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Materialistic Attachments And Spiritual Freedom

"Today there is a great ideological struggle going on in the world. One side upholds what it calls the materialistic dialectic. Denying the existence of spiritual values, it maintains that man responds only to materialistic influences and consequently he is nothing. He is an educated animal and is useful only as he serves the ambitions -- desires -- of a ruling clique; though they try to make this finer-sounding than that, because they say their dictatorship is that of the proletariat, meaning that they rule in the people's name -- for the people. Now, on our side, we recognize right away that man is not merely an animal, that his life and his ambitions have at the bottom a foundation of spiritual values."Remarks at 11th Annual Washington Conference of the Advertising Council, 3/22/55

Materialistic Attachments and Spiritual Freedom

"The churches of America are citadels of our faith in individual freedom and human dignity. This faith is the living source of all our spiritual strength. And this strength is our matchless armor in our world-wide struggle against the forces of godless tyranny and oppression."Message to the National Co-Chairmen, Commission of Religious Organizations, National Conference on Christians and Jews, 7/9/53

"From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning.Especially is this meaningful as we regard today's world. Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. Man everywhere is appalled by the prospect of atomic war. In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war."Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill to Include the Words "Under God" in the Pledge to the Flag, 6/14/54

Larry's desire for celibacy, which he believes promotes spiritual freedom, is one of the main points of contrast between him and two of the female characters in the novel: Isabel and Sophie. Isabel admits to Maugham that she is a very sensual woman, and for her, sex serves the needs of her possessive personality. If Larry is a man who can let go of his attachments, Isabel is a woman who must cling on to hers. She tells Maugham that it is through sex that a woman keeps a man, and she adds, "it's not the first time she goes to bed with him that counts, it's the second. If she holds him then she holds him for good." Some might call this love; others might call it sexual enslavement. But Isabel is the one who is enslaved. This is conveyed in remarkably harsh language when Maugham the narrator tells of his car journey back to Paris in which Isabel is in the back seat and Larry in the front, while Gray drives. Larry's arm is stretched out across the seat, and Maugham catches sight of how Isabel's eyes are fixed on his "sinewy wrist with its little golden hairs and on that long, delicate but powerful hand." He is shocked by the expression on her face:

205. It is from the inner wellspring of love that the values of truth, freedom and justice are born and grow. Human life in society is ordered, bears fruits of goodness and responds to human dignity when it is founded on truth; when it is lived in justice, that is, in the effective respect of rights and in the faithful carrying out of corresponding duties; when it is animated by selflessness, which makes the needs and requirements of others seem as one's own and intensifies the communion of spiritual values and the concern for material necessities; when it is brought about in the freedom that befits the dignity of men and women, prompted by their rational nature to accept responsibility for their actions[451]. These values constitute the pillars which give strength and consistency to the edifice of life and deeds: they are values that determine the quality of every social action and institution.

433. The centrality of the human person and the natural inclination of persons and peoples to establish relationships among themselves are the fundamental elements for building a true international community, the ordering of which must aim at guaranteeing the effective universal common good.[880] Despite the widespread aspiration to build an authentic international community, the unity of the human family is not yet becoming a reality. This is due to obstacles originating in materialistic and nationalistic ideologies that contradict the values of the person integrally considered in all his various dimensions, material and spiritual, individual and community. In particular, any theory or form whatsoever of racism and racial discrimination is morally unacceptable.[881]

435. The Magisterium recognizes the importance of national sovereignty, understood above all as an expression of the freedom that must govern relations between States.[889] Sovereignty represents the subjectivity [890] of a nation, in the political, economic, social and even cultural sense. The cultural dimension takes on particular importance as a source of strength in resisting acts of aggression or forms of domination that have repercussions on a country's freedom. Culture constitutes the guarantee for the preservation of the identity of a people and expresses and promotes its spiritual sovereignty.[891]

Not all humans are spiritual (pneumatics) and thus ready for Gnosis and liberation. Some are earthbound and materialistic beings (hyletics), who recognize only the physical reality. Others live largely in their psyche (psychics). Such people usually mistake the Demiurge for the True God and have little or no awareness of the spiritual world beyond matter and mind.

In the course of history, humans progress from materialistic sensate slavery, by way of ethical religiosity, to spiritual freedom and liberating Gnosis. As the scholar G. Quispel wrote: “The world-spirit in exile must go through the Inferno of matter and the Purgatory of morals to arrive at the spiritual Paradise.” This kind of evolution of consciousness was envisioned by the Gnostics, long before the concept of evolution was known.

Evolutionary forces alone are insufficient, however, to bring about spiritual freedom. Humans are caught in a predicament consisting of physical existence combined with ignorance of their true origins, their essential nature and their ultimate destiny. To be liberated from this predicament, human beings require help, although they must also contribute their own efforts.

It is commonly accepted that VS goes against materialism (Craig-Lees and Hill 2002; Etzioni 1998; Nepomuceno and Laroche 2015, 2017). One of the reasons is that one has to reject the having mode of existence in order to better serve the being mode (Cherrier and Murray 2007; Fromm 2013). Therefore, it becomes essential to reduce material consumption and remove superfluous or useless things (Ballantine and Creery 2010; Cherrier 2009; Cherrier and Murray 2007; Gopaldas 2008; Jackson 2005; Leonard-Barton 1981; Zavestoski 2002). In the same vein, VS is almost automatically considered as or partly explained by anti-consumption movements or/and counterculture (Alexander 2011; Maniates 2002; Witkowski 2010). Such an understanding comes from a long-lasting anti-materialistic ideology inherited from the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, which promoted the idea of freedom from the directive capitalist system and its materialistic values (Etzioni 1998; Zavestoski 2002). As a result, simplifiers are often seen in marketing as a segment of anti-consumers who resist the free-market ideology of accumulation and, more generally, materialism (Bekin et al. 2005; Iyer and Muncy 2009). Recently, VS has been described as a market mythology consisting of discourses well adapted to mass consumption (Gopaldas 2008) and as a practice of living in the consumerist market system (Shaw and Moraes 2009; Shaw and Newholm 2002). Moreover, the decision to resist consumption is sometimes made by materialists themselves (Nepomuceno and Laroche 2015). These recent findings support our observation that VS, at least in Poland, might not be as ideologically positioned against consumption or materialism as we generally expect but, rather, the expression of an appreciative form of materialism that conforms to the current economic system.

As described above, it is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme. Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence. Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life. Some people are too materially attached and therefore do not give attention to spiritual life, some of them want to merge into the supreme spiritual cause, and some of them disbelieve in everything, being angry at all sorts of spiritual speculation out of hopelessness. This last class of men take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their affective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual vision. One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world: negligence of spiritual life, fear of a spiritual personal identity, and the conception of void that underlies the frustration of life. To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhāva, or transcendental love of Godhead. 041b061a72


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