The dictionary defines materialism in essentially two ways. The first can be called psychological materialism which is a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things. The second definition refers to scientific materialism which is a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all beings, processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter.
Psychological materialism is an easier subject so let’s start with that. We usually call those people materialistic, whose main goal in life is to collect more money, to buy a bigger house, drive a better car, in short, to possess more and more material things. There are two main motivations behind this attitude: the fight for survival, and a weak ego.
You naturally want to collect more material wealth, because it raises your chances of survival. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I’m not telling you to renounce your material possessions. The problem arises when you get possessed by your possessions. The problem is not about owning something or not, but when you develop a psychological attachment to the things you own.
I’m not telling you to throw everything out of the window, and go on the streets with a begging bowl. Use the things in your life, but don’t let them use you. Take care of your own survival, otherwise your mind will never be peaceful. But when your survival is stable, and you have all the material things in life you really need, look beyond survival. Don’t buy things just for the sake of buying them, because they are meant to be used, and not to be collected like trophies.
You can easily get attached psychologically to things especially when you have a weak ego. When you don’t value yourself, you desperately need something valuable. You want to show off by driving an expensive car, by wearing a luxury watch or living in a great mansion. Your ego needs other people’s reassurance, so you try to associate yourself with value, instead of feeling truly valuable.
But something from the outside can never fulfill you inside. So no matter how many things you have, how rich you are, how much value others see in you, if you don’t value yourself, you’ll never find your inner richness. So next time you want to buy the next big thing, just look into the mirror and ask yourself: do I really need this, or do I just want to show it off to the world?
While not everybody is psychologically materialistic, almost everybody is existentially. Meaning most people have a worldview in which a 3 dimensional space is filled with material objects, which are built up by tiny atoms just like the bricks of a wall. The word matter comes from the word mother or source, thus scientific materialism posits that matter is the basic source of reality.
Furthermore, it suggests that consciousness itself is based on the functioning of the brain, and that without the body, there’s no consciousness. Materialistic people also deny the existence of the soul, they often repress their own emotions, and look at the world as a mechanistic well-oiled machine, ruled by cause and effect and physical laws. In short, they deny all spiritual aspects of life.
On the other end of the spectrum, the mistake that spiritual people commit is that they deny the material aspects of life. They were taught to renounce material wealth, to punish their bodies and disregard its needs, to transcend beyond the material world. Well, matter is not all that matters, but it does matter a lot.
Don’t deny neither the spiritual, nor the material world! Live in the material world, play by its rules, satisfy all your needs, but don’t be psychologically invested in it! Treat it like a game, enjoy its pleasures, but don’t get attached to it. And in the meantime, open your mind to the things beyond your physical senses, and start using your intuition for guidance.
Moreover, don’t make a difference between the spiritual and the material, because they’re not really different, they only seem so at first. It’s a common mistake to think that there’s a separate spiritual world filled with spirits, angels and gods. To believe in something you cannot see but want to imagine. No, such a place doesn’t exist, you need to look for the spiritual inside the material.
Don’t lead a separate regular and spiritual life, instead make your regular life more and more spiritual. If you succeed, in the end, the illusion of the material world will collapse into nothingness, and the word spiritual will become redundant. Everything just is, everything is pure being.
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