June 25, 2018

Consumerism Equals Irrelevant Things

There are so many ways one can serve the human family and the planet, that it can be a challenge to know where to concentrate one's efforts.

What is the most relevant thing an individual can do for the world? Is it becoming vegan? Driving less? Eliminating plastic from your life, or being kind to all living things? 

While all the above items are worthwhile goals that make a difference, there is something else that should be considered. It is the one thing that we can all do that will make the most difference to personal and global well-being.

Here, I refer to the 20th century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, who taught that: 

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” 

That simplifies things quite a bit. First work on this goal, and then everything else will fall into place, because the more we learn about our true nature, the more our decisions will be beneficial.

This idea is not unknown in Western thought. 

"Know thy self" 

is a well known ancient Greek aphorism. Socrates put it a slightly different way when he said, 

"The unexamined life is not worth living".

He explained why he did not spend time indulging in life's many diversions:

"I have no leisure for them at all, and the reason, my friend, is this: 
I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; 
so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things."

While we may have a cultural awareness of the importance of self knowledge, we mostly just pay it lip service; it is essentially seen as time wasting, and given the derogatory label of  "navel-gazing".  

In the West we are told that working hard in order to acquire more stuff, is the way to self-realization. But is it, really?

Consumerism could easily be seen as "the ridiculous investigation of irrelevant things". Since it is a very profitable ridiculosity, it endures despite the poor outcomes.

Trying to attain self-realization through shopping only serves to take us further and further from the ultimate goal sought by the poets and philosophers for millennia - knowing ourselves.

We can take productive steps away from irrelevant things and toward increased self-realization through repeating affirmations that lead us in the right direction. If you don't like these, try making some of your own.

1. I am not comparing myself to others.

2. I am learning to accept and respect my whole self.

3. I have an understanding that I am in control.

4. I am always growing as a person.

5. I am accepting that this is just the beginning, and that it is a vital process that never ends.

It also wouldn't hurt to practice meditation, and read more philosophy and poetry. These activities will lead to a reduced desire to practice consumerism, and an increased desire to continue to pursue the self knowledge that will set you free.

This is the best form of service anyone can render to the world.

Stay calm. Practice self-realization.


  1. Anonymous6/26/2018

    Yes to poetry as a way to self-realisation.

    Here's a little haiku for you -

    In my hut this Spring
    there is nothing-
    there is everything.

    Sodo (1641-1716)


    1. Madeleine,

      Thank you, that is beautiful.

  2. I especially like #s 1 and 2.

    They make a good mantra...I am not comparing myself to anyone and I am learning to accept and respect my whole self. Yes!

    Thanks for the haiku, Madeleine. I like it a lot.


  3. I think sometimes about the relationship between "self-realization" as you talk about here, as a kind of spiritual journey, and "self-denial" in Christianity, as perhaps being two sides of the same coin. Consumerism encourages us to think of ourselves as totally unique individuals - as shown in the ever-increasing diversification of products, more and more specifically targeted advertising, and so on. Spiritual ways, by contrast, encourage us to think of ourselves not as unique (although they do not deny this aspect of ourselves either) but connected to one another by a shared humanity, spiritual essence, or something of that sort.

    1. Jonathan,

      Self-denial would certainly help whittle things down to the bare essentials, which would make it much easier to detect more important things like our connectedness, and how as a part of the whole, we fit in to the larger picture.

      It seems like all spiritual traditions are basically working towards the same goals. Shame we can't all cooperate to mutual benefit.


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.