Is Spirituality really a Sign of Selfish Narcissism? ~ Ben Ralston {video}

Via Ben Ralston
on May 7, 2012
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“Despite many years of personal development, I have the nagging feeling that this kind of work is narcissistic and selfish”.

The above statement is part of a question that my Facebook friend Beth asked me to address.

This ‘walking talking’ video is the response.

Here’s the thing (in short): everything you ever do is selfish (at least to some degree). But genuine personal development, profound healing, and grounded spiritual practice are the only activities that can make a significant difference in the world… and the real question is not ‘Is it Selfish’, but ‘Is it Worthwhile – will it make a difference?’

Feel free to leave a comment.

And please share – spread the love!



About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


37 Responses to “Is Spirituality really a Sign of Selfish Narcissism? ~ Ben Ralston {video}”

  1. Rosario Hooper says:

    NO! Spirituality IS a sing on self LOVE, and as much of a cliche as it is…"If you can't love yourself, then you can't possibly love anyone else"…it's so true. Do the work for yourself and then share it with others. I ♥ THIS!!! It can not be handed down to you. You have to do your own work!!! Thank you <3

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Rosario.

  3. Julie says:

    I really enjoy your videos Ben. Words are better understood when heard, rather than read. xx

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Julie, I must say I enjoy making them, for the very same reason you say. I feel I'm able to communicate more directly. xx 🙂

  5. Isabel says:

    Thank you, Ben!

  6. catnipkiss says:

    This is very timely, as I have been asking these questions (or similar ones) myself since my recent yoga teacher training. My take on the self-exploration aspect of yoga and meditation and developing a spiritual practice is this: the reason to explore ones self is to find deep peace, the reason for finding deep peace is that one can then share that peace and help bring it to others. Now you come along and echo my sentiments! Thanks for that, Ben 🙂 But the unfortunate effect of the video was that hearing your adorable accent just amplified my long-distance crush on you! Alexa M. (Don't worry, I'll control myself!;)

  7. Liz Podolski says:

    Ben, I love your videos! I think anyone regardless of faith or spiritual path can benefit from your wisdom and clarity. I think you are saying here that the only way to "save the world" is to be the embodiment of love while you are in it. And this does require much inner work, which is not selfish, but essential. It is a great message for anyone who struggles to give to themselves first. Thank you so much.

  8. ValCarruthers says:

    It's time we started the Ben Ralston Channel on EJ with a button up top.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  9. ValCarruthers says:

    Did Joan of Arc or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela ever get stalled by the thought that their work was selfish? They might have, for a second or two, but I doubt it. On the other hand, if "selfish" means that I want the entire world to see the potential for humanity that I see and join with me in that space, plus I'm gonna do everything I can to make it happen—then hey! let's all be selfish.

    On the other hand, we don't have to try and emulate any heavyweight spiritual leader, we only need to pick one concept, like offering a smile to the guy at the tollbooth or the bored looking kid behind the cash register at the market. Or just looking at them with the light of love in our eyes. Sending that love into the dark corners and musty places in people's souls.

    Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection. But falling in love with everyone whose gaze mirrors ours is the best kind of narcissism there is. It's called "seeing with God's eyes." Swami Muktananda knew that for a fact. He called it, "the highest love, the highest religion."

  10. Ben_Ralston says:

    Is a pleasure!

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    (Blushing) thank you 🙂
    And congrats on the Ytt!

  12. Ben_Ralston says:

    And that's (struggling to put themselves first) maybe most of the female human population on the planet I think… not to mention a great many chaps…

  13. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Val 🙂

  14. Eric says:

    *'Is is worthwhile?' 'Will it make a difference?'*
    "Happiness is only real when shared." (~Jon Krakauer, 'Into the Wild')

    It might sound corny or cliché, but I still like the pre-flight admonishment that if the oxygen mask drops down, get yourself situated first or else you won't be much help to anyone around you. Like Ben says, it's not easy. It's work. No one wants to look at their shadow, but until we do, we're not free to be happy and be of service to the greater good.
    Cheers Ben!!

  15. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Great metaphor!

  16. trueayurveda says:

    Ben, such a great question posed and thank you for being aware enough to ask it.

    Love the comment about it. The only place is stillness and Selfless service.

  17. Mesmerizing. Love the message, love the format.

    Thanks, Ben.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  18. vanessa says:

    Wondering where I can find a man wandering around the forest talking about love and questioning these wonderful things?!
    Something I was thinking about this week as well.. way to bring awareness to it, and I agree with you.

  19. Irene says:

    I love this. Thank you.

  20. Ben_Ralston says:

    Slovenia! 🙂

  21. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you 🙂

  22. Ben_Ralston says:

    High praise indeed from the high priest of Elephantism. Thank you Bob 🙂

  23. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you for listening.

  24. Ben_Ralston says:

    isn't it?
    Actually – it's the perfect metaphor, because it speaks directly to our animal – survival – instincts, which really are the most important, defining aspect of our life. Without safety, nothing else can be achieved. It's the foundation of life.

  25. Ben_Ralston says:

    Beautiful comment, thank you Val.

  26. I'd say we're already seeing this shift in human consciousness. it's happening all around us, all over the globe, although ti may not be making the mainstream media yet. You making this video is evidence of this. Where's there's one of you, there's probably hundreds of you. Thousands.

    Two things stand out for me.

    First, the point about safety being required. Now that we're not worried about meeting our basic needs, we've got the luxury of turning inward and being aware of our internal make-up. That awareness shines the light on that which no longer serves, allowing us to release it. Indeed, once our basic needs are met, what else is there to do but better understand what it is to be human, and how we can open to the love that we are?

    Two, the point about working through ancestral trauma. Wondered if you could clarify that for me. If things happened to my great-great-grandparents and so imprinted their psyche… do they in turn affect their children's psyche, who affect their children's psyche and all the way down to me… and I pick up imprints that are faded impressions from a trauma seven generations ago? (The sins of the father shall be visited upon seven generations??)

    It does seem to be that as beings of consciousness, it is our psyche that is passed down, not genetically as such, but because of the programming we receive as children from our caregivers. Obviously this programming is received differently for each child depending upon the in-built tendencies of the child… but still, the consciousness that surrounds us as children seems to be so very important. Our parents' issues become our issues, or instead we exhibit the flipside of that issue – which may look different to our parents 'stuff', but it just the other side of the coin, duality in action.

    All we need is love is both flippant and true. It is all we need… yet to open to that love takes the courage to face our shadows. As you say, to do the real work required to heal ourselves.

    Look forward to the next video.

  27. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Kara, great comment.
    This will interest you:
    The science of epigenetics (which is what the therapy that I practice and teach – Reference Point Therapy – is very much based on) has proven that trauma to the grandmother at the time when the egg which created us was first formed (in the ovary of our Mother, when she was about a 3month old foetus in the womb) directly affects us, even on the biological level.

    What this means is that the trauma is stored in the cellular, genetic (actually, epigenetic) level.

    We are then predisposed to similar trauma, and it's triggered by environmental stuff in our life.

    So it's not only the conditioning we receive as children from our parents. It's deeper than that.

    The good news is that it's very, very easy to heal this stuff! I do this all the time with people, and it usually only takes a few sessions 🙂 The result is that we become free from many old patterns and it also heals our children.

    ps – if you wanna know more about epigenetics, check out a great movie called The Ghost in Your Genes, by Nova TV I think.

  28. So great to see/hear you in "real" life. Cheers to you, Ben. Fantastic message and perfect setting.

  29. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Lynn. Much love to you.

  30. Great – thanks for the extra info… makes sense!

  31. jojolalala says:

    gazing at the belly button of the belly button. Is there another level of belly buttons to contemplate beyond that? No doubt! Keep travelling this noble path, but leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way home again…

  32. jojolalala says:

    At any bush doof in the world.

  33. Terez says:

    This came back: many years ago i was told, 'you can not do anything….but you have to do something…..' .

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