Cutting Through The Internet • 28 July 2010

Hello. I have an idea.

Being the arrogant book-skimmer the internet has made me, I tell myself that I know what Cutting Through Spiritual Materialsm is about.

But the truth is I’ve only torn through pieces of this book in brooding little fits, usually when some LA or Mysore bliss monkey has raided my house and run off with my faith in humanity. You too?

CTSM is the most famous of many heart-rending screeds by Chogyam Trungpa, whose student Pema Chodron’s work says the same thing, but more nicely.

Trungpa describes spiritual materialism as a neurotic, delusional self-improvement project aimed at adorning the ego. “The problem,” he writes,” is that the ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.”

He drank himself to death, by the way. “Mindfully.” And he brought the Vajrayana to the west, helped found Naropa, and built Nova Scotia's Gampo Abbey… the place where my own practice was first sliced open to its delusional core.

Most libraries, public and educational, will have CTSM; and it’s cheap from Shambala or any online retailer. The entire thing is also online at Google Books, thanks to dark activities taking place in the basement here at the University of Michigan library.

Who wants to join me really reading this book? It’ll go quickly because Trungpa’s insults are grease lightning and then afterwards his conspirational, lovey passages slosh right in to the ego-wounds. All in all, reading Trungpa is incredibly gratifying, both to the angry self or the lonely one, but maybe also to the parts of us that are wisest.

I am not just asking those of you I know, though I really hope you’ll all read this with me because I think it will be hilarious and maybe make us remember, again, the ways we adore each other. Let's do this. I’m also asking people who might just be happening by, or who just started reading, and even people—whoever you are—who are reading but somehow feel you shouldn’t be.

Are you in? Please drop a comment or an email. I have no preference about pacing or when we start – could read it all in a week, or do a chapter a month, or whathaveyou. Just let me know what you like.