In Part 1 of this article I discussed the tendency to perceive some things as spiritual and some as not, and the ensuing struggle to integrate all aspects of one's life in one unified, harmonious whole. This separation often stems from the ideas we have about what spirituality is and how it should look, behave and smell. Yet those same ideas can prove to be the enemy of an authentic spiritual experience. Especially when they separate us from others.
I Know Better
When we have a specific idea in mind of what “spiritual” looks like (usually it’s peaceful, eco-friendly and has some incense in it), it’s easy to consciously or unconsciously start manipulating ourselves and the world around us to fit that idea. We may decide to “go vegetarian”, sign up for every “Heal This" and "Heal That” workshop that comes our way (and enroll our partner, unbeknownst to them), book a 10-day Vipassana silent retreat because we’re told it will change our life or give up alcohol because some "guru" said it would slow us down on our journey to Bliss. When, as a result of our “improved” lifestyle, we begin experiencing a newfound vitality and clear sense of purpose it is not uncommon to want to share with the world how we got there. Out of what seems like genuine care, we begin offering unsolicited advice to friends and family on how they should live their life. We recommend natural remedies, specific books and classes they should try, all meant to help them reach “their highest potential”. We encourage them to question what’s in the food they eat and where it comes from, suggest they not take so many prescription drugs and inquire deeper into the meaning of life, all for their own good of course! I have been guilty of that myself, as a daughter, girlfriend or yoga teacher.
"Thanks, but no thanks."
So when the response is basically “Thanks but no thanks” it’s difficult to accept. Those are people we love and care about after all. Yet subtly a feeling is born, the feeling that they don’t know what they’re missing, that I know something they don’t, that I have the answers to their existential angst and less-than-perfect health if they would only listen to me. A feeling I find pervasive among those of us who’ve embraced a holistic lifestyle. And hence the “Spiritual Seeker Superiority Complex” is born. Which begs the question…
What Does it Mean to Be Spiritual Anyway?
Are some people, things, places, foods, activities more/less spiritual than others? I'll explore those questions in part 3. I realize of course some of you reading this may be on the other side of the equation. That is, you may have been the recipient of unwelcome advice on how to live your life, by well-meaning friends. And for that I apologize. At the end of the day, we are all on the same spiritual journey, and that journey has as many faces as there are people on the planet.
Until next time,