10 Must Have Buys for the Spiritual Materialist.

Via elephant journal
on Jul 11, 2010
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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?


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

  1. Stephanie says:

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

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Thea T: This is hilarious!

  3. bea says:

    Where can I get a buddha for my bike??

  4. […] 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 […]

  5. […] 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 […]

  6. Like! And just noticed the absence of the thumbs down…. like even more. It was starting to feel like the 5th grade cafeteria in here.

  7. […] 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 […]

  8. 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.

  9. guest says:

    unless you read all the "holy" books as part of your education in comparative religion or anthropology.

  10. yogadivine says:

    he also left out Santa Cruz, CA

  11. Ashley says:

    Christianity and yoga are not mutually exclusive.

  12. ashley says:

    PVC yoga mat is something I still have since my first yoga class…

  13. 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.)

  14. thehatinthecat says:

    Which Madison?

  15. […] 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 […]

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

  17. 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 😀

    This list made me smile, thanks man.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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 🙂
    · 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 ‎;-)

  21. 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. . 🙂

    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 🙂

    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

  22. areupracticing says:

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

  23. Ayana says:

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. 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!

  30. […] 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 […]

  31. 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. 🙂

  32. 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.

  33. […] 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 […]

  34. 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.

  35. GiseleM says:

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

  36. […] 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 […]

  37. meribeth says:

    bahahahahaha! ♥

  38. Katy says:

    What about Austin? That's in the listing and a great TX city 🙂

  39. mc says:

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

  40. 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.

  41. 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

  42. samanth says:

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

  43. samanth says:

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

  44. samanth says:

    couldn't have said it better

  45. samanth says:

    are you kidding Waylon?!

  46. Michelle Marchildon says:

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

  47. Dave says:

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

  48. Kimme says:

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

  49. Amanda says:

    On come on… OnlyWest Lawrence is as conservative as Topeka… Though, that's where the money is…

  50. 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!