Can a spiritual quest go along with material advancement?
There is no contradiction. Spiritual growth can go with material advancement. Just one thing has to be remembered: material advancement should function as a servant, and spiritual growth should remain the master.
At no point should spiritual growth be sacrificed for material advancement. At any time, whenever it is needed, material advancement can be sacrificed for spiritual growth. If this is clear, then there is no problem.
The problem arises only because material advancement remains the master and still you want to grow spiritually. Spirituality cannot grow as a servant. Your spirit cannot be a servant to your body. Your spirituality has to be a master, then everything can function as a servant and can help it.
There is no need to divide life. For those who can manage it this way – putting spiritual growth as a priority, and material advancement only as helpful to it, never against it, always with it and for it – there is no problem. This has to be made clear to all the religions of the world. The East has chosen half – spiritual growth – and become afraid of material growth. Who knows? – it may become the master, it may take the priority. Hence the East is poor, sick.
The West went to the other extreme – they devoted their whole energy to material advancement, forgetting completely that the material advancement in itself is meaningless. It leads you nowhere; it leads you only into deep frustration, finally, into a meaningless life where you can see clearly that you wasted your whole life collecting rubbish, junk. And it does not give you peace, it does not give you silence. It has not been able to make you aware of truth. And now death is approaching and your hands are empty. Your whole life has been just a desert.
The West is spiritually poor, materially rich. The East is materially poor, spiritually rich.
But both are half, and both are suffering.
My effort is that there should be a synthesis – and a synthesis is possible. Just remember who is the master and who is the servant.
Osho, From the book ‘The Sword and the Lotus’