By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
If you consider yourself a spiritual seeker, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of renouncing the world in favor of spirituality.
A lot of gurus throughout the years have encouraged people to give up their material desires and their general interest in the world, and those of us who want to evolve but enjoy being a part of life on earth have wondered where the line can be drawn. Do we really have to give ourselves up and completely renounce the world to evolve, or is there a middle ground we can take that’ll allow us to progress just as quickly?
I don’t think giving up the world is entirely necessary, but there are aspects of ourselves we might want to examine and let go of if needed. I refer mainly to the ego-centered aspects that are obsessed with materiality and the endless cultural distractions that bombard us daily. The ego isn’t inherently bad, but like anything else, it can hold us back if we don’t keep it in check.
Even if some of us have done our inner work and gotten past the ego’s pitfalls, we all have that materialistic part of ourselves that isn’t interested in spirituality. In fact, it’s actually afraid of spirituality and the expansion of consciousness. Why? Because these things cause the death of the limited ego and the stream of thoughts and desires that keeps it in motion.
Naturally, the ego is afraid of its own death and these fears manifest in us as hesitation to explore our consciousness or the creative outlets we can use to help the world evolve. It doesn’t want for the thought stream that usually occupies us to go away, because it’s grown attached to the thoughts, habits, behaviors, mindsets and lifestyles that allow it to exist. Without these things, it is no more.
Once it’s out of the way, we’re free to explore our consciousness and discover amazing things about our existence, which we’ll do from a calm, centered space. Our calmness and centeredness will drive our spiritual exploration, but they’ll be hard to summon if we’re stuck in the ego.
This is why giving up this aspect of ourselves is necessary, but it doesn’t have to translate into completely giving up materiality.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t avoid materiality or consumerism. We can raise awareness of the fact that society has taken them too far, but unless we do want to go live in the mountains and meditate day and night, our lifestyle requires them on some level. How far we take them is our choice, but even the most enlightened people still eat, wear clothes and shop.
In fact, they might care enough about their health and the animal kingdom to be particular about the food they eat and the clothes they wear, which, if you think about, is technically materialistic.
Those of us who choose specific food or clothing out of compassion for animals or because we care about our health aren’t much different from those who choose specific food and clothing because of their own desires. They want certain food because it tastes good and certain clothes so they can fit in, and we want certain food because it’s healthy and certain clothing because it’s made responsibly.
Our way is more compassionate and healthy, but it’s still the same thing. Requiring organic food over food laden with pesticides is materialistic in that we take a special interest in the material thing we consume, as is requiring other products that are made humanely. The focus on materiality for a specific purpose is still there, so before we renounce materiality and consumerism, let’s remember that we’re all consumers on some level.
We aren’t defined solely by our consumerism, but it still exists in us. I suppose this is the reason some spiritual teachers encourage the complete abandonment of the material world; they see that so many spiritual people are still focused on material things.
The point I want to make is that our focus on materiality, whether intended or not, isn’t so bad.
Caring about how our food and clothes are made for the sake of health and protecting animals is a great thing. Why should we feel less spiritual or conscious for it? Why should we act like it’s something to avoid in the name of our spirituality?
Instead, let’s realize that materiality is a part of living on earth and we can use it and our consumerism responsibly while we explore our consciousness. We can do great things with a fixation on materiality, like protect the animal kingdom, and even those who try their best to avoid it will still feed it in one way or another.
Even gurus eat and wear clothes, so in a way, they’re as much a part of it as anyone else.
We can take away the stigma associated with materiality when we understand that it’s only as bad or unhelpful as we make it, and while it might not exist in a higher state of consciousness, it’s a feature of life on earth that nobody can really escape.
So don’t feel bad if you don’t want to stop enjoying life, because you can expand your consciousness regardless. If you can get past the ego-centered part of yourself that tries to stop you, which we all have to confront at some point, then nothing can keep you from reconnecting with your creator and learning everything you can about reality. There might be some things you have to give up because they impede progress, but renouncing the world will only make you an outcast in a society that already treats spiritual people like lunatics.
The light is here for everyone who wants it regardless of how much of themselves they give up, and as long as we focus on it and our personal evolution while we try to help others, we’ll know when we’re done here that we did our best. We might laugh at ourselves for thinking we had to give up our earthly selves just to achieve enlightenment, and we’ll understand that we’re doing all of this in the first place to get the full picture and the full experience of life in every dimension.