We’ve all been there:
We’re meditating. Or doing yoga. Or some really groovy, spiritual thing.
And we’re totally in the zone. We’re in the flow with everything around us. We’re totally getting the whole spiritual thing. We’re feelin’ it. We’re livin’ it. We ARE it.
And then it gets interesting.
We can’t help but notice that, in our state of flow, we are doing a really awesome job. Indeed, it could be said that we are the most amazing spiritual seeker ever. No one can deny our complete spiritual awesomeness.
And just like that, we’re knocked out of the flow. By taking score of what a great job we’re doing, our ego has come to call.
It has asserted its view of separation onto our sweet little scene, tearing us away from that blissful feeling of oneness.
We could get really pissed off at the ego for wrecking our spiritual party, but that would just keep us stuck in egoic muck.
Instead, it’s better to turn a compassionate eye toward our ego. It’s better to learn to be gentle with ourselves about this tendency to separate ourselves from life.
Learning to do this is ultimately what the spiritual path is all about.
Which brings me to the subject of this post.
The ego can certainly intrude on our spiritual paths by praising our progress. But there’s another way the ego can hijack our path, one that can be harder to detect.
The other day, I was listening to a guided meditation by a well-known spiritual teacher. As I listened to her voice, I relaxed my body and mind, slipping into a state of woo-woo oneness.
Everything was going really well, until I started to notice a pattern in what she was saying.
Her words were littered with superlatives. Everything was about opening up to the highest and best thoughts. About allowing our excellence to shine through. About the triumph I would experience as a result of this meditation.
I started to feel like I was in a woo-woo commercial. I would emerge from this meditation with the brightest, shiniest aura ever. My triumphant excellence would shine throughout the land.
It was the same as getting caught in my own egoic praise, only this time it was coming from the spiritual teacher herself.
I’ve seen this before, especially in New Age/New Thought teachings. Growth is all about better/faster/more. Egoic-driven materialism has come to call, corrupting the practice.
And yet the use of superlative phrases doesn’t have to reinforce the ego. In my affirmative prayer work, I often use the phrase “even better than I can imagine.”
By using this phrase, I let the Divine take over.
I move beyond my limited, ego-driven ideas of what is highest and best, and open to something even more magnificent.
Invariably, the result of such prayer work is way beyond anything I would have come up with.
Indeed, you could even say that this practice moves me into a state of triumphant excellence. Only I can’t get a big head about it, because I know it’s not me that made it happen. It’s me in conjunction with this Energy that’s both me and bigger than me.
And yet, by stating that my prayer practice is a good way to connect with a Higher Power, and the meditation I was listening to was a bad way to connect with a Higher Power, am I falling into yet another egoic trap?
Yes! Yes, I am!
See, what ultimately knocked me out of that guided meditation was my own judgment of the spiritual teacher.
Yes, she had definitely maybe allowed a competitive, materialistic, ego-driven vibe to corrupt peek into her meditation. But I had countered her ego with my own.
She was a baaaaaaad spiritual teacher. And I was an extra-special, super-enlightened smarty pants!
In this case, in order to move into alignment with the Divine – i.e. true triumphant excellence – I needed to release my judgment of her. And my judgment of myself for judging her.
Boy, this stuff is tricky sometimes, isn’t it?
I still think that the ego can disguise itself in pseudo triumphant excellent spiritual teachings. But I can be a lot more gentle about the whole thing.
Or, if I can’t, I can catch myself. And laugh. And then remember to be gentle.
Is your ego is driving your spiritual path?
Yes, sometimes. It’s part of the price of admission.
But we get to catch ourselves. And laugh.
And that’s also part of the price of admission.
All in all, it’s a pretty great ride.
How does your ego hijack your spiritual path? And how do you get back on track? Share your comments below!