Exactly what is meant by materialismand who are the materialists? Most people equate materialism with consumerism, which is a factor for sure. But some consider any lack of recognizing the spiritual underpinnings of life and the interconnectedness of earthly and spiritual life forces as materialistic.
This is the category where most of our science and modern medicine exist. But it is is also where most of us are stuck in this illusory realm called reality.
A very memorable line from a favorite movie of mine,Little Big Man, is part of a conversation between the young white man living with Indians and the elder who had adopted him, who explains: “But the white man, they believe everything is dead. Stone, earth, animals. And people! Even their own people! If things keep trying to live, white man will rub them out.”
In other words, from the aboriginal perspective, all of nature, animate and inanimate, manifests from a subtle energy that is essential to all of life. Some call it God, some call it universal intelligence, divine wisdom or the creative forces of nature. The white man (modern cultures) doesn’t see it that way.
All things and most people must be replaced by man-made material invention or be greedily usurped and exploited while reducing the population. Modern pharmaceutical medicine is a perfect example of this shallow, short-sighted perspective that eliminates our connection to nature and the mystery of life.
It’s easier to look into consumerism only for materialism’s effects on human nature, as a recent study at Baylor University has done. It was titled “Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction.”
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, published by Elsevier, the same publisher that unethically retracted the notorious Seralini GMO and Roundup rat study.
What the Baylor bunch came up with
They concluded that materialism tends to be “me-centered” or narcissistic. A material outlook focuses on what one does not have, impairing the ability to be grateful for what one already has, researchers said. It could be added that focusing on what one doesn’t have can cause a ruthless desire to get it no matter what the consequences to others are.
It leads to the competitive mood typified by bumper stickers of the mid-1980s that sarcastically proclaimed, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Add that to another line from the Gordon Gecko character in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street movie,”Greed is good.”
A wise spiritual leader, Swami Muktananda, once said greed is the most harmful of the seven deadly sins because it can affect so many.
“Gratitude is a positive mood. It’s about other people,” said study lead author Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“Previous research that we and others have done finds that people are motivated to help people that help them — and to help others as well. We’re social creatures, and so focusing on others in a positive way is good for our health,” added Tsang.
The study analyzed answers to 15-minute surveys among 246 members, average age 21, of the department of marketing in a mid-sized private university in the southwestern United States. The questions were based on a 15-item scale of materialism.
Consumerist materialism leaves many unfulfilled while they convince themselves that getting the next bigger house and better car and clothes will make them content. This pervasive social milieu, once entered by those youngsters from that small private college, may lure them into a lower bracket on the 15-item scale of materialism than previously.
But the precursor to rampant consumerism is the materialism that refuses to look into or even acknowledge spirituality as the basis of all life, including us.
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