I’ve always been one to say that spiritual people are the most annoying types of people.
However that’s not entirely true. Authentic people, vulnerable people, patient people, genuinely loving people, non-judgmental people, are the best kinds of people.
However, for some reason I can’t help but find that so many of the “spiritual” people I meet day in and day out are not these kinds of people. In fact, to put it bluntly, I have seen such a rise in a type of culture that is completely steeped with hypocrisy and denial over the past few years, and now at the turn of yet another year, I feel that I’m about up to my ears in pseudo-spiritual bullshit.
Can I find someone to blame for this? I could point my finger in a few places, but I’m going to do my best to own the situation.
Why? Because I’ve been a hypocrite too. I’ve been that annoying “spiritual” person who tries to tell someone who’s been through severe trauma that I’m incapable of understanding that they should just “think more positively”, or that “the only reason they’re upset is because they’re choosing to be”.
- I’ve been that type of person who parties all weekend, recovers from a severe hangover and brain damage, does some Yoga, and decides that I am the most “conscious” person in the neighborhood.
- I’ve been that type of person who ceaselessly parrots things that I’ve read in books, online, or heard from someone else’s mouth, and thinks that that means I know a thing or two about life, spirituality, and Truth.
As fed up as I can get with this shallow, misunderstood, over-glamorized, and naïve form of spirituality that is beginning to pervade our culture, I know this much: It is a necessary and inevitable phase. And as annoying as it can be, it is a step in the right direction.
But I’ve written this article for those who may be ready to hear it; for those who are at a point where they’re beginning to realize that a true mark of wisdom is humility, coupled with an understanding of just how easy it is for us to deceive ourselves. **I’m writing this article for those who are ready to humble themselves and realize that we are all inherently human, and that it makes much more sense to start with where we’re at, rather than to pretend we’re somewhere we want to be when we’re not
If you feel that this describes you, I would encourage you to read below and take a good honest look at yourself. The process of growth is one of being willing to look at our dark side, our faults, our ignorance, and move beyond it.
If you feel that you’re the most balls-to-the-wall, evolved, advanced, spiritual rockstar on the planet, I would also urge you read these:
5 Reasons Why You’re Actually Not as Spiritual as You Think.
Please allow your overinflated ego to get served a beat down.
1. You pass judgement about how “conscious”, “enlightened”, or “evolved” other people are:
- “Did you just see how unconscious that guy was? ASSHOLE!”
- “My boyfriend and I are in a fight. Sometimes I just wish he was more aware.”
- “Conscious people are sexy.”
- “Why is it that I’m the only one who gets it? Sometimes it’s hard being more evolved than the rest of the world.”
I have some breaking news for you. One of the hallmarks of having clear perception is the ability to see the wisdom and light in others. You see this light, this wisdom, this inherent unbreakable connection to the divine in others because you’ve found it in yourself.
When you look around and see others as less conscious than you, or pass judgement on where people should be in terms of their healing process or spiritual journey, you are doing nothing more than affirming to yourself that you, yourself, are in need of healing, and that you yourself are unconscious.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that consider themselves to be non-judgemental, except when it comes to judging the hell out of people for how “conscious”, “aware”, or “present” they are.
Spiritual maturity is highly ineffable. It doesn’t always just show in a glamorous or impressive way. The divine can be profoundly ordinary, quiet, and even unimpressive. And truly spiritual people are not shoving it down your throat, or even talking about it.
Do you think Einstein talked to strangers he chatted up at the grocery store about advanced physics? Of course not. He knew that not everybody understands physics.
People who didn’t know who he was probably thought he was just a humble weirdo with bad hair. Deeply spiritual people learned a long time ago that talk is cheap, and don’t necessarily always talk to people about their spiritual understanding. They just live it, for themselves. Remember the old saying from Jesus in the New Testament about not casting pearls to the swine?
Just because someone doesn’t have a lot of clever talk to make about self-growth, or doesn’t exude a now popularized image of spirituality doesn’t mean they don’t understand it. In fact, it might mean the exact opposite.
2. You compare yourself to others as a yardstick for your progress.
The truth is that none of us know what it’s like to be living someone else’s life.
- We didn’t grow up with the same childhood experiences as them.
- We don’t process information in the same way as them.
- Our internal map of reality, the way our mind works and our brain perceives, is entirely different from that of another human being.
So we really have no reason to compare how we live our lives to another’s and use that as a reference point for where we are in our own journey of growth.
Yes, you may be living a more abundant, peaceful, drama-free life than the next person. However, you don’t know what their soul’s ultimate journey entails, or why they came into this lifetime, what lessons they intend to learn, and what challenges they are facing in their learning experience.
It is always possible that those going through the craziest times are advanced souls, who came here to work out tons of karma in a way that our soul may not have had the courage to do.
We do not have the full understanding to be able to judge where someone should be, or what it really means for someone to be where they are meant to be in life right now.
The wisest choice we have in regarding others is to be humble and compassionate, admitting we don’t understand.
And as far as deciding where YOU are in your own spiritual path, only you can truly decide this, based upon who you are, and how you live your life.
3. You don’t actually practice.
Your practice is where the rubber meets the road. It doesn’t matter necessarily what your practice is (it could be meditation, yoga, breathwork, martial arts, compassion, etc.), it matters that you do practice, and practice regularly.
In fact, without some kind of spiritual practice, you are at high risk to become jaded and deluded.
Many of us begin walking our paths by reading books, and absorbing information. This is definitely an important initial step in the direction of our growth. However this is just the first step.
Ultimately we can only read and think about spirituality or personal growth for so long. We must actually apply what we have learned in our lives. This is where true knowledge comes from.
You don’t think your way into spiritual knowledge, and spiritual knowledge is NOT the same as reading something in a book, or in an article, or inspirational quote, and thinking you know what it means.
This is one of the biggest causes of this immature, pseudo-spirituality that is going around in western culture right now. So many people are reading books, looking at inspirational quotes, and confusing the fact that they’ve absorbed something intellectually with actually having knowledge.
Knowledge comes through experience. Real spiritual power, real self-growth, and “evolution” comes from practice; consistent, dedicated practice and yes, discipline.
So neat-o if you can spout out inspirational quotes, or intellectually argue about being “aware” or “evolved”, but I promise you that if you do not have the motivation or the dedication to find a path and walk it, you are simply spinning your wheels and deluding yourself into thinking you understand something that you don’t.
4. Someone else is always the problem.
Have you ever noticed that whenever there’s a problem in your life, you’re always there?
We are absolute masters of creation. And we are also absolute masters in projection and self-deception. One of the most dark and undeniably annoying aspects of walking a spiritual path is that uncanny ability to decide that we are the ones in the right, while projecting all of our own bullshit onto the person we are in disagreement with.
Really, I’d like you to think about it. The last time you were head to head with someone, did it seem like all of a sudden they turned into the unconscious one, the unkind one, the one who didn’t see things clearly, the one who couldn’t handle their emotions well, the one who couldn’t take accountability for themselves?
Isn’t that just so convenient for you to always be right?
Projection is a powerful thing, and in my experience, people who work in healing and self-empowerment have more of a capacity to delude themselves by projecting all their dark qualities onto other people than the average person.
Why? My guess is that it’s because we care that much more about being “light”, being “healed”, being “evolved”, and thus our negative qualities (all those things that so inconveniently show us that we are not as “conscious” as we want to be) are that much less tolerable to us.
And so what do we do? Push it into a dark corner in the attic of our mind, then unconsciously hurl it at “the other” whenever the shit hits the fan.
So just a friendly, albeit painful, reality check: Any time we are experiencing conflict, drama, emotional turmoil, or friction in our lives and our relationships, we are in the least 50% responsible. Because we are the creators of every situation that occurs in our life.
This is yet another place where the rubber really meets the road, and where we find that it is far more conscious for us to admit that we still have our demons, rather than jumping on our high horses and deciding that everyone else is at fault.
5. Your spirituality is a part of your “image”.
I was out running some errands one day and ended up waiting in a checkout line next to a guy who had these beautiful mala beads wrapped around his wrist. He was also wearing a shirt with the OM symbol on it.
Naively I thought he must do mantra of some kind, so I thought I’d strike up a conversation with him about it.
- “Your mala beads are beautiful.”
- “Your mala beads. They’re beautiful. (I point to his wrist.) Where did you get them?”
- “Oh these. Yeah I can’t remember where I got them.”
- “Cool. Are you a Buddhist? Do you do mantra?”
- “What? No I just got these because they look cool.”
- (Me feeling awkward.)
I think Buddhists and Yogis have been quite tolerant thus far of their sacred paraphernalia becoming fashion statements. People wearing mala beads because they look cool, people wearing clothing with sacred and religious symbols on them without having the faintest clue what they mean, people who know nothing about the Buddha buying Buddha statues, people posting pictures of themselves in impressive Yoga postures on their social media profiles without knowing anything about Yoga.
Let’s be honest, just Tibetan Buddhism alone has many beautiful objects that one must own in order to practice the religion. Prayer wheels, mala beads, prayer flags, hand-made bells… If I had to pick a religion based upon how aesthetically appealing it is, that would be it.
But we don’t get to beautify ourselves into being spiritually advanced. We can surround ourselves with sacred objects, symbols, clothing, etc, and be incredibly poor in spirit.
The fact that spirituality is becoming an industry of items, fashion statements, and paraphernalia just shows that we are not seeing the forest for the trees.
Not that I think it’s wrong for there to be external beauty from religion or spiritual practice, but if you are mistaking the materially impressive or visually appealing with genuine spirituality, it would be wise to look deep inside and ask yourself why exactly you are walking your path, and what is really most important to you.
And if you are using spirituality as a crutch to feel more sexy, or as a way to boost your ego, you’re just about ass-backwards, and might do better ditching all this spiritual stuff for some new clothes, a workout routine, and an enchanting online dating profile.
This article may sound harsh and judgmental. It’s written in a tone of absurdity on purpose.
We have such a tendency in the western world to sensationalize anything that hits our culture, and spirituality and self-improvement is no different.
My opinion is that, as a whole, we are at about the maturity level of a child when it comes to this stuff. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong, or that it’s a bad thing. It’s a necessary step.
But ultimately the point of all this is to remove the ego from the equation, or in the least develop the ability to rise above it. The common denominator in all of this is that unsettling tendency that we have to take something designed to help us transcend ourselves and instead use it to anchor ourselves deeper into ignorance.
In my humble opinion, the most telling qualities of true spirituality are simple: genuine kindness, patience, acceptance, humility, and peace of mind.
These are the gifts of such great value that it takes wisdom to recognize just how valuable they are. I would encourage anyone reading this article to settle for nothing more and nothing less.
Ashton Aiden is a certified life coach, a brainwave entrainment geek, a lover of dogs, and a passionate advocate of the human potential. He spends most of his time working through his website, brainwavelove.com, to educate the public on the powerful benefits of brainwave entrainment technology. When not doing this, he enjoys coaching people on the art of manifestation, providing spiritual commentary, and exploring the outdoors in his home state with his dog, Biff, and his girlfriend Dechen. He can be reached at [email protected], or on facebook.com/brainwavelove