A new generation of social media dependents have naively mistaken this domain to be an adequate place to do deep spiritual work and hone their spiritual teaching skills.
As innocent as the whole endeavor may seem, spiritual ego is very clever at hijacking the right words, insights and imagery to make itself look like it’s done the work it speaks of. Capitalizing upon love-hungry, social media raised, personal-growth virgins, it piggy backs upon the insights and realizations of those who’ve committed decades to their spiritual path, building wisdom, brick-by-brick, at the feet of teachers who did the same before them.
This type of wisdom takes many, many years to transmit from teacher to student, involving disciplined daily practices of devotion and reverence to the path of enlightenment and resurrection. Such lineages of spiritual treasure are passed along from generation to generation via diligent, hard-work - not social media posts.
This is precisely why traditions of caliber and substance have protected their teachings from the shallow sharks of superficiality by preserving them only for those who are truly ready to receive such treasure with reverence and respect. This gold is offered only to the mind, spirit and cells of those who can be completely entrusted with it - those who are ready at a soul level to go all the way.
There are young seekers everywhere jumping from one workshop to another, one “mentor” to another, and one modality to another, cherry-picking their favorite parts and adding them to their resume of spiritual achievements, each in pursuit of the ideal spiritual image whilst honing the art of spiritual performance.
Psychologically speaking, beneath this behavior is the inexperienced, not-yet-healed, wounded child who mimics the mature spiritual teacher (or teaching) in order to get the love it needs outside of itself. Sociologically speaking, this spiritual generation doesn’t know any better. In essence their spirit-based development is growing up within the cyber circus culture, which is like inexperienced teenagers educating their pubescent peers on the art of sex!
The Katha Upanishad states it perfectly;
“Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.”
By-passing real levels of transformation with empty spiritual jargon and ritual is not a new phenomenon by any means, it’s just that social media enables it to spread like wildfire, glamorizing and often times, sexualizing the world of spirit. Not to mention watering down and desensitizing the effects of age-old teachings because they’re being overly-used.
Clearly, there are worse things we could be doing with our time than pretending to be wise spiritual teachers, but the issue lies in the dilution of integrity taking place and how this translates into the broader spiritual culture.
Marianne Williamson addressed the same point this morning;
“There’s too much spiritual dilettantism in the world today, particularly among so-called spiritual teachers. This kind of, “I know a platitude here, I know a platitude there. I have a meme on my computer here, I have a meme on my computer there.” But when you don’t really know an entire system don’t call yourself a teacher because you’re not. You don’t have the ethical or the moral right… to call yourself a spiritual teacher, if you, yourself, are not a seeker and a student.
I meet people who’ve attended a couple of seminars and set themselves up as spiritual teachers, and oh my gosh, think that if you have your marketing right, you can make it happen. You can’t just pick up a couple of seminars or listen to anybody, including myself, and say, “ok, I know how to do that now. This is corrupted thinking, I’m sorry, this is the problem in America today. It’s not only ambitious, it’s out of integrity.”
I couldn’t agree more with Marianne. Only I’d like to add that it is much farther reaching than America. I see it in my work travels the world over. It’s endemic anywhere we have spiritual seekers with access to internet marketing, and that’s pretty much everywhere.
I’ve had examples of people attending my intro group once and then within hours or days they’re doing a facebook live, dishing out the principles and teachings they just learned as if they’ve mastered them. I have no doubt the information was understood mentally, but what is being by-passed is the transformative depth possible when transmitted cellularly.
What also frustrates me about this behavior is that the teachings are being thrown about, as if dropping confetti off a cliff, into the ears and hearts of people who may not value their importance. Or, they’re being presented in a fashion that cheapens their effect because there’s only so deep one can go with a stranger behind a camera on a social media platform. That, and the fact that upon listening to the Tao for many years and honoring the boundary set by the universe with regards to the nature of how and when this information is shared, I feel angered by the disregard, selfishness, greed and entitlement at play. I don’t support timeless wisdom being watered down like cheap vodka.
The seductive power of social media giants
Firstly, I must say that I feel it is healthy to use social media to connect, raise awareness, share personal stories and to receive love and support for the highs, lows, successes and failures that life throws our way. I also see it as the God of networking - empowering many millions of us to build wealth, step into true expression, and advertise our businesses so they can reach new heights.
But there’s another side to this coin. Social media platforms are machines, meticulously designed by some of the best minds in the world to psychologically seduce us away from everything other than itself. They’re riddled with powerful hooks that distract us from substantial areas of our life and therefore our development.
The hook within social media pulls us out of our center and into the image driven ego-mind. It seduces us to feed it with our time, conviction and life-force. The problem is, its hunger only feeds our hunger. Like any good sales approach, it offers a promising return on investment by first dangling instant gratification (likes, attention, mini-fame), creating enough dependency to lure us into the long game: “If I hand myself over to this social giant then someday it will gratify me with true fame, wealth and success.”
But like doing the lottery and wasting time ‘hoping’ to win versus putting that time into building real wealth from the ground up, spending a large percentage of our teens, twenties and early thirties on social media could be detrimental to our spiritual, intellectual, social and financial growth. These happen to be the prime years for the study and discovery of who we are in relationship to the dissolution of who we’re not. But if we get distracted from this psycho-spiritual ground work because social media says, “fame and fortune is within arms reach without having to do very much,” then we may end up falsely catapulted up the success ladder without the structure to handle such heights. This is the house built on sand - a form of spiritual inflation that is destined for collapse.
The truth for so many is that the place we’re turning to, to learn about or teach the invaluable ways of spirit, is the very domain distracting us from a deep and lasting relationship to Spirit. The highly addictive nature of its quick fix stimulation will never be a substitute for deep psychological or spiritual study with therapists and masters who embody timeless wisdom.
So how do I not get hooked?
Stop feeding the spiritual ego: If you see or sense spiritual by-passing at play, either address it head-on (privately or publicly), or stop exposing yourself to that person’s feed. Take some sort of action because if you remain passive, the un-groundedness, sexual hooking or performative split may disconnect you from your center, often manifesting as inadequacy, feeling less-than, not doing enough with your life and career, etc.
This is peer pressure designed by the machine to keep you stuck in the limbo of self-doubt and insecurity. Don’t bite the bait! You’re much bigger than this. There’s so much more to you and this gigantic world than what you’re being fed on social media.
What if I’m already hooked and want to break away and go deeper?
Find a teacher who has truly put their time in and commit to substantial study with this teacher (or system). Such teachers will have worked closely with renowned masters in their chosen field, or spent many years in some sort of ashram, monastery, training program or academic university. It will be someone who has earned his or her credence through personal sacrifice. I have no doubt there are many such teachers (I can think of some I know personally listed below) doing phenomenal work with their clients and students.
Break your dependency to getting or sharing the bulk of your knowledge through social media. Limit your exposure. Beware of being the puppet in a grand scheme that wants to steal you away from what you’re capable of developing in this lifetime. Instead of spending approximately 30% of your time diving deep into spiritual study and 70% of your time sharing it on social media, try flipping this ratio. Spend 70% finding spiritual depth outside of your social media world, and sharing only 30% of it online. Of this 30%, try making 10% your personal life, and 20% where friends/viewers can go to find growth outside of the social media circus. In other words, more about advertising events/blog pages/gatherings versus instant teaching videos.
The bottom line is this: you can only help another to the degree that you’ve helped or healed yourself. So go as deep as you possibly can. Don’t waste time getting distracted by false prophets, quick-fix healing schemes and social media dependency. As my teacher used to say, “a good student makes a good teacher,” so commit to established schools of thought and stay in the pressure cooker until the universe kicks you out of the nest on its own timing.
List of international teachers not in any particular order. (These are the ones I can think of right now but I know many more who should be on this list):
Monika Nataraj - Core Faculty at Omega Institute - Tantric Yogini -
Emma Warmington - Jivani Yoga Founder - Belfast, N. Ireland
Michael Ryan - Yoga Teacher, Dublin, Ireland
Sarah Knight - Energy Therapist, Kingston, Canada
Susanna Wacha - Sisters Of Elements Founder - Vienna, Austria
Sebastian Bruno - Co-Founder of ThaiVedic Body Work - Asia
Matthew Sweeney - Yoga Teacher - Bali, Indonesia
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