You need mental health BEFORE you can think of spiritual health.
The more you lie to yourself, the more you delay your healing process. There aren’t shortcuts. Deal with it.
This data is totally informal and hails from a guesstimation, but roughly 90% of people I’ve ever met in spiritualistic circles are actually just trying to bypass their psychological/emotional growth via mysticism. Whether or not it’s possible to be successful at that, I don’t know — All I know is I haven’t seen it yet. These people tend to get worse, not better. Jung hit the nail on the head when he said “when you don’t acknowledge that you have such qualities [The Shadow], you are simply feeding the devils”. Freud seems to agree with it, there just isn’t a direct quote I’m aware of.
In other words, the more you run away from your inner turmoil, the more it grows. A lot of spiritual people keep claiming that they “do shadow work”, when in fact they don’t. What they do is look at the dark/politically incorrect stuff within them that feels edgy and cool but doesn’t really cause their inner turmoil. If you poke their ACTUAL wound, they retaliate. Therefore, they’re “just posers”, like millennials say.
Yes, reader: if the shoe fits, put it on. Maybe some people think I am ruthless. I feel for them. It must indeed be a miserable existence if you feel the need to enable people’s bullshit so that they’ll enable yours, and as a result nobody ever grows. Do you want a dystopia? That’s how you get a dystopia.
In a world where image is everything, it’s NO WONDER that most people feel intimidated into keeping their mouth shut when they see injustice or dangerous ideologies. It’s very easy to shut down constructive criticism from a friend because it’s “unreasonable high standards”, and also shut it down if it comes from strangers because it’s either “hate” or “they don’t know me well enough”. Well, there’s no way to encourage growth at all then, is there? Whitsleblowing was already a thankless job, but now we’re almost being chased like witches. All in the name of keeping the peace, accommodating, being “nice”, being polite and civilised.
To hell with all that! I’m a wild Pict, I despise your flavour of “civilisation”. Perhaps a bit of conflict here and there isn’t so bad after all — I think we’ve established beyond any doubt that the alternative, this artificial peace that people forego their mental health and inner strength for, is far more detrimental to humankind.
I’ll go further: conflict is NECESSARY in our inner circles and in every layer of society. It builds character, it teaches people they can’t always have their way, it builds tolerance to frustration and disappointment.
On the other hand, if you’re going to either part ways or try to coerce into agreement everyone you’re ever in conflict with, are you really learning and taking away anything valuable from life? Or are you just repeating the same story ad nauseum with the same ending and same moral, where only the characters change?
What I see the most (really! To an overwhelming extent. I’m guilty of that myself) in spiritual communities is people doing all they can to AVOID any kind of dynamics that isn’t always courteous and agreeable. They do everything they can to arrive at a resolution when conflict does happen, even if it involves worshipping one side and demonising the other (puns absolutely intended). They can’t even grasp the concept of allowing diversity to exist, and allowing people to be mad at each other for an extended amount of time if they so desire. And what for? Because egos must be protected at all costs and nobody should influence each other anymore? Each to their own like creatures in a museum in little impenetrable glass cages where no risks are ever taken? Yes, I’m including the hardcore Neopagans in here too, not just the Newage love-and-light crowd.
I get it that this is a universal challenge human beings struggle with, but it used to happen more in secular circles. In spiritual circles, people who do sign up for it should be — at least in theory — willing to better themselves. And “bettering yourself” involves letting go of pride. It isn’t that Buddhist monks, reclusive Christian monks, a lot of devout Muslims etc are pure or pursuing love-and-light only. You’d be surprised how dark the issues they meditate on can get. What sets them apart from your average Joe is they made a vow to reject things like egotism and childish self-vindication.
Somehow, white people from industrial backgrounds think they’re too special for that in their own reconstructionist spirituality. They think they’re allowed to go as deep into the spiritual practice as they want without first making the sacrifices literally everyone, in every other faith, makes. (Re-read the paragraph above). The result is they fall prey to delusion, because they didn’t bother to learn to deal with basic psychological sources of turmoil like frustration, anger, ego wounds, sadness, angst etc BEFORE getting close and personal with higher powers. They start blaming external demons and what-have-you for things that are actually internal.
That’s called spiritual narcissism. I can’t single-handedly fix it. I know it will keep existing around me. That’s why I decided to focus way more on mental health than I do on the “actual cool stuff” whenever I take to the keyboard. Ideally, people should take a hint and start asking themselves questions like “why do I feel the need to look for spiritual signs and synchronicities” instead of “is this/that/etc a sign”. How do you expect to understand spirits external to you if you don’t even fully understand yourself? And how do you expect these spirits to actually WORK with you if you can’t even take feedback from the people who are alive?
Why do you think Zen masters are so brutal and first of all make sure to attack the ego of a new apprentice? Because they’re sadic? No.
Mental resilience comes first, spiritual development second.
But since I don’t belong to a thousand-years-old institution like a Buddhist temple, people think I’m an easy target for their “Karen-ness”… Regardless of the fact I’m practising the very same technique you’ll find in ANY religion.
I used to tell a lot of cool stories about my spirit guides and allies, what kind of work I’ve been doing and what I learned, what they probably taught me via dreams, techniques in energy handling, etc. These old posts of mine had the “wow” factor. They attracted a lot of curious readers. But the problem I couldn’t see at the time, and now I see, is that when I told these stories in public, every kind of person could see them. I didn’t yet understand the value of gatekeeping.
When you dazzle the audience with a ghost story, this should be a red flag. Starry-eyed individuals tend to be the most naive and “green” in this area of knowledge. Newbies will overestimate their foundations and references to understand what is being presented to them. If I tell a traditional shaman “a Pictish prince taught me a lesson about influence during a dream”, the shaman will assume 1) I already work with this spirit which is why I know his identity, 2) therefore I’ve been making regular offerings a very specific way, 3) therefore I am well past the stage of trying and testing correspondences and signs that let me know the specific spirit is indeed around.
On the other hand, if I tell the same story to a curious newbie, their first reaction will be to bypass all of the steps I outlined above and go straight to assuming “I, too, can have this same thing” [without any of the effort or time or repetition I put into it but isn’t in the story because if I included it, the blog post would become a book, and it’s kind of a pre-requisite that should be implied anyway, and…] — you get the gist. I have dealt with countless curious newbies who were constantly asking me things like “I saw a leaf today, does that mean a spirit?”; “I felt something on my feet, is that spiritual?”, etc.
The answer to that is gatekeeping. I started only sharing the truly “exciting” information with people who won’t be excited by it beyond the necessary, if you know what I mean.
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, since a lot of people probably think I’m just posing as a spirit worker here, or I’m a mental health professional in disguise, since all I talk about is mental health, and there are only nuggets of spiritual information you need to dig for in my posts. Well, Karen, that’s intentional, ya know. I learned that with Buddhist monks — what they share in public is just plain mindfulness; in order to access the deeper stuff you must take a vow and join them.
But if I tell you that straight to your face, Karen, you’ll take offense at the fact I “assume” you “don’t know enough”. Never mind that it’s a fact, not an assumption. But yeah, I get it. People have feelings.
Gatekeeping isn’t always tyrannical. Sometimes it’s necessary, for the simple fact that the Dunning-Kruger effect exists. Perhaps the scientists who study quantum physics would be better off keeping their secret strictly within Academic circles — not because of some world domination conspiracy, but simply because their sharing of discoveries with the wider public led to aberrations and gross distortions of it like the so-called “Law” of Attraction.
But regardless of my frustration with other people, I feel thankful. I’m thankful for the lessons I, myself, have learned. I am grateful for what life has taught me, and is yet to teach me.
If others choose to stay at the start line forever, that’s their problem.