Healing the Spirit / Matter Split

mountain-topWhenever a group of people get together and become more honest with each other, one of the first thing to happen is that they realize how much we all want the same thing.  It happens in marriage guidance counseling, we come to the recognition that we both want love, we both want to be seen and acknowledged.  It happens in any kind of business intervention: we come together as a team and realize we all want and need the business to succeed, we want the workplace to be inspiring and relaxed.  Ultimately it happens politically, when the leaders of nations recognize that they are more likely to get their own needs met when they can also recognize the need of the other.

The greatest area of split and misunderstanding, which I discover among my friends and other writers and teachers is the split between the longing of the spirit and material desire.  To paint the picture in broad strokes, I am aware of two categories of people I know.  On one hand, I’ve spend a lot of my life in “spiritual circles.”  I lived with Poonjaji in India, I’ve lived in community in other parts of my life.  When we make our home in this camp life is about liberation.  We mediate.  We do Yoga.  We chant.  We disassemble the structures in the mind because we have fallen in love with a deep sense of spaciousness and peace.  When you live exclusively in this camp the desire for money becomes a hinderance to be avoided, not a goal to be pursued.  Relationships are okay-ish, as long as they don’t get too co-dependent.  Frequently, our relationship with our parents is something to be “completed” and “resolved” rather than celebrated.  When you live in this camp, wanting to make it in the world is the greatest symptom of ego-entrapment.

But there is also another camp, where I equally enjoy setting up my tent from time to time.  This camp is much better decorated, has better food, and everyone has an i-phone.  In this camp the emphasis is on worldly success of every kind.  Making money is a good thing.  So is having great relationships, great sex, better health and, in fact, having better anything is good.  When you hang out a while in this camp and look back to the other side, the spiritual people look like a bunch of losers. Meditating on their navels and letting go of attachments, you can see from here that they can’t pay the rent, their relationships are often messy, and they often have health problems to boot.


This kind of split has dominated humanity for thousands of years.  In many cultures you are faced with a choice.  If you want to know God or oneness with your true self, you become a monk or a recluse or a priest of some sort and leave the worldly things behind.  The alternative is to embrace the world full on.  Get married, buy a house, have kids and the whole nine yards, but forget about liberation until another life.  You may remember that the outcome of Buddha’s life was very uncertain, when he was born.  The astrologers said he would go one way or another, and his father did everything he could to make sure he went the worldly route.  To no avail, of course.  The shift in consciousness that we are seeing these days looks very different from either of these camps.  In one way it seems like more and more people are waking up, and the spiritual camp is increasing its numbers.  The other camp waves copies of The Secret proudly in the air announcing, “Look, now all of humanity is going to learn how to manifest the best of everything.”

But come now, take a little hike with me, up onto the hill overlooking these two camps and let me show you what I see.

Both camps have grown so big in recent times, like villages that overflow their boundaries and merge into one another.  We are coming to discover an interesting thing.  The split was never necessary.  In fact, when you look from this perspective, exactly the opposite of the split is the truth.  Lately, in preparing my new multi-media series “Living Awakening,” I interviewed some of the most wealthy and successful people I could find.  Jack Canfield has sold 120 million copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold 50 million copies.  Again and again I have discovered that people who are truly successful in a multi-dimensional way have a deep and abiding access to expansive states of consciousness.  Awakening is not the opposite of material success,  it is the essential foundation.  At the same time, I looked around to find who is rested most deeply and stably and relaxedly in expansiveness.  To my surprise I found that the “spiritual seekers” actually tend to go on seeking: the more you run after the golden egg of enlightenment the more elusive it becomes.  There are plenty of people around these days who are resting very comfortable in an unbroken sense of expansion and freedom, but generally speaking they have discovered that by being the very best they can be at whatever they love, whether it is music, film making, business, or farming, spaciousness and freedom of consciousness is the inevitable by-product.stewart-emeryStewart Emery was the original CEO of EST and started that organization with Werner Erhart back in the 70’s.  For most of his life in the intervening thirty something years, he has focused on the question of what are the components of “greatness.”  He has interviewed everyone he could find on every corner of the planet to discover the natural attributes of human excellence.  He’s got a lot to say about what makes people great, and you can read more about it in his book, Success Built To Last.  I think the best is yet to come in his next work, Whatever You Do, Be A Good One.  When I interviewed him for “Living Awakening,” he had an interesting perspective to share with me: that doing something well, becoming a master at what you love, is not just a way to create beauty, art, and wealth in the world, it is also a spiritual discipline akin to meditation.

“If I look at what’s always mattered to me, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t deeply moved, sometimes to tears, being in the presence of human excellence in any field. I get moved, obviously, at art museums and great symphonic performances, great jazz performances. I’ve had the privilege to interview and photograph people like Oscar Peterson, who has passed now, and Ella Fitzgerald, and Dizzy Gillespie – they’re all gone.  But I’ve talked to these people, interviewed these people, and being involved in their kind of brand of seeking and I’ve always been moved by that.
“I remember being in China recently where I was doing a course on business leadership for Beijing University, and  I went down to a Starbuck’s, who I don’t even think make great coffee here in the United States, and I’m into coffee.  There was a young man, a punk rocker, with lots of product in his hair, and tattoos and body piercing. And that particular Starbuck’s had a wonderful Italian La Marzocco
espresso machine, really the world’s best machine. He poured me a latte that was just a God shot. I said,“Where did you learn do that latte, lad?” He said, “I learned to do that on from YouTube, from YouTube.” He had watched the World Barista Championships and had taught himself to do this at a Starbucks in Guangzhou in China. I was a little bit teary about it. He just moved me. He was so into it.  Wherever I go, and the people I talk to, when they’ve found their passion, they’ve learned how to get good at it, it’s life changing. It certainly has been for me. I recommend it for you.”

Please join me for two Tele-seminars this week.  Tuesday at 6pm PST I will be giving a tele-seminar titled “Getting Clear about Work and Money.”

I also have an upcoming tele-seminar with Siona van Djik, the Director of Gaiam Community, this Thursday October 15th at 6pm .  We will be talking about how we create sustainable  relationships, in marriage, at work and in community.    Uur dialog is titled “Love That Lasts.” 

I hope you will join me for one or both of these events!

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7 Responses to “Healing the Spirit / Matter Split”

  1. Anne October 12, 2009 at 11:04 pm // Reply

    As always, when reading your blog, I feel this wonderful spiritual acknowledgment and uplifting. I just love the way height and depth so beautifully come together in your consciousnes.

    Since the teleseminar is taking place in the middle of the night here in Sweden I hope there will be some kind of replay available. Will it?


  2. paul October 14, 2009 at 2:02 am // Reply

    Could you please send me more data about Mr.Emery’s book so I can order it in a dutch bookstore and maybe it’s translated in Dutch I hope.
    Many thanks Paul.


  3. rachel October 14, 2009 at 2:54 am // Reply

    hi there, i kind of agree, my main concern is not that making money is not ok, it is fundamentally ok – it is the exploitation of others – their fears, needs and desires in an unconscious way that is the problem

    so this whole, greatest marketer in the world kick becomes disengenious, and wrong

    there are so many of us with so many needs, and as you rightly point out, the need to be heard, loved, & safe rate high

    and then so many people in the spiritual world who claim they can help them, and use great marketing to manipulate the agenda, and to me something is wrong here,


  4. pia silverstrand October 14, 2009 at 5:52 am // Reply

    MMmYes! dear One! very suprising for me, i did have a dream of you tonight, and i enjoy very much the energi in your thoughts …and i just wanted to add.yes ,of course…in the middle of all duality- its oneness-when we are used by God in the very best way-in what matter that brings our passion out to grow- anf the visdom to be shared- all aspekts will also grow… eh??
    some people loves luxary..for some simlicity on the material “camp” is the beauty!
    ita all perfect? 🙂
    easy joy and glory


  5. pia silverstrand October 15, 2009 at 1:46 am // Reply

    🙂 this is wonderful!thanks for your coriosity and inspration! somewhat, i stayed with that picture of making the two “camps” a duality. isnt it just that ,that is the adiction we often ends up in?to sepearate things from one another?
    its the need of alagin/agree, towards/from, resist /react of our experiences.
    i mean, the two “camps”- two places pf different spaces-diffetrent enegirsjust as well as all the differnt spaces we experiences every day- its just spaces that make our experiences differnt- and gives just another chanse to just let it be, just what is is-in ourselves-in that very moment!
    Anyhow im very gtreatful for that curios energy of your ,that mademy experince and clarity so bright in “this matter”
    Thank you!
    in the middle of all duality-peace and love!


  6. Morgine October 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm // Reply


    I appreciate your point of view, because I Celebrate Diversity and there are so many points of view. I will share a few of my thoughts as well….

    When I look out at the world and sense its spacious rhythm, I no longer see black and white, no separation, nor two camps of people with differing view points. Each leaf on a tree, each blade of grass, each snowflake is a one of a kind original, as is each person. No two people see or experience the world in the same way. So there is really no two camps of people experiencing life in two distinct and different ways. That too, I feel, is an old habitual way of thinking programmed deeply into our minds, to divide and separate and always have someone or something opposed to our ways of thinking.

    There are merely millions of ways up the same mountain! There are many Different ways of experiencing life, of lack and abundance and what that might mean to each person. How we define “success and failure” gives rise to the different ways we view life. Men in general are more single focused because of their ancient instinctual natures as hunters. Women on the other hand, being the gatherers, had to have a diffused focus, seeing everything at once so they could notice and find that one plant they were looking for amidst the many. All these many different ways of experiencing the world, have an affect on us and everyone and everything around us.

    Life changes every single nano second of our lives, in our bodies, the planets, stars, oceans, and atmosphere. We have absolutely no power to stop change from happening. Life continues on regardless. Trees grow, flowers bloom, cells in our bodies die and are replaced. Yet, many humans, especially in industrialized countries, fear change. They have been indoctrinated by their religions and cultures, society, and financial institutions to fear the unknown, so they can be “controlled” in some way or another. We grow up fearing tomorrow and attempt to buy insurance of some kind …. be it a religion, a health policy, a pill, a promise to maintain some sense of “normality”, maintaining “the familiar” of what we have been accustomed to. When one thing falls apart and does not work, we try something else, clinging on for dear life until that too proves to not meet our expectations. We are surrounded by institutions and companies, teachers, organizations promising us “the answer” to our challenges! Afraid to surrender into the unknown, we give our money and our souls in desperation to uncover something, anything which will take away the “stress” and bring us into “real and true, deep, ever lasting peace”. We might leave our church for example because it no longer fits our newer ways of thinking, however, we seek out yet another church with a better fit, because we cannot contemplate just creating something unknown, different, and new ourselves. We still need to “fit into society” because we were taught to “conform” and not to stand out and be different. That gets you in trouble!

    All this and more happens because we are so hypnotized by thought patterns created years, decades and lifetimes ago. We live inside these “thought prisons”, not knowing we always had the power to step outside the door anytime we chose to do so. Every one of us has that “calling” deep inside. Yet our conditioning, our sabotaging patterns, keep us stuck from doing what we know we so desire to do. Because we are lost inside these patterns, and we feel so empty being unable to follow our natural, authentic urges, we attempt to fill that emptiness with anything we can find which will do the job. It might be food, clothes, drugs, alcohol, shopping, television, work overload, earning lots of money to buy lots of things, anything to keep us distracted from that eternal beating of our heart, the soul speaking to us, lovingly and endlessly, patiently and longingly.

    We are all dancing the same dance TOGETHER, not in separate camps. Animals and Nature remind me daily, the biggest illusion we hold is this idea of “separation”. There is no “them and us”. There are no people earning millions and others who are starving. There are people earning millions who are starving for something they cannot identify! There are those who appear to have nothing material wise, and yet seem to live lives more abundant than many of us could imagine, filled with happiness, joy and love overflowing into everything they do and experience!

    At the deepest part of our Beings, I believe we are all One, connected, emanating from a similar Energy Source experiencing itself through us perhaps. It is only our thinking minds which have created the illusion of separation. Inside we can each feel that knowing, that fire, that calling, that “something” which might not even be describable in words. Our authenticity beating and still alive in every cell of our Being. When we are passionately living that authenticity, how abundance shows up is not so important. We understand at our deepest level what life is truly about and how “together” we all create something far richer than we could have ever imagined when we attempted to do it alone.

    When I take your class, it is for the joy it brings me, to share in your memories, things I might have forgotten in my own. In my life, we are all dancing the same dance, just in billions of different and unique ways, because Spirit, All That Is, God … LOVES CREATIVITY, Change, Diversity, endlessly creating NEW THINGS and NEW Ways of Being Itself! I am seeking to live in a way which always nourishes that hunger and longing, and I am always surrendering into the unknown, taking inspired actions which bubble up from within my heart and overflowing with abundance in an endless array of creative ways!

    Much Love & Magic, Morgine



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