A Deeper Look into the Phenomenon of Spiritual Materialism

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Written By All Divinity

I’m Suzanne, the Alldivinity.com spirituality guru. With over a decade of experience studying and practicing all things spiritual, I am here to guide you on your spiritual journey.

Are you sacrificing your spiritual growth for the pursuit of material success?

Have you ever found yourself caught up in pursuing material success, thinking that accumulating wealth and material possessions will bring you happiness and fulfillment?

Well, you’re not alone. Many individuals who embark on a spiritual journey fall into the trap of spiritual materialism. In this phenomenon, the pursuit of material success and material wealth is justified in the name of spirituality.

This may come as a surprise, but spiritual materialism can hinder your spiritual growth and rob you of true happiness and inner peace.

The good news, however, is that it’s never too late to break free from these chains and put your focus back on what truly matters – your inner spiritual journey.

This blog post will delve into the world of spiritual materialism, explore its roots and signs, and provide practical steps for breaking free from its grasp.

So buckle up and get ready for a journey of self-discovery and liberation!

The Origins of Spiritual Materialism

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Before we go any further, what is spiritual materialism? Spiritual materialism is a concept that was first introduced by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, in the 1970s.

It refers to the tendency of individuals to use spiritual practices and beliefs as a means to attain material or psychological benefits rather than as a means of achieving genuine spiritual realization.

Historical Context

Spiritual materialism emerged as a response to the increasing popularity of spirituality and religion in the Western world during the 1960s and 1970s.

This was a time of great cultural and spiritual upheaval, with many individuals searching for meaning and purpose. At the same time, a growing consumerist culture encouraged individuals to pursue material success and pleasure.

Influence of Western Culture

The influence of Western culture on spirituality was a critical factor in the emergence of Spiritual Materialism. Western culture focuses on individualism, materialism, and consumerism, often overshadowing the more profound spiritual values of love, compassion, and wisdom.

Thus, many people began to adopt spiritual practices and beliefs to enhance their status, gain popularity, or achieve material success, rather than as a path toward enlightenment and inner peace.

Emergence in Modern Spirituality

Spiritual materialism has become increasingly relevant in modern spirituality as pursuing material wealth and success continues to dominate our society.

This has led to many spiritual practices and beliefs often used for personal gain rather than spiritual growth and development.

For instance, some individuals may practice yoga or meditation for the physical benefits (gratifications of the human body) rather than for their spiritual significance. And that’s just an example of worldly spirituality in our society today.

The Characteristics of Spiritual Materialism

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Now, you may ask yourself, “how do I know if I am spiritually materialistic?” Here are some key characteristics of spiritual materialism:

The external focus on the material world

One of the most prominent characteristics of Spiritual Materialism is the external focus on material success and wealth. This type of spirituality may guide you if you believe acquiring material wealth and success is a sign of spiritual progress and will lead to greater happiness and satisfaction.

The belief that material wealth is a sign of spiritual advancement

Similarly, if you believe that material wealth and success are a measure of spiritual advancement, you may also be spiritually materialistic. People under this notion often equate material success with spiritual growth, and they view it as evidence that they have attained a higher level of spiritual understanding.

Emphasis on self-promotion and image

Sometimes, people place great importance on their image and reputation and may use their spiritual practices and beliefs to enhance their status and gain recognition.

If the statement above describes you, you should know they are telltales of spiritual materialism.

Prioritization of material comfort over spiritual growth

If you’re a spiritual materialist, you will often prioritize material comfort over spiritual growth, seeking comfort and ease over the hard work and discipline required for genuine spiritual advancement.

This can lead to focusing on material success rather than inner growth and cultivating the right spiritual attitude for development.

Those mentioned above are just a few of the many characteristics of spiritual materialism. By recognizing these tendencies in ourselves, we can take the necessary steps to avoid the trap of spiritual materialism and stay true to our spiritual path.

The Dangers of Spiritual Materialism

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Spiritual materialism can seriously harm an individual’s spiritual growth and well-being. Some of them include:

Detachment from actual spiritual values

One of the main dangers of Spiritual Materialism is that you become detached from actual spiritual values.

When you prioritize material success over spiritual growth, it is only a matter of time before you become disconnected from the deeper values of love, compassion, and wisdom that are the true characteristics of a truly spiritual person.

Inauthentic and superficial spiritual practice

Another peril of Spiritual Materialism is the emergence of inauthentic and superficial spiritual practices.

When you use spirituality to attain material success, you may begin to engage in spiritual practices without a genuine connection to your spiritual essence, leading to a shallow and insincere understanding of spirituality.

Impairment of personal growth and spiritual development

Finally, Spiritual Materialism can impair your growth (everyday life) and entire spiritual trip. When spirituality is used to attain material success, individuals may miss opportunities for genuine spiritual growth and inner transformation. They may become trapped in a cycle of external achievement and materialism.

Overcoming Spiritual Materialism in your Everyday Life

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Overcoming Spiritual Materialism requires a combination of steps. Here are some of the key steps for overcoming this trap:

Awareness and self-reflection

The first step in overcoming spiritual materialism is to develop a greater awareness of your motivations and tendencies.

Through self-reflection and introspection, you can gain insight into your attachment to material success and wealth and how this attachment may be inhibiting your spiritual growth.

Cultivating a spiritual practice based on inner values

Another critical step to overcoming spiritual materialism is cultivating a spiritual practice grounded in inner values, such as love, compassion, and wisdom.

To do this, you may have to explore different spiritual traditions and practices and choose those that resonate with your inner truth and values.

Breaking free from materialistic tendencies

Overcoming Spiritual materialism also involves breaking free from materialistic tendencies and focusing on inner growth and transformation.

This involves letting go of the pursuit of material success and wealth and instead focusing on developing your inner qualities, such as compassion, kindness, and wisdom.

Embracing a lifestyle that prioritizes spiritual growth

Finally, embracing a lifestyle that prioritizes spiritual growth and development. You must consciously consider how you spend your time and resources and actively seek out experiences and relationships that support your spiritual growth.

After all, Lord Buddha’s psychology teaches that material success and wealth are not the ultimate sources of happiness and fulfillment. True peace and happiness can only be found by cultivating inner qualities such as compassion, wisdom, and mindfulness.


In conclusion, spiritual materialism is a multifaceted phenomenon that profoundly impacts our spiritual pursuit, growth, and well-being. I believe you have gained a greater understanding of this concept and how it can affect you from this post.

But most importantly, you have also seen how to avoid its adverse effects and stay focused on your true spiritual life. Whether examining your motivations and desires, questioning your cultural and societal values, or simply being mindful of your actions, we now have the tools to break free from the chains of spiritual materialism.

So, continue to seek growth and fulfillment through spiritual techniques and inner journeys rather than being tempted by the false promises of material success. And suppose you stay true to your spiritual path. In that case, you can experience the transformative power of true spirituality and find the happiness and peace that comes with being a true spiritual practitioner.

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