Understanding The Role Of The Ego In Spirituality
“Ego is the destroyer of the soul.”
We all have personal agendas, conflicts, crises, egos, faults and strategies. We all have afflictions and conditions which impair our perceptions, senses, instincts, thoughts and feelings. This is the daily reality we all accept, adopt and navigate in our experiences. Some of us nurture practices to keep ourselves balanced, conscious, present and transformed, while some of us front oblivion to deny, dismiss, deflect and project our inner challenges and deficiencies upon others. This happens in all communities. The ego transmits a dense, low-vibrational energy not only impacting the people engaging in deception, yet also the spiritual community with which they pray and relate.
For half of my life, I have participated in spiritual communities. I learned and earned a degree of focus, consciousness, effort, energy, intention and prayer to manage my own ego, agendas, challenges, deficiencies, instincts, thoughts and feelings detrimental to my experience. It is clear to all whom have chosen to walk a spiritual path, there is a necessity to practice observation, awareness, accountability, integrity and transformation.
For me, it is a commitment of holding a space for all to have their experience, and the choice to make a positive difference in the lives of all their relations. Unfortunately for some, the “ego of spirituality” establishes a schism between perception and experience.
Best of intentions
When our experience begins, we are mystified by the energy and power of spirituality. As human beings, we are prone to heap our belief, hope, energy and lives onto the mystery. It seems much easier to fully sacrifice ourselves upon the altar of blind faith, than delve into the rotten soil of our personal challenges and deficiencies which brought us to it. As our awareness of our soul and the universe evolves, our ego grows in tandem. Most of us decide to abandon observation of our ego, giving it as much power over us than whatever spiritual relation we believe we are cultivating. We instinctively collapse the voice we interpret as spirit with our ego. We listen more to this inner voice than the universe because it tells us what we “want” to hear, never what we “need” to hear.
Identity of importance
When the ego takes root in our experience, a desire to be acknowledged and significant arises. As we deepen our spirituality, inevitably we crave importance. Our personal experiences often require the validation of others to exhibit them as being more meaningful and powerful. This is “artificial power,” which negates whatever sincere effort and energy we are investing. It is contrary to our evolution when we fall into virtual spirituality. All the focus, intention, energy, adversity, challenge and pain our experience may bring, offered intentionally and obliviously to our ego in pursuit of false power and importance. Therefore, our spirituality fails. However, it is not the tradition we practice which falters. It is our spiritual superiority which empowers our ego.
“Vulnerability is the greatest strength we can express.”
Trail of tears
All of us have personal woundedness. We have been hurt by circumstances and others, yet primarily by ourselves. Our suffering is self-inflicted, whether we choose to believe, observe or claim it. We conceal and covet our pain and insecurity because we believe our ego when it tells us it is weakness. We repress our deficiencies in desperation and present a “brave face” to our community, while we break down with every spiritual step we take. As we stumble down our path, our anger, anxiety, doubt and fear rise to be released from our experience. When this occurs, we have three options. 1. We continue to deny and repress its existence. 2. We project it upon others as their responsibility, thus deflecting our own. 3. We choose to be with and manage our own issues and eventually resolve them.
Spirituality is not about “our” experience. This is a selfish fantasy we devise to appease our ego and sustain our artificial power, ultimately limiting our conscious evolution. The cornerstone of our commitment to the traditions we walk is our service to the people in our communities and beyond. Occasionally, I have observed people step into spiritual experiences for the sole purpose of receiving something for themselves alone. This has been and is heartbreaking for me to witness, all their potential for making a difference, wagered for control, ego and importance. The most disturbing reality in this dynamic; most have little awareness of the impacts it has on them, and none it has on others.
Many who step into a spiritual experience often have deficiencies or lack personal power. When they see others who are developing and expressing their own, they too yearn to establish theirs. Yet, their ego emphasizes their neglected anger, anxiety, fear, insecurity, pain and woundedness. Out of their desire, desperation, entitlement and self-righteousness, they aim to steal power from others to fabricate their own. They use other people’s reactions to their behavior to distort and manipulate experience and perception. When they are exposed, they present themselves as victims of the circumstance they have caused, using their drama, trauma and tears as a weapon to divert the attention from themselves onto others to achieve their agenda.
One of the primary expressions of “artificial power” in spiritual communities happens when the “spiritualized” attempt to divide and conquer. They invent narratives about others, most often leaders, to distort and manipulate perception, compromising the image, role and trust leaders have earned with their communities. Once the seeds of speculation are planted, the provocateurs enroll others in their orchestrated plots, gathering numbers and imposing their agendas. They initiate division between members of the community to efficiently control information and outcomes. Essentially, it is a hostile takeover predicated by their belief they are better than the people who are given roles of responsibility.
For years, I have attempted to identify the behaviors of people who use spirituality as a strategy to bolster their ego, execute their agenda and obtain power. The term that best classifies this behavior is “spiritualized.” By definition, “someone who perceives themselves to be spiritually superior to others, using ageism, experience, history and self-righteousness to prove and impose their spiritual status and worth.” Being “spiritualized” is a social psychosis and metaphysical stigma running rampant throughout most if not all domains of spirituality. Yet it is not only the actions, words or behaviors of “spiritualized” individuals, it is the malicious intent in the name of spirituality which invokes the greatest harm, influence and devastation.
For the benefit of all:
Some may be offended when reading this article. Some may believe what is written does not apply to them. Whether my observations about the ego of spirituality empowers, inspires, enrages, irritates or simply does not move the needle of recognition is telling. Whatever reaction we choose in response to these observations is a clarification of our willingness to acknowledge and accept we ALL have egos. Like it or not, its influence DOES impact our spiritual experience and those of others. Understanding this gives us all the opportunity to shift our focus and energy away from our ego and align with our soul. If we are going to give all of ourselves for our spiritual experience, it needs to be for the benefit of all.
Practicing tradition is a powerful experience. It is a humbling opportunity often mistaken as an attainment of individual advancement. When we charge into our spirituality with agenda, ego, entitlement and expectation, it will become destructive to us and others in ways we cannot begin to imagine. However, when we step into our experience with consciousness, humility and prayer, it empowers our lives and those of others. “Spiritualized” people do not like to be told what to do, and often tend to alter traditions, feign understanding or even make them up to suit their agenda. After all my experiences, one insight I would share with those at the crossroads of their soul; be present to your ego and its influence, or you will never have a spiritual experience.
“Unity is the soul of community.”
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