10 Must Have Buys for the Spiritual Materialist.

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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. café 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?


Image: wildbindi/Flickr

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Shares 7.2
Hearts 1.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
1 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

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

  1. Will Space says:

    a lot easier than saying something nice or constructive. I'm sure this article will make a lot of people feel uncomfortable and insecure.

    Btw girls if you have one of these things that's nice and sexy but if you have all ten(and even if it isn't a hybrid suv Lexus) you're way a head of the curve. Keep going upward and onward.

  2. Nan says:

    So funny! I seem to be lacking terribly, but I do have a laughing Buddha in the kitchen. He pokes fun at my mad housework procrastination skillz.

    I empathize with some of the commenters who said they needed their trappings. I loved that OM symbol so much as a teenager. I wore the beads. It helped to remind me to say 'no thanks' to meat. I guess there is a time and place for stuff. We are spiritual creatures in a material world, after all.

  3. Pookiebooboo says:

    I just discovered the benefits of spiritual materialism and it has made my life much more fulfilling. Now I can focus on what is really important, i.e wine, philosophical conversations, women, and my practice, etc. rather than beating myself up about what path I'm on. Thanks elephant!

  4. […] all been there at one point or another…we elephant journal readers. I’m sure of it. Whether we bike to work, drive a Prius, compost food or whatever the […]

  5. Suryakiran says:

    If we are going to mock yoga materialism,why arent we mentioning the fact that there is a western body that says what yoga programs are good by making them pay dues to belong to their organiztion. There are many good yoga schools in India, for example, that dont belong to Yoga Alliance. It is natural to want to create objects, structures and create standards for things. Yoga has certainly come out of the jungles when it came to the US, which is exactly what its proponents from India wanted. I think it does more good than harm to have these structures in place, but yes they are materialistic. The challenge is living a yogic lifestyle amongst all these distractions we have in the modern world: to be with them, but not of them. My teachers say our modern integrated lifestyle is harder than living a sage's life in the jungle.

  6. […] me, this book is the quintessential punk rock thesis on spirituality. It cuts through all of the bullshit of spiritual materialism by very clearly laying out the most common pitfalls spiritual aspirants, both new and old, fall […]

  7. GiseleM says:

    I’m slacking!!!! Must schedule trip to India today.

  8. […] if we provide seven billion people on this planet with the same level of life and comfort, material comfort, as an average American citizen has, we need four and a half planets. But we have only one. So if […]

  9. meribeth says:

    bahahahahaha! ♥

  10. mc says:

    the light inside of me bows to the light inside of you = NAMASTE not OM

  11. mrchokeys says:

    The Buddha statue that was duct taped to the console of my 1996 Econoline now sits on a smoke-stained embroidered cushion, atop a little bench, under which my wife's shoes sit, and if I remember I sit in meditation for the time it takes the tea-water to boil. I have one of Pema Chodron's books, "The Places That Scare You," but I wear a cross, within a heart, woven from blue and read threads pulled from jailhouse blankets. I've had this amulet since 2004, when a group of Mexican fellow-prisoners gave it to me, and invited me to pray with them. I joined them, went to my hearing the next day, and was released on an ankle bracelet. I was forbidden by the hearing officer from resuming my studies at Naropa. He cited "narcissism and drug use" in the student body. So came it came to pass that I dropped out for the second time from "Buddhist U," and did as I was told, until finally my period of parole ended. I clean toilets and showers sometimes, and move other people's belongings for them. I'm clueless and lost. Far removed from the Dharma and Sangha I can only try to set realistic goals, like finding my shoes in the morning.

  12. confused says:

    if you need new shoes, why not Tom's? (yes i own a pair of half-beaten Tom's). I keep hearing all this stuff white people shouldn't do, too. Like meditation and yoga. Re-appropriating someone else's culture. Is it better to deprive our own souls from what can be gained from these practices? i'm actually asking the questions. Everything is confusing as s***t. I'm suffering and I have no roots. And the obvious response is that someone like me has no right to complain. Anything I try to do or think I believe seems to be wrong. We're supposed to practice love but if I try to help any one with less advantages than myself then its pretentious or not my place to care, what do I know of their struggles. Its like i'd be more accepted if I followed mainstream f*****d up culture. Please help

  13. samanth says:

    elephant journal is full of a bunch of judgement spiritual phonies…keep passing judgement if that makes you feel better about yourselves…

  14. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I want to add to the email signatures: Peace, Blessings, Namaste, In Gratitude — all when sending a hostile or angry email.

  15. Dave says:

    Enthusiasm for Ken Wilber. Narcissistic investment in "second tier" identity.

  16. Kimme says:

    Can I order my feather and bumper sticker through EJ? Fanks

  17. Heather says:

    Judge-y much? Sheesh. Somebody’s got a lot of free time on their hands to point out how others are doing “the path to enlightenment” wrong. Live and let live!

  18. I am not The God, I'm just a God.

  19. @haskins2 says:

    I couldn't live in an un-cooler place: Washington, D.C.
    But I do subscribe to Elephant Journal.

  20. Alina says:

    I have a pvc mat 🙁 where I live (Trinidad & Tobago) that's all they sell here…

  21. I have to say I relate to a couple of those! Except I have no tattoos and I've never been to burning man, nor do I have any desire to go. I do wear mala bracelets, have 4 pair of Toms and wear yoga clothes daily. But what I wanted to note was, I just saw Enough Said with Julia Louis Dreyfus. Her character fits this description. Her clothes are prana, she wears tons of mala bracelets and necklaces, she looks the part of the buddhist hippie, but she doesn't really act it, which is funny. The wanna be.

  22. Gavski says:

    You forgot to mention Ubud on the holiday destination list. And "Eat Pray Love" while we're at it…..

  23. Ranch Mubay says:

    At least it shows that their moral compass is pointed in a positive direction, unlike so many unfortunate tattoos, bumper stickers and T-shirts that clearly demonstrate the opposite.

  24. Rachael says:

    Holy hypocrisy? While I do find this article incredibly amusing, I find the content to be predictably judgmental and rather irrelevant to, well, much of anything. This could be a great topic for social commentary on our need for the external to validate, thus the baubles and bumper stickers to proclaim to the world the extent of our free thinking, liberal, green and righteous living. Some of us need validation in the form, some of us don't. Really, it's your gig. Live the way you want and try not to be a jerk.

  25. Char says:

    Some people need to stop taking things so seriously and learn to have a sense of humor.

  26. Lesli says:

    Fun to laugh at those who are at least trying to make their lives….and maybe even the lives of others better.

  27. Lady A Bugs s says:

    This is pretty funny, I will give you that. I'm glad several people have called out the error with Om/Namaste. I am a diehard yogi, practicing every day both on and do off my mat. The only I will say here, and I realize it is ridiculously expensive, is that Lululemon is probably one of the best (if not the best) attire for hot yoga. It's also really damn comfortable to wear for everyday attire…this being directly related to the fact that I would live at my yoga studio if I could…and I always I like to feel like I can do a down dog or crow and not have to change out of my skinny jeans and vegan leather jacket first. To be honest, as I have developed quite the commitment to this in the past few years, I did work for the company for a (very) brief period of time. I understand the price points are a touch elevated and, unfortunately yes, there is that whole "I want to be cool like my other girlfriends so I am going to get those black leggings with the upside down omega logo…and wear them every single day of the 9th grade" movement. That being said, as someone who has practiced yoga for many years, in many studios/styles/temperatures…and brand names/clothing types/logo applications…I know what I like. I know what is comfortable for me. And lastly, I know what works. I also love incense, Nag Champa is my favorite, mostly because I often will allow my senses to make decisions for me. Smells, fabrics, foods, artwork, sounds, music and anything that brings me comfort. Those things all contribute to the enhancement of the quality in my life. My yoga life.

    Now, to be fair…I love the elepant journal as well. That must fall under some fad, trend or cliché in certain minds…right?

    Thank you for your always entertaining and often pretty accurate stories. With Gratitude, a.s. 😉

  28. Melina says:

    First off, please choose a natural rubber yoga mat (not PVC) so that you are not absorbing xenoestrogens and other chemicals found in plastic every time your bare skin touches the mat (this is not to be more of a snob or a "neohippie"- I just like to watch out for people's health and the environment). Secondly, I do not like that an awareness and utilization of natural medicine is included in a spiritual materialism article (i.e using essential oils instead of cologne, or using dr. bronner's soap) because it feels like a completely unrelated topic that should not be mocked. Awareness about replacing toxic body care products with those that don't harm humans, the environment or other beings should be encouraged and embraced in my opinion . It is already so challenging to get the mainstream culture to adopt such ideas and this part of this article isn't entirely helping with this.

  29. Melina says:

    Second part of my comment: The rest of the article has amusing parts, but I felt called to comment on these aspects because as someone who tries to encourage people to adopt lifestyles that are not destroying our natural ecosystems I feel the need to stand up for quality natural medicine (that being said there is a lot of false natural medicine/ natural living advice to sift through of course, but essential oils and dr. bronner's are the real deal and deserve honoring). Not to mention, spreading awareness of this helps those of us who hate the smell of synthetic, toxic , chemical-laden, animal-tested cologne or perfume!

  30. raquel says:

    wow this article was fuckin Hilarius!! LOVE IT!!! And for the peeps with the dharma so far stuck up there asses they can't seem to take a joke hows bout cultivatin' a sense of humor!! I mean c'mon!!!!!!!!!! NAMASTE!

  31. Sandra says:

    Sarcasm and humor are two different things. Sarcasm unfortunately tends to be jugmental and almost bully-like. Why waste energy practicing it?

  32. andrea hutchens says:

    Isnt being at peace with yourself reflective of a non judgemental attitude towards others? If it moves you, do it, wear it, live it, whatever you want, its your own sense of peace that matters not how others think you need to show it.

  33. Jennifer says:

    Hey now, what about people that score on only 2 of 10? Haha funny read. So… where do I buy the spirituality? Over here?

  34. Jayne says:

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much

    about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some

    pics to drive the message home a little bit,

    but instead of that, this is great blog. An excellent read.

    I’ll certainly be back.

  35. Daijeri says:

    Regularly used mama, check.
    Coexist bumper sticker on very outdated SUV I haul 3 kids around in, check.
    Toms with holes in the top from my weird upward curviing toenails, check.
    PVC yoga mat that's been colored on with markers and clawed by cats, check.
    Bonuses: sage on my altar and essential oil deodarant I made myself.

    Bam! Where do I pick up my prize? 🙂

  36. ohtheirony says:

    How about this one?

    11. Judges people by writing snarky blog about "yoga posers."

    Get over yourself, Elephant Journal.

  37. ihaiva says:

    product placement – v subversive

  38. Caroline says:

    I get the idea of articles such as this, which pokes fun at acquiring all the entrapments of a healthy or well-meaning trend (male beads, Tom’s shoes) all the while missing the whole point of incorporating the innate truth of the idea/practice/activity into our lives. Even so, I think attempting to manifest the idea or appearance of something a person might want to incorporate into his or her life (such as yoga, probiotics, meditation) is not an entirely worthless effort. At least the idea being glorified here is health, consciousness, or social awareness, as opposed to the myriad of other pursuits that money could be wasted on that don’t even pretend to help the planet.

  39. juan says:

    Sorry, i love elephant journal, but i think this is completely wrong and against the website philosophy. Let people do whatever they want…as long as they are ok with it. Who cares.
    I have an OM tattoo, it´s a reminder of my journey through India, the same as i have rock bands tatoos and other stuff.
    I didn´t like this one…

    • elephantjournal says:

      Hi Juan,

      We cover all aspects of the mindful life and humour and making fun of ourselves is one of them 😉

      With ele love,

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