May 8, 2013

10 Signs you’re a Sucker for Spiritual Charlatans & Bad Advice.

More like: Some Deep Sh*t Written in a Pretty Font over a Photoshopped Instagrammed iPhone Photo.

Another one of your favorite Watch out for Spiritual Materialism posts!

“How our Ego uses spirituality to puff itself up.”

DISCLAIMER: don’t worry, there is absolutely no judgement going on here.

Peace and Love are just words. Don’t buy them. Look for the Meaning behind them, and tell the Salesmen to go elsewhere.

This is not a blog about me vs. you, or us vs. them. Even in Buddhism we can find this sense of “we’re better”…

…whereas the point of any genuine spiritual path is quite the opposite.

The good news is we all want to be happy, we just have to figure out how to be so in a way that’s in line with interdependence—not my happiness vs. yours, not poverty mentality, but celebration, basic goodness, and community.

That said, I’m not a cult worshipper of the”live and let live, it’s all good” school of New Agey Passive Aggressiveness.

This silly little article is about our tendency to use spirituality to cushion our ego—instead of allowing ourselves to change, awaken, to be of service, and to retain a sense of humor along the way.

If it insults your ego, or mine, well, that’s okay. In fact, it could be good for us! For we are not our egos. Let our bubbles of pride burst—and all we’re left with is vulnerability, sadness, relaxation, chaos.

And “Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news!” ~ ed.

10 Signs I’m a Sucker for Positivity Hucksters & Bullshit Spiritual Advice that Actually won’t do me any Good.

1. My inspiration of the day came from a tea bag. Or a bumper sticker, poster, image on Pinterest, tweet, or tee shirt—anything that requires less than the three-second-rule to “take it in.”

*Nothing’s wrong with short, or even superficial. In fact, some of the brightest wisdom has, throughout history and cultures, been simple. Wisdom is not measured by size, nor constrained by depth.

The problem isn’t the tea bag, or the quote. The problem is if we don’t go deeper, but use spirituality to buffer, cushion, and enable our speediness.

We all need to dive deep once in awhile, to allow wisdom to soak our resistance, to wear our klesha/neurosis, speed and arrogance down, and to learn to rest in the present moment.

2. My inspiring quote of the day wasn’t said by the person who said it, or wasn’t said that way, exactly. See: Coleman Barks’ loosely translated Rumi, Dalai Lama, Buddha, Lincoln.

3. My inspiration of the day ends in an ellipsis…

4. My inspiration of the day is in quotes, quoting somebody who is quoting themselves. (Jacob…)

*The best way to use spirituality to armor our egos isn’t to write blogs criticizing the misuse of spirituality as an armor for our egos, as I’m aiming to do here—clearly, since all I’m attracting is (worthwhile) criticism (that I appreciate).

Rather, the best armor seems to be to share happy quotes and generalized positivity advice.

5. My inspiration of the day involves wishing or imagining or editing my experience, mind or heart in a way that takes me away from the present moment, and from being genuine, and toward a materialistic or spiritual goal

6. My inspiration of the day comes from someone who embodies the opposite of their sage, Xeroxed advice.

*Surest sign of living the words, but not the meaning? We’re unable to laugh at ourselves.

On living Words vs. living Meaning:

7. My inspiration of the day directly contradicts my inspiration from yesterday and not in any profound “zen koan” sense…and neither are actually part of my belief system, but rather a substitution for having to actually figure out what I believe. (thanks, Corti!)

8. My inspiration of the day ends with a smiley face and an invitation to someone’s retreat. (thanks, Michelle!)

*That said, nothing’s wrong with making money doing good, or doing well through doing good. The problem comes with priorities, with inner mission or motivation. The problem comes from someone more passionate about money and fame than being of benefit who allows said ambition to twist said offering without being transparent or forthright about such twist. The problem is not a Big Solid Problem: it’s workable, if we’re aware of it.

9. My inspiration of the day comes from an urgent cause that I’ve supported…by giving a thumbs up. (thanks, Jamba!)

10. My inspiration of the day comes from elephantjournal.com.

POSTSCRIPT: As my friend Scott said when I asked for advice on this little post (on Facebook, no less): “Seriously, the sacred arrives in many forms and sometimes that includes a bag of tea or Daniel Tosh.”

And I replied: “Scott, that’s an obvious take, and I agree. Haiku can be a source of wisdom, it’s not about depth or length or brevity…but there is some sense where we need to slow down and go deeper, at least for a time, and not just skim along the surface of social media and walk along the streets while texting instead of looking around us.”

Any of us can have any relationship to spirituality that we like, of course, as long as we offer said spiritual path the respect and honor to slow down and really get into it. Like with meditation, as with writing, dance or djing…out of a sense of joy and service we study and practice and play. We don’t just pretend and then offer that–that would be selfish and all about image.

It’s an important (and fun) subject: if we’re about puffing ourselves up, we’re actually hurting ourselves and others, instead of helping. We can use spirituality to help, to be of benefit, or we can use it to armor, to make ourselves look good, or feel good temporarily.
And let’s remember: there’s no problem with being insulted, if we can retain a sense of humor, vulnerability, respect for others and thoughtfulness about our motivation. Remember: if it’s our ego that’s being insulted, that can be good for us.



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