Karma, Corporations, & Spiritual Materialism

Where's the Spirit?

The dangerous American myth of corporate spirituality

by Shawn Van Valkenburgh

How might you add depth and dimension to your spiritual exploration? With spiritual practices, especially from Eastern religions, growing in popularity in mainstream Western culture, Shawn Van Valkenburgh invites us to be cautious of spiritual materialism—to be aware of the tendency to hand pick spiritual teachings or terms and apply them selectively to meet our own ego-driven desires or needs.

There is a long history of using religion to drive capitalism and to preserve the social and economic status quo. Let’s always remember to preserve the mystery within our search for meaning, to honor others within our personal quest for purpose, and to open up to connection with something greater than the self.  

As Van Valkenburgh suggests in this article, “if we work to complement our gratitude with mercy and compassion for those who are less fortunate, we can move away from the surface-level spirituality that is really just materialism in disguise. And this may be what the world needs more than ever.” 

The path of truth is profound—and so are the obstacles and possibilities for self-deception.
— Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism