Spiritual Materialism and Measuring Up

May 20, 2020

Shambhavi and her students talk about how the compulsion to accomplish and measure up obstructs our spiritual life. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

We live in a culture where we measure ourselves constantly. Our whole self-worth is tied up in—do we measure up? So if we so desperately need to measure up, we have to have goals. Pretty much everyone I’ve ever met in the United States at some point in their development feels afraid that they don’t measure up. And they feel that accomplishments will satisfy that anxiety.

Then they encounter spiritual life, or they encounter a teacher, practices, or a tradition. If the tradition presents them with accomplishments, they will go for that. Especially accomplishments organized into a hierarchy—stage one, stage two, stage three. Or maybe this kind of samadhi, that kind of samadhi, and then the highest samadhi. Or level one, level two, level three. They’ll go for that. They’ll go for it because they think it’s going to resolve their anxiety about themselves.

There’s so little opportunity to receive teachings that are not based on some sense of accomplishment or mission. So everybody—or at least most people—are falling prey to this in their spiritual traditions, even if it’s subtle.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.