When spirituality becomes self-centered: 16 warning signs of spiritual ego

Recently, I had an interesting experience during my visit to Koh Phangan in Thailand.

While the island’s beauty and tranquility were unparalleled, I couldn’t help but notice a peculiar trend – an undercurrent of spiritual egoism lurking beneath the serene façade.

I shared the video below on YouTube and it’s certainly struck a chord, as can be seen in the comments.

So I decided to compile the following guide to spiritual ego. I’m hoping to shed light on this often overlooked aspect of spirituality.

If you’d like to leave some feedback, comment on the video.

YouTube video

1. Spiritual superiority

Spiritual superiority can creep in subtly, often disguised as spiritual progress.

Many assume they’re in a higher spiritual league, thanks to their daily meditations or yoga routines.

This superiority complex creates a barrier, instead of fostering connections.

We need to remember that spirituality aims at unity and inclusivity, not creating divisions or ranks based on perceived spiritual achievements.

2. Judging others

Judging others is antithetical to the spirit of spirituality, which advocates acceptance and love.

If you find yourself scrutinizing others for not being ‘spiritually inclined,’ or for not understanding esoteric spiritual concepts, it’s a classic sign of spiritual egoism.

Wisdom lies in realizing that everyone’s spiritual journey is unique, and it’s not our place to judge or compare.

3. Ignoring practical reality

We often see spiritual individuals discrediting the importance of practical realities – jobs, money, relationships – dismissing them as materialistic pursuits.

While the quest for spiritual growth is commendable, neglecting practical life can lead to imbalance.

A well-rounded spiritual journey includes being mindful of our responsibilities, not merely dismissing them as ‘mundane.’

4. Using spirituality to escape problems

Using spirituality as an escapism tool is a red flag.

Instead of confronting and resolving life’s issues, some retreat into spirituality, hoping it’ll miraculously solve their problems.

While spirituality can indeed provide solace and perspective, using it to escape problems indicates spiritual egoism. Genuine spirituality empowers us to face challenges head-on, not flee from them.

5. Ignoring emotional health

Ignoring emotional health under the guise of spirituality is a telltale sign of spiritual ego.

Individuals may boast about their spiritual practices, yet struggle with unchecked emotional issues.

True spirituality encompasses holistic well-being, including emotional health.

Addressing emotional issues is just as crucial as chanting mantras or performing asanas.

6. Not respecting other beliefs

Respecting diverse beliefs is a fundamental spiritual principle.

However, some individuals dismiss any belief that contradicts their own spiritual framework.

They fail to recognize that spirituality is a personal journey and that each path is valid.

This lack of respect for others’ beliefs is a clear sign of spiritual ego, countering the essence of spirituality itself.

7. Preaching spirituality

Finding joy in spiritual growth is natural.

However, when this joy transforms into unsolicited preaching, it becomes spiritual egoism.

If you find yourself constantly dispensing spiritual wisdom, or converting others to your spiritual beliefs, it’s time to introspect.

Genuine spirituality encourages sharing, not imposing.

8. Playing the fame game

While humility is often preached in spiritual discourse, it’s ironic how some individuals seek external validation for their humility.

They might post profound content, hoping to garner praise or social media shares.

This paradoxical behavior, often leading to a quest for fame, indicates the presence of spiritual ego.

9. Getting hopped up on guru juice

Becoming a self-appointed guru or excessively idolizing a spiritual leader are signs of spiritual egoism.

Such individuals usually possess an inflated sense of self-importance, often going to great lengths to gain followers.

It’s essential to remember that being a spiritual guide doesn’t make one infallible or morally superior.

10. Flashing your spiritual Ph.D.

If you find yourself constantly showcasing your spiritual knowledge, it’s a strong sign of spiritual ego.

While it’s great to understand spiritual wisdom, imposing this knowledge on others or using it to elevate oneself is unhelpful.

Genuine spirituality encourages sharing knowledge humbly and when solicited, respecting others’ mental space.

11. Spiritual materialism and egotism

A striking indication of spiritual ego is the belief of spiritual superiority due to certain practices.

Those involved in energy work or similar practices may assume they’re spiritually advanced, making them susceptible to narcissistic tendencies.

This false belief of having it all ‘figured out’ contradicts the core essence of spiritual growth.

12. Judging others’ spiritual level

A key sign of spiritual ego is judging others’ spiritual level.

Considering oneself more spiritually advanced or devaluing those with different spiritual interests reflects spiritual egoism.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone has unique experiences to offer, and judging them based on their spiritual inclinations can hinder your growth.

13. Engaging in spiritual debates

Engaging in spiritual debates to prove your point or flaunt your knowledge is a clear sign of spiritual ego.

While it’s delightful to discuss spirituality, turning these discussions into debates signifies a deep-seated need to be ‘right.’ Spirituality is about open dialogue and mutual learning, not ego-driven debates.

14. Loss of interest in the world

Spiritual ego often leads to a fading interest in the world outside, under the belief that it doesn’t align with your ‘higher’ interests.

Disengaging from the world and devaluing everyday experiences not only isolates you but also deprives you of countless spiritual lessons embedded in daily life.

15. Lack of humility and openness

A lack of humility and openness is a prominent sign of spiritual ego.

Believing oneself to be spiritually superior and shutting off new ideas indicates a considerable ego presence.

True spiritual progress lies in humility, openness, and continuous learning, regardless of how advanced one might be on their journey.

16. Reluctance to serve others

If you find yourself unwilling to serve others without assessing their spiritual ‘level,’ it’s a glaring sign of spiritual ego.

Genuine spirituality encourages serving others selflessly, not based on their spiritual understanding or progress.

Moving beyond spiritual ego requires introspection, humility, and a shift from ego-centric practices to serving others.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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