Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spiritual Materialism & Disappointment

Spiritual Materialism & Disappointment - Chogyam Trungpa

As long as we follow a spiritual approach promising salvation, miracles,
liberation, then we are bound by the "golden chain of spirituality." Such a
chain might be beautiful to wear, with its inlaid jewels and intricate
carvings, but nevertheless, it imprisons us. People think they can wear the
golden chain for decoration without being imprisoned by it, but they are
deceiving themselves. As long as one's approach to spirituality is based
upon enriching ego, then it is spiritual materialism, a suicidal process
rather than a creative one.

All the promises we have heard are pure seduction. We expect the teachings
to solve all our problems; we expect to be provided with magical means to
deal with our depressions, our aggressions, our sexual hangups. But to our
surprise we begin to realize that this is not going to happen. It is very
disappointing to realize that we must work on ourselves and our suffering
rather than depend upon a savior or the magical power of yogic techniques.
It is disappointing to realize that we have to give up our expectations
rather than build on the basis of our preconceptions.

We must allow ourselves to be disappointed, which means the surrendering of
me-ness, my achievement. We would like to watch ourselves attain
enlightenment, watch our disciples celebrating, worshipping, throwing
flowers at us, with miracles and earthquakes occurring and gods and angels
singing and so forth. This never happens. The attainment of enlightenment
from ego's point of view is extreme death, the death of self, the death of
me and mine, the death of the watcher. It is the ultimate and final
disappointment. Treading the spiritual path is painful. It is a constant
unmasking, peeling off of layer after layer of masks. It involves insult
after insult.

Such a series of disappointments inspires us to give up ambition. We fall
down and down and down, until we touch the ground, until we relate with the
basic sanity of earth. We become the lowest of the low, the smallest of the
small, a grain of sand, perfectly simple, no expectations. When we are
grounded, there is no room for dreaming or frivolous impulse, so our
practice at last becomes workable. We begin to learn how to make a proper
cup of tea, how to walk straight without tripping. Our whole approach to
life becomes more simple and direct, and any teachings we might hear or
books we might read become workable. They become confirmations,
encouragements to work as a grain of sand, as we are, without expectations,
without dreams.

We have heard so many promises, have listened to so many alluring
descriptions of exotic places of all kinds, have seen so many dreams, but
from the point of view of a grain of sand, we could not care less. We are
just a speck of dust in the midst of the universe. At the same time our
situation is very spacious, very beautiful and workable. In fact, it is
very inviting, inspiring. If you are a grain of sand, the rest of the
universe, all the space, all the room is yours, because you obstruct
nothing, overcrowd nothing, possess nothing. There is tremendous openness.
You are the emperor of the universe because you are a grain of sand. The
world is very simple and at the same time very dignified and open, because
your inspiration is based upon disappointment, which is without the
ambition of the ego.