Is It Possible To Avoid Spiritual Narcissism?
We love to celebrate achievers. Gold medal winners. Marathon runners. Successful entrepreneurs. We rightfully say “wow, look what they’ve done! It’s quite a feat!”
But when it comes to personal and spiritual development, we tend to keep “peak experiences” quiet. There’s an immodesty to saying “look at me! I’ve reached the 8th limb of Patanjali’s yoga…at least five times. And yeah, that unity with god and consciousness thing that you’ve read about? I’ve done that too!”
In my case, this is my reality. I’m reaching the upper limits of meditation states on the regular. But instead of having the ability to show off about this and feel smug, I’m keeping it quiet (note: please spare me the comments that this article is a humblebrag that proves how amazing I am, and am therefore not quiet about my achievements. I see the irony but you’re missing the point).
So I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I have experienced some “cool shit” that I want to talk about, but on the other hand it’s frowned upon in spiritual circles to talk about “achievements”, as if that’s a dirty word.
And I get it. All of us spiritual seekers are supposed to be going “beyond the ego,” and talking about achievements is just another “ego trap.” But this is too simplistic a view of spiritual achievements.
I think it’s OK to track and measure your progress, as long as you don’t get attached to those achievements (and attaching to the achievements actually makes achieving spiritual things harder so…it’s self correcting). Human beings like goals and progress, and quite frankly, meditation can get boring and stale if we don’t “get something out of it.”
Also, when you attain things, you better understand others and their journeys, and can help them understand what they’re headed toward. I got seriously back into meditation when I started my spiritual mentorship program and realized I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t follow my own medicine!
Another fun side effect of these experiences is that the ancient texts start to make a lot of sense. I can read the Bhagavad Gita and Pratanjali’s Yogas and be like “there’s some real wisdom in here. And experientially, I get it.” I love talking to my Indian friends about what I go through and feel a new kinship to their spiritual traditions.
But back to the original point of the post: am I becoming a “spiritual narcissist?” Is this just another ego trap? I think the answer to that is actually in the question itself: if I’m vigilant about NOT becoming an egotistical asshat, then perhaps I won’t be (although this question of what is “I” is a constant deliberation as well, so perhaps my Ego can be an asshat but my underlying spirit…not really).
The antidote to spiritual narcissism is Other Person Conpassion. When we become other focused and use our new powers to heal others, then we leave our own naval gazing worlds and pursue what is right and just.
So spiritual seeker, to sum things up, if you’re experiencing The Light and the Union with God and the Silence Underneath, you should be proud of yourself. You worked hard to achieve these things. So I commend you. But watch out for the ego trap, because spiritual narcissism is a real thing.