“What is real?”
“That is real which never changes.”
~ Ancient spiritual avatar from the book Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer.
During a recent conversation with my mother, she asked me what I considered to be materialistic. I felt a slight surge of delight ripple through me as I gazed towards the rolling green ranges that spread out from my home on the other side of the valley. They are the same peaks I regularly consult. Yes, I talk to the mountains as well as the stars and the ocean, because it is among those natural elements that I feel most anchored to the mystery of life.
The mystery of life has nothing to do with anything I own, or how much money I have in my bank account. I took a breath and smiled. I was ready to engage; this was my kind of talk.
The word instantly conjures images of money-oriented people who are excessively concerned about gathering material possessions – and yes, it’s exactly what the word implies. According to Madonna we do live in a material world, right?
Look around. Just about everything you see is tangible. If you can touch it, squeeze it and mould it, it must be real. The more money you can accumulate, the more of the real you can gather. The more of the real you can collect and own, the more you become real. Well, you must be real if you own things, and I’m more real because mine is bigger than yours.
Bigger. Better. Bullshit.
I’ve never measured my success or my self-worth on material possessions, even when I was younger and surrounded by people that liked nothing more than to compare their earthly possessions or talk non-stop about money. I’ve never understood. Honestly, I could not care less if your shoes are worth $500 or what kind of car you drive, or how big your house is.
Granted, it’s nice to have cool things to play with – I get that, I do. I feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the stuff you want. After all, that’s why we come here – to sift through our experiences; desire, want and create what we want, and learn as we walk the path. Of course, I want things for myself and my family. But for me, it’s the intention behind the desire that differs from the materialistic sense.
I’ll be honest, I do want success. I want financial freedom, I want to travel and explore parts of the world that beckon me, and I want to live in a home on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. I would love to own a secluded cabin nestled deep in the woods too. Is that being materialistic?
Maybe. To some. Especially for those who might be getting a little uncomfortable reading this article and are beginning to think I’m being hypocritical.
My desires are fuelled by something other than physical comfort and wanting the biggest and the best. I want what I want because we do live in a world where money is necessary in order to survive, and fundamental to be able to expand our experiences.
More than anything, I want to expand, experience and savour what the world has to offer. I want to visit sacred caves in Colorado. I want to travel to places off the beaten track, be among Tibetan monks, make love at Niagara Falls, and experience diverse cultures because that is the kind of stuff that will enrich my soul. I choose the home by the sea and a cabin in the woods because that’s where I feel most connected with earth’s energy. That’s where I can breathe and just be when I need time away from the world.
I say this, yet at the same time it’s so important to get away from the importance of money, and to view it as only a means of exchange. But how do you achieve that? – By working to shed the cultural bonds that have been conditioned in us since birth; by dying to the ideals and values that measure us on a materialistic basis and reinventing our perspectives, and perhaps surrendering to a new outlook that money and material possessions are not real.
The answer I gave my mother was simple – I consider anything that cannot be taken with you upon your physical death to be materialistic. Anything.
This is where it gets interesting for me because I’m not only talking about material possessions. I’m talking about anything that isn’t really you – Ego. Reputation. Beliefs. Personality. Values. Hatred. Fame. Accolades. Emotions. Body.
I’m not saying these attributes are unimportant, or as important as you want them to be, but each of those qualities change. All these unseen influences make up who we are and how we view the world during our lifetimes, but you won’t be taking your reputation along with you when you cark it. Nobody on the other side is going to care how many awards you won.
At the end of your life, all you get to take is your soul and the growth fostered during the experience of your lifetime. And I’ll tell you this for free; it’s only about love – how much you learned from it, and how much you were able to give and receive.
If that is real that never changes, then real can only be your spirit or soul.
What is real is love.