior of heart and courage. Also recommended are Trungpa's: Shambhala, Path of the Warrior and/or Meditation in Action.
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Format: Paperback
Trungpa lets loose with his cannon in this book. Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm are totally false because they are "eternalists". They believe in a permanent soul that just goes on and on and on. Hindus are eternalists. Theravada Buddhists are what Trungpa calls "atomistic eternalists". They don't realize that an ant sees a flower as a jungle. Or a spot of dirt as a mountain. The obsever of phenomena is left out. Enlightenment consists of a Self observing impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. The Self is indicated from the fact that the observer is not dealt with. And there is no observer. So Trungpa states that "atomistic materialists" are "half right". Zen speaks of a Big Mind. There is no "Big Mind". And he isn't done with us yet. The spiritual path is horrible! All pain. My collecting of spiritual teachers is called "Spiritual Materialism". My examaning self-help books AND doing reviews on them is called "psychological materialsim". The last is "Physical Materialism". And Trungpa seems to indicate that this last form of materialism is the least harmful! He states that the Guru will cut through your suit of armor. He will keep at you until you are exposed naked. You will try and struggle to keep your armor intact. But the Guru will see your pretense and expose whatever you are hiding. He will strip you clean of all three forms of materialism. WOW! Please remember that this book is composed of his lectures to his students. It is simply brillant beyond belief in it's ability to destroy illogical assumptions made by people. It is a classic. Trungpa always had a way of examining the American Mind and striking at our delusions. It is a great read. Like seeing us all excited about our spiritual journey and kicking here and there until we fall. A must read. Buy it and read it three times like I did. Trunpa always cuts. See what you can do with this book. Thank you.
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Format: Hardcover
"Spiritual materialism is the belief that a certain temporary state of mind is a refuge from suffering. " In other words, for a 'spiritual materialist', a state of mind can exist inherently on its own (i.e., "Ego") apart from the chains of cause and effect that cause suffering. Classical Nagarjuna & Mahayana. Yet this became one of the towering issues for Chogyam Trungpa's Naropa University community, a perfect concept to flog guilt-ridden Westerners with. It basically means "you are not doing it right". It means "your motives are not pure". It means you need a 'real' guru.

Unfortunately, the guru in question created a personality cult, parading about in expensive robes (brocade, silk, cashmere) in front of his impoverished hippie audiences while women bodyguards in black dresses and high heels, packing automatic weapons, served him saké. Trungpa, having vowed celibacy to his superiors, caroused with female students and nuns, eloped from England with an underage girl, tolerated abuse and exploitation of students by assorted inner circle henchmen while hobnobbing with beatnik superstars and ultimately drank himself into delirium, cirrhotic liver and death. One of his cardinal, and unforgivable, sins is promotion as a successor of Osel Tenzin (aka Thomas Rich) who knowingly passed HIV during unprotected sex to (hundreds?) of his students. Here is the excuse:

"... Rich first swore us to secrecy (family secrets again), and then said that Trungpa had requested him to be tested for HIV in the early 1980s and told him to keep quiet about the positive result.
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