I am certain I’m not the only one who has grown up learning that you can either be materialistic or spiritual; no one is both and one is always given up for the other. Adding to that, being materialistic is also viewed as a negative trait. A person deemed materialistic is considered to be money-minded, greedy, or selfish. Stereotypical spiritual people are supposed to be gentle, kind, and selfless. How can anyone be both of these at the same time? What people fail to realise is that spirituality and materialism actually go hand in hand.
By definition, materialistic means the tendency to give more value to materials and possessions than spiritual and even moral values. Spirituality, on the other hand, is a word which has been given several different meanings over time. But for the most part, spirituality has to do with giving more importance to the human spirit and soul as compared to other worldly possessions.
Recently, I came across a book called “Money: Know More, Make More, Give More” by Rob Moore. One chapter in particular really intrigued me, which was the one discussing these two terms. He explained that being materialistic isn’t necessarily a bad thing because when people spend money on buying nice, fancy things or choose to go on extravagant vacations, they are basically spending money on the spirit and energy the creators (makers of these specific goods or experiences) put into these things. In the bigger picture, they are contributing to the country’s economy by increasing the GDP in that economy, which benefits the society as a whole. Now let me break this down for you because I’m sure all this seems quite confusing.
Humans, just like everything else on earth, are comprised of matter and energy. But to explain it in a little more “spiritual” context, we also have a spirit, a soul. Now when a person chooses to buy, let’s say, a painting from a really creative artist, some people may feel as though he or she is being very materialistic and spending money on a work of art to hang in the living room instead of donating that money to the less fortunate. What no one thinks of is how hard that painter may have worked, putting her spirit into creating that piece of art, which is now simply being exchanged for money. Apart from this sale helping her make a living and contributing to the economy, it is also a flow of energy or spirit from her, to the work she made, and then to the buyer of the painting. As for the buyer, he may have not been donating directly to someone less fortunate, but in a way, he did help someone trying to make a living. And at the end of the day, from the buyer’s perspective, this is also a flow of energy or “spirit”.
We humans always seem to take things to the very extreme without even noticing. We fail to find a balance in our life because of all the things we have going on, and all of the distractions we now have in our daily lives. What I learned from reading this chapter of Rob Moore’s book I discussed is that instead of living life in two extremes, where we feel like we either have to be purely money-minded and materialistic, or completely selfless without any worldly desires, is to simply be on neutral ground. We need to understand that it is in human nature to have desires and it isn’t selfish to fulfil those desires.
With all this being said, it is still important to understand that a coin always has two sides. Being materialistic can also lead people to become possessive of all of their possessions, whereas people can end up getting a bigger ego in the name of spirituality thinking that they are in some ways, superior, to those who view life differently. It is important to be able to have balance in life and to do everything with good intentions at heart.
Moore, Rob. MONEY: Know More, Make More, Give More. John Murray Learning, 2018.