Spiritual: because sensitive, self-absorbed, pious & overly emotional is a bit of a mouthful. ~ Jade Doherty

Via Recovering Yogi
on Aug 3, 2011
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As co-founder of Recovering Yogi, an irreverent forum for the “spiritually disenfranchised,” I’m excited to present to you a piece by Jade Doherty, our August contributor of the month.

I laughed out loud several times while reading her earnest look into the abounding superficiality in the so-called spiritual community. (Favorite line: “But thanks for going to the trouble of choosing a space free from landmines and Nazis.”) I hope you enjoy it too.

— Recovering Yogi co-founder Vanessa Fiola

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(Originally published on Recovering Yogi on July 18, 2011)

As someone who loves a good satsang, goes to a homeopath before a doctor, and sees enlightenment as somewhere I’d like to end up (although, of course, there is no “I” and nowhere to “end up”), I thought I’d like spiritual people. We seemed so similar: grappling with the human experience, trying to transcend and dismantle the ego, and seeking The Truth at every turn.

And yet, I was shocked to discover that I actually don’t like spiritual people. There, I said it. Self-professed spiritual people are some of the most annoying, selfish and judgmental people I have ever met. Give me a beer and a cigarette over a self-satisfied soya chai any day!

I can’t help but think that the ancient masters must be turning in their graves or laughing their arses off at our superficial, watered down understandings. I have to laugh when someone who is quite clearly really upset and angry says, through tears and gritted teeth, that “everything is perfect.” As if those three little words are fooling anyone! As if there’s something wrong with being angry. It’s just a feeling, no better and no worse than “good” feelings like happiness. In covering up and hiding from “negative” or “bad” feelings, we’re missing an opportunity to really get at the beliefs that limit us.

But that’s not spiritual.

Spiritual people don’t swear, or shout, or have negative vibes, so let’s sweep that one under the carpet and go back to being so very positive, happy and perfect.

Also, a lot of the teachings seem so obvious that I’m not sure why there’s a need to state them. “It is as it is”—yes, that’s true. You have, however, failed to tell me anything that I don’t already know. “This is a safe space”—I should f***ing hope so. Being safe is the minimum requirement that I have for a space. But thanks for going to the trouble of choosing a space free from landmines and Nazis. “Everything is perfect”—that’s good to know, but try telling that to someone starving to death or whose child just died. Seems a bit patronising and insensitive, to be honest.

“Spiritual” seems to be a PR blanket term for denial, self-indulgence and not being a very nice person. Having an issue is fair enough. We all have them. The same goes for feelings, emotions, beliefs and conditioning. But don’t wallow in them and think you’re doing a good thing. And please, please, PLEASE don’t tell me about it. I so have my own issues and feelings to amuse myself with, thank you very much. Feelings, like genitals, are incredibly interesting and important to those whom they belong to, but pretty irrelevant to (almost) everyone else, so maybe don’t shout them out all the time.

I can’t help but feel that we’ve missed the point.

Spirituality doesn’t seem to be about the spirit at all. It’s not about studying the Vedas, about ruthlessly letting go of that which isn’t true, or practicing seva or mindfulness. It’s about feeling good, being better and avoiding pain. It’s a form of self-help, but with a bit of Sanskrit thrown in for good measure.

I’m constantly amazed by what the spiritual community offers. It bears no resemblance to the often-quoted teaching of Buddha, Ramana or Jesus. It’s a quick fix that makes you feel good in that moment but doesn’t provide any lasting change or evolution. It’s spiritual porn. Divorced from the years of studying, understanding, devotion and experience that are necessary to truly embody these teachings, it seems to fall flat.

Anyone who’s Wikipedia-ed Buddhism can sound like they know what they’re talking about.

 

 

Watch: oooooooooom, there is no I, there is no other, the Universe is a reflection of your beliefs, you are love. Bang, done, that’ll be £50 please. Sounds good, and on one level I know it to be true. Doesn’t mean I live my life from that place of understanding, or that I can teach it. It’ll take more than doing a few yoga and Reiki courses, changing your name and signing emails with “Namaste” to have a look at my chakras!

In my experience, real Spirituality, should such a thing exist, is messy. It’s painful, it’s difficult, it brings stuff up, tears us apart and, most of all, is personal. There is no shortcut, no guru who can do it for us, no cure, no magic mantra and no piece of paper that can proclaim us “fixed.”

So I, for one, would officially like to opt out of the Spiritual movement. I don’t know what it means and it’ll take more than well-timed quotes to shift this girl’s separation consciousness.

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About Jade Doherty

Jade is pretty clueless about life, but seems to have gotten away with it so far. She’s worked as a football coach and an English Teacher, but feels that her calling lies in drinking tea and laughing at herself. Having dipped her toe in the world of new age philosophy and yoga, she got scared and scurried back to her cave/bedroom. She can be found on Facebook, and has a Twitter accountbut mainly uses it to pretend that celebrities are her friends.



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About Recovering Yogi

Far from the land of meaningless manifestation, vacuous positivity, and boring yoga speak lives Recovering Yogi, the voice of the pop spirituality counterculture and an irreverent forum where yogis, ex-yogis, never-yogis, writers, and readers converge to burst the bubble of sanctimonious rhetoric. We are critical thinkers and people who just love to laugh. Visit us on our web site for some straight talk, join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter, or buy a t-shirt and support our mission.

Comments

68 Responses to “Spiritual: because sensitive, self-absorbed, pious & overly emotional is a bit of a mouthful. ~ Jade Doherty”

  1. fivefootwo says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about this. It was interesting to read and sort of important to know about, not terribly relevant to my present situation but I heard you Loud & clear 😀

  2. Karen Eliot says:

    Enjoyed this, thank you! Life is yin and yang, why on earth are some of us so determined to cut off the hand sinister? It too bears gifts that help us understand who and what we are.

  3. Jolene says:

    Thank you, Jade! I love this, I love this, I love this. It's what just a handful of us have been saying since the beginning of the "new age."

  4. yogiclarebear says:

    Jade, this is funny. As I read your piece, I came to feel (feel?) like the phrase "spiritual community" is almost like an oxymoron for you. And I totally get it. Spirituality can get so messy and muddled when it "communes." I think that is true for anything. Too many cooks in the kitchen make for a convoluted casserole. Connection is powerful, but there is a lot of sifting through the "spiritual shallowness."

  5. jotartare says:

    Brilliant and hilarious.

  6. Fantastic article Vanessa, really enjoyed it, very witty 🙂

  7. First of all, this is hilarious and so well-written-love it! I agree with you when you say that "real Spirituality…is messy. It’s painful, it’s difficult, it brings stuff up, tears us apart and, most of all, is personal." Yes. Absolutely. It's too bad that the idea of being "spiritual" has given birth to the rule-ridden, oblivious, boundary-less qualities that often seem so prevalent these days. We are embodied beings & the more deeply we experience the world – all of the mess as well as the beauty – the more in tune we are with it. That's real spirituality.
    And I'm a yoga teacher who just came back from pilgrimage in South India. Oh, and I eat meat & drink wine. Oh, and I also pray. 🙂 http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/07/meditating
    Thanks for the post!

  8. Jayshree says:

    I think. You have not found a right Guru to guide you. I am spiritual doing my practices everyday and changes in me are the side effects , it has experiencial changed me . It is possiable if a self centered person with so much ego , anger, judgemental can change and become a true person it can happen to anybody. The practices i do is isha yoga ,tje first course is inner engineering. Which is ancient yogic tecnic which takes 30 minutes and is very powerfull. You can go to the web site isha yoga foundtion.com

  9. Rhonda says:

    cheers!…love it! My son has congenital heart defects, & has had open heart surgery 5times. I feel exactly where your coming from!…. My daily practice saved my life and my sanity!… & it hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been real!…Namaste. 😀

  10. vanessafiola says:

    Awesome, Noreen! Jade did a great job, didn't she?!

  11. some mental motivation are just mis-used, find a right belief is very important

  12. David Martin says:

    I see "spiritual" as the parts of us which are not physical or mental . . . our story, our concepts, our sense of meaning, the parts of us which exist apart from our body even after we are gone, things like community and family, relationships, dreams, hopes, concepts . . .

  13. WTF??? says:

    Thank you for explaining to me. I try to see the best in people, but I'm always disappointed and never really understood why… Yes, we all have "issues"; it's disappointing how many use the spiritual facade to mask "not being a very nice person". It makes it very hard to find the truly goodhearted people.

  14. amy says:

    Thank )ou for this! I have been guilty of saying “its all perfect” when I have felt terrible and just had to feel terrible a bit…however this article is perfect! Thanks

  15. Yogini5 says:

    Jade did not ghostwrite a word, she just provided her editing expertise …

  16. Kate says:

    Jade I think you should be a stand-up comedian, this article is hilarious!

  17. Kate says:

    Wait I'm confused… who's a ghostwriter?

  18. Yogini5 says:

    I'm more confused than you are. Seems that Jade Doherty wrote the article. Word for word, it's the same as on the Recovering Yogi site …

  19. Jema says:

    Interesting, change a couple of "spiritual speak" phrases for "Christianese" and you can say the exact.same.things. about many Christians. Authenticity is key to finding the Spirit, however you go about!

  20. tanya lee markul says:

    Thank you Jade! This article makes me think of the quote, 'How do you know God if you don't know yourself?' I mean, we can all read Wikipedia and use it's jargon while on our soap boxes with friends, families and while looking into the mirror. We can all follow any spiritual decree, but if we don't know who we are, then what are we really doing anyway?!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  21. Thanks for this…it needs to be said & your take was hilarious. I have often used the "spiritual not religious" cop out because I felt like an inadequate poser calling myself a Buddhist. I am amazed at the number of people who cry "spiritual, spiritual" that are actually saying "denial, judgment and self-indulgence" with their actions. I'm sure it's been me at times too. Lately I try to avoid the labels and instead focus on being compassionate, being of benefit to others, and generally not being an a**hole.

  22. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  23. Jade Doherty says:

    Ha, just to clear it up, I wrote it. But because it went up on recoveringyogi and because Vanessa (very kindly) posted it here, she's the tagged author, so to speak. Hope that makes sense! x

  24. Jade Doherty says:

    Wow, that's quite shocking! And really interesting! I had no idea, I'd have have expected people who do yoga to be in great physical shape. Funny how the body and emotions interact, apparently we have to focus on both, or risk messing up our bodies! xx

  25. Jade Doherty says:

    You eat meat and drink?! Bad, bad yogi! Thanks for your comments. I totally agree about embodiment and deeply experiencing the world. The more here we are the more intimately we can experience life. xx

  26. Jade Doherty says:

    Ah thank you Kate! x

  27. Jade Doherty says:

    Hi, thanks for all the comments and feedback. I've really enjoyed reading your comments and am happy to see that my lil' article has made you LOL and resonated for some of you. Thanks again! Jade xx

  28. I think that "feelings are like genitals.." line needs to be a bumpersticker. Cafepress that mofo asap.

  29. michaela fairbairn says:

    thanks this really made me laugh! so much i related to living in Glastonbury! can you send me more like this please?

  30. vanessafiola says:

    I posted (as Joslyn and Leslie have done for our two prior Contributors of the Month) because that's our current approach to republishing RY stories. We're introducing a new approach going forward. Hopefully our new approach will allow people to focus on the article rather than the distribution method.

  31. YoginiBunny says:

    i enjoy this article more and more every time i read it. My favorite line "Feelings, like genitals, are incredibly interesting and important to those whom they belong to, but pretty irrelevant to (almost) everyone else…"

  32. Yogini5 says:

    … yeah , you gotta love a statement like that … it's almost like me talking about my bad hair and how I try to whip it into shape … and when I have a "bad hair day", watch out … but pretty irrelevant to others …

  33. "Spritual Porn"…Love it!!

  34. Jean LeBlanc says:

    I completely agree with you. From my observations, more than a few members of the spiritual but not religious community act as though they were religious but not spiritual…gives spirituality a bad name, not to mention a whole lot of innocent people headaches. Eh, but whatever. One of the beautiful things about spirituality is that it is an independent thing, so I don't have to concern myself with the not-so-nice people of the world.

    Thanks,
    JPLB

  35. […] Spiritual: because sensitive, self absorbed, pious and overly emotional is a bit of a mouthful. | elephant journal Posted on August 5, 2011 by timelady Spiritual” seems to be a PR blanket term for denial, self-indulgence and not being a very nice person. Having an issue is fair enough. We all have them. The same goes for feelings, emotions, beliefs and conditioning. But don’t wallow in them and think you’re doing a good thing. And please, please, PLEASE don’t tell me about it. I so have my own issues and feelings to amuse myself with, thank you very much. Feelings, like genitals, are incredibly interesting and important to those whom they belong to, but pretty irrelevant to (almost) everyone else, so maybe don’t shout them out all the time. via elephantjournal.com […]

  36. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  37. Vero Barnes says:

    Loved it! Made me laugh so much! Thanks! V.
    <a href="http://www.happinessforall.wordpress.com” target=”_blank”>www.happinessforall.wordpress.com

  38. […] Spiritual: because sensitive, self-absorbed, pious & overly emotional is a bit of a mouthful. […]

  39. snowyogi says:

    hahaha
    hilarious and very well put. thank you!

  40. Natalie says:

    Sounds like someone needs to be reading Jed McKenna. He says all this stuff and more. Dude kinda sorta "burned my house down." I think it's a great thing to look at everything around you and say "Is this bullshit?" Even if it's just for good measure.

  41. Very humorous way to get some serious points across…

  42. […] Spiritual: because sensitive, self-absorbed, pious & overly emotional is a bit of a mouthful. […]

  43. yep – that line got me too. hilariously true!

  44. psic99 says:

    Shit! I missed it! When did it start?

  45. I absolutely loved it 🙂 However, your line "But thanks for going to the trouble of choosing a space free from landmines and Nazis." Seriously? The "spiritual communities" I know make those two things look like tea and f&*^ing biscuits :))

    Loved it…write more :))

    btw, I don't remember if I mentioned it, but this was posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Braja Sorensen
    Lost & Found in India
    Editor, Elephant Spirituality
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  46. Jade Doherty says:

    Thanks Braja!

    I know, like what do you want? An award for choosing an area that won't explode?!

    Soon as I feel the burning desire to put fingers to keyboard and take the piss I will! 🙂
    x

  47. Lauren says:

    I feel like there are different definitions for the word spiritual. Anything that labels people or a group of people is BS and you’re right on the money. I found an amazing group of authentic teachers at my yoga studio who highlight the imperfection. Really it’s all about being kind to each other. That’s when we feel good inside and one with everything and everyone. I think it’s that simple, and all of the ancient scriptures point that way. It’s the way we’ve made spirituality into a modern construct, a fad or trend, an excuse almost, that muddles the entire process. The real ‘spiritual’ people don’t wear it on their sleeve. They share their imperfect stories, embarrassments, failures, and they definitely laugh at themselves! Good article, you raised some great thought!!

  48. carola nada says:

    i am 77 young. never claimed to be anything or believe in anything its ok for me