The Virago
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The Virago

Many Spiritual Leaders Are Dangerous Narcissists

They feed on your attention and money

Image By GaudiLab from Shutterstock

Many spiritual leaders or so-called motivational speakers are dangerous narcissists.

They feed on your attention and your money.

Without knowing it, you’re giving them a lot of power over you — the power to tell you what you should do for their own benefits.

I realized this sad truth after facilitating tantra workshops at a “spiritual” festival. The organizer of this big event, Isabella, is a tyrannic woman with little empathy. Yet, she has this willpower that supported her organizing this international gathering of 110 people.

Using shame to manipulate and control people

A common tool that dangerous narcissists use to control others is shame. Narcissists induce shame in their prey so that they are easier to manipulate.

According to Jackson MacKenzie, author of Whole Again, narcissists are narcissists because they have grown up in an environment that used shame to control them. Toxic shame became their core identity and now, they project it onto others.

They know too well that shame can have a strong influence on someone’s life so they use it to their advantage.

The pain of shame can be so intense that they prefer to project it onto others.

Anything can induce shame in a narcissist — a critic, feedback, a request, or just the expression of your needs and feelings.

Instead of taking responsibility or simply listening, they reject your words and put the blame on you.

This creates shame in their victims who, if they are empaths and have low self-esteem, can be better manipulated.

A perfect example

On our first night at the festival, Isabella facilitated a workshop called self-love.

Everybody wants to get better at self-love, don’t they? With an appealing workshop title, it was normal to see a lot of participants joining this workshop. I did too!

We started with a guided meditation, blindfolded. We sent some love to ourselves and were called to connect with the light of our hearts. So far, so good — it started softly and beautifully.

But then, all of sudden, we got ordered to undress and touch our genitals.

Wait. What?

For most of us, it came as a big shock. Since when did self-love mean group masturbation?

The following day, a participant came to seek advice. She was traumatized by the experience and wanted to leave the festival. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I was shocked too despite being on the team of facilitators.

I offered to talk to Isabella before the participant decided to leave. I had never faced a situation like that before so I needed support from someone who is probably more used to this reaction.

What a wrong idea! I had no clue that Isabella was a dangerous narcissist.

Without a hint of empathy, Isabella’s answer about the participant’s concern was this one:

If she’s not comfortable with sexuality, she must leave. She is not welcome here.

Chills ran through my body thinking about that comment. Did Isabella just use shame to force a participant to accept her rules? Indeed. She rejected any responsibility for how she handled her workshop. She dismissed constructive feedback that could have been really good for her.

This is exactly what narcissists do.

Later, many things that Isabella would do triggered the empath that I am.

By the end of the festival, I told myself I would never work with her again. She doesn’t have the best interest of the participants first…instead, she prioritizes her own interests.

Being in the position of leader gives you a lot of attention

It is well known that narcissists are attention-seekers and so are many spiritual leaders or motivational speakers.

In contrast to business leaders, spiritual leaders embody a “perfect life” and people want to seek advice from them.

They are supposed to know how to live better and how to have a perfect relationship. They are seen by others as a role-model, but oftentimes, they put themselves above others.

People following spiritual leaders or motivational speakers are usually people in a lot of pain. They have faced trauma and abuse. They are unhappy with their relationships and lack the self-confidence to live their own life.

I’m generalizing here as it also applies to me. I sought the support of spiritual leaders and motivational leaders in the past to give me a boost of confidence. I was ready to totally surrender to someone who could tell me what to do and make my life better.

That is until I understood that nobody else can fix me other than myself. They don’t know better — they just have more confidence than others.

People who need a leader in their life can easily be manipulated with the bait of “the end of suffering.”

When manipulation goes too far

In 2018, the tantric school, Agama, closed its doors after being accused of sexually assaulting the students. The leader, Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, had used the shame tactic to force his students to have sex with him.

And there’s an extensive list of leaders like Saraswati.

James Salerno, the leader of a group committed to creating an “ideal human environment” has been convicted of sexual abuse. Even Tony Robbins has been accused of misconduct.

Sometimes, manipulation goes too far. And manipulation will not end if people are willing to put others above themselves.

With this experience, I’ve learned to be mindful before blindly following others. They may not have your best interest in mind.





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Hakima T A N T R I K A

Hakima T A N T R I K A

Intimacy, Love, & Relationship Coach, Writer, Educator ❤ Tantra Teacher | Mental Health Advocate |