12 June 2014

Are You Materialistic? Materialism and Spirituality

materialism and spirituality
Do you care about material possessions a little too much? Do they make you feel better or more complete? It's okay, we all love a brand new gadget, outfit, car, home or holiday even. These things are part of who we are. But they shouldn't make us who we are. There's a vicious circle at work, and for most of us, being materialistic is just a symptom.

It Starts With The Ego
The ego. That all encompassing perception of the self, the mental construct of all our parts as we see them. Such as confidence, sociability, attractiveness, influence, personality, success, props and so on. 'Props' is included in the list because our diamond ring, new bag, super-car, expensive watch, fluffy rug and more, are all props in the drama of life. Other people can tell a lot about you by your clothing – for instance, how wealthy you are, your level of taste, sophistication, and moreover success and influence. We need these props to communicate non-verbally what we'd like every one to know. Why not? We've worked hard for them.

Material possessions feed the ego, so that we can nurture it, feel better and strive for happiness. Strip away the material possessions and your ego is left bare and inadequate. Who would you be without your stuff?

Add Some Natural Instinct
Humans are the only species on Earth who's primary method for deciding hierarchy and dominance is not (usually) aggression. Seeing as we are not legally permitted to fight our way to the top, we use another tool – prestige. To gain prestige we can work to gain other's respect – by producing great works, showing off intelligence, charisma, and skill. However, in order to non-verbally create signals to back up this prestige, we need props. Materialistic props. You wouldn't dream of attending an interview in anything but your best work suit and a pair of new clean shoes, right? Imagine what these things communicate – but that goes without saying.

Another natural instinct is survival. The physical body has physical needs and these must be met for survival. In spirit we can thrive in the light/love energy from the sun and the rest of universal creation, but within the earthly realm, we need stuff to survive. Many on Earth do not have enough to survive, they are starving and dying, exposed to the elements. The richer few billion, do have enough, and because they have enough, boredom sets in. Their physical needs are met – water, food, warmth and shelter. So they want more to entertain a mind that needs constant stimulation and an ego that is hungry for more. Hence materialistic behaviours arise.

Plus Some Media Stimulation
Marketing knows about your ego. This author has a first class honors degree in marketing, and this knowledge was in part the catalyst to spiritual awakening. Marketing is the tool that stimulates you to buy stuff, with an eager, relentless need. Marketing feeds consumerism – humans insatiable consumption of products and services with no regard for the depletion of earthly resources, destruction of the planet and the dumbing down of global society. Marketing knows your ego is your weak spot, and that your ego will drive you to part with your cash to get the stuff being sold. Repeated endlessly, wouldn't this become obsessive? Interwoven with our culture?

Interwoven with Consumer Culture Since Birth
You see, it's not your fault. Since birth you've been exposed to relentless marketing messages – PR, advertising, direct mail, articles, branding, point-of-sale, product placement, the list is very long. We're so used to it that we simply tolerate it, even though it's a constant persuasive voice everywhere we look. Many marketing tactics we don't even notice – for example, in the grocery store, do you think the milk is at the furthest point away from the door to give you exercise? No, it's retail marketing getting you to walk past thousands of other products in order to get your staple daily product. You're bombarded by hundreds of other marketing messages on the way, e.g. 10% off! Healthy for kids!

The marketing persuades you to buy goods, so companies can make a profit and prosper. People do need jobs, so marketing for the purpose of competing in markets, to keep companies going, is necessary – it's a vicious circle.

Being materialistic is therefore part of our culture. It's so ingrained now, ever since the first large scale marketing strategies got going, that included psychological persuasion, just after World War Two. Materialistic behaviors have been so deeply rooted in our minds that these wants and needs take precedence over interpersonal relationships. For example, the act of working, or having to work all hours and leaving little or no time to spend with loved ones, in order to gain money, for the purpose of physical survival, too is materialistic behavior – whether voluntary or compulsory.

Equals Voluntary and Involuntary Materialistic Behavior
Sadly due to our societal economic model, that's depending on money to survive, we can't help but be materialistic to some degree. We all need to strive to earn money to buy at least the basics. Although this bare minimum doesn't do much for the ego, the preoccupation with acquiring material goods can come at the cost of literally every other aspect of one's lifetime.

Or Becoming obsessed
On the flip-side, materialistic behavior can be all-consuming due to obsession. If the natural instincts and the mass media have dug so deep into the individual's psyche, that the ego is literally based upon what the person possesses, then obsession must be the term applied. No alternative way of life has seriously been put on the table for the obsessed person. Otherwise, why would they continually search for happiness in behaviors which ultimately always leave them feeling empty?

Awaken From The Illusion
When you buy a new outfit, it feels great for a while, but you need another one soon right? It's just not new any more. Your new car of last year has lost it's new smell, and besides, your neighbor just bought the latest model. The happiness gained from material possessions is a superficial temporary one. The ego is never satisfied and always wants more.

Human mind/body/spirit complexes are wondrously diverse, largely intelligent and full of amazing potential. Perhaps we are looking for our satisfaction in the wrong place. Or perhaps we have been indoctrinated into a materialistic mindset brought about simply by our own need to make money, to sell to each other, and in turn become receptive to being sold to! Here's that vicious circle again.

Sometimes, all that's needed is to know – that 'There's more to life than stuff. Those messages on TV, they're not real'.

So Now What?
What else can there be. Portions of the global population are less effected by materialistic wants because their cultures have not yet followed the westernized route. There are those devoting their lives to service to others, or to the love and light in the universe through some type of religion or spiritual belief. Maybe we should take a look at them. The one's with fewer pairs of shoes.

Losing ourselves in materialistic wants blinds us further from the spiritual truth. Real happiness can be found through knowing that we're more than just the sum of our stuff. Let go of the ego just for a day, clear your mind through meditation, take-in a beautiful view, and open your mind to the vastness of the infinite universe. Know that there's more important things out there for you to be thinking about and doing. Your heart will begin to feel full and you may start to view possessions in a different way.

Materialism and Spirituality, Are you Materialistic? - Video Version

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