Spiritual enlightenment opens the doorway towards self-mastery. It is recognizing all that is serves a purpose of bringing us closer to the divine path we choose to take in this incarnation. While this feeling can be described as “liberating”, if you’re not careful, the ego can start taking ownership of these experiences. And this is where the shadow side starts to appear.
The Ego and Spirituality
When the ego starts to get involved in rationalizing your spiritual experiences, it is acting as a defense mechanism to get you to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and experiences. It supports the notion that once you’re enlightened, you’re free from trauma and bad things happening to you again. This is not the case. And what also happens is that when you experience the “high” from your awakening, you start to develop an addiction to that moment. So you try to recreate those moments to get you back into that state. This could mean meditating excessively, repeating tantras, or fasting for long periods of time so you can reach that coveted place again.
Long term, this could be very dangerous and the original purpose of participating in these activities are gone. Once you accept the call to begin the spiritual journey and immerse yourself in metaphysical texts, this can invite arrogance and superiority that is facilitated by the ego. When you get a taste of what “enlightenment” is, its easy to fall under the trap of “spiritual superiority”.
You start judging people that remind you of your past self and project your values and beliefs onto other people. When you operate under your spiritual belief system and judge people based on your own beliefs, completely neglecting the possibility that they may hold values that are different than yours, you are adding more fuel to the ego and have lost the meaning of pursuing spirituality in the first place. Your spiritual journey reflects your values and experiences, not on a universal code of ethics that many religions are based on. When you let go of the idea of “how a spiritual person should act” and accept that people walk a different path and are facing their own issues, you can then have a sense of appreciation for them as well as for yourself.
The first step in changing the way your ego is interpreting your spiritual experiences is by recognizing its influence. Here are some of the common patterns that fall under spiritual egoism.
Intellectualizing Spiritual Texts
While it’s good to retain knowledge of spiritual principles, it’s not enough just to have them memorized. Sometimes, people get caught up in knowing all the spiritual laws that rule the Universe or the seven chakras that balance our body, wrapping themselves in the cycle of taking in information rather than application. Metaphysical text shouldn’t be approached the way you study an academic subject. The purpose of these texts is to help you discover what you’ve always known within yourself. It is aiding you in uncovering the repressed emotions that you’ve hidden under the rug for most of your life. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest. The real test is applying the principles that inspire you to live in alignment with your true purpose.
Feeling Like the “Chosen” One
You look at others who haven’t progressed spiritually as inferior individuals. And you see yourself as one of the chosen ones who’ve been gifted the opportunity to have access to sacred text and principles. This was one of the points that we brought up previously in this post and this is something that we’ve also been through in our journey. It’s important to emphasize that for some people, the process of developing their spirituality can occur later in their life or not at all. We are all here to fulfill various karmic obligations that were influenced from many of our past lives. No one in this world is inferior or superior. We are just souls working on what we chose to heal or balance in this lifetime.
Embracing One Side
Most people misinterpret the meaning of their emotions after going through their awakening. The most common thing is showing excessive positivity, in fear of embracing emotions such as anger and sadness because it represents low vibration energy. Your life consists of balance, which means you will experience positive and negative emotions. The human experience allows you to feel the whole spectrum of its nature. By ignoring what hurts, you are adding to your vanity which displays your inauthenticity and allowing the problem to escalate until you have no choice but to confront it head on.
Need to Experience Purpose in Life
Behind the egoism and clenching on to emotions lies this truth. There are many people who’ve been unfulfilled with their relationships and careers and feel like they lack a “why” to continue their existence. They’ve experienced circumstances that they couldn’t rationalize or didn’t want to use spirituality as a tool for understanding.
The good news is there is a way to do this without engaging in toxic behaviors that could hurt the ones you love and yourself. Searching and seeking your truth doesn’t have to involve manipulation and destruction. Allow your experiences to come and go and be receptive to the mes-sages your guides are sending you. When you are patient and operate in the present instead of the path, this is where the real growth begins. What are your experiences with egoism in your spiritual journey? What other areas has egoism showed up in your life and how did you deal with it? What are some of the suggestions you found useful in changing the way your ego interprets information?