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Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – October 14, 2008
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In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights a common pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal human tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement—the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. “The problem,” Trungpa says, “is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.” His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for over thirty years and remains fresh as ever today.
This edition includes a foreward by Chögyam Trungpa’s son and lineage holder Sakyong Mipham.
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The problem with spiritual materialism is that we cheat ourselves with it; we try to profit from it, but we lose as a result. Maybe we feel wonderful about having earned an important sounding credential within our church; we have now become one of those people who walk around with a VIP button on their lapel. Maybe there is nothing wrong with the button, but if we mistake it for genuine spiritual accomplishment and stop working on our own hearts and minds as a result, then we have truly done ourselves a disservice.
Although spiritual materialism is rampant nowadays, Chogyam Trungpa made its dangers very clear in his original teachings, many of which are contained in this book. I would say that Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is a must read for everyone who may be considering embarking upon a spiritual journey, or even for those people who have already begun and wish to stop, catch their breath, and take a second look at where they are going.
It manages to strike the head of the nail of a cancerous issue in modern Western spirituality: The desire to wear your spiritual "achievements" as a crown and a proof of your superiority. Trungpa disassembles this notion, in a very direct and easy-to-understand way, and leaves you naked and (hopefully) with a little less ego. Back in the human realm.
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. It is a book for people who would like to expand their understanding of the human condition and the traps and dead-ends of spiritual communities.