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The Great Refusal And The Spiritual Supermarket.

CittaCitta Veteran
edited June 2013 in Philosophy
We live in an age where we are bombarded by apparent choice. A bewildering array of goods and services on all sides.
And this extends to what we might call the spiritual path too.
Trungpa Rinpoche first described the phenomenon he called 'spiritual materialism' ..the misappropriation of the means to see the illusory nature of separate existence , so that these means serve instead to reinforce the self sense.
We think that by turning away from a blind need to possess stuff that we are on the way to reality...but the fact is it is easy to substitute malas and trinkets, and yet another book or website about yet another teacher or method for the car or the latest Ipad.
But they are equally likely to result in confusion and the need to satisfy yet another artificially created need.
Marcuse talked of the Great Refusal. The need to refuse to become enslaved to commodities and to a culture that defines itself by aquisition.
Trungpa extended this to the tendency to use the means of liberation to become the aquisition of yet more Buddhist Scouting Badges.
The inability to get down and do the work..to grow bored and yet keep on. To run instead willynilly after various groups and different teachers.
To mix metaphors..to sow a crop and constantly dig it up when it is just beginning to grow.
Perhaps we need a Buddhist version of the Great Refusal.
To find instead a good-enough teacher and/or a good enough method and stick to it through thick and thin, and for a long time.


  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    Shoot, you had to bring this up now, I only need one more punch on my Buddhist card and I get a free human rebirth. :mullet:
  • Good stuff!

    I actually find solace in devouring online articles on spiritual subjects when the going gets tough. That rarely helps and, in fact, adds to my feelings of boredom and confusion. But at first, there is the fascination and wild hope of sorts. So "commodities" of spiritual nature seem to behave a bit like addictive substances.

    There is just no substitute for being in one's skin, deep in it, bearing patiently yet inquisitively everything that comes. I am greatful for my sangha for enabling me to come down from the clouds of mental fabrications and back into that skin, just here, just now...

    May we all have the determination to always investigate the nature of what is and rest in it, rather than chase ghosts.
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