This might hit a raw nerve for you…
Are you an avid consumer of content from all different mediums?
And it’s easy when you’re seeking spiritual guidance to become enthralled by all the possibilities that are opening up before you – especially at the beginning of your journey.
It can feel like you’ve finally cracked the code for enjoying a pain-free life, and everything is going to be a breeze from here on out.
Spiritual books, gurus, YouTube channels, and celebrity figures all have an allure and promise the ‘Next Big Thing You Need in Your Life™’
There’s no escaping spirituality has shifted from being a quaint little niche to being its own fully-fledged industry that’s separate from Health and Wellness.
And all of those channels mentioned above…
They’re all used to communicate spiritual guidance.
The spirituality game – and by game, I mean industry – is based on the selling of concepts, ideas and teachings.
And virtually everyone who’s involved in the industry is giving their own take on what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Many of them contradict one another.
Yet, many have substantial and loyal followings.
And don’t get me wrong.
Seeking spiritual guidance, whether it be in a blog, book, social media, YouTube, or live event, is a great way to expand your mind, and I wouldn’t be writing this blog for you now if I hadn’t done so myself.
But there is a point at which seeking guidance can become a detriment to your spiritual journey.
The intake of new information no longer serves you, as you become subservient to it. You start giving your power away
You become co-dependent.
You become indecisive
You don’t allow room for new experiences.
This obviously isn’t a given. It depends entirely on your character and how you interact with and take on new information. So let me reiterate…
Being on a path of self-expansion and being of service to others is an amazing thing to do for yourself and those around you.
It really does make the world a better place.
But when it comes to seeking spiritual guidance, you need to make sure you’re not getting suckered in with false enlightenment traps that stunt your growth.
You need to keep your discernment filters on high alert.
1. The Truth is… The Truth is Subjective
Let’s address the biggest proverbial elephant in the room first – the concept of truth.
The ‘Truth’ has caused more strife, prejudice, bias, and violence than probably any other concept in the history of our race.
It is not an absolute.
The real truth is all truths are real. It is relative to the one experiencing it. The truth is experiential by nature.
If one person has a mystical experience based on their belief structure but cannot comprehend it, does that invalidate the truth of the experiencer?
Of course not!
They had that experience – whether anyone else liked it or not. It occurred within their field of knowingness, and nothing could be more real to them. The fact that it’s neither understood nor accepted by anyone else doesn’t matter.
You cannot deny that person their reality.
When it comes to seeking your truth through spiritual guidance of any kind, remember there are many different interpretations. Don’t be so willing to rewrite your entire outlook based on your loyalty to a particular source of information.
As the Buddha once said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, not even if I have said it unless it agrees with your own common sense.”
Because the truth is person-centred,
And your truth is unique to this present moment.
What worked for you weeks, months or even years ago may – probably will – become irreverent. Your needs change over time, and as a result, so does your interpretation of what truth means to you.
2. Focusing on Your Own Spiritual Development
What others are doing always looks far more interesting than what we’re doing on our own journey… There is an innate sense within sense within us of wanting to belong.
Too few people are brave enough to go it alone and just do what works best for them.
Seeking spiritual guidance is often underpinned by the sub-text of wanting to fit in. It’s the most basic of all human needs – the need to be needed.
But really, isn’t that what all guidance ultimately entails?
It’s acceptance and a feeling of being whole, but sometimes you need to ask yourself…
Do I actually need to turn to another to solve my problems? Can I not take the time to look within myself, do the inner work and find those answers myself?
Of course, you can!
But here’s the counterpoint – I’m obligated to provide a touch of balance here, I feel. And that is – don’t be so stubborn, but equally, don’t make it your first resort, either.
Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into one polarity or the other.
You should always at least try to solve your own problems first. Because you never know what you’re capable of until you challenge yourself. And believe me, you’re so much more capable than you think!
Then, if you’re still falling just that little bit short of where you want to be, explore other avenues. Seek guidance from whatever your preferred channels are.
But after making the commitment to take more responsibility for yourself, don’t be surprised if you find relying on the ideas of others is a crutch you no longer need.
And that goes for all things in life – apply yourself.
What’s the worst that can happen?
But remember, if and when you do decide to open yourself up to guidance, especially in a one-to-one setting…
3. What You Hear May Challenge You
Pulling on the subjective nature of truth again for just a minute…
Whoever you speak to in a guidance setting is going to be presenting their ideas through the lens of their own experience. Every thought we have ever had and will ever have is the product of our past. No two people will have exactly the same point of view – even identical twins.
When you’re seeking guidance from someone, you need to remember your role within the dynamic; you’re freely opening yourself up to be questioned.
You’re on a listening brief.
As the Dalai Lama once famously said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
And with that, leave all of your preconceived ideas, concepts, beliefs and attachments at the door.
You can pick them up on the way out, and they’ll be exactly the same as when you left them.
Allow yourself to be a blank slate. Remain neutral and open to what’s being said.
The worst thing you can do is resort to defending your ideals because all of a sudden, they’ve been challenged, and by proxy, so have you.
That’s your spiritual ego at play.
It has no place in these types of interactions.
Don’t allow yourself to become emotionally – or spiritually – triggered.
But equally, remember that…
4. No One Has All the Answers
When you’re new to the spiritual path, you can place a huge amount of value on spiritual teachers and gurus because they were the first ones you came to during your awakening process.
There is a sense of connection to that person because they helped ‘set you free.’
It’s completely natural.
The ideas of those teachers become the core of your spiritual belief system – and they can have a long shelf life. You’ll check in with what they’re saying every time they release a new post, video or whatever else they offer
Often with great anticipation.
And you should not do that.
But it’s good to recognise there is no one person with all the answers out there. Deifying spiritual teachers is a dangerous game to play. When you get so far on your spiritual journey, a sense of comfort can kick in, making you lose that sense of curiosity and openness that made you receptive to the path in the first place.
Or, to put it another way, dogma creeps into your life.
Quite the irony, don’t you think?
You become set in your modes and models of thinking and protective of the teachings that have given you so much; they become beyond unquestionable.
The very notion of revising your points of view can appear blasphemous – your spirituality becomes your prison, and it can be hard to unlearn those things you may have long since outgrown. Self-appraisal doesn’t come easily.
But looping back to the analogy of anecdotes of personal brands and the loyalty they inspire. You may not want to believe or even hear this, but spiritual information can be commodified and can trigger us in the same way that physical products do.
Spiritual teachers market themselves in exactly the same way as the big brand physical products do.
It’s all a simple question of psychology: Trust and Likability
They’re selling themselves as much as their ideas.
Am I saying all spiritual teachers are shills? No, absolutely not!!!
What ‘I AM‘ saying is we buy into their ‘product’ and can sometimes exhibit the same type of attachment that comes from longstanding associations with big-name physical brand products.
Even when it’s to our detriment.
We’re creatures of habit, and thus we gravitate towards what we know.
Because it’s familiar, and familiarity is safe.
You might stick with one brand of coffee over another even though the price no longer represents value, and there are far superior choices that have come on the market.
And it’s no different with spiritual guidance, but there is always a choice.
Just don’t follow blindly.
And do make sure to…
5. Use Your Discernment
And for discernment, read intuition.
This dovetails with becoming overly focused on one source of information.
If you’re looking to take your spiritual journey as far as possible, you can’t be the supporting character in your own movie. And by that, I mean you can’t be a passive participant. You have to drive your own story.
You can’t unquestioningly take on everything you hear from others.
And it can be hard.
If you’re so invested in the teachings of one person, any real sense of objectivity is going to be in pretty short supply.
And the fact you’ve gained so much from this source in the past means there will be a lot of credit in the bank of goodwill. Hence, you’ll be more inclined to give those teachers the benefit of the doubt.
They have unrestricted access and can fly right under your discernment radar and plant seeds that might not truly resonate with you but take root regardless. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not touting any sort of fear porn here or slamming spirituality.
I wouldn’t trade my own journey for anything, and I mean anything!
So if I’m over-dramatising, it’s only for the sake of some interesting word-alchemy.
All I’m really trying to say is:
This also may sound a little alarmist, but it’s so important for your spiritual development to cultivate the awareness of recognising what feels right in this moment. Discernment doesn’t just relate to spirituality; it’s an incredible life skill and can help you make better all-around choices.
Does this information truly resonate with you? How does it make you feel at the body level? Dense or light? Does it raise your vibration? Does it connect to your heart-spaced knowingness of personal truth?
If not, no problem.
Just know that particular teaching wasn’t for you.
Pass it over, and maybe next time, that teacher might have something better to offer.
Because I pray that you…
6. Don’t Turn into a Spiritual Hoarder
Which might seem like an odd concept.
The idea of hoarding something as intangible as spiritual guidance, information and experiences might be an unorthodox statement, but spiritual materialism is very much a thing.
Hoarding and materialism is the amassment of anything beyond what is required to satisfy our need in any one given circumstance.
And so, in this context, spiritual hoarding is rooted in the attitude of always looking for the ‘next big thing.’ Always looking for that next nugget of information that’s going to make you a better person and fix this problem or that.
The silver bullet, the next hack, or ninja tip… You get the idea.
There is an unnatural hunger for collecting experiences, which could be for any number of reasons.
It could be an ego-driven motive, recreational spirituality – or spiritual tourism – the need to fill a particular hole or compensate for some form of lack in your life that you’ve been unable to address.
Again, let me provide balance here…
Seeking in and of itself is not a bad thing – at all.
It’s the way you engage with your spiritual process that should be at the forefront of your mind. When you’re pushing so hard to find that one magic bullet or teaching that is going to transform your life, you lose the essence of being on the journey.
You miss out on the experience itself.
Your spirituality becomes a results-driven business – a duality of win or lose. And when you don’t get what you want when you want it – you lose. But in reality, you never lose because, on a spiritual journey, there is only learning.
When you approach spirituality – or anything else in life, for that matter – with a sense of expectancy, you inevitably create and enforce the limitations around what it is you can receive.
Everything finds you in its own time in beautiful synchronicity – not a second before or after. You co-create and manifest each and every experience exactly when you’re supposed to happen.
Just allow it to occur.
When you’re pushing so hard to find the next holy grail teaching that is going to fix everything, you’re pushing those experiences further away from you.
When you relax and allow – everything flows.
When you’re holding tension and tightness – nothing flows.
So let and go and…
7. Don’t Become Obsessed with Lofty Concepts and BIG Spiritual Words
You can talk all the talk you want, but what really matters is, “How will you respond?”
And by that, I mean the understanding and repetition of spiritual beliefs might seem impressive, but they will increase nothing other than your own sense of pride and ego.
Spiritual teachings are fantastic, but only when they have a practical application. When it is simply knowledge for knowledge’s sake or something with no real-world application, where does the value lie?
What are you going to do with all these big concepts you can barely understand?
The true essence of the spiritual journey is doing.
A spiritual being is a passive observer.
A ‘spiritual doing’ – sorry poor grammar, I know – is an act of service, kindness or compassion that makes a tangible difference in someone’s life
So forget the trending ‘in-language’ and spiritual words.
They mean nothing without your action.
Engage in more acts of spiritual doing.
Be the change you want to see and watch it begin to take place all around you.
That is what you want to bring more into the world.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of over-intellectualising your spiritual journey because real spiritual knowledge can’t be found in any book, idea or blog post – yes, even this one!
Real spiritual knowledge is measured experientially. It is the frequency and nature with which you’re willing and able to respond to the world with heart-spaced acts of service rooted in love
When life presents you with a challenge, it is asking how you’ll respond.
And those acts will then become experience and knowledge you carry with you and pass on to the next generation.
How will you respond?