Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

Chogyam Trungpa

In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights a common pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal human tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement—the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. “The problem,” Trungpa says, “is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.” His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for over thirty years and remains fresh as ever today.