1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases October 28, 2010

Filed under: thoughts — axinia @ 8:36 am

The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and — bam! — you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived”: This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

Adapted from Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path (Sounds True) by Mariana Caplan who  spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty areas–power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis — as well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the path.


19 Responses to “10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases”

  1. Triveni Says:

    Really insightful as always. and its very heartening to see such diseases being very common ( even in SY 😦 )
    The most common that i come across (sometimes in me too) is “Confused Motivations”.. 🙂

    • Triveni Says:

      Plus i wouldnt really call is Transmitted, becz not all get transmitted through someone or something, probably it can be called – Illusional spiritual Disesase..As it is something that a person needs to learn from and grow out of. An experience of its own kind.. 🙂

  2. Elke Says:

    There are many traps on the path of spirituality!
    As long as we are true to ourselves we can grow, even though it sometimes takes longer than we want it to, and very often the path goes a direction we hadn’t expected it to go.
    Thanks Axinia!

  3. radha Says:

    it seems that all of these deasesae have something in common , which is zero humility. infact humility keeps a person grounded and on the path of spiritual tranformation.

    • axinia Says:

      very good point, radha!

      • Terry Says:

        Absolutely. Although I am sure the author intended these 10 for self-examination, the 11th disease could be having 10 more unnecessary ways to judge other people.

        • axinia Says:

          I guess these 10 were indeed meant for self-examination.
          And well, judging others – it’s hard to rid of, isn’t it?

          • Terry Says:

            Yes very hard. It would be easy if everyone else just thought and behaved like we do, but that’s unlikely.
            Next, even though we may judge in our thoughts, we could at least try not to express those judgments. Imagine the silence in the world if all judgmental conversations were prohibited. The Internet would be empty too.
            But I think it’s obvious that spirituality precedes right thought and right action, so that is the best hope.

            • axinia Says:

              hahaha, cool point! 🙂 – indeed, if judgemets will stop, Intrenet will almost die!
              A thought or action, enlightened by the Spirit, brings relief and beauty into life of everyone and again, you are so right in saing that this is the best hope.

  4. mahesh chendake Says:

    Whether self realization a big illusion itself?
    only thing is trust,surrender,and keep yourself at bottom level and enjoy the life as it comes , in my view that is good spirituality and there are less chances of such contagious infections.( of course life experiences also cures from such infections easily for those who think and understands differently.)

  5. Dmitri Says:

    thenk you very much……really is an eye opener….i really have to cheack myself coz i suffer from all of them…maybe exepet the last one….i dont know….but being on my own…not connected to sahaja yoga collective i’m not that optimistic at my chanses….i do feel my self diffrent from non realised people….and feel i have to fit in i dont know i dont wont to end up alone…have to fit in…

  6. Dmitri Says:

    have to be more humble…or is it another quiack fix?

  7. Tomas Says:

    Your post always are so beneficial. Thank you. Now you enabled us to look at the talks about spirituality in the new light. The term “disease” was very unexpected and therefore even gave me some shake at first, yet it helped me greatly to taste the fresh breathe – to grasp the blessing of pure silence.
    The Butterfly in Plaster raises the wings.

  8. Wayne Says:

    In the end, there is only one light but many lamps. There is Only the Self and all else are a reflection. Thank you for sharing.


  9. Again I join you in many of those observation but in one I affirm the opposite:
    Mistrust a person pretending to not need love and attention from other (they are the worse!).I don’t consider being inhuman autistic a sign of spirituality.
    Being TRULY human is the quality, not the delusion pretending to have “no human needs”.

  10. Merci…you know how much I “worship” authenticity.;-)

  11. Nishant Says:

    1. Fast Food Spirituality : This is so accurate. Particularly in India, majority of gurus thrive on the ignorance of seekers. They allow ‘concessions’ from the norms of spirituality to their disciples only the motive of increasing membership. Some go to the extent of granting instant self-realisation through sexual practices etc. But the fact is there’s no short cut to spirituality.
    2. Faux Spirituality : It would be a faux pas to market spirituality without this ‘faux’ these days. (Hard to see these days the gurus/saints like Kabir, Tukaram, Tapovanji Maharaj, Swami Ramakrishna,and Raman Maharishi. We have the gurus today who, when judged from their lifestyle, are in fact, the epitome of Ego and Materialism.
    3. Confused Motivations : What you call ‘Confused or lesser motivations’ is in my experience ‘support structure’ which goes to enhance the spiritual practice and growth. It’s all fine as long as one doesn’t lose the sight of the higher ambition. (Let’s be honest, can we do without food, family, friends, fashion, and… fun? ).
    4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences : Another symptom of this disease is the ‘Damage and Damage Control’ which becomes the routine and culture of their spiritual practice. (Easy to Enter, Impossible to Exit).
    5. Spiritualised Ego : Well said. In fact, Ego never dies. It lives and long as we live. Those who claim otherwise should check it out nicely, and revert.
    6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers : Hey, is he hinting at Sahaja Yogis? I hope not for if he is, he’s hopefully mistaken. 
    7. Spiritual Pride : An example of this, a certain Radha Soami member for 35 years has been meditating on his Ajnya Chakra and doesn’t want to listen to anything/anyone else.
    8. Group Mind : ‘Collectivity’ or ‘Collective Consciousness’? What is he referring to??
    Well, my battery, I mean the battery of my lappy, is reminding me to go to the sleep mode… Guten nacht! Bis spaeter… zzzzzzz.

  12. A very helpful checklist. Thank you for this.

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