Overcoming Spiritual Arrogance

by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.

When we embark on a spiritual path, many of us think that our lives will suddenly become easier, but in reality the opposite is often true. (If you're wondering what I mean by being spiritual, check out my last article on this topic here). 

Since our newfound awareness equips us to face greater challenges in both our internal and external worlds, the challenges with which we’re faced often grow stronger.

As you learn to face these new challenges, you gain a sense of greater confidence. If you’re not aware of how to process this confidence, the ego kicks in and convinces you that your new way of living life is somehow superior.

The initial excitement that comes with a heightened awareness is unlike any other. There's a feeling of power, peace, and joy you want to share with the world.

What's often difficult during this transition is learning that not everyone is interested in your spiritual growth. In fact, as you grow, many of your best friends may not be able to identify with the new you. Those closest to you may not be ready to make the changes to adapt to the transformed life you're creating or your personal growth.

As you change and let go of old ways that no longer serve you and your highest good, you may find it frustrating that others are comfortable staying the same. 

Wanting to invite your community into a world filled with your new insights and beliefs because you feel they can benefit from this way of life is beautiful. But becoming frustrated by the way others live and believing that your way of life is somehow more significant is spiritually arrogant. 

We may feel that consciousness and spiritual practices help make us better people, but this does not mean that we should look down on others for not accepting or integrating these practices into their lives.

In fact, you’ll likely notice that as your spiritual practice deepens, more challenging people enter your life to force you to practice what you’ve been cultivating.

The more you cultivate yourself, the more you encounter people and situations that test your growth.

Being a spiritual person has nothing to do with how much Yoga you do, how often you go to church, or what scriptures you’ve memorized. 

Being truly spiritual means having the ability to embrace life unconditionally and accepting others for who they are - without judgement. Living spiritually is a lifelong journey, not a destination. And the ultimate spiritual practice is to embrace unconditional love for ourselves and others.

Truly spiritual living means aligning actions with beliefs, and therefore living as a person of integrity. 

A person of integrity isn’t hypocritical and has a sense of compassion for all beings, understanding that we’re all interconnected in the web of life. A person of integrity picks up after herself simply because she cares about the environment, and treats others with kindness and respect because she understands all people's connection to one another.

We all make mistakes, and we've all had moments where we're dishonest or are unstable with our sense of integrity. So, why then, even if we have truly changed, do we have the right to judge others who are still struggling with the shadows that we claim to have overcome?

Being spiritual is not about practicing a certain philosophy or religion. It's about being present, loving, and aware.

The awareness that comes from living spiritually creates space for universal compassion. 

This doesn’t mean you don’t get angry, hurt, or act out sometimes. But when these things happen, you’re able to hold yourself accountable and create healing with those you hurt.

Consciousness is a gift that's easy to take for granted. Rather than gloat about how conscious you are, begin to use this awareness to serve others and make greater contributions to your social and global communities. 

As Gandhi stated, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Live it out, model it and be an inspiration to others. 

Your external world is a reflection of your internal world, so when you see or experience something you don’t like, rather than judge or point fingers, turn your attention more deeply inward and see what in your mind and actions has created the picture that stands before you. Every person and experience that comes into your life is a teacher; the more challenging the person or experience, the greater the potential to enhance your spiritual growth.  

Awareness provides each of us the power to change what we can and wholeheartedly accept the rest.

Paired with humility, it also empowers us to unite with others, even those who are not walking the same path,  through a deeper sense of compassion.

Humility gives us a sense of presence and reminds us that we're all on this journey together.

Setareh Moafi, L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California where she runs a Classical Acupuncture and wellness coaching practice, and teaches transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga. More information at www.setarehmoafi.com and www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com