Spiritual & Material
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AMIT RAY 2007 -2010



We often make comments that our life is becoming materialistic and unhappy and we are losing the sense of spiritualism and inner peace of mind.

We also hear that the west is materialistic and the east is spiritual.


Is there a connection between MATERIALISM and SPIRITUALISM?



MATERIALISM expresses the view that only thing that exists is MATTER.

All mental events can even be reducible to matters. The brain secretes thoughts, as the liver secretes bile.

The definition of matter, in modern philosophical materialism, extends to all scientifically observable entities such as energy, forces, and the curvature of space.

In this view, one might speak of the material world.


SPIRITUALISM helps us to realize the dignity of each individual.

Spiritualism transcends diversity of race, colour, language and sect.

It teaches us to develop understanding and increase compassion.

Spiritualism promotes democracy.



From the premise that "one leads a materialistic life", it does not follow that he believes in material philosophy.

Materialism and materialistic living are completely different.

One is a philosophy; the other is a way of life style.



The characteristics of a MATERIALISTIC WAY OF LIFE are:



  • Interest in and excessive desire for money, possessions, etc.

  • Idolization of affluence.

  • Constant fear of losing what we have.

  • Trying always to establish "This is mine"

  • Selfishness

  • Having no compassion.

  • My own interest only persists.

  • Self - glorification

  • Corrupting power


Power for control, riches, self-glorification, etc. brings about arrogance.

The above characteristics cause erosion of human dignity.



The characteristics of SPIRITUALISM OR MORAL VIEW OF LIFE are:


To overcome


Anger by love,

Evil by good,

Greed by liberality, and

Falsehood by truth.



It is very easy for us to choose material things.

But when it comes to spiritualism, most of us for some reason lack the qualities in order to be spiritual. Here triumphs the materialistic life over spiritualism.

We do not live anymore in a world where spiritual activity is the main stream of life.


Obviously we have to pay attention to the material aspects of life. We must work, eat, make or buy clothes, use transports. But this is not a materialistic life.


Deep down in us, there is something, a feeling or a passion beyond all worldly matters to find peace in another psychic world - we may call this feeling spiritual.


Absorption in excessive material sides of life leads to an unbalanced condition of mental state.

We must try to allay the animal cravings. We must avoid excess in all things - - the middle path as enjoined by Siddhartha Gautam, the Buddha - - the golden mean of Aristotle.


There are differences in materialistic lives of people from different stations of life and from different countries.


One rich person's constant desire to have a very expensive thing, like a hand-made car or a very expensive dress or an expensive piece of jewellery can be equated with the desire of a very poor person to have an inexpensive bicycle, etc. Craving here has the same degree of bad consequences.


In spite of having riches, we can have a peaceful and happy life if only we can control our cravings such that we do not lose our sense of proportion and very importantly the sense of compassion. The tyranny of endless desires breeds only undesirable disturbances in life.


The SPIRITUAL OPTION is not to renounce modernity or demonise development. We have to make sure that material development remains conducive to the blossoming of the human spirit.


What matters is not the possession or non-possession of wealth, but the attitude to it. 


Indians worship Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. Many religions see prosperity as a gift of god.

One who lives in affluence or when affluence is idolized, one cannot maintain the spiritual characteristics in life.


Only when affluence is idolized, it enslaves the individual.


Material prosperity is not materialistic life. But we have to create a balance between spiritualism and materialistic life.


We cannot judge spiritualism of a person or a nation by the presence or absence of material goods. People are free to choose the things that they want in their lives. They are free to choose their own balance between material goods and spiritualism. Every individual has his/her own way to find peace. There is no one rule that we have to follow. It depends on one's individual psychology. Our needs depend on our social status, our job, our earning, and our expectation.





Hence I would like to draw a conclusion that every individual living within the material society should practise the spiritualism in life.





Technology is at its peak; it has given us speed, but has also made our life complex.


According to Einstein - the fundamental problem of the modern people is that they get obsessed with means to the neglect of the ends. This cripples the art of living.


The way quantum mechanics is progressing, we may eventually discover that deep materialism and spiritualism are connected at their root - soul and matter are no longer distinct or distinguishable.







In ca 600 BCE, the Indian Charvaka philosophy founded the materialist theory.

The theory signified the declaration of the spiritual independence of the individual and rejection of the principle of authority - nothing to be accepted which does not find its evidence in reason.

This theory stood for sensualism, selfishness and the gross affirmation of the loud will.


There was no need to control passion and instinct, since they were nature's legacy to human. Nature is indifferent to good or bad. The sun shines equally on the good and the evil. A god is not necessary to account for the world. It is the weakness of human beings that they believe in deities. On this theory, pleasure and pain are the central facts of life. Eat, drink and be merry, for deaths come to all, closing our lives. Virtue is a delusion and enjoyment is the only reality. Materialism is the only religion (Sastra); in it only perceptual evidence is authority; the elements are earth, water, fire and air; wealth and enjoyment are the objects of human existence. Death is the end of all.