Although I speak out about a variety of spiritual topics that I consider troubling when they become mainstream or repeated constantly by the spiritual new-age type communities, the most troubling topic to me concerns spiritual narcissism.
What is spiritual narcissism? It is the belief that the world revolves and is created just by you. Everything is about you, basically. The whole world. Every person, every country, every experience in this world is about you and only you.
But isn’t this true? Well, sort of. We create a lot of our world. We do this out of our thoughts, through our belief systems, religion, etc… what we consider to be true in this world becomes true. And we reject anything else out of cognitive dissonance, basically a state in which we are unable to process anything outside of our current beliefs and so reject them as being invalid. We all do this. It is a rare person, an awakened person that is able to see things both as true and false and from multiple viewpoints. But I digress.
How is this not true? All of us should work on ourselves. Most of us do see the reflection of our own inner wounds in others and without transcending our own belief systems and understandings of the world we will remain in a state of immaturity. But there is a point beyond this. A point where the world is in fact not about you and only you. What “spiritual” sorts do not see or have not gotten to the point to understand that as a community we create our community, as a world we create our world. It is not just about us. You can be the most enlightened being since Ramana Maharshi and someone will still cut you off in traffic. Someone may still rape you, you may still get Ebola, you will still die, you may still get rejected by that boy you really like and will have to go to the grocery store where there is a screaming kid who really, really wants the marshmallow cereal. And none of these are created by you. They just happen.
See, beyond you is a community dreaming, a world dreaming. And beyond that is the divine. These are all levels of understanding. Once you are able to see that the world is not just about you and simply because you are peaceful and enlightened that means every person you meet will be you begin to understand that the world is not about just you. Once you do not have so many wounds you understand when you see someone and they exemplify your remaining wounds or if they are simply a jerk and are dealing with their own wounds that have nothing to do with you. And beyond that you see that events, circumstances, ideas, movements, diseases, and so forth are orchestrated by the divine. You have nothing to do with them and are not even in the lens of consideration for 99 percent of them. You are very small and not that important. None of us are.
The belief that we create the world is so that we can feel control, to feel safe, and judge ourselves and those around us. When we participate in this sort of spiritual narcissism we can believe that others have created their circumstances. That they are at fault for their circumstances. About a month ago I saw a really silly article by a new-age guru saying that people who contracted Ebola did so because spiritually they lacked self-concept. This was intended to be some divine sort of wisdom from someone who had a very basic, high school Biology view of anything scientific. This allows for us to feel safe. We can look at the latest scary thing and say to ourselves, “well our self-concept is fine, we won’t contract Ebola” and will then judge the people who had contracted it as being less than or having no self-concept.
Can we see how ridiculous this is? Why are we accepting our wisdom from people like this? Why are we not pragmatic about this and see that the five year old child starving in Ohio, the fact that African-American people are getting shot left and right in this country and jailed at alarming rates, that people die and contract diseases and while it might be a lesson for them spiritually there are also many, many other factors besides for them about situations, even individual situations, at work?
Until we are able to rise out of our spiritual narcissism, our understanding that the world is created and revolves around us, we will not question things like this. We like to feel in control of everything, we like to feel safe, we like to feel like we can judge others even as we are talking about non-judgement and how we all are one. We like to judge anything dark, diseased, or negative, we like to ignore it, we like to give ourselves new-age beliefs that if we are only enlightened enough we will not be abused, cheated, or suffer. None of this is true. There is more to the world than ourselves and our belief systems. Until we grow out of this we will be stuck in the state of spiritual immaturity many of us are in, all complimenting each other because we have enough self-concept that we did not get Ebola and believing that we are important, special, and that the world is about and for us and us alone.
Please wake up out of this and look at the world around you, the spiritual types around you and their belief systems. Are they about finding freedom, or truth? Or are they about making you feel safe and providing more illusions? Are they allowing you to feel control over your whole existence? Or are they letting you know that the truth or freedom from the illusion of control, of ego, of narcissism can be difficult, that freedom from these illusions is well worth it but requires looking beyond the surface?