Ever since I began reading at five years old, I’ve been fascinated by mystical mystery.
My childlike wonder has taken me through an investigate journey of almost every world religion, occult practice, and mystic expression. Full of wonder, I’ve read with delight the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita and a host of other philosophies and religious treaties about how to live life and be a better human. It has been my devotion that has brought me to earn a living as a yoga instructor, musician, artist, writer and entrepreneur.
As I’ve grown, it has been wonderful to see and find more and more people interested in spiritual practices and beliefs. Having community and individuals of kindred heart and spirit is a delight.
While I find the majority of people to be sincere in their approach, there is a certain mentality that seems to be growing in proportion to the growth and interest in spirituality.
In the Bible, Christ lambasts the pharisees and sadducees for their spiritual demeanor and absence of substance. There is also a mention of false prophets, people who can easily lead the sincere seeker astray. And in our modern world full of communicative connectivity, the opportunity for misinformation is at an all-time high.
Just because a person seems spiritual doesn’t mean that they are.
Ironically, the people in my life who have done the most harm have done it in the name of spirituality. And when I have listened to others, it has been the same for them. Why is it there a common theme of frustration and betrayal from people who claim to be spiritual and loving ?
What I have observed is that instead of embodying spiritual ideals, the core teachings present in all world practices are being ignored. Not only are they being ignored, ancient wisdom and universal truths are used to justify words and actions that a so-called ‘regular and non-spiritual person’ would find abhorrent. Not only is the seemingly spiritual person being anything but loving, they are also turning people off from practices and paths that have authentic validity.
Some of the most passive-aggressive people I’ve met wear spiritual clothing.
I’ve seen people who talk about non-attachment neglect and abandon their spouses and children—then turn around and justify their behavior because they think that is being spiritual. After all, the Buddha did it, is a common excuse.
Yet, they fail to see that Buddha also communicated at the end of his journey that he didn’t have to leave his home to become enlightened.
I’ve seen people sleep around like there is no tomorrow, and go teach yoga classes and the importance of purity and family. I’ve witnessed people talk about how important it is to pray for others and be super pious, and be unable to take responsibility for their own short-comings and the harms inflicted. I’ve witnessed broken families and children growing up in single parent homes because of ‘spiritual’ concepts.
But when love is the highest spiritual ideal, how could these things occur ?
At a personal level, I had a woman dump me because I couldn’t handle grief. When my grandmother died almost five years ago, it was painful—and I wasn’t handling it ‘spiritually.’ Grief is unique for each person because of how it cracks open the heart and soul. This woman, who is now a spiritual teacher, didn’t have compassion for me and instead told me that it was my fault that I was suffering because I was attached. I’d like to see anybody not grieve when a loved one dies and keep it all together.
What happened to being loving ?
People who practice non-violent communication tend to be the most violent.
Just because words can be candy coated doesn’t mean that the intent and feelings behind it are harmless. People who learn non-violent communication almost always do so because they recognize that their speech needs to improve. But words only go so deep, and a misguided heart will still speak harmfully. The tone and meaning behind words communicate far more than just words, not including the aggression that can be hidden behind sarcasm, mockery and false humor.
The most frustrating people to talk to are ones who have discovered how to hide their rage behind soft words. When somebody attempts to speak with them in an open-hearted way and they feel threatened, rather than listening they will redirect honest expression back at the person who is trying to be heard and understood with a barrage of self-help phrases and pseudo-psychology to protect their fragile egos. These kinds of cowards can be the most damaging because they’ll never admit that they have hurt somebody, and that their so-called tender words are actually unloving.
If you want to be not-attached, abandon your ideas of what spirituality is—and not your family.
Another common experience that many people have shared with me is that their spouse or parent, found spirituality and abandoned them. This happens in every country, at every age. This type of person never takes responsibility for leaving their family. Instead of being honest, they’ll claim a higher calling. A person of integrity would admit that they are selfish and unloving, and don’t care enough about their family and ‘loved’ ones to stay. We aren’t supposed to be Buddha, but to find our own unique buddha nature. Imitation pales in comparison to authenticity.
Love doesn’t mean showing up and being servile and weak. Love doesn’t mean couching words behind passive-aggressive language.
Being loving means owning ones own power and life, and having the courage to stand up with gentle strength. It means living with integrity, rather than hiding behind anything no matter how spiritual or godly it appears. Love has a simple power that doesn’t put on airs, it stands naked and pure as individual, divine human. Love is authentic in its simplicity, and powerful for being so.
The bible talks about wolves in sheep clothing.
And in the spiritual and religious community, I’ve encountered more wolves than I’d ever imagined. I trust the person who can be open with their aggression and anger. At least that is honest. I respect the person who admits that they are addicted, that is liberating.
I honor the person who knows they are frail, that is wisdom. The human who recognizes that they are human, is humble and powerful beyond measure. And I salute the person who walks with grief and suffering, for there is authentic expression and the potential for deep wisdom and healing.
But the person who claims to be spiritual and has no faults, I run from screaming and laughing …
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Andrea de Kejizer