Secret of Adulthood: Sometimes, Material Desires Have a Spiritual Aspect.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:


Agree, disagree?

This reminds me of another Secret of Adulthood: Sometimes, you can minister to your spirit through your body.

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  • Bernice Piotrowski

    I agree. I think that natural elements brought indoors, like a waterfall or garden atrium in an office building, can uplift the spirit, or a special pen and journal, even if these are not essential to faith or spirituality.

  • Gail Trowbridge

    Hmmm. I just the spent the weekend with a friend who appears to have a shopping addiction, so I find it hard to think of materialism as having a spiritual aspect. Perhaps we are seeking something that fills a spiritual need when we shop or desire something that is non-essential, yet the trick is to recognize that this is what is happening when we feel like spending on luxury items. We crave a way to pay attention to our deepest needs, yet buying doesn’t reach that craving. Other times, I know that I spend as a little reward for myself, and that always feel good! It’s good to be good to ourselves, in moderation.

  • I don’t get it. Maybe I have a wrong view of materialism …..or spiirtuality

    • Still Wondering

      I hear you. Acquiring anything is merely an exchange of resources. I have never found that to contribute to what I consider to be spirituality.

  • Susan S

    Martha Beck recently posted the following which I believe makes complete sense of material desires filling our spiritual needs: ” Make sure that you realize that your yearning is for the emotional sensation that the experience would bring you rather than the form itself.” So, I wholeheartedly agree that, yes, sometimes we do desire for the right reasons.

  • k

    i think it’s the intention that matters. i’m a gardener and recently started helping my parents and their elderly neighbors with their gardens. i needed a little truck to haul things to and fro (material desire) to help me in my spiritual endeavor to work with nature and to help where i can. my truck is a tool in my spiritual toolbox.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I agree that it depends on the intent behind the thing purchased. When I needed to buy cookware, I didn’t buy the cheapest. I bought the All-Clad because my research showed it to be the best. I cook a lot, and I love to cook. I look upon it as a way of showing my love in a tangible form.

    I think that, within reason, even buying things like, say, several cashmere sweaters or expensive jeans can be a spiritual thing. One should love oneself as well as others, and show that love to oneself. We need a certain amount of clothing to stay warm in the winter and to cover ourselves, because we live in a culture that deems it necessary to hide one’s body. This of course is taken to extremes in shopoholics, who don’t buy out of love for themselves, but because of a lack of love for themselves. They do it to fill that void. They may get the initial “high”, but that soon goes away, so they buy more in an attempt to recreate it. I think the thing it, that it all depends on the reason behind the purchase. Is it something that is needed, or is it an attempt to fill a void. Spending a lot of money does not automatically make it non-spiritual. It is always good to buy the best one can in certain areas, as buying the cheapest is often what I call a false economy, as soon it will wear out and need to be replaced.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    For me this is quite literal. I love to buy fabric–nice material!!–for quilting. I buy more than I need, I buy it because it is beautiful, I buy it because it will make one more ‘crayon in the box’ for when I want to create something beautiful. To have a material desire for status, for mere ‘possession’, to compete, that seems to be un-spiritual. Even to acquire material things to invest for one’s own future, or for others, or to be able to give away–that, too, can be spiritual. To desire material things to hoard them–that can be a sign of spiritual or mental illness. We mediate out existence in the world as material beings in a material world. We choose what we make of things we acquire and use, and of ourselves as well. Beautiful beyond the reach of ordinary human understanding, ugly as dirt. We choose.

  • Summer

    Orson Scott Card wrote: “Our practical materialism is that we don’t measure our lives in feelings, in deep private insights. We do not value most the person who makes gnomic comments. We are impatient with transcendental God-talk.

    We value most the people who show up to help arrange chairs and tables for the ward supper, or go out of their way to give someone a ride, or take time to listen to someone who is lonely and needy.”

    I agree, I believe our deepest spiritual desires boil down to connecting with God or other people. (as an introvert and rebel that is hard to admit) If material desires help us connect, it helps fill that deepest of needs. All spiritual experiences have far more meaning in the context of outward acts of service, physical work, or record keeping (art, journals, etc) because it connects us to something outside of ourselves.

  • Hmmmm really makes you think.

    I’m inclined to agree. For example: for years I wanted to buy a house so that I could provide my family (mom, sister, and three kids) with a home. We had always lived in apartments when I was growing up and my mom was a single parent. She did the best possible job she could and while I never felt like I wanted more – her love and care was always enough – as an adult (divorced and with three kids of my own) I felt so fulfilled when I was able to buy a house for my family to live in together. To see and feel the happiness it brings them to have this home is very touching.

  • Gillian

    My instinctive reaction was to disagree with the statement so I thought about it for a while and still come to the same conclusion. I agree with Jana and Still Wondering – the answer is No. The other comments are interesting and I understand the points made but they don’t convince me. Spirituality, for me, goes much deeper. An example for me would be to buy a CD which would allow me the spiritual experience of listening to an intensely beautiful piece of music. I suppose one could say that, in the broadest terms, the CD has a spiritual aspect in that it is a tool that allows me to have the spiritual experience. But I still find that a stretch. The CD is a material object acquired, as Still Wondering says, via an exchange of resources. It has no intrinsic spiritual worth on its own.

    • Gillian

      P.S. I think perhaps the term spirituality is bandied about too loosely these days so that it has come to mean anything that is beautiful or that gives you a warm & fuzzy feeling. Those are wonderful reactions but fall, in my book, short of spirituality. Spirituality is about connecting with your soul and through that to the wider universe and the wonder of life. It isn’t about other people or relationships with them, no matter how loving they are. The kind of situations covered in the other comments strike me as emotional rather than spiritual. They are very important and gratifying but they are not really spirituality. At least, not by my definition which is of course subjective.