Spiritual Teachings, by their very nature, cannot be understood logically or reasonably as they deal with spiritual matters. That is, teachings involving the experience of the spirit, the non-physical, cannot necessarily be brought into the world of form, examined and assessed as either true or false or even understood entirely.
Many a seeker, though well-intentioned in educating themselves on spiritual matters, can get into murky areas once they start to encounter subjects that the human intellect cannot process. Some have invested years of study into their acquiring of spiritual knowledge only to feel like they have gotten into areas that are simply too difficult to grasp or understand. My spirit guides once told me that the human intellect is severely limited and handicapped, but what kind of intellect are we supposed to use? The intellect of consciousness is all-knowing and understanding. When reading from that place, it feels like remembering. It comes in “aha moments” or feelings of profound comprehension. If one is not there yet, it can’t be gained through will alone. It requires a degree of unlearning and forgetting.
What’s happening is that, for a time, the ego has been learning right alongside the seeker. And the very moment spiritual teachings start to expose the ego for what it is, it clamps down hard and prevents further spiritual growth or development. See, the ego wants to be awakened, too. It wants that enlightenment that the seeker is seeking. But it cannot be enlightened in the way that a human can. The ego, unlike the human, is not immortal. It can die. And once a seeker starts to understand their authentic self and their true divine nature, the ego can shut down further learning in an effort to keep itself alive.
As the ego is wholly identified with the world of form and the separateness of each of us existing apart from each other, any teachings that allude to your true authentic power will seem baffling when viewed through the lens of ego. The ego will have you picking and choosing among spiritual teachings that resonate with you and dispense of any that promote total and complete healing. The simple and non-complicated solution to this predicament is to simply stop, drop, roll and work on ego issues. But if the ego is doing it’s job, you won’t recognize it.
The ego loves to skip from book to book, workshop to workshop, and even teacher to teacher. Perhaps some of us even have a library of books we’ve not touched in years gathering dust because we decided the teaching or teacher was flawed or that we failed to find value in it at all. It can sit there on the shelf glaring at us reminding us of our failure or it triggers the ego into trying to acquire the knowledge or wisdom through non-experience. No matter how many times the teaching is played with or engaged, it cannot be understood with the ego in tow. And those feelings of frustration can cause one to abandon their quest for spiritual truth entirely.
If a seeker is at the point of trying to point out the flaws in a teaching, or thinking that the author of such work is either trying to be a cult leader or some other kind of scoundrel, you may deduce that the ego is at play. To be fair to the authors of spiritual works, most spiritual teachers have had messy personal lives, been hopeless drunks or had a few marriages before alighting upon spiritual truths they felt compelled to share. Rather than rack up the mistakes of a life no longer lived, these teachers shared the wisdom of their experiences, their transformations became evidence that these teachings worked. They lived it and so they teach it. And the teachings give us simple and concise ways to further our spiritual development.
The ego often protests that these teachings are snake oil or that the purveyors of spiritual enlightenment are frauds. Are they really? While tales of sweat lodges gone wrong and sex cults make for great drama, in reality such things are so rare as to never happen. The ego’s go to defense is that the teachings are being used to defraud people or scam. Of course this is a scary and unfortunate prospect, but when the ego feels diminished, it will pull out the big guns.
Nearly every spiritual teacher worth their salt has been accused of being a fraud. And keep in mind that fraud exists in every industry but that doesn’t keep us from putting our money into banks or getting our vehicles repaired. But the prospect that spiritual teachings or teachers might be bad for us can often halt spiritual development in its tracks. If declarations of fraud or cultism doesn’t work, then the teachings must be declared plagiarism or theft from other cultures. The ego doesn’t stop until the teaching and teacher (and sometimes the reputation of the teacher) is destroyed. But it only appears destroyed to the ego. A teacher with a ruined reputation gets the rarefied wisdom akin to a zen master in solitude, as they are forced to be present in a profession where even their colleagues distrust them. It’s truly a marvelous method of learning.
Lest you go out and purposely ruin your reputation just to acquire that wisdom (I definitely do not advise that) we can learn from teachers who’ve had their teachings found full of scandals that might never have happened. While none of us can attest to the veracity of dubious claims that the authors of spiritual teachings have nefarious goals, we can question why we would feel such a way. Why would a teacher go through the trouble of putting themselves through years of hell only to use the wisdom gained to gain attention, seek notoriety or to control others? That seems quite illogical and long way to go to get something that could easily be asked for. It’s here where the ego can start projecting it’s own fears and insecurities onto the teaching and teacher. As the ego requires an enemy to survive and it hates the very things that can bring about one’s total peace and harmony. But in bringing consistent ease and flow into your life also means the ego’s annihilation. And it likely won’t let that happen. Not without a fight.
If you are afraid that interacting with a spiritual teaching or teacher will expose you to fraud or a scam, that is a quite natural feeling. You don’t want to do anything or go anywhere unsafe. I bring this up here because these are usually protestations of the ego. To be logical about it, there are easier ways to get what you want than by lying to people or somehow controlling people. If you need money, work for it or ask for it. If you need love, ask for it. If you are suspicious about a teaching or a teacher, ask them why they are doing it. Most will tell you that they do it because they love it or that they would feel selfish for not helping others progress. Learn to divorce what the irrational and illogical ego thinks about it from what your authentic self thinks about it.
If a seeker is trying to understand a spiritual teaching, then that’s not exactly how that works. It’s already been understood and examined. By the time the teaching is in book or workshop form, it’s already been figured out, field-tested, verified and practiced. To try and poke holes in it or question the legitimacy if it does a disservice to both the seeker and the teaching. There will be a time for the seeker to put what they learn into practice and the universe will deliver experiences to do just that. And there is always a time to ask questions. The ego usually won’t have any questions.
But the ego’s need to understand something, or to have proof that something is true, is at odds with what the ego is all about it. It believes gossip without question so why no spiritual teachings? As mentioned above, it is because truly understanding spiritual teaching means the end of ego. It will automatically believe and promote anything that supports it’s functioning and renewal. It is it’s natural function. Feelings of frustration with a teaching are merely an indication that the ego is protesting. That you’re about to learn something that will mean certain death to the ego. And it, quite naturally, won’t want you to know that.
There is a way to circumvent the ego in order to understand a spiritual teaching to a degree. And that is to accept it as true in the very beginning. If one has not yet started to comprehend that their negative thoughts and feelings are not coming from their authentic self, this will be almost impossible. Humans don’t think. However, the ego will throw thoughts at a person to protect itself. And once the ego is found out, it will gather up all sorts of thoughtforms and launch them at a person to protect itself like a cornered rat. And breaking through that barrier is almost impossible. But any spiritual teacher will tell you that it can be done. It’s why spiritual teachings exist in the first place. If they can break through, so can you.
While there are many spiritual teachings out there in service to the ego, they also provide a function as an entry point to the deeper work a seeker will eventually arrive at. What is “true” to the ego cannot be ultimately true so a seeker can expect to throw a large part of their education and learning in the trash once they get to a certain degree of development. It doesn’t make those teachings wrong moreso it makes them a necessary step in the type of spiritual attainment working towards.
This is why it’s important to not put spiritual teachings down even if you’ve become an expert on them and found them wanting. There are no mistakes that can be made in this process. Because there is a spiritual teaching available to anyone at whatever stage of the path they are on. From videoblogs created by arrogant novices (such as myself at one time) to masterworks from seasoned and acclaimed professionals. All of them have value. None better or worse than the other as they have the ability to awaken the immortal self that we all are.
Most spiritual teachings arrive in this world through a storm of trauma, tragedy and pain. Wounded people write and teach certain things and healed people write and teach about other things. If a teacher is still wounded, then that is great for many are still at that point and that can be easily understood. Even to the ego. But the kernels of spiritual truth in those things is still present. There shall be no value judgement if a spiritual teaching is flawed at that stage because it’s still surrounded in a shroud of ego. Once the ego is exposed, those works take on a poignant quality.
For a time, listening to the teachings of the wounded will work to soothe the pain but there comes a time when we’re ready to listen to those who have healed. We want to know how they healed and the nitty gritty of it all. The practices and the processes that came to them on the backs of angels to heal them of devastating illness or saved them from tragic or hopeless circumstances. If a spiritual teaching cannot be accepted as true at first, then perhaps we could understand how it came to be.
If we can look past the sales figures of bestselling books and ignore the crowds at sold-out workshops and seminars, we could glimpse the past of the teacher filled with all manner of struggles and strife. Most now universally recognized spiritual teachers have endured unimaginable hardships as, unfortunately, that seems to be the price for acquiring the experience and wisdom necessary to be an effective spiritual teacher. While they might enjoy the status, fame and money today, their poverty and hardships are often ignored and mostly forgotten about in the glare of stage lights.
But those teachings ensure that one doesn’t have to go through those struggles in order to gain the benefits of spiritual development. Instead of being grateful for the teachers hard work and dedication, the ego will want the seeker to go through hard times themselves as some sort of status or achievement. By questioning the teaching and the teacher’s motivations, the ego can delay enlightenment for years or forever insisting that no one could ever be that peaceful or happy. Or that the teacher’s past mistakes somehow invalidate their current teachings.
The authentic self will understand that perhaps because of past foibles and fumbles, it’s that the teachings now exist. That it takes true humility to admit you know nothing long enough to let the spiritual truths sneak past the ego’s defenses. And that at one point these teachers had been dragged through the dirt and treated horribly by life to the point that they had to learn a new way to live. Trapped between a rock and the hardest place imaginable, they had no choice but to have profound spiritual experiences that they now freely share to those who listen. If spiritual teachings cannot be understood, then at least they could be honored or viewed through the lens of gratitude.
That for the measly price of a book ranging from $10 to $20 we can learn from a person who paid a price incredibly higher than we could ever think of paying? While a teaching may not resonate with you, it might resonate with someone. The very books you no longer need and that you threw in the trash could be discovered by some desperate person at the end of their rope. You could leave your books at a busstop in a box (incidentally where I’ve found some of my most treasured tomes) for some unwitting future seeker to discover with wary delight. Surely they would see it as evidence of some higher power. They might come to the teaching believing that it’s already true and that God was sending them a sign. They might be in that wounded place you once were and those old books you no longer need could benefit them greatly. In that way, you have become a miracle worker and a teacher of the highest order: the one that no one knows.
A spiritual teaching can be easiest understood by experiencing it and then putting it into practice. So perhaps it is time to throw all your spiritual books away and start with just one book. Start from scratch and unlearn everything you thought you knew and come at this whole spiritual development thing fresh and new. To dispense of that lens of ego and look through the eyes of higher consciousness. The ego won’t like it if you focus on one spiritual teaching and then see it through to experience and practice. Because it won’t be able to pick and choose between what works for it or not.
If you decide to not throw all of your books away or leave them on benches at random busstops, perhaps choose one teaching. Try to come at it as the absolute truth and attempt to get to expert-level on that one teaching and that one only. In becoming an expert on one teaching, you accidentally become an expert in them all. That’s because once you get to a daily practice with a spiritual teaching, the ego can’t stick around anymore. And you’ll soon discover that all spiritual works have different ways of teaching the same thing. The “flaws” won’t seem like flaws rather than different utterances of the same syllables.
There is a time to start putting all you’ve learned into practice and it will largely be automatic. You might marvel at how the lessons you learned will be able to be verified and tested as the universe delivers you people, places and things for you to truly understand how far you’ve come. These are the experiences where the spiritual teachings are truly understood and sometimes mastered. But at that point you won’t care. You will be too busy enjoying the joy and peace that comes with spiritual development rather than taking score of how much you learned.
And then you will be unable to keep quiet when someone crosses your path who starts asking what your secret is. It’s here where you might become a teacher yourself. You could suggest to them a book or a teacher but they best way to teach is to be an example. That no matter how hard one thinks they have it, spiritual development can benefit greatly. Others will ask questions and, just like we all once did, they might protest and snort in disbelief at the things we discuss. They might make fun of the things we believe in, but we know that the less we believe in the better. That beliefs limit us in ways not comprehended when first interacting with a spiritual teaching.
Perhaps getting rid of those core beliefs about what we think we know could launch us higher than we ever knew. Some might have believed that the spiritual teaching would fix them or make them happier and when it didn’t do that, we became crestfallen and suspicious of all teachings. If you are getting rid of your spiritual books and starting fresh, can you just not believe that it will do anything for you? You’re already whole and you were never broken. Somewhere along the way we forgot that life was meant to be fun and that abundance was our birthright. It why we came here. Spiritual teachings help us remember who we truly are. We didn’t come for struggles and strife, and even though some experience those, it’s not our responsibility to solve everyone’s problems. Especially if we can’t solve our own. But it’s those same struggles that lead to the greatest spiritual teachings the world has ever known.
And if a spiritual teaching has helped everyone who has truly understood it and practiced it, you won’t be the exception or the lone holdout. If a million people have benefited from a spiritual teaching, then there is a high chance that you will as well. And you can stop trying to figure it all out and come to understand that it’s already been figured out. That some hapless man or woman took the time and energy to do all the work for us. And we can start feeling immense gratitude for all spiritual works that range from the raving revelations of mad monks to the highest quality works from the masters. It all has value so be unafraid in the teaching you choose to master.