My wife and I have spent several decades working with-- and around-- the self-improvement, New Age, spiritual, metaphysics and "Consciousness" communities.
Some people find this rather too "woo-woo" for their liking, but I think there are some gold nuggets of wisdom to be found if you're willing to dig between all the quackery and clever jargon.
Turning Your Back on All Things Material... Why?
Please understand, I can lay no claims to being an "enlightened" person. However, I am a keen observer, and have spent a lot of time studying the human psyche and people's motivations... both individually, and as a group.
Sunset, Northern California Coast
One of the commonly held beliefs that seems to run through the consciousness and New Age Communities is this notion that in order to become "evolved" and "enlightened" you must turn your back on all things material. In other words, self-imposed (or not) poverty is almost a condition of becoming an enlightened person. If you have money and are actually interested in making a decent living... then you can't possibly be "conscious."
Frankly, I have some issues with this perspective. Why?
For starters, any "extreme" point of view is seldom very "enlightened." Forcing yourself to adopt an ascetic (or minimalist) lifestyle and eschewing "all things material" merely in the name of enlightenment is really not very different from relentlessly pursuing material wealth. Think about it: These are merely extreme opposite sides of the same coin.
Now, I'm not claiming that a non-material lifestyle is necessarily a "bad" thing.
That's not the point here. The point is that someone who "martyrs themselves" on the altar of rejecting all wealth because they believe it makes them "noble" or "enlightened" is barking up the wrong tree. True wisdom has little to do with what you have and a lot to do with who you are.
And simply "looking the part," according to some pre-packaged notion of what an enlightened person is "supposed to look like" strikes me as rather ridiculous.
Money (aka "things material") is neither evil nor bad, by itself. Money is merely a "medium of exchange." And if you take a closer look at the old truism, the "root of all evil" is not money, it is the love of money.
Think about this, for a moment: What exactly is the motivation of a person obsessed with money? Most likely, they are trying to "prove" something-- either to the world, or to themselves... or perhaps to both. Either way, it's ultimately an "image issue," and it's based in an inner fear of "what if I DON'T _________?" (fill in the blank).
Now think about what "chosen poverty" represents: Again, here is someone trying to prove something through their choices-- either to the world, or to themselves, or to both. Again, it's an "image issue," based in the fear the person won't be perceived as "enlightened" if he/she has money.
Evening light, Marin Co. California
True wisdom and enlightenment isn't about "proving" anything, with your actions. When you are truly evolved there is nothing to "prove;" nobody to "impress." You embrace simply being who you are... withOUT all that external noise and worry about "image" and "what others think."
Now, choosing to live a simple life can definitely have its benefits for those on a spiritual path. If you have to spend less time worrying about earning money to pay your bills, it means you'll have more time to devote to your spiritual explorations.
But that's quite different from trying to project a specific image through the rejection of wealth.
How About You? Have you known any spiritual people who "chose to be poor" because it supported their path? Did it feel authentic to you? Do you believe that rejecting material wealth is a "requirement" to reach higher states of consciousness and enlightenment? Leave a comment-- share your experiences-- be part of the conversation!
(As usual, all text and images by the author, unless otherwise credited. This is original content, created expressly for Steemit)
Created at 180224 23:03 PST