Chances are, if you are in spirituality you have heard of many new teachers – most in the Neo-Advaita tradition – who want to sell you their version of enlightenment.
Some talk about the absence of the ego (a fact that is absolutely true and relatively false) and tell you that there has never been an ego (a statement that again is relatively false) and that „you“ can’t do anything to reach enlightenment (something, if spoken out loud, is false and if unspoken is true – more on that later).
Then there are others who talk about the ego-illusion and at the same time teach how to get rid of it or how to „kill“ the ego. What have they all in common? Why does all of this lead to so much confusion under seekers?
Let me ask you another question first: How do you call someone who continuously talks about the absence of his ego? No, you don’t call him enlightened. You call him a spiritual super-ego!
In many respects, a spiritual ego is the hardest to come by, because it mastered the art of deception perfectly.
A spiritual ego per definition is an ego that either reports its own absence or claims to have achieved a state of spiritual advancement or enlightenment in one form or other.
Sometimes the most clever of all spiritual egos will proclaim even that it’s not enlightened because there is no enlightenment or in another version, that there is no ego to become enlightened – while on the same time holds meetings or Satsangs that show the exact opposite. Again the issue is, that some of these statements are true on one level but completely false on another. Out of this confusion, the spiritual ego rises and fuels its mission.
Confusion of levels
The bread and butter of the spiritual ego
In A Course in
Truth is another word for God and „illusions“ is all that seems to exist as separate (like the universe and everything in it) from God
Let’s be clear on that: for the „absolute level“ (=God) there are indeed no levels, simply because there is no world in the first place. This is useless information though because the moment you open your mouth to tell this wisdom to someone else, you have made the error real.
The ego will now come to your (or better: its own) rescue and spiritualize it by saying beautiful things, that may sound „enlightened“, but just for the purpose of keeping up its own agenda.
What is the agenda of the spiritual ego? Basically the same as every other ego, it wants to prove its individuality and specialness, but in a more advanced Ego 2.0 version. Its idea is that if it declares itself enlightened or non-existent, it is finally save of God once and for all.
The ego has an enormous fear of God, for several reasons. One being, that in God/Truth it sees its own end and fears to get punished for ever leaving Oneness. This thought is of course untrue, but it drives its whole thought system of fear, sin and punishment.
Ego 2.0 is nothing else but a very clever strategy to win the spiritual race (it has made up in the first place) by taking on qualities it believes to be of God-Oneness-Truth.
There are other forms of spiritual ego you often find in more esoteric circles, where divine qualities of Love and Peace are brought into the world of illusion – like sending „loving energy“ to someone or interpreting peace as an absence of conflict in form. These are still ego activities, but way less malign in its consequences.
How to spot the spiritual ego in yourself and others
To be fair, it is way easier to spot the spiritual ego in others (e.g. spiritual teachers and students) than in yourself. It needs a lot of honesty with yourself to admit that the spiritual ego has taken a hold on you.
One sign is, when humans are given god-like qualities or God is given human qualities (=anthropomorphic). Since there is no connection between God (=Oneness) and Humanhood (=Separation) there is also no transfer of qualities. Be aware of that.
Another sign that should get you alert is denial. The obvious denial in the above example of the ego or the body. ACIM calls the denial of the body an especially „unworthy“ form of denial, because Truth doesn’t need to defend itself through it. Yes, the body is an illusion (meaning that it has not the qualities of Truth), but as illusion it seems to be real. So to deny the existence of illusions is delusion.
Instead the way ACIM shows us, is to make Truth real to us. Spirituality – and especially Neo-Advaita – have become the means of the spiritual ego to deny the illusion instead of making Truth more real to us. What follows is just another form of extreme nihilism, where the focus is on absence instead of the presence of God.
Every time you get confronted with a teaching that obsesses on the absence of something, you should get cautious of level confusion.
In other words: Absence is not a complete spiritual teaching – it’s only half-baked „enlightenment“. The more empty of ego you become, the fuller you are of joy, peace and love as the true Self. There will be no need to tell everyone about the absence of your ego and how ego-free you are now.
Be vigilant for this tendency to spot the spiritual-ego at its core.
The God-like ego
If you feel the tendency to make your ego more God-like on the other hand and try to „co—create“ with God and „manifest“ the life of your dreams, rest assured that in reality you are only creating a dream of a life instead. Creating and manifesting as an ego is not only highly unnecessary but indeed impossible. You may believe that you can and need to do that, but all you’re doing is feeding your spiritual ego with food to make it bigger and stronger.
Normally I would write about the positive aspects of these kind of teachings too, but to be honest: there are none. You will only prove to yourself that happiness is found on the outside if you seem to succeed for a short period of time. So even in winning you are actually failing.
Also the next time Archangel Michael is giving you advice on how to safe the world, be polite and thank him – like you would do with any other imagined person – but tell him that your ego is simply not big enough for such a task. Be humble and refuse to feed your spiritual ego.
Love and Blessings,