Spiritual materialism takes place on the internal level in the form of ideas, concepts, and ideologies—or what Trungpa loosely defines as our intellect. Just like we lean on our physical things to bring comfort, we can lean on our intellect to navigate life more comfortably. “Nationalism, communism, existentialism, Christianity, Buddhism,” Trungpa says, “all provide us with identities, rules of action, and interpretations of how and why things happen as they do.” Mentally, we use ideologies, beliefs, and concepts to protect us or soften ‘what is.’”
It’s true: How often do we lean on our beliefs to self-soothe? Even the common spiritual maxim, everything happens for a reason, can sugar-coat the present moment. And when we use spiritual truths to comfort ourselves, we sometimes miss the opportunity to face the doubt, uncertainty, and confusion which are, frankly, the best teachers.