Just like you, I also constantly question myself and everything around me, from existence to relationships, from materialism, through consumerism to spiritual teachings and techniques for improving the psycho-physical state. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re impatient to get an answer. If you are impatient, you consciously put yourself in a state of impatience and you always have that feeling that something is about to happen, but it never does. That something that you expect, whatever it is, does not appear and you feel in a constant cycle of searching, which you have forgotten the beginning of, and there is no end unless you break the cycle yourself. When you do not know what it is that you are waiting for (to happen), in whatever form that something appears, you cannot recognize it. But to return from the abstract to the concrete: there is a need for further (spiritual) growth in me, but at the same time a blockage due to mistrust.
Defining spirituality is a paradox, but if we were to research what is the generally accepted definition of spirituality, it would be “a feeling of connection with something greater than ourselves” or “a feeling of connection with oneself, a higher self”, which “usually includes the search for the meaning of life. ” For some people, their spiritual life is connected to their relationship to a church, temple, mosque, synagogue or any other religious object. People also find meaning in a personal relationship with God (whatever God represents to them), while others seek meaning through connections with nature or various forms of art. In any case, our personal sense of purpose and what spirituality means to us will change throughout our lives, adapting to our experiences and relationships.
The search for the meaning of life I see as a search for hidden treasure. Someone, sometime, somewhere, came into possession of a map that accurately describes the route to the hidden treasure, with tips and warnings about the obstacles that may occur on the way to finding the treasure. In the case of hidden treasure, the goal is to find it and become materially rich. In the case of the meaning of life, I would not say that there is a goal, because the meaning of life of each individual can change drastically over the years, depending on experience and life path. But if we were to say that there is an ultimate goal of the search for the meaning of life, it is to find it and become spiritually rich.
However, the need for a sense of connection and belonging is a double-edged sword that spirituality can present as either an extremely addictive or an extremely liberating experience. It is in human nature to belong to someone, something. There are many reasons and even more ways that people get in touch with themselves. Usually the trigger is some traumatic experience (or several), meeting a person who is already in touch with himself/herself and enlightened, or sometimes it is also curiosity. But, it is often a matter of trends, fashion, the need to be cool and again, to belong. Nevertheless, it is often a false sense of belonging that an individual can have when he finds himself within a certain group of people, who supposedly share the same values.
Spirituality and the early beginnings of consciousness
If we were to ask a few randomly selected, spiritually aware people how their spiritual journey began and at what moment they began to connect with themselves, God, a “higher power”, everyone would, at least for a moment, have an event that was the trigger for everything that followed. But the truth would be that even in childhood we had a certain gift, which we were aware of in one way or another, but we didn’t talk about it. Some people see other people and situations through colors. For example, people who observe the world around them through colors, based on colors (not only) judge whether they are in a dangerous situation, whether the person next to them is pleasant or unpleasant etc. Often, certain colors evoke certain emotions in them, which further affects their perceptions and actions.
There are also those who had strong visualizations, when they predicted future events. Some were able to fantasize for hours, days, weeks and to feel fantastic in that fantasy, to enjoy, to be joyful and to be in a state where their joy does not depend on the realization of those fantasies. Now everyone is talking about just that – imagine, visualize, feel it and let it go. As children, we did this on our own, without any guidance.
Some were attracted to certain religions, religious temples and spent hours in churches or other religious places. They would feel at home there and have the sense of belonging they may have been searching for.
There are also those who encountered in their early days certain spells, rituals, ceremonies and were unconsciously attracted to or participated in them. Actually, there are many different examples, these are just some that came to my mind at first.
If we ignore that early period, and we come to the moment when we are talking about adults who have already gained some life experience, the need for belonging is still present. In some later years, it may be more emphasized than it was in childhood. We are always searching, always exploring and growing. But if we talk about “spiritual” belonging, we should carefully choose what we believe in, who we believe and what is the intention of a certain group of people and their leadership.
A few weeks ago I asked a lama (a lama is a spiritual teacher or guru in Buddhism, a dharma teacher in Tibetan Buddhism) what are the 3 clear signs if we’re talking about spiritual fraud and fake teachers. He said: “Very simply – it’s sex, money and power.” It is not really any different compared to the material world which we live in. But it resonates with the opinion I have built myself: a real teacher will not ask for thousands of euros to teach you something or share the knowledge. Also, he will not use various manipulative techniques to induce others to have sexual relations. And he will not use his “titles” and position in the community to gain certain benefits and control over others.
So, what and why is happening around us in recent years?
I’ll assume that you know what chakras are and say that the planet is considered to have 7 chakras, as well as every human being. Just as human chakras represent energy centers that keep us balanced in a psycho-physical-emotional sense, so the planet’s chakras represent just that – energy centers.
When it comes to the Earth, there are lines of energy called ley lines that “wind” around the Earth in the same way as a strand of DNA. They are believed to carry energetic information that has a high vibration and extends throughout the world. The places where the ley lines intersect are points of high energy, which have a high concentration of electric charge.
You can read more about the chakras of the Earth on Google, but it is easy to assume that high-energy locations are Himalayas, Jersualim, Peru, Egypt, England and other countries that hide great mysteries.
Although the 7 chakras carry very high energy, there are other high energy points around the world through which the ley lines pass. This includes the Bermuda Triangle, Mount Fuji, but also Maui, Bali, South Korea (Ulleunado), Malta, some of the islands of Thailand, New Zealand and similar. I won’t go into details regarding volcanic and active areas on Earth, electromagnetic volcanic materials etc, because I in reality, I don’t understand those topics. But there are also scientific proves of these understandings and teachings.
Everyone experiences these energy places differently and some people may be more sensitive than others. These locations tend to magnify energy or beliefs that are out of alignment with our natural selves. So you may come face to face with them and become more in tune with your true self. This integration can be challenging and confrontational, but also euphoric and enlightening. Experiences are individual.
Consequently, it’s not surprising that islands often become main points where various workshops, seminars, retreats, coaching sessions, healings, meditations, yoga and other things are organized. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, because each island carries its own special energy. Whether spiritually understood or not, our energy changes depending on where we are.
Tantra and spiritual leader
Some time ago, I attended a workshop or retreat in Malta, which was initially supposed to be about tantra and tantric learning. It is important to understand that tantra is not a sexual practice, but an Eastern philosophy that includes various spiritual concepts. It includes yoga, meditation, breathing exercises that can lead to an increase in sexual energy.
The retreat also included a workshop, breathing exercises, techniques and yoga and the idea sounded great. I won’t share the experience in its entirety, because I would need a new article for that, but the gist is enough. From the beginning, there was a leader. Guru, sensei, master, whatever others call him. And that leader had a serious problem with his ego, to the extent that when someone talked while he was talking, his anger grew and it was felt by everyone who was present. He had, of course, a very quiet and calm voice (except when he got angry) and seemed to be “floating”, somewhere, high up. Since I was the only one with my partner at the workshop, I thought it was very strange when he explained that “for the sake of practice and energetical release” it would be good to connect more deeply with other members, not with our partner. Which somehow didn’t make sense, because I came with my partner in order to connect with him.
The energy was strange, it was fake. They were all in a constant state of bliss, with half-smiles on their faces, very grateful to be there and full of something they called love. Actually, now I’m not sure if they were also under the influence of some drugs. It was so normal for them that everyone loved, touched, kissed everyone, everything was great for everyone, everyone accepted everything and whatever the leader said, would be followed by deep sighs and heavenly gratitude. No one seemed to question what was being said, but they were obsessed with the fact that they were in a “spiritual temple” and participating in “spiritual work”, regardless of what that was.
The exercises and techniques were the same for everyone, which is contrary to what I believe. Not every technique is good for everyone. I didn’t want to do one of the offered exercises, and I told that directly to the person who led the workshop. First he told me: “Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable with something, don’t do it”, then after less than a minute we came to the conclusion that “it would still be good to turn off my mind, and even though I don’t feel that exercise is good for me , it would be good to do it”. I did it in the end, laughing, because I thought it was completely pointless, which made the leader even more angry. I felt that he didn’t like the fact that I was following my gut feeling and that I was relying on gut feeling more than his words.
The highlight was when he told me, very suggestively, that it would be good to visit the next tantra workshop he is organizing, because it will be at a higher level, and “I’m ready for it”. At these workshops, everyone is welcome, but especially those who feel free to perform sexual practice in front of others, while allowing others to join.
Anyway, we ran away from that place and never went back there. I recently unsubscribed from their mailing list, after I received a special offer of only 3000 euros for 4 days of workshops in my inbox. You can guess, it was about tantra again.
Here are 3 main things that describe fake spirituality – sex, money and power. Based on my previous experiences, and there were quite some, it quickly became clear to me what it was all about. I’ve never met such people before. Actually, I know about their existence – and there’s a great documentary about it on Netflix, Wild Wild Country about Osho. However, when you find yourself in such environments and with such bad energies around you, you shut down, protect yourself and leave.
Spirituality is individual
I like to hear about other people’s experiences, I’m interested in people’s reactions and the fact that every experience is a subjective matter. I want to go back again to what I wrote above, which is how the people who attended the workshop reacted, how they behaved and how they contributed to the whole experience.
There is nothing wrong with endless gratitude. On the contrary, if we all started to practice it on a daily basis, there would be more space in us for emotions that warm our heart and soul. If we stopped for a moment and started being thankful for the things we have, what we don’t have or what we think we lack would disappear from our minds. And we would quickly realize that focusing on what we have and what we are filled with is incomparably more important than what we don’t have. Life gives everyone as much as they can handle, and when the “right” time comes.
However, what many people who have begun some form of spiritual path practice is to completely disconnect from worldly experiences, thinking that this makes them spiritual. Being able to accept the good and the bad, and what you want and what you don’t want, is a rare ability not everyone have. Accepting the bad doesn’t mean being falsely happy about the circumstances. Accepting something bad means feeling it, experiencing it, maybe even understanding what happened and why. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to cry and be sad. It’s okay to feel all the things most of us don’t want to feel. But what is wrong is emphasizing “good” emotions and those emotions that make us feel good at the expense of “bad” ones, and holding back emotions that we don’t want to feel and that need to come out. This is actually something that is taught through psychotherapy as well.
I think the world lacks genuine laughter and human smiles. But it’s also okay not to laugh when we don’t feel like it. And the fact that someone is constantly smiling does not mean that someone is more spiritual than others. People often interpret the teachings of spiritual teachers as far as their ego allows. And that is exactly what is wrong with this whole spiritual “system”.
People want to reach some sort of enlightenment. They want to feel and identify with the Buddha. And they think that by reading and getting involved in various rituals, listening and finding spiritual teachers and mentors, they will reach the enlightenment. There is no good without bad. There is no real knowledge or change without experience – and experiences are and should be diverse. We cannot discover the depths of our soul unless we agree to explore within ourselves. And those who have been on that path can tell you that it is often a painful process of facing your deepest fears, beliefs, and injuries. Even that is not for everyone. Not everyone is ready for such confrontations, and that’s really okay. And that does not mean and must not mean that someone is less capable than others.
I will touch briefly on the subject of ayahuasca. I was asked before I went to Peru if I would try ayahuasca. When I thought about what it was that might get out to the surface from my deep subconscious at that moment, I realized that I wasn’t strong enough to face those things at that moment. Does that make me less spiritual than those people who have tried or even consumed ayahuasca frequently at certain times in their lives? No, on the contrary. When I discussed this with people I consider my spiritual mentors and guides, I learned that there are many shamanic practices and techniques that can achieve the same or better effect. I’m not saying ayahuasca is bad, quite the contrary. I’m talking about the fact that before one proclaims himself a spiritual guru after one ayahuasca ceremony, one can try psychotherapy. You can also try fasting, in the true sense of the word. It can be tried with meditation or simply sitting in silence and watching your thoughts come and go.
Everyone is spiritual. Everyone has a spiritual side, the only difference is whether and in what way it is accepted and how it is interpreted. That’s why I can’t understand the potentiation on spirituality. Spirituality is not defined by a certain fashion style one has. Hippie and boho styles are fantastic, but why would you characterize people who like to have an expensive piece of clothing on them as unspiritual? Why is spirituality linked to material (lack of) wealth? It’s okay that material things don’t matter to someone, but it’s also okay that they do. Again, we are also rational, earthly beings. The characteristic of spirituality is not the tonality of one’s voice, nor constant calmness, if underneath that calmness there is a storm of emotions waiting to come to the surface. Nor is it a denial of the “bad”, whatever that bad is. Neither is a constant feeling of bliss and a constant smile on your face.
At the same time, all these can be ways of sincere manifestation of spirituality. The only difference is whether someone you consider a spiritual teacher emphasizes something or not. If there is any imposition of will or rule, if someone claims that there is only one truth and one teaching, know that there is not much sincere spirituality there. At the same time, a real teacher will not have a problem with the fact that you still consider someone else a mentor. Maybe the approaches and techniques will differ, but there is space no ego.
Islands are spiritual paradise
After spending some time on Koh Phangan, I realized that Malta is not the only place where there are many spiritual fanatics. When I opened one of the sites where all the events on the island were listed, I saw a large number of schools, groups, ceremonies and rituals that are performed there every day. There is everything – from cacao ceremonies, to ayahuasca, to sadhu board sessions (practice of standing on a board of nails), and there are mostly tantric sessions. Guided by the experience in Malta described above, I became careful who I work with and who I let into my space.
I was visiting that site for days, because I wanted to find something I could try, that resonated with me. Then I started researching all those yoga schools, tantra schools and people who are considered teachers and came across a bunch of information that talks about the abuse of people and the practice of various techniques. One of the biggest yoga schools on Koh Phangan was closed for a year “for renovations” after an article appeared in the Guardian with the confessions of people who had terrible experiences there. A lot was happening there. Many confessions talk about practicing sexual relations for the sake of “purification of the spirit and body”, where the students of tantra schools would engage in sexual relations with the leaders, because that was presented to them as the ultimate level of purification. There was and is teaching that every participant of the workshops, which can last from a few weeks to a few months, becomes immune to cancer or other diseases. Therefore, they are advocates of something they call “spiritual” medicine, which has led to numerous health complications for most people.
There are also a lot of retreats for women, for the awakening of wild, sexual, feminine energy, where men are considered and treated as “lower beings” and used for the needs of such workshops. There are also those who are diametrically opposed – who say that female energy must be controlled, therefore any resistance to a man is seen as an energy blockage and the only way to remove it is to agree to sexual relations with numerous men in a short period of time.
I wondered how people put themselves in this situation. I wondered how it was possible for people to believe in all these things, to all these people, and how it was possible for them to turn off the rational part of themselves completely. How can they not listen to the feeling that something is wrong and that this is the worst form of exploiting people for one’s personal gain? It is about the feeling and need for belonging. We all sometimes feel misunderstood. We feel like other people don’t understand what we feel, what we need and what we face. In such situations, especially if we do not have support in the form of family and friends, and if we belong to an environment that does not push us forward, to become better version of ourselves, we look for someone and something we can belong to.
The special target of such teachers and schools are people who are vulnerable. Who are insecure, sensitive, who went or are going through life situations that aren’t pleasant or are difficult to accept. Such people look for comfort in various places and are inclined to accept any kind of help that comes their way. Again, that’s fine. But what is wrong is that anyone, for whatever reason, is exploiting others for their own personal gain. Such people are easy to manipulate, because such people want to believe and want to belong. They want to feel whole, to feel loved, to get through the pain as easily as they can. We all need support, but if we only look for it externally and in places like these, it’s very likely that we will become victims and that our healing and learning process will take a direction we don’t want it to take.
The beauty of polarity is that there is always the other side. Therefore, there are people, centers, schools whose goal is not to make money, but to teach us. Whose goal is not to abuse, but to help. Who really transfer their learning and experiences to others, not by imposing them, but by giving the possibility of choice. Not everything is for everyone. Things like these have been happening since the beginning of the world. However, in these moments of uncertainty at the world level, in a moment when fear reigns more than trust, fertile ground is created for any false interpretations and exploitations in order for individuals to gain (an illusion of) power.
Our inner voice, however we call it and feel it, will always lead us to what is right for us. Some really have to go through experiences like the above to distinguish between what is false and true for them. Whether and to what extent we are able to hear our own voice depends on how much noise we are in, how conscious and aware we are of our intentions, our desires and needs. If we have confidence in ourselves, that confidence will lead us to the right teachers, mentors and people who will help us to constantly improve our lives. Because when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.