10 Must Have Buys for the Spiritual Materialist.

Via elephant journal
on Jul 11, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

Spirituality as fashion or lifestyle statement.

Are you a neo-hippie/faux-Buddhist? Want everyone to know how holy you are? Read on!

1. Mala on wrist; never used for actual meditation practice

2. Tattoo of OM (“it means, you know…the light inside of me bows to the light inside of you.” [See comment at bottom])

3. Lululemon as everyday wear

4. Co-exist bumper sticker on hybrid SUV Lexus

5. walk around with PVC yoga mat

6. GT’s Kombucha.*

7. email signature includes “injoi” or “all one family”

8. frequent Burning Man references: “Oh, I shouldn’t go to Whole Foods after kirtan; gotta save up for Burning Man.”

9. Half-destroyed TOMS.

10. cafΓ© accessory: Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle or, cunningest of all, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism book with unbent spine.

Bonus Points

EC: Vision Boards; sage incense; Dr. Bronner’s; Prius; Essential Oils in lieu of deodorant, cologne, perfume; altar on dashboard or sacred stuff/ feathers/ dream catcher hanging from rearview mirror, Dalai Lama or Rumi or Hafiz or Buddha quote book on toilet; live in Boulder, Berkeley, Madison, Lincoln, Lawrence, Brooklyn, Santa Monica or Venice, Austin, Ashland, Asheville, Portland, Seattle, Eugene, Flagstaff; vacation in Belize, Costa Rica, India or Tibet; subscribe to elephantjournal.com

What’d I forget?


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com


131 Responses to “10 Must Have Buys for the Spiritual Materialist.”

  1. Roger Wolsey says:

    Excellent and FUNNY!

    (though I think you perhaps may've meant a tattoo of "namaste" instead of om?)

    We Christians have the same sort of pseudo/faux/shallow spirituality phenomenon in our circles too; e.g. fish emblem on back bumper of car; cross and/or rosaries hanging from driver's mirror; plastic saints, jesus, and/or mary on the dashboard; saying an assortment of vapid religious platitudes as fillers in conversations; … and this list goes on too. : P

  2. Via twitter: RT @alexandthenews: @waylonlewis i almost forgot 4 your list- tibetan prayer flags are a must on that list. #hippyhip http://bit.ly/aeMh8Q

  3. mariavlong says:

    It's Altar not Alter, Waldorf Schooling? πŸ™‚

  4. Hey now, dude, that's some fuckin' awesome shit like I bought one o' them mala bracelets in the parking lot at at Bonnaroo last year and it's made me like a waaaaay more spiritual person and that Chogram Chunkra book's awesome cuz my bro had it in his van at Burning Man and we were crankin' up this kind Phish tape n' rollin' fatties o' this totally kind Humbolt on it and started totally like trippin' out n' shit lookin' at that awesome picture on the cover. I can hardly wait to check out some Lulemon and Kobuchka and shit.

    all one family

  5. Tee says:

    I feel comfortable enough in my beliefs that I don't have to defend them; this list is amusing, especially when you start thinking, as I said, about how many spiritual "baubles" we have. As soon as we start thinking that, "Yeah, I have them, but I'm not one of those pretentious snobs", though, we become the pretentious snob.

    Look at the commentary this humor has sparked…that alone has created an awareness of what we surround ourselves with, and what is truly important and what is not.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Thank you for listing the cities I should check out when I get the heck out of texas.

  7. roger wolsey says:

    why leave Texas? you've got Austin! ; )

  8. John Sprague says:

    In the list of cities, you left out Northampton / Amherst MA.

  9. Randall Smith says:

    This is great. love the video.

  10. via http://www.twitter.com/elephantjournal – RT @carolann3888: RT @elephantjournal: Made ur $$$ off corporate world, ready 2 get spiritual? Ur go-to guide: http://bit.ly/aeMh8Q

  11. got it all… and sorry you meant namaste: Tattoo of OM (“it means, you know…the light inside of me bows to the light inside of you.” [See comment at bottom])….namaste is the bowing thing…I HAVE an OM tattoo…it's the sound of the universe the sacred A-U-M the…OK I'll stop πŸ™‚ but seriously if you poke fun you must get it right LOL

    • As I said in other comments, I got it wrong intentionally…like tattoos with Chinese symbols, thought it would be funnier if the tattoo wearer didn't even know what they were tattooed with, and got the definition mixed up.

      After 8 years of publishing elephant, I'm sorry to say I know what OM and Namaste mean, all too well. Got that down the first couple months–my first yoga class, or one of them, when everyone OMd, I asked what it meant, kinda irritated that we were all chanting stuff without any explanation. The teacher looked at me, knowing I was Buddhist, and said, c'mon, but then went on to explain it anyway. One of the defs of Spiritual Materialism is the "spiritualish" aping (or changing, or wearing) of symbols, words, that you don't even bother to learn and practice what they mean.

  12. swati jr* says:

    this is SO hilarious. it totally laughed out loud. how did i get away unscathed? i don't even have a feather hanging in my car or a coexist bumper sticker! guess i have some work to do…..

  13. ARCreated says:

    In addition to all the above included the expanded list shared by Tee (I thought for a second she had been in my house) I would add the tibetan prayer flags I fly, any kanji anywhere — have them tatooed and hanging all over the house and any fish/dragon/frog feng shui stuff πŸ™‚ I have both the coexist and the believe bummper sticker with two peace signs…roflmao…OMG my list is so long its wrong…but my stickers are on a beat up hyndai that has mismatched doors and a busted out window LOL…my materialism ONLY applies to spiritual stuff I guess in all other ways I live close to the bone — no LuLulemon clothes here… as a yoga teacher I wonder how yogis afford that stuff??? seriously??? one pair of paints is like 5 classes…YIPE

    I have a home studio and it could be mistaken for a curio shop πŸ™‚ a decidely hippy gypsy yoga head shop πŸ™‚

    and finally I go a BIT against the grain as I live in Scottsdale….I'm sort of like a sore thumb around here….:p

  14. Yoga Jen says:

    I think its interesting the backlash that is happening against the materialism/ popularity/ capitalism of spirituality, yoga etc. I think that if I just focus on the things that draw me closer to my true self then I don't have to worry about the intentions of others "spiritual" journeys. It is just another way to separate and judge each other. Plus then it feels phony to respond "well I'm not phony but they are?"

    • Very "yoga" of you. You judge your food, when you choose to eat organic vs. gmo/processed. Judging can be negative, you're right. But it can also be "discriminating wisdom," or "prajna," as in the Buddhist tradition.

      Spiritual Materialism is pervasive, and twists the genuine aims of spiritual practice into a self-serving ego-strengthening fest. But you know all that.

      Your point is, "who cares, let folks practice and experience their own paths, without having to laugh at them!" I guess I could agree with that.

      The above was offered half-humorously, of course–I mean, I do many of those things, have many of those things. It is, I'm sure we can agree, all about intention or "view."

  15. Aunty says:

    See now, this is what I mean about Boulder. Everyone is so damned good-looking and all peace and flowers and shit. Damn hippies. Come to a nice, conservative place like Richmond, Virginia. We'll have you straightened out in no time. And ugly.

    • BoulderJen says:

      LOL…I live in Boulder. I'm average-looking & all peace, but lacking in flowers & shit. I'm far from a hippie because I'm not rich enough to be one, like most everyone else that plays that game here. I'm also lacking in pretentiousness, which is probably the biggest spiritual malady around these parts. Some of us Boulder folks are "real". If there is one thing I could pick that's served me well in all aspects of this life experience it's learning to laugh at everything, especially myself. Never, ever take life too seriously. Your comment, Aunty, is a funny one & for that I thank you. πŸ™‚

  16. roger wolsey says:

    Poetry by Rumi, These Spiritual Window Shoppers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyfMm4lgvbg

  17. stephen s says:

    the only thing left out was that 'tolerance' bumper sticker: square with blue field and two horizontal yellow bars.

    live in Lincoln?? as in Lincoln, Nebraska? ever been there?

    • Ayana says:

      That bumper sticker means equality not tolerance. Not really spiritual paraphenalia either.

    • Mel says:

      That's not a tolerance sticker. It's symbolizes "Equality" and those yellow bars are an equal sign. Its from the Human Rights Campaign for Equality.

    • Maeve says:

      i was thinking the same thing about Lincoln, NE. What?? Omaha if anything….

  18. This is all good, but of course let's not forget some of the real classic signifiers of spiritual materialism:
    1. Holy books
    2. Popular brand names (i.e. "Buddhism")
    3. Titles ("Rinpoche" "Dalai Lama")
    4. Fancy robes

    The list goes on and on…

  19. judgenot says:

    There's a whole lot of judging going on…

    • elephantjournal says:

      Good point, but…imho:

      Judging is aok: in Buddhism it's called discriminating awareness or prajna; insight. It's considered simply healthy to know what to accept and what to rejecct.

      Pre-judging is not great. You know, prejudice.

      • Hayley says:

        I'm all for judgement in the way that your Buddhism prescribes, but it doesn't need to be publicly pointed out at the expense of the well-being of others. Everyone is on their own spiritual journeys. Why not let them discover these things on their own? People commenting here are only pushing away those who are still learning about themselves, and that neither benefits the people poking fun nor the people being made fun of. Leave them be. They will learn…just as you learn. If you aren't yet comfortable with where you stand on your own journey, making fun of those who are two steps behind you doesn't make you any better than they. Nor does it make you any worse. Bottom line: it's not a competition. Peace.

      • samanth says:

        are you kidding Waylon?!

    • spiral-dancer says:

      C'mon, it's all in good fun! I am sort of embarrassed to admit that i felt a twinge of pride seeing my home city of Asheville on the list. Does that make me a hipster?

    • samanth says:

      I concur! Waylon and his apostles need to get lives…

  20. potmeetkettle says:

    Reads elephantjournal.com…

  21. jolinda Van Haren says:

    I want to go buy a pretty mala. Do they come in red?

  22. […] one is a little too hippie-dippy-trippy for […]

  23. […] some kind of Eastern religion. Doesn’t matter which one. Yoga counts, but only if you get an om tattoo. Piercings count). Waylon Lewis, founder of elephantjournal.com and host of Walk the Talk Show […]

  24. […] Why grow up when you can go shopping? […]

  25. Oh NO! I live in NY and don't have ANY of these things….. I do have a PVC yoga mat. My two-year old niece likes to sit on it and play with her little dolls…… πŸ™‚

  26. SAL says:

    Perhaps judgmental, but some big truths in a decade where a lot of Americans are suffering–Americans who can't afford pretty yogi baubles. I was raised in the times of communes and ashrams, with back-to-the-land hippies who didn't have any money. They were really kind, lovely people who went out of their way to help others and tried to live their principles (which was really a hardcore thing to do and most had to strike a balance once the 80s hit). They had friends of different classes, races, perspectives, cared about the earth and education. I know it's now hip to be snarky and "I got mine," but I think it really cheapens what yoga is supposed to be about–unless contemporary yoga is about lululemon, driving posh cars with bumper stickers, traveling to exotic places, ignoring the suffering of those who don't look or live like you, and only hanging with folks who are like you. It's like an upgraded, groovier 1950s America, I suppose. But not judging, of course:). I do have a lot more respect for yogis who are community oriented and try to be decent people. The trinkets and stuff are fun, for sure, but there's got to be more than that.

  27. callie says:

    Oh the red kabballauh string bracket that is now sol in leather at tiffanies. Although some debate the Ted thread Buddhist also wear them. Loved the funny look at ourselves in the article satire is fabulous. Callie

  28. […] Purchase the Ten Essential Items. […]

  29. Joshua Eaton says:

    Thankfully our traditions are bigger than we are. I started out very much this way and ended up biting off more than I could chew, so to speak. As Nagarjuna said, “Even give poison to those whom poison will help.”

  30. Love this & can laugh at myself for the things on this list I have….

  31. Suri kate says:

    Heee heeee dude, you made my day …this is why i love elephant…..I think the coexist sticker is iNterchangeable with the free tibet bumper sticker

  32. […] for only those teachers who have proven themselves to be fully dedicated to The Path: teachers who go by a Sanskrit name that they chose themselves, wear more than one set of prayer beads at a time, and will perform full Rajakapotasana with ease at every class whether or not he or she is teaching […]

  33. Stephanie says:

    Om tattoo..check
    Yoga mat…check
    No Mala yet, I’m slacking in the spiritual area. πŸ˜‰

  34. elephantjournal says:

    Thea T: This is hilarious!

  35. […] is much larger than they expected. I know that was my experience. But when it becomes the lastest trend in lifestyle accessories, and spirituality is something you can throw in your Whole Foods bag next to your Kombucha, what […]

  36. […] He discovered there was no lightheartedness, no humor in the achievement. It was instead serious spiritual materialism. So having tried the extremes of royal indulgence and yogic renunciation, he gave up — and […]

  37. […] Girl who also does yoga. I love yoga. It changed so much of my inner and outer life. And yeah, I rock my mala beads sometimes. I love my TOMS. I love a lot of the “yoga girl” trappings (PrAna, not Lululemon, sil […]

  38. Kaycee says:

    buddhist prayer flags adorning entrance to house (so everyone knows it's a cool house). Americans and Europeans with hindu name like Krishna, Satya, Rhada, Arjuna, Surya, Darshana, Ganga, etc. so everyone knows you've been to the mountain top and had a guru rename you.

  39. Marcy says:

    Hmmm…. I see what this article is getting at, really I do. And some of the items on the list are really pretty inexcusable. But it also makes me think about how we all had to start somewhere. I remember feeling the pull of the ohm symbol before I knew what it meant, and how much I loved the buddha candle holder I found at Target before I had ever heard of the teachings. Sometimes, I think, we BUY these things because we are still operating under our social conditioning, but we buy these THINGS because they are speaking to us in the tiniest of whispers. I know, I know, I KNOW that this article is about people doing it for show or through a misguided sense of what spirituality is. But really, it's good to remember that we all start somewhere. And then the Truth or the Love or the Light (or whatever it is you want to call what you believe in) takes over, and we slowly realize that these things aren't it, whether we have them or don't. (Except my beloved candle holder. It's the sh**t.)

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you Marcy! I’m having a difficult day. And I’ve been mocked recently for my wanting to study religion and some of the things I am drawn to. This made me feel so much more judged. And shallow, since so many of these things feel so good to me. I actually started to cry at what was beginning to feel like a worthless journey because I’ll never be as “good at it” as the people here. And maybe “they” were right. Maybe my “personal journey” is a joke. And then I read your post. And tho it wasn’t a magic band aid, it definitely helped. I feel like someone actually stood up for me.

  40. thehatinthecat says:

    Which Madison?

  41. […] met some cool chicks in flowy Saint Grace pants, mala beads secured to their wrists like handcuffs, so we suited up in yogini goddess wear and shackled ourselves with Bodhi beads too. We friended the […]

  42. […] Practice your favorite Spiritual Materialism Catch-Phrases. Jai Hanuman! Namaste! No need to know what it means, so long as you say it […]

  43. ryzeonline says:

    Hahahahaha… so f***ing awesome.

    I love spirituality and luxury material goods, in a big way. I don't think I'd consider owning or showing off *any* of these things lol, but I know people who do πŸ˜€

    This list made me smile, thanks man.

  44. Stac says:

    Wow. Tho I appreciate the commentary on the celebrity culture in this society, this seems kind of harsh. Many people take many paths on their own travels. Maybe their first teacher stressed the importance of these things in ritual and that rituals are essential in practicing. I myself have rituals that require some items listed. Does that make me a fake. And if so, a fake what? I know a bellydance teacher who stresses the importance of dressing the part in class. She says it helps a person get into the mind frame and really 'feel' the movement, to become part of it. Maybe these things do that for some. Regardless, it is not our place to decide what is right and wrong for them and their path. All it does is sound elitist and self righteous.
    It is interesting that there is a slew of very prominent ads here that specifically cater to these people you mock. Not to mention that for only $52 (almost two weeks of groceries for me) I could have an elephant tote, some stickers and back issues. Yay! Let's throw money at the people who mock us for throwing money around. fabulous.

  45. elephantjournal says:

    Reposted on FB, with ironic (to me) image of Kim Kardashian half-heartedly doing a rather-off easy yoga pose:

    XX: Isn't this the kardashian fur wearing beotch?

    Ali Valley and why are you promoting her?

    Lili Madrid The foot on the knee isn't that a big No-No?
    Chris Chiles passe'?

    Carrie Shelton Ummm…ouch! Her foot is right on her knee…above or below, please πŸ™‚
    · Like · 12
    Lisa Jorgensen kim kardashian? really?

    Heather Bernklau My knee hurts looking at this
    Unlike · 6
    Jessica Lueras OMG. Come on you guys… she is like all spiritual and stuff (flips hair). But seriously… if she's going to "practice" yoga, maybe she could have someone teach her how to do it the right way? Great article!!

    elephantjournal.com Ali, Lili, Lisa, I know it's hard to click a link and read before you criticize what you didn't read…but try it. I think you'll see we're making fun of exactly what you're thinking we're promoting…ie, tld, we're on the same page. ~ Waylon.

    Heather Bernklau It's great that Kim Kardashian, or anyone, is getting into a Yoga practice, I just hope they're learning from teachers that teach them not only proper physical alignment (that tree pose is brutal) but also breath work, meditation and philosophy and how to apply it in their lives and open their minds and hearts. So. Yeah more yoga mo betta, but, please no mo' knee injuries.

    Also as long as there are Yoga-related products, celebrities (actual Yoga-practitioners or not) are going to be more involved in advertising as Yoga gains more popularity. The least that can be done (if advertisers want to be somewhat responsible) is have ads that show people in proper physical alignment if they're posing haha.

    Malia Thompson I think it's hilarious! Nice camel toe too.

    elephantjournal.com Belle, we're not here to please. We're here to be genuine. When readers "opinions" are based on the kind of speed that doesn't allow them to consider what they're judging—even a cursory look at the article link would have told them we are in 108% agreement on the commercialization and faddishness of spirituality—we say so.

    This isn't a consumer society. This is a community—and "positive" and "negative" but are two sides to the same coin that is respectful dialogue (and disagreement).

    elephantjournal.com Amen, Heather!

    elephantjournal.com Thanks, Jessica! And Malia.

    Lili Madrid Waylon, I don't see how my comment was negative or criticizing in anyway it was a question. Just felt like I had to make that clear. Thanks

    elephantjournal.com Lili, you're 108% right, and I was mistaken. My apologies to you!

    Crystal Eshanov Back to basics ppl- it's Yoga, drop the drama – OM~

    Andrew Valle McClure ‎;-)

  46. elephantjournal says:

    Shivin Varghese Ah the fad-thingy and commercialization in yoga. Man now there's no escaping to it. Its said that the great Yoga teachers – Krishnamacharya was accessible to all students alike. Two of his boys made it big in Yoga – Jois and Iyengar. But I must that the Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois centre here in India are too expensive for middle order folks here. Ppl like me find it real expensive. Also during my visit to Mysore, I got to hear some folks discussing which mat to buy, which towel to buy. I even came across a western fella who put it on face that "Indian yoga mats suck". Where ppl are supposed to study d philosophy of this science, some crazy folks discuss about Lululemon thongs and Manduka mats. Sad. . πŸ™‚

    Andraes Magus Wysebaard LaBob Ahimsa… all I can say.

    Carl-Erik Larsson Hva drive hu med?

    Tiffany Asch O'Reilly too funny…..the SPIRITUAL MATERIALIST? What the heck does that mean?

    Dawn Wesselby Why not Kim doing yoga? (apart from foot placement in pic), when Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls got into yoga (dreadful DVD with Geri basically showing off although credit to her patient yoga teacher) loads of young girls wanted to do it too, some of them would have ended up in classes where it wasn't just a 'gym' class and benefited from the full spectrum of yoga's offering, including philosophy. Who knows how many of them went on to be teachers. Whatever you think of Kim, if it gets young people into class then it can only be a good thing IMHO.

    Esmeralda Molly-Subhadra Barrera her Balance is totally OFF…she's about to KEEL OVER from wrong Stance…& her offbalanced SaddleBags are going to make her fall on her arse…hahaha also, it looks like she is just ACTING YOGA POSE***

    Raspal Khumra She sells the sex of yoga for the mundane i suppose. Foot on Knee, wrong. Hands not connected, wrong. Slanting on the angle, wrong. Hip curved to the left, wrong. We are all equal and thus can do what we want. I suppose for her its about making money and perhaps she will never really connect to the union of yoga to self and thats is where i think the sadness lays. anyhoo for better or worse, its not us doing it and i suppose we should just do it the way we know how and make it a personal practise to connect too. Peace om shanti, om prana. xxx

    Kate Ross Who cares about Kim? Actually the article lacks substance also. I understand what you're trying to say…drawing on predictable indicators of spiritual materialism- all the while being self-righteous and overly consumed with making sure we know you are the real deal. Hmmm what's the difference here? We are what we criticize. Maybe you can take a quiet moment and continue working on your self love before ripping on everyone else with their 10 essentials.
    And to all the hater comments that end in peace. Sounds like insecure little school girls trying to act the part but your jealousy and need for validation is coming in loud and clear. Looks like we all have a lot of work to do.

    Denise Griffin Blake Judge much?

    Michael Taney Does this mean everyone could have an ass like Kim's ?

    Marianna Gr I don't know what kind of yoga you guys practice, but in mine we don't sit there judging and talking smack on eachothers tree poses. Grace will lead you to contentment -practice some grace πŸ™‚

    Jessica Moore-Irvin Just about to read the article, but her foot right against her knee makes me cringe.

    Michele Anello Kim Kardashian is an example of everything yoga is not.

    Malia Thompson I see a lot of spiritual materialism right here. I hate this holier-than-thou attitude. Lighten up. It's just funny, that's is. If Kim didn't want to be teased she should have done the pose properly.

    Christina Warham She is beautiful

    Mike Gervasi that foot should not be on the inside of the knee

  47. areupracticing says:

    How ironic, given that you are posting your writing on Elephant Journal. Hmmm?

  48. guest says:

    Lawrence F*cking Kansas?!? OK, I see where you're coming from – the triumph of style over substance … but as a Buddhist you'd know that all form is insubstantial, it's an illusion, and that's what Lawrence is all about, illusion. It's a small town in Kansas with enough aging hippies, artsy people and hippie kids to give it a thin veneer of a "progressive" vibe, but in reality it's just as conservative as Topeka.

Leave a Reply