This article was published in the first issue of Tribe, our digital magazine. It’s a better reading experience in the app. You can read Tribe now on Android or iPhone.
After inspiring you to think for yourself and venture into the wild territories of spiritual anarchism, we’re ready to arrogantly mess it up by trying to teach you how to achieve spiritual freedom with five simple tips.
But this is who we are. Ideapod has never intended to be philosophical. Too much philosophy and theory are not only boring. It usually leads us to abstract realms and disconnects us from real life.
We’re living in a fast-food age where most people don’t want and don’t have time for thinking independently and coming up with their solutions. We need fast answers.
So, let’s take the best ingredients from everything we’ve discussed in this issue and cook up some tasteful and useful “spiritual fast food” for you, dear reader. Is it possible to be quick and objective without being superficial? Check it out and let us know.
Spiritual ego is one of the biggest obstacles we can find in our development as human beings. It’s a hidden feeling of superiority that makes us feel in the light while the rest of humankind lives in darkness.
You may think you don’t have a spiritual ego yet you still cultivate the feeling of being a lonely soul in a world full of violence and ignorance. You can’t avoid sticking to your ideas and defending your perspectives even when you know, deep down, that you’re wrong. And you can’t avoid getting at least irritated when you see people behaving in ways that don’t fit in your principles. And despite all these signals, you may not acknowledge the role your spiritual ego plays in your life. Its effect is hypnotic. You rarely perceive it and that’s exactly why it can harm you pretty badly.
Your spiritual ego may separate you from the rest of the world, rather than connecting you. It may enclose you inside the little bubble of your limited perspective not letting you enrich your knowledge, listening, and learning from those who think differently than you. Ultimately, your spiritual ego may put you in a position of blaming the rest of humankind for all the social crisis, unfairness and ecological unbalance in the world, not letting you see that you’re at once part of the problem and of the solution and that it’s up to you to grab your power and do your best to contribute to the world where you live.
If you feel trapped in your spiritual ego, you’ll find these five steps quite useful to break through it and live your life from your heart. But if you don’t feel imprisoned by your spiritual ego, you have double the reason to try these five steps. Because you’re probably not seeing it. This puts you in a much more vulnerable position where you can be easily manipulated by it.
Step 1 – Don’t pretend you don’t have ego
The ego is an essential component of every human psyche. Without an ego, we would be dissolved in the collective mind with no sense of identity.
Don’t pretend you don’t have an ego. And don’t fight your ego, either. It’s a losing battle. The so preached “death of the ego” is one of the most mistaken concepts in the spiritual world. Please, forget trying to “kill your ego.” Instead, just accept it. Make peace with your ego and cultivate a healthy relationship with it.
Trying to be too good, too pure, too evolved is the first step for falling into the trap of the spiritual ego. Don’t try to be beyond the things that make you human. Such an idea may sound noble but is nothing other than arrogance. It may blind you to your own destructiveness and turn your denied ego into a beast to yourself and to others. Instead, learn to have your ego as your best friend and ally.
Step 2 – Accept your imperfection
Spirituality is often painted as a path to virtue, purity, and perfection. An unreachably perfect version of human being is imposed upon us and we’re taught to feel guilty just for being human and imperfect. This kind of subliminal message is present in most religions and spiritual paths around the world.
If you take it too seriously, you may get obsessed with the pursuit of perfection which is one of the most torturing and disempowering traps your spiritual ego can set for you.
Yes, set your values very clearly and do your best to live according to them. But don’t forget your limitations. Remember that you’re human and subject to flaws. You’ll never be perfect. And you don’t need to.
Don’t blame yourself for your imperfection. You don’t need to feel guilty or angry for being the way you are. Be patient. Learn to love and respect yourself. Once you have this attitude towards yourself, it will be much easier to respect the imperfection of the ones around you. And you won’t feel superior for tolerating them. Instead, you’ll develop empathy for understanding that they’re in the same boat as you.
Step 3 – Choose consciously how you honor and nourish your ego
We all want to feel important and unique. Our ego plays an important role in our evolution, pushing us forward to achieve great things. How many things have you done to prove your worth? How much have you done looking for recognition? How many limitations have you surpassed thanks to your ego?
Yet our relationship with our ego is often negative and unconscious. Instead of setting our own goals, we waste our efforts trying to fit in with what our family, partner, friends, and society expects. Instead of recognizing our own achievements and valuing our efforts, we look for external recognition and validation.
We live our lives based on external parameters, chasing dreams that are not ours and pursuing approval, love, and recognition outside of ourselves. To make it worse, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. As result, our ego becomes disempowered and sick. Instead of being an inner place of power, it becomes a prison.
You can change it by cultivating a conscious and empowering relationship with your ego. Choose your own goals based not on what the world expects but on what really makes you feel alive. Choose a path that will trigger your inner fire. Maybe what will make you happy will mean disappointment for many others.
Once you have set your own parameters, don’t wait for external recognition. Be the one person whose opinion matters. Recognize your accomplishments. Value your efforts. Respect your trajectory. Be proud of yourself.
This will empower your ego in a positive way and you won’t need to feel superior to anybody else. You will be much more open to different perspectives. It will be much easier to respect other’s perspectives since you will be respecting yourself.
Step 4 – Challenge your own perspectives instead of defending them
The spiritual knowledge you’ve achieved can be your release or your prison. It depends on your relationship with it.
If you are insecure and broken (as is almost every human being), you may unconsciously stick to your spiritual knowledge to feel special. You may start thinking you’re in possession of some kind of “truth’” that puts you on a different level. You may get attached to your knowledge, and it may block you from evolving your understanding.
Yet “the universal truth” is just an illusion. It doesn’t exist. We all are limited creatures, counting on our senses, emotions, mind, and consciousness to explore a universe that goes far beyond the reach of our comprehension. All the knowledge we may achieve is just a drop in an infinite ocean.
Your uncertainty and insecurity in face of the great unknown may tempt you to stick to your knowledge and defend your perspective at every cost. You may end up not only trying to prove you are right but also trying to impose your perspective upon others. That’s how you become unpleasant and unpopular.
To avoid this, forget trying to prove you’re right. Instead, keep your curiosity alive. Always look at what you can learn from those around you. Everybody has something to teach you if you pay attention.
Keep your mind open. Challenge your knowledge instead of defending it. That’s how you avoid getting crystalized in your mind and keep grounded in the movement of life.
Step 5 – Stick to your heart
The spiritual ego is nothing other than an unconscious construction we create to feel safe. It’s the fake character we create to run away from ourselves.
But why do we do that?
Because we’re afraid of our own emotions. We fear our own intensity.
Life can hurt. Our emotions make us vulnerable.
But it’s also our deepest power. That’s what makes us so beautiful and miraculous.
Learn to treasure your feelings. Not only your love and happiness, but also your anger, sadness, and even your fear. That’s what makes you human. Your feelings are the gift and the price to pay for being alive.
If you try to use your spirituality to escape from your emotions you may end up disconnected from life and from yourself, trapped in the illusory bubble of your spiritual ego.
Instead, learn to deploy your knowledge and inner resources at service of your heart. Use it to lose your defenses, so you can feel deeper.
Make sure that your spiritual path brings you closer and closer from the people around you.
Connect with people from your heart. Connect with life from your passion.
Embrace and treasure your emotional nature and celebrate being human.