Spiritual Snobbery: the Dark Side of Lightworkers.

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spiritual materialism
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”

At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

~ Rumi

I recently found myself removed from a Facebook group I had joined that describes itself as “a loving community of spiritual lightworkers intended for sharing spiritual growth, support, information, resources and other helpful tips and tools.”

I believed I participated accordingly by “Liking” others’ posts and sharing helpful resources to support fellow members, such as articles I published with elephant journal and free worldwide distant healing events I offer monthly. I thus figured the removal was an error and requested to join again, but the request was surprisingly denied.

Unsure of what led to this, I contacted the administrators asking if they could share what happened. A few days later I received a reply from one of the two explaining that while she herself didn’t remove me, only admins are allowed to post events. This confused and disappointed me on several levels. First, as there were no community guidelines beyond the group description, I wondered how loving it was to abruptly remove an unsuspecting member who unintentionally broke an unwritten rule. Second, as a community aiming to foster support and the sharing of resources, I wondered how reserving the exclusive the right to post free healing events served the over 10,000 members. And finally, I wondered how kind it was to essentially ban the sensitive healer types the group is meant to serve.

While this isn’t a particularly drastic example, it did get me thinking of other experiences of snubbing in the “spiritual community.”

There was the raw-vegan yoga student who asked me if I was vegetarian and stopped attending my classes—which he had claimed were really helping his back issues—after I replied I wasn’t.

There was the popular yoga studio owner who stated that if I was interested in practicing “real yoga” (instead of attending classes at a local gym with some of the most grounded, loving and inspiring teachers I have had), that I should join his studio instead.

There was the cosmetician at my first and only visit to a Sephora shop whom I had simply asked about a tinted moisturizer for my yoga teacher training in Thailand. Instead of suggesting a product, she took it upon herself to lecture me what yoga is and isn’t about: It’s not about having clear skin, you shouldn’t care how you look, you shouldn’t try to impress others, you need to let go of your ego and just let your skin detox and breathe for once. It wasn’t even so much what she said, but the highly condescending tone she used that took me aback.

My clients, students and friends have expressed similar observations and disappointments in the spiritual community. A friend who started taking yoga classes sadly expressed that after months of trying to befriend fellow students she felt a camaraderie with given their mutual love of yoga, that her efforts were never reciprocated because she perhaps just wasn’t “hippie” enough for them to fit in.

Interestingly, my own inner spiritual snob came out when I met such “hippies” during yoga teacher training. The training was set on a secluded Thai beach with several yoga, meditation and detox retreat centers, as well as the only bars on the island that sold drugs and held night-long raves. At the time, immersed in reading sacred teachings, in awe of the natural beauty all around me and high on the love within my group, I couldn’t understand how or why these “bohemians” could meditate, do beach yoga and sing kirtans (call-and-response devotional chanting), while simultaneously smoking marijuana, doing hard drugs, raving all night, drinking and screaming in the ocean at sunrise and comparing who had sex with more strangers at the party.

Thankfully, I was able to realize what my real problem was: I somehow thought it was my place to look down on them for their “unspiritual” behavior, which in the very moment I did, disconnected me from my own spirit.

While getting on the “spiritual path” can be completely transformational and open us to profound healing, wisdom and miracles, the tools and teachings we practice—no matter what tradition or trend they follow—usually share the same ultimate aim: inner peace and the perfection of love. But when we get so caught up in what we are practicing rather than why, we can slip into the temptation to judge rather than discern, condemn rather than love and exclude rather than accept.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s all too easy to identify with being a “lightworker” and succumb to darkness.

We may guise a condescending remark by ending it with “Namaste” or “love and light.”

We may gossip about someone and say we are simply “honoring our truth.”

We may say things like, “I am not religious, I am spiritual” in an attempt to disassociate ourselves from what we might perceive as the dogmatic and judgmental nature of organized religion, and yet turn around and exhibit the same exclusivity and rigidity that we think have risen above of.

We may share our love for animals while inwardly calling a meat-eater a murderer.

We may gracefully flow into the most physically advanced yoga pose and yet find those bending their knees in forward fold just not good at or committed enough to yoga.

We may think of ourselves as old souls with many incarnations and then deem someone we think isn’t as evolved as us a “new soul” who clearly has not lived many lives.

We may begin our mornings with a loving-kindness meditation and then resent our “totally unconscious” corporate employer the rest of the day.

These are just some examples of how we may be more attached to the idea of being spiritual rather than practicing the universal spiritual values of love, acceptance, compassion, peace and oneness. The thing to remind ourselves of in these dark moments is that everyone is spiritual because everyone has a spirit. We are all seekers whether we know it or not. We are all lightworkers because the spark of the Divine shines within each of us.

To keep myself in check and monitor any spiritual pretentiousness that creeps up in me, I have developed a three-step process that helps me stay centered in my spirit rather than caught up in my spirituality:

1. Observe Consciously

One of the greatest gifts of spiritual teachings and practices is to help us become aware of our natural human reactions and emotions. We may not be able to control our inner reactions, but if we can catch ourselves as soon as thoughts like, “They are so (fill in the blank)!” come up, we become a witness to our reactions rather than bound by them or identified with them.

2. Accept Compassionately

Once we realize we have slipped into judgement and made ourselves better than or superior to another, instead of condemning ourselves for condemning, we can practice compassion for our own humanness. We can take a deep breath, process our feelings and welcome what we might learn about ourselves.

3. Respond Lovingly

Now that are aware of whatever has come up for us, we can go beyond accepting our human reactions and transcending them by asking one simple question: “What would love do?” The moment we ask this, we bypass our ideas and ideologies and get right to the heart and soul—where all spiritual paths are trying to lead us anyways and yet getting there does not require any specific path at all.

Sometimes the heart will tell us to accept, connect, invite, open and include, and sometimes it may tell us to walk away, speak up, draw a boundary, discern and be firm. But no matter what the heart says, it will always do it from, for and with love.

Whatever spiritual path we follow, how we treat others along the way says nothing about them but only defines us. So the next time we are about to say “Namaste” to someone, let us be mindful of whether we are truly intending to honor and connect with their inner light, or simply trying to outshine them with ours. We can then take a step back, reconnect with our hearts and speak and act from our spirit rather than our spirituality.

Because the world doesn’t need our lightworker lifestyles. It needs, more than anything, our kindness and love.


Author: Syma Kharal

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: YouTube still: Hey Yoga Girl



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anonymous Apr 10, 2016 9:25pm

I don't know how anyone else works it out, but in my own mind I may do the judging, but it's to my standards to what I could not or would not do in similar situations. People are left to do as they do on this plane, all I can offer is advice from experiences and a helping hand if asked for one. Oldie but goodie, "you can lead a horse….you pretty much get the gist. I'm am no where near perfect, to judge one on one's own behalf. Beautiful writings:)thank you for the insight.

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 9:07pm

I encounter this spiritual snobbery regularly in my very progressive community, and can say first hand that it hurts. It really does not feel good when you feel looked down upon because you are learning or processing difficult life circumstances, or you are simply different. I'm sensitive, very aware, observant yet many people I interact with will treat me as if I'm less than. Im soft spoken, and very connected to the spiritual world and it sometimes gets to be too much. I try my best to be kind to everyone nomatter, but lack a powerful grounding force. I value my few relasionships with people who truly don't judge and I can connect with deeply. They are a very rare breed. But in a way it strengthens one to be true to themselves and stand with your chin up in the face of snobbery or judgement.

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 5:45pm

Fantastic article! It’s funny how most of us go on judging others for their behaviour and words, but don’t know notice our own shortcomings. I am indeed guilty of this. I’ve become aware of my own judgemental behaviour towards others just a couple of months ago. I’ve been since more focused on my own journey and what needs improving. I’ve realised I’ve got nothing to teach. We are all alone on a soul journey together. No one can live our journey for us the same way we can’t tell others how to live their lives or judge them for what they do. It’s important to look at others as perfect, pure love, beyond their egos. We are all love, pure essence. The egos are just stories we made up, not to be taken too seriously. X

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 4:00pm

This is an age of disinformation and pretension ruled by ignorant new age morons using borrowed buzzwords like “karma”, “healing”, “chakra balancing”, “light workers”, explaining how yoga means “union” without having an inkling of what that union is or feels like, explaining terms like “guru”as remover of darkness without ever having experienced a guru, etc etc.
If you understood even the basics of the complexities of karma you’ll know that every real master advises against messing with others’ karmic makeup (read for example, Aghora by Svoboda to get some idea about the repercussions etc)
90% of the west does yoga for physical well-being and making a bunch of money off it doing 3-6 month “teacher training courses” which is a frikking joke. Except for some serious schools like Sivananda / Iyengar which provide rigor in training and others run by existing masters (eg. Isha Foundation etc), many others (specially most training programs run in the west / provided primarily by westerners) are part scam.
The reason is simply that acting on incomplete knowledge will have its own consequences at some point.
The most important aspects in any serious spiritual practice are:
– purity of intent (single minded purpose to break through, not for example to make money to survive etc). All phenomena like bhakti, devotion, humility etc are a consequence / get their power because of this
– purity of technique (learn from a genuine established source / master / medium)
– consistency of practice (obviously)
That’s it. The rest (eg. finding a personal guru in the flesh, or guidance from higher realms etc) happens automatically when you are ripe for it.
Hippie ravers are also evolving at their own pace but if they’re delusional about being spiritually advanced then it’s their problem. Of course thy’ve gathered much experience and learning along the way but most of that experience is more like seeing the trailer rather than living the movie

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 7:54am

This is the best piece written on spirituality that has posted on elephant journal in a loooooong time. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 7:20am

Guilty as charged! Lol. I was just telling someone the other day how I realized that I’m very judgmental of other people who judge. Wonderful article and so timely for me. Thank you!

anonymous Jan 26, 2016 12:56pm

Excellent article – thank you for writing & publishing it! So well thought, said & written.

anonymous Jan 13, 2016 8:44pm

At the very core of all of this is that no matter how enlightened we may become, we are still human. In the words of Stuart Smalley: “It is easier to wear socks, then try to carpet the whole world.”.

anonymous Jan 2, 2016 3:19pm

Most of us are fos. None of this is important. Take care of your family and yourself and those you care about the most. Check your ego. Manage your home and work life and stop 'posting' things on the internet. No one cares, I promise you!

anonymous Dec 28, 2015 5:12pm

So you finally saw the dark side of all these New Age "spiritual" trust fund babies. Better you saw it sooner rather than later.

anonymous Dec 25, 2015 4:00pm

” I somehow thought it was my place to look down on them for their “unspiritual behavior.” ”
That is profoundly ignorant. Good article though.

anonymous Dec 22, 2015 11:03am

A good friend and wise woman once caught me in the middle of trashing someone who failed to live up to my spiritual standards, and reintroduced me to the old retail/food service adage, “You got time to lean, you got time to clean.”

If you have the time to spend looking for weaknesses or failures in others’ practice, you certainly have plenty of time to spend on introspection and examining your own practice, and looking for ways you can use that practice to improve yourself and the world around you.

    anonymous Dec 23, 2015 5:29am

    Ha ha ha…. Love this. Heard (& used) it plenty when I was in the restaurant industry 20 years ago, but never heard it used for spiritual practice & judgement. Brilliant. 🙂

anonymous Dec 19, 2015 7:40pm

I think being spiritual has become a fad. It's the newest thing. And I disagree that most people are spiritual. You are only spiritual if you are in touch with that side of yourself. I also think the term Light worker is a catch phrase that people use without any understanding of what it means. But you will only know that when you are there. People who are truly living this life don't call themselves anything. There is no need. It is only those wanting without understanding who discuss such topics. A true master never says he is a master. He just is and others know it. It isn't just living from the heart but the connection of the heart with the Source that makes the difference and that takes quite awhile to get to. It is a practice. It is a way of becoming that cannot be described in words. And one doesn't get there in their youth, usually. People would be better served to stop tryng to explain the unexplainable and humble themselves to invite in the Divine. Otherwise one is on the wagon but it is going nowhwere real. Namaste is not about seeing the Light in another. It is about having the G-D within honor the G-D within the other. Again, almost impossible to discuss.

anonymous Nov 7, 2015 5:43am

This was excellent

anonymous Oct 12, 2015 2:57am

Judge not..
Wonder fully…
Enjoy everything and everyone…
Incredibly. ..

anonymous Oct 10, 2015 9:27am

Thank you Syma for this article. I too have been removed from facebook groups because of my habitual honesty gets me in trouble. I am a massage therapist, well now I call myself an Holistic Practitioner. I am slowly distancing myself from the holier than thou attitudes of those out there. We are suppose to be a compassionate bunch, all I see is cutthroats to say the least. The difference between science based work and energy work is nonexistent. Energy work has the science behind it, all you have to look at is the inferred cameras and night vision technology out there today. Even Einstein said everything is energy. So with that said, I feel your dismay when it comes to the so-called like minded we are suppose to share our interests with. My lifestyle is my work and my work is my lifestyle. I do my best to live a clean healthy way, so I am the example I try to set for others. I see the hypocrisy in all this, yoga, meditation, massage therapists, doctors and list goes on. We are here to work together and help heal those in need of service, not to compete or get drunk and stoned on our off hours. I gave up on my expectations of most things in this life, I see people and things as they are and sometimes people and things aren’t what they appear. We have to hold ourselves to an extra higher standard because of the sacredness of what we do. Finding those who don’t see it as sacred is disheartening but, we have to try and educate them and show the public the proper way things are done. This ran longer than I intended so, I apologize. Have an amazing day.


anonymous Aug 10, 2015 2:07am

It's a relief to read someone who feels the same way that I do. It seems to incongruous to me that individuals who talk about loving acceptance and harmony one moment, sometimes feel comfortable the next moment expounding to me all the ways in which I am not good enough. In some instances it's obvious that it comes from a place of concern, and the intent is to guide and be helpful, but sometimes the distinct impression is that this lecture is not in any way for my benefit. It's so the speaker can feel proud and superior, largely at my expense, which is distinctly unkind.

Sharing is about more than knowledge, it's also about kindness and gentleness… otherwise it's like coming across some kind of spiritual dictator who's only interested in controlling me. Great article! Thank you so much for showing me that I'm not just overly sensitive, some people are pushy so and so's.

    anonymous Aug 23, 2015 7:33pm

    I share your point of view Cassandra, well said

anonymous Aug 6, 2015 9:54am

I completely agree. Thank you for saying what I have been thinking for years. Unfortunately our culture gets caught up in how the New Yoga looks on us instead of how we feel. Most of the so called Yoga Festivals promote green living, self awareness, conscious growth and health. When in reality the drug using party culture come out to do Black Light Yoga while on "molly", party all night with Moby and wake up still tripping.
It is truly sad to see this happening and I for one will not support these types of Festivals or activities. I do not judge, I just do not choose to participate. Unfortunately this puts me in a category of the outsider or the yoga teacher who isn't cool or fun. Well, I would rather follow my heart and path than follow the main stream, haters will hate. I choose love.

    anonymous Aug 6, 2015 12:31pm

    Just a friendly fyi, I think you may have missed the entire point of this article.

    anonymous Dec 25, 2015 12:36am

    There’s nothing mainstream about the culture. You sure sound like your judging. So sad to see this happening? That is very ignorant. I follow my heart and my path, and I choose love. But you’re right, haters will hate.

anonymous Aug 6, 2015 6:57am

Excellent points. My teacher called this phenomenon the "spiritual ego," which is basically the same thing the mind does to everything: turns it into yet another constructed position/layer of identity that must also ultimately be shed. So, if you are lucky enough to wake up to your spiritual ego (or have it pointed out by someone else!), turn all the compassion you've been cultivating toward yourself and smile: it's the journey.

anonymous Aug 6, 2015 5:39am

This is such a wonderful article. It completely blew my mind. I loved every word of it. Thank you very much. Indeed a nice insight.

anonymous Jul 25, 2015 4:13pm

I am so grateful for this article as it validates years of what I have felt regarding a relationship with an energy practitioner in my life. Thank you for your courage and authenticity to bring this to light.

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 4:50pm

Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom.

I remember getting ready to lead kirtan one time, talking excitedly with a friend, and then tripping over my ego when someone walked in and told me "sssshhhh!" So funny!

This is actually the topic of my new book: There Is No 'Other': Ego vs Heart. (www.timbirchard.com)

Thank you again, Sister. Namaste!

anonymous Jun 23, 2015 2:27pm

what would freedom do?

anonymous Jun 22, 2015 11:34pm

While the overall point of this article is a good one, the opening anecdote is difficult to sympathize with. Anyone who’s been a member of an open group with a spiritual focus, on Facebook or elsewhere, has almost certainly had the experience of the group being overrun by people who join not to participate in discussions, but solely to flood the feed with their event announcements and other self-promotional materials. This is so common that there’s nothing at all surprising about a group like this having a “ban on first offense” policy about advertising, particularly when said advertising comes from someone who doesn’t otherwise participate in the group.

Hint for future use: clicking “like” occasionally and posting links to your own articles on other sites does not entail participation in a community. Try actually engaging in conversation and getting to know people and you may find you get a different response.

anonymous Jun 22, 2015 8:01pm

for me, this is an important consideration as I have gone through my own sense of being “more advanced” or “higher” or “better” on a spiritual path. Feeling a sense of false spiritual pride was something I felt as I grew in my awareness. I came to my senses when I realized that we are all spiritual, we are all on a spiritual path, we must distinguish between ego thinking and spiritual thinking. Now, As I expand as a spiritual being, I know that I am the same as everyone and I walk my personal wisdom path with what I call confident humility.

anonymous Jun 22, 2015 3:02pm

Its so refreshing to see that I am not single in my frustrations with this topic.

Partially why I haven’t started teaching. While in yoga training, my teacher would say,” Honor your body, this is your practice, there is no wrong or right way.” Then proceeded to say that it upset her & claimed the action rude when yogi’s/yogini’s did different poses rather than the one she was teaching at that exact moment. Not to mention my teacher neglected me during the whole teaching and I never understood why I felt like she did not like who I am? Leaving me less than confident when I “graduated” having no feed back during any of our reviews. 🙁

I got to see the “darkside”, if you will, of yoga and it completely turned me off to actually teaching. I am definitely not soft spoken, calm, or delicate in any why which is how most yoga teachers present themselves & make it seem as if that is the only way to teach. It was very sad for me because I had thought I found my calling, then realizing that I couldn’t handle the spiritual “pressures” that went along with it.

Since then, I am nostalgic of my old practice before training. I haven’t been able to enjoy yoga the same since.

anonymous Jun 22, 2015 1:21pm

There should be a fourth gate and I think that this is even more important than the first three: Is it in line with what your heart feels?

anonymous Jun 22, 2015 8:09am

Spiritual people are just people. I came to that realisation years ago in my early 20s when I attended a “yoga get together” and 2 people started to make fun of an old italian guy walking in front of them on the sidewalk moments earlier, they were joking about how fat his legs were. Every one laughed. Or the many times my friend working at Juice For Life in Toronto would observe the people coming out of yoga class with their rolled up matts, making demands on the staff and yelling about their juice arriving a few minutes late. Or the many times I experienced incredible levels of selfishness from my roommate who would only talk to me when I was listening to her complain, as soon I started to speak (about anything related to myself and not her) she would have to do. She deemed herself an ver spiritual person, she had already been “rebirthed” and participated in many new age therapies, as well as an avid yoga practitioner. I no longer see “spiritual” people as different from anyone else (especially if they call themselves that). We are all looking for identity and a way to understand our place in the world. The happiest and most genuine spiritual people I have met almost NEVER talk about happiness and spirituality. They show it to you with their actions.

anonymous Jun 21, 2015 6:25pm

I agree. Thank you for writing this 🙂

anonymous Jun 21, 2015 1:51pm

Exquisite clarity. Thank you. <3

anonymous Jun 21, 2015 6:57am

Wonderful insight into an unfortunately far too frequent occurrence. Thank you for bringing this to light once again. The book “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism,” by Chögyam Trungpa, addressed this same regressive trait in spiritual aspirants over 40 years ago, but it is a timeless issue.

anonymous Jun 21, 2015 6:41am

Wonderful article! I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Jun 15, 2015 2:02pm

Thanks for sharing, it's easy to judge unconsciously while trying to defend ourselves, but it's easier not getting involved in things that doesn't concern as. I get sad and worried about some close friends that are deep in ayahuasca but I've learned that it's their life, their choice and the moment that they need to experiment now.

anonymous Jun 12, 2015 1:22pm

ouuUUUcch…thank you!

anonymous May 29, 2015 6:19am

Elegantly and eloquently written article, Syma.

anonymous May 14, 2015 7:30pm

By the amount of comments this article resonated with many. I would say that we must all be on the spiritual path and, thus, are all learning; students. And,so, we will all make mistakes. As long as we learn something that keeps us moving forward and on the path then we will have to expect good and bad experiences even within the “spiritual” community who are also students. As something I read from Osho – just remain the Watcher of your life; accept the days of joy the same as the days of despair. I liked this article and the rejection experienced by Syma was just another teacher.

anonymous May 14, 2015 7:03am

It feels a little like this article goes in circles – saying that we shouldn't criticise others yet at the same time holding up examples of people who have 'done wrong', by criticising, which is critical in itself.
There is something that many people don't want to face, because it sounds judgemental/critical/discriminatory. Which it isn't – it's simply fact. And that is that some people are simply more conscious than others. It is not about better or worse. You don't judge a 5 year old for being less knowledgeable than a 15 year old. We know that the 5 year old will learn. It is the same with spirituality and levels of consciousness (levels of which often have nothing to do with age). Someone who meditates for 22 hours a day for 30 years and who has great abilities, even paranormal powers, is simply on a higher level than someone who never considers the consequences of their actions. It's a level of consciousness. Someone else who practises yoga for 2 hours every day for 20 years – but who still hasn't learned, or even tried to learn – the basics of the yamas and niyamas, is less of a person than the one who simply tries each and every day to be better than the day before – without knowing anything about yoga or meditation. There are different levels of consciousness of people. We should absolutely not judge or condemn of course. But, unless we are liberated masters, we still have our ego, ready and waiting to make us feel 'holier' than the one who hasn't got (much of) a clue. And that's the challenge. We simply need to focus on our own transformation, and when we come across the spiritual ego in others or notice it in ourselves, we use the opportunity to act, or re-act in the best way that we know – with love, understanding and compassion.

anonymous May 13, 2015 12:18am

The need for any to feed or further fuel resistance to similar experiences, is unnecessary. Perhaps if one were to consider labelling oneself 'light worker' then action belonging to that could be to choose LOVE and not choose FEAR in the experience <3 I understand the power of connection, given relating to other's similar experiences, either fear-based or love-based. We are all learning how to be ourselves and it is perhaps more necessary give ourselves a break. Were are ALL in this together! Thank you for the article and the following comments, Syma, and everyone for their contributing comments too! I LOVE YOU ALL XO

anonymous May 12, 2015 10:16pm

Thanks for the article. I love the really practical suggestion of asking "What would love do?" Another practical suggestion I've thought about for a long while is that we could all just give up the term "lightworkers". I feel like the work I do with people can be very healing, but as often as not we dip into the darker, more shadowy material of human existence. And also more often than not, when i hear people self-identify as "lightworkers" in conversation, it seems to be a way to say to me "hey, I'm part of an exclusive and semi-secret club of people that are secretly laughing up our sleeves at the rest of humanity. Are you one of us?" I am wondering if there's a new word we could use that would be as inclusive as possible???

anonymous May 12, 2015 6:19pm

I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this article….not only have I been on the receiving end of sad and unkind behavior from fellow light workers but my reaction to their "lessthanlightworker" attitudes brought my thinking down to a level I'm never comfortable with. I realized it's not my job to judge or accept their judgement but to live ,learn and maintain my own selfs journey and put out what I wish to relieve back…even if I don't receive it back lol. Kindness matters….and that I will not deviate from.

anonymous May 12, 2015 9:50am

Great article and I love the 3 steps! Thank you!

anonymous May 11, 2015 8:36am

Thank you for writing this article! I wish I had this link when I was shunned by my (thought she was) best friend. I was drawn to the spiritual community and specific light workers because of their openness, nonjudgmental ways and acceptance of others (not separatism), only to be cast out as I struggled with letting go of a lot of ingrained behaviors and habits. Eventually I wasn't "vibrating" at their level (although I had not been "awake" very long. I've heard so many of these "lightworkers" look down upon those who are not yet awake with disgust calling them "3D" people and choosing not to engage with them at all for it. I've heard "lightworkers" look down upon each other because one person follows a certain teacher or doesn't do things as they see is the "right" way to do things. We are all human. We are perfect and we are flawed. Some of us have a longer way to go to shed our old patterns of behavior, and this includes lightworkers. Remember that to be a lightworker you are spreading love and light, not judgement and separatism.

anonymous May 10, 2015 4:19am

It's so great to see the discussion continue on this topic – thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and to many for your very kind words. It has also been interesting to observe how a few readers have chosen to express their views in light of the message I was hoping to share: to process our reactions consciously, accept them compassionately and respond lovingly from our hearts and souls. I fully welcome differing opinions that will lead to further reflection for us all. But as some of the things said have been mean rather than constructive, please remember that what we say and how we say it also says something about us, and it is worth considering what that might be. So I would like to extend another invitation to ask ourselves, "What would love do?" before we comment. With love and gratitude <3

anonymous May 9, 2015 6:38pm

Trungpa Rinpoche described this phenomena in his book "cutting through spiritual materialism". It is not so much something new as it is more and more prevalent, or maybe just more obvious as we have instant access to so much info.

A lot like the Arts, status and financial rewards have been accorded to many teachers who seem to have the answers people seek. Then everyone wants to be the guru.

The problem is that skilfull means requires a real integration of the teachings of unconditional acceptance and equanimity. Of discerning and non-reactive mind and clear communication skills. What I see a lot is a kind of spiritual "certainty" as a way of masking aggression. "I am so certain my way of perceiving and engaging with the path is so correct that anyone falling outside my prescribed parameters is suspect and will be treated that way."

The thing is, many of the institutions and individuals/teachers are simply not congruent with message they are espousing. The economic agenda drives their message too hard and skewed. Like the huge fallacy of the Law of attraction.

Jung said what we don't turn and face becomes our destiny. So much of what the west is now calling "spiritual" is just form and posturing and imitation. Westerners dressed like Tibetan lamas, or speaking in a super soft voice while mouthing platitudes, or talking about changing the world through kindness, but treating the people who work for these teachers really badly, or sexual misconduct with vulnerable students, etc etc etc..

so maybe the question is, how do we open ourselves to our human frailties and ambitions and allow things to just be as they are? I personally think that the challenge of our times and our interest in deeper places is to actually integrate the essential teachings into meaningful actions that ripple out into the world.

May all beings be free from the root causes of suffering

    anonymous Jun 22, 2015 9:32am

    “Maitri Karuna Mudito Upekshanyam” are a few of Patanjalis remedies for overcoming the suffering of life. This group is also known as “The Four Immesurables” by the Vajrayana Buddists. It’s ok to act nicer to people and hope they act nicer toward us and we don’t or they don’t, we both feel it. I’m in complete agreement with zenguitarguy here that we need authentic teachings and need to take the time to practice them. The great thing about living in a place built on the freedom of religion is we can practice whatever we want, religiously. Even if it’s something we invented that has no results. To all the humble seekers, make sure what you are putting all your energies toward has been tried and tested and can offer the actual results it claims to offer.

anonymous May 9, 2015 3:21pm

I loved this article. It’s hard to be positive and kind, especially internally. You pointed out the hypocrisy of others so well, but yet, came up with guidelines to keep your path light. You are truly a good person.

anonymous May 9, 2015 12:31pm

Thank you for this enlightening article, Syma. At first, I connected with the spiritual snobbery that I too have witnessed in my community. Then, as I continued to read your article, I found that I too have been guilty of spiritual snobbery in my own thoughts, words, and actions. While forgiving myself of the snobbery in me, I am going to strive to be more conscious in my thoughts and nip them in the bud and continually strive to act from the heart.

Thank you for also stating in your article about how when acting from the heart, it can lead you to walk away, speak up, have boundaries, and be firm. These are areas where I have been doing a lot of personal growth in. While I know that being led from the heart these actions have helped me love and honor me and not give my power away, I still wrestle with the fall out of these actions on others who may not see my actions as loving for/to them. All I can do is keep them in my heart and close certain chapters with gratitude for the lessons learned and for them being the conduit for the lessons brought forth, instead of having resentments and perpetuating hurt.

I will be printing this article out so I may refer to it ~ a lot!!! Blessed Be.

anonymous May 9, 2015 6:49am

I really enjoyed it, because you don't always see the other side of the "lightworker" community that really goes on. People DO use love and light and then talk trash about others especially on message boards and fb groups. There is a lot of unconscious ego and fear within these people, where they don't seem to accept the complete human experience which involves balance. We are both the light and dark of ourselves so the people who are constantly trying to be strictly positive all the time and condemning anyone who isn't are a contradiction to themselves. This is something i've repeatedly noticed you will find vegans/vegetarians spouting hate messages to people who eat meat yet they are right because they are treating animals better. I have even seen someone say we are fault for killing animals because we eat meat as if the corporations out there aren't at fault? what kinda logic is that. Some of these people are so out there they are delusional about what constitutes reality. I've experienced Ego death and i think even the new age community is still trapped in many ways because of concepts such as these mentioned above in your article. There is NO compassion and we are instead of embracing eachother's differences we judge them all the same.

There is countless times where they link Dogma to New Age Propaganda and it's about time someone puts their foot down and says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

anonymous May 9, 2015 1:35am

Dogmatism and “holier than thou” attitudes are obviously not confined to organised religion. Even this article has elements of “see how loving and forgiving I am to these not-so-spiritual-after-all pretenders”.
I thought being spiritual was something personal that you just got on with, quietly, without fuss, and without need for all the trappings like crystals and namastes and so on to proclaim your spirituality to all who wish to know about it as well as those who don’t really care one way or another. Certainly not by joining “groups”, and going on retreats and whatnot to essentially enrich one or another of the legion of gurus, shamans, guides, yogis and the like. Witness Ms. Syma Kharal herself, with her thriving global business and lovely comfortable home in sunny tropical Thailand.

anonymous May 8, 2015 7:00pm

Loved the article. I couldn’t help wondering if your Thai Island experience was koh phangan. Similar experience about 15 years ago!

    anonymous May 9, 2015 9:57am

    Hi Debbie, yes I was on Koh Phangan as well 🙂

anonymous May 8, 2015 1:28pm

Great article. I love the three steps to check yourself. Thanks for writing it. So needed. Let’s keep working on accepting and not judging, and make the world an emotionally safer place to live. Jai Ma!

anonymous May 8, 2015 12:37pm

Thank you for this article. It reminds me of some things I"ve observed, which others have noted, as well as some things a few teachers are saying. First, just because people are spiritual practitioners doesn't mean they have done their "work" emotionally. In fact, sometimes spiritual practice is an escape from that emotional work. What some teachers are now saying is that the so-called lightworkers you are talking about are actually the ones who are holding up planetary ascension more than the dark. Their egos won't let them see that they have been misled and deceived by false light. So, they are maintaining us in a pattern of duality and inhibiting unity consciousness. There's a great article by Cameron Day called "Why I am No Longer a Lightworker" that I recommend to everyone fed up with the shallow, egotistical end of the New (C)age movement. Thanks again for your article. I'm glad Elephant published it.

anonymous May 8, 2015 11:37am

Thank you sooo much for this article… exactly my thoughts and experiences and why i have withdrawn myself from the "spiritual community" and gone on my own path. Your a beautiful women with a beautiful soul and thank you for sharing this with us! I hope people become more conscious of their words and actions and how out of alignment we truly are

anonymous May 8, 2015 11:13am

It's funny how you haven't seen your part in your removal from that group, one of the most annoying things in spiritual circles is self promotion, and in essence you were using the group, for your own self promotion. It's right there in your own words, in black and white, I'm not sure how you missed the problem. The new age is full of destructive lightworkers trying to ascend the spiritual ladder, posing their way to the next dimension, but what they miss, and perhaps you miss too, is even in using the term lightworker, you are neglecting half the story, and until you can face your dual nature, you will continue in these same shallow circles. This entire article is not really about the mean girls of the lightworker world, it's you having a public forum to whinge about getting booted from a group you were using. Your examples of spiritual snobbery are so banal, they hardly rate a mention let alone an article. The fact that the new age is full of aggressive, egocentric lightworkers is definitely a story that needs to be told, but this wasn't that story, this was a whinge.

    anonymous May 9, 2015 6:38am

    I think that one of the things the article very directly points out is that we often react to things, people, articles in a very unkind way. Rather than simply disagreeing with things that irk us, we can at times indulge the ego and proceed to rip offending material to satisfying shreds; as people actively trying to become more self-aware and self-disciplined–not to mention happier–we should avoid this. I'm certain that using words like 'banal' and 'whinge' are neither kind nor productive ways to express your frustration. Also, I'd add that by beginning your comment with "it's funny how you haven't seen.." you're establishing a very strong position of snobbery right out of the gates, giving the impression that your only purpose in commenting is to wound, which I should hope is not the case.

      anonymous May 9, 2015 3:42pm

      Thanks Doug, everyone has wounds and when they read something that reminds them of a wound or pain then the automatic reaction is to lash out, use this thread to voice their frustration at snobs, users, and so on. Were all guilty of it, were all guilty of doing just what we attack others for doing. Self honesty is good for me. I see my reactions at comments and heal as I feel to the best of my ability in this moment. Some like to think we have the best overall balance and understanding when in truth we each have a unique perspective and our own selection of pains and hurt that trigger us. May we all gain some insight from this post about yourself, not just about others or to boost our own ego as we do often without realising were doing it. I’ve shyed away from spiritual groups because of the flakeyness I’ve perceived but really it was my own blindness and flakeyness i couldnt see that bothered me underneath.

    anonymous May 9, 2015 11:31pm

    I agree

    anonymous May 12, 2015 6:34pm

    Since there wasn't anything written about not sharing your events on the guidelines how was she to know? Also she felt as if she had something to offer the group which is why the group existed to begin with….. To grow and learn from each other …it seems natural to do so. While it is sad you couldn't learn anything from this article about how to react blending your feelings and kindness together, my hope is that you and everyone else always examine their own behavior to make sure as conscious people they aren't being hypocrites in their thoughts or responses and we all walk away remembering kindness matters…. We can be firm in our beliefs but we don't have to be unkind.

anonymous May 8, 2015 5:04am

Wow, thank you so much for sharing your insights, experiences and feedback everyone. I hope the article serves as a gentle reminder to help us return to love, kindness and compassion, while honouring our own humanness and each others’ paths along the way. Love and Namaste (I really mean it!) <3

anonymous May 8, 2015 12:36am

You seem surprised. Every person who trades in spirituality and profits from “enlightenment”, including you, is a pretentious charlatan. Everybody knows this except you and your ilk. Almost every person I know, from all walks of life and in all sorts of jobs is more spiritual than ANY of the dopes who egotistically claim to be guides or teachers for others. The very fact that they would make those claims proves them to be unworthy. You have been is a bubble for a very long time I’m guessing.

    anonymous May 8, 2015 3:49am

    What a ridiculous comment! According to your theory, there should be no yoga teachers, unless they teach for free and don’t need to eat or have a roof over their heads. I’m sorry if you have yet to meet a teacher or guide who has helped you, but many people have, including myself. Maybe you should give up on enlightenment as a goal. It’s a bit lofty for most of us, anyway.

      anonymous May 8, 2015 8:41am

      Observe Consciously
      Accept Compassionately
      Respond Lovingly

    anonymous May 8, 2015 12:33pm

    Matthew your comment is entirely nasty and reveals you as one of the people she's talking about in this article. Don't become the thing you hate.

    anonymous May 9, 2015 11:28pm

    I actually agree with Matthew.

    anonymous May 10, 2015 12:24pm

    reverting to name calling ("dopes") and making assumptions about others' life experience ("you have been in a bubble") comes from a hateful place. i hope the pain you've experienced to say such attacking things gets better, hopefully not through the expense of attacking others. this is not to say there is no truth to what you're saying, i just wonder if there is a way to say it in a less condescending way.

anonymous May 7, 2015 11:59pm

Beautiful! Really loved this 🙂 thank you for sharing!

anonymous May 7, 2015 11:52pm

Its just more practice to realize what others do (or say or whatever) have nothing to do with us or our advancement. In fact, the more you advance, the more you accept ANYTHING (provided there’s no danger).

anonymous May 7, 2015 9:00pm

This article is well written and incredibly beautiful. Thank you for it, I love the reminder that we shouldn't get caught up with the idea of being spiritual, and instead just concentrate on our journey and practice love and compassion for others who are on theirs.

anonymous May 7, 2015 7:50pm

Wow what a wonderful article. I've been dealing with this for the past year or two..,, it's so hard in such a dark world to not fall for some of the trickery it comes after us with. I have 2 daughters (15 & 12) and it's extremely difficult to show them the way of the LIGHT without projecting the illusion of weakness or that it would be okay to be treated wrong by others. But I've noticed that teaching them about the ego and how it works it's a little bit more understandable. Thank you Namaste Love & Light. =] ~Man of LIGHT~

anonymous May 7, 2015 7:37pm

Such a beautiful read. A wise women once told me, "know the true nature of what you do". Thank you for reminding us on the importance of this. Its very easy to fall ignorant to the ways of the ego..as sneaky and as cunning as it can be….so a reminder of what to look our for and to accept ourselves in all our ways with compassion and act with love, is of high value. Being true to what we are and not what we think we would like to be. Blessings on the work you do. May you continue to inspire spirit with such grace.

anonymous May 7, 2015 7:24pm

It happens because we identify ourselves with the ego and start comparing and therefore judging. My spiritual path is mine and no one else's . Why would I want to prove my self to others . I try to stay away from groups such as this because I lose my individuality . My goal should be better myself and represent myself and my path through my behavior and actions. This is the exact problem that many true spiritual leaders have faced too , so you are not alone .

anonymous May 7, 2015 6:34pm

we are all at different points on our journey, I am learning that it is always important to respond with a pause first. The ego pops up in all of us. If the ego of someone else shows itself to us we need to not let our own egos respond. Snobbery can not effect our spirit only our egos. When we feel that uncomfortable pang created by snobbery it is Important to remember that the very thing creating that feeling of discomfort in U.S. Is the same thing that caused their snobbery. Hopefully we can then remember that we are all the same.

anonymous May 7, 2015 6:24pm

Ooooh Syma, you are wonderful and spot on! I love and respect that you are courageous enough to include yourself as a spiritual snob on occassions. It is so easy to judge and shift blame onto others without looking at ourselves in the mirror. Great piece and thank you!

anonymous May 7, 2015 6:08pm

Thank you for this very accurate and poignant article. This is all too common, and mannnnny supposed authors and readers of even this site are guilty of this. The point of many practices are to dissolve the strength and rigidness of the ego, while approaching a practice in the wrong mindset serves to only bring about more of the same ego strengthening, albeit under a new visage.

anonymous May 7, 2015 5:55pm

Dear Syma Kharal, Thank you for your well written and highly enlighten viewpoint of the world spiritual community. I lived in Bali for over 7 years and the Yoga folks at the Bali Spirit Festival, which is held every year in Ubud often talked as if only they knew what true enlightenment is and if you were not a part of the yoga movement clique, you need to be taught a thing or two. Or the Raw Food folks..gee we were into Raw foods via Ann Wigmore in 1978, do they have to lecture us on this new found health fad? Having traveled the Metaphysical path of the wounded warrior for over 40 years, I can tell you that it was not compassion that guided these people. Of course not all were spiritual snobs, there is hope. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico were spiritual snobbery flourishes and as duality is known to do, right along side comes compassion from the other group of lightworkers. Blessings to you and to all. Jean

anonymous May 7, 2015 3:56pm

As a spiritual aspirant, I find it helpful to remember that we are all learning, growing and wrestling with untamed ego's. Also it's very interesting to observe the behavior in others that you dislike because that is your own shadow being reflected back to you, showing you the areas in your soul which you hide from yourself. When you start to recognise the shadow and accept it as being part of the Divine Human that you are – ie: love it, the shadow will no longer upset you. Fascinating journey this!

anonymous May 7, 2015 3:41pm

i could not agree more. I've always felt this way, not only regarding the spiritual community, but with all forms of knoledge and belief systems. The spiritual world, as lovely as it can be, is in fact a religion more or less. It covers all aspects of a religion. Questions as to what is our purpose, why are we here, the nature of the cosmos and heavens, karma/code of values. It uses gatherings, symbols, clubs, ceramonies and traditions.
I'm not religious, though I have always found nothing but value in their teachings. It is the people ( the snobs) that misinterpret and/or they to teach others to see "their way" from which problems and danger arises.
Just my two cents. Thank you for this post. I think this is a topic that needs much more attention. The spiritual community is growing very quickly. We must take caution that, like other religions, the power is not used to justify hurtful behavious and used as a tool to brainwash for power and profit.
Thanks again. Be well.

anonymous May 7, 2015 1:42pm

I belong to a local meditation group. Someone posted something by Alan Watts and was immediately scolded for it. She said the group didn't like Alan Watts and there are better people to quote. I couldn't believe this attitude coming from people who spend hours meditating and spreading love and kindness. Changed my view of the group and I've stopped posting.

anonymous May 7, 2015 1:18pm

There is a LOT of snobbery and looking-down-the-nose, not to mention crazy fundamentalism in spiritual communities. Unfortunately, so-called "Lightworker" communities tend to be especially bad. Why? Because you're not "allowed" to admit or experience your 'bad' feelings. Everything has to be positive. This isn't spiritual at all. All of this denial and repression just leads to outbursts and all kinds of negative behaviors.

This is why I finally started the Spiritual Badass Community. It's a place for people who are real and who don't try to deny their dark side. It's only when you accept people as whole people and accept yourself and ALL of your emotions that true spirituality and love and kindness can flourish. I think most people are pretty sick of pseudo spirituality these days. It's time to just be real.

    anonymous May 29, 2015 6:11am

    I resonate! Yay!

    anonymous Aug 20, 2015 3:17pm

    Yes, this! You are awesome and I kind of want to join this badass community 😀

anonymous May 6, 2015 4:42pm

Thank you for this…. thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve had similar weird experiences and as I’ve looked at building the community I now lead, I try to make these an experience a template for what I don’t want to do!

    anonymous May 7, 2015 1:29am

    Wow, thank you for all your thank you's Jamie! I am so glad you found the article helpful and admire your commitment to creating a community based on love and kindness instead.

anonymous May 6, 2015 7:39am

Rather than removing some member abruptly, … there are ways of doing FB setting by group admin in kind way. For ex., if admin" didn’t remove me, only admins are allowed to post events. " then admins have should know the FB technical side. FB has setting where admins could make FB page setting, so that others in group cannot post but read only the contents.

anonymous May 6, 2015 3:41am

I'm so glad the article resonated with you PJ and thank you for your feedback. Yes we are conditioned to judge, but bringing things back to love helps us open our hearts instead of closing our minds, doesn't it? 🙂

    anonymous May 16, 2015 6:25pm

    Green consciousness needs to go Integral (see Ken Wilber)

anonymous May 6, 2015 2:20am

Ahh Syma – I couldn’t agree with you more! I have had some similar experiences but also know that I judge and am not perfect. The human condition is quite bizarre isn’t it! I think we need to just simply remember that we are all connected no matter what! xx

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Syma Kharal

Syma Kharal is a certified and loving holistic healer, spiritual coach, goddess guide and yoga teacher committed to empowering beloved clients all over the world to heal and transform their lives. She shares many free resources and offers powerful sessions and programs to support others in uncovering, healing and transcending the unconscious and even karmic blocks that sabotage their happiness. She guides clients to then joyfully manifest the life of their dreams – the life they truly desire and deeply deserve. Syma immersed herself in the healing arts in her early teens to overcome many personal traumas and painful patterns. All this inner work led her to co-create a life she never thought possible for her, including leaving a draining corporate career to follow her calling, building a thriving global healing practice, manifesting and marrying her soulmate and leaving cold Canada to move to tropical Thailand. For more information, connect with Syma through her website or join her on Facebook and YouTube.