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Spirituality

What Is Tapas? Yogic Tool For Overcoming Obstacles Explained

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Changing a habit or pattern of thinking and following the path of spiritual development and self-improvement requires a lot of effort and discipline. And here it is worth remembering one of the basic yoga principles – Tapas. It is the tapas practice that focuses on austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, and perseverance. Tapas is realized through a conscious and sustained effort to resist all temptations and to overcome all obstacles that stand between you and your goal.

In this article, I will answer the three most common questions about Tapas:

  • What is tapas?
  • What are the benefits of practicing it?
  • How can we practice it in everyday life?

What Is Tapas?

Most yoga practitioners are familiar with basic yoga principles – yamas and niyamas. Tapas is one of the niyamas.

So what is tapas?

Tapas can be variously translated from Sanskrit into English as heat, spiritual austerities, fiery discipline, and internal fire. It represents zeal and fullness of effort.

Sometimes it is regarded as a purifying action, for it removes impurity. This concept refers primarily to the body and means proper care for it. It is due to asceticism and the elimination of impurity that the perfection of the body and sense organs is achieved.

Patanjali emphasized that only spiritual heat (tapas) can burn off the contamination of the psyche. Daily practiced tapas as a component of Niyama, along with cleanliness and contentment, changes the state of the mind, making it less “polluted”. The practitioner cleanses himself from worldly filth, accumulates merit, and increases the store of spiritual energy.

Sometimes “tapas” is translated as “asceticism”. However, the idea of extreme asceticism is also far from the teachings of Patanjali. After several years of severe asceticism, Buddha Shakyamuni abandoned strict asceticism and began to preach the Middle way (Madhyama Marga) that focuses on moderate self-restraint and high morals. The term “tapas” in Buddhism means “self-discipline”.

Tapas And Yoga

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Yoga practice is always about tapas and overcoming inner challenges. It is always about the kindling of inner fire. When we practice yoga, pranayama, and meditation, despite our reluctance and laziness, we cultivate willpower and develop self-discipline.

To follow the spiritual path, you need to continuously train yourself, challenge yourself, and overcome difficulties. A spiritual path is not about staying in harmony while living somewhere in a peaceful and isolated place. Following your spiritual path means finding peace and harmony everywhere you go. And the more challenging you feel to find them the further you move forward along your spiritual journey. The number of challenges you overcome is proportional to your spiritual growth and the level of your self-development. Therefore overcoming such challenges as laziness and apathy in your spiritual practice is essential for gaining willpower and self-discipline.

Where Does Laziness Come From?

When we are captured by worldly desires, when our energy channels are narrowed and clogged, when our mind is controlled by old information, limiting beliefs and outdated stereotypes, our willpower is very much weakened. And when willpower is weak, our actions are guided by apathy and laziness.

When we start overcoming our laziness and apathy by performing spiritual practices our willpower gets trained. As an ordinary muscle is pumped up through daily workout, so daily overcoming of your laziness “builds up” your willpower. By daily practice, our willpower grows stronger. And eventually, you will notice that now you can easily get rid of bad habits such as smoking, eating junk food, etc.

If you practice tapas daily for several years, the results will exceed all your expectations. Along with your willpower, your own body will also obey you. Your entire body and your health will obey your orders.

The Three Kinds Of Tapas

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There are three types of tapas:

  • Tapas of the body
  • Tapas of the speech
  • Tapas of the mind

What is tapas of the body?

Tapas of the body (KAYIKA) is the development of the willpower through performing such practices as Brahmacharya, service to Gurus and sages, Ahimsa (or nonviolence), fasting, etc.

What is tapas of the speech?

Tapas of the speech is the development of the willpower by speaking the truth, using words that do not hurt any living being, studying the Scriptures, etc.

A very special form of tapas of the speech is Mauna – the silence. Mauna implies not to talk at all for a certain period of time (one day or a few hours). A superior level in Mauna is mental silence, i.e. keeping the mind totally quiet. Mauna practice helps conserve energy and sharpen the insight.

What is tapas of the mind?

Tapas of the mind (MANASIKA) is the development of the willpower to keep a perfect peace of mind, to practice effortless self-control, to have a lack of negative thoughts, etc.

To maintain the balance of the mind in all cases of life, to be always serene, contented and calm, to be cheerful in adverse conditions, to have courage in the face of danger, to have the presence of reason and abstinence — these are all forms of mental tapas.

From a philosophical point of view, meditation is the highest form of tapas of the mind. Fixing the wandering mind on God is the mastery level of tapas.

4 Ways to Make Tapas Your Everyday Practice

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Here are 4 ways to help you develop discipline both in your spiritual practice and in life.

#1: Practice Yoga In the Morning

Set a goal to wake up as early as possible, preferably before sunrise, and perform Surya Namaskar. Do not look at your phone or open social networks right after waking up and before practice.

Alternatively, you can practice mantra chanting, meditation, affirmation practice or pranayama every morning. Also, a morning prayer can be included in your daily routine.

You see, in the morning, we are full of creative energy. Early morning practice will help you set yourself up for a conscious and productive day that will be spent in a calmer mood.

#2: Create New Eating Habits

They say food addiction is the worst addiction. We all have it in one way or another unless you are breatharian.

When you don’t know how to control your appetite and cravings you can easily turn into a slave of your habit to eat whatever you are craving.

It is always difficult to give up the usual foods that bring pleasure but does not bring health benefits.

Tapas can help you to develop self-discipline in your eating and take your cravings under control. There is something you can try right now. At least for a week, try to exclude from your diet foods that interfere with your practice or may even be harmful to your health. For example, give up sweets for a week. It can be whatever you like the most – alcohol, coffee, dairy, meat, bread, chips, etc. Then try to do the same for a month. And then do it for an entire year. Once you mastered it for a year you can exclude it for life.

#3: Practice Yoga Daily

Promise yourself to practice yoga for at least 10-15 minutes every day for a week, no matter what happens. Over time, this will become a habit, like hygiene in the morning. Discipline will bring development to your yoga practice and better results.

Do the same with your meditation practice. Meditate for at least 10-15 minutes daily. It’s better to perform a daily 10 minutes meditation than not to meditate at all.

Prioritize your spiritual practices and very soon you will see that your life is changing as well as your mindset. All the events in your life are going smoother and you have a clearer understanding of what’s going on in your life and what life requires you to do from the spiritual point of view.

#4: Control Your Thoughts

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To develop control of your thoughts is a primary goal for everyone who follows a spiritual path. Our thoughts have the power to create the reality we live in. People who have no control of their thoughts become prisoners of life ‘circumstances’. Therefore everyone should learn how to develop the ability of concentration and thought-control.

During your yoga or meditation classes, you may have thoughts that are usually repeated in everyday life. It is these thoughts that are the obstacle on your spiritual path. Pay attention to them and learn how to control them.

A wonderful practice that may help you to develop concentration and thought-control is a daily mantra chanting. If you find it difficult to concentrate on Sanskrit mantras, try affirmation practice. Say the same positive affirmation 108 times with a complete focus on every word you are pronouncing.

By applying these methods, you can improve your yoga, meditation, mantra or any other spiritual practice, change the patterns of thinking and behavior. Your mind, your attitude to yourself, and the events of your life will change in a positive matter.

The Bottom Line

No matter what we do for developing our discipline we should always remember that the basis of discipline should be love, not punishment. When trying to follow Tapas, pay attention to the benefits it will bring. Talk to your inner child and explain to him/her that, for example, waking up early in the morning will give you more time to do the things you enjoy doing but never can find the time for them. Also, start applying the principles of tapas during your yoga classes. This will improve your practice because the main thing in mastering any practice is consistency. And it also depends on discipline!


Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Spirituality

8 Warning Signs You’re Falling Into Spiritual Materialism

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Walking the spiritual path is a tricky adventure. We are often deceiving ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This kind of self-deception is called “spiritual materialism” which is a “toxic” form of spirituality.

In this article, I want to share with you what spiritual materialism is and 8 warning signs you could be practicing it.

What Is Spiritual Materialism?

Spiritual materialism is a term coined by Chögyam Trungpa in his book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. 

This term is used to describe mistakes spiritual seekers commit which turn the pursuit of spirituality into an ego-building and confusion creating endeavor, based on the idea that ego development is counter to spiritual progress.

Spiritual materialism means making use of spirituality to gratify the desires of the ego.

No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain.

– Chögyam Trungpa

According to Chögyam Trungpa, spiritual materialism can fall into three categories:

#1: Physical materialism

This form of materialism is based on the belief that possessions can bring release from suffering. However, in fact, they may bring temporary happiness but then more suffering will follow. Or on another level, physical materialism can manifest itself as a belief, “I am rich because I have this or that” or “I am a teacher because I have a diploma.”

#2: Psychological materialism

This category is based on the belief that a particular philosophy, spiritual tradition, belief system, or point of view will bring release from suffering. Therefore, seeking refuge by strongly identifying with a particular religion, tradition, philosophy, political party, or viewpoint, for example, would be a manifestation of psychological materialism. The goal of psychological materialism is to use external concepts, pretexts, and ideas to prove that the ego-driven self exists, which manifests in a particular competitive attitude.

#3: Spiritual materialism

It is based on the belief that a certain temporary state of mind is a refuge from suffering. For example, when you’re using meditation practices to create a peaceful state of mind or using drugs or alcohol to remain in a numbed out or a euphoric state, you are merely heightening the suffering when these states cease. Therefore, attempting to maintain a particular emotional state of mind as an escape from suffering, or constantly pursuing particular emotional states of mind, will actually lead to more long term suffering.

Spiritual materialism is an attachment to the spiritual path as a solid accomplishment or possession. It is said that spiritual materialism is the hardest to overcome. The imagery that is used is that of golden chains; you’re not just in chains, you’re in golden chains. And you love your chains because they’re so beautiful and shiny. But you’re not free. You’re just trapped in a bigger and better trap. The point of spiritual practice is to become free, not to build a trap that may have the appearance of a mansion but is still a prison.

– M. Caplan

Spiritual Ego

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We all need to realize that nobody is immune to spiritual materialism. As long as we have the ego, we are living on the edge. And no matter how spiritually developed you think you are, there is a tricky ego trap for each “level” of development.

Most of us have a delusional idea that the spiritual path is always steady and secure. It is only later that we begin to realize that the spiritual path is very slippery and you have to maintain balance and constant awareness not to fall into old “traps”. The thing is that the more we learn theoretically about spirituality without applying it to our everyday lives, the more likely we develop the spiritual ego in our beliefs.

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the spiritual ego can hide behind judgment, spiritual dogma, or even a false sense of moral superiority over others. And this could be very dangerous for our spiritual development since it can blind us and prevent us from doing the necessary deeper spiritual work we need for inner growth and self-healing.

It’s hard to see our ego and therefore it’s hard to control it. Buddhist say that in the war of ego the loser always wins. Which makes complete sense to me. The second you realized you overcame your ego, you have fallen into its trap. Therefore, the best way you can deal with your ego is by observing it. It is by observing that you can learn how to take control of your ego.

8 Signs You Could Be Practicing Spiritual Materialism

The most important part of shadow work is taking an honest look at ourselves no matter how hard and painful it could be. Let’s take a look at 8 signs of spiritual materialism and determine which ones could be describing us.

Sign #1: Spiritual Superficiality

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Modern forms of spirituality and therapy are often accused of selling superficial and sunny answers to life’s complexity and pain. Spirituality isn’t about protecting ourselves from real-life challenges. Any philosophy that is based on the belief that thinking positively always protects us from suffering and emotional pain, or that there is something wrong with you if you suffer or fail, is offering superficial promises.

Sign #2: Spiritual Elitism

Spiritual elitism is based on using spiritual ‘achievements’ or ‘gifts’ to disconnect from and feel superior to others. If you find yourself becoming unbearably profound, feeling that you are somehow different from others and destined for sainthood, perhaps you are suffering from grandiosity.

Our desire to be special can be manifested in many different self-aggrandizement ways, like:

  • Claiming to have “special access” to spirit guides, Ascended Masters, angels, spirits, etc.;
  • Claiming to be the reincarnation of a guru, superior being, a famous spiritual historical figure, etc.;
  • Claiming to figure out all the world mysteries, conspiracy theories, governments’ secrets, etc.;
  • Claiming access to special and exclusive spiritual knowledge that others can’t access.

In order to overcome this trap, ask yourself: “Do I really need to prove my specialness by using different titles (like lightworker, Starseed, etc.), the memories (or fantasies) about my past incarnations, etc.?”

Sign #3: Spiritual Shopping Obsession

Do you find yourself habitually buying spiritual trinkets/tools/items or accumulating the blessings and initiations from sages, shamans, saints, etc.? Does having spiritual items make you feel more “special,” “awakened,” “aligned” or spiritually worthy. If so, you could be practicing spiritual materialism!

The truth is all those endless workshops, tools, trinkets, and techniques which all promise to make you a wiser, more intuitive, more blissful, more “spiritual” person, are designed for distracting your attention from profound spiritual practice. You see, in order to follow your spiritual path you don’t need to “look” or “feel” spiritual. All you need is already inside you.

Sign #4: Entertaining Spirituality

This is a common trap many seekers get into. Instead of enjoying the blessings of everyday life, you seek after entertaining spirituality and supernatural experiences like angelic visitations, seeing visions, meeting UFOs, spirit guides, Ascended Masters, beings from other planets and dimensions, etc. All these supernatural experiences can be a part of your spiritual journey. However, if they are your main focus, you could be practicing entertaining spirituality.

Sign #5: Ripping Off the Traditions

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Many modern seekers skim off the ritual trappings of a tradition with little respect for the depth behind it. This attitude trivializes powerful spiritual systems that often demand years of study. It is so important to be committed to your spiritual practice and realize the difference between carefully creating a spiritual path that includes genuine practices from a variety of traditions, rather than flitting from flower to flower like a drunken honey bee.

Sign #6: Power Abuse

Another sign of spiritual materialism is the disparity between spiritual teachings and the behavior of teachers. These are the things to be wary of:

  • extravagant claims of enlightenment or healing;
  • minimizing the hard work that accompanies any true spiritual or healing path;
  • excessive commercialism that betrays the deeper spiritual message;
  • blind adherence of followers.

With their deceitful double standards, some gurus, healers, and spiritual teachers have given mentorship a bad name and tarnished the image of humbling oneself to wiser and more experienced spiritual guides.

Sign #7: Spiritual Narcissism

The spiritual narcissist unconsciously believes he/she is more “awakened” than others and will do anything to reinforce that “specialness” including harming others through arrogance and forcing his/her beliefs on them. They also use spiritual jargon that you can relate to when recruiting their victims. A spiritual narcissist will make you think that you have a special gift or that you are their soul mate when in a real sense they are grooming you for the abuse

Do you always back your desires with only those spiritual facts that suit you? Then, you could be developing spiritual narcissism. Be mindful when you purposely omit those facts that don’t advance your course.

There is a thin line between narcissism and “following your bliss.” Be aware of your tendency toward excessive self-centeredness even as you work to heal and love your own tender self.

Sign #8: Future Obsession

Do you believe that if you do certain spiritual practices or chant certain mantra you will get to a special elevated state of consciousness in the future? Well, there is nothing wrong with this belief unless you become so possessed with your future achievements that you stop living in the present moment. If you become too obsessed with your future and stop recognizing the fundamental ego-centricity of this obsession, you could be stuck in another spiritual materialism trap!

The Bottom Line

The spiritual path can be a truly joyous and satisfying journey of self-realization. It quickly becomes very clear to anyone who has spent significant time on their journey that the path is riddled with many obstacles and traps designed specifically for the ego.

Have you found yourself saying “They are Asleep”, “I am Awake” or any other self-proclaimed statements of spiritual achievement in comparison to others? This type of comparison can be the first of many dangerous behaviors that can lead a hopeful spiritual student down a path of despair, spiritual degradation, and unfortunate suffering.

True spiritual development is almost always a long and arduous journey that spans many years and lifetimes. Maintaining a high level of compassion and humility along with a strong desire to serve can be a very helpful tool to ensure one keeps their ego in check.


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Spirituality

10 Stages Of Spiritual Growth & How To Recognize Them

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Spiritual growth is not a religious concept but rather the process of becoming aware of your inner consciousness or being, which transcends the usual boundaries of your mind and ego to realize your divine nature. In this article, I will share with you 10 stages of spiritual growth and their characteristics.

These stages of spiritual growth reflect the evolution of consciousness, where the starting point is a contradiction with your old beliefs, and the final point is the unification with the Divine.

I must say that these stages of spiritual growth do not divide people into castes, do not underestimate or exaggerate the importance of any of the living souls embodied on Earth. Each spiritual path is unique and therefore should be equally respected. Every experience is spiritual because we are all incarnations of the Divine spirit on Earth and we all are moving to the same destination.

Therefore, when reading this article, please keep in mind that being on stage 1 or stage 10 doesn’t make you more or less spiritual than others. As long as we are moving along the spiritual path, we are all equal.

10 Stages Of Spiritual Growth

Stage #1: Collision

At this stage of spiritual growth, you discover spiritual knowledge that contradicts what is generally accepted in society and takes you beyond the usual worldview. You are faced with the choice of either not believing, being skeptical, pushing away these contradictions, or being interested, and trying to learn more to better understand.

At this stage, you get rid of old beliefs that limited your perception of reality. You start questioning everything you believed in. You may start questioning religion, social norms, and rules.

And the more clearly you realize that you don’t know anything for sure, the more opportunities you have to successfully pass this stage of spiritual growth. During this stage, your spiritual growth accelerates. You begin to realize that many relationships and desires have lost their relevance to you.

As your old comfortable worldview fades away, you move beyond the dualistic perception of the world, and the reality you live in.

At this stage, many people discover that most of their attachments and possessions are just illusions. This discovery can frighten you so much that you may want to return to your old beliefs and comfortable “Matrix” life. But if you overcome this fear, you can make a huge leap in your development to the next stage of your spiritual growth.

Stage #2: Knowledge

At this stage, you show interest in different areas of spiritual knowledge, you expand your spiritual horizons and want to share your new discoveries with others. At the same time, you begin to feel like most people don’t understand you, it becomes more difficult to communicate and understand others. But as you progress in the field of spiritual knowledge, you begin to distinguish people by their level of development, by their level of understanding of life.

You discover that there is something else beyond the material world, and you start seeing life as an opportunity for development. And after a while, you decide to engage in spiritual practice, apply your knowledge in order to change your life, evolve yourself, and engage in self-development.

One of the main insights you may discover at this stage is that you are no longer feeling like a victim. Now you start seeing that each life event, each situation (even the most negative one), each person is an opportunity for your spiritual growth, self-development, and personal evolution. You realize that difficulties are powerful sources of insight and inner transformation. It is by overcoming difficulties that we tap into our inner power and become much stronger and wiser.

At this stage, you stop avoiding difficulties but welcome them. Now you are clearly aware that the more difficulties you overcome, the faster you move along the path of your spiritual development.

Stage #3: Practice

At this stage of spiritual growth, the use of spiritual knowledge in practice begins. You begin to study the movement of energies in your body, engage in meditation, do energy work, learn to scan and balance your chakras.

As a rule, at this stage, people use basic spiritual and energy practices to improve their health and life quality.

Stage #4: Choosing the Direction

After a series of failures to achieve your goals, you begin to realize that there are more powerful factors in your life than your own energy system and your own will. You begin to notice your ups and downs on the energy plane. You learn to use your time and energy efficiently.

In the end, you realize that you need to choose a new direction for further development, as your previous values are gradually being questioned. It all ends up with the old values being revised, and you have to make a choice of your future direction. In connection with this choice, a new system of values is chosen and new goals are set.

Stage #5: Spiritual Collapse

At this stage, all ideas about what is important, what is necessary, and what is not, collapse. You begin to understand the illusory nature of this world. You realize that all forms and states are temporary. You feel frustrated that the directions and goals you have chosen don’t deliver the results you expected. You start re-thinking the meaning of everything. You begin to feel the presence of Higher forces and start to notice their impact on the world and your own life.

Stage #6: Observation

You become independent and free in your spiritual views. You begin to understand the paradox of life, the unity of opposites, the oneness of spirit and matter. You stop looking at the world from the perspective of your personality and become an observer.

You return to an understanding of the value of spiritual knowledge in your life and begin to realize that the world is harmonious and its functioning is not subject to the ideals of only one group of people but develops dynamically, periodically changes its structure, and even the direction of its development.

Such an observation leads to a deeper understanding of the harmony of the world. And most importantly, even if there is another spiritual collapse or the collapse of another ideal happens, you are no longer lost, but accept as it is with deep awareness.

Stage #7: Full Acceptance

This stage of spiritual growth is characterized by the fact that you begin to accept everything as it is, and become grateful for everything that happens to you. You calmly accept everything that happens, without tormenting yourself with expectations and suffering from disappointments.

In the end, it becomes clear to you that the main Teacher is your Life. Now you feel God in everything and everyone around you. You realize that there is a combination of the Will of God and the Will of Man in every event and every situation. You feel that you are about to merge with the Divine, and you begin to prepare yourself for this significant spiritual discovery.

Stage #8: Conscious Aspiration

By this stage, you have already learned how to see the sacred meaning of everything that is happening. When this skill is fully developed, a Conscious Aspiration is born. You are not looking for any knowledge, esoteric secrets, secret techniques, but you are looking for the very Essence, the Holy Spirit of the Creator, because at this stage you fully realized its significance and power.

Stage #9: Dedication

At this stage, you feel that you are ready to meet the Creator. When you are ready, your human consciousness meets God and you experience the state of Supreme Bliss. Your heart chakra is fully awakened and you start radiating Divine unconditional love.

You feel a powerful impulse of spiritual energy, which remains in your consciousness forever. Since this moment, you begin to receive information directly from the Source – the Consciousness of God. This can be perceived in different forms, such as knowledge, sounds of higher spheres, Akashic Records, or prophetic dreams. However, the main thing is that you become receptive to information from above and begin finding the answers inside yourself.

Stage #10: Divine Unification

At this stage, you merge with the Creator. Your will begins to coincide with the will of God. Your main actions and aspirations are to serve the evolution of people’s consciousness and to spread unconditional love to the world. You become a vessel and vehicle for Divine Love.

You are aware of your divine mission and reveal your unique abilities to realize it. You begin to conduct the Highest Divine energies, radiate love, open spiritual paths to people, and assist others in their healing journeys. Everyone who comes in contact with you changes forever. You become a tool for expressing the will of God on Earth.

This stage could be considered the final one. However, in fact, this is the beginning of a Completely different spiritual and physical existence and development.

The Bottom Line

There are many different interpretations of the stages of spiritual growth. The above stages of spiritual growth are purely advisory in nature. You may be at different stages in different aspects of your life. The purpose of these stages is to help your understanding of the processes that you’re facing on your spiritual journey, encourage you to move forward, and avoid steep turns on the way.


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Spiritual Ego: Recognizing Its Most Common Traps

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The spiritual ego is very sneaky. It hides under the masks of good intentions, higher vibration, spiritual clothes and accessories, awakened, and enlightened perspective. Living in the cage of titles – starseeds, lightworkers, twin flames, one of the 144,000 – makes us feel special and important. And if we are not mindful, it can wreak total destruction not just in our lives but also can mislead us from our spiritual path.

So what is spiritual ego really? How to recognize its traps and stay committed to your spiritual journey? What can you do to take your ego under control? Read on!

What Is Ego?

The ego is the dual perception of the world, where “I” and “mine” are opposed to “not me” and “not mine”.

In Sufism, the ego is the driving force and will of a person, which makes possible the confrontation of the unbridled animal nature and the Divine principles. If the ego is polluted, then the person follows his desires, but if it is purified, then the path to God opens. Sufi ideology calls not to eradicate the ego, but to bring it under control with the help of divine instructions.

In Bhakti yoga and Hinduism, the ego is seen as a distorted perception of the world. And the ego itself is not evil, but it can be correctly or incorrectly interpreted. The Bhakti yoga practitioner, in order to overcome delusion, connects with the Supreme through prayers and recitation of mantras, gaining a clear vision of both himself and everything around him.

The Bhagavad Gita speaks of the ego as the basis of the personality, which should not be fought, but should be understood and interpreted correctly – identifying the “I” not with the mortal body, but with the eternal soul, that is, to achieve the realization of the true ego. Where the true ego prevails, there is goodness. Such a person is calm and self-sufficient, full of a sense of satisfaction, selflessness, and kindness. Where false ego prevails, there is ignorance and misery, a constant feeling of dissatisfaction, discontent, and a desire to have more.

According to Kabbalah, ego and egoism are given at birth. As a result, instead of feeling the divine and eternal, man feels his desires. The concept of egoism and desire in Kabbalah are identical. To overcome the ego and become one with the Creator again, people must achieve spiritual growth that can last for many lifetimes. Layer by layer, by removing the shackles of the ego and opening the capacity for spiritual feeling, a person approaches his natural state, in which he was before he descended into the world.

In Buddhism, the ego – Ahamkara – is considered the source of all concepts and criteria for evaluating the existing world. It is the ego that tries to make everything look, shape, mean, evaluate, and frame. And all for the sake of maintaining the existence of this world and the principle of “I am”. These processes of assessment and definitions give rise to karma – cause-and-effect relationship between events. The source of the ego is ignorance, or Avidya in Sanskrit. Avidya refers to ignorance or misconceptions about the nature of metaphysical reality. It is the root cause of Dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness), and asserted as the first link, in Buddhist phenomenology, of a process that leads to repeated birth. Thus, according to Buddhism, the ego is the main source of suffering and lack of freedom.

Ahamkara (ego) does not act alone, but in conjunction with the mind (Manas), the emotive side of mind (Citta), and intuition (Buddhi). Buddhi, or pure vision, is aware of events and phenomena as they are, but it does not react to them in any way, just tracking the fact of their existence. Manas receives information, analyzes it, and makes a conclusion. Citta gives an assessment of the result obtained and develop liking or disliking, approval, or censure. The ego includes these judgments in its sphere of activity and makes them a part of our life.

Buddhism as a teaching aims to eradicate the ego through meditation and controlling the activity of the mind. By purifying one’s perception of reality, one leaves only the unclouded Buddhi; the illusion of the reality of the world becomes shaky, as does the concept of the ego.

Ego’s Location In The Chakras

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There are different manifestations of ego based on what chakra it’s located in.

Muladhara (Root) Chakra

When the ego is fed by the energy of the Root chakra, it binds a person to dominance at the expense of material security. Such people are very controlling and identify those who are financially dependent on them with things and consider it legitimate to dispose of their lives at their own discretion. When you see parents who control the lives of their already adult children, you are witnessing a clear example of the Muladhara oriented ego.

Svadhisthana (Sacral) Chakra

The Svadhisthana oriented ego makes people obsessed with sex and their appearance. They strive to be overly sexually attractive and seduce as many partners as possible. They see sex as a proof of self-value.

Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra

The Manipura oriented ego tends to suppress others with rough pressure, wanting to weaken their will. Such people use their energy and charisma to assert themselves and impose their opinions. These people wear the image of impudent and bold, sneaks and boors.

Anahata (Heart) Chakra

The Anahata oriented ego craves public adoration as an idol. These people tend to be at the center of everyone’s attention. Such people are very jealous. They are legends in their own minds though in fact they are just faking to look bigger than they are.

Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra

The Vishuddha oriented ego boasts of its intelligence. These people like to trick others and lie a lot. They are dodgers and insidious schemers.

What Is Spiritual Ego?

what is spiritual ego Image

EGO = Eliminating God Out. The moment you divorce yourself from the divine, you marry the ego. 

As we evolve spiritually, we awaken from soul darkness and start moving away from body-centered ego-consciousness. Instead of identifying as mere physical bodies that are born and die, we begin to see ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience. Whether through yoga, meditation, spiritual book studies, prayer, or attending spiritual workshops, we reach a new higher-level awareness. This newfound awareness can be so exciting and empowering that it deludes us into thinking that our life lessons are complete and we are free from our egos. At this stage of spiritual development, we intellectually understand that pride, vanity, egoism, and self-centeredness don’t serve the evolution of our souls, but haven’t completed enough spiritual lessons yet to avoid falling into these traps again and again.

Most of us have a delusional idea that the spiritual path is always steady and secure. It is only later that we begin to realize that the spiritual path is very slippery and you have to maintain balance and constant awareness not to fall into the old “traps”. The thing is that the more we learn theoretically about spirituality without applying it to our everyday lives, the more likely we develop the spiritual ego in our beliefs. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the spiritual ego can hide behind judgment, spiritual dogma, or even a false sense of moral superiority over others. And this could be very dangerous for our spiritual development since it can blind us and prevent us from doing the necessary deeper spiritual work we need for inner growth and self-healing.

Spiritual Ego Traps

Based on my own experience, introspection, and studying people’s behavior, I came up with this list of the most common spiritual ego traps.

Trap #1: Judging

If you only knew how many times I fell into this trap! Directly or indirectly I kept judging others for being “less awakened,” less “spiritually advanced”, less evolved than… me… I judged people for being “asleep,” “unconscious”, “low vibe”, and “asleep”. I could easily label people as “Matrix” individuals and look down on them without even recognizing it.

By interacting with people from different spiritual groups, sadly I started believing that some people are “chosen” and others are not. Now I can recognize that this belief made me look down on others who are newer on their spiritual path.

It took me quite a few life lessons to realize that the cause of my judgment was hidden in a sense of uncertainty about my own faith. Eventually, I realized that my focus should be on developing my faith through spiritual practice; and not on the “vibe” and the level of development of people around me.

Trap #2: Dogmatic Beliefs

“Black and white” mentality gets us into spiritual debates with others. This way of seeing things is projected by our spiritual ego that strives for separation. If you find yourself trying to convince somebody to “get” the truth about your spiritual beliefs, it’s probably your spiritual ego, not your spirit, doing the talking.

When you have a desire to prove your point about some of your spiritual beliefs, remind yourself of a wise Lao Tzu saying, “He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.”

Trap #3: “Messiah Complex”

This is another common trap that many spiritual seekers fall into. Do you think it’s up to you to save the world or others? If so, you may have a Messiah complex, one of the most pernicious forms of spiritual arrogance.

There is nothing wrong with helping others. However, it is important to remember that as human beings we are neither omniscient, omnipresent nor omnipotent: only God is. Therefore, we should always remind ourselves to surrender to the will of a higher power in our lives. Keep in mind that there is always a master plan unfolding beyond our control and understanding.

Trap #4: The Need Of Being “Special”

Mindful meditation image

The biggest spiritual ego trap is the desire to be special which can be expressed in many different self-aggrandizement ways, like:

  • Claiming to have “special access” to spirit guides, Ascended Masters, angels, spirits, etc.;
  • Claiming to be the reincarnation of a guru, superior being, a famous spiritual historical figure, etc.;
  • Claiming to figure out all the world mysteries, conspiracy theories, governments’ secrets, etc.;
  • Claiming access to special and exclusive spiritual knowledge that others can’t access.

Do you really need to prove your specialness by using different titles (like lightworker, Starseed, etc.), the memories (or fantasies) about your past incarnations, etc.?

What Can We Do With Ego?

#1: Don’t Try To Fight It

The spiritual ego is tricky. It’s hard to see and therefore it’s hard to control. Buddhist say that in the war of ego the loser always wins. Which makes complete sense to me. The second you realized you overcame your ego, you have fallen into its trap. Therefore, the best way you can deal with your ego is by observing it. It is by observing that you can learn how to take control of your ego.

#2: Stay Humble

By perceiving the divine in all of your endeavors, you will always stay humble. The problem arises when you disconnect from the divine under the false pretense that you alone are ruling the business of life. I taught myself to always remember that it is not me who’s achieving success in life, it is not me who’s giving Reiki healing to people, it is not me who’s helping people, but God by using me as his tool. This mindset helped me to remove “I”, “Me”, and “Mine” from my service. Whatever I do, I keep in mind that I’m only the tool, and it helps me to stay humble. Also, it saves me from the “Messiah Complex”.

#3: Stop Judging

Ego judges and punishes. Love forgives and heals.

Think about what makes you judge. Most likely it’s your self-judgment and dissatisfaction with yourself or your life. Sometimes how you see something is more important than what you see. Pay attention to where your judgments are coming from and “who” is doing the judging. Shift your awareness to a loving discernment and free yourself of negativity.

#4: Stop Complaining

quote on Complaining Image

“Complaining is one of the ego’s favorite strategies for strengthening itself.”

Eckhart Tolle

Complaining is voicing a negative opinion about a situation. Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth puts it this way: “Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up — if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. ‘How dare you serve me cold soup…?’ That’s complaining.”

#5: Speak Less Than You Know; Have More Than You Show

There is no need to tell every person you meet about your “gifts” and show how spiritually advanced you are. Learn to listen instead. By listening you will learn more than by talking. But listen not to reply but to hear!

The Bottom Line

Always remember that the spiritual ego is not who you really are; it is your self-image, it is your spiritual mask, it is the role you are playing in the spiritual community. Your “spiritual mask” thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power because it lives in fear. Let go of this fear. Allow yourself to be free from any judgment, including self-judgment. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, or to act “not spiritual”. You don’t have to be perfectly spiritual all the time and have an answer to any question. Stay humble and you will find blissful peace in the freedom from your spiritual ego.

Main photo credit: JP Sears


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