There is a stage in the spiritual life in which we find God in ourselves – this presence is a created effect of His love. It is a gift of His to us. It remains in us.

All the gifts of God are good. But if we rest in them, rather than in Him, they lose their goodness for us. 52, 53

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche coined the term “spiritual materialism” to describe a self-serving ego-centered form of spirituality.

It is tempting to seek God’s “gifts” rather than God’s self, looking for warmth and comfort rather than the flash of reality that is the divine.

The spiritual journey is not about gaining anything. It is about losing everything and seeing more clearly who I am and the reality of God’s “presence” that is all for which I really long.

This awareness may or may not bring me blissful peace and harmony. That is not the point. The point is to find within myself that place where, no matter what I experience on the surface of life, I live in truth and know that God “remains” in me.

Jesus pointed the way beyond “spiritual materialism” when he said,

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)

The spiritual life aims at “abiding” not at fruit. Fruit will flow from my awareness of the deep inner connection with the Divine reality that is my birthright. When I aim at fruit rather than “abiding” I get neither fruit nor connection.

The process of fruit bearing comes as a result of giving up rather than gaining. Jesus said,

He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. (John 15:2)

The spiritual life moves forward by a process of subtraction not addition. I find my true nature as I am willing to let go of clinging to fruit and demanding consolations and rewards in this life.

What gifts am I seeking that keep me from opening to a genuine awareness of God’s presence in my life?

What might I need to let go of in order to open more fully to an awareness of God’s presence and action at work in all of life?