His definition of Spiritual Materialism is as follows:
"Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism."
It seems that ego is the culprit as he goes on to say:
"Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of egos display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as spiritual people."
This is a book about the Buddhist path, so those from a Christian perspective will probably find it wanting. But, if you have some interest in Buddhism, this takes the reader through the entire Buddhist path encompassing all of the "yanas". The "yanas" are the Hinayana (narrow path), Mahayana (great vehicle) and Vajrayana (tantric path).
It is considered to be a gradual path, starting with the Hinayana, where one develops meditative discipline, then on to the Mahayana, the path of great compassion and wisdom. This is the path of the Bodhisattva, a being who literally gives up any notion of personal enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. The Bodhisattva Vow is actually a promise to bring all others to liberation and enlightenment ahead of themselves. The final path is Vajrayana, or the tantric path. It would be a mistake, however, to consider these yanas separate in any sense. One necessarily leads to another. It is all one path, which doesnt actually exist (except as a concept) in any case.
One of the more interesting descriptions in this book has to do with Trungpa's understanding of emptiness, a very often misunderstood concept in Buddhism. He explains that emptiness is form without any mental preconceptions. I suppose this is where the statement "form is emptiness and emptiness is form" comes from. So, phenomena "as it is", or its"suchness" is phenomena empty of any preconceived notions, labels, constructs, concepts, etc. But, since emptiness is also a concept, the ego may take hold of it and try to possess it. For this reason, we eventually must see form as just form and emptiness as merely empty. Well, no one said it was easy!
My understanding is that a person of average intelligence, who is emotionally healthy and stable, could traverse the yanas in two to three years, with daily study and practice, assuming they had a qualified teacher.
All and all a very good read if you are into this kind of thing, or if you are headed in that direction.
Edited by SteveS55, 24 April 2017 - 05:51 PM.