The Material World and the Spiritual World

The Material World and the Spiritual World

four Tibetan women on pilgrimage circumambulating the stupa at Sarnath

In the story accompanying this image of Tibetan women on pilgrimage to Sarnath by Arian Zwegers, we learn a cool story about the Buddha having to fly over the river Ganges toward Sarnath because he didn’t have ferry money. What happened then is just as cool: “When King Bimbisāra heard of this, he abolished the toll for ascetics.”

Greetings! If you did the thought-experiment that prepares you for this post, you now have a quite clear idea of

  • what the spiritual world looks like to you
  • yourself in it, and
  • what’s important in it.

You also have a clear idea of the material world.

Trick Question: What Does the Material World Look Like?

Remember that in the thought-experiment, we said the question, “What does it look like?” about the spiritual world was a sneaky question. That’s because in our view, the material world looks like your spiritual world.

The material world looks like your spiritual world.

“How can this be?” you ask me.

Well, let me ask you instead how it can not be. We both know, you and I, that the one is much bigger than the other. You found that when you did the thought-experiment.

The best reason for this is that the spiritual world includes the material world.

It’s Part of the Spiritual World–But Only A Part

Try living in the material world as you live in the spiritual world. Those of you who replied in the comments to the thought-experiment clearly have a lot of detailed information that helps you do this. (You may have questions. Ask them!)

But if you’ve created a dichotomy (a dualism, a separation) between the two worlds, you mightn’t believe me about this at first. You might believe there are really two worlds.

I challenge you: try this week’s thought-experiment:

Try living in the material world as you live in the spiritual world.

What would it take? If you like the thought-experiment, try making it a “real” experiment!

Let us know how it goes.

  • Darryl Burks
    Posted at 08:53h, 22 October Reply

    This is interesting. Because if you really do this you see there is no “lack”. There is no state of having or not having but just being. Material things come and go and flow as needed. This really frees up the mind for creativity and makes it more playful. No stress. Very fun !

    • Beth
      Posted at 16:25h, 22 October Reply

      Whoa, Darryl, thank you! This is exciting to read and timely, too, because of where I want to go next with this–in this week’s post!

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