Is Spirituality a Well-disguised Hoax if it is Ego-Driven?

Via Hayley Hobson
on Jul 4, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

love guru

When I was little girl, at times, I was surrounded by religious people who professed to be doing everything in the name of God.

But while their words spoke of  God, they, more often than not, acted like the most judgmental, self-righteous, gossipy, think their shit don’t stink types I have ever witnessed.

Even as a little girl, the contrast was apparent. It made me question spirituality, or people claiming to be ‘spiritual’ or driven in the name of God.

Then I grew up—and I moved to Boulder.

Boulder—one of the most self-proclaimed spiritually awakened places in the United States.

Yet, I still see it constantly: people who profess to be spiritual and think they walk the talk (they do yoga, claim to be Buddhist, or “spiritual,” are vegan, or vegetarian, active and opinionated) but underneath all of this, are just as ego-driven and self-righteous as Kayne West.

Yep—you heard me.

Spirituality (in some cases) has become another guise for an imbalanced ego.

There is a well-disguised hoax happening right under your nose, in your very town, with people you probably talk to daily.

Spirituality means many things to many people, but for someone like me, spirituality is deeply connected to “something bigger than myself.”

Everyone has an ego, and although certain religions believe that you can only fully understand spirituality when you drop your ego, I often wonder how this works in a real way, given the ego is such an integral aspect of character?

When do you know if you are coming from a truly genuine spiritual place or when your spirituality is ego-driven?

Our ego in an integral aspect of our being and spirituality. You cannot remove your ego or get rid of it, that’s not how it works—spirit and ego go hand-in-hand.

The ego is a vehicle for which our spirit has individual experience. Without ego there would be no independent thought. And independent thought is necessary to experience life.

When it comes to spirituality, the key is, don’t be limited by your ego. You can’t divorce yourself from ego, but you can transcend its limitation and realize the infinite wonder of your spirit. Your ego is a vessel; you must learn to use to your advantage instead of being controlled by its motivations, like so many people are.

So, what sets the ego-driven spiritual types apart from the truly authentic spiritual types?

A lot.

Ego, like we mentioned doesn’t have to be inherently bad, but an untrained ego is a basically a con man.

It’s when you judge and push and, judge and push, yet use spirituality as a tool to make you feel better about your motivation. If you find yourself striving and striving and that inner judge is pushing and pushing even in the name of “spirituality” more than likely you have been duped into the well disguised hoax of Ego Con Man.

Instead, if you are being, allowing and accepting, you are more than likely driven by Spirit.

The biggest distinction between the two is constriction; the Ego Con Man is like a slave driver, even in the name of enlightenment, while the Ego Self is holding ground for you to experience the infinite wonder of what you already are.

The Ego Con Man uses spirituality to get what he wants—wearing the guise of the spirituality he mimics the real. But like spots on a dog, his insincerity shines through.

You can’t achieve or attain spirituality—it is simply being in what already is.

Spirituality is about uncovering freedom in who you already are; there is no destination, no place you have to go to find the answers. There is no striving, no judging, no manipulation. There is no desire for glory or fame.

Spirituality is loving everything around you for simply the sake of its beauty and pure existence.

Spirituality in itself is not a well disguised hoax, but it is if it is driven by your Ego Con Man.

How does ego and spirituality play itself out in your life?


I have given you some insight into spirituality and ego. I would love to hear your experiences. Please leave your comments in the box below. If you found this blog inspiring please spread the love. Share it with friends via FB, Pinterest, or Tweet it.



 Like elephant spirituality on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Hayley Hobson

Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Hayley creates lifestyle transformations by coaching her clients to strengthen, nourish and evolve through the cycles and shifts in life. Combining cutting edge understanding in all three disciplines due to years of anatomical study and dietary theory, Hayley’s approach leverages their blended benefits and results. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening–empowering her client’s to heal not only their physical bodies, but their hearts and minds as well. Hayley studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, continues her studies with David Wolfe, raw food expert and is an essential oil expert in her own right.  Her insights and articles can also be found on her blog, Mindbodygreen and Islaorganics. She has also been featured in Pilates Style magazine, Natural Health magazine and Triathlete Magazine.  She has fun running and playing in the mountains with her husband, former world-ranked triathlete, Wes Hobson and their two beautiful daughters, Makenna and Madeline. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events she's hosting and custom programs go to her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest.


21 Responses to “Is Spirituality a Well-disguised Hoax if it is Ego-Driven?”

  1. hayleyhobson says:

    thanks Donovan 🙂

  2. Korumaze says:

    My Ego Self loves this article – thank you!

  3. Lorna says:

    I recognize my Ego Self when I am trying to control others in my brain. When I think "they should….". I try to catch it and remind myself to live and let live. I do a pretty good job, except when it comes to my children!! Working on it….

  4. Hello Hayley,

    Actually if you think about it, if you are spiritual then you have ALREADY, in a way, dropped your Ego. Spirituality and Ego are sort of mutually exclusive I think, at least according to the official definition of "Ego." I don't think it's a matter of having to rid yourself of the Ego; it's those things we do which are, like you said, "bigger than ourselves," that define whether we have an Ego or not. There is no need to get rid of it if we manage to do things bigger than ourselves.

    I hope this makes sense.

  5. Bowen says:

    My experience has been that my Ego has been extremely challenged by spiritual experiences! When you experience feelings of being connected to something bigger than yourself the ego can expand to encompass these new states or it can retreat in terror (usually it's not so extreme) However to one extreme in this I can be the universe and feel as if I am the new Messiah. Adi Da is a good example of someone who stayed stuck in this (I think once you get followers it becomes harder to come out of this especially as you claim to no longer to have an Ego to manage!)

    On the other hand I can be awestruck and realise my utter insignificance and how dependant I am to the whole for my very existence. I now realise how utterly broken I was in my previous banal selfish life and I start to identify with the lost and downtrodden for they seem far more closer to the truth than the people in my former world.

    Most people are on a spectrum in relation to the way they integrate their ego into the spiritual and much usually depends on the tradition and cultural supports that they have around them. We are very fortunate to be in an age where so many traditions and experiences are open to us to help us to navigate through our emerging spiritual identities but it is still not an easy task, as we have to deal with notions of power and status that exist in all human societies.

    I think we all do what we can to get what we want. What this want is, usually depends on our values and our relative knowledge, skill and abilities. I believe we are all "authentic" in this life but us humans are very complex with many competing desires and motivations but I understand what you saying and I thank you for you article.

  6. yogajanet says:

    Did anyone see Kumar?

    I left Catholicism when I was 7…to cut a long story short, it was the hypocrisy. Just be!

  7. Trib HüVan says:

    I wanted to write to you & thank you personally for a well written article, a rare gem in our spiritual world as I feel the very subject you write about, will help many people who feel they are divided, trying somewhat in vain to connect deeper while a unrestrained ego continues to work its magic all in front of our eyes, but still we struggle to see it.

    I teach/practice Yoga philosophy & Yoga, I take Sadhaks (seekers) one on one & before we sit down on our mat to practice Asana or even discuss the Yamas/Niyamas we sit & talk about ourselves ~ the duality of life, sub consciousness & conditioning, perceived reality & of course ego. I have felt any true seeker needs to understand the dynamics of how our minds work, before we can even begin to start looking to 'fix' something.

    Personally I love to hear/read discussion of this sort of nature, because, as you said, "Spirituality is about uncovering freedom in who you already are". The article was light & readable, especially on such a topic that takes me weeks to cover all aspects with my students. I am personally grateful I read this & wonderfully happy there are people like you, Hayley, who have delved that little bit deeper into your practice to uncover & share these discoveries.

    Thank you again, I would like to wish Hayley and all her readers nothing but the best for their own personal quest.
    Trib HüVan

  8. hayleyhobson says:

    Thank you! I am so glad that you took the time to read it and commented.

  9. hayleyhobson says:

    You are so welcome and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and let me know you read it.

  10. hayleyhobson says:

    Yes Monica. It makes sense. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  11. hayleyhobson says:

    Nice Lorna. Keep it going. 🙂

  12. hayleyhobson says:

    You're welcome!

  13. Laura S. says:

    Very interesting topic – thanks for writing! I don't see ego as a bad thing at all, and I don't really see a conflict between ego and spirituality. As you said, there is no way to get rid of ego, but we can learn to work with it. For me, a very fundamental part of spiritual practice is shadow work, and that is directly related to ego. I am not implying that the entire ego lives in the realm of shadow, because I think we are way more complicated than that, and it is impossible to completely separate out "bad" from "good" in terms of those qualities and attributes that create that unique blend each of us calls self. But many of the protective/defensive patterns that we devise in our lives out of a perceived need to protect our ego are definitely shadowy. Can I become more compassionate, more self-aware, more mindful to the world around me? Definitely! But not by attempting to transcend anything. In my opinion, spiritual growth comes from immersion in the real world, not transcendence of it. We are interdependent beings whose lives really only gain meaning through relationship – with other people, other animals, other living beings, and the whole world around us – and acknowledging *that* and honoring my place in that web of being requires acute awareness of the distortions of perception that my ego favors. I believe it is that awareness – gained and forever being honed through unflinchingly honest self-assessment – that makes the difference between the judgmental, inflexible, relatively self-absorbed "ego-driven" person I used to be and the increasingly compassionate and aware world citizen that I am becoming. My ego is no less than it ever was, but being willing to look honestly at my shadow – with a balance of self-compassion and an interest in growing past my destructive patterns -is what allows me to become ever more able to see my ego as one part of that web of being, rather than the center around which the rest of it all revolves. That work requires, first and foremost, a willingness to own my ego and all the shadowy corners of it.

  14. says:

    I love the Ego Con Man!! What a great post and so apt now that everyone ( I feel) is "becoming spiritual". Everyone has their own path and labeling anyone is ego driven.

  15. says:

    Hi Monica Do you think we are really able to be "rid" of our ego? Or do you think it's daily consciousness that makes us aware and thus more likely to make non-ego decisions?

  16. says:

    Lorna, I am the worst with my husband, I'm like the should have monster! LOL> I think we are the hardest on the people that mean the most to us because (in our way) we are trying to protect them from "mistakes" and "hurt".
    I try and remind myself that my husband and kids are walking their own path, my path may be next to theirs for the moment, but they have their path to walk.
    It helps sometimes and sometimes I'm so caught up that it doesn't occur to me until later…:)

  17. Minling says:

    Love how you broke down spirituality and ego!!! Wonderful post!

  18. hayleyhobson says:

    Thank you!

  19. hayleyhobson says:

    I agree. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  20. Jenny says:

    Wow. This is great! Thank you for sharing. I can often feel myself struggling within myself as well as some of those folks within my community. What a great insight and reminder. More trust!!