Common traps of the ego on the spiritual path
Seekers are everywhere but not everyone finds what they are looking for. It’s too easy to adopt a new belief system, to replace the one we think is faulty with another one that isn’t much better, and it’s also easy to give our power away to another, erroneously thinking they are our ‘saviour”. Truly, another can only be a catalyst, or temporary bridge to Spirit.
The spiritual path is hard, and it tests us – it is not simply a belief system we can adopt for a ‘quick fix’ of our life’s troubles.
In today’s ‘meditate and fix it’ world, we must, again, look at the common traps, which are many.
If you’re prepared ahead of time, you will recognise them when they come.
Most people flock to a particular path, religion or teacher because they believe that will answer ALL their problems – but rarely does one path, or teacher, have all the answers. And even paths that once promised salvation have become saturated with ego traps.
Yoga, which I love and teach with my wife, has today become just ‘an exercise class’ for many, or ‘a bit of stretching’. Human consciousness today is obsessed with the outer form, but yoga has always been about the inner journey of awareness.
Luckily, I came to yoga after my own series of awakenings through walking the path of fire through many personal difficulties and following the path of Energy Medicine, tuning into the more subtle aspects of our human and spiritual consciousness.
Today’s ‘beer yoga’ shows just how quickly the ego appropriates any spiritual teaching and makes mock of it. Alcohol lowers consciousness, it doesn’t raise it. A purified body will actually reject it because it’s a physical and mental toxin – something to reflect deeply on if you really want to change the ground of your Being.
Many modern yoga teachers like to drink – and continue this erroneous habit of socialisation. The usual comment I hear is, ‘everything in moderation’ but this is not actually true. Poison is poison. Alcohol creates weakness in the body, and mind. I’ve noticed time and again, in myself (when I used to drink a long time ago) and in my clients, that it helps to form bad habits and sustains them.
Some religions teach their followers that alcohol is bad, or forbidden, but many of those religious followers who don’t drink, smoke toxic cigarettes, or do something else that’s harmful, instead – so long as they conform to the ‘rules’ or ‘commandments’ or their religion. So, has anything really fundamentally changed in terms of their consciousness?
Often the truth is blunt and difficult to hear, particularly for those of us who have created many (sense) attachments to the material side of life and sense indulgence.
I would rather meet a devotee (a person devoted to Spirit) who has tasted alcohol and rejected it through the path of discernment. They have come to the conclusion for themselves. This is the direct path of knowing.
Spiritual power – real power – cannot be bought, or inherited just by following a path. It has to be earned through constant devotion to the ONE source that flows through all of life. ‘
Some people have chosen to call this ONE Source “God”, others have yet called it “Atma” or “Spirit”. The word, or label, really doesn’t matter so much as the actual connection we have to that energy. I prefer to stay away from the term “God” because of the layers of mental abstraction that surround it.
I find the words “Love”, or “Source” or “Spirit” is better.
We must tune into the energy behind our words.
It’s a bit like being immersed in the energy of love – you either are fully in it, and you know it, or you are not… if you read about love, then you can talk about it, but you don’t actually “know” it. Similarly, if you are prone to talk about God but you’ve only ever read about it somewhere – through the Bible, Koran, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita – or heard about it through your priest or teacher – then your information is second-hand, not first-hand. so you cannot talk effectively about this Cosmic energy that flows through all of life, including you.
The Buddha taught us not to just ‘believe’ because he said something but to inquire earnestly for ourselves until we know it. This right use of our discriminating faculty keeps us balanced as we move upwards in consciousness, rather than subject to delusion.
The Good News
The good news is simply this – you are a Soul, a little wave of happiness in the Eternal Cosmic Sea of Joy – so you can become aware of your Divine nature if you unblock the ‘cork’ of ignorance that keeps you trapped in the grosser body consciousness alone. Like a bottle of water floating in the sea, with the cork on, the water inside has no idea that it actually belongs to the vast sea it is floating in!
Each day, you must meditate with awareness (i.e. not mechanically) to clean the dust of ignorance from your mind. That is the only way to know Divinity and to gain real power.
The more you sharpen the sword of inner perception and use it in your daily life, the better you will be able to see beyond the dualities of this life: the ups and downs, the successes and failures. You will see beyond health and sickness, and even beyond life and death.
This isn’t just a dry and useless philosophy, it is a timeless, living truth that will help you navigate today’s turbulent world and, ultimately, overcome all challenges – even death. This doesn’t mean you will live forever in the physical body, of course. It simply means that the fear of death, in all its forms, melts away.
As you learn to train your mind to be deeply concentrated, rather than scattered, you will surely remember who you are – and you will know yourself as a Living Soul. And there is no greater reward than this!