Presented by Roland Kriewaldt

Spiritual Detours

How we use rituals and superstition to avoid genuine spiritual growth

Manifesting an Abundance of Distraction

"Manifesting" and "Abundance" are two words used extensively in the advertising of new age products and services. Although they might sound "spiritual," they are most often used as the equivalent of promising "something for nothing" to those who want to avoid making a genuine effort to improve their inner life.

As part of the enticing new age jargon, they speak of a perfect path to enlightenment for lazy minded people, having the same appeal as lottery tickets in promising us the world without having to surrender our comfortable daily rituals and routines. In short, they typically signal a scam to take our money by telling us exactly what we want to hear — that whatever we desire is FREE and EASY to attain without pain, sacrifice or the need of patience and wisdom. In short, it's bullsh*t.

This perspective may not please everyone, especially those who make big profits by selling their simple-minded "something for nothing" solutions to gullible customers. It may also upset those working hard to avoid looking inward by keeping themselves distracted with superstitious rituals or joining all the right spiritual groups and speaking all the right spiritual words. 

Yet if we are compulsively uttering "Namaste" as a way to prove how supremely loving and self-aware we are, then we have not even scratched the surface of the real spiritual work that awaits us once we stop distracting ourselves with this commercialized hocus pocus. Here's why.

Spiritual Bypassing

The reason why "manifesting abundance" sounds so attractive to our ears is that it appeals to our selfish biological impulses — the same inner drives that compel us to lust for material gain and social status. Sadly, this often draws both new agers and devout religious followers alike into the widespread practice wherein we naively continue being led by our primal instincts while believing that we are walking an elevated spiritual path toward a higher state of consciousness or moral integrity. 

Instead, we are headed in the direction of a humbling life lesson. After all, how does manifesting "abundance" lead us to spiritual enlightenment — except in learning that it is our body that seeks material gain, not our spirit. Nor will it prevent people with an abundance of abundance from feeling as miserable as any of the poor if they inwardly remain in a state of spiritual poverty.

This is one of the negative side-effects of "spiritual bypassing," a term coined in the 1980's yet seldom ever heard. It addresses a kind of self-defeating activity wherein we keep ourselves from attaining a genuine spiritual state of mind by clinging to the fear and status-based drives of biological necessity that all animals share. What we may not want to admit to ourselves, however, is that acquisition is not a spiritual practice, nor is it the role of any legitimate spiritual path to feed our insatiable appetite for more. Ultimately, the goal of spirituality is to help us gain control over our selfish compulsions, not to surrender to them.

Accelerating Our Conscious Evolution 

The purpose of any online enlightenment course is to help accelerate our conscious evolution. That is why we will not find courses here that offer to help us manifest an "abundance" of material gain. Survival is important, but to seek greater status and power is not a requirement of any spiritual path. Instead, they are but extensions of our inborne feelings of vulnerability and insignificance  and our fear of death. 

Let us make this point by considering a Facebook advertisement claiming to offer assistance to spiritual entrepreneurs. In the words of the advertiser, it states:

In short, based on this message, we can assume to have reached a higher state of spiritual enlightenment once we are able to manifest expensive automobiles and a famous chef to cook for us in our many homes. We can interpret from this that the great spiritual teachers of history were wrong; that the true purpose of spiritual practice, according to the ad, is to fatten up our camel until it cannot possibly fit through the eye of a needle. [Yes, even  the Christian bible has its moments of levity]. 

I can appreciate a good practical joke, but the sad part is how many people replied to the ad with comments such as "This sounds amazing!" I feel bad for these potential scam victims, but I also cannot force anyone to look inward against their own will. If they believe that a Mercedes will lead them to happiness, then who am I to disagree? However, I suspect they will never own one if they only plan to "manifest" it in their imagination.

Thou Shalt Get Rich?

Two decades ago, a new trend began to emerge among USA televangelists. In financially fleecing their network flocks, they not only promised the usual reward of eternal life in heaven, but also "prosperity" on earth. It seems that God suddenly deemed it acceptable to be a spiritual materialist, which makes me wonder if a day will come when we will say "Look, if it's not making you any money, then it can't be spiritual."

The point is that every aspect of human society has been compromised by the need for money to survive and our want of wealth to prove ourselves superior to others. These desires seem to eclipse most other interests in our world, which is why we see a Catholic church with its own banking system and spiritual goals based on manifesting "abundance," which is code for "Mercedes."

Signs and Symptoms of Spirituality

We might agree that the quest for material gain qualifies as a form of spiritual bypassing behavior. Yet it is unfair to suggest that we are trying to avoid our inner growth in being overly enthusiastic about every certain kind of spiritual practice. But how can we tell genuine spiritual seeking behavior from spiritual bypassing? That answer is found within us and here is a useful allegory to help us find it: 

Let us image that each day we see our neighbor going outside to plant trees in her yard. As an outsider, we may interpret this as a "sign" of her love for landscaping. Yet, if we saw deeper into her circumstances, we would see that she is addicted to the activity of planting trees as a way to avoid dealing with her troubled life. In this way, her chronic landscaping is actually a "symptom" of a troubled life rather than a genuine love for working outdoors. 

This allegory can help us to recognize when we are also working to bypass our inner truth. Just ask yourself: "Am I using this new spiritual practice as a way to run from away from my inner fears or pain? Likewise, "Is this practice bringing valuable new insights and wisdom into my life. or am I just using it as a way to distract myself for lack of a meaningful purpose in my life?" These are difficult questions, yet necessary for any dedicated seeker of inner truth.

Ultimately, it is all a matter of priorities and perspective: what is more important to us: the shoes we are wearing or the place we are walking to? Once we realize that the goal is to keep moving forward, then we will be another step closer to enlightenment by not spending all of our time at the shoe store.

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