Our society is drenched in Materialism. If we were true to ourselves we would say that we are all materialists. And I’m not talking about that shallow accusation of “not being spiritual”. I am talking about the materialistic mindset we have all been raised with.
Please be aware that you can call yourself spiritual, being nevertheless a materialist to the core . In fact if you approach to spirituality without changing the way you approach to things in general you are missing the whole point.
The point is that Materialism is an insidious, subtle way of thinking that makes you focus mainly on results and outcomes rather than on the process, whatever it is. So the real question here is not “are you a materialist?” but rather “are you focusing mainly on results?”.
Let’s say you are. So, what’s wrong with that? Please note that I am not trying to demonize Materialism: I believe everything comes with pros and cons. Actually, I think that if you want to achieve something concrete you should definitely embrace that perspective. Nevertheless, it comes with a price and I believe you should at least know if it’s worth it.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say that Jessica loves painting. She likes it so much she doesn’t actually care about the final outcome—in this case, paintings. Loving what she is doing is what really makes her spiritual here. And yes, you don’t need to talk about spirit to be spiritual . She is free, because she is completely focusing on the process, she is enjoying it, and she has no other reason for doing that than painting itself.
One day, someone tells her she’s very good at it and she could definitely earn some money by selling her paintings. Let’s say she accepts the deal. Now, this is crucial: what once was an end in itself (painting) has now become the means to another end which—in this case—is making money. This is when Materialism kicks in, and no—money doesn’t have necessarily anything to do with it.
The point is her focus has changed. She is not focusing anymore on what she loves to do: she is now focusing on the result which comes from it. Do you realize how tricky is that? Apparently nothing has changed—she is still going to paint anyway—but the fire of the spirit is lost!
In order to be aware of the consequences, take this definition of Materialism I found online:
[muh–teer-ee-uh-liz-uh m] noun
1. preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
and replace the word “spiritual” with “what you love to do”:
Materialism is preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of what you love to do.
This is the price: a materialistic mindset is always going to deceive you confusing the ends with the means. It is in its nature. You want to achieve A but you must get B and C first. This because you want to achieve something rather than focusing on what you love to do. And there is always a strategy, a procedure, a series of steps to be taken in order to get what you want. But eventually this can only take you away from what you really love. On the contrary, when you love what you do you the reward is in the action itself .
“The fundamental maxim of free men is to live in love towards our actions, and to let live in the understanding of the other person’s will” — Rudolf Steiner (Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 9).
This may sound very odd for us, considering that we have been educated to always think we need to do something to get something else. But this is what being free—and spiritual—is all about.
I consider myself a free researcher in western spiritual disciplines, in particular Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition. I have a three-year training in Astrology at the CIDA delegation of Trieste, the Italian Center for Astrological Disciplines. I graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Trieste.